Monday, July 18, 2016

where was this when i was picking dark blue?

maybe i need new glasses.
in a variety of colors.
with thanks to bill.
a blog friend in the beginning, and a real life friend today.

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tarkovsky's atmospheric polaroids.

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midlife crisis? why bother?

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people who are late are more optimistic.
or is that just crap?

Monday, July 11, 2016

kittens don't care if they're black or white

like the rest of the world, i have looked on in dumbfounded horror as the reports rolled in last week of two innocent men in louisiana and minnesota who were killed in cold blood by those meant to protect them for no reason other than the color of their skin. then, when a sniper fired on a demonstration in dallas, killing and injuring police, it seemed that the united states was on the verge of meltdown.

during a long drive back from germany, on my phone i read the early accounts of the dallas events, all of which were very careful not to name the color of anyone's skin. some part of me appreciates the caution, as it's somehow borne of politeness and a wish to reserve judgement. but the fact is that these things are happening due to the color of people's skin and to be afraid to talk openly about it only adds to the problem.

the problem seems pretty insurmountable. instead of making things better, having the first black president in american history (who will also undoubtedly go down as one of the best) seems to have made things worse. the toothless mouth breathers are angry and with open carry gun laws in force, they're not afraid to show it.

i don't pretend to have any knowledge of what it must be like to be black in america today. as a white, educated, midwestern female living in europe, i'm surely steeped in about as much white privilege as one can be. living outside my culture, i have my moments feeling Other, but they are no doubt mild compared to daily fears of being stopped and shot by police just for going about my life within my own skin.

all these events seem to be bringing out the worst in people, especially on facebook. i suspect it's not good for us. we isolate ourselves in silos of those who believe as we believe. and we shake our heads at the sharing of treacly videos about how people are not born racist, considering ourselves above such superficial analysis. we don't really engage with the question at all. and it all feels quite hopeless.

some part of me feels as i did during the reagan years with his anti-russian rhetoric. i imagined a young girl in russia who was my age and maybe looked a bit like me and wanted the things i wanted. and i thought, if we could just meet and talk to one another and get to be friends, we wouldn't need all of this. maybe we all need to start making friends with people who are different from ourselves - whether it's skin color, sexual orientation, nationality or something else. maybe it's a place to begin.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

kittens lately

two batches of kittens. three in each. two months old and change.

tidying up

it's been raining all weekend, so i've been stuck inside, on a mission to tidy up and clean. i hadn't done more than the very bare minimum since my back troubles began back in october. but today, all the rugs were taken out (between showers) and shaken. cobwebs vacuumed up, shelves dusted with a damp, soapy cloth and a bit of rearranging of beloved items. the entryway is still where we stack our shoes and hang our coats, but it's much more inviting.

i got on such a roll, that i tackled my desk area, where papers had piled up and dust had accumulated and spiders had built major real estate. i put away most of the lego from my desk area, realizing at long last that having it there made me more sad than happy. i replaced it with things i wanted to look at instead - my favorite scale with the little birds on top, a bobbaloo, my 2016 happiness jar (which i'd also neglected for a few months), a stack of moleskines, some of the pots i made in ceramics class. objects that bring me joy.

and tho' that little adjacent hallway needs a good once-over on the shelves and the stacks of paper all sorted, it was pretty awesome to clear up my desk area. it had a clearing effect on my head as well. funny how the clutter around us clutters our minds. and then it hit me, while i was vacuuming, that i wasn't worried about my back. for the first time in nearly 9 months, i really wasn't worried about my back. i felt strong and capable and, dare i say, normal again. all that yoga is paying off.

but i also credit it to a long and deep conversation i had on tuesday evening with an old friend. it loosened something in me and i was able, after far too long, to let go of both physical and psychological pain and begin to move forward once again. i don't know if we even talked about anything all that deep - there was a lot of laughter and quite a bit of wine - but it somehow shifted something in me. i don't know if i'll be who i was before (are we ever?), but i feel more like myself again. and after wondering whether i ever would again, it's a big relief.

and on that note, i'm off to tidy the kitchen.

to be or not to be (danish)

a friend on facebook shared an interesting article yesterday. it's an interview with a german journalist who has lived in denmark for 15 years, is married to a dane and is raising danish-german children. unfortunately for most of my readers, it's in danish. but, i'll tell you the gist of it. the rhetoric in today's denmark is much like that in the uk, which recently precipitated their brexit vote - anti-immigration, anti-foreigner. when i came to denmark 18 years ago, it was easier, today, you have to put an obscene amount of money in a bank account and pass a high level danish test to achieve permanent residence. in my day, you married a dane, met up once a year at the immigration office for two years and then after three years, you were a permanent resident. in those days, there was talk of integration, not assimilation. that's all changed. the danish justice minister recently said that anyone coming here should "adopt danishness," with the implication that our original cultures should be obliterated and we should just give ourselves over to being danish (he's a bit thin on what exactly that entails, but it has something to do with paying taxes, eating pork and thinking christmas is december 24).

and like marc-christoph wagner, the german in the article, i think "no way!" i am, in many ways, less american than i once was, in the sense of being less loud, outgoing and open to talking to strangers. but where i was raised is imprinted in me in ways that i can never change. i just have to hear a cars song and i am transported to teenage summer nights, driving around with friends, singing along, the radio glowing green in the wide front seat of the car, windows open. talking about everything and nothing. sometimes all it takes is a scent to touch something deep inside me, triggering a flood of memories and a sense of who i was and where i grew up. while i have memories and songs and scents from denmark that do that for me as well after all these years, i can never and never want to, be free of the ones that stem from the culture where i grew up. to want to take that away and replace it with pork rinds and thinking that christmas is the 24th would be to try to erase who i am. not to mention that i don't even think it's possible.

