*where Lolita is the diminutive form of Lola, itself a diminutive form of Dolores. Dolores = suffering.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Down with the system?

This endless tirade of job and university applications is getting dull, and it's really old news.

Should it be this hard for a young person to do something with his or her life?

I've got a theory. It goes like this:

We've been made to believe that doing all of our boss' donkey work during an unpaid internship will get us places. We've been made to genuinely think that we have to go through hours of filing and handling crates and staring blankly at a computer screen till our eyes hurt before we can actually put any real skills to work. We've been made to think that we HAVE to work unpaid overtime without complaining or asking not to (sometimes) in case we might get 'sacked' or told off.

So it's really fine, they tell us, if our jobs are boring as f***, tedious as hell, and use approximately 5% of our skill set, the 5% that was acquired way before our graduation from decent universities, round about the time we learnt to write an essay at primary school.

I've always been a hard worker. I don't mind hard work. I like it.
But this process just seems to be asking too much while often offering very little.
The applications are harder than the job itself.

And also, what stupid applications.

How on earth will you figure out whether I'm a suitable candidate for a job, if I tell you that 'I was president of the Pain-In-the-Ass society at university where I learnt how to manage a team and honed my leadership skills'? Or that 'I enjoy eating food, going to the cinema, and alpine skiing'. Everyone does, you idiot. Do these people want banality and uniformity? 'Cause I can't imagine how there could be an interesting answer to the question: 'Tell us of a time when you worked in a team'. Unless you're a fucking NASA astronaut, in which case you don't need their 'Analyst' job to excite you in the first place.

Note that  words that indicate the slightest glimmer of passion on the applicant's behalf are disposed of - I often find myself censoring the word 'love' from applications even if it is an accurate reflection of my feelings about rope-skipping-in-my-underwear-at-4am-in-the-morning, which I FUCKING LOVE AND COULD AT LEAST HANDLE DOING ALL DAY BY THE WAY THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

'I was attracted to Capital-Markets-Analysts-Forever-Finance-Bank-LLP because of its longstanding reputation and its work ethic' basically translates to 'You're rich I want your money'. Isn't the former what everyone says, and the latter what everyone actually means? Unless you're applying for something mega-cool, like being an underwater photographer for National Geographic in Belize in which case your application is genuine PASSION.

Why aren't there more jobs like that or, to be more precise, why are people being PUT OFF from applying for something less conventional, more artsy or more adventurous? Is it because anything other than a City firm is deemed to be a failure? Is an entry-level journalist less successful than an entry-level accountant? And what is this obsession with big firms that will give your CV that extra umph that will make the next big firm hire you easily? Is that my sole option? Rationally thinking, I know it isn't. But it often seems to be the only choice!

Some may say that I'm part of that disgruntled group of people that moan because I haven't got a job and that if I had one I'd be perfectly content and actually doing what I have just said I hate doing. But I've tried answering the questions, I've tried saying 'why I want to be a lawyer', or 'why I want to be a consultant' and failed miserably at it. It's not an issue of incompetency. I've been deemed quite competent on a few occasions. The problem seems to lie within what it is that I am competent in, or what I am willing to become competent in. And I find myself inflexible when faced with options such as banking, legal services, audit, consultancy, marketing etc. I might not remain so for long - time and years of unemployment may break me at some point.

But for now I want to try and be what I want to be. What I really want to be, what I've always wanted to be. I might not have found what that is yet, but that is irrelevant. All I know is that there's a world of alternative possibilities out there that might seem 'risky' and 'stupid' and occasion comments such as 'what the hell is she doing she is wasting herself', but hey, somebody's got to do it.

If they didn't, we wouldn't have brilliant journalists to admire, or film stars to marvel at, or dancers to be fascinated with, or musicians to passionately listen to, or writers to be inspired by. And what kind of world would that be anyway?

Friday, 2 December 2011


Very belated piece of writing, but I was working on it for a while... 
Hope some think it's still relevant.

I spent my final year in Cambridge working on the so-called 'Tragedy' paper that included the study of tragedy from Ancient Greece to contemporary versions of the genre, but little did I know that I would return to a tragedy of our own as I arrived in Cyprus on the 11th July. Academics might criticize the way I use the word to describe a non-literary event, but the magnitude and effect of an event that has moved the entire island (hitherto deep in slumber) to tears and onto the streets has pushed me to reconsider the aptness of the word 'tragedy' in our daily, and very real, lives.

