The End.

Beste lezers,

Vandaag is er een einde gekomen aan mijn publicatiestroom op deze website. Writer’s Block is niet meer. Na zeven jaar en zo’n 1550 teksten is het tijd voor iets anders. Het stopzetten van Writer’s Block valt samen met veranderingen in mijn leven en werk die ik al heel lang wens. Soms komen dromen uit.

Mijn werk zal voortaan, voor zover ik daar behoefte aan heb, ontsloten worden via reguliere media en mijn geheel nieuwe persoonlijke website www.aliceannaverheij.nl. Writer’s Block zal als archief van mijn werk tot op heden beschikbaar blijven. Dit echter is de laatste tekst hier, nummer 1548.

Ik dank jullie allemaal voor het bezoek hier, het lezen en reageren en de vele vriendschappen die Writer’s Block mij bracht. Ik zie jullie graag weer tijdens exposities, via mijn boeken, social media of www.aliceannaverheij.nl. Voor informatie over mijn werk en bedrijf verwijs ik graag naar www.woordenstorm.nl.

Den Haag 12 juli 2013,
Alice Anna Verheij

Dear readers,

Today, Writer’s Block has ceased to exist. After seven years of writing in this place and almost 1550 publications its time for something else. Stopping with my Writer’s Block coincides with major changes in my life and work that I’ve always dreamt of. Sometimes dreams do come true.

From now on my work will, when I desire so, be brought to you through regular media and my completely new personal website www.aliceannaverheij.nl. Writer’s Block will stay available as an online archive of my work until this date. This is the last contribution to Writer’s Block, number 1548.

I thank all of you for reading and responding, for the friendships that Writer’s Block has brought me. I would love to see you again at my exhibitions, through my books, social media and www.aliceannaverheij.nl. For information regarding my work and company I gladly refer to www.woordenstorm.nl.

The Hague, July 12, 2013

Advertenties

The greatest show on earth.

I went inside. A small square table right in the center of the mirrored wall. Well, all walls were mirrored but I mean the one facing the Boulevard de Saint Germain-des-Prés.

Paris, Café de Flore. I’m chasing the footsteps and memory of Hemingway. Whenever I go to a place he went I feel some sort of personal connection. Unexplainable I guess. He’s not there anymore and I am too young to have been his lover. If I could have been I probably would have been. Anyway, Café de Flore in the Parisian center of literature and philosophy. Simone de Beauvoir sat here too. Maybe just like me but probably not alone but with Sartre sharing one of these small tables. And a café creme or more likely a glass of wine.

cafe de florePhoto: ‘Café de Flore’ © 2013 Alice Anna Verheij

Hemingway wrote that people who do not allow themselves the hugely overpriced coffee at Café de Flore are missing out on probably the greatest show on earth. I happen to agree. Because this café certainly is an ongoing show. More than it’s equally interesting neighbour Les Deux Magots, which I tried out the day before. One simply has to go in and sit at one of the tables and watch. Watch the waiters moving around. The place is lively even when only a handful of the 40 tables on the gournd floor are occupied and the rest of the guest are outside enjoying the terrace and the spring. The real show is inside. Through the open doors just before lunchtime you will find no less than 20 waiters running in and out with filled and emptied trays. Outside the peak hours their number deminishes to ‘just’ 12 and even they are sometimes pausing to chat with each other lively. But never for long. The waiter flirt with the women, the have a good eye for beauty looking at how the respond when challenged. The Amrican girls don’t notice it. The interior of the café is very art nouveau-ish. Light, lots of glass, squared shapes and ornaments and those little tables placed in an invisible grid in such a manner that it’s possible to travel full speed in between them with filled trays. The chairs are Thonet chairs in the variety with the 6 bars in a waiver shape at the back in between the elongated back legs. Little arcs in between the legs give them enough strength to withstand long term use by gravitational people.

A napkin is draped over the left arm and the tray rests on the right hand. The skirt is whiten and long ending just above the well polished shoes covering black trousers. The vest is as black as the trousers are and the shirt is toothpaste white. A black bow-tie is standard. Waiters really are waiters here. Their smile is tempting and inviting and has just about the same color as their shirts, independent of their age. Interesting. Although there’s the 20 of them running around they form a group of 50 on the café’s payroll. They accept tips with a slight nod and a smile, but tips are rarely given. I suppose the prices prevent people to give tips. In their wallet the waiters seem to have enough change to prevent them from unneeded walks to the cash register inside. Their walking route is twofold. The ones from the side terrace follow a high speed trail with a double wave making them zigzagging in the café, the ones from the Boulevard terrace have just one corner to handle. Both streams end at the right side of the mirrored fake wall behind which the kitchen is located. The connect with the line of waiting waiters who are emptying their trays, passing the orders and refilling their trays with earlier orders to deliver them to the guests after another high speed wave walk to the terrace or inside the café. The cutomers inside the café are left alone. There are just a few of us sitting at a few of the tables. The others are reading a newspaper or a book. I am writing, it’s quiet and I realize that there’s no music distracting us. A stranger stares outside with his mind wandering of to a place unknown.

The café creme is delivered on a silver platter. The cup and saucer, coffejug, milk jug and glass filled with water are all imprinted with ‘Café de Flore’. I guess they’re some sort of collectors item and I presume that because of that they are renewed very frequently. They look brandnew. The whole café is a time machine. From my table position I imagine that the view hasn’t changed much in the past eight or nine decades. There’s an unmatched level of perfection in displaying the past in a beautiful manner, even better then in that other time machine opposite the church. The mosaic of the tiled floor with the little waiver shaped in yellow and brown tints, the dark wooden chairs and tables, the tomato red seats, the mirrored walls divided by marble elements, the copper of theframes around the mirrors and off the illumination and the creamwhhite of the ceiling and the two lonely pillars in the middle of the café split the space in a darkish but interesting underworld and a light upper world. The murmur of talking people is everywhere all the time. Some people are silent.

