Truman Capote & the Influences of Good Literature

Well, I should be in bed soon as it’s been a long day, trying to make a smooth transition back at work. As some meek excuse of a reward, I treated myself to dinner out (meaning, I was too lazy too cook for myself so late in the evening…). Contrary to popular belief, living in southern Spain does actually require artificial heating at times in winter, and nothing better than to dine in a cosy restaurant with a real fireplace to tantalise you while you devour a delicious fillet of beef in teriyaki sauce (for the curious, please visit Restaurante Mesón del Museo in the Orange Square of Marbella, it’s tucked away in the corner near the old sign naming the square after General Franco)…

Being of a solitary nature, I’m not one to require company while eating out, usually as long as I have a good book to read or one to make notes in. My partner for the evening in this case was Truman Capote. It is undeniable that good reading can be so inspiring to write. Capote’s rich descriptions of place and character will be seeping into my mind while I sleep and hopefully provide a further enrichment to my creativity (anybody notice a particular theme here, a potentially nagging repetition…?).

Spending your days in front of a computer browsing through websites is not conducive to deep and meaningful exercise of the mind. In a lot of cases, it can block the mind from accessing the more vivid corners of a personal library, and reduce one’s ability to concentrate or absorb what goes on around us. Remember what our parents whined about when television took over our childhood? Of course, you will say, there is so much information out there that we can access, and I don’t deny this… but how deeply are we reading into it? How much skimming are we doing, knowing there are so many things we can look at and so quickly? We have become slaves to multi-tasking, multi-browsing, multi-tying-ourselves-into-knots-and-getting-stressed because some things just aren’t fast enough anymore, thus negating our ability to enjoy a more sedate, contemplative lifestyle.

All I’ll say to this is, go read a book…


Waltzing into the New Year

I’m not one to celebrate New Year’s Eve as enthusiastically as most people… I have come to leave plans to the last minute, often not knowing if I will be lounging around at somebody’s house party, at a restaurant paying exhorbitant amounts just to have an average meal and get a goodie bag that’s wasted in 5 minutes throwing streamers at one another across the table, or elbowing my way through a drunken multitude at the town hall square watching everyone who dares fumble with their 12 lucky grapes as is tradition in Spain. I gave up trying this years ago… just as I have never been convinced about New Year’s Resolutions – I seem to be proactive instead, doing something rather than saying I will. This year, for example, I moved into a new apartment. A subtle ‘new year, new life’ change I seem to enact every December/January. In the five years I have been aware of this ‘habit’, only one change has let me down, but I have been able to rectify it with only a little damage to my ego and renewed faith in my abilities.

This New Year’s Eve will stay in my memory as Lionel Richie providing a classic pop soundtrack for an excursion to the airport with a friend to collect a mutual acquaintance. Something quite random for a night like this, but much more inspiring to me than watching people bump into each other in confined spaces with loud music and a smoky atmosphere that do nobody’s ears or throat any good. The roads were practically deserted at 22:30 (always great when trying to make up for running late, knowing you’ll still be waiting for ages while they’re tied up at baggage claims), and the airport itself was lacking in its usual hectic humdrum of people coming and going. And strangely there were more dogs than usual…

So now, welcome to 2007. In my part of southern Spain it is a bright and clear one… complimented by my now customary viewing of the New Year’s Concert in Vienna, this year directed (as in several occasions previously) by the Indian-born Zubin Mehta. New Year’s has to be my favourite day of the year – nothing beats the quiet outside, knowing most people are still sleeping off hangovers or just quietly taking advantage of the day off, and most families will go out for a stroll later in the day, just like they do on Sundays. Where I live it is usually a sunny start to the year. I actually fail to remember when it rained on such a day…

In numerology, this year adds up to 9, which for some cultures is a number signifying completion, the end of one thing and the beginning of another, intelligence, or supreme power, to name a few examples. I hope that what it holds in store for each one of us is improved health, happiness, love and mutual respect. Should we be surprised with negative moments, I hope that we are strong enough to turn these events around and become more self-aware. We’re not always able to see why these things happen to us at the time they are playing out, but sooner or later another piece of our personal puzzle falls into place.
Before I go, just a few messages:
For those I have struggled with in the past year and broken ties with, I bid thee farewell and good luck in your life. Obviously our paths were meant to cross for a short and troublesome time, but I’ll take new knowledge out of what has passed between us. Hopefully I won’t stumble over the same stones anymore.
For the new friends I have made this year, welcome to my life and thanks for letting me step into your space.
For those of you who continue to enrich my life with your company, your friendship and those unique moments we share – thank you. I look forward to more of the same in the coming years.

And so with that I leave you now while the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra charges up the day with the vibrant Radetzky March.
Feliz Año Nuevo.