My brother Michael and I both love Star Wars, but he’s much more obsessed than I’ve ever been. It’s one of his many obsessions, while another that fascinates him is history.
He’s a clever guy, which means you can easily get into a long discussion with him about the newest movie. Or one of the old ones.
We saw the very first of the now 9 or 10 films back in 1977 at the Shamrock Cinema in Houston. I vividly remember that day/evening, because once again we were late.
We were always late in those days. Somehow we got there to the cinema. Somehow. They let us go in late and then stay for the 2nd showing.
So only then did we know how the movie actually started.
As a child, I thought the Dark Side had a lot more to offer. Only with a lot of time and a bit of wisdom have I finally realised that the Dark Side is hypocritical to its core.
I assumed as a younger person that the American government must’ve been the rebels, but I’ve luckily had a change of perspective. In this 21st century, we Anglo Americans are simply the Empire. No matter what you say.
Good morning 2020 (written early New Year’s Day morning). What a wild ride it’s already been, and I’m still in my pyjamas.
My mother, who’s nickname when she was young was ‘Fafa’ so that’s what I call her here, and I have talked briefly, which because of the time difference between here and the States means it’s still yesterday there.
My sister-in-law and I also had a meaningful, end of the year conversation a little while ago in which we talked about her husband/my brother and what he was like as a child. That was something.
We also talked about me, which is unfortunately still one of my favourite subjects, and she had some insight about all of that, which I appreciated. All of that, you ask? All of what, exactly?
Well, this is the first time in almost twenty years that I haven’t had a dog to walk on New Year’s morning. You likely know of Ella and Louis, but before them there was a girldog named Lyle. She came with my first wife and me from the States, when wee moved here to Munich in 2001.
She was my only real responsibility as I was getting my bearings in this curious new land. German culture was weirdly unfathomable, which made no sense because I’d lived here as a small child. I’d learned to play German music and even sang in the godforsaken language before I understood what I was singing about. Nevertheless, I felt odd and like an outsider.
That first year, I drank too much Augustiner and Austrian Veltiner, I smoked my Gauloises, and I walked my dog. It was all pretty straightforward. Below is a photo of my friend Elaine’s dog, Poppet, and me in Tottenham. Well, it’s our shadows. When I’m without a dog, I greet every single one I see. Right now, I’m meeting a lot of dogs.
Here’s the story I want to tell today, and I assure you that there’s a moral. I’ll be explicit, rather than make you guess what my motive is.
It’s about gratitude and perspective.
A woman told a few friends and me a disheartening story about her horrible childhood and how she always felt like an outsider. She could’ve been telling my story, but that’s beside the point. ‘It’s not always about you, Ken.’ Yes, I get it.
She told us about standing in the rain in her raincoat and looking up at the sky and somehow, in her childlike wonder, asking what on earth the reason for everything was. Asking God or the universe or whatever was out there why she was even here. Why did she even exist? What was even the point?
After my friend told her story, we were all really quiet. It was so depressing that we were simply mute. Until one quiet voice meekly asked, ‘You had a raincoat?’
The raincoat obviously wasn’t the point of the story, but clearly the woman who was almost afraid to ask her question must’ve had an even worse childhood. For her, the mere shelter from the rain was absolute and utter luxury.
I try to remember that everyone I encounter could be dealing with trauma that he or she doesn’t even want to think about. It’s a trick I use to be more compassionate. Sometimes it works.
Sometimes I forget. My New Year’s resolution this year is not to forget.
I should be more compassionate. Especially to those who’re in my inner circle. They very well might get my best, but they simultaneously get the worst of me, as well.
I resolve to give them more of my best. A lot more.
If you’re new here, this blog is purposeless. Truly.
Essentially I’m writing to eventually connect with potential clients.
Or to be more clear, they know me elsewhere or meet me at some networking event, which I despise by the way, and then we connect on LinkedIn or tumblr or some other stumbling social media site and then at some point they google me or actually read my card and go to my website.
So connecting with clients isn’t the point exactly. Having content here is what matters. Then they see it and they hire me for some work.
Weirdly, it happened this week. A guy for whom I normally do translations, told me he liked my writing. Seriously, it was that out of the blue.
I thought my audience was Jarrod & one, if not both, of my twin cousins Carrie and Crissi. Is anyone else really reading regularly? Oh, Josephine in Perth. She reads a lot. Sometimes the blog.
If I know Josephine, she probably reads whatever I write. I used to write a lot about tea. Even had a tea blog.
She didn’t even like tea, but she read that blog. Weird, huh?
Sometimes I’m busy translating or teaching, and there’s no way to manage blogging, as well.
It’s just how it is.
Yet blog I must, so…
Here’s another post. On my miscellaneous blog, which just keeps going and going. Without much noticeable purpose.
Aside from the client thing I mentioned.
