Wishlist #amwriting no #cats this time

Yesterday I reblogged a post from Sasha Black. Something about New Year’s resolutions and unrealistic goal setting.

I neither have resolutions nor do I set goals. I have a ‘wish list’.

What am I wishing for ?

Nothing much.

  1. It would be nice if my blog would be read by someone. There are some people reading it. Not many (160 views in three months.) I am more than grateful. Sasha’s figures are so out of reach; I would be more than happy with just a small percentage of it. The only thing I can do is write blogposts and hope that they will be read. The quality will (and should) improve while doing so. Facebook I won’t touch even if I had gloves on.
  2. Figuring out if my blog needs a niche ? The plan when I started was a blog about vegetarian cooking and gardening. I’m still cooking vegetarian and will continue to publish recipes. If I’m cooking something worth publishing. I don’t think I could limit myself to only this, I’m afraid. It’s more about writing and my cat at the moment.
  3. Writing my novel: No one else but me can do it. No one else but me could motivate me to do so. Move your ass. (not really, sit down and write it.) If someone will read it you only know when you’ve written it. I will write it at first for me (and my cat)
  4. the four year fifty classics challenge. Boy, you love to read. Why do you even mention it on a wish list
  5. Having nearly 1200 followers on Twitter at the moment is something I’ve never even dreamed of. I’ve no f…ing idea if I want to have more followers. Don’t think I will complain if I have more
  6. be and stay a human being. No explication necessary I hope.

And to finish it here are the lyrics and a youtube video of the ‘wish list’ by Pearl Jam.

“Wishlist”

I wish I was a neutron bomb, for once I could go off
I wish I was a sacrifice but somehow still lived on
I wish I was a sentimental ornament you hung on
The Christmas tree, I wish I was the star that went on top
I wish I was the evidence, I wish I was the grounds
For 50 million hands upraised and open toward the sky

I wish I was a sailor with someone who waited for me
I wish I was as fortunate, as fortunate as me
I wish I was a messenger and all the news was good
I wish I was the full moon shining off a Camaro’s hood

I wish I was an alien at home behind the sun
I wish I was the souvenir you kept your house key on
I wish I was the pedal brake that you depended on
I wish I was the verb ‘to trust’ and never let you down

I wish I was a radio song, the one that you turned up
I wish…
I wish…

On being German and why I’m not proud of it #history

Preliminary remark : I read a lot about blogging and how to attract people to read and follow your blog. One of the main points always is:

You should have a theme and stay with this theme. (Looks like this is a bit against my nature, never mind.) The purpose is that this way you should not loose readers.

At the moment I have two subscribers to my blog (Thank you very much, both of you !)

So If I jump from topic to topic I don’t risk loosing may readers. If you haven’t many you can’t lose many. (I hope my two stay !)

It might be necessary to start with a second remark before hitting the topic. Here we go.

I am nearly fifty years old. From a political point of view at least a bit left of the middle  and more important for today’s topic. I am German.

At the beginning of this week, while I was preparing breakfast for Milady (6:30 in the morning). I was listening to the news on the radio and heard the Prime minister of Israel ‘claim’. It wasn’t Hitler alone who was responsible for the Holocaust. That it was the idea of the Mufti of Jerusalem. I forgot this rubbish during a busy day.

In the evening I was too tired to read or doing something productive. So, I decided to relax I could look at some videos on Youtube. Without really thinking about it I searched for ‘Schindler’s list’. Having found it as a whole film, quite a surprise to be honest. I clicked on it and in the recommendations I found another film that I always wanted to see but never did.

‘The pianist’. Great something for a silent evening at home while Milady is attending her sewing class. Started the film and was kind of hooked.

I couldn’t finish the film. Milady came home earlier than usual and there were still some things to discuss. So I had to postpone the last 45 minutes of the film to the next morning.

As I woke up the next morning there was something running through my head. Not clear what it was. After breakfast and Milady’s departure to work I finished the film. It was quite impressive with a very good performance by Adrien Brody.

I had a little coffee break. And during this break I found out what was the puzzling thing in my head.

