…. would love to see you at:
Watched the movie ‘Defiance’ today. Later on, I cut my finger on a broken glass just minutes before work got to me and had me have another one of those overwhelming melt downs that have marked this year’s work life.
Decided to take a late evening shower to calm myself down and inmidst of worring about getting my little cut wet and bleeding again, I remembered how humbled I had felt not 3 hours ago watching that true story. Humbled by our human ability to overcome situations that seem hopeless, humbled by the acts of heroism that everyday people are capable of, humbled by what people have endured and are to this day enduring in order to stay alive.
There I was, a cut on my finger and swollen eyes, nothing compared to the trauma, cold, hunger and instability those men, women and children endured. Ashamed of my own weakness, I wondered who I would have been in that situation. Would I have risen above the crowd and lead? Would I have just followed along quietly, happy enough with trying to survive? Would I have let fear take over and reacted in some cowardly way?
For a moment I cannot help but wonder whether that’s what we secretly long for, a moment to show our own heroism, if not to the people around us, than to ourselves, giving us a reason, a justification for our existence that especially in our Western, Capitalist world seems to get lost in showing up for pseudo-important jobs, in keeping our hard earned real estate and materialistic possessions in impeccable shape, in filling our days with constant entertainment or at least what is left after having catered to whatever we feel will show the world that we are indeed Super -Mom, -Dad, -Spouse, -Friend, -Neighbour, -Employee.
But it’s not 1942, I am not a Jew in Nazi infested Europe. Nor do I live in any country where surviving is constantly on the forefront of my mind. On the contrary, I live in a place and in a situation where finding a bandaid before the blood drops hit the persian rug is about as much of an emergency as I can get.
Or is it? Are there really less situations where we can step up, show some true courage and leadership rather than hide away behind what only seemingly is so important. Or is it simply, that given the choice, we choose not to?
I am obviously up.
Which would be cool were I out partying, or doing anything but just not being able to sleep.
Thankfully I have already slept 4 hours or else I’d be in sheer panic.
I am up.
At 1 am.
Thoughts are rushing.
Not the soothing kind.
Soothing kinds don’t rush.
Don’t cause sweat attacks.
Nor trigger frustration.
Need to change scenery.
The bed’s too suffocating.
Lying on the couch.
Curled up the fetus position.
Searching for comfort.
Not finding any.
Just finding darkness laughing loud.
I am angry.
Another great way to feel at
Wait a minute.
I am no baby.
So why look like one,
feel like one,
Completely not useful.
I am up.
Feet steady on the ground.
Head held up high.
This is me.
See me darkness?!
I am up at
Back to bed.
There are times when you get on a train that once at destination, seemingly only had one purpose: to be a perfect ride. Yesterday was such an evening. It did indeed start out with boarding a train, a train that I almost didn’t make, a train I therefore got on without having had time to buy a ticket. A train I had to catch, if I wanted to arrive in time for the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) gala premiere of “Love and other impossible pursuits”.
I made it to downtown with the ‘fare dodger’-Gods keeping a watchful eye on me (Thank You), happy that I would now get to be in the front of the line queuing to see Don Roos’ new creation. It being my first TIFF experience,I am still in the learning stages of how to ‘festival’. After almost fainting in the movie theater the night before, after not having eaten enough during the day and then standing in a line in a packed but not air-conditioned corridor, yesterday I had no choice but to stop at Subway’s and buy me a sandwich combo. Now, ‘stop’ should have meant ‘pop in and out’, after all, queuing at Roy Thompson Hall is way more exciting than standing behind a dozen people who seemingly have never had a Sub in their life and don’t understand that there is no immediate death sentence if you don’t make the perfect selection of first the bread, then the type of sandwich, whether grilled or not, then toppings and last, heavens, the sauce! Get a grip people, I’ve got places to go!!!
I eventually got my Sub and rushed to the spot where I was supposed to meet my friends, which was, you guessed it, the line for the movie, praying for the line to still be short. Some prayers do get answered. As I turned the corner, there was……. no one. I didn’t have time to celebrate the ‘yippee, first in line’-enthusiasm, for it just seemed a little too odd. I texted a friend, still not clueing in.
I did eventually. About 1 minute later. The reply text read: “I’ll be there at 7″.
I was a full 2 hours early! Well, that’s how the calculation went before my friends got there. Once they did, I clued in that the movie wasn’t due to start before 9.30pm. So, in actual fact, I was probably the most eager TIFFer there, lining up 2.5 hours before a movie starts, not for Rush tickets where it would have made some sense, no, with actual tickets for the movie.
I could have felt stupid. After all I had rushed so madly to get out of work, home, into the shower, changed and back, I almost had a heart attack. I even risked getting fined on the train. Fine, you got me, I did feel silly. But being a Spaz, these things have to make you laugh or else I would have had to jump from the roof a building years ago.
But, I had a great time. Because I was early, I got to
- meet a great other TIFFer and together with my friends have one of those 2 hour standing in line conversations that make the experience seem more like half an hour, and ending in an unexpected job offer
- change my balcony ticket to a mezzanine seat for free, which meant I was getting to sit just one box over from the director and partial cast of the movie
- jump out of line to go for coffees, which lead me past free promotional pizza (queuing makes hungry) and awarded me with two gift cards for more
And all that even before seeing the movie and and the stars! Talking about stars, stars are busy and so generally the Director and Producers show, with at least one lead actor. “Love and other impossible pursuits” however brought Director and Producer, Ayelet Waldman (writer), as well as Mona Lerche, Lisa Kudrow, Scott Cohen and Natalie Portman to the stage. The only one missing was great Charlie Tahan, a kid to watch out for.
