Blog: Life and Other Absurdities

Living Out Loud - Resolution for 2019 and Beyond 

 

I’m trying not to make resolutions, but to be resolute in what I do. 
It’s the nature of life to provide challenges and struggles - I won’t let them throw me off track or keep me from being myself. 
Some days it feels like my self is being buried under a huge heap of worries, chores, responsibilities and fears. I will not let them distract me from what’s important. Somewhere among the wreckage and the rubble there’s a faint hint of my own dusty footprints that will always lead me back to myself. If not, I’ll draw them in the dirt myself. 

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” -Emile Zola

Shut Up and Be Grateful 

It’s the time of the year when people are busy setting goals and making plans. I’ve got trouble focusing on anything but the fact, that I am one of three and half million people in the UK, who presently can’t make any plans for longer than a year ahead, because apparently we’re a threat to this country. 

In fact, a lot of my European friends’ plans include leaving this country. 

I can see a lot of you rolling your eyes and say, “Stop going on about it, it’ll be fine. They shouldn’t charge you to be able to stay, but stop moaning.”  
And I feel bad about even mentioning it, because I'm aware that, even after living here for 15 years, I'm still a guest here and I should shut up and be grateful.  

But this isn’t about being charged to stay. Because, actually, they charge us to APPLY to be allowed to stay. They’re not guaranteeing us any rights. Ever.  
Yes, they smile into our face and say, “oh, as long as you are who you say you are, have no criminal record, and let us put you on our register you’ll be able to stay.”  
But let’s face it, we could be rejected.  
Some of us could be rejected simply for making a mistake when filling out the paper work.  
Some of us could be rejected because the government makes a mistake.  
Some of us could be rejected for lacking the right documentation for something we never knew we needed documentation for.  
Some of us could be rejected for not being “desirable immigrants”, which doesn’t require involvement in any crime - low income, homelessness or similar would provide enough of a reason.  
Some of us could be rejected because our case worker is having a bad day.  

This government has worked hard to create a “hostile environment”, and it’s not only illegal immigrants who are made to feel unwelcome. I’m well aware of the fact that whoever will be going through my application will in all likelyhood just see me as a number or a name, to them I won’t be a person, I won’t be much more than a “low-skilled migrant.”  

I’m aware of the fact that even if I should be granted settled-status, I will be discriminated against. By landlords, employers, the government. I’ll be on their special register, I will carry a special ID, and if they should not like me, they can deport me anytime.  

If I don’t shut my loud mouth, if I critize them in any way, they might see me as a threat and deport me.  
If my income should be below the minimum income they require non EU and future EU immigrants to have, they can deport me.  
If I should ever accidently drive through a red light, I’ll subsequently live in fear of being deported.  

Don’t anyone tell me it’ll be fine. Because it won’t be. Don’t anyone tell me my rights won’t be diminished. Because it’s a lie. Don’t tell me I’m a citizen, because I’ll always be a guest.  

They’re going to fingerprint us like a criminals.  
We’re not beeing given rights, but being controlled.  
I hope you understand my anger.  

Happy New Year anyway.

Charis, Why the Name Change? 

I didn’t expect to get away with this without being asked questions. 

It was a hard decision to make, as it feels like starting at square one once again. I risk confusing people. I risk making all my previous hard work unavailing.

And yet, it is not possible for me to continue under my old name. I have changed, transformed into what I always had in mind.  

My old name is a cocoon I have outgrown, as a person and an artist. Instead of making up a new one, I’m sticking with my roots, as I want it to be as authentic an expression of myself as possible. Strangely, I‘ve picked the name I settled on as a stage name when I was about 15. I trust my teenage self. She knew exactly who she was and where she wanted to go. 

It is a mere rephrasing of myself, a translation. 

Cooper is my family name - like my ancestors, I value craftsmanship and hard work. 

Charis (pronounced with a silent h), is pretty close to Annika in meaning. Always having been fascinated by Greek mythology, my teenage self chose it for its  its associations. In Greek mythology a Charis, or Grace, was considered a goddess of the pleasures of life, creativity being one of them. Also, it happens to be the name of an exotic butterfly species - which makes it pretty perfect for someone who has just gone through huge personal and artistic changes, and doesn’t like to be pinned down. 

I hope I could answer some of your questions.

Thank you for following my flight so far. XXX 

Unbreakable 

This week I feel like an aviator cruising through a war zone, having to keep a cool head while dodging challenges. And sure enough, there ate plenty, and all of them pretty unexpected. When my perfectly good, still fairly new tyre bust earlier this week, it still threw me. Now it’s the end of a bizarre week, and even my mysteriously broken computer screen doesn’t even get a shoulder shrug from me. Ah well, a trip to the repair shop - just a slight course adjustment. Life, you can stop throwing things at me, I’m not afraid of it anymore.

 

Costume Changes 

Every time I open the door to a world of costumes and props, I feel the same delight I felt as a child when rummaging the loft for fancy dress and any odd bits of past stashed away in the dark pockets of our house. Back then it felt both creepy and exhilarating. It still kind of does.  

