I’ve come up with, I think, a great pearl of wisdom for a superstitious yet weirdly open-minded folk. It goes like this:
Never tell a dead person they’re dead. They may freak out and there’s no knowing what’ll happen.
Unfortunately, this is an equally great idea for one of those morbid zombie apocalypse novels which have been proliferating like particularly disgusting germs lately. Except that in such a novel the second sentence should read, “they may freak out and we know all too well what’ll happen.”
The weather makes me apply lip balm so often that I’m starting to regret that I don’t post photos of myself with the infamous duck-face. It’s just a waste of nice balmed-up lips, I say. And to get the weather topic out of the way, how much more difficult is it to walk on a snow-ice mixture than on good dry land? I feel like I’m walking to work twice as long and arriving twice as tired.
Anyway, what this was really meant to be about was television. It’s probably very funny and/or exasperating for normal TV-watching people to hear snobby intellectuals discussing their favourite shows. Of course, now, with the ascent of well-written series combined with on-line streaming, the stigma has been lifted somewhat, and yet sometimes those people find themselves drawn to a reality- or talk-show, or something lowbrow like that, and then strict conversation rules and rituals come in.
1. Dissociation from the disgraceful habit:
A: You know what I saw on TV the other day? Not that I ever watch it, of course!
B: I don’t even own one.
2. Justification, at times betraying normal human reactions:
A: Neither do I, I was visiting someone who had it on. So anyway, this cooking competition was on, and normally I wouldn’t even— but this was educational! They bring in highly professional judges, and the process is portrayed in detail. You would love it, it’s like a backstage pass to the inner workings of the culinary world.
B: Do you mean Current Top Cooking Show? I know, it is such an enriching experience! Enthralling. Although they had no call eliminating that girl, her dish was perfectly sophisticated.
3. Pretentious term-dropping, because posing as a connoisseur helps rehabilitate self:
A: I know, right? It is all so completely staged. You see, my view is that they need to keep up their initial type-casting, so once they started giving that other girl the bitch-edit, they had to keep her on, even though her presentation was, like, entirely unremarkable.
B: Totally. And yet I wonder, perhaps some of the emotions they display are authentic after all. The show would just lose its value if it was all directing and editing, you know what I mean.
A: You said it.
And so on. This is a conversation I have personally had several times. All the while, normal people go: “Seen Cooking Show? What did you think?” “I was at my mother’s, so I TiVo’ed it, but I hear they kept the stupid bitch again, what’s up with that?” “I know, and they sent the nice girl home, I liked her a lot, she was pretty and friendly!” “She was. This show is going downhill.” Is that better or worse that vegging out with streaming Seinfeld every night and saying haughtily that you only watch series made by top directors and have never laid your hands on that dreaded contraption, the TV-set? I don’t even know.
Incidentally, have you seen Project Runway? It’s a great show, and very educational. You really feel as though you’re learning something about the backstage of the fashion world. Top notch, although of course the biased editing does take its toll… Still, can’t wait for next season (not that I’ll be watching, or anything, we don’t even own a TV).
Now we’re living the life. It’s 8.45 p.m., there’s no running water in the house (we’ve gone down a level, for the past three days there was just hot water, and now that’s gone as well), and no food but raw potatoes which we can’t wash because [see above]. We might be vegetarians, but we’re not raw eaters yet. And A. hasn’t eaten for two days, because he had food poisoning yesterday.
So we’re ordering Chinese (great post-poisoning idea!). Who knew the system was so well-developed now? Gone are the days when you’d pore over tattered magnet menus with your phone in hand. Now you go to the website, choose the dishes you like, go to the check-out page, select “pay via internet banking”, wire the money over, and five minutes later—you are done. All that’s left is to wait over an hour with a grumbling stomach. You even get to select your preferences from a list:
“No onions? No sugar? Ice on the side? No nuts? No ___ (we entered “eggs”)?”
These little things in life. They’re awesome. And now I’ll click my mouse several times to have Nigel Planer read me a few paragraphs of Terry Pratchett’s Sourcery so I don’t feel bored while I do my exercises. Because not having information funnelled into me even for ten minutes is just painful. I’m a child of the twenty-first century, aren’t I.
With all the fuss about Vienna, and the excitement of finally getting my reader to understand Polish through a software update (nerd alert!), I went to bed at 2:45 last night, and it took me till after 3 to finally fall asleep. And at about 2:30 I’d realized that I had to be at the dentist’s at 9:30, so wake-up time was 8. So all these calculations may explain why instead of a long post here I’mzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…………………….
