Time goes by…

As I sit in my flat hearing the winter winds tearing over Dublin with gusts of rain, bringing the pleasant smell of ocean and moist country side, I am listening to a record which I picked up Saturday in a small hidden used bookshop that also sells used vinyls. Its now spinning on my old Marantz 6100, which has been with me since my early student days and the songs playing have touched me that there is no way that I can concentrate on what I should be reading.

Actually I picked up an LP which took me back 7 years in one instance. Yepp music can do this. Like a skipping record it jumped instantly back to a song I was listening up and down at that time, which brought up vivid memories of a warm summer day from back then…

The memory is nothing special, it doesn’t entice stories of graphic eroticism or nudity, its rather a tale of a subtle melody that encompassed me back then.

It was summer a perfect summer in Berlin. The World Cup was happening in Germany and there was a constant positive vibe in the air of Public Viewings, skipping classes at Uni to catch a game and hang out on the lawn with the mates, kicking back a beer or two. Even the professors came in dressed in fan gear and broke up the lectures early if an important game was on. And to top it all off Berlin saw a wonderful summer, the way they only happen every few years. These wonderfully exceptional summers start early in the year bringing a warm May, mild nights and wonderful sunny days. Low humidity that picks up towards the end of the month and then melts into a dry and arid June and July, only to be cooled off by the occasional summer storms, crashing in with thunder and bringing relief to the dusty capital.

If I wasn’t spending my time in lectures, reading in the library or playing with my band in a musty cellar, I spent about 10 hours a week earning a bit of money, working in an obscure and dusty department at the university. It was hidden on the second floor off the beaten track in the middle of the Philological wing. Not many students strayed here except if they knew what they were looking for.

It dubbed itself the SLZ (SprachenselbstLernZentrum) which would roughly translate to Language Self Teaching Center. We had ancient workstations which kept crashing and needed my constant attention to keep them up and running, meter long shelves filled with obscure dusty foreign language VHS cassettes and some flickery TVs with crumbling headphones to assist students in getting the tapes mangled in the VHS players, stacks of language teaching books with audio cassettes. All in all in was lovably outdated and turned into a sauna in the summers, as it was right under a flat tin roof.

We were about 9 students that kept this center running during the week from 7:30 till around 8 p.m. The visitors we saw were either some that must have seen this center open or got directed here by one or the other language professor to pick up a assignment sheet or fill out an Erasmus sheet. Apart from making sure no one nicked a VHS cassette or one of the rare CDs, we had a smelly copier room one level lower where we printed all the handouts for the professors from the adjoining departments and ensured that all rooms of the language departments were locked up in the evenings and all windows were shut.

I can still smell the stale carpets and feel the warm and sticky air when I went on one of the key rounds in the evenings. Its a distinct slightly sweet smell, emanating from the carpets, the wooden chairs and heavily consumed air. All in all it was magic and one of the best jobs I must have had.

I loved the key rounds in the evening. Walking from room to room, along the dark and empty hallways, checking each room if the windows were closed and the sponges in the right place. Looking out into the inner park which during the day would be crowded by students reading, talking and socializing but in the evenings gave way to a family of chipmunks and a few birds that would enjoy picking at the leftover crumbs they could easily find. I could hear the chirping and watch them from the empty classrooms for longer than necessary.

I don’t remember exactly what game it was I was missing (I think it could have been Brazil playing someone, so it must have been some time in June) while I had passed another three hours of my shift in the sticky SLZ together with two customers in total, as the sun was shining, football was on and really, who would want to study for a oral pronunciation exam right now? I waited till they left, fished out my mp3 player, that I had just loaded up with the newest Alternative Rock sampler (which I was heavily into at that time) and made my way to lock up. I plugged in my earphones, locked the door and walked down the shady hallway to make my way to the first of the class rooms.

I flip the record over to side B and stop for a second, listening to the blast of wind howling past my window. The lights of Dublin stretch away and the yellow subdued lights of Dublin’s streetlamps flicker in the lat January storm. I gently lower the needle and with the first few guitar plucks radiating from the speaker I drop back through time…

…the second song in the playlist is Death Cab for Cutie – I will follow you into the Dark a very melancholy tune which hits the nerve of the moment. Its more the melody, the soft and quietly strummed guitar, less the dramatic vocals that stop me in my track. For the last few weeks I have been floating on thin air, not just because of the football but due to the tingling that has encompassed every waking moment and accompanies me before I go to sleep and even after that. I have found something so utterly unexpected at the moment and too good to be true. …Yet in hindsight so fragile… The song keeps bouncing around my head, the sticky air in the classrooms. I sit on a table in an empty classroom watching the peaceful scene of the deserted courtyard. Minutes drag by as Death Cab for Cutie are in replay loop singing of Love beyond the grave for the nth time. Its just a good recording and fits a mellow summer evening. I go out and lock the door. Only three classrooms left. Oblivious to my surroundings, isolated by the music, I turn around a corner and bump into a group of female students. There’s about four of them and my heart skips a beat, as I realize that she is there too. She recognizes me and grins, I – as usually- become flustered for words and don’t notice that I’m being talked to as I still have my earbuds in. I sort of take them out and its nothing special but she just says that she is of with the girls to watch the game and would I care to join them later? …I can’t remember who “they” were or how many of them there were, I just remember her… 

I have plans for meeting up with my mates later and for some strange reason that is the first thing that comes to mind, plus as nervous as I feel, I wouldn’t know how to hold myself in her presence with all these girls. I try to make it sound sad that I can’t come, I really would like to but alas the rooms wait and I have to meet up with friends. The other girls have already tagged ahead a bit leaving me with her alone in the hall. She just smiles and waves and says that its ok and we’ll meet up soon, rushing to catch up with her friends. And with that she is gone. No hug, no kiss or any magic.

