All of me

It’s been the best of holidays so far, but to badly mangle Tolstoy, it’s been the shittiest of holidays, as well.

We knew it’d be weird without those loved ones that we’ve lost since last Christmas. As prepared as we might’ve been emotionally, grief is a weird mistress. She doesn’t play fair.

Today, Miriam looked up to the sky & said, ‘Hör auf mit diesem Scheiß, mama!’

See, things are breaking and going missing and we’re doing our best to keep an even keel. However, sometimes the slings & arrows of life are just a bit too much.

Opa has handled having us at his place just swimmingly. He insists that he savours the time with his granddaughter, but having her parents taking up space and whatnot must be annoying sometimes.

Today, he just snapped, yet he had a good reason. Somehow, apparently out of nowhere, his bedroom door had slammed shut. There were accusations & recriminations, but the simple fact was that the door was closed & none of us could open it.

We called a friend, Harry, who was here in moments. In the meantime we had to ‘abwarten & Tee trinken’, which continues to be one of my very favourite German sayings. It means ‘wait (patiently) & drink tea’.

You know how much I like tea, so I’ve always assumed it was a Redewendung created especially for impatient folks of my type.

I’m not the easiest sort to get along with, but I’ve noticed something about myself. If everyone else is freaking out and losing their cool, I can sometimes just be rather calm in comparison.

It’s actually a conflict resolution technique I learned when I was a teenager. If someone across from you is melting down, you’ve got two obvious responses available: match their energy by freaking out in a similar manner…

or…

The opposite.

Someone starts yelling, like me when I don’t get the lollipop I wanted, and across from me there’s Miriam just stating calm, cool, and collected.

So, here’s a video (above) of me playing an Elvis-like character singing the old standard ‘All of me’:

All of me
Why not take all of me
Can’t you see
I’m no good without you

Take my lips
I want to lose them
Take my arms
I’ll never use them

Your goodbye
Left me with eyes that cry
How can I
Get along without you

You took the part
That once was my heart
So why not, why not
Take all of me

All of me
Come on get all of me
Can’t you see
I’m just a mess without you

Take my lips
I want to lose them
Get a piece of these arms
I’ll never use them

Your goodbye
Left me with eyes that cry
How can I
Ever make it without you

You know you got the part
That used to be my heart
So why not, why not
Take all of me

Oversharing & who’s reading anyway? Go back to your family in the other room…

Miriam, der Günter, the progeny & myself

Having been informed I overshare, I’ve decided to observe myself & perhaps modify my behaviour. The time between the years, as I’ve heard this post Christmas until Epiphany period referred to, is ideal for assessing such a situation.

How one lives one’s life is rarely easy to modify, but before you even get there, an honest appraisal of the situation is necessary. Although it’d be easy to chalk it up to cultural differences or what have you, how much one shares and what one shares about in social media might be a private choice, but the result can turn into quite the public spectacle.

We’ve had a lot of loss this year. If you’ve not been following our serial, I’ll give you a quick rundown. Miriam’s mom passed in July & while it’s been devastating to lose her so quickly & unexpectedly, at the same time it’s been inspiring to see her husband/Miriam’s father manage the memorial and his life without her.

This geezer was married to her just over 50 years & had to learn everything in the household from scratch. Watching him washing his clothes & keeping plants alive & even maintaining the cleanliness of his bathroom is a marvel. Not an exaggeration – this guy’s inspired me.

Then a few months back, I lost my dog. If I’m really blunt, Ella wasn’t the easiest with Miriam. Especially in comparison to her brother Louis, who completely adored my new wife and all of her ways.

The way Miriam loved & respected Ella, even in the face of this dog’s reticence, says everything about my wife’s character. It’s of course a grieving process, so I’ll likely be oversharing here about missing Ella. It’s kind of the point.

Which comes to the hardest one. Miriam & I got some bad news just before Christmas. It’s private & I’ve resolved not to go into detail, but let’s just say it was tough & on top of all the other difficulties this year, it felt like another hammer blow at the end of a Mahler symphony. The analogy is quite fitting, but I’m not going to say anymore.

If you see Miriam in real life or communicate with her online, please be gentle. I’m one to talk, to be candid. I should take my own damned advice.

As I regularly say here, hold your loved ones close & try to savour the time you have together. You never know what’s coming next, but mortality is always lurking in the shadows.