Not to get off track here, but somebody asked me to blog about how I got to Germany. Seems like a weird question, but I’m nothing if not amenable. Ask your questions and I’ll answer them in a timely manner.
Ask them in the comments. Not the godforsaken Feckbook comments either. Comment right here on the blog.
Like a civilised person.
Were you born in a barn. Jeez!
So, back to your question, whoever it was.
How did I get to Germany? On a plane of course. What kinda question is that?
Have always wanted to take a boat, but haven’t managed it.
So, what else?
Oh, boydog Louis. In the photo above. His sister was cleaning him in the photo.
Any of us would’ve been mortified to have our sister licking our nether regions out in public.
Jarrod’s not playing, so it might be weird to keep calling it Old Braunfels. Who knows, though. It’s a good name for a band in Munich, whose members predominantly come from Texas.
However, we’ve got something else going on and Vancouver Michael will most likely have a considerable impact. Nina Kuhlig, who you might remember from the Blue February show two years ago will sing some originals, as well as one or two classics.
Have you ever noticed that the best songs tend to be sad and full of human suffering? We’ve noticed it, as well. We LURVE those songs.
The evening will be chock full of melancholic love songs. We’d love to have a place for lonely Valentine’s to congregate and revel in their plight.
We might even be able to entice Carlos Köhler, who was with us a few years back, to bring his bass up on stage and play with us. He’s one of the best local bass players I know, so it’d be a treat. We’ll see.
You want to see it, leave a comment below with your email and we’ll put you on the mailing list. Check it out!
‘The subtle mental shifts we experience over time and how they lead us down our paths’
There’s my writing prompt. It’s from my friend Heidi, who I saw recently at my thirtieth high school reunion.
That was a trip, by the way. Like a psychedelic one, I mean. The good kind of trip. Glad I don’t do that anymore, though. It was hell on my psyche.
Mine is about fighting. My mental shift is about anger and how I deal with it.
You likely don’t know this about me, but if you know anything about astrology, I’ve got a curious and kind of unsettling chart. What do I mean?
I’m mostly fire. A burning surging seething wildfire, even. That’s only part of it, though. My moon is in Cancer, like the old Joni Mitchell song talks about.
Heidi, remind me to tell you about Trina in that same song, ok?
Anywhoooo…moon in Cancer, which is water, of course. However, my sun and my ascendent are both fiery and passionate. A person with my chart is troublesome.
But I don’t put any truck in astrology. Just a bunch of hooey, right?
Heidi asked a difficult question, because I’m still in the process of transitioning. From a bitter bastard of a scoundrel to a hopefully less angry individual, but that’s still unresolved.
I’m not a nice person most of the time. I’ve mentioned it here before, but I can present a polished version of Lahikmajoe online or in my public life, but in private?
Ask Miriam. Really, ask her. She’ll be direct about it. She doesn’t need to cover up my rough edges.
Sometimes she even appreciates them.
Yet how was I before? I just walked away from conflict when possible.
Let me tell you a story about me when I was new in Germany, yeah?
Here I was in a foreign land, in which I’d lived as a small child and always wanted to return to, not able to communicate so well in the German language. I had my dog and my beer, and I was ok.
People in the park were mostly cool, but sometimes there’d be what I call an ‘angry German‘. They’re still out there, in case you think this is a twenty-year-old phenomena that no longer exists.
Even today, I run into really angry locals who’re furious about something or other. Sometimes I stepped in their way or tried to park in the parking spot they thought they’d seen first. You get the idea.
Not all of them are like that, in case you’ve gotten your proverbial knickers in a twist.
Back to my story though, eh?
There I was in the park, new in the county as I said, and some German starts hollering at me for reasons I can’t even begin to comprehend. He says some nonsense about an ‘Anzeige‘, and I know from the context that that’s bad. A Strafanzeige is a fine you get for breaking the law. It’s not important for the story.
So? I walk away.
You can’t give me your Anzeige if I’m not here for it.
The person never called the police. It was a threat that I knew he or she was in no way going to follow through on.
That’s how I used to deal with my anger, Heidi.
My first marriage? I walked away. Left a lot of money on the table, because I got the only thing I wanted from that marriage.
They were my treasure and now they’re gone.
I’ve got new, wonderful treasure, but it just ain’t the same.
You know I adore my wife and our astounding little progeny. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a grateful happy man.
But I miss their floppy ears. I miss how Louis got up in the night and rearranged himself while everyone else was trying to sleep, and how Ella watched over us in the park and made sure her brother kept up.
He wasn’t the smartest dog, if I’ve not said that in a while.
My dogsitter Gitti lost her Joanna a few years back and she moaned about it on Feckbook for ages. I’m sure some friends wished she’d just get over it.
This is my grief. This is how I’m processing it.
If you don’t like it or think I should grieve otherwise, you could perhaps go read something else.
Not that I normally do this, but I guess now I’m taking requests. Asked a friend what she thought I should write about, and she had kind of a funny response.
