The Obvious

cuckoo, nesting

Posted in emotions by theobvious on April 28, 2010

Some people’s moods can be told by the expressions on their faces. Some make their emotions known, loud and clear. Others do their best to remain impenetrable. Still others fall into behavioural patterns. This is my case.

My mood can be told by my sporadic cleaning habits. Taking after Woody Allen (as always, my reading affects the way I think), I could have a diary which later could be dissected to reveal my hidden streak of genius.

Sunday:
Spent the day writing my thesis. Had to release the frustration by polishing the bathroom faucet every time I used the bathroom. Luckily, the water is so bad it gets spotty within an hour.

Monday:
Another anxiety attack about the thesis and money required extreme measures. Washed the toilet brush and its stand. Feel pursued by a foul smell. Washed myself and the shower in which I’d washed the brush. Came out marginally less anxious. Smell persists.

Tuesday:
Home alone. Dishes washed, kitchen counter top cleaned. Still lonely and not willing to sit down to work. Begging question: can there be too much polishing of the faucet?

Wednesday:
Had an argument, and got so livid that used the killer powder to wash the bathroom sink. Stubborn filth! Once it was defeated, it was only natural to feel like a winner. Argument forgotten.

And so forth. The fact that the apartment is still dirty as hell is either surprising or a testament to my mental health being more stable than I give it credit for. I never get angry or upset enough to wash the floors.

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the neurotic kingdom of teenage angst

Posted in emotions, friends, link, people, photos, studies, video by theobvious on September 2, 2008

I’ve been watching this all day. It’s about a young woman’s experience at art school. I asked a friend what art school was for him (he is a fourth-year student at the school I’m considering for myself), and he told me to watch this hour-long film.

Yesterday I was positively jumping with excitement at the thought of taking all the classes on the curriculum, finally getting a framework for my photography (as it were), and laying a theoretical foundation to my practical blunderings. Today I am back to my (permanent, as of recently) state of anxiety and self-deprecation: I am not, nor have I ever been, a creative, smart, and interesting person who can actually pull off art school. My photos aren’t good enough to be accepted.

Meanwhile, today was the first day of my third year at my current school. It went better than I’d expected, though I’d expected something so dreadful I had nightmares and woke with a tremendous headache. (The day is over, but the headache is still here.) Tomorrow I have a date with my orthodontist which will interfere with a class. That’s an early start by any standard, even for me. I usually don’t go skipping classes for the first couple of weeks or so.

All hope is not lost, however. On Saturday a dear friend appeared out of nowhere (okay, he was driving from Latvia to Russia with his whole family and passed us on the way), and we spent the whole afternoon with him. Also, we have tickets to see and hear Katie Melua October 13th. If that’s not something to look forward to, I don’t know what is.

our friend a.
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escape into blogland

Posted in emotions, love, people, photos, travel by theobvious on August 22, 2008

For the past several days my mind has been an informational and emotional Alcatraz: plenty of treasure on the inside, nothing ever gets out. The trip was so overwhelming and so tiring that I felt as though my ability to share had been swept away. I was all left back there, exhausted.

Every time I’d close my eyes, I’d immediately fall asleep and see people laughing, frowning, waving at me. My favourite girls in dresses wet with seawater, my dear boys with stubble on their chins and hoarse voices from the singing and the endless arguing. I saw countless breathtaking Crimean views – mountains, plains, the sea – but none as beautiful as my friends. Then, again and again, I’d force myself awake and find myself alone, hundreds of miles away from the people I regard as my world.

I thought I needed a timeout to get back on track, but it seems like that timeout could go on forever. So I’m easing myself into normalcy, browsing Etsy, working out, editing photos (half-thinking of selling some prints), drinking Coffee of the Week at the Coffee Inn, following Olympic basketball (Lithuania lost to Spain in the semi-finals, bah), watching Wall-E (the cuteness!), reading all your blogs, trying on my own blogging hat once again. Welcome back, me.

people on the roof

people on the roof

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a penny for my thoughts won’t be enough

Posted in emotions, home, important, language, me myself, people, photos, places, thoughts, travel, valuable lesson, writing by theobvious on June 23, 2008

This trip turned out to be a learning trip. It was so rich with revelations there was practically no room left for much else.

I learned once again about real friendship, which doesn’t always need to involve personal presence, but is all the more exciting when it does. A friendship I value is a lucky, tricky, strange, full, and happy convergence of two people who couldn’t be more different or more alike. I am lucky to have several of these.

I learned about being the object of the emotions other people usually evoke in myself: concern, kindness, incomprehension, puzzlement, impatience, endless patience, affection, and a desire to share. I haven’t thought much about the way I react to these, and it is probably time to give it more consideration.

