Charles Bukowski

Ikigai

This is something that has been troubling me my whole life. I know, I’m a bit old to not have it sorted out yet. Ah, well.

I’ve come across this neat little scheme a while ago. It struck an instant chord.

In my profile it says that I’m “living in order to learn to earn”. I realise what a luxury this is, most people are pushed into a direction, not necessarily ideal, by circumstances, early in life. But each day I am closer to the centre. Ikigai! Sounds like a war cry.

Let’s see what all I have tried so far:

Natural habitat and pose.

Yes, I excel at this too.

Smoke and coffee (even without a boat)? Tried it. Liked it for 20 years. Don’t like it any more.

Well, yes, but the system can do that alone just fine.

Well… not closing any doors.

No, no, this is mom’s thing. (She made these during her last visit out of the blue!)

No, really no, believe me.

This is more like it…

…while he told me to do it so long ago. And I don’t mean drinking.

But they don’t let me forget my natural calling here. I’ve come to the right country. Etruscans – my spirit animals.

Be as it may, the sanest meaning of life that I’ve heard recently comes paraphrased via C. G. Jung:

Our job in life is to become the person we are when we die.

Photo: a © signature mmm production

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The Source

We can all agree that every book is a source. There is nothing more precious one can give to the child as love of books and reading. I was lucky with that. But now I’ve also got the Source. She is awesome, she is in San Diego and she recently single-handedly restored my faith in humanity.

When I asked my friends and family for the titles of their favourite books as my birthday present, upon which I’ve compiled this INSANELY informative, quality and priceless booklist, she responded that she’d give me something even better. And she did – namely access to her online library. More than a thousand books. And as the list grew she did something even cuter, she told me she would search for the books from my list just because she had time. I replied that if this was meant by stalking, I’m all for it.

And so the next time I looked into her library, it had all three Jeds, for example, a Judy, a couple of Joans and whole lot of Jeanettes – only her Lighthousekeeping, which comes recommended by dear friend GG, was missing – and that’s just some of the J’s. There are authors of which I’ve never heard before writing looooong series of which I’ve never heard before. There are quirky and peculiar people’s favourites that have shaped them into what they have become, but what completely floored me was seeing that the Source had even provided all seven parts of The Witch of Grič (Grička vještica), which I didn’t even know was a series, in Croatian, no less.

As I was exploring a bit more, I opened an unassuming folder and found the missing Jeanette too. I knew this would be the first book of all that I would read, I just had the device wrong.

After the first friends gave me their favourites, before the Source, I visited what appears to be the only bookshop with used English books in Roma. I was a bit disappointed with not finding a single recommended title (I did find four others that I just HAD to buy, of course).

When I did some online research I realised that even should I wish to buy them new, the majority of titles were only available as e-books. Then my love reminded me how I wanted to have an e-reader even before we got together. This is true but as with all technical novelties I was very apprehensive (which reminds me how I recorded my mp3 cassette as soon as I first got internet access, yes, right out of the speakers to the tape, I didn’t trust the machine).

But now, considering all of the above, we agreed that it was time, and this is the result:

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My new book-KO-BOok with the first book I’m reading on it, Lighthousekeeping. Photo: MM

It even has a light to read in the dark.

For me it’s an incredible feeling: even before I actually started to read one, saving the books on the reader was like being a kid and playing with my books all over again, arranging them by alphabet, by colour, by size, except now I do it all by clicking. The first book I’m reading might be Jeanette (only proper since I wrote to her and all), but the first book I saved on it was by my dear friend Kara. She is my role-model in many ways, not only regarding her writing, also for her optimism, kindness and pure force. Now I have your fairy-tales to enjoy and compare them with my own tale.

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Times sure are a-changing: my old scrapbook with poems, quotes and stuff underneath the Kobo. Photo: MM

Thank you, the Source. You have allowed me to enjoy my reader immediately and fully. Thank you, parents, for giving me the environment in which it was natural for me to come out of the bathroom and announce that there would be snow on the mount Triglav after having read it in the newspaper when I was almost too little to speak (well, truth be told, there was a picture too). Thank you, amore, for guessing my wishes, every time. Thank you, GG, for the love in your thoughts, and thank you, Kara, for the love in your words (well, and thoughts). And thank you, everybody who have given me your favourite book. I just might read it next.

Remember – reading is a job never done. It is still done with the eyes first and the mind later, only the ink might have gone electronic.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

$$$$$$

By Charles Bukowski

 

I’ve always had trouble with money.

this one place I worked
everybody ate hot dogs
and potato chips
in the company cafeteria for
3 days before each
payday.
I wanted steaks,
I even went to see the manager
of the cafeteria and
demanded that he serve
steaks. he refused.

