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i do not know

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prospect park

when i stepped into the snow, it was warmer than i had expected. it melted under my bare feet, but it was not cold. it was the warm snow. and i was in the middle of the park, in the middle of a gigantic meadow inside of a park. it was surprising at first, but then i looked behind me and there we no tracks.
no tracks of me arriving here?
no sign of me entering this wild meadow covered with the fresh white powder?
i was clearly dreaming.
we arrive in our dreams as if there were no before and no after.
and so i walked towards the trees i saw on the other side of the meadow.
it did not matter why i was here.
i was here.
this was the perfect day.
a very short perfect day.
warm snow.
a meadow.
a soft snow rabbit walked up to me.
it was completely white. and it was not scared.
the rabbit spoke. and that was not surprising either.
and yet it said things that i did not really understand.
but i understood the rabbit. i guess it is possible to understand a rabbit. a speaking one and a non speaking one. it just happens in slightly different ways.
we walked towards the trees.
now i had a guide. a little soft furred guide had chosen me somehow.
a soft and friendly guide.
i guess i was incredibly lucky?
the rabbit was leaving no tracks at all.
at least the snow seemed to be melting under my feet.
the shapes i was leaving behind were slightly unusual actually.
wait a second. now i was leaving melted tracks?
some of the tracks of my feet looked as if they had been created by objects.
others appeared to have been left behind by a variety of animals.
there was a melted shape of a chair. then a rooster foot. here a large house?
so odd. so inexplicable.
yet perfectly logical. i was in a dream, wasn't I.

the rabbit had been speaking with me the entire walk so far. and i understood the ideas, but i did not understand the words.
suddenly the words became very clear.
"by the time we will reach the forest, you will know exactly why i say the things i say. but you will have lost the ability to understand the person you were when you left those oddly shaped tracks.
what are they anyway?"

the shapes of the tracks were truly odd. and some of them had now turned into little patches of vegetation. it was a bit as if the seasons had moved on in those seemingly random shapes of melted snow. some flowers grew in the chair. some branches of succulent plants extended into the sky from a perfectly round shape.
some of the tracks had turned in to little puddles of water?
two, in the far distance, appeared to be star shaped tar pits. sad.
"i do not understand you", said the rabbit. and then continued in a language i really was not able to decipher.

we continued for a little while.

the forest that seemed so close appeared to be moving away from us, just gently.
i knew that if we just continued for a little longer, we could reach the trees and then that miracle of some magical comprehension could actually happen.
but the rabbit was very restless.
i could see it from the way it was hopping around in the snow.

i turned around and just stood there.
it must have looked as if i were admiring the tracks i had somehow left behind.
some were now turning into little fires. others were sounding with birds. others yet appeared to be just blurry and undefined.

and this is when i woke up for a very brief moment.
just brief enough to lose my understanding of the logic of the meadow and the rabbit and the tracks.

the sun in the seemingly real world had not yet decided to rise.

i tried to return to the meadow.
but it would probably take another few days and nights for me to be able to actually get there.
i hoped very much to find myself in the same place, of course.
and would the rabbit even still be there?
who knows, i could suddenly have to deal with some wild boar trying to kill me.

but dreams never work in any predictable way.
the only way i can somehow make sure that the next visit to the meadow will not be a complete disaster, is to imagine the best things that happened there, on that brief walk that appeared out of nowhere, and just disappeared in a completely unexpected way.
oh yes. the warm snow. the odd tracks.
the rabbit. the soft and wise rabbit.
the slowly moving forest.
let's see. this should be a place that could probably welcome me again.
and i hope it will be snowing?
i do not know. i do not know.

Brooklyn (crossing ocean parkway)

staring at a wall...

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the shadows on the wall just appeared and then disappeared again. the wall is now more about the cracks and the uneven spots. it is not a screen for thin stripes of shadow and light.

i would like to write something about the architecture of the chinese house. but all that comes to mind are my limitations in understanding. it might also take a bit more time for me to really understand things. it is dangerous to write without understanding?
but perhaps language itself is so imprecise that even the most understanding writer can easily be misunderstood. or misinterpreted.
language is alive. and language is ever evolving. words that sound harmless today, could be potentially deadly tomorrow. words that look friendly today, could potentially be dirty little animals tomorrow... and words that seem harmless to me, could appear without intelligence to those looking for my weaknesses.
and we should probably not fool ourselves that solid objects do not change with us and our intentions and understanding. even objects and houses and cities and countries are in some way connected to the way we want to see them. and the way we see things changes. it should change, i hope, it should probably change all the time?
some of the changes are very subtle. and sometimes the changes are massive.

it will take a really long time for me to understand the chinese house. it will take a long time to understand not the theory of it, but the reality, the true emotional meaning of it. and by the time i will understand it, it will probably be late in my life. i will finally know what it means, but that meaning will probably be a story i will watch disappear?
i do not know, i do not know.

the first time i arrived in china was for just two or three days. and i only saw and smelled the things i knew. everything was drenched in preconceptions. i had expected things i did not really like. and all i found were things i did not really like very much.
and most of the things felt somehow familiar. it was as if i had stepped through a magical door and had arrived at a place that was supposed to be foreign. but it was assembled out of things that i had felt before. and the more i opened myself to them, the more the familiar and the known, replaced the prejudice and the rational barriers.

slowly, visit after visit i was able to unfold my personal understanding of the place. and the wonderful thing was that i knew that it was incredibly important for me to do so. and the more i was able to unfold a china in myself, the more interesting things became.
i now might be at a point where i do not understand anything again. but i know that i need to give it all some time. i need to wait and patiently, wait for the next gate to open. and it will open. and i will probably forget what it was like before it opened itself.

almost like a child that can not stop recognizing words, once it has managed to learn the symbols that are letters. it is almost impossible to remember the world that was filled with unrecognizable objects. suddenly everything speaks. and it speaks not with an external voice. it speaks form the inside.
i guess as a child one does not understand that this is a path of no return (unless some tragedy strikes, of course.) but as an adult, i understand that the more i learn, the more i will forget how little i knew just a few days before. i will discover new layers of ignorance. i will discover new layers of non-knowledge. there will be new gaps. new missing pieces.
and the journey progresses.

i now barely remember what it was like to see the chinese house for the first time. i now barely remember what it was like to see the idea of the hutong. but i obviously know that i have not seen anything yet. i think the only time i have been to a proper court house was on my most recent visit to beijing.
we drank tea. and it was in a house of a perfect size.
it felt perfect to me.
but there are so many reasons why something can feel perfect.

the shadows on the wall are not coming back until tomorrow. near the corner of the room two little dots of light are the indication that the sun is out and moving across the sky.
i know so little. and i know that i know so little. and that's one of the biggest joys of life, i guess? i know that i am just barely beginning to see a surface.
it is a surface that has been scratched and it has been bruised by others.
so much to learn. so much to learn.
what is the name of shadows that are actually bright projections of light?


