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…
also published on ashes and embers
Its been a while since I’ve entered these hall of memories. But nonetheless I return again and again.
I’ve been reading into my last posts here, knowing that I would have to change even back then. What I was craving back then took one year to form. I needed a new challenge and have found it.
That this would mean that I would have to leave the country I didnt know but in retroperspective I was running and I had to run. In many ways I am still running, burning up inside with a constant drive and need for change. Not running FROM anything but just having to run.
Its fascinating how I SHOULD be content as I have everything a man could want from life yet still I crave more. I dont know where this constant restlesness comes from but now I sit here looking at it feeling that I just cant stop and have to keep moving. I always imagined myself settling down, doing the boring lifestyle so expected from someone of my upbringing but I only come to life on the edge, constantly having to push forward…
Now having moved from Berlin to Ireland was not the worlds biggest leap but it felt soooo good. Just leaving all the old smelly streets of Berlin behind:
the obscenities and illiterate sprawlings on the wall, soot stained grey east German Plattenbauten. WW2 Bomb holes filled by empty playgrounds surrounded by naked walls with no windows.
A sky always smudged and drained from color through the fumes puked into the sky from brown coal burning ovens and meters of endless struggling masses of smoking screaming metal beneath the high rise overcrowded subway.
Yeah not too many good memories. It always seems grey. Now its time to look forward.
its winter here finally. Snow falling infrot of the window, City and colour doing their best in the 3rd rerun to convince me of the pain of life and I’m finally getting the point. I’ve been so tied down for the last two years, there was always so much to do, so many things running parallel that I lost sight of where I was heading. Dropped right from writing my thesis into a job and must admit, my thesis was more of a challenge. To be honest what I’m doing doesnt need any type of degree, so I’m a bit under the light what that is concerned. Well I was never the person to stop and settle into a daily routine and in some way I must have a rather masochistic trait, as I am actually complaining about a job that ends every day at 4:30 p.m. I had longer hours with the job I was running parallel to my studies! Right now if I work late (that is past 5 pm) I’m often the last person to turn of the light and lock up, but come on, a job like that is what I need when I’m 40ish and have to take care of my armada of screaming kids…
Since there’s no kids, I’m slightly shocked with all this free time that I suddenly have since I started working. Weird, I always thought it would be the other way round. I’ve got more cash AND free time on my hand. But to be honest, its not like I treasure this extra time, as it drains away quicker than I would like it too. Somehow I’ve lost a lot of energy and drive. I need a new challenge. Something big, another mountain to climb that will give me that satisfaction of standing on top and having enjoyed the struggle. something that forces me to keep pushing my own limits. Lets see this sounds like a good bye. Time for something new. need to get my head straight as to where it’ll go and how many bridges I’ll burn along the way, but I dont and cant stop here yet. too young and too full of will power.
I can hear my train comin’
It’s a lonesome and distant cry
I can hear my train comin’
Now I’m runnin’ for my life
What makes a man walk away from his mind?
I think I know
I think I might know
-City and Colour: What makes a man a man
I need to get some fresh air…
My external harddrive with my precious music collection decided to temporarily give up its service and I was stuck with a sunk feeling that I’ll never retrieve my music…
Well I remembered that I have my old sony NW-A3000 20GB music player, which I dug out and found that a chunkof my music was backed up there. As with all of these Sony devices, the music was transfered through the now decontiniued “Connect player” and all music was in a .oma format with no tags or anything. Frustrating but I could still hook it up to my stereo.
After some research, I found a software that is a simple java applet that can be installed on the player itself and lets you import/export files with id3tags and all as mp3!!!
The genious bit of really overdue programming is called JSymphonic, is freeware and can be downloaded under http://symphonic.sourceforge.net/page.php?4
Hope this helps a few frustrated Sony player users.
back again. Didnt think i would need this. i havent used it in the last half year but suddenly i amvery thankful i never deleted this blog.
i was just browsing some of my own old comments and stumbled accross one of the last ones i wrote.
I was saying not much willl change. weeeell i think i will have to correct myself here. just about everything has changed. iv’e completeley reinvented myself, without knowing it.
the road behind me has been interesting and the one infront becomes clearer by the day. (unlike the weather here in berlin, one day swallowed up by fog, it looked like the earth and the sky had melted into one mass of grey. the ground slowly dissolving into the air. the sound of my feet slushing through the melting snow gets swallowed before they even reach my ears. my mind is too ocupied with numbers and rationality to soak up the beauty that this surreal landscape holds for me. only now sitting in my dark room i realize what a mystic day it has been. thats probably why i startedup this blog again. seems like something inside wanted to get out again. there’s always a child in every man. mine just clawed its way through to the surface, struggling against the onstorm of rationality breaking into my mind.
i am amazed of the amount of things i have lost within the last 10 months. not phisically speaking (i always double check if i have my keys and wallet on me) but in a sense of were am i and how do i define myself.
this leads to an interesting question:
How dou 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?
(Not very complex poem or anything but keeping in the tradition with Dr. Suess, “Oh the places you’ll go”)
oh and also posted here
as u might have noticed, the amount of comments and rants have dwindled in the last few monthsand i cant see this trend changing any time soon, therefore i will officially pause this blog until further notice or i really find that i have to share something. but until then goodbye to blogging and hello summer, hello sun hello world!!
i give up.