I’d forget payday.
I had a high rate of absenteeism and
payday would arrive and everybody would
start talking about
it.
“payday?” I’d say, “hell, is this
payday? I forgot to pick up my
last check…”

“stop the bullshit, man…”

“no, no, I mean it…”

I’d jump up and go down to payroll
and sure enough there’d be a
check and I’d come back and show it
to them. “Jesus Christ, I forgot all about
it…”

for some reason they’d get
angry. then the payroll clerk would come
around. I’d have two
checks. “Jesus,” I’d say, “two checks.”
and they were
angry.
some of them were working
two jobs.

the worst day
it was raining very hard,
I didn’t have a raincoat so
I put on a very old coat I hadn’t worn for
months and
I walked in a little late
while they were working.
I looked in the coat for some
cigarettes
and found a 5 dollar bill
in the side pocket:
“hey, look,” I said, “I just found a 5 dollar
bill I didn’t know I had, that’s
funny.”

“hey, man, knock off the
shit!”

“no, no, I’m serious, really, I remember
wearing this coat when
I got drunk at the
bars. I’ve been rolled too often,
I’ve got this fear… I take money out of
my wallet and hide it all
over me.”

“sit down and get to
work.”

I reached into an inside pocket:
“hey, look, here’s a TWENTY! God, here’s a
TWENTY I never knew I
had! I’m
RICH!”

“you’re not funny, son of
a bitch…”

“hey, my God, here’s ANOTHER
twenty! too much, too too
much… I knew I didn’t spend all that
money that night. I thought I’d been
rolled again…”

I kept searching the
coat. “hey! here’s a ten and
here’s a fiver! my God…”

“listen, I’m telling you to sit down
and shut up
…”

“my God, I’m RICH… I don’t even need
this job…”

“man, sit down…”

I found another ten after I sat down
but I didn’t say
anything.
I could feel waves of hatred and
I was confused,
they believed I had
plotted the whole thing
just to make them
feel bad. I didn’t want
to. people who live on hot dogs and
potato chips for
3 days before payday
feel bad
enough.

I sat down
leaned forward and
began to go to
work.

outside
it continued to
rain.

 

~from Love Is A Dog From Hell, 1977 Black Sparrow Press

___________________________________________________________

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T+I+M+V = Money is funny

How Fonzie found Bukowski

Bukowski, Charles, is the man on the badge that was pinned to my old, worn-out bag. It’s his black and white portrait with his kind intelligent eyes and rugged face.

I bought it in my old country in August, in a rather ugly posh resort where he wouldn’t be caught dead. It was the only thing worth buying there, upon which I pinned it to my bag immediately. With months it has done my bag more damage than good, including an ugly tear underneath it. The pin got all crooked and twisted but still, I refused to take it off. I loved having him about me at all times: he’s a symbol for me, the way he wrote, in self-defence, is close to my spirit.

Until a few months ago. I went around town (which now got to mean around Roma) and bought a new bag, sales would do that to you. When I got home, I noticed that the pin was gone and only the ugly tear remained. Even though my new bag was very anxious to replace the old one, I still mourned the loss greatly. I felt that it had happened very recently and even thought to retrace my steps of the last few minutes, but then slowly let it go.

Go, Bukowski, you brought me much peace and joy.

Hours later we were leaving the apartment on the ground floor of a Roma apartment building to return home. The dog was leading the way, as always. My eyes were on him, as often. I watched him stick his nose in a fern for a brief moment, turn slightly towards me and continue. It was rather unusual so I looked into his pineal gland (chick pea gland for friends) and what I got was him telling me: “Oh, okay, it’s yours.” I looked at the fern more closely… and there it was, my Bukowski, placed on the earth of the fern, as if to grow, by a passer-by.

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What Bukowski was looking at out of the fern (depending on whether he was drunk or not), with and without flash. Photo: MM

I got a bit teary-eyed (but it could have been the cold) and hugged him and told him he did great and he looked at me as if wanting to say What did I do? And I remembered lovely GG and her story about her puppy who protected her from harm in her dreams and chased the nightmare away for good, and even though this story is far away from mine on the scale of things, I felt proud and happy.

And now I’ve got a twisted Bukowski pin and a Desigual bag (I prefer to call it Bilingual or at least Nagual), and now the questions: are these two worlds combinable, and do I dare? The time answered for me: rather than on the bag, Bukowski has ended up on the mantelpiece above the fireplace in front of our smiling family portrait, as a long lost son. He adds something to the house. (Last sentence proudly nicked from Sexing the Cherry. Jeanette goes into your blood like that.)

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

Image

Photo: MM