This is a copy of the description I had originally posted on the flickr page
Thought it would be nice to have it here after all.
There is still no "about me" on this site anyway.
And the little description felt a bit long for flickr.

I started shooting at around four or five. I was allowed to use my father's Praktina FX, (the first system camera in the world). I have two of them now. Every few years I take them out of their case and shoot a little bit with them. It is slow and very bare bone photography. No light metering. No way to precisely set focus. Not even by looking through the lens.
After firing a shot, the mirror needs to be brought back into position in several turns of a dial.
But the lenses are pretty amazing. Imagine a F2.8/180 Zeiss Sonnar. Designed in the 30s. Yes, Zeiss in Jena manufactured some pretty nice lenses for that camera.
My father had a Zeiss Jena F2.8/50.
I remember spending hours staring at the world through the finder of the camera and just shifting focus. Moving around that layer that was allowed to become the main element of the picture I could have made.

I have shot with many small cameras. A small nikon about 20 years ago. Then an Olympus Miu.
Eventually decided to find out what it would be like to shoot with a Leica. I really wanted to buy an M camera, but it felt too much like a weapon at that time, and with about $2000 for the body, it was also incredibly expensive.
I ended up buying a Leica Minilux. The one with the Summarit 2.4/40.
And I loved what happened to the world. I was so impressed by the way the lens of this camera rendered the outside that my review on Amazon read like it had been written by a crazy person.
My little silver minilux was eventually stolen. I found someone who sold me his black one. The man did not understand how much I loved the little camera.

I tried other film cameras as well. Some were borrowed. Some are still part of my collection. My creative director let me use his Contax G2 for several weeks. It is an incredible camera somehow.

I bought the Yashica Electro 35GS. It was through the LOMO people. It even came with a sticker that it had been part of the equipment of USS Midway.
I wish it managed to focus properly. And the color rendition. Hmm... Well...
The camera is more of a historic artifact than a working machine.

I also purchased a Graflex Crowngraphic. The suitcase it is stored in might weigh something like 20 pounds? I never had the courage to actually shoot film with it. Only polaroids. Pretty great polaroids though.

And then there was also the Hasselblad. I love the 501CM. It takes beautiful pictures. It is a solid, heavy, incredible object.
One to take to the moon indeed.
I hope for a proper digital back for it one day. Not the ones available now. They do not seem right. They just do not seem right.

Yes digital changed things. Changed everything.
It became more and more difficult to handle film. I also found out that the seemingly trusty store on the corner that had been handling and scanning my 35mm films, has also been scratching the negatives because of unclean equipment.
All my scans were actually retouched to cover that blunder.

I have been developing all of my film with Duggal since. They do a great job. Obviously.

So back to the smaller cameras.
I eventually bought a Canon S70. It felt a bit like the Olympus miu. The clamshell design made it possible to keep the camera on me at all times. And probably most of the pictures here were taken with the S70. It was a trusty little camera. And I have to say that I enjoyed the shape of it, the quiet operation and also the dynamic range. But the chip was pretty small. And the barrel distortion was a bit of a joke.

I actually wanted a Leica again. Even a small one would be nice. And so typically, I got a D-Lux 3 for my wife.
Then, in January of 2009, I finally bought a D-Lux 4. At the camera store in the A terminal of the Frankfurt Airport.
The camera had just been released a short while before that, and the first firmware made it shoot in some crazy color. Especially the reds were pretty, how do I say it... bad.
Software updates eventually fixed the little guy. And I also discovered that a wide angle extension could actually be applied to the lens. (Okay, let's not mention the barrel distortion on that one. It was so horrible, no wonder Leica never endorsed it.)

And so I shot with the D-Lux 4 a good bit. And it is a fine camera. We got to know each other better and better. I can only recommend it. It is very nice for macro photography actually. And also rather nice for very quick jotting down of visual ideas. Oh, and the ability to record HD movies should not be underestimated.
A stealthy, very quiet little friend, that D-Lux 4. And the wide angle extension is a bit of a secret gem. (It does not show up in the EXIF data. So some of the info that comes with the pictures here might be not completely accurate.)

In September of 2009 Leica announced the M9. And it felt as if the circle could finally be closed. I could at last get a "proper" Leica. I could shoot in what could potentially feel like film again? And I could get access to that kind of lens quality I had somehow briefly experienced with the minilux. (Silly, I know.)

It took me almost a year, (actually 364 days,) to finally manage to buy an M9. I could have bought one sooner, of course. I could have paid more. Or I could have bought the silver edition I happened to come across in Frankfurt Airport again.

So I have an M9 since 9/8/2010. (Or 8.9.10) And the two lenses I use it with are a Voigtländer Nokton F1.1/50 as well as a Summicron F2/28.
The Nokton is incredibly difficult to handle properly. It is capable of producing such shallow depth of field, that precise shots need a setup that results in photographer lag. Or they are just lucky.
The Summicron is much wider, not as fast, and so incredibly forgiving.
It is also much smaller. And it is lighter. It is pretty lovely.

I somehow know that the camera journey is not going to end here. But I am happier than ever with the quality I am getting out of the M9.

It is not as quiet as I had expected. Compared to the virtually silent digital cameras I have used before it has a pretty noisy shutter.
But because it has pretty much no detectable shutter lag, I keep messing up pictures, because I fire off too quickly, having been trained by my randomly focussing pocket friends.
Oh yes, the manual focus. It is actually much better than I had expected. I am learning to estimate distances again. (Though I had to shoot completely static objects, like trash in the street, for more than a week, just to give myself an introduction.)
Now I am beginning to admire the ergonomics and the logic behind the Leica rangefinder.

I can feel how that sense of wonder and connection to the world is slowly being brought back somewhere between the shots.

And the M9 somehow gave me no buyer's remorse. It surpassed my expectations many ways.
I feel like I have some catching up to do. I can not hide behind the faults and limitations of the equipment. The things I want to shoot in the street, I suddenly seem to be able to shoot somehow. Well, almost. Hopefully soon.

Anybody who says that the camera equipment does not matter at all, most likely uses better equipment than the person they are telling that it does not matter.
Photography is obviously not only about technology. One should not be tempted to believe the marketing of camera manufacturers completely.
I would not be surprised if more personally relevant moments are captured on phones now than on actual photographic equipment.

But there is still some strange magic to making pictures that are based on reality. They appear so close to it, that they seem to be part of it. And yet they are really not.
I do believe that photographs are actually made, not simply taken.
And I just love making photographs.

looking at things...

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The shutter on the old Praktina did not really want to close. I had to let it find its way again and again and again. Eventually it somehow remembered how to get from right to left. I have let the camera sleep by itself for too long, displayed on a small tripod in a glass case, with the olympic lens attached, waiting to take another shot, for months. Maybe years actually.

There are boxes with film in the refrigerator. And there is a box on my bookshelf in the office as well. The film must be not only expired by now, the seasons must have turned the chemistry on it into a run away reaction.
I dare not to put any of it in the cameras.
Some actually still have the old film in them.

