Saturday, 31 December 2011

The New Year's post

Artwork by Tania

So… the New Year’s post.
How was the 2011? Saying ‘crappy’ would be a great simplification. In some way it was the worst year in my life. The outside world wasn’t too friendly but my own mind gave me a proper thrashing too (bastard). On the other hand it was good. I’ve learned a lot about myself, become richer (alas, only spiritually:)… But let’s ‘itemize’.

- It started kind of ok. Still home in Poland, but running out of savings with an amazing speed. After few months of chilling out (after the Bristol era) I begun to realize that nothing had materialized; no miraculous source of income, no one discovered my talents, no splendid heritage falling from the sky. It meant that soon I'd had to look for work again. Long hours of boring or exhausting (most likely both) job, problems with a boss, short, feverish weekends – all of that was about to come back in this or that form.

- My knee got messed up by excessive exercise. I spent a fortune on a treatment (not covered by insurance). Didn’t help. Savings shrunk even faster.

- In March we moved to Copenhagen. It was actually something I was looking forward too. We used to love the place and I was happy to come back after seven years. Pretty soon we crashed on the wall of bureaucracy and indifference. Looooong days spent in the offices, hostility of clerks, housing problems, financial problems (debts, debts, and then more debts).

- And eventually: May – the nervous breakdown. I shattered like a broken bottle of cheap, sour wine. Basically it happened from day to day. On Monday I was kind of ok; just a stressed, tired guy, on Tuesday I woke up trembling, terrified and completely lost. Man in pieces.

- June - finally we found a place to live! Little room in Valby. Not a chateau, but we could move on, and that was such a relief.

- Still no work. Fortunately Tania had a part time job, so we could kind of sustain ourselves (hardly).

- July – the highlight of the year – we went to a spiritual retreat to meet for a first time the person who was inspiring us for years with his lectures, books, letters. It was an amazing experience. Both me and Tania, we got initiated and filled with hopes for better times.

- August – the inspiration worn off quickly. It’s not easy to hold a head in the stars, when there is not much to put on the stove. The anxiety and panic attacks are back.

- September – I’m starting job as a chef. Of course I’m happy to have some income at last. But the hard work in a steamy kitchen and long shifts aren’t exactly what my nerves need. Anyway, it’s not that bad. I can cope.

- Work, work, work, anxiety, ukulele, work, anxiety, work, ukulele...

- November - successful knee surgery.

- Less anxiety. Then even lesser. Ukulele. Little more anxiety. Then little less...

- We finished paying off the debts (yay!!).

- And here I am – January the 1st, 2012.

That was a bloody long year, I’m telling you. But I’m glad. Tania is still here, so am I, so are our hopes, dreams, small Christmas tree with the handmade ornaments, new songs I’ve learned, some faith, couple of old bikes, new recipes, old peccadillos, new Tarot deck*…

Anyway, enough about me. Happy New Year to all of you, guys! Let's hope it will be a good one. I'm pretty sure, it will. But I'm a fool, so don't take it for granted.

*I don’t know if any of you, Tarot lovers, are reading it, but u must check out the Shadowscapes Tarot. The most beautiful deck, I’ve ever used.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Ukulele stuff

For the last month or so I'm exploring the ukulele world. I'm enjoying it so much, it's been a great escape from the everyday problems. It's a lovely, not too difficult instrument, good medicine for the shattered nerves. Here are some videos, I've done lately. Crappy quality, my voice...yhmmm, but whatever, I share anyway:)

Friday, 16 December 2011

Stars are getting friendlier

Artwork by Tania

Small, inspiring changes happening lately. Few things contributed. The first is the book I’m reading lately, “Self-help for your Nerves” by Dr Claire Weeks. A short, simple book about dealing with the anxiety disorder. I wish I stumbled upon it few months ago when I was really in the dark ditch, but on the other hand I’m happy about the road I walked. I feel kind of proud, like a young Sioux after a Rite of Passage. The journey is still not finished but I feel much more confident and strong.

So – the book – great help. Then two other things happened in a row. First I found out that three short stories I sent in the spring for a competition got a honourable mention. Well, I would be more happy if I found myself standing on the podium of winners, but still it was a nice surprise.

