Wednesday, 6 July 2016

9.2: German waterways part two, second time around..

Sitno Fiorina >>161<<

Travemunde, an old furniture/handmade jewelry/fish salad serving cafe by the waterfront. I was invited to a picnic, but the weather is perfect for a bit of melancholy introspection, so am hiding from my shipmates in the corner of an establishment that feels like the same one every time. I always find the nerdy French-like old-chairs and wooden tables and old posters on the walls places. I can see the shippies passing, wind flailing around their coats and hair. People not sure how to dress: for the moments of bright sunlight or drizzly gloom. Everything feels kind of a little bit bad on days like this. My body, the sky, my financial status, talking to G, my feet which hurt if I want to buy new shoes, calling Gran who wants me back, dad who isn't picking up the phone because he is worried it will be bad news, the fact my mum discovered Instagram and I miss her, oddly enough, my job, the fact I don't have a single pen to write the postcards...

But no. I need to feel bad some days, some hours, I order myself to feel bad. Bognor has to have his bad poetry while seaguls chicks shit on him. There has to be something wrong, otherwise I'm missing something. I prefer if it's the inner, the bullshit things. Not the Real things.

In truth I took 320 pics of gangway (AFTER I deleted all of the ones I didn't like), people are nice to me, even SLSB for some strange reason. I bought the cool fedora and nerdy wild sunglases for 4eur, and will borrow a pen to write the retro postcards to the General, while I drink a bucket of white coffee and cherry crumble pie with whipped cream, which I ordered IN GERMAN. Adorable shanson music is playing on the radio in several languages and the people sitting at the next table are eating salad with potatoes cooked/baked in aluminum foil. I am so much the Traveling Auntie Max it's not even funny. The melancholie is just there because I washed the General's T-shirt and now it no longer smells like him. Bognor has been doing his best to skid over it several times, just so that it would smell anything but the ship's laundrette. I put the fedova over him and told him to shut up. I'm contemplating buying a thin notebook to write letters to DOo in, or would that be too weird?... Ye, it would be kinda weird. And there's your answer. :D

Ah, so that's why when I think I took over 300 pics there's always only like 200 on the wall: SLSB chooses on his own which he will print or not. Okay. Not a problem. I think they are too many as it is. You get people who stop, hug, smile and pose happily, only to later inform you they never buy them anyway. Or you get people shooing you away only to come later to complain the pictures are never good. No, you think? 'I'm not photogenic.' Oh, really, did you just decide that? Fine. Whatever.

I was right - it WAS a bad day. People I know broke up and I missed supper because I was talking to a woman whose father died when she was on a cruise just like this one a year ago. She returned to find him in a coma and then she had to make a decision to pull the plug. That has been plagueing her soul since. We talked about painting yourself into a corner with guilt: you are desperate for forgiveness of the one person who is no longer around to offer any absolution. Personally I don't believe in forgiveness, but in her case I don't believe in guilt either. I think it's stupid to make the loved ones make such decisions, though it is probably a form of closure, like funerals. I also don't think her father would want her one emotion to come to her mind when speaking or thinking of him to be guilt. It's not my issue to solve, though. Looks like he was a huge chunk of her existance anyway, much bigger than it should have been. Some dads are like that.

But a lot better and a much more appropriate subject was one I had with an older lady. She told me she has no family or anyone to give her things to, so when she sold her apartment and all her things to move to a smaller retirement unit, she took all her photos, burnt them, and scattered the ashes around the bushes in her garden. I told her I am a great denier of entropy and also believe that nothing that already exists can ever be lost, just transformed, so the blooms on those bushes will have old memories in their sap and after they die, grass or new flowers will bloom with those same fundamental carbon elements. I think I would do that to my books if I thought they were mortal. I'm reading a spectacular little novel on the subject, actually, one that had me from the first page and still has me completely, I can hardly cheat on it with another: Jean-Paul Didierlaurent's The Reader on the 6.27...

Went to the gym but my femoral biceps is so tense it felt like it was burning when I tried to run, so I just walked lenghtily and quickly. Will continue to eat bananas. Or fritte bananas. Same, right?

Sitno >>160<<

In Hamburg, after Kiel Kanal dragged like watching an ice cube melt on you plate. Fuuuuck, today was a long day. Everybody wanted the ship to dock already, but because it is full of Englishmen and we are in the middle of Germany, they made sure we are a couple of hours late. Everyone is going out tonight, a bit after midnight. In theory, that does sound fun. Dancing, drinking, laughing, flirting with people you will never even ask their name... In reality, all I want to do is drink my gin tonic minus the gin, pretend I'm a smoker and a poet, write letters, edit pics and talk to G. I dyed my hair again, leaving the bathroom looking like I slaughtered a small Thai. I'll go to the quay just to stretch my legs, but I won't leave the ship to go to the red district. Too lazy. I'm getting up early tomorrow to go to Miniature Wonderland. And to the Concentration camp in the afternoon. How is that for a Saturday schedule? 

