16 de desembre 2016

Life in Amsterdam... again

Life is strange.
I once was looking over a cliff arounf Watson's Bay in Sydney and the thought came, that I would rather jump off that cliff than returning to Europe.
When circumstances pointed to an irreversible situation I went through a very tough Kübler-Ross-ish process of grief to accept my defeat.
And once back, Central Europe life was so not like my sunny life Down Under...

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The idea of being in NL again was so overwhelming, that I chose to try a come back my country of citizenship. It was the best option by elimination. Looking back I did try hard to acclimatise, to readapt  to the culture, to rediscover me and the landscapes of my roots, to find places to thrive and feel useful, to face major disappointments and to send love and laugh to all of that.

I got the cold feet. I saw no way out in the Human Rights conflict in Spain. The idea of letting go of my apartment was too overwhelming. I once painffully  let go of my life in Germany. I keep working on accepting that I had to leave Sydney against my will. I am not ready to let go of the Amsterdam foreign local me. But first and foremost I am not ready to let go of my headquarters. It is the only walled home I have. It is cosy and welcoming. And open. Anyone can come stay and feel home for a while, too.

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I still dislike the weather, proof are my regular recordings of weather-induced frustration. I often just made videos of the street in disbelief of a sky so saturated of clouds that it hardly lets any light in. I am very lucky I grew up with sunny days 300 days a year.

So far it feels fine to dodge the Winter a bit and find a way to stay busy without leaving the house much. The hope of leaving at some point to spend part of the Winter away helps.
I have a memory of the terribly depressed corporative-me the 6 months of Winter. The wine, the carbs, the sorrow, the chronic sleepiness...
 Against my predicitons and if I look at my healthy habits (my addiction to Brussel sprouts is almost offensive) you could say there is a quantum leap. I thank all to the freedom from office work. I love teaching but the Monday to Friday, 8 to 3 + eternity in correcting and preparing, the predictably high season holidays and still rather Judeochristian-influenced family values (#becomingliberal) was the worst of it.



I had some peace riding the bike at night along the Amstel and I thought about my so extraordinary life. Riding close to water was refreshing my mind. And singing on the bike ended with a blatant pharyngitis, out of singing to the moon in bliss.

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My goal remains, but it has been improved. Who says you can't choose where to live for the seasons? I feel I'm going through the best moment of my life and I am welcoming these oncoming years full of freedom and free of burden.




27 de novembre 2016

London, for the book

The emotional travel guide sets off
I have made a brief return to London after a few years, a city so big, that I experience differently every time.
Last time before my recent visit was very long ago. Since I stopped wearing a watch I have developed a good sense of time, but I am still terrible at remembering dates or counting years back.
So last time I was in Londa, I remember we were visiting a friend. I was with my other half, so it must have been ages ago, I don't know how long we stayed, where we slept or what we did every day. I only remember one day we went to a patio and ate  eggs and drank instant coffee. Another day I let the guys do their pub crawl and I spent the day in the Tate. I there discovered the art of Sarah Lucas and I have been a fan until now http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/sarah-lucas-2643.
I left the museum sparkly-eyed and sorrounded of a magic invisible veil, joined the guys on their pub crawl and fell asleep on a bench. The following day I bought some ingredients to make Indian food. These are the loose memories I recollect.
London is not my favourite city. This is a euphemism to say I rather dislike it. I don't like its size, it's weather, its greyness or its boring buildings.
This last time I was in London it was to pay a deserved visit to a soul friend, so the city itself wasn't the purpose of the visit, let alone the highlight. I just like to show my love by sharing the best gift I have: my time. And we found moments to spend quality time together, which is what matters in the end. Time never goes back.

