Stepping out of the lines

Summer ends so fast here it’s like they’re taking down a theatre set and replacing it with autumn, overnight.

Eberhard has a saying, «I’m a man, I fix things» — and he lets the words hang over me like mist, like he’s allowing for something in his eyes to resonate that could be male competition or encrypted advice, I can’t tell.

I don’t compete with other men in the area of fixing things. Is he implying I’m not a man, if I can’t fix it? He fixed the coffeemaker, the lock on the front door, the hose reel, the dishwasher, and even got a ball out of a tree that was stuck there earlier.

We’re all trying to adjust, living here together. Charlotte’s been hard, complaining about wanting to go home since July — Lily is just Lily, looking more like a teen every day, the tips of her hair that were dyed purple have been blonde all summer.

And I get asked why I seem so angry which is a good question, and I try to answer it by writing and taking long walks up the Himmelsleiter, the steep Roman steps in the vineyards that translates to the same ladder that appeared to Jacob in a dream, featured in the Egyptian Book of the Dead, the title loosely means “stepping out into the sunlight.”

DSC_0033I’ve made the mistake before of thinking you can solve major life problems just by changing your location. Like, move somewhere else and it will magically fix itself — but it never works, the problems only get worse, unless you’re David Bowie leaving LA for Berlin to get clean, which worked for him, but there aren’t many David Bowies, and he had to recreate himself on every record like it was a new play each time, a different character, a new set.

It was hot as hell here the last three days of August, mid-30s Celsius, so Dawn and I drove to nearby Bad Wimpfen (lots of German towns start with ‘Bad’ here, which means to bathe, they’re natural vapour baths from Roman times) for a festival where they celebrate ancient guilds and you can see people in traditional Medieval garb, multiple layers despite the heat, with tattoos, earrings, long beards, daggers on their waists — it feels like how I’d imagine a Deep Purple concert here in the mid-70s, or the band Hawkwind — people have a hardened, timeless look to them, which you could also attribute to the heat and the wool leggings.

Dawn and I camped out under an umbrella in the beer garden, glad we didn’t bring the kids — I tried to get a photo of two guys in Medieval garb texting with one hand and holding a spear in the other — and later, we had Thai food at a table with a couple Americans working in Stuttgart,  and the food tasted more like Chinese and wasn’t altogether good, and why would it be, here in some Medieval town in southern Germany? Flags with falcons and large red talons, dated “1565.” Ich möchte the Tom Kha Gai, bitte.

Charlotte is one of those people who has to be doing something with her hands or feet, she’s humming all the time. Like those I’ve known with bouncy leg syndrome (including myself), they can’t think without moving — or a Canadian VP I knew with an Italian name who’d rock in his chair like a metronome and you were OK as long as he kept rocking but once he stopped, something was wrong.

And what seems like such a bad idea here on the surface (going to the UK over the winter months and laying out cash for so many nights of accommodations) may be such a bad idea it’s actually closer to good than bad, the way some people think Mick Jagger is so ugly, he’s sexy. Go far away enough from the obvious, and you might be on to something.

We booked our rentals for Christmas in Cork, preceded by a long stay in Dingle along the west coast of Ireland, and added up what we’ve spent already in reservations — and now it’s time we filled in the rest of our nights with hostels and get used to cooking pasta, and living on the cheap.

I overheard Dawn talking to the girls about what it means to be rich, like you can still be rich in a sense without having a lot of money — a feeling we should anticipate when this is over, more memories than money, but it seems you can always find a way to make the money and it’s not quite the same in the end, when you compare the value of the two.

In a museum today Dawn reached out and grabbed hold of my beard, asked nicely, when are you going to cut this? It makes your face look different, it looks long.

We’re the same cast playing all the parts ourselves — all the writing and direction, the lights and sound…and it goes up and comes down a lot quicker than you’d think, like the change of the seasons, one day they’re onto the next show.


Categories: travel

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28 replies

  1. I really like the framing image of the theatre sets coming down/going up. It makes you reflect forwards and backwards after reading the piece.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Cool, thanks Tish. Really feels that way here, having spent a day indoors, sick, then re-emerging yesterday morning, it’s like all different. I like that too – unlike some places here on earth, where it feels like you’re on the same station the whole year. Glad you enjoyed it. – Bill

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There are several exceptional lines here. I think you’re onto something.

    My brother-in-law and his father installed central air conditioning in his home. By themselves. If I’d been there, all I’d have been qualified to do is hand him a screwdriver. Barely a man at all. Do you know what I keep in my toolbox? A checkbook.

    An aside: Bowie collaborated on a musical that’s about to open in a small theater on the Lower East Side that’s based on “The Man Who Fell to Earth.” It features Michael C. Hall of Dexter fame. It could go either way.


    • Thank you Mark, glad you liked it. Yeah, I could go on about the man/fixing things, but won’t. And I heard today about another Bowie project, collaborating with the guys from Aerosmith and The Flaming Lips — on a Sponge Bob soundtrack. Not sure if my mom was pulling my leg, but that’s what she said. Who better than Bowie?


