Still coughing like an eighty year old heavy smoker. Work. Tried to think. Failed. Only shreds I can catch, too thin are all thoughts. Light as a feather, drifting away. Soon enough I left my thoughts alone. Tried to read the news. Got bored soon enough. I am wondering and I am doing so for many years, how people can be interested in the drug addiction of some actress or the pregnancy of some princess. Let alone the result of soccer games or the stock exchange rates. I just don’t care and can’t even remember if it was the princess seen drunk or the access being pregnant. I just shrug my shoulders and that’s it. Sometimes I wish a long-enduring silence would come. The internet would just shut down, black screens wherever you would look. No TV would yell anywhere, not even a test pattern would remain present. In the midst of a sentence the radio program would be interrupted and silence would reign. Signs in front of factories would manifest their sudden closure as well as offices. A greater demand for silence would be the reason given to the gathering crowds. Perhaps for a few days people would come and look if anything changed, but then just realize that nothing changed at all. Grass will soon grow over all the streets, the gates, the bridges as well as the roofs. A princess would be someone from an old book. But soon even the books would be gone, just left on a bench or forgotten along a beach. In the beginning, here and then, some people would sit in front of a piano, playing Chopin or some Autumnal Etude but this wouldn’t last for long and the pianos themselves would lost their voice. Soon, some syllables would be missing and day after day, the words would sink more and more into the shadows and finally and forever, the men as well as the women would be quiet forever, just looking up into the sky, where sometimes clouds and some days none would be passing by, in a silent and long way, forever and ever.
When I left the house early in the morning, the grocer’s wife stood on a ladder trying to fix a big black spider made of unidentifiable material on the top of the house. The ladder, the spider and the grocer’s wife moving back and forth. At the end the grocer’s wife will win the fight. My house is the only one left without any Halloween decoration. No pumpkin grinning, no spider, no witches or dragon heads lurking around. And no thanks, I don’t even want to get a tiny, tiny grinning pumpkin, yes I am sure. Yeah, I am alright. Then I have to run as every day to catch the train into town. The train is full of people, none of them under eighteen. They are dressed as witches and fairies, a whole bunch of monsters, none of them I can identify sings loud and falsely, a mummy tries to get hold of its loosening bandages, a woman tries to fix a green blinking spider on her head, another person gets in, dressed up as a mushroom and I try to hide beyond the newspaper because one thing is to deny a grinning pumpkin at the front door but another thing is to get in a row with a slightly annoyed mummy or a smelly mushroom. The advantage of working on Saturdays: no one is there. Only the Everest of work but some things won’t change. I try a piece of pumpkin cake, I don’t try again. Ten minutes I sit in the front of Kaph, the sun shines in my face, my hands are getting warmer and the coffee is really, really excellent. And nearly as good it is to get warm fingertips from the stirring hot cup. At night, on duty, the girls and boys are dressed up as adults. Velvet gowns, short skirts, hight.heels, tops that are no tops at all. They don’t believe in witches or dragons, let alone mushrooms anymore, the believe in American Apparel, in T-Shirts with Beyoncé prints on them, fake tan and the power of extensions. The boys believe in the power of deodorant. Long are the following hours, you’re doing great I say and promise that they will alright by tomorrow. I lost hope many years ago they just would not touch the Gin or Vodka bottle again. When I am home, it’s 2 AM, two minutes later it’s one again. One hour later I get up, my flight leaves at 5.40AM, as ever I am already running late. Whatever happens, it does not happen here.