First time I was in London I was fourteen. Now that The Cure have left Amsterdam and they are about to play in their country of origin, it is a good occasion to review my love for their music from a very young age.
I went to London looking for Robert Smith's house, although in the end I just went madly up and down Oxford Street due to my sense of orientation. While my other teenage friends wanted to get Doc Marteen's  or bomber jackets, I was looking for music and a product to straighten my hair.
... But I got lost in Greenpeace first, I found a Greenpeace store and learned for the first time about climate change and climate threats (preserving the planet resonated so much in me and my compassionate approach to nature that I turned vegetarian a year later)

... And then I got lost in music. There were postcards and LPs of Prince everywhere.
He is dead now, and this last visit OCT 2016, I found this in Portobello:




I have a whole vinyl collection of Prince, back in Barcelona. When I first saw this picture age 14 I was recently over my love affair with Joey Tempest and I was going through a musical crisis, I was letting a friend I made in England educate me into The Cure beyond Lullaby, which I found hypnotic, but before that I couldn't quite identify with any of the music that was in trend.
I asked my parents to record for me Nr1, the music program that was going on in the late 80s, and, aside Guesh Patty, Rod Steward and David Bowie, everything else seemed quite >meh<.
Age 14, climate  change, save the whales and BOOM! --> THE FREAKING WARM FUZZIES!!!
I felt sexually attracted to that guy in the picture. I had heard of Prince, but only listened to Purple Rain in the background. Now, with my newly acquired  English language  skills I was able to understand the lyrics. They went straight down my tummy, butterflies, straight into my libido.
A sexual awakening through Prince, Purple Rain, Darling Nikki and When Doves Cry. I thought he looked like an older and talented version of my highly abusive love interest, which belongs in the chapter of freaks I've kissed.

This is what went through my head on my last visit to London. We are lucky to awake feelings when stimuli knock on memory lane...


17 d’octubre 2016

Etwas vergeht in die Seele, wenn einen Freund uns verläßt (f*ck die neue Rechtschreibung)

Algo se muere en el alma...
Ich erlaube mir 'ne kleine Unterbrechung in der Sprachwahl, da ich es für wichtig halte, dieses Post auf Deutsch zu schreiben.
Allererstens, ich habe so lange kein Deutsch geschrieben ich bin mir nicht sicher, ob ich es fähig sein werde genau auszudrucken, all die Gefühle, die Erinnerungen, die nach deinem Tod, lieber Ulf, geweckt sind.
Ich habe es tagelang verpeilt, etwas zu schreiben,  aber jeden Moment, seitdem ich erfahren habe, daß du bloß endgültig nicht mehr da bist, habe ich mich erinnert, was für einen enormen Einfluß du in meinem Leben gehabt hast. Du, ihr, Los Ulf. Und ich bin dir und Chris so unheimlich dankbar, daß ich Euch begegnet habe.

Ich kam nach Deutschland gleich nach einem einjährigen Aufenthalt in den Staaten.
Mir kam Frankfurt so unheimlich vor, so grau, so leise, so dunkel und leer Abends...
Ich konnte bloß ein paar Wörter auf Deutsch, aus einem Kurs den ich an der Uni Barcelona teilgenommen hatte. Ich dachte echt nicht, daß ich so eine verdammtdochmal komplizierte Sprache beherrschen konnte. Ich vermisse sehr, mein Alltag auf Deutsch zu verbringen. Die Schwierigkeit war langsam eine Liebe, und eine Etdeckungsreise auf die "Sprachfreak" in mir, die ich nicht kannte.
Ich war an Amis gewohnnt. So extrovert und so begab in der Kunst von "small talk". Deutsche waren brutal ehrlich, was viel Näher an meinen Charakter fühlte. Aber ich brauchte 'ne gute Weile mich einzuleben.

Ich erinnere mich kaum an meine Komilitonen im deutschen Kurs an der Uni. Nur an meinen Lehrer, Otto, aus Aschaffenburg. Aber ich saß die mündliche Prüfung mit Carlos, einen Typen aus "La Mora", das war's.

Ich erwähnte Carlos, daß ich Deutsch lernen wollte, um Übersetzerin zu werden, und daß ich eine Stelle als Au-Pair in Frankfurt gefunden hatte. Er gab mir die Nummer Eurer Sohn, Ollie. Ich hatte es in meinem Tagesbuch, nur falls was schief laufen sollte.

