Autumnal Stories

October 16, 2018

Color Poem for British Love


I visited my mother in her new apartment in Diest, Belgium. There is a coffee roasting facility in Diest and this is why it often smells of roasted coffee beans. It’s called "Stroobants Koffie." My mother doesn’t drink Stroobants coffee, she drinks another brand. In Alt-Tempelhof, in my neighbourhood in Berlin, it often smells of cookies being baked. The smells comes from the Keksfabrik Bahlsen. The Bahlsen company is known for its Leibniz butter cakes named after the philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. I remember that once my publisher offered me Leibniz butter cakes on a small plate when I visited him. I found their taste a bit dry. Where I grew up in Tienen, it always smelled of the local Zuikerfabriek - the sugar refinery where the Belgian sugar gets made out of beets. The smell was very penetrant and hard to describe, but it didn't smell good. 

Man on the phone sitting next to me in the airport:
"throw a little bit more....
yeah....
because he is a...?
I'm not looking for....
ja ja
ja but....
It's not every time, you see....
My last landing was a catastrophe,
I don't know why...
My last 100 ones were good
but this one...
no no but it's true...
It was my last flight
so I was less concentrated...
no no but it's true...
(Man puts his hand in front of his mouth and bows forward
so I can no longer hear him.)

"Shit is going to happen on the stairs," says the artist who makes videos on ghosts. A. tells me about "L'esprit de l'escalier", which is an English expression in French, inspired by a philosopher Diderot. "L'esprit de l'escalier" is when you think of the perfect reply too late - when you reach the bottom of the stairs. 

"His lips stayed silent." I read this sentence somewhere and it stayed with me. 

The photographer tells me he prefers "schattenlose Architektur" (shadeless architecture). He doesn't like when things fall apart. 

Next to me in the subway a man is reading a text in French. I glance sideways to see what he's reading. "Dans ma maison je mésure ma chance," it says. (At home I calculate my chances.) And: "Chantal doit prendre le métro. La le vrai combat commence." (Chantal has to take the subway. That's where the real fight starts.)

An elderly woman wearing a big pearl necklace and a bright red dress sits next to me in the train. She looks great and she's reading a book titled Women and Power. I look at her a bit more and try to find out if she's as powerful as her outfit suggest. But then I figure out she's not because she's also sitting in the second class compartment of the train. Later my friend C. says that a powerful person wouldn't be reading a book about power. 

A man is talking on the phone to his friend: "Obwohl es eine angespannt Phase ist, hörst du dich entspannt an." ("Although it is a tense phase, you sound relaxed.")

"There can be no histories of sweat, only stories," says the artist in the beautiful exhibition Shine On Me, curated by Catherine Nichols at the Dresdener Hygiene Museum. I'm still thinking that through. 

After seeing Shine On Me, I started reading the poetry by Ingeborg Bachmann. "Wenn ein Tag an den Küsten verdampft," so she writes in a poem about the sun. ("When a day evaporates on the shores...")  

A. gave me Sylvia Smith's Misadventures as a present. I think the book is the revelation of the year. Sylvia Smith, who worked most of her life as a typist or secretary, tells in a most dry matter-of-factness the most banal things of life. She starts with her family then to chronologically, from 1950 to 1995, write little stories about people she met in life. The stories have no pointe, are of no importance, and are not what you would call "funny" but I laugh a lot and it's a most entertaining read. Talking about her father, she writes: "A past boyfriend said of my father, 'I feel sorry for him living alone with two women.'"






I visited my mother in her new apartment in Diest, Belgium. There is a coffee roasting facility in Diest and this is why it often smells of roasted coffee beans. It’s called "Stroobants Koffie." My mother doesn’t drink Stroobants coffee, she drinks another brand. In Alt-Tempelhof, in my neighbourhood in Berlin, it often smells of cookies being baked. The smells comes from the Keksfabrik Bahlsen. The Bahlsen company is known for its Lei…
Color Poem for British Love


I visited my mother in her new apartment in Diest, Belgium. There is a coffee roasting facility in Diest and this is why it often smells of roasted coffee beans. It’s called "Stroobants Koffie." My mother doesn’t drink Stroobants coffee, she drinks another brand. In Alt-Tempelhof, in my neighbourhood in Berlin, it often smells of cookies being baked. The smells comes from the Keksfabrik Bahlsen. The Bahlsen company is known for its Leibniz butter cakes named after the philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. I remember that once my publisher offered me Leibniz butter cakes on a small plate when I visited him. I found their taste a bit dry. Where I grew up in Tienen, it always smelled of the local Zuikerfabriek - the sugar refinery where the Belgian sugar gets made out of beets. The smell was very penetrant and hard to describe, but it didn't smell good. 

Man on the phone sitting next to me in the airport:
"throw a little bit more....
yeah....
because he is a...?
I'm not looking for....
ja ja
ja but....
It's not every time, you see....
My last landing was a catastrophe,
I don't know why...
My last 100 ones were good
but this one...
no no but it's true...
It was my last flight
so I was less concentrated...
no no but it's true...
(Man puts his hand in front of his mouth and bows forward
so I can no longer hear him.)

"Shit is going to happen on the stairs," says the artist who makes videos on ghosts. A. tells me about "L'esprit de l'escalier", which is an English expression in French, inspired by a philosopher Diderot. "L'esprit de l'escalier" is when you think of the perfect reply too late - when you reach the bottom of the stairs. 

"His lips stayed silent." I read this sentence somewhere and it stayed with me. 

The photographer tells me he prefers "schattenlose Architektur" (shadeless architecture). He doesn't like when things fall apart. 

Next to me in the subway a man is reading a text in French. I glance sideways to see what he's reading. "Dans ma maison je mésure ma chance," it says. (At home I calculate my chances.) And: "Chantal doit prendre le métro. La le vrai combat commence." (Chantal has to take the subway. That's where the real fight starts.)

An elderly woman wearing a big pearl necklace and a bright red dress sits next to me in the train. She looks great and she's reading a book titled Women and Power. I look at her a bit more and try to find out if she's as powerful as her outfit suggest. But then I figure out she's not because she's also sitting in the second class compartment of the train. Later my friend C. says that a powerful person wouldn't be reading a book about power. 

A man is talking on the phone to his friend: "Obwohl es eine angespannt Phase ist, hörst du dich entspannt an." ("Although it is a tense phase, you sound relaxed.")

"There can be no histories of sweat, only stories," says the artist in the beautiful exhibition Shine On Me, curated by Catherine Nichols at the Dresdener Hygiene Museum. I'm still thinking that through. 

After seeing Shine On Me, I started reading the poetry by Ingeborg Bachmann. "Wenn ein Tag an den Küsten verdampft," so she writes in a poem about the sun. ("When a day evaporates on the shores...")  

A. gave me Sylvia Smith's Misadventures as a present. I think the book is the revelation of the year. Sylvia Smith, who worked most of her life as a typist or secretary, tells in a most dry matter-of-factness the most banal things of life. She starts with her family then to chronologically, from 1950 to 1995, write little stories about people she met in life. The stories have no pointe, are of no importance, and are not what you would call "funny" but I laugh a lot and it's a most entertaining read. Talking about her father, she writes: "A past boyfriend said of my father, 'I feel sorry for him living alone with two women.'"






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