Hi, I am not sleeping and here’s why: … no idea, but here’s what my whole family is doing at 3.08 am:
1. Mother is cooking.
2. Brother is requesting a go at the potato mashing thing.
3. Father is playing with his computer.
4. A. is on a train from Russia.
5. Dog is checking for dropped food.
6. Cat is suspicious.
Grandma is the only one trying to sleep.
I am procrastinating – evidently. New schedule: do things until after 2 am, then begin working, do day’s quota by 7 am, go to bed. O course, now it’s after 3 am, so I am behind even this ludicrous agenda.
Here are some weird things that have happened to me lately:
First, a mate of mine called at 6:50 am on a Saturday morning. I only picked up because I keep the phone next to my pillow and it wouldn’t stop ringing. Oh, and because at that God-awful hour it was surely a matter of life and death.
‘What, are you sleeping or something?’ she inquired in amazement.
‘Yeah,’ I was inarticulate.
‘Anyway, I wanted to ask you, if I go to Finland, will you come?’ she blurted out.
‘Now?’ I asked.
‘No, no, just, you know, in general,’ she backed down, ‘If I were to go to Finland, would you come with?’
‘Probably,’ I said, ‘Ask me when I won’t be asleep.’
‘Oh, okay,’ she replied and hung up.
Life and death? Elämä ja kuolema, I’d rather think.
The following Monday I had my first Danish class. Uh, Dænish is sø hård tø prønøunce! If you thought French was difficult, try following instructions like ‘Say LLL, now lower your tongue to your bottom teeth and do it again, force the tongue down, keep it down there!’ Saying phrases like ‘what’s your name’ or ‘what are you doing’ is not unlike swallowing large portions of deep-fried gravel. Did you know that according to statistics only 7% of the letters in a written Danish text are actually heard in the pronunciation? Okay, maybe there are no such statistics, but I didn’t completely pull the number out of my donkey, either!
Finally, today A. gave me tofu with yellow tomatoes and I didn’t die. I totally expected to, you understand.
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.
In a home whose inhabitants mainly feed on ready-made foods it is really difficult to try and eat healthy. Canned fruit in syrup help a great deal, because they are nourishing, low in calories and junk, and delectable.
This is how I discovered that on a jar of strawberries there is a sticker saying: ‘For letters and concerns: [address]‘. How touching, right? Dear strawberry manufacturers, I am concerned that the jar is too small.
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.
The door opens click-whistle-swish, and thump-thumps closed. There are people inside, and their voices are swooshing back and forth like the tide: swooooooooosh-rumble-rumble, swooshhh-murmmmmur. Someone is whispering jokes to a group of friends: fshhh – hahaha – fssshh – hahaha. The woman behind the counter is intoning quietly: nonono-no-no-no-no-yeeees, nono-nono-yeees-no.
The copy machine comes on: hum-hum-hooooooo, click, hummm-hummm-hooooo, click. Pages are being flipped: pshht. Pshht. Pshht. Books are being put down: whap! Whap! Keyboards are clacking: tap-tap-tap-tah. Feet are walking on the carpet: slorp-slosh, and then get onto the parquet: clop-clop. Bags are being opened and closed: zippers – currr-whirrr, and velcro – kkhss!
It’s a busy day at the school library.
When people ask me to ‘say something’, I don’t like to answer ‘something, haha’. Instead I usually say ‘there was a girl named Little Red Riding Hood’.
Now this suddenly struck me as odd: a riding hood is a weird name for a little girl’s head garment, no? I mean, it’s not like she was a little girl jockey! I don’t believe the story ever mentions her riding at all! Not even in a figurative sense.
That’s not what Google will have you believe, however. For a search on ‘riding hood’, I got close to 3 million results. Most of them seem to be Little Something Riding Hood. Not just red. Suffice it to say, half the image results are PG-18.
You know what? Ew. Good thing that in Russian she’s just Red Cap.
– Laptop Snuffs It: Owner Inconsolable, Annoyed
– November Back In Town, Citizens Cranky
– Blogger Graduates Hotline Course, Anxious
– Teapot Googlers Reach New Low
– Blogger, 21, Found Dead Of Boredom
My main plan for this afternoon was a cup of coffee with a dear friend of mine, and I had based the day around it. That went to hell when I was walking through the door, because the dog made it out before me, and when she runs away every plan needs to be put on hold. She hadn’t run away for over a year now, but today her instinct got the better of her.
