Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Obsession iConfessions

So let's just deal with the first bit, first.

I have a lot of music.  I have an iPod in which that music lives.  I love my iPod.  My iPod is dying.  Let me not get into the all-encompassing drama that is my Apple world at the moment.  Let me stick with the iPod.  A couple of months ago I posted, via Facebook, my confusion and deep distress that Apple is apparently no longer manufacturing iPods.

What. The. Fuzz.

A helpful friend when I exclaimed "what am I gonna do??' responded with something along the lines of "that's what a smart phone is for, Kate."

What. The. Fuzz... Again.

Here's the thing- I don't want to use my phone to listen to my music.  Don't get me wrong- I get it. I get the usefulness, the helpfulness, the super streamline-ed-ness of having my phone as the maestro of my mobile music experience.
But I don't want it.  When I'm walking  the dog, running, playing around town or grocery shopping, I want my tunes.  I don't want my phone.  Except for a few, I don't actually want people to be able to get to me all the time.  All. The. Time.  I want to lose myself in some jams, do my thing, and go away for a little while.  I don't want to be getting text messages, Facebook messages, emails, reminders, news updates, blah blah blah...  I deal with all of those things enough all day every day.  I just want my music.

Which brings me to this little jewel of an obsession.  iPod does still exist!  I'll take the Touch, 128GB (yes I do have that much music, you nay-sayers), in Gold or Space Gray.  And FREE ENGRAVING?!?! Yes Please!  What will mine say?

The Last Waltz.

Wow, that was a long lead-up to my first obsession.

Next up- the way sea air smells when the sun warms it.  We don't get a lot of sun in the winter months.  Sometimes (despite the fact that we are currently technically at about 18 hours a day of daylight hours) we don't get a lot sun in the summer months.  But when we do, the sea smells of salt and life and movement.  It smells like my childhood and maybe a little like the future.

These guys are dropping a new album and going on tour.  Who's got two thumbs and really wants to see a show?  This gal.

This guy is coming back this summer.  Which is exactly around the time my attention will be utterly torn away from my husband and my dog.  (There is this teenage girl inside of me that is screaming THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING!!!)

Booze Traveler.  Not only do I love the premise, but Jack Maxwell is about as charming as travel-show hosts come (full disclosure- I have not googled him because I don't want to find out that he isn't actually as charming as he comes across.  A girl can dream, right?).  It's a fun take on what has become a stuff genre- the 'travel and partake in eating customs' becomes the 'travel and partake in the drinking customs- oh and then eat something to kill the hangover'.

An old school train to and from a mystical, ancient, place.  It's overkill, it's crazy, it's a lot of dough dropped on the rail- but it's happening.  In July we go to Peru.  In not enough time, we'll go from Lima to Cuzco to Machu Picchu and then do it all in reverse.  It will be a hectic trip- except for those four hours on that ridiculous train.

And finally, a shout out to an obsession I've had since the day I started traveling.  Lonely Planet comes in second to TS Eliot on my 'Biblical' List.  They have a website and an app.  But this is me.  And I love the books.  I love dragging them around the world with me; bookmarking, highlighting, dog-earing them; dropping them, propping them open, letting them fall to whatever page they will.  I have too many of them.  And there are new editions coming out all the time.

For now, that's enough.  And until next time...

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

The Bones of Things

There is something morbidly comedic about the basement of a chapel in the Czech countryside that has been decorated with bones.  Human bones.  Lots and lots of human bones, in fact.  The comedy might come from the legend of the half-blind monk who was first put in charge of "taking care of the bones" (he formed them into a crypt, naturally) because he really wasn't suited to anything else. It could also come from the family crest made entirely of aforementioned bones that hangs on the "wall" there.  On it, there is a human bone bird eating the eye out a human bone King skull.  It's weird- but so cartoonish and absurd that it becomes gloriously macabre.

Either way both morbid, funny, and morbidly funny.

The Sedlec Ossuary itself is an unusual place- where people throw coins in the empty eye sockets of the long dead.  As though they think these skulls have some amazing supernatural power. As if.

As though if we wish on or to the dead, we are somehow tricking the spirit world into forgetting us a little longer- or at least bribing them to.

