Tag Archives: scotland

Aerials at Crathes Enchanted Castle

26 Nov

 

University started back up with a bang. 3 months ago, I was in Peru with plenty of time to blog, structure Qayqa and social-medialise.  Since my return to Aberdeen, however, I’ve been living a demanding, well-structured life full of exercise and aerials. I teach 4 times a week.

 

Mondays, 7-9 pm:  Acrobatics at the University of Aberdeen

Tuesdays, 7-9 pm:  Flexibility class for working professionals at Studio 202

Thursdays, 6-9 pm:  Aerial Silks & Trapeze for students at Studio 202

Fridays, 7-9 pm:  Aerial Silks & Trapeze for working professionals at Studio 202

 

I’ve had a few people tell me they stumbled over this blog when they were looking up aerial classes in Aberdeen, and either accidentally bump into me at Studio 202 and make the connection later; or write me and join my classes. So if you’re out there, eager to start aerials or have a good stretch, this is my routine. Come to my classes!

Last week, however, all my classes went on hold because the Circus Society had been booked by Crathes Enchanted Castle to perform for 5 days – and I had been booked with them, on my aerial silks for the very first time in Scotland.

4 performances a night… for 5 days… In November.

I agreed to this in July, when I couldn’t imagine what “cold” felt like. By October, I was terrified. I woke up the morning of the performance at 6am, genuinely scared. I went to an Outdoor Adventure Clothing store and paid a ridiculously high price for thermal underwear.

I’ll philosophise about the Role of the Cold in my life in a bit, but first I would like to show you some pictures of the event. Here are a few I took, but I also strongly encourage you to visit the website of the event’s official photographer, Martin Parker, here. He has some stunning photographs of the castle and its grounds all magically lit up, like this:

Crathes Castle. Photograph by Martin Parker

Crathes Castle. Photograph by Martin Parker

Crathes Castle Grounds. Photograph by Martin Parker.

Crathes Castle Grounds. Photograph by Martin Parker.

Meanwhile, here are a few I took of our team on the first night. Missing only is a picture of Sandra, but you’ll find her in Martin Parker’s collection.

Big Man Barnaby

Big Man Barny

Hannah firebreathing while Emma hoola-hooped

Hannah firebreathing while Emma hoola-hooped

Emma's Mysterious Frolicking Creature, anything from Gollum to... a goat

Emma’s Mysterious Frolicking Creature, anything from Gollum to… a goat

the view to my office

where I danced

My area had Talking Trees, who discussed one another’s growth spurts, the fashion of the audience, and spiderwebs. This was the first time I didn’t have music for my performance, but the conversation of trees instead. It was a challenge. I spent the first 2 days fighting for music, but by the end of the 2nd day, friends assured me that not having music added a somewhat mystical value to my performance. I remembered that a lot of circus performances have begun to take place in total silence, and I accepted the challenge.

did get feedback that it would have been even more surreal had the trees stopped talking entirely while I performed. Personally, I have to agree. Total silence would have been nice. But towards the end of 5 days, I barely even heard them anymore.

I’ll let YOU decide, dear ayllu, and tell me what you think. Here is a video of my performance amongst slight raindrops, courtesy of My Special Man:

There’s a brilliant anecdote to this video.

This evening was was the very first time my man saw me perform live on the silks, so afterwards, I ran to hug him and hear all about it. I was so eager to hear his thoughts. “Did I scare you, in the end?” I asked excitedly, “When I dropped suddenly, did I scare you?”

“Oh, I knew you were always in control,” he bluffed.

“Seriously?” I was so annoyed with myself. “I didn’t scare you?”

“Well, the truth is…” he slowly began to admit, “I kinda missed the drop…”

“What? Why? What were you doing?”

You see, in the seconds before my final drop, my proud boyfriend had turned his back in order to take a selfie with his aerial girlfriend. . .

. . .When suddenly, the crowd shouted in surprise, and he turned, wondering: What? What did I miss??? 

The Selfie

The Selfie

This performance was not only my very first aerial performance in Scotland… It is also my goodbye to my red silks. Over the last 5 years, we’ve worked so well together: in short films, hanging from a 10 meter crane, teaching my very first students in Aberdeen how to fly… They are well over their retirement age and have certainly lost a lot of elasticity. Silks are usually used for 2-3 years; mine are over 5 years old. It is time to say goodbye to my darlings.

I think this was a more than worthy farewell.

During the performance, knowing that this will be the last time we work together, I became aware of how much I trust them. How I reach for them without looking, because I know they are where my hands expect them to be. Before every performance, I touch them gently, look up at their securing point and whisper Please take care of me. We’ll do this together. And they’ve never let me fall.

This is the most beautiful, heart-stopping view to me.

Photo 20-11-2014 00 44 06

Here are a few more images from the nights at Crathes Enchanted Castle:

Photo 21-11-2014 23 15 56

my favourite by Elsie Liontou

 

And favourites by Martin Parker:

copyright Martin Parker

copyright Martin Parker Photography

copyright Martin Parker

copyright Martin Parker Photography

copyright Martin Parker

copyright Martin Parker Photography

Now I wasn’t too delighted at performing in the cold. If anything, most aspects of my life in Scotland revolve around The Art Of Not Feeling Cold. I arrived in Scotland complete with a UV light therapy gadget. My man has nicknamed me “the Firefighter” because of my winter fashion.

Other girls and me

The cold usually makes me very bad-tempered, unhappy and generally super bitchy.

Photo 21-11-2014 13 31 13

And if you’re wondering where I’m getting all these pictures from, check out this great page: 27 Things Girls Who Are Always Cold Know To Be True. Story of my life.

So I find it interesting that the one time I perform on the aerial silks in Scotland, it’s in the dead of winter. Barefoot. Or that the one time I decide to go to university, it’s in the north of Scotland. Etc etc ad infinitum.

You have to admit that Life really is throwing almost a lot of the things at me which I happen to despise the most. And yet, I’m enjoying my time in Scotland so much.

Life, in its Infinite Wisdom, is throwing the things at me that will challenge me the most. And thanks to that, I am learning.

Learning how to stay warm for 5 days and not get sick afterwards.

Finally buying thermal underwear so I don’t freeze.

Finding the strength within me to suck it up and perform barefoot.

Maybe living in a country that has four seasons (my main complaint) isn’t so bad for the value of the lessons I’m learning. Because after the 3rd night of performing, when it was windy and freezing, I heard myself say on the 4th night: “8 degrees? Wow, it’s warm!”

This is how we change.

Or maybe Life just has a sadistic sense of humour and loves picking on me. I prefer to believe the former!

Yes We Can!

We Can Do It!

Dear ayllu, in 2 weeks, we university students have our winter exams. After this, we’re away on our Christmas break and I will be able to blog more and tell you all about Qayqa. I skyped with Mark today, who is in Cologne, also performing, and we quickly discussed the last bits and pieces. I’ll keep you informed on the process.

Finally, I would like to leave you with a short clip I shot just for you, for this blog. I’ll explain: for 5 long nights, opera music was put in an endless 5-hour-long loop to accompany the hoola hoop fire performances. Pleasant as it was, it didn’t take very long to exhaust everyone’s eardrums. I once did the entire walk through the Enchanted Forest, looking at the lit-up trees, hearing the bizarre and spooky sound effects, and I commented to the sound technician: “If you took LSD then walked through that forest, it would the trip of your life!”

He joked back: “Then maybe on the last night we should have a rave!”

On the last night, after the audience had left, the gates had closed and everyone was taking down their stuff, he put on delicious trance beats that fit remarkably well to the projections on the castle. I just had to film it.

So here it is, from me to you, sending you love from Scotland.

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What Other Artists Are Doing

5 Sep
urban pole at the International Potato Center

urban pole at the International Potato Center

Dear ayllu,

In a few days, I’ll be flying back to Scotland and from what I’ve heard from my friends, the welcoming parties for the new students are already starting in full swing. The day after I land, I will be running to registration offices… attending the Freshers’ Fair, where our Circus Society will be telling the newbies what we’re all about… spending the afternoon at Give-It-a-Go, in which we’ll perform and give sporadic trapeze & silks workshops on the university lawn… and see all my friends again after a 3 month summer break.