Now I don’t actually care all that much for fashion, for silks and satins and ribbons and lace - but it excites me to look around and instead of bits of fabric, to see so many other people I could be… I’m pretty happy being myself, but I find it literally impossible not to step out of myself every now and then.  
As a young writer I stumbled upon the concept of each person being an entire society - I sometimes think if I didn’t give the different characters inside some space, I’d be asking for mutiny. I might be the captain of this ship, but I’m not running this on my own. And sometimes I look in the mirror with astonishment, spotting someone I hadn’t seen there before, and no matter how it might make me shudder, I suddenly know: this is the person that can get my ship through the storm. 

I must remember, though, to put my creepy ship mates back in the box when I’m done.

The Taste of Sorrow 

 

The person who probably made the strongest impression on me in my life was my Grandfather. To me he seemed like a boundless fountain of songs, of jokes, of words that made you smile and lift your spirits. On difficult days I think of him, and I wonder how he did it. How did he stride through life, day in day out, exuding so much warmth?  How did he manage to live though the horrors of war, through his personal pain, without so much of a complaint, always a song on his lips? What gave him strength?

And I had to think of a character from a children’s book, who, after experiencing extreme sorrow, started a candy factory, because he wanted to make something sweet for the world. The sweets he made were magical: they tasted of strawberry and rootbeer, but - sorrow being their secret ingredient - also of melancholy. To different people, they taste of people leaving, of jail; of everyone's respective sorrows. Needless to say, I was extemely fascinated with these sweets from the moment I read about them. I wanted to taste them. I wanted to build my own factory.  

I didn’t see the connection. I didn’t see how my Grandfather had build his own candy factory. I didn’t even realize it has been passed over to me.  
I can truthfully say, was I to try one of these magic lozenges right now, they’d taste like all the moments I wasted, that I could have spent with him instead.

 

Confession of a Highly Sensitive Person 

 

For some reason I find the sight of a perfectly sharpened pencil extremely pleasing. Make it an 8B pencil and I’m ecstatic.
Give me some paper as well, and I’m unstoppable. I’ll scribble down anything. I’ll copy my council tax bill if neccessary. Just as much as touching a peach causes me emotional pain, moving an excessively sharp and soft pencil across the page appeals to my senses in an incredibly satisfying way. Throw in some textured paper and a pen with scented ink and I’m likely to be overstimulated.

I’m not sure how I survive the chaos of my days, considering how finely tuned I am. But I know it is just by moving my pen across the page, or my fingers across the fretboard that I can keep it together. Creating is no choice for me. It’s a neccessity.

“Add to this cruelly delicate organism the overpowering necessity to create, create, create—so that without the creating of music or poetry or books or buildings or something of meaning, their very breath is cut off…They must create, must pour out creation. By some strange, unknown, inward urgency they are not really alive unless they are creating.” - Pearl S. Buck

Walking Down Scary Movie Memory Lane 

 

When I was young, to my delight, around Halloween all the TV channels increased their horror movie output. In fact, I probably thought the sole purpose of Halloween was  to celebrate my then favourite genre. 
It’s a little puzzling how I could get into horror movies, when, as a child, seeing Snow White bite into the apple was enough to make me hide under my cinema seat. 
The movie that sticks out even more for me (although I don’t even remember the film itself), is “Critters”. When I was about seven I watched it secretly with my best friend, who had come for a sleepover. Later, in the dark, as we were lying in our respective beds, I realised she was really scared, but didn’t want to admit it. Instead she tried to find out whether I felt similar. I didn’t - in fact, I was utterly unfazed, but suddenly found myself pretending I was, and asking if I could sleep next to her.
She readily agreed - and I remember feeling very happy in the knowledge that I made myself look utterly stupid, but was being a good friend. 
What are your scary movie memories?

Stuck in Neverland 

There’s this old joke: 
“Mum, when I"m grown up I want to be a writer.” 
“Sorry, honey, you can’t be both.” 
I don’t know if it comes with being an artist, but why is it so difficult being a focused adult? 
Why do I at my age still roll down hills and climb up trees? 
Why would I be perfectly happy eating nothing but Oreos for lunch? 
Why do I get excited about finding a font that consists of chord charts and have to immediately play my name?

I realized this week how completely lost I’d be without my manager. 
It’s like I’m five and and need to be permanently reminded of where we’re actually heading. No, we can’t stop at the swings. No, ice cream would be a huge detour. Sorry, those balloons don’t go with your hair. No, you can’t be a unicorn, you’re a musician, remember? 

I’m so extremely grateful to be kept on my path, so I can follow my vision, but I’ll tell you a secret: When no one’s looking, I’m going to bounce on the bed.

Answers on a Postcard, Please.  

One of my biggest challenges as an artist is to keep to my schedule … I’m constantly behind with things, because once I pick up a project and start working on it, I get carried away and everything else ceases to exist. I might have started with the best intentions and tried to impose a time limit on the activity - but the snag is, my creative mind has no concept of time. 

I wish I could make this an advice post - but I’ve got none. If you’re an artist of any kind and know what I’m talking about, what are your strategies of dealing with this issue?