The cat at the window

So I have been trying and thinking about and planning and collecting ideas/words/thoughts for something I want to express. But I am not able to, which – to some extend – explains the silence here. My aim is to post at least once a week which I obviously didn’t manage.

I will leave that entry – I started writing it over the last weeks and tried to push it out today – sitting for a while longer, keeping it as a draft. That post that you can’t read yet – well its origin is in seeing Yasmin Alibhai-Brown perform at the Liverpool Royal Philharmonics; two weeks ago (the 16th of May that is). Alex invited me. Yasmin’s performance is autobiographical and – at least I guess – connected to her latest book that is about to be published. However, it touches on so many themes and ideas that – there is so much of a personal connection to it. Beyond that, and that was what I really wanted to write about, it connects to a story I’ve been asked to tell, but never managed to. I have told parts of it, fragments, tentative beginnings, to a variety of people – but, and that goes for most of the things I have experienced in Israel/Palestine – I just somehow lack the words and my fluency, my use of language escapes me when trying. It’s not a happy story – it is one of murder and mistreatment – but it does contain – if I ever manage to express it – at least some humour (I hope).

That is not the only reason for the long silence. Here’s a quick run through of what went on from the previous entry to this one; doing these is part of the purpose of this journal – to be able to glance over these entries and say, boy, you are alive, things happen in your life. I know that might sound incredibly saaad. It is about me living too much in the now – in a way.

So what happened than in what is more then a month now? For once, I finished my exams (which, I think, went well for one of them) handed in three essays and a poster presentation, as well as a presentation on my proposed dissertation. This accounted for a busy two weeks that I just couldn’t write or think about anything else than the tasks at hand.

After that … I lost a whole week and only begin to manage to push myself back out of that hole I vanished in. Two things happened, really, that caused this. For one – I didn’t get the job I mentioned in an earlier post. It was with a different ferry company than I thought it was and I have edited out the name. While I was invited to an interview I had the feeling that a decision had already been made either before I arrived or within moments before starting the interview. That is – it wasn’t really much of an interview, with little questions from their side. I never head anything back from them. Regardless – I don’t think I’d have enjoyed the working climate (nothing tangible I can point to) from a feeling I got just by observing the routines there, while waiting for the person I was scheduled to meet.

The other bit and what really pushed me over the edge – was that the person I had made plans to share house with next year and go house-hunting with (we pushed that back until after the exam period) has left the country already for the summer. She only told me that upon contacting her again last Thursday, explaining (which I think is genuine) that she’d simply forgotten with all else that went on in her life. However, her decision of staying on and continuing to live in the student halls means I am stranded again – and likely forced to move in with random strangers for next term once more. That didn’t work out well, obviously, these first two years here in Liverpool.

Her decision affected me so negatively, because I can point to a variety of points where I’d been (conveniently?) forgotten/ignored or passed over by people I trusted in. [Of course what is true and not, what is just my interpretation and subjective perspective – I can’t tell. The point is what it does to my emotional life.] So yes, this hurt. And then I just trailed off in the too well established paths of what – partially – characterises my depression. Needing more sleep than usual and at the same time not being able to fall asleep when I want to and feel tired in the evening; yet, hours later, waking up still feeling tired, never really waking up, that slight drowsy feeling in which days become a haze and just run into one another. Not being able to act, think or keep to the hours that others do, not getting done what I know I should have and want to. And then of course – to keep my mind distracted – going back to gaming. This time it’s been Mount & Blade. I forced myself to uninstall the programme Tuesday evening and since then started with little tasks around the house that are necessary and important.

I am – since this morning – the only one living here, again. I’ve cleaned the kitchen (with Will’s assistance) and started removing all the random bits of trash spread around the house. I’ll put all the refuse bags (and those left behind in the backyard; at least twenty) out for collection tomorrow after writing this. The living room, likewise, is fairly tidy and clean now. As mentioned I still have a month to live here and want to be able to use this house during that time.

I’ve also been at FACT again, yesterday, watching Federico Fellini‘s 1963 movie  as part of the Artist’s Choice (a film that inspired the people behind a current exhibition with a discussion of that movie and the significance for their work afterwards) series. lt had been picked by AL and AL – sadly, however, they weren’t around for a discussion afterwards. Especially with this movie that’d have been incredibly interesting, though. lt is an incredibly personal movie that is definitely a movie asking the audience to work with the material presented: Very little interpretation is provided and its disjointed, sometimes surrealist narration just leaves a lot of space for creating very personal meaning from it. (I’d guess it’s referred to as “post-modernist” … but to me that just illustrates my notion that “post-modernism” in literature/movies/art simply is a form of experimental story telling that has been around for a good long while.) Because of that getting AL and AL’s personal interpretation(s) – and just a discussion with the audience would have been great. As it was … well everyone watched the film and left. [The audience at these artist’s choice events is definitely different though – there’s a certain respect and concentration on the movies presented [which is often necessary, too] that is consistently lacking elsewhere.]

I’ve also re-watched Ed TV and seen Michael Haneke‘s Code inconnu: Récit incomplet de divers voyages yesterday night. Code Unknown deals with communication and miss-communication, racism (from both the “majority” and the “immigrant” side) and human relations in general. Despite loving the movie and feeling it does a lot right I find it hard to comment on it. That mostly, probably, because of its careful balance. It is a movie that – through its narrative structure – benefits from not knowing too much about it beforehand.

