25 February 2009

Victory

A meditation of one hour and fifteen minutes to the background sound of the downstairs neighbour's beating base and barking dog. A fine piece of personal pioneering, I can assure you. 
 
And as a reward I treat everyone to a taste of Groningen medicine. If this doesn't make you crack up, I don't know what will. 
(I realise the effects of a regional dialect of Dutch may not be as overwhelming on this English version of my blog... Sorry about that.) 

23 February 2009

Share your happiness!

Fridge poetry

The girl with the most beautiful eyes in the Netherlands stuck a poem on to Maz' fridge. There are Swedish words on the fridge in my kitchen. When I gather the scattered traces of fun and melancholy I came up with in between cooking and doing the dishes, a poem appears. The literary elite would reprimand me for it and the Swedish grammar leaves much to be desired, but hey. It's true Kylsk√•pspoesie. Read and weep.
Don't you understand life?
I am tired of loving
my old idiot 
A crazy dream means an important winter 
To love rain and be brave 
Kiss me until love is summer
Take care of beautiful feelings
Go and have 
a great adventure.  

21 February 2009

Two plus two


Ane Brun will be playing at Tivoli in Utrecht on Friday 8 May.
Ah, the sweet tugging at heart strings. Do I dare?
(You bet I do.)

20 February 2009

Impa plays a game

Impa found a nice little game at the Flip Flop Flying blog.

INSTRUCTIONS
1. Put your MP3 player or music library on shuffle.
2. With each question push 'next' for the answer.
3. Write down the title of the song under the subsequent question.

The answers can obviously be interpreted in many ways and you can take them as seriously as you like. Some of mine were remarkable or touching in a way, others just really made me laugh. Who would have thought, for instance, that my biggest secret is a fast car? I wonder if the outcome changes with your stage of life or state of mind. Fortune-telling or not: it's an amusing game. Give it a go and let me know the outcome in the comment box or send me a link.

IF SOMEONE SAYS "IS THIS OKAY" YOU SAY?
Cruel - Calexico

WHAT WOULD BEST DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONALITY?
Shiva - Fields of the Nephilim

WHAT DO YOU LIKE IN A GUY/GIRL?
If God Will Send his Angels - U2

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE'S PURPOSE?
Useless - Depeche Mode

WHAT IS YOUR MOTTO?
Just One Kiss - the Cure

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOU?
Fuck U - Archive

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT OFTEN?
Meu fado meu (My Own Fado) - Mariza

WHAT IS 2+2?
Rubber & Soul - Ane Brun

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR BEST FRIEND?
Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa (Sad Song) - Otis Redding

WHAT IS YOUR LIFE STORY?
Dissolved Girl - Massive Attack

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP?
First Day of my Life - Bright Eyes

WHAT DO YOU THINK WHEN YOU SEE THE PERSON YOU LIKE?
Herr Olof - Gjallarhorn

WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS THINK OF YOU?
Come Wander With Me - Agua de Annique

WHAT WILL YOU DANCE TO AT YOUR WEDDING?
Sunday Morning - Maroon 5

WHAT WILL THEY PLAY AT YOUR FUNERAL?
Geef mien dien blues - Ede Staal
('Give me your blues' in Gronings, the regional dialect where I grew up)

WHAT IS YOUR HOBBY/INTEREST?
Always - Bon Jovi

WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST SECRET?
Fast Car - Tracy Chapman

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF YOUR FRIENDS?
(Antichrist Television Blues) - The Arcade Fire

WHAT'S THE WORST THING THAT COULD HAPPEN?
Mein Teil - Rammstein

HOW WILL YOU DIE?
Bella Donna - Doe Maar

WHAT IS THE ONE THING YOU REGRET?
A Prayer for England - Massive Attack

WHAT MAKES YOU LAUGH?
Corsair - Boards of Canada

WHAT MAKES YOU CRY?
Exsultate, Jubilate KV 165: Allegro - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

WILL YOU EVER GET MARRIED?
Stand - R.E.M.

WHAT SCARES YOU MOST?
Berlin - Lou Reed

DOES ANYONE LIKE YOU?
Le compteur - Yann Tiersen

IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE?
I Feel For You - Prince

WHAT HURTS RIGHT NOW?
Comme Toujours - Les Negresses Vertes

19 February 2009

Do you know this man?