The Praktina was empty. I took off the back and looked at the sleepy cloth shutter.
It eventually got to where it needed to be.
I think it did.
How would I dare to remember what 1/1000 of a second looks like.

I looked through the lens. No matter what the camera was pointed towards, it looked suspiciously like an object from 1954. Somehow the world was a different place in that complicated glass. A grainy world. The ground glass made everything look as if it were a super 8 film; perhaps bad 16mm.
It makes perfect sense that the Leicas from the same period must have felt incredibly bright and clear.

A battery arrived today.
It is such a pathetic symbol of what is about to follow in the mail.

The Praktina would never ask for batteries.
It asked me to shoot with it. Even with no film in it.
It taught me to see the world as a potential picture.
Somewhere in the early 70's when I assembled objects on the table outside of the kitchen, and then shifted focus with the aperture wide open.
Again and again.
And again.

And objects would melt.
Then they would reassemble themselves.
Then melt again.
Soft cloudy objects.

It was brilliant.

Even without film.
The best moments that were never recorded.
Only seen with intense focus.
But I guess that's the way things work sometimes.

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.

A bit too early for that.

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This last visit to Germany really took away some years from the end of my life. And it was not the food, because that was rather good. And it was not the places where I stayed, as I seemed to get upgraded in every hotel now. And not even the travel. All modes of transportation were about as good as I could have hoped for.
No, it was the psychological underpinnings of it. And maybe the weather too.
I have been ground down to a little core of a grain at this point. And the nerves are blank now. And I overreact to the world inside and outside of me.
My biggest piece of good luck is probably to be surrounded by brilliant people. Or what might be the bigger piece of good luck even is that the brilliant people are on my side of the equation.

But that last trip managed to bargain out quite a price for what will some day be seen as "experience". Or maybe the memory is just freshest at this point. That's probably what it really is.

And now, before 4 am on a Monday. I should probably not be typing on the glass surface of a little device that really wants to grab more and more of my attention.
The moon is rising as a thin orange sliver over the outline of the King's county hospital. And I should be sleeping. Too much is too much. Sometimes it really is.

In the midst of it.

