Just now while brushing my teeth I thought: it’s remarkable how many questions I ask the internet these days. There tend to be quite many questions in my life in general, and I am the sort of person who, when faced with a question, needs to find out the answer tout de suite lest I am to suffer horrible cramps of information deprivation. So why isn’t there a service which would remember Google queries, so you could pull up your day in questions?
From what I remember, I started today with several variations on the query “icons move on reboot samsung”. When my phone is rebooted or even connected to the computer and then disconnected from it, all my application icons shuffle around and destroy my carefully thought out placement. Answer: this is normal, nothing can be done except installing an outside launcher. I did and disliked it, so for now the icons are in disarray and I’m trying to tame my OCD tendencies. The next query was “wi fi error android”, because I realized the previous research was costing me lots of money on 3g, as my wi-fi was off and wouldn’t turn back on for some reason. (Yes, I go on line using my phone as soon as I open my eyes in the morning.) Answer: this is not normal but usual, nothing can be done except rebooting the phone (and having all the icons move around).
Later, already at work, I googled “djembe laffe” to see what the rhythm I’m about to learn in a three-day workshop sounded like. It appears that laffe or lafè is better known as “kurubi”. One of the results for that was this. Then I checked “she’s a boy i knew” to see whether it was a good film. I ended up seeing it, and it was very good and led me to my next query: “glamorous lesbians”, because I realized that though there are all kinds of people in the world and surely some of them are lesbians who follow the latest in fashion and wear high heels and shimmering make-up, I have never seen such a one, and even though in all probability she’d look like any other glamorous lady, I still wanted to. This was not a good idea. If any of you need a good query to find lesbian porn, this would be it.
Upon arrival home, I began googling again, first for “hula hooping tips”, then “hula hoop calories” and finally “are unweighted hula hoops useful”, because I have a new-to-me hoop and want to make sure it’s helping my cause, which is the same reason for which earlier I googled “exercise app capoeira” to see if there was any application that would calculate the benefits from my vigorous two-hour workouts if the workouts were not running or cycling (apparently not, what is this obsession with mile-based exercise?, but I discovered a 1989 video with conditioning exercises to improve capoeira technique, which may come in handy).
After clearing things up with the hoop and doing a 20-minute impression of a chicken with St. Vitus Dance, by the end of which I’d like to believe I finally learned to apply the tips yielded by all that research, I googled “שיר השירים” (Song of Songs) to find the Hebrew text for verse 1:17, because someone wants to tattoo these words on her body and doesn’t speak Hebrew, and you may think I know the Bible by heart but I don’t, and why would you assume such a thing? The answer, by the way, is: קרות בתינו ארזים רחיטנו ברותים.
Finally, I decided to write this post, and a flurry of queries ensued: “what I googled today” helped me find out that there is indeed no such application yet. “game everyone switches places” meant I was looking for a metaphor for my icons shuffling and could vaguely remember there was a children’s game like that. Although the answer, “train wreck”, is technically suitable for the occasion, I decided to forgo the metaphor. “st. vitus dance” was to check that St. Vitus is indeed spelled this way. He is. And that’s a good note to end on.
My legs hurt. All of them. From my creaking hip joints to my knees which cry out in pain whenever I sit down on a chair or get up, to my overstrained calves, to the toe I stubbed hard on the floor yesterday. It’s all because of capoeira. Mind, this is not the post where I dramatically announce that I am giving up because it’s too hard. There’s no going back after I got those fancy new sweatpants the other day. However, it is too hard. The classes leave me battered and hurting in places I thought could only hurt if I joined the army. During class, I’m hardly ever not dizzy or gasping for air. Well, maybe during the final stretch, where I’m standing on the edge of the roda immobilized with fear of going in and actually putting what I’ve been practising to some real use.
