Monday, September 26, 2011

Game of Thrones high


"I learned that I'll never win. Not that way. That's their game. Their rules. I'm not going to fight them. I'm going to fuck them. That's what I know. That's what I am. And only by admitting what we are can we get what we want."
Petyr Baelish

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Pfff

I'm bored out of my mind. And I know only boring people get bored, but I just don't care anymore. Mostly I'm bored because I'm too lazy to do anything, or it could be I no longer find anything exciting enough to be worth me getting out of bed for. I listened to Carmen but I already know most of it. I cooked some spicy stuff, but I'm no longer impressed with my kitchen skills. I browsed around ebay and couldn't find anything to spend more money on. The stuff I do have to do, like write an email to my professor or finish my huge reporting piece, well, they scare and bore me at the same time. I don't know what I want to do with my time. Maybe I'm a bit lonely. Maybe love has made me soft and sort of clingy. I don't like myself like I used to and I give more fucks than I used to. I try to repeat mantras in my head. Telling myself only I can choose to be happy, that I have no real problems and they're all in my head. But at least worrying makes me feel alive. Whereas this dull happiness I'm experiencing lately may just as well be a symptom of depression. I have no big plan and I'm not part of anything great. I can't live like this anymore and yet I can't move a finger. I know life eventually pushes me into stuff. I'll get to some redecorating one of these days and I'll hopefully get in for PhD. I'll keep waking up each morning, going to work, going, going, going, when all I want is to sit still and stare at the wall. The Two of Spades is all about how I feel right now. That inertia. That lack of purpose and real drive. Love yanks me out of it from time to time, it's an occasional oasis in the desert I get lost in every day around my head. But until I let it rain, I will not find the path, for the desert swallows any footstep or direction sign.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Diary lines

Funny how I keep revolving around the same things when I'm writing. It's the last day of summer (again) and I'm planning (again) to start writing more about what I do than what I feel. Like recipes. And movies, books, concerts. Travel. Whatever. Thing is when these things happen I'm too busy to write about it. When I sit in front of the posting screen I'm usually trying to pull out of me stuff I don't wanna annoy my friends on the phone about. The internet is my confessional. But maybe I will. Maybe I'll learn to share opinions without trying to keep it on safe grounds, maybe I'll be the queen of my castle and just not give a damn.
I'm pretty bored right now, although there's plenty of work waiting for me. I've got articles and letters to write and things to plan out. I might be applying for a social worker job in a mental hospital. I may not make it to PhD, as none of the details for the exam have been announced yet. I spent my day doing field work and housework and in between I watched a couple Sailor Moon episodes. I meditated over how now I'm a highly functioning adult. I submitted an application for the youth housing program of the local administration. I a few years, I might get to buy a place of my own at a really low price. And I even have my eyes on a housing project they just came up with. Granted it gets to be done.
A highly functioning adult, all right. I'm dieting (one thing I once promised myself I would never do) and keeping myself away from booze this autumn. However, friends keep calling to plan out a bar hopping session for this weekend. The safe bet would be to go to the mountains with my folks. Cheaper, healthier and tailored for the peace of my mind. I got some Steinbeck novels from the flea market, I'd love myself a lazy afternoon in the hammock with those. What to do?
I miss school. I've been attending education institutions since I was three. Back to school is the synonym of fresh starts for me, it's a do over, it's my brain's equivalent to what spring is to my body. I know it's a bit dull that my rhythms have been dictated by such conventional schedules. I've never seen school like a brainwashing machine because I've been changing schools every few years. This way I met so many kids and so many teachers, so many ways of seeing the world. Having the best of those share their personal wonders with me was worth sitting in a bench and keeping quiet. Being a non-conformist didn't have that much weight for me, since I've been an outsider all along. I didn't do things just to piss people off or to make them notice me. I did things because I wanted to. So I was a nice girl when I wanted to and I was a blabbermouth drunk just as well. But I've always been a good student. And that was maybe one of the things I partially did to stand out and not just because I liked it. I value education and knowledge and I'd rather like these to be the criteria people judge me on than appearance or the stupid things I do at times.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I never learn

