Devita Stipek Writer

24 03 2014

Devita Stipek Writer


26 09 2009

Living each day as my last.

A June adventure that I haven’t yet had a chance to share…

When a meeting of world leaders coincided with the 64th birthday of Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s opposition leader, Gordon Brown requested that her face be projected on the outside of European Parliament… with just 2 hours notice I hopped onto a train. As the Eurostar rolled into Brussels I received an email that the Belgian authorities were on high alert because 500 Belgian farmers had descended upon the capital on their tractors in protest… and that the projection potentially risked interfering with the snipers’ vision on top of the parliament buildings. Upon arrival, however, I found that the greatest challenge was closing 585 window shades in locked offices to improve the quality of the projected image… by myself! I headed into the building, ready to pretend I was on a game show with a 6 hour challenge of reaching 11 floors. In the end, though, it took four hours of arguing with guards in French in various Parliament buildings to for entry clearance, as well as a master key to the offices. Finally, by 10:30 pm, I was off, dashing into offices, climbing under and over desks to pull the shades and finally create a surface for this image to be projected onto.



26 09 2009

Living each day as my last.

13 months in London.

I’ve surpassed my 6 months in Aix-en-Provence and 12 months in Brussels. And this time, unlike before, I don’t have an end date on the horizon.

So how am I faring?


IMG_0733Moving through tiny patches of homesickness. Not big ones, just little ones that catch me off-guard. Like last night, as I cycled home from the Wimbledon train station, I thought about how my colleague gushed about his trip to New York and what a visual feast the hip areas are. And I started to think of all of the bits I miss… dinners with childhood best friends, lazy Sunday brunches even if it’s after waiting in long queues, feeling like a fount of knowledge on everything from where to get the best burger to cheap massages (even if you don’t want to strip down in a large room with strangers to have Chinese women climb on the table to leverage their weight as they chat with the masseuse next to them).

Moved to nostalgia and momentary doubts of if I should move back, but once the panic settles, I feel sure that the only bags I’m planning on packing are my carry-on for Norway for next week, my large case for Turkey for the week after, and lots of boxes later this afternoon because I’m…

Moving for the 17th time in 9 years!!! Next stop Fulham, a gorgeous part of London on the Thames. It’s going to be great. Just would be nice at some point to be unpacking for good.

Moving my body and getting closer to running, finally, after two years of injury and many, many physical therapy appointments.

Moving, but not there with the whole community thing. Even after 13 months, I still struggle with feeling like I have intimate friends here and feeling surrounded by a community. But I also wonder at the ways that I have been able to break into the London scene and make connections. Through communities like Artisan Initiatives and church, I have met some incredibly talented people here… like high level directors at fashion labels, photographers, writers, producers and fine artists. My brain, works in such a way that it instantly begins exploring the dark recesses to see who the person standing before me should meet. And the people gathering in the recesses are starting to add up.

Making a move. I had a drink with a friend of a friend who is directing an incredible film called Africa United. And I might just be able to make a major connection for her. I’m so excited. I have no idea where it will all end up, but I’m in awe of how I’ve been put in certain positions to do so!


24 09 2009

Living each day as my last.

I’m listening to The Strokes right now. “You Only Live Once” caught my eye from the S’s in my itunes.  I haven’t listened to this song since I first started my crazy project 11 months ago. I pumped it up last October and danced around my tiny room in Kew Gardens, feeling free and full of possibility.

It’s nearly one year later and I still feel free and full of possibility, but more than that. The idea that I could sum up in one sentence was sent into the design studio and visualised, moving to two dimensions and then three, taking on life. I didn’t seek out these new dimensions, it just happened.


Just before I finished the three months I had first set out to do, The Bucket List arrived through my mail slot. I hadn’t based my idea on this film and had resisted watching it. But I was ready for it by January. I have to admit, I was definitely jealous that Morgan Freeman had such a rich sidekick to shuttle the two from adventure to adventure via personal jet. But the emotional strings – the untangling and carefully (re)tying the loose ends – stirred me deeply. Jack Nicholson finally bowed to the last few grains of sand in his hourglass and made amends with his daughter. I couldn’t help thinking in a broader sense, could this living each day as the last thing sometimes actually enable unhealthy “let bygones be bygones and sweep it under the rug” relationships?