The most important thing I have learned so far is not to push myself or to discover my limitations and learn to circumvent them. What I’ve learned is that I am very, very weak, and very, very soft, and capable of very, very little physically. And also, I have discovered anew the thing that this one woman on this one blog put so extremely well:
There are so many ways of saying it (plump, heavy, chubby, overweight, curvy, huggable, geared for childbirth even), but why bother? I feel like Fatty McLarderson, and every time I come to class I’m reminded of every single extra kilogram or centimetre that I’m lugging around on my stupid childbearing hips, because I need to lift all of it up in the air or swing it around, or do push ups with it. Even if I could only do three push ups a month ago, and can do twenty now. Even if some of those initial centimetres are gone. Even if my form in the basic movements has improved, and sometimes when the instructor comes up to us as we’re practising in pairs, it’s not me he is coming to talk to. Even if I’ve introduced strict rules of exercising every day of the week, and only break them every so often (I’ll do some of it as soon as I’m done writing, I swear). I’m still somewhere in the vicinity of square one.
I’m only writing this post, which is very much in the style of this blog two years ago, and much less appropriate now, to remind myself where I stand (incidentally, that headstand has been evading me ever since I bragged about it). To remember that I will go on, and I will practice, and I will see a doctor about those knees, and I will drag myself to the other end of town four times a week for class, but there’s a solid chance I’ll never be good at it.
..Know my way around: art, classical music (in every sense of the word), bureaucracy.
..Know how to do: quote, play an instrument (forgot the recorder), write long, concentrate.
..Know how to get rid of: wishful thinking, comfort food, over-dramatization, knick-knacks.
..Know how to stop doing: showing off, procrastinating, obsessing/worrying, hoarding books.
..See myself doing: having kids (for now at least), working 9 to 5 (properly), wearing high heels.
..See myself ever liking: egg whites, show-offs, my looks, free jazz (too fragmented), ladylike purses.
I’m in a crappy mood today. My dreams were tiresome and sticky, and by the time I’d kicked myself out of bed, my mood was settled, and nothing I did made it any better. Some of the things that made me mad and impatient today were:
– work (not enough, too much, uncreative, overwhelming),
– lunch (all wrong, and then I had too many sweets),
– my looks (to be crowned the Queen of Fat soon, stay tuned),
– the cats (destructive, noisy and spoiled),
– our winter vacation (expensive and potentially dangerous),
– me (whiny, neurotic, useless, self-absorbed).
And then we went for dinner and groceries with my parents, and there were Christmas trees in shop windows and a Santa Claus on my father’s Coke bottle. And I realized it will be Christmas very soon. It’s mid-November already, and in my mind, summer has just ended. That did nothing to improve my state. The end.
Though the posts on this blog are usually written as though they’re addressed at a wider audience, it is common knowledge that only one person reads them. Therefore, I suppose that this should be treated as a sort of individual service, that I have regretfully neglected to provide for a while there. This was gracefully brought up today in a personal email from that very patient reader, who said in regard to something I’d written to him, “Why won’t you write it down in your forsaken blog?”
Now, I don’t like to think of the blog as forsaken, necessarily. I’d much rather think of it as “out to lunch” or “suspended until further notice” or “until anything starts going on in my life”. There is a limit on goings-on in the universe, it appears, and other people were in line first, so right now, there are a select few whose lives are exciting, and then there’s me. I do have faith that my turn will come up shortly. An opportunity should present itself any day now. Something smashingly amusing that would transform into the wittiest blog post ever written.
You could think that today would be my lucky day. After all, it is the eve of Purim, the funniest Jewish holiday (if a nation as skilled in complaining is even capable of having a funny holiday). However, surprising though it may be, I just happen to hate Purim. If your hand is reaching out for a rotten tomato or that blunt axe you keep close by, your indignation is understandable. Blasphemy should not be taken lightly, and speaking out against the people’s favourite day of the year is nothing short of blasphemy. But in my view, just like New Year’s, Purim is merely an excuse for large groups of people to get very drunk and lose all sense of dignity. After going into Mea Shearim on Purim one of these years, this is all I can think about. Hey everybody, happy non-annihilation day! Bottoms up!
Anyway. The theme for NaBloPoMo this month is “Strange(r)”, and the notification came when I started writing this. This may be a sign. Or not. If there is anything strange that pops up these next few days, there may or may not be a post appearing here. If not, then I’m pretty sure I’ll come back in a few months to write another strikingly incoherent note on the subject of being unable to write. The era of meta-novels about authors and their creative process has come and gone. Now it is the time of not writing about the non-productive process. Eat this, Italo Calvino.
