The Obvious

all roads lead to this

Posted in cat, important, israel, places, travel by theobvious on January 28, 2012

Sometimes a journey can last a lifetime. Our journey to Jerusalem did. And it also lasted a year. And also six weeks. And also ten days. And also 24 hours.

We had been talking for years about moving here. On and off, we kept wondering why most of our friends are here, and we aren’t. Why we insist on inflicting the harsh Eastern European climate on ourselves. Why we live in a city where A. has nothing to entice and challenge him. Why we keep visiting here, but never stay.

A year ago exactly, at the end of January 2011, as we were riding the bus from Eilat to Jerusalem having just crossed the Egyptian border, with the intention of grabbing our things from a friend’s house and running to the airport to go home, we suddenly made a pact we would put an end to this. A year from now, we vowed, we would move here for good. We started telling everyone we knew, to make it impossible to go back on the decision. We started our preparations… no, that we didn’t do. This we put off. Instead, we traveled. Just talking about the move was enough, just prefacing most of our future tense sentences with “when we move,” or “while we’re still here”. We had a chance to secure visas here in August, then in November, but neither worked out.

Six weeks ago A. had to go to Russia. Things had become critical there, and his presence was needed. There were also the visa troubles to attend to, and that, too, pushed him to the country he was trying, almost, to denounce. It transpired that he had to stay there for an entire month. I went out there for the latter half of it to share this time, and together amid the snow, we said our thorough goodbyes to our friends, which did not bring as much pain as it could have. Soon, thought we, we would never have to see snow again. And soon enough our loved ones would come visit.

Ten days ago we were finally in Vilnius again. There was a daunting task ahead of us: we hadn’t begun our packing, and nothing was to be left in the apartment we were leasing out. Not to mention that we still had no visa. The anticipated frantic scramble led me to escalating hysteria before even the first carton was opened to pile books inside. The house I had accustomed myself to seeing as my refuge, my shelter, was now at a late stage of a decaying disease which was robbing it of its personality, its ourness. Our pictures were removed, and empty frames gaped at me from the walls with embarrassing woodenness. Every meeting with every friend or relative reeked of finality. I had my goodbye roda at capoeira class and did not tear up, though I had fully expected to. This was it. It was snowing non-stop, and I felt as if my heart’s city was cleansing itself of me, covering itself up after our prolonged amorous encounter. We took a train to freezing Minsk and after a measured amount of humiliation returned the same day with passports bearing Israeli visas.

On Wednesday, our physical journey began. We loaded all of our possessions into a minivan. The cat was trembling in his plastic confinement, driven into shock by the tribulations he sensed were ahead. A good eight hours later, we were in a dingy room on the outskirts of Minsk. I dealt with the unreal reality by immersing myself in work. After four hours of sleep we continued on the next leg of the trip, which was the scariest flight I’d ever experienced because it was obviously the scariest thing the cat had ever experienced. On the plane, I read John Green’s new novel, The Fault In Our Stars. By landing-time, the cat was screaming and foaming at the mouth, he had soiled himself and left a deep gash in my hand in his attempt to flee, and I was suddenly crying, either because of the book, his suffering, or the realization that only then began to dawn, that we had left home for good.

Ironically, Welcome Home was the motto of the afternoon. Having cleaned up the poor beast, we were carted to an old and homemade-looking absorption center, where we were cooed over, given coffee, and handed our first papers and some cash. Then followed a cab ride with fellow new Jerusalemites, one of them a slightly jaded-sounding American poet, another – a red-cheeked turtle. Finally, the journey was over. All of them were. It was suddenly clear that the journey, for me, was an end in itself. All of the emotional, physical, and financial investment had led to this point in time, and nothing else. It came as a surprise that after moving here, we also had to live here.