The next day I was contacted by a literary magazine I sent some short stories to. They liked them and want to publish it (they printed two of my stories before). What I really liked was that after saying that they want to publish it, they asked me if I've written something else this year, because they would love to read it. It felt so nice. Unfortunately last year wasn’t good for my creativity – changing the country, health problems, financial mess and mental tribulations left me without much energy and inspiration, so I wasn’t really writing anything suitable for print. Still I sent them some of my old stuff, let’s see if they like it.

Basically life is getting better. Some years ago I sent my details to a well known Vedic astrologer and he said that in the beginning of 2012 the influence of bad stars constellations will fade away and my position will become stronger. I’m looking forward to it:)

Anyway – thanks guys for sticking around, it means a lot to me. Also I want to thank people supporting me during last months – Tania, Tripurari Swami, Bart, Anton, Sita, Atma, Colleen, mom, and many others - I haven't mentioned all of you by name but you know who you are.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Morning, evening - First Days 3

La rumba del fin del mundo by ? on Grooveshark

I’m chilling out at Højbro Plads. I have a doctor visit at five, the ultrasound of liver, it’s been bothering me lately. I’ve still got few hours, but I went out earlier, so I could be alone for a while, have some time to think, to breath. Last few weeks were really stressful, and I can feel that my mood is changing, I’m too sensitive, too touchy, too anxious. Well, let’s try to find a peace in this chaos. It’s not easy, and the health problems are not helping. I started to smoke again. Right now not too much, but I will probably smoke more. Whenever I’m in the transition, I pick up smoking. It helps me to relive the tension.

I like to be in a crowd. I feel like being one of many. It’s easier to distance myself from myself. I look at young people – loud, self-confident, laughing without reflection, but enjoying (I'm not criticizing, youth has its rights). Also I’m looking for the grey heads. They are reconciled with the passing of time, and it calms me down. I feel safe in the company of this simplest of wisdoms – the one arising from the old age, from the awareness of being in the last chapter. It doesn’t require any special level of understanding. It’s enough to listen to your inner voice. Right now I’m in the transition from the youth which ignores the reality of passing time, to the maturity, preceding the shy, lost old age.

I had to move to the sunshine, it’s cold, after all it’s still march. I’m sitting by the fountain (the one with cranes and frogs), someone dropped a glass in the café (jingling, musical sound), pretty brunette with a full, shapely rump and high heels slowly passed by, a Gypsy lady asked me for some change, a smell of garlic from the kebab kiosk, the dirty, tired rastas are laying on the street and eating something ugly, asking pedestrians for cigarettes, two young, sad gays are holding hands and whispering secrets to each other, the pigeons are hopping to get something from me, but I have nothing, sorry guys.
Despite of the gloves my fingers are frozen, pretty soon I’ll have to hide in the library.
The dirty rastas have got up, put on the Green Peace jackets and started to hunt people with their survey forms. And I thought they were street urchins. What a disappointment. Well, maybe they are, but only part time?

* * *

I’m sitting at Ryparken station, waiting for Tania. We are going to the show, Ruth Anna is going to perform with her group (I’ve got no idea what).
It’s dark already, the trains are going past, one by one, there are lights of starting airplanes in the sky, on the right a big football pitch; blurred figures are running with an invisible ball, their shouts are echoing in the dark, blending with the train announcements. Sharp wind, my face hurts, I pull up the collar, pull the hood over my face and keep writing.
In the change, in the never-ending journeys, maladjustment, the unquenched urge to seek something better, we can grasp the flash of what life is. Constant transformation, struggle between life and death, endless kaleidoscope of roles. All this change means loneliness. We are always trying to fill the empty spot, attempting to cure ourselves by making friends, creating families and stuff, forgetting that we are just passengers…
It’s important to be in motion – in this way we can stay focused on the important things. But here is a problem – are we objective or biased in our judgment? And what objectivity is anyway?

