New Year’s (V)ows and Delusions

So, I suppose that since it’s New Year’s Eve tonight it is sort of expected of me to write something about vigilant vows and rusty resolutions for 2013, awful mistakes and amazing adventures from the year that passed and amalgamate it all in some fancy, original anecdote that blows up like fireworks at the very end of the text. I’m supposed to be making dry-humoured jokes and puns about myself and about human kind in general – not disguising my contempt for all the things that are wrong in the world, but at the same time sounding hopeful at the prospect of a brighter future (nobody likes a pessimist on New Year’s).

That's some anecdote!

That’s some anecdote!

I ought to be making lists like Top Ten Events or contrast the best and the worst of 2012 in some kind of cavalcade – preferably with lots of photos – and insert quotations from famous people in the right places (two or three, not too many). And of course I had better mention the immensely funny thing that the world did not end ten days ago. I should come up with three to four great resolutions that mix irony and commitment in perfect blogger harmony, telling my readers how I intend to meet the New Year with a crooked grin, quick remarks and a firm determination to never give up (except where chocolate, overpriced dresses and The Lord of The Rings are involved).

New Year's (V)ows and Resolutions 03

As you may have guessed I will do no such thing. There are too many of those well-wishing, sugary-smiling wankers who keep claiming that “THIS year will be BETTER” – the emphasis becoming increasingly high-pitched and the speech getting more and more slurred with each year of depressing sameness.

New Year's (V)ows and Resolutions 02

I understand that I’m in grave danger of sounding bitter or wilfully pessimistic. The thing is: I used to be one of those wankers. I used to think that a new year meant a fresh start and a warm welcome into the future; that past mistakes could just be wiped out with a soft swish! and a light shrug of the shoulders. Hakuna Matata. But as a next New Year approaches, the vows from last year either seem retrograde and dull or fantastic and unattainable. And so we exchange the old resolutions with their shinier, better phrased twins, making sure they sound impressive but that there are loopholes. The loopholes will make it easier to excuse ourselves when we fall out of the pretty pattern we wove in with the fireworks at midnight; our champagne glasses the weaving pins raised to the exploding sky in salute; our friends all around us smiling at our happy conviction that this year…

Best fireworks ever

Best fireworks ever

Resolutions frequently turn out to be delusions. Vows quickly become Ow!’s. I think I’ll just not bother this year, as my resolutions tend to be full of resolve but lack solutions. Also, I think that a resolution sounds like something set in stone, like there is a mason in our minds who chisels all of our vows into rock. Mine would be a huge mountain worth of unfinished commitments and promises, and I guess that is the case for most of us. So rather than making futile resolutions that are tinged with pressure and with fear of not making it this year either, I’m going to limit my resolutions to this: I will spend 2013 laughing, crying, thinking, talking, feeling, imagining, dreaming, obsessing, procrastinating, kicking walls, rolling my eyes, rejoicing and despairing. In 2013 I will do what I did in 2012 and the year before that: I will simply, happily, be.




Ho ho ho

Oh, I assure you that Santa Claus is real. But whomever led you to believe he is good and kind provided you with the greatest lie he wishes all of us to base our myths of him upon. No, he is not good. He is magical, however, and that magic needs fuel.

Indeed, once every year old Saint Nick lives outside of time, travelling all over the world. I’m not so sure about a flying sleigh, but he gets around, stopping at every door. Or chimney, if you prefer. But he doesn’t bring gifts. He doesn’t bring anything. He reaps.

Christmas is his harvest time. It provides him with that fuel he needs. One endless night for one year of magic. One year of power. And his crops are the pain of unfulfilled promises. The hurt of shattered expectations, of broken dreams. The all-consuming despair that ushers in the final moments before the eternal end to bitter loneliness.

He feeds on our misery, thrives on it. Though ever more so than that, he takes sustenance from our lies. Yes, the lies we tell each other, speak to our children, smiles on our faces. The lies we willingly apply towards keeping our youngest and most in need of truth ‘innocent’. He collects the energies of this perverted practice of protecting our most ignorant, hoards it and uses it to keep dominion over his own little kingdom. His empire of elves.

Yes, elves. His slaves. But they are not magical. They were once just innocent children themselves. See, that whole thing about ‘he knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake’, that’s true. He knows that every good lie must hold a kernel of truth. He knows. He and his elves don’t make toys. They watch. They record and archive. Knowledge is power too and he doesn’t want anyone to have more than he does. And you know that bit about a lump of coal? Well, it doesn’t go down your stockings. He can’t have anyone figuring out what’s really going on, but the truth has a nasty way of surfacing. And he has a nasty way of dealing with it.

Some children truly believe. You figure they’re old enough and you tell them that Santa’s not real, that it’s been you getting them nice presents all those years. But they won’t have it. They believe. Maybe they saw him once, glimpsed him in a glitch. Maybe it’s just a gut feeling. But they know. And he knows that they know.

He gathers these children along with all that pain and all those lies, praising them and promising them the world. His elves hold the children down as he cuts out their hearts and replaces them with his coal. Their ears are snipped to mark them and he colours his clothes with their hot blood while they look on with dead eyes, ready to do the same to the next child.

Yes, Santa Claus is real. He comes by every year. He knows. When you are sleeping. When you’re awake. He knows.

Ho ho ho 01

Illustration by Suzan Becking

Hundred Waters – impression review

This is not so much a review as it is an impression.

 3voor12 is a Dutch internet-based music platform and they recently sponsored gigs by different bands during a music festival that featured up and coming bands in different venues all across my home town of Utrecht this past Saturday. One band inspired me to write.

Hundred Waters - impression review - 01.02

I find myself at a small stage room tucked away in a corner of the city centre’s shopping mall. The grey carpet, round bar with fixed stools and the curtained podium together hearken back to a 1950’s ad-firm lounge. Soundcheck proceeds noisily behind the curtain and my expectations have nothing to go on besides an emphatic “They’re really good,” given to me by my friend, whose opinion on music I trust wholeheartedly.

Hundred Waters - impression review - 03.04.05

The curtains open. Two women to my left, one man straight ahead and two men to my right. Crystal clear angelic voice; keyboard, flute and song that pulls at your heartstrings; masterful complementary drums that could easily stand alone; electric guitar, bass and synth flesh out rhythm and melody; electric guitar and effects add detail and complexity.

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One can’t help but recognize oneself in the look of the men onstage as they swoon, enthralled by the saccharine voices of their ensemble’s counterparts. Sometimes teetering on the brink of incoherence, the mercurial patterns of the music bring to mind an epic ride on a winged Imogen Heap in a swan dress across an amorphous mountain valley. Soft, sweet song builds into a rising crescendo before you’re assaulted by a harmonized cacophony that, rather than repels, acts to draw you inwards and upwards with the collaboration of sound to follow the direction the singers seem to be taking, their toes being all that’s left to connect them to the ground.

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This experience leads me to believe they need and deserve more widespread recognition. The first thing I say after their short, but very impressive, show was “What’s their name again?”.

It’s Hundred Waters.

I hadn’t heard of them before, but I will not forget and I hope to hear that name many, many times in the future.


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Photos by Dongwei Su twitter flickr