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Friday, March 15, 2013

Jasper - from Beat to Beet.

Another true story 

I love Jasper, he's an egotistical and  silly vain little cheapskate. But disarmingly open.
 I shouldn't be saying all this about him because... I gave Jasper his voice. And his character.  Though I must say my son can take over very well.

Jasper's my representative whenever I feel like acting silly or vent my frustrations.So for years I stuffed him in my backpack whenever my son and I went out. Out to a zoo or a simple trip to the supermarket. A boring moment? Out came Jasper and my son and I had lots of fun with him. I remember one day especially well.

    We were seated in a bus in Haarlem. The bridge nick named "The Paint Roller", spanning the Spaarne, had lifted. In the summer a lot of boats have to pass. Mostly yachts and barges. The line of cars was getting longer and longer. The sun didn't make the waiting any easier...
    In the right lane, just beside 'our' window there was a small car with loud music. It was a miracle the car didn't bounce on the beat of the bass... its driver certainly did. It was at the time that the "I-don't-know-how-to-dress-code" only prescribed that caps should be worn backwards. 
    Jasper was standing on the thin edge at the window next to my seat in the bus. He was feeling hot and bored when he heard that beat... saw that car... and the bouncing driver with his cap turned backwards...  and the white duck felt the devilish urge to poke fun swell up in him. He started an imitation of the young driver with the twisted cap. If Jasper had a cap with him, he would have added it to underline his act. 
    But he didn't have to ... his robotic head jerks and congruent steps got noticed by the driver in the car behind the four wheeled sound box. Same age as the person Jasper was imitating but no loud music, no I-don't-know-how-to-dress-code.
    Jasper got ecstatic. He had a real audience. And what kind of audience. This young man was shaking with laughter. He nudged his companion, seated next to him. He roared too, instantly. Now Jasper's audience had doubled. So the plush duck increased his antics in size and in number. This was true fame.
    Look, the laughing driver even pulled out his mobile. Would he take a picture?   No, he dialled a number and brought the phone to his ear... The next moment the guy in the car in front, the music box on wheels, answered his phone and looked at the bus, at Jasper. Not by accident but directed by his friend in the car behind him.
    Jasper finished his last move lamely, then froze. Lucky for him he was just a furry toy. He didn't get a head as red as a beet... while three guys were laughing even more. 

Monday, March 11, 2013

Paper Owls and Pool Tables

The dates, events and expressed 
thoughts in this story are true.

How you interpret the events 
is your personal choice.               

It was several months after the funeral of my grandfather, my mother’s father. My son was quietly lying in the playpen, which was standing close to my book case just below the tiny shelves I had put up to show off my collection of paper birds. I think all birds are lovely, in this area I am a bit more broad minded than my grandfather who was only fascinated by owls.
I was cleaning dishes in my "open plan kitchen" from where I could easily keep an eye on my child.  Nothing special was going on, just a nice domestic afternoon…. Until I spontaneously let go of whichever item I was washing. I stepped over to the playpen and picked up my dozing toddler, sensing something indefinite, yet clearly negative. I held my boy close to me, turning away from the playpen, surprised about my own action. “Plop” I heard behind my back. The head of my paper owl had popped off and fallen into the playpen, hitting the baby blanket with its sharp beak, right where my child had lain. I stared at the owl’s head from over my shoulder. “This is my grandfather” it flashed through my being, “trying to play a sick joke.”

The incident 'though small and without consequences stuck to me, so that evening at my mother’s house I told her about this strange ‘coincidence’ and the conclusion that had forced itself upon me.
We laughed at it. This kind of superstition is like using herbs. In small amounts they give spice to life, but too much is just bad taste.
Just moments later the phone rang. It was my uncle, my mother’s brother. 
Ynez, I guess I’m lucky to be alive. You never guess what happened to me today.”
Being the only son, my uncle inherited my grandfather’s pool table. Because of it’s impossible size the table was disassembled and the heavy tabletop was stored on the landing of the second floor, standing upright opposite the staircase.
“I was going downstairs and halfway down I heard a strange rumble. I looked back and saw the pool table coming after me. I didn’t make it downstairs, the table knocked me over and landed on top of me. My girlfriend had to help me crawl from under it. Oh m. G.. Ynez, It was as if my father overturned the pool table to hurt me.”

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Shifting Attitude

Matthew 6:34

 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, 
for tomorrow will worry about itself. 
Each day has enough trouble of its own.

This morning I woke up with a hangover without having had a party.  Nor alcohol either. Well. to be honest... I did have a party...  sort of. Indulging in doing things that I like ignoring the pile of  things that Should be done. Should with a capital s.This morning the Pile grinned at me, towering over me, showing its ugly overgrown brown teeth. I think it had a bad breath too.

I responded in my usual way, filling my empty head with lines like "I hate my life"  "I'm a failure"  "You fool, you make the same mistakes over and over. You'll never grow up" and "Why don't you have more discipline, you spineless slob".
Then someone tapped me on the shoulder. Lightly as a feather. I couldn't see him but I heard him speak to me. "You advocate unconditional love. Not judging, not demanding things from others. Not trying to shape them according to your taste.  Why don't you look at me that way. As if I'm your child or partner. Let me be the way I want to be. Trust me and I'll surprise you."

What did this spirit suggest? That Life is outside of me?. That there is a Me, but not such a thing as <<My Life>> ? So Life will always be there, even without Me... now that is true. A morbid truth, but a fact of life.  It also implies that there will always be Me, even when Life stops. Or to put it more lightly: when Life and I have separated. 

I felt the spirit patiently waiting for my answer. "Well?"  
"I like it". I replied, warming to the idea. "We're partners, I will not judge you nor manipulate or force you, so you can show me what you're like. But you will not judge me either! I'm good and you'll love me even though I falter at times."  What a relief to look at myself that way. And oh boy, will we make a creative team!
The spirit moved back to its own realm, taking my burden with him. The Pile no longer towered over me.
Being left alone I picked up my life again  
no, :-)    just my clothes for today.    [Please note the metaphor]