Feeling Philosophical

Every time I hike on my favourite canyon, I see people running up the steep hill in hot Californian sun. And every time one of them passes by, I wonder how fit they must be to run up this hill, and feel a bit bad about myself being lazy. And in 95% of times, the moment I turn the corner, I find that same person walking and panting and drinking water. I just realized on my hike yesterday what an important philosophical lesson it is: Never ever envy people. Because you never know what their situation will be just around the next corner.

El Niño and Nobel Peace Prize

Hello after a long time – and a baby which is already 14 months old and just the best thing in the universe! Here’s a funny anecdote for my comeback. Last night, my husband attended one of the dinners organized by a Hollywood writer “which are for men only because we like to have an intelligent conversation.” As a good Hollywood wife, I will not comment on his statement.

But here’s the fun part. My husband was sitting next to an environmental scientist from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the very same guy who in the 1970’s invented the term “El Nino” They talked about the El Nino that’s about to hit California (in January through March), about global warming, droughts and other environmental catastrophes. After hours of conversation, my husband desperately asked him where we should move. “To whenever makes you wife happiest,” the scientist replied.

I really believe this amazing gentleman for the Nobel Prize. If not for science, definitely for peace!

Walking in Hollywood

OK, so three weeks ago, I’ve officially moved to Los Angeles. It is not that I wanted to live in Los Angeles. Or work in movies. I fell in love. With a man who wants to live n Los Angeles. And works in movies. Life has its own plans. For a European, USA is…. let me be diplomatic here…. strange enough. But Los Angeles is like landing on a different planet. You are happy there (still) are traces of water and atmosphere so you won’t immediately die. But to survive here you might need other things. Among others: a job in the industry, at least one part of your body inserted with silicone or chemically treated, a pair of UGGs and (the quintessential): a car.

Speaking of which… Today, I felt especially courageous and rebellious (and hungry) and I dared LA – I decided to walk to the supermarket. Ha! Try that. We (still) live in a very tame and charming part of Hollywood (yes, I really live in Hollywood now. I’ve exchanged Laudonplace for those nine big white letters on the horizon) called Larchmont Village. Larchnomt is like Wisteria Lane with a Mexican touch, smaller houses and truly amazing gardens. Superb lawns, colorful flowers, palm trees. But no people. I’ve lived here for three weeks (including my last stay that would make six weeks in total) but I still haven’t found out where people are. They work alright. But don’t they ever drive to work, come home or pick their kids from school? I don’t know. The only time I see someone is a (very) random person walking the dog. Or even more random joggers who decide to surprisingly drop on the pavement and start doing push ups and stretches in front of you. Weird ritual.

It took me 13 minutes to walk to the supermarket. 13 more back. It was 18h, what should be the busiest time of the day. 26 minutes passing through the residential area during rush hour and I met one old woman. And one weird jogger who looked like a mixture of Brad Pitt and Steve Taylor.

Walking through LA is really a strange experience. You know that you are in one of the biggest cities in the world. You can feel the energy of the millions of people. You can hear the deep hum of the metropolis. You can smell the shit. But there’s no one around. Until you reach a busier street where you see people in their cars (there is always one (1) person in the car here. Wonder if there’s a special law for that) who stare at you in sheer amazement. A pedestrian!? The amazement was even bigger as I was returning from the supermarket, carrying those two white plastic bags. Because if you’re just walking, there’s still a chance you’re doing it because your healer/nutritionist/chiropractic recommended it. But if you’re carrying bags, it is clear that you are doing it (walking) for practical purposes, to get from point A to point B. And do errands somewhere in between. Practical is not a comprehensive term in this country/city if it does not include some kind of an environment-poisonig machine.

