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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Rain is falling down on the  glass roof top amplifying its gloomy noise. Government posters warn us of a country wide drought and if only this rainy spell would help – alas, we are being told this does not even touch the sides of a two-year lack of summer rain.

Running joke... *swoon*

This morning the BBC reported that the  UK hit a double dip recession. This new recession is blamed on the troubles in the eurozone and indeed, back home the government has fallen over deep disagreement how to solve the economic crisis. Keeping in mind this is one of the stronger economies in the EU, it really doesn’t bode well for what is still to come.

However, it is clear that the world as we know it and the economies hang together, so really as we are all shackled to each other: what is the point in pointing fingers or putting your foot down, refusing to move? Maybe it is time to revise the strategies to be the biggest, richest, strongest and help each other to create more stable society. Not even out of fluffy bunny charity but out of sheer survival. Have we not learned that the heavy elite cannot stand on a weak base of society: it will collapse.

Surely, there must be a clever economist out there who can provide us with a template for Capitalism v.2.? An incarnation which perhaps even ties in an ideology moving away from emphasising money. Don’t get me wrong, this is not propaganda for the  so-called ‘equality’ of Communism: money gives you freedom to explore your individuality, as you invest it in your passions and interests.

Money should be a tool, not the goal. A couple of months ago I met a group of guys in a bar, all working respectable jobs but 4 out of 5 said it was to make ends meet, while they followed their passions. Passions were as diverse as pilot training to art school. One of them however insisted that he just wanted to make a lot of money. I asked him what he would do with the money but he couldn’t give me an answer, he just wanted to have a lot of it. It was not to help his mother or go on a worldtrip, he just wanted to security of money. Security from what exactly, I never found out. It was very strange, suddenly it just sounded so Neanderthal.

This blog is my own way to fight the doom and gloom that seems to enclose us so often these days. How long the crisis will last for no one seems to really know and I refuse to look back on this period of my life (Let’s forget world history, damn the effect it has on my life!) as one in which nothing happened. I’m no economist, no part of the power-elite but not only will I survive triple dip recessions with sprinkles on top: by jove I shall live.

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The 12 Challenges I purposely chose to be achievable with a bit of will power, organisational skills and sometimes (if not often) a little help from my friends: with life already being as surprising as a box of chocolates, there is no use buying a box of sugar free ones and thus setting yourself up for failure from the start.

However, there is one challenge that seems a little out of proportion and random in its specifics: ‘Write the word Courage on Ipanema in Brazil’

Today, a two part explanation:

ONE:

LSD by Damien Hirst

Today I saw Damian Hirst’s exhibition in the Tate Modern (incidentally, I would highly recommend it especially to those not ‘getting’ Hirst, like myself. It’s a great documentation of the evolution of an artist and his pieces are understandable  in context of his whole overture. This as an aside.) In the booklet that comes with the exhibition, Damian’s quoted:

“There [are] four important things in life: religion, love, art and science. At their best, they’re all just tools to help you find a path through the darkness. None of them really work that well, but they help. Of them all science seems to be the one right now. Like religion, it provides the glimmer of hope that maybe it will be alright in the end…”

Personally, I believe the most important thing in life, bypassing the four mentioned is: courage. Without courage there would be no religion, love, art and science. They would perhaps exist but they wouldn’t flourish as they should. Religion needs courage for its nature is unquantifiable and inexplicable; there is no use in love, if there is no courage to express it; no use in art, if there’s no courage to share it; and science would mean nothing, if no one had the courage to explore beyond known limits.

Courage is not (self)confidence: it only comes into existence when surrounded by doubt and fear. I don’t even think it is ‘the glimmer of hope that maybe it will be alright in the end’: courage is almost the acceptance that even if it isn’t alright in the end, you’ll deal with it.

It is perhaps the more eloquent, more mature, less angry and less aggressive version of: Fuck You. For a start it takes the ‘You’ out of the equation, ‘You’/The Other doesn’t matter: Courage stands by itself.

And I like that.

TWO:
Ipanema. Brazil. That’s about friendship without borders.

It’s about travelling to an airport to see an old friend after six years for only six hours and a drunken promise in the back of a cab.

It’s about reuniting with a new friend, who is also carving out the life she desires.

Both friends I shared wonderful crazy times with, in different times and different places – the kind I will look back on when I’m 97 and less able to travel, but when I’ll remember that during those periods I laughed out loud each day.

The logistics are still a challenge but today I received a reminder through the post to keep on going.

What are you going to do today?

It’s a question that I consistently answer with ‘Trying to write.’ ( One day not so very long ago, it would have been ‘Trying to take over the world’ with less irony than you might expect.)

Not Ed from Finance.

It’s April now and I’m slowly adapting to the life I’m creating for myself. Today, I like that life but I admit it fluctuates. ‘Trying to write’ instead of ‘going to write’ comes from finding the balance between ‘consciously steering’ and ‘enjoying the ride.’ Recently I had a mild panic, and when I say recently I mean two days ago, that I haven’t been writing as much as I should. However, you can’t force it and funnily enough, writing is much more enjoyable when you are not staring blankly at the screen wondering what on earth you are doing.