Haneke’s realistic approach is what drives the movie and, I think, makes his statement so much more focused than what Alejandro González Iñárritu managed in the thematically similar Babel. I agree a lot about Haneke’s statements in the accompanying interviews in terms of what makes for good storytelling (challenging the audience intellectually and accepting that a narration only becomes complete with the audience interacting with what is presented [among other points]). He also makes an interesting comment on stating that as a director he feels it is important to make his audience understand – especially with a realist movie – that (whether it is fiction or a documentary) the movie/narration presents a condensed form of reality. In Code Unknown this continuity of the characters life beyond the scenes is established through hard cuts in the middle of dialogue and actions from one scene to the next. That is, what is important for the narration is presented, while the scenes flow over into the next one afterwards.

I think this point of narratives being a more “distilled” and “intense” version of reality is what really makes me enjoy movies and literature as much as I do. I thrive for that emotional intensity, and I guess I am searching for it in my own life as well. I frequently feel detached from reality – that, again, linked to how depression works for me. I think I need a certain intensity of life to feel alive, needing meaningful experiences. Particularly know, this morning, through this haze of not really feeling present … it is some sort of distance and strange perception of the world – as if through a veil and a little hazy, less real.

That of course leads me back to Sylvia Plath and her being identified as an “intense” person – not necessarily through her writing but her diary entries (which I find so much more engaging than her poetry or short stories). I also don’t feel that an “intense” lifestyle is or has to be negative as long as it is a positive creative process. So on that end, writing about things I do and experience, reflecting on them – the purpose of this journal at part – is so important to remind myself that even in routine and everyday life I create something.

That Haneke’s realism is fairly accurate – well, I have just experienced a scene quite similar to one in his movie when taking the bus back home after watching 8½. An older man (white hair and balding) was shouting racist abuse at an Indian looking young man across the isle. I left my bag and jacket on the backseat and moved to the seat behind the Indian man (I couldn’t take a seat next to him) and in a silent moment between tirades told the one shouting that I thought it was time for him to shut up. Of course saying that won’t stop an enraged person, and him identifying me as a foreigner meant that I took the abuse for the rest of the journey isntead. I kept trying to reason with him occasionally, but naturally didn’t get through to him, being too soft-spoken and not able to really scream back at him. The ironic part of this – the man sprouting his hatred had the clearly darker coloure skin of a descendant of immigrants (if not having been an immigrant himself at some point).

I feel I should have acted different though, and here is that magic idealist realism I’d wish for, wishing to be a stronger person. Much of the anger expressed by him centred on why he should  “spread his seed” if it means his children have to fight in wars elsewhere. His attack was indifferent (given the choice of an Indian-looking and me as an European person) of nationality, however, telling us to go back to where we came from and sort out our own problems. While leaving the bus shouting that he’ll follow me home and show me how building a bomb really is done and that he’ll be back. [the Indian-looking man had left earlier and I’d put my hand on his shoulder, establishing eye contact for a second; an apology and guesture of goodwill.] I wonder. I should have asked him – in that ideal world of being able to react well – if he actually lost someone. But as I said, me being me, I never even managed to get through to him in his rage. Someone hit him (and that mirrors that scene in Haneke’s movie I am referring to) when he left the bus. A reaction I don’t feel well about either.

To explain the title of this post – a cat walked past the living room windows while I was watching Code Unknown and stopped, starring at me, through the window, me looking at the television. It stayed there for quite a while.

A short list of things I need to accomplish these coming weeks:

  • Complete the assignments I still have to.
  • Find somewhere to live, someone to share with. I am completely at a loss here. [Note … maybe not quite so, we just had an e-mail of someone joining the course for the third year looking for a house-share forwarded to us].
  •  Start reading for my dissertation again. I am going back to the basics and looking at counselling theory (I still prefer Jung over Freud).
  • Find some job. I don’t know how to go about that, honestly. I don’t really care about what it is as long as the working climate is ok, however. I don’t have much faith in work bank at uni, though – begging for them to do something isn’t mine.
  • I still haven’t secured a work-based learning position either and don’t have any idea where to look, too. I already told the respective team and person responsible that are meant to assist us that I need help, but haven’t heard back from neither. Still, it IS, of course, my own responsibility just as finding a job after finishing this course is. The problem is – I don’t feel fit to work in the outdoor industry, don’t feel I’ve gained the skills I really need. Sadly Tom Gee’s criticism of Outdoor Education programmes (here and here) are all too true. Except that after two years I don’t have any Governing Body awards whatsoever. I simply can’t go out there and tell an employer that I am able to work for them. I did however join the Merseyside Mountaineering Club now – but haven’t made it to any of their social get together Thursday afternoon (and possibly some climbing wall practise beforehand) yet, however. For once – I still need to buy the simple equipment (harness, belay plate, carabiners etc.) required for climbing. But I also don’t want to introduce myself and start this on a low … I tend to get panicky about abseiling if I am not feeling well – that combined with how important first impressions are for many – yes, I simply don’t want to start this badly.
  • Oh and me made quiche :) [Now possible again in kitchen!]


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