When I grew up there was a TV series about the same topic. A quick search at Youtube and I found the 1978 miniseries ‘Holocaust’.

Again I clicked on it. And yes, this was the series that started my interest in history in general and of this period in German history in particular.

Although there are points of critic to this series it has marked me.

Profoundly, I’m afraid.

25 years after the series was broadcast there are still a lot of things that I don’t get about my home country.

Let’s say I do get why and how the Nazis raised to power. I am able to explain myself that the Nazis had the idea of exterminating the Jews (and the sinti and others).

What I still don’t get is how they found so many willing to do the ‘dirty work.

How so many well-educated Germans committed atrocities that made (and still make) no sense at all to me ?

The leaders of the notorious ‘Einsatzgruppen’ were all very well-educated men (finished university studies,  a singer at an opera, etc.). Sure, there were sadistic criminals amongst those who committed these atrocities. But the majority of them were normal Germans. Well-educated, loving fathers and husband, just regular Germans. And these men committed atrocities that are not even easy to understand. Neither easy to explain.

Why ?

Twenty-five years after I’ve seen the series for the first time I cannot in the slightest way understand why and how they were able to do such things.

At the beginning of 2015 I watched ‘Im Labyrinth des Schweigens’. A German film about the people who made the inquiries to start the first ‘Auschwitzprozess in Frankfurt.

There were some explanations about why it took so long? Why it was (and still is) so complicated to bring the (now the last surviving) offenders to justice. A short time after the war it was politically impossible  to prosecute.

The new enemy, new threat was the Soviet Union. And Germany was necessary as an ally against the evil from the east. Germans wanted to be and have calm. They had lost the war (that they have started). Were much too busy coming back to wealth and power to take care of their ‘unfortunate’ history. A famous German saying at that time (and still today) is/was: “Man muss auch ‘mal einen Schlussstrich darunter ziehen. “ “Which translates loosely to: You should draw a line under it and go on.

There was no so-called ‘Aufarbeitung’. Those who survived either were back in their old positions. Or just wanted to forget what had happened, what they had done. They had to deal with those who fled from the east. Those who came back from PoW camps (the last from Russia in 1952). Nothing of that helped the Germans to deal with their past properly.

“Yes, there were bad things that happened during the war. Always the bombings, it wasn’t easy to rebuild after ’45.”

No one wanted to know what had happened, why it happened and who was responsible for it ? The standard answer was: “The Nazis did a lot of bad things. It was all done by the Nazis. We knew nothing about it.” Between 33 and ’45 Germans were either involved or looked away. And nothing changed in the ‘50s.

In 2014 Germany won the soccer world cup and I was frequently asked: “You must be proud, aren’t you ?” Why should I be proud ? I haven’t played and German I am by pure coincidence. So why should I be proud of it ?

And this is still the question. Proud of what ?

I can only be proud of something I’ve achieved myself. Proud of living in a country where they don’t speak my mother tongue. Proud that my non-wife still accepts me after fifteen years.

But proud of being German ?

Am I reading ‘good’ literature or just books ?

Yesterday was the annual proclamation of the winner of the Nobel Prize in literature. As it happens quite regularly it was someone I’ve never heard of.

By flickering through the list of laureates on Wikipedia. I realized that from the more than one hundred winners I’ve just read something from eight of them.

This made me think.

Am I reading ‘good’ literature or just books ? And what’s the difference ? Who cares in the end ?

My reading history started in early childhood (I was five or six years old) when me grandmother taught me how to read and write. When I attended school the basics were laid.

I can’t remember what the first book was I read in school, can’t even remember the first books I read for pleasure.

My memories start with ‘Karl May’. It was in the mid seventies of the last century when TV didn’t start before early evening. I’m not completely sure if we even had one at home at that time. Something like internet wasn’t even heard of.