Feeling good was good enough for me once. But lately I find myself in a damn weird place. The only thing that gets my blood running is worrying. Not excitement. And I want to be excited. I want to be excited about my love and I want to be excited about my work. But all I do is get angry and worry. I don't even miss anyone anymore. I just worry the fragile equilibrium I'm relying on for now won't last. I worry I made bad choices. I worry I settled for less. I worry I betrayed myself. No excitement whatsoever.
Is this how it's supposed to be? Yesterday a guy dropped by our office to tell me more about his expedition in the Himalayas and as I listened to him I kept wondering if I was ever that passionate about anything. And then. And then I met this girl I knew and she asked me about my plans and I started talking about wanting to apply to PhD and the kind of research I want to be involved in. And as I walked away I had the grin on my face. That was it. That was my thing. It was what made me sound just like that guy. It wasn't love and it wasn't home design. It was my academic interest that spurred my excitement. It was the only thing that got my blood rushing in a long time. It's what I've always wanted. And I'm not going to dumb myself down for anyone. I'm going on on that path. If they don't want me, I'll go elsewhere. For me study and research were not just steps in my career. They were it, what I wanted to do, what made me tick.
And still, what do I worry about all day? Is that shirt going to match those jeans? Why hasn't he called yet? Am I going to be done with that article by the end of the day? When all this is supposed to be just background noise. I gave up on myself. But I just pray to goddess this fall I'll get the nerve to pick myself up and go where I belong. In an environment where I can grow. Learn. And be me.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Forever stumbling





This morning, when I was walking to work, I thought to myself "I have it all". I have a job I like most days, a place of my own, a good education, great friends, and now a boyfriend who makes me happy. But then, along the way, I got inexplicably sad. And I've been trying to shake that sadness all day. I think it's again because I somehow feel I should be doing more for the things I have. Preferably, I should be perfect. But being a more committed journalist would do. And finally getting to decorate my place and maybe clean more often. And really be there for my friends, no matter what I'm doing at the moment. And write my damn project proposal for PhD. And not suck at being a girlfriend. And as much as I regret being too lazy to work on these things, there's still people who think I'm wasting myself away with them.

My mother thinks I should be looking for some sort of husband material. And my peers think I should continue my studies abroad. And some of my friends think I should do better for myself than a low-paying newspaper job. And so on and so forth. But what do "I" want? I pretty much like what I've got.
I love plans, but I don't have a five year plan and I don't even have a one year plan. I don't know where all this is going and I wish I knew, but so far I know I've done my best. I didn't do the best job I could do and I wasn't perfect at any of these. But given the context and everything coming together, considering the things I've been through and the ways I chose to handle them, I think I did good. All right, I didn't do my best. But I did good. And I'm still tired and I still need a break and I can't do my best for all of these things, cause that would mean not doing my best for myself. Not giving myself a break. Not telling myself it's not a tragedy if I screw up sometimes. Not allowing myself to have fun once in a while. So I may not have direction and I may not have a constant pace. I may forever stumble, but I get places and I get shit done. I know I'll do better for myself. But Rome wasn't built in a day.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The good old hypocrite syndrome

Here it is, back to haunt me. Maybe I have this House thing going on. I just can't perform the way I used to when I fall for someone. I become the insecure child I used to be, the one who had to earn everything but no matter how hard I tried, it was never good enough for me to believe I deserve the good things that were happening to me. So I adapted. I changed skin according to whom I had to impress or accommodate. I turned into who I thought my teachers, my friends, by boyfriends wanted me to be. And at some point I got tired and I said to myself, hey, what if the only one I had to make proud was me? And now I'm betraying that girl that I grew to be in these last couple of years. It used to be peace and quiet in my head and sometimes, yes, I'd wanna fall in love. But it tears me apart that I'm this vulnerable and easy to put down.
Instead of writing about how happy and excited I am, I'm already looking for trouble all on my own. And it's not the others that try to change me, it's this desperate need I have to fit perfectly, like a puzzle piece. And I could never. Not anywhere. I've built such a distinct personality, around so many stories and with so many details, that it can no longer be turned around. All I can do is enjoy the ride and know I'll fall right back on my feet no matter what happens. It's true I'm having wine all alone with my cat two weeks after I met him. That I'm lonely and I was actually wishing I would be. That I need my time alone and I need my I love yous to the same extent. It's all true. If I'm gonna keep being friends with my boring ass, I should at least be honest to it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A year off


