Click on the above image or click here to read my latest essay in VICE about a douchecanoe that I knew for only 2 hours TWELVE YEARS AGO and wouldn’t piss off, so I lost my shit on him. It’s probably my greatest #ByeFelipe triumph.
This serves as a reminder, ladies, when a Yoko Brono uses the term “spinster,” it actually opens up a rift in the Space-Time Continuum to 1915.
So if you’ll excuse me, I need to jump in my autogyro and head to Constantinople to meet with the King of Siam. Hope he’s not a Bolshevik!
And dudes, here’s your takeaway: if you don’t want to be written about, you should have behaved better.
Check out my VICE category for all of my other essays that have been published in VICE.
And remember to check out the all-new ChristineEstima dot com! It’s where you’ll find all of my published works!
Back in January, I performed at The Moth storyslam in Brooklyn, New York City in front of 400 people. The theme of the night was ‘Cravings’ so I spoke for 5 minutes about being heartbroken, homeless, and hustlin’ on the streets of Europe. It’s basically the conclusion to this spoken word piece I performed at Spark London in the UK back in 2013. I got a standing-O from this crowd, and people were approaching me afterward to give me high-fives and fist-bumps. The crowd was so kind. As I’ve said before, I’ve developed a taste for Spoken Word and live-storytelling, so expect more from me on this front.
My life has been pretty strange over the past two years, but I’ll tell you one thing, it’s never fucking boring.
Live a life less ordinary, munchkins. There are no rules to this thing. Go out and make it yours.
Fanks for watching.
After my last post where I mentioned being homeless and a waif, I got quite a few private messages from you, my munchkins. It’s been about four months now, and I haven’t really talked about why I’m not in Germany anymore. In fact, most of my friends didn’t even know I had left until weeks (and for some, months) after the fact.
Truth be told, I couldn’t talk about it.
I figured the only kind of catharsis I could afford was to stand up in front of a bunch of strangers and tell my story. So I did that a few weeks ago at Spark London, a live storytelling event in London. All the stories are true and told without notes. So, the above video is my true story.
I posted this on Facebook the day after the event, and the outpouring of comments and private messages from people on there was so supportive and heartwarming to affirming. Here’s a cross section:
-“I just watched the video. Then wept.”
-“your video really moved me. i watched it three times and it made me cry. you are such a brave woman.”
-“I watched your video. it was artful and cathartic…you are honest, and blunt as hell. and have fire and i like it.”
-“I’ve watched your video a couple of times and it really moved me. You are wonderful and brave…You have a lovely soul, which was visible when you bared it. Xx”
-“I just watched your video and while I knew so much of that I’m sitting on a bus, bawling.”
-“OH MY goodness. I just watched this piece you performed and it made me cry. I bet tons of people have said that. I don’t have the words to express how much empathy, anger, compassion, sadness and love that I feel for you but also for everyone who has gone through something like this – it’s so universal….just watched it again and now I’m in tears AGAIN..”
-“It may not be much of a concillation, but you are a brilliant storyteller, and we’re all very lucky to be able to hear your stories.”
-“Just wanted to say that killed me and I’m bawling at 9:45 on a Wednesday. You’re a gift to art.”
-“Oh, sniffles, your video is amazing. I don’t know how you told your story with an even voice. You’re incredible.”
-“That was amazingly profound. I am Verklempt.”
-“you are a good one, Estima.”
-“good for you for recognizing a situation that was wrong for you. Many wouldn’t have the strength to leave.”
-“your video shook me and awoke a memory in me I thought I’d long ago purged. I’m ok knowing there’s still peace to come.”
I feel like a digital age Blanche Dubois, in that, I’ve always depended on the kindness of random internet followers;)
I’m okay now. I’ve been okay since I did this event. It’s like I let it go. I’ve moved on and I’m so happy now. My life is so charmed and wonderful, and I’ll never let someone make me feel anything less than wonderful again.
And besides, I’m living here!
So I can’t officially complain.
Anyway, the lesson herein is this:
Live a life that you’re proud of. And if you find that you’re not, find the strength to start over again.
Yesterday, at the Jeu De Balle flea market in Brussels, I bought this love letter for €1. It was written August 20th, 1945 from an unnamed man to an unnamed woman. It was written in French but I will do my best to translate it here. This reminds me of a letter I once had to write.