I wonder what the life of someone who works carrying a sandwich board ad in Moscow is like.
He (let him be a man, though women seem to be just as many in the job) lives in a dinky flat on the very edge of the huge metropolis: twenty minutes by bus from the last tube station. The flat is small and gets quite chilly, but it is all he can afford with the rent so high these days – he was not one of the few people actually born in the city and is forced to settle for what little is available.
The owner is a lady in her fifties who wears brown cardigans, paints her nails red a tad too infrequently, and hardly ever shows up at the place, preferring instead to pick the money up every month somewhere on the metro. All the furniture reeks of a mixture of heavy perfume, cat piss, and age. Most of it is brown, the rest – of an indeterminate colour. Nothing matches, not even things that supposedly once came in a set. This may be for the best.
In the morning the tenant wakes up in a bed of flowered sheets, walks the cold floor to the cold bathroom, switches on the light, and brushes his teeth while staring at his reflection in the mirrored drug cabinet above the sink. Toothpaste water splashes onto the mirror, and his face looks as though there are white blotches on it. Shaving feels like too much of a hassle more often than not; probably, nobody looks at a walking sandwich board’s face anyway.
After a breakfast of salami sandwiches and tea (yesterday’s cold slimy leaves in a teapot which lacks a lid, a handle, and any sort of high tea glamour) he heads out. Though it is quite early, the bus is packed, and then so is the metro carriage. People knock and shove each other, trying to make way for their bags and paperbacks. It takes a while to get to the office, where the board is waiting, stored somewhere with dozens of its siblings. He works his head through it, then adjusts the straps.
Outside, the tourists have not woken up yet, and the working people only look at the ground they’re treading in case of encountering gum, litter, or someone they know but would rather not notice. The day is spent dragging his feet time and time again around the block, or repeating whatever the sandwich board says in a dull hollow voice, pestering the people who come out of the underground crossing. Every flyer he hands out gets thrown into the nearby bin or to the ground, never read, much like the board he is wearing.
When it is time to get home, he is worn out and angry. On the tube back home, he kicks and shoves with a vengeance, and does not get up to offer his place even to the oldest, most frail of grandmas. He does not call anyone; there is nobody to call. He watches tv for a while, eating something from a can, then makes some tea for there to be something stale to drink the next morning, goes to sleep, and dreams of being tired.
Or maybe it is all entirely different.
My camera lost its lens today. It just stopped working, and now I feel as if I’ve lost a limb. A very expensive limb, without which the rest of my body won’t function, and sewing it back on will cost me more than I can afford. Probably even more than a whole new limb (I can see my metaphor going weak here, but I stand by it. After all, what are prosthetic limbs for?).
So it got me thinking about material things that I’m attached to enough to let them define me as a person. The things that people identify me with and go ‘Oh, that girl who always carries that thing?’ in conversations. I’m pretty sure this meme exists already, but here goes anyway.
Things that I use (almost) every day
– my glasses
– Nikon D40
– Adidas shower gel (for the gym)
– Nokia 5200 (phone and music box combined)
– thrift store t-shirts
– lip balm
– dorky messenger bags
– face wash
– herbal toothpaste
– different kinds of tea
– tiny elastic bands (for the braces)
– yellow legal pads
– black gel pens
– Skype account (is that material?)
– student ID
– Visa card
– trolleybus pass
I think this is it, the rest is replaceable or interchangeable. How about you? What do you use every day? Which items define you for what you are? I’d be very curious to know.
So I tell you I hate poetry.
I tell everyone that. And it’s true.
The things I do for you.
You see, poetry is entirely untrustworthy, there is not
a word in it usually that couldn’t be said in prose,
so why bother.
Still I do, I bother again and again,
bother you and myself to distraction.
I print with trepidation and send with trembling fingers
(exclusively by post, never email)
claiming all the while that poetry –
not my thing.
Then I sit, my teeth chattering,
and wait for your reply.
And if you don’t reply, further living loses its purpose.
More so if you do.