Ach Frankfurt... Frankfurt hat mich in so vielen Art un Weisen geprägt...
Im Gegenteil zu den Staaten, in Europa bist du als Au-Pair eine Art Putzfrau mit Kindern ohne Freizeit. Meine Beziehung zu meiner ersten Familie war so traurig. Drei höchst agressive Kinder, die ich nicht verlassen wollte, weil jedes Mädchen immer zu früh aufgegeben hatte. Ich konnte merken wie schnell ich Deutsch lernte: "beiß mich nicht", "das ist gefährlich", "das tut weh", "hör mal zu!", "hör mal auf" - meine ersten Wörter.

Ich arbeitete ohne Ende und schrieb meinen besten Freunden endlose Briefe aus einem kleinen Zimmer, wo ich immer 'Viva' am Fernsehen an hatte. Ich machte auch Aufnahmen für meinen damaligen Freund (Kassetten). Ich habe sie noch. Es war unglaubich schön. Die Einsamkeit, seine Unterstützung. Die Reise nach England um ihn zu sehen...

Endgültig gab ich die Familie auf, vor einer  Reise in die Alpen. Ich wollte, daß die Kinder in den Urlaub von mir vergessen würden.

Und dann nahm ich das Telefon. Und rief Euch an:
"Ich bin eine Freundin von Carlos" - und so begann unsere Beziehung. Der falsche "Carlos", da ihr dachtet, ich sei die Freundin Eurer Nachbarn in Tarragona.

Ihr wart so offen und so cool! Ich saß bei Euch am Wohnzimmer, beim Herd stundenlag "Micky Mouse" Bücher zu lesen und ich schlug jedes Wort, jeden Verb, im Wörterbuch zu um mit Euch  kommunizieren zu können.

Unbewußt lernte ich schnell den Konditional 2. "Wenn ich es anders gemacht hätte, ginge alles besser", oder sowas. Und ich lernte die universelle Antwort auf warum?: "es ist mir so passiert"
Ihr wart stolz auf mich, und ich darauf, daß ich Ersatzeltern gefunden hatte, die jene Träume, die meine Eltern für Unsinn hielten, völlig unterstützen.

Mit dir, Ulf, lernte ich viel von Kaisern und Geschichte. Dein enzyklopädisches Wissen war so breit, ich konnte dich kaum folgen. Ich ging mit dir zu Schlößer um "quadratische, praktische, gute" Steine zu sammeln, um dabei zu helfen, sie umzubauen.

Du warst meinen größten Einfluß, Jazz Musik völlig zu schätzen. Ich ging mit dir zu so vielen Konzerten und so viele Nächte aus mit Freunden in Jazzclubs in Sachsenhausen.

Ich trank Appelwoi mit dir, bis die Socken zuckten, mit Handkäse, um Musik zu machen ;-)
Mit dir lernte ich viel von Wein, etwas, daß ich schon von meinem katalanischen Vater in den Genen trug. Und es tut mir Leid, es hat dich immer genervt, daß ich so stoltz mich als Katalanin bezeichne. Vielleicht habe ich Mal bald Recht. Aber du wirst mich nie als rechtliche Katalanin sehen. Schade, da hätte ich dich damit ein Bissel weiter nerven können. Mit aller Liebe!

Das Leben ist unfair. Ein Mann, stark wie eine Eiche, einer der wenigen Deutschen, der damals, als Junger Mann in die Staaten ging um Englisch zu lernen. Ein Mann, der in vielen Ländern gelebt hat, der Niederländisch so spaßig [grappig] fand (und so gut sprach!), der mehrere Sprachen fließend sprach... Und ein erzogener Vegetarier, das hatten wir gemeinsam.
Das ist doch Scheiße! Sorry, war es nicht so, daß wir Vielsprächiger weniger Chancen haben, Alzheimers (el amigo alemán) zu kriegen?

