AFRICANA OLÉ!

I tried to blog about my big adventure in Africa, but I soon realised that not only did I not have enough time, but there were way too many emotions, events, sweat, tears and laughs to write about. I simply couldn’t digest it all in time to write about it, before there was something new going on. Now I’m sat in a coffee shop in Stockholm and everything feels so normal and still so weird. I’m not even sure how to write about my summer in a way that makes any sense to anybody, but I will do my best.

In the beginning I was very confused and exhausted. There was so much to learn and so many impressions. I felt stupid sometimes, like I could never learn it all in time to do a good job. I tried to stay in the background and learn, but at the same time I had to get right in there, because the other girls needed my help. It took me 3 to 4 weeks to feel like I knew what I was doing. One thing that didn’t change, was the feeling of being tired like ALL THE TIME. I was prepared to work a lot and I usually don’t have any problems doing so, but I never realised how important it is for me to have some alone time. To have long breaks every now and again and be able to hang out with myself. There was not much of that and it started tearing me apart. After moving rooms two times I ended up sharing one with my Teddy Bärli, which was amazing, it finally felt like I had a home in Tunisia. But no matter how much I love her and loved our little home, I still didn’t get much alone time and this is just one of 1000000 things I’ve learnt about myself this summer, now I know that I need to consider this for any future adventures.

I was so excited to go to Tunisia. I had some sort of dreamt up “1000 and one nights” Arabian fantasy expectation that soon was smashed down with the power of Ali Baba and all of his 40 thieves. This country has the possibility of being so beautiful, but I get the feeling that no one cares enough to make it happen. It’s dirty, empty and stinky and I find that so sad. The people are over all very friendly, as long as you are friendly to them. But one of the things that really put me off and that also was one of the reasons I decided to leave earlier (more on that later) is the way you are treated there, as a young foreign woman. Never mind the cat calling and looks that you can sometimes get from random men in Europe, this is a completely other level. As soon as we left the secure walls of the 5 star resort we called our home, (but literally AS SOON AS, you didn’t even have time to count to 10) we had one or more men talking to us,trying to touch us, whistling at us, following us and for some reason they all want to know where we’re from (Greece was not an acceptable answer, they wouldn’t believe me). Inside the hotel I felt like a prisoner, who either had to stay in my room or represent a company and be overly friendly and talk to everybody all the time, and outside the hotel I never felt safe. Adding to that there was literally nothing to do and nowhere to go except for a couple of shops and one or two nice restaurants and on my short breaks I prioritised sleeping or at least just breathing a little in my room.

At the end of July however, I started having troubles breathing. It all became way too much for me and even though I did like my actual work, in the Mungo Club with the kiddos, I couldn’t even do a good enough job there. I was going through everything in my head. Back and forth. Forth and back. A bit sideways. Twisting it around. Going crazy. I didn’t talk to many people about it, because I knew that I needed to make this decision by myself. There was a constant plea to myself in my brain: “Darling, you’ve got to let me know, should I stay or should I go!?”. What you need know about me is that I’ve never quit ANYTHING in my life. In my teenage years I wanted to do everything and learn everything and go everywhere so much that I had stress fits almost every night. I had some activity every afternoon after school and added homework and meeting friends to that.
I have had jobs that I didn’t feel 100% satisfied at before, but I’ve fought through them seeing the future, counting the days, trying to focus on the positive things. This time however, for the first time ever, I didn’t feel like there was enough reason for me to continue. I had seen it, I had realised it wasn’t for me, I had already learnt so many things and I felt so unhealthy, unhappy and given up, falling apart. I needed to go. Making the decision to quit and go home earlier than planned was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, but also one of the most rewarding, freeing and important ones. I am so proud of myself for finally having done something for me. When i finally made my decision and went through with it, the process was longer than I’d excepted and added more stress to the situation, the first half of August was just a blur of trying to get through the situation, but when it was all finalised and I had my Confirmation of Termination e-mail in my inbox, I could finally breath and do a good job for the rest of my stay. And even though I couldn’t wait to leave and go home, the closer to the end it got, the harder it was to leave it all behind. This place had become my home away from (all my other) home(s). You get used to places and people so easily.