At university, we  spent time juxtaposing the use of the word 'tragedy' in the media as opposed to its use in literary and academic environments, wherein some scholars (I'm thinking particularly of Ronan McDonald) reach the conclusion that in real life, as opposed to art, one labels as 'tragedy' certain unfortunate, devastating events (mostly of accidental nature) in order to imbue them with transcendence, to give them a certain sense of permanence; a grandeur that ensures their place in a culture's, a community's, a family's long-term memory. In short, to ensure permanence in posterity of an event that is part of a nature so fickle and transient that it constitutes an almost absurd effort against nihilism.  

Yet one thing that non-literary and literary tragedies seem to have in common - despite many academics' attempts to polarize the two - is that they raise a storm of questions, an explosion (an apt term bearing in mind our situation) of question marks that remain bitterly unanswered. Why did Cyprus keep the containers? Was the President actually so keen to please Syria and Iran, that he neglected his fundamental duty of protecting the country he is supposed to rule? Why did officials decide to put the containers next to the largest power plant of the island?

What's more, the explosion at the naval base in Zygi on the 11th July has something else in common with our Greek ancestors' favorite cultural and educational pastime: maddened individuals who, possessed by some sort of illusion or delusion - the Greeks called it ate - overreach human boundaries and make choices that provoke divine judgment and insult the gods. To use a term closer to our modern sensibilities: they play with fire.

That's exactly what a shamefully large number of army and state officials did in Cyprus. Not once, or for a while. But for two whole years. Leaving 98 containers of explosives and other materials used to make bombs stacked up in an Aztec-like pyramid in an area right between the Evangelos Florakis naval base and the Vasilikos power plant, the island's main source of energy and biggest investment that, by the way, cost approximately 3 billion euro to build, and was only finished some months before the explosion with the addition of new equipment.

So in effect these high-minded low-lifes would convene meeting after meeting brushing aside the warnings of the naval base's director with an ease comparable to Oedipus' complacency - the man who solved the Sphynx's riddle, at least we had some proof of his capacity - when faced with warnings about his criminal fate.

This is typical Cyprus, some may say. Others will say that this was an accident - Oedipus, after all, was completely oblivious to the fact that he had killed his father, or, that it was his father that he had killed. He was also oblivious to the fact that he was sleeping with his mother, or, that it was his mother he had married and was sleeping with. Tiresias insists that this is no excuse. And so the man who thinks he knows it all plucks his own eyes out as an indication of his belated clairvoyance.

I cannot call an accident what happened in Cyprus on the 11th July. Nor can I accept the excuse that our dear president, the man who thinks he knows it all, did not know and was oblivious to the imminent danger that the 98 bulging containers posed not only to the naval base and sailors that were serving there, but to the entire Limassol community and the residents of the surrounding area. It was in fact his own deliberate political whim that insisted the containers remained in Cyprus - a country lacking the infrastructure of handling such a titanic amount of explosives - despite several pleas from EU countries such as France and Germany, as well as the United States, which explicitly offered to help remove the containers from Cypriot territory.

At a decision-making crossroads between favoring our EU allies or satiating the narcissism of Iran and Syria's megalomaniac regimes - to whom the containers originally belonged -  our dear president chose the latter path. He also decided to appoint the aging and incompetent Mr. Papacostas as Minister of Defense, who notoriously made a reassuring statement back in 2009 when Cyprus first confiscated the containers that these were 'absolutely safe and could be stored in a residential area if they had to'. It was his decision as well to extend the contract of the Deputy Chief of the National Guard - Mr. Savvas Argyrou - indefinitely, despite the fact that the aforementioned never graduated, or even attended, the Hellenic Army Academy.

Even so, says the devil's advocate, what matters now is the way the president handles the situation that has been created. Let's look forwards, not back into the past.

Yet there is no plucking of eyes  in the case of our communist leader. There is no remorse, there is no clairvoyance whatsoever. There seems to be, instead, an ever-fattening sheath of darkness, a result of the filth this man is steeped into, which isolates him from a substantial portion of the Cypriot community but perversely brings him closer to his sheepish loyalists.

After all, our man who thinks he knows it all appointed his own Tiresias, the esteemed Mr. Polys Polyviou, to ascertain whose fault it was, in a move that 'would guarantee transparency and would bring the causes of the event to light'. That was the spiel we became accustomed to hearing, up until the report was actually ready. Faithful to his ancient past, the president rejected the report which his own appointee delivered. Personal and political responsibility are not in the President's vocabulary, so surely, they mustn't be in anyone else's.