This is like the most fun time for me to write posts. Because I'm so damaged. Doubting myself, hating myself, trying to put myself down with another dose of whatever it takes to get numb. I'm out of any inspiration, though. Still, I can tell you one thing. I wish sometimes I wasn't the overachiever I was raised to be. I dream of that year off. When I'll hit the road with a backpack. And wash my other change of clothes in hostels and take tons of pictures and post them for my friends to see in an African internet cafe. And just sweep books with people on the train. Sleep in the grass in Italy and get sunburned in Spain and have a drink under a bridge with the weirdos or walk amazing museums in dirty sandals. I want my year off so that I can learn to sky once again. To fall in the snow and laugh it off, to feel my cheeks burning and my legs itching. To pick grapes in the autumn and flowers in spring. To make my cat not miss me everyday. To have every single aunt ask me what am I going to do with my life and not be referring to a man. To get my hair dirty in the rain and sit at the bar until 2 pm driving people crazy and making them laugh at the same time. To have cheesy puffs for lunch and beer for dinner and never worry anyone's concerned about my weight. To meet a tall dark stranger and spend days in bed. To have him cook me breakfast and quietly walk out the door. To see Rome and Paris and especially Lima. To be a monk and a slut and to dance in the streets. I want it all. All of it. I want my damn year off. No PhD, no mommy, no house to clean. Just me and a backpack under the sky.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Lessons I've learned


* The cat is always going to be there and greet you when you get home. Not because she is crazy about you, but because she wants fresh food and can't get away from your pathetic ass.
* Friends come first. If it takes crying yourself to sleep because of depression by association, it's going to be worth it every day.
* New love is always exciting. But the extent to which you can always be exciting to you new crush is too limited. Nobody likes a needy loser.
* Do not take love for granted. It can go away even faster than it walked into your life. And by the time that happens the damn bastard might have gotten under your skin.
* Don't make phone calls when you're drunk or tired. You're bound to give away more than you ever thought you would. And it never helps. Nobody cares about your damn drama.
* Sleepless nights always end up in lonely mornings. Whether you're kicking people out of your home or doing the walk of shame, it's a shitty morning.
* If you meet someone who makes you smile just by thinking of them don't go ruining it by doubting yourself. It's not going to do anyone no good. And it's a self-fulfilling prophecy.
* You're perfect just the way you are. There's a bunch of people out there who will agree on that any single day. And those are the ones who matter.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Fffuuuuuu


Today I was supposed to submit my thesis for my teacher's review. The final submission to the faculty starts in a couple of days and ends in a week. I have squat. I mean, I have the structure all laid out, I have most of the gibberish I want to talk about, but I have to polish it over and over and I have to write my analysis, which is supposed to be the most important part. I work very slow and I know it's because I'm lazy and would do anything not to go through this kind of work anymore. And still, I'm doing it in order to do this kind of work again for the next at least three years. But I've come to realize a PhD is just the natural next step in my pursuit of academic achievement. And it's not so much about the title, but about wanting to be close to an environment where I can grow and eventually work in bad-ass social research.
I know I can do this, but I also know I'm doing it in the worst possible way, indulging myself to a few of the things I would do if it wasn't for the thesis and pushing pushing pushing the damn deadline. It's all my fault. I started reading for it in January, but was too busy watching stuff all day and sleeping to actually put some words down too. Anyway, it's gonna get done. But I fear it's gonna get done CEU style. Like writing a full chapter hours before submission. As long as it gets done and I get away with it, it's fine by me.
Of course I'm in that painful maze again where I can see the sky and the birdies and I can even see through the fence and what's waiting for me out there is an awesome summer. Even if I only do the simple things, like hang out at the cabin with my parents and go away for a weekend to some festival with my friends. Now I have a different mindset and better means to have all the fun I want. But for now I'm stuck walking around this paper, counting words and pages, references running through my head like movie credits, oh, and if it only was towards the end.
There's huge writing I have to do these next couple of days. And huge cleaning around the house. And not so much work at the newspaper, but still time-consuming. And all I actually wanna do is walk around and read in the park, invite people out for ice cream or beer, cook and well, just enjoy myself. Today I'm only gonna work till noon, because I have some appointments and then I'm going shopping with my mom. Who is not at all concerned about my thesis. She's seen me pull this twice and has no sympathy for my slothfulness. So why not? It's not like I ever really work after 5 pm. Maybe slowly taking the edge off will eventually help. If not the deadline will do the trick.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Late night wallowing