The more you push the less it flows, at least for me. It means I’m fighting the fear (I shall spare you the details of all the dark places my head can take me, though it does involve taking an office job and marrying Ed from Finance because he has a stable income and nice teeth.) and trying to remind myself that this is the life I want and enjoy it while I’m figuring it out.

I try to motivate myself by looking for inspiration in others. Reading books (The Old Man and The Sea my first Hemingway read was interesting) watching people in the street, meeting with friends, watching programs and that is how I stumbled across a documentary about Robert Redford and Paul Newman (*swoon* developing unhealthy obsession with a dead man.). The former saying about the latter: “What we can learn from Paul? Maybe how he went about it his own way… If it’s not fun, it’s not worth doing and it doesn’t have to be silly. It could be hard work and it could be edgy, it could be a lot of things. But it could also be fun.”

by Stephen Roberto on Flickr

It’s alright to have fun while you are plotting life. This project is not supposed to be stressful, it should be fun. Writing about it shouldn’t be a chore, just something I want to do: and I do.Today is a good day: this was my warm-up exercise (posted later today) and more writing shall be done on other projects.  Plus I’ve decided that today is also the day to start practising the mouth harmonica, put as a challenge to learn to play away the blues…

Camping out on the hill

It was dark and against my brain’s wishes I wrestled out of my sleeping bag: I thought I’d heard something. I left my trooper-friend Susie Q who had joined me for moral support, in her sleepingbag, wrapped in 6 layers of clothing and a balaclava. I opened the tent, put on the yeti coat and stepped into the cold.

In the morning I had come up the hill with Robert, after having been introduced by his daughter, a friend of Susie. The sun was shining, it was gorgeous and I wondered if the borrowed white yeti coat, was a bit much…

His cows seemed to think so, until I learned how to scratch them and help relieve their itch as they shed their wintercoat. We were having a good time until something noisily fell and everyone got a bit startled… Soon as the coast was clear though, scratching happily continued.

Wading through cow dung and straw in my Marc Jacobs wellies ( they were a gift, get over it…) I wondered if MJ had actually meant them to be used for any other purpose than hipster festivals.

After this little detour, we drove up to the fields and for lambing I was told to look for sheep that show unsheepish behaviour. (“Erhm ok…”) meaning they walk off to be alone and seem a bit restless in general. Tails up is also a good sign… or they might just poo: examining the evidence on the field the latter was a more likely option.

I met a lovely French lady who had seen lambs be born the day before, so I was hopeful. Driving the new born lambs with their mums from a separate little field into the covered pens, was a lot trickier than the instruction “Just slowly walk them forwards” suggested. Several rounds around an empty trailer later, I managed to get my family in – after which a little one still promptly escaped.

Slapstick turned into battle film, when Robert tried to perform, what can only be described as the sheep equivalent of a mani-pedi and bikini wax. One mother sheep had gotten fiercely protective. The French lady decided to play music in the pen, and though it was later explained as a healing chant to calm the Alpha-mummy sheep, at the time it provided an eerie soundtrack to one of those slow-motion Lord of the Rings Battle moments. When it was my turn to turn a sheep I epically failed: if I were my sheep I would ask for my money back on the pedi. StiIl I know my own limitations so the shearing was handed back to the pro.

Find the odd one out.

The afternoon we herded to rest of the sheep to the smaller field, I sat in the sun and waited. On my lap lay “One Hundred Years of Solitude” unopened as I admired the view and enjoyed the silence. When Robert’s daughter and Susie Q came to check on me, we had a cuppa in the converted horse trailer (” I really like what you’ve done with the place…”) and as we walked out: I’d just missed a birth. Lambs were just getting up. Hm, did that count? What to do?

As we were here now and generously being allowed to invade a little longer on Robert’s solitary holiday, we set up camp. Thanks to Laura CssD, I had a one person tent with instructions ( which you need to follow, especially if you are an unexperienced tent builder like yours truly)  but that evening Susie and I were watching the stars before going to bed.

Now, in the dark and armed with a small head torch I walked around the field. There I found two lambs already in the grass by mum. The last one just out, being licked clean and…not moving. Oh crap, this was not on the list. Mummy sheep was nudging it and the head came up… nothing. Trying not to panic, I go for a walk and check back. After 15 minutes, one lamb was drinking but Tiny Tim still couldn’t find its feet. Options were going through my head, one strangely being: wake Susie to see if I should wake Robert…

Tiny Tim by the light of a head torch

I skipped waking Susie and a few minutes later, head torch now actually attached to head, I was disinfecting an umbilical cord and rubbing the lamb dry with straw, as it lay with its sibling and mummy in the pen. Robert, in equal fashionable outfit, had manually fed it and apparently the lamb got up an hour later: #winning.

It was 2am and though I had missed the actual drop of the lambs: by watching the first moves, the cleaning of umbilical cords, the feeding and bundling up, I think I’d done all in my limited midwifery powers.

Thus I consider the challenge “Witnessing a birth” thoroughly met.