Archive for July, 2014

How Many Hats Do You Wear?

Posted on: July 29th, 2014 by Madison Lake 2 Comments

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. Yes, I know, we all do. That’s a very broad statement. Okay, more specifically, I feel overwhelmed with all the many work tasks I juggle.

On the one hand, I love the variety: writing, editing, marketing, (attempts at) social media, connecting on a human level (what a concept!). But social media alone is daunting. Even though you might only check in briefly on Twitter or Facebook, they all need daily attention. With social media, the list of boxes to tick in a day’s work seems endless.

Perhaps this is just part of being self employed. Sometimes I think how easy it would be to have a job where I arrived at nine and left at five, with two coffee breaks and a lunch break in between. It would all be mapped out – you go to your job and you come home. Done. But even within that framework there are a multitude of hats worn in an eight hour period of time. We are multi-taskers at heart.

How many hats do you wear? Count them. It will overwhelm you, but it will also make you feel proud.


Juliette Gréco photographer by Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent campaign.

Juliette Gréco photographer by Hedi Slimane for Saint Laurent campaign.

Speak to me of Love, or, as Juliette Gréco sings “Parlez-moi d’Amour”…  I’m not sure where my head has been, but I have only heard about Juliette Gréco through the August issue of Vogue and an article about her “Paris Passion”.  I was intrigued by her life and love story, and decided to search for her music – and was swept of my feet immediately when I heard her deep and sensual voice.

Juliette was Miles Davis’s lover, Orson Welles’s drinking partner and Jean-Paul Sartre’s muse.  Today she is 87 years old, and still singing and glowing her unique sex-appeal.  Looking at her current photos makes me wish I would look as good as her at that age!  Don’t you agree?

“Gréco still looks astonishingly youthful, even though she wears no makeup, apart from her signature kohl eyeliner.  This may be because she has never taken life seriously.  Despite her astonishing, deep voice, she is prone to giggling like a teenager.  Next to her, one can’t help feeling ancient and slow.” writes Agnès Poirier in The Guardian.

Last year Juliette (at age 86) released a new album “Greco Chante Brel” (Greco sings Brel), where she delivers 12 songs by the Belgian legend.   “I met Brel in 1954,” she says. “He was a gentle genius.  His world, unlike mine, is violent and coarse, but the great thing about being a woman is I don’t have to imitate him.  I can be myself.”

Men were drawn to her.  Women, too.  Sartre wrote about her: “Gréco has a million poems in her voice,” wrote the world’s most famous intellectual.  “It is like a warm light that revives the embers burning inside of us all.  It is thanks to  her, and for her, that I have written songs.  In her mouth, my words become precious stones.”

Gréco is still in constant demand, and France’s fascination with her shows little sign of dwindling.  Hedi Slimane, the fashion designer and creative director for Yves Saint Laurent, recently photographed Gréco and asked her to be YSL’s brand ambassador.  And today, when she walks the streets of Paris, women of all ages stop her and tell her she’s been an inspiration to them.  “Phew,” she says, roaring with laugher.  “I have been useful after all.”  Some even ask if they can give her a kiss.  What does she say?  “Please do!”

I’ve been mesmerised by Juliette from the moment I saw her photo with her staring look, black eyeliner, dark hair and bangs – and that French je ne sais quoi.  Her music has taken me over;  now I’m writing my new book, listening to her soothing and sensual voice, and feeling her inspiration throughout.

The last and final question in our ‘four questions about four books for four prizes’ contest is from the book A Cloud of Hawthornethe first in a three book series based in turn of the century England.


There is an event during which young Henley takes a detour and ends up in the forest at Rosetta’s hut. What is the event?

a cloud of hawthorne book

As usual, email your answer to We’ll be tallying the answers to all four questions and posting the winners next Friday.

Thanks to all the participants. Have a glorious weekend everyone!


The History of Sex – Part 120 – We Can Do It!

