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not writing it down.

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in the backstreets of GuangZhou

"hope you are writing this down. even if just for yourself."

i recently walked down a street in london and the shutter speed of the camera was set to 1/500 of a second. i thought that i could somehow sneak by a few minutes by letting the little machine have a very brief look at the world, all together not even adding up to a single second, and yet sliced in space in a way that could recreate a book blown away by a gust of wind if printed out and thrown back. into thin or thick air. air.

when i sit in a taxi and it speeds under a bridge that carries a train filled with standing people, in that very moment, going from one side of a country to the other. when we meet for that one tiny fraction of a blink. was it worth it? was it worth preparing for this one moment for our entire lives. and what if all these moments were familiar. like the face of a friend in a street somewhere in a place seemingly visited for the first time?

what if there were the anticipation towards that moment of passing. people in objects, moving in very different directions, at different speeds. lucky enough to meet. to overlap almost, if only seen from a distance great enough.

"see you next time" i have abandoned the idea of leaving any memory completely. a shadow of it will eventually find me and turn a gap between words into a trap, or a garden i did not anticipate.

or maybe both. maybe gardens are traps. and traps are made to be teachers or kind friends who allow to pull the world into a bitter, or sweet taste at the top of one's mouth.

the most lovely part of getting lost in the back streets of guangzhou was that my palate was remembering the stones of the houses. breathing in was more enjoyable than i could have anticipated just moments earlier.

like objects enclosed in objects, moving at various speeds into directions that are set by the gravity pulling on other objects. a never ending restless dance of little particles on a ball of spinning dust. there it goes.

i will try to sleep for an hour. the recording of a brass bell will remind me to wake up and walk into my evening that will look like bright day to a place i like to call home.

sleepy. perhaps that's the way to describe the split second that will follow.
my eyes are shaking.
because that's the only way they can see.

Fruit in the streets of GuangZhou


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Pinakothek der Moderne, a wooden necklace

after three weeks away from home, i am spread around the globe like fly on a windshield, except i am alive and will now reassemble myself slowly, before i jump off again.
first there was a week in beijing. and i have learned so much there about myself and life that i will need to think about it for a while, and maybe a while long enough to outlast me.
that is very possible.
the thinking i was pulled into on this trip to china was so fundamental and so deeply set in human existence that it is not something i can just simply put in words or write about as if it were just another occurrence.
not that i would write about any other occurrence here.
then the two following weeks were spent in germany, in some places familiar and in some places much less familiar. and the airline lost my baggage for about 10 days, so there was a very vulnerable quality to most of the time spent in bavaria and swabia.
i felt lost at times, even though i should not have.
and felt cornered, and angry. for no reason visible to the outside world.
so in a way this was also a very transformational experience, but maybe this time one i do not really understand enough to even interpret properly.

it is almost midnight on the first day of the first month of 2011. and i am awake as if it were around noon of the second of january. and my suitcases are still packed. i have not even looked at the pictures again that i took in the last three weeks. there is a hum in my head and my dreams seem to be straight out of inception's abandoned scripts.

it is incredible how i manage to throw myself into this similar state almost every year. it is not that i am placing any resolutions in front of myself. it is that giant shifts somehow happen around now. and it could just me that this might be the only time left for me to actually stop for more than a day or two and to look at my feet and the ground and the ground beneath the ground and to look at the sky beyond that.
maybe. perhaps this is the only time left when i can become a set of ripples in a pond.

and all of this will probably sound ridiculous to anyone outside. and it will probably all sound ridiculous to me in a few days from now.
but it will probably not make it less valid at this current moment in time.

Pinakothek der Moderne, a wooden necklace

The boxer looked at me suspiciously as I was on my way back to the seat behind his.
I felt a bit as if he were just about attack me. But I guess that's jst the way he looks at people sometimes. It was a bit as if his eyes were capable to generate a rede dot of light. The last warning before a bullet follows.

The three men who are with him, pudgy, loud and happy drinkers certainly do not have that sniperish spark. Or at least not today.

I met several flaneurs in Garmisch-Partenkirchen yesterday. Maybe they were far enough out of their element to be called something else. I met them for seconds at a time.