Again and again and again and a gain – no gain, actually –
I proclaim my mistrust for all things poetic,
including for the sake of it sunrises and sunsets,
and Florence, and spiders, and baby feet, and trochee, and and
suddenly, an epiphany.
Just as suddenly, all gone.
Aren’t you in the least bit romantic,
you sometimes ask.
No, is my steady answer,
as my fingers cross shakily behind my shivering back.
The things I do for you
– are, in fact, not that many.
So, appointment today, 6 pm. The doc put in two more brackets (on my sevens), for which purpose she only just didn’t pull my face apart. I was lying there laughing my head off, thinking things like ‘Hey, I only got one mouth, woman!’ and ‘Whaddaya think I’m made of, gum?’ – and my bottom lip is still swollen.
And then afterwards I was walking along the river to the gym, and by the riverbank people were jogging, cycling, walking their dogs and their sweethearts, looking at the water, in one case even drinking vodka, and it felt like spring was indeed here – which added some spring to my step, sure enough.
A.’s alarm sings ‘I don’t love anyone’ by Belle and Sebastian. Quite appropriate, isn’t it. Very good for the god-awful time he likes to call morning, when he has to go to work. This song came on when I was on my way home, and it made me so happy, simply because it wasn’t time to get up yet. Whole night ahead.
How was your day?
It’s 9.30 pm when I get to a trolleybus stop in the centre of the city. It’s dark and drizzling. Two people are shuffling about in the white light of a vitamin ad. One of them is missing an arm, the other has pupils so narrow his blue eyes look like empty fishtanks. They are clearly intoxicated, probably on drugs. I brace myself, but they are too busy discussing money and leave on the first bus.
Next, a group of three shows up: a bushy-haired woman, dressed in a long black coat and black trousers, a fellow in tight jeans, looking like Johnny Depp in a cheap crime flick, and a drunk man with a cigarette. The man is half pleading, half harassing the lady, grabbing for her shoulders, mumbling. When he gets too physical, the young man pushes him away in an easy motion – he is taller and very calm.
As I stand there, trying to assess the level of aggression, thinking whether I should interfere, a trolleybus arrives. The three get on, still arguing, and I follow. I sit facing them, thinking slow thoughts about fear (I’m not afraid of being hit, except for the face, because of the glasses and the braces). There are other people inside: a man in a cap, with a gold ring on his finger, is speaking importantly on his cell – ‘Yeah, I’ll call you tomorrow, after the shoot.’ A bulky middle-aged woman is frowning into the window.
The lady in the black clothes sits down, and her son (I’m guessing that’s what he is), wraps his arm loosely around her, protecting her from – his father? – trying to lean in from the back. His face looks skeptical and contemptuous. His whole posture broadcasts control. It feels like this is a familiar situation for them, requiring no intervention.
Yet there are newcomers on the bus who think otherwise. Several drunken kids about my age, dressed funky (one is wearing shiny golden sneakers, all of them in skinny jeans with silver chains), berate the man for assaulting the lady. They are insistent: threatening, upbraiding, gesturing, shouting; but ‘Johnny Depp’ is smiling, nodding – it’s alright, everything is fine.
The youngsters tumble out soon, taking the noise with them. The journey continues in silence, even the loud man is off his cellphone now. I look at the woman across from me, taking comfort in the sight of her confident, disapproving face and her trouser-clad elephantine legs. I think she might be a teacher, or an accountant. Sensible, respectable, no-nonsense, she is my safety (normality? reality?) anchor, and she doesn’t even know it.
When we get to my stop, the worrisome trio gets off and onto the same path I need to take to get home. They are still grumbling, but the boy does not need to shove the man anymore. I keep my distance, walking behind them. At some point they veer off. I pull my hood over my eyes and concentrate on the McGilliguddys playing in my earphones. This is not a bad movie, just a regular night.
If I ever make a movie, it will be about this girl who lives in my head. Her job is to sit in a clean white space and make announcements over a microphone. In a museum. She’s the girl you hear when you linger too long and the lights start to dim, and she says in a very pleasant voice: ‘Dear visitors, our museum will be closing in half – an – hour. Please come back tomorrow. We will be closing in half – an – hour.’
The first takes of the movie will be her feet. I want her to sit behind a sheet of white cloth – it’s a modern museum, with an innovative view on exhibit design. The cloth doesn’t quite reach the ground, and she is rocking on her chair a bit, stretching her foot, kicking her ballet flat off and wiggling her toes, playing catch with her shoe and both her feet. All while she repeats in this cool nice tone: ‘…in thirty minutes.’
She makes other announcements too, but this one is the one following her around. Everything in her life is a little bit like that museum – not yet closed, but soon to be, with a fascinating secret life already beginning to swarm in the rooms visitors are not allowed to: excited preparations for the next day, private little birthday parties, jokes you wouldn’t get if you heard them. You won’t, of course, but she will.
Parts of this movie would be so perfectly normal that the viewers would relate to them just by sitting on their couch. Other parts, however, would be like having someone else’s fever hallucinations, with the kind of dialogue I love in a movie: people speak in unnatural speeds and tones of voice, and it doesn’t quite make sense, but almost does, and when it’s all over I feel giddy and hungover on words at the same time.
One day I will make that film. Or maybe not, but at least it’s already made in my head. I also might write a book about the creator who only worked on one subject his whole life: made a film, a sculpture, a book, a dance – all on one character, someone he saw one late night on the tube and the light reflected on their face just so. When I think about my movie, I feel like that guy sometimes. That’s probably good.
What would you want to write, make a film, or dance about?
First of all, sorry for the long absence. I was busy making a ‘my year in pictures’ post over at LiveJournal. I won’t repost it here to avoid boring the most faithful reader of both these blogs (duh, me), but here’s a link. No fear, it’ll open in a new window, you won’t be distracted from reading on.
Here’s something else that happened in the last few days. I have managed not to drag a long-overdue work assignment over into the new year. My untraditional way of avoiding that unpleasant scenario was… to quit. A. will finish the job. Meanwhile, I am more than a little humbled by this experience.
See, I’m not a quitter by nature. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’m renowned for my (often annoying) persistence. Yet this was something I just couldn’t finish – every time I’d sit down to do it, I’d get this wringing feeling in my belly. And let me tell you – it’s not very nice to have your belly wrung.
Now, as we’re getting ready to enter the year 2008 A.D., I find myself in the new role of a giver-upper. Or, to give it a more refined name – a sissy. Uh-oh, as the Teletubbies used to say. Incidentally, have you ever watched a whole episode of those? I have. Man, there’s some true wisdom in there!
Where was I… Well, the message of this embarrassing post is – there will be no New Year’s resolutions, because I’m a wimp, so no use. However, I want to wish all of you that all of your resolutions would come true. Also, if you’re to assume any new roles in the coming year, let them only be pleasant, i.e., Marie Curie or Clint Eastwood. Let nobody surprise you in disagreeable ways, least of all – yourself. And let every blog you read be exciting and updated every day. Twice.
Hooray for new beginnings!
Okay, can’t write on account of rolling on the floor laughing. Let me address you to this bit of sheer genius so you can join me down here.
Seriously though, what’s with the Pippi Longstocking syndrome*? Why do people call their children names that imply their parents hate them? What is the overwhelming need to use nouns as names based on? I mean, Summer?! Really?
Some people seem to think that a child is not a whole new person as much as a creative project. Well hey, I’m not here to judge. I am here to feel deep commiseration. Dear mistreated children of the world, all you Jairickas and Irelynds and Alliwens out there – I’m feeling for you.
*You do know her full name was Pippilotta Delicatessa Windowshade Mackrelmint Efraim’s Daughter Longstocking, don’t you?
Now that I’m facing a blogging marathon, it’s only fit to talk about inspiration. That’s an increasingly important issue for me.
I was first really inspired to start blogging by Superhero, whose writing is simple yet deep, and she also takes great pictures, makes cool necklaces, and is a hip new mom – what do you want, she’s got superpowers. When I read her archives starting from day one (uhh, stalker!), I felt that her main message for me was: ‘Make it happen for yourself. It’s easier than you think.’