Posted on: July 24th, 2014 by Madison Lake No Comments

pg-38-rosie-riveter-1     Beyonce posted a picture of herself as Rosie the Riveter…the iconic ‘yes we can’ image that started its life as propaganda, but has been a symbol of the feminist ethos since the early 80’s.  This image was posted as a comment toward the ‘women against feminism’ movement on  Tumblr, where a collection of women who believe in traditional values have recently been expressing their views in photos holding handmade signs.

As VICE noted, these women have their reasons to be wary of ‘modern feminism’.  They are quite concerned that they might lose their rights to cook and clean.  Photos of users holding hand-written signs about how they think feminists are ‘sluts’ or how they appreciate men – in such refined ways – for lifting heavy things or opening jars.  They seem to want to re-cement the status quo of women and seem to ignore the greatest gifts of feminism: the freedom to do they choose.

And that’s where Rosie steps in to flex some muscle.  A composite of real-life munitions workers, this strong bandanna-clad character, became one of the most successful recruitment tools in American history.  Originally used as a promotional campaign for the walls of Westinghouse Electric Company to boost morale in 1943, it soon took on a life of its own.

While many positions were previously closed to women, during WWII, the aviation and munitions industries saw the biggest increase in the workforce.  But it was also where you could find over 300,000 Rosie’s earning barely 50% of male wages.

Norma-Jean-2Working long days for $20 a week in a WW II defense plant 70 years ago, you might also have discovered 18-year-old Norma Jeane Dougherty.  Her company, Radioplane, made small remote-controlled pilotless drones. Yes. That’s right – drones.  The teenage Marilyn Monroe sprayed parachutes for the tiny exploding planes, despite warnings from her mother-in-law that the fumes would ruin her hair.  The young assembly worker won a $50-dollar war bond after being elected “queen” of the company picnic.  When a private came around to snap some rare color photos of Rosie-types, a pivotal figure in the history of sex was born.

With Hitler on the ropes. Rosie was a Norman Rockwell cover of The Saturday Evening Post, with a flag in the background and a copy of “Mein Kampf” beneath her feet.  It seemed there was no fight that Rosie couldn’t win.  And she was on the side of the good guys. This propaganda ignored the fact that women were expected to carry on with the housework once they finished at the factory, and then, after the war was over, they would surely be fired.  Even today, the Rosie-ideal struggles on, rehashed and twisted as it may have become – mirroring the difficult journey of feminism, symbolizing strength and opportunity for hardworking women in a man’s world.



That’s what I tell myself as I toss and roll around in a tangle of sheets trying really hard to fall asleep.

I just came off of a grueling week suffering from a summer cold. I feel like I slept for a week because that’s all I could do, so maybe that’s the problem. I’ve overslept. Or maybe it’s the heat, or I have too much on my mind, or I’m redrafting that poem in my head or starting a new chapter in my next book? Or maybe I’m over-thinking sleep or the dilemma of it. Probably.

Over the years, because this clearly isn’t the first time this has happened, I’ve tried counting backwards from 100. It has worked on occasion, I admit, but I always seem to catch myself falling asleep and ‘boom’, I’m awake again. Does that ever happen to you? It’s like being a kid and trying to keep yourself awake even though you’re exhausted, but the opposite. Very weird.

I’ve tried playing beautiful music like my yoga guru friend, Nancy, plays during Shavasana. I get too into the music to sleep. I hear every chord played and even hum along, yet during yoga I drift easily into lala-land. It’s also been said to never turn on your computer when you can’t sleep because the light and energy will feed your wakefulness, but if I turn on the light to write, that wakes me up too, and sometimes I just have to do one or the other. Sex, or something similar, is known to knock a person out. I think it has to do with the release of endorphins and pent-up stress, and the pure euphoria of the experience, and really works, as long as you’re not a smoker and need that post-coital cigarette and stay up and talk.

Then there are pills. Lots of them to choose from. So many they are advertised, whether we like it or not, every single day a hundred times. But that’s a whole other matter, and besides, I’m trying to go holistic here.

So please, if you have any solutions for falling asleep I’d love to hear them. Kindly (no matter what time of day or night) leave a comment on this blog or email me at I’m sure I’m not the only one to want to learn a new insomniac trick or two.