Tuesday, June 30, 2009

the better half

By the light of the half-moon. Bjärred, Sweden. (2009).

Right Brain
A deafening thunderstorm crashes through complete with pouring rain, flashes of lightning, and ground-shaking thunder. I lay on my couch half listening to nature's display, half thinking of people that have come and gone. Where are they now? What are they doing? Will I ever see them again? Before long, I fall two-halves asleep.

When I awaken, the weather has cleared, though the air still weighs heavy with summer humidity. There's colour potential in the clouds; I instinctively head for the coast.

Left Brain
By the light of the half-moon, a line on the horizon bisects the tranquil, maritime scene at Bjärred in two, making one a mirror image of the other. In calendar context, perhaps this is only fitting. June 30 going on July 1, here we stand at the median divide of 2009, with six months gone and a half dozen more to go.

Oh, how time flies. I check my watch, then take out my camera and get to work.

A lonely boat. Bjärred, Sweden. (2009).

Saturday, June 27, 2009

six ways from sunday: boomerang

Swirls and spirals. Lund, Sweden. (2009).

Outback or otherwise, these swirling songlines seldom unfurl exactly as expected. It's just life, I guess. Yet, as the saying goes, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step ... so get up, walkabout, and walk on.

Let (it) go and who knows? Maybe somehow, someway, it comes spiraling back and things will be even better than they were before.

Six Ways from Sunday is felix's daily starfish and waffles' resident music column. Your mix tape with a theme, clicking on the active links below lead you to full-length, third-party, tracks of the day's musical selections.

As always, happy listening.

1. It's A Good Life If You Don't Weaken :: The Tragically Hip :: In Violet Light (2002). Discontentment with the present begets futile escape into the past. Gordon Downie, the Hip's madly poetic frontman, delivers a storyline in parallel(?) with the critically acclaimed picture novella of the same name by Canadian cartoonist Seth. "When the colour of the night / And all the smoke for one life / Gives way to shaky movements, improvisational skills / A forest of whispering speakers / Let's swear that we will."

2. Brighter Hell :: The Watchmen :: Silent Radar (1998). It's darkest before dawn. From arguably the best of the prairie bands. "Fade out, turn me up, wrap your mind around me / For all and everyone to see / What would you say falling from a building? / So far so free."

3. Runnin' :: The Pharcyde :: Labcabincalifornia (1995). Trust yourself, you can handle it. "Can't keep runnin' away ... Can't keep runnin' away ..."

4. We Took Pelham :: Deadly Avenger :: Deep Red (2003). Rocky, is that you? An epic remix of a vaguely familiar theme.

5. Come Into My World :: Kylie Minogue :: Fever (2002). Just a cool video from the Australian dance-pop diva. How many Kylie's do you see at the end of the clip? "And I've been such a long time waiting / For someone I can call my own / I've been chasing the life I'm dreaming / Now I'm home."

6. Smooth Criminal :: Michael Jackson :: Bad (1987). The biggest and best of his generation. Rest in peace, MJ. "You've been hit by / You've been struck by / A smooth criminal .../ Aaoh!"

Thursday, June 25, 2009

here and now

On the phone. Båstad, Sweden. (2009).

According to physics, the arrow of time consists of just two components: the past and the future. The present doesn't exist. By the time we even think of the present, it's already in the past ... or so goes the theory.

This line of thinking is actually consistent with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that in a closed system, energy will spontaneously flow from being concentrated in one place to becoming dispersed, randomized, and spread out. In other words, over time and without some sort of intervention, what's in order tends to fall into disorder ... and what's already known (the past) is replaced by the unknown (the future).

There is no in-between. There is no present. Except, well, for one thing: we all know that there is. Science may not have an answer for the here and now, but I know that it exists.

Maybe the present simply represents the intervention against the universe's inevitable slide toward disorder. Maybe "intervention" isn't even the right word.

Call it making happy memories. Call it living life.

Looking into the distance. Hovs Hallar, Sweden. (2009).

In the fishing village of Torekov, a large boulder of a rock sits at the edge of the beach. Years of weather and erosion have etched on the granite(?) face an image of the mythical Princess Thora, after whom the village is named. Look closely and you'll see it.

"Do you see her?" Jonna asks.

I don't, at least not initially. I do, however, see a moose.

"I see a moose," I reply.

"A moose?!" Jonna shakes her head before patiently describing what she sees ... the outline of Princess Thora's face, the nose, the chin, the hair worn like how Jonna is wearing hers ...

I see it now. I see what Jonna sees. (I also still see the moose, but that's another story).

Sometimes I'm ridiculously slow in seeing the things right in front of me. I wish it weren't so. I really wish it weren't so.

Centre court. Båstad, Sweden. (2009).

We're in the coastal city of Båstad, Jonna's hometown. It's June 21, the longest day of the year. I suppose if one is going to have a perfect day, this would be the day to have it. Make the feeling last.

So. Båstad. There's sunshine, blue skies, sea views, sea breezes, beaches, cliffs, mountains (in Skåne!), ice cream, Italian drives, tennis matches, walking, hiking, more walking, old streets, new architecture, funny statues, friends, family, and Jonna.

I see the effort she's put in to provide me with a glimpse of the world she's from and, for this, I feel incredibly privileged. I'm thankful for her effort. I am thankful, for her.

Bathhouse. Båstad, Sweden. (2009).

It's nighttime now. We're on the train, which is hurtling south along the coast toward home. Jonna's curled up in the window seat, sleepy. Her hands are warm, uncharacteristically warmer than mine. I kiss her on the forehead. I close my eyes.

Three weeks ago, when I wrote about starfishing expeditions and spiriting away happy endings, I never really foresaw this. But here we are. Physics tries to tell me that this moment, the present, can't possibly exist. But it does. I see it. I feel it. And I'm happier now than I have been for a very long time.

I don't want this train ride to end. A delay, a suspension in time, anything ... please! Am I being greedy for wanting more? I'm not ready for all of this to become booked in the past. I'm not ready for a future chapter to begin. I want the here. I want the now.

Self-portrait. Båstad, Sweden. (2009).

So happens, there are no delays, no suspensions in time. On cruelly ironic cue, the faceless voice over the loudspeaker calls our stop.

"Nästa station, Lund."

Physics goes in for the win.

Bleary-eyed, Jonna asks me if I want to continue on to Malmö ... or maybe all the way to Helsingør.

I smile. If she only knew.

On second thought, maybe she already does.

We head out into the extended June twilight, under the stars.

Perfect day. Happy memories.

Still, it would be nice if there were more.

Friday, June 19, 2009

a midsummer night's dream

A midsummer night's dream. Lomma, Sweden. (2009). A 60-second exposure, the above photo was taken at 11:15pm, long after everyone else had left the beach.

On the night before Swedish midsummer, we seek the sea at the eleventh hour. While city lights twinkle in the distance, the sky's last magenta glimmers defiantly against the darkness of midnight. We sit in the sand and listen to the waves.

It's beautiful.

This is beautiful.

Friday, June 05, 2009

spirit level

Black shadows. Revolutionary art. Le Musée d'Art Moderne et d'Art Contemporain in Nice, France. (2008).

Splitting headaches devolve my early June into a series of long, dark corridors ... all of which seem to be a little off-kilter, at that. Blame it on the rain. Or maybe age. Either way, it wears, and for a moment I can't help but wonder if this is how it ends, an anti-climactic fade of what's largely been an indescribable stay.

From the newsroom: I defended my Master's thesis without incident on Tuesday, thereby fulfilling the official objective of my being overseas. I suppose this should be a reason for celebration - and don't get me wrong, I am pleased - but I suspect most of you knew all along that another paper on the wall was never really what this starfishin' expedition was about in the first place.

Still, was this all a win? I'd say it was a win. But like in mountaineering, getting to the top versus staying there are very different things, and despite best efforts, I'll be descending from the rarefied air soon enough. Too soon, maybe, but pages inevitably turn. And life goes on.

Reversing the deluge of goodbyes at semester's end, Jonna came home from Guatemala last week. We go for gelato. This makes me happy, but it takes my insensitive self not 10 minutes before I blurt the most unfair question of them all.

"How was Guatemala?"

She gives an answer, but of course no words can accurately convey her spectrum of experiences ... the people she's met, the places she's seen. I think to myself that Jonna's me in approximately six weeks.

Then, it hits me. Six weeks. Though there's little time left, I'm still not finished here yet ... and with one last gasp to spirit an even happier ending to this thing, the starfishing expedition continues on.