At the suggestion of an Icelandic correspondent, I made my way from my apartment to the end of Garðestræti to the Witch Shop on Vesturgata. Ordinarily I am not one to indulge in sorcery or the occult, but this tiny store, with its voodoo dolls and charms in the window, won me over. As I stepped in the dim room lit with candles and string-lights the mood was set. Gnarled birch branches were woven into a canopy, and bags of herbs (potions?) and jewelry and amulets were all round. I asked the proprietor about rune stones and she showed me a bag full, explaining their meaning. -"...and these are for sale then?"
I was still quite clueless about how the magick was supposed to work.
-"Well of course, that's why I opened this shop, to make a living, you see."
When we were interrupted by some other customers, she left me to ponder the rune's mysteries, which, in this quiet hideaway, was somehow calming. After they left, we resumed our talk, she spoke of the Vikings, how they would pick up pagan beliefs wherever they went and bring them back if they worked. She showed me an ancient rune that was similar to an African mask.
I bought some trinkets, but passed on the spells and herbs (I had enough trouble bringing Harðfiskur through customs!) This witch's charms certainly worked on me.
I've gone back and added photos and fixed the typos from the Airwaves posts. There is also a pool of 10 photographers' pictures for your perusal. I would like to mention again my appreciation of the performers, Mr. Destiny (the promoter), and all the other fine people I met in Reykjavik. An event like this could easily be swallowed up in a bigger town, and the fact that there were over 100 acts from Iceland alone made it very special. Takk.
In the lobby, we were discussing the first half of Pétur Gautur, a modern production of Ibsen's Peer Gynt, directed by Baltasar Kormákur, and performed by the Icelandic National Theatre company. My companion asked if I was getting much out of it- without understanding Icelandic. I told her that the emotional impact was there for me in many scenes, the actors' body language was very expressive. I had been affected by a scene with Pétur and his dying mother, having experienced that myself. Our conversation continued about the different stages of life that were now in. My companion spoke of a television interview she had seen with the oldest person in Iceland. In it, the 109-year old woman had simply stated that: "God has forgotten me."
In one critical scene, Pétur declares that, "I am an onion", and as he peels one he only finds more layers, with nothing at the core. His quandary, existential in nature, is the modern dilemma. Has God forgotten us? And if so, how shall we behave?
We returned to the theatre for the second half, and the play ended with the stage floor covered in blood, money, and ashes as the lights went out.
Friða Frænka, an Antique Shop in the lower two floors of a house on Vesturgata, is a pleasantly over-stuffed collection of curios, furniture and household items. The pack-rat genes that must be sharing my DNA have led me to this place every time I've been in Reykjavík. The mix of things here is more toward trash than treasure, but, like the shop's mythical namesake (Aunt Friða), it seems to be more of a celebration of the ordinary rather than the exalted.
Last Tuesday, while browsing through piles of broken and/or obsolete housewares, I wandered into a room that at one time had been the kitchen of the house. There on the pantry shelves was a pile of various fabrics- towels, cheap linens and out of fashion bolts of cloth. Being married to a weaver, I have absorbed some knowledge of textiles; when we travel together we inevitably end up in yarn stores and craft museums. Imagine my joy at finding an old Icelandic handwoven rug, with subtle hues from natural wools and organic dyes, a weft-faced weave done in a variety of traditional Scandinavian patterns. It was a bit dirty, had been mended at spots, and the colors on the face had faded somewhat; these flaws only added to its charm. Speaking with the shop's owner, Anna Ringsted, we discussed the piece, its possible origins, and negotiated its purchase.
The next day, on my bus ride to the airport, I noticed that the golden afternoon sunshine on the moss-covered lava formations had painted the whole panorama with the exact same colors as that rug, a rug which was now a gift to my wife- but not really from me- it was a gift from some long departed weaver, a gift of Iceland itself...
"The water has memory, you see, the water has memory."