Merry Christmas all of you wonderful people. If you’re still reading, I’m touched that people want to know what I’ve got to say.

If you’re not reading? Well, you’re ok too. Who am I to judge?

Oversharing about overspending & belt tightening & why Andrea’s question has me writing this to begin with

I’ve been accused of oversharing, but then I always remember my friend who shared a photo of her naughty bits on twitter to make a point. Why do I mention that? Well, I suppose I do say things online that others wouldn’t.

And when I do so, it sometimes makes the people I love cringe. That moment I’m sure they read what I’ve posted and they think to themselves: Why does he have to talk about that? Is nothing sacred? Don’t we have a private sphere anymore?

I heard a podcast earlier this year in which there were parents discussing how much they shared of their children’s lives online. What kind of photos were acceptable and essentially where each parent’s parameters lay, which made me glad I didn’t have to concern myself with such things.

I’ve got enough trouble worrying about my own online presence without having to try figuring out someone else’s. Teaching a young person how to navigate the web? Gives me night sweats just thinking about it. Uggh…

So, here goes.

Andrea (aGirlfromMontrose), who’s a friend from high school you’re going to hear me talking about more, because I love her blog, asked me a question.

I promised her an answer in blog form, so here goes.

Oh, another thing before I forget: I’ve resolved to use this site more as a tool for a few things.

Recently, WordPress asked me if I wanted to keep up with the blogging lark. Well, actually they were more crafty, which I respect. They said: Your site’s being renewed. You needn’t do anything. We’ve got it taken care of.

But being the overthinking sod that I am, I considered just pulling the plug on the whole damned thing. Starting from scratch with something more conventional.

Lahikmajoe is a terrible name for a brand. It regularly baffles people when they first see it. How’s it even pronounced? Where does it come from? Why should I read something or follow links to such a site?

So there’s that…

Let me go back to the story with Andrea, though. It’s a narrative that’s easily followed.

She saw me jet off to Kraków and take the train to Venice a few weeks later. Then I was in Spain on the Camino showing my mother my favourite spots in northern Spain, as well as exploring Madrid for the first time.

There was Easter in a big Ferienhaus (a group of us rented a whole house) up in the Austrian Alps and photos of Asians taking photos of each other (& of my dogs #EllaandLouis) while we spent a day in Hallstadt.

There was essentially some sort of trip every few weeks, and when we finally ended up on holiday in Italy this summer, Andrea had had enough.

In comments on some post, she demanded: What do you do exactly? How can you afford all this travel? I want that life. What do I need to do to get to motor round like that and see all that stuff?

Well, here comes the oversharing:

I can’t. There’s been too much outflow and not enough income. I’ve overspent on travel this year, and now it’s time to do some belt tightening and get back to fiscal basics.

The funny thing is, though, I’ve got it under control, because while my freelance work often dries up in summer, it turns out autumn is regularly quite busy.

There’ll be a period around Christmas until Epiphany, when I can’t work anyway, so I’m already planning a trip stateside. I’ve not been to Vermont since college, when a couple of Deadheads and I drove from Albany to Burlington on a whim, but there might be Yuletide in the Northeast Kingdom (a place whose name I’ve always thought was rather magical). Then if things go as planned New Year’s in New Orleans and time with my people in coastal Texas.

That bastard Hurricane Harvey, who devastated the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana last week, has made me uncharacteristically homesick, which is a feeling I nearly never experience, so pardon me if this blog becomes a bit Texas-flavoured in the coming weeks.

I promised Andrea a blogpost explaining what I do, so here it is. I overshare. I tell people online what online marketers insist you shouldn’t. I tell my readers too much and it’s both cathartic and a little daft.

Because I’ve thrown in for another year on WordPress, I’m going to get my money’s worth. I’m going to use my blog the way I used to do my teablog:

People who drink tea used to read my blog about the brown liqueur, the leafy goodness. The drink that fuels my adventures since I gave up on John Barleycorn years ago. Yet the astounding thing was how many people who didn’t even drink tea told me they loved my blog.

Just the writing. Whether they even drank it or not. Some regular readers even insisted they couldn’t stand the stuff (I never trusted those people — just seems suspect to me). For now on, there’s going to be regular content hereabouts, but this time with an editorial calendar and a better eye on my audience. Most importantly there’s also going to be a goal.