I learned a very important lesson about coping with loneliness. I was by myself a lot on the trip, however this was not the self-sufficient solitude of choice, but rather the desolate loneliness of choicelessness. The hours I spent this way left me despairing, with nothing to apply myself to, scared. I want to avoid these.

Finally, I learned something about writing. Someone gave me ‘Lost in Translation’ by Eva Hoffman to read, and the slow, soft, reflective style of someone who went through assimilating a whole new language as their main means of self-expression is an epiphany for me. There is much food for thought in this.

looking up

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ithaca – the island, not the college

Posted in emotions, places by theobvious on April 26, 2008

Israel has always been my personal myth. Ever since I was a child, it was always talked about, learned about, sung and danced about in the family and beyond. When we finally visited, my brother, aged four, and I, aged six, did the most reasonable thing first – tried to climb a palm-tree. We didn’t get very far up.

After we got back, having lived a year in Jerusalem, I went to second grade and gained almost immediate respect. I spoke no Lithuanian, but I had a perfect command of Hebrew. For the following 11 years, not a day passed without someone copying my homework – after all, I’d been there, I had enough to spare.

Of course, with time, other kids went to see the Promised Land as well, and my knowledge of it was no longer exclusive. It was still special, though: I hadn’t been just a tourist, I’d finished first grade there, it belonged to me, and the new visitors were only admitted to the country with my graceful royal permission.

I went there another time, and then another. Then, last year, we went once again to live up there for a year. This time with my new family, A. We made some harsh decisions and burned a considerable amount of bridges. When we got back, we were different. The myth had transformed into the ultimate Oddisey.

We are going back. Today, next year, in five years’ time, until comes the day our ticket will be one-way. It is so definite that we don’t need to create it anymore, or invent anything. It is happening to us, not by us. It is always a homecoming, never repeating, but always the same, our homeland in more ways than one.

By tomorrow we will be in Tel Aviv. Come Monday – in Jerusalem, our own. It’s been a year, almost, and I am apprehensive. They say the bus routes have all been switched, and some stores have been closed. But all I need to remember is it’s still home, even if they’ve changed the carpeting.

my locker-room conversion

Posted in emotions, exercise, me myself, people, thoughts, valuable lesson by theobvious on April 11, 2008

Remember when I complained about feeling awkward in the locker-room at the gym? That has changed. I have been making amazing discoveries. There is a phenomenon acutely present there which I had never experienced such full contact with before, and it is called womanhood.

The women at the gym are quite an assorted bunch. Some of them are annoying, to tell the truth, but each and every one of them, in her unique way, is a woman, a lady, a female – a girl. The sense of femininity is expressed every second, in their every move and action, in their very being.

I can see women standing before mirrors, gingerly poking their sides to see how they’ll look when they lose several pounds. I can see them stealing furtive glances at other women, comparing, envious, gloating, compassionate. I notice that their choice of undergarments is telling.

A woman of about 60 is putting on her swimsuit after a workout. When the slick fabric covers the bumps and scars of age, work, and motherhood, she becomes another happy ageless girl in the bubble bath – just like the three-year old next to her, come with her mom, laughing loud and hard.

In the locker-room, everyone shares – the space and ergo, for just a moment, their life. As I stand before the full-length mirror (alas, no such luxury at home), I see reflections of women leaning against lockers, drying themselves, chatting and giggling at each other, sorting their belongings.

After the workout, the girls gradually transform out of sharing mode, they cover themselves in layers: body cream, then underwear, clothes, accessories, packed bags, lastly a business-like air. They walk out into the lobby and call their assorted boys to pick them up and back into their lives.

Still, a girl, I’ve found out, is always a girl: when she adds a little extra wiggle to her salsa hips – the instructor is a handsome, amiable guy – and when she blushes in the locker-room, surrounded for the first time by casual nudity. When she lingers in the shower, and when she rushes out, hair still dripping.

I used to say I was unfeminine. In our first months together, A. never gave me flowers, because he thought I’d hate them. He was surprised to learn that I actually liked receiving flowers from him. I am now equally surprised to find myself doing all those things I just described. What do you know – I am, too, a girl.

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extremely loud & incredibly close

Posted in books, emotions, thoughts, valuable lesson by theobvious on March 19, 2008

I finished reading Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by J. S. Foer on Saturday. It’s an amazing book. Among other things, it taps into the issue of boundaries when it comes to tragedy. There is a sense of (property? level of belonging?) about every kind of event, sad ones perhaps most of all.