When a man who has spent his life on the ocean speaks poetically of water, I will give him due consideration. Sitting in a hot pot at the Vesturbæjarlaug Thermal pool, sharing water with a retired trawler captain, a Spaniard, and an elderly woman, the conversation was as warm as we were. It was another unseasonably fine October day in Reykjavík and I was taking a final visit to the neighborhood pool. The conversation swirled like the water in which we soaked; moving between politics, economics, wool, music and water. Always water, this rock in the North Atlantic, surrounded by water and the fish in it which generated wealth, the heat from the geothermal water making living comfortable here, and the electricity generated from the hydroelectric plants making modern life practical. I mentioned Halldór Laxness and his novel Kristnihald undir Jökli, wherein the "fallen" pastor Jón Primus declared his only theory: "...water is good...one doesn't even have to go by my theory unless one is thirsty." Everybody laughed. Water is good, especially when one is in it with congenial company. When I had finally become thoroughly cooked I reluctantly left.
Two days later the weather had turned colder, and it was time for me to return to my home in Minnesota where my "real" life awaited. I showered, smiling at the faint odor of sulfur from the hot water- after only a week I was beginning to take it for granted. I dressed and gathered my bags and headed out. I went down and walked along Tjarnargata, past the pond, where the water had frozen over during the night. A few brave souls waltzed over the thin ice, the birds had congregated down by the northern end where some of the water was still open. Geese flew in formation overhead, and as I walked the paths at the southern end of Tjörnin, I slowly scanned this beautiful city.
Suddenly there was more water, but this time salty. I turned away and headed up the hill to the bus depot. I didn't look back again.
And now I know. The thing about love is that yes, I am certain I was in love before, but it was never like this. Before, I was always stressed, and panicking, and acting, and the reason for that was simple. There was no trust. I did not trust him, and I did not trust myself, and to be honest, I think he trusted me even less and himself not at all.
And I thought that was love, because that was what I was conditioned to believe, that when two people are attracted to each other that way, it must be love.
Except that it wasn't; it could not be love, any more than Romeo's crush on Rosaline was love. You may think it love when you will do anything to be with the person, and you may think it love when you will accept anything from that person just so that they will not leave you.
But that is not love.
If it is not love when you are only willing to take, it is also not love when all you want to do is give. There is no difference between putting your heart in someone's hands knowing that it will be broken and taking someone's trust and grinding it beneath your feet, merely flip sides of the same coin.
Nor is love about sex. Sex has become a commodity to some - a bribe, a laugh between friends, a fleeting pleasure in the night - and to tie love with sex is to head down the highway to disappointment, although there will probably be some love shacks on the way to heartbreak hotel.
Love is both all and none of the above; far more dramatic and far more prosaic. It is when you can place your trust in that person completely and receive trust in return; it is when you demand nothing and receive everything and the reverse is true.
Love is... symmetric. It has to be between equals who are content to be equal. By this I do not mean that both have to be equally intelligent or rich - only that none of that should matter. And like all symmetric effects, it has the potential to be everything.
And so I put my trust in you, because when the sun comes out, the moon stands no chance at all.
Whew! Another gorgeous day on the Riviera of the North. After a sunbath by the pool some high culture was in order. With my exhausted blog-pal Auður, I attended a modern production of Peer Gynt at the National Theatre. More about that at a later date.
Sunday is sort of an extra day in the festival, only Gaukurinn had a festival listing, and they weren't checking passes when I entered.
20:00 Red Barnett, a singer songwriter, opened. He didn't make too much of an impression, or maybe I was still in shock from the theatre.
20:45 Hellvar, a trio and a drum machine, took a while to get into the groove, the lead singer didn't know if she should dance, sing, play, or do all three- when she did get it together at the end of the set it was very impressive. A little Bjork-like, but not derivative.
21:45 Buff, an American style club band. Seasoned performers, they could play anywhere in the US and not seem out of place at all.
22:00 Hjörvar An impassioned singer, he gave me sort of an 80's vibe.
