Archive for the ‘seeing’ Category

Sitting smack in the middle of 2009, I wonder.

Slowly, slowly, the ugly head of doubt is beginning to wipe the sleep out of its eyes – as messages filter through that drowsy, still-flooded sea of dreamworld impulses that are all too captivating – giving itself the last little nudge into wakefulness… slowly, slowly. It has, quite clearly, no choice.

Is doubt the right word, I wonder, again? Perhaps we could term it “reality” - or simply the “is-ness of now” or perhaps even – dare I think this? - “awakening”?

There are things to be done, places to go, people to meet, choices to make. Every little, last relationship, big or small, minute or grand - the taxi driver, the stinging bee, the lover, the sister, the cashier, the sunny day - weaves in and around us and affects how we go about our “NOW.” Each day, every day, every second, these interactions shape who we are. We shape who they are. It’s a non-stop dance that we are always, always in the middle of, patiently watching. Stoically bracing for the next twirl, the unexpected twist, the uplift and a tango-ic sink. Without this patient, clear and passionate observation from a mysteriously unflappable center, life would be painful, even unbearable today. These days.

Are we indeed learning that “Virtue consists in a will which is in agreement with Nature.” Nature being everything around us, everything we plant, destroy, walk upon, breathe, touch, see, eat. Agreeing with all of that is obviously not a small task. Especially with challenges like this:

I posted two short tweets back-to-back a few weeks ago. The first one was a very stinging article related to torture. Pertinent and timely. I would link back to it, but due to internet posts now rapidly becoming a “let go” phenomenon, the link is lost to posterity. Whatever you do, don’t try to hold on to what you say. Or what other people have said or written. It’s very zen, actually. To give an impression, though, this link works just as well for more on the topic of torture.

Everyone has an opinion about torture. Some are very vehemently opposed. Others have a more blasé - as long as it doesn’t affect me - attitude. Others are all for it in the name of whatever sees that route as a means toward a cause (stopping/fighting/ridiculing terrorism, for example).

I rather expected the response I got. People looking up. People re-tweeting.

What I didn’t expect was that the tweet that followed, one about a family that was forced to choose between keeping their home or paying for their cancer-stricken son’s medical treatments, got virtually no response. You could hear the virtual pin dropping in the great void of buzzing digital activity.

My point was, and still is, that torturous situations are rampant this year. Perhaps it was that way EVERY year from the get-go of becoming humanoids. You don’t need to be a prisoner of war, or a prisoner at all. You can be a very normal human being, going about your business and WHAM! it hits you. The leather belt of foreclosure from the right. WHACK! The steel-studded whip of unemployment. Or BOOM! the din of debilitating illness coming upon you or yours that you cannot find appropriate treatment for because you cannot afford it - despite having sustained so much pressure, for the profit of others, for so long.

In agreement with nature means, for me, in agreement with human nature. There are, of course, common-sense charters and proposals (from the United Nations, for one) that agree on some basic premises like the fact that all people should have enough food to eat. Which is, quite obviously, not the case. Isn’t hunger a form of torture? Doesn’t it make sense that now would be a good time to take a look at making sustainable humanity more than a buzz word? Making that “virtuous will” a basic skill set for going from “politically correct“ to “human(e)ly correct”? 

Failing that, it’s all anyone can do - myself included - to focus on the unflappable center. To stoically brace while the madness whirlwinds around your ears.

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An amazing film from an amazingly gifted artist.

I know which painting I would buy and proudly display…

And there are some inspiring people behind this…

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3 Quotes: 3 perceptions: 3 intentions: one day: march 25th.

“A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water.” Carl Reiner 

“It is what it is.” Erich Fried

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.”  Ralph Waldo Emerson

flower_in_snow_hiking_wildstrubel_ch

 

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I realized this morning that perhaps that wasn’t the most intelligent photo to put up on a blog last night. On the other hand, maybe not. There are people who use firearms responsibly and people who do not. From what I’ve read about the family home of the young boy who wiped out 16 lives the other day, his father wasn’t exactly keeping his weapons collection under lock and key. Which is where that type of thing belongs. You should not be allowed to own them unless you are prepared to do this. And only someone who is responsible enough to keep the key on their person at all times or locked in a safe to which only the person licensed to own and operate these things knows the combination. Heaven help us, why aren’t these few simple principles crystal clear?! The other, more dire message to parents everywhere is: know your children! Be there for your children, talk to them, become involved with who they are. Of course, it’s perhaps unfair speculation to say that these parents didn’t. Young boys will be young boys. But hating girls? Having previously pestered the neighborhood kids with air guns? Having been caught by police due to shooting firearms in the woods? Wouldn’t these be clues for you as a parent? If you own only books and sports equipment, you could shrug it off, I suppose. But you should brace yourself carefully - and double up your locks - if you own the sort of stuff this family did. Yikes.

