Monday, 13 August 2018

Review: Last Chance to See by Douglas Adams

Last Chance to SeeLast Chance to See by Douglas Adams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I was a big fan of Douglas Adams already, still I have to say that upon reading this book my respect and admiration for him, as an author but even more still as a human being, has greatly increased. In this book he gives a touching account of travels in which he and his zoologist friend travelled the world in search of some of its rarest animal species. An at times entertaining, at times heartbreaking, account of the impact of human society on the fast dwindling wildlife diversity of planet Earth.

If you've ever wondered why you should bother caring about whether or not some obscure species of lemur in the rainforest of Madagascar lives or dies, or what the consequences of the destruction of its and many other species' habitats might be, then read this book. Read it, and weep.

“We are not an endangered species ourselves yet, but this is not for lack of trying.”
― Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See


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Sunday, 5 August 2018

In my dream I was lost in the woods



I had a dream, and in my dream I was lost in the woods. I came upon a gathering of trolls, and I was scared, 'cause who knows what creatures with such tails might do to me? But I came upon their washbasin, and it couldn't have been cleaned in years, it was all overgrown with moss. So I cleaned it, I cleaned till it shone, because even though lost in the woods, I wanted so badly still do do a good job. And I hissed at the trolls, and threatened to piss on the trolls, and they left me alone. And although my hair had turned grey, I found my way home in the end.

I had a dream, and in my dream I could fly. My wings were green and beautiful and I soared over mountains and trees. I came upon a buzzard, and we played for a good long while. Chasing each other in that circling way, diving headlong but never hitting the ground. And I wanted to stay, I wanted so badly to stay, but I knew that I had to come home. So I said, come with me, and in the end maybe he did.

I had a dream, and in my dream I met my own death. It was silent and fast, and truer than experience. And I was just the same and the world was just the same, except I was no longer a part of it. My touch wasn't felt, my voice wasn't heard, and my feet left no tracks on the ground. And I screamed and I screamed, and I groped and I reached, but remained a ghost and I wished so hard for the warmth of a body again. But in my heart I knew that I might never come home again.

I had a dream, and I woke from my dream, and I found that I was alive.

Love and dreams,
Winterdragon

Sunday, 15 July 2018

The lovely air

Go out, my friend, and breathe the lovely air
Recall that you are free, awake! Awake
Your senses to the world, let pleasure shake
Your body as the wind blows through your hair

Indulge in your desires, and be aware:
To live in shame would be a huge mistake
If you make sure to give more than you take
There’ll be enough for all of us to share

Don’t let yourself believe the world is fair
Yet stand behind the choices that you make
You have to act as if your soul’s at stake
Or else become a slave to your despair

Seek to create much more than you destroy
Your flesh is not a trap; it’s there for joy!


Time for yet another sonnet, evidently. I blame the mountains this time, shoving words into my head. Sure, there's quite a bit of conscious crafting involved, but at least part of it is external inspiration. Divine or mundane; to me it's complex enough to qualify as a mystery.

Love and creation,
Winterdragon

Saturday, 14 July 2018

A fond return

His Dark Materials (His Dark Materials, #1-3)His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I first read these books at the very formative age of 14. I read them for the 3rd time at 28 years of age, and yes! They still qualify as my favourite books, by far. It was a joy to realise, in the half a lifetime which has passed since I first read them, just how profoundly this story has affected my very way of being. And again I found myself just as sucked into its characters, its cosmos, and above all its ideas.

Let this quote stand for the compelling ideal it conveys: "[H]elp everyone [...] to learn, and understand about themselves and each other, and the way everything works, and by showing them how to be kind instead of cruel, and patient instead of hasty, and cheerful instead of surly, and above all: how to keep their minds open and free and curious."

This is a story which goes way beyond fantasy escapism. It conveys deep and important truths about growing up; not merely in the transition from child to adult, but in how to become and remain human. I'd recommend everyone to read these books, or have them read aloud for them. It really is that good.


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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

A wandering mind

When I say I have a wandering mind I mean that my mind goes off on hiking trips for days. Spontaneously, ill-advised, and often through uncharted territory. And it certainly doesn't tend to look where it's going. My mind is prone to getting lost. Forgetting compass and boots at home, and ending up walking in circles within a cloud with increasingly damp feet.

When I say I have a wandering mind I mean it likes to go on adventures. Like joining an imaginary fellowship to destroy an evil trinket in a faraway volcano. My mind has built colonies on the Moon and travelled between galaxies. It has travelled through time just to check out what the weather was like on Antarctica a couple of hundred million years ago. And it likes to travel forward far enough that humanity has changed into an entirely different sort of being.

