June 23, 2011
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I’m working on a text about art and creativity right now, and part of that text is about the holes in life. Those plunges one makes from time to time. Or at least I do. And I usually refer to these periods as being ‘in the hole’. A dark, lonely and very nasty place to be. These days I usually manage to keep these visits short, I’ve had enough practice climbing up to have developed a certain proficiency by now, but even a short stay is unpleasant enough.
The biggest problem with being in the hole though, are the distorted perspectives. Things just look really different from down there. Twisted and weird. And it’s almost as if logic isn’t able to reach you when you’re there. Everything takes on distorted proportions, becomes enormous, monstrous, unsurpassable hurdles and even simple household chores morph into Sisyphean tasks. It’s all just a big, gargantuan mess of shit piling up threatening to fall down and crush you. But on some level you still know it’s all because you’re in the hole, that it’s just the perspective fucking with your head. And that’s when shame sets in. Because if you know, you should be able to just shake it, right? But you can’t. And therefore, you suck. That’s the summary of how the whole situation looks from down there. You suck.
So obviously you have to shut up about it, because if you tell anyone, then they will also realize you suck and getting external confirmation on that would pretty much guarantee that the shit will indeed fall down and crush you. And that’s why you start pretending, putting on an act, but being in the hole with the whole perspective distortion going on, you’re not really able to pull it off. The performance as your preferred version of yourself doesn’t turn out very convincing. In fact, all you manage to pull off, is an unreliable, slightly erratic and rather grumpy version of your least preferred self. You don’t return calls, you don’t respond to emails and when people confront you with it you make up vague excuses about having “been busy”. Yeah, right… Read more of this post
June 13, 2011
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I am what is commonly referred to as an expat. I.e. a resident in a foreign country. Another word for this is immigrant. And I’ve written about this before (here), so I won’t go too deep into the absurdities that reside within that concept in this text, but let me just say that people aren’t plants. We don’t have roots, we have legs. We move. But when you do move there are a number of things you are confronted with, and one of these things is language.
I live in a country where I have to live my daily life in a different language, a language that isn’t my mother tongue, German. I already knew a bit of German when I moved here 5 years ago, so I wasn’t that worried. I knew it would take a while to get a flow, to feel secure and at home in the new language, but I wasn’t really prepared for what an impact it would have on my identity and self-image. Because every language has its characteristics and in these characteristics also lies a world view. The words you have in a language say a lot about how you perceive the world, what concepts are relevant. And as you slowly start conquering the language you also get an insight to the world view that comes with it, and you start relating this to your own. You start reflecting on the differences and compare them to other languages, other world views. I use three languages in my daily life, or to put it differently, I live my life in three different languages. I have a few more at my disposal, but three is what I use in my everyday existence. So essentially I have these three different world views coexisting in my head on a daily basis. Read more of this post
May 31, 2011
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at the funfair
There are two kinds of people in this world; those who will give up everything to follow their dreams and those who won’t. The former run a greater risk of becoming happy.
I was having dinner with a friend of mine the other night and we got to talking about the whole adventure versus security thing. Just like me he’s one of those people who won’t settle for what’s safe and comfortable, but who wants to explore the great beyond. Or to put it differently, we both have a tendency to get bored if things start getting predictable. But we both made the observation that this doesn’t seem to be something that applies to everyone, far from it, so we got to talking about why that was. Why are some people willing to settle?
It’s often claimed that happiness is the main pursuit in this thing called life. That happiness is what we all strive for. And even though I do think there’s quite a lot of truth in that claim, I’m not so sure it’s an all in approach for most people. We want happiness, but we’ll settle for convenience. As long as it’s safe and comfortable we’re fine. My friend referred to this as entering cruise control. A lot of people do this when they are in their thirties. The relationship is established, the career is on track and the kids are on the way. Everything in life is pretty much on track so they just go into cruise control. A state of maintaining that status quo. Convenience.
But maintaining the status quo, is that living? What about curiosity? It may have killed the cat, but I’m not all that convinced that applies to humans. Without curiosity we would probably still be, well, apes. Fire, the wheel, agriculture, machines, electricity, the internet, we didn’t just stumble upon all these things while maintaining that status quo. Read more of this post
May 17, 2011
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I’m sick right now. Not as in suffering from a life threatening disease or even bedridden, just your average cold and fever. One of those everyday kind of things that happen to most people a few times a year. At best it allows you to just relax and lie on the couch and watch movies or read books and drink tea, and at worst it annoys the hell out of you because you can’t do anything but lie on the couch and watch movies or read books and drink tea.
When you enter that latter stage of frustration there’s pretty much nothing that will prevent your mind from running amok on you. You start thinking about all the things you could do if only you weren’t sick right now, and the fact that you probably wouldn’t do even half of those things if you weren’t sick doesn’t really matter. It’s the illness that prevents you from doing them, not your own lack of motivation or engineering. At least that’s the case in the initial thought loop. But then, as frustration grows, so does the thought clutter in your head, and you start reevaluating every single aspect of your life. Read more of this post
May 10, 2011
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One of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me was taking me out to jump in rain puddles. I have never been as close to giving up as I was at that point in my life and that particular day was one of the really bad ones. It was in summer and there had just been a thunderstorm. We were sitting on the couch in my small one bedroom apartment and I was having repeated attacks of panic anxiety followed by endless crying. And he said: “Come on, we’re going to go jump in the rain puddles.” At first I thought “no way, there’s just no way I can do that”, but for some reason I still let him take me outside.