Sitno >>159<<

Spent the night trying to skype through a shitty connection, or google Ikea kitchens, sent an email to DOo and listened to music, until at three I finally forced myself to sleep some, only to get up again at seven. Offed to see the Miniatures, which was half nice half nasty: I am getting increasingly claustrophobic, or agoraphobic in my old age and after an hour of people pushing me, kids screaming and sweaty strangers breathing down my neck to move on, I didn't care much for the magnificent models anymore, and didn't even look at them at all, just took hundrets of pictures. I am not used to being a turist. Usually I photograph things after hours or just before the shows. No ambient music, and no sweating people. There should never be anything between a camera and the subject, only light. 

Tired and this fucking garbage of wifi is starting to irritate me enough to throw the fucking iPad though the fucking window. But then again I knew that hellshole of the concentration camp is going to freak me out.
I fucking hated it.
Hated it.
Not the camp, that shit was just stupid. I know what a camp is. I know that the Nazi party was still alive and prominent well into the sixties. I know that there have been plenty genocides since, some of them last week. I know that Germany thinks themselves a mighty place above the rest of the European nations all over again, which is history repeating itself and shitting itself laughing. I know why we do the things we do, why we are the the harbringers of horror.
Because we can.
Because we want to.
Because we like it.
Because history remembers the worst.

I spoke to nobody during the entirety of the fucking excursion. Fuck them all, I am not on their customer service mode today. I just cried and ground my teeth. The tour guide woman was cheerful and offered us a very warm welcome to the memorial site... 
I know. Fucking moron.
There was cheer and laughter and very clever coments and very stupid questions. Gruesome comments. Grotesque questions. Dumb, fucking fucking fucking dumb fucking people.
Oh, there was a brothel for the collaborators in the camp? How did they choose the women? What happened if they got pregnant? What happened to the children who were brought here? What happened to the old? What happened to the young?

They all fucking died you witless fucktard. They killed everybody. They took fucking notes watching them die and then they made their brothers bury them in the cess pits.

The worst parts were the prisoners' posessions: someone pencilled a drawing of their dog. Tiny, worn out photos of their wives and parents. Photos of them when they were young and happy and went together to a town photographer. Letters. Photos of them after they managed to survive being bombed by the Brits, screaming in the waves of a bloodthirsty ocean. That was a genius call on behalf of the Nazis, filling up the ships with POWs and then missinforming their own people. 

There was a beautiful young Slovenian woman, a librarian, arrested for being in the resistance. She survived, though, there's a shot of her as an old old lady, bringing the flowers to the commemoration ceremony. Many Slovenians here. I had no idea there were HUNDREDS of these camps. Hundreds.

If it was me, I would burn them all to the ground.
They do not deserve to be tourist locations with perfectly cut grass and some crazy sculptors going all out on making awful statues. 
The tourists do not deserve to see this and then talk about it on their fancy little tour busses. The likes me does not need to see it, does not deserve to walk through the same gate as those condemned. Can you imagine what it was like for my grandfather when they took his wife so that he would be kept in check? Can you imagine what it would be like if they took your spouse and sent them to a place where people died of starvation every day by the dozens? The likes of scum who built it do not give a shit, they would build another one tomorrow if the opportunity arose.
In fact that place was re-used as a prison in the seventies. Fucking brilliant. Tastefull and what not.

But there were no ghosts there today. I've never seen a site of genocide so peaceful. Like the beaches of Omaha are peaceful, and pleasant. And pretty. It was so wattered down, so many tiny souls long blown over by endless commemorations, politicians bullshitting, grandchildren demanding monetary compensations, Angela Merkel, prisoners, gift shops... Those ghosts are gone. Nobody who perished there is still there. I checked. Just rude, retarded turists. People who would not understand what horror is if somebody ... No. Doesn't matter.
The dumbest question, after all the really bad ones, is 'how did they ever move on from there? How did they continue living?'... Well, easily, really, madam, because the alternative would be letting their torturers have the last word. 

On a related subject, one of the ships in my fleet burnt down. I would laugh, but am too tired.

Sitno >>158<<

I actually felt sorry for SLSB today: I walked into the stuffy tiny lab to get the gallery keys and there he sat, small and worn out, trying to get the computer to work, trying to get the printing machine to work, trying to get the Land manager to answer his mails when can he go home. I am fairly certain by now that I will quit ahead of the end of my contract, because it is common practice around here to keep people as hostages, extending their contract without their consent to nine, ten months, refusing to pay their travel expenses... The General made the mistake of arguing with me on the subject. I was not in the mood. Though Bognor was unusually small today, and lazy, but a size of a fat buffalo, I was tired enough to weep by the time I finally got down the hangway and into the sleeping shopping mall, where enough wifi worked for me to see him. I told him: if I threaten to just walk away this minute, then yes, stop me, talk me out of it.. But if I say I am coming home fucking October, you say Finally!..

