Category: connecting


I am pretty stressed out right now.

The more I get to see and understand of what is going around in the world, the less I think I know. Or put in other words: the less I preferred I knew. It is nothing to be ashamed of to try to live life in a safe bubble.

With me, this safe bubble burst a long, a long time ago.

Getting back to topic. Stress… There is eu-stress and di-stress. Through each and every day, millions of neuronal connections are built up and we form new associations, learn languages, maybe it’s a chemical formula we need to learn by heart, maybe it’s your girlfriend’s telephone number and maybe, just maybe, you will say to yourself I wish myself back to those days when life used to be simple. Birthday party on Saturday, glittering stickers in my sticker album. Maybe all the different types of clouds that you can pass over your head while you lie on a hill with your bare arms in the grass. Scratch! That tune is so old. And long gone. No need for any sugarglossing. The thing is today the moment you want to inform yourself you immediately gotta know that 95% of all messages, information, notes, news and ticker tid bits you receive are of a negative kind.

So… the result. What do you reckon it might have? Yes… Snooze. That’s what most people do nowadays… They either become very very stressed out, hectic, superficial, or simply ignore what they have sitting in their inbox. They cannot be bothered.

It is quite a rare phenomenon that people actually are “a jour” with all what they receive on a daily basis. Do you have an idea what this might cause?

Hmm…. Yes. I do. I could imagine that a disproportionate amount of emails is created by merely ignoring half of the emails sent out in the first place. To be honest, I am fine with it. I don’t care. I really don’t… Anymore. It is part of my job description to write emails and stuff, and it becomes a general kind of routine to wait for emails to arrive. Sadly, that is what happens. I was always the one who had a head start, the one who is keen to answer emails. Always the one who keeps their promises to call back, I am good on that, on general follow up. What annoys me most, are those people who tell you… yeah, oh that email. Yeah, I wanted to reply to that one, but then you sent me another one. Like it was your fault you did not get an answer.

Ok, I get it.

To be honest, doing work, I can handle this. But privately, this gets seriously on my nerves. Why can’t people just have the decency and at least have the minimum amount of respect and courtesy and simply answer. Maybe just two sentences “I get back to you soon. Hang in there.”, “Please call me”, “I am in Alaska, don’t mail me again please”, or “I am not interested”, “Get away from me.”, “Tough shit. Pucker up, dude” Whatever. It would at least be honest and it would save you the moments where you torture yourself thinking all sorts of stuff. Fantasizing about why you did not get a reply. Asking yourself countless questions. And so on, and so forth. It’s insane. And it is so avoidable. And nobody needs this. Really, they just don’t.

But certain manners have really become contagious in the 21st century. I really recall when in 1996 when I first had my email account with Compuserve, people would answer you as they were thrilled to receive such a weird thing called email. Now, it is mainly a tool of a power exchange.

No… Seriously. I know a couple of people who even though they have very little time, they will always try to answer their emails and be honest, be respectful and be like it was a true pen-pal kind of thing. Be sure that whoever writes me, will get a reply and I will answer in a way that matches the topic and also the style in which it is written. I can be serious, I can be hilarious. Whatever. But one thing will not happen. I won’t let a mail go unanswered. Because I was brought up to respect if someone took his / her time that they would really like an answer. Whoever feels I have struck a nerve with them, please give me a like. My self esteem right now is kind of hitting rock bottom. I could need that.

This insanity about not knowing if someone else got your message goes as far that sometimes, you are simply too well-behaved or maybe also too honest to refrain from writing yet another mail, cos you want to wait and see what happens, and the mail contact just kind of gets lost somehow. It fizzles out. So you put in a confirmation request, does not really seem to solve the problem.

That has happened to me often enough. Sometimes voluntarily, sometimes involuntarily. I was the lady in waiting.  I was always very communicative though so I tended to be the one who would pick up the thread of conversation, again and again. It seems to be my fate that I am too demanding in that respect maybe…. I want to know things. I want answers. I don’t know. Too demanding? Am I really? If I am having a conversation, I don’t just walk away from someone… I just don’t. You don’t see me cutting off a conversation just like that.

So this basically stresses me out. It makes my head spin and I ask myself if the person in question really wants to communicate with me. Ok. Now you could say, that is your problem. Yes, it is. But it is not nice either, is it? And I am kind of sick and tired cos it seems to happening a lot more often and people feel a lot less concerned about if they make you wait or maybe even forget on the whole that they actually have something, an email or a document, whatever, that demands some kind of response. If I have the telephone number of that person, I might actually just give them a call cos nowadays I think some things can be sorted quickly that way. But on the other hand, I do tend to feel a little vengeful sometimes…

It hurts my sense of justice, my sense of proper behaviour, my sense of organic order I guess. I don’t mean the few really busy friends I have (and you know who you are) who always advice me in advance that they have little time and it will take them a little longer to reply. I really don’t mean you… How could I? I mean only those ones who just seem to think that it does not matter whether you answer someone or not… It is just so rude and so bad mannered! I cannot believe that I am actually on a rant for non-existing email responses but it has been driving up the walls for a while now and it just goes to show that the world is changing.

My plea: When you get a letter, you write back, when you get an email, you write an email back. Maybe, not everyone is as communicative as me, I can see that. But on the other hand, why cannot people get their heads around to at least responding to you. Even if they don’t have the time. They could at least make an effort to let you know that your email was received and maybe also read. It is such a simple gesture of faith and friendship. To just answer. What is wrong with that?

Communication behaviour has definitely changed in the past two decades. Not for the better I would say.

Communication is too easy. That is why it is so shallow, and in most cases really daft. Sorry to say so. But that is how I feel about it.

I once had a pen friend, a pen pal. She was actually from Leicester, UK. She had come to our school when I was 10 or so. Her name was Claire W., she wanted to study medicine. Another was my year-long friend Ildikó. Ildikó and I had met through a random encounter in London, sharing a multiple room. She was on a year’s worth of world travelling, something the Australians tend to do a lot once they are out of the university. She wanted to see the world before she would settle down and became a teacher.

Deep down, I am kind of a real loyal and trustful character. This sounds really corny coming from my own mouth, but I stick to my friends like nothing else. With Claire I wrote at least eight or nine years. We would probably still be writing each other if there had not been a mistake in her address when she moved. Unfortunately, her surname is so common that it would be ridiculous to look for her since she moved to London. But you never know. 🙂

With Ildikó, the Australian, well, we are almost like joined at the hip, we wrote each other for 19 years – starting 1993. Actually, it just kind of fizzled out recently… Which is a shame, but there you go. I hope she is well and maybe one day she picks up where we left off and get back to write emails again. That would very much be worth it. Not just for old times’ sake. 🙂

When a pen pal friendship dies, this is actually pretty sad. You have shared a lot, in our case all our adolescent and young adult years. In Ildikó’s case, we even flew to Australia and travelled around her country back in 1998. We saw Sydney, New South Wales, the Three Sisters, travelled up the gold coast and went to Cairns, Brisbane and Darwin. It was a magic trip.

What am I playing at? I remember the leap of heart, the plain kick I got out of receiving letters both from UK and from Australia. The smell of the paper, the cute little stamps that looked so different. The duration of days, of weeks you would have in between letters. It sometimes took them even a whole month to arrive. Sometimes the stuff we had talked about would be not even important anymore… Here we both could wait. It did not seem to be any problem at all. But somehow, this was like a long conversation which I had with someone with whom I could talk and also share my views of the world, my hobbies and my likes and dislikes. Pretty much like Facebook really only way more personal and real… 😉 In between the years of 1999 and 2012 we used both emails and snail mail letters to communicate. I would really love to have a penpal friendship again. I am kind of old school that way. 🙂

Fast forward to 2013. Now, we have twitter, we have facebook, we have so many social media and platforms and we think we are so ultra modern. Are we really?… it seems so antique if you don’t have an account with all of them. So, since I don’t want to be a bystander but someone integrated in the brave new media society, not only have a facebook, twitter account, but also zillions of other profiles of all the forums I used ever since 2000 roughly.

There are a handful of people who know me, maybe from school, from uni, maybe from my time in Germany, Ireland, or now Spain, Ibiza. Some of them from work, some of them would be private contacts. But… Can this be all? Can this be the best we can come up with, and I am asking myself this really?

Has the level and also the depth of communication really increased or was it just the amount of time we spend with the gadgets that pretend to be communicative that has increased. Sometimes when a newsflash comes, you can bet on whose twitter account you will find it first. Sometimes it is fun, sometimes it is informative, but come on, the majority is really superfluous. And I am including myself in here as well. I fell into the same trap as everyone else. It was a nice toy. But to be honest, as soon as you notice there is something you cannot do because you have been too long on facebook or on twitter, that’s exactly the moment when you know… Ok. Time to change.

Whenever I “like” something on Facebook, I get the option to “share”, to spread all this information we would usually share with a handful of friends, mostly I tend to press this button. Maybe, because I am too easily triggered. Maybe I have a ludic side to myself? The thing is with my pressing this button, this news will appear in so many news tickers of my friends and acquaintances… And vice versa… I get too easily distracted. Facebook is a big big time thief. When you really want to get things done, there is no way that facebook is going to be your friend. Right… I now… I can switch off facebook any time I want. Granted.

