Sunday, December 29

DISGRACE

On Christmas Eve, my brother and I took my mother to a trendy sushi restaurant. My brother had just arrived from London, I had spent the afternoon cooking huge amounts of pasta, potatoes and beans. When we sat down I wanted to tell my brother something amazing: that I was engaged to someone I truly loved, that we would move to Paris or China, that even though I looked poor I had bought a new apartment and a horse. In reality it felt like I had aged a lot within a short time, that I had lost part of my beauty, and that every time he looked at me he saw my loss. For some reason I still wanted my brother’s approval, still wanted him to tell me what I did was right. My mother ordered sushi with black caviar, then dropped half of her caviar in her soy sauce. When we finished eating my brother said: “Margot, we have to teach our mother how to use chopsticks. The way she uses them is a disgrace.”      


Monday, December 23

PROJECT

Gretchen Rubin wrote a great book called ‘The Happiness Project’. Even if you’re happy with your life there are always things which can make you happier. She talks about things which make sense: if you remove clutter from your house you will feel better, and if you go to bed earlier, you will be able to cope with hardship if it comes your way. If you make a conscious effort to do things you enjoy, like taking a short walk during your lunchbreak, or having a cup of coffee with your friends, you might be able to deal with adversity if it comes. She also recommends starting your own happiness project. So far I’ve filled three months: remove clutter in January, read about spirituality in February and taking a painting class in March. But let’s handle Christmas first.  


    

Sunday, December 15

HEAVEN

Sometimes I imagine heaven will be like the new city hall. The entrance will be a made out of glass and white concrete. Inside will be a large counter, made out of marble, where some dark haired women are doing their paperwork. Their desks are clean and spacious, they only wear white clothes. The receptionist, a tall blonde, gives me a number and tells me to wait. Finally one of the dark haired women calls out my name. She turns around to file her paperwork and this is when I notice she has wings. ‘Have a seat,’ she says firmly, as I approach her desk. Her smile is so radiant, it almost hurts.
She glances at her paperwork and asks: 'So you are Margot Morgan?’ I nod and quickly take a seat.
There are a lot of notes, and there’s an evaluation form about my life. She takes the evaluation form and asks: ‘Were you able to bring light into the world?’ I hesitate before I reply. She continues and explains: ‘If you’ve hurt people intentionally you get minus ten points, if you’ve hurt people unintentionally you get minus five.’ She sharpens her pencil and smiles at me. I tell her I’ve tried to live a good life, that I wanted to bring joy into the world, that for me writing stories equaled happiness. She looks at me like she doesn’t believe me. ‘You’ve broken many hearts,’ she says while looking at her forms. I explain to her that my heart has been broken, that’s why I started breaking hearts. ‘I broke them by accident,’ I tell her.
‘That’s no excuse,’ she says. She then sums up the seven sins and asks me was I lustful, greedy, envious, or proud. Before I answer she tells me: ‘Your true enemy is the flesh, Margot. Your were given life to conquer your desires and make other people happy. Your senses are an optic illusion, I do hope you  realize that?’ ‘Yes, of course,’ I answer her.
She takes the evaluation form and gives it to a male colleague, who has even bigger wings than her. ‘Life confused me,’ I tell her, as if this statement will explain my sins. ‘Gabriel will process your id-card for heaven,’ she says. ‘However, due to your lustful behavior, it might expire within two years. You will then be reincarnated and sent back to planet earth.’
‘I thought there would be heaven and there would be hell, no one told me about the reincarnation part.’
She sighs, runs her fingers through her long dark hair and tells me: ‘Yes, that’s confusing, isn’t it? We will give you a booklet about heaven while you wait. Just remember, Virginia Woolf was right. Heaven is a place where you can read endlessly.’



Monday, December 9

HAPPINESS

The weather in Paris was as I wished it would be; it wasn’t cloudy, it didn’t rain, and on some days you could even see the sun. While walking through the city I wanted to trick my brain into believing I was happy, after all, this was Paris, the uncontested ancient capital of happiness. Moto taxi guy was still living at the same place, he still didn’t have a kitchen, just a water cooker and a microwave. Being with him made me feel younger, and somehow I hoped that he would notice that. I wore more make-up than usual, applied pink and brown eye shadow, thinking he might comment when he looked at me. We had sex on the carpet, which was uncomfortable of course. Afterwards we went for a walk down the Champs Elysees. I wanted him to hold my hand, to tell me something like: “Margot, I’ve missed your strength, your tenderness.” Like Whitney Houston I was looking for love in all the wrong places.   


Tuesday, December 3

FOCUS

Back in Paris one can always choose what to focus on. You can focus on the homeless people in front of Gare du Nord, the ones that are drunk, sitting on the street next to their big dogs and cardboard boxes. You can focus on the smell of urine as you exit the station, the beggars wanting to read your palm, the cheap fast-food restaurants opposite the street where you once kissed a friend goodbye, a friend you haven’t seen in years. Or you can focus on the skinny girls wearing nice dresses, the possible smell of Chanel in their raincoats, the bakery which always sells the pastries that you love. And so you focus, you take the metro with your big suitcase, knowing that wherever it is you are going you brought too many shoes. You exit the metro and inhale the smells of Paris, the smell of poverty, the smell of riches, the smell of wanting love and finding what you want. You wish you had a different haircut, a nicer outfit, some decent jewelry, a song that you could sing out loud. You exit the metro knowing you don’t have to wait anymore. He is there, just like you imagined him to be, taking your suitcase, smiling, asking you how you are.