A woman walking down the path towards Partenkirchen gave me directions to a place she never had the opportunity to visit. A place called Schöne Aussicht simply had to have a good view. Or at least at some point in the conscious past.
I am now not completely sure if I actually ever managed to arrived at the Schöne Aussicht, or if i managed to walk beyond it without actually recognizing it.
The views were beautiful. All along. I might have passed the one recommended, of course.

Then there was the elderly couple who liked that I was using my umbrella to protect myself from the afternoon sun. Their dog Baloo could not know that it had the same name as the most recent friend of my parents. The one whom they had to bury in their neighbor's garden, after the poor thing was not strong enough to lift his leg. Or any leg. A smart little buddy of a border collie reduced to a shitting carpet. Blind. And yet happy.
The dog running around the Alm somewhere above Partenkirchen was still oblivious of his destination. It was a golden retriever. A dog not completely aware of the jobs available in this mountain environment. It even ran away for a little while.
That's how I knew his name.

Soon after I met two horses under the shadow of the tree. With them, hundreds of flies eating on them. The Horses' eyes were almost completely closed. They looked very tired with their bodies standing close to each other and in a way that would allow them to kick anybody with the audacity to get too close to the tree, the flies, them.

Ten cows, and their ten sucking calves walked up the hill not far away from any shadow. They had come to drink in a place prepared just for that occasion. The mothers were able to have the water. The little ones were hungry, and allowed to have the milk.
All played their part in the symphony of bells. Small and large.
The mountainside. Suddenly beyond romantic. The sounds. The sounds.

Down the road, beyond the gate made for cows and people, I encountered the snake. A snake I almost stepped on. It looked too big and its colors were too interesting for it to be harmless. And its neck had turned itself into an S. It was ready to bite me, or at least launch its head after me. Clearly.
We both stared at each other in a calm or perhaps even focussed way. Or at least that was my interpretation of it.
We just stood there for a while. Well, I stood there for a while. The snake obviously did not.
I wondered if it was my now stupid black umbrella that worried the animal so much. I imagined that I must have looked like a large bird? I could imagine how the snake did not want to die exactly here an now. I moved away slowly. And so did the snake.

Then there was the girl on the meadow. This one was dressed. She was unlike the one who lay there naked next to the train tracks a few miles out of Garmisch.
Staring at the passing by trains.
The dressed one on the meadow here had her head turned away. Privacy can somehow achieved by just not looking. It is true for the New York subway. And apparently also for the meadow just outside of Garmisch-Partenkirchen

Further down the street, a little girl on the monocycle pedaled by me. "this looks incredibly difficult" I said. "it is incredibly easy. You just need to practice." she answered,
as she sped down the hill and between the painted houses.

The saddest encounters were not even with the living. At the St. Anton church, nailed to its walls, a cemetery of memories. Men and women who left the place for a war, never to return.
Their photos looked like those of friends.
Some of them looked the way I used to look when I was their age, 18, 20, 21, 30, 35. One was exactly my current age when he died.
Some were not even allowed to have died. They were just "lost". They were not even given the privilege to become actual bodies in an actual grave. No closure permitted for those left behind.

One board had been carved for two twin brothers and their older, third.
It was tragic enough that all three brothers did not return to their home here. But what seemed to make matters worse, was that one of the twins apparently managed to survive the war. He died in 1948 when finally allowed to go back home from siberia. Or at least I hope he was allowed to go home. I am not sure why in exactly this moment I remembered the two fly covered horses under the tree.
Did he die knowing of what had happened to his brothers?
Was he hopeful and looking forward to returning here? To the very spot I was standing on?
Most of the men seemed to have died in February; in Russia.
I felt privileged to be able to encounter a summer in the beautiful town they were forced to leave to die. And I was aware that there were many other photographs somewhere out there, tragically connected to these. Mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers in other villages somewhere far away. Connected to the same horrible events. Their family killed or "lost".