Anyway, when we were done chasing her through the new snow (kind of fun, but not with disgusting old hags yapping at Dad and me from every direction; God, people can be so bloody annoying) it was too late to go anywhere, so all that was left was put on A.’s old cords and sit down to watch movies. So I finally watched Life of Brian and The Holy Grail.
I really like Monty Python. Theirs is a kind of humour that is easy to appreciate – with a healthy dose of PG-16, but lots of wordplay and just good old tongue-in-cheek parody too. I always watch comedy with the question in mind: was this fun to do for the crew? This seems to have been a hoot, and that makes it all the more enjoyable for me as a viewer.
And there’s also the music. I actually have their album (Monty Python Sings) in my walkman, and it’s hilarious. I’d recommend it to anyone. Life of Brian has some of the funnier songs, while The Holy Grail has lots of its funny moments based on the soundtrack – like the adventures of Sir Robin, or the majestic music that follows Arthur around.
So all in all, I guess I’m trying to say that even though my perfectly thought-through plan for today went haywire, I’m kind of glad it did, because I had a good day in the end. Let’s see this as a sort of practise in looking at the bright side. *whistle whistle*
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.)
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?
‘How do you feel when you marry your ideal?’ – sang Bertie Wooster, also known as ‘Hugh Laurie when he was nowhere as sexy as now, but still had all his own hair’. Well, I can testify that it’s a fine, fine feeling. Today my ideal and I had a great evening which featured some inappropriate jokes, buying stationery, sketching cards with mice (year of the Rat is coming!), lots of goofing around with our friends, decorating their Christmas tree, and ice cream.
We don’t have a Christmas tree at home, which makes sense as we are Jewish and don’t celebrate Christmas. However, today I had some ideas that might make your tree look a little different from every other tree in the apartment block. I haven’t got any pictures, so use your imagination. All of these are delightfully easy to make, the supplies are cheap and the advice is absolutely gratis as I don’t have a way to use it and it’s probably nothing new anyway.
You will need:
– lightweight round objects (i.e., foam balls)
– fun colourful fabric (i.e., tablecloth you won’t regret cutting up)
– needle and thread
– cut the fabric into squares
– wrap each ball, making a bundle like Santa’s gift bag
– stitch the top together, adding a loop of ribbon to the back
– hang it up!
2. Grandma Balls
You will need:
– boring ornament balls (too different, too identical, too old, whatever)
– fun yarn
– take each ornament ball and dab it with glue here and there
– wrap the yarn snugly around the ball, covering it completely
– hang it up!
3. Modern Art
You will need:
– the cheapest set of plain metal cutlery you find
– red ribbon
– tie a bit of ribbon to each piece of cutlery (forks should look best)
– hang ’em up!
Note: you could also use your best antique silverware, but then you’ll have to keep an eye on it.
4. Dressed Up
You will need:
– beaded necklaces and bracelets (cheap at thrift stores and supermarkets)
– connect them all by the ends to form a multi-colored and -textured garland
– wrap the garland around your tree!
Now, isn’t all this just bloody brilliant. Maybe we should get a tree, and then have a decoration craft-party, and then enjoy the tree for three whole minutes, and then get thrown out of the house by all the Jews and militant eco-freaks who surround us? That does sound like a great plan. May we come and sleep over at your place when we’re homeless?
This blog only got ten views today. All through a Google search for “I’m a Little Teapot”. All of one post. I wonder what is up with these people – it’s not even on the first page in Google. It’s actually on the third. Yes, I checked. And someone who’d be looking for the actual rhyme would have found it way before they got to the third page.
I mean, this is nothing compared to being found through a search for ‘shemales in Vilnius’ (happened once, still proud), but I’m still wondering whether it’s worth it to risk posting on a more Google-friendly topic to increase my traffic? Like… ENLARGE YOUR PENI$!!! FREE TODAY!!! HOT STRIPPER BLONDE DELIVERY WITH EVERY PURCHASE!!!!!!!!!!
There, now I’ll sit back and wait for the lonely male visitors to come pouring in – to face a great disappointment. Bwahaha.
Updated in a couple of hours: No blonde lovers as yet, but another, differently phrased, request for the damn little teapot. This is starting to get annoying.