But the quality of a penpal friendship cannot really be compared in any way with the social media of today. With a penpal, you can express yourself on a more personal and also more critical level. Chances are that the other person knows and understands you.

With Facebook it is often like someone writes something, tons of clicks, and let’s move on to the next… This is just too shallow. This is almost like it was not really even there… The actual time spent on digesting a facebook information is so quick, that I think that half of the information might even not be read properly… Guess what happens? Yes.,.. Most of the information is getting more and more visualized… Made easily digestable… Baby food for the brain… Eeeewwwww… Think about it.

Ten years from now on, I bet there are going to be some psychological conditions related to over-excessive use of the social media. Maybe even loss of the sense for reality. Who knows. Remember that the French Revolution ate its own children… Yes, that image does come to mind…

There is this thing Einstein said once… about technology and the age of idiots…

I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity. The world will have a generation of idiots.

This is a quote I fear that for my liking has reached a high degree of truth. When I was in Scotland, quite three weeks ago, I did not touch internet, emails, facebook (except for one day) for one whole month. It was so good for me. I so needed to be disconnected from everything else. It felt that I was so recharging my batteries. It was incredible. And my husband had dared me that I could not last the holidays. How wrong was he? ;)Everyone should do that once in a while. To be honest, I did not think that I was missing out on such a whole lot. Because there are still these haptic media, you know these little things you can fold up, and they have these pages inside, full with printed paper.

Ah, books, that’s the one. Thank you. Funny things, if you ask me.

Now… I am in a period where I need to really be careful that I am not burning myself out. I am aware of that. I have really quite a lot on my plate right now, there are deadlines looming, and there are new things I want to tackle as well. Ok, now you could tell me, why don’t you change the order of these things. Well, the truth is just: I sooo cannot do that. These projects are somehow magically intertwined so there is not a snowball’s chance in hell I can let go of any of them.

So, basically, it’s do or die. Make or break. Touch and go.

This is how i feel. I would much rather go back in time and chose a period when life was just a little easier. A little slower. A little better organised. And a little less hectic.

The only thing I can do for myself, is try to cut down the (sometimes useless, sometimes useful) time I spend in front of the computer.

What was this claim again? There is yet another Einstein quote… It was about war. I did not look this one up but roughly it goes like this. Whichever weapons people would use in the third world war, Einstein predicted that the fourth world war would be a matter of stones and other primitive weapons…

People are on the verge of really eradicating themselves. And that to me does not sound like a joke at all. We need to seriously rethink our thinking and our living patterns. We don’t know how to eat, how to work, how to love, how to interact in a way that makes us simply happy. We have distanced ourselves that much from a natural lifestyle that the answer can only be: get back to the most simple things in life.

– work: work what you can not what you want to work as

– eat: eat anything that grows in the area where you live, make sure it has lots of vitamins or if it’s convenience food make sure it is the least processed food you can come up with

– love: stick to one favorite person. Makes life easier for all. 😉

– interact: I am totally with Ockham’s razor. Say things in the least pompous and least complicated manner. You want people to understand what you are saying. Don’t ya?

Can we learn something from heightened periods of stress?

Oh yes, I think we can.

Try to go easy with a lot of things. Try to go easy on yourself. No need to stick to the most perfectionist plan when you know that you have two kids, three jobs, virtually no free time, and things can happen out of the blue that can basically burst any kind of planning and any kind of time table.

The following three months are usually the worst ones of my whole year. This year, I have decided that I am going to tackle this differently.

I am going to try to be kind to me. (this is a real challenge for me. I always treat myself like I was in a bootcamp, too little sleep, erratic food habits, weird attacks of exercise days interspersed with days spent in lethargy… )

I am going to try to give my body enough sleep, proper food and some relaxing walks. (especially and mainly it is sleep I am concerned with. This is something I need to take care of… the other two things are ok, almost where I want them to be)

Three months sound short but lived up in a manner that is unhealthy, three months can be quite long in fact… They can be actually quite crazy and there is only one person that can keep you sane in the eye of a maelstrom.

And that my dear friend, is you.

PS:

A lot of people talk about simplify your life. This term always makes me a tad aggressive.

Simple in terms of lifestyle? yeah, try again…

Simple in terms of being kind of really repetitive? I am not a hamster in a roll. I am human.

Simple in terms of being foreseeable? That’s what life is like.

Simple in terms of having the big picture just like that? That is something I would really like to have sometimes. But sometimes I just play it by hand.

The world has become more closely intertwined through all the new media. But has it really made people understand how to be more human? Or to be more understanding? More altruistic? Less egocentric? No. I don’t think so.

I believe we have reached the point where technology has overruled sense. And that, my dear reader, is not such a good thing in itself. Man’s capacity to understand the technology of his age proves vital in terms of making proper use of it. That is something the big financial crisis and also the big revolutions of the past 15 years go to show.

There is still the acute sense that people basically think that they need to have one certain territory. Unless you claim it, someone else damn well will do it. The immensely pronounced greed of criminal bankers had more than just a couple companies, banks, and let’s say it states go bankrupt. And we all we are able to say is… That is just a momentary cutback…. With all due respect, this is just a lot of bullshit. I mean who are we kidding? Things will pick up again. Come to think of it! How can things pick up again when there’s a) basically no middle class anymore, b) further education basically buys you a ticket to long-term slavery, exploitation serving in McJobs, or become one in a million, becoming another nameless face in the legions of unemployed people. c) there is no real hope. There simply is none.

No. Things won’t pick up. They don’t. At least, I don’t buy it.

Undo my argument. Prove me wrong. I would love to hear it and believe it.

But chances are there are some twenty years of hitting rock bottom in front of us.

I am stressed. Not just because of this.

The difference between eu-stress and di-stress is that with the first you push your hormonal levels in order to override your body’s signal that you’re in red-alert area, while in di-stress you probably won’t notice, until basically it will be too late. Either your body says Fuck you, or your mind says Fuck you. I am out of here.

I hope this is nothing that will happen with none of my readers nor me. Thanks for all the nice comments and likes you have given me so far. Please keep them coming in, I am very happy to receive your comments. I would really be interested in how you respond to that topic.

If you feel the same.

If your opinion is a totally opposed one.

Let me know.

And now…

Breathe. 🙂 Have a nice day. 😉

PPS: This is something I found funny, I created a little soundtrack to my blog entry. Yeah, I’m EMO, you get a wild mix. 😉

Garbage – Only happy when it rains

Frida Gold – Unsere Liebe ist aus Gold (remix, official video)

Heaven 17 – Trouble

Die Ärzte – wie es geht

This is going to be a tough one.

I wanted to be blogging a couple of days ago while passing my days on the couch, getting better from the flu which I got immediately after coming back from my Scotland trip. But it did not happen like that. It is a universally accepted truth and acknowledged fact that life is difficult at times. I was stressing. I had all reasons to do so. Now, I am trying to make ends meet, trying to get things back on track. So, in order to keep my promises incurred by previous statements, this blog post will be different inasmuch I will have to subdivide it into four blog parts. It does not work for me otherwise and I need to get stuff done so basically, that’s why the title is a bit confusing. Since time is moving forward this would be a good idea to get a clear desk.

These topics are all different ones but that’s simply a makeshift solution.

slavery

1. Freedom and slavery – I know it is a big title. Triggered through some talks with friends and acquaintances I recently had, I wanted to shortly discuss this topic. Of course, the two items in questions are diametrically opposite and the existence of the one would be impossible without the other. So what is there that could be interesting enough as to put it into a blog thread?

It is a very known dichotomy that often gets in the way. Freedom is something we all aspire whereas slavery is something we mean to free ourselves from. Have we achieved this goal so far?

I don’t want to sound dogmatic but I think that nowadays people have made themselves slaves to so many things, concepts, fellowmen, without even noticing that it is precisely that what is happening, this subconscious thing that we (the species man) are undermined in our natural way of being a free spirit and therefore, we lose touch with our essential necessities. The subjugation of spirit and the abandonment of freedom narcotizes us and it soothes our desire for experience in many weird ways, that brings us far away from who we are …What is it that we gain from falling prey to these surrogate gods, come on, what is it exactly? What is it that we gain by being slave to wage, slave to love, slave to success, slave to image, slave to food, slave to drugs, slave to whatever it is that we subjugate our lives to…

I know this is kind of provocative and I can almost hear people say “no, way, I am super free”, and “what a lot of bollocks”… I decide what I do and not the company that has the biggest marketing budget or the brand that my neighbour buys and I feel envious because of it. Let me tell you this. It is all very human and it basically happens to everyone. I won’t except myself from being a slave from time to time, but what I do about this, is that I try to become aware into which traps I am falling and thus trying to avoid these traps for the future.

Let me give you a brief overview:

robinson-crusoe

This may sound like I am some kind of female Robinson Crusoe but I am really not. It just strikes me that in spite of having achieved so much technological pioneering as a species, most people today are not really free in what they achieve in their lifetime, feel extremely pressurized time wise and therefore unhappy and stressed. And why is that? Because we (as a species) are very prone to be sidetracked. That is the bottom line. It is true. And here we can easily see that we, Homo sapiens sapiens, are not so far away from the Australopithecus.

Wanna hear an example?

