You had a raincoat? and other obvious questions

our fair city on the banks of the River Isar

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.

Poppet’s and my shadows…

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?

Aphrodite and the setting sun

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.

where to store your meat

rotisserie meat

So I’ve tried writing about serious topics here, and gotten very little response. I’ve included a bit of whimsy, and that attracted some dialogue and then some.

To be fair, what’s one to say in response to not very anonymous? That Shakespeare didn’t really write the plays? Please. If you really believe that, you and I are already on opposing teams. Or more recently, I wrote about press freedom in something rotten in Hungary. What stirring commentary might that trigger? That you really like censorship? Actually, that might be an challenging point to attempt to make.

Lisa Galaviz has been doing some important yet unappreciated work when it comes to Quantum Weirdness. She knows how to forget her blog voice for a post or two and alienate her readers. I could learn a lot from her.

When it comes to my teablog, I have a voice that I’ve developed. I have a feeling for what I do well there. Here? Not so much. I know what I like to write. Some things have come pouring out of me onto the screen, while others were a bit more laboured. That part I have some say in. On the other hand, what resonates with others is completely beyond me.

But the things I’ve gotten the most mileage out of had to do with defecation. And dogs. Oh, and vomiting. Bringing those together might possibly be blogging gold for me. Well, I already wrote about the second and third in chocolate spewing forth. If I wanted to play it safe, I’d keep writing variations of that.

I was reading Amy Durant‘s blog earlier (you might know her as @lucysfootball) and she was going on and on about a stomach bug in I think it’s fairly likely I’m either dying or pregnant with a magic dream tractor baby. It reminded me of something that happened recently in France, and it includes at least one of my target topics. Maybe two if you’re generous.

Don’t particularly like eating chicken, but I was persuaded to have some of the rotisserie variety that’s pictured above. It was New Year’s Day, and few places were open. I made an exception. Just this once. And the result?

Was up half the night wishing that chicken had been cooked at just a bit higher temperature. Or that I hadn’t eaten it. Not too much to ask was it? Well, apparently it was. Who cares, right? Everyone gets ill at some point. And what’s the big deal about losing a bit of sleep?

I completely agree with all of that. Nonetheless, while walking through the streets the next day, here’s what I saw:

windscreen meat

In case it’s unclear what that is, that’s a hunk of meat on the front window of some Frenchman’s vehicle. At this point, I began to wonder about food storage in this beautiful country.