I want this place to be where people come for something whimsical. A bit of the ridiculous in an otherwise serious and grown up life. Again, that’s why even non tea drinkers read my earlier site. It was certainly about tea, but barely.

Some days it was about what was pissing me off, but most of the time it was my inspiration. Whatever caught my fancy. Whatever bliss I was tapping into, as Joseph Campbell was talking about.

The thing that made me want to leap out of bed in the morning? The thing that made me want to do it again and again? I want more of that in my life. I’m assuming you do too.

On a side note, I quit watching or reading the news while in Spain. American news, in particular, just had me anxious. I realised that the more attention I gave Trump and the whole “he said she said” nonsense of the two party system over there, the more irritable I was getting.

Walking along the trail on the Camino de Santiago in the Rioja region of Spain, I reminded myself:

None of that really matters in my day to day life. I take voting seriously, and I’ll do my civic duty when it’s time to do so.

But watch another debate like we seemed to all be doing in 2016? Life’s too short for that shit. There’s too much living going on around, as I hear Lyle Lovett’s voice singing in my memory.

Be good to one another, will you? I’m trying.

Hey ladies: you want to take your relationship to the next level? Have I got a deal for you…

IMG_7550
The world famous, or infamous, Hofbräuhaus

For the second time in the last six months or so one of my Mitbewohner (flatmates) has decided to go shack up with his girlfriend. Move in with his beloved, in other words. All’s well. I wish each of them the best and wonder who’s going to move in next.

Then I strike on a comical thought:

There have got to be women out there who want to take their relationship to the next level, right? Well, my place appears to have some good mojo for just such an objective.

Is your guy hesitant for whatever reason? Will he not communicate his objections?

Have no fear! A few months at mine, and he’ll be raring to go. You’ll have him signing his name on the joint rental lease in no time.

You don’t even live in Munich, you say? No worries. Just send him over, and we’ll sort this out in record time. We might even get him hooked on the local beer in the process.

Just think: you get a new, improved version of your fella. Ready to talk commitment on the one hand, and the makings of an unhealthy relationship with particularly strong beer on the other hand.

I’d consider that a win-win situation, wouldn’t you?

Don’t all of you beat the door down trying to be first in line.

Social media strategies: what NOT to do

 

socialmediastrategies
source: http://toothpastefordinner.com

Have been doing more freelance work with social media recently, and this cartoon had me chuckling. How many times have you been stumbling round the web, and one of your friends, that you thought wasn’t so bad, made one of these blunders.

No emo status updates people. Truly – it’s just bad form. The Complainer’s Gambit fits into that category, if you ask me.

Want to ruin your chances of being hired for that job you really wanted? Try the second one in the cartoon above. If I scroll through your wall or stream on a given site, and you’re involved in any sort of debauchery, good luck to you and yours.

Now, I know there are exceptions. There are some rock and roll musicians and even a few criminally insane artists in my circle of acquaintances. They get a pass on this one. It’s almost as if they increase their street red by being a bit mental.

I’m not going to name check any of them, though. This isn’t that sort of blogpost.

Now, I’m going to have to make a confession when it comes to the third and final example in the cartoon above. If you know me on social media, you’re already aware that I can go into a sort of fugue state of sharing on occasion.

It’s not something I’m proud of, I assure you. Once I get started, I’m like the people they talk about in those potato crisps advertisements…I simply can’t have just one.

 

 

 

 

going home (if there even is such a thing)

Ella and Louis somewhere in Austria

This might be a bit strange- this blogpost. Yes, I’m aware my writing can be odd on a semiregular basis, so this isn’t necessarily the most shocking opening gambit, but nevertheless…you’ve been warned.

See, I want to ask one of those big questions that blogging really isn’t capable of tackling. This is a novel-sized theme. Many blogging experts, if there is such a thing, insist on the need for concise, clear writing. Nothing wrong with having that as a goal, right?

Some of my favourite writers are anything but concise. Faulkner and Melville get a bad rap for it, but one they probably deserve. It was a different era, you know. Over-explaining was the done thing. In the modern era of literature you had writers, such as Hemingway, attempting to trim the fat and give the reader the most streamlined version of the story.