I am sipping hot water now, wrapped in someone’s warm poncho, wearing untied shoes, in a red armchair in the corner of a friend’s house. I spent the morning working on stylist interviews and Turkish Jewish music, while A. was out and people were playing vaguely French tunes on an accordion and the battered organ downstairs. There is work to do and our own apartment to find. There are places to go and people to meet. The cat is fine. Winter’s bleak sunshine is filling the yard. It is exceptionally cold. It is shabbat.

scattered thoughts ten years later

Posted in important, thoughts by theobvious on September 13, 2011

On 09/11/2001 I woke up feeling extremely worried. It was the day of the first class in a course for hotline volunteers. How terrifying that this was ten years ago. It was on the very cusp of my adult life. I was starting tenth grade, and was technically younger than the required 16, but had been accepted nonetheless, and was now facing a class in a new place with a roomful of strangers who would, in all likelihood, be older than me. A set of circumstances to cause anxiety in a fussy teen concerned with first impressions, if ever there was one.

As I was getting ready to go, something caught my eye on the TV. It was footage of a plane flying directly into a very tall building. I had no idea what the building was, but I was knowledgeable enough in aerodynamics to know that this was not supposed to be happening. The footage repeated several times, slowed down to give me a chance to study every detail of the fuzzy picture. There were clouds of dust billowing from the building. It was folding into itself. I was being late.

It transpired, however, that I was one of the first to arrive. We sat on chairs arranged in a circle in the attic that would go on to house us, with our bonding, learning, and frustrations, two nights a week, rain or shine, for over a year (and then another year for me, five years later, when I had to repeat the course, having abandoned the hotline in favor of 10th grade exams, and then returned, tired of regretting that choice). We knew none of that yet. We were feeling awkward: two, then three, four people who knew nothing about each other, sitting around waiting. The only common topic we could find was what we had all seen on TV that morning, some having watched more than others.

So we sat there for half an hour, talking about the plane crashing into the building. Some knew more about the event than I did, but I think at that time nobody knew for sure. We thought perhaps war was about to break out. We speculated on whether this had been done on purpose or not. The older members of our incomplete circle explained some things, but I, conscious of being the youngest and wishing to appear clever (my perpetual goal as a teen), did not ask many questions, choosing to pronounce important-sounding opinions instead.

What I learned only weeks later was that one of the people in that circle, a young man who went on to be a good friend of mine, a crush even, was in fact studying to be a firefighter. He was learning all the skills which did not help the men and women who perished saving lives on 09/11, and he was doing it at a school which was, as I discovered, a bus stop away from my parents’ home. He went to the U.S. later for a work and travel program, saying he was sick of fighting fires. I do not know what became of him. I am not sure why this feels important and symbolic, but it does.

The world is small. It is very small and full of coincidences and connections. There is also much evil in the world. That in itself is not frightening. It is as it should be, perhaps. What is frightening, though, is the links that run through everything and everyone, and connect the evil to the good with ties which are impossible to sever. You never know, never can know, who and what will tip the scale that final little bit for the good to pull irreparable evil after it. This is what is scariest to me about 09/11, and I understood or contemplated none of it ten years ago.

this one’s for the ladies

Posted in film, important, nablopomo by theobvious on November 14, 2010

Warning! This is a silly post! Proceed at your own peril.

We all know that smart and cynical is the new sexy. Not every modern intelligent woman wants Schwartz or Brad Pitt any more—many will much rather have House. The kind of woman that loves with her brain appreciates the brilliance and clever repartee that the likes of Gregory House, MD have to offer, even if they come without a shock of blond hair and piercingly blue eyes. The lineup of unlikely heartthrobs up to now has included, to name a few:

Edmund Blackadder (especially Series 2, I think): cowardly, spiteful, egotistic, and very clever.

Gregory House: brash, egocentric, addicted to drugs, misanthropic, and very clever.

Hank Moody: a failure in many ways, insolent, sex addict, no self-control, and yes, clever.

John James Preston (Mr. Big): conceited, irrational, weak-willed, yet still clever.

