A poem: Never no more

Never no more
Never no more

It was just one slap.

Didn’t even hurt that much.

Shuddered your walls though.

 

It was just the one slap

As if to correct an unruly child.

(taking candy without asking!)

One of those e-d-u-c-a-t-i-o-n-a-l ones.

with the certainty of more.

(If you persist, that is.)

But  you are no kid   no more.

And  you don’t take no shite.

Not from anyone.

Not anymore.

 

Not from your ex.

(His shite you put up with for so long, so very long)

 

Not from your internet suitors.

(Virtual dating shite, that is.)

And not from him no more,

not anymore.

 

It was the weakest of pats.

The kind you gave your kids once.

(Long time, long time ago.)

That kind he gave you now.

(Then and now, then and now.)

But you’re no kid no more,

not anymore.

 

It barely brushed your cheek.

but it iced your soul.

A  chilled chilling silence spreading

(to the back seats).

Your children, subdued

“If you are going to be like that,”

he says,

“you better get out!.”

 

And you do.

For you’re no kid no more,

not anymore.

 

He is the first man,

and he won’t be the last.

But you won’t take no shite no more,

not anymore,

never no more.

 

A state of mind 1: show time

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Zombie stories have been crawling out of the woodwork with impunity this last decade or so(yeah, I know cheap line). The appearance of the Walking Dead series shows that the zombie apocalypse has even intruded into the mainstream mindset. I do not know what makes zombies so popular nowadays and your guess is a good as mine, but perhaps it is all about the economy. It usually is..No doubt someone in the future will be far more able to define the reasons why.

There are many interesting sides to this type of end to civilization as we know it.  When our neighbors turning into unreasonable flesh eating creatures we can simple shoot  them down without any remorse.  Shoot them down? My, we can bash their heads in, burn them at the stake, impale them and do anything else we can think of. Things that in any other context would pass as crimes against humanity, but then zombies are not humans.. well not any more. Which is great because you can do all kinds of things you always wanted to do to that pesky annoying neighbor: Homo homini lupus est.. But this post will be not about wolves.

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The shuffling dead. They are very easy to recognize. And when they are like this we can show no remorse. These came crawling out of the burned coach on the left. Did they decide to return to their seats after it burned out? Odd.
Anyway.. what would the guys have done before they became undead? Does not look like they were from the same background. Undeadness is the great equalizer.. every zombie is the same..
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Rick in an episode of the Walking Dead sees a former colleague shuffling towards him. Lucky he used to be some kind of asshole… so…
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have a nice day, buster.
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And in Stake Land the protagonist Martin discovers this sleeping beauty in a house devoid of life because everyone inside is either dead or…
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…undead.
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Sleeping beauty does not turn int a rabid dog like creature unlike many others of her kind.. instead she approaches the hero as a curious innocent child. She is not evil yet.
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A touching moment almost when she reaches out for Martin but actually her hand goes to the dagger that he is clutching. As if..
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she senses what is about to happen?
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Once you are undead there is no mercy for you. Rick in the Walking Dead has to shoot this child zombie dressed in pajamas and a robe. Now go to sleep, already! See the cuddly bear fly away. Interestingly.. when played backward slowly one sees that the splash of blood is already on the ground. So.., no they did not shoot her in the head really. It is just a movie..
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In Stake Land the destruction of the undead is almost a casual affair. When the protagonists enter this rest stop along the road they pass a group of men who are busy tying a female vampire to this contraption. She is burned, almost like a witch was in days gone by.
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The next day, when the two heroes drive away they pass in front of the rest stop and we see this girl who sang in the bar the night previously. She is young, pretty and pregnant (as we later discover)… in the background to the left is the burned corpse of female vampire  An obvious glaring contrast..And behind the scared remains what appears to be the United Sates flag, much more visible in the daylight.
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Car meets undead. In Stake Land the vampires resemble zombies. In almost all movies, games and books cars are a humans best friend against the undead. If they get them to work that is. In Stake Land zombies do not seem to die as easily by being driven over as in other tales. This walking dead just scrambled to her feet after being run over by the heroes. They are giving it another try.If you do not succeed the first time.. try and try again.
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Fire works great to get rid of pesky undead regardless of how strong they are. It is also a bit dangerous for actors who play them. So you won’t see many Molotov cocktails being used in movies.
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I would say.. missed.. but those actors would have thought.. drat, that was close. Molotov cocktails are great crowd control weapons. Burn baby, burn.
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Tools of all kinds are used against the kind of undead that feature in those early zombie movies. They work well against the kind that are slow and alone. The faster ones that come in groups are much better dealt with with firearms.. or flamethrowers.. or by just hiding and pray that they have forgotten about you.
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The Night of the Living Dead has a kind of dark humor for at the end the hero of the movie gets shot by these vigilantes because they think he is a zombie. In the end titling you see vague pictures in the background that show what they do with the bodies. It is a kind of reminiscent of nazi practices as you see the people using meat-hooks to drag the bodies to stack them high to burn them. The corpse of the hero is among them.

Being undead means you are the great enemy. These stories allow us to clearly define who is the enemy and kill it with any means available. We do not have to feel remorse to kill something that is already dead and is hunting us and the job is a simple straight forward task. Kill, kill,  kill. No more complex society.. just you, it and a weapon. Perhaps that is what we miss. And that is it for part one and in part two we will talk a bit more about the guys you see in the last picture in the next post about A state of mind..

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Zombie movies often contain only a few touching moments like this one. In the first resident evil movie Alice goes through some strong emotional moments when she thinks Rain is about to die and turn zombie. It is curious as in the whole movie there are actually no moments of bonding between them. Later in the movie when Rain does turn zombie and Alice has to shoot her, Alice breaks down and cries. Yet this behavior might actually be very plausible for people who are under a lot of stress.

Signs of Life: affluence

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“I used to get off the train here.”  She nodded her head towards the platform. She was sitting on one of the folding chairs that were fixed to the side of the train wagon. She had asked to sit down, because she said she was  wobbly in the morning. I could imagine she was as she was a very tall and slender girl walking on heels that made her even frailer. Her ankles seemed almost too thin to handle the stress her body put on them. .

“Oh.. not anymore? It did not go well?” Her companion said. She was a much smaller and more broader girl in build. She had long black hair that fell over her shoulders, glasses with a thick frame and a pink knitted cap. She was standing and holding to a pole to keep her steady against the movement of the train.

“I did finish the internship, but I was glad to leave.. it wasn’t a fun job.”

“Because of the patients?”

“More the work environment. I didn’t get any proper guidance. The school just told me to go there and I had to join in without any proper supervision or introduction. They were too busy because they were too short on people. “

“Must have been hard then.”

“It was, but mostly because they seldom told me what to expect. I think they couldn’t even because anything could happen at any time of the day. No day is the same in psychiatric healthcare…”

“I bet.”

“..Some could be nice at one moment and cruel the next. Depressive silent at one time and screaming their heads off at another. ”

“It is probably much easier where I work.. Elderly people are much easier to handle.”

“Yeah, unless they are demented. They can be as unpredictable as those inmates of the psychiatric hospital. Even to each other. There was once this fight we had to intervene. One wanted to escape all the time and one day she was screaming from a window. One of the others came and hit her. They started to fight. Slapping and scratching each other. A catfight.. “ She laughed.

“Sad though. Did nobody intervene?”

“We did, but it took some time before we knew what was going on because we just don’t have enough people to do all the work. Like we don’t even have time to help them shower or bathe every day.. Some even get angry at that. Calling us names. Hitting us.”

“Oh my.”

“Yeah, awful. I wish it was otherwise.”

“It is the same with us.. not enough people to get everything done. Like they fired a lot of the kitchen staff to save costs. Now people get basic meals..Very basic.” She seemed to shuddered at the thought.

“It is the same where I work now. I work with homeless people. There is just enough money for a basic meal. We focus on keeping the rooms clean, but they need new paint and a lot needs to be fixed or replaced. The television broke down the other week, so we invent games or other activities for them to do so they can socialize a bit.”

“You’ll have to do whatever you can do.”

The tall girl nodded.

“So any idea where you are going to work when you finished school?”

“I think I’ll try working with mentally disabled people. They can be selfish and nasty, but they are also very sweet at the time and funny. And I seem to get along with them well. And what about you?”