I’ve had such a great time blogging more often. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too! As always, I don’t know how much I’ll be able to blog once I’m back in Scotland, but I’m optimistic (as usual) that since I now know what university’s about, I’ll be able to balance it better.

Today is my last day at the International Potato Center. I’m just finishing up my work. The two videos I worked on have been shown at several conferences and the feedback was very good, especially for the project trailer. The minute it’s up on the CIP website / YouTube page, I’ll publish the link. It will best explain the project I’ve been a part of this past month.

with my supervisor Veronique and my fellow crazy intern Kathleen

with my supervisor Veronique and my fellow crazy intern Kathleen

So before I leave the country, I wanted to leave you with some videos of artists who have been influencing me, and who I have cast a firm and fascinated eye on. If you follow me on Twitter or Tumblr, then you’ll already know most of this, but I did want to dedicate a blog to what other artists are doing.

Firstly, with love from Scotland, the man who was supposed to follow his father’s footsteps and take over the local fish and chips shop:

 

Who knows where the audio track in the middle of the song is from? Here’s a clue:

the-great-dictator-1940-wallpapers-9

Secondly, a short report introducing a fantastic new band and Grammy nominee, with love from Lima, Peru:

Visit their Official Website to know how you can get their music!

 

This is a fascinating film, based on a true story, that I cannot wait to see. It might be in your local indie cinema at the moment, so please rush to see it if you can.

I spent this week reading the following memoir and, because I am superstitious, I’m raced to finish it before my flight. It’s the true story of Juliane Koepke, who, when she was 17, became the sole survivor of a plane crash en route to the jungle city Pucalpa. She fought her way through the Amazon rainforest for 11 days with fractured bones, eventually finding her way out and discovering that everyone else, including her mother, had perished in the accident. Approximately 50 years later, she published her memoirs.

Juliane Koepke

Juliane Koepke

As “chance” will have it, her book has just been translated into Spanish and in a few days times, Juliane Koepke will be arriving and signing this book in Lima. I, unfortunately, will have left by then, so I urge everyone who will be here to go to the event, meet her, and get a copy of her book. It is very very good.

Here is the official invitation:

koepke

If you happen to not be in Peru, you can console yourself with an excellent documentary about Juliane’s survival by German director Werner Herzog, entitled Wings Of Hope. As “chance” would have it, he was desperately trying to get on that fated flight as well, as he was in the middle of finding Aguirre in the Peruvian Amazon. The flight, however, was overbooked, and he and his film team couldn’t get on.

Scoot up, I’m trying to watch this too:

Well, my friends, I have to get some work done before the day is through. I hope you enjoyed this first round of What Other Artists Are Doing. I’ll keep you informed on good art I discover along the way. Until then, I leave you with something I have been doing… with you… MY BLURB.

Thank you to everyone who gave me such excellent feedback; who wasn’t annoyed at me for bugging them about it. This is it. Unless I change something else.

You’re a fool if you think we work the fields! The fields work us!”

This foreboding riddle could have led Damian to be more careful with the Earth, but not much makes sense when you have knots growing out of your head. The young traveller works at a circus of flying people. He learns how to help others with magical plants, but neglects opening his own knots.

When Damian thoroughly loses what is left of his balance, he falls over the horizon. He wakes up to find himself in a desolate desert where the Earth sees him as a seed that refuses to grow. Only by striking a friendship with a charming but cheeky potato and learning to look the Earth in the eye, can Damian hope to open his knots and return to his side of the horizon.

Rooted in Peruvian mythology, Qayqa is a novel about the living energy of the universe, a fairytale about finding yourself.

Got thoughts on it? Let me know what you think!

Love, Ritti

In Which I Doubt Occasionally

20 May
obviously paying close attention in class

obviously paying close attention in class

University life is quickly coming to an end for the summer, which means I will be more active on my blog in the next few months. Hurray! University has been great to me and just earlier, walking through the quiet campus, I felt very happy to be a part of this place. I think it was definitely the right decision to come here.

But I am not without my doubts. Truth be told – especially when I hear about how amazingly well my friend Ben is doing. He moved to Berlin a year ago to do an internship with a StartUp and has been doing amazingly for himself since then. He sends me all his updates and I am overwhelmed and proudly happy for him – with a human tinge of envy. If you want to know what Ben’s been up, check out this great interview he gave for Die Zeit, which really explains it best: http://www.zeit.de/studium/uni-leben/2014-04/selbststudium-education-hacking

I know it’s normal to ask myself if, maybe, just maybe, I couldn’t be using this time better: What if I were focussing on my writing instead of being at university? What if I were giving readings night after night instead?

photo 4

 

Where would I be instead? Could I achieve more?

These are very normal doubts and I am filled with them occasionally – but they are never strong enough for me to consider packing my bags. I love everything my university life has to offer, from the studying to the carefree enjoyment of life (which, if we’re calling a duck a duck, is terribly relaxing after constantly worrying how to pay the rent… suffer the antagonism of being the black sheep in the family who just won’t get a normal job… wonder how to get more gigs… and how I’m going to buy food).

My greatest joy in Aberdeen is the Aerials & Acrobatics group I founded.

silks hanging

A few weeks ago, I invited my friend Philipp (who I met at the EJC in France last summer) to give an acrobatics workshop to my acrobats. As chance would have it, the hall we had (thought we had) booked wasn’t open to us on the weekend, which forced us to look around Aberdeen for a quick alternative.

We got lucky. Philipp had spotted something on his way in to Aberdeen – something I had seen, and forgotten.

studio 202

A studio promising trapeze and aerial hoops… I gave the owner, Sandi, a call, and asked if we could super spontaneously host our workshop at her studio. She asked when. I said: “In an hour?”

Sandi said yes.

There’s photographic evidence of this moment:

us

 

Thanks to this happy blessing-in-disguise, we had a home for our acrobatics workshop and, as it would turn out, we would have a new place to train every week. This is perfect because the hall where we sometimes train aerials isn’t always available to us – whereas Sandi has made Studio 202 always available to us.

photo 4

Sandi on the far right, recognisable thanks to her blue hair

Thanks to Philipp from Codarts Circus School in Rotterdam for coming and giving us such excellent teaching!

photo 2

 

photo 3

Seeing as acrobatics and aerials has become such a big part of the society, we recently had a meeting concerning the name of the society we are operating under: Juggling & Slacklining Society. We voted to change it. I was voted into the committee as Aerials & Acrobatics president. Yesterday, we met on King’s Lawn at the university and had an official photo shoot for our new society.

The CIRCUS ARTS & FIRE SKILLS society!

photograph by Jamie Hughes

photograph by Jamie Hughes

This photograph will go into the Freshers’ Manual for next year so we can advertise our society to all new students. I think we look like a very fun society!

The people in this society have become my family. I now also have a regular job teaching acrobatics to adults in Studio 202. Things are really coming together.

With all the colours in my life in Aberdeen, I still look wistfully across the water at the Other Life I could be living – but I’ve lived it, haven’t I? Now it’s time for this.

a studious writer

(but like everyone else, I need occasional reminding)

So summer is coming and I’m back on Skype a lot with Mark. I post the occasional picture of our digital conversations, which must be completely fascinating (ah, the sarcasm) but I have no other way of letting you know that we’re hard at work!

this is the one I mean

this is the one I mean

Mark is magical. I don’t know if I have said that enough: we have had our share of ups and downs concerning the ILLUSTRATIONS. Then, last week, he sent me a DROPBOX LINK. “Here it is. Have fun.”

dropbox

AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!

I might have gone crazy that day. All the illustrations were in there. ALL! (Except the cover.)

I can’t publish any spoilers but I do want to share one or two illustrations with you, because you have been so wonderfully patient and supportive all these years. This share is just for my beautiful ayllu – and you know who you are. Here are a few, not-photoshopped.