Remember, these are not personal favorites, but results of highly scientific research. (My own tastes are only reflected in Blackadder being named first, he he.) These men may not be uniformly handsome, but they are all appealing to the female intelligence. Well, my selfless quest for new knowledge has yielded an addition to the list in the shape of:

Bernard Black. He is an alcoholic, to be sure, those droopy eyelids may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he is disgustingly messy, he hates people, and he smokes like a chimney. But! He owns a bookstore (+212 cool points with a reading woman), and knows his Austen from his Toole. He is charmingly eccentric, and quite witty in the right way. (“I fell, it was not exactly dashing.”) He is grumpy and possessive of his books, and he ruffles his hair when he’s troubled—and so I rest my case and you all must watch the regrettably short Black Books right now.

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re: israel

Posted in important, israel by theobvious on January 10, 2009

Someone called me Zionist scum comma pig very recently. Admittedly, I’ve never thought of myself in these terms before, but I do think Israel has the right to protect itself against terrorism. And just because there are beasts in Gaza who happily prop their missile launch pads on their babies’ cribs, that in itself is not reason enough to sit around and let them bomb cities for years during a cease-fire.

Israel tries its damnedest to avoid hitting civilians, while Hamas terrorists aim specifically for them – and then go to Israeli hospitals and get treatment for deteriorated hearing (occupational injury). Israel provides medical services to terrorists who insult personnel and claim that they will get back to shooting missiles as soon as they have been treated. Israel is trying to force out a government which is detrimental to its own citizens.

I really wish there was a way to have every single terrorist drop dead without hurting innocent people (even though it is hard not to wonder to what extent anyone is innocent there, apart from the babies). However, as that is not happening just yet, it would be nice at least not to see people everywhere assuming this absurdly holier-than-thou position of judging Israel for its ‘inadequate response’, ‘cruelty’, ‘massacre’, and ‘genocide’.

I honestly believe that people should either keep out of it or accept that Israel has been fighting this war at great costs for a very long time, and that there is no such thing as being against terrorism, but also against using military methods of forcing it down. One is either against Hamas, and ergo for any way that allows to destroy it, or pro-terrorism, in which case one is not normal and deserves to go fight in the war instead of all the young boys and girls whose parents are going prematurely grey-haired as we speak.

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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spaced in

Posted in home, important, news by theobvious on June 11, 2008

Living with one’s parents, as I’m sure I’ve said before, has its ups and downs, the most obvious up being all the free food – I mean of course, the meaningful experience of sharing one’s life with one’s family! – and the most obvious down being the absolute lack of privacy. Yes, now I come to think of it, I’ve definitely said this already. Once or twice or a bajillion times. You can probably tell it bugs me just a wee bit.

Well, since last night the tide has officially changed for A. and me, and it brought some valuable driftwood in the form of a new bed! (Which, for people who’d been sleeping on a fold-out crappo-bed for two years straight, is a big deal. I am posting this drunk and stoned, floating on a huge pink imaginary cloud of happiness, and singing a solemn hymn.) Okay, it’s a corner sofa. But it becomes a queen bed at night.

So in honour of this extraordinary purchase we have changed our whole living arrangement. We built a room around it, shaping a makeshift wall from bookcases, so it’s now a real enclosed space just for the two of us. And I say ‘we’ built it because I did all the heavy fussing. And I say ‘just the two of us’ because the cat and the dog are, for once, not welcome to sleep with us, and no, I don’t care what they think.

Now excuse me while I roll around on my new gloriously even bed with no bits of metal to get embedded in my back, and smell the gorgeously clean upholstery, maybe even lick it a little, just because it’s not likely to give me lethal poisoning. And after I’m done, you can come visit, we are not embarrassed of our room anymore, and we can probably spare a lick or two, if you’re into that sort of thing.

i’m back

Posted in important, love, people by theobvious on April 1, 2008

Wow, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? It’d be a lie to say I missed the Internet. I was having too much fun. As a result of this week though, there were over 1000 new posts on LiveJournal and over 700 sitting in my Google Reader when I switched the laptop on today. I’m almost through now, but I skimmed, so sorry for the lack of comments.