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Several seconds passed. We were among the last to leave the botanical garden. It was a beautiful evening. The trip was magical too. All of it. Wonderful. The grass looked reddish because of the light coming from the open windows of the building behind us. My shoes were wet at the heels from the burst blisters. The air was filled with the right kind of magic. Here was the center of the universe. One of them. One of the infinite number of them. In the unlimited space there has to be an unlimited amount of centers. Was I glad to be at this particular one.
My father once brought home one of the very early magnetic voice recorders. One of his clients must have given it to him, as a present to the ultimate collector of everything. The recorder was a relatively heavy machine, the enclosure made out of brown Bakelite, the core made out of golden "Hammerschlaglack". (I have no idea how this would translate into English. It is that cloudy looking paint that protected most of the cool machinery in the 30's and 40's.) The brown-golden monster looked pretty much like an old record player, it had that spinning turntable, covered by slightly hardened brown rubber, it had a speaker on the side, one with golden lettering, celebrating the glory of a long dead brand. One could even mistake it for a special record player from maybe the thirties, if it had not come with what looked like a Bakelite rattle at the end of a brown cloth covered wire, one with a grill very similar to that of the speaker, also adorned with some golden lines and that name I now do not remember. I think the rattle also had two buttons, one a very dark red, the other one a dirty green, but it could really be my memory adding an interface to what was obviously the microphone and remote. What was also special about the unusual record player were the records that were supplied with it. They were twelve inch disks, with no labels, they could have possibly be mistaken for records, were their grooves not almost a millimeter thick channels, created to guide what was a very heavy looking metal needle of the recorder arm. So this was the recorder. A dictaphone. A recordaton... I clearly do not remember the real name. The sound quality of the device was really abysmal, but the thing did work, it could be made to listen and then it remembered. The machine already had some memories when my father gave it to me. I put on one of the records, turned on the machine, and there it was: a faint voice of a man saying some important numbers, somewhere behind the audible curtain of static. The voice of the man sounded very serious, I imagined him wearing a flanel suit and a hat. I also imagined that there were not only numbers on his mind, but also the secretary who would have to translate them into figures drawn on paper. The voice recorded on some of the disks was simply the one of a powerful man in command. He was speaking not to himself, he was speaking to a modern machine, a machine he could afford to buy, a helping machine that made it possible for him to be even more powerful, a machine that was a buffer between him and his secretary. He was able to extend his authority beyond his actual presence. She would have to listen to her masters voice even beyond his time at his office. (I have to ask my readers with two x chromosomes to forgive my assumption that the secretary was a woman, but at the time when I listened to the recordings, as a boy, secretary somehow translated into a very skilled person who somehow always happened to be a woman.) I did not keep the recordings that were on the disks. The meaning of the numbers had long expired, and what I saw were not recordings, but a blank slate for new records of my, much more important existence. And so I began to talk to the brown labelless disks. I began to press the buttons on the rattle and to make announcements to a virtual audience, began the spoken version of that writer's prayer, announcements that are somehow important, but never really expect an answer. I began to talk about things. I never finished. I recorded again and again. I never came to any conclusions. Soon the disks were filled with the preparation of great things to be said, without any important thing said after. I was getting us all ready for the amazing next thing. The next thing then never came. It was a bit like the songs I would sing by myself sometimes, the songs with great beginnings that could just never find that last concluding note. Imagine a five year old boy standing in the middle of the living room, trying to finish a newly invented song, and that song would just not want to end. The boy trapped in the hills and valleys of his voice, going on and on on a journey of a magnificent beginning with no end... It was a bit like that. Recording beginnings is fine for starters, but it is really not something that one would want to continue for too long, especially when the days are wide open plains filled with potential adventure... Unless, of course, one discovers that what looks like a record player can also somehow work like a record player. The disk was spun at a certain speed and it then recorded my voice into its magnetic noisy grooves. Once i slowed down the disk with my hand, the recording on the disk became the one of a very different giant me. Then when I moved the disk a little faster, a mini version of me was speaking the words I had just recorded. I even managed to let myself speak backwards. Then backwards and forwards. Then a mix of it all. It was a bit as if the machine that had been created to express power and authority had been for once transformed into a golden brownish friend, an old parrot, one that could repeat whatever I told it in a way that even I could not understand. This was really great, of course. I had found a new electric friend. I soon began to record not only my voice, but the voices of other machines. My magnetic parrot was to meet the other machine friends. I would manipulate the speed of the various recorded melodies and sounds after the moment of recording at first. The recording would happen at the normal speed and then I would listen to the recording and manipulate it. This was an okay idea, but what turned out to be much more fun was to manipulate the speed of things at the time of the recording itself. I would spin and turn the disk at various speeds while I would record whatever I was recording, creating "true to life records" that seemed to be transmissions from some drunk crew of a ufo. I think the one recording that was a real special one for me was when I was able to record some birds, singing really loudly outside of my window. The little finches and starlings and sparrows suddenly became giant dinosaurs, roaring very dangerously, very impressively, very big. I obviously heard them during my recording. They were the sweet voices of loud but pretty cute little birds in the branches outside of my window. The sounds that were replayed to me were massive, powerful, fascinating, they were somehow messages from a parallel dimension. I wonder if any of the bird recordings still remain on the brown magnetic disks. I took the recorder with me when I moved out of my parents' house. It became a bizarre conversation starter for my house-guests at my apartment in Offenbach. I did not bring the machine with me when moving to New York. It was just very bulky and not very necessary of course. So it is quite possible that some of my recordings still remain. It is quite possible that my distorted voice is still there, the boy announcing the next great thing, the giant birds... maybe the magnetic field of the planet turned them back into its own timeless recording of white noise... Regardless of what is on the disks now, what made me even write about them were the birds outside my window, here in Brooklyn. They sound very harmless with their calls, but I just remembered that they only sound this way because of our shared perception of time flow and our difference in size... The vibrations we perceive, the area of the spectrum we can hear, makes these little monsters sound slightly irrelevant and pleasant. I guess if we were smaller than them, and maybe if we were able to hear their sounds with a much better focus at the sounds between the sounds, the singing could be unbearably frightening. On the other hand, the man recording the impressive numbers, any man recording impressive anything, might be no more than a finch outside of a back window, when only listened to at the appropriate "speed" or maybe at least from the appropriate distance, be it space or time... or both... Hmm... so, if only looked at from the right angle, the least threatening things can become monsters... and monsters can indeed be nothing more than the least threatening little things... The change of perspective might just sometimes require more than an old recording machine and a boy spinning its disk at ever changing speeds... Or maybe the thought of that event, or the memory, could be a good starting point for some of that... (As I am writing this, the singing of the birds is being eclipsed by the noise of a police car speeding down seventh avenue... oh boy, I think it is time for me to get back to work...)
