Sunday, June 30, 2013

Nostalgia:

Whether an enveloping summer day's sun, or a wrapping wool-knit sweater that keeps one warm, creating memories within such–and all–situations, I'm convinced, is what humans do. We embed meaning in constructs, symbols, objects. Certain situations we build upon, and to this, we add yet another, until the process has repeated over and over again, and so those situations: second by minute, by hour, by day, and by year–all become constructs in themselves. With the help of May Sarton, I've come to conclude that: Perhaps then, that Amsterdam has taught me, is to be a little less intense and solemn about it all. And serious enough, yes.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

May Sarton's Words of Wisdom:


'What Nelson has given me is perhaps the ability to be a little more nonchalant about it all, a little less solemn and intense. We are all myth-makers about ourselves, but part of growing up, I suspect, is the shedding of one myth for another, as a snake sheds its skin. I have no illusions about my ever becoming a true countrywoman–there is too much behind me of a different kind. But it is a game, if you will, to superimpose the myth of the country person on the myth of the lonely battler for an old fashioned style in poetry. I am sure one of the professional hazards the poet must face is the real danger of building up for himself the myth of the martyr, the solitary, unrecognized genius... well, we have to draw courage from somewhere. But I have observed the genius-myth belongs to the very young. Those who insist on dressing up in it after 50 become slightly grotesque. By then one has survived, presumably. And one has settled for doing what one can, and taking the rest, so far as possible, as a joke on one's own pretensions.' May Sarton, Plant Dreaming Deep (1968)

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cities Have Shaped Me Into Me:

Again I find myself sitting on my balcony, though this time on a cooling springtime evening. There is nothing worrying about this; I have fallen in love with this balcony, and, even more, the plants that line its edges, creating an engulfing wall of green. I feel as if I am finding my voice in my writing, and coming into my own, as my mind continues to expand and take in the world. Europe and Amsterdam have, thus far, enriched and allowed my life to bloom in many ways that I could have never anticipated. If I were to truly zoom-out, which can be so terribly difficult at times, my life is unfolding wonderfully. And I might tell myself that I should tell myself that fact more often. Spring has finally arrived (for real this time), in Amsterdam. Happy am I that the summer days have returned, as has the high spring sun.

A church bell-tower rings in the distance, as the city strikes another hour. This signs the extension of light for at least another––if not more–hour. Many of the reasons I decided to move to the European continent surrounded many old and new world notions I admired, absorbed, and adopted. The USA has influenced by younger years; Europe the later ones. I wanted to design my life, and my lifestyle, which I had, over time, envisioned for myself; ideals accumulating, layering like a snowball, of who it is that I want to be in the world, and what I want that world around me should, and could, look like. Of all the city's I've lived in, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, and San Francisco have inspired me the most. There is, of course, a heavy accent of inspiration dashed upon my current city, though it was San Francisco that propelled me into the world.

The 'City by the Bay' was the first city I lived within, in which I chose to live. I was on my own, surrounded by no-one and yet everyone simultaneously; an ocean, public streetcars and–in this rare instance in the USA–trolleys, and lots of gay people like me who I knew would, once again, open my mind and my eyes to world I was nothing less than eager to experience, because I was so very unexperienced, in so many ways. What I did have was: ambition, talent, and California sun that made my soul sparkle. That summer spent in San Francisco allowed my self confidence to firm, my insecurities to no longer viewed as such, by myself; the 'professional' workforce I had entered, and in a city that made me glitter, radiating infectious happiness to the energies around me. Exploring the city was my favorite pastime, as was running, reading, and going to the beach and the park. All components present in my life right now? Check.