I once knew a group of flying men and women, and although they were born with their gifts, they worked very hard to perfect it and be graceful in the air. I met them at a time when my head was in a muddle and I walked around looking like a baba, all my thoughts in confused knots on top of my head. After making love to one of the flying women, I agreed to travel with their caravans for a while and see if I could do something about my knots…

IMG_7664

by Mark Klawikowski for “Qayqa” by Ritti Soncco

by Mark Klawikowski for "Qayqa" by Ritti Soncco

by Mark Klawikowski for “Qayqa” by Ritti Soncco

by Mark Klawikowski for "Qayqa" by Ritti Soncco

by Mark Klawikowski for “Qayqa” by Ritti Soncco

I called him to congratulate him – and we ended up discussing the cover for an hour. This is what it’s not going to be, but a rough idea of what it will look like. If you’ll remember, this was the sketch I gave Mark:

photo 3

And this is what Mark transformed it into:

rough sketch by Mark Klawikowski

rough sketch by Mark Klawikowski

 

It won’t be this one because he’s messing around with what kind of water colours / ink to use. Why did we spend one hour talking about it? We discussed if Damian should stand still (as he does in my sketch) or if he should be walking (as in Mark’s). We agreed immediately that he should be walking. We discussed the edges of the words, which I want to be natural, organic and full of rough edges. I wouldn’t want them to be clean & clear. Mark said you couldn’t see it, but he had already started giving them rough edges. We discussed if you could see the desert behind Damian, and if not, how to hint at it. We discussed what Damian is carrying in his hand.

You know, details.

Well, my dearest ayllu, I must be off. This week, I’ll be studying for my exams next week and, during my breaks, I’ll do the last digital editing on the illustrations and begin to lay them into the book.

The final stages are upon us… Soon, I’ll blog about the BOOK TOUR.

So please stay tuned.

And thank you for your continuous support, dearest ayllu. This dialogue has been my continuous support to continue fighting for my work to be published – and to fight off my snide little doubts. Some of my occasional Skype chats with Ben have been about our doubts, and yet we continue fighting. As long as we support each other, there’s no need to give up, is there?

Congratulations, once again, dear Ben, for everything you are doing. For not giving up, for believing in your voice, and – above all – for staying so humble. You’re doing a damn fucking amazing thing, and you can really give yourself more pats on the back! There’s a part of me that really believes that everything you touch becomes gold.

 

Love, Ritti

It’s Been 6 Months – How Are We Feeling About That?

20 Mar
all the crossroads

all the crossroads

It will soon be half a year since I moved to Scotland to study at Aberdeen University. Shortly before I packed up and left, my crowdfunding project to finance the publication of my first novel was completed – successfully – and that time was, in a nutshell: overloaded. Most of the time I felt exhausted. Honestly, I just wanted the crowdfunding project to go away. And I felt terrible about that because I knew that a lot of people are passionate about my book; passionate about helping it to be published. Still, it felt like a load I couldn’t quite carry at the time, and we almost didn’t make it. But somehow we did. And then I left for Scotland.

Of course I always consider what I could have done differently. I love the concept of crowdfunding – but I don’t know if I could do it again.  Somehow I miss “the good old days” when Ani DiFranco toured the US in her car, playing gigs wherever they would let her and selling cassettes out of the boot of her car.

One day, I will own that car.

Now I’m looking towards the quickening tide rolling in. Next Saturday, I’ll board a plane and return to Germany for the first time in 6 months.

I have come to love my life in Scotland. Aberdeen Uni is ridiculously international; everyone is from all over the place and walking around campus you’ll easily hear anywhere from 5 – 10 languages being casually spoken. Last week, we were finally granted a hall for my aerial silks!!! That means that my acrobatics group has now divided into Acrobatics and Aerials!!! Last Thursday I gave my first aerial class since moving to Scotland… and trained properly for the first time in 5 months…!!!

teaching

I might have been the happiest girl in the world that day

I might have been the happiest girl in the world that day

Scotland, the country in itself, is magical, beautiful. Forgive me for saying this, but landscape-wise, it’s like a “little Peru”. Just check out these mountains…

Glen Coe

Glen Coe

A few road trips have convinced me that I Love Scotland. I really enjoy living in such a beautiful country with such mad, funny, kind people; and I do very much love my life here.

That is an understatement. I LOVE THIS COUNTRY!!!!!

Glen Coe as well

Glen Coe as well

And I’m starting to really like whiskey. (Also an understatement.)

Glenfiddich, yum

Glenfiddich, yum

There’s also been amazing music, such as the John Langan Band, who I saw last weekend –

John Langan Band at Tunnels

John Langan Band at Tunnels

– and who you simply must listen to here (and imagine the Highlands while you’re listening). When you listen to the first song, just skip the long “Oohhhh oohhhh” introduction, go to 0:29 seconds and enjoy.

“I ain’t got nothing but a guitar in my haaaaand…” 

(There’s that image again of Ani selling cassettes out of the boot of her car)

So it is with this sentiment of Life is Good that I’ll return to Germany and in a way, return to a life I once had – which, to be honest, I miss. I miss being a crazy artist who seeks to respond to everything life throws at her with artist replies. Of course I could still do that, but between university work and exploring Scotland, I have very little time for that. I’ve had very little time to write. I’ve collected ideas and found fascinating links between anthropology texts and Hispanic Studies facts to Qayqa and Munay. 

I still need to find a way to balance these two. But yes, I miss being an artist. And so, of course, my first stop in Germany will be Mark.

I haven’t seen my partner-in-crime in 6 months, but we’ve spoken a number of times over Skype and he’s told me of all the madness he’s been up to. When I’m back, we’ll discuss the illustrations and above all: their placement in Qayqa. He’ll kick my ass for not having finished Munay yet; he’ll probably inspire me to Get Writing, and I’ll probably complain that there’s no decent whiskey in Germany. It’s so strange to imagine I’ll be back soon. I love forward to it so much – and I fear it might make me question why I ever left the artist life.

Important to remember this:

University life is good to me; the studies are excellent. But I’m still an artist at heart, and it will be good to see it again in Germany, and during any holidays I’ll have in the future. I couldn’t continue the way I was living; I was starting to feel so empty. I needed to come to Scotland. The joy and satisfaction I feel here are enough to show me it was the right decision. My cup is starting to fill up again. Whatever tools I will gain from living here, I needed them. 

And then I’ll go back to being an artist. Hell yea.

I simply must leave you with my favourite song these days. The chorus touches me the most, please listen carefully. And this: “Tell all my friends that I’m bound for heaven. And if it ain’t so – you can’t blame me for living“. I like to think the singer sang this song with the knowledge that he would soon die of the consequences of his alcoholism; that if he could do it all again, he’d do it quite the same way.

If I could do it all again, I would do it quite the same way too. If a piano landed on my head any time soon, I know I will die happy. I’ve lived a damn good life so far, guys. I’d love to finish Munay before that piano lands, though. As I said: my anthropology readings have drawn some interesting parallels which I will incorporate into her.

So much inspiration. Hell yea.

The Absence of the Author

27 Dec

thinking

MERRY CHRISTMAS DEAR AYLLU !

In the months that have passed since my last post to you, I think we all knew the regularity of my posts could decrease somewhat. But I never expected it to decrease so much.

Ofcourse I have plans to change that. University life caught up with me. My courses are demanding, so I demand to give my private time the equal amount of dedication and energy as I do my courses.

I founded an acrobatics group within the Juggling Society at uni, and after a few months of teaching, we now have a firm group of amazing people who show up every single week, play the games I suggest enthusiastically, push their bodies beyond what they thought was possible for them, and are gaining strength and flexibility. So much that they have begun demanding acrobatics lessons twice a week… and I am only too happy to oblige!