I stand in the hallway with the melody still coming from my headphones on repeat and watch them walk away laughing about one joke or the other. It doesn’t matter. I smile as I listen to Death Cab for Cutie again. The twilight and the the warmth of the sticky hall surround me, with that distinct sweet smell of old carpets, mixed with old books and summer. It was summer, a perfect summer in Berlin…


How do you define yourself?

How do you define yourself?

at some time it was the people i knew
at some time it seemed that music was true
then it was the thoughts i had,
that kept flittering around, scattered and alone in my head

at some time it was the love that burned within
but that flame has whisped out and grown so thin
recently it was the job i do
but that doesnt fill me or make you you

so here i stand thinking what makes me me
and what does it take for me just to be me?
where the road goes i dont seem to know
will i find what it takes somewhere below?
will i turn out in the end then being me
or will i just sadly be?
-Jan 2009


The lost sock (Berlin Nights 3)

Fictionalizing the Weekend pt.3

[…]

There is that awkward question; if I would like to stay here. I come up with some lame excuse about having to be at my flat, partially knowing the truth in the words but also needing an escape route. The alcohol has worn of mostly by now and the rest of the night gave me the chance to scrape together my brain again. I get upfrom the bed, looking for pieces of my clothing, not wanting to make a scene. I find my jeans on the floor where I left them. The t-shirt is a little more challenging and I finally find it on the window-sill. Now about those socks, I find one under the cubbard and don’t bother with the second. This is one of those moments where you are in control of creating the recent future. Figuring by my low self esteem I probably took the easy way out. Never was in favour of complicating my life; past that age already.

She watches me from the bed… Continue reading


Berlin Nights

Fictionalizing the Weekend

April/May 2007–Berlin– about 3 o’clock.

I walk down the stairs, dive into the throbbing thrive of sweaty sticky human bodies. My mind is numb the bass is pulsing in my stomach and floods my body. My heart starts to synchronize, my thoughts are blocked out. I move to the heartbeat of the night. Its rhythm has taken control of me. Lights, faces, fragments all flashing before my eyes, half closed I can’t make out any more clear outlines. There is no individual only a mass of moving pulsing and throbbing flesh squeezed onto the sticky dance floor. I collide with other bodies, the friction of touch, the sensation, the electric feeling that tingles in your hands. My senses are dulled and over-sensitive at the same time. my blurred vision comes back, letting me take in my surroundings. The bass changes and in that small transition; the realignment to the new pulse I see her. She smiles and looks deep into my eyes. My brain can’t process the information properly so I don’t react. I am flowing again. The sweet-bitter smell of sweat, alcohol, marihuana and cigarettes is omnipresent. It sticks to your skin, nettles in your hair and every fiber of your clothing. One more step towards melting into the crowd. The air is blurred, blue-gray; the lights cut through the slow mass of swirling smoke, leaving a trace of color in the air.

Continue reading


She isn’t Real

24/25. 10. 2006

She isn’t Real

In drowsiness I wake alone
Remembring soft the dreamers feel
The touch, the smile, the beautiness
But oh she isn’t real

Her kiss it lingers on my lips
I know that I’m alone but still
Her smell, her warmth, her gentle touch
Oh please let her be real

Our memories are cold and hard
They come when sleep all else conceals
She was, she is, but nevermore
I know she once was real

October 2006


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small moments of panic

Fictionalising the beginning

fictionalisingthebeginnig.jpg

‘Whats so great about ones birthday? its the day that caused my mother quite some pain about 24 years ago. funny that my mother always was against me getting my eyebrow pierced or my back tattooed and came down on me with all hell, but then went through those few minutes of fun that she knew would cause her great pain about 9 months later and quite some heartache the next 24 years of her life.’

Funny what crosses your mind while youre looking at the bottom of your empty beer-glass and watch the last drops swirl around… I think this might be the wonderful sideffects of the alcohol mixing with the anti-cold medicine I took earlier along with some freaky herbal crap that a friend gave me. Sure it’ll help your cold. Sure its not just my cold its my entire bleedin’ head thats somewhere else now!! Rats. Great. Now how do i find a way out of my head and back into the discussion with the girl sitting opposite me? I can see her lips moving, I hear her voice but dont understand anything… Continue reading


Reborn

Fictionalising the present

I wake up and roll over in bed. She’s gone. Hm… was she ever here? I fall back onto my pillow and close my eyes. As the fog slowly lifts from my mind, I grin, I slowly remember. Somehow I still feel worn out from the last few weeks but they gave me a new optimism. I feel refreshed.

The clock tells me its some time closer to lunch than breakfast but I don’t mind. I get up and walk (stark naked) across my room to open my blinds. I pull them back with more enthusiasm than might have been good at this point, for they thank me with a soft ripping noise. This was the first mistake of the day. The next followed instantly for looking out my window I look at the slightly astonished face of that nice old lady living opposite me. Pants. Well not much to be done than to leave her slack-jawed for another minute, as I scramble around my room to find a pair of pants… Continue reading