23:00 Patrick Watson and the Canadian All-Stars To be honest, I was about to give up, but I'm glad I stayed. A complete band, playing fully-realized songs with finesse and joy, Mr. Watson and company had it all. They mixed meters and styles effectively, even covering Erik Satie (!) in a reggae style (!!) with help from the Islands bass clarinetist(!!!). Special note must be given to their great drummer. As far as popular music goes, the best was saved for last. They have real potential.
The music went on into the night, but I had had enough. I picked up some copies of Grapevine (local arts paper) and found myself in a crowd picture watching Jakobínarína Friday night and was referred to (in the Iðno account) as being in a group of "stern older men who looked as if they had lost their wives to buff young whalers"...I'll take that as a complement, I think.
Let´s get really crazy shall we? Start with the warmest day yet (sunbathing at the pool) and if 6 hours of music is not enough for you, how about starting things off at 17:00 in a century-old church (Fríkirkjan) by the pond with
Jóhann Jóhannsson of Apparat Organ Quartet fame. With his computers, piano, and a proper string quartet, he mixed classical and techno in a stunning fashion. An attentive crowd was transported into musical bliss. An hour later, I walked out into the twilight exhausted- and the night hadn't even begun! After a brief supper, (and a strong cup of coffee) it was back to Iðno for the Kitchen Motors (an artistic collective) night.
20:00 Siggi Ármann, a sensitive singer, verging on the precious, touched the small crowd with his sincere, emotional style.
20:45 Ólöf Arnalds, a young woman with an incredible voice and an accomplished instrumental style sings and plays tender ballads on guitar and charenga, a small lute-like instrument. Beautiful.
21:30 Kira Kira. The hall filled up with groups of friends and couples seated on the parquet floor, the atmosphere became more like a love-in. The five piece combo was led by an irrepressible woman on multiple instruments and computers. A lot of potential, the set was marred by technical problems.
22:15 Borko A quirky blend of samples and guitar rock, sounding a bit under-rehearsed.
23:00 Evil Madness. Jóhann Jóhannsson again, this time in a computer group (with a cellist) inspired by horror-movie soundtracks. Perfectly executed and scary. And people were dancing to it...This guy really gets around. GREAT STUFF!
00:00 Stórsveit Nix Noltes, a ten piece band of accomplished musicians playing eastern European-inspired music in a dynamic performance. Super high energy, the dancers got really into it. I'm running out of superlatives! Great ensemble playing and an excellent guitarist:
I finally give up at 01:00, my head still reeling. Earlier, I had talked with a music promoter from Brighton at the church and then met her again at Iðno. Later at Iðno I was speaking with a very nice young man about inkjet printing and inks. He asked if I liked Icelandic music, of course I started raving about Sigur Rós and Björk. He gave me a small smile and said "I am the lead singer of Sigur Rós."
The day dawned bright and sunny again; positively balmy today... Simply can not get over how fortunate I've been with the weather...
22:00 Started off the night at the Reykjavik Art Museum again. Baggalútur, an eleven piece country swing band led off. With an accomplished vocal trio (singing in Icelandic) and a hot fiddler, this gives whole new meaning to the phrase 'country' music. Well, Iceland is a country, right? A complete joy.
20:45 Benni Hemm Hemm, an even bigger band with an eight piece brass section comes on like a freighter sailing through- oceans of sound. Their energy level threatened to take the roof off. I'm swept up in the crowd.
21:30 Islands, from Canada, with a pair of fiddlers, guitars-bass-drum-keyboards and an occasional bass clarinet(!), gave the younger crowd what they want in a tightly choreographed set, only to be cursed with a bad vocal mix.
22:15 Apparat Organ Quartet. Four mad scientists playing vintage keyboards with a drummer assisting. COMPLETELY INSANE! They whip the crowd into a frenzy with their demented aural assault. This was one of my must-sees, and they exceeded all expectations. GREAT! GREAT! GREAT!
