Ill

Hit by the flu. Legs hurt so much, I can’t even stand up. In bed since lunch time yesterday. Sweating. It happens. And it will go.

Pádraig visited one of his (older in age) friends who  is in hospital with a bad cancer. He is not so well. Incredible to even think about this.

Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead. (Charles Bukowski)

DeathWillTremble

I wanted to be cool and on the inside to make up for the fact that I was born 10 years late. In my early teens I bought Dylan’s first record and I bought the books of Bukowski, Ginsberg, Kerouac, Castaneda. Truth is: I found it really hard to make the connection. It took me years of hard work.

This day in 1020, Heinrich Karl Bukowski was born. He changed his name to Henry Charles when his family moved to the US. Here is a quote by Bukowski someone sent me today:

For those who believe in God, most of the big questions are answered. But for those of us who can’t readily accept the God formula, the big answers don’t remain stone-written. We adjust to new conditions and discoveries. We are pliable. Love need not be a command nor faith a dictum. I am my own god. We are here to unlearn the teachings of the church, state, and our educational system. We are here to drink beer. We are here to kill war. We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us.
Charles Bukowski

He was a controversial genius. The way genius’ are. Read this again: We are here to laugh at the odds and live our lives and live our lives so well that Death will tremble to take us! How beautiful is that!

We are all amazed at Pádraig’s progress since we came back: this morning, when I asked him a question, he didn’t move his tongue or pressed a switch with his foot, he said ‘yeah’. And when I wasn’t sure whether I had heard it correctly, he said it again. And when we asked him again, he repeated it for a third time. When he was standing he corrected, by himself, he position of his feet, something he had never done before. He is so alert it’s amazing – and it makes it very clear that he needs not just physical challenges, but more mental and intellectual one as well.

Shapes

The man basically wanted to have seen my face so that when I’ll get up that day he’ll know it’s me he will hand over that award. That meeting was short and sweet.

But then I had another meeting which went on for much longer than anticipated. Time just flew by. A former PdD student, now colleague in UL, is really interested in capturing, in a book, what we had achieved with the Translation Commons (“Trombones”) and, as we were talking, I felt how much I would like this to happen, and how much I would like to support them writing this book. Fingers crossed that this will work out.

The An Saol Foundation Pilot Project is also getting into shape. We now have Board approval to go ahead and negotiate a lease with the owners of the alternative premises we found. Almost in parallel, we will start looking for staff and equipment, and we will design a training programme. We will begin to put together a note that will let people know what it is that we will offer and ask for individuals and families to consider whether their injured family member might be interested in availing of our services.

It will still take a few month to get planning permission, fire and access certification in place – but there is no doubt now, that it will definitely happen. The An Saol Project is beginning to take shape.

MrPresident

I know, I know, I know, I know… You’re thinking of Pink’s famous song, right?

Dear Mr. President,
Come take a walk with me
Let’s pretend we’re just two people
And you’re not better than me
I’d like to ask you some questions
If we can speak honestly

And you’re thinking: where is the song about the current President? – And you’re probably right.

I’ll be leaving very early tomorrow morning, not to DC (!) but to UL whose President would like to meet with me ahead of me being awarded my university’s award for services to the community in about two week’s time.

I’ve been thinking about what to tell him. Answers to questions he won’t ask. Or only the answers. To his questions. Politely. As expected.

Connected

As I am getting older, there are things I never did and will never be able to do. There are things I did and will never be able to do again. I wonder – are there things I was never able to do before but am able to do now, as I am getting older?

Are these silly thoughts and questions? I mean, it’s something you could ask yourself when your 6 or 16 or 60, at any point in your life, really. There are kids who want to stay kids and there are teenagers who want to stay teenagers because they are afraid to loose what they’ve got.

There are few people who want to get older, the older they are the fewer there are.

There was a time in my life I could not wait to get older. I wanted to live independently. I wanted to be able to drive. I wanted to have girl friends. I wanted to pick my jobs. I wanted to start my own family. I wanted to retire. I wanted to do what I thought was the right thing to do.

Recently, my perspective on life and ageing has changed. Now, I don’t want to get older. Because I think getting older now implies that, in the not too distant future, I won’t be able to do what needs to be done but nobody else is doing.

Is it all in my head?

