02 October 2015
01 October 2015
27 September 2015
We are all in some way beggars in this lifetime. We are at the mercy of others and at the mercy of what will happen to us. Of course, we can chose how we respond to it, but we are always praying for something to happen or not happen in one way or another. We come with these empty bowls and there’s a great deal that is given to us … We are all vulnerable to whatever might befall us.Ellen Bass
I have no patience right now. No desire to wait this out. I wake up in a sweat, desperately trying to find the switch that gets me out of this. Fighting another wave of nausea, but too exhausted to panic. Maybe all will be well or maybe it really doesn't matter. Shreds of dignity here and there but barely so.
Oh heavens. Tough shit.
24 September 2015
Then you collapse.
You are asked to open your eyes and you briefly try to concentrate on what maybe is the face of a tanned young doctor with long dark curls floating around her face. But everything is turning turning turning. Faster and faster and your head wants to explode with a roaring pressure.
You can feel a soft rain falling on your face as you lie curled up somewhere outside on a stretcher. You try to apologize to the jolly paramedics for vomiting all the way to the hospital.
You can hear R somewhere in a distance and of course you start to worry that he will be late for work but the world has lost all boundaries and for a short moment you feel the excellent beauty of floating and you let go of any striving.
Many hours later you open your eyes again to the tedious and sterile reality of a hospital room.
22 September 2015
20 September 2015
19 September 2015
We looked out in silence and autumn started to sneak in, right there before our eyes. The way it looks when you squint and try to block out the green and lush bits. It felt like one massive sigh.
Later, on my way through the traffic I almost cried. There was a sad song on the radio. It rained. Suddenly, this wave of self pity washed over me and I almost shouted, I was so angry. Give me one day without symptoms, you shitty universe.
Back home, I walked into the kitchen and R stood there, frozen. I just heard live
footage from the Hungarian border and there was this piercing cry from a baby. They are using tear gas against babies. We just stare at each other.
At night, I am holding a child, a sleeping toddler in my arms. That smell, so close, so soft. I try and keep very still, I know she will disappear when I move and wake up.
In the morning R tells me that in his dream he was holding S in his arms, a tiny S, crying and tired, until she fell asleep.
13 September 2015
12 September 2015
10 September 2015
07 September 2015
06 September 2015
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well
your neighbours running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won't let you stay
no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it's not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
and even then you carried the anthem under
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilet
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn't be going back
you have to understand
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
03 September 2015
All, ALL!, agreed that civilians are suffering tremendously and beyond our understanding. But for some reason nobody ever imagined that people who have suffered so much will need to escape, that Syria is no safe place for children, for families, for anybody. It was ok as long as they squeezed into the by now hopelessly overcrowded camps in the neighbouring states of Lebanon and Jordan. These are UNHCR emergency camps and for anybody who has never seen one: tents meant for emergency not for long term occupation in all seasons. Anyway, that was ok with us, watching from our comfy European homes. But since these desperate people have started to look for refuge here with us, we quickly shut any legal and safe route, we deny them visa, we will not permit airlines to take them on board, we force them in the hands of smugglers who put them on unsafe boats, into overcrowded vans and who drop them in the middle of nowhere or on the hard shoulder of the motorway. We do all this to protect our homes and our comfy compassionless lives.
All morning yesterday at the Serbian-Hungarian border, I saw Syrian parents determinedly walking with their children – trying to remove them from the horrors of the slaughter in Syria, which have been allowed to continue for four years, and to the promise of security in Europe. Those parents are heroes; I admire their sheer determination to bring their children to a better life.
Please read more here.
02 September 2015
01 September 2015
I would love to embed a beautiful video but I fail, so please click here to watch. This video was made by a Syrian refugee arriving with a busload of other Syrians in a small (and very conservative) German town where they have been given initial shelter. See what I mean? Yes, we can.
The music video is an extra.
30 August 2015
. . . (migrants) are “exceptional people”. Over centuries, . . . , it has been immigrants and refugees who have been part of the alchemy of any country’s success: they are driven, hungry and talented and add to the pool of entrepreneurs, innovators and risk-takers. The hundreds of thousands today who have trekked across continents and dangerous seas are by any standards unusually driven. They are also, . . . , fellow human beings. To receive them well is not only in our interests, it is fundamental to an idea of what it means to be human.
reading in the Observer today
20 August 2015
18 August 2015
14 August 2015
maybe I am not wise enough or not clever enough or maybe it's still too early but really, what's the difference anyway
someone who has just been diagnosed with my disease (it's getting easier to write that, at least) contacted me and after I had offered her my personal spiel on it she couldn't find enough words to praise me and how I cope so fantastically and how positive I am and so on I almost shouted at her to shut the fuck up
but instead I put on my generous smiling face and walked away and into the sunset at the end of the rainbow
thinking this is getting out of hand
Summer is over. We are back to work and those brief exchanges of when will you get home over breakfast. But outside of course, it's still summer, heatwave after heatwave, breaking one record after another.