Let’s start with the slavery/freedom pitfall of KEEPING UP. I have two children, aged 11 and almost (a week) 8 now, both girls. I constantly hear them mention tech things their classmates have, the modern amenities let’s call it: Nintendo DS, mobile phones, tablets, laptops and what not. Of course, every parent knows exactly what I am talking about. I get sick and tired of this. Call me old-fashioned if you like, but I think it is such a contagious and stupid thing to “keep up with the Jones” and so not needed, neither by me as a mother, nor by my kids. No-one is actually considering of whether kids are old enough to use, and to treasure these things, to maintain them properly and whether, let’s draw a line in the sand here, whether they in fact NEED all these tech-age gadgets.

I know, some of my readers will now smile because they know that I tend to be one of the first ones to KNOW about technological advance and will be the first one to READ UP ON STUFF like that, but the difference is. I am old enough to differentiate between a leap in technology and decide whether it is worth my while or just skip it. Kids often don’t have the means to differentiate between an important and not so important thing. That’s why we, the parents, need to be very good in our understanding and be wise. What do my children learn when I tell them, “No, honey, I won’t buy you a Nintendo DS. First of all, it is money we don’t have. But secondly, and this argument really cuts the cheese here, you don’t need it. It is techno trash. (which it is) Get out. Take the dog and have a walk out there in nature.” Ok. This probably will work another four years if I am lucky, maybe five, but some day in the not so far away future my kids will ask me to give them the money to buy this and that. What am I supposed to do?

I guess it is a good thing that parents don’t get 12 or 13 year-olds straight away, but that we start out with the beginner’s model, the baby. Only shits its pants, cries, feeds and sleeps, sometimes burps and vomits. After the first four weeks, a smile is the reward for having completed the first level safely. But that’s basically it. Right. Let’s not get sidetracked here. Back to topic.

My main point is that we need to start early with educating the right kind of choices in our children. We are the ones who they look up to, we are the ones who hopefully make them aware that they in fact will see with their very own class-mates that the Nintendo DS or whatever fad it might be is a thing for eight weeks or maybe twelve and afterwards, the novelty wears off, it will be another gadget sitting there, polluting the planet with no significant help in terms of education or well-being.

Another slavery pitfall? What about being permanent available in BEING ONLINE 24/7? I used to be in favor of this. I admit it. I thought I would miss so much if I hadn’t been online one day. I thought that internet and all the social networks I had, the newsletters, the new mail I minute by minute I received was really important. But slowly but surely, I noticed that this was not such a good, not such a healthy way, it just was not right for me because it basically used to eat up so many hours of my working day that I felt the need to find a better way of handling computer time. I needed to do computer time, but also decided that I would limit my online time, control this behaviour until it fitted in with my working, personal and also social life. I was rewarded. My life now feels more real. More like myself anyway. I won’t ban the social networks, I just want to avoid falling into the pitfall of being online each and every minute of my day. Let’s face it.

Social networks are the reality of present day, we need to accept it, whether we like it or not. It would be stupid to ignore it and there is still room for improvement, room and imaginative ways that we can form this amorphous mass. Learn to use it as a tool. Like a chimpanzee will use a wooden branch to get his bananas off the tree. Yes. That is what it is.

We come to the next topic where slavery/freedom can occur: SHOPPING/HAVING INSTEAD OF BEING

What about the constant need for new cars, new tv sets, the newest fad gadget that will clutter so many households all over the planet until one day we will even find this gadget watered down even in a favela of Rio de Janeiro… See what I mean? How can it be that today it is all so immensely concerned with owning things, it is also about the consumption of the right products, the right food, the right clothes, and not about key traits like beauty, truth, knowledge and wisdom anymore?

Ok, don’t get wrong. I am not some sort of TV preacher, I don’t sing gospels, I am not even religious although I try to believe in God (I am agnostic basically, but I would wish there was a god), and I have done a fair share of stupidities in my time, but it strikes me (especially now after having come back from a trip that lasted almost one whole month) that everyone is mostly around with one or two shopping bags, and neither one really goes to the city anymore to see friends, to meet up, to share a laugh, to see a theatre play, play some sports or do something just for fun’s sake, but mostly people go out to buy stuff these days. Or they are out on business. What a strange and sad life that our so-called reality imposes on us. The main motivation seems to be “keeping up with the Joneses”. And that is so sad. Sant Miquel (the tiny village where I live) is in a pretty rural area. But even so, kids start using nintendo DS, they run around with a tablet pc and I keep asking myself why on earth these kids would do with these gadgets. I am not starting on the merchandising that follows every tv series like Hannah Montana, Angry Birds or whatever. Maybe, my thinking is a wee bit too orthodox here, but I read a couple of years ago this book “Affluenza – the All-Consuming Epidemic” by John de Graaf and I must say, there is so much in this book that comes to haunt me when I open my eyes. I used to be one of them. The people who are deeply unhappy. Who have a job, a good and proper income, but when it came to feeling my life, I know I had to change. So I did. I threw all precautions overboard and started out the adventure Ibiza. Well, it was not an adventure as such, we knew the island fairly well but basically that was an objective we had for 13 years and see the way so many people are oriented to consume, to buy stuff they don’t need, to impress people they don’t even like… Come to think of it.

To me, I found that my life became less painful and less of a drag when I rearranged my priorities and became more aware of what it is I am effectively doing:

Consume less – less air condition, less aerosols, less food you will throw away anyway, less petrol. Avoid to always cool down a room full throttle, rather try to create a draft. Summer is summer. Why use an aerosol, try to get the product with a pump spray instead. Think what you need, eat it, consume it but not excessively so you need to throw away only a minimum. Don’t make too many unnecessary trips with the car. Walk instead. It is helpful in so many ways, it helps reduce stress, it brings you back in touch with nature and it helps your health in general because it is a free cardio.

Help reduce garbage – don’t have everything double packaged, wrapped and re-use stuff. I am quite sensitive with this issue cause I used to work for a company in recycling and I think people should think so much more about the necessity of packaging and use things that have less and re-usable packaging. We only have one world, one planet. Let’s try to keep it in habitable shape for our kids and grandchildren and generations to come.

garbage

Downshift your working hours – I have been trying to that lately. I have been glued to the screen so many months in the past 12 months that I seriously felt the need to really take a break. I have bought the book the “4-Hour Work Week” by Timothy Ferriss and I haven’t got round to read it but I am so interested in the argument that goes with it. I will keep you posted on this one.

ferriss

Spend at least time each and every day and say something nice to a friend, partner or a child / children. – this is a karma option. Do what you want others to do to you. I wish I would remember that one every day. I am absorbed so many times that I really need to work on that one.

All in all, I would like to finish this mini article (hahaha, this much for avoiding clutter) with the idea that freedom and slavery is a pair. One of them is yin and the other is yang. Try to integrate both of them to get the best results. We are all slaves in one way or the other. Sometimes, we are free but we chose the way of making us unfree, because we e.g, fall for the wrong type of friend, get contracted by a company that might exploit us, or we submit ourselves to a treatment that we don’t really need. One thing I learnt in the past is that the best remedy for a growing sense of slavery is to step back and take a look at the greater picture. If you see that something is kind of lopsided, imbalanced, then get rid of it. I am not even speaking of good or bad here, I am merely speaking of balance. When something is making you feel uneasy, then it is sure as hell time for a change. Whether it is material or immaterial.

For some people, this might be a really difficult exercise. But you decide to whom and to what you bind yourself, each and every day. The most important thing is to evaluate options safely and make the right decisions, based on facts and on feeling

womens day

2. women’s day – Each and every year, this day reminds me that we ought to have overcome women’s day. My main message here is I really think that this day stinks. It really should not be there at all. But if truth be told: man is perfect in celebrating the oppressed gender. And yes, I believe that women are still oppressed in many ways.

What bugged me a little though was that my loving and wonderful husband actually told me that these days it should be the other way around and that women had the long end of the stick. I don’t quite agree here. But that’s stuff for another blog post I guess. 😉

scotland

3. Scotland – wonderful country. We started out our journey in Edinburgh. We were a little outside in Linlithgow and were in a sweet little cottage. Weather was ok, it snowed a little and my little daughter was amazed to see snow for the very first time in her life, she is almost 8 now! The amount of snow was quite scarce, yet they still tried to build a snowman, but that seems so implanted genetically. So which sites did we visit? We went to see Edinburgh castle, we also went to see the Writer’s Museum, National Gallery of Edinburgh and a couple of smaller museums. I must say that I very much liked the Writer’s Museum and also the National Gallery. Edinburgh Castle of course is a must and we were even lucky enough to be there on the day that was dedicated to Elisabeth II. (I cannot remember what was the occasion) but they had a super long parade, plus salute with many cannon-shot during the usual 12:00h hour. That day, we were really frozen to the marrow as it was extremely chilly and very windy. It felt like well below zero degrees. So used to Ibiza sun, that was quite some different climate to experience.

Writer’s museum is dedicated to Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. It is quite small but very lively and shows many interesting exhibits.

Edinburgh National Museum of Scotland  is also very recommended, especially for families with kids. There are so many things that kids can do in this museum, it is a bit like the Deutsches Museum in Munich for anyone who knows this museum. It has historic traits but also is very much linked to the present day. It is an absolute treat and there is no way to get bored in this museum.

The National Gallery is also wonderful and shows the most beautiful pieces of art. An absolute must-see.

The other museums are nice like the People’s museum or the museum of childhood but they are maybe not as important if you are there with a limited schedule.