Around lunchtime the number of inside customers quickly rises to the level that most of the little tables get occupied with cups, saucers, plates, glasses and cutlery. The noise level rises equivalently. The waiters still smile, no matter how hard they have to work. In retrospect I agree with Hemingway’s words. Visiting Paris without having coffee at the Café de Flore is worse than not seeing the Eiffeltower in Paris’ skyline when looking down from the Sacre Coeur. The patron at the door never smiles but shows a presidential expression overseeing his world of customers and waiters. His hands are almost permanently folded in front of him. When I finally leave we greet. A bientôt. I will come back soon I hope.

© 2013 Anna Ros

Bohemian Boudoir

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I moved house today
the old place I couldn’t stay
Well actually, not really
I just lowered myself, you see?
Closer to the outside world
further away from inside hurt
down into my rabbit’s hole
and deeper in my soul

So now I live ce soir
in my Bohemian Boudoir

I left my place today
twenty steps down and away
a larger place, surely
I just lifted life, you see?
Right into the light of day
with something I had to say
but no one listened to me
or saw my captivity

So now I stay ce soir
in my Bohemian Boudoir

I escaped my tower today
simply had to break away
to another time, more free
lost my feelings, you see?
But then on the street today
she made me laugh an play
came into my rabbit’s hole
and dug herself in my soul

So now we love ce soir
in our Bohemian Boudoir
now we love ce soir
in our Bohemian Boudoir

© 2013 Alice Anna Verheij

Writer’s Block in 2012.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 120.000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Year’s end and new beginnings.

When I face the desolate impossibility of writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another. One day’s work is all that I can permit myself to contemplate. John Steinbeck

I was born on a New Year’s Eve. Nepali New Year’s Eve on April 13 to be exact. Not the one we celebrate here. I wasn’t aware of that until last year. Working and living in Nepal made me realize it. Of course it is of no importance besides the fact that I nowadays celebrate the New Year twice a year. Once is my own new year, the other one is everyone else’s new year. And every year I reflect on the past year, look back a year, or two or three, and compare. Compare how my life is compared to the previous New Year’s Eves. I’ve always done that because I solemnly believe that when times are hard it is good to look back and based on the comparison understand where the progress has been. I thrive on progress and change, that’s why I do that. Because I also believe that the year I can no longer define progress in any aspect I will have lost my soul.

Past nine years have brought joy, challenge, pain and sorrow. So, on the one scale is all that defines me now as the person I am and what I think is good. The other scale is loaded with the negative, the disasters, illnesses and headwind. And I do not even try to objectivate the outcome. Because if I do I I can not be sure that the overall balance is positive. I simply don’t know if I’m better off now than a year ago. This year has learned more than any year before that the negative might just as well bring a lot op positive things and the seemingly positive can be a dark thing.

A year ago I was in love, and love was answered. In another place in the world, far away from home I had unexpectedly found a woman who I fell in love with and in spite of a massive ravine between our cultures. I felt my life had changed and I planned to move away from Europe and start another life in Asia. It wasn’t even a dream but it was a reality and steps were made, choise were made and I felt so good. In February the axe fell. Totally unexpected. Cultural differences prooved unbreacheable. I had to let go and to be honest, I had already done so the day I stepped on that damned airplane that flew me back to my European life in January. Sometimes I still feel I shouldn’t have boarded that plane but just stayed. For that new life. For love.

I didn’t stay. I flew back. I lost my love.

It tumbled me over and then it was the April New Year’s Eve and I turned fifty, thinking it didn’t matter to me at all. But it did. A lot, an awful lot. I fell sick and the summer went unnoticed. I did not live.

By fall I started breathing again. I published a novel and a photobook. Photo exhibitions followed and there is still one ongoing until February next year. Four days after my birthday on April 18 I was in bed with a bad flu and I found a painting on the internet. I swept me off my feet. I had to know what that painting was and I started researching. I found out it was made by a nineteenth century painter who lived in Kensington, London. ‘Flaming June‘ made me restart my life. Research learned me that there was a dispute about the model who sat for Frederick Leighton for thet specific painting. That dispute led me to a forgotten woman who died in the 1930’s but who was three decades earlier one of the most beautiful women in England. And gradually a story unfolded which was already there waiting to be revealed. More on that can be read here: www.woordenstorm.nl/lachrymae.

Flaming_June,_by_Fredrick_Lord_Leighton_(1830-1896)

It’s end of December now, tomorrow is the last day of this year. I am working hard on my new novel which has evolved in a trilogy about three women, about emancipation, about relationships, war, poverty, wealth, beauty and decay. And about me. It’s the work I will have to write in the coming year, maybe even years. I already know most of the story but I also know that as always it will grow and evolve in a much more detailed and compelling story. My biggest work ever. And tonight I look back. Back to this crazy year.

My life is in many aspects destroyed in the past decade. My body is defect in a very private aspect and I feel deep sadness about that. It actually is the reason why relationships scare me. I don’t think anyone can help me with that, it is very much my own struggle to get some peace over that. My economics are, well they are virtually non-existent. To Dutch standards I am poor and in debt to a level that I will never overcome, no matter what I do and no matter how hard I work. This was the year that I had to learn the harsh reality of not having the money to lead a normal life. I don’t have my own front door anymore, most of my belongings have gone (which for the most of it I don’t mind at all), I can hardly afford transport to anywhere and my social life is becoming smaller and smaller. There are days I do not have food. But this year also learned me that I have the ability to go on and after a year living way below poverty standards I am still here. The most important thing that happend to me this year is that I relearned to make decisions about my own life again. Because I did.