23:00 Jakobínarína These kids had the highest energy of any stage show, with well played pop-punk aimed at the teens. Titles like I have a date with my television and Nice guys don't play good music should propel them to greater fame. Now that they've finished their secondary education, and have a recording contract, the world awaits. They started to run out of gas toward the end of the set; exiting, I made my way to the National Theater Basement.
The Northern Lights were dancing in the sky over Austurvöllur.
00:15 Kalli. His performance in a word: Tragic?- too strong. Anguished?- still not it. Heartbroken?- no. Sad?- not exactly. Whining?- that's it. Or, in two words: Just awful.
01:00 Shadow Parade. With a Jim Morrisonesque lead singer, and the whole band dressed in black, this was angst done right. Very effective, surprisingly soulful singing.
01:45 Trost, from Germany. The wild card of the night. This drunken rock-cabaret-little-girl-lost turned the nightclub atmosphere into something really quite decadent. In a good way. Weaving on and off the stage on 4 inch platform heels, you had to watch just to see if she would even make it through her set. A very clever four piece band was a perfect backdrop for her amusing, if sometimes incoherent, story-songs. This went on until almost three. A great way to end the night.
Best music of the night: Apparat. Simply smashing.
Art is the keyword for the day. I thought I would try a more highbrow approach to my music venues. After a morning of delightful conversation with a completely charming Icelandic blogger, and yet another glorious afternoon at the pool, I was ready for anything...
1900... The Reykjavik Art Museum. This venue is in the canvas domed courtyard of an old industrial building. A full stage with all the rock show features, light shows, massive subwoofers etc., the band Ske hits the stage and they are an experienced outfit, with everything you could want from an arena rock band. Good arrangements, a confident lead singer and some evocative lyrics...
...she doesn't drink wine, but if she's asked she'll take a glass... now she is wasted...
A good start.
2000... Over toIðno, the old Craftsmen hall. A beautifully restored auditorium, the Bedroom Community (group of artists) presented Egill Sæbjörnsson who started things off with some clever performance/video pieces including a most amusing animation. Very arty.
2100... Sam Amidon from the US- does a old folk music type act, with odd dance interludes. He began with a strange, dirge-like version of O Death. His voice could be described as fragile, or, more accurately, weak. He was joined by some Icelandic performers that fill out the sound nicely.
2200... Nico Muhly from New York- comes on with original piano compositions. He shares the stage with an Icelandic violinist for one tune. Stunning.
2300... Valgeir Sigurðsson performed next with a guitar, Echoplex and computer. He was joined by six other musicians, and with them, and his samplers, he created a wall of sound. If Sigur Rós didn't already exist, he would be quite the deal. Still, very impressive. An interesting line up overall:
0015... Over to the National Theatre's basement. A little gem of a room (think 50's nightclub) the Icelandic rockabilly group Langi Seli Og Skuggarnir held forth with a great take on the rockabilly style. The dancing was fervered, the mood was more roadhouse than art house. A lot of fun:
Best music of the day... Nico Muhly, Sonata for piano, violin and computer, no contest.
20:00 On my way to the venue Grand Rokk I run into Harrison Ford.
20:15 Múgsefjun took the stage. Lyric that says it all: "Why can't I be lonely all the time?"
21:00 Retro Stefson comes up. An eight piece teen-age combo with a charismatic Afro-Icelandic lead singer. A WHOLE LOTTA FUN. I think that's what music is supposed to be all about, right? With the crowd full of photographers and moleskine-toting journos, there may be more heard of from these kids in the future. I must confess that the bass player isn't really a teenager- he might be as young as TEN or ELEVEN. You have to love it. The kisses the band got from fans as they left the stage says something about how adorable (and good) they were:
21:45 Sprengjuhöllin:Power pop for the masses. When they started in on a song that seemed to come from an album intended for dim children, I had had enough. By that time the crowd was too dense to prohibit much movement- 'Comfortably Cozy'- one might say. I manage to escape somehow.
22:30 Out on the street, beside Gaukurinn, a bigger venue, with a line stretched down the block. It's a beautiful night, nice to have some fresh air...until I get inside.