Check this site here for more information on Edinburgh museums: http://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/

After one week in and around Edinburgh, we travelled up north to Inverness. Here we were again a bit outside and on a farmhouse cottage. For the kids, this was fantastic cause they could see highland cattle grazing right at our doorstep, the thickly clad Scottish sheep, and other farm animals. Inverness was not as exciting, but it was still a very nice town to visit. Also here, we tried to make as much as we could of our time.

Stirling Castle, Urquhart Castle, Elgin Cathedral and Fort William were also visited by us.

If you are a family and plan to visit Scotland, try to get the Explorer Pass issued by Historic Scotland. You can get it for different either 3, 5 or 7 days depending on the length of your stay. You will receive many benefits and it is very much worth your while. Also visit at least one distillery. We did so at Glen Moray and had a wonderful time there. The guide was very competent and friendly.

The only downside of visiting Scotland in winter was of course the weather. It was pretty cold, but we were in fact quite lucky in terms of rain and snow.

The last week, we spent on the isle of Skye, after visiting Eilean Donan Castle (the castle featured in the “Highlander” movie). The weather on Skye was sensational. It actually reminded me a bit of Ibiza as the skies were wiped clean and the sun came out, and it felt like spring in fact. Even though it was cold, the air was beautiful and it was super sunny. Skye is surely one of the best kept secrets about Scotland. Portree is the biggest town on the island. We visited it twice as there is not so much to see in the winter. There is a big port, a couple of tourist shops and some restaurants and fish and chips shops.

The wonderful walks we did while on Skye are the thing I will cherish for a very long time after coming back. We really packed backpacks and took a flask of tea, some chocolate for strength and went up to the Old Man of Storr, the Kilt Rock and its waterfall (an absolute amazing view!!!)

kilt_rock_skye_scotland_0845

and the summit walk of Quiraing. There is still so much more we would have done but our Scotland journey basically ended here and, after driving from Skye again back to Edinburgh by car and taking the train to London, which was very beautiful because you have a nice impression of where you are going and the landscapes are also really breathtaking.

In London, we had another three days before boarding our flight back to Ibiza. All in all, we had 25 days on the road. This is apart from the Australia trip we did back in 1998 the longest journey that we as a couple / a family took.

Obviously, this being a holiday of one of a kind, I am very happy that we all came back safe and sane. It  always is a good sign when at the end of a holiday you start to wish for your own bed and for your usual surroundings. I really had the feeling that we had a very special time in Scotland and in London.

london

London has always been one of my favorite cities but I must admit I had not seen it in quite a while and so it felt a bit like “la-la-land” it just did not seem real enough. It is a bit like falling into Disney world commercial. Too many tv screens all around. There are things where you ask yourself, what for??? Like the Starbucks coffee shops at every damn corner, there are tv screens on every garbage bin in Westminster which I found pretty monstrous. Who on earth needs that? It is so silly.

Well, but on the upside, we managed to visit the Tower of London which to us historians is quite a milestone. I had been visiting the Tower in the early nineties already while in Dublin. The Tower I saw in 2013 had nothing to do with the Tower I saw in 1992. The way in which it is presented is totally amazing and really quite pedagogical. Absolute thumbs up, even though also here, the prices are pretty hefty. For a family ticket, you fork out 55 British pounds. Plus the little guide-book and that is 60 quid without the eating and the drinking which you will need since the Tower is a thing where you can virtually spend a whole day or the best part of a day. But it is definitely worth it.

London is still the most expensive city I know. It is too damn expensive.

Summarizing, this journey has been amazing and wonderful plus I think and I hope that my children will remember all the beautiful things for ever and ever.

PS: Why didn’t I post in between? Because I simply was not online. First of all, it was unintentional as wi-fi was so hard to come by and my provider is quite costly to roam in UK, so after fraying a couple of days, I decided against it. I wanted to focus on the journey and not on the fact that internet is basically everywhere nowadays. On one day, I think the 6th of February, I was shortly online, but other than that, I really and truly disconnected the whole month of February. I came down and learnt to unwind. I don’t need to be online each and every day anymore. Some days I feel more like going online than others. I know that the internet today is a necessity but again here, the question of finding the right kind of dosage, is crucial and also a question of awareness.

PPS: I won’t promise to upload pictures. If I get around to do it, I will do it. If not, don’t be sad. Scotland is worth the trouble, even in winter. And London, even though it is getting closer to become a local branch of Disneyworld is a unique capital with many facets and a very bubbly character.

T.S. Eliot (as you might have noticed) is one of my favorite poets. 😉

This is one of my favorite quotations of his

Birth, and copulation, and death.
That’s all the facts when you come to brass tacks:
Birth, and copulation, and death.

Sorry, here is a bit of history on my behalf. I won’t explain what this is all about but this whole day has been so absolutely cool. This is beyond words. A moment of bliss, true and unblemished bliss. I am in awe of what is happening right now. Once the ink will be dry I will also share it here. But for the time being, please pray for me. I could use it.

The mention of bliss is always something that usually makes me twitch since I tend to be soooo ultra cool and postmodern that I sometimes forget what this is. A feeling of untainted, of unblemished joy. Just being. And being with oneself and in oneself for a fraction of a moment.

What is bliss? A bit like an orgasm since it appears to be very volatile and short-lived. Actually, the comparison is not that far-fetched at all. When you think about all the neurotransmitters that flood the system in the moment of an orgasm it is hardly to be doubted that those same transmitters would be there when you have a moment of bliss. You can call it natural high. However, drugs are drugs. Your body will not know the difference.

The mention of death also signifies that all human life is transitory, it is a physical state that will be stopped as if by magic. The heart stops. The lung can no longer bring enough oxigene into the lungs, the kidneys no longer will wash your blood clean. Your body wears out. It is time to go.

This blog is about the transitoriness of … well of life, but of anything really. You can make a constructivist notion by saying that all pain, all suffering, all illness will cease one day, since it is transitory. That is quite metaphysical. But with the same breath of air, you could easily add that all love, all happiness, all true beauty will decay one day and hence, here you can derive a deconstructivist moment born with the same idea.

Ok, where am I heading? I am dazzled by the possibilities.

The point for me is that as much as you strive to achieve something that you deem to be worth safeguarding, something fit for other people to keep it in mind, you should not squander the best moments of your life, waiting for some dude / dudess to come around and pat you on the shoulder saying “well done” to you. Cos it might never happen. And then again, it might. But that’s not the point.

Why are we always so dependent on being loved by others?

Well, go and ask Giacomo Rizzollatti (he is the guy who found out about the socalled mirror neurons http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mirror_neuron) and ask him how else we should start to interact as babies who can basically only cry, feed, sleep and … cry, feed, sleep… ad lib.

In order for a baby to actually make this huge step in its mental and also personality development by trying to interact with its parents by language, the mirror neurons are essential. We smile at them. They miraclously smile back at us. And that, my friends, is an evolutionary trick. A very clever one. Some species actually devour their little ones and by smiling back at us this innocent teethless smile, babies make sure that we don’t see any harm in them and procure to be clad, fed and also taught. Well. Of course, we as mothers and fathers love our small kiddos like nothing else on this world, but evolution just wanted to make sure. 😉

As we grow older we tend to forget that basically we learn through imitation just as much as our primate cousins do.

So what is wrong with that? I mean imitation?

I guess nothing is wrong, as long as you don’t claim this was your very one idea and all that. Plagiarism is being frowned upon. Copying is good as it is clear that this is exactly what it is.

When did we start to want to be loved at all? When did it take off?

I guess that is something, we started off right away. Some of us, have this urge more than others, or they express it differently, but it is something innate in the concept of mankind. Men always go out into the world to be loved. That’s it. As simple as that.

When you look around nowadays, be it at your working life, your school, your health club, your doctor’s or wherever, do you find that people look happy or rather not. This is something I have been looking into a while ago. We have never been this well protected, this well fed, this well prepared for the world we live in, and yet, there is like 80% around us (pareto principle) who make a face like sour apples. Why is that?

Maybe, it is me who is the odd one out. Sometimes, I have to contain myself not to break out into laughter so often because it might look as if I had yet to reach adulthood which seems to be paired with adopting quite a solemn face and appearing to be really serious and sombre.

When they did that class, I obviously was playing truant. I don’t know why people today are so ungrateful. They should be happy for what they have, they should not always look at what other people might have (especially more than you) and feel less of a man because they might be under the average or whatever.

And yet, that is what we are. You and me. Everyone. We all are ungrateful.

Here is Oxford definition of being ungrateful

Definition of ungrateful

adjective

  • not feeling or showing gratitude: she’s so ungrateful for everything we do

 

So, that was quite a leap. Did you notice? I jumped right there from wanting to be loved to the ungratefulness of man himself.  Actually, I do believe there is a connection. A very strong one for that matter. When man had to fight each and every day for supremacy and make sure that sabre tooth tiger did not get him this time, people were very much focussed on essential items, such as getting food, choosing the right kind of women, one that was strong enough to lkeep on working while pregnant, and also after she would have had their children. Picking the right kind of cave so wild animals would not sneak inside. You know, those were the real problems.

When I look at today’s world, I sometimes wonder. And I think what a shame that we are all bitching and moaning about so petty things while there are still people who have it hard. So, then again, I believe the ungratefulness is something very human too. Isn’t it? I would say it is.