i was thinking the other day, as i biked 16km across copenhagen (the stuff of another blog post), that denmark has changed a lot in the 18 years i've been here. when i came, people were more open, more prone to public nudity (sprawling out in their underwear in the parks and cemeteries at the first rays of sunshine), more rebellious (they had the highest percentage of women smokers in the developed world). it was ok to be proud of what you did for a living, whether you worked in an office or on an assembly line. that's all changed. now it's scandalous to go topless on a beach, men are hardly allowed to work in kindergartens for fear that if they hugged a crying child to comfort them, they would be seen as pedophiles. and everyone wants a career and not just a job. and there's a big rise in nationalist rhetoric and xenophobia. a few months ago, it was perfectly ok to stand on an overpass and spit down on the refugees as they come in, as some danes did down at the border with germany.

i realize it's not just denmark. it seems that the zeitgeist of the moment is right wing extremist madness. those with less education and less money are frightened and pressured all over the world and they are speaking out with their bigoted viewpoints and votes. it's what caused the brexit vote and the rise of a clown like donald trump. and it's why even politicians who once seemed sensible are saying increasingly awful things in the interest of remaining in power.

and as usual, i find myself out in the middle of the atlantic, wanting to feel neither danish nor american.

Friday, June 17, 2016

being sick is such a waste of time

"Her secret, if indeed she kept one, might be that we cannot comprehend how different our lives are from everyone else’s," on Diane Arbus, from this piece in the american scholar.

i was part of a community art project last weekend. it was a waste time home party and the concept was developed by artist anja franke. the event was part of a cooperation between trapholt, an art museum in kolding and the 7 communities that make up the triangle region of denmark. our local art associated played host to the event, together with our local library.

the idea is that your admission ticket to the event is a piece of white porcelain, probably something you found at a flea market or which was lying around your home, not used all that often. so a "waste" piece of porcelain. everyone who comes gathers to eat a meal together using the porcelain and then, when the dinner is over, it's all washed and the group embarks upon painting their interpretation of the waste time pattern onto the plates, cups and bowls. the painted pieces will be part of a larger exhibition in september at trapholt.

with the influx of refugees spreading across europe, the question of home was central. it was also important for us to include some of the refugee families that live here in our little town. we were fortunate to find a syrian family who was willing to cook the meal that we all shared. and i got to help prepare the food. we worked together in the library's kitchen all morning and i tried to learn as much as i could about syrian cuisine while i helped. it's quite a mediterranean kitchen and not unlike the cuisine i know from the balkans, turkey and greece. we had so much fun in the kitchen, laughing and joking as we prepared the food. i've posted some pictures of it over here (in danish, but the pix do speak for themselves).

part of the program was an all-too-short salon, where questions about home, waste and time were posed and discussed in small groups. as i've been lying around sick this week, trying to get over a miserable summer cold, i've had occasion to ponder the list of questions. there's undoubtedly a whole series of blog posts in the questions, but i found myself focusing on the waste section, as being sick feels decidedly like a waste of time. and since i've covered home a lot here on mpc, i'll save that and time for another...well...time.

"when do you feel that you're wasting time?"

i definitely felt like i was wasting time this week, as i wiled away the days in bed, blowing my nose, drinking tea, coughing and generally feeling miserable. even tho' i skyped in to meetings at work and actually got quite a lot of work done on documents since i was without the usual interruptions for cake or lunch or conversations that happen at the office, i still felt like being sick was such a waste of time. it comes with a feeling of frustration - with myself, with my body for succumbing to illness, for not being able to do enough, for not having energy, for feeling crabby and achy and out of sorts. being sick is just such a waste of time!

i tried to put into practice some of what i've learned at yoga about listening to my body. getting sick was surely my body's way of telling me that i needed to slow down. but i couldn't help but feel impatient and want it to just hurry up and get well so i could get back to all of life's obligations once again. but that seems to be taking some time.

but in the end, i've given in to my dull headache and all that snot clogging up my brain and said i'd return to work on monday. and i've rested and snuggled with the kittens and tried my very best not to consider being sick a colossal waste of time. and i might, just might, be starting to feel just a little bit better. just in time to care for husband, who seems to be coming down with the damn thing now too. summer colds are the worst.

when do you feel that you're wasting time?

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the perils of following healthy living blogs.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

taking comfort in kittens

after a wonderfully hectic week last week, involving being onboard four different ships and some very late nights, i've succumbed to a summer cold. the weather has deteriorated from glorious summer sunshine to dreary rain in tempo with my health. i have the comfort of kittens. and what a comfort they are. i'm utterly depressed and rendered speechless by the latest shooting in orlando and the vitriol of the fundamentalists and bigots of the world (all of whom seem to be filling my facebook feed). not even instagram was safe ground as my own nephew shared a worryingly pro-gun, pro-trump post. i wonder if he even knows what he's saying? or if he's parroting the society around him? it's all too depressing, so i retreat to the comfort of kittens and cups of tea and chicken soup with kale from the garden. and i wish that it would all go away - the terror, the bigotry, the hatred, the guns, the rain and this cold.