Talking about people, the main reason I didn’t go completely bonkers, is my beloved Africana family. I will cherish you all in my heart forever! I have met so many people this summer and they have all given me so much, taught me so much about myself, themselves and life in general. I have had good and bad confrontations with people, but in the end I want to thank every single soul that I’ve met this summer. From the people who became my family and closest friends, to the people that I never got to know deeply, but always were there for me and showed me a good time, to the people that showed me that I don’t need to like everybody and keep everybody close to me, that I cannot click with everyone and that that’s ok, to the people that made a very short appearance in the play that is my life, but certainly all brought something to the mix and last but absolutely not least, to all the children that I’ve had the honour and privilege to meet and hang out with this summer, you gave me so much and it will stay with me forever. Thank you for everything! (Of course a special thank you to the whole Club Magic Life Africana Imperial Team of summer 2014, to you who were there from the beginning, to you who left halfway in, to you who joined in the middle and at the end, i will never forget any of you!)

Now, I’m sat in a coffee shop in central Stockholm, looking out the window and seeing the beautiful swedish architecture, cars with swedish number plates, people rushing by and the tip of my nose is cold for the first time in a very long time. As much as I enjoy it, it’s also a very weird feeling being here. It feels like I never was gone, like it was all just a dream. At the same time I am a changed person, I’ve had so many lessons for life and I’ve added so many people to my extended family. I don’t regret anything that happened this summer. From all the bad things to all the amazing, they were all a part of the big picture. Part of the lesson of life that will one day make me who I am.

I am going to stop rambling and go meet my best friend now. Hope to make writing into a routine again, now that I have more time on my hands.

Lots of love to all my friends around the world,

A x

Sehnsucht.

I’ve been here for two and a half weeks now. They have gone by fast and at the same time it feels like I’ve been here forever. They have been up and they have been down. I have met some great people and I have had some great times. Right now six months seem like a very long time though. I have the feeling that I have enough places in my place bank, I don’t have any space left in me to fall in love with yet another place. There are three places I physically ache to be in right now:

1. Crete

I thought coming here, having the sea just next to me, the similar climate and working in tourism, I would miss Greece less, I would feel more at home. I was wrong. It makes me miss Crete more. It feels like I grasped for gold and caught silver. Don’t get me wrong, it’s beautiful here, I’m all for new experiences and adventures and I knew it wouldn’t be the same. I just miss home. It’s been two years since I was there. It’s way too long. Hersonissos, Crete will always be my heart’s home. And I just need to go home and smell the smells, see the colours – the pink bougainvillea, the turquoise sea, the white houses. I need to walk up and down the little alleys in the warm, dark evenings and think. I need to taste real tomatoes, cucumber, yoghurt, menthe, oregano, feta cheese, fish, olive oil, wine. I need to see the villages where I grew up. I need to be in my comfort zone. Between the mountains and the sea. With people who knew me pre Sweden. With people who knew and loved my father. It actually hurts, that’s how much I miss it.

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Xarakas, my home mountain. <3

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The House where I grew up, in the middle of the picture.

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2. Alpbach

Since I first stepped foot there in 2006 I have been in love with this village. Having been there three seasons in a row (winter-summer-winter) it has really become a part of me. I love being there. I love waking up, looking out my window and be surrounded by mountains. Wether green or white, they make my heart skip a beat and my breathing heavier every time. I can never get used to their magnificence. I feel truly blessed to have Alpbach in my life. Complete with all the lovely people that live there or come and go like me. It has bewitched me. Strangely enough I can actually see myself settling down there one day. I certainly know that I can never live without it again and that I want nothing more than a chance to go to Dorffest and get some weeks there without work, with friends to climb some mountains and drink some wine in the alp summer nights.

