Patti Smith and my sickbed


I crawled into a sickbed and was then wheeled into a hospital room where I would be waiting to take a few tests. It was quite embarrassing as I assessed my health condition to be stable. I was wasting the resource that could be useful and even crucial to genuine patients. A category I did not consider myself belonging to. The doctors insisted that I undergo a thorough examination. They wanted to find out whether my worsening eye vision was caused by an unidentified neurological disease. 

Lying in the sickbed in that worn little room provided me with a strange sense of satisfaction, as if the mind was granted some unexpected yet much needed peace and freedom. I was blocked from the outside world, the routines and duties. The sickbed became my retreat. 


A menu was offered, steamed salmon, beef stroganoff, cooked turkey were among the choices. I settled on steamed cod with broccoli and carrots. A tray of food and drink was brought to me by a nurse with a warm smile. “Enjoy your meal”, she said and left me alone. I ate with mixed feelings, still doubted whether I was qualified to be a recipient of such kindness and care the doctors and nurses showed me. 

I grabbed M Train from the cloth bag, a book I picked up from the “Recommended books” shelf at the university library. That would be something for me, I knew it instantly. What was that, a lonely coffee cup, a sense of cool sophistication, or the image of Patti Smith lost in thoughts? 

Some writers have the extraordinary ability to speak straight to the mind, and the heart. They caught my strangest ideas and most intense emotions, re-arranged and put them before me in an elegant manner, with a vocabulary I could only dream of. 

During the 3 day stay in the hospital, I fell in love with Patti Smith. Or should I put it differently, a connection was established between her and me. I was deeply moved by her honesty, her loss, her passionate love for her husband, her children, her brother, her friends and her fellow writers. Patti will always have a special place in my literary world. 

Throughout the journey, in retrospect, Patti recalled her visits of the graves of some great writers and poets. Among them, Sylvia Plath, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, and Osamu Dasai.

When I was young, about 13 or 14 years old, I had a longing to visit the grave of my beloved artist, as if it was the only way to be close to her, who died when I was 11. She committed suicide. As I aged, more graves have been added to the list but the intensity of longings of this sort has somehow decreased. I did not accomplish any of them. Patti did. She journeyed all the way through, from America to England in the case of Sylvia Plath, and from America to Japan when visiting the graves of Ryūnosuke Akutagawa and Osamu Dasai. They all committed suicide. It struck me that there was a possible link. Virginia Woolf, and my beloved Taiwanese writer Sanmao. The common fate of these writers. Or was it pure coincidence? 

On those snowy winter mornings and evenings, she entered the cemeteries, washed the headstones, burned the incense, sat by them and then lost in her thoughts. 

– I walked to the ruins to an adjacent        field across Back Lane and quickly found her grave. 

I have come back, Sylvia, I whispered,   as if she’d been waiting (Smith 2015: 198-199).

I finished M Train in my sickbed and intended to give it a summary. It was a mess of vague images and loose words. I closed the book and lifted my head. The sky had again turned grey, it was raining. A sense of melancholy merged into something of a similar character left by Patti, a distant yet intense longing. The lonely coffee cup, the mute darkness, and Patti lost in thoughts. It all makes sense now, perfect sense. 

With love,

Isabelle ❤️

Some afterthoughts:

M Train is a book which is far more richer than visiting the graves. It’s about adventures, loss and love, and so much more. I have only managed to bring a fraction of this great piece to the post. Lying in my own bed now and suffering from terrible headache, a side effect of one of the medical tests I underwent last week, I think it is time to end the post and take a good rest. And then, all of a sudden, I dearly miss it, my sickbed. 

The reconciliation – a story about Lübeck


So here I am, sitting in a cafe located in the Old Town of Lübeck, watching the people pass by, overhearing a language I have no knowledge of. Thinking. It is the result of a spontaneous act. Lübeck is not an island associated with fabulous sunset scenes, the deep sound of waves, and the wind that blows gently on the beaches in half-darkness. It is not like that. 

Continue reading “The reconciliation – a story about Lübeck”

The dream


A few years ago, I came across a postcard. The white cave houses surrounded by the turquoise blue sea, the glories of the blue domed church on the top of the cliff, and the beautiful sunset over the bay. Thrilled. It is a dream, is it not. A voice was whispering, let me be there, please. Let me feel the dream. It was when the longing started, so overwhelming that it hurt sometimes. 

Breathing deeply, I am attempting to absorb the scenes, and the magic. 

Bewildered, is it a dream? That voice is returning, an endless dream it says, it will embrace you, always. 




With love,

Isabelle ❤️

Santorini Greece,  July 2018

That moment

This is a delayed post, a moment captured on Thursday, 24 May 2018.

When I was walking up towards the kindergarten, I could see some children waving to me enthusiastically from the sandbox. My little son William was among them. I noticed his shy smile, a rather reserved expression. He was proud, was he not? My visit was not unexpected as it turned out. They knew they were going to have a very special reading time, a beautiful story about a crocodile named Clyde, told by the mother of William, written by her lovely blog friend Suzanne.

Continue reading “That moment”

The contrast – a story about two professors

I am attempting to catch the essence of what she is illustrating. The chart shows how Old English changed and developed into Middle English. How the words in late Old English period started loosing their inflections. A slight noise intrudes. What is it? I look out of the window, the sun shining, the colour of the trees seems to have changed a bit, a trace of green. It is quiet, even the birds are taking a break on this early spring day in April.