31 May 2012

We can learn to meet whatever arises with curiosity and not make it such a big deal. 

Pema Chödrön

There is a particularly insistent spot of inflamed gum that could drive me up the wall - if I would only let it. I am doing all the right things but I imagine my gum tissue is shot to pieces from the immune suppression by now. One of the medical wiz kids told me recently that science can now pinpoint the specific time period when pain is experienced as most intense and why am I not surprised that this is in the early hours at night?
I am down to sage tea. Gruesome sage tea gargles. Wouldn't be surprised if my sweat smells of sage tea by now. But I cannot stand the other stuff I have worked my way through, all these gargles and rinses and ointments, herbal and bleach things, whatever. My lovely dentist just shrugs his shoulders and tells me that I should not try to reach the ceiling all the time - whatever that's supposed to mean.

20 seconds in the forest

lunchtime yesterday

30 May 2012

Those born of illustrious fathers we respect and honour, whereas those who come from an undistinguished house we neither respect nor honour. In this we behave like barbarians towards one another. For by nature we all equally have an entirely similar origin; for we all breathe into the air with mouth and nostrils and we all eat with the hands.

Antiphon the Sophist, contemporary of Socrates, 5th century BC

29 May 2012

This happened in another country, at a time of great promise. When people were slowly beginning to accept that happiness was possible. And still, they were cautious, suspicious of their giddy expectations.
I have no memories of the girl that was me in this picture but I remember my mother braiding my sister's hair in the mornings. I can see my sister sitting behind my father on the bicycle carrier, wrapping her arms around him. I remember sucking my thump while watching him mixing our breakfast muesli.
I can see my parents kissing at the top of the stairs, my mother leaning against the bannister, her head falling backwards. I remember a long tanned arm reaching down to stroke my hair, shiny gold bangles jingling.
I remember the smell of my baby brother, holding my breath, terrified, as I watched my father lifting the new baby up higher and higher and then giggling with relief.
I know from looking at this picture that they tried really hard for a while.
But I don't remember the girl on the left at all.

24 May 2012

22 May 2012

Once in a while you read a book in one long sitting, well almost. And not necessarily because it is a magnificent work of literature. Sometimes it's just a voice speaking to you from the pages or maybe a melody you hear from behind the sentences. And occasionally this voice, this melody stirs an old memory and you have to hold your breath for a second, listen to your heart beating and then you look up from the pages and it's all good out there, the green hedge with the blackbirds nesting, the flowering wisteria, the cat asleep below your seat, sunlight filtering through the Douglas fir, your coffee gone cold.

Fear is a force like seasickness, you could call it a life-sickness, a terrible nausea caused by dread, creeping dread, that seems to withdraw a little in dreams while you sleep, but then, just a few moments after waking, rushes back close to you, and begins again to gnaw at your simple requirements for human peace. Gnawing, gnawing, with long ratlike teeth. No one can live through that without changing.

Sebastian Barry, On Cannan's side
(with quite a handful of clichés on Ireland, but never mind)

21 May 2012

I read the news today

99% of the dollar billions revolving around our planet have nothing to do with work, creation of value, goods or services. The glow of money is illuminating the world economy. But this glow is a fake, a will o' the wisp, a fata morgana.
Money, so it seems, transports nothingness into existence. If something has no monetary value, it is worth nothing. There is more money to be made from the buying and selling of factories than from actually producing something in these factories.
Entire countries (and its people and scenery and history and music and poetry) are reduced to a virtual share value. China's is high and Greece's is low, China is a dictatorship, Greece is a democracy, but if Greece sells the Acropolis, Delphi, Olympia and a couple of its scenic islands, it could become as valuable as China.

Stock exchange data are more important than the weather report. 
Because the markets must be kept happy. 

The markets. Those mysterious deities.
They are a sensitive lot and governments everywhere must always check first whether their decisions will find mercy with them. And the markets love offerings: reduction of wages, social security cuts, redundancies. The more offerings, the happier the markets become and then they will make the economy grow a bit. And we can stare in awe at the endless bands of the latest exchange rates tickering through our lives.

The markets' chosen people are those who seek advantages, the venture capitalists, the bargain hunters, big game bargain hunters. With safe deposit boxes where once was a heart.

I am merely doing God's work, said Lloyd Blanfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs.

And we are all millionaires, only some of us are experiencing a slightly embarrassing shortage of funds. But theoretically...

We are fools.