He led my by the hand in that tender way you do with someone you know you need to take care of, someone small and fragile. And I don’t know if it was that or the fact that I hadn’t really jumped in any rain puddles in years, but I felt just like a little child again. Like that little child I once was. The good parts of being that little child. And I started laughing. We both did. Just like two five-year olds. It was in the evening and the sun was just setting, but it was still warm. We got soaking wet and people were staring but it didn’t matter, we just kept laughing and jumping. Read more of this post
As long as I can remember I’ve occupied my head with thoughts about femininity vs. masculinity. Not in the sense of gender confusion, or as in the feeling of having been born with the wrong genitalia, but as in not being comfortable with the assigned role. I was just never very good at being a girl. Not only in my own head but also in the eyes of others. It was, and still is, frequently being pointed out to me that my behavior wasn’t very ‘ladylike’ and that girls “aren’t supposed to like/be/say/do/act like that”. As a kid this type of comments would make me quite uncomfortable and I would spend a lot of time trying to figure out why. What I couldn’t get my head around was what they actually meant because I was a girl, I was very much aware of that, so why wasn’t my behavior or interests considered appropriate for a girl? If I, as a girl, was doing it or into it, didn’t that then by definition make it ‘appropriate for a girl’? The unanimous answer was no. It wasn’t appropriate to like horror movies, metal and dirty jokes, and it wasn’t acceptable to burp and take long strides when you walk, nor was it ok to sit with your legs far apart or state your opinion loudly. And laughing too loud or getting in fights was also off the agenda. It was ok to play with dolls as long as the dolls didn’t get involved in sex or violence and it was ok to play dress-up as long as you dressed up as a princess and not a pirate. But I did both. That was the thing. I actually played princess and pirate. And I liked horror movies and Nancy Drew books. I could never understand why I had to choose. Read more of this post
I am working on this semi-fictional short story right now. I say semi-fictional because it’s based on a real event. Sort of. Actually it’s based on a person I saw at an opening. The rest is pure fiction. All made up by me. But the person exists. I don’t know him and I have never talked to him, but he does exist. I know his name, what he looks like and a little bit about what he does. That’s it. And it’s not like he’s one of these fascinating freaks or anything like that, he’s just a sort of regular guy in the creative scene. I made a few behavioral observations about him that night that for some reason triggered a story in my head. I’ve changed his name, for obvious reasons, but the character is him. Or is it? Not really. How could it be? I don’t even know him. So is the character based on him? Not sure. In order to base something on someone wouldn’t you need to know something about that person? Like I said, I really have a very minimal knowledge of this person, pretty much nothing apart from those few glimpses of pretty normal ‘being at an opening behavior’ I got that evening, so how could the character possibly be based on him? Does it matter? I suppose in the grand scheme of things it’s pretty inconsequential and irrelevant, but in my own head this raises several mildly interesting questions. Read more of this post
April 25, 2011
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Music is very important to me. I almost always listen to music. The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is turn on the stereo and I almost never go anywhere without my iPod. I love walking or traveling around in the city with my very own soundtrack. Sometimes I’ll even refrain from taking a call on my mobile just because I don’t want to break that very special magic of the sound mingling with my visual perceptions of what’s happening around me. At home it’s a bit different. There it’s more about filling the room. Without music there’s just this very uncomfortable feeling of emptiness, like a void that needs to be filled. But both situations share the aspect of creating a barrier between me and the outside world, a barrier that allows me to retreat into my own space, my own mind. That’s why I almost always listen to music when I write, it helps me focus, helps me enter that realm that I need to be in to be able to do it. It helps me construct my own bubble where I can create my own universe. Read more of this post
April 15, 2011
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berlin street art - if you know who the artist is, let me know!
A couple of months ago I had a discussion about friendship versus family. In that discussion the argument was raised that family means more than friendship. That family is more solid, more reliable. I vehemently disagreed. Just like I always do when this topic comes up. Just like I do when the same topic comes up in the constellation friendship versus romantic love. I truly value friendship. In fact, it is quite possible the most important thing to me.
I don’t know if I have a lot of friends, I don’t know what constitutes normality in the number of friends you have, but I have a bunch of people in my life that I call friends. People who are dear to me, people I love. That’s how I define friendship, as a special kind of love. Essentially a friend is someone you forgive for being who they are. A love that is, in that sense, unconditional. It has nothing to do with demands and duties. Friendship just is. Of course you have expectations, but it’s only when those expectations get completely adjusted to the character of a person that friendship emerges. The expectations become realistic. That’s how the love is sustained. Loving exactly what you have and accepting what you can expect. Read more of this post
March 11, 2011
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On more occasions than one I have said that I would be a very happy hermit, and sometimes I actually think that’s true. I like solitude. I need solitude. I’m not one of those people who need, or even like, to always be surrounded by people. I crave my alone time. Writing obviously has a lot to do with that. But if I am to be perfectly honest, I don’t actually think I would be a good hermit. Or at least not a happy one. For the very simple reason that If I never saw other people I would miss out on all those life changing encounters. Those interactions that so fundamentally change who you are forever. And those have everything to do with a real face to face encounter. As much as I love books and ideas, and as much as those have also changed me, there is just something about the real world interaction, encounters in the flesh, that I actually wouldn’t want to live without. Moments of transformation.
I have had a few of those in my life by now. People I’ve met that changed my life forever, who lead me on to new paths and showed me new horizons, new ways to relate to the world. People without whom I wouldn’t be who I am today. And I am not talking about lovers or friends, I am talking about people who just made a brief visit in my world, people who I didn’t necessarily have a close relationship with, but who through that moment when our paths crossed, made such an impact that I walked away from that meeting a different person. Read more of this post