I love you so much that it is necessary to tell you that again and right now. It’s 11:30 am, maybe you are thinking a lot about me right now — I don’t know. But I feel your love around me like a protection and a caress. Forgive me my love for not loving you more, but I still have a heart very much broken. I still feel quite often alone and abandoned, very close to hopelessness and craziness. I very much need your softness, your warmth, your presence. You should treat me a bit like a sickness. I still suffer a lot, without end and I very much need that you don’t switch on me too much. Now, you are to me peace and calm; near you, I can finally calm my nerves. I pray that one day you will be complete happiness to me.
It’s when I take you in my arms and kiss you that I feel so much happiness and that the world could turn around me without destroying my happiness.
Forgive me for stealing your life and for giving you worry. I hate myself sometimes for the bad stuff I have done involuntarily to you, for the worries and the pains I have given you, but I can’t do anything about it, it’s stronger than me. I would like so much to change and become more normal, I want so much to be worthy of you.
I detest all the moments in my life where you weren’t there, and that I am now in exile from you.
Goodbye, my dear.”
The original French:
Je t’aime tellement qu’il faut que je te le dire encore et tout de suite. Il est 11,30h. Peut-être pense-tu tellement à moi maintenant — je ne sais pas. Mais je sens ton amour autour de moi comme une protection et une caresse. pardonne-moi mon amour de ne pas t’aimer plus, mais j’ai encoure le coeur tellement déchiré. Je me sens encore si souvent seul et abandonné, tout pret du désespoir et de la folie. J’ai tellement besoin de ta douceur, de ta chaleur, de ta présence, il faut me traiter un peu comme un malade. Je souffre encore trop et sans arrèt et j’ai tellement besoin que l’on ne me bascule pas-trop. Maintenant, tu es pour moi, la paix et le calme; près de toi, je puis enfin une reposer détendre mes nerfs. Je prie pour qu’un jour, tu sois pour moi le bonheur complet.
C’est quand je te tiens dans mes bras et que je t’embrasse que je me sens tellement heureux que le monde pourrait rouler autour de moi sans détruire mon bonheur.
Pardonne-moi de te voler ta vie et de te donner du souci. Je me hais parfois pour le mal que je te fais involontairement, pour les soucis et les peines que je te donne, mais je ne peux faire autrement, c’est plus fort que moi. Je voudrais tellement changer et devenir plus normal, je vourdrais tellement devenir digne de toi.
Je deteste tous les moments de ma vie où tu n’a pas été et que j’ai passé en exil de toi.
Au revoir, Chérie.”
I’m going to keep this letter safe.
Walking along the ancient city walls in Maastricht
The Selexyz Bookstore in Maastricht, which is a converted church. Fitting, seeing as how A) books are more useful than churches and B) churches used to ban books and burn them.
The view from my loft in Amsterdam
Gloria Swanson at the Foam museum in Amsterdam
More stuff on the walls at Foam in Amsterdam.
In a garage in Ghent.
She was displayed for no reason on Rue des Tanneurs, Brussels.
Penthouse flat I’ve been housesitting for 3 weeks, built in the 1920s. Oh what a tough life this is.
Especially when I’m forced to watch the sun set over Brussels.
A chateau hidden in a forest in La Hulpe.
The garden of the chateau in La Hulpe.
Jere snapped a pic of me riding off into the sunset, as it were.
Stupid cherubs and cupids (photo by Jere).
I went to a talk and reading of fellow-Torontonian Margaret Atwood at Flagey. She named-dropped Canada so much. The Arrogant Worms. North West Territories. The CBC. The Axe-Throwing League of Toronto.
Oh and I got to ask her a question from the balcony. I felt pretty sweet.
Cook & Book store in Woluwe. There are books on the ceiling. THE CEILING!
Oh what a feeling! When we’re reading on the ceiling!
And so many places to sip a cuppa whilst reading 🙂
Of course this was on the ceiling.
In Halles St. Gery, I stumbled upon a free symphony orchestra performance that had set up inside.
I went to the Jeu de Balle flea market and came back with 15 love letters between a man named Kenneth and a woman named Nathalie.
This one says, “je t’écris pour te dire que tu as été, que tu es, que tu seras la femme la plus belle, la plus douce, la plus importante de ma vie.”
Speaking of letters …. when I’m sad, my friends send me gifts and letters of encouragement in the mail. My friends could beat up your friends. First, I found this in my mail box.
And finally this.
I have a great support team.