When we go back to the top of this article there we still have this nice T.S. Eliot quote, what is the core?

Birth, and copulation, and death.
That’s all the facts when you come to brass tacks:
Birth, and copulation, and death.

I always loved this quote. You might say this stems from being the daughter of a gynaecologist, but I go one step beyond and say, no… This is because Eliot is right. Birth, copulation and death are the three big events in life, where man does not dissimulate, where he cannot act or where he cannot make a complete hash of it.

Birth – the entrance

Copulation – the coupling / the interplay between man and woman

Death – the exit

In between, there seems to be nothing. Is our life really that empty? No, it isn’t. But by stressing these facts out of life as if they were the very cornerstones, we can feel Eliot’s deep rooted fears to really grip life by the short ones and drink it empty, the golden chalice of life.

 

We can only assume that copulation was a very guilt-ridden thing for him. Another blog entry might be Eliot, the sex and the ladies. Eliot, insanity and the battle of sexes. We’ll see.

(To be continued)

Good night! Sweet dreams! 😉

You have classics such as Carlos Castaneda “The teachings of Don Juan”, you have William S. Borroughs “Naked Lunch” and then there are Kathy Acker “Blood and guts in highschool” and tons of people who tried to jump the bandwagon. In the 90’s we have Irvine Welsh who is not just the “Trainspotting” but also the author of “Acid House”… But probably one of the more unknown ones, there is an 80’s novel by the back then still unknown American author Bret Easton Ellis. He wrote this novel at age 21 and it’s called “Less than zero”. Later on, it was made a movie with Robert Downey Jr. who himself quite often struggled with being on and off drugs.
I want to talk about this book since it was an eye opener for me. In many ways.

Back then when it came out, I was still at school when it came out. But as soon as I lived in Ireland I would make sure to read it.
I actually first read the book and then saw the film.
The whole book is a good sized package. It includes so many good streaks about modern western society that you cannot even say it is purely a drugs book because it would not be true.

Ellis lets us into the heart of American culture. Their obsessions, the silence within families that asphyxiating silence, and the pure hedonism of a youth centered culture.

It is still an easy read and a fast paced novel. At the end of the day, you see a group of friends shaken and faced with being part of a system that is pretty glamorous on the outside but sometimes proves to be a pitfall, and allows for more and more people to stumble, fall and not get back up again.

The part of Julian who is the heroic anti hero, the guy whose life falls spectacularly apart is so heavy that sometimes you keep asking yourself how Downey Jr was able to carry this off with such lightness and with such ease and charme.

Anyone who is wondering about the term spoilt brat, brat generation or generation x should read up on Ellis. He wrote for the generation x. For some Ellis is THE generation x author. The generation x covers the between 1965 -1975 born ones. It is a narrow generation but neither before nor after did we find ourselves inmidst a maelstrom of cultural decadence, affluence, and the feeling that everything would be possible some day not too far away, and these kids lived by it and through it. Let’s face it… My generation, we were growing up in absolute affluence, and the sometimes insane feeling that anything was possible. As long as you had the money to buy it, hire it or do it.

In gold digger terms: Boomtown years. The years of 1985 until 1999 more or less. I would make the cut here. You could argue and include 2000 but there was already the sign of an decreasing economy so I would just go as far and include 1999. In any case, 9-11 was the already a totally different era.

I will expand on the historic dimension and also on the impact of politics, terrorism and education another time since it would somehow make this article expand too much, but the crucial point is this: we – our generation – took the drugs because… Just because.  We simply could. It was a juvenile try out. It was somehow recreational. Like people do wellness or yoga. Speed, acid and pot were the yoga and bling bling of the mid-late 80’s and throughout the 90’s.  The money was there. Jobs were plenty. People were well off. Cold war had ended. There was no imminent war with anyone except for the gulf war. Everyone was relatively rich in the 80’s and beginning 90’s. So… The brat generation was born. Douglas Coupland called us generation x. But I find brat generation much more apt cos ours was the first ever generation after ww2 that was totally free in terms of freedom of speech, had received good education, was not forced to make do, but was rather encouraged to spend more time studying, and this would pay off, and still even students had plenty of money and other amenities through their parents, through society and the way the world was in. The basic word that comes to mind would be squander.

The funny thing is… 2000 was already the end of the dot com area and the high fly dreams of many many people.

So, just in case you should also belong to the generation x or brat pack, go out and read “Less than zero” and you will understand many things, looking into the rear mirror so to speak.

Plus it is a fast book that gets you hooked from the first moment. One thing I very much liked about Ellis and his style was that his stories sound like reality. These people are pretty much all out there. The situations too.

Julian is a true anti-hero, a lost boy, a kind and very weak character. Even though someone should protect him, he finds himself on a trip, caught in a downward spiral and we become voyeuristic witnesses of what he has to go through. The end is something very un-american and that is why I like so much about this book.

This is one of these books that you read, then put it aside, pick it up again and re-read it.
It is a very good novel about friendship, decadence, power and power abuse, drugs and the  principle “the show must go on”.

If you are afraid of reading a “drug book”, take it easy. “Less than Zero” is a read that shows and combines drugs, social decline and misery, but it is not as outspoken as others books earlier mentioned.

Should “Less Than Zero” be too lame and too boring, too harmless for you, try “Naked Lunch” instead.
Having said that, I do not find it lame or boring in any way, it is subtle. I really prefer “Less Than Zero” to “Naked Lunch”.

In case, you are interested in the urban novel, try and read Jay McInerney. “Bright Lights, Big City”. Here we have a sweet case of love, heartbreak and obsession. The coke he is snorting, the affect that the drugs have on him and the constant partying is a sideline but it is like it is an antagonist of the story-teller. Another generation x novel.

I can just see myself from an angle, others might have seen me from. When the words popped out of my mouth. I had been trying to keep things quiet over this one since I knew this would end in endless questions…

“I am going to live in Ibiza from December onwards.”

It is so funny, it feels even now as if it had happened yesterday. First, the opening: These stares of disbelief. These questioning gazes. Like I had really completely lost it. Then, the main course: the inquisition. I felt like I was either a woman accused of witchcraft and to be burnt at a stake or a heretic. As for dessert, there would still be the worst, those ones who pat you on the back, congratulated you on your decision and then were bitching behind your back. This is so remote in a way, and yet still so near in another.

It is weird. To the day, these are exactly five years I have been living now in Spain, or more specifically, in Ibiza.

When I decided to go all the way, the scenario was really tough. So many questions, so many doubts. It made me doubt too, that much I have to tell you. I was not all too sure I would be a winner. All of a sudden, people thought that at 36 I needed some mollycoddling, or worse: a nanny, someone to watch over me so I would not be a fool in bringing up two innocent children. Obviously, I was not to be trusted. It was ridiculous. My kids were 2 and half and five and a half when I left our home in Cologne. I went away in a dark and cold December night. It was all well planned. I thought I would start to cry cos surely I would miss my husband, but somehow, I knew that this was the beginning of something good. Something that required my highest level of concentration. I was so poised. So keen to experience something else beside bringing the kids to kindergarten and being at a dull office job from 9 to 5, only to be kicked out since I was just not used to some hen fights in the subterranean office hierarchy. I felt such a failure. It was not right. I had had a real career before and now I was being kicked out like I was no good. I wanted to prove myself. I wanted to conquer the world once more. Luckily, Berno knew how much it meant to me that I did not have anything to keep my mind busy. I could not sit around day in day out. I truly felt such an emptiness inside. I had given up writing years before. I seemed to exist as a mother, a bad example of a mother. One that does not rejoice in simply bringing up the kids. One that needed a career. God, I felt so empty inside. A void that nothing, but really nothing could fill. Nothing except for a huge challenge. Time for change. Change of habits, change of lifestyle, change of surroundings. But do you tend to say these things to your friends? no, I guess you don’t.

And in fact, I did not either. I felt out of sorts, out of place. I felt cheated. Someone had pushed me off the big ferris wheel they call job market. I went on about the bad situation for mothers who want to return to a job, the slim market chances of a mother of two in Germany to find a qualified job.

If I am being perfectly honest and true to myself the situation is this: I could have done the same thing that I do now in Spain, much easier in Germany, but honestly: I did not want to stay in Germany. I had grown bored somehow. Boredom is the worst disease of all, You start taking things for granted. So, in the end, I threw all things out the window, and I called it a day. I did not have the guts to go through with it in the old country. I was fed up. Maybe, I needed the kick, the extra challenge. The adrenaline rush. Maybe. But there was also this strong yearning for Ibiza. There was this island, like an energy source that had some incredible magnetism for us.

Berno, my husband, was staying put in Germany cos someone needed to keep working, keep the money coming in, while I would be testing the water and also be trying to find a job which I did, after only two months and being a “single mother” for all the Spaniards knew at first sight. See if living there would prove to be the right decision.

What can I say. It did. It was the right decision.

Despite all the initial problems we encountered, we somehow did it. We are still here. And we don’t want to go away. Despite the bleeding crisis.

I feel that for us as a family but also for us as individuals, Ibiza has given us plenty of good things. So many good things that happened to us. I see this whole journey as a means to finally do the things we wanted to do while not feeling observed all the time.

People thought so many things about all of this. It was kind of amusing. But then again. If people have nothing to bitch about, that’s what makes them angry. So, once I’d find out what they needed, I’d give them just enough to keep their mouths busy, and just enough to keep the wolves at bay.