And now for the cherry, the icing, the frosting of the Banana Republic cake. Five months on, we've seem to forgotten it all. Perhaps it's because the Christofias administration is constantly surprising us with various other tragic developments, namely the economy and the lack of any substantial measures to save it. Or his pathetic image hopping out of a helicopter and onto Noble Energy's natural gas platform - another way to haze. Perhaps I shouldn't be this scathing. There is a less malignant explanation to all this. Mr. Christofias and his minions are deliberately failing to resuscitate our collapsing economy because they want to be the best in something, so they've decided to mishandle  everything they get their hands on in order to get into the Worst Government Administration International Hall of Fame, and thus secure fame in posterity as the only so-called communist government that made a mess out of their country (!) Or are they doing it in order to secure those last votes standing from the unions, to the detriment of everyone else? Is this their way of punishing private sector employees, who are all, as we know, naturally right-wing, fascist, supporters of the 1974 coup d'etat?

All I have to say is don't worry misters, you've already made it. Please stop trying.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

What chaos

What chaos.
Harbinger of traffic
sliding red around the streets
stops and starts and then
Announces where we go
Where are you going
In the throngs and hoards of feet
In the throngs and hoards of faces
An embarrassment of fish.

Friday, 30 September 2011

Paris, 2.1

From the concept store 'merci' on Boulevard Beaumarchais to

an Afro-Antillaise market off Rue de Bretagne to

the museum of hunting and nature (!) to

a star-studded Colette

This day was a full day. Amen.

Entrance at 'merci' - you can get a glimpse of the store's
large book collection and cafe
One of the many vintage pieces of furniture found at 'merci'

Afro-Antillais & cajun... Lovely colours
(Can't help thinking maybe the palette of the
chair above is Carribean-inspired)

An installation at the entrance of the
Museum of Hunting and Nature
The museum is characterized by a blend of interactive installations.
Old hunting guns and flasks lie in wait in art deco furniture drawers.
Modern sculptures are interspersed among the 17th Century artifacts.

This is a cardboard installation - one of the modern additions of the museum.
A while later and we were back at Rue St. Honore -

which was filled with fashion personas -

Anna dello Russo outside colette
Terry Richardson is showing his photo exhibition 'Mom&Dad' at Paris' hottest concept store.

the colette bus - see the Terry Richardson signature?

Paris, 2

Ever wondered who on earth designed the following wigs/hair accessories/hair styles/hats worn by Lady Gaga?

His name is Charlie le Mindu and he is the 'haut coiffeur' behind the notorious 'lips' headpiece

and I was lucky enough to go to his Spring/Summer 2012 show, where he presented his newest collection called 'Burka Curfew'.

The first model was naked

besides a headpiece - what I interpreted as a phallic take on the Moroccan fez

Cobra head

back of cobra head

Headpiece and hair dress. Yes, real hair.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Paris, 1

The day started off in disarray.

I hauled myself to three wrong bus stops before finally finding bus stop Y which took me to King's Cross.

Not really. It stopped at Euston to my dismay. I hauled myself to KX on foot.

I got to Paris. It was sunny. I stepped outside the Gare du Nord and couldn't stop smiling.

Got lost for a while. Reached Gare de l'Est.

Went summer shopping at H&M because the weather is freakishly great.

Then started my epic underground journey. Turns out, there actually was a direct line linking my place of origin with my desired destination. An hour later, having suffered a shameful fall in the Parisian metro and having changed direction four times, I finally got there. 

It was all worth it.

Offerings of grumpy woman taxi driver
(who thought we were Italian and refused
to speak any other language besides Italian.)

View from Cafe de Flore at St. Germain de Pres
Projected arrow on the street...
Boulevard St Germain
...pointing to digital messages inside a building
Sonia Rykiel window
(for the love of knits!)

Sonia Rykiel window
(eerily reminiscent of Prada?)

Prada Spring/Summer 2011
That's all for now.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

The face

 The face, the face
your face, their face
your nose, your eyes
your ears your highs

From an optician's window on Fleet Street

From an optician's window on Fleet Street
(the Poirot face)

Kika Ioannidou handbag

Kika Ioannidou handbag 2
Hidden face
(veggie face)
Marilyn on Dolce and Gabanna
(divine face)