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3. My childhood

The one place that i can never go back to. The one place that I always wish I could visit again. Hersonissos may still be my heart’s home, but it will never be the same as it was in the 90’s. I will never be a child again. I will never put two chairs together next to my mother at the restaurant and fall asleep knowing that she will carry me home when the time comes. I will never again think that getting a helium balloon is the greatest joy in the world. I will never sit in my father’s lap again. Go to kindergarten and run around pretending flowers and stones are food. Completely rely on other people to fix everything for me, make me feel secure. I get the feeling so often that I want to be a child again. I had the best childhood anyone could ask for. I grew up in Hersonissos in it’s golden days with all the best people. I can never have it back, but no one can take it away from me either. I just wish I could visit it sometimes.

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Here’s a little reminder I found in a phone booth in Hersonissos:
(The more you look back, the less you go forward! ALWAYS LOOK FORWARD!)
Note to self.

But, I’m not complaining. This is something I need to do. I will be in Hersonissos, Norrköping, Göteborg, Alpbach, London, places that i feel at home, before I know it. And I will be one experience richer! I wish you all a summer rich with new experiences, sun and love.

A x

LOOTB #622: Lillete

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Originally posted on LOOTB Gives:
This beautiful young lady is Lillete. She is 14 years old, her favorite subject in school is Math and when she grows up she wants to be a professional volleyball player! We met her in…

Day off.

My first day off was very relaxing. All the entertainers have a day off every Tuesday, so I hung out and got to know the others a bit better today. Me and an even newer girl, who arrived on Sunday, took a walk to the Marina and did some shopping for exciting things like cleaning supplies. Otherwise what we have done today is eat, basically. On day off we get to wear our own clothes and use almost all the facilities of the hotel like a guest. We get to sit together and eat and don’t have to do guest contact. So we had a pig out breakfast, two lunches, afternoon cake and coffee and dinner… It was amazing. I don’t think I’ll be hungry before Thursday. The weather wasn’t that much better today, so I didn’t get my much longed for swim in the sea. I did however get an unexpected sunburn. Never trust the clouds here, apparently. Tomorrow it’s on it like a bonnet again! My first presentation and Mungo story. Woop!

A x

A new experience.

So this morning the plans changed and suddenly I had to go do the adult evening programme! I thought, yeah, I’ll have to do it sooner or later, might as well be sooner! I’m not gonna lie, I felt a bit worried and didn’t really want to go. It’s a bit hard for us kids entertainers, because we only really know the families, and they’re already asleep at that time! Also I’ve only been here like 5 minutes, so I don’t really know anyone. But I always do this, I worry in vain and when I get there, I actually really like it! And I did! I met a lot of nice people and got paid to freestyle dance to cheesy songs, which is one of the things that I do best! I can now go to bed and feel that it’s ok to be tired! So, this is me signing out with a very good feeling! :*

A x

First impressions.

I’m knackered, but I’m happy. So much to take in, but I think I’m going to get used to it very soon! The one thing I don’t know if I like is having to eat with the guests (and we can’t sit two entertainers together, we all have to spread out), making awkward conversation while eating with people who’d probably much rather eat on their own… But I guess I could have bigger problems. 

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I have a good feeling about this! :)

A x

A new adventure has begun.

I left the house at 5.00 this morning. 1, train to Arlanda airport. 2, first flight to Frankfurt. I hate that airport. We drove around in the plane for what seemed like ages, then we had to get on a bus and drove around for another eternity, my bladder was bursting and I just wanted to find a toilet ASAP. Then I had to walk through endless corridors to get to where I needed to be. Queue for check in. Queue for passport control. Queue for boarding pass control. Queue for security control. Queue to get on the plane. I couldn’t get away from there fast enough! My biggest fear was that they would have forgotten about me when I got to Tunis, as I hadn’t gotten a confirmation that they were picking me up, where or when. When I got out with my suitcase in hand there was a sweet little Tunisian man standing there with a sign that had my name on it! Puh!