I give my acrobatics lessons all my energy

I give my acrobatics lessons all my energy

easy!

easy!

taking credit

taking credit

Then I traveled to Martinique for 10 days, because one of my oldest friends from Nigeria, who lives on Martinique, was getting married. Martinique was astounding, beautiful, and steeped in literature. I discovered Aimé Césaire, a Martinique poet whose words can be found on panels all around the island.

2013-11-23 14.18.07

an impression of Martinique

The first poem I ever read by Aimé Césaire was a poem that hung from the ceiling at the airport. I spotted it while I was waiting for my luggage, and it has been haunting me ever since. Ayllu, this is where you either get out Google Translate or ignite your passion for French because I cannot translate beauty. I can only recount it.

2013-11-25 13.22.16

J’habite une blessure sacrée

J’habite des ancêtres imaginaires

J’habite un vouloir obscur

J’habite un long silence

J’habite une soif irrémédiable

J’habite un voyage de mille ans

(extract from Moi, Laminaire)

2013-11-25 16.48.04

During my first days on Martinique, I kept asking myself: What have I done to deserve such beauty around me? Is this beautiful, bountiful planet really just for our taking, for our pleasure? Of course we must assume responsibility for it – that goes without saying. But – really, so much beauty, just like that? 

Then why do we choose to live elsewhere – when paradise is right here, on a little island in the Caribbean? Forget colder climates, forget stronger economies. When you have this . . . 

2013-11-25 17.18.35

. . . Why are we elsewhere? 

Is there a subconscious pact among us that we feel we don’t deserve to live in paradise? Is this a very Christian thought?

As I sat on Banane Beach, I scribbled furiously in my notebook: Will I somehow have to pay for this one day? And why do I even think like this??!

Because it’s just so goddamn beautiful.

2013-11-24 13.18.36

Not even places that have been overloaded with humans could lose their beauty to that.

2013-11-30 15.11.29

Not even a tiny bit.

2013-11-30 15.14.52

Well, okay, maybe just a bit…

But then who would have taken this picture!!! . . .

2013-11-30 17.24.38

. . . Followed by the obligatory selfie that says: hell yea I took this picture.

vanity strikes hard

(I am only human)

It didn’t take long to acknowledge that these questions of “do I deserve this beauty” and “will I somehow have to pay for the pleasure of this beauty” were that, yes, I felt undeserving of so much paradise. I was humbled. Every day was an exhibition of beauty. What a miracle to be living on such a spectacular planet, just there for the taking, for the breathing and living. Just there. 

2013-11-26 16.47.39

And after 10 days, I was equally happy to be back in Scotland because this is my life. And, during my Literature in a World Context classes, was (ironically) encouraged to ask myself what is left of a text when the author is absent. Ironic, because it echoes my absence from my blog. What happened while I was away? What did you get up to? Did you re-visit the blog, re-read old posts? Did you wonder about Qayqa? Did you travel, make love, get annoyed, read books, take naps in odd places, get someone pregnant?

The Literature in a World Context classes fry my brain. Our tutor is very good: ridiculously knowledgable, charismatic… and frighteningly knowledgable. We all leave the tutorials feeling stupid. We don’t understand everything he says. We’re over-enthusiastic when we understand anything. 

how we feel at university

how we feel at university

We are being trained to consider the author’s motivation in writing a certain text; and how, in his absence, he cannot defend himself. The text could be an attempt to redress a wrong – so how efficient is it in redressing when he is away? 

In the tutorials it became obvious: a text is a good piece of writing if it will withstand the absence of the author.

This, of course, begs the question: Can Qayqa withstand my absence? 

from the exquisite Ti Son Son restaurant in Saint-Luce, Martinique

from the exquisite Ti Son Son restaurant in Saint-Luce, Martinique

Before I moved to Scotland, I gave a series of “last readings” in Ulm as part of the Kulturnacht 2013 in the book shop Eichhorn. Manfred Eichhorn, owner of the book shop, friend and writer, was kind enough to read my manuscript of Qayqa. He attended the readings and afterwards sat me down with some tea and we spoke about my book.

His primary concern was the absence of the writer. (His secondary concern was that Damian should be female. This suggestion almost gave Mark a heart attack.)

“How strong is Qayqa without you?” he began. “When you read it, yes, I am there with you. I close my eyes and I feel the world you have created. But when you’re not around, what will motivate your readers to continue turning the pages?” He paused – but he had promised me to direct. “I fear there may occasionally not be enough to keep them turning pages.”

This, people, is fantastic feedback.

I just finished reading The Hunger Games trilogy. (Literally: just. I was too hyper to go to sleep so I settled into bed with my computer) I was slightly disappointed with the end (J.K Rowling has ruined ends for me) but The Hunger Games is a page-turner. I practically inhaled those books: I finished the 2nd and 3rd books in 5 days. I recommend it. I’m going to see the film tomorrow.

The Hunger Games is powerful in the absence of the author.

Is Qayqa?

Can she . . .

power of books

Take you  hostage .  . .

bibliophile

Transport you . . .

become someone else 4

Like she did to me?

There’s one way to find out. (And this is also a way to re-active my blogging duties during university hours)

Dear ayllu, once again I need your help. Are we still a community? I believe we are. You showed it to me over & over again, and I would be terrible to even doubt it. I need your help again. No: I would be honoured to have your advice. 

Originally I planned to publish a bit of Qayqa as a Christmas present of sorts, from me to you. I’m taking it a step further.

In order to find out if Qayqa withstands the absence of the author, I will, over the upcoming weeks, publish extracts of Qayqa for your reading pleasure. I won’t read the extracts out to you, obviously, as it defeats the purpose.

What I ask from you is your honest feedback and your valuable advice: Was it boring? How did you feel while you were reading it? Did it make any sense at all? What questions arose? What bothered you? What delighted you? What made you itch for more? 

And did you wish I was reading it to you instead . . . ?

As always, write me in the comments, email me at rittisoncco@gmail.com, tweet me @rittisoncco

Good idea? Bad idea?

writer

Another sleepless night blogging. I’m in Perú, on my parents’ sofa in Lima. Outside the window is a sunrise-tainted fog. I can hear the ocean; I cannot see it. All I can see is a monotone the vague colour of an approaching sunrise. A wall of vague. Goodnight. It’s brilliant to be writing to you again.

Fall in Love With Yourself

29 Oct

Photo 13-10-2013 10 51 50

I have been meaning to write for a while – I had everything I wanted to say all lined up – and I never got around to it. Then, last night, I posted a tweet and have been receiving so much feedback to it that I literally just jumped out of bed and am typing this in my pyjamas. I won’t think about it too much – I’ll post it right away – and hopefully this will get me back on the pretty choo-choo train of blogging regularly again.

I live in Scotland now. I’m at university, majoring in Anthropology with Hispanic Studies. Additionally, I am taking French and Spanish lessons and Literature in a World Context. I’ve joined the gymnastics, yoga and juggling society and have started an acrobatics group within the juggling society. We are currently trying to find a scaffolding so that we can put a man on top of it to drill a hole through a beam in one of the rooms, so that we can hang my aerials silks up there and I can start teaching aerials. A lot of people are excited and waiting for it. Especially me.

A few pictures from the last month that mean a lot to me:

my acrobatics group

my acrobatics group

my bedroom early in the morning, when I leave it to go to university

my bedroom early in the morning, when I leave it to go to university

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a rainbow outside my window

standing with two incredible people, talking about life, growing up, having our roots in different cultures - and discovering that we have the same skin colour

standing with two incredible people talking about life, growing up, having our roots in different cultures – and discovering that we have the same skin colour

how very Scottish (on the way to uni)

how very Scottish (on the way to uni)

I can feel that coming here was the right decision. I made the most of my first month, running around getting to know many fascinating and sweethearted people, but after throwing myself into university life, I hit the one-month-peak last night. It had been building up to it, and began to feel a bit lost. Somehow, a friend I met in Perú began to chat with me and in that moment I thought: I’m not going to hide how sad I feel tonight. I told him, and he immediately got on skype – and put gold back into the night.