It all became a bit less flowery and idealistic in May when my doctor told me I needed to have a very serious surgery and risked losing an organ until then. And even more, my grandma was slipping away. Each action during these few months felt more considered and poignant.


And then came Before Sunset. Ethan Hawke was putting the moves on Julie Delpy saying,
“Alright, alright, think of it like this: jump ahead ten, twenty years, okay? And you’re married. Only your marriage doesn’t have that same energy that it used to have, you know? You start to blame your husband. You start to think of all those guys you met in your life and what might have happened if you’d picked up with one of them, right? Well I’m one of those guys, that’s me! So think of this as time travel. From then to now to find out what you’re missing out on. See, what this really could be is a gigantic favor to both you and your future husband to find out that you’re not missing out on anything; I’m just as big a loser as he is, totally unmotivated, totally boring, and you made the right choice and you’re really happy.”

Time travel!!  I hadn’t thought of this.  It was brilliant.  It moved me past the “weightiness of life” bit.  I regained my excitement.  I was liberated.  Emboldened.  Living life in reverse time travel.  Doing all of the things that I would have wanted to do when I’m a crusty old geiser (actually, strike that, I fully plan on being a hot granny).  I know what you’re thinking: my mind is a “special” place… but it’s catching a bit, isn’t it?

And then tonight.  I went to see the bug-eating adventurer Bear Grylls speak at Holy Trinity Brompton.  I expected a night full of snakes, skydiving and other survival stories, which I got.  But also a new perspective.  Bear talked about God and Jesus giving life.  And whilst the gratitude theme has surfaced before for  me, tonight what really resounded was this: the idea that in this very day, living today as my last is a celebration of that life that God has given.

So there you go.  I left inspired.  And also a bit relieved that between this realisation and the delicacy pictured below, I have ticked enough boxes in the Bear category for the moment.



23 09 2009

Living each day as my last.

“Do cocaine, write for porn magazines and have sex with strangers.”

I slipped in front of a senior colleague about this idea of doing something each day as if I’m living each day as the last.

He was delighted. He thought it was brilliant. And he had some extreme ideas.

I started to feel pretty lame.

Should I be dabbling, should I be crazier?

These things aren’t out of my reach. I’ve had more opportunities in London than before.

The thing is, though, doing these things would only just be for the sake of doing them. And even, more, they wouldn’t really be the things that I would want to do anyway if it were really a last day…

So I think I’ll stick with riding on motorcycles and other death-defying stunts… my own kind of crazy.


22 09 2009

Living each day as my last.

In July I discovered that the Brits’ love for all things “proper and orderly” extends as far as providing a guide for queuing outside the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. Fortunately I happened upon a night
with no queues and managed to find myself in the third row of centre court for just £10! It was surreal to cycle over from my house here in Wimbledon to find myself watching James Blake, a friend of one of my friends from growing up in Connecticut! As I biked home, I was overwhelmed. Twenty years ago, when I sat on my twin bed in my rainbow-wallpapered room dreaming big dreams, never did I even imagine this!

Awe, defined.




20 09 2009

Living each day as my last.

Another dress up party! This one: “Dress Like An American” for the 4th of July.

Not quite sure why I had such a hard time deciding what to be… since as my friends from home reminded me, I didn’t necessarily need to buy a costume! After searching high and low for a brown wig, glasses and a good campaign wardrobe, I decided to leave the impersonations to Tina
Fey and work with what I had…which was a Texas state flag running bra…(!?) My 7 year old British neighbor loaned me a cowboy hat and pom poms, my colleague chipped in a short white skirt and some teasing action and I was off as a Dallas Cowboys Chearleader. As the token representative surrounded by thirty plus Brits masquerading as Americans, I was greeted by disbelief that I was real… it was a refreshing change to my colleagues who like to offer me English as a Foreign Language classes… and better than another friend’s party that was Independence Day: Celebrating Independence from Americans!





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