Let me explain: it is possible to grade the connection one has with something like 9/11. There are the people who lost family members and friends, there are the ones that fought to save lives, then the ones who were close by, but the damage they suffered was limited to psychological trauma, the ones who live in a city whose changed skyline reminds them every day of the tragedy, the ones who lost the sense of safety in their country, the ones who were dumbstruck with fear and compassion, but were physically far away – and so on.

And when you think of it in terms of art (specifically literature) the question arises of the moral position in which one stands when one writes about something – and then reads what the other has written. It is difficult, I imagine, to write about something like 9/11 and not be scrutinized by the people whose pain level is higher than yours, whose sense of (property? again that word) may be offended by your interpretation, however good or poor, just because you are not as close as they are, so how can you understand and what right do you have to? It’s a huge responsibility, and Safran Foer handles it remarkably well, I think.

From yet another point of view, once you’ve faced the challenge of writing about something from a certain level of connection (is this still making sense?), you have then created a bridge for people from other levels to connect through. See, I, the reader, have not experienced 9/11 from as close as the author did, and he, in his book, describes an even more intimate experience than his own. This way I get a look at what it was like through the filter of my own memories and his.

What I’m trying (and failing miserably) to say is that a sensitive topic such as this has a sort of field of conditions around it which are incredibly hard to match; reading the work of someone who has managed to do that leaves a deep effect on someone who, prior to this, had no possibility nor moral grounds to experience that effect.

I am thankful for the fact that this book left me devastated for a day, because that brought me nearer to understanding the devastation that people closer to the tragedy felt for a much longer time – and are possibly still feeling.

NB! Please understand that I am not aiming to offend anyone – anything that you find hurtful is probably just clumsy wording on my part. Please let me know so I can try and rephrase it. I do not in any way imply to pass any kind of judgment in this post, all I’m doing is reflecting on my own feelings determined by a set of assumptions which may or may not be correct.

things i’m admiring today

Posted in emotions, life, link, things i'm admiring today by theobvious on February 28, 2008

I came home today feeling like a nobody, like I had nothing to be proud of and wasn’t worth wasting oxygen on. Determined to stop the wave of self-contempt, I decided to make a list of great things I’d seen recently, and to learn from them. Here is the list I made more or less off the top of my head:

– Erin at Design for Mankind has made a wonderful e-zine called Inspiration. You can download it from her website. The title is very accurate, you can see how inspired she is herself.

– Tina at uuMomma wrote this lovely poem a couple weeks ago, but we only met quite recently, and even if it’s been a while, it’s still a pleasure and honour to be able to quote it here.

– Grace at Design*Sponge has just announced her engagement to her long-time boyfriend ac, and the way she describes his proposal and their love is enough to make me tear up in joy.

– Andrea at Superhero wrote this letter to her son when he was sick, and because it is so much more than just a letter to a beautiful boy, it’s my belief anyone can benefit from reading it.

– Rachel at Thatnight writes so many perfect posts (look) that she hardly needs any publicity, yet her recent list of advice for bloggers is something worth rereading every day.

– My dear husband A., very real without any websites, learned to solder yesterday specifically in order to repair our laptop (which he did), and he made me a tiny aluminum bear!

With that bear in my pocket, and all these great creative texts in my head, there suddenly seems to be more purpose to everything. I emerge from making this list (which is really very short, there’s considerably more great stuff around) with my thoughts much clearer. I think this is something worth doing on a regular basis. Here, consider it a promise, I even created a category, can’t go back now.

too grey

Posted in emotions, photos, places by theobvious on February 18, 2008

wineglass

This is what I miss. The sunshine and the simplicity. I’m very tired today, nothing is going the way I’d like it to, and all I really want is to take a long lazy walk in the sunny streets of Jerusalem. Barring that – to curl up in a nice cosy bed in a neat and pretty room and watch happy musicals until I calm down.

I hope tomorrow will be a better day. Meanwhile, if you are reading this, can you share some of your go-to websites for when you are sad? Some feel-good blogs, or fun online games, or things to do, read, and watch around the net that help you get yourself back on track? Any suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

are you angry?

Posted in emotions, random by theobvious on January 19, 2008

I found this while browsing the web today. It’s an anger quiz which claims I’ve got a temper but am not violent. I’m not sure about that: I do tend to yell and throw stuff and hit – mostly myself, admittedly, but furniture as well.

Recently I decided to acknowledge my anger and do ten half-pushups whenever I feel like flipping out. That sort of helps – admitting I’m angry is a step towards rationalizing and resolving it. I remain angry for a while, but it’s a healthy way of non-destructively letting some of the physical rage out.

(Listening to angry music and punching the sofa still helps too.)