I tweeted the main thing he said – and with all the feedback that came back, I think I’ll share some of the other gems of wisdom he sprinkled on my head. I’ll share the things I wrote in my diary. And in the end, I’ll share a video that a friend recently showed me, that may give you a new perspective on the whole damned thing.

on Aberdeen beach

on Aberdeen beach

I’ll change the conversation we had a little bit, because this time I am passing the message on to you. This is for you, with your feedback: this is what I have to say to what you wrote about my tweet:

Fall in love with yourself again. The people you called into your life, you called to teach you lessons, and if they leave, you called them to learn that lesson. But if I ever see you again, I swear this time I will never let you go. Maybe you have to go through some mud now but you’re just at the peak of your potential, and when we speak again in a few months, or a few weeks, I believe we’ll start to see the gold shining through and mud slipping off. Yes, perhaps you scare people off – but trust me darling, you’re scaring off the right ones. 

I remember exotic, magnificent dreams. I remember the Caribbean, the Mediterranean. I remember diving in the ocean, colours, and tropical rainstorms. The magic remains with me. But when winter comes the memory that fades the last is the pillow talk, and quiet laughter, the sharing. All the moments when I thought: “I could be doing something else.” All the moments when I thought: “I’ll just finish this quickly and then get on with my life.” Those are the moments I look back on and see: they were when I loved myself.

I am about to go into the desert and I want to do it as consciously as I can. I want to talk into it slowly. I want to see it fully, taste it on my tongue, roll it around in my mouth. I want to see this desert I am walking into and know that it contains all of me. I want to face myself without the fear. I deserve this chance. 

And those, my dear friends, are my thoughts on falling in love with yourself.

Thank you for the conversations we had (on twitter, on email), and know that they inspired me to jump out of bed and blog as quickly as I could – for the first time in Scotland. So many other things I was meaning to say in my blog; perhaps I’ll never get around to saying them because, perhaps, they weren’t important.

Now I have to quickly get dressed, have breakfast and run to my Spanish class.

I hope you love the following video. Give yourself the time to watch it.

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.

The Traveling Writer

12 Sep

Where was I? Where were you?? 

This is where I was:

1st Lap in white, 2nd Lap in light pink, 3rd Lap in magenta

1st Lap in white, 2nd Lap in light pink, 3rd Lap in magenta

Firstly, I was in Toulouse for the European Juggling Convention. Then I drove with a friend from Toulouse (over La Rochelle) to Brighton, to attend the Aerial Dance Festival there. I spent a few quiet days and not-so-quiet-nights in London with my best friend, then I flew to Carcassonne and travelled around with botanists I met at the EJC, ending up in Montpellier and catching a flight from there to Frankfurt-Hahn.

Before hitting the road I didn’t know how much I would be able to blog so I thought it best to advise everyone to follow my Tumblr account (rittisoncco.tumblr.com) If you want more pictures from my summer, feel free to check them out there!

Oooo it’s strange to be blogging after such a long pause. I feel a bit awkward. Sorry if my writing is bizarre: I need to get back into the flow!

My summer was truly beautiful, and I did it by planning absolutely nothing. I wanted the wind to take me. Following a beautiful invitation, the wind took me back to the south of France for ocean waves, melons, rivers and lakes and frommage de chevre. 

In Brighton we trained to a beautiful song. In Montpellier I jotted down a memory. If you like, listen to the song and then give my anecdote your eyes. It’s work-in-progress – or perhaps it’s as far as it will ever go. It’s an anecdote I wrote to remember, and the home for memories are diaries, short stories, and you.

Two Travelers Find Themselves In a City

photo 1Two travelers climbed out of the entanglements of the woods and found themselves among the soft French murmurs of the ocean city Montpellier. His hair fell in masses that mimicked the leaves in autumn and smelt of bonfires over which he had cooked dinners and boiled coffee. Her scalp was covered in sand, le sable, and her hair clumped into what would, with time, become dreadlocks formed by swimming in the Mediterranean Sea and in lakes.

photo 2

Their eyes still searched, accustomed by now to deciphering transparent jellyfish from choppy green water; deciphering which roads led to less people; which rocks could be climbed over and which would cut her left foot.

In this state, they found themselves abruptly in the center of Montpellier. They were trying to camouflage by wearing clothes of finer material, but their skin smelt of midnight washes, naked under the waning moon, and they knew they were tourists – not to this city, but to all cities. The only intimacy she felt necessary, she had come to find in the space between her face and her hair. They had peed in vineyards, on mountains, in showers. They had swum naked; they had argued in towns where no one knew their names.

Now they sat in a restaurant and ordered food.

the food that came looked something like this

the food that came

She crossed her legs beneath the glass table with finesse but she was thinking: I hope this city doesn’t grow much larger for it will come between us. I’m pretending, she knew. The woods they had lived in had demanded they expel everything but their core, and it had taken a while for her head to leave. She didn’t want her core to return to the entanglement of the woods, wrapped and hidden by leaves.

He looked as little as ease as she, but his movements were perfect: how he selected the wine, how he held the glass as he tasted his choice. She began a table conversation, but hesitantly.

As they ate, the conversation turned to judgement: how they were perceived on occasions. Feeling the city between them, she told her story in more direct, more revealing manner. She said things she normally would not have; not so quickly: I know they think I’m beautiful and I’ve been judged as having things made easier for me because of that. His smile grew as she gave him intimacy with her anecdote, and he set the wine glass down to hear her.

And they thought: Let’s get the hell away from this restaurant and back into the van.

photo 4

Let’s cook on its small gas stove that goes out if we leave the doors open. In the kitchen that sways whenever a car whizzes past. Let’s eat on stone slabs and scratch our skin from the latex of figs. I saw who she was when she learnt how to climb. I saw who he was when he swam in the ocean. 

I was seen in the woods. Take me back there, I want to be seen again. 

photo 3

Yes, I loved being away from civilization. I thought of you often and wondered if you were checking my blog, wondering where the hell I was. Traveling was beautiful, but it’s good to be back and blogging

I’ve been thinking about the future of the blog since I first toyed with the idea of going to uni. I came to the following conclusion: This has always been a blog about my writing, and as my writing will continue as long as I breathe, this blog will continue being about my writing.

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There’s quite a bit to say, but I should mention that the upcoming Kulturnacht on Saturday, 14th September, will be my “last” performance in Germany this year – since I am moving to Scotland in 9 days…

There was a MISTAKE in the official PROGRAM BROCHURE: I START AT 8pm. I’ll probably be reading until 11 pm / midnight, depending on the audience / feedback. I will do my utmost to limit myself to 20 minutes, but I’m feeling quite liberal about the night. I’m taking the guitar, I’ll experiment a bit with poetry, Qayqa, and stuff, and if you show me that you want a performance to go on for longer: I will.

Friedrich Glorian will not be performing with me, as he has engagements elsewhere. I am, ofcourse, very sad to not be collaborating with him on Saturday (I was especially looking forward to our rehearsals!!! I had the impression that they would be great fun) but when he spoke to me about his other engagement, I understood and support his decision 100%. You have to go where your art takes you.

I’m really just letting the Kulturnacht 2013 surprise me. I have a few ideas, and ofcourse I’m slightly nervous (it’ll get stronger as Saturday approaches), but all in all, I just want to focus on feeling comfortable.

On the road and since I’ve returned, I’ve been thinking a lot about the role of artist – and wondering if I really have what it takes. I took this year 2012 / 2013 to focus on my writing, and I found that I wasn’t necessarily more productive than if I hadn’t taken a year off to write. I usually wrote the most when I had to leave the following morning, because the pressure of departure was on me.

The winter was hard. I asked myself often if I really have what it takes to be an artist, a productive creator. I see other artists around me who have been doing this for years, and I admire their enthusiasm and energy so much. It’s such a rollercoaster ride; how the HELL do other people do it?!

I met up with very good friends of mine: filmmakers. They made this film:

It premiered at the Berlinale and was a great success. Since then, the filmmaking company they founded, Kunststoff, has been thriving. They can live comfortably off their work, and we spent a very interesting evening comparing our lives as freelancers, artists, creators.

