On The Benefits of Snails at The Workplace

This is mostly about small land snails (like Helicidae) and work in the (home) office.

– Motivation to eat healthy snacks: they love fruit and vegetables, but only need a little piece at a time, so sharing an apple or a carrot with them is nice, plus you can watch and sometimes even hear them nibble away at their portion
– Hydration: snails need their liquid, so when you give them some fresh water, you can get yourself a glass of it, too (or just give them a few drops from your water bottle every now and then, if it’s clean)
Rubber duck debugging, but with living, breathing, moving creatures!
– Reminder to slow down once in a while: watch them move around and take some breaths; it’s also very meditative to pay close attention to the way their muscles ripple when moving, how they use their mouths, and especially in younger snails you may be able to see their heart beat!
– Living search puzzle: take your eyes away from the screen every now and then and try to find all the snails in their latest hiding spots
– Reason to take regular walks and pay attention to nature: go find them a nice little branch with lichen, a few crunchy leaves, some dandelion …
– Creative outlet: decorate their terrarium with natural elements, maybe display some art (by taping it to the outside), make it a little diorama …
– Cheap, quiet, and no allergic reactions: great alternative to dogs! (And other than cats, they won’t sit on your keyboard – unless you forget to close the lid.)
– Great conversation starter
– You can give them funny names that remind you of things you enjoy
– Their cute little faces can lift your mood :)

This has been my lunch break while watching the snails in the box on my desk at home.

But You Need A Child

But you need a child,
they say,
to leave a piece of you in the world,
to leave something behind when you go.

Listen, dear, families fall apart,
names are forgotten,
lines end with the war.

If you want the child,
to love, nourish,
to protect and let go:
have the child.

If it is your memory you want,
plant a tree,
write a book,
make a big donation
so you’ll be engraved
into a beautiful little metal plate.
Send your name to a new planet,
make an invention,
teach someone a skill.

Frame that holiday picture, write name and date on the back.

Share that fantastic cake recipe.

Send that silly postcard, write down that random thought.

Turn all those little fragments of yourself into gifts to hand down to those who love what you love.

A Case Against Pretty Bullet Journals

Not poetry but something I’ve wanted to write about for a while. If you enjoy bullet journalling, keep doing that; if not, maybe read on.

When bullet journalling became a trend, I felt wary. The pictures and videos were so pretty, so perfect. So much effort of drawing perfect boxes, practising handwritten names of months and days to perfection, so much pressure to make the lists of potential failures presentable for keeping them all year.
Nice handwriting is a noble art, a beneficial practise in patience, but it can be daunting for the less talented (or patient).

I had a long, hard, and honest look both at the whole concept and at my life, then went by the trusty rule I learned from a Stargate story (which in itself is probably telling) long ago: What do I have, what do I need?

I have a lot of different and unpredictable categories of things I want to keep track of, a brain that is way faster than my hands, and rather mediocre handwriting talents that clash with my sense for aesthetics. I already have a normal agenda in nice paper for scheduling appointments and events, which I want to keep as a separate entity.

I need something simple that doesn’t need a lot of time and effort to prepare, something flexible, and something that doesn’t involve lugging around pages upon ugly pages of poorly shaped words and unfinished tasks. I need something that doesn’t require opening a file or book but rather something out in the open. Something that comes without artistic pressure.

From that it became clear the best way to avoid dread of imperfection is — at least for me — to simply forgo the idea of a pretty tracking journal altogether and use lists which get thrown out once their job is done.

After some experimentation it’s currently still a rather mixed system of loose pieces of paper and a spiral notepad, but the notepad is slowly winning for private lists. If I have a list for the following day, I simply flip the notepad to that page and put it on my bedside cabinet or on my desk. There are lists with creative ideas, lists with things I want to reorganise in the flat, lists of gift ideas, lists of tasks I want to get done within a specific month, lists of things to try/learn …

… and when I’m done with an item, I draw a bold, ugly line through it. Or two lines or three, if I’m particularly glad the thing is over and done. It’s a very satisfying action, as is tearing out a list and scrunching it up into a ball once most or even all items have been taken care off. Some things get carried over to new lists or become irrelevant. Some things don’t get done and the record of such a failure will be shredded and pulped and become new paper in the near future, instead of living on as an eye-sore amidst watercolour flowers for months to come.