The plan was to pretend nothing had happened and head straight to class-coffee-workout, but all I could muster any enthusiasm at all for was the gym – now that I’d missed. Tae Bo is invigorating and I can’t wait to switch to a real martial art class when I shape up at the gym. Class – meh. I might go tomorrow, or not, depends how long I spend enjoying the sunny spring weather in the afternoon.

Right before I left a touching story happened: a famous blogger posted about some bad news in her family. Most of her readers immediately assumed her mother had died, because the mother is also a blogger, loved by all. So when they found out she was, in fact, not dead, they all left her comments like – ‘So glad you’re alive!’ and ‘Great that you’re still here!’

When I read that, I thought how we never usually tell people that. I’m glad you’re alive? That’s weird. But then suddenly they’re gone, or you’re just not talking to them anymore – and that’s it. You’ve not said it and they will never know. So now upon my return to the www, I’m rushing first off to say to my beloved friends and relatives: even if you don’t read this, it’s awesome that you’re alive! I understand it all the better now, after having spent a week with many of you and now returned to my City of Few People. Miss you all already.

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follow the link

Posted in blogroll, important, link by theobvious on March 16, 2008

English is probably the language with the most non-native speakers brazen enough to use it for public purposes such as blogging. While some of us have only scraped together enough of it to pass for Frenchmen (you seemply ‘ave to see somesing wiz Depardieu, ‘ee is merveilleux!), others are doing their Oxford education justice by using quotes from Cervantes and including in their introductory post such words as bereft and assessment criterium.

It is my pleasure to present to you, my dear five and a half readers, the newest addition to my blogroll, one of my oldest (and cleverest) friends – Le Bagatelle. For those of you in doubt, this is not his real name.


Posted in important by theobvious on March 11, 2008

‘Where are you from?’ – ‘Lithuania.’ – ‘Oh, Soviet Union?’

Seventeen years ago today was the day everyone ought to have stopped saying that. Ever since then, we have two Independence Days. One is the day of our Independence from the Russian Empire in 1918, the other – celebrated today – is the day of our separation from the Soviet Union in 1991.

When I was eleven, we spent three months in a village near Oxford. My brother and I went to school with the local kids. They were so friendly and welcoming, we felt very warm. Every day for three months someone would smile at me and ask – ‘Can you say the name of your country again?’

It’s Li-thu-a-ni-a, darling. The country that almost every American sitcom I’ve seen (and I’ve seen many!) has used for ‘obscure location’ jokes at least once. The country that has struggled for centuries to be independent and is now struggling to be recognized. It’s not that I’m bitter, of course.

The notorious Art Lebedev has just blogged about his recent U.S. trip, which could have been ruined for the simple reason of denied car rental, had the clerk not discovered USSR on the list of allowed countries. Russia was not on that list, because someone had no comprehension of geography.

As I said in the beginning, all this should have ended in 1991. It hasn’t. Happy Independence Day, Li-thu-a-ni-a! Everyone else – USSR is no more. That’s fifteen new countries to learn. Make a note in your calendars or something.

free hugs in vilnius

Posted in event, important, life, photos, vilnius by theobvious on February 11, 2008

This Saturday the Free Hugs Campaign was brought to Vilnius by Fabrice the fabulous Frenchman. The nice people over at Laimikis brought this to public attention, and they also said they could use some photos. So I grabbed a friend, and more importantly, his camera, and went out to shoot some hugs.

I took close to 300 pictures, out of which about 30 came out presentable. They are all on my Flickr page, and here are three (to make all the numbers match) I especially like:

When I asked Fabrice why he had decided to do this here in Vilnius, he said he had done it twice in Siberia, so Vilnius was bound to be easier. Which is a strange answer, but what do you expect from a guy who gave out hugs to frowning people in furs.