“How could you do that?”

Ah, how many times have I heard this utterance? Like it was my fault or something.

“But what about your children? What about your home, your flat? But what about your marriage?” These questions were not simple questions. They were dum dum bullets.

Guys, you don’t really listen when I say things, no? I did not say I was leaving my husband, I did not say we split up. I simply said that I am going away for a while and see if it’s a viable option to go and live in Ibiza. And so, of course, I took the kids, since Berno would stay in Germany. How else could we have done it? We did not have any savings so it was the only way to do it.

And yet… Funnily enough, this here happened:

“Ibiza? You mean this party island where all the youngsters go to make a night of it with all the parties and drugs, the free love and the hippies?”

“Ibiza, yes. Well. The drugs and parties is only half of what is true. But yes, Ibiza.”

People would then tend to take a good look at me then. Some of them would even look at my kids like they were sorry for them cos they had such a lunatic mother. Many people were looking at me like I had completely lost my mind. And some of them even spoke out what some of them must have been thinking.

“So, Berno stays here?”

“Yup. Stays here. For the first time. And then, we will see how things go. And we will take things easy. Work it out step by step.”

I really hated those inquisitive looks. These insinuating seemingly harmless questions… They were the worst to my mind.

But fast forward to now… What has happened in between?

Was it worth it?

I would say: Heck yes!!!

I am still here. Actually, I seem to free myself finally of so much mental baggage it is just incredible. Berno is learning Spanish, he is holding down a job. I a, learning Catalan, and I am kind of doing three different jobs and projects whenever possible and so we keep our heads above the water somehow. Of course, in Germany we had much more money. But we were not happy with the life we were living. Yeah, maybe that’s true. The fat years are over, but that’s not just for us, it is basically for everyone. But that’s ok by me. Honest to God, I sometimes wish, we would have more money for travel and that, but other than that… I could not be happier if I tried. We have everything we could want for.

We live in Ibiza.

We are happy, we are sane and we are healthy.

Our marriage is still not down the drain despite the fact that so many people believed this when they saw me driving away in a car with two young kids. Of course, Berno seemed to be the poor husband left behind. Well… If people want to believe shit, they just do that, no matter what. So I don’t care too long about what these people say. I learned that the hard way. Sometimes, it is better not to know about these rumours.

To be honest. Ibiza was probably the best decision I could have come up with in terms of mental freedom, and personal development. Here in Ibiza, I could just do what I always wanted and be what I wanted to be. I kind of made a quantum leap. Ibiza gave me the protective shield and the energy to do that. Everyone here is so flipped out, so creative, the truth is that in Ibiza, anything goes. If you are “normal”, you are boring, so that is Ibiza’s secret how to get you going. It is a haven for people from all walks of life, so many different nationalities, so many artists and also craftsmen.

Ibiza really inspired me to become “me”. I know this sounds weird. But that’s the way it happened. And this is just the beginning of a process. I can feel that I am developing right now. As a person. As an artist. As a writer. For in the past I used to be someone who would be my own worst critic. I was always holding myself back. Always thinking: no, cannot do it. You are not good enough. Always putting my foot on the brake instead of the accelerator. Instead of trial and error, I was hiding beneath the kitchen table. I was so afraid I could fail.

Now, it seems I found the accelerator. And that is not bad at all. I seem to have matured. At last. At long last. Bloody hell. 41 is a quite an age to see yourself become slowlu but surely an adult, to be coming of age. But it is true. That is exactly what these 5 years were good for.

What else is there to tell?

5 years have seen stumble into a deep deep recession. The world is no longer the same after the downfall of Lehman Brothers Bank and the banking crisis in October 2008. Ever since then, they have been trying to get back on track. But it becomes worse and worse. The terrible thing is that the people in Spain don’t have any faith in the future now. The only thing that keeps them going is the independence of Catalunya which is something I could see on the horizon.

—–

The little girl lost finally woke up and rubbed her eyes to see the world in its whole beauty and also with its neverending cascades of possibilities. And I decided. I no longer procrastinate.

Ok, I gotta explain this. Procrastinate. That was a term we used a lot at uni when we were discussing Hamlet and the way he tarries. He is consuming time. He is biding his time. When he stops procrastinating, the drama is put into action. The real action begins here.

So, back to the topic. Ibiza and 5 years of my life. What does it feel like?

It is a good feel. I guess I belong here. I can relate to the people here on the island. Some of them are so incredible and so friendly it is hard to believe. You need to wait a while until they learn to trust you, but once they trust you, that is a moment like an epiphany. It is like belonging to their big clan. It really feels like home. Island people always seem to be like that. Caring and somehow a bit like the godfather thrown in. 😉

Anyway, we are happy here. And our kids could not be happier for all we know.

Even if we are no longer rich and well off… If we just scrape by. I kind of enjoy it.

Before, I admittedly, panicked here and there. And then I kind of started to think. What is the worst that could possibly happen? You run out of money, and you go back. That’s all. Maybe with the tail between your legs, but hey, at least you tried.

And guess what, that kind of triggered an enormous will to survive and to make us somewhat more resilient, so we do not ever take things for granted anymore. And that is something we should have learnt a bit earlier in our lives.

But maybe, we were all just spoiled brats back then. When I look upon my old life, I seriously, I really don’t want it back. And I don’t even want to have the carelessness with money. I hate that today. So many people are out of a job and they are struggling just like us. But hey, somehow, you always make it till the end of the month.

—-

I think I might be baking a cake with the kids. One that has a big fat 5 on it. And they will know why.

PS: One thing I feel kind of bad about is that we – even though we are all Europeans – cannot vote in this country not even on a communal basis. The only thing we are allowed to vote is within Sant Joan (one of the five districts of the tiny isle of Ibiza… I personally find this insulting and humiliating). I would love to be able to do just that. To vote. I always voted.
Right now, it is a hell of an important time. It is a historic moment. Catalunya could really break away from Spain. What would happen with the Balearic Isles then? I wonder. But that is a question I will answer in some other blogpost.

There is a distance that seems endless, limitless and somehow almost unfathomable when we think back to our predecessors. And yet, we still have so much within us that goes back right to the times when we were barely clad with some animal skins and went out collecting berries, herbs and fruit while the strongest and most valiant of our tribe would go out hunting to put meat on the table. When I think about what is going on in our society I come to the conclusion that we are not that far away at all. Not only are our clothing customs somewhat strange when one thinks about it long enough, not only are the women still suffering from hitting the socalled glass ceiling that keeps them from rising fast enough and high enough according to their mental and social qualities. Not only are the most valiant ones in our tribes somewhat degenerated. They no longer go out hunting. They no longer come back with something which is good for everyone in the tribe. And what’s more: They no longer are the most valiant ones, the most clever ones we have.

To be honest with you… In one weird fleeting moment I really thought about what would happen if Rajoy, Sarkozy and Merkel and all the other statesmen were subjected to the piercing eyes of a neanderthal tribe… What would happen then? We can only guess. Sounds like the beginning of another far-out science fiction story? Maybe. But… Come to think of it. The Neanderthals were not foolish. They did not have the intellectual capacities. But they had another thing instead, and that was the will and the power to survive. They knew if they would stick together they would be able to feed each and everyone who was strong enough to make it. There was a selection, maybe a cruel one. But at the end of the day they would make sure that only the ones that understood better, worked harder, and fought better, hit harder and had stronger teeth or wider shoulders would make it. Don’t get me wrong I am not an advocate for a social Darwinism here, not at all.

All I am saying is that back in those days, they still had the right perspective. And that was a straight and narrow path they had. Make or break. Do or die. They knew it. If they made one fatal decision, well, it might cost them or the whole tribe their lives.

So, back to our situation in 2012, here we are. Mankind, highly eveloped species. Or at least that’s what we think we are. I think we are not that far away from Mr and Mrs Caveman around a few thousands years ago. Only, Mr and Mrs Caveman died probably at the age of 34 or 39 if they were lucky enough to see their grandchildren. Life was accelerated back then. Accelerated to survive.

Today we have a different kind of acceleration. An acceleration to consume, to use, to abuse and to throw away. We have children at the age that some of our predecessors had when they died after a long and fulfilled life. We, in turn, don’t know what to do with ourselves. We want to remain children all our adult lives, in an endless quest to pamper ourselves, we lose ourselves in the endless sea of open doors, of unfulfilled possibilities. And still, we are not one inch better than the caveman. Cos we also like to make a killing, we would like to see defeat, we would like to burn down the house of someone who did us wrong. So, any kind of upbeat message here?

To be honest, I guess there is none.

Mankind in itself is cruel, set out to kill, destroy and dominate their peers as much as their enemies. We live in a not so fairytale world. How did I come up with this topic? Well, that is a very good question indeed. I am not so philosophical myself but I do consider myself a good observer of people and also of situations. I can see a picture or a scene, and I can tell you straight up what is wrong here.

The problem however being that seeing the problem … well let’s be honest … it does not get us anywhere. In my book, we as a species, can only survive if we stop being so downright debased, mean, selfish, and depraved. That is what is killing us? It is our own innermost character. Nothing more, nothing less.