On a lighter note, two other words that start with k have me preoccupied.

The first is “keester,” also spelled “keister” - the etymology is rather dull, which is sad, because it seems like it should be stemming from some sort of German word. What screws me up even more is knowing that a German would pronounce a word spelled like “keister” with emphasis on the second vowel, so it would be “k-eye-ster” and not, as the predictable second spelling variation hints, “k-eee-ster.” The fact that the word is a slang term for buttocks is noteworthy when you see the only other word in connection with it that Merrium-Webster will offer up is “satchel.” (!) Ah-ha… Right. I’ll stop with associative patterns right there, thank you…

The second word is “kindle” which, as anyone who has ever been up to a cabin in Northern US states would know, is a word not far away from “kindling,” which is the small stuff with which a person seeking to start a fire in a fireplace puts underneath logs or wood of some sort. More specifically, it has a Middle English root, “probably modification of Old Norse (how cool is that?!) from “kynda”; akin to Old High German (I knew it!) cuntesal fire…” From there, the definition goes in all sorts of directions: Light, arouse, illuminate, to become animated, to flare up…

So how long did the “Branders” look around (”brainstorm” indeed) to be able to christen a sleek little gizmo with this particular name? I’ve now heard this word so often that I had to see what the fuss was about. It makes perfect sense that none other than Amazon would take that first bold step (I think its’s a first?) to produce a flat digital, amazingly powerful digital “book” - and why wouldn’t they? They stand like no other to profit from it! Think of all the gas transportation trucks will save and the miles service men won’t have to walk to put little pink or blue slips on the door/in the mailbox telling you (well, me) to pick up the books you ordered at the nearest “Automated Pack Station” (though they sometimes still resort to post offices, which serve the same purpose, if in an archaic, humans-moving about sort of way). Think of all that paper that never needed to be produced, all those trees saved that can now produce oxygen and all the designers for book jackets, not to mention printers and book-binders that are now free to … well … blog!!! Or perhaps develop clever content from their misery to feed all those Kindles burning out there.

Kindle - could have been candle. But Kindle is also close – from the poetic flow of it – to fondle, cuddle, handle, all those cute “dle” words… I could go on. The fact is, I just cannot sign on for it. It may be one of the “no, no, no - I won’t go” protests like I have held with, say, Facebook, Twitter, other social networks and assorted programs and – shudder – HTML. At some point, there you are. Strange how that works. Not sure if it’s good or bad. I sit here looking at a good some thousand books. I always have trouble deciding which ones would go if they had to. Always. I love the differences in them, the difference in the backs they show to entice you to pluck them from the shelves, full of color, some with glitz and glitter, some with loud lettering, some very soft and delicate. Then you have it out and in your hand and you savor the various sizes, shapes, paper, textures, even smells! It isn’t just the words you read by any means, it’s a total sensual experience. Perhaps “doing it digitally” may be stripping it down to the bare, sexy essentials (I have heard reviewers of the Kindle saying it makes the words themselves even more precious.)  and I’m absolutely sure it could be a brilliant tool for people that are faced with… loss of motor skills, to put it carefully. Or that, for whatever reason, can no longer drive. For them, it certainly re-opens the world of reading.

But for me, I can’t help myself… something, somewhere is lost (or not yet achieved) in this development. I certainly wouldn’t give up my car for a horse, I know going backward is not an option, but I get dizzy and nauseated thinking I would, could or should be reading off something flat, plastic and predictable. Negroponte described it very differently when he envisioned this. Perhaps his version will make it to market some day. With pages that actually move and make paper-like rustling sounds (even if it’s only one page you’re physically turning gazillions of times)… I hope to be able to wait for that day. Or avoid – somehow – altogether.

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Greeted by Alfie! Fun talking to his wife! Wonderful dinner, nice light wine...

and now lessons in WordPress and blogging…
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It certainly was a bit like “those with severely impaired vision leading the blind” – but we had fun and I could do a bit of quality petting.

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An exercise in communication. With a bit of stripping to boot.

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*** NEW *** NEW *** Now with subtitles!