To be read standing, and as quickly as only possible. Skipping words is not only permitted but encouraged: The guards were really tiny in the giant room. They were so incredibly reduced in their size by the towering architecture. Millions and millions had been spent to achieve this important effect. The reduction of the guards to almost nothing is an old trick. They might look tiny, my friend, but they are still more powerful than you are, no matter what you have paid to get here. They might look unimportant, but compared to them, dear visitor... you are, well... do you even deserve a name? The uniforms of the guards and their frequent change of stations, make them appear as mere representations of an idea. They are not humans... they are "the guard". No, don't you even think of touching this. Na, step away from that wall, walk up straight, keep moving. Oh, wait, I was not even there. Or was I? I lost the count, really. Maybe I am not able to see the difference between the experienced, the imagined and the yet to be thought of? Did I have a conversation recently with a man who thought of me as a rather curious piece placed in a magical chamber next to procession of little plastic animals? The names of cities he threw at me, I juggled them as well as I possibly could. He looked at the holes in my left sock and I stared right between his eyes and knew that it was easier for me to deal with the names of what he thought were his cities. They were attached to such completely different memories. London: I remember smelling the corners, and they were soaked with urine and oil and probably blood, from the hands of those who sometimes arrive at night and try to move the buildings with their bare hands. Or maybe the hands with the buildings? Paris: If somebody is preparing a hell for me then it is going to look like the streets of this city and I will to be driving around with a giant car, looking for a parking space which I will never, ever, ever find... But on the other hand. Heaven is here as well. This is the city where I understand that it is my job to be not understood, at least not until I buy so much wine that I receive a free embrace from the owner of the little shop on the corner. Oh, this is the worst description of Paris. Berlin: One time only, I think. Me sleeping on the floor at a director's house, the movie was supposed to be about my escape from poland, I had brought my own sleeping bag. Poisoned myself in the traffic jam going home. Threw up for days, until the blood vessels around my eyes started bothering me. Ich bin kein Berliner. Rome: Never bin to. Nancy: It rains, there is fighting. The city is beautiful and the food is good, but it does not soak up screams well enough. At least the walls in the hotel are upholstered. Things bounce off the blue hunting scenes on the ornate fabric. Not much breaks. Munich: I am stretching on a giant sofa, fingering through a picture book of Herb Ritts black and white nudes. In the air some perversely sweet parfume. Obsession, perhaps? Insanity maybe. Hamburg: We leave the door of the van open. On the back seat about $50,000 of video equipment. The door remains so, until we return, the next morning. Hamburgers do not give a damn about other people's stuff. I spend the night on the floor next to a gigantic Anna Oppermann piece. Maybe it was not so big, but I remember it being giant, overwhelming, there, in the place where it had been created, unfinished... These are my cities, among others, they will never be visited this way... and also this sacred place here, it is not really entered. I feel like a really tiny guard now. I am really really tiny, yes, I know... but I feel like I have to protect the treasures of this room. And so I do. I mightily move around the toes in my sock. So they come forward and look dangerous, like little weapons. I could be like a fighting rooster (or are these called "fighting cock"?) Oh and I wear a uniform as well. I am the idea of the man dressed in a blue shirt, black pants and those ridiculous socks. Wohoa... wait a second. What am I thinking? I keep forgetting that I am part of the display. Even a most outrageous behaviour would only better define my crazy nature. My jumping of any kind would just be a confirmation, a good night story to scare some very bored child. A few years form now. I manage to collapse, eventually, turn myself into what I like being most, a simple, invisible thought, one that can just do outrageous things without even being noticed in any way. As simple as that. And I love cold nights. And I love gingko trees who guard treasures. I love when birds land on the water while there is a wind that makes hair a curtain. I love piercing looks that say so much, so much, so very much. I love the cup being held up to a smile. And I love a smile that does not even require lips because it glows from shy eyes. New York: All of the above, and that is not even the beginning of things. And it is so ridiculously late again. And I will probably suffer horribly tomorrow, when I will be in a car for two hours being driven out to a special meeting out of state. Out of state of what? Okay... reading can slow down now. Calm. Quiet. Good night. stop.
a firework of images, a flurry, an explosion. he barely managed to catch his breath. he closed his eyes and dove back in again. an unpredicted speed now, unexpected, inexplainable, never before seen moments. a city, a street, a tree, an orange container, the sky transforming, water, a giant fish snapping a smaller one, explosions, the letter A, melted sugar, warm pillow, speed, flower unfolding, an entire book, inexplainable stripes, little boxes, many, boom, bloom, light, a round sponge, a mirror facing the outside of a tent, the color green, the color green, the color green, the color orange, orange, range, ribbon, ornamentik, caffeine, one hundred flowers, georgia, the deck of cards, the decalogue, old photographs, buddha, a cake, the seal, a seal, a cloud, a star, a folded piece of paper, photographs, a dressed bird, sparkles, a spoon, the colorful windows, the drawer in a perfect table, the very tip of a knife, a running rabbit, the setting moon, the afterglow of a walk sign, a tent, the number ten, a ship, a flower, a neck, lips, spirals, dna, dna, dna, membranes, soil, caffeine, drawings, a single dot on a bright red background, a single red drip on a white plane, wandering rocks, a wing, the detached tip of a pen, hb pencils, a perfect drawing, a had torn piece of paper, the number nine, a candle, an apple, the open nautilus, the color yellow, orange, orange, blue, orange, a garden, a carpet, a falcon, dark, books, silence, wax, bamboo, , tiny bottle, the roosters on a curtain, eyes... blink, mountains, fire, a rushing heart, heat, snow on the outside, ice, liquid houses, more tiny boxes, bubbles, stripes, richard avedon at paul smith two weeks ago (huh?), a glowing lamp, mona, flowers, grass, a window, the sound of a distant engine, booooommmm.... split seconds. frames between frames. more. please. yes? a firework of images, a flurry, an explosion. he barely managed to catch his breath. he closed his eyes and dove back in again. an unpredicted speed now, unexpected, inexplainable, never before seen moments. ... are you okay? wow, yes, certainly yes...
my favorite spot today was one in the orbit of a slowly spinning orange ball. It was one with two 76 on it. That makes 156, which adds up to 12, and I would really like to multiply now. So let's say two. Yes, two times 76. 7 and 6 are 13 and 12 and 13 are 25, which add up to 7. What ever happened to the 6? (76x76=5776... which ends up being 25 which ends up at 7 again...) My favorite place today was in the orbit of an orange ball, spinning, above a gas station. And I was attached to a slow orbit and I passed right through trees and through walls and through the freshly wet hair of a beautiful woman, and further, above the street, and then far away, I could see through a window how she looked for a hairdryer. Or a towel? Then the trees again, the walls, the not very new ikea cabinets in the kitchen, the door, the hair, I stopped. My favorite spot today was in the line of sight to a spinning orange ball. It was in the hair of a very beautiful woman. Freshly washed wet hair. Just the perfect length, just the perfect texture, just the perfect temperature. I listened to the thoughts, streaming through the many strands. They were plans and thoughts and flights of the imagination. Beauty is made out these things. The calculations here are much more complex than the stuff above, of course. The number we might probably find here would more likely be 9... 7+2... or the German word for No... often used as a soft yes. The hair on our heads is maybe a pointer to something somehow. "Look, this is where we come from, this is where thoughts happen. This is where things are interesting." I am losing my hair. My forehead is growing larger and larger and eventually one will be able to see the drawings on my scalp. The cats and dogs and hunting scenes. Soon they will become visible. Or are they on the outside of my scalp really? Or are they the decorations on the inside of my head. How could I possibly find out? (Would I ever want to?) My favorite spot today was in a voice. The voice was on the outside of bodies, at times. Sometimes it was only on the inside. It was a voice never released as voice. Humans can do that. We can train each other to fall in love with maybe even just a tiny portion of somebody's voice... a "yes" or a "no" (or 9) or maybe the breather between words? ...and then when the person who's voice we learned to love writes to us, well then their voice is released inside... another one of those miracles of paintings on the inside of the skull... that voice... (hello... mon Ami...) And I would have never thought that it could be so amazing to see my own name in flames. Sharp, pointy flames, really amazing flames. Like the ones in a miniature painting... there, above the entrance, to the left. Really wished this had been the entire day. The entire day spent in the orbit of a spinning orange ball, in the hair of a beautiful smart ingenious woman, in the trees, listening to variations of a voice. Maybe if I close my eyes now, and if I listen very still. Maybe then this day will reenact itself, as just that. Just these events. Imagined or not... 76, 76... what is it that happened in 76?....