We found a passport photo lying on a table, all by itself, in My Favourite Pub. No one came running back in breathlessly to see if they left it there. Friend M. and I studied the face on the photograph. “I think his name is Koen”, I said. “Or Jeroen.” ”No way”, Friend M said. “Look at that scarf. This is more of a Leander.” We nodded in agreement and took a drink of our Westmalle Dubbel beers. Friend M. suggested the man’s mother had dropped the photograph from her purse. “No, wait. I know.“ She studied the picture closer. “It was left here by his ex girlfriend. After having been sad for a long time, she decided it was time to let him go. She quietly left his picture in the pub where they met a lifetime ago. She let go of him there, along with the sadness she knew so well and that had become such a familiar friend.” Friend M. and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes. We took a large draught of our Westmalle Dubbels.

There was a compulsive liar at the table next to us. He was waiting for his ‘girlfriend’ who inexplicably ‘didn’t pick up her phone’. While he was ‘waiting’ for her, he talked to us. We, however, were on to him. The existence of the ‘girlfriend’ –yeah, right- was to make sure we didn’t feel threatened. We would’ve tutted otherwise, rolled our eyes, sighed and whispered: “Not one of those again. Please.” Instead, we asked questions interestedly and laughed very loudly at our own jokes and a little at his. But when he said he ‘played the trumpet’ professionally and proved it by pointing at his lips that had funny spots on them, just as we could hear trumpet music from the pub’s loudspeakers, we got suspicious. Didn’t compulsive liars take cues from their environment to feed their endless stream of fabrications?

As a retreat strategy, Friend M. and I started work on the plan with the codename Westmalle Dubbel. (We can take cues from our environment too, you know.) It’s a plan for More Love in the World and * Impa crosses her fingers behind her back * it’s nothing to do with bringing together friends who aren’t in love yet but could very well be.

There’s a fighter jet on the toilet in My Favourite Pub. It’s called eXtreme and it’s meant to dry your hands with. Apparently, most hand driers leave your hands slightly wet and rather warm, which causes tens of billions of bacteria on your hands to wake up, stretch out comfortably and get down to unbridled multiplying. So My Favourite Pub has a drier that expels hard air instead of warm air. It’s so hard it makes your hands rattle. You can only keep them in the flow of air if you wedge your hip between the sink and the wall and brace yourself. The noise is deafening and it's alltogether so exciting and dangerous I go to the toilet extra often just to get that little shot of adrenaline.

When I got back all bouncy and with a wild look in my eyes for the fifth time that evening, the imaginary girlfriend appeared to have arrived. One of the first things I heard her say to the compulsive liar was something about him playing the trumpet later that night. Impressive, we thought. He’d gotten that total stranger to go along with his lies. We emptied our glasses, picked up Leander Koen Jeroen and left. We had Important Plans With a Code Name to carry out. We’d better get some sleep. 

18 February 2009

Young starlings and a dog

As I like to sigh: Why can't we spend a lifetime watching young starlings?
Martin Bril makes a start. He lets the dog walk him. Bril's tranquility grows quieter all the time. I can hear it ever louder.
So beautiful.

16 February 2009

Impa's double personality

My colleague R. is funny. He wrote me a note to transfer some work and tell me about his trip to Africa and signed it:

Lou Reed
Salvador Dali
R.

What does an -undoubtedly casually made- joke like that say about someone? You could dedicate a complete scientific research report to what two celebrity names tell you about the character of the person who picks them. It has undoubtedly been done, somewhere in the academic world.

It made colleague I. laugh too. She asked: "What two persons would you like to be?" I looked up from the image of Barack Obama I was working on and said: "Obama." And, to pick another name without thinking about it for too long, I added: "Madonna is the second name that comes to mind."

Obama and Madonnna? Where on earth did that come from? And would this be how I see myself or rather what I want to be like? Is this about power? Minorities, inferiority issues, assertiveness? And does the fact that they are both American mean anything? Oh, dear. Let's not go there at all.

Let's say it's because they are both charismatic personalities. Two images of strength. Obama is a saviour, Madonna is emancipated. Obama is articulate and intellectual, Madonna is beautiful and creative. Not a bad team, come to think of it.

I asked colleague I. which two names she would pick to sign with. "Say the first thing that comes to mind." "Ramses Shaffy", said colleague I. "And the second?" "Whew, hard one." "Don't think about it." "Sven Kramer", she said. I snorted. My coffee almost came up through my nose. "But I think that's just because there was something about him on the radio earlier." Singer Ramses Shaffy and ice skater Sven Kramer. Quite a combination. And yet their themes suit colleague I. really well. Engagement, the French aspect, romance, creativity, music and voice combined with physical strength and endurance. Not a bad portrait at all, if you ask me.