Fashion I have begun to understand and decipher, drawing upon my observations and interactions from my time in both Amsterdam and Copenhagen; muted solid colors, all types of brown boots, and uncommon silhouetted pants have become my friends along this journey of mine. At this moment, I am able to support and enrich my life, and have, in many ways, become the self that I have always wanted. My life in this city continues to shock, surprise, and delight me. In many ways, I have planned most aspects of my life; after gaining my foundations–beginning alone in San Francisco–my life has within it everything I could have ever asked for, and more. Amusing it is that life cannot be planned. If I were zoom-out, again: I am happy, healthy, housed, and very much loved. No city alone could have given me all of these qualities; so, I am grateful going forward, for my experiences within them all. Cities have helped me shape me, into me.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Brightness:

The sun is shining. It's Sunday morning. And right now I'm sitting on my balcony, outside, reveling in dune-like landscape that now fills the oversized planters that surround me. The not-often-seen springtime sun, and the accompanying light breeze are to be enjoyed; one warms me, and the other, paradoxically, counter-balances the sun's warmth. Plants and gardens have taken over my thoughts these past few weeks, a product of the influence of flower and plant focused media, which I have been heavily consuming. May Sarton and Dominique Browning have become, via pages filled with their words, my two great garden-escapist companions. What to escape from? Turbulence has shaken my inner core, over these past few months. And that turbulence is due to external forces. That turbulence I am tired from, and tired of, and it is within my power to rid myself, and my life, of it. What to do? Listening to Oprah's 2013 Harvard commencement address, yesterday, I couldn't help but adopt her idea that failure is only life pushing one into a more 'you' suited direction. Even though that direction might not seem to be the right one, during the theatrics one is within, that during which the world is forcing you to take this new enlightening direction. What am I within?  I remain puzzled and exasperated about not not knowing the full extent of the turbulence's source. But I do know something is happening within my orbit of energy; I am becoming quite wise, slowing down and appreciating what it is I have, while I have it, while never forgetting why I have it, and how it is that I'll maintain the appropriate levels of my self confidence in the face of adversary, opposition, or even joy. Is life pushing me into another direction, down another highway, road, or path? Or is it instead, perhaps, nudging me into the garden, or onto a less-worn path that may be slightly delineated, but in no way cleared for daily use. Which path is my own? Entering a transition in my life am I, and understanding how my life, and the energy I expel and consume within this life of mine, has developed over the course of my life. That subject continues to be a source of intrigue for my thoughts. Myself is a source to seek to improve, as always: though literary works, through writing, through thought; meta stimulation versus physical stimuli. To which do I find myself most attracted? A dual-prong; that's me.

On the opposite side of life, or within another circuit of it–as circuits must be connected–myself is smiling brighter than it ever has before.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Slowing Down:


Slowing down and taking the time to enjoy each day's beautiful moments, which I would normally overlook, has become a prevailing theme of my life over the past few months. Since finishing Dominique Browning's lyrical memoir Slow Love last summer, and reading it again this spring, I too have been stopping to enjoy the often subtle and discreet magical moments the world constantly creates around me.

This morning, while washing a slightly soiled drinking cup in a slightly soiled kitchen sink, the bubbles that the stream of water flowing into the cup created–the soap suds–continuously overflowed the tall and transparently faceted drinking cup. As the bubbles piled over the rim, gathering below to form a cloud of white, those bubbles took my breath away… I paused, watched them slip over into the sink, and allowed the beauty to sweep me off my feet, if only for five seconds. Nurturing was that short-lived moment.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Monday, June 3, 2013

Springtime Sunlight:

The sun has just descended over Amsterdam, at the hour of 22:35, and that is wonderful-fantastic. The sun dips below the horizon at 16:00ish, during the winter-months, so this delay in the arrival of the lack of sunlight is much welcomed. From my house–in fact, from my couch–I can look southward onto Amsterdam's sunny skies, full of clouds yet at the same time not. And now, those clouds will be visible, for much, much longer... At least until September. Sun, shine bright; I've missed you.


Sunday, June 2, 2013

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Dwindling, Throughout, May:


Today is June first, and that means many fundamental cultural and technological developmental aspects of 2013 have already taken shape, been processed, and expanded upon. The world, at this moment, is more exciting than ever before (at least as long as I've been living–27 years or so) precisely because it is changing so rapidly, and technology allows (for those who have access to it–yet another discussion) connections between everyone who previously would have not been so easily connected, instantaneously. The internet is overwhelming like that. Fiber-optic cables are buried below the streets of Amsterdam, and so luckily my connection to this larger digital world beyond this city is rocketing at a faster rate than my connection three years ago–innovation at work. I cannot imagine what facets of daily life, 50 years from now, will render me pondering, slightly set-back, and somewhat always in awe; what wonders will the world create, which I'll see during my lifetime–I can only dream and wait to see.