A man barely able to utter a sentence had sent me on the walk, actually.
He was a man in his twenties maybe? His eyes hidden somewhere in the depths of their sockets and stumbling words seemingly barely able to find their way out of his mouth.
He seemed to be a head taller than me, his arms somehow uncontrolled and randomly helpful and almost dangerous.
He approached me in the little chapel where I happened to be taking a picture of the "holy water to go" in a corner. It was a relatively large jar.
I refilled my bottle with holy water from the plastic barrel nearby. When I was taking the picture, the need to frame it correctly must have made me look pious. I was a person kneeling in the corner of a tiny church. Not even in any center of it.

The man was very helpful.

He sent me in the direction of the pictures, the snake, the girl on the monocycle, the cows, the horses and even the beautiful view of Zugspitze.

The train rides from and back to Munich were pleasant. Out of habit I had purchased first class tickets. And so I ended up being the only person in a car attached to an otherwise crowded train.
I paid for the solitude.
And the lack of conversation.
But perhaps also for the luxury of reflection.

I hope the boxer from flight LH410 will win his fight. The three pudgy men will undoubtedly be very happy when it happens. They will probably take the plane back to Munich with more joy then. And they will drink more and they will take more pictures of their boxer.
And he looked quite good with a yet unbroken nose.

this is not a book with empty pages.

managed to not say a word to the guy sitting next to me on the plane. even though we appeared to be the same age, we seemed to read the same magazines, and even ordered the same food.
well, i watched "wickie der wikinger" right after "kojak" while he held his iphone close enough to his face to leave smear marks on the screen. with his eyelashes. it was some art movie. mostly blue pictures of people doing something.
it was not my seat anyway. i was supposed to sit two rows back, in a seat i had booked months in advance. but there was this father who wanted to sit next to his sons.
"i speak three languages" said one of the boys, maybe 8, instead of a hello, when i was exchanging my opened blanket for the one that had not been used yet.
"oh that's nice, what are the languages?" " i speak english, german, and french."
"das ist ja sehr schön, dann haben wir zwei sprachen gemeinsam" "ja"
i was a bit upset that we did not have three languages in common. today.
perhaps the boy will end up learning polish at some point in his life, or perhaps i will finally be forced to learn french.
that charles V quote i recently read somewhere made me smile... I speak Spanish to God, Italian to women, French to men, and German to my horse.
he should have probably mixed it up now and then. and would he have used other languages had he not suffered from the habsburg jaw?

we are back in new york. the snow flurries are turning the palette of the brooklyn i can see out of the window now into something that one would probably use a pencil to describe, perhaps some dirtied sienna? a true lead pencil?
it appears to be cold enough for the flakes to actually bounce of each other as they land. they do not feel they should be come one cover of snow yet. right now they want to be new year flakes.

we travelled a bit too quickly in the last few weeks. it is so tempting to just jump on a train to go to a place that is so close and yet so different than the current location. köln is now about an hour away from frankfurt? really? that's pretty much the length of my daily commute today.

what is it like to express anything in more than 140 characters? how many facebook friends does it take to make one who will actually save one's life when it is threatened? not just like or comment on one's fall. or just retweet it.

jetlag can be a beautiful thing. and now i am even 5 minutes early.

cut your engine.

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Not completely sure what time zone I am in right now, or even what precisely a time zone could mean to me being here. There are several motors running in the apartment. The refrigerator is compressing something, the air conditioner is pushing cool air into the room and the little spinners in tivo and friends are busy remembering television broadcasts I will probably not remember once I see them.

Some of my sentences have turned from linear strings to circles, rings, some even bubbles. The visual world is gathering like the road at the end of a blur tunnel when in the left lane at high speeds.

I will need to slow down for at least a few hours this morning. The apartment is littered by objects a busier me has left behind for the me who has a bit more time.
This has happened so often that the busier me actually assumed that time can be just stolen from the less busy me.

And now I am not even sure where to start here.
It is odd how I have to somehow defenestrate myself into calmness.
At least for a few hours I have to.
Let's see if it works.

There was a bit of a problem with a part related to electricity on our plane from Newark to Copenhagen. The pilot tried restarting the entire system by shutting down everything and then starting it up again. But that did not really help. A part was indeed broken and so we were stuck in an airplane, in the sun, with bad air conditioning... I think for about four hours?