When I say I have a wandering mind I mean I have a wondering mind. As in "I wonder what would happen if I jumped off that cliff over there?" or "I wonder if the person lying next to me here in bed is secretly out to kill me?". Sometimes I wish it was more prone to conviction than questioning.

When I say I have a wandering mind, sometimes I mean I have a dancing mind. When the inner turmoil is drowned out by music and imaginary dance routines of impossible complexity.

When I say I have a wandering mind, I mean I have a poetic mind. A mind that collects words and phrases it happens across like interesting seashells on a beach, keeping them rattling around for hours, days or years until they fall into place in a verse or a story. My mind likes to stride to rhythms iambic or trocheeic, and sometimes roaming freely.

So when I say I have a wandering mind, I don't mean it in a literal sense. I mean it in a literary sense.

Love and wanderlust,
Winterdragon

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Scaling inner mountains

Moving to a new place is a pretty effective self-check. This tendency to take on the same social role almost independent of which group one is in is a very strong force, but I've been making efforts to counteract it. Not that I've been trying to pose as someone I'm not, but rather the opposite. For most of my life I've had a habit of hiding behind a facade of shyness. Fear of rejection paradoxically leading me to reject myself, before anyone has a chance to get the impression that I'm a person with thoughts who actually have things to say.

Because I do have thoughts, and fairly often manage to come up with things with which to contribute to discussions. Lifetime habits die hard, however, and there are a number of obstacles to overcome. For example:
  • My tendency to immediately shut up if someone interrupts me, and then spend the rest of the conversation sulking in the conviction that clearly nobody is interested in what I have to say. This is just a habit that needs breaking, I suppose, and I have become better at reclaiming the word, even if it takes waving my arms in frustration and right-out telling people to shut up at times.
  • Fear of estrangement or ridicule for voicing an unpopular opinion. This one I still stick to unless someone outright asks for my opinion, or someone keeps saying exceptionally stupid or provoking things. I guess it's cowardly of me, and probably unhealthy to some degree, but I've been estranged from too many groups because of my supposedly radical opinions that I'd rather lay low with some parts of me than risk complete loneliness. I'm slowly learning to open up more in the company of friends who I trust won't abandon me, but with new people? Not so much.
  • Conversations moving so darn fast. Quite often I do think of something interesting to add to the discussion, but before I've managed to get a word in edgewise, the conversation has moved on so well past the topic that what would have been a witty comment or an amusing anecdote or a fascinating question has become misplaced, passé or obsolete. Seriously, how do people manage to keep up? I take mental notes on things I could have said, and find that at best maybe one thing in four gets said. Although if the conversation topic is something I know a lot about or am ridiculously enthusiastic about, the odds are of course a bit better.
On the other hand, I find myself doing pretty cool things such as (at least sometimes) actually correcting people who misgender me, patiently explaining the difference between gender identity and sexual orientation (without compromising my integrity all that much), and even telling people off for making sexist remarks above my head or even to my face. Not too eloquently, perhaps, but promptly and irritatedly. And I've talked to my boss about things I've found uncomfortable instead of internalising rage that proved to be justified. So I guess at least in some respects I've leveled up the skill of standing my own ground.

Plus, I've been working almost full-time (both hours and physical level of activity being far beyond what I'm used to) for over a month now, without having had a single nervous breakdown. I've had bad feelings, sure, but I've allowed them to possess me and before very long they've passed on their merry way. And the biggest thing of all: I've ever so slowly started to make friends with solitude again. That's a thing that used to be the most natural thing in the world for me, but which abandoned me completely when bad things happened a few years ago. It's a little early to dance a jig, but I have a distinct feeling that long-time missing parts of me are beginning to fall back into place.

All in all, it's doing me a lot of good to be here. I'm also reminded of how sorely I've missed travels long enough to make myself another home, which is why I'm ecstatic about getting to work here in the summer as well. Social difficulties be damned, I really do feel like I belong here.

If nothing else, mountain peak-climbs do a hell of a lot
to boost the self-confidence and general joy of life.