And now for the bonus question. You're not allowed to think about the answer. Write down the first thing that pops up. Own up, dear reader, and have no fear.

- What two people would you like to be? And what do you think that says about you? -

14 February 2009

Valentine's Day and love

I won't write about love. How I feel about romantic love at the moment is a private matter. I don't want to write about the man I loved for two years and now respectfully but most definitely put behind me. I don't want to put him on the internet. But by writing this I already did, in a way.

Should you write about love on Valentine's Day? Or would that mean that even I have finally cracked under the pressure of the international commerce that wants to make me believe that my inner world has anything whatsoever to do with a date on the calender and buying red things of environmentally unfriendly plastic, shaped like the symbol for a human heart?

My love for him was a two year dance. Of fighting and loving, attraction and rejection. Full of fast rhythms, slow turns and sudden stops. The dance is over now. I will no longer dance along. But all the good moments it's brought are gently imprinted in my heart and I hold everything I learnt from it, about life, myself, and the others, in my hand. So I can draw from it if I need to on my path.

And as far as love today is concerned: When I look up from writing this, I see my soft sofa is bathed in sunlight. Over the tops of the bamboo on the balcony, the February sun comes rustling straight into my room and into my heart. I'll lie down in that bath of light now. With my eyes closed. And if I take a look inside of me and find peace and a smile, I've got it. Love for all things and myself. And that's just what I want.

I won't wish you a happy Valentine's Day. I will, however, wish you a lovely saturday. A great weekend. A blessed life. And may you let in plenty of sunshine.

12 February 2009

Sunday on Vlieland


(Click to see the bigger picture)

* Today's booty *
A seagull's skull I found myself. Very beautiful.

Vlieland

Last day. One more foraging walk around Kroon's Polders and back along the North Sea beach.
Last night: One more beer with Vlieland local P.
My cheeks are rosy after hours of sunshine today, my body feels happy with having walked for hours.
* Beach, dunes, sea, light, air... *

Saturday on Vlieland


(Click to see the bigger picture )

Shells are so unreliable
They break easily
The stones are coming home with me

Finally some sunshine after all those clouds and the fog!

I fell asleep on the Wadden Sea dike after a long walk. Beginning of February, in the sun and sheltered from the wind. The Wadden Sea stretched out, shimmering, from my feet to the sun in the sky. With the smell of sea and salt and the sound of wind and calling water birds fouraging in the mud. If you listen carefully, you can hear a continuous rustle and bubble from the Wadden Sea mud. Two teenage girls sat down next to me - on an otherwise empty dike - to smoke cigarettes and talk about boys. :-)

A. drove me across the Vliehors until the sunset behind us bathed the endless sand flats ahead of us in a pink light. You see it with the soul, not the eyes.

Friday on Vlieland


(Click to see the bigger picture)

Vlieland local F. gave me 2 beautiful crow's skulls he found in the woods. All clean and still intact. It's great to take walks with him and his two dogs that are totally bonkers, overenthusiastic and wonderfully well-trained.

They released 5 seals from the seal rescue centre. They played around for a while in a channel between the beach and a sandbank, tumbling and splashing, before wobbling back towards us for one last time, turning around and dissapearing into the surf.

Thursday on Vlieland


(Click to see the bigger picture)
Fog, wind and rain on the beach.
* Cold *
And, to my indignation, two other people. How dare they? In February, that stretch of 10 km beach is mine.
Vlieland local A. drove me around the island in his landrover, along the beach and across the Vliehors. People here are just so nice.
I have a treasure of rounded bits of wood, bones, shells, smooth pieces of glass and ceramics... Where am I going to leave all that at home?

5 February 2009

Tuesday on Vlieland


At the table by the window I wonder if I should go for a walk or go to the shops in the village first. I want to buy some food for the birds. The first visitor to the cabin was a robin and the second a calling male pheasant.

We found a harbour porpoise on the Wadden Sea side of the island. There were another 1.5 on the beach on the North Sea side. This one was too fresh to be able take the skull home.
(That animal is right where it belongs.)
I found my first bird's ring. Never mind keeping track of bird populations for nature preservation: this one is from a white rental dove.
(Click on the photographs to get the bigger picture.)

1 February 2009

Impa was wondering

Why don't I do this more often? If it's relatively so easy to get to a place where I feel so good, where everything becomes quiet, where all things fall into place for a while; why on earth don't I do it more often? I asked myself this three months ago, on the island Vlieland. So now you know where I'll be this week. With the seagulls, in the tall beach grass and the cold wind. Where life feels (even) better.