And when I don’t have my friends, I can always rely on a snugglecat for a kiss.
Last week in Place Jeu de Balle, a photographer asked me if I would pose for some pictures. I said okay, naturally, seeing as how I’ve done that lotsa times before. We took a whole bunch of shots as the sun set over the normally crowded marché aux puces, and I think this is the best of the lot. Everyone on Facebook seems to agree. One of my friends said, “it’s not just ‘hot!’ or whatever, it is a really nice picture that looks like you, and when I think of you in my remembery, this is what you look like. You look smart, confident, well dressed (creative, based on the ensemble). Yes. C’est toi, cherie.”
Your life is in shambles, but somehow you find a way to get dressed in the morning. Even though you run back under the covers ten times, eventually your dignity wins out over your depression. You decide that happiness is not a house you might build one day. It has got to be a choice. So you put on your favourite cowboy boots that he always hated, swath on the chocolate-black mascara, and you fucking pull yourself together. Now is the time for guts and guile.
And voilà: a damned fine photograph.
my skin burns. and cauterizes. just when i thought i could unfist myself from your talons, they scourge through my flesh. you sear me like Brimstone. asphyxiate through smoke and mirrors. my pores weep red at night, yet you tongue every drop at dawn.
i blink out stars, invited by your fists,
but i will never resume our sinful trysts.
i took this photo in early Autumn 2007 on Park Street in Bristol. It is a Banksy original. It has since been vandalised a few times with paint bombs and is being restored.
I went to Bristol because I was living in London at the time, had just broken up with a douchebag, and had this all-consuming need to travel every single weekend. Luckily, England is a pretty pint-sized country in terms of landmass, so I could visit cities all the way on the other side of the country, and it would only take a couple hours roundtrip. Tops.
I blogged about my trip to Bristol at the time, read the archive post here. As you’ll see from reading it, I actually didn’t know this was a Banksy as I snapped this photo. I thought it was clever, and probably commissioned by some art gallery. But the image of a lover hanging on for life, and the blending of two artistic styles….it kinda did the trick for me.
Bless those Brits.
I do this thing after I go through a breakup where the need to travel is like a scab I need to pick. It gnaws and chews at my ligaments and nerve endings. Teeth grate. Passport starts hissing. Airport calling!
we fought so much.
screaming matches in public.
and then made up in the back of taxi cabs.
i originally found her back in May when i was walking down the queen street west with someone who is now a ghost. i photographed her and asked, “did you love someone? did you lose someone?”
the answer to both was yes.
in a twist that i never saw coming, a month later, my answer to both turned out to be yes, as well.
now to have her hovering over my bed, looking down on me as the warm undertow of sleep drags me under, i feel for once like i can hold onto something intangible until it bleeds through my fists.
deadboy says he wanted me to have it because i was the first person to take notice of his work, and acknowledge its beauty. i unwrapped it in a quiet café on college street and swallowed hard, feet dug in, i will not blubber like an idiot, i will not blubber like an idiot.
i walked in the rain, holding her against my chest, alone but in a city of millions. i wanted to talk to her, but i knew at once that she couldn’t hear me.
not yet anyway.
and that if i shouted, my voice would be amplified.
if you haven’t yet checked out the Motorcycle-Diaries- trailer-esque video of me hiking along the ancient Inca Trail, through the Peruvian jungle, to Machu Picchu, do it now.
i’m fucking endearing in it.
before i can blog about the experience, i need to blog about the amazing graffiti and street art that i came across in Peru. Peruvian street artists and graffiti artists really are brilliant. they are, by and large, engaged in politics, inspired by injustices, but also motivated by matters of the heart. poetics sayings, emotional images, and fire-infused couplings of the two are to be found all over the country. i took more photos of the street art than i did of the Andes i was hiking through!
after flying 10 hours (with a stop over in El Salvador) from Toronto, i was exhausted and smellin’ like Eau De Czech, but ready to photograph the art populating the night.
“ivo justice” i wonder if ivo is a man undergoing a trial? or incarcerated? at first i thought this said “no justice.”
LIMA (near airport)
Peru just elected a new president, and i think that’s him
i like this photo more for the scenery that compliments the graffiti, than just the graffiti itself.
zona, i’m told, was peru’s most famous footie player.
near Chinatown in Lima. this fatty with the scowl on her face wouldn’t move, even when asked, so i could photograph the mural behind her. she kind of looks like the guy in the mural. turns out her presence adds something to the photo
an accidental photo i took while zooming in a moving taxi. turned out pretty cool.