Which brings me to next year.

January will be very difficult. They’re coming to take some of my things away. I won’t be there myself. Complicated story. Pressure is building on me rapidly and life will certainly not improve in January. But important moves are being made. Finance stuff for instance. In the coming months it will all become more transparant and that will inevitable lead me into some sort of debt reduction scheme or bankruptcy. Life won’t end over that. What will happen is that I’m entering a couple of years of very poor living standards but I have the assurance that they won’t be worse than they are now. And yes, that old divorce thing will be corrected in the coming months and that might very well bring a lot of relief. If only because the negative economic part of that will be lifted and redevided in a manner that is fair and making my life easier. It’s all the direct result of the I choice made this year to start rebuilding my life after a downwards spiral that had caught me in the past nine years.

And then there is art. The other major decision I made is that my life will be about writing my books, making my photos and filmwork and focus on the arts as my line of business and the major driving force in my life. It even tops relationships. I know now I can not make any concessions anymore in regard to the art I make and the reason why I do that. Because writing is for me like breathing. There is no way that I can stop that or want to do so. Which made me to choose a pseudonym for writing my future work. Enter Anna Ros. 2012 has brought me a lot on the artistic plane because I’ve grown and made major steps forward but 2013 is even more promising in that. My work improved and so did my writing. I have become confident in that work. I know my abilities and I know where improvement is needed. And there is a lot out there waiting for me to take on. The trilogy being the most important work but there’s also that other loosely related work which I make with a befriended writer. It will surprise a lot of people and is really exciting to make. And of course the film will get finished in 2013, at last. Not as one major work but as a series of three or four short documentaries, portraits of specific people telling the story of forgotten refugees.

And love? Well, that is something else entirely. I am not chasing it to the intensity that I did in the past years. If it happens, it happens. Which doesn’t mean I am not in love because I think I am. To a certain extend. Maybe 2013 will be a good year for love. I would like that but of course that’s uncertain. What is certain is that it will be a great year for friendships. With the few people out there who really know me.

So, this New Years Eve is a very unclear one. Unclear on how my live will continue in 2013, uncertain about where I’ll live and with who. Uncertain about love. But very certain about what defines me: my writings.

I wish all of you a good 2013. With health and love. Skip the economics and other non important things of life, just go for happiness and health. That should suffice.

Love,
Alice Anna

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Old poetry brought back to live, in songs.

I love the music of Natalie Merchant. I have done so since the first time I heard ‘Thick of Thieves’ that is in my opinion still one of the most complicated lyrical songs around. It has amazing poetic quality and Natalie sings it with unmatched intensity and honesty. Her music has been progressing slowly in this overhyped, short lived world of ours. It hardly gets any airplay at the main radio stations in this country and is hugely underestimated. National radio seems oblivious of what happens elsewhere and solely focussed on the rather limited musical styles of the Dutch music industry (apart from a couple of white ravens).

natalie merchant

So I just have to search for great music on the international scene and YouTube. Which is how I found Natalie Merchant a couple of years ago. Even so, it did take time for me to comprehend the value and quality of her music. I heard the lyrics, partly understood them but they didn’t quite sink in. Until ‘Thick of Thieves’ from her 1997 album ‘Ophelia’. The first lines of the powerful lyrics caught me by the throat:

Remember how it all began
The apple and the fall of man
The price we paid
So the people say
Down a path of shame it lead us
Dared to bite the hand that fed us
The fairy tale
The moral end
The wheel of fortune
Never turns again

I know the lines by heart and whenever someone rings me at least the first four lines sound as a constant reminder of the demise of this world and the deceit of mankind. Even for these few ringtone seconds it alerts me. A while ago I got some tracks from her 2010 album ‘Leave your sleep’. Every song I heard captivated me. I did not understand the title of the album and took no time in researching it. Until last night.

I couldn’t sleep. Probably because of the difficulties of life that are continuously challenging me because I really am struggling to survive. Possibly because of a love inside me that is bound by the impossibility of sharing and may or not may flourish one day. Maybe because I’ve been isolating myself too much to work on this novel that is both a miracle to write as a Hercules task and which is tearing me apart every now and then. It really is not an easy (or safe) thing to turn myself inside out and dive into the dark corners of my life, finding words and sentences to transform what’s found there into the scenes in the life of one of my main characters. Writing does hurt. But the hurt can be soothed by this:

leaveyoursleep

My insomnia forced me to write poetry, with Natalie singing in the background. The lights low, the mood heavy. All of a sudden I just had to cry. For no obvious reason but it was unstoppable. ‘If no one ever marries me’ broke me in the early hours before dawn. I searched for the lyrics to read as they are both poetic and sad but strong. The latter I am not. I searched and found and found something else too. At the TED Talks Natalie explained during a concert about the “Leave your sleep’ album (TED Talks in the US really is something else than it’s rather meager Dutch version). She tells about how she made this album and about the poets it is dedicated to.

And I finally understood.