But then the Bone Chapel is really just a function of it's location.

There are a lot of bones in the Czech Republic.  Bones of buildings, ghostly bones of societies. Wooden bones of dancing, dangling marionettes, metal bones of window bars- metal bones of selfie sticks dropped, tossed, or trashed (thank you for not shoving that in front of my face, annoying self-involved tourist). It's bones on top of bones here: democracy, communism, monarchy; revolution, spring, boldness, sourness of time.  I find myself looking at everything here in terms of skeletal structures: as though the city itself is skin: strong yes, but sloughed off every so often.

I look at the ground here as I walk- in part because I trip all the time on crooked cobblestones and in part because I am thinking all feet, all the tiny phalanges and metatarsals, that have hit this particular pavement before me.  And of how many will after.

I think about who the bones of Prague- Praha, who the bones of Sedlec, and all the hundreds of millions of bones spread around the countryside and slumbering in cemeteries, belong to.  Who keeps them, whose they were, whose they will be as time passes.  Who will take care of the bones that built this place?  Who will remember it all?  All the bones, all the stories, all the ages and faces?  All the time, the history, and passion?

Yes, Prague makes me think about bones.  But why is that so morbid (and it is)? Bones are the pieces of us that are left the longest once we no longer are.  Bones are the proof of history, of living, of the passage of time and migration of place.  They are the strength of the body- moreso than muscle and flesh- because they are the structure, the foundation, the solidity at the core of it.

But yeah.  Still morbid.

And Until Next Time.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Freedom of Speech, Part Two.

A couple of years ago, I struggled with writing and publishing something that I knew would hurt someone.

You can read about that here.

And now I'm struggling again, with writing and publishing again, and what is and what isn't allowed anymore.

I've always been painfully, abundantly transparent in what I write and why I write it.  I take a no-holds-barred stance on my words.  If I'm thinking, feeling, needing them, they're going to come out.  Possibly in person, probably in this blog.  I have written about illness, loss of love, loss of goodness; I have written about books and knowledge and poetry and music; I have written about pain, happiness, secrets, sorcery, and travel.  I have written anything and everything I have wanted to.  Except for that one post that still only exist in my mind and my heart, I have committed myself to openness and honesty- most especially when I write.

But here I am.  Here I am now, in this life that I have, that I have chosen for myself.  And it's a good life.  I have people around me that are good people, people I love, people who are good for me.  I'm living in a place as wild and petulant and changeable as I am.  I care about things; I invest myself in things; I am in what most people would identify as a 'happy place.'

And yet I still struggle.  Every day I struggle.  Badly.  Some days are exponentially worse than others.

Lately I find it's hard for me to look myself in the eye- it's hard for me to look at myself at all- without feeling the current of badness tug at my psyche.  I have a beautiful life that I finally and fully appreciate- but I still struggle.  It's no laughable struggle either; it's not struggling over what shoe to wear (although I have been down that road a time or two) or what really bad Netflix to watch; it's all out tug of war for the health and well being of my brain.

And yet here I still am.  Struggling, in a happy place.

And scared to write about it.*  Because what right do I have to write?  About sadness and madness and the seemingly inevitable creep of self abasement and loathing?  About the stretches of time when my mind goes blank because blank is better than bad?  About the pain and frustration that comes from, once again, turning against myself?  About the fear and the loneliness that is a direct result of the aforementioned illness, knowledge, and secrets.  About the isolating effect of all of the above.

Not only that, but what right do I have to write about the pains, ills, and grievances that so many others have?  Am I toeing the line, the hard line, of complaining?  Of bitching and moaning and just generally woe-is-me-ing?

What sort of right do I have to write any of that?

Freedom of Speech.  Freedom of Expression.  Those rights that I hold most dear are the rights that are most dangerous to me right now.  Open the floodgates and the waters will overwhelm.  Let me use my words and with them I will drown you.

It's a terrible power and an overpowering yearning, this simultaneous need for- and fear of- the blunt abruptness of the written word.

And what right do I have to wield it?  Or feel it?

Until Next Time.

*Which never works- inevitably I find myself coming up with increasingly terrible ways to ease these struggles and assuage my own palpable frantic negativity.