And I heard my words coming out of their mouths: “It’s a rollercoaster ride. If it weren’t so damn emotional, it’d be alright, but we’re not machines… Sometimes everything is so overwhelming and there no one who can help you with your problem because you’re doing something new, something no one has ever done before, so there’s no one to tell you how to do things. You have to find the solution yourself. It’s beautiful – but it’s exhausting – but it’s beautiful.”

A few days later in Ulm, I went to the Roxy to see the band Okta Logue in concert. Mark and I had stumbled over them accidentally in Darmstadt, and now they finally made it to Ulm… Back in Darmstadt we saw them give an interview and present their music video, which was…

They were in Ulm to present their new album Tales Of Transit City which was stunning, really really stunning. With the first strum of the guitar, the audience of Ulm closed their eyes and swayed. I went to the bar for another beer and from the distance, I could feel Okta Logue cast their spell over the crowd. I walked back into the cloud and felt bewitched. It was a beautiful, beautiful concert, and if you ever have the opportunity to see them live, please don’t miss it.

Here is another song I quite like:

After a magical concert, I fell into a long and interesting discussion with the guitarist and drummer about the nature of being an artist. They mentioned not being too pleased with the gig because they were tired, etc, and we discussed the automatisms we fall into while we perform.

“I know that during this particular sentence, I usually do this hand gesture, so I do it. Even when I don’t feel it, I do it,” I said.

The guitarist nodded quickly: “I know this is usually my pose, so I take it, but I don’t feel it. I start thinking too much, and that’s when I make mistakes. Then it’s oh no, one mistake, and the insecurities pour in so I make a second mistake. Then it’s 2:0 mistakes against me. It’s an internal battle no one else sees while I am onstage.”

photo 2

I recounted: “I gave a reading once that I wasn’t pleased with and yet the audience gave me great feedback that night. But I was somehow saddened that I had missed out on a beautiful experience that they had all shared with one another. I was there, yes, but I had missed the feeling the night had for them.” They nodded understandingly.

“That’s how it is,” we agreed. “It’s a damn emotional rollercoaster ride.”

photo 3

Okta Logue is in the middle of a tour throughout Germany and in October they’ll hit the States for 3 weeks. I told them (and I’ll keep saying it) that I wish them every success because they truly deserve it. Their music is divine. Please visit their page here: http://oktalogue.com/wordpress/  and go to their concerts and buy their vinyls and t-shirts. Talk to them afterwards if you can. It’s rare to find people you can fall immediately have deep, meaningful conversations with; but you can with them.

So my insecurities questioning “am I real artist?” are the echo we all share. I’ve written all my life, and I love performing. But for how long will the doubts echo? Will we ever be sure of ourselves as artists? – or is the point of confidence also the point of arrogance?

I know I need the freedom to travel and to write as I see fit. There are many people with many very good ideas about how I should continue my career, and they would all be right, except that I have other plans… Just as Basti said about being a filmmaker: you hit a problem and no one can solve it for you because no one’s ever been here before. It’s the same with every other choice in the artist life: no one has ever been here before, so I will do things my way. I know I’ll doubt and fight and love, but as long as my words reach you, I think I am doing alright. 

Find the way you need to live.

I leave you with an interesting conversation I had yesterday with Manfred Eichhorn, owner of the Eichhorn Buchladen where I’ll be reading at the Kulturnacht. Before I hit the road, I gave him the Qayqa manuscript for critique, and over a cup of jasmine tea, he gave me excellent feedback with direction.

And he said:

“You and your novel are inseparable. When you read it, there’s magic. But what happens when you’re not around to read it? Can your words stand on their own? In order to do so, they still need some work.

I also have doubts about your character: why is he a man? He doesn’t always sound or act like a man. If you are so inseparable from your book, why not make the main character a woman? You, perhaps? That will help your reader dive quicker in the world you are creating. Damian is very feminine, and that’s sometimes a problem because I didn’t always believe him.

Either you change Damian into a woman… Or keep the third-person narrative structure and stop speaking from his perspective.”

I have been asking myself ever since: why do I love that Damian is a man? Given the choices Manfred Eichhorn proposed, I would immediately choose to stay true to the third-person narrative and (sad as I find it) eliminate all first-person recounts. Because I love Damian is a man. I cannot turn him into a woman.

But: why not?

Why not…?

See you at the Kulturnacht… Or on the blog.

last night, experimenting different tunes for my poetry

last night, experimenting different tunes for my poetry

I will blog again before Scotland.

Anecdotes from the Road

14 Aug

no where now here

Dear ayllu,

For 3 weeks now, I have been on the road. Firstly, I spent 1 week at the JOJO circus school in Gschwend, attending the juggling module: the one module I missed because I was backpacking through Latin America last year, and without this module, my circus apprenticeship degree would have been slightly incomplete and therefore crooked.

It was a great module; it was interesting & lovely to meet the people taking the foundation year after my class; and it was heartbreakingly beautiful to be back at the JOJO school, to attend the rituals, to hug goodbye, to spend days in circus isolation.

Then I met up with my friend Marina, an aerialist, and we drove for 11 hours to Toulouse, France. Here we spent 1 week at the European Juggling Convention, the world’s largest circus convention which takes place in a different part of Europe each year. Last year it was in Poland, next year it will be in Ireland.

the Galactica Playground, where all the jugglers, poi swingers and hoola hoops artists played

the Galactica Playground, where all the jugglers, poi swingers and hoola hoops artists played

kite runner

kite runner

man balancing a contact ball while he rides from the campsite to the main festival grounds

man balancing a contact ball while he rides from the campsite to the main festival grounds

main juggling site

main juggling site

There was acrobatics, aerials, juggling juggling juggling, and a lot of drinking & dancing. I met incredible circus artists who travel the world performing; who just began training at circus schools; who were kind, lovely, and crazy.

I saw beautiful people with long dreadlocks, with feathers. Muscular, wild-looking, living in their vans, living from day to day. Everyone spoke French, English and Spanish. There were 5 shows on every day, from Open Stages to fire shows to galas.

The heat was intense. If you moved a finger, you poured sweat.

aerial tent

aerial tent

The training standard of these people varied from incredibly high, to improver, to beginner, to “I just came because I love the atmosphere”. It was some peoples’ first EJC (I was one of those), some peoples’ 30th.

After 1 week, Marina and I drove another 11 hours to Brighton, England. Here we attended the European Aerial Dance Festival, where we improved our trapeze & silks techniques, we did aerial yoga, and we learnt vertical wall dance and harness.

our training space

our training space

vertical wall dance

vertical wall dance

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counterweight and harness

counterweight and harness

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it happened on the spur of the moment!

it happened on the spur of the moment!

After 1 week in Brighton, Marina and I said goodbye. I took my backpack out of  her car, and she took the ferry with it back to Germany. She should be back in Ulm by now.

on the road again

on the road again

But wait!

Before we said goodbye in Dover, I have a ridiculous anecdote to share with you. This is from an email I sent to my parents. Have fun:

“I am sitting in a cafe in Dover, waiting until my bus leaves for London. I just said goodbye to marina, who is now taking the ferry to France and then driving to Germany.

In the UK I’ve been driving, because she was worried to drive on the UK side if the road. I was a bit nervous about it too, but I adapted quite quickly. All went really well. I’m a bit proud!

So she asked me to drive her to Dover today. I could have taken a bus from Brighton to London, but I agreed to drive her and bought a ticket from here to London.

We made it to the ferry port safe and sound. I explained at the check in that I wasn’t getting on the ferry and would like to leave the port on foot. The guy at the check in was nice and young and said okay. So we got in, parked, and set off on foot to find the pedestrian exit.

Turns out that was breaking the law!

When I asked someone where the exit was, he panicked and said I had broken several laws and needed to leave immediately. I said sorry and thank you and yes I’d like to leave, actually. So then we were surrounded by a bunch of official port people, all confused abs distressed because a “clandestino” had somehow smuggled her way – accidentally, at that! – into their super secure system.