We all shout it from the rooftops, we all want to be the good ones in the script, but when someone knocks at our door, the scenery changes very fast and we become someone we would not like to be at all. We become the judge, we judge anyone else but ourselves. We are quite a selfish lot. A lot that really does not understand the truth that is staring us in the face.

Europe is a blatant failure when you take away the pink glasses that every Eurovision Song Contest still wants to convey – alas, in vain. Maastricht seems to have been nothing but a fairytale. And that was just a historic breath away, twenty years, no more.

The currency Euro has failed as well.

The commonground idea of the European union has been given up by some politicians who have their say. It is a sad circus of overpaid government officials.

The majority of people is not really interested in reading the sign of the times. The writing is on the wall.

The coming years, we are going to experience life not as fun, not as easygoing as it once was.That of course only goes if you belong to the 80% of the people who are not blessed with a big acquisitive power. Let’s put things even more plainly. We may have no hope to reach financial freedom in our lives. But let’s be clear. The stakes are high. The crisis has sharpened the gaping jaws of poverty that are opened wide and we can maybe just about make it. That is: if we are intelligent enough and if we are lucky.

The most essential items are back: We are lucky if we have a roof above our heads, if we are allowed to work, and if we can set food on the table each and every day. If we can afford medical attention. The crisis is the new plague. The incubation time is over. The illness is spreading, and the patient is frail, but it has not reached its peak yet, even though some of us might believe it is already full on there, but no… Lucky us, no?

But inspite of the turmoil, the confusion and the spreading loss of values in society, in society’s nuclei (the family) and in companies, people try out things. New things. Exciting things. They start to remember their creative power. They organise themselves. They form new entities. New stateforms. New political parties. Alternative paths are often chosen.

 

 

Like in Catalunya, as much as in Scotland. People are remembering that they might actually be able to move a thing or two if they start fighting. To be honest, living in Spain and in a region were Catalan is spoken, at this very moment, proves to be the most exciting experience I could wish for. Don’t get me wrong. I live here because I chose to be here. It was not a random decision. It was well anticipated.

For me, as a philologist and historian, this whole Independence issue in Catalunya and the fight for Catalan remaining a second language is a very exciting, thrilling, and intriguing thing to witness. Everything seems possible at the moment. If people are strong enough to fight.

But there are other things, that go right beyond Spain and the Catalan Independence Fighters. Europe itself is reshaping. I have the feeling that the next five years and our economic wells and woes are going to shape Europe, the old world and also shape us in many ways.

It is time to pass on to a new chapter. This is history that invites you not just to sit there and stare at your computer on end. Think of all the bad things going on in your own country. Think about what you as an individual could do to make a change. Think about where you seem to be the prisoner of old habits, of jaded traditions, a victim of politicians’ greed for more, just spending the money of others while doing nothing for the public benefit. Where are you in this picture? Who or what is holding you back? Or if you are free – Where could you help others or yourself to free yourself of the shackles of modern day life?

Sometimes, many isolated baby steps may lead to a giant leap. Even though, I must admit, I am not really a deeply political person, I am fed up with the situation in so many ways and for me it is true. The time has come. No-one with a decent enough brain and heart should be non-political. I would wish for many changes. As much for the system itself, as well as in terms of political transparence, in terms of penalization of defrauding of boni grabbing, greedy and simply lying politicians as well as bankers, in terms of a solidarity between the rich and the poor, in terms of respecting language, identity, education and culture.

Culture is not a luxury. It is a must.

You too can make a change!

The magic of playing scrabble is one of the things that comes in the package of learning a new language. Of course, it goes without saying that you can always play Scrabble in your native tongue but playing it in a new language is even more exciting. Scrabble gets you thinking, it brings you to your personal limit, it makes you aware of how the words are formed in a certain language, and how some words may be included in others, as well as your association chain will lead you to words you did not even know existed. That’s what is happening when you play scrabble. Apart from being a fun game when you are around with people who are really Scrabble addicts, no matter whether you are a sucker for language, word formation and neologisms, whether you got kids in the house, no matter whether you are not really into language or not, scrabble can really be a game that helps you fill in those bla(n/c)k parts of your vocabulary.

It gives you a whole new horizon. I used to play this a lot when I was a child. Now Scrabble came back with a vengeance. I really dig that game.

The probably best part of it is that each game you learn something. It can be a fairly strategic game once the players are a bit advanced, but basically it is a game where you can win on both sides. Win with the best words, or because you may strategic enough to outwit the other contestant.

It is fun, try it. Get back and try playing a board game. It’s retro and it’s damn fun.

There are several reasons for this blog entry today. One of course is the anniversary of T. S. Eliot’s birthday who would have been 124 exactly today. However, that by far is not the only one. To me, T.S. Eliot has always been a special writer why I also wrote my masters thesis about his poetry (more specifically about Death in the Poetry of T.S.Eliot). T.S. Eliot was, is and will always have a special place in my personal library.

Another reason is today’s celebration of the International or European Day of Language.

A third reason is the rising atmosphere of xenophobia here in Spain.

When you look at Eliot’s probably most famous work, The Waste Land, a long poem from 1921, one cannot deny that Eliot is “the” Modernist writer of the beginning of the last century. When you read it, you have an eery sense of what he must have felt like as an American in England. But I don’t want to speak about his biography today, nor will I go into an in-depth analysis of one of his poems or plays. But instead I wanted to talk about the use of foreign languages in his work. T.S. Eliot was an English native speaker of course. But in the course of his life and thanks to a rather high-brow education, he learned Latin, Greek, French and even German. So, he was educated and he was polyglot. Back in those days, that was unusual if not somewhat unique. Plus he was an immigrant in England. He had come from his birthplace St. Louis, Missouri, to England. That must have been a bit of a cultural shock for him, I reckon.

Why do I mention this? Because in the Waste Land we have a kaleidoscope of different voices, like a radio, many voices, all speaking in their mother tongues. Eliot was someone eager enough in terms of intelligence and also with his education, someone who would suck up foreign literature as well as culture like a sponge. He was interested and back in those days, foreigners were scarce enough, so they would be pampered and treated rather uniquely well.

Trying to suck up culture and also the language –  That is something I must say that I tried to copy from him. And having said that, I would wish for more people to be much more open minded about culture, language and also people who come to their country to live and of course to learn their language.

I do find that nowadays our cultural and also intercultural digest/menu is rather shallow and the number of educated and well read people is pretty scarce. When I want to talk books, especially ones that have something more to say than 50 shades of Grey or some other book rubbish, I don’t have much choice since given my natural habitat of now 5 years, I won’t do this with a lot of people who are around me. Most of the book friends, of people who actually go out and buy books (yes, people like that do exist!!!) will be my old friends, or some funny acquaintances I happen to virtually meet through the internet or through the traffic on my blogs or Facebook. I don’t like to say this but it is true: A lot of Spaniards do not read very much… Some of them hardly read anything at all which I found extremely amazing but in a way that also scared me a little. That is just books. Foreign languages is even worse.

So many people in Spain do not even care to consider to learn proper English, let alone German, Dutch or French or another foreign language that would be a benefit to them, especially when you think that at least 85% of all the people have in one way or another customer contact and their business will be tourism related. This may only hold true for the Balearics and some place on the Costa Brava, but still. A shame it is.

Ok, slowly but surely, things are changing. Language schools are popping into existence. There are some language schools around, but let’s be honest. The level of education is still far away from where it should be. Of course, in Germany, the things are nowadays also not as culturally focussed as they used to be. The general level of education has been dwindling for the past 15 years I would think. Some Germans don’t really further themselves either, but since I live in Spain, and I get live examples every day I speak about the experiences I make around here. Especially now, when mobility is one of the key assets that today’s laboral market is demanding from us each and every day, I can’t but ask myself: why does it become more and more difficult to integrate oneself in a society as a foreigner? Why – especially now – xenophobia has come back with a vengeance?

That is one of the key questions I have been asking myself the last couple of days. Triggered by the question, what is nationality and what kind of bearings does nationality bring with it, I went one step further and asked myself why I still cannot speak catalan as well as one might expect after two years of steady learning and trying to be around a lot of catalan speaking people?

The answer in my case is pretty easy. Once guiri, always guiri. When we are speaking of the hindrances to move up in society through the so-called glass ceiling, we should add the vertical glass ceiling as well. I, born 50% Greek and 50% German, been raised and schooled and started out going to uni in Germany and then in Ireland, must state: in Germany I felt very much integrated but that was because the 70’es as a whole was a very nice decade to be a foreign kid in Germany. We used to be the exotic children. With the funny names. Which apparently, the little Greeks or Turks no longer are. The climate has changed. Pretty obviously.

And so it has changed in Spain as well. Here, you are being asked your DNI and when you scramble out your huge green certificate to show your a foreigner, there is this movement in the face of many government workers where you note that to them, foreigners are basically a waste of space. We are being asked more and more certificates, it is so ridiculous. We are Europeans. For God’s sake.

Ok, I am a big girl. I can handle the treatment. But what I can’t handle is the slightly more subversive form of xenophobia which is still alive and kicking. Want to read an example? Sure.

When I think about my willingness to learn Catalan. This is really a thing which is optional. As a Greek/German with perfectly good English and a nice professional level of Spanish, I really would have had to bother to learn Catalan. But then, since I am a language person, I did it. It felt good. It felt like a challenge at the time.