Als ich keinen Ausweg fand, warst du Lösungs-orientiert und halfst du mir dabei, einen Job in Frankfurt zu finden. Bei der "Chicago Meat Packers" und sogar bei "Lufthansa".
Am Ende landete ich einen Au-Pair Job bei der Familie Kiefer. Heutzutage auch noch meine deutsche Familie. Kieferland! Ich lernte Lars kennen. Bisher, mein Kind, mein "Pato", mein "Monkey". Ich bin noch mit Lars und den Kiefer in Verbindung, und ich merke, wie stark unserer Bund ist.
Alles dir sei Dank, lieber Ulf.

Jeden Donnerstag, hielst du mich vom Kieferland ab und wir gingen nach Bad Vilbel, beim Verein schwimmen. Dir sei Dank habe ich das Tauchen gelernt. In Heilsberg trank ich das Wasser aus der Brunne, die, laut dir, mir "stark machen wurde". Und Abends aßen wir Schaffskäse überbacken, ganz liebevoll und unkompliziert bei Chris, deiner Frau, meiner deutschen Leihmutter, gemacht. Mit Piri-piri. Ganz Scharf. Wir lieben doch scharfes Essen, gell?

Dein Projekt war, daß ich in Deutschland bliebe, um eine Übersetzerin zu werden. Ihr, Chris und Dich, nahmen mich mit zu einem Tagesausflug nach Heidelberg, um mir eine Idee von deutschen Unis zu geben.
 Und ich blieb. Nicht in Heidelberg, aber in Germersheim. Meine Identität, mein Dorf, mein "Culo Dil Mondo", die Uni der Sprachfreaks, wo ich so viele Menschen traf, die so komisch wie ich waren. Die besten Jahren meines Lebens. Alles Dir zu danken. Du halfst mir mit der Bewerbung und auch dabei, meine deutsche Prüfung zu bestehen. Du warst so Sprachbegab! Dir ist es auch zu bedanken, daß ich morgens die "Frankfurter Allgemeine" mit seiner super Hoch-verwickelten Sprache laß. Obwohl ich eher eine Lesering der "Süddeutsche" oder "Die Tageszeitung" bin. Mit dir kam ich die deutsche Sprache näher und heutzutage, obwohl gerüstet, finde ich sie noch einen Teil von mir. Es gibt Wörter, die man nur auf Deutsch ausdrücken kann.

Zum Schluß, ein historisches Foto. Ich schloß mein Studium in Deutschland ab, und meine 'echte' Eltern kamen mich ENDLICH besuchen.
Ich nahm ein Foto von meinen 2 Eltern. Ich habe das Foto immer an meiner Wand. Mit der Schatzkiste von Lars, meinem VW Bus, meiner besten Freundin, meinen Großeltern und einigen Erinnerungen aus Germi, die ich noch als "Hardcopy" behalte.



Das Foto war von Tinte bekleckert, und ich hab' sie nicht entfernen können. Ich wünsche mir, daß die Zeit nie vergehen würde und dieses Foto noch aktuell wäre.

Aber die Zeit vergeht.
Erinerungen bleiben...
Ich erinnere mich, als ich Schluß mit meinem deutschen Freund machte, wie ich zu dir kam, so entsetzt, und wir gingen in die Gaststäte in Vilbel mit deinem Freund Helmut Bier trinken. Ich sagte zu dir: "Ich denke an das Lied von Drafi Deutsche, wenn sie sagen: "Alles, alles geht vorbei"
Dann sagtest du: "Tja, alles hat ein Ende"
Und Helmut antwortete: "Doch die Wurst hat zwei". Und plötzlich ging mir alles besser durch das Lachen - und das leckere Kölsch -
Ich habe das Wort "Würstchen" nie richtig ausprechen können.
Alles hat ein Ende. Das Würstchen (oh Gott) hat zwei. Das Leben geht weiter.
Meine "Los Ulf", meine deutschen Eltern. Ich bin Euch mein Leben dankbar. Ich hoffe, ein Stückchen Ulf wird in mir noch weiterleben.
Ich habe dich so Lieb. Du hättest nie gehen sollen. Du bist Jahrelang meine Quelle von Bewunderung gewesen.
Ich werde Dich für immer in meinem Herzen bewahren und dich NIE vergessen.
In Erinnerung: Ulf Goertz verlaß uns am 9 Oktober. So ein Mann hat's kaum gegeben.
Ich bin dir alles Schuld, daß aus mir geworden ist. Meine Inspiration, meine Ausbildung, meine Lebensanschauung.