I understood why I love her music so much these days and how that intensified in the past month. Why I listen to it every single day while writing and why I cried listening to ‘If no one ever marries me’. Because it’s the old childrens poetry that awakens me. A poetry that is out of line with this rough and ruthless world, forgotten poetry of sometimes forgotten emotions by forgotten poets. Nineteenth and early twentieth century poetry and as such written in an era I am writing about and researching on every day now. As if I am looking at my lost childhood and youth. The tragedy of the daughter of the great painter Alma-Tadema who after his wife’s death emigrated to England with his children and became famous and wealthy. A daughter who at an early age unwantingly predicted her own life. She never married and died surrounded only by books and her friends. Alone. And yes, that is both my greatest fear in life as a strange desire.

I love this poetry which is way more adult than the label ‘children’s poetry’ suggests. I love it because though written in another time and place, it connects with me and sometimes describes me and my life and desires. It brings me back to a time where people were in less a hurry and gave more attention to what they were doing. Something quite impossible today for most people. Again, with the exception of a few white ravens. It explains to me why it is a good thing that I have to struggle for life and can only write a few lines or pages a day for ‘Lachrymae’. As I am slowly getting to the point where time is of no value to my work and true dedication to my writing is the essence of me.

leaveyoursleep 2Natalie Merchant’s picture book including the cd. I wish I had it!

Maybe this is all nonsense for who reads this and maybe people cannot understand what I mean with what I write here. I suppose in such cases I’ve then proven to be incapable of formulating my feelings and thoughts. But the fact that I had to cry this early morning really comes down to finally understanding why I do all this, why I share my thoughts and writings here and in my books. Why I write this new book. Why I allow people to see through me via my work. Music does make that clear, so please listen to this amazing singer who is not only immensely talented but also a woman of unmatched beauty and a true inspiration for me. And yes, the lines of Laurence Alma-Tadema’s poem do define me somehow for I am still only a child.

Laurence Alma-Tadema (1865 – 1940)

If no one ever marries me,—
And I don’t see why they should,
For nurse says I’m not pretty,
And I’m seldom very good—

If no one ever marries me
I shan’t mind very much;
I shall buy a squirrel in a cage,
And a little rabbit-hutch:

I shall have a cottage near a wood,
And a pony all my own,
And a little lamb quite clean and tame,
That I can take to town:

And when I’m getting really old,—
At twenty-eight or nine—
I shall buy a little orphan-girl
And bring her up as mine.

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

In the nightly hour

dawnphoto: ‘Waiting’ (Picardie, France) © 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

In the nightly hour

The night may be dark
but that doesn’t mean
words aren’t sentences
or dreams have no place
in my distorted ways

Past hours may be few
yet in this natural day
but that will not mean
words will go astray
or feelings go away

Daylight may not be there
and sounds still hushed
still my flesh is not silent
my desire not speaking
or my heart not beating

You may not be here
my yearning still untold
but distance is artificial
for our hearts to meet
in long postponed deed

I may not say the words
or gaze at you today
even write another letter
cause I’m sure you know
my words will simply flow

Dawn may come soon
after these nightly hours
light washing thoughts
I wish mine could stay
and you think of me today

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Living backwards.

I don’t know. I really don’t. Thing is that I have this feeling that I am living life backwards. Growing younger in stead of aging. A bit like Sean Morey wrote a long time ago and being quoted – and misquoted by the likes of George Carlin and Woody Allan. Living backwards as if I become younger. As if youth is returning and I am not coming of age but leaving of age in stead.

alice living backwards

I know by experience that life is a circular thing, it revolves and revolves again. Which means age is just a state of mind, not a reality. I know young people with an age old mind and old people with a juvenile brain. It’s how things are. Every now and then the two meat on common ground when two people find each other and recognize the other one as ‘one of those’ or even ‘one of us’. The old spirits who are truly age-less. These amazing people that seem not to be locked into the age their physical presence prescribes. They’re souls, they’ve circled, they know, they reconize and they do not care for wether the other person is physically older or younger. They are the ones who recognize true age, the age of the heart. I do not believe in re-incarnation because I know, the memory and the experience is simply to vivid not to be understood.

And I guess I’m one of them. I’ve been here before.

I’ve been young and I’ve been old. Now I’m in between the two. I have experiences, I’ve loved and have been loved, fell in love and lost it, been rich and poor, healthy and less healthy. It really doesn’t matter that much anymore. It seems that I’ve past the boundary of ignorance and I’ve loved and hated the journey. But it’s coming to an end because I do know where I am, what I am and why. There’s no need for what other people find important.

By surprise I found that it’s clear now. I don’t mind how things go unless I can be with the ones I love and create whatever my minds tells me to. I am for what it’s worth my art and my art is my life. No boundaries, no consessions, no hustling. I just know I’ll be fine, I’ll just grow younger or maybe even shrink younger. I am opposite.

Anna.

Farewell

Something happened today. Or more precise: someone happened to me today. As a result I wrote a poem in Dutch. But as it is so very important for me I want to share it with my English readers. So I translated it. This is what became of that.

Slowly I bid farewell
to the unrest in me
and the violence in my heart
which I do not endure.

Quietly I leave the crossroads
because I chose the way before
and a compass is not needed
for the right course.

I know that I know and see
see, hear, feel, move and breath
pick up what I find on the road
and know when to embrace.

There is no route, no map
no defined path
no desired goal
only uniform motion.

Confrontation was an abstraction
of needless thoughts
and unasked questions that
did not allow answers.

The theme was the mirror
that hid love until
I understood that it can only be there
if I allow that myself.

I am my alternative
my reason for rest
because the path leaving the crosroads
is in me. Invisible visible.

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Karma

No I am not a Buddhist. Nor am I an educated Hindu. I am also not a Christian anymore and certainly not Muslim. In fact I am non religious.