The conventional wisdom is that blogging should be more like A Farewell to Arms and less like Moby Dick. You probably know some bloviated blogs. Ones you know are good, but reading one of his blogposts is a time commitment.

Here’s a test. If you convince yourself you need a beverage in hand to read someone’s blog, it might be that the posts are too long. I can hear you saying, ‘But lahikmajoe, I always read with a coffee in my hand. That’s no indicator.’

That’s not quite it. Before you read this hypothethical writer’s blog, do you say to yourself, ‘Ok, I know I like this blog, but every single time I read it, I need a libation of a larger-sized than normal,‘ because that’s the sort who are conspiring with the likes of Captain Ahab. Who’re so focused on hunting the White Whale that they have no time for reflection on their method.

I’m going to try and take my own advice on staying brief. My question is simply this: What is home?

For me, it’s those beautiful red dogs pictured above. As long as they’re with me, I’m home. Full-stop. We could live most anywhere and Ella and Louis would be perfectly happy. Their needs are simple. As are mine, which I’m finally beginning to see.

What about you? What do you need for a place to be considered home? Is it a physical need? Do you need, for example, to be near a park or forest?

I know what I said about being long-winded, but blog comments are another story. You’re welcome to write a blog comment as long as you like. See? I’m magnanimous like that.

starting and ending in the front room on the Tottenham Riviera

sometimes you gotta pack up all your stuff

The trip to London is like a huge chunk of molten ore from which I’ll be mining blogposts for a long time to come. Were I to show you my itinerary, you’d be astounded at how much I packed into such a short trip. Big ups to @elaine4queen for meditation-related help and conversations of the highest order.

I got some business taken care of, and there’s big news on that front when it’s more concrete. Don’t count chickens before they’re scratched, or whatever. And I met Robert Godden, who’s also known as The Devotea in teablogging circles. That was an event. To say the least. Here’s a document of that auspicious occasion:

Whatchyou talkin’ ’bout Robert?

If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Robert either online or in person, you know that he’s passionate and just the other side of sane. It’s one of the myriad of reasons we get along. I also met the infamous Lady Devotea, but was sworn to not publish the photos I took of her. Perhaps once she sees the way I respectfully portrayed her gent, she’ll relent. But until then, I must respect her wishes.

Then, I was introduced to Bloom Tea, which I’ve already mentioned over on the teablog, but bears repeating here. They have five different blends for different times of the day. It’s a clever way to sell tea, so I’m sure I’ll be talking more about this brand in the near future. Here’s a photo of the sample I was given:

the five phases of Bloom Tea

The mornings in London were exactly like they are back here in Germany for me. I get up relatively early, so I can plan my day properly. It means that when others get out of bed, I’ve already been at it for several hours. It’s all rather disconcerting if you think about it. Because I know my level of energy can be a bit off-putting, I attempt to tone it down as best I can – with varying results.

afternoon tea with some of my favourite people who I’d not previously met

Finally, I’d like to share one of the best photos of last weekend. It’s got some wonderful characters in it, innit? I’ll not bother listing them all, although I should at least make a passing reference to a certain Vic Darkwood, who you’ll see on the far right of the shot. Purportedly, he’s an artist of some renown.

I’m just glad to say we now know each other on twitter. I hope when he gains international fame and glory, that he remembers us little people.

Like I’ve said, I’m sure this isn’t my last London-themed blogpost. There’s tonnes more to tell.

 

Shadow of a Doubt

An offer on twitter of a free ticket to see a Hitchcock film that I was sure I’d already seen. Little did I know – it was one of the middle period Hitchcock movies, and I was in for a treat. I had not only not seen it, but it has one of my all-time favourite actors in it.

Cotten. This guy’s a dream.

Apparently, he was in three world class directors best-known masterpieces. This one was dear Alfred‘s, The Third Man was Carol Reed‘s, and Citizen Kane was Orson Welles’. Not too shabby, eh?

Actually, lemme let Wikipedia explain what this film is:

 is a 1943 American / directed by Alfred Hitchcock, and starring Teresa Wright and Joseph Cotten. Written by Thornton WilderSally Benson, and Alma Reville, the film was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Story for Gordon McDonell. In 1991, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant”.’

What an evening.

