A dreamer and a doer.

She was born in a family that belonged to the bourgeoise and during many years she was only known as “the woman Kafka was in love with”. Women remain forgotten by literary history. Women remain invisible, in books, in history lessons, everywhere. Or we remind them like Milena, a woman someone much greater was in love with, or the woman behind somebody’s great successes.

But the fact is Milena was much more than that: she was a writer, a translator, a teacher. She was a woman who fought for her love to marry her first husband, the writer Ernst Pollak, a Jewish intellectual with whom she lived in Vienna.

In 1919 she first read Kafka’s short stories. She fell in love with them instantly and personally asked Kafka to translate them into Czech. And that is how their love story begun: they wrote to each other, endlessly, passionately. They only met twice during the two years that lasted their literary affair but their love was a great as any other. Milena was trapped in a marriage that humiliated her and Kafka somehow healed the enormous pain she felt at the time. But their story wouldn’t be long, just two years after their correspondence stopped, Kafka died.

But back to her: Milena was jewish. Milena was a communist. Milena was Czech and a patriot. Milena supported the resistance to the Nazism. Milena was a feminist. Milena was a miraculous woman. She did everything to survive, she strove to keep afloat. And Milena died in a concentration camp not far away from Berlin, in Ravensbrück. But her strength remains in all those who met her.

The concentration camps represent the horror of the 20th century. They are a symbol of what human beings are capable of doing. They make us realize how wicked minds can be. But they also stand for solidarity between people. They are also a clear referent of friendship, love, companionship and resilience. Resilience like the showed by Milena Jesenská.

She became really good friends with Margarete Buber-Neumann, who would write a book about her after all the suffering ended. Margarete described her as an “unbroken spirit, a free woman in the midst of the insulted and the injured”. They met in the death camps and smiled and laughed and forged a wonderful friendship. They walked hand in hand against everything. And one of them survived to tell her story and the story of the women she met there.

Milena’s story is not another woman’s story. Milena’s story is a story of survival and love. She was definitely more than “someone else’s greater love”. She died but in my mind she’ll always be another survivor of the Nazi horror. Her ideas brought her to the death camps and her ideas have made her immortal.

You’re a Goddess.

Es deia Martha Adriana, Martha Adriana Peralta Paguagua. Parlava eixe castellà polit i bonic de les Amèriques i es movia amb l’elegància no apresa dels animals aquells de coll llarg i extremitats infinites. I mentre feia això, anava lluitant des del seu pati ple d’albocats, des de la seua terra pobra, per una Nicaragua millor i més bona. Jo d’això no en vaig saber massa fins que no marxares, saps Adriana? Però deixares en mi la teva empremta: quan parle, escric i pense en castellà, et recorde; quan la meva mare em torna a dir com de clàssica sóc, t’evoque i et sent dir: “Adriana es muy clásica”.

I ara, Marta Adriana, ja has marxat, però perdures en mi i en tots eixos petits plaers que compartirem i et pense i li dic a l’Adriana d’ara: Són les deesses com ella les que van permetre que tu ara, també ho sigues.

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I és que: “Tú eres una diosa, y las diosas pueden hacer lo que quieran”.

Plus enflamée, plus avide.

Not all my heroines are flesh and blood.

It happens to me quite often, that I feel more attracted and closer to people that I have never met. This feeling intensifies when I read a novel. It is often said too, that it is nearly impossible to connect with fictional characters on such a level, because real people are the ones who remain, nothing has as much life as something you can caress and see. But if you’re a nostalgic you’ll get what I am talking about. While it is impossible to feel so attached to someone fictional in the present, if we talk about the past, all those differences just vanish away. They’re just a mere vision. It just takes a couple of minutes to immerse yourself in the chosen book for you to see that reality is something we create everyday by waking up: fictional characters can feel as real as your closest friends. I experienced that fascination with today’s heroine: Emma Bovary.
Emma Bovary represented my emotional awakening to the world. I thought I had loved before, but I never truly did until I discovered her, Madame Bovary. Through the reading, I discovered her: Her dissatisfaction, her freedom and at the very same time, the feeling of confinement that was quietly killing her, the foolishness and the folly in her affairs, her love to life, her commitment to live her life fully, the woman she was, the femininity she represented. Emma Bovary was the heroine I had been searching for during my teenage years and I had finally found her. It was also the free indirect speech used in the novel something that captivated my attention from the very beginning and I found it fundamental to understand Emma and the situation around her: it makes her transparent to the reader. Even if the reader never gets to hear Emma’s voice he feels like he or she has known her all along. The reader feels her hopelessness and emptiness and when the circle is closed and the story ends, the reader leaves it heavy-hearted. Emma’s story captivated me so much not only because I identified with her, but because I saw in her a universal character, just like Oedipus.
She was “l’amoreus de tous les romans, l’héroïne de tous les drames, le vague elle de tous les volumes de vers”.
Emma, like most of my heroines, committed suicide. Emma left this world, but she did it with the certainty that she had fulfilled her earthy life or at least like all of us she never stopped trying.