I kept sending emails and little sms messages back home and to the office, until the electricity on the blackberry ran out as well, so I reached for the iPod, the trusted little friend, to teach me some Japanese. Real beginner stuff; I can barely count to three. (And that's probably because I am also a bit of a Mr. itchy knee.)

The earphones I have had for my iPod for a long time now are rather great. They really block out noise without requiring batteries. That's why I got them. I can push them really deep into my ear canal and the world around me quiets down; so the music, or in this case a person counting in Japanese becomes really loud and clear.

Things were going okay, until one of the ear plugs fell out of my ear. The right one just fell out onto the seat. Very annoying because it did not just fall out, it also lost that rubber piece that actually makes the noise cancellation so good.

How was I going to find a little rubber piece stuck somewhere in the seat of a plane, stuck in the airport, with the night really setting in now, and the sweatiness level increasing all around me?
I tried to just move as little as possible. Perhaps the piece fell actually onto me. Maybe it was just there, all I needed to do it to look really thoroughly.
It took me probably a minute to realize that the the piece was not really as lost as I at first thought.

It had never actually fallen out really.
The rubber piece was simply stuck.
In my head.
I could now feel it with the tip of my finger.
A rubbery piece, fitted very snugly in the depths of my head.
Now that was a bit of an unpleasant feeling.

Great. So here I had an adventure on top of an adventure.
I had to share the story with someone. Hopefully someone who could somehow help me. Oh yes, tweezers are no longer permitted on airplanes.

A very friendly flight assistant, she could have been a long lost sister of pippi longstocking with dyed hair, seemed to react to my story and the way I told it.
Here was my iPod. There were my earplugs. One of them was missing a piece.
"Do you know where I lost the piece?"
I would then point to my right ear.
"It is stuck in here."

She wanted to help me. Flight attendants are apparently allowed to bring tweezers on board. She began to ask her fellow flight attendants is they had a "pinzette" that word is apparently the same in Polish and in Danish.
("Tak" means "Thank you" in Danish, yet "Yes" in Polish. And I wonder why.)

I went to the bathroom to check if I was perhaps able to see the object in my ear. The bathrooms on SAS airplanes are rather huge by airline standards. Two windows, all around mirrors. Do I need to say more?
I could not see the piece in my ear. Maybe a shadow. Maybe there were too many mirrors I had to use to actually see anything. All I could really see was that I am losing hair in the back of my head as well.
Big time.

The bathroom did not contain a "Pinzette" just a few towels (frottee), some lotions, cups, some abandoned sewing kit, a shaving kit. Nothing useful really, unless I wanted to sew up or shave my ears.

I left the bathroom and ran into the flight attendant again. She had rubber gloves on, and indeed a nice little Pinzette. She looked excited.
We looked for the brightest spot nearby. It happened to be in front of the still open door of the airplane. We were still grounded. Three airport workers spoke with the purser of the flight, a woman in her 50's maybe, wearing a butter colored dress that somehow matched the idea that butter might have been one of her favorite food groups.
The purser should have been the calmest person on the plane, but she somehow managed to make everyone slightly nervous, trying to look friendly when it was a bit obvious that it did not really come easy for her.

"I have to tell my boss what I am going to do," said my rubbergloved flight attendant.
I was seated on one of those jump seats the crew has to tie themselves to during the very moment of takeoff and landing.
The purser did not really seem to care what was about to happen, and so the flight attendant lowered herself to my height and began operation earplug.
I obviously could not see what she was doing, but it appeared that she was not really pinching the rubber piece very hard, and it kept slipping out of the grip of her tweezers.
What kind of tweezers were they anyway? They looked a bit like the cosmetic equivalent of a hammerhead shark. What I was looking for was something pointy and strong, this was not really going to happen?