“I haven’t yet decided for myself. There is a need everywhere, but never enough money. ”

For some time they were silent. The movement of the train shaking us about.  Everyone retreated into their own shells, thinking their own thoughts or listening to their own music with their private headsets in the morning train that would transfer them from the reality of home to the reality of work or school.

“I wonder if there has been a time when it was different.” I wanted to remark.

Was there a time when there were enough people and there was enough money for everyone. I couldn’t recall such a time and I was twice their age.  It is strange considering we have now seven billion people on this planet and this is probably the most affluent period in the history of the world. Yet it seems that after the eighties everything went downhill?

Perhaps I should ask my mother?

She would need that help soon enough.

A life in addictions: tobacco

Smoking is one addiction I certainly can’t blame my parents for. My family did and does not smoke and I can’t recall anyone ever smoking in the wider circle of our family, except for my granddad on my father’s side that is.. I remember a picture of him sitting in a easy chair holding a cigar in his right hand. One day, when I was still very young, someone told him smoking was bad for his health. He probably nodded, put down his cigar and never smoked again.

Some years ago I was going through my grandfather’s legacy and  I found  some old black and white pictures from family parties from the fifties. The tables had white coffee cups filled with cigarettes. Like snacks you could take one if you felt like it. I think these didn’t have filters either so the rooms on those pictures were definitely cloudy. Smoking was a social activity like any other and everyone seemed to be happy and joyful. The spectre of cancer had not yet risen.

I did smoke because of my family background, I learned to smoke when I was in my early twenties when I started to study history at the University of Amsterdam. One day I was paging through a series of role play books in the American Book Center in Amsterdam,  when someone approached me and asked me if I liked those books.  I said yes and he introduced me to a role playing group.

People of this group also played in another group  and via that group they knew other people who roleplayed too.  It turned out there were a lot of people about my age who studied at the university and played role play games. Roleplaying soon became just one of the activities that we did: we went to movies, hung out in parks chatting till the sun came up or sat at the home of a good friend of mine playing risk and watching MTV and TMF. In those days those channels still broadcasted mostly music clips. I think they stopped doing that nowadays. At least whenever I happen to turn on the television and switch to MTV the channel is filled with anything but music clips.

It  this group of people that started to smoke. Actually some started to smoke as an extension of smoking weed. Weed was introduced by someone who made a  weed cake. People liked it, but making a cake like that took too long  and  therefore we bought weed to mix with tobacco. Later on hashish was also introduced. It also was cut up and mixed with tobacco.

Soft drugs are however expensive, so the habit developed to smoke tobacco in between the weed and hashish. And that is how smoking as a habit developed. After about one and a half year of doing soft drugs, everyone suddenly stopped. It was over like that. Just like you flipped a switch.

Smoking tobacco however did not stop that sudden, but lingered on for a long time. Some friends never smoked (I have to grant them that), some smoked for a very short time, others smoked for a very long time.. till their forties.

Here is a wicked formula that you might recognize: Alcohol and smoking are intertwined. Smoking increases the desire for drinking, drinking increase the urge to smoke.. Add salt to the equation and you might not find it strange that some bars hand out free salted peanuts. Salt creates thirst which is quenched with alcohol, alcohol creates the desire to smoke.

Still, over the years, one person after the other stopped smoking.  Two friends kept on smoking however, until one suffered a collapsed lung a few years back and the other got diabetes. They both were urged by their doctors to stop smoking because of health reasons: they had to.

Nowadays smokers in my country have been marginalised. I am currently in France where people are still allowed to smoke in cafes and restaurants. In the Netherlands this is forbidden. This policy started some years ago when a law was passed to protect employees from working in conditions where customers smoked. Everyone knew this law was an just an excuse to prohibit smoking. It is interesting how anti-smoking we have become. Interesting because we are far less strict regarding that other big drug: alcohol. Interesting also because smoking mostly affects the smoker, but alcohol has a tendency to affect others as well. But alcohol is too big to be touched.

People found a way around the law though:  if you did not have employees, the law did not apply. Hence bars develop where the owner ran the bar without employees.  However, this was just a stay of execution: this year the law was amended. Now smoking is just prohibited in any public place. It won’t surprise me that the next law will prohibit smoking altogether except for smoking in your own home.