There was something very romantic about the walk home though. I walked through those charming Wisteria-meets-Mexico lanes and the drivers’ stares made me very aware of the two plastic bags of groceries I was carrying. I remembered my childhood in Zagreb. Around 16h, the city was swarmed with women returning home from work (they started at 08:00) each one carrying two white bags of groceries. I remembered standing at the balcony and watching my beautiful mum walking home with one white bag in each hand. I became homesick. But then I turned my head to the left and saw the Hollywood sign up on the hills. And the clash of those two things – these white letters and those white bags from the past - made it better. I am here to explore. By foot.

One

I took the picture and didn’t think much of it. Only a few minutes later, as I was leaving Central Park, it occurred to me. I’ve just witnessed Bruegel.  Even better, I’ve just witnessed life. At its most glorious manifestation. One by Peter Bruegel, the other by Ana Tajder. A man. A woman. Netherlands, United States.  One in 16th century, the other in 21st. 500 years apart. Continents apart. Identical.

How persistent is true joy of life? And how simple! It just is. Must love it.

Being a (European) blonde in New York

Sitting with Nic in metro, going downtown and looking at a poster advertising the "Bodies" exhibition, commenting how horrible the idea is of showing dead bodies playing volleyball. Nic:"And what's even worse - do you know where the bodies come from?"

Ana (blonde): "No"

Nic: "They're Chinese dissidents."

Ana (blonde): "OMG. That is horrible. And how did they get 2 million Chinese dissidents in one show?"

Nic: " They can't have 2 million bodies there. Where did you get the number from?"

Ana (blonde): "There, on the poster."

Nic: "Where?"

Ana (blonde): "Big red letters."

Nic: "That's a phone number."

Well, how embarrassing (and stupid) is that!?

So, if you want to go see dead bodies of Chinese dissidents in NY, dial 1.800.000.BODIES

And don't be disappointed with how few corpses there are!

Where's my bride?

Today in the morning, the cleaning lady in my office showed me pictures from a wedding in a small village somewhere in Serbia she had just returned from. A very amusing experience. Cleaning lady: “This is me and this is my husband, my son, daughter, cousin, mother of the bride….”

Ana: “Oh, mother of the bride looks young!”

Cleaning lady: “Yea, she’s 37 – got married with 16.”

Ana: silent shock (Aaaaaaaa, if the bride was 1 year younger I would be mother of the bride!!!!!! I cannot possibly be mother of the bride!!!!!! Even worse – I could already be a grandmother!!!)

What a nice way to start a week.

I hope you had a better one.

Jay Kay's Magic

I’m in love with Jay Kay since the first time I’ve seen him.  This was at a cashiers’ desk of Zielpunkt (Austrian discount grocery store) in 1993. God only knows what his first CD was doing in that shop…. I fell even deeper in love when I saw him perform for the first time in 2002. He was like a ball of energy bouncing (in the coolest dance moves since Astaire and Jackson) from one side of the stage to the other. I calmed down a bit after I met him the same night – in person he was quiet, shy and … smoked-up. Plus - his accent made the conversation very difficult.

Last night, I’ve seen Jamiroquai perform again. Many things have changed in those eight years but one thing stayed same - I’m still in love. Last night was special because it was extremely fulfilling to see how lives and circumstances change. For the better.

Jay Kay: He calmed down. He is still incredibly energetic. He still electrifies the audience. But now it seems a bit more… not controlled but…. careful. What he used to do on stage was pure self-destruction. It was of course extremely gratifying to the audience but it was not sustainable in the long term. Especially not without drugs. On one side, as a fan, this “calmer version” makes me a bit sad. On the other side, as a woman in love ;-) it makes me happy to see that he will not bleed out on the stage just to fill the voids in our lives. He managed to perform a very fine balancing act of preserving his energy without seeming controlled or withheld. That’s what makes a great artist! Bravo Jay Kay!