It was Slobodan's first day at the office. I picked him up at security, two stories below the surface of Manhattan. He was there to pick up his new picture ID. Between meetings we both only had about 30 minutes to get some lunch. The closest place to get some good food was Korea town. The closest restaurant in Korea town to be serving lunch at 3:30PM was the one with the cliff and the waterfall. I really do not remember the name. Probably not yet. The cliff and the waterfall extend over the entire large east wall. Two full floors of faux nature, all inclusive with protective overhang, plastic plants, never ending supply of mountain water. There is also the white concert piano. It has its own little area on the second floor. The pianist must climb over a narrow mountain path to get to his instrument. He must press himself against the boulders and probably also make sure to never kick the piano down onto the tables below. Lunchtime was actually over. Probably at three. We were directed to the second floor. I sat with my back to the window. As I was moving into my bad feng shui spot, the glare of the sun, reflected in some surface outside, blinded me so severely that it took quite a while for me to see the table, the piano, the cliffs, just in general where we were, again. Not that I had forgotten. It was just that the brightness of the light made worked almost like the opener of a new scene. Was I now looking at the past? Was this here a vision of the future? Were we now in a parallel universe? All of the above? (None?) The menus arrived. I made sure not to order anything that would have any beef. For the last weeks, all of my orders seemed to contain pieces of the animal. I wanted to not eat meat this time. I wanted to make sure. We both ordered the same dish (I think it was 10-28... which translated into a name I can not remember. At least not yet?) Small side dishes arrived. There was the tofu, there was kimchi, more pickled stuff, some leaves, some strings, some things. (All spicy, yet delicious.) I think it took me this long to actually realize that there were people sitting next to us, at a larger table, a bit further away from the window. They were two women, probably in their early twenties. I could not guess their heritage, I could not quite pinpoint their possible origin. It did not really matter at this point. They were sitting across from each other and they were finishing their meal. Closer to me, sitting in a high chair, was a bare-chested boy. He was maybe two or so, I could not really guess his age. For once I do not really know too many bare-chested two year olds (I don't know any). On the other hand, he had a very strangely built body. It was the body of a much older person. His chest resembled almost a miniature version of what mine looked like when I was sixteen. I am by no means a muscular person, but this boy looked as if he were a teenager who had just discovered weights. The boy did not speak. He looked around as if he were a trapped wild animal. He grabbed one of the empty side kimchi dishes and banged it repeatedly against the edge of his seat. At the same time, he made very loud, high pitched, shrieking noises. Over and over again. Both women ignored him. They carried on their conversation which was about, "you know her who told him about the other guy who then told the other girl about what he thought was that other outrageous thing." I liked the taste of the very dark leaves covered with some sort of red paste. Some of the mayonaise covered tofu chunks (and I do not know if either of the just named was even remotely involved) tasted really quite delicious as well. By the time our main dish arrived, the boy's screams were penetrating even the most focussed attempts to ignore him. The woman, who I assumed was his mother, said something to him, then checked something in what appeared like the back compartment of the child. She pulled the boy out of the high seat and placed him on the floor. He continued screaming, now standing up, walking around, running, standing. I just now noticed that his outfit had been originally designed to cover his torso as well. It just had been opened, turned into something like light blue pants. They were now also dark blue and brownish and had other colors. The mother left her seat. She was now standing with her back to us. I just now noticed her massive, wavy hair. She looked like an incredibly steep mountain of hair, from which two legs extended only to not drag the hair-ends on the ground. At least not for now. I imagined her hair would continue to grow, quickly, it would soon flood the space around us, it would envelope the boy in his soiled pants, us, the tables, the floor below us, the mountain, the white piano, maybe all of Korea town. I have to say I was afraid the mother had just decided to change her boy right there, on the table. I imagined her changing the boy right between the side dishes and the beef plates. I felt thrown back to 1995, when it was my job, for the entire year, to change children of a range of ages, often unpredictable ages, definitely at lunch time, several of them, one after the other, in a badly ventilated room, when my partner would often throw up in a stall next to me, or just leave, or... The boy did not smell a bit. The mother took a diaper. She took the boy by a hand. She left the area around our tables. She left the floor. The screams of the boy were soon more distant. They sounded far away enough for us to hear the other woman speak on her cellphone, about "you know her who told him about the other guy who then told the other girl about what he thought was that other outrageous thing." a waiter arrived and cleaned their table. the same waiter brought desert. the woman ended her conversation and began to eat desert. The boy returned maybe 15 minutes later. All he was wearing now were his shoes, untied, and a giant diaper with some small pictures on them. No, I do not remember what the pictures were of. The children I would change were often too old to have diapers with pictures. About three minutes later, the mother came up the stairs. She looked defeated. In her outstretched hand however was something that looked almost like a light blue skin of an animal: Light blue and dark blue and very, very brown. Actually. Very brown. Her friend pulled a plastic bag out of the back net of the carriage. The mother then very carefully lowered the completely soiled piece of child clothing into that. She tied a knot. they then both tied the boy's shoes. The mother grabbed the now oddly quiet boy off the floor with both of her arms and she slammed him into the high seat. Now he screamed again. She must have hurt his knees or shins, or maybe his back as well. She pulled him up again. This time he had enough time to stretch out his legs and so he ended up in a position that looked a bit more like sitting. He grabbed one of the plastic dishes off the table in front of him and began banging it against the edge of his seat. Maybe this was why he looked so muscular. He probably really liked hitting things over and over with all his force. The women ate their desert. It was chocolate and green tea ice cream. I think it was. Brown and green were the colors. They left soon after. The half hour of lunch was over. We had to return to the office. There were separate meetings. Tomorrow there will be more. Very important. Did I ever even tell any of the stories of 1995? Did I ever even mention any of this here? I just checked... I did not... Hmm... Not sure if nine years are enough of a distance? They probably are not. I should wait.
The place is not very far from here. And little parts of it are even right here, right now. Observe, listen, smell. Do you sense how it feels to experience what at some point used to be the cutting edge of cutting edges? How deep do we have to dive to touch the golden floor of this pool of freshly filtered water? What if the windows of your home were not supposed to open. What if the view of the city were just the very tiny tip of a far away tower? Luxury is a very special, well groomed, golden garden state of mind.
It took several attempts. It was not very easy. It failed every single time. I was probably simply too young too young to write the next great Polish novel. Just imagine I had finished one of the manuscripts. An eight year old writer of great adventure literature. Oh, I felt as if my life experience was perfectly sufficient to fill page after page with incredibly dangerous adventures of my newly invented friends. I was ready to nearly drown them, to nearly burn them, to almost kill them, just to let them emerge happier, smarter, more amazing on the other side of the stack of paper I was about to fill. Oh, and animals would play a great role too. And they would speak, of course, as animals do anyway. I had read enough Jules Verne and Henryk Sienkiewicz and Alfred Szklarski. Even managed to read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, though only the Lost World, as I was not at all interested in his detective stories. Oh, and one should mix these experiences of imagined adventures with those of the Trolls and other creatures of the Moomin valley... and ready was the full blown inspiration to write, write, write... well, maybe watch some television, record a little song (i could never figure out how to end them, so they would just go on for what felt like hours,) maybe throw things out of the window... (nothing dangerous, I promise.) So, yes, I never really managed to write that great new adventure novel. Though I really tried... and I really, really wanted Monika Rosca to play the main part, as I really thought she did a fantastic job playing Nel in one of the favorite movies of my childhood... And it seems almost impossible to find any images of the original 1973 "W pustyni i w puszczy"... Enough for now... this post is turning into something really too strange... And everyone had childhood ambitions and incredibly hopeless crushes... I just can imagine that America keeps slightly better records of these things online... hmm...