The density of the crowd might be described as 'Coitally Close'. The American group We are Scientists were on, doing serviceable power trio riffs. Their last tune was the appropriately titled 'Making My Escape'. It is hard to imagine anybody moving, much less escaping, but the crowd does turn over after their set. I ooze to the front.
23:30 Ditka starts up, with songs of sensitive angst. When the lead singer starts channelling Kurt Cobain, I make my way back outside... there are four more nights to go and discretion is the better part of valor.
BEST MUSIC OF THE DAY: The speech of an Icelandic coquette in hot pot 3 at the Vesturbaejarlaug thermal pool (13:00). She was in an animated discussion (about working hours I believe), but all I could appreciate were the beautiful cadences and inflections of her voice.
Coming into Reykjavik on the Flybus in the dark, I wondered if I had made the right decision to come back to Iceland. I got into my apartment as the sun was rising, it was a glorious day, and then walked downtown to get my festival pass and some food and I am charmed out of my wits by this beautiful place and the beautiful people who live here... again! Bye for now, I'm going swimming...
"Thank you for this whole day. It was pleasant. I really enjoyed being able to talk and laugh with you again. I missed that."
"Yeah, me too. But you know that this doesn't mean..." he began but did not continue, unsure of how to phrase his next words.
"Of course I do, honey. You don't have to push the knife any deeper." She paused to allow him time to process what she had said. "Don't worry," she assured, "Any hope I've held has been sufficiently squashed. But just so you know," she raised herself on her toes and wrapped her arms around his neck in a hug as she whispered, "the hope will never really completely go away, no matter how much I try to ignore it." Releasing herself from the embrace, she continued, "But there's nothing you can do about that."
As she walked away, she realized that what she had missed most of all was the feeling of his hand on the small of her back as he pressed her close to him in a brief but lingering hug; she knew she had missed that most because he had given her another dose of it before saying goodbye.
It appeared she would be suffering from withdrawal yet again that night.
Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow, comes its steady pace...
...not just any tomorrow, to be sure, FI656 will see to that. My return to Iceland, for the Airwaves music festival no less, is sure to hold its share of new experiences. One thing distressing about going to concerts here in Minnesota is that I'm usually the oldest person in attendance (excepting the symphony, when I'm one of the youngest.) Hopefully the audience will have a bit of an age mix- the acts I want to see probably won't attract the youngsters quite as much as the "latest things", whoever they may be. There will be some more mature performers, performers with some serious music credentials, doing more esoteric things. Not to say that any kind of music has more intrinsic value that another, it's just that I've experienced a variety of music, both as a participant and observer, and I think there are some new musical things (new to me at least) that I'd enjoy experiencing live. The descriptions of previous Airwaves, and seeing and hearing clips of some of these acts make me want to be there, a fly on the wall as it were, for no recording is quite the same as the "real" thing.
While I'll try to post a bit during the next two weeks, please bear with me- it will take a while to process all of it (I'm still trying to make sense of the trip of 2004!) If you've been to Iceland, you probably understand what I'm trying to say, if you haven't, you're welcome to come along on my ride, I will do my best to give you an accurate reflection.
And for those of you who have faithfully given me insights into your great land and its good people- I hope to be seeing you soon!
Now, my late Uncle Ray was never at a loss for a story. The veracity of those tales was never really the point. You just took them at face value and, if you were wise, savored them for the telling itself.
So it came to pass that after Ray's mother (my grandmother) died at a relatively early age, his father was remarried, to a local widow. By any account, this was not a happy union. It so happened that Ray's father passed away after a time. Ray's stepmother quickly remarried. One day Ray ran into her "latest." After a few exchanged words Ray sidled up to the newly married man and whispered: "She puts the poison in the meat."