We walked around the two main squares of town, the eleven huggers with their signs and me with my camera, making people laugh, squirm, run away, nudge each other, and swear at us (just a couple times), and experienced the city like never before.

We hugged tourists who spoke different languages, children who looked shyly to their mothers for permission, old people whose eyes shone at being happily addressed by youngsters, salesmen who gave us small sweets and gifts for every hug…

We advertised more than Juan Mann, the inventor of Free Hugs, would probably recommend, but then we live in a much colder climate. So we followed people asking them for hugs, and said time and time again: ‘Come on, it’s absolutely free!’

At some point we stopped for some tea/milk/cake at the Milk Bar, and when we came out, it was already getting dark. So I packed the camera away and took a hug sign. Hugging a stranger is like having an epiphany – intense, and different every time.

And then, for the first time ever, a local newspaper published a photo I took that day, and I realized that it’s all about being there when it happens. This simple effort will bring me so much closer to everything I’ve ever dreamed of. You too, probably.

Thank you Laimikis, and thanks to everyone who did this. Meeting all you guys and watching the things you did was so much inspiration.

Update: my friend Mark has posted almost every picture I shot with his camera here. Check them out, if you like.

something completely different

Posted in film, good, important by theobvious on February 2, 2008

This is seriously exciting. I was browsing YouTube, looking for something good to watch, and I came across this. Some things are so obvious that it never crosses your mind to even look for them, and when you find them accidentally you couldn’t be happier, so without any further ado I bring you the Hedgehog in the Fog!

It’s a 1975 Russian cartoon by Yuri Norshteyn (the link is to his Wikipedia page), and most of my friends grew up with it, as did I. It has received a number of well-deserved awards over the years, and so did Norshteyn’s other famous work – the Tale of Tales. And what do you know, that one is also on YouTube.

Watching both of these will barely take half an hour out of your life, but it just might be thirty very well spent minutes, so I encourage you to watch and then let me know how you liked it.

worth considering

Posted in important, thoughts, valuable lesson by theobvious on January 13, 2008

I want to share this story that’s been bugging me for a while. Last year, when we were learning in Jerusalem, most of the people surrounding us were American. Including my chevruta (Jewish traditional for ‘study partner’). A very nice guy, he was excellent to study with, very cool with most of the odd things I did, until one day we were talking about something and I was telling him I’d forgotten something.

And I said ‘well, you know me, I have sclerosis.’ Which is a normal expression in Russian, meaning ‘I’m very forgetful’.

Only my chevruta didn’t know that. He gasped, went literally green, and it took me several seconds to realize what was wrong and explain. I apologized, saying that I realized how awful this must have sounded, how terrible this expression was, and how disgustingly I had behaved. All he said was: ‘Yeah that was awful!’ Not just awful, it was a dumb thing to do and I’ve been regretting that moment ever since.

Yesterday I was fuming about someone being incredibly inconsiderate and obnoxious to someone else. I was all, shut up, there’s no excuse for what you are doing! But now I realize – it’s not always that easy to be considerate. That’s not to say it’s okay to treat people like crap, but just sometimes it’s good to remember my own mistakes before I judge. So it’s a quiet day for me today as I think about these things.

it pays to have friends

Posted in good, important, love by theobvious on January 11, 2008

The most awesome thing that happened to me today was when someone said ‘It’s great that it’s going so well for you and A.’ – and I was like, is it? Oh well, I guess it is. Thanks man, you made me think.

And now you might go all House-slash-Cox M.D. on me and say ‘Did I accidentally make you think I had human feelings? That I cared a tiny rat’s ass? You know me better than that.’ Yeah. I still love you.

things of notice

Posted in braces, diy, important, random by theobvious on January 5, 2008

When I’m talking to you and say something that makes you go: ‘Sweet baby [deity of your choice], the poor child is so in love with me! How do I let her down easily?’ or ‘Oh noes, she is in such deep trouble, I need to give her all my money!’ or ‘Ewww, she is so fishing for compliments and it’s so obvious!’ – please remember, I’m not saying any of these things. I just don’t think before I speak. Except for when I say ‘I am waaaay too fat and ugly to eat this.’ In that case I do expect you to tell me I’m the prettiest, slimmest girl you’ve ever seen. Alternatively, ‘Shut up, you moron!’ will also do.