Pádraig is settling back into the routine here. Life is slightly more predictable here (but only slightly) and slightly less exciting. Today he wanted to listen to the ‘letters to the Pope’ published by the Irish Times on the occasion of the visit by Pope Francis to Ireland in a week and a bit. He didn’t want to go shopping, he didn’t want to go for a walk. More than anything else he wanted to find out about what is going on, about what keeps people’s minds and souls occupied.

Confirming what I have been thinking (and saying) for some time: Pádraig needs people to keep him in the picture, to keep him connected with the mood in society, with the people around him, with culture, business, art…

The sooner the better.

Encounter

Second day of the journey, second time on a ferry. This time from Holyhead to Dublin.

And there they were: three of Pádraig’s friends from college who had studied history with him. We had never met them, although they had been in our house for this small event Pádraig had organised for his 21st.

He was so happy to meet them again, just out of the blue! We had a chat and they updated Pádraig on what had been going on in their lives since they left college. None had the job for life. All agreed that these days, jobs last for about 2 years and then you change.

The last five weeks are crushing down on me. As if my body was telling me: it’s time to recover. Straight into bed.

Port

If you should ever take a ferry from Rotterdam to Hull, the overnight ferry, be careful.

There are no signs on the motorways of Rotterdam showing you the way to the car ferry. There are literally hundreds of signs directing you to ports that are numbered into the thousands, though.

The confirmation email we had received from Irish Ferries just said departure Rotterdam.

Luckily, we remembered that we had to look for the Europort.

Driving through the vast port area in Rotterdam is like driving through a science fiction movie. It’s industrial, there are no humans (visible), it’s all pipelines, containers, and huge ships.

We made it to the port and onto the ferry after almost eight hours in the car. And had a wonderful meal!

Hot

Globally, this is shaping up to be the fourth-hottest year on record — the only years hotter were the three previous ones. – So says the New York Times today.

In Tating today, the weather returned to ‘normal’: a bit of rain, a bit of wind, a bit of sunshine, and temperatures that allowed you to breathe.

We’re just in from our last dinner (I was going to say ‘supper’ but resisted) in Tating before heading to Rotterdam, Hull, Holyhead and Dublin tomorrow morning. It’ll take us probably 36 hours to get to Dublin. One of those epic road trips. With plenty of time.

Thunder&Lightning

It felt as if the thunder was right on top of us and the building had just been hit by lightning. The heavens opened and tried to make up for three months of drought.

 

Pádraig had a brilliant evening out in that restaurant, under the marquise, half-sheltered by the glas screens, but still sitting (almost) in the eye of the storm. Kind of riding the storm, kind of being the one of the riders on the storm. Into this house we’re born. Into this world we’re thrown. Like a dog without a bone. An actor out on loan.

For what it is worth. To remember. This day in 1945, the second atomic bomb was dropped by the Americans on Nagasaki. In order to end the war. They said. – Which is when I just want to be ‘out there’. Away. In the middle of the ocean.

Hafentage

Husum was first mentioned as Husembro in 1252, when king Abel was murdered.

At times you wonder how useful wikipedia really is. I couldn’t think of a less relevant statement for someone who wanted to find out about this most beautiful city in the North of Germany. This week is the week of the port, the Hafentage, when the streets around the port are filled with stalls – mostly selling food and drinks. An incredibly variety of food and drinks, in fact. Much more complicated and much less straight forward than Tuesday summer evenings in Garding.

Instead of a rock band, they had a Shanty Choir starting off proceedings today.

 

I don’t know why, but old men singing about the ocean and the good auld times on the tall ships always makes me cry. Maybe it’s because since I was a kid, I was, one day, going to sail the seven seas, leaving all the noise of the city, all the busy-ness of no substance, all the absolutely inconsequential daily struggles of my life, the news that drive me mad but that I cannot do anything about – that I was going to leave all that behind and spend time on the ocean, under the stars, being directed by the wind and nothing else.

A classical example of a crash between dreams and life’s reality.

The thing is. Pádraig once wrote me a letter, when he was ‘small’ (I’m writing this in inverted comas because he was never really small) he wrote me a letter explaining how we all would, how our whole family would, manage to get onto that boat of mine and sail around the world.

And I still have that letter. Which is, in itself, is a small miracle.

Maybe this is why Hafenfest and Hafentage and old men singing shanties make me melancholic.