Thursday, November 6, 2014

Expat loneliness...does it get any better?

The rains have started here in Portugal. It's funny, when I first moved here two years ago, all I kept reading about was how good the weather was and how much the sun shines here. Once the rains start it just gets damp, humid and grey and it rains for days at a time. Most apartments don't have central heating or very good insulation, so it is always cold. Last year my clothes got mouldy in the closet from the damp humidity. I am dreading the upcoming winter and I have a strong urge to run away to somewhere warm, where my bones don't feel cold.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Downward Spiral

 Ungrounded, unfounded. Tumbling, falling sensation.
 Dizziness, as the body sways I feel like I am on a boat.
On a path of self destruction.
Just need some earth
Upon which to stomp my feet
To shout out to the Universe
That I have arrived. And I am staying.
Not going anywhere, but here at this moment.
So stop with your torment. Leave me alone.

Sweet escape is sometimes the spiral,
Taking you downward
Spinning, spinning, a vortex out of control.
Round and around, arms flailing, crying out
Pull me out, pull me out, I'm drowning
It's easy to blame someone else
Until you realize you're the only one with the power
To pull yourself out of your own deep, dark, internal hell.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Uncomfortably Numb

I am not feeling grounded. I don't know what I need to do in order to feel ok. I twisted my knee one week after arriving in Lisbon and it was quite painful and debilitating, stopping me from exploring the city as I wanted to, because the hills are so steep and so I had to rest, but didn't. Drinking excessively seemed like a good idea as I managed the pain that way. And drinks are so cheap here in Lisbon it always seems to be a good option.
I spent loads of time at Le Marais, a wine bar owned by a French gay man a stones throw from my new apartment and got to know many people. Trouble was, the place was on my way home from work so I would stop in with the intention of having one glass of wine, which inevitably turned into not leaving to go home to an empty apartment until I was completely inebriated.
There was a loneliness gripping my soul. I would go home and look out my window at the beautiful red rooftops and miss my kids, and miss San Francisco and the community of friends I had there. But I knew that I did this for a reason and I must see it through now. No sooner did the knee heal, very slowly, almost two months later, I joined a gym, finally, to get back to a routine of fitness and get stronger as I had lost a ton of weight due to my knee and not being able to exercise, then I caught a cold. I was blowing my nose for a week and then this turned into an ear infection. I wasn't taking care of myself. I was out when I shouldn't have been, drinking way too much alcohol than was good for me. But how much is too much? I definitely have come to the conclusion that I have a drinking problem. I black out at least twice a week. I am pretty tired of not remembering how I got home. I somehow always manage to make it home though, which is quite a miracle. I lose things, and then wake up angry at myself because I lost that favourite hat or phone or scarf. It has been happening way too much over the last couple of years. Don't know why it is particularly bad or how it escalated. I know it's fucking up my health and it's a dangerous way to live. But I am not stopping, despite my better judgement. Maybe I don't love myself enough to stop this path of self destruction. And now I am far away from family, who always voiced concern and reason and made me stop for a bit and be responsible. Why don't I care? Why the incessant need to be numb? And still not ready to just stop what I am doing. Still not ready. When will I be? What needs to happen? Hasn't alcohol already done so much damage? Fucking hell.
When I lived in California there was always this spiritual thing and talking about chakras and auras and other things about being in tune with the Universe, and then I arrive here and it's all gobbledy-gook to people here. They have a hard enough time just surviving that when you talk about thinking positive and feeling grounded they stare at you as if you're stupid or you have too much time on your hands. I was talking to Paulo, my personal trainer assigned to me at the gym to help me reach my fitness and weight goals and was talking about yoga and needing to feel grounded, and he said people don't have time for that shit here. He said pilates was a fad and had passed and that yoga is simply not widely practiced here. Maybe Californians do have too much time on their hands. Maybe there is no "being in tune with the Universe" and it's all bullshit. I don't want to believe that this is all there is. I want to know that what you put out there comes back to you and really want to believe in energy and positive thoughts, but I am starting to wonder if maybe Europeans just don't think that way because of hardships they endure. Obviously adversity can make you jaded, but when do you put that aside and believe in something to make things better? Am I on a self destructive path? Do I want to kill myself slowly? Do I not believe in happiness anymore? Sometimes when alone I think about my life and wonder what the hell my purpose is here. I can't figure it out and I feel the tears building up inside my chest until they fall out of my eyes and I am sobbing like a baby. I don't know how this will end or if I will ever find what I am looking for. There's a pain inside that just won't let up, enveloping my soul like a thick velvet shroud. I can't throw it off. I was walking to the Pinco Doce yesterday afternoon and stepped on some loose dirt and fell onto my left ankle, the same leg where I twisted the knee. This morning my ankle is swollen. What the fuck? What the fuck is going on? Is there a message here? I have literally not been well since I arrived in Lisbon. I want to change this, but I think I need to change my state of mind first. I will let you of my progress in this area. So far it's not going so well.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New place, new life.