But am I really?

Well, maybe not. Maybe I am a religious person but in a different way. Maybe I do believe in powers stronger than mankind. Maybe I do believe in good fate and bad fate.

I do believe in a certain balance from within. A balance I am slowly learning to understand. The Buddhist principal of enlightment is something I think I understand. Up to a level. However, I do not understand why Buddhists can be as violent as they often are. Because I know they are. I’ve seen too much of that in regard to Bhutan. And I do not accept that it’s the Birmese Buddhist monks that are as true racists hindering Islamic charity organizations to enter the country and help the poor people in the refugee camps in the west of Birma along the Bangladesh border.

Islam is something I cannot embrace. It’s too violent. There are too many wars fought by Muslims nowadays. And I think that just as in other religions there really is a terrible inequality between men and women. Let alone other genders like me. No matter what other Muslims say, there seems to be an unbreachable gap between the Islam vision on humanity and the lack of positive action in the world coming from Muslim countries.

Same goes for Judism for as far as I am concerned. Because the politics from Israel (and their US based supporters) is disgusting. To my opinion.

I am certainly not Christian. I know too much of history to be able to be Christian. I would be too ashamed to be part of that religion. And I know I don’t believe in hell. Actually, that is the very reason why I cannot be a Christian anymore. I simply cannot mentally accept that there would be a God of revenge allowing a place like hell to exist. For me that God would not be a God but quite the opposite.

Hindu? No. Because there are too much problems in that. I love some cultural aspects of Hinduism and I certainly am positively interested in the concept of integration of the Hindu Gods in daily life. But I doubt the way minorities are treated and the caste system that seems to have originated from Hinduism is something I can never accept. It is horrendous.

But I do believe in the concept of karma. The concept of predestination on the basis of how people act and how ‘the system’ works. The concept of consequences connected with acts and thoughts and the lasting effect of that. Even on to new life over the border of death. Reincarnation is something that I can believe in. Just as people say they’ve not seen proof I find that there has also not been proof against it. And I do have some experiences I cannot explain and that haven proven to me that these connections to previous lives are certainly possible.

And I do believe in dharma. In doing what I have to do. And what I have to do is what I know by heart is the only reasonable option to do. Always. That includes the positive and negative and the choices I make and have made in life. I do believe that there is a framework, a masterplan, that we do not see or know. But that guides our lives.

And I have learned to trust both dharma as a sort of guidance system in my life nowadays and karma as the inevitability of how life unravels itself to me (and others). I solidly believe that there are reasons for me to be who I am and to experience my life like it is. Which is why I meditate, read the old Hindu books and slowly learn the importance of that guidence system in life. It is why I honor deteis like Nataraja and Ardhanrishvara as the two Hindu Gods that are closest to my inner person. That is where the connection lies and that is what I am slowly starting to understand as the core mechanism of my being.

Real life proves it to me.

Example. I live a poor life. I am pretty sure that just about everyone I talk too has an economically easier life than I have. And if I would really have to live off the funds I have available it would we be totally impossible to live in this complicated money driven society. I am in fact living at the sideline.

Which is fine with me.

Because I’ve learned to trust karma. I’ve learned that when things are really important and need funds to be supported on an acceptable level, I can trust that there will always happen something positive. Just today, that positive way of looking at life got rewarded. Our work (mine and my friends work) is on display in a gallery in the best possible manner. And that little backup that I need to be able do that one thing that is so important for the research on my new book, seems to be there. Totally unexpected when looked at from a western perspective but totally expected when looked at from an eastern perspective. Karma proved its existence again to me.

I suppose for a lot of people this thinking is unrealistic or even crap. But for me it certainly is not. It is how my life works. And I don’t mind. Actually I like it this way. I guess I am partly Hindu, a little Buddhist with a Christian background which originated from Judaism. A wonderful mix.

So, why did I write this?
I wouldn’t know. I suppose I just had to.

© 2012 Alice Anna

A postcard from Jane.

Today, to my surprise, I received a postcard from Jane. Jane Morris. She lived in England between 1839 and 1914. She was a model. In those Victorian times she was one of the three grand ladies of painting next to Elisabeth Siddal who was portrayed as Ophelia by the great painter John Everett Millais and Dorothy Dene, one of the three muses I am writing about in my new novel. Dorothy was no doubt the most beautiful of the three but she was a kind of Marilyn Monroe and died at a too early age of 39 presumably of laudanum overdose but probably due to an abortion that went wrong.

Anyway, Jane Morris was as a model rather surprisingly probably the most successful of the three women. She was married to a known and respected painter and by that was wealthy compared to others. And she was the lover of Dante Gabriel Rosetti, the prince charming of the pre Raphaelites. Jane is the most portrayed and Jane was no doubt the least talented of the three models in those days. Dorothy was an actress and Elisabeth Siddal a very talented paintress. Jane however was a model of vry humble working class descent, her talent being a mystifying beauty and an enduring inspiration to both Rosetti as her husband William Morris.

So, Jane wrote me a few days ago from London. Having lunch on a boat not far from the Tate where her portraits hang, in between writing her lifestory. A couple of months ago we’ve met in a café just around the corner where I live. She told me about her life and I told her about mine. You see, I identify as much with Lena Dene as my table partner identifies with Jane. Lena is, as you might already know from my other writings, the younger and unknown sister of the fore mentioned Dorothy and in real life was named Isabell Helena Pullen, a cockney girl by birth. Anyway I talked to Jane, or her reincarnation, that day and was struck by the amazing resemblence of her with the Jane from way back then. During the following months I researched for my book and in the process thought of this Jane many times. I saw her portraits hundreds of times. And now I received this wonderful postcard. Seems she’d been thinking of me too in the past time and as she wrote followed my advice, went back to London and started writing. I wonder what will come of that.