Ana: I found myself! In 2002 after the concert, and especially after meeting Jay Kay and the band and hearing about their lives of rock stars, I was very sad about my life of a “Special Project Manager” at a mobile network provider. Compared to life of creating, performing, sharing energy with people, energizing your audience, travelling, being surrounded with like-minded people, my life seemed like a useless disaster. I was sad. And I was envious. Last night, I was just grateful for what they were giving me (us) and deeply satisfied with my own life and with the fact that now, I am a part of this creative force. Bravo Ana!

So one huge bravo to everyone! Including you, dear readers!

Miss Tajder, Mrs. Geier and Mr. Dostoevsky

No clue what happened here. A block. Fear?

Club 2 happened and I started writing for www.zib21.com where my posts were very well read but also heavily discussed. It is new to me that my writing and my opinions are being widely discussed. It is great. But also a bit frightening. It is like all those people are trying to get into your most intimate sphere, your brain. I’ll get used to it. I guess.

And before I start bitching about the topic that obsesses me for past days (all huge crisis happen when I’m ill and locked at home so I have enough time to get well informed. About how bad things really are) – GREECE, I want to concentrate on something more beautiful. Food for the soul.

In one of the past Spiegel (German weekly political magazine), there is an interview with a lady called Swetlana Geier. Mrs Geier is 87. When she was 65, she stared translating Dostoevsky’s 5 master pieces, so called “5 Elephants”. Those new translations are apparently so fantastic that they won numerous prizes. A film about Mr. Geier just got released: “Die Frau mit 5 Elefanten”. The film is currently playing in Austrian cinemas. Here some incredible passages from the interview:

About different rhythms of life

She is talking about “crime and Punishment” which is written in a very fats rhythm, in presto. In the last paragraph of the book, a word is being repeated: “postepenny”, gradually. A slow word. She says: “Life goes gradually. If one hasn’t learned anything else after having read this book, this was enough. Violence is fast and sudden. Life goes gradually.”

About the physicality of translating (or any other work)

Her German teacher taught her to lift her nose while translating. “You don’t translate like a caterpillar eating its way through a leaf. You translate the sentence from a flight of a bird. It is about the whole.“ (Isn’t everything?)

About the language

She is explaining why she is dictating her translations and not writing them down: “Language doesn’t depend on paper. Language lives in the air and it lives from the air. Even that what has been written by some human being at some point – even “Faust” by Goethe or a Pushkin text – originated in imagination. This is why I don’t want to primarily see a new text, but to say it.”

About time and the divine consciousness

“”Suddenly” means that a realization is limited. You don’t know that behind you there is a big spider walking above your head. We know only that what we see, and that what we don’t see happens to us suddenly. It is a dimension of a mundane human being dependent on his senses. We know little, we hear little, we divine nothing. But there is a consciousness that has no “suddenly”, the divine consciousness. And it is incredibly interesting, that in “Crime and Punishment”, which talks about the limited perception of humans, Dostoevsky uses the word “suddenly” so often.”

4 year olds & truths of life

Last night, I had dinner at my friend’s house. We (Michelle, her daughter Ava (2) and her son Rex (4)) are eating salad and grilled chicken. At one point, Rex turns to me, holding the greasy chicken leg in front of his face which is totally smeared with brown sauce.

Rex: “Ana, do you have one baby or two?”

Ana: “I don’t have babies”

Rex: “Why?”

Ana: “Because I haven’t found the papa yet”

Michelle: “Rex, will we find a papa for Ana?”

Rex (in a very serious, deep tone): “You need a MAN.”

Little smart ass! (As his mum called him, bitte schön.)

Please, just let me be (a Woman)

Oh, I am so tired of making excuses! When I’m thin, I “must take care that I don’t become anorexic”. When I start gaining weight, I’m warned that my “dad’s family tends to be overweight” so I should be careful.

I worked as a manager in telecommunications business and my boyfriend was angry because I was “too concentrated on your career”.

I go to university in my trainers and I’m warned that I should take care “not to become one of those intellectuals who don’t wear make up and only own black clothes.”