"What are you doing?" The purser was here now. She had completed her chat with the airport workers and we were apparently the next little vignette in her walk of worry through the more and more chaotic airplane.
"The tweezers are too big." My friendly flight attendant said.
A brief exchange in Danish, or Swedish followed.
The flight attendant looked at me.
"Are you American Sir?"
I was not sure what she meant by that. I am a legal resident. I am a New Yorker... well,
"I guess I am almost an American, yes, you can speak English to me, why?"
I hoped that was the right answer.
The purser looked at my friendly flight attendant.
"Stop helping him right now. If you make a mistake he is going to sue you."
Her English was not fantastic, but clearly some understanding of the world was really somehow simple...
(And I had apparently not given the correct answer.)
"Maybe we should just..." and she made a movement with her hand that somehow indicated that she would just like to slap me in my face. ...
"We can't do this here right now. Get back to your seat Sir. We will now serve dinner. We will deal with this after dinner."
My poor helper had to take off her rubber gloves... "Don't worry, I have children. I take stuff out of their noses all the time."

Dinner was served.

I felt worse and worse.
What would happen once we closed the airplane door? What happens to the ear canal after takeoff? The pressure changes. And then what?
Was I destined to carry a piece of rubber in my head for the next few days?
What if it moved further inward?
I was not sure, but there was just a slightly uncomfortable sensation about all this.
Was I going to lose my balance?
My hearing?

I could not have dinner before I resolved the issue.
The sewing kit in the bathroom could actually be the answer.
I locked myself in and found the abandoned sewing kit again.
Several colors of thread, two needles, two small white plastic buttons, a small golden safety pin.
There was a solution in here somewhere.

I opened the safety pin and bent it to be more of a straight piece of golden wire with a point. I then inserted the point into one of the little buttons and bent it into shape until I has a golden little tool, a hook custom made to remove rubber objects out of my ear.
I obviously did not want anything sharp to go deep into my ear canal. The bent hook seemed like just the right thing to do.
I decided to not rely on any of the mirrors. They would just confuse me. I would probably end up poking myself in the eye.
So with closed eyes and as gently as I could, I slowly began to look for something that would give the hook just the right amount of resistance.
It was very obvious when the point touched the skin in my ear. It did not really hurt, it just allowed me to somehow create a bit of a mental picture of my ear canal.
After several attempts, the hook gripped something.
I pulled on it gently. A sound as if I were pulling out a shoe out of mud told me that I was indeed pulling something.
Then the hook slipped.
Okay, I had to try again.
I must have attempted to penetrate the rubber with the hook about eleven times. It was a fascinating experience in reality perception really.
There was the resistance, the hook was penetrating the material, there was more resistance, I pulled... the loud noise, the pleasant feeling of a foreign object being removed from the body...
a little more, a little more...
and there is was.
The result of my fishing expedition was in my hand, stuck onto the end of a golden hook. I had managed to bring myself into a dumb situation, but I also managed to get myself out of it somehow.
A pleasant feeling.

When I left the bathroom, there were three flight attendants looking at an instruction manual of sorts. "We are looking for safe instructions how to remove the object from your ear."
I showed them my little contraption.
My friendly flight attendant looked like she really wanted to hug me. I guess we were all relieved, but it would be a bit odd to hug someone because I just managed to pull a piece of rubber out of my ear.
So we did not hug.
She rubbed my shoulder.
I rubbed her shoulder.
We were both very happy this had all happened without any interference of the purser.
And actually before dinner!

For the rest of the flight, all of the flight attendants came by to see me. Some of them just looked at me, most pointed to their left or right ear and either smiled, or had an inquisitive expression on their face. Their lips would move, but they would not utter a sound. "Are you okay?" "How is your ear?"
It was pretty obvious what they were asking. The words were overly expressive.
Yes, I still had my ear.
And I can still hear.
All of my actions might have actually been very dangerous though.
On a tiny scale, of course.
Compared to us riding on two jet engines across the ocean.
But it was a personal story.

The ear incident.

We arrived in Aalborg about 23 hours after leaving the office at 2pm.
The baggage did not make it;
but that's not that special.

As I am writing this, the suitcase was actually delivered by the friendly SAS staff.

And Aalborg is alive tonight.

I will need to finish writing now.
Tomorrow will be a truly fascinating day.