[…deleted on purpose…]
the big 25 is nocking at my door and i’ll give a quick resumee of the last year(s). for whom? me. anybody else can sod off.
I’ll start with 22, no 23 is better actually just before 23.
22 was a year for ending. my old band went 5 years went. shit happens.
23 was a year filled with fun and scars. not only was i scarred, i also handed out a few nice slashes and i am sorry for being a complete idiot for those whom it may concern (but believe me it wouldn’t have worked anyway!!) i did a great job of pulling myself together and planning and taking care of my future. song of the year Emil Bulls – Summer of Love/ Winter of Pain
24 was even better than 23. more fun less scars. actually no scars at all!! well..mostly… once again i have (and probably always will be) been a complete arse and i cant see this changing any time soon, sorry once more to whom it may concern. (this is starting to sound like a sabatical…) i’ve turned quite um “mellow” and have had a lot of fun and there are quite some stories that i’ll be able to tell my grandchildren once i’m old. no regrets but more the fun.
25 seems like a big step (i know not much will change but it’s still a quater of a century!!). i am looking at it with a smiling and a weeping eye. there are already plans that will change me (i hope and think) and many other currents churn the still calm ocean. at some point i figure the waves will hit the beach, once the storm has brewed up to full strength. hopefully there won’t be a tsunami…
right enough of this slushy crap. this post has probably been no more than a written excuse to myself to have a chance to look back on the last two quite exiting years and summarize them in a few cryptic lines that no one but me will understand in their completeness. one has to come to terms with himself and his past.
the present is the past of the future…
-Me, myself and i
In response to the freeconomics article:
The freeconomics attitude is not specifically new, especially not with user software. Most software that is introduced to the market ends up being “shareware” to attract customers with low/no introductory costs, but due to update costs (addons/licenses) that’s where the real costs are generated.
In the case of google, one the first look a “all free” company, that offers most of its products (google search, google documents, etc) for free seems like a beneficiary project.
What google is actually trying to acquire is something that cant be calculated in monetary terms: customer trust.
Since it is clearly based in a system-structure it faces high rates of moral hazard and a natural uncertainty on customer side of hidden intentions. (comp. Kleinaltenkamp et al.; B2B Marketing)
apart from being under the top ten ad-selling company’s on the web, they have huge expansionist/monopolistic plans, continuously growing in other media-related markets.
a few examples:
gOS: The first “opensource” desktop based on google aps, is already being sold in WalMart and will be the main operating system for the coming “cloudbook” the rival of asus eeepc.
according to wallstreet journal last month they showed the plans of google entering the mobile phone market (The possibilities that the mobile phone market offers for advertising is humongous and completely unexplored and unexploited! In the uk there are the first ad-subsidized rates, which give you free minutes if you accept up to 6 sms per day of advertising. Think where this can go, while your Nav-system is looking up the route you can watch commercials on the screen!!).
There is no functioning “free” social network that google hasn’t copied or actually owns. From wikipedia to facebook, either they are being rivaled by google or bought up. As stated above there is a strong monopolistic tendency.
good literature for further reading (incomplete Bibliography):
- Levit&Dubner: Freakonomics
- Harford: The Undercover economist
- Anderson/ Narus: Business Market Management
- Kleinaltenkamp: Einführung in das Business-to-Business-Marketing
“pass me another… no make it a double.” espresso that is. the days drone on, much the same these days (with the few exceptions of life thrown in between). i found my digital camera and realized that i still had my memory card from last summer in there. the camera decided to die on me. it just quit. stopped. wouldn’t even retract the lens any more. since then i have been too busted to get a new one. they wanted to charge me 59 € just for having a look at it. thats going to be the price that i will charge from now on to look at anything, especially when i’m on a shopping tour with a lady.
she: “hey how do you think this looks? does it make me look fat?”
me: “pay first and then I’ll tell ya!”
good way to make fast money ey? isnt it interesting how the opinion of men and women differ once its all about clothes and shopping? my typical answer for any question concerning the look of any garment covering a lady is, “ok”. that is the highest degree of praise one can expect from me for a piece of skimpy cloth covering just the minimum amount of skin, so they wont stick you in jail for public disturbance. somehow this never pleases the woman who i am accompanying on their delightful afternoon of watching me slowly turn insane. the “ok” is never enough. it always leads to another eye-rolling moment and a disgusted grunt for my lack of understanding the importance of the situation. but who would believe me if i’d jump up suddenly and shout: “that’s it!! it’s the piece of cloth that your skin has wanted to come in contact with your entire life!! it makes you so handsome i could claw out my eyes!!” not very convincing is it?
better yet, i love the question “does it make me look fat?” what, that piece of cloth thats so thin i wouldn’t even consider using it as a handkerchief? fact is, its not the piece of cloth that would make you fat (even if she was, which by all given standards she isnt) its the food you put into you that does.
its just like putting race stripes on a mini cooper wont make it go any faster, but injecting it with a decent amount of NOS would. do i sound frustrated? nooo way…
oh my personal tip of the day: whatever you do never, i repeat NEVER EVER EVER go shoe shopping with a woman. you’ve served your time in iraq? well thats nothing compared to the torment you will have to suffer…