Fast forward two years, and now I can only say: You are being left alone. You are a foreigner. And you remain a foreigner. And that is something that I never felt before in my life. It is a weird feeling.

Last winter, I started out with two courses in Catalan, a B2 level to kind of brush up the grammar bits, and then the C1 course to move forward languagewise. After a record breaking 160 hours of Catalan I cannot really say that I improved very much… And that is due to what? Due to my constant denial to learn things. No, that’s for sure not the case. I really made an effort here, and I very much doubt it that anyone might have gotten better results given the circumstances. First of all, the course was filled with people my age (end thirties / beginning fourties) since this is the age group of Spanish citizens who were left out of the Catalan revolution at schools. So, there you go. One should think that they would be happy to see some foreigners in their courses. Nooooo wayyyyyy. All the Spaniards are somehow sticking together no matter how hard you try to become acquainted even on a superficial level. Second, a teacher who takes care of what his pupils ought to be taught in terms of grammar…

Well, enter and abandon all hope. After the C1 course I did at the local cultural centre in Ibiza called Can Ventosa (carried out by Institut d’Estudis Eivissencs), I must really say: it was a complete waste of time and also of effort. The teacher always spoke about things, only a Spaniard would understand. His accent was so hard to understand that it took me weeks to adapt. When I finally understood him, I noticed it wasn’t much I was missing out. He was speaking about football stars, the latest funny things the king or Udangarin did and some other really strange conversation topics. Nevertheless, I went there. Week in, week out. I am a fighter and I won’t stop going there unless I have had my chance to really get some more education. Little did I know… I should have stayed at home and tried to listens to TV3 or have watched some Catalan movies instead.

Guess what… At the end of the term, when everyone was preparing for the exams, that was the very first time we started out on grammar. I had tried to talk him into using more grammar bits which he would not do, since that would be a thing for much lower level. Now, having tried and failed the C1 test, which – given a proper grammar exercises – I would have easily passed, I feel really bad having wasted so much time on going to courses, where I did not have proper learning, where I did not have at least some social interaction… To be quite honest, there is one woman which I sometimes see but that is about it. Which is very sad. I mean sometimes it does not happen. But since I am a socially interactive person I really start wondering about xenophobia…

In Germany I never experienced this. Now, after 5 years in Spain, in Ibiza, I noticed that we are looked upon as foreigners. Ok, we have a little circle of friends, but there is not one Spanish family we became acquainted with. All our friends are immigrants like us as well. People from all over the place. England, Denmark, Ecuador, Romania, Israel, France, Germany… but the Spanish people obviously like to keep to themselves. Which is a shame.

And the worst of all. The Catalan thing that really should unite people is in fact separating people.

When I apply this knowledge onto the latest events I saw on TV, I really start wondering, what good can it do to a state like Spain when in times of economic downfall, foreigners are being pushed aside… I very much start to wonder if the Catalans are any better… I tried for several weeks to get some involvement with people who would have been able to correct my long short story or short novel, however you wanna call it, and guess what… There is not one person who wants to do it.

They say, that times like these are hard. I would say that mankind slowly loses the capacity of viewing culture, language and music as a vital keystone that they could go out and share with one another. That is something that makes me funnily enough really sad. When I see all these notices about the day of languages… that is also celebrated today, I get sick in my stomach when I see that I – after three months of searching, putting up papers and don’t know what other stuff I did to get someone – cannot find a nice person to read and correct my story… And that is not about me. That is about society as a whole and the way people tick these days.

Everything is about money. And about “Are you useful to me?”. I feel sickened. Having said that, I really do hope that one day, someone will turn up and just show me that there are still some nice people around who tick differently. Right now, I cannot bring myself to either enroll in another Catalan class, nor to finish my novel without the proper help of someone who could fill in my obvious grammer gaps.

Funnily enough, I did a test today on the internet and found out, that my overall comprehension level is C2 and my level of oral as well as written expression is only B2… And that is kind of telling in my book I would say.

I don’t want to end on a downward note, but right now, I seem to have lost all motivation to really follow that road. Maybe, the idea of writing in catalan was too big a thing. Maybe, I am just an anachronism in terms what I expect from people. When I used to study in Ireland in 1991 / 1992 there was not any internet, but there were people from all over the world in Trinity Hall. And that is the kind of cosmopolitan atmosphere I do not find here. I find it stifling. I find I am surrounded by people who are xenophobic. Worse even: they claim not to be xenophobes, when in fact they are… And they are the worst kind of all… They smile into your face. They keep telling you, how nice of you to learn catalan. On the inside, they have these stupid thoughts, that you are just a guiri, and that you are not worth their while. Like I said: Hidden xenophobes. And that is not a good thing to feel like.

Please… Don’t forget. We are everywhere foreigners. Only in the country where we were born, we are not foreigners. Don’t be xenophobes. That is the most stupid attitude on earth, just like racism or other kinds of -isms.

Never forget… Illegal Immigration started in 1492…

I guess we knew it all along. The nights are getting colder again, the heat becomes more bearable. We are approaching the realm of autumn. You look at the trees, the burnt grass, the debris left behind by hordes of tourists, you start nodding your head silently. Yes. It is time to go back to normal again. The energy here on this island is incredible. But when you to take a look at how tired people are, or should I say mentally exhausted, then you can grasp the idea why some friend of mine cried Yippieyeah!!!!the last tourist has gone…. It is a strong love hate relationship between Ibiza and its residents. Two months later everybody will be bitching and moaning… How bad the season was. How they could not make any decent amount of money. They will be melancholic at times. They will wish themselves back to the hustle and the speed of the summer season. In winter season so many things are just dormant. When you do things, they take up more time. And still, there are many people around who just love this island when the last chiringuito is desrted, all the summer people and summer helpers are back home. To be honest… I love Ibiza the most in winter. Because it is different. it has got a different pace, different people and also different light. But it takes guts, passion and some survival instinct to really live the two different Ibiza’s accordingly. Party and work. Listen and learn. Meet and greet. Sit at home, read a book and muse. When I left my home almost five years ago, I was not really aware of the huge contrasts here on this island.

Now… I really enjoy them. It is a bit like two sides of a coin. Or the Janus head looking forward and backward at the same time.

Here in Ibiza, you can be, have or reach almost anything….

but one thing you will never ever be is bored.

I first felt unsure if I could live my life this way…. but it turns out that once you embrace the weird and wild rhythm of a sacred island with a pagan heart, you get to love the fast paced summer frenzy as well as the stoic and bucolic beauty of its winter. I only laugh at people nowadays who ask me how I could bear to live in Ibiza in such a dull season such as winter. Those people seriously have no idea of what they are missing.

So. Enough love letters. to my darling island Ibiza. Eivissa. Goodbye tourism in one month and hello again to the many perks of living here.

I am so much looking forward to getting back to seeing the winter people of Ibiza again. About one month from now on, and Ibiza is a renewed island. Thanks to Tanit, protecting goddess of Ibiza.

Wow. Normally I don’t post twice a day. But there is a reason. A very fortunate chance meeting I had the last week.

Something I did forget to mention in my earlier post today is that Ibiza has this way about connecting people. One minute, you think this might be the most boring day in your life, and next thing you know you all of a sudden meet a bunch of people and get connected to just the people you were looking for. Ibiza is strange in that respect. And it does tend to happen, not only with me, also with other people.

So, the wonderful thing is that this is a very small island. We kind of stumble upon each other – even physically, we meet at parties, gas stations, birthday parties, etc., there are good as well as the bad moments that can be derived from this. We need to cherish those good, inspiring and wonderful moments as they compensate by far for the weird, bad or horrible ones. Last Friday, I was lucky enough to have such a wonderful Ibiza moment when I walked into some bbq and semi-formal get together, spoke to some nice bloke who I did not know and was subsequently invited to be part of it. I tried to mingle with lots and lots of people around this “do” and it was just brilliant.

What am I trying to say here? Ibiza is like a fairy world? No, it is most certainly not. It is very much set in this world. It is part of the real world. It is not a child’s imitation of the real world, but it is a microcosm in itself. With its own laws and with its very own idiosyncrasies. This is one of these idiosyncrasies. You come some place, you get spontaneously invited and connect with people. In order to love Ibiza and be really home here you need to embrace these idiosyncrasies, even though they might seem unusual in the first place. Things that tend to happen here happen in their own Ibiza kind of way.

When I look back upon my four years I spent here I need to say that things like this Friday have happened to me always when I felt kind of melancholic, moody, down and really not in the mood to socialize… That is kind of funny when you think about it. I would like to see myself as a quite sociable person but every now and then I want to be more private, secluded with my projects, concentrate on things I am doing. And then, this happens, it might be called a social injection of faith. There are people who are on your page, they tell you their story and that is the moment  when it dawns on you, when you think, no, you know, yes, it was the right choice for you to come here.

The core of this may not always be something that is professional. It can be political. It can be art related. It can be a shared joke, it can be part of your own history, it can be anything.

To me, that Friday was better than anything I had experienced in a long time. I felt so fortunate, so blessed and happy to be here and not some other place in this world.

I guess this is a small love letter to Ibiza.

It can be a tough place, true.

But I daresay the hidden gems that need unveiling will be – apart from the amazing nature and the real Ibicencos – always be the people on it.

Those who had the urge to come out here and those willing to fight the obstacles and who are brave enough to try to make their living here.

%d bloggers like this: