Category Archives: children

On Beyond The Edge

On Beyond Zebra is a beautiful children’s book by the infamous Dr.Seuss. My second daughter Mahdee is reading it with me. Every letter invented as a continuation of our alphabet beyond the letter Z, she points at and excitedly exclaims:’wow, that letter is beautiful!’. We indulge in Dr. Seuss’ fantasy of ‘a List of Letters for People who Don’t stop at Z’. We marvel together at the Yuzz for Yuzz-a-ma-Tuzz, the Fuddle for Miss Fuddle-dee-Duddle and the Spazz for Spazzim.

Life has got the capacity to go on beyond the edge of the end of the alphabet. To me it seems to shift into another realm, surpassing common sense and exploring the whereabouts of unique sensability. I read back the ‘About’ page of this website. It talks about living in the present moment. Like we all do nowadays. I pledge to somehow differentiate from ‘something else’, my five senses, i.e. how to experience life solely based upon the impressions generated by the senses.

How can we experience life other then through our five senses? I am talking about experiencing life through the mind. Which ridiculously enough opposes mindfulness. More on that later in life. Experiencing life through the mind goes by applying filters. Filters that tell you how life should be, as opposed to how it presents itself in her naked form. Superego, religious paradimes, legislation, society and it’s set of rules and ethics; all are examples of filters. It’s all like taking a camera and viewing the world through a lens, manipulating the edges, the brightness and the sharpness-depth of what we are exposed to.

What does life look like beyond these manipulations? What does life look like beyond the controllable frames? Words fail to communicate. We can share in words what is known. We can’t get the unknown across, other then living and witnessing it together.

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The Impossibilities of a Luxurious Lifestyle


‘The only available time tomorrow for a massage is 4.15 pm’.’Hummm, that’s going to be difficult with the kids. What about the day after?’

‘At 10.15 am we have availability for a 60 minute massage’.

‘That’s perfect. My kids start surf classes at 10 am. I like to book the massage at 10.15 am’.

After processing the credit card payment by phone and a long intermezzo about booking the family baths at the hot springs for tomorrow with the kids, no clay experience because this isn’t available for kids and kids can’t hang around the ‘family–bath-hot-springs’ without supervision.

‘Right’.

‘Well all is done. Please make sure to arrive 30 minutes prior to your massage’.

‘Excuse me?’

‘Please make sure to arrive 30 minutes before the actual starting time of the massage’

‘That’s complicated. I will drop my kids at 10 am at the beach and then come to you’

‘If you are late it will reduce your massage time. Our massages are back to back’.

I just paid AUS$150 for a massage, the most expensive massage I ever booked, I think but I don’t say it.

‘You need to be 30 minutes early to fill out the necessary paperwork, get changed into a robe and make your way to the treatment rooms where you will be seated to wait untill you are being guided to your massage table’.

‘Could I maybe save some time by filling out the so called necessary paper work already tomorrow? Since I will be at your hot springs then with my kids. Small effort for me to drop by your reception shortly’.

‘Unfortunately, that’s not possible’.

Our conversation lasts the necessary amount of time it takes me to become familiar with the impossibilities of a luxurious life style. After I turn and shake my world a bit, my kids on Wednesday are going to be dropped off by me 45 min ahead of their surfing class at the milk bar. Where they will be picked up by the van of the East Coast Surf School. I like easy going people. So that Wednesday at 9.45 am sharp I enter the reception lounge of the spa area at the Hot Springs. The paperwork to be filled out consists of one A4 with seven questions about allergies, age and gender. By 9.50 am after having fulfilled my writing tasks, I am changed into my robe and escorted to the treatment rooms uphill. 

‘Would you like some tea? This is Hester. The two of you will be treated in about 15 minutes. Please make yourself comfortable’. Hester takes up a magazine and asks me one or two questions about where I am from. She glances through the glossy while talking to me. She’s from Melbourne, aged around 60, a summer house at the peninsula and trusted with a remarkable memory about Amsterdam, my home town, which she visited in 1977. Walking arm in arm with her husband, he was being propositioned by a girl at one of the streets where girls find themselves inappropriately dressed standing and wiggling their hips in red illuminated windows.

‘Melbourne must have changed a lot over the past twenty years?’

‘Oh well, since I am living in it, I don’t see the change. Aside from the grafitti that has gotten way out of hand. A pity that the streetview has been contaminated in such a way’.

‘Really? Just recently there was this article in the NY times about the extrordinairy graffitti in Australia and New Zealand’.

Shortly after I decide to rest my case and silently wait for my massage saviour to come rescue me.