MIRAFLORES (area of Lima)
definitely political, just can’t make out the writing.
pulso danza, or “dancing pulse” was everywhere in miraflores.
hell yeah fuck yeah
brilliant. take the existing brickwork, turn it into a piano.
“revolution. if not now, when?”
surprised this wasn’t in chinatown
so much going on here…
“mi luz” means “my light.”
on the left, she’s been made to look mad. on the right, she’s eating a dick.
i like this sticker, of a young cap’d boy holding a rifle. sounds like a revolution to me.
brilliant stencil of the outgoing president. the old president was named “alan” but by putting a G in front of his name, and adding “del robo” at the end, it turns into the saying “knight of thieves,” which i think is a play on the saying “prince of thieves.”
nicely done, Tink.
i wasn’t going to photograph this at first because it’s just advertising a pub (as you can see from the drink in one hand, and the fork in the other). that is, until i noticed it’s exposed, raging cock.
sell fresh crazy someplace else. we’re all stocked up here.
you look like you was talking to me.
gringos ruin everything.
this was along the pacific ocean boardwalk.
BARRANCO (area of Lima)
Barranco is a totally bo-ho po-mo district of Lima, fulla artists and brilliant stencils. it’s celebrating it’s 139th anniversary, and it has a very colonial, european feel to it, but also a counter-culture atmosphere on the streets.
this “no la cagues” was everywhere. it’s a picture of the newly-elected president. “no la cagues” means “don’t screw it up” or “don’t fuck it up.” good advice for any new president. looks like the artist responsible for this piece forgot the “u” in “cagues” and had to add it in manually later.
here it is again. i think at the top the “jbo!” is the name of the artist. not sure.
love this wheatpaste. smiling winking dude holding a molotov cocktail, and the caption says, “agitate! protest! resist! … every man for himself!”
interesting opinion. “vandalism does not equal freedom of expression.”
so many areas of Barranco were stencil’d with the words “rubias no!” which means “no blondes!” or perhaps even “Not blonde!”
that’s right. LEAGUE OF AWESOME BRUNETTES for the win.
“call your old lady” meaning, call your moms, yo.
scary but cool face, done by someone named “kobi”
there’s that sticker again from Miraflores!
CHORRILLOS (area of Lima)
charlie chaplin! when i lived in london england, i lived in Elephant & Castle, the area where charlie chaplin was born and raised, so i feel a connection to the little moustachio’d man.
theatre masks submerged.
“forgive me if i hurt you, i love you.”
this was actually printed on a poster advertising family wares. it makes me think that very few people actually speak english in peru, because they may not understand what that means!
this is probably my favourite piece from all of Peru. it’s just a dude hugging a fish. but it’s strikingly lovely.
or is he hugging a bird? i can’t tell. i love how highly stylized the strokes are. brilliant wheatpaste.
mural dedicated to a young woman who passed away.
in Cuzco, I found the street art limited to sayings of love. as you can see from the below collage.
for those of you who don’t speak Spanish, “te amo” means “i love you.” (i mean, i don’t speak Spanish, but even i know that.)
i’m not sure what this is in reference to, but i like how the corn husk almost has grenade-like qualities. looks like a propaganda pic.
hey authorities! look! in 1664 someone ENGRAVED stuff into the side of a church. WATER BLAST THAT OFF!
this translates to “it’s prohibited to urinate on penalty of death.” i don’t know if this is graffiti or actually placed by the government (is the death penalty in Peru?), but considering that’s the ancient Inca wall standing there, it wouldn’t surprise me either way.
it’s michael jackson wearing an Incan wooly cap.
raymi, your powers are boundless.
this is deffo a government mural. going back to urination, it must be a huge problem in Cuzco. the entire mural said that in order to keep Cuzco beautiful, please don’t piss on the ground. AS I TOOK THIS PHOTO, i looked to my left to find a man pissing against a pillar. how ironic.
as we hiked through the jungle along the Inca trail, near the small but lovely village of santa theresa (there’s hot springs there!), we came to a bridge that had some incredible graffiti on it.
i think this Garcia guy must be commissioned, but it’s intricate and beautiful stencil work.
look at that gorgeous woman.