Then I hear Alice Schwarzer say “you cannot fight for women’s rights and look girly”. So when I put my beloved dress on I’m scared I look “too much like a doll”.

When I read The Economist and Die Zeit and Spiegel, they say I’m boring. But then I have to feel guilty when once in a while I fetch Gala or Elle.

I have to think about how many men I had sex with. If that number is OK or not. Who cares?

I date a young man and they say “but he’s too young”. When he is muscular, he’s “primitive”. A business man has “not so much in common”. When he is an artist, then he “cannot give me any security”. And then the same people ask me why I’m alone!

When I wear make up, they wonder what I’m hiding. When I war none, they wonder why I don’t take care of myself.

When I show my intelligence I hear that “men don’t like clever women”. When I enjoy shopping with girls they say I “behave like a bimbo”.

When I feel great I hear “you scare men off”. When I feel shit it’s “but men like happy women”.

When I say I practice tai-chi sword, they say “oh you’re the kind of a woman that could kill a man.” When I say I also dance ballet, they ask me if I can do the split. Oh, please!

When I say I want to find the right man and marry him and have kids, they blame me for “clichés”. Because I didn’t yet find the right man and marry and have kids, they wonder “what’s wrong” with me.

When I say I don’t like going to clubs anymore, they say “oh, you got old”. When I had my fringe cut, I was blamed to “look too young”.

They say my breasts are too small, and then they bitch against plastic surgery. They show me porn with all those balloons and wonder why I feel bad because I have none.

When I offer to pay, I feel like a feminist. When I don’t, I feel like a whore.

I was asked in awe “why the hell do you want to do a PhD”? Why not - my both grandfathers had one?

I only see pictures of women with perfect bodies and then they say “but we like women who feel comfortable in their skin.”

When I get excited about politics, they look at me in surprise. Just as they do when I discuss Barangelina’s upcoming divorce.

And now, I have to feel bad about having written all of this. Someone might get something wrong. I’m so sorry.

Girls to Women

Three of us eating lunch. Just as we did all those years. Ten or so. I look at them, I look at the ladies around them and I realise “Hey, they are not girls anymore. We are not girls anymore. We are women.” Our faces are marked. So are our souls.

We used to speak about our latest sex escapades. Now, we speak about the kids, the married lovers and how it feels to get fired.

We used to drink Champagne. When did we switch to lemonade and coffee?

We used to say “Girls, let’s go shopping, I need a new dress for the party on Saturday”. Now we say: “Let’s go shopping, I need a new anti-wrinkle/anti-puffiness cream.”

We used to be loud and laugh and burst with energy. You don’t hear us now. Unless we want you to.

We used to fish condoms or reserve pairs of strings out of our bags and laugh about it loudly. Now it’s a dummy and we smile about it silently.

We used to wear those crazy high-heels. Stylish clothes. Our nails were perfectly done in beautiful colours, always shiny. Now we wear our nails short (but still shiny), our clothes are comfortable, our shoes practical.

But then….

Now, we sit here at peace, like three Buddhas. We are not nervous, hungry, unsatisfied, hysterical, insecure anymore. We are not scared. We know our worth. We’ve learned our lessons. We are fine. And we are aware of it.

little truths of life

My dad complaining against my new bangs (Stirnfransen/siske): Dad: “I preferred you without bangs. You looked more serious. People look more intelligent when you can see their forehead.” (God woman, you look like a kid now. Grow up finally!)

Me: “Yes, it’s really interesting how people react differently now that I have bangs…” (Yeah dad, but you should see men looking at me since my new hairstyle)

Dad (smiles): ”Yes, men don’t like intelligent women” (Forget it, they’ll keep on running away)

Me, wondering: “Shit, is he reading my mind?”

35

A strange panic Of

35

Sounds a lot

But

Without a reason.

This body is beautiful,

Healthy and young.

Many different things have been achieved,

There will be even more.

Enjoyed.

Cried.

Learned.

Created.

Finished.

