All’s well that ends well.
[…] If it is not well, it is not yet the end.
When I was still an architect and a spiritualist — honestly, the search for spirituality demanded a fair amount of money that was never easy to find — I was hired to design a nightclub in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Let me explain. In the beginning of my professional life, I owned a famous design store in the city, a “media’s favorite,” so to speak. Things were simpler then, maybe not, perhaps there was less competition for fame and space. I was nicknamed by a local journalist “the Brazilian avant-garde,” and although sales were low, the store entertained a group of clients who kept the weird habit of “dreamingly window shop,” without, obviously, ever buying any piece of our stunning furniture. That habit was further encouraged when Polen’s furniture was featured in much-loved Globo’s soap operas — Globo is the biggest public-access TV channel in Brazil, it was absolute when there was no cable back in the 1980’s.
As things never change in Brazil, except for the worse, the 1986 crisis dragged me along, and I had to close up shop; as a consequence, I left numerous design fans orphaned, including myself. During the following decade, I was unable to produce anything, so much the personality of “Dona Noga of Polen” was ingrained in my own, it even rendered me a long-lasting love affair.
Among those many unknown fans (exactly as on Facebook), there was a young, charming doctor, a millionaire. One day, long after the store was gone, he invited me to a meeting. He and two other friends, one, a very famous DJ, and the other, a manufacturer of cowboy boots — Junior, Wilson and Xu — had decided to open a revolutionary club in Copacabana, in the same location of the former Crepúsculo de Cubatão and the neokitsch Kitchnet, icons of the carioca night. As a night owl, I was a habituée of both, and knew that underground like the back of my hand, despite the fact it was usually very dark, you know what I mean. Now, the three musketeers, financially led by the handsome doctor, had decided to hire this architect here to design their club.
I was honored, and truly needed the money. I’d already planned a journey to Colorado, an adventure into my past lives led by my favorite urban shaman at the time, and was supposed to pay for the workshop working as an interpreter… No, wait… This was much later, in the following workshops. Et voilà, the Great Spirit Wakan Tanka provided.
Despite my almost nonexistent practice as an architect, I put hands (and head) to work. A lack of ideas was never my problem, and I designed for the “boys” what I then called a “sensory club” — all that, you must understand, in the early 1990’s, meaning few computers, no internet nor smartphones, and all hardware connected through many intertwined wires. In short, it was another planet entirely.
The access to the club was through a long and narrow, very narrow tube thickly padded with foam (the inspiration of it all being my regular visits to the Documenta in Kassel, Germany, the avant-garde art exhibition). To get inside, one should cross the “birth canal” in the opposite direction, from life on earth back to the womb, that sensational ambiance where Big Mama Pleasure was waiting. Once out into the main room, one would feel immediately drunk, as the floor and furniture were a bit slanted.
But that was not all; the place was completely silent, not at all what you would expect of a club. Each dancer should plug in padded headphones and dance by themselves, according to “their own music,” very loud, obviously, facing a wall — an idea inspired by a clubber who used to bang his head on the wall while dancing at Crepúsculo; not to mention the fact that Bluetooth gadgets had not been invented!
No need to say I was immediately paid, bought an amazing pair of Xu’s cowboy boots and flew to the Wild West, to a Native American journey, literally. The club project never went through, I don’t know exactly why… Actually, I do. It would be easier today, when we have at our disposal the necessary technology, but 25 years have passed, a quarter of a century!
Oh well, why the hell I’m now unearthing this story?
As you already know, I was painfully taken out of my beautiful two-story bauhaus home in Petropolis, Vale do Sossego [Tranquility Valley]. And “transferred”, with no anesthesia, to a one-bedroom flat — in the first world, true — where there’s no hiding from my beloved husband, who, among other things, enjoys watching the most violent series on TV and has sleep issues. No need to explain: when he stays awake, I can’t sleep either… not to mention the noisy news all day long, when I need maximum silence to concentrate on my work.
Upon our arrival, we bought a super smart-TV —to my disappointment, with no plug for a headphone. As I have been busy, very late in my edition schedule, and more, dealing with the Green Card and the project of our new house in Paris Mountain, among other traumas related to the “exile”, I accommodated myself to the merciless noise. I could, no doubt, do my work in a nearby coffee shop, or in the condo’s office across the way, but I’m unfortunately addicted to the privacy of my home. So, as I had once trained with my mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s and died three years ago, I started “operating” with two separated brains: one, focused on the edition, the other, trying (not) to listen to the loud TV.
The point is, time leads to a total exhaustion of such double brain, something I had also experienced in the past with my mother. Add to all that a few sleepless nights, especially when Alan runs out of meds, not to mention the availability of five complete seasons of Downton Abbey to keep me awake, go figure. I felt like a zombie.
So addicted I was to the whole noise tension that the few minutes of silence provided by generous Alan physically hurt my ears, so I decided to solve my problem. After much searching and many doubts — Do we actually need a “receiver” or a “transmitter”? —, we found a marvelous little thing, smaller than a matchbox, which promised to transform any type of hardware into a Bluetooth device. Any headphone would work! Modern technology!
The reviews were mixed, positive and negative, frustrated and grateful, business as usual. I thought, why not; and clicked “Ok.” Of course, due to my current pessimism, I was expecting it not to work at all, how else justify the fact that I’d been postponing this moment for six months? Anyway, it is so easy to return products to Amazon that the risk was low, and it only cost 35 dollars, the same amount I paid, more than ten years ago, to “meet” Alan on a dating website. Always avant-garde!
Sunday morning, the package arrived — yes, Amazon now delivers on Sundays. I anxiously opened the two small packages, and without extra care, not even paying attention to the instructions, jumped into “pairing” the devices and configuring the television. Man, it was my happiest day since we arrived in the US.
And here I am, immersed in monastic silence, listening only to the birds as I write this chronicle. The lack of noise still hurts; now, this is quality of life — the best-spent 35 dollars ever, except, of course, those I paid to meet Alan on the internet.
Have a great Sunday.
 “Carioca” is a person who lives in Rio de Janeiro.