Drinking is an emotional thing. It joggles you out of the standardism of everyday life, out of everything being the same. It yanks you out of your body and your mind and throws you against the wall. I have the feeling that drinking is a form of suicide where you're allowed to return to life and begin all over the next day. It's like killing yourself, and then you're reborn. I guess I've lived about ten or fifteen thousand lives now.”

Charles Bukowski said that. Let's see. I haven't written in a while. I have completely changed my life in the past few months. A mother, a daughter, a sister, a real estate agent. I had all these labels pinned to me that I didn't want. I felt apathy. I felt disconnection. I didn't want any of it. I don't really know how the course of your life changes completely...if it's just destiny or if it's something that, deep down inside you know that you have control over, just by putting out into the Universe what you want. Does it really come back to you? I think so. Perhaps I am shallow and selfish. After being a single mother for eight years I left my children. Just left them and moved to another country. Who does that? Maybe someone who didn't have the fight left anymore.

I have been in Portugal for almost two months. My plan was to write stories of my adventures here in Lisbon. Truth is I have been lazy and drinking away most evenings since I arrived, perhaps living Bukowski's ten or fifteen thousand lives now. I came out for a job. I have been working, I found a place to live. I had a sort of rebirth. For almost twenty years I have not lived a life where it's only me to worry about. There's always been the kid or the husband, or the family. It was like I arrived and was like a kid in a candy store. Wow, just me? Trouble with that was I acted like I was on holiday. It didn't sink in at first. I am here to live. To change the course of my life. I have an opportunity that most people don't get. To completely change direction and out of the trap that you can set for yourself, that suffocates you, until you can't breathe and you're clinging on for dear life. You know what I am talking about. I have seen it, over and over.

It was like a holiday. I found a French wine bar down the street and some days, when I was too afraid to face the thick solitude of my flat, I would just go to Le Marais. It's sort of become my second home. Lisbon is full of lovely gay men. I have made many friends in that community now. I have made many friends period. I am settling in. Perhaps I should slow down and smell the roses. I suppose I had to go through that phase of feeling the freedom that hasn't been there, and let that run it's course and get it out of my system. I will share with you some of the fabulous spots I have found during these first few weeks. Of course, most places involve drinking. Let's see where this goes.

Friday, June 29, 2012

How to quit smoking

Afternoon Mimosas.
Deep ambient rhythm on the Bose
Ran out of cigarettes
Want to smoke
But want to quit

What to do?
Don't feel like walking down the hill
And then up the hill
And then up the stairs
Puffing and panting, wishing
That I had quit already.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


Connecting, like magnets on that first night
She hesitates; the last Bart train leaving the platform,
Not wanting to leave his side
First kiss, on the platform; holding on

“Don’t leave me,” she thinks,
“I don’t want to,” he thinks.

They end up at the Holiday Inn
The night, full of their desire
Beautiful, endless, beautiful,
Holding on. Holding on.

In the bathtub, he holds her, caresses her, kisses her,
Washes her, pushes her hair out of her eyes. Wet silence in the night, broken by little droplets of water when they move.

Making love, endlessly, passionately.
All throughout the night.

In the morning they dress.
She smokes a cigarette on the balcony
As they watch the morning begin on the noisy city street below

They go for coffee,
The passion and desire of the night still fresh
When her eyes lock with his, she has to look away
His eyes bore into her soul, she thinks he can see her from the inside out

Several rendezvous ensue. A picnic; a twilight drive above the City; watching it twinkle beneath them, a walk on the beach…Moments of deep connection;
Moments of passion. But perhaps it was all in her mind, and not at all in his.

She feels it is real.  She wants to buy what he’s selling,
Her need is real, her want is real, her passion is real.
But it’s not real. It’s made in China; a trinket made for many;

For he is a pretender. And he’s a good salesman. And she bought it.

But now she can’t even ask for a refund, because she already spent her money, and feels like a fool. Stupid girl.  No refunds. No returns. All sales are final.

It comes easy to him, and he forgets; turns off; disconnects; disengages.

All she has left is a shopping bag full of twisted emotions; and once again, like a broken doll, she has to sift through her sadness to untwist them and make sense of it all.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


You see her, walking down the street.
Mumbling to herself, pushing the shopping cart
Wild, dirty hair; yellow fingernails, missing teeth

You don't want to look at her because you are afraid
Of the truth and the sadness behind her eyes
You don't want to take the time to ask
Because you are afraid that her truth might be yours

Years and years from now. Broken promises and regrets.
False truths you believed in. Caved in; torn to pieces;
Pieces of you, pieces of her. You don't know which is which.