That was a year ago. I’ve been thinking about that ever since. I’ve even talked about it here. What’s worrying me though, is that self-induced inspiration seems a little… dry? Strained? My point is, I do to myself what inspiration is supposed to do – make myself work, make things happen, make life interesting. Yet there’s always a sense of duty to it. Like I tell myself: ‘be inspired! Feel joy! NOW!’
And though it does work, the whole point gets undermined. It’s like curing a cold by yelling at a patient to stop fooling around and get better. Yeah, they do get better – because they’re bullied into it! Admittedly, they are healthy. But wasn’t there a better way to achieve that?
Unfortunately, I still need to learn to deal with the better way. Great art, music, books, movies, and people get me hyper and stammery and all ‘WE NEED TO DO SOMETHING!! LET’S CREATE!! LET’S LIVE A FULL EXCITING LIFE!!’ I don’t really know how to get past that stage and into actually doing the stuff. I only get there by dutifully telling myself to.
There are certain processes a human organism goes through naturally, arriving at wholesome results and overall joy. Sometimes the process doesn’t happen, and then a painful procedure is required to drag the body through it. Like braces. I guess due to certain reasons I need inspiration braces. That’s what the dull following of my own orders is doing for me. Restrictive, yet hopefully effective.
I am getting real braces too, though. More on that tomorrow.
I have this tiny spoon. It has an enamel shield on its end with a picture of micro-people on a micro-beach, and the actual spoon part is engraved with ‘Aloha from Hawaii!’. I’ve had it for almost as long as I can remember – my great aunt Sarah gave it to me on one of my earlier single-digit birthdays.
The spoon spent several years lying around in some drawer, and then one day someone dug it up and said ‘Wow, this is nice, why don’t we ever use it?’. And now we do. It’s really small, and therefore perfect for eating things you want to savour or can’t tolerate big spoonfuls of. Like honey. Or some delicious creamy substance of which you don’t have nearly as much as you’d like to.
Today, as I was having my tea, I suddenly realized I don’t know where aunt Sarah got this thing from. I don’t think it was a common product of the Soviet cutlery industry. And I know for sure my aunt has never been to Hawaii. She has this Jewish-granny habit of finding gifts for everyone in her very deep and full cupboards. So how did this thing end up in there?
Now, when I’m 21 and starting to be able to think a bit, I understand that I haven’t been paying any attention to the things that are happening to me. I wish I could repeat everything I forgot, let slide, ignored and left unnoticed before today. I wish I had asked ‘Where’d you get that?’ every time someone gave me an unusual present. There would’ve been so many stories.
I have to call aunt Sarah tomorrow.
I saw this social ad today, a driver-oriented poster that read: “Driver, look out for my children and I’ll look out for yours”. Quite impressive, in a vaguely Mafia-ish sort of way. However, this was posted at a bus stop. Kinda kills the whole idea there, no?
An image came to mind – several geeky protesters gathered for a rally in the privacy of their own home. They’re enjoying some home-made cookies while boasting about the provocative slogans they’ve made up and the offensive banners they’ve crafted. They never actually come out to the streets. Ever.
Now I’ve been watching America’s Got Talent clips on YouTube recently, and this question came to mind. The people who come on stage in that show are staggeringly two-fold. They’re either really great or so foul that the word lousy wouldn’t suit them on the best of days. Not to mention the fact that some of the acts are just embarrassing.
So what I’m trying to figure out is how come both of these kinds of people sincerely believe they are talented? I mean, how does this kind of taste split happen in a nation?
Is this because of financial differences? Because some people can never afford books and good records and education, so they just don’t have any framework for comparison? They just don’t know what ‘talented’ looks like so they think they’re it?
Or is it because the standards are now so fuzzy? Because we tend to say ‘interesting’ instead of ‘oh God, you suck’ and ‘I’ll call you’ instead of ‘this was the worst date I’ve ever had’? I really appreciate tolerance and giving everyone a chance, but not when it all starts to get outright dishonest.
I guess I’m taking a Church of Pop-culture show too seriously. But I do need to think about this more. Maybe this is just something I don’t get. Maybe the problem is my narrow-mindedness. In which case, oh, I don’t know. Go Granny!