This past week I have been alone here in Amsterdam; staring out my living room windows and looking toward the tiny Dutch housing blocks in the distance. From this said window the view is rather layered, as my viewpoint in relation to this intersection and this convergence of six streets or so, sustains the illusion that my immediate neighborhood is huge. It's not. But I'll take the illusion, as it's full of late nineteenth century Dutch housing buildings, themselves full of brickwork trim and hunter-green painted window mullions. A unique, if not under-thought, urban planning of public space fills in the carpet of this street-scape below, the greenery sparse. The Indische Buurt is by no means the Oud Zuid, but it's magical at moments, yet sometimes slow-moving, and always a humble slice of this city in which to live. The view I have toward the city outside is engaging, and I have spent many a hour observing nature this past week from this view–happily planted on my balcony, and seen from within the house. Nature is so often so rewarding.

More often than not, as of late, I have been twirling–I feel that would the best verb to use–throughout the city, as Amsterdam and I have been involved in a strange dance, together, for quite some time. I refuse to walk, as walking in this city is wonderful, but not when you're in a hurry. Am I always in a hurry? No. Do I stroll? Also no. But I have been tram-ing, and train-ing, and metro-ing, and swanking and slanking myself throughout this city's streets; a snake in this city have been I. Perhaps it's because I've been hiding behind the glass of the often-relaxing, yet-often stuffy tram, which is whisking me to the west of this city during the day, and most frequently doing the same, yet only going east, at night. The window pane of the tram divides me from the city, I have come to learn. Though mainly the tram is taken by myself only in times of need–such as when it's raining–those times were very often, those weeks that composed May. The rain has not stopped for weeks, literally, and the gray and dark clouds still permeate the skies above.

The was a brief-break for sunshine on Friday. Happy were we in this city to see the sun.

Yesterday I awoke to a golden-yellow glow, rising from the Orient. It was the sun greeting me for morning as I awoke to began to ready myself for the day. As the sun was shining, I decided to take my bike rather than the tram to the studio. It was a much enjoyed experience, and it's clear that sunshine makes people happy–especially this person. Though on the tram, I can easily fall deep in the pages of the book I'm currently reading (which is usually about five at any given time); currently the book is about the Vikings; interesting indeed. I can't read while cycling to the studio, on my bike. The tram wins some strange points against the bike here, if only to allow me the time satisfy my intellect quite early in the morning, and set the mental gears into motion.

Sometimes I have richly livid fantasies about moving to an eighteenth century Swedish cottage/house/manor (I'm not picky; though it must restored, with everything (and I mean everything: fixtures, kitchen, furnishings, faucets, foundation, etc.) new) to take up shop as resident-writer-and-gardener meets-city-kid (because Stockholm would hopefully never be too far away). Snowy winters, Sami nearby, and lingonberries, and midsummer celebrations; Sweden could be quite wondrous, somewhat magical almost. Though North Holland has a mystique to itself as well, especially when the mist and lowland's fog rolls and accumulates over the soggy green-brown hued polders. The Netherlands itself already is quite magical; no need to relocate to Sweden, only to learn yet another new language. I'm still trying to master, or at least continue to improve, my Dutch. So I'll keep Sweden as a glamorous fantasy, and instead take vacations there, as I did last year, which was oh-so fun, and then some.

I suppose that my wildest fantasies, most of them, have already come true. I often forget that my life could have–should I choose to view it from such an angle–a fairytale quality to it. Amsterdam is a palette of burnt-maroons and dark browns mixed with hunter-green and anthracite with black. Lucky am I to live in this tiny city, which sparkles when the sun does shine, and where people still smile and laugh, when it doesn't.

Let's see, what June offers up... Sunshine? Here's to hoping so.
Summer? Spring? Where are you? Either of you?