Hopefully we’ll meet again soon.

© 2012 Alice (Lena) Anna Verheij

Give me a reason.

Some time ago, this song helped me. I don’t know why because a few years later I feel even more worn out. Actually, I guess I am. What’s left of me is my ability to write the book I’ve been compelled to write for such a long time. So I can close it, no matter what. I am sorry, It will not be a nice story.

Give me reason
to go on and on
a reason to fight
a straw to hold

Give me a reason
to keep trying
against the odds
and in the cold

Give me a reason
to live a dream
a cause to chase
a path to walk

Give me a reason
to not give up
and try again
and to grow old

Give me a reason
to love this life
for what it is
a life too bold

I guess I am like Kerouac’s fabulous yellow roman candle. Mad to talk, mad to llive, mad to be saved. Burning candles will some day extinguish.

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

De wereld veranderd niet.

Als documentair kunstenaar wordt ik soms getroffen door analogiën in oude kunst met mijn eigen werk. Christa Zaat, een facebook kunstverzamelaar die een onvoorstelbaar fraaie verzameling Victoriaanse en Edwardiaanse schilderijen op haar facebook gepubliceerd heeft, verraste me met een schilderij van de Engelse schilder Walter Langley. Zijn schilderij ‘Waiting for the boats’ laat vissersvrouwen zien die wachten op de boten die op haringvangst buitengaats waren. Ze kijken met afwachting, spanning en soms angst naar de zee bij de haven. Komen de mannen terug? Zijn alle boten er? Is mijn geliefde er bij? Of mijn zoontje?

Het schilderij laat het leven zien van de vrouwen in mijn familie een paar generaties terug. Mijn opa was immers een visser. En zijn vader ook. De spanning op de gezichten zijn een voorbode van het leed dat mogelijk op de vrouwen wacht. Want als de mannen niet terugkeerden lag nog zwaardere armoede in het verschiet.

Walter Langley (English painter) 1852 – 1922
Waiting for the Boats, 1885

Maar het schilderij riep bij mij nog iets heel anders op. De treffende gelijkenis in de uitdrukking op de gezichten van de vrouwen die ik fotografeerde in een vluchtelingenkamp in Nepal zes weken nadat een brand hun kamp en alles wat ze bezaten verbrandde. Ik weet overigens bijna zeker dat enkelen van hen inmiddels in Amerika of Australië, Nederland of Nieuw Zeeland of in een ander land wonen, begonnen aan een nieuw en minder uitzichtloos maar zeker ook moeilijk bestaan.

© 2011 Alice Anna Verheij
Vluchtelingen vrouwen en kinderen wachtend op hulp, mei 2011 Goldhap Camp, Nepal

De vrouwen op mijn foto wachten op wat er gebeuren gaat. Er wordt die dag hulp gebracht maar of zij daar wat van krijgen is niet duidelijk. De zwaarte van hun bestaan drukt op ze als een loden last en de ogen stralen niet alleen berusting uit maar soms ook wanhoop. Het beeld van deze foto is er slecht één van de honderden, nee duizenden, die op mijn netvlies staan en die ik in vele foto’s en videobeelden heb. Ze doen pijn. En ze motiveren me om door te gaan met wat ik doe: de beelden delen met een ieder die bereid is de ogen open te houden voor het leed van anderen. Mijn vrouwen zijn geen visservrouwen maar vluchtelingen, gevlucht voor een regime dat niet schroomde om een groot deel van het eigen volk het land uit te jagen. Zoals de visservrouwen de slachtoffers waren van hun armoede in een maatschappij die niet voor ze zorgde.

Er is in pakweg honderdvijfentwintig jaar in werkelijkheid niets veranderd. De ogen van zij die het zwaar hebben laten dat zien. In 1885 en in 2011, dezelfde blik, vergelijkbaar leed:

Hierbij nog wat gegevens over Langley’s schilderij voor de liefhebbers (met dank aan Christa):

Langley’s mastery of watercolour allowed him to capture the clear morning light of Cornwall as the fisherwomen wait on the quayside by the seawall in the last few moments of leisure when they are able to share news, knit and read letters from relatives as they await the arrival of the herring fleet that has been away at sea and is returning with the day’s catch. All is still and peaceful before these women’s strenuous daily work begins and the women have to unload and clean the fish. The youngest of the women appears to be concerned about the arrival of the boats, perhaps nervous that not all of them will return; many men were killed in ocean storms. The anxious expression on her young face is in contrast to the weather-beaten skin of the older women who are used to sitting and waiting for the boats. It is this subtle sentiment that Langley was able to capture so convincingly, because he understood the women and their hopes and fears and knew what it was like to be poor and to work hard.

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Retreat

Yesterday was great. Just like the day before. Traveling, enjoying beauty and friendship. Photographing the beauty of the world. The days gave me images like these:

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And they’re beautiful as you can see.

Today however was an extreme contrast. The mailbox brought mixed surprises. A bad one that clearly demonstrates the complexity of life that to me has become like a Gordian knot, impossible to untie. And it brought me my new ‘business’ cards. The old ones are finished, so I needed new ones. I like the new ones that are more connected with my life now. The front shows my writing desk and the manuscript I work on. The back side shows the two most important things I do. Finishing the documentary and writing the novel.