Helen is being collected. Another woman that meanwhile had come into the relax room, is being collected. Finally Leia comes rushing in, accidentally smashing the door close behind her while apologizing for being a bit sweaty: ‘the hill is steep you know’. I like Leia although I think her demeanour is not very professional. She explains me some things about the ingredients in the oil that she is using. I tell her my skin is not prone on heavy scented creams and oils, essential or not. Obviously she forgets about this soon enough. The amount of very cold oil splashed on my skin without being warmed by her hands first, is quite excessive. The temperature in the massage room already being cooler then comfortable, most probably due to the fact that Leia herself is a bit overheated and let’s the aircon cool her down. I decide I don’t want her to get in a bad mood and keep my mouth shut. Bite your lip Reina, and endure. The massage itself literally doesn’t make a big impression. I think there’s no chance at all to improve the experience. I decide once more to keep my mouth shut. Leia finishes and asks me to wait for her to return so she can let me out. I wait, realizing my cloths are in the dressing room down hill. I wonder why I am left to wait. I think of my children who must probably be towards the end of their surf class by now. After several long minutes I step out of the massage room. Planning to visit the toilet but discarting the idea when I see four women waiting in line for 1 single toilet. I want to make my way out of here as soon as possible. And then I almost bump into Leia again who is hurrying with a large pile of towels on her arms through the corridor. She manages to set me up with a small little double folded card that says: treatment plan, while I apologize myself as polite as possible under the pretext of kids waiting for me to be picked up. ‘Don’t wash the oil off’, Leia concludes insistingly. But I can’t wait to wash the excessive amounts of oil off. I’ve got trouble finding my way back down hill to the changing rooms, paths being restricted by ropes preventing a free through way so that the non-privileged can’t trespass the more exclusive parts of the premises. With some assistance I make my way down and quickly into a shower to shortly afterwards pass by the reception, where I wait, hesitating a moment, not knowing what to do with my locker-wrist band, the girls behind the reception all engaged in phone conversations. When I am just about to hurry on, I am being asked in a generous tone: ‘How was it mam, did you enjoy your massage this morning?’
At the end of the day I read in my treatment plan: ‘discount on products applies, next recommended treatment: Morrocan Cocoon’. 

Smaller then I remember

In one of the two rooms up in the attic a folding camp bed was parked for me. The other room was scary. It was more of the real atticky part of the top floor in my parents house. It’s where my grandparents slept when they stayed over for the night. A fascinating orange and black tube containing brilliant cream that my grandfather used to comb through his hair in the mornings, made me cautiously sneek into that room. But if that marvellously intriguing object wasn’t laying around, and it hardly ever was since my grandparents peacefully lived at the other side of the country, I wouldn’t dear enter that real attic and happily sticked to my own better illuminated quarter. 

Every evening I’d align next to each other all my dolls and teddy bears, neatly tucking them in under the bed cover. Although the newly acquired barby dolls weren’t comfortable to share the bed with due to their edgy ligaments, they’d concurred themselves some precious space as well because I loved playing with them so much.

I sat on my knees next to the folding camp bed, cautious enough not to sit at either end of it after several collapses that got me, bed and everything on it, high up in the air. There was no place left for me under the neatly folded bed cover. Occupied as it was with all scattered pieces of emotion symbolized by playful doll faces and soft dark teddy bear eyes. 

We project our own set of habits and emotions onto the other. Actually this someone functions like a mirror. We think we see the other. But we only see what we know and that’s ourself. That’s us. We start with non complex single message emotions as featured by dolls and teddy bears and hug happily ever after with our first girl- and boyfriends, on and on with our partners, husband and wives. In fact we never stop hugging ourselves. If we do it right! 
Young at heart we familiarize with pure loveliness. As adolescents we get into more punky sets of emotions. Contrasting, complicated and intertwined, as unintelligible as we are ourselves. Growing older we start to assimilate personality traits and become more and more aware of complex sets of emotions. Our emotions as they are being triggered by a variety of cultural or natural expressions, are into exploring different layers of recognition through art, food, music, nature; touching beyond the skin. Still it’s in the other we see ourselves. It’s in the other we recognize our own mistakes, frustrations, loveliness and anger.

And this is exactly what happens to our dolls and teddy bears when we are kids. We project our own interior onto something outside of us. Representation, reflection, projection, you name it; what we see comes from deep down inside ourselves. As long as we’re not aware of the content inside of us, we project it outside. To make it clear, to visualize it before our own eyes. 

This little girl is arranging her emotions neatly side by side. Abundant as they are, there’s no place left – or no space yet – for her individual self; to lay down her own physical head on the pillow. 

During the same time this little girl starts giving her dolls names. In particular the beautiful big baby like doll with the eyes that open and close following the movements of the head. If you put her down, she’ll sleep. If you lift her up, her eyes spread wide open. The little girl is proud to own this big doll and at the same time she finds the big doll scary. Secretly and just a little bit she tells herself. Fact is that the plastic doll is hard headed and by far the largest member of her extended doll and teddy family. The name giving practice is pretty endless. This however is mainly due to the fact that every next morning she’s oblivious again of the names she’d came up with the preceding day. Until one day she remembers the big dolls name. It’s Victoria. The victorious and voluptuous plastic doll bears that name until today. 

How does a four year old girl know what victoria means? Has it been a way to concur the slight fear for her doll? Finally finding a suitable name, the one and only that lasted. Naming is the start of acquainting, of finding ways to get to know and eventually handle. In this case frightening and loving feelings at the same time. Victoria is overwhelming to the girl, is the victorious one to the girl and at the same time she loves the doll a great deal. Never in history Victoria was surpassed by another doll and until today Victoria lives on in the girls memory.

Somehow I managed to acquire a space in my bed night after night, surrounded by all my emotions, neatly tucked in next to me, well taken care of. And when they had silently fallen asleep I could rest my physical head next to them.