My dinner right now consists of food that was left over in some conference room. Pre packaged salad, the ain dish in the aluminum tray in the toaster oven just gave me that little ring. My subway ride home was packed with some amplified characters. First there was this guy with a dead hand. Okay, it was a dead looking hand. He was reading the financial times. His left hand was just so perfect and clean as if it were made out of wax. He never used it, it seemed, except when he had to reach out with it to give it to the Korean girl who did his nails. And boy, did she do a great job. These nails were very nicely pushed back and showed their white moons. The glossy lacquered look probably was exactly what he though he needed. It was even more amazing as a contrast to his buttery, softened whitish skin. The woman next to him was in her late forties, I guess. Her manicure looked as if it had been applied to freshly melted toe nails. Thick and strangely shaped, used and abused. She was reading, and I wrote this one down:"The Great Goddess of Egypt." In the paperback edition. She was not very deep into it, and she seemed more interested in the way what she looked like reading it than actually finding out what it was about. Or at least this was what I thought, at first. It appears that she was just looking around, just to check out the situation. Her index finger went up to her left nostril on a serious mission. We are not talking about a brushing moving of the nose-wing. She went to town. She went really deep. She twisted and turned. She really dug deep. The train was in the fifties, and she was really deep inside... when the 66th street stop came she had her hand out of her nose, but now she casually, just very much in a way as if she really did not care. Well, she fed herself with what she just had found in her nose. The Egyptian Goddess reader really ate that stuff she found in her nose. What more was I supposed to see tonight? I left the train on 79th street. I mentioned before that I have recently been really obsessed with that little palm device. (I am actually writing this entry on it.) and so like an old man who feels drawn to a Harley Davidson dealership, so he can buy some stupid chromed extension of his exhaust pipe, I found myself in an electronic store holding little card readers and synchronizing cradles. Around me were people who said things like "no maam, this monitor will not work with a mac," or that really short thin man shouting out the words: "does anybody work here?, does anybody work here?" I realized that this whole experience was not really worth it, and so I bought the cheapest thing in the store, which was nothing and just left... (Oh, this past sentence really hurt, I know... more about it just below.) I walked home. from 79th street. No big deal really... Though there was an accident on 80th. It looked not to good for some of the people involved. The Audi had the airbags out and was on the right side of Broadway. That plastic van on the planted middle strip had a broken axis and some other serious damage. I guess this was also the reason why police had blocked off the entire area. The ambulance was just one of a few to arrive there... it looked like a bad day for the cars. People on the sidewalk were holding court over who dared to be responsible for this mess that was probably the pinnacle of their Tuesday experience... I was glad to be home. The Restoration Hardware catalogue in the mailbox contained some objects I would never be able to fit into any New York City apartment, which just reminded me that there was California and all the states in between. The lady who was a video producer and I thought lived in the penthouse, got out on the second floor, the same floor where the Super got out. They played this game of looking invisible... but it was so clear that they went to... .... hack? I just took off my shoes and did not even turn on the AC. Just wanted to eat something and finish all the work I never managed to finish during business hours. I spiked my red grape juice with so much grey goose that the drink is not even really solid red. Not even as red as that tomato sauce on the food that was born to be eaten in a conference room. Is this what my mother's blood looked like when she almost died because she managed to thin her blood out of even being blood? I am not even sure I can think about it clearly right now... And this might explain some of the incoherent sentences above... Or if you think there were any brilliant ones, or maybe daring ones, then God bless the spirits, because they make us more daring writers. Except that most of us do not dare to write... irresponsibly... This has been a bloody Tuesday thus far. The aluminum tray is now semi empty in front of me. The second glass of "grape juice" is begging to be "refilled"... I think I will need to take a little nap before I manage to actually upload this little stream of multily distilled simple thought onto the ... where?... Please drink responsibly...
It was probably in 10th grade when I had decided to be the cool dude. My words would turn into icy little sharp shards of metal, launched calmly in the case somebody dared to enter my well guarded inner circle. My eyelids would barely open, I would scan my surroundings with a level of apathy I imagined in the man with the iron mask. I would become the well trained samurai who would take comfort in the knowledge that a single blow of my open hand could easily kill a grown bear. My lips became thin. My chin moved up, though just by a notch. About 20 seconds into my plan I had to give up. I just could not keep up a faade like this. My personality was naturally more like a strangely colored cotton ball with a impenetrable yet ever changing core, not a silver painted chitin skinned giant cube filled with a polo mint. Strange decisions are made in chemistry class, when the focus of the material discussed by the other students turns from being a graspable chandelier filled with aromatic candles to a faint little single star, out of the range of even the best brain booster rockets... My brain never caught up with chemistry class. And I never again tried to be the cool dude...
Well, one of the issues I have with this whole "writing down" thing is that I do not remember what I have "written down" here before. If I had chosen to just report on current events, then the media sources would do the sorting out for me. My opinion could swing in just the perfect level of flexibility and I would never run into the issue with me being worried if what I am writing here had been told, many times, much better, by the previous me. I was aware that my supply of shareable ideas is limited... but why does it have to be finite? So I do not want to repeat myself. And I also would not like to retell stories, yet in a much worse mood, as if I were stripping them to look much worse than that shiny last year's model. Then there are the other events I would really like to write about, but they are just so elaborate and big... how am I supposed to write about them without adding yet another few hours to my 36 hour days. (Clearly this was a lie... my days last for as long as your days last, my dear reader...) Oh, and I should stop writing after 22:00 (that's 10PM, for our American friends.) After 22:00 I should maybe just play with a knife, hitting the spaces between my stretched out fingers, over and over again, until I would finally just completely lose something, control, interest, maybe some blood... See, did I ever mention that we used to play with knifes a lot? When we were boys, we would play with knifes a lot. And I mean boys in Poland... which means that I must have started throwing a knife for living when I was about 5. Okay, I did not do it for living, but I spent large amounts of my days playing with a knife, often a folding knife, sometimes some other sort of little knife... always sharp... at least until we stated playing with it. There were different games we played, I remember. I think my favorite had something to do with world domination. World domination and knifes and five year olds does sound about right, doesn't it? We would mark a circle on the dry ground (basically anywhere in front of the building (as the seeds for the grass had probably been used for the party official's private golf course.) We would divide the circle into two halves. (One can do this by drawing a straight line through the circle... oh, and "straight" is more of a negotiable term. The opponents would then throw the knife onto the floor from different positions on their body... and whoever failed to make their knife stick in the ground with the blade, had to be the first one to give up a portion of his land. The person who had the knife first, would throw the knife onto the half of the opponent and then divide the land, expanding their area of influence. (the angle of the line would be determined by the angle in which the blade of the knife stuck in the ground... This would happen until the knife would not fall correctly, in which case the players took turns. Oh, the players tried to protect their land with their bodies, of course. Nobody wanted to see their land divided again and again... one had to remain on their area... until it was too small to stand on with one foot... at which point the defender would be allowed to leave their land (go into exile, I guess)... at which point the other player had to perform a whole series of successful attacks at the little piece of marked territory... again, the knife had to be thrown from various places on the body... the hip, the belt buckle, the shoulders, the tongue, the nose, the top of the head... (at least as far as i remember...) This was probably to symbolize the final struggles before the "liberation..." Once the winner claimed the entire circle, the whole game would begin again... this time with somehow softer soil... clearly this game was really good for the environment. Can you imagine how I felt when I arrived in Germany and the kids were playing with shiny little glass balls, those fancy little marbles?... (No, I was not impressed... actually quite the opposite...) See, but have I told this story several times already?... Has my memory failed me?... have I invented some new unrealistic rules?... I really can't tell... I really do not know... Oh, and nobody ever was injured, at least not when I was present. (I am serious...) well, except for this one single time... this one single time when I threw a little stone... clearly, knifes are much safer than stones... Oh, I still should not write after 22:00... I come up with really strange stuff... and I probably just keep repeating myself... or is it history that keeps repeating itself?... Good night...

