If I don’t have an opinion on the matter it is because I would have to get informed. I like discussions based on more than personal biases.
It is late Saturday morning, in front of the town’s City Hall. The shiny red classic Jaguar roadster, with its top down, has attracted a crowd. I call it the village car show. I approach to test my hypotheses. The photographer placing the wedding guests in a semi-circle in front of the MG shoos me away.
What is my identity and why is it feeling so challenged?
I can do anything well, I just need the instructions.
I talk macro to avoid the micro.
Impressing the therapist with my life stories is not something to be proud of. Or is it? I have to forget how to read an upside down watch while I am talking to her. I forgot to forget once and spent the last fifteen minutes of a session avoiding new subjects.
I have stopped making myself interesting through my collection of offspring, siblings and other family members. No more shock tactics. I am not that story.
The answer to either / or questions is either yes or no.
This can lead to either laughter or a protest that question has not been answered.
If you end up with a protest, you can either ignore it or respond to it.
If you respond to the protest, you can either deny that you did not answer the question or reply that it is the answer to the question that results from the long chain of dichotomies engendered by the original query, namely, is this a legitimate quandary.
A parenthetical lost in the moment. Moment. Time. Relativity. Space. Lost in space.
I still hope that I can find the idea. Which reminds me I had a Pandora riff going the other day but it is not captured anywhere.
This is not my first time riffing on ideas joined by a thin thread.
I’m …. The neighbour is examining the wear on her enamel mug. I look at mine and compare.
I am trying to capture my thoughts but they are too quick. Perhaps I can catch the memories.
I am in London. There are billions that find this significant. Not my presence but travelling to the city. In other words, if it was them here, it would be a significant event.
The restaurant is playing Hole. I sing along to show off my knowledge.
Women on the brain.
My neighbour went out for a cigarette. She is French, vaguely reminding me of someone that I had met once. Her companions are not keeping her company. Why?
There is a blue-haired girl in a mini-dress and black tights that draws my attention for a couple, or more, seconds. A little further along, in a chair next to the window, with a whipped cream drink and a half eaten piece of cheesecake, sits a South-Asian woman whose midday bling (a thick coat of glossy red lipstick on her lips, oversized-logo sunglasses in her hair and a large crystal on a gold chain) makes me suspect a difficult personality.
I do like the neighbour. Trying to remember who she reminds me of reminds me of Angie’s mom. She would be the double for the lady in front of me at the coffee shop this morning. Same size and shape. Tall and full-bodied. Like the stereotypical Dutch woman. No toothpick jokes.
“Reminds-me-of women.” Instead of soothing my curiosity, solving the earlier mystery has me obsessing over this one. Her smile reminds me of my travel agent from the 90’s. Her eyes, Jim’s wife. It’s the composite that has confused me.
“The tragic simulation of tragedy.” It’s a perfect description of over dramatization of the news by the news. If it is being reported, it is news. If it is news, it deserves superlatives. Tragic. It makes me want to parody myself before I become a parody of myself.
The arrogance of the italics annoys me. It feels like the author, Yannick Haenel (whose first person I have borrowed for the title of this post), wants to be sure his clever phrase is noticed. I have been waiting 59 pages for something clever. I still need to underline it to keep it noticeable.
It feels like I am reading a book version of my blog. Except it is better written. And it is in French.
The underlining 24 pages later is not competing with italics. “Politics is always disappointing, impure and broken down. It is impossible for it to live up to the demands that make it necessary.” It reminds me of Winston Churchill’s lament that “democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” It complements it.
I read his thoughts about Berlusconi and think Trump. “When no one has shame – when shame has been defeated –, vulgarity begins, in other words, crime.”
I further qualify my comparison to him. We do both like to comment on our current reading though he gets invited to lecture about it. And he is more into painting than I am. Including religious art. Seeing a Madonna by Fra Angelico is a treat for Yannick Haenel.
I check if I can add his hypothesis on ecstasy to my ideas of sustainable hedonism. He wants to break through the limits of experience by living everything all at once. He wonders if the unidimensional life would allow him to remove himself from the market that society has become. I decide that experience would vanish if it were an all encompassing simultaneous event.
I keep his answer to the objection that it would require a saint to avoid the temptation of the market. “Someone who wants to ignore ecstasy is an incomplete being whose thoughts are reduced to analysis.” It is a fun reply to those who object to hedonism.
I revert to my previous plan, B, for Saturday. Plan A had been cancelled a month ago because ticket sales had been too low (not very surprising seeing as it was new and there are at least three established festivals in the region). I have eliminated plan C because, while I enjoyed the music on day one, I do not know any of the bands. In other words, I have been there and it feels like I have totally done it. If I am going to do the familiar, I am going to go big.
The festival is big and big business. Sponsored booths, brands everywhere and a cashless system that probably generates more money than the sales of the pricey tickets. I take tour of the grounds, allow myself one more gripe (more space dedicated to stands than to music) and pack away the grumpy old man.