The Tania’s train is pulling into station. See you, man.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Looking for home - First Days 2

Artwork by Tania


When I scrambled out of the bus, with all my luggage and accordion, it was still dark outside. I was too tired to be happy to arrive. Twenty four hours journey can drain of emotions. Still I felt something (or I tried). The familiar view of the Hovedbanegården and the bicycle path I used to dash trough on my bike few years back, made me nostalgic-optimistic.
I almost got run over by a bike, while getting of the bus.
I took out Joachim’s phone number, but then I put it back to the pocket; it was too early to call anyone. I decided to get a coffee and a doughnut.
So. What is waiting for me here? I don’t mean the obvious experiences like looking for an apartment, bike, job, etc. What is waiting deeper? What will change inside? Who will I meet, what will I do? How will my life look in a month or a year?

* * *

I like Joachim’s and Matias’ apartment. Dirty, cold cubby-hole in the attic, musical instruments and old cameras scattered around, rusty pot-bellied stove, hardly giving any warmth, the wind howling trough the gaps between shutters. I know I can feel at ease. The guys seem to be friendly and open minded. Joachim offered me a scrambled egg, bread, tea and some tobacco. He said I can stay as long as I want to. Seeing my crappy sleeping bag, he gave me something better and tossed in a cushion. He left me the keys to the apartment, wished me a good luck and left.
Soon I realized there is no bathroom in the flat (no shower!? Ouch!), there is only a small privy outside. And that’s the centre of Copenhagen, Vesterbrogade. That’s why I love Copenhagen. No irony here – I sincerely appreciate this contempt for XXI century. But it doesn’t change the fact that I’m going to use a jar. There is no way I’m walking out in the middle of the night, if I happen to be in need. In the morning I will just pour it out of the window, as it used to be done in the middle ages. Fuck, yeah:)
So I found myself in my first stop. So far everything is friendly and interesting. I’m always ashamed when I meet people showing pure generosity and selflessness, like that, no endeavour. I feel embarrassed because I need to make an effort to be like this, it doesn’t come naturally, it’s more like a conscious decision.

* * *

In the afternoon when I came from the library it turned out that Joachim fixed me up with a bicycle. When I say “fixed up” I don’t mean “stole”, but “found”. I think. I didn’t penetrate it further.
It was nice to have two wheels again. I mounted my girl (all bikes are girls to me) and set off to the city. The chain was wheezing and clattering as it was about to die, but still it was amazing to rush trough the Copenhagen illuminated by cars, neon lights, shop displays, in the crowd of other bikers. Fast, free, safe.

* * *

Joachim – short, chunky, curly grey hair, dark-blue eyes. In some way sad, bit absent, but still has an excellent, sarcastic sense of humour. On the one hand he seems lonely (“I don’t have many girlfriends, but when I do, I’m serious”), on the other, he has many friends, they know each other for years, they are like a tribe, family. He says that he would never give that away. He has a funny hat. Thick, old, felt, narrowing in the front. Like the Robin Hood’s hat, only much uglier and grey.

Matias – tall, skinny, blond, walking in a funny, clumsy way, like a teenager. There is always a mocking smile on his face. Narrow eyes, shinny, full of picaresque sparks. The girls must like him. The first impression – merry joker, good friend to the friends, jokingly ruthless to others. Very intelligent, well read. When we talked about good movies, he knew all the actors, directors, titles. Joachim wasn’t interested. For him all of it is “blah, blah, blah”.

* * *

Tania called me. She’s worried, misses me, waiting for something to come up.
I checked out few flats. Expensive, ugly, boring. Disaster.
In the evening Joachim and his band had a rehearsal in the apartment. After two hours of Balkan rhythms I started a chat with Simon, and he might know a place in Herlev. The apartment is in the basement but as he says, it’s quite good, and apparently cheap. He will talk with the landlady and let me know. I feel that might be my home.

* * *

I went to see Ruth. Seven years ago she was my best friends here. She lives close to Christiania in a container shed (looks better then it sounds). She works as a dance teacher. That’s so her. We talked about our lives, turbulences, changes. We had a fresh mint tea and I had a first shower in few days! So nice. Before I left she gave me a key and said I can come whenever I want, to do laundry, take a shower or check the email.