* * *
that’s it for the Peruvian graffiti, my next blog post will be about my travelling adventure expedition through the jungle, along the Inca trail, to Machu Picchu.
in the meantime, here’s a preview.
i’ve been back in toronto for a week now, and i have been enduring the spectrum of emotions from utter despair to euphoric bliss. people from my past are haunting me, and yet people from my present are treating me like tiramisu.
i won’t go into detail here, but i had felt obligated to contact some people from my past that i haven’t spoken to in ages. out of everyone i spoke to, only ONE person was amazingly supportive, kind, generous, and reassured me that no matter what, we are good friends (the rest were, as expected, bitterly cold and reserved). i wanted to reach through the telephone line and hug this person until my arms fell off.
thanks so much for being so kind to me over the years, sometimes i feel like i don’t deserve it. you are one of the meaningful ones.
then i spent thanksgiving weekend hugging and snuggling in trinity bellwoods park in between delicious ice cream licks and bike-riding.
so all in all, i can’t complain. life should never be about half-emotions, half-ways, or half-living. either feel the extremes or feel nothing at all.
that was the name of the first short story i ever had professionally published. I blogged about it when it happened way back in 2005… that paycheque paid rent that month. i took the above photo in october of last year during my war child challenge campaign, and this was an outtake that was never published, so i thought i’d have fun with it. the blending of two creative projects.
even though i miss house-sitting, i won’t miss that building being the only one in sight for miles in every direction.
found in the alleys behind the drake hotel. i thought Spud already was the mayor.
the background of Ford’s stupid monkey face says “Spud 4 Mayor” over and over.
I love Spud’s work, he’s one of the greatest Toronto street artists who eludes everyone. Gregory Allan Elliot told me that some of the dudes in Kensington market know who he is and can put me in contact. His work is everywhere and has been around for years. His Ford-sperms and Ford-faces made it into my The Grid article that was published a few weeks ago. And he always seems to score the greatest walls and locations. The rooftops of Queen and Spadina have all been Spud bombed. One says “SpudR” not sure what the R is for, but hey, we know it’s him because of his style and imagery.
here are some old Spud photos that i’ve taken but have never published. this one above was found in the Ossington-Humbert alleyway (I spend most of my days in alleys, seriously). He took over an entire garage front, and even copyrighted it in the bottom right corner.
this is just a spudbomb sticker, but i love it.
when i grow up, i’m going to bovine university.
this is a moo point.
you know, it’s like a cow’s opinion. it doesn’t matter. it’s moo.
i published a photo of this exact same piece a few months ago, but it was someone else’s photo. thought i’d go back and take my own, for copyright/ownership purposes.
i have another photograph of a piece that was put up in graffiti alley, it’s the exact same rob ford face, but instead of “piss here” it just says “ass.”
hhaha! this is in the alley behind dovercourt and queen. the “work in progress” has always been there, but like the new writing to the left indicates, it has been a work in progress for EONS. C’mon son. GET IT TOGETHER.
do you see what i see?
so fucking cool. this was on abell street behind the wreckage of construction.
i love the unused/abandoned storefronts along queen west.
speaking of Gregory Allan Elliot….see what he did here? He took a black marker to the movie poster for Colombiana… so fucking clever, sir. Yes, I know it’s him because the gun is now shooting his “heart/love” symbol.
the night, with garin, outside the drake hotel, where the woman with the typewriter sat on the sidewalk and tapped poems for passers-by. it sounded like morse-code.
headlines the day after Canada went into a state of mourning…
i was walking along Bloor and this guy was just sitting there holding this while fondling his smartphone.
fanks for letting me take your picture, guy.
it’s the fat-lip twins!
my wifey is so nom-nom-nom.
as i spoke about before, Ford Canada is lending me a car for this Labour Day long weekend (Ford Canada recognizes exceptional awesomeness, clearly) , so I’m going on a roadtrip! I’m going back to the place of my birth, Montreal, to hang with my gay boyfriend, my old school mates, to practice mon français (maudit enfant chienne), and wander about to see what’s cool around the plateau since i left at the age of 12.
frankly, after all that i’ve been going through lately, this opportunity couldn’t have come at a better time.
hopefully i’ll find some amazing Montreal graffiti, and see some great Montreal theatre!
if you have any graffiti/theatre leads, please send them my way. or if you’re throwing a hipster douchebag party event clusterfuck that kyboshes other attempts, let a sistah know.
bloggin will resume next week.
à la prochaine, mes ti-choufleurs!