I explained and everyone was understanding (if a bit in panic) and I was escorted out. My farewell to Marina after 3 weeks on the road together, was through the fence, feeling like one of us was in a refugee camp! I felt a bit deported…!!!

Luckily everyone was nice. I apologized and explained that we had explained everything at the check in. They said it wasn’t my fault, and in the end I was driven to my bus station!! Of course that was them making sure I don’t continue smuggling myself places, but I didn’t mind, as I got a free ride across the city of Dover. The lady who drove me was lovely; she pointed out the sights and told me some history, and now I’m having a coffee and will head to the bus station in a few minutes.”

Dover from afar

Dover from afar

I am now in London, staying with my best friend Rose (who I travelled with through Peru 2 years ago). I am here with the backpack me travelled with, which is my father’s backpack with which he hitchhiked across Europe in the 70s and 80s.

I may have to leave it here, because tomorrow I will get on a plane back to the south of France, and the backpack is too large to take on a Ryanair flight. I’m not keen to be separated from it, but I cannot think of a safer haven for it than in Rose’s flat in London.

By the time I leave tomorrow morning, I will have spent 2 full days in London. I met up with old university friends, caused mischief, and now the road is calling me again. I am returning to the south of France because I have met wonderful people there who I want to see more, who invited me back; and because I need some sunshine and ocean before I move to Scotland.

It’s my summer holiday. As soon as I return to Ulm, Mark and I will meet and see how far along he has come with the illustrations for Qayqa. He is in Morocco at the moment  – or perhaps he is back by now.

This is just a quick catch-up from the road. I’ve packed my Ryanair approved bag and am about to head out of the house. I’m going to visit the Museum of Natural History because I have never seen a dinosaur before. Then one last night in London and I shall spend the night at Stansted Airport. By this time tomorrow, I will be in the south of France.

And when I’m there, I’ll work out how to get back to Germany.

I didn’t plan this. My plans ended at Brighton. I deliberately left August open so that I could decide spontaneously where to go.

If you want a postcard, send me your address: either in the comments or over twitter @rittisoncco

I leave you with a song. It came on my iPod as I sat in the bus from Dover to London, looking out the window, up at the clouds, with my father’s backpack beside me. And I thought: I am happy. This is when I am at my happiest.

1st Crowdfunding Party, or: The Pixie Who Reminded Me To Laugh

4 Jun
 My dearest ayllu,

Last Friday, 24th May, I held my 1st Crowdfunding Party. All were invited to hear my reading of Qayqa and watch the premiere of my Crowdfunding Video. I am delighted to begin this blog post with these beautiful pictures… and many beautiful videos!

all photographs of the Crowdfunding Party courtesy of Ben Paul

all photographs of the Crowdfunding Party courtesy of Ben Paul

Premiere being over, I would love to begin this blog post with the Crowdfunding Video, filmed to promote my upcoming novel Qayqa

When I was writing the concept for my crowdfunding video, I began looking for something to make it a bit unique, give it an eye-catcher. I also knew I would be editing it myself, therefore looked for something to challenge me. I considered the things I find especially interesting in filmmaking.

Simple answer:  split-screens!

Now there are several ideas behind the concept of the Two Rittis:

  • There are two Rittis: there is the bubbly, happy, easily excitable one, who will dance around while she tells you about her book. Then there is the quiet, sombre, observant Ritti, who, after giving a reading is more of a listener. She’s the one the audience come to, to talk about their impressions of & thought on the reading. She’ll listen quietly, actually shyly, take it all backstage with her and have a Long Hard Think. She’s a bit cheeky, but it’s all in her head
  • Being a very typical Gemini. Btw, Mark is also Gemini, and when we worked together, we used to sure: “We can easily do all this work. After all, there are four of us.”
  • Being an only child and always wishing for a sibling
  • There’s a painting I adore by my favourite painter, and this is a little hommage to it, and the things it stands for:
"The Two Fridas" by Frida Kahlo

“The Two Fridas” by Frida Kahlo

Ofcourse the scenes of me on the black silks allude to what inspired the “flying people” of Qayqa: when I joined Circus Serrando, befriending aerialists and discovering a second home at the circus.

I want to thank Fabiano “the Fab Fab” Nitsch for filming this beautiful video with me; for his patience & kindness & red wine. The amazing thing about Fabiano is, no matter what you say to him, his reply will be: “We’ll get that done! No problem!”

It was a beautiful night at the Fort Unterer Kuhberg. We presented our video to the premiere crowd of the 24th May, right after I read Qayqa for the first time in a very long time… And this is what my reading looked like:

The place was beautifully decorated, lit up with candles. The guests mingled to Ray LaMontagne, looked at Mark’s beautiful illustrations, and at 9 pm, all moved to the main room, where I read a few poems and then read several sections from my upcoming novel Qayqa.

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Thanks to the incredibly fabulous Fabiano Nitsch (therefore known on my blog as “the Fab Fab”), I can present you a beautiful short film from that night! The Fab spent the entire night crawling among the audience with 3 different cameras, filming everything he could, and then spent the following days editing this beautiful short video. 

the Fab Fab at work

the Fab Fab at work

For those of you who couldn’t come in person… and for those who asked for a video (hello Hannah!), this is for you…

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As I said, I read a few poems…

… Such as The Backpacker Poem. Of this, there is also a video, thanks to Fabiano:

Looking back, it was a beautiful night – but at the time, I was nervous. I hadn’t really slept. Pixie and I ran around all day organising last minute things, and I don’t know how prepared I really was. Personally, I wasn’t 100% satisfied with my performance.

I received very helpful feedback from friends, and have spent the last week thinking about what I should do differently. Change within myself, not the setting. The setting was beautiful; the decorations made it homey, romantic and dreamy. I loved it so much. There were blankets for cuddling, and there was an abundance of red wine, beer and pisco sour, which the audience enjoyed in elegant quantities.

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Gerhard brought THE BIGGEST HUNK OF CHEESE in the world. It was bigger than my torso! Does anyone have a picture of it??? It was AMAZING. And it was a parmesan that I, being lactose-intolerant, could actually eat. Thank you Gerhard!

And yet I felt I wasn’t entirely focussed. There was a personal development that caught me off-balance, and as a performing artist knows: the show must go on! But I think I had a hard time really letting myself fall into my own words – and when that happens, I feel as though I were cheating my audience. Ofcourse, after reading Qayqa for the 100th time, you don’t feel the same excitement as at the first time, and what you might never guess is that while I read, I am actually very observant of my audience – and I have a thousand thoughts running through my head. All of this disabled me from really feeling what I read, and that isn’t a nice feeling when you’re performing…

 Thankfully, the feedback from my audience was that all had a great time, enjoyed the reading – even enjoying my singing – and are now looking forward to supporting my crowdfunding project. THANK YOU!

it's a good face

it’s a good face

So there are some things I want to do differently for the 2nd Crowdfunding Reading on the 6th June. There was great feedback for the singing: I sang Somos, the Chavela Vargas way. This time, I want to have a greater variety of songs, each placed in a certain chapter. I have a little list…

Before I began reading, I told some stories about how Qayqa developed. This time, I’d like to get more into that. This time, I’ll say you’re welcome to ask questions. This time, Mark wants to give a little tour through his exhibition of illustrations.

Planning what I’d do differently is making me very excited for the 2nd Crowdfunding Party on the 2nd June! So if you’re reading this, and you came to the 1st, might I encourage you to come to the 2nd too? Each reading is a further stage of blossoming. Re-come, re-join, and re-party with us! There will be pisco sour, brought especially by my mother from Perú (she arrives tomorrow!).

your invitation to the 2nd Crowdfunding Reading!

your invitation to the 2nd Crowdfunding Reading!

After the Crowdfunding Party, I fell into an exhausted little hole. I spent the entire weekend in bed, barely moving a muscle. Pixie and I waved at each other from our beds, we watched films and spoke in mumbles. Then on Sunday, I somehow managed to sleep until 4 pm, I missed my shift at the Café Naschkatze, and subsequently got fired.