* * *

The evening with the guys. First we sat in the kitchen. Talked, listened to a music (I played reggae, they can’t stand, they played punk and hard core, which I’m not a big fan), smoked weed. Then they persuaded me to go to a concert with them. We got our bikes and dashed to Christiania, using shortcuts known only to the natives. The concert was in Opera. Very soon Matias disappeared in the arms of some pretty girl, so it was only Joachim and me. We started to buy rounds for each other, and in the meantime he was introducing me to his friends (I lost count very quickly). The concert wasn’t too good, but I still enjoyed it. It was nice to see that young people do something. There are places in Europe where they are just passive and stupid, like a lazy cattle.
I didn’t stay all night. Maybe I’m getting old. After few hours I lost my enthusiasm, and started to think only about a warm sleeping bag. I slipped out. I couldn’t find the damn shortcut we took to get there. It seemed that all the paths were overgrown. Maybe they open up only for the locals? You need to know the spell? I took the major streets.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Dear Copenhagen - First Days 1

A Girl Named Free by Zulya on Grooveshark
It’s a first entry of the series “First Days”. These are going to be scraps from my notes from the very first days in Copenhagen (and a bit before). This is my second time living here - I've spent few months in Copenhagen in 2004 - so there may be some references to it.


Dear Copenhagen
I’m coming again soon and if you don’t mind I want to tell you few things.
I will try to look at you trough the magic glasses, to see your secrets, dusty memories reflected on the flaking walls, old posters in the cafes and friends’ flats, comic strips, Kierkegaard, Andersen, Egon’s “Skide godt”, Christiania, Inuits, Solarplexus, circus people, busking with my clown accordion by Rundetårn (oh, I loved that so much), cycling on my wrecked bike…
I hope you will open yourself to me, I really want you to be my home. What am I going to give you in exchange? Is my heart not enough, girl?
I’m only asking you to mingle my path with the paths of other desperados, losers, seekers, Don Kichotes and dreamers. Wouldn’t that be nice to meet and start our own tribe?
Yours forever
Montresor de Amontillado

* * *

They told her that a girl couldn’t be a vagabond. She didn’t listen. She shouldered a bundle (an apple and one extra sleeveless dress for the hot days), put a song on her lips and challenged the winding caminos and sleepy towns. She can be a tramp if she wants to! And not only she is going to be alright, but on top of that she will find a treasure, learn a trade, meet a lover and discover the art of trumpet playing and apples juggling. And even if she wont manage all these, in the next life-dream she will shoulder a bundle and put a song on her lips again. That’s right ma’am.

* * *

I’ve managed to get a place in Copenhagen, so I have somewhere to go, when I get there. Ruth asked some friends to have me staying. Only for few days, but it’s a good start.
I’m tired of this itchy rash I’ve got and the hurting knee. That’s exactly what I need when I’m about to move abroad again, when I will have to look for an apartment, job, deal with all the paper work, etc. But that’s how it is. On the other hand difficulties help us to test the concept of ourselves against reality. Rising over our limitations should give us the real and lasting kind of happiness, yes? Love, friendship – these things make us happy too, but to really love and be a friend we have to “get out of ourselves”, become something more then we are.

I’m reading “History of Philosophy” by Tatarkiewicz. It’s not an easy reading, but once you enter into the land of ideas and abstraction, it reads nice and peaceful. It’s a subtle pleasure of communing with the pure ideas. I think that philosophy is closer to music and painting then to the more “precise” fields. Yesterday I read about Democritus and materialists who actually felt very close to me (which might appear strange since I’m considering myself a spiritual person). I just liked their sober minds, in opposition to the modern puffed up materialists, who just make me pissed off with their arrogance and all-knowing attitude.

I’m listening to Zulya a lot. Russian singer. Strong, jazzy vocal, her music has a mood like from old fairy tales, amazing, beautiful. Although lately my soul is numb, and I don’t feel very connected with the world of intuition and dreams, I can experience the charm of her music.
I have problem with the balance. For years I’m swimming in the dreamland of Highest Priestess, turning my back to the world, and then suddenly I give up her cosy shelter and I embrace the Magician’s energy – I want to change the world, save it, influence people, act on the social level. Today, listening to Zulya, I missed the peace and safety of the inner, spiritual realms.
I need to find a harmony. To learn how to live in the daylight but to draw from the night too. In the night to hunt werewolves (or to be one) and make friends with witches, in the day spread the Bakunin’s and Kropotkin’s message, write, participate, shape.