The day had started with a visit to The Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment and then a trip with one of my closest friends and his 9 year-old to The British Museum, which we sailed through in record time. Not that I’m proud of that. The whole point was to spend time with them. What we did was irrelevant. The British Museum was as nice a place as any for us to go, and she’d never been.

To imagine seeing all of those things through her eyes, I walked through the exhibits covering the ancient world. Saw the Rosetta Stone and the dude from Easter Island. What must it be like to be nine and wander through those rooms.

My goal?

To try seeing all this – this life I’m knee-deep in – from a nine year-old’s perspective. Certainly can’t hurt.

swim for the light

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(photo courtesy of Stephen Pruitt)

‘Why are you so into turtles?’ I get asked often. Instead of a traditional wedding ring, my wife and I chose turtle rings. We lived in Aspen when we were first married, and there was a Kieselstein-Cord shop there. Do you know this designer?

Known for alligator/crocodile belt buckles and other jewelry/paraphernalia, I was astounded to see they had turtles. Well, not real turtles. Turtle jewelry.

Who cares, eh? Well, when I was a teenager, I started collecting turtles. Again, not real turtles. Many of my friends have turtles (they’re great pets, incidentally), but I’ve got my hands full with Ella and Louis.

There are many more turtle-related stories I cold tell you, but I wouldn’t want to upset the goats.

Goats are a bit territorial and jealous by their very nature, you know? Here’s the ring. Nice, eh?

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irgendwo

irgendwo

You’ve probably noticed that I’ve been moving around quite a lot lately. Here and there. Every Tuesday in Poing, and last week some massive oversharing while I took this show on the road. While in Berlin, I scattered plenty of photos, visited tea shops/tearooms and generally tried to entertain the lot of you with things I would’ve probably been doing anyway.

Regardless of all that, I’d like to make a desperate plea. One that probably sounds rather rich coming from the likes of me. But before I do so, I’d like to introduce you to Patsy.

Some bloggers have the foresight to alter close friends’ monikers before splaying their names all over the place. To protect the innocent and everything. Well, I hate to say it, but it’s too late for all of that when it comes to Patsy. Not that I’ll be divulging her surname. What, do you think I’m completely insane? Might be better if you don’t answer that just yet.

To adequately describe who Patsy is, I could easily go back to one of the darkest times in my life when I lived for a short time in her house. We’d sit on her porch and drink coffee and solve the many problems of the world, because to be perfectly honest that’s what one does while sitting on the porch drinking coffee with Patsy.

I could just as easily go back many years before that when I was a wee little boy and my mother and Patsy were friends, and we’d go on adventures. Me and Patsy.

Where would we go? Well, exciting, faraway locales like the neighbourhood super market. I’m not kidding. She was so full of verve, that my dear Patsy could make a trip of such drudgery into an adventure. Years later, I’d accompany her to the same neighbourhood super market. It was my habit to grab that week’s New Yorker magazine, and proceed to read it aloud to her as we made our way from the fresh produce, through the frozen foods and on to the salsa and Mexican Food aisle.

It was not only a pleasure to read to her, but it was my small way of saying thank you to her for all that above-average adventuring that we’d had when I’d been little. She knew about my thank you.

She knew, because I told her.

So, I can hear you asking, ‘What about this desperate plea? We want to hear more about the desperate plea.’

It’s quite simple, as many of the best things are. And it’s something I learned from Patsy while sitting on her porch drinking coffee and solving the world’s problems. As one is wont to do. So, rather than take even a morsel of credit for this one, I’ll let Patsy tell it in her own words:

‘See Ken,’ she’d say, ‘You can either go out and see the world. Or if you stay in one place, and wait patiently enough, the world will eventually come to you.’

Let me get ahead of you logical sorts who dissect and disprove simple brilliance at every opportunity. Don’t take this so damned literally. For once, can’t you just enjoy a bit of illogical, improbable wonder?

One needn’t go to Berlin. Or that trip to Peurto Vallarta you were considering? Not necessary. Not at all. The Himalayas can wait…they’re not going anywhere, after all.

Just sit quietly and wait. The world’s going to come stumbling by soon enough. You wouldn’t want to miss that now, would you?

The title of this, incidentally, can be translated as ‘somewhere‘ or ‘anywhere‘ or best of all: ‘nowhere special‘. Kind of perfect, don’t you think?