It has been a long day with a lot of new experiences. I’m sharing a room with a girl from Ukraine, she seems very sweet and all the other staff seem really nice too. I’ve only had the kid food, but the rest looked good as well and I can’t wait for the breakfast buffé tomorrow!

I have come to one conclusion; I brought way to much clothes… But then again who has time for washing? And what good would they do laying around in Sweden? ;)

Photos are coming up tomorrow. This little girl is going to bed now. Exhausted.

A x

Educating Athina.

I’ve been through this process before. Multiple times. The process of reading countless plays. Choosing one. Reading it again with the purpose to find a monologue in it. A monologue by a character that is of my gender and age. A monologue that isn’t too long, but not too short. One that shows a wide range of emotion and with which I can show what I can do. A monologue that I spend months learning, directing myself, sometimes getting help making into a scene. Just to perform it for 2 minutes in front of a jury of people that supposedly know what they want and what they are looking for. That are there to judge me. They have these 2 minutes to see if I have what it takes. To go to their school. To fit in with the rest of the class. To get out of the course and actually work in the industry. I have 2 minutes to show them what i can do. And so do the thousands of others that fight for one of the the 30, 20 sometimes only 15 places that will give us the tools to go out in the real world and do it over and over again, but this time to get a paid job.

It’s exhausting. It’s a jungle that you need to fight through with a machete. And you never know what you’re going to find behind the next bush. Because in the end it’s all about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right people. About knowing the right people. I got in to the theatre programme at secondary school. Half audition, half grades there. Two years later I got in to the one year theatre course at Wiks Folkhöskola, through a letter this time. The exact same letter got rejected by Nordiska Folkhögskolan. I can be prepared to an inch of perfection and still not get in. The brother of a friend of mine got in to Drama School that time that he decided to apply last minute and go do the audition just for fun… So why on earth am I here again? Why do I keep doing this to myself? Why can’t I just settle for (or actually want to) studying business or engineering or something that will actually give me a good, secure, well payed job after three years at university? 

I get these rushes of inspiration and determination and I try to get this acting thing going for me. And then I just go off and work as a ski instructor or a waitress or study german anyway. Then another rush and I try again. I guess a part of me is afraid of the rejection and the amount of work and sacrifice that it takes. But somehow this time I feel less afraid. I feel more determined and more inspired. Maybe I’m ready now. Maybe I’m done exploring for a while. Maybe it’s time to really give this 100%. I’m 23 years old. That’s not old at all. But if I want to get in to drama school and then actually work as an actress for some years, it’s high time. 

Five years have gone since I was that 18-year-old, freshly graduated from secondary school, ready to take on the world. Looking back I can see that I was a bit naive then, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I wish I had some more of that naivety in me still. It made things easier. At the same time, I was holding myself back then, because I still wanted to explore things. But I did take myself to London, which was my big dream. And I did take that evening course that I had to take the tube, then a train and then a bus to get to. And it did inspire me. And now it’s time to do it again. Without stopping myself this time. Without doubting myself. Without self pity. 

I read a play today. I know I should read more before I choose a monologue and that I absolutely have the time, but it’s just so tiresome. And I really liked this one. It actually moved me. So, it might be the one. It is called Educating Rita and is written by british dramatist Willy Russell. It was first produced in 1980 with the fantastic Julie Walters as Rita. Reading the script actually made me laugh out loud on several occasion, I’m not going to write out the plot, however I recommend you to read it. If you feel too lazy for that, I’m attaching here a link to stream online the film adaptation from 1983, again with Julie Walters in the role of Rita and the equally fantastic Michael Cane as Frank. The script is practically the same, with a few (sometimes highly unnecessary modifications). In the play Rita and Frank are the only characters that have lines and it’s all set in Frank’s office at the university, whereas in the movie the other characters have come to life as well. It’s very well played and worth a watch!