Happy March 8th

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Today was the International Day of the Woman. Or as my father liked to put it:"The international day of the florist." We would line up in front of the little glass building next to the Havanna Bar in Jastrzebie-Zdroj and we would then try to get some flowers for my teachers. Whatever was there, worked very well. Carnations, the flowers of the revolution, I guess, were there in abundance. All of the children had their flowers with them. The teachers were very happy to receive flowers. The desk of T. Piotrowska, my favorite teacher, and the mother of my best friend Zbyszek Piotrowski, was engulfed in an explosion of red carnations. My mother was a teacher in the school as well, and I would have to help her bring the buckets filled with flowers home, at the end of the day. The flowers were beautiful, and yet they were a burden. Tulips were definitely my favorites. Their colors were just so completely out of this world, especially if they survived long enough to open. I still love tulips, of course. I did not see any women with flowers today. But I also do not see workers in the streets on May 1st, or happy masses of children on June 1st... America is very different, somehow, it does not seem to be included in the term "international" when it comes to certain things... though I do not understand why they would skip some of the really happy times... I clearly do not understand much... Oh, and Happy International Women's Day... if you are or feel like a woman just about now...


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When I was maybe 8 he told me that she was trying to kill him with air put into his vanes, and I barely understood what he was saying because of his stroke, not long before they came to visit us on an afternoon when I was home alone. She told me that he tried to kill her by locking her into the back room, where she survived because of the package she had hidden from him and under the bed. I was 8 but I did not really believe either story. I saw him again in their apartment, two days before his death. She had him brought back from the institution, so he could die in peace after they remarried on his deathbed. I remember her with his name as her last, though she died having a different name, the one of the man who followed... I never got to meet the last husband. This marriage had been a rather short one... oh well... those were different times and places, they were a tougher breed of people... and there is so much more to the story that I can even tell... and even the things I saw, were seen from the perspective of a rather interested listening boy. And what does happen to the blood when we move on, start turning to dust... I know a lot happens... maybe I should read some more Damien Hirst...

The perfect tea...

Whenever I would wake up at night, in the living room of my grandparents on the corner of ulica Armii Czerwonej and Cmentarna in Swietochlowice (just skip the names, imagine they are numbers...) I would listen to the ticking of the wall clock, the snoring of my grandmother, the conversations of cab drivers on the other side of Cmentarna. Then the streetcars would pass by the window and cast their magic rays onto the ceiling, moving ones, loud ones too, metal on metal... I would get out of bed, walk barefoot on the warm parkett floor, my feet feeling every single particle of dust, the cracks between the wood, the threshold to the hallway, the linoleum. It was a long walk towards the kitchen. There, on the table with the drawer to which only my grandfather had the key, stood always a large coffee pot filled with black tea. I would not even look for a cup or a glass in the dark, as I really did not want to wake up the others. I would drink straight from the pot, the little me, the large, heavy pot. The tea was often warm, sometimes sweet, and always, always right. I would then sneak back, into the ticking living room, and I listened to the cars, the streetcars, watched the lights... I would then fall asleep (and usually dream of saving the lives of princesses...) It is funny to know that these connected rooms still exists, barely changed, guarded by my favorite uncle... while I am here, on the other side of the globe, watching the rays on the ceiling, made by cars going down broadway, listening to the sounds of the Subway being carried all the way up here... hmm... not sure why I thought of such a strange little moment just now... perhaps it is because I just finished the last glass of water in the house... and yes, it is getting a little late... (good night.).

Aaron in the blanket.

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The woman with the dog lived just a few blocks away from my Grandmother's house in Katowice. This was about a two hour ride away from where we lived. It was a rainy evening in november. We had scheduled the appointment a long time before. I think my father might have used the phone to do that. I do not quite remember. My father did not like driving in the rain. He could not focus properly. He really did not like the rain. He was afraid of sliding with us under some truck, or off the road. He eventually did, but that's a different story. The radio played a conversation between a man and the woman. I was fascinated by the way the voices were coming from two different speakers. I leaned towards the back window and I stared at the raindrops racing down the glass, while listening to the voices coming from the left and the right and the left and the right. My father was speaking too. My father spoke a lot back then. He made a case. He made a strong case every single time. For every single thing. He did not like driving in the rain, he said. He really hated it. We were almost there, he said. He was looking forward to seeing the dog. He was looking forward to seeing the dog. A lot. (No, I did not just repeat myself.) The building in which we were supposed to meet the dog was one of the grey four story kind with a flat roof and wide windows. The woman and the dog lived on the third floor, I think. We walked up the stairs, (there were no downstairs bells, I think,) we rang the bell and we immediately heard the dog. Then we heard the woman. Then we heard the lock. The door opened just a little bit, slowly... a black nose and the attached brown dog just squeezed themselves through of the opening. The dog did not even seem to be the one who's voice we just heard. This here was a big and friendly dog, an Irish Setter, his long red-brown fur, meticulously brushed, his ears almost a fashion statement straight from a coiffeur advertisement. The head was the one of a real hunting dog, the eyes looked almost too human. He sniffed my chest, my face, then he went on to sniff my parents' pants. We were guided inside. The woman has one of the finer looking ones. She wore some fancy sweater and a lot of makeup. The apartment was not very big. There were some items in it that made it look even smaller. There was a baby carriage, there were some strange looking toys. Did I see an empty play-bin? It smelled like diapers. We were sat down in the first room to the left. We were offered some tea. It was the same black tea we drank at home. Only much less sweet. The conversation about the trip and our coming here and the proximity of my grandmother soon moved on to the story of the dog. His name was Aaron. He was a male dog, two years old. He had acted as the baby of the family. Now with a human baby in the house however, it was time for Aaron to move on and out. He was just too much; the apartment was too small; the baby was too demanding; there was no time for the hunting dog in a house that smelled like diapers. We were told that the owners also had a car. They would take Aaron and the car to an airfield and then drive away. The dog would run after the car "like crazy". They would repeat this exercise several times. This was the reason for some of the roughness on Aaron's paws. Well, scars really. He would run on the pavement until his paws would bleed. He was a good dog. He has not always been a good dog though. He used to be a puppy. He would then bite through everything. He would bite through shoes and things, through wooden furniture, through things in general. He now did not do that anymore. He was a grown up dog. Now he would run after bitches. Even if they were two kilometers away. He was a dog after all. He was a pure bread dog. Aaron was a really good looking dog. He listened to the story as if it were the description of his mother's death. He clearly understood everything said. I looked at his paws. Poor dog. They were really very rough. Aaron was worth 6000 zloty. I think my father made this much in a month? We left shortly after. Hands were shaken. I shook Aaron's paw. The door was closed. We drove through the rain again. Not very far this time. My grandmother lived on a higher floor. I loved the carpet she had painted on the stairs. I thought it was such a great idea. She painted the flowers on the rim, the center of the carpet was red. There was a sponged texture all over. We had to turn what looked like a permanent key in the center of the door to make my grandmother open the door. She did. I never liked the smell of her house. It was the smell of all the old fox furs and hats and other creepy things she had amassed over her marriages. I stared at the doll placed in the center of her giant bed, while my father tried to make a great case for something related to the dog. She smiled and told him one of her smart sayings about hands, I think. Something like "did Mary give you hands?" or something like that. She liked to speak in codes sometimes. My father did not like what he heard. My mother stayed out of it. My grandmother hated her anyway. We did not drive back to see the dog. We drove back home for two hours or so. I was on the back seat, crying. I was hugging a blanket I had brought for the dog and I was crying. I was whispering the name of the dog into the blanket. And the blanket began to smell like a dog, almost, as my tears were mixing with the wool of the fabric. The world was about to collapse. We were so poor. We could not afford to save Aaron. We were not able to afford to save any dogs life. We would just die in this car, going through the rain. My father saying something about the dangers of driving. The voice from the speaker in the back being just one single man again. My mother not saying anything this time. Though I knew that she would soon explain how she had to keep her eyes on the road. To make sure nothing happens. We would never be able to afford anything. No dog, no toys, no... I think I probably fell asleep... So there I was. Added to the fear of not being loved, was the fear of not being able to have the opportunity to love. I would have healed those paws of that dog. I knew it then. And I would have loved him so much. And yet I was not allowed to.

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