Looking at the card and thinking about the coming months I know that choices need to be made. About the novel, about the film, about my own future and ultimately about my life. Working on the film will continue until it’s finished, we target at end of year but my co-producer won’t be around in December and I will not make this film the solitary product it has been while filming it. So it might take a few more months and probably be relased about a year later than was intended. I guess that’s how things are when making films on a tight budget with little resources. But we’ll get there and the changed concept has made it a lot easier to get it done.

The novel is something else. I work on it on an almost daily basis now. Sometimes I skip a day. The research is almost done except for some location visits in London. They will probably happen when spring comes near early next year. And I know I now need to isolate myself from the normal daily life to be able to write the book. Everything is there already, story, chracters, scenes, dramatic development and controversial subtopics. So, what I will do is to make a winter writing break starting early December.

Which is a good thing as I hate the fall and winter and the holidays scare me. I detest Christmas and don’t want to be part of it. Every year it is bugging me more. Probably because of the deepfelt lonelyness that catches me in December. So to add things up, I will go in a retreat during December. I’ll skip the traditional festivities because they hurt me and hide myself somewhere in the countryside in a small hideaway without internet. My only connection to the outside world will be the a car that enables me to do the shopping for food and a phone. Which will probably be switched off most of the time. Where exactly I will be is something I will not disclose. And at the end of year around New Years eve I expect to have finished the bulk of the work on the manuscript og my new novel. After that others will correct it and the discussions with publishers will start. Because this book is to be published differently from the previous ones.

So, for anyone concerned, it is no use to try to contact me in December. I won’t be there. Only a handful of people will know my whereabouts and some friends will know my phonenumber which will be different from the one on my card. I expect to return early 2013. This month I will try to get most of the essential things managed to enable me to jump out of the loop. It’s about time I do so.

Alice Anna

The Writing Desk.

Yesterday I did something tremendously important. I created the writing desk for my next book. A couple of months I was lucky when somewhere else in the house I live in a small desk became available. It is the perfect little desk that can be closed to lock away things and opened to give me a writing spot that’s near perfection.

I am writing a novel about the women at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century. I live in a late nineteenth century house in a late nineteenth century part of town in a almost cliché writers room. Small and cluttered with my belongings breathing an atmosphere of past times and orientalism. My room connects with my work. The desk is made of wood and comes from the 1950’s or earlier. It is small but big enough for work and for storage of the books I need. It can hold a vase with flowers and my personal things like the little china boxes and perfume bottles. It has a seat for some of the furries that have value for me and – out of sight – is a handmirror I use for morning make up and to look myself in the eyes every now and then.

Writing a novel requires a well arranged location to do that. Every book has it’s own specific spot. The first one was a café, the second one another café. The third was my bed and the fourth was again a café which actually played a significant role in the novel. Novel five was written in a mountain camp on a small terrace with just a small table in complete isolation overlooking the Himalayans. The perfect spot to keep me in the right mood for that book. The result is Headwind, Laxmi’s Story and was published recently. (Buy it here!). That ‘desk’ looked like this:

And as humble as it looks, when the view is unveiled I had while writing one can imagine that writing a novel in such a place is literally a breeze. Sorry for making anyone jealous. Of course Kakani, the place in the Nuwakot area close to Kathmandu is fixed in my memory like a beautiful dream. In fact I quite often dream about that place.
But, my next novel is somethings else. It is a book about beauty and decay, love and limitations, models, painters, sculpters and the occasional poet. It’s about the love between two women that could be labelled as lesbian love but was much more than that and about the need and importance of adjusting ones sexuality to the circumstances in life. And because of that it is a book about myself. Hence the mirror in my desk.

My room has old things in it. A 1910 Underwood typewriter. Little bronzes and books, a lot of books everywhere. There’s a chandelier and the kiss from Klimt is on the wall covering almost all of that wall. And now, there is this little desk that will become like a second home and where I no doubt will spend a lot of my time writing. The desk in Kakani is no longer there as a desk. No traces left. The writing spots in the café’s are just tables for people to have a coffee or a lunch. My bed is what it is, my bed. And what will become of this desk? Will it survive after the work is done? Or will it stay with me and become the basis of work to come?

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Trippin’

Today someone gave me something I desired for quite some time. An old little automatic photo camera which I intend to use for lomography (LOMO photography). However, not with a LOMO but with something special. Alice Anna is trippin analogue!

The Olympus Trip 35 is a legendary camera. One of the first compact cameras made in Japan and produced from 1967 to 1984. One of the longest camera production runs ever and a total production figure of more than ten million! Once they were all around. Mine is an early 1978 model in absolutely perfect condition. It’s works like a charm and the old selenium cell obviously is still ok.

iPhone photo by me.

The good thing about this camera is… well actually the good things are a list of good things like these:

  • 100% mechanic
  • no battery needed, no electronics
  • extremely durable and keeps working under very difficult conditions
  • full metal body, hardly any plastic used
  • proper handling weight, not too light and not too heavy
  • uses ordinary 35mm film
  • automatic exposure based on film ASA and selected focal range, so just click away!
  • hot shoe for flash and normal tripod connection
  • it even has an image counter 🙂
  • release knob with mount for self timer and wire release
  • great Zuiko f2.8 40mm 4 elements and 3 groups front focussing Tessar lens
  • mechanical shutter release lock and indicator when light conditions are too low

Needless to say, I love this camera, it’s simplicity and its built quality. As mine is a rather new 1978 type there are no production issues or faults at all with it and it can still live for another couple of decennia. The images coming from this camera are amazing. The lens is of very high quality and it was used by many well known photographers to make amazing work. One of the best known was David Bailey who also made some commercials for this camera.