Damnit…!

A side of me was intensely shocked; I have never ever missed work like that before. I was ashamed that I had let my co-workers down, so I called everyone to apologise; apologised to the boss, and, in the end, left the café on very good terms. Sorry, people, no more cappuccini from me!

On the other hand, this is a – feeling cheeky as I say this – somewhat welcome step. I had announced at the café that I’d be leaving end of June, because (here it comes) I am giving up my apartment in the end of June. I’ll be travelling all of July & August. And why?

I announced it on Facebook last week:

this is why

this is why! 

The cat’s out of the bag!

That’s why I flew to Aberdeen in May: I was visiting the University of Aberdeen, where I have been accepted to the Masters course of Anthropology with Hispanic Studies. … !

Aberdeen beach

Aberdeen beach

Yes, I already applied, but I didn’t want to announce it until a) the university accepted me; b) I visited it to see if I liked it. And like it I did! Shortly beforehand, I got searched the university’s societies to see if there was a circus society, in touch with the Juggling Society, stayed on their sofa, got drunk with them, danced with them, and in the middle of the night, got out my computer and accepted the university’s offer!

impression of Aberdeen University

impression of Aberdeen University

As of September 2013, I will be a student, and I am terribly excited about it. The decision to go to university has nothing to do with “giving up” my life as an artist. I could never do that. I was born to do this, and although it is certainly challenging sometimes, it is what I love.

The decision to go to university came out of the desire to learn more. I have been passionately reading essays and biographies on anthropology and ethnobotany for a few years now. Their influence can certainly be felt in my writing. By going to university, I am filling up my glass again, for I am deeply thirsty for more knowledge. I am also hoping to acquire additional means of financial income, and, ofcourse, added freedom to travel, investigate, learn and write down. Going to university is a step I need to take as a woman, and as a writer. While studying anthropology, I hope to specialise in Latin American and Caribbean studies, so that I may travel there more often – dive deeper into their magic realism, and swim to shore with more ideas for more books.

courtesy of Chris Marshall

courtesy of Chris Marshall

What will happen to the blog?

It will continue, ofcourse! I’m not going to stop writing. In the future, I will continue to dedicate my blog to my artistic endeavors, perhaps occasionally mentioning which part of my studies are influencing my writing. We’ll see what happens. But this I promise you, ayllu: as long as I continue breathing, I will continue writing.

Seeing as my book planning has been pushed back a few months, it also looks like I’ll be book-touring in spring / summer 2014. So don’t worry, my dearest ayllu: our adventure together is far from over… This I promise you.

Therefore losing the job at the café, while sad, and giving me some financial instability this month, is … well … actually alright. So thank you Naschkatze for all the wonderful mornings and afternoons! It was beautiful while it lasted. I’ll come again – as a guest. 

After I lost my job, I realised I could now concentrate fully on Qayqa! So I hit the StartNext website to promote it, because you need 25 fans for the project to be official. Over the space of 3 hours I bugged everyone on Facebook and we quickly made over 25 fans!

O how I celebrated.

Seeing as my best lamp is still at the Crowdfunding Party, we moved the celebration to the bathroom. You can just about see my shower in the background.

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I had to stand on the toilet to do this, and yes, I was really shouting and celebrating. I was in an exceptional mood. While I was shouting, my lovely Pixie started quietly filming me – and this is the video that she made:

Now, I’m just waiting for the final verifications on the StartNext website, so that we can officially begin supporting Qayqa. This is where you’ll find her: http://www.startnext.de/qayqa

Hopefully the page will be up and running by tomorrow. I’ve sent off an email asking for the final verification, because, truth be told, you have to give these StartNext people a lot of things, including scanned copies of your passport, and then they need a few days to verify that you really are who you say you are. That’s why all this has taken a bit of time to get online… But hopefully, hopefully… tomorrow…

Now, HERE IS WHERE I NEED YOUR HELP: 

For my upcoming book-tour, I want to come to YOU. I want to come to the cities YOU tell me to. If you know a good café, a friendly pub, a lovely library … or if you’d like to open up your living room & invite all of your friends: WRITE ME.

I have a team. I’ve never had this before, so these times are truly amazing. I actually have a PR Woman! She wants to remain anonymous (but she won’t manage for long) so for my love of nicknames I have called my PR lady: POWER RANGER. This is her Facebook page.

So if you know of a lovely place where you think I should perform Qayqa… Or you think I should read in your living room…

Please write:   pr.rittisoncco@gmail.com

Power Ranger might just be at the 2nd Crowdfunding Party on the 6th June… So if you can make it, tell all your friends to make it too, and join us! You saw the pictures! I promise you it will be beautiful. You can ask all your questions, we’ll drink pisco sour together, and I will sing in tune, I promise.

And now, for one last Other Something…

a mysterious occurrence in the kitchen

a mysterious occurrence in the kitchen, caused by a pixie

Shortly before my first Crowdfunding Party on the 24th May, a young backpacker lady called Richelle moved in with me, into my 1-bedroom apartment. I nicknamed her “Pixie”, because ever since I first met her in Cusco, Perú, she had a pixie nature.

There’s a lot I can say about pixie natures, but there’s one important thing I really want to say. Her stay with me was MEDICINE.

If you want to know what I mean, THIS is MEDICINE:

  • Spend a winter alone, bordering on depression, not getting any work done and wondering what the whole point of it is. Along comes a pixie, and I’m laughing all day
  • Not eating very well, because you’re (see above). Along comes a pixie, who not only insists on cooking, but also cooks only the healthiest of things for you, and suddenly eating is a celebration again
  • Demanding silence, only to realise that I had 5 months of silence and laughing with her is that much better
  • Discovering a lot of things about yourself; things you can only discover when someone close to you holds up a mirror

my favourite picture

She was an amazing help for my Crowdfunding Party. Not only did she cut all of the flyers (because I can’t cut a straight line to save my life. I’m amazed they let me out of kindergarten)… she also helped set up the entire party… stayed up working with me until 4 am… Drank too much coffee and threatened me with a sock… Helped me think my organising through, and then helped me organise…

Above all: she made me laugh.

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There’s a problem when you make a living doing something you love. Maybe this is something other freelancers will nod at; maybe this is just me: You forget to laugh.

You get so caught up in all the organising, all the structure, all the pulling of all strings – that when someone asks me a simple question while I’m mid-thought, I give a curt & unpleasant response. Richelle, however, reminded me to laugh. Those of you who met her at the Crowdfunding Party will know she’s a hilarious young lady. Just by being how she is, she reminded me to stop worrying; stop biting too hard onto problems; to step back and think about her questions, answer things calmly, instead of being annoyed at being disturbed mid-thought again.

Do this – and you’ll laugh a lot more.

Because – seriously – WHY are we doing this, if we’re not having fun doing it??? Why all the work, all the phone calls, all the press-contacting, all the people-emailing, all the Making of Lists – IF WE’RE NOT HAVING A LAUGH???

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After a long grey winter of staring at the wall, Richelle made me laugh & enjoy my work again. She came into my life, turned all the paintings in my apartment upside down, fattened me up … and now she’s saying her farewells. Is the road calling? She came at the right time. Wherever she goes, I’m sure she’ll arrive there at the right time too. I hope she’ll be back. She was an epic companion, and a friend when I most needed one.

So much happening, dear ayllu. I hope to see you at the 2nd Crowdfunding Party on the 6th June! Come meet us all in person (Ritti, Mark, the Fab Fab, Pixie, Power Ranger), celebrate with us, and let me whisk you away when I read…

and again

and again

I want to leave you with this beautiful song, sent to me by the Pixie while she was in Malaysia. I got it at a time when life was still pretty hard, and I must have listened to it 10 times over. Now I want to pass it on.

Thank you, ayllu, for cheering me up – for supporting Qayqa – for listening. Have a wonderful night. See you on the 6th June.

Love, Ritti