I would like to be at the sea right now, running into the surf.
10 August 2015
. . . the lesson of Lacan is, living by your wants will never make you happy. What it means to be fully human is to strive to live by ideas and ideals and not to measure your life by what you've attained in terms of your desires but those small moments of integrity, compassion, rationality, even self-sacrifice. Because in the end, the only way that we can measure the significance of our own lives is by valuing the lives of others.
08 August 2015
07 August 2015
03 August 2015
One of my grand nieces had golden sandals. When I told here that these were the best and most beautiful shoes in the world she decided there and then that we must climb trees together. We had a fabulous evening.
The Alps always sneak up like the biggest surprise of all. Suddenly we are surrounded by towers of rocks and fog. And then the lake.
30 July 2015
There are . . . no such things as curses. There is luck, maybe, bad or good. A slight inclination of each day towards success of failure. But no curses.Anthony Doerr
28 July 2015
22 July 2015
If action is not taken immediately my grandson will live in a world suffering heat waves, severe droughts and floods. Cities like new York and Venice will drown. We are on the brink of catastrophe but the solution to the climate crisis cannot be left to governments alone ... People are taking the lead and demanding change. We must not fail them.
Arnold Schwarzenegger at the world’s first summit of conscience for the climate yesterday
20 July 2015
Very hot, too many detours and well, my father knows how to lecture. Incl. trick questions. I managed to not disappoint, rattled off names and dates of various emperors and battles, after all he sent me to the proper school. If only for this reason it seems. To regurgitate history lessons.
Some of it very pretty, mostly the doors and the gardens.
16 July 2015
|Stolberg, Harz mountains|
Day three of travelling with my 86-year old father. Already, I have greatly disappointed him. It all started out quite well despite the fact that we arrived late (43 min!). As I got out of the car I could hear him clapping his hands all the way from his observation post in the deep armchair of the hotel lobby and before I had climbed the stairs, I could see the glee in his eyes. We continued from there. I tried to remain patient and all but some time after dinner last night I almost lost it. There are times when life seems too short to debate the finer details of classical Greek lyrics. Debate is not exactly the correct term either. I could see myself shrinking back into my angry teenage self, the one I thought I had left behind forever about 40 years ago. Silly of me, I know.
That and feeling unwell. I blame the heat for the time being and have spent the day in this very comfortable hotel
Still. This could be his last summer. It doesn't feel like it, his energy is overpowering despite the fact that he hardly eats or drinks and the condescension in his voice is as sharp as ever.
|always running behind him|
12 July 2015
11 July 2015
01 July 2015
29 June 2015
I just watched this short clip in the hope of hearing something positive. Not really.
Instead, I have been carrying this quote below inside of me like a heavy dark stone:
In a recent interview the Nobel prizewinning psychologist Daniel Kahneman, the leading scholar of cognitive biases, was asked about our brains’ limitations when it comes to understanding the dangers of climate change. “I’m not very optimistic about that,” Kahneman replies, despondently sipping tomato soup. “No amount of psychological awareness will overcome people’s reluctance to lower their standard of living. So that’s my bottom line: there is not much hope. I’m thoroughly pessimistic. I’m sorry.”
28 June 2015
No more cheerful thank yous and smiles all round because I want to remain in the good books when the shit hits the fan. I want to be the good patient, the one who is on the ball while at the same time understands the constraints of time and money, who can come up with short precise descriptions and not asks too much. In my ideal world, every person with a chronic illness deserves a personal assistant who organises appointments, tests, insurances, dinner dates and holidays, incl. cancellations and sick certs. I would settle for a robot.
26 June 2015
23 June 2015
Watching footage of desperate migrants from the illegal camps near the Eurotunnel in Calais trying to board lorries, reading the report from a commander of an Irish navy vessel on their latest rescue efforts in the Mediterranean Sea, listening to one of my colleagues arguing that basically they are all scum, only looking for free welfare. I want to hang my head and cry. Seriously.
That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.
Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
19 June 2015
18 June 2015
17 June 2015
"When I was a student at Cambridge I remember an anthropology professor holding up a picture of a bone with 28 incisions carved in it. "This is often considered to be man's first attempt at a calendar" she explained. She paused as we dutifully wrote this down. 'My question to you is this – what man needs to mark 28 days? I would suggest to you that this is woman's first attempt at a calendar.'Sandi Toksvig
"It was a moment that changed my life. In that second I stopped to question almost everything I had been taught about the past. How often had I overlooked women's contributions? How often had I sped past them as I learned of male achievement and men's place in the history books? (. . .) History is full of fabulous females who have been systematically ignored, forgotten or simply written out of the records. They're not all saints, they're not all geniuses, but they do deserve remembering."
15 June 2015
So, he watched it with the usual slightly bored yet generous patience he reserves for people who go all ooh and aah and generally fall over themselves gushing about Ireland as if it was a place of poetry and music and artists, many with red hair etc. But at about 1:38, he got all excited. Oh look, he called out, Ben Bulben in winter. Must climb that one again.
13 June 2015
12 June 2015
sitting outside with a cup of early morning tea
listening to the birds
waiting for the day's heat to build up
reading for a while
changing the sheets just because I want to and feeling like a fool afterwards, shaking and sweating
eating fresh strawberries
missing my cats
waiting for the thunderstorm and the heavy rain supposedly hitting us in a couple of hours
Music and talking is not so easy but I watched tv last night for a while, some drama about the Danish Prussian war, excellent acting I have been told, it just went past me in a blur of beautiful images. For that I can recommend it.
I am still walking on water, waiting for the swells to calm down, hoping to reach steady ground eventually.
10 June 2015
But suddenly I can see my hand resting on the handlebars of my bicycle, the forest in all its deep greens around me, the sun is breaking through a small opening and shines straight onto a small pond, birds singing around me. I don't know where I am or what has happened and I feel the noise growing again so I take a quick picture. Frogspawn on an almost dried up forest pond.
How calm, how beautiful, summer in the forest, I try and convince myself. But now a herd of noisy elephants is racing towards me, I can taste the dust on my lips already and I fall on my knees, cradling my head.
Later on, while we watch the slow drip of a massive cortisone infusion, the doctor still cannot believe me: you came here on your bicycle? I must have, I can see it locked outside the surgery.
And much later, after R has smoothed the sheets, opened the windows wide to let in the sweet evening air, after I tried unsuccessfully to keep down a bit of dry toast, panic seizes me like a force I thought I never knew.
08 June 2015
Who are these people? What planet do they live on?
05 June 2015
03 June 2015
It coincides nicely with the heatwave followed by thunder storms with heavy rain predicted for the next couple of days.
This morning I cleaned away various flora and fauna behind the shelves and sofas and where the pictures were on the walls and of course behind my great grandmother's sideboard. The spiders etc. all ran like hell and I hope they found homes elsewhere by now. The ants, I'm afraid, didn't make it. I could have rolled the dust bunnies into a large ball and spin it into gold but the hoover gobbled it all up.
Next week, after R will have perfectly reassembled the shelving, my task will be to put what feels like thousands of books back into some order. I am very tempted to chuck out most of them. I know, I know, books are holy and so on, but some are not so holy anymore and it's time to start clearing spaces, unloading my baggage so to speak.
Last night I foolishly started to calculate our meagre pensions and once again stared into the dark tunnel of poverty. Which is really quite arrogant because we will find a way to make ends meet, surely. And now my mind just brought me back 35 years when we were clearing out the attic room in Heidelberg. We had lived in this tiny room with its very crooked walls for almost a year while I was trying to figure out what to do with my university career and R was getting restless. In the end and for lack of options and cash, we decided to free ourselves from the shackles of careers and academia and start a new idealistic life in Ireland - or something like that, it was a long time ago, we were young and foolish then.
As a start, we decided to give away most of our earthly possessions - because hardly anybody wanted to pay money for it. The rule was: keep 20 books, 10 records, one bicycle and one rucksack with clothing and essentials per person. To this day, I still regret the 10 records rule and miss my Joan Armatrading and Cat Stevens collection and the fabulous Joni Mitchell live set, oh, and John McLaughlin's "Electric Dreams".
So we'll see what will happen to the books next week.
01 June 2015
and come they will,
when they stand in the sky
all over the world,
candescent suns by day,
radiant cathedrals in the night,
how shall we answer the question:
What have you done
with what was given you,
what have you done with
the blue, beautiful world?
From this online collection: Keep it in the ground, a poem a day. There are 20, but try and don't gobble them all up at once, they will linger.