Verdammt doch mal, daß die Zeit vergeht und du nicht mehr da bist. So unfair. Coi de vida...

18 de setembre 2016

Papercut, healing blister

Some days we don't seem to be able to perform an action as simple as slicing a melon.
You are not focused in the process and suddenly you cut yourself. 
You know that grim sensation: You are cutting said melon in slices, a relatively simple task, with a well-sharpenned knife. And, ha! dear Newton's law of motion comes to play. The knife slips and the continuous motion finds your finger and makes it through the skin which will sacrifice itself to act as the force (ha! up yours mündliche Prüfung der Technikwissenschaft, I have found a mean to those sleepless nights) with that slicing pain on your nervous endings. We know our fingers are the most important terminations for the sense of touch. Murphy's law in physical law.
It's not a deep cut, but it's messy and it's always made in an inopportune spot. And to activate the maruja in you it makes a bloddy mess of your counter, your melon and if you are lucky enough, your sleeve.  

This cut of ours leaves a transversal opening that takes ages to heal. Why? Because every single time we'll touch something, the cut will reopen. Would the solution be not to use your hands for a while?

And so, once upon a time, cutting a melon, I thought it was a nice analogy to describe certain episodes in my life. The ever opening/healing cut. 

Everything started on a distant here and then long time ago. Even before we started using those gadgets we carry everywhere that make us hooked and available, but paradoxically, less humanely available. And it continued opening and closing.

I have always lived in a here and a there. I have many places I call home. I have many whanaus and I am different persons, in different languages, with different habbits depending where I live. And I love them all. 
Luckily I don't have a strong relationship to my mobile phone, or else I'd be living many nows and thens simultaneously, never letting go, bleeding through the cut. For the ones who know how it feels, it is soul enriching, and also excruciatingly heartbreaking at times. You learn to love people quickly and you are always ready to have to say goodbye... or hello again.

I think I have mentioned somewhere in some old entry about a sign post I once saw in Auckland, on one of my returns, returning to a hello again that got me involved in the plot of a bizarre storyboard hardly anyone has ever experienced and I would never wish anyone to do. Great material for a book.
The sign was an ad for those glasses that darken depending on the sunlight.
It read so: progressive grey. I can't say how strong it stroke me and how appropriate and coincidental those two words hit my /grey/ matter. It is an insider's pun. Such a smart little ad, telling my then-life with its words.
I chose to change the grey to pinkIt was a progressive pink I was aiming to force me to believe, walking under a thick lay of grey. 
I don't know if "progressive pink" would do as good a title for a book. Or "the ever opening sliced finger" or simply "loved over".

Not able to decide I think every chapter in my many theres deserves a title: Auckland is "progressive pink", Sydney is "loved over", Germany "die fantastischen drei und half", "Die Hühnerhaufen", "Gromenauer". 
Back in Europe I have gone back to touch base in my headquarters in Amsterdam. Why did I set base there? What would I call that chapter? "El hijo tonto"?, "the coot of the graacht"?

Amazing how certain stimuli, a cut finger, a pair of progressive grey glasses, a coot, this ever changing multilingual, multicultural life that looks for a monohome... trigger a compulsive impulse to write with no end. Write about unhealed cuts like lessons unlearned, progressive glasses that tie you to your fantasy-living in a lie, coots that swim away on the graacht when you throw them the whole loaf.

 I am home. I am change. Everywhere.
  



   

17 de maig 2016

you're sayin'? happiness vs confomism: the tricky acceptance

Klussen. One of the first words I learned in Dutch. And probably what I've done the most ever since I moved to Amsterdam. When I have to make space for a new "klus" and look for tools, I bump into my boxes, where I keep so many notebooks. Each time I look into them there are started stories, poems, songs of different stages. They are often started, but seldom continued. In the early 00's I filled one of my notebooks with writings concerning compromise or conformism apropos a conversation I had with a friend regarding my conventional and unfulfilling life in my corporative NL years. I am so lucky I am so removed from that, by the way!