I wake up in the middle of the night. I am cold, colder than ice and snow. I search for a second pair of socks. I am shivering. When I wake up, it still dark and I am not cold anymore. Hot as a boiled potato is my head and my legs are weak as chewing-gum. The bathroom seems to turn around, dizzy I feel, tired and sick. But sick is no option at all for today, even when the world turns around faster when I dress myself. I try to drink a cup of awful healthy, herbal tea and then I have to run to catch the train to town. Being late is no option either for today. In the train no one reads anything, till a woman gets in who reads an invitation card to a communion, she folds the card cautiously as if alone the announcement would be something holy. The world spins faster and my head feels like a boiled potato shortly before bursting. But how awful that would be on the DART, very, very early in the morning. At work I start to sneeze and sneeze and sneeze, I sneeze as if the river Ganges would flood down my nose, but for the next hours sneezing is no option and so I look like a lemon trying not to look sour. I try to avoid as best as I can a look in the mirror, because not me would look back, but no one else as Rudolph the Red-Nosed reindeer. I drink liters of sage tea, I am sucking candy after candy, now smelling like a koala bear and cough as if I never stopped smoking. But coughing is no option today. I buy a fruit smoothie because at least one good thing, I can’t bring myself to eat anything, and so I drink a juice that tells me that only the very best fruit and kale and whatever else obscurities were used especially to produce this juice. We definitely live in an age of too much information. Six grapes shouts the sign of the juice but I can just cough back. At M&S I grab the wrong package of tissues, they smell of lavender and some else scents declared as floral. Now I smell like a very old-fashioned koala bear, probably from 1900, where no koala bear never ever went to the eucalyptus tree with preserving the good old English manners in form of scenting refreshing tissues. But now I have to run to catch the bus, I am on duty tonight and no, quitting is just no option at all. What ever happens, it does not happen here.
On the train to the city the woman next to me eats a cheese sandwich. The man on her left side, eats his fingernails. They both eat with great desire, till no cheese and no fingernails are left. Another woman reads a fantasy novel, at least that’s my guess. on the cover of the book a heroine with very long fingernails is depicted while fighting with a dragon. I read the newspaper as I do every morning. The news are no good news. I answer too many e-mails. Then I answer more e-mails, I make concepts of whom I am not sure if they will work out as I hope they do. I borrow more books. Just in case. I eat the most horrible stir fry vegetables I can remember. But maybe I forget things too quickly. I am jealous of all the good-looking beautiful women around me, they all look like fairies. I look like the thirteenth fairy not invited to the wedding. What a luck I don’t like weddings at all. I have an unpleasant meeting and more e-mails to answer. On the train back home a woman reads very intensely in a brochure from CLARINS. Maybe CLARINS has developed a formula for world-peace? A man with a red beard reads a Byron biography. He looks exactly as how I would imagine a Byron reader. After many years I read again Edmund Burke. At least it is nice to know that conservative thought, was not always this misanthropic and unpleasant affair of middle-aged men complaining about the burden of modern life, hating everything and everyone beside themselves. At the grocery store I buy six eggs, the grocer’s wife complains about the coming water taxes. “As a businesswoman” she starts her sentences and then goes on as if she were a professional mourner. You and your organic bag, she says with a bitter tone in her voice looking at the six eggs, and I quickly buy a few apples not to enrage her anger further. The grocer’s wife as an enemy, I truly can’t afford that. At home I realize that the milk is sour, Queen Cat lies upon the armchair and of course does not move a single centimeter. I sit on a chair and look at the rain. Whatever happens, it does not happen here.
Suddenly, without any warnings the animals got tired. It’s hard to tell, now so many years since then, if it was the deer, which fell asleep at first or was it the owl, who closed their eyes one morning and did not awake so far? It was not known around here that animals went to sleep so fast and for so long. Who knew that the cats, hunting in so many nights would just breathe deeply and sleep? Still there are people left, they are old too now, who claim that they remember very well when there were birds sitting on the branches of trees, singing from morning till night. And the birds are still there, the swallows, the sparrows, some pairs of turteltaubs, chaffinches and pigeons, they all sit in the chestnut tree just across the street, but are asleep, no wind, no storm, neither rain nor the sun can wake them up. A silent cloud lives above all of us. Some people, older than those who swear they once heard the birds sing, claim that the sheep, as well as the cows and the horses all had a voice of their own. Some very brave one, wanted to show up, making noises they think those animals made when they are awake. But they are called the fools anyway. It was always silent around here and the cows were never seen awake at all. Warm is their breath, but their eyes are closed, lengthways they stretch their legs and so do the horses, the goats, the dogs as well as the sheep. Deep asleep as the are. Seldom strangers come to our place, something awkward would be here in the air, they say but we laugh about them, of course we do. As if there would be any danger of them falling asleep as well. Or even worse the animals could wake up some day. But they do know nothing. Some visitors pay a fee at the lake, they want to see the fish, the cod and the salmon, shimmering like made of pure silver, the turtles, the seals, greyish and old, and deep asleep drifting on the surface of the water, sometimes quicker, sometimes slower, this must have something to do with the wind, twirling in circles, sleeping and sleeping. The visitors stand there full of fascination but I don’t mind the fish-not the tourists. The tourists I disguise. But what can one do? Not much. Some people tried to wake the animals up, kicked them or throw a stone, played music to them or what else people try who have no clue at all. One fool, who is dead for many years now, kissed a frog. Of course nothing happened, the frog just snored louder. Should something happen? Nothing ever happens, some took the butterflies from the fences a while ago, to store them in their houses. But I think that’s a pity, I liked them at most, their wings were moving up and down, softly and gently, they looked wake, but were asleep as all animals here. No one knows when all of this happened and pointless it is to search for some definite reason. They just fell asleep, maybe the deer in the deep and dark forest at first and forever.