Now that’s out of the way, I’d like to address the person who googled ‘when am i going to diy’ and got to this page. Darling, you made me tear up a little bit. I was all poised and ready with a sermon on how the DIY lifestyle is a smart and easy choice to make, how it’s so much fun and all you need is a bit of determination and a sense of humour, bla bla bla, when I got it. I’m so sorry, but Google is probably not going to help you find the answer. Learning to spell might, but I’m not sure about that either. In any case, I certainly hope you feel good enough to not google it again and will never read this.

And another issue of utmost importance – I think I’m developing very deep, um, nasolabial folds (what’s the human way of saying that?) from keeping my mouth wide open for half an hour every evening, brushing away. This might or might not make me look like a wrinkled old lady. Aaaand now is your cue to tell me good things. Remember, like we just talked about?


Posted in books, good, important, link, vilnius, websites by theobvious on December 18, 2007

I was happy today. Because of little things, like peeling a tangerine at the bus stop and having a woman smile at me, but mainly because I got a new copy of ‘Up the Down Staircase’ and laughed out loud in the street reading my favourite passage, translated perfectly into Lithuanian (I think I should start translating my favourite books pronto, before they are all translated better than I ever could).

I believe every educator should read, and preferably own, this book. No, screw that. I believe every sane person should read and preferably own this book. This is why I’ve made most everyone I know read it, and now I’m giving it to a friend for Christmas. What? He’s a teacher. Have you read this book? You ought to. I hear there’s also a movie, but don’t watch that instead of reading! It’s not the Odyssey after all.

And now that I’m already bossing you around (don’t I have a talent for segues), let me direct you to several websites you might find nice, especially around this time of year, which is all about being charitable and giving others what you have enough of and they haven’t got any. Like food. I can only use some of them for want of a credit card, but at least I can spread the word.

1. FreeRice – a very nice campaign. It’s a word game that lets you expand your vocabulary while giving rice to the poor. Best part – it’s free both for you and the people at the receiving end. It’s also educational, yay!

2. Kiva – this lets you support an entrepreneur of your choice in a developing country. It’s basically a loan program with a smart follow-up system, so you can help someone out of poverty and then watch their progress.

3. Donors Choose – a totally awesome website where teachers submit their educational projects and you can choose which of them to fund with your donation. You will then receive feedback from the students.

4. Of course, there’s always the Red Cross. They are doing an amazing job and need all the help they can get. You get to choose whether to donate to their poverty fund, their disaster relief fund, or plenty other funds.

There’s a nice, albeit less dramatic, project on the web called Streetclash. It’s a street fashion competition. Vilnius is one of the last two finalists, and I encourage you to vote if you like it. There’s a different photo daily.

And then, if you just want to be doing good things for the world, you can give me a paid Flickr account. Just kidding. Instead, always recycle, choose handmade, organic, and fair-trade products, smile to people, and pass these links along.

sense this

Posted in good, important by theobvious on November 26, 2007

Once I’m on the subject of gratitude, here are six more things I’m thankful for:

Sight, because I need all the information I can soak up, and it’s quickest through the eyes. Beauty is also something I couldn’t live without. That is why I love photography.

Sound, because my life is powered by music. And because through words, the world is changed and people are found. We express our love by speaking it, and, more importantly, listening to it.

Smell, because coffee and cinnamon, oranges and grass, paper and ink, water and shampoo, laundry, cats, babies, and friends all smell different. I’m not a dog, but I do follow my nose sometimes.

Texture, because it’s soothing. A bar of soap with little rough particles wakes me up to a new day. There is sensuality in texture – it can be better to touch once than spend hours looking and wishing.