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This Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday are days of strange merrymaking in many parts of Germany. Wiki defines it quite lamely like this: Carnival is a festive season which occurs immediately before Lent; the main events are usually during January and February. Carnival typically involves a public celebration or parade combining some elements of a circus and public street party. People often dress up or masquerade during the celebrations.

What is doesn’t tell you (but would if you could read the German Wiki page) is that the reason for these celebrations traditionally was to scare away winter and all the demons that went with it. It would also tell you that, for whatever reason, it apparently didn’t involve Bavaria too much (perhaps they were too busy milking, who knows?). That’s not stopping modern day Munich, however, a city that offers myriads of opportunities to take part in the fun and games. Usually, I wasn’t much in the mood for such stuff, thinking it was a Halloween of sorts for kids (Now that the Celtic celebration has finally established itself on the mainland, German children now have two opportunities to dress up!), but this year - due to scheduling reasons – I ended up at a party where you would look very strange if you showed up in regular evening attire.

I was completely naive about what I was getting into. While preparing ourselves for the evening, we had put only a tiny bit of effort into our costumes: a bit of makeup smeared on our faces, a wig for me and a few old costume pieces. It’s easy to throw a vampire together, and just about anything passes for a witch.

There is no way to properly describe the effort and imagination that scores of people of all ages (the event was sold out, so I’m guessing around 1,400+), all walks of life, all professions and all body types had gone to with their costumes. 

Marge and Homer Simpson. Snow White and a perfect Prince Charming (They weren’t a couple. Snow White was with a very elaborate vampire). Bumblebees and women as Spring, Fall, and Summer. (Winter was probably there, too, but I really need to avoid her – it’s just been sub-zero for too long.) Color-coordinated groups (one totally orange from head-to-toe, one totally blue, one screeching yellow), Countless Neros (or Augustus, or Alexander, or Julius or…) and Cleopatra (she was brilliantly beautiful and even flirted! – with me!), as always Cowboys and Indians, lots of assorted Hippie Folk, large amounts of Pope and Cardinal types who were always hanging out with Witch and Devil types, tons of Rococo wig-and-pomp and numerous men dressed up a women. The opposite sex was very creative with their interpretations: women as cleaning ladies, women as grand dames, women as whores, women as prim and proper Victorians. Literally all of them with anti-gravitational mammarian glands. (Even Michaelangelo never got how breasts are pulled downward and outward due to gravitational forces, why should ordinary folk in the 21st century?) That would describe maybe a tenth of the crowd, if that - so grand and glorious the variety. Anyone could truly become, for a few hours a year, literally anything they had ever dreamed of being. 

Next year, I’m giving my costume more thought. Who would I like to be?

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breakfast2

 

This was breakfast. It may seem like an ordinary pastry and coffee, but I assure you, it is not. The coffee is ordinary enough, though the machine at the office that produced it cost about the equivalent of a compact car. The pastry was done by a little shop that makes all of their delicacies by hand, the good old French way. Little tarts and perfect croissants, brioche, and this little spiral beauty with no, not just raisins, but Black Corinth raisins. For the few minutes it takes to devour this, a person is transported to a seventh heaven you would never think possible in an office environment - and with witnesses to boot. It takes a few extra minutes to walk the extra mile to get to the shop (parking isn’t available), but the road to ecstasy often involves detours…

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

Throwing all caution to the wind on a morning when I should have been working, I decided to bump around the downtown area this morning. My daughter had a Valentine’s Day date (thankfully, it’s still this type of date: with her “very best” girlfriend at Starbucks in broad daylight), so I went with them for a stretch on the subway. I was heading for the ticket machine when my daughter assured me I could ride on her ticket. Not thinking much further about it (and assuming she was right), we waited for our train, boarded, laughed a bit at the fact that another good (but not best) girlfriend was, like, right there on the train we had just boarded. There was a bit of teenage-girl friction because the “very best,” “best” and “good” status seems to change weekly and fate was playing an interesting hand that the former “very best” had now caught my daughter red-handed with the new “very best” off on her way to have a Valentine’s small gifts exchange. Oops.