I never had a sweet tooth for Max Frisch. His writing seemed too artificial to me but not in a very artistic way. Too tearful the men and without any personal character the women he created. Stiller, a true everybody, a person you neither like or dislike. Biography as possibility as if ever much possibilities exist for a life and not compromises and tiredness, burnt milk and empty shelves would reign more powerful as any invention of Gantenbein. His drama pieces I didn’t like much either, political ambitious but in a way only Swiss architects might be able to be. Andorra, a childish, a simple play, simple moral, accurately fitting for generations of school theatre clubs. Vain his life as his pieces. But maybe I am just unjust and unable to excuse his marriage with Ingeborg Bachmann, whose literature I love so much. But as obviously anyone who reads Frisch, a few years ago I drove from New York to Montauk, still the book of him I like at least as much as I like the silly goose Emma Bovary,windy was the afternoon and for a long time I just looked and forgot the book in my handbag and wanted to stay for longer, for much longer, but I had to drive back soon, too soon. Then for many years my fingers didn’t stop at the books with Frisch on the back, but went in many other directions. Nothing I missed, no sentence came in my mind I wanted to breath or chew or look at, till last week, when I got up in the library quite sudden, ran along the shelves, searching till I found the blue volume. Max Frisch, Diaries, 1966-1971. Quite annoyed I became of myself, that it was Max Frisch who came first in my mind when thinking about the topic and even more annoyed when I realized that exactly his Questionnaire would fit better than anything else I thought of for my seminar. He of all people. And when I browsed through the pages I came across his description of meeting Bert Brecht first in Zurich and later in East-Berlin, his memoirs of traveling in the Soviet-Union and his quite ironic capability of transforming life into literature. But odd it remains that those come to us most often, we presume we need at least but maybe it is much simpler and in an alien land most impossible constellations are the most common ones, as the biography of Homo Faber is no longer a game but a simple string of neither good nor bad coincidences.
If it ever has been true that diamonds or handbags are a girl’s best friend it is true not any longer. Even if the obvious magazines still discuss the question of this year’s favorite Kelly Bag color, the reality has proven them far different. The true accessoire of our days is the water-bottle and no I don’t mean their luxurious sister, the coconut water or bottles with the name Fiji water on it. Whatever Fiji might do good to this water, the water I am speaking of is filled between Tipperary and Limerick and sold in every TESCO or SUPERVALU up and down the country. And obviously, the rain which pours down here quite often makes everyone very thirsty. Because otherwise how would you explain that nearly every student, who comes to my class brings with him a water bottle and the background sound of every hour is a sizzling and zazzling of opened and closed bottles. No class passes by without a bottle falling down. It must be some kind of Murray’s law for seminars, without no water in front of you, you are not even there and from the scientific view of things, that claims so coldly that human beings are made of 80 Percent water this might be true. So whenever a text is read or a question will be discussed a deep gulp or a shy sip is urgently needed. But the water bottle follows you everywhere, in the office it’s exactly the same, and there it’s not water alone, but a trillion of coffee cups secretly rule the floors with iron fists. I swear there are colleagues among us, I recognize by the sound of their slurping and that’s not a nice thing to do. No meeting can begin till a parade of most ugly mugs stands in front of the participants and those who could escape the coffee black as tar, get offered in the next second of course a bottle of water. But if you dare to say, no thanks, you will get a lecture, not a lecture but a threat where not drinking enough water comes closes to deny the sweetness of kitten babies. And when you finally escape from being lectured and your desk and seeks relief in a movie, you only need to wait a few seconds and then they all will come, those who carry Coke cups as big as a gallon, other people arrive with SLUSH an awkward mixture of ice and whatever chemicals and of course, the water bottle already is opened on my left and right. A happy, a joyful companion this simple bottle must be and so there is a slurping and gulping that you never forget, wherever you are, the water bottle is already there.