Walked around the castle this morning. There is a field in the back, waiting for its yellow color. the trees are currently covered with multiple layers of moss. birds are moving in slowly into the many homes prepared for them. what sounds like a joyful song could potentially be an angry territorial argument.
it is still cold here, but the water around the castle is molten now and school of huge carp wait for their feeding, or maybe for the mosquito larvae which could also make a delicious snack.
my room is like a snail house made out of oak planks and granite. so wonderfully quiet, calm, a very fine filter for concerns. perhaps the very tiny ones make it through. no big ones allowed.
calmness. or slowness, as suggested by the Hamish Fulton piece in the lobby.
there is a small one in my room as well. each room has a special one. there are 65 of them.
also sat down in the old chapel of the castle. a Lawrence Weiner piece reminds about stone plus stone & stone and stone.
stone and wood.
we are just like water around them.
calm now.

going back for a short visit to munich now.

Yesterday's unexpected crash...

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yesterday had knocked me out. waking up was not bad, I knew there was an important presentation ahead of me, the day would be packed with other good activities as well. waking up was not bad at all, but then once i actually stood on my feet, the world began to move in very uncomfortable ways, it felt as if I were on board of a plane spiralling out of the sky, I was not even attached to my seat, my body could not quite handle the sensation. Whatever I had eaten in the days before, apparently was only rented. I imagined myself throwing up onto a boardroom table, during the presentation. Bad thought. I had to stay home. (Actually, I would have not even made it to the train.) I called my doctor who wrote me a prescription for powerful looking purple capsules (Their name a mix of titan and pagan?). He called the pharmacy across the street, and they delivered in about 20 minutes. This is New York after all. The pills were supposed to fight my nausea (and that other set of violent body reactions that often follows nausea...) But the side effects include (and I am writing this from the sheet that came with the pills) such exciting experiences as: unusual bleeding, confusion, tremors, vision changes, yellowing of eyes and skin, involuntary movement of eyes/face/limbs, spasms (on one website there was even an exact description of the spasms as the expanding type, not the contracting, for those who want to know) and... well... depression, headache, dizziness, and drowsiness... That all seemed quite lovely if I wanted to put myself into an uncomfortable place... but I was already there. And so I just looked at the pills... imagined them as my last resort... And so I slept for about 21 hours of the last 24. I would only wake up to take other multicolored pills against the fever, the pounding headache. Water was also important. Dry toast. There are still remnants of a headache drumbeat in my skull. And my stomach still feels as if it were inhabited by some slimy restless fish, trying to find a comfortable spot to rest. I hope I will be okay. I hope I will make it through the day. What should I eat today?
The chef gave us an introductory present. Little fish had been included in the offering. I ended up crushing three or four little skulls. A horrible thought. I imagined what kind of scale would be needed if these fish were whales. Is this how Gozilla started?... The waitresses giggled on the sidelines. The chef snuck by our table to check if we were worthy. The Sake I wanted was clearly out of my Thursday Evening price range. The description to it read something like "If Sakes were people, this Sake would be an innocent little girl dancing on a sunlit morning meadow with a little fluffy puppy by her side." I kid you not, something along these lines was indeed the description next to a little jpeg of a bottle. I was shown an unfiltered alternative, a cloudy thin bottle which seemed to contain the helpless remains of some frankensteinian experiment gone wrong. (Decades before.) I ended up with some Masumi, Nanago. (the bottom of the page...) and it was so perfectly good... I thanked the waitress so much until she almost exploded with joy. (She smiled, okay? I just wanted to use "exploded with joy" somewhere in a silly context.) I did not eat much, just a little Kampyo roll, which complimented the Nanago well indeed. We ended up going back to the office and taking a tiny (really tiny) sample of the super special little bottle of Sake which came as a brave visitor from Tokyo a few weeks ago. We could not figure out the name on the bottle, but the few samples we had proved that even the best things in life have their superior champions... I will need to find ways to get another bottle of this flawless beverage somehow... Matt also gave me a brief introduction to the quality of the hand made sake glasses I have. I had no idea how incredibly precious they were... and I felt a bit like a boar wearing a pearl neckless once again. (Willing to learn.) I would like to remind myself at some other time, that today was a good one... yes, indeed... I wonder what will happen next?

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