Paradise is locked and bolted

Adolphine Sophie Henriette Vogel died at the young age of 31. She was sick and knew her cancer was incurable. She was joyful, she was a mensch and she was terminally ill. She fought but up to a point she decided she wanted to die. She made that clear to all her friends and to her husband. She didn’t want to keep living a life that she didn’t own anymore. She wanted to be free, she wanted to decide how to live and in that case that meant stop living. She met the poet, Henrich von Kleist, in 1809 through a friend. And before she had noticed, they became the greatest life companions. Heinrich von Kleist had always wanted to die, but he didn’t have the courage to do it by himself, to do it alone. Henriette gave him the strength he needed. She provided him with the power and durability he was in need of to achieve the unachievable.

During the two years preceding their deaths, they exchanged countless letters, filled with affectionate words and cheesy nicknames. In these letters they also planned every little detail of the day they chose to abandon this world they shared. It was a cold winter day, the morning of the 21st of November to be precise. They had met the day before and went to a guest house near the Wannsee. That night, excited by what was about to occur and what was bound to happen, they couldn’t sleep. So during that sleeplessness they wrote innumerable letters. She wrote to her husband and friends, who would have to take care of her three precious children that she was leaving behind. Kleist wrote to his friends as well, but especially, to her beloved sister Ulrike, who had done everything that was in her power to keep him alive, unsuccessfully. The next morning, they went to the other shore of the lake with all their things to spend a beautiful November morning and after drinking and celebrating, Kleist shot Henriette. He then shot himself. It was a chilly November morning: the genius was dead. And so was the woman who gave him the power to do the only thing that kept him alive.

Kleist was figure in his time, known by his plays and poetry, and also known by the way he decided to end his life. His relationship with Goethe was troublesome. Many criticised Goethe because unlike his hero, the young Werther, he never truly represented the hero of the Romanticism and was Kleist, who actually had the strength to end his life. But all those ignored, that it wasn’t Kleist the hero behind the story, from my humble point of view, but her. It was the woman hiding behind the love-friendship letters, who was the heroine of the Romanticism.

 

And they, together, wrote “the final chapter in the history of the world”. Their world. Their spiralling, fickle, cheerful world.

Homage is a big important word.

Beginnings are always sort of easy. You feel motivated and you feel inspired. You feel great about committing to something new. Beginnings are always exciting. You feel powerful because you stood up for yourself, whatever it was that you had to do. The hard part comes after the decision is taken, the hard work comes when you really have to commit to something every day, for a month in this case.

Right now my main commitment is with myself, to myself. It grows within me and it is all mine. My responsibility. I won’t blame myself if I end up not being able to finish what I started, but I’ll be aware of it all.

My one and only goal now is to write. To write each day for a month and try to figure myself out. To write down and discover myself through others. To write and by writing heal myself. I thought about many things I could write about. But I decided I would write about the one thing I love the most: stories. Little stories, big stories. And when thinking about these stories I would like to tell, I thought I would talk about the stories of the women who have influenced and molded me.

So, for one month each day, I’ll tell you a story that changed my life and perspective in a way. They’re women of all sorts and conditions. Some of them are famous, some of them are anonymous. Some of them are in my life, some of them I have never met, but still I admire them all.

This is an homage to all the women who have made me who I am.

 

The one and only

She was born fifty something years ago in what back then was a small town in which everyone knew your name since the moment you were born. She liked books, sometimes she’d rather read a book than a person. She was shy, a little chubby but unlike me never had to wear glasses. She studied and worked and never gave out. She might have been tired and might have lost herself along the way, but she always kept going.

And she’s the person to whom I owe everything that I am now. I owe her my life. I owe her my strengths and my flaws. She gave it all to raise me and made all the sacrifices I could ever think of. She is the beginning and the finish line. She belongs to the generation who had to fight for their rights. She’s a woman who made herself from scratch.

And in the path of fighting for what she is today and discovering herself, there is that one thing she always kept, the one thing that always went hand in hand with her, the only thing I would not change, not in a million years: her eagerness. She’s always ready to get going, to start and to make it to the finish line.

Let it beat.

This is my second time in the very beautiful world of online writing. I started my first blog when I was 18. My English professor asked us all to write a blog. In English, entirely. It felt like a real challenge, because it was. What was I going to write about? Who would read my crappy, dark and twisted thoughts? It didn’t matter much anyway. Nobody ended up reading my blog, besides my English professor I guess. But writing for 8 months every day did actually had an effect on me. It helped me mature, it helped me get some perspective and obviously, it helped me improve my language (which let me tell you was much much worse back then).

I finished the challenge, very successfully let me tell you. A part of me was there forever. My fears, my dreams and my hopes. Every bit of it. Through the marvellous journey I had emptied myself. And I realised that at the end of the road, there was just another road to be travelled.

So here I am, again, ready to pack my (inner) bags and travel to explore myself. Ready to discover a piece of this world I don’t know and share it with you, my dear fellow travellers. Ready to get into my head and solve the impossible equation. Ready to find a new source of amusement. Ready to let the world surprise me every day, every second of every day. Ready to write again and reinvent my old self though it might not need a renewal or reinvention, it might just need a bit of motivation and creativity that I wish to find through the wondrous world of writing.

Because as Mary Robinson once said “nobody can go back and start a new beginning but anyone can start today and make a new ending”.

Let the journey be long and terrific.

A.