I sometimes see the odd collection of smokers huddling together at the entrance to the office building I work in. If they don’t get some smoke related disease they stand a fair chance to catch a cold, for they have no shelter against the weather.The smoker has become the modern day pariah.

Poor smokers, I sometimes think, until I sit on a terras in France having my lunch spoiled by some French smoker blowing wafts of tobacco in my direction. Then I appreciate it that someone banned smoking from our public spaces.

.

A life in addictions: caffeine

One of the saddest things I see in the morning when I travel to my work are teenagers slurping cans of soda. Their day has just started and already they are drinking unhealthy stuff.  A large percentages of those cans are energy drinks: Red Bull and the like.. I always associated Red Bull with lots of caffeine and sugar, and to be fair to them I looked it up. According to the wikipedia an average can of Red Bull contains less caffeine than a cup of coffee, but twice as much as a coke has. It contains the same amount of sugar as coke.

It  is not as bad as I expected but it doesn’t sound healthy either. Somehow seeing people drinking these things in the morning when they might drink something more healthier makes me feel sad.

What do I drink on a day?

I took stock. I usually drink milk and orange juice. But when I am on my work I drink mostly coffee. In fact a lot of coffee. Perhaps as much as eight cups on a day, maybe even more and not much else besides. It is important to note that the coffee on my work is rumored to be stronger than average. Maybe that is a joke, but it feels like the coffee is stronger than normal. It kind of burns in my stomach.

Whatever the truth of this, it is obviously that I am drinking too much coffee.  I read that drinking more that 400 ml of coffee might be considered unhealthy. And since one cup contains something like 80 to 95 ml, five coffee should be the maximum. I drink however perhaps ten on a day.

How did this come about?

Caffeine, the defining part of coffee is a drug. “It is the world’s most widely consumed psychoactive drug, but unlike many other psychoactive substances, it is legal and unregulated in nearly all parts of the world.”(wikipedia)

It is a drug and we are addicted to it and companies like Red Bull are making the most of it by supplying, mostly young, people with a drug to make a buck. Is it that harsh? It is.

It must be interesting to work for a company that basically panders a drug. Do their employees and stockholders worry? Do they ever? They just say: we make the stuff, we don’t force people to drink it. Or: if we did not make it, someone else would.

Sounds familiar?

One can say: where there is a demand there will be someone unscrupulous enough to supply it.

But where did this demand come from?

Did we not create a demand out of nowhere?

To do that you start as young as possible. You slip in coffee into soda drinks and other,  like in Coca Cola or Red Bull for instance. Then you make it look cool to drink it. It is interesting to note that you see this with kids. They refuse to drink things that their peer group do not like and vice versa: they drink that what others find cool.

If I look back at my youth, I can’t recall when I started to drink coffee. I do know we drank Coca Cola long before I drank coffee. Does coke lead to coffee?

I really don’t know.

But once you are used to it, it’s not that easy to get rid off. I am trying now, sometimes drinking only tea and water. It is easier to not drink it when you don’t have it available.

Perhaps that is where you have to start.

Just throw it away.

That is what I did. Now let’s see if that works?

 

James Bond: drink zero and be a hero.
James Bond: drink zero and be a hero.

 

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Men in fast cars..
red-bull-spends-30-to-40-percent-of-its-revenue-on-marketing-and-its-paid-off
..get girls like this. At least for a brief moment.

 

 

 

 

Also here: http://meritcoba.weebly.com/1/post/2013/07/a-life-in-addictions-caffeine.html

 

 

Flash Fiction: Family Tradition

When they walked back from their parents grave, Jane confronted her older brother James about the yearly family dinner.
“Now mother has passed away, can we stop eating boiled liver?”
“You want to dishonor the memories of our parents?”  James replied.
“Mother ate it because father ate it..”
“Mother always respected father.”
“But father ate it because mother cooked it. “
“Father was always respectful to mother.”
“But it tastes horrible!” Jane choked..
“I know.”
One day I’ll be the head of the family, Jane thought bitterly.
When they reached the exit, Johnny, James eldest son, ran up to them
“Dad! Guess what’s for dinner! Grandma would be so proud of us!