Wonderful are the people around me,

A net

Made of candy cotton

But

Still strong.

Wonderful is the world

The sun, the sea, the wind,

Animals,

Strawberries and bananas.

Wonderful are the men

Big and strong

Full of desire.

There will be babies and books

And success and fun.

Just fill the heart

With love and happiness.

35 is a lot,

But also little.

35 is simply

Perfect.

Michael, we love you!

Michael Jackson is dead. This is officially an end of an era. End of what we have known as true superstars. One of the last of the truly great is gone. Welcome the era of products of market research departments. He was special. He was unbeatable. He was incredibly talented. In so many ways. He was a fantastic singer. He was a dancer like only Fred Astair was. (There are great dancers, but there are God-chosen dancers. Like Shiva - when they move, the world moves with them). He wrote songs that moved us will always move us. He created ground breaking videos which started a new art form. And he had the “it” – the substance, the presence, the aura, the charisma of the chosen person.

But it was the very same talent, and the sensibility that comes with it, that crashed him. When you do things with your heart, because you simply must do them, because you have been chosen to do them, you are a victim of your own destiny. A superstar like Madonna, who has built her fame and her career on hard work and strong will, has that very same rationality to protect her from the burdens of stardom. A star like Michael Jackson, to whom the glory happened because of his talents, because he was “chosen”, has no tools to fight the negative aspects of stardom.

And there are many. People tend to glorify the idea of being a superstar. You have it all: the money, the fame, the power. The stars will tell us it is not that simple, but the envy will not let us understand. Imagine the amount of energy and essence that just one concert in which you give your whole existence to tens of thousands of people will rob. (And then do it for 44 years.) Imagine trying to keep your inner self intact and trying to build a protective shield between you and the people who believe they have the right to own you and know every cell in you. Imagine always staying alert against people who want to steal a piece of your fortune. Imagine the pressure of always being under public eye, of always having to stay on the top, of never making a mistake, never disappointing all those millions of fans. Money and power is good, but you can keep the fame.

And that is exactly the only thing Michael Jackson had left at the end. The worst of the best. Bankrupted, humiliated, and mentally and physically frail, he only had this fame that wouldn’t have abandoned him, no matter what people accused him for and no matter what a freak he had turned into.

Yes, the freakiness. Jacko the Wacko. But the freakiness is just a part of what he was. He wouldn’t have been Michael Jackson, the unbeatable King of Pop, without the freakiness. If you stand on the stage since the age of four, glorified my masses but also mistreated by people who are closest to you; if you never had a childhood, and never had a person that was truly supporting you through all those incredible things happening with your life; and if you could afford it – well, you had to become a freak. Freakiness was his way of helping himself. An illusion of Neverland, his paradise in which he was safe and happy; an illusion of Batman and Superman, who were his best friends; an illusion that he was – and looked like – an ethereal being like Peter Pan. They were his crooks. And we loved him for them.

Yes, we loved the freak in Michael Jackson. Millions of girls of my generation fell in love with him for this childish, Peter Pan-esque flair that turned him into an androgynous and ageless being. When you dreamt of Michael Jackson at the age of 14, it felt safe, because there was nothing sexual about him. He was not a man. He was a boy. An angel, a cartoon hero, a deity. The love for him was not worldly. There was something pure and ethereal in Michael.

Speaking of which… yes, the unavoidable issue of child-molesting allegations. This absolutely does not matter. We know he was different and we know that in this freaky childishness, he must have approached those kids differently than you would expect a normal man of his age. But we also know that people are greedy and we know that those parents let their kids play with a freak. We will never know the truth about what was going on. Maybe it is better that way. Maybe not.

We will miss Michael Jackson. We will miss his energy, his talent, his moves and his movies. We will miss the freak that he was. Because he was the last of the true, God-made freaks. Welcome to the age of plastic stars with mediocre talents and nothing to give. Welcome to the substance-free era.

We better just BEAT IT!