Love and mountains yet to climb,
Winterdragon

Monday, 7 May 2018

For the dark to have its way

Tonight is not a night for happy endings
Tonight is for the dark to have its way
Tonight I think I finally will end things
I have to go before the sky turns grey

I’ve walked this road before, I know its bendings
I’ve had my highs, and now I have to pay
My soles have worn so thin they’re mostly mendings
I’m sick of words, I have no more to say

Yet still I yearn to pierce the world’s pretendings
Perhaps I’ll find it in my heart to stay
I have to write my stories proper endings
I think I’ll make it through another day

And when the day is through I’ll trust the dark
To hold for me a space to light a spark


Poem written in collaboration with my subconscious. Woke up at an ungodly hour with a few of these lines rattling around in my head, rhyming and in meter and all. Then spent half a sleepless night finishing the thing. I don't think I've managed to shape an entire sonnet in my head before, but I guess there's a first time for everything. So, yeah. Apparently I've started writing sonnets in my sleep. I guess it might be time to send help.

Love and dark,
Winterdragon

Saturday, 14 April 2018

All is well

This view greets me after work every morning.
I get to go skiing for miles and miles...
... amidst MOUNTAINS

Just an update to show that I'm alive and well. So, so well. I'm positively thriving. Work is psysically exhausting but I hardly have to use my brain at all. It is a very welcome change from far too many years of the other way around. Working night shifts suits me just fine; I have no trouble sleeping during the day, and the general lower pace of activity during the dark hours is soothing for my easily-overwhelmed psyche. Also, going out to shovel snow and being met by a blazing rideau of aurora... lesser sights have moved me to tears.

I've pretty much settled into things by now. Work is tiring, but not more than I can handle, and now that I'm having a few free days I'm taking the opportunity to ski, read, write, hang out with people, and just breathe the amazing air. All in all being here is doing wonders for my sanity. Avoiding the internet as best as I can contributes to this, so if you don't mind I'll go back to doing just that now. And if you do mind... well, sucks to be you.

Love and snow,
Winterdragon

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The mountains are calling, and I must go

Sometimes dreams descend upon you rather unexpectedly. Here I was set on trying to find part-time work as a teacher while investing myself in an undoubtedly unhealthy amount of hobbies and creative projects. Then a couple of days ago, more or less out of the blue, I got offered a job at a ski resort in one of the most beautiful places on Earth. What can I do but drop everything and travel way up North?

Keep my promises and let this opportunity pass on by, obviously. But seeing as my dearest ones all encouraged me to go and forgave the broken promises in advance: here I am. Chasing a dream through my mother's footsteps, that my heart had nearly given up on. A dream of snow, and mountains, and possibly even inner peace.

So here we go again with the adventures. I am on a journey towards the distance, but in a way I am really going home.


What's that stir, so blatant in our sallying hearts?
What's that urge, that lifted up our longing eyes?
What's that ring, echoing from the leaden skies?
What's that augur, resounding from the lyre's strings?

Love and adventure,
Winterdragon

Friday, 9 March 2018

The missing parts of me

I found the missing parts of me
Inside the landscape of my dream
Far be it from me to forget
That me and all the Earth is one
So through this world I will go on
While Sun and Moon will rise and set
Inside the landscape of my dream
I found the missing parts of me


What does it take to be good enough?

Is it so strange that I find myself asking that question today, of all days? International Women's Day, smash-the-patriarchy day, and on top of it all I have been out of work for an entire week now. There are so many things I ought to be doing. Applying for more jobs, catching up on housework, replying to e-mails, texts and facebook-messages, being more ambitious about participating in manifestations, partying all night, seizing the fucking day...

And what am I doing? Sleeping a hell of a lot, mostly. Seriously, I could enter a sleeping-contest against my cat with a chance of winning right now. My body sure seems to be needing it after all the stress and whatnot. Also reading books. Apparently I've read 25 books so far this year. That's an insane pace even by my standards, and considering the fact that I use reading as a means of stress-reduction, this ought to be a sign of something.

Also skiing. Winter came at last, and the sodden, half-melted mass of white is a pretty sorry excuse for snow, but it is enough to finally go skiing. And so I've done. Slowly, with a blissful grin on my face, creating a poem (such as the one above) or two as I go along.

And you know what? Spending some time in re-generation mode is so goddamned good enough. Don't you dare guilt-trip me, or anyone, for taking care of themselves at the cost of productivity. Pfah. I'm busy as fuck producing happiness and forgiveness and other essentials.

This Not Giving A Fuck-thing is coming along pretty well. With time for really allowing myself to feel whatever my body harbours, and for tracing every fear to its origin, and not least with friends encouraging me to do so, a monumental change in my psyche is falling into place. It could even be that inner peace is up on the horizon.

Love and inner peace,
Winterdragon