"You say you want a revolution, we all want to change the world" -John Lennon
These protesters were a bit different. The signs were the same- "Support our troops, End the war now", "US out of Iraq", "Peace". They were older folks, perhaps they had marched against the war in the sixties and seventies. The difference was that they were at a suburban intersection, in front of a McDonald's restaurant and a Snyder's drug store. Mid-America. Middle-class. It is said that all politics are ultimately local. If that is so, then this action may be a harbinger of changes, big changes in the American political scene. The rest of the world has no doubt felt a sense of disgust with the acquiescence of the American masses to "Dubya's War" and his arrogance and bullying of any country that may have reservations about unprovoked invasion, occupation, sanctioning of torture, and suspension of constitutional rights.
There are midterm elections in less than a month. If the voting machines aren't rigged, there well may be a change in congress. Whether it would mean anything or not will have to be determined later. When Lyndon Johnson choose not to run against antiwar candidates, the public voted for a change, and got Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger who escalated the violence.
In the early sixties a young singer-songwriter wrote a song that was at the time criticized as being naive about the cause of modern warfare. That song's time has come again, I recently heard it played on the college radio station. Perhaps there has been a revolution, a return to the same point on the circle. The words of that song speak for itself:
Come you masters of war You that build all the guns You that build the death planes You that build the big bombs You that hide behind walls You that hide behind desks I just want you to know I can see through your masks
You that never done nothin' But build to destroy You play with my world Like it's your little toy You put a gun in my hand And you hide from my eyes And you turn and run farther When the fast bullets fly
Like Judas of old You lie and deceive A world war can be won You want me to believe But I see through your eyes And I see through your brain Like I see through the water That runs down my drain
You fasten the triggers For the others to fire Then you set back and watch When the death count gets higher You hide in your mansion As young people's blood Flows out of their bodies And is buried in the mud
You've thrown the worst fear That can ever be hurled Fear to bring children Into the world For threatening my baby Unborn and unnamed You ain't worth the blood That runs in your veins
How much do I know To talk out of turn You might say that I'm young You might say I'm unlearned But there's one thing I know Though I'm younger than you Even Jesus would never Forgive what you do
Let me ask you one question Is your money that good Will it buy you forgiveness Do you think that it could I think you will find When your death takes its toll All the money you made Will never buy back your soul
And I hope that you die And your death'll come soon I will follow your casket In the pale afternoon And I'll watch while you're lowered Down to your deathbed And I'll stand o'er your grave 'Til I'm sure that you're dead
The e-mail triggered it. It was a note from the place where I had reserved an apartment while at the IcelandAirWaves music festival. I had been "bumped" into a better one, in a different location (Garðastræti 40), across from the Russian Embassy. Cool. And then the wild thoughts began: "ohmygodimgoingtobethereinaweekandihaventgottenready
Snap out of it, Batty. You've done this trip twice before, with far less planning and still managed to have a great time. You can really be a real worry-wart, you know. Your travel gear is nearly ready, your clothes are set, just relax and enjoy it. Iceland is fabulous, you'll do just fine, and almost everybody there is Lutheran (excepting the pagans, of course.)
The other day, I was talking to someone and to get a point across, I said "Do what you feel here" while knocking with my finger on the person's body where the heart is.
Then I thought, I mean, what's the deal here?
What *I* wanna know how in the world did the heart get involved in all kinds of feelings and love and what not!!!!????? I mean... there's no thinking going on there!!!
You hear everybody saying "Do what your heart says," "What does your heart feel?" "Listen to your heart." Well... if you do that... you're gonna hear: lub dub...... lub dub...... lub dub..... lub dub.... lub dub..... lub dub..... lub dub..... lub dub. You get the idea.
That's all. Lub dub. That's it.
Now somebody please explain to me how lub dub transformed into all sorts of weird things!
I mean... you have your brain where you do all your thinking. SOMEHOW, some only some of the thoughts are attributed to the brain... and other... to the "heart." Why?
You gotta understand... it's one thing doing the thinking. But... no. People make it out to be some sort of CIVIL WAR going on inside the body. You have the evil axis power called the brain... and the other allies with "the heart."