I never imaged I’d grow up to be a list person, but it’s growing on me.
There’s something liberating in knowing all the things to do and try and think of are in a safe place outside my brain while they don’t have to adhere to a predetermined format. Sitting down once a day or every few days to put ideas into categories has become a habit and in the end it saves time, without any need for special art supplies or ambition towards picture perfect planning.

Neural Underground

Riding the neural subway
to the final station and beyond
disappearing into uncertainty of night,
dissolving in the neon lattice
flashes of light, of dark, of green
illumination passing by,
crossing the way,
following the tracks
— neon, neon and flashing darkness
signals underground
endless possibilities of thought,
riding, riding the synaptic surges
lost between sleep and strawberry taste.

Labyrinth of Glass

A labyrinth of glass
enshrines you
and barefoot you try to flee it,
moving through cobwebs
and brushing aside reflections
your hand touches invisible panels,
tracing soundless lines along them
with fingers trailing after your strides,
trying to find the secret doors
that lost their keys long before you;
and you seek for the spell
that allows butterflies to pass through.

Sea Song

If you’ve ever heard the song of the sea, it will keep singing within you, until the day you die, maybe even beyond that. If the sea has ever sung to you the way it does in the veins of sirens and selkies, it won’t ever leave you, it will sing in restless nights and cold summer days, telling you of secrets you’ll never find but can’t let go, singing so sweetly it breaks your bones like wind snaps the reed that doesn’t learn to bend, singing until you can’t unhear your blood and resolve to find it again, travelling to the rough stormy coasts no sun-loving tourist would choose; and once you get there the wind and the waves will echo in the hollow chamber it caved into your soul the day it first sang to you, and you’ll be filled and all sorrow’s drowned in the drone of rolling, rolling songs.

When We Lost The Mountains

One day, we lost the mountains. Not that we did anything with them, and it’s rather hard to actively lose a mountain, which is much bigger than, say, a pebble which you could easily pick up, put into your pocket, and find it gone by the time you come home, escaped through an unfortunately but conveniently pebble-sized hole. We just lost them, like one occasionally loses a thought in the middle of thinking, without reason. Somehow, between one blink and another, or maybe between going to bed and getting up again, for most of us at least, they just had left behind … a non-nothing.
There was no empty space screaming of rocky absence, no mysteriously thick fog. It was just as if our brains had either forgotten how to shape, to see mountains in the heaps of optic influx, or, as some felt, mountains had been a mere mental construct and all the responsible synapses in our heads had suddenly decided to stop the charade, logging out of this social holographic conception of perceiving information inside patterns — almost pareidolia, maybe petro-pareidolia?
And with this forgetting we also had lost the knowledge of how to reach mountains, forgotten both the ways leading there, to this specific instance of mountains, and the actual process of going to a mountain, what actions to take to near one. What we were left with was the feeling of mountains — the crisp, rough air; the wind, oh the wind, and storms, tasting of wet thunder and slipping under hurrying feet, to dusty shelter; the shapes our hands and eyes used to trace; the colours of stone and sky, the whole gradient of greys to blues, in a muted radiance hurting from retina to cortex in the most exquisite tingling, a mental sort of spice encouraging the appetite to drink in the whole sky and have your eyes take more bites out of the jagged peaks and rounded, angular ranges of allover mountaineous goodness than one heart can hold in one day. We were filled by this memory of longing for such an enormeous thing as a whole ecosystem of greenery and emotions, a landscape of thoughts of their own class and quality; and it was such a weird absence of something that might never have existed save for in our fantasy, it gave half the town a headache bad enough to make people declare the mountains had just decided to leave for a stationary walk in another dimension, therefore being both absent and not absent; an attempt of explaining in a rational manner the irrationality of human memory, but for the lack of precedence and following from that the lack of any data for comparison it might just as well be true.


What’s the story,
you ask,
when there is no planned plot
but only beckoning roads
and unmapped shores,
nothing but the cycles of nature
and the tides of your life,
and you ride along
diving for seashells, dreams,
and memories,
stargazing, song-fishing
and yet
— behind you
a trail of story arcs
glittering under moonlight