Taste, because life revolves around food and drink. Ultimately, anything that’s done is done around the table. Deals are made, love is born, fights thunder – all between the menu and the check.

Thought, because where would I be without it.

hard to be a girl, so nice to be a jerk

Posted in important, love by theobvious on November 25, 2007

If I were you, I’d have told myself to get over myself already with the braces. Think of the African kids, I would exclaim theatrically. They can’t get braces, good for them, I would reply sourly. Much bickering would ensue.

You didn’t say any such thing to me, Internet people, because as a rule you are not jerks. I, on the other hand, sometimes am. It’s amusing to be cynical. It’s fun to mock people and know for a fact I’m smarter than they are.

If a friend broke a leg (God forbid, of course), I’d be the first to send emotional text messages and bring over soup. I’d look at them with moist eyes and tell them jokes to keep their spirit up. I’d even show them puppy pictures.

But as long as there’s no real trouble – or if I don’t like the person I’m talking to – there’ll be as much sarcasm and teasing as I can produce. And because I only pick smart people as my friends, I usually get away with it.

There isn’t much of a screening process to become my friend. When I meet someone, I understand very quickly whether I like them. If that is the case, the deed is basically done. Pretty much no gradation other than yes/no.

I don’t really know what goes on on the other end. Why do people choose to have anything to do with me? I’m acerbic, smart-aleck-y, honest as a principle (decidedly not a good trait), and lots of other disgusting things.

Whatever the reason, even though I’m a much dumber version of House more often than not,* I still have excellent friends who put up with me and send me under-deserved praise in SMS. And that’s the point. I couldn’t be more thankful.

*At other times, I’m Pitiful Whiny Girl, all OCD and anxiety, no brains, just emotions. Even less attractive and we’ll talk about it some other time.

1+1 doesn’t have to be 3

Posted in a., family, important, love by theobvious on November 12, 2007

Look at my blogroll. Most of it is mom-blogs, journeys of adoption, fertility battles, different children, huge families. I guess it might be hard to believe that I am childless and planning to stay that way for a while. Not very surprisingly, then, I was asked about children again today. Here are some of the most common ways I’ve been asked that before:

  • ‘I want grandchildren!’
  • ‘So when should we expect to see you expecting?’
  • ‘How about little ones?’
  • ‘I heard you’re pregnant!’

No kidding about that last one. That was about the most popular thing to say to me when I just got married. Somehow, people assume that you don’t get married when you’re eighteen unless there’s a reason for that growing in your belly. You are commonly expected to fall in love, live together, sleep together, use flavoured condoms, get an exotic pet. But marriage? That’s for adult folks.

And then, when they are finally convinced that you got married because you actually love each other, they start trying to fit you into the next stage of their stereotypes: a family is only supposed to be complete when there is a kid. Therefore, naturally, we must be planning one in the nearest future. And people don’t hesitate to ask us about those plans whenever they feel like it.

I am a little tired of saying the same things over and over again: I am not ready. My husband might be, everyone else might be – but I’m not. I have issues that I need to sort out before I even start to think of bringing a whole new person into the world. I am not ready to commit. I am impulsive and irresponsible. I am afraid of pregnancy. I feel utterly unsuitable for parenthood.

It is still strange for me that I’m not alone anymore and never will be. That I always need to act with regard to the feelings of a particular human being. That I need to control my wishes and behaviour for someone else’s sake. There are so many things I can’t do anymore, and miss doing, that I don’t think I’m even physically capable of taking on any more restrictions right now.

This does sound harsh, but no, I don’t view my husband as a hindrance. Nor do I view children as inhibitions. I’m not child-free, I love children and want to have them one day. Right now, though, I’m just scared out of my mind. I am also angered by the hard time people are giving me without even intending to, just by being a little thick – and the even harder time I’m giving myself.


Posted in important, me myself, photos by theobvious on November 6, 2007

Another picture. This, in case you were wondering, is me.

I do look a little square in this picture, and I did mess up the black-and-white filter a little. But it is me.