So the journey towards Drama School (the REAL journey!) starts now and this time I’m not giving up. Having said that I will need all the support, motivational speeches, pep talks, unconditional love and you-can-do-it attitude from all my friends. Be there for me and know that I will be there for you when you need me. (And you will always get free tickets to come see my shows! ;))

A x

A tribute to a swedish gem.

A scrawny boy from Gothenburg. The guy who quit as drummer of Broder Daniel before they got their record deal and rejoined as their bass player just in time for their big break and their becoming swedish 90s pop’s number one sad eyeliner boys. The dorky football fan who loves the old swedish folk songs about sea men and fisher men. The boy who made being all of that cool. The boy who decided he didn’t want to be in a band, wrote his own songs and released them, thinking that no radio station would play them. The boy who appeared dressed in a sailor suit and swept an entire nation (and Norway…) over night. He sang the way he felt. It wasn’t pretty. But it was from the heart. There is no one who puts so much emotion into their songs as he does. That’s what makes them so unbearably beautiful. In the beginning he was so awkward. He didn’t know how to deal with the sudden popularity. It was refreshing! Now, as he has grown in to it, he is even more adorable in all his humbleness. The way he speaks to his fans! As though they are his saviors. His live shows are the best parties and the best, most emotional sob fests all at the same time. They are an addiction. With many musicians, you see them live once and you’ve been there, done that. With him you end up begging for more. Seeing him live becomes a hobby. And here’s the most amazing part. In 2001, when he had his big break there were 16-year-old girls at the front of the stage, screaming, crying and singing along to every bit of lyric. In 2006, when I had my concert debut one late summer day with a bit of autumn in the air, I was at the front of the stage along with hundreds of other 16-year-old girls screaming, crying and singing along to every bit of lyric. Now, in 2014, at the front of the stage there are still 16-year-old girls screaming, crying and singing along to every bit of lyric. But we, the 16-year-olds from 2001 and 2006 have never left him and my mother’s 75-year-old aunt adores him just as much as we do. He has something for everyone. Now, at 40 years of age, whenever he gets on a stage, he is still that energetic, scrawny, dorky boy who gives a hell of a show. He keeps writing the most amazing pieces of poetry and accompanying them with the most emotional melodies. His music has made me feel a complete, full range of emotion. Whenever I hear his songs, my heart starts beating faster, I become that 16-year-old girl with eyeliner and a star painted on the cheek at the front of the stage screaming his songs while crying (that wasn’t me by the way, I was the short girl in a pony tail and no make up, pushing her way to the front). After 13 years of fame he is now attached to the swedish folk soul. He is up there with Evert Taube, Cornelis Vreswijk and Fred Åkerström. There are already books written about him, a movie made based on his songs and multiple documentaries about him and his music. And rightly so. His songs, his words and his voice have touched so many people, of so many ages and backgrounds. It’s a pity that most of the songs are in swedish, because I want to show everyone his magic. But they aren’t translatable. They are a swedish poetic secret. One day our children will be singing his songs in school and we will listen and remember the days when he used to be a rock star. I hope he never stops making music. Making magic. I – and many with me – need him to keep doing what he does. Because no one and nothing can replace the one and only, Håkan Hellström.

In case I got you curious:
Nu Kan Du Få Mig Så Lätt
Maybe his most magic song in one (for me) of his most magic performances from 2006.
“It was so dark, that evening I went home
I had been hoping for something, hoping for something
If you want me, now you can get me so easily…”
Yes, I broke the rules and translated a bit of magic for you.

Kom Igen, Lena!
Official video to the first single off his second album (Det är så jag säger det [That's the way I say it]) from 2002.
A song that I can’t sit still to, one of the happiest songs I know. My jam. COME OOOOON, LENA!!!
A x