Erm...another thing... if there's one phrase in the world that is an oxymoron.... it's "CIVIL WAR." :-p
Matty told Hatty, "That's the thing to do. Get you someone really to pull the wool with you." Wooly bully, wooly bully.
When planning a trip to the tropics, one's wardrobe requirements are minimal. Flash and fun are the rule when it is warm all day and mild each night. Just pack light and colorfully.
When planning a sojurn to a more intemperate clime, one must respect the needs of the organism and and ponder his or her clothing much more carefully. The modern approach consists of a variety of microfibers, space-age miracles of design, warmth without weight, all shiny and high-tech. Within two weeks time I will be standing on the streets of Reykjavík, mild at its warmest, raw, damp windy and cold at its worst. I did the Polartech and poly thing the last time I was here, and regretted it. I just can't get over the feeling of wearing a glorified plastic bag. "Swish" is not what I want to hear from my duds while I'm in them.
I'm going to go back to wool. With my tweedy sport-coat (yes it has leather patches on the sleeves and shoulders) I'll look the part of a slightly disheveled Professor. With a heavy woolen overcoat I shan't be fluttering in the Arctic breeze, and if that is not enough- I'll be packing a sweater knitted from Lopi (wool that will be returning to its country of origin) and even some undergarments of the finest Merino. Add a fine wool suit for the theatre, some leather accessories, then top it all off with a woolen hat and I'll be 100% organic.
It happened again today. Across the street from my abode of employment is a restaurant whose specialty is "Country-Style" cooking. It really offers a deadly trifecta of grease, refined carbs, and salt. The emergncy in question was the arrival of an ambulance to haul off another victim of their slow poison. It's now up to about 3 or 4 a year. With a senior discount, the aforementioned "food", and an aging clientele, the wonder of it is that it's not a daily occurrence. We all have to go sometime, and we all have to go somewhere. I hope that the poetry of my own demise will not be so just.
It seems that my Scandinavian heritage continues to pop up to surprise and delight me. A blog that I discovered in a random search, Fields of Gold (which I put on the "watching" list under the name of its author "Shuusaku") has discovered my subtle suggestion and has turned the tables on me. The watcher becomes the watched. At first I had no idea where the writer was coming from (geographically speaking) but his closely reasoned and kaleidoscopic approach to the mysteries and quandaries of existence in his blog posts certainly resonated with my Flippist thought processes. And now I know from whence all those Swedish hits on my site meter are from. Seeing as my grandmother was born in Sweden perhaps the affinity is genetic ... welcome aboard... Shuusaku!
When I was a child I received religious instruction from my Sunday school teachers, mostly older women who told us the simpler stories, those that a child's intellect could grasp. One of these stories was David and Goliath, of how the shepherd boy defeated the mighty warrior with his sling and a stone. The story was embellished with accounts of the young David protecting his flock from wolves, practicing for hours with his simple weapon- all in preparation for the greatness that he would achieve later in life. I would pretend to be David, I didn't have a sling (I was kind of confused- I thought that was the thing my broken arm rested in) so I just threw stones. In my back yard, down by the river, and in grassy fields at the end of the block.
One summer when I was about eight a new house was being constructed on our street; there was an excavation and lots of clods of clayey dirt and small stones. The mean kids from the apartment house started throwing dirt at me and my friends from across the pit; we threw back and then the battle was on. Soon rocks started coming our way, and little David's example came to mind. The first rock I threw hit one of the kids over the eye, and his forehead started to bleed. That was the end of the conflict. I ran home.
Later, my mother found out and she brought me over to the apartment house, where I had to apologize for my savagery. I was more impressed with being in the apartment house itself, (it was actually an old frame boarding house that had been converted into a crude eight-plex) than I was with the enormity of my crime. It would not be the last time that I would emulate Little David, and with the same result.
Don't break up - just disengage graciously! A.k.a. Reshma's Guide to Breaking Up
Yesterday evening I was watching an episode of Caroline in the City where the characters were debating on the best ways of breaking up. I then reflected on how hard it's becoming nowadays to sell the "It's not you, it's me" approach. No one is convinced :-) This made me think of the countless hapless souls who're trapped in meaningless relationships, withering daily, just because they don't have the right words.