Ever since our return from St. Petersburg I’ve been thinking about the way that city is so young, but has enormous history and cultural value, and I don’t really understand how it all fits into those measly three centuries.
I wonder how it felt to be living in one of the great cities of the world when they were only just built. Imagine all those letters on stone tablets, parchment, and birch barks people sent their friends in the ‘cool’ metropolises (shouldn’t it be ‘metropoli’?):
If you still think your Grandpa was wrong when he decided not to leave Egypt, think again. So you’ll probably marry a shikse. But at least you don’t have to spend day and night lugging stones in Jerusalem. They tell us this will be a city of gold, and bronze, and light. Yeah, right.
I wish yov covld come visit me here. It’s no Rome, obviovsly, bvt Paris has a certain provincial charm. The bagvettes are top notch! I wish there was something cvltvral to do here. Anything, really.
Love yov as always, send books.
I am doinge fairly well in Londoun. It’s quite nice here, but those laundry-women everyone keeps talkinge about knowe no newe songs and keep singinge all the same crappe. Sir Tymberlake is so annoyinge.
Thou art myn fairest love, as ever.
Moscow is treating me fine, except it has burned down again. Please tell Mom that I’m out of clean socks.
Ahhh, those were the days. Now all these cities are so intimidating, when every other building is a museum. But there were times they were all just not Constantinople. It’s strangely pleasing to think about that.
[Here was a paragraph on my suffering, but I erased it. Marvel at my restraint.]
Anyway, I wanted to be brief today, but then I remembered this post by Rachel of the many talents and the new Yorkie (which, oh my god, squee!). She mentions that for her to enjoy a short post, its author needs to have a decent vocabulary.
Which makes perfect sense, but it also causes self-consciousness in people like me. Do I have the right to post short? Is my vocabulary decent or does it need to put on more clothes? Am I articulate enough for Rachel and the rest of you to like me?
So I performed a simple experiment, where I visited ten ‘Word of the Day’ pages to see if I knew the words. Observe:
1) deipnosophist – someone skilled in table talk. I didn’t know this word before. I’m not likely to remember it, either. Nor am I skilled in table talk.
2) victual – food usable by people. This one I knew, but its pronunciation befuddled me. It’s one of the words I recognize in writing, but have never heard pronounced.
3) titian – a bright reddish or golden auburn colour. Didn’t know this one, would probably have understood it in a sentence from context. It’s rather straightforward really.
4) ardent – showing or having warmth of feeling, passionate. Well, duh.
5) pumpkin – do we really need a definition? Hee hee hee!
6) disparity – difference in quality or kind. Understand it well. Haven’t used it in a sentence.
7) poultrarian – a person who eats vegetarian food and select cuts of chicken and turkey. I know several people like that. Didn’t know the word. I also encourage you to check out yesterday’s word on that website. Unless you’re my mom. Then stay away from there!
8) assiduous – diligent, unceasing, persistent. Uh-huh.
9) Molotov cocktail – a type of petrol bomb. I’d rather I didn’t know what this meant.
10) monument – something that stands to keep something in remembrance. Har har at the definition. Yes, I knew the word.
Okay, result: seven out of ten, including ‘pumpkin’. (Does that compromise the purity of my experiment?) Here’s a challenge: could you use all ten in one sentence? I guess today’s lesson is that I’m okay, but just to be safe I should make my posts longer to compensate for the lack of interesting words.
Best not done while I’m on painkillers.
Today is Cutting of the Goose Day in Sursee, Switzerland. The original name for that holiday is Gansabhauet. Here’s how the website explains it:
The tradition is related to the fact that interests and taxes were due on Martini day in the middle ages and farmers had to deliver 10% of their crops in town.
What they do is have young men cut a goose from a rope. Blindfolded. That’s it. Delightfully simple. Imagine having a whole big celebration for that.
…Children tugging at their mothers’ sleeves weeks before, whining how they want Gansabhauet already, when o when is it coming? And husbands, sipping their beers, murmuring, ‘About time to start looking at geese, Hans is finally of age. Don’t want Georg telling me our goose is skinny.’ And mothers, lovingly stroking their oldest sons’ hair (mooooom!), thinking about the outfit they’re going to sew them for the occasion.
Ach, small town romance. I’d like to visit Sursee one day. After all, it is the winner of the Wakker Prize 2003! But I’m pretty sure I won’t be going on Dead Upside-down Geese Day.