14 May 2012

Marx is talking

Some days when the light gets brighter in the West,
I watch the glittering streams of money,
foaming and breaking the banks,
flooding previously barren land.
I am amused by the dictatorship of waffle,
the currently accepted theory of society, according to
what I hear from down there. I am well.
I meet God sometimes. He looks rested.
We discuss metaphysical matters, not without humour and
He comes across astonishingly well versed, dialectically.
Only recently, he asked me for an edition of my complete works.
He claimed he couldn’t find one anywhere.
Not that he wanted to believe in it, he said,
But there is no harm in reading, is there?
I gave him my own copy, the last
of the blue edition incl. commentaries.
Actually, he is more learned than I thought.
Theology bores him; he doesn't agree with
deconstruction; he thinks psychoanalysis is rubbish
and he won’t hear of it. His prejudices are amazing.
For example, he will forgive Nietzsche
even the most foolish thought; Hegel, on the other hand,
he cannot stand. He is too shy to speak of his own project. Please,
he said recently after a long look
down onto earth, please get ready.

(poor translation is my own, I am sure he can do it so much better)

12 May 2012

If you are biting into a slice of pistachio-walnut baguette on a Saturday afternoon and two of your front teeth hit hard on a bit of nut shell and clash and it makes that sharp sound like a nail grinding along a blackboard so that you gulp and run to the mirror to check that while there's no blood or stuff, and you are sure that two teeth are sort of loose and if you then forget about it until your front teeth hit the rim of the tea cup making it all hurt quite a bit and if you are stupid enough to google dental trauma you end up convinced that your front teeth could be a write off and if you then decide to call the dental clinic emergency service hotline you will be told that unless there's blood with bits of tooth floating in it, you should just stop wiggling it and not chew anything for a while and come Monday morning because right now there is a major league soccer match live on tv and tomorrow is Sunday you are overreacting.

09 May 2012

Today I was politely approached by two blond, sturdy young men dressed in ill fitting suits. In an odd mix of German and American English they expressed their intentions to show me the right way to heaven or something like that. They were eager, no doubt. And they were very happy when they realised that I understand their language. That is, I understood the words they were saying, but for the meaning?
It appears that their mission is to bring religion to the heathen people of central Europe. The name plates on their lapels identified them as members of the church of latter day saints.
This happened only a few steps away from the city's cathedral, built in the 11th century.
But surely that church is Catholic, they pointed out. 
Well, how about a trip to Wittenberg to see the church where in 1517 Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door? I suggested.
Uhm, isn't that in the communist part of Germany? We cannot go there.

I wished them luck.

08 May 2012

If there's anything I'm proud of in my work - it's not that I draw better; there's so many better graphic artists than me - or that I write better, no. It's - and I'm not saying I know the truth, because what the hell is that? But what I got from Ruth and Dave, a kind of fierce honesty, to not let the kid down, to not let the kid get punished, to not suffer the child to be dealt with in a boring, simpering, crushing-of-the-spirit kind of way.

 - Maurice Sendak
 June 10th, 1928 - May 8th, 2012
from here


on my way to work
I dive into the magic forest
looking for fairies and elves

07 May 2012

middle child syndrome

So off he went and bought himself that new car. And the shit is hitting the fan. In a Big way.

My brother, the one who speaks to my answerphone on birthdays, wants to make selling brand new cars to men over 83 illegal. So I have been told. I am to believe he said this to his face but I have my doubts. I  know he loves his father and he says all sorts of things, but to my sister. 

My big sister. She also loves her father but right now she has to avoid him, she is so mad. She will not say anything to his face, but she writes me detailed emails about The Shape of Things to Come (mounting debts, gambling, subscriptions to Reader's Digest, criminal investment spoofs, jail, lunatic asylum... the slippery slope downhill into disaster) and wants us to get power of attorney to save him from himself. The bad bad boy.

Meanwhile, the man is at a loss as to what is happening and silly me tells him (in as much as one sentence) and, well, the usual.  Oh dear.

05 May 2012

A week of carefully adjusting my spirit level, balancing the bubble in my head to a point of near stillness. Checking my hearing much much too often, very noise sensitive. Gently rubbing in camphor and arnica ointment into the bands of steel that once were my neck muscles. Battling waves of nausea , and occasionally an edge of panic, just a hint, really. Every morning waking up full of hope and best intentions and every night before sleep savouring the surprise of having made it through the day somehow in one piece.
Against every rule I haven't told the experts anything. For the moment. We'll see.

The garden has exploded, a sea of lilac, aquilegia, wisteria, rhododendrums, azalea, fuchsia, geraniums on all window sills.
Life really is good, I am so very lucky. 


02 May 2012

someone wrote that this music is all existentially reflective and shit,  and that the artist is his favourite navigator of the softening grey landscape of the dying brain
I forgot to save a link. Sorry. I think it was one of the Irish music bloggers. One of the multitudes out there.
Anyway, I  sort of agree.