And I thought of all the stuff I've tried on people, and the ones that have actually worked. Please remember that the lines by themselves can sound vacuous and sometimes corny. But couple them with the right body language and they become barbs!
Note: Capitalized words are to be stressed. Physical cues are included within the instructions.
Technique # 1 - The Detached Method This comes at the end of a particularly long & tedious argument, when your partner says, "But what about US?" Look deep into his/her eyes, smile, and say, "There IS no us. There is a you, and there is a me, (pause here, inhale deeply), but there is no US. (Look away from your partner, as if you're trying to peer into a distant future where the two of you shall never cross paths.)
Technique # 2 - The Elegant Approach Some people, no matter what you'll say to them, will stare at you incredulously for the first few minutes, and will then begin babbling incoherently. Typically, their rant will sound something like, "So this is it? it's over between us? Are you breaking up with me?" Here's what you need to to: Smile a slow, beatific smile, nod your head sympathetically and say, "Of course we're not breaking up, we're just graciously disengaging."
Technique # 3 - Even Steven! Also known as the smart Alec approach. If you're the dumpee instead of the dumper, just smile, shrug, and say, "Hey, that's ok, I'll meet someone else." Watch your partner stare at you in total disbelief. This moment is a high. While their jaws are inching close to the ground, smile more, and say, "Yeah sure, I'm like even Steven, things always even out for me! Nice meeting you!"
Technique # 4 - The Care and Concern Approach Try to sound like you *actually* have your partner's welfare in mind. Try and convince them that they're not happy, even though they vehemently deny it. This is more a test of willpower and patience. You really need to hang in there. The lines that will see you through this approach are, "I'm not good enough for you . . . you need to find someone who will treat you right," or even, "You don't smile enough. Saying you are happy and looking it are two different things." In the end, promise that you'll always be around for them. Then, get a new cellphone number.
Technique # 5 - I need to find myself Approach Pretend like you're the Buddha seeking your personal Enlightenment. Sprinkle your conversation with stuff like, "I love you lots but I have got to spread my wings and fly like an eagle."
Technique # 6 - Always works! If none of the above have worked for you and worse, you're still hurting about the whole situation, hurl something heavy and shout, "I hope you and your progeny die and rot and burn in hell." Works every time!
When Batty the Fashionista returns to Reykjavík in a few weeks, one of the first places that he'll revisit is Má Mí Mó, a gallery/design studio/workshop. The creator of this special place, Guðlaug Halldórsdóttir, is a textile designer who says of her work: "My aim is to design and manufacture beautiful things which people enjoy watching and owning." Má Mí Mó is one of many places in Reykjavik where even the most jaded traveler will find something distinctive and uniquely Icelandic. The handbag pictured above was obtained on the Professor's previous trip; if Má Mí Mó is still in business it will not be his last purchase.
No, not this post, on Saturday my hometown had a special "recycling event", a time set aside to bring usable stuff to a site where it would be sent on to places that could re-use it. I unearthed a bunch of old iron and steel (how does that stuff accumulate? It must be my magnetic personality!) a few fluorescent lamps, so that I now have a cleaner house and basement. As I drove into the drop-off area, they handed me a plastic RECYCLE bag with a RECYCLE ice scraper in it, along with some RECYCLE pamphlets. I can use the scraper, I can recycle the papers, but the plastic RECYCLE bag is a poser. I'm not supposed to put that kind of plastic in the with the recyclables. If I use it for my lunch, will I have to bring it home and wash it and use it again? I've often thought that the life of a hermit would be the ticket- a bowl, a loincloth, (maybe a toothbrush?) although with my short attention span, I'd only last in it for about 30 minutes. I will continue in my eco-friendly, post-consumeristic ways, turning over my cultural compost, cleaning my house until it's just so and ultimate elegance is achieved. But I'd still have that darn RECYCLE bag!