I love movies, I will admit it. I have spent probably close to 10,000 hours watching movies. But it is rare that I find one, where absolutely nothing bugs me, a movie with no
- poorly written line
- cheese (emotions are good, but keep it real)
- awkward scenes
- acting that seems like ‘just’ that
- annoying camera work
- predictable moments and worst:
- screwed up ending.
“Love and other impossible pursuits” was perfect, down to the title. It was an authentic depiction of the complexities of life. As my friend said after, almost in desperation: “I didn’t know who to hate!”
Exactly. Because Life is not that simple. It can be. But as “Love and other impossible pursuits” demonstrates, you’d be missing out of a whole – challenging but in the end oddly beautiful – lot.
And so, don’t fret if things don’t start out perfect, seem impossible, or if what you really want isn’t a choice to be had. Cause you just never know what is around the corner. And maybe, just maybe, you still end up first in line.
Like I did yesterday.
Four months ago I had came to the conclusion that my ability to put life into written words was a gift. It was a conclusion reached based on a vision, an experience that presented itself to me in a time when silence was all that governed my day. I decided that I was going to write. Not just because I wanted to, not to make a profit, but because I was given a gift, a powerful gift, and I was wasting it.
Today, back in the claws of everyday working life, I was challenged by a troublesome flood of uneasiness. It left me feeling very anxious and since I was alone, I decided to try and capture the events in writing, to enable me at least a little sense of being in control. Later, I showed it to a friend, looking to explain what had occurred. ‘You described it really well’, he said after, to which I responded ‘well, considering the circumstances I was in, I didn’t do too bad I guess’.
It wasn’t the circumstances that diminished the quality of my writing.
As I wake up in the middle of the night with a replay of that dialogue in my head, I realise that I’ve failed it. I have failed my gift, failed to honor it. And I realise that it wasn’t just this time. I have forgotten the conclusion I reached five months ago.
It’s almost 4 am as I type these lines. The world around me is silent. Perfect time to remember, to ask for forgiveness, and to do what I was born to do.
Although I can’t always tell how I get here, I always recognise when I have arrived. There is no mistaken the heavy chain that is pulled tight around my stomach, the shivers on my skin, the dull pain in the heart and the rain barrels that have spilled and are only held back by a single warrior unwilling to open the flood gates.
Sometimes I wonder whether it’s the opposite end of a successful fight. Whether it’s the place where I run to when I loose confidence in my own ability to win whatever battle I am in. It’s better than dying, and in a rather strange way its power is comforting, a reminder that yes, I am still alive, for why else would I feel the suffering? It is also the place where others may find you, recognise a need, and are quick to help, even though they never meet your need, for only you can accomplish that. And I know it too. Yet in this place, knowing this, only highlights this rotten place more.
So, what is there to do? Wallow in the temporary comfort which only feeds the lack of confidence, heck call it Love, for myself? Listen to the voice that soothens, lets me know that if I just give in, that eventually the light will reach me again? That it is ok to to be small, insignificant, pitiful? That having others take care of you, like a baby, even if you are old enough to have your own? To have had your own?
I’ve been down that road before. It does lead back to light, even to my own light. But it reminds me of the Neverending Story, where the more he gives in the more he forgets and even though I may be in this place, again, I don’t want to risk not remembering that the light is there, that it is within me, and that I don’t need to keep arriving here.
And so, as these lines come to an end, I look around, and find myself in a beautiful late summer morning. I smile and reach for the sun.
…. I am definitely dropping that self defecating attitude (post about the validity and origin of this expression to follow at a later point) that I can’t cook.
Spaghetti Bolognese. That I can cook, but what does ‘can’ mean, I excel at it. It’s one of those things that is genetically passed down. Although I mostly require a recipe, this is a family tradition that never required a recipe but simply a large dedication to loving the preparation as well as the consumption. In my eyes the quintessential comfort food, warming the soul from the moment the mise en place starts until the last noodle is sucked into the abyss.
Spaghetti Bolognese. It is impossible to eliminate the vision of my father from that dish. While I was growing up my dad was hardly seen in the kitchen, at least not for cooking except on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays. And on any of those days there was a fifty percent chance that the lunch menu would read, you guessed it, Spaghetti Bolognese. Although not Italian by birth, the procession starting from the kitchen to the dining table, with two loaded plates in hand, chest raised high towards the food goods and a grin on his face that screamed ‘aqui il maestro’, or at least the Swiss German translation thereof. If we did not praise him at least 10 times, he would say “fine, if you guys can’t appreciate a great meal, there is no point in me continuing to cook it!”. We hardly ever reached ten times and yet, he always returned.
How I learned to prepare it, I am not sure. Actually I don’t think I ever did. All it took was watching Dad, and sometimes Mum. And as I sit here sipping my wine and enjoying my creation, there is nothing more I’d rather have.
Well, maybe….. maybe just someone to share it with.