Funny haha not funny weird…well, I suppose a little funny weird.
Don’t start getting ideas, though. I’m not a trained monkey here simply to do your bidding. You can’t just contact me and assume I’ll write about whatever your heart desires. That’s not how it works over here.
To be fair, I asked her what I should write about. It’s not her fault.
I’m the curator of this here place, by the way. Or if I want to make it sound/look more French, I simply spell it curatoeur. I’m not even sure if that’s a French word.
I wasn’t very good in French when I was in school.
They let you pick your own name in language classes, though. It sounds so preposterous to have this thirteen-year-old properly learning a new language for the first time saying, ‘Je m’appelle Ken,’ or, ‘Je m’appelle Lahikmajoe,’ or what have you.
Any of my friends from that time will tell you, ‘il s’appelle Xavier.’
Go ahead. Ask them.
Loved that name.
Since I was a teenager.
I tell Miriam that’d be a great name for a boy, and she rejects it out of hand.
Which is funny.
Our daughter has two given names. I don’t say her name online a lot, just because of privacy issues and all. At some point, she’s going to want to make choices about how to present herself in the sphere of the web, and I’d rather she not have a lifetime of stuff already come up when you google her name.
Her middle name, or as the Germans say her ‘second first name‘ but please don’t take my translations here too seriously, is my Nana’s name and my mom’s second first name.
I’m a translator in my other job, by the way, and I like to play around here. Like I say, don’t take my translations here too seriously. Most of my translations on this blog are meant to be tongue in cheek.
Think about it. Some of my readers are English speakers with rudimentary German. I’m looking at you Elaine, or you Troy. Others are German natives, but their English is quite good. That’s what I tell friends when they ask how Miriam’s English is. Her english is quite good. Really.
Recently a few friends said they’d love to meet Miriam, but they were worried their German wasn’t up to snuff. I chuckled and said, ‘Yeah, neither is mine.’
She talks a bit of the old Blighty bleety. She makes English words with her mouth. She’s significantly better in English than most of the English students I’ve had over the years.
Anywho…looks like I’m out of time. Didn’t get to the topic request.
Next time, yeah?
Oh, by the way. Look up in the sky the next few nights. The Wolf Moon is getting big and beautiful. I was howling at her last night, and I think I might’ve heard another howl in the distance.
Now, you’d probably immediately jump to the conclusion that the term miracle, in this case, is a bit over the top. You’d be wrong.
If you know anything at all about me, you know that I’ve spent a lot of the last nearly fifteen years posting photos and stories about my sister and brother Vizslas #EllaandLouis.
They were a central component of my life even before my divorce in 2013, and in the intervening years they somehow took care of me more than the other way round.
Of course, I fed and housed them. Certainly they needed the same love and attention that any and all dogs need.
Yet this breed – an Hungarian pointer extraordinaire – has simply stolen my heart. All of them.
Any VIZSLA has the same gentle, loving disposition as all of the other ones. They’re so sensitive that you can’t train them anything like other dogs.
A harsh word is taken deeply personally by a Vizsla, and as a result you can only use positive reinforcement to get what you want. They’re quite bluntly a breeze to train, as they’re desperate to please their people/person.
Long story short, Theo’s (the gorgeous Vizsla puppy in the photo above) parents need help periodically, as she (the dogmom) isn’t allowed to take dogs into her office. Hence my offer to pitch in when they need a dogsitter.
To be candid, I’d take care of Theo without any remuneration — however, Miriam’s reminded me on more than one occasion that we’re in no position financially to volunteer such time.
If anyone else in Munich needs a dogsitter, give me a call. I can imagine a dogsitting job as a side hustle — why not?
Theo’s quite simply saved my day and this adorable boydog is already on the road to winning my heart.
It’s a broken heart, so it could use some mending.
There’s a line in a newer Cat Stevens’ song where he makes some weird reference to putting machines behind us. Since Advent, Miriam and I have tried to do a digital detox.
Eventually, we’ll get to where we don’t even look at our little machines (phones, tablets, and computers) on Sundays, but at this point that’s too much.
Instead we do a social media detox, where we don’t post anything for a whole day. I’m sure my loyal readers miss me those endless hours when I’m not available (sarcasm intended), but as Miriam says, ‘Schade.’ (too bad)
Whatever photo I’ve taken of my sandwich is going to have to wait to be posted until Monday, or simply not at all. How are you supposed to know what we had for lunch today?
Well, you could just call and ask me.
That’s why we haven’t yet given up everything on Sundays, but that is eventually the end goal. Nowadays, we still use our devices to call and stay in touch. In the near future, we won’t even do that. We’ll just be gone.
It’ll be fine. You’ll be fine & so will we.
This social media lark is just that. It’s not serious. No matter what you’ve been told. Nothing going on online is more important than the people sitting in front of you.