But what was more interesting was the approaching team of controllers. They were checking to see if the passengers had valid tickets. Trusting my daughter’s word, I had no reason to think we were in trouble of any kind (she had been caught by the controllers once when she was 12 and I tend to believe that will remain a lasting impression on her for life). I presented the ticket and we were cool. A good feeling. There was a passenger sitting kiddy-corner to my daughter who was, however, not having such a great time of it. In the space of twelve seats, the controllers had nabbed two perpetrators, of which this man was one. The man we were now focusing on was leafing through his wallet at an unbelievably slow and uncoordinated pace in the attempt to will a valid ticket into being. Stop after stop came and went and it was finally decided that, “Sir, you don’t appear to have a valid ticket.” I was standing a good yard away from the man when he looked up, our eyes meeting briefly, when he said one or two (for me) unintelligible words. What odorously hit me front and center was his level of alcoholization. It felt as if he had thrown me a rope, a lifeline, a hope for some sort of empathy. My eyes lowered immediately, not because I didn’t or couldn’t feel empathy - oh, if he only knew! - but because I was full of thoughts and impressions and I was trying to feel what the four girls around me, one of them being my daughter and two of her closest companions, were feeling, doing, thinking. They, like me, all had their heads down, trying not to notice this man with his uncomfortable predicament.

After leaving the train, back out into the fresh, wintery air and bidding the two girls goodbye, I was confronted with a totally different scene. Shoppers. Lots of them. A Saturday full of activity. Being Valentine’s Day, there were obviously a few people still rushing to do something about making it special for someone after all. The city always sports plenty of cars worth six-digits, but it seemed like the entire street was full of them now. Fate again, making a point that I - specifically - was supposed to understand. The juxtapostion between the down-and-out-ers and up-and-at-em-ers. And me walking between the two, just an observer. 

I needed a fast change of thought. What a better place to do that before noon on a Saturday than to walk into the nearest sex shop (right on the main strip, mind you, no false modesty in this city). Flower purchases are for guys, I was looking to make a different sort of purchase. As usual, I can’t stop myself from making an instant sociological assessment in this particular shop. Note: the elderly couple surely well over sixty leafing carefully through a box of thongs and other undergarments that were massively reduced in price. Note: the young Turkish boy who makes a big to-do about the gift he is looking for for his girlfriend. It was clear to everyone that, while it may have been a nice thought, he didn’t have money to burn and I was beginning to wonder if flowers wouldn’t be a better idea for her, though I dared not speak up about it. Note: the three maybe thirty-something chicks that have obviously watched enough Sex and the City to not care that they are in a really cheesy sex shop looking at dildos. The saleman is chatting them up when I butt in saying, “Yes, but are they non-toxic? I’ve read about this and it’s pretty important, you know…” I was essentially trying to save all three of them from purchasing anything - really ANYTHING - that was made in China that would be headed for potential body openings. Just not a good idea, girls. The salesman was not daunted and proceeded to chat me up (the girls were, I think, glad I had done this) about the safety of his dildos that were made, in fact, in Hungary. Great, that makes me feel so much better. I politely moved on. To note further: an elegant man, tall and exceeding well-dressed asking another salesman (of which there were many, I noted, as the shop was packed. Recession is obviously good for sex, if nothing else) if a particular article he was interested in worked with any lubricant or just water-based lubricants. He said this as if he were conveying the results in his company annual report. Calm, dry, matter-of-fact. Trying to envision exactly who would be party to his further experimentation and empirical testing once he was out of the store brought up far too many visions of twenty-somethings (okay, and one just as prim lady about his age as well, but very lifted, everywhere) and I decided that it really was time to change locations. Fast.

The street of busy shoppers was alive and pulsing with movement. After resolving a few of the errands I had, I was on my way back to retrieve the girls and bring them home when I noticed a group of Mongolian singers rushing past. Shucks, I thought. Spent too much time in the sex shop and missed out on the overtone music (which I love very much). I was impressed by their thin, gold-trimmed, elaboratedly embroidered robes, which reminded me of another errand. I needed a costume for a costume party. This finally done (no, I’m not going as a Mongolian street musician), I came back out to see the also colorful Peruvians playing on the street to a small crowd. Nice, but not a stopper for me. Two blocks farther down, the Mongolians were in full swing. I was electrified and stood near them, lapping it up. It was noticeable and very interesting how different the two crowds were. The people around the Mongolians were all pulling wallets out (me included - I bought the CD they were offering, which I am now listening to and absolutely do not regret) and the sweet little cachet they had in front of them was full of coins. What sort of message is in here, I wondered. I’m still wondering, in fact. When I had given the youngest Mongolian my bills for the CD, I thanked him, not knowing what language, if any, would potentially return my words. He met my eyes and in perfect, melodic, soft and feathery German he said “Danke schön.” An amazing moment. 

The rest of the day was spent coasting on these impressions…

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Sensualability
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