I need to remember that: even if my filters are messed up (and they sure as hell are), I’m me. And I’m fine. Hi.

talking in images

Posted in important, news, photos by theobvious on October 21, 2007

I am currently unable to force a blog post out of myself, especially as the top priority for forcing is work, of which I haven’t been doing much. So I will try and distract you, o readers, with a couple of photos – always entertaining, and easy for me to post.

The legendary courtyard on Jozefa street in Krakow. It was a bit of a walk, but that’s okay, because we found two bookstores and a pizza restaurant on the way (Pizza Factory – my gnocchi were top notch, and so were the other dishes, I hear). The courtyard itself was nice but not extraordinary, largely because of an ungodly eatery located smack in the middle of it.

tiny hand
An old family friend with a very new family friend. This is I. with baby E., born exactly two months ago to a couple of our dear friends. Even though I. has no babies of her own, she knows exactly what to do with them. As soon as she takes E. in her arms, the child stops whining and falls asleep. Look at those precious tiny little baby hands!


Look – E. has a face (sorry about the layout, if you click on the picture, you’ll see its full glorious version)! And I have watermarked my pictures! But only some of them – because who would want to steal my pictures. Right? Right?!

My computer is being excruciatingly slow, and I need to get back to writing some stuff and then maybe working. Don’t tell A. – he is sure that we’re both heading to bed now.


THIS JUST IN: Another couple of our friends just had a baby girl five hours ago! Yee-hah and mazal tov! Pictures will not be posted on this blog anytime soon, but let’s all think a great big good thought in honor of the new girl.

good job, me, keep it up

Posted in important, me myself by theobvious on October 16, 2007

Today was Blog Action Day. I am not intending this post to be about the environment, but it’s worth mentioning. I wholly support the idea that when many separate people think about something hard enough, it might just change for the better.

For me, however, today was just – Action Day. It could also bear the alternative name of Get A Grip Day, or – Go On Already Day. This means that I did many of the things I’ve been wanting to do, going to do, or fearing for a very long time. And I must admit – it feels uncomfortable, yet liberating.

I started the day off by going to the doctor’s. I have a condition, nothing grave, but it has been with me my whole life, and it has its inhibitions. For as long as I remember, The Day I Got It Taken Care Of has been a distant, yet powerful pillar of hope on the horizon of life. Kind of like prom, only huger. Well, today was supposed to be that day, but of course, it doesn’t happen like that. My appointment with the doc was just the beginning of a long journey. However, even if it will take two or three rather painful years, I now know that it is real, not just a dream.

The next thing I did was walk the five minutes to driving school and enroll. Well, not enroll per se, it is still going to be a couple of days while they process the installment plan application, and then I need to get my health certificate (which will finally make me go through with the social insurance papers, which are long overdue) – but the point is, I’m on my way to achieving another ambition. It seems that pretty soon I’ll be contributing to the national traffic problem, and I couldn’t be happier.

Lastly, I worked out. That’s a major issue for me, because I enjoy exercise, I certainly do not enjoy being too fat for my own liking, but I tend to slack. Today I did about twenty minutes of jump-rope, which is an intensive cardio workout if there ever was one, and then I went out for an hour or so with my brother to exercise my firestaff skills, which are beyond pitiful right now, but I’m trying. I went outside, though it’s cold and dark, and that in itself is a separate Action for my Action Day.

Tomorrow I will try to go to that sociology class I’ve been skipping, and on Wednesday I have an intro-meeting at the Children’s Hotline about that training course I never finished as a kid and have been regretting abandoning for the last five years. I am also planning to meet up with a former best friend whom I’ve fallen out with lately. Thursday should catch me checking out that capoeira group I have been lusting for, and that should complete my Action Week.

Suddenly I believe I can stop looking to others for inspiration – I can try and inspire myself. Things are much easier to deal with when I stop fretting about them or thinking I’m not good enough. I can do most anything when I try. Time to get trying.