Then came other youth literature like R.L.Stevenson ‘Treasure Island’. I still do own most of these books (Can’t throw or give away books, sorry I can’t)

For my pleasure reading my father introduced me  to his favourite authors ‘Aleksandr Solzhenytsin’. Started with ‘One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich’, ‘Cancer Ward’ and then ‘The Gulag Archipelago’(a lot of brain work, but I did it )

Literature was what I had to read in school. I can still remember one year I happened to be between two grades. For the last two weeks of the school year the teacher was starting every class asking me questions about the book. The book was ‘Call of the Wild’ by Jack London. Two weeks stress but I survived !

After that year we were tackling a bit more so-called higher literature. (Goethe, Schiller, Hesse, etc.) There my struggle with ‘literature’ started. It happened that I read one book before we worked on it in class. (G.E.Lessing: Nathan the wise) I truly loved everything about that book. Writing style, language used, theme, everything. We worked on it in class and I learned to hate the book, all the fun and pleasure was GONE. The other way round it happened with Goethe’s ‘The sorrows of young Werther’. I hated it in class, loved it years after.

During my last year in school we had to deal with poetry. Something I hated then and still don’t really appreciate. Especially interpretation/analysis of the poems from an Austrian author: Georg Trakl the pure horror.

Fortunately school was finally over and it was back to pure reading for pleasure. And I read (and still do so) whatever I could put my hands on. Umberto Eco, Donna Leon, Lindsey Davis, Ian Fleming (just Bond), Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare, Tolstoy, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austen, etc, etc,

Everything just for pleasure, no vivisection, no looking at the use of rhetorical figures. To be honest I don’t give a rat’s ass about.

For me, a good/interesting book talks to me, lets me dive into the story. Lets me dream, makes me feel like I’m part of the story.

But (unfortunately) from time to time the question still arises:

‘Am I just reading books for my pleasure or am I reading (good) literature ?’

What do you think ? Is it important at all ? Am I missing culture ?

Thanks for reading

On writing

No, I won’t be talking about the creative process. Creating something interesting for your blog, book, website or whatever.

I will be talking about the manual, crafty process of writing. Of putting ink to paper. And what better, more pleasant way than using a fountain pen. At the moment I’m owning 7 of these babies. And I will never look back, that’s for sure. Handwriting is just pure fun.

Playing with different inks and different pens. Even a simple shopping list I do by hand and with a fountain pen. Ball pens only when I’m obliged to do so. Note taking, “creative writing” all with a fountain pen. One of my small collection.

My pens

In the photo you can find from left to right and starting with the one in the box. Waterman Expert II, Waterman Centurion, 2 Lamy Safari (different nibs, F and M), the metal one from a Belgian drug store (5 €), Jinhao X450 and my no idea pen. The no idea pen I found at a flee market for 5€. I’ve no idea which brand it is. But after adding a Waterman Converter everything is fine, writes like a dream.

The Chinese one seems to be a Montblanc Imitation. No harm done paid only 12€ for it, shipping from China included. For a real ‘Montblanc’ you have to pay a tiny bit more. Milady is owner of an original one but not using it. You don’t have to understand everything.

And then there is the almost endless variety of ink. I’ve limited myself to only 10 different colours.

Different brands, different colours. Every ink behaves different in any one of my FP collection.

Will I buy new pens ? Maybe not, 7 is enough. But maybe on day at a flee market, who knows ?

New inks ? That’s for sure. The standard colours (1 blue, 1 red, 1 green, black and sepia) will stay. For the 5 others the choice will be endless. The temptation, too (writing with Diamine Turquoise at the moment).

Informations about fountain pens you can find a lot on the web. I recommend ‘The Fountain Pen Network’ (www.fountainpennetwork.com) I could spend days on this site. My preferred ink dealer is ‘The Writing Desk’ (www.thewritingdesk.co.uk). With my all time favourite ink. J.Herbin Vert Empire, just a beautiful green.

Paper to write on is also an infinite playing field.  I’m writing this in a ‘Moleskine Notebook’ not my favourite paper, not at all. The ink is horribly bleeding through you could almost not use both sides of one page. My preferred paper is ‘Clairefontaine 90g/m². No bleeding, smooth surface and not expensive in Belgium.

Do you still write by hand ? Using a fountain pen ? Let me know in the comments.