Getting a bit off topic. Just recently, my two A'dam sistas thought I needed another notebook, and I am making good use of it, registering my everyday duties and at the same time combining the pages with my feelings and thoughts.
I sometimes give a title to my notebooks, when I know I am going through a long chapter I want to get over with. But my gift-notebook came with a default one: "even a little happiness is truly great".
And it sort of -sort of- offended me: even? little?. This compromise vs conformism came back stronger.
I appreciate my friends' concerns on my not so enthusiastic posture regarding all admin stuff that requires coming back. But on the little happiness bit I seem to understand: just give up to this. Accept what you have, because you have it all going.
But each one's desires are conditioned to their own standards. We look at others from our prism.
I don't feel I am on a quest to find happiness, because I feel happy. So far I haven't questioned that, although I can compare levels of happiness depending on where I live. How is that so hard to understand? Why can't you feel happier in a place you feel more at home?
But happiness is not the word, here. It is conformism that bothers me.
Maybe I refuse to conform, because this re-settling was not my choice and I still secretly hope either it is just some temporary joke or that I will adapt zombily and I'll bike away frolicking in the freezing rain as if that was the little happiness that is enough.
What I chose, after years of resistance, was to live and die in Australia, on the East Coast. In Byron, in Sydney, on Hyams Beach, on my own terms.
And I built that life throughout the years, joined those groups I miss so much, the greenups, the Chapel by the Sea, the permaculture, the GP Tuesday eve meetings, the trainings, the activism, the weekends with mama J in Enmore, my sturdy bike and the evenings looking at the sea, feeling the energy of the waves crashing against the rocks at Diamond Bay. For hours. In fact, I think it is the picture that comes to mind when I think of happiness. That and all the "I love my life-s" I have mumbled when watching the Harbour Bridge fade in a sunset while walking down Clairvaux Rd.

And I had already visualised my communal house made of stone and glass close to a beach, with huge windows and full of alternative-oriented people. Maybe kids, definitely pets and a shed in the garden where we could jam and we'd do book and clothes exchanges.
 We'd teach each other on permaculture, vegan recipes, sustainable practices, do yoga and meditate on full moons and we'd create a communal economy based on merit points.
The furthest I'd travel would be NZ and the Pacific Islands to help out for development purposes, to see my Kiwi legends or to teach/learn languages, or to Europe to connect to the roots, now and then.
I was on the right path hanging out with the right people, but my citizenship status wasn't there and it was an obstacle my will alone couldn't overcome. I can't change that. And every time I had to leave because of that bloody visa status, I'd interrupt the flow of my goal.

However. Non conforming, but accepting what I can't change, I feel the excitement of new opportunities of inner growth arising, since life is a learning  journey.
When I leave my Sydney home I feel less fulfilled, but in Europe is where I feel I can love more and feel loved.
I feel the love each day when I greet Pats for coffee, when I text my sister, when I talk to Bego about her plans of coming back (yay!)
I feel it when I see my mum coming sweaty from the shops after a mission to bring me 99% chocolate. When I sit by my dad, on the arm of the armchair and we talk about life. I feel it when my cousin kiss/bites me and gets so protective that makes want to die for him, when my aunt remembers my birthday, when I see my other cousin's zest and open heart. When Sílvia reminds me constantly that she loves me a lot and I am not sure I know what I've done to deserve that. When Myriam dedicates me an evening although she is touring nonstop. Or, most recently, when I think of a certain piercing glance that makes me soft inside. When Yoyo reports from Africa on unexpected Skype messages, when my German mum says: "du bist so 'ne tolle Frau", when we make Hühnerplänne or when I am reminded of my "Selvismus" by the girls in the Neckar area.
And then I forget about that silly compromise-conformism header, I feel love reigns over fear and I can finally feel only and foremost:
GRATITUDE