All this predictable crap comes with predictable fun. There is only one main stage performer that I have not heard of. The others I have known for at least ten years. This is going to be an evening of full hopping, along with fifteen thousand other attendees, to twenty year old hits.
The train taking me on the 31.6 kilometer journey to Vienne is crowded. I am going to the jazz festival for a blues concert.
To continue along similar lines, when speaking French you have to specify that it is the one in France. You might prefer to end up in Vienna, Austria but that is not where the festival is taking place.
My last visit here was unplanned. I had read about Condrieu as a destination for a day trip. The name had immediately rung bells–it is one of the only white wines I enjoy. The article was full of suggestions for tastings, things to do and places to see. It said nothing about everything being closed on Sunday (the locals I tell the story to are surprised I was surprised). I did find one store selling freshly picked cherries and locally pressed juices. The signs say it is 12 kilometers to Vienne and I turn my visit of a wine village into a leisurely stroll along the Rhone.
This time the place is alive, breathing, in the way smaller towns embrace their internationally recognized events, to the rhythms of the festival.
The first stage is at the first restaurant in front of the train station. A little further down the road there is a blues duo and on a throughway there are a bunch of fifty-somethings backing a forty-somethings’ version of Should I Stay. I go and bump into another grey-haired band. It takes two bars for me to recognize that they are losing their religion.
I was expecting a municipal hall, I get a Roman theater.
There seems to be a surprising number of Roman municipal entertainment facilities still hosting events. Two weeks ago I was waiting for Godot in Lyon’s Odeon and next week it is Nîmes’ colosseum for another concert.
I could have called this post: How to have a Roman holiday without going to Rome. I could have then added a subtitle saying how unfortunately the only appearance of Audrey Hepburn would be to signal her absence. Then again, the object of this post, the concert, doesn’t get much of mention either (in case you were wondering, I thought it was excellent).
I feel lost because I do not know where I am going.
Does that even make sense?
The Cheshire Puss would have me walk until I get somewhere. But getting somewhere doesn’t make me less lost.
I could play with this. Mix a little metaphor and philosophy; Conclude with a paradox. Pseudo intellectual bullshit that would please Alice when she is big or small.
Now, I have cornered myself. If I cannot play with the “wherever you go, there you are” then I will have to get real and stop wondering about the wandering. Deal with the where I am instead of avoiding it with a digression about destination.
My mother liked to tell people that when I was younger, like six, I would sit next to the prettiest woman on the bus and start a conversation.
Your standard cute kid story that hides a question. I wasn’t that much older when it started being told. Why had I suddenly become a shy kid?
My first thought was the mountain of cognitive dissonances that exploded after I saw my father arrested for assaulting my mother. But it doesn’t fit.
My mother had another story from about eighteen months before that piece of trauma. One that had my shyness on display. The shyness had attracted the attention of the school’s social assistants. Their conclusion was that my intelligence (not that I ever qualified for a gifted child program) was an isolating factor.
I think about that year and it fits. My mother had run away from my father. He had his mistress move in and she stayed when my mother came back. I do not remember what story I was told to tell. Precedence suggests nanny. I may have tried talking about it, I probably censored and I am almost certain that I decided it was better to practice silence.
I test the hypothesis. Were there earlier stories? Minor stories but they all finish with lessons learned instead of wound licking.
Great, I have identified traumatic childhood events with a lifelong effect.
I cope. I have found a way to explain things. I roll out a bit of shock, throw in a couple jokes along the way and treat it all as manly battle scars. It’s my party trick.
How Freudian of me. What am I supposed to do with all that? Certainly not a woe is me.
I miss them. Sometimes more than others. Sometimes to the point that I write about it.
It has been 9 months without. It was 45 years with.
I was expecting it to be easier by now. I’ve heard that you never really stop missing them but that you slowly get used to missing them. A new normal. … Not yet.
In February, during a ‘more’ period, I made the mistake of compensating with food. After a week, shirts were tight, trousers were losing buttons and some outfits were staying in the closet. Sparkling water compensated for the compensation. (The word to describe this, as tired as it may be, has been stolen by a tech giant. I have extended my partial boycott of their products to the word. A delightfully irrational reaction.)
A couple of weeks ago, I am seated feeling bloated. I scold myself. My tailored shirts are still tight.
I switch to self-medicating with recreational cannabis which I mix with CBD so that I can tell myself it is under control, so that I am not becoming one with the couch, so that I can feel less of a stoner.
A difficult morning but it is too early for self-medication. I remind myself how hard it has been to get here. I do not want to go through it again. I get into the pep-talk to myself. I almost forget I want to smoke a cigarette.
It was a little more than ten years ago. It was a party night. I had gone to a popular club in San Francisco. I am enjoying myself. I look around. Almost everyone is 20 years younger than me. I did not belong.
Blues are my go to. The music rocks, it can be seedy and dive bars are fun places.
I am looking for a blues bar and I can only find jazz clubs. At the second place I try, my neighbour gives me a flyer for a concert being held in a town a few kilometers to the south of the city.
I am at the bar enjoying a beer before the concert. I look around. There is a lot of grey hair.