Anyway, I hope this little one is going to be with me for a long time and some of the results will be of your liking. As of today you might find me Trippin’ along.

© 2012 Alice Anna Verheij

Een kadootje voor mijn lezers.

Beste lezers,

soms moet je iets geks doen. Soms is dat heel zo gek niet.
Aangezien de drukkosten tegenwoordig hoog zijn en er geen fondsen zijn voor heruitgave van mijn debuutroman, gegeven dat ik die al lang in een eBook PDF versie klaar heb én gegeven dat ik gezien wat er allemaal dit jaar nog uitkomt aan nieuwe uitgaven, geef ik jullie hierbij een kado.

Daar is een reden voor. Ik ben een tegenstander van het beleid van het inmiddels demissionaire kabinet dat over zijn graf heen regeert en nog steeds allerlei maatregelen er door drukt die de samenleving schaden en de zwakken in de samenleving hard in de portemonnaie treffen. Ik ben een tegenstander van het beleid van de gemeente Den Haag die in navolging van dit cultuurbarbaarse kabinet de kunsten in Den Haag afslachten door intrekking van de steun aan het Koorenhuis waar duizenden Hagenaars met veel plezier tegen redelijke kosten kunst leren beoefenen. En ik ben tegen het intrekken van de subsidies aan kleine theaters als Branoul en de Regentes die een functie hebben in deze stad. Dat soort beleid raakt mij aan alle kanten. Het creeërt een klimaat in de samenleving waarbij kunst als nutteloos, overbodig en zonder waarde wordt gepositioneerd. Als hobby, als tijdverdrijf.

Met het gratis beschikbaar stellen van mijn debuutroman maak ik een statement tegen dat beleid. Tegen de destructie van de kunst, of dat nu amateurkunst of ‘professionele’ kunst is. Het is een statement gemaakt met de wanhoop van de schrijfster en de bohémienne die deze samenleving onderuit ziet gaan en als enig antwoord daar op heeft haar kunst op straat te gooien. Niet omdat die kunst niks waard is, maar omdat het de enige manier is waarop iedereen met of zonder geld daar kennis van kunnen nemen. In de hoop dat de bestuurders ooit hun verstand terug krijgen.

Mijn debuutroman Eén latte, een cappu en een espresso is vanaf vandaag gratis te downloaden vanaf deze website én vanaf GoodReads. Het downloaden hier is natuurlijk het eenvoudigst want dat is als U dit leest precies één klik weg. Klik HIER voor de eBook versie.

Ben ik gek dat ik de eBook versie gratis weggeef? Absoluut!

Alice Anna Verheij

For my English speaking readers: what is written above this is an announcement of the availability of my debuting novel FOR FREE DOWNLOAD. It is in Dutch, so if you’re in for a challenge, please go ahead and download and enjoy the book. And spread the word! To get it, just click on THIS.

Is this me I’m looking at?

Today I made a walk round the block with my daughter. On just an ordinary Sunday late afternoon with the intention to visit a garden in the neighborhood and after that drink a beer at the café where I spend some of my days while researching and writing on my new novel. I seem to run on one café per novel.

I took my photo camera with me as I do quite often these days. I knew the garden was beautiful and when I’m together with Eva I also know that inspiration might start flowing. The pictures simply get better with the right company and I just love it when she comes along taking her sketchbook with her to work on some sketches. I see her work improving when allow ourselves to discuss it.

photo © Eva Verheij 2012

And sometimes we take photos of each other. So she made a couple of photos of me and one of these surprised me when I saw the result. Because of the neutrality of it. Many thoughts went through my head and I couldn’t get a grip on what it is that brings emotion to me while looking at my own photo.

At the cafe it did some post production editing on some of the photos and I am quite happy with a few of them. There is a series of water drops on leaves with amazing colors and some surprises in them that I will publish on Facebook as a series. The title will be ‘Emma’s Tears’ because I associate the drops on the leaves with tears and the photos were taken at ‘Emma’s Hof’ (Emma’s Court) close by.

‘Naked’ photo © Alice Verheij 2012

And while looking at the result of this photo escapade in the early hours of the night one photo drew my attention. It took a while but then all of a sudden it hit me. It’s a photo of a tulip in the wind unveiling it’s inner parts through the gaps in between the flowers leaves and through the sunlight that falls on the flower. For some reason I felt a parallel between the photo Eva made of me and the photo I made of the flower. The words describing that parallel is: fragility and vulnerability.

Because that is what I see when looking at myself on the photo made by my daughter. I can see that I have aged over the past few years. Quite rapidly. I can see that I’ve lost so much of all the layers encapsulating me. Looking at this photo I see myself emotionally naked. All the non relevant things have gone and what’s left is a face that shows vulnerability. A fragile face with traces on it of experiences that have been difficult. An when I look into my own eyes I see pain and a kind of softness that does not connect with the image I had of myself. The image of a strong woman who can do it all and who cannot be brought down.

The past evening Eva and I watched the movie ‘Untouchables’ and I realized that it must be easy to get hurt in the situation of both main characters and that it must be just as easy for me to get hurt. Because I lack the defense against bad times. Maybe that’s the reason why my next book is about a young and beautiful woman who was a great model in Victorian times but who had to face the reality of life, the reality of growing old in a difficult situation.

Things seem so much connected these days. What I do and make, how I write, the photos I take and even the music I listen to and the films I watch. I feel like that tulip, vulnerable and visible. I guess that’s what happens to some people at a certain moment in their life. And I feel tired of the fight for my existence in the past decade.

Alice © 2012