      • Bowie is my big regret in life. I never saw him perform but I had a couple of chances. I was either too broke or detached. Then, when he did the Glass Spider Tour, he played stadiums and I had no interest in seeing him there. I should’ve.


      • Had that same regret with Jane’s Addiction when they reunited but were playing big venues, then learned they had cages that descended from the ceiling with dancers. Bummer.


      • There is going to be a spongebob musical opening sometime next year. I heard there will be a lot of big names in the music itself so I wouldn’t be surprised!


      • Of course, why not a spongebob musical fest? You see, if I had thought of that — well, I’ll stop. I didn’t think of it. I’m about to rant now and I need coffee first. But we read about that too, with these names and people coming together. Sounds like fun. Will likely get sucked into it, myself…


      • I remember watching the Spongebob pilot years ago with my little sister and thinking while the theme song played, this has got to be the dumbest most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard, who thinks of this stuff?? It’ll be off the air in six months. The biggest words I’ll ever eat. (But of course I’ll get sucked in too!)


      • When you have kids and start watching this stuff, you start to savour the things that don’t suck. I think that about My Little Pony too, which is shockingly interesting and perhaps taps into stuff that’s better not paraphrased here (I started to type it and stopped), but weird it can be so interesting, to grown-ups and teenage boys. I’ll let you make of that what you will. I haven’t listened to the news since last December or watched anything really since then, other than “No Country for Old Men,” and I think I might watch it again.


      • I’ve heard about the Bronies yeah, and loved the original My Little Pony when I was a kid. I’m sure there is something to it, maybe I’ll check it out sometime. Enjoy the film, and I say stay in the barely-any-media bubble. It’s the best. 🙂


      • Thanks Cali — looking more and more forward to Scotland as the time draws nearer, understand Edinburgh is ‘the London of Scotland,’ according to my English friend Alex, makes sense. Looking forward to the countryside more, I think, and the getting-away nature of it, that gloomy time of year. Cheers to you and yours.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. You don’t seem angry in your writing — but then neither do I. Peeved, maybe. Irked. Disgruntled.
    There’s a surface to things sometimes, so here’s my worthless advice: trim the beard. Maybe you’ll seem less angry. Your hair as peace offering.


  4. This was so enjoyable to read. You have a way with words.


  5. Saw Jane’s in college. Was awesome. Saw Panic Channel many years later, Navarro’s band, and because at times it sounded like Jane’s, I was reminded how great Jane’s was. Heard some of the parts of Jane’s outside of the whole, made me appreciate the sum of the whole, how the different parts come together and explode.

    I sympathize with you on the anger. I get that from my wife almost every day – says she thought it’d be different after Ohio.

    I agree with Tish’s comment about the structure of this one. If I may be so bold as to offer some unsolicited constructive criticism, I would say that your writing is always good, and that your two “signature moves” are 1) your poet’s approach to prose and 2) and the “herky-jerkiness” of it. When those two componenets come together via the structure, everything launches into the sky and soars. The sum of the parts, kind of like Jane’s.


    • What is it with the anger? Is it some last bastion of who you thought you’d be? Fuck, who are we to be blogging about this and what kind of petty plot of land is it we’re fighting over? Sorry, that was dramatic. You’re not being bold in the constructive criticism old chap, you’re being a friend — thank you for sharing that. Makes me feel like, legitimate. And the Jane’s references, neat. When “Ritual” came out it felt like I was part of something, which was rare – happened with that Nirvana record, but not many others, to where I was old enough and felt adult to feel like I was on the scene and part of a really neat album. But that third JA record felt special, good times: like 21 years old, or thereabouts. Angry. And happy about it.


      • I think maybe it wasn’t dramatic enough. I don’t know what it is, but it’s probably something worth exploring. Not probably, rather. Maybe definitely.


      • Thank you, you’ve given me a porpoise.
        I had one those odd and magical nights with a tip-tip-tapping of a story in my head, prompting me to get up and write, and cup my hands over the laptop it was so bright in the middle of the night. Get out of my head, Whitman! Walt!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. I’m like you. Can’t fix things. When I try, the fix doesn’t last long, or I mess the thing up even worse so it doesn’t work at all. I can cook, though!


    • Yes, and I think cooking in some ways is more satisfying, though they’re hard to compare. Seems cooking is about creation whereas fixing, maybe restoration. Both good, but like you, I’m a cooker. That’s my restoration.


  7. I wish you could read this to me personally. That way I’d get the best impression of how you meant everything in blog. The changes and the rearranges that will come naturally with life are made with good reason though. It sounds like there’s a lot left to your life, as long as you can drink beer from a glass half full, don’t mope over a pretty bartender who didn’t give you head!


    • Yeah, I like what you wrote here, the changes and rearranges, and the possible hidden advice about not moping, and staying away from pretty bartenders…all good advice, thank you! Glad you liked it, friend.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. funny, because neither my bf or i can fix a thing and we just embrace that approach to life, but we have other gifts and you have the gifts of writing and thinking outside of the box and many other good things.


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