Those beautiful slender women on our ship, taken seriously, taken carefully... That's not me. That isn't the me that I kinda prouded myself on - though I am not saying I wouldn't want to give it a try. It's the rollerskate-ran-over little chicken shit that G fell in love with, though. It's just too weird that the men I like always seem to be such fucking realists and yet they get turned on by a deranged firecracker in an E cup. 

Sitno >>157<<

There are 438 steps on this ship
And my knees have saluted them all
I've actually found one uncharted before
One where my skirt has most of control
Oh boat, oh boat, oh life-saving boat
How uncomfy d'ye reckon ye get
It fits plus two hundret people inside
But I all I want now is to get wet.

I found a quiet spot in the officer's mess after hours, only to have a cheese-and-wine party come interrupt me. I don't mind. Sitting in the corner with Bognor on top of yourself kind of puts you in the same room with party people, but you are never quite, actually present. Besides, I already got my coctail dress on and my long red curly hair down and some silver around my wrists, so... I won't stand out any more than a small, recluse and melancholy poet in the corner of a public restaurant normally would.

No Bremen, no Bremen. It just isn't in the stars. No matter how lovely a day, no matter how pleasant it would have been to walk by the waterfront for an hour, no matter how well I prepare, there is always something in the way of me seeing Bremen. Today it was a life boat drill. First the captain got us all in the theatre and talked about the fleet ship that burnt down. Retarded accident, like always - while the auxiliary engines burned and melted all the cables, the power was obviously out, but guess what the water pumps run on... Yes. Electrical power. It took the crew eight hours, all the extinquishers and even the ice from the kitchens to cool down the melting chambers. Because of course you are going to make the pumps for putting the fire out of generators run on those same generators.
How do these things stay afloat I will never know. 

So, after the captain got tired of listening to his own voice, and mentioned that the next time there are some complaints, don't tell them to inspectors, come to him first (right), and got the microphone taken from him by the entertainment director, we were ordered to play the extras in the life boat testing. I was the first to run down and get a good seat. Was kind of hoping we will float around a little. Alas. That lasted until eleven or so, I got some food and then offed to check out the shoping mall and find a decent enough wifi for Skype. No such luck. We did the best we could for a few hours, then G finally went to sleep and I poked around the internet and spent my last two euros on quirky Primark (or something) sunglases. Went back, we had a dry version of a formal, breaking the lot up at half past nine instead of eleven. Not reachng target again. At least lately it's not being said it's my fault. 
I had a nice, decent dinner of salad and fruit salad, but now I am eating raw carrot sticks, wallnuts and ten different kinds of cheese, most of which are white, soft, mild and creamy. And very good. People have brought their own bottles of wine, but Larry left us some wine glasses, which is very classy. Universal ones. Expecting people here to know the difference between a red wine glass and white one would be pushing it. 

Sitno >>156<<

So the reason we're not making target this time is because dozens of customers complained their collections of photos cannot be completed, for there was no photographer on the gangway when they were exiting in Bremen. Practically everybody exited those three minutes that I ran down to get the spare set of batteries, or so they say. My flash didn't fire as often as I wanted it to for some reason and I panicked the batteries course has expired. Things fail all the time. I think I did the best that can be done by runnng down to get my spare set (SLSB spent five minutes reprimanding me, of course, how the agency demans flawless equipment, how I should have called him, how he always has a spare set in his pocket... (Yes, yes. All truths. All of it blemishless perfections.) As per usual, I found it wisest to keep perfectly quiet and so eventually his grave dissapointment and frustration of my inabilities wore off and he went back to work, fixing the printing machine which breaks down every day, editing the photos he managed to shoot out of focus.). Turns out it wasn't the batteries at all, it was that I in a hurry didn't connect the hotshoe between the flash and the camera just rightly. It was okay, but it wasn't 100%. Bottom line, I missed some people. All of which obviously only went out that day to have that particular gangway photo taken. 

Got fed up with having to wear a too large jacket, so managed to squeeze myself into a size ten, but then I had a cup of coffee and couldn't button it anymore. Looks good open, too. Now all I need is a smaller skirt and we're all set. Bye bye size 16 forever. Size 12, here I come. After tomorrow..

Celebrating the end of the cruise by drinking my Britvic tonic water, eating some expired old chocolates and getting some new books from the library. Found another old Bryson, Down Under. But mostly it's crime stuff, a read-once stuff. I miss good old fantasy fiction. Will write a letter to the author of the one I'm reading now, though, that shit's amazing.