It's this huge sadness. This fear and distress and numbness at the same time. It's this damn thing that won't go away. The damn feeling that something's missing. I know it's the stress building up. The thesis and the applications and the job and the thoughts about the future that are paralyzing me. Making me think about whether it's worth it. Whether it's worth all the movies I didn't see, all the naps I didn't take, all the books I didn't read, all the people I didn't meet, all the places I haven't seen. And there's something more I've missed and promised myself I won't talk about. I'm tired of waiting and tired of being tired. Yeah, yeah, you can't always get what you want. But I did. And I'm not sure it's what I pictured it would be. It's fun most times. And it's easy. And there's so much in my life that wasn't and isn't easy that I needed the break. But I miss complicated. I miss it sometimes because it comes with perks. But I know I don't really want it. Funny how when I start writing about it I make sense. Funny how I know I was right. And I still don't want to be right. I'm happy. I break rules from time to time. But mostly the right ones. And from time to time I get sad just like now. I know exactly what I'm missing, I know I don't really want it back. But I still have to fight the temptation from time to time. To say it straightforward, I miss being in love. I hear all these love songs and no scent or face or voice comes to my head anymore. For a long time now. And I miss it. And from time to time I'd take chances, just for a second there. But there's nobody out there I'd take a chance on. Cause maybe if there was it wouldn't be called taking a chance. I'd just dive heads in. I miss that too. It all piles up on nights like this when I've had a drink too many. And I scramble my brains and there's no great love I can find in my heart. And I bounce my head to the walls and there's no potential someone who could sweep me off my feet. It's so annoying. I know it's a tailored desire. I know I'm being pushed from one side or the other. I know I'm like a teenager thinking that if all my friends do it, why don't I. It should've gone away by now. But it's still there. That huge hope in someone good and strong to make it all worth it. And I know it's tailored as well. But I'm afraid it's never coming my way. And I know it's not the worst thing that could happen. But I want it and I'm used to getting what I want. But this isn't something I can just make happen for myself. Wouldn't be the same.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

When the spell breaks


It's really amazing how much of the reality we take as given is actually just the product of our minds. How the way people are in our heads has so much to do with subjective feelings and even the most vivid memories of them are actually edited over and over again. I've been nostalgic on several occasions over the great times I had with people from my past. And I've also made super villains out of others. But while my mind is sanctifying or damning the ones I have in my life right now, it's also cleaning up the mess from the past.
These last few years I've met some of those people. I met my on-and-off summer love from when I was really young and I finally was able to retrieve that image of his sharp lips I had been looking for in my memories. But apart from that, he just appeared as he'd always been although my mind thought it could leave those things aside: a crass unattractive man who never knew what he wanted. While in my head he was all bad-ass passionate hot guy. It was awesome while it lasted, we had our star watching nights and our make-up endless kisses, but now I know I'd never want to go back.
Well, there's also people I've vilified. I've had really close friends who continually let me down. It's maybe why I react so violently if anyone makes fun of me in public. Now I know they were just girls who wanted to lead the group power dynamics and I never fell for that. Because I always cared less about clothes and boys it didn't matter that much to me who was queen bee and why I owed her my admiration. Over and over I was criticized for being under-dressed or too outgoing and at some point you start believing you are less than if they say it for long enough. Lucky for me I met the friends I have today and they had no need to mock me for my appearance or for how I choose to live my life. They've empowered me with their trust and support and even though in so many ways we are different we share a sense of open-mindedness and a preference for substance I didn't have back then. I know I might have misunderstood those other people and I'm not saying they couldn't be awesome people right now, but it took me a while to get here. Until you stop caring it's always going to haunt you.
Talking about ghosts. Remember all that gibberish about soul mates? That's the most recent spell that broke. The one I never thought that would. It all started with a drunken afternoon that turned to night. We talked for hours and it all seemed like the good times. Just that I forgot there had never been any good times. It was all in my head. And as the night went on I kept asking myself who is this man I once swore eternal love to and why did we lie to ourselves for so long. It was obvious he was annoyed my my endless blabber. It was obvious he bore me to death. And it was obvious I no longer had any flame or sparkle left whatsoever in the dark pits of my heart when I thought of him. But when the spell broke I didn't feel empty, I felt relieved. I always knew that when I really wanted something I'd go and grab it. And for a long time I asked myself why none of us did a decisive step towards fulfilling what we were dreaming about. So then I knew our minds had been playing tricks. We were never star-struck lovers. We just met at very vulnerable points in our lives and it all got swollen in time, all that feeling of abandonment and the hope that the other could keep it away. He can't. I can't. Not for one another. We're whole persons by ourselves now and the spell has been broken.
And these are not isolated cases. I live a lot within myself. There is a whole parallel world inside my head. And there's even one more in my dreams. Like replicas from another dimension. Just twisted. Sometimes it gets quiet. And I worry a bit. But I never get bored. I write letters to people and build alternative scenarios. I can cook in my head and I can walk mountain paths and there's really a lot that happens when I'm showering or riding the bus. So no wonder people live in my head as well. And some I really want to kick out when they hurt me, but I know I've made lots of room for them there and I don't want to let it go to waste. But sometimes there are black holes. And it all gets sucked out. To some other dimension, some sort of paper shredder. I get to come at peace with the wars I've been fighting in my head or I get to discard some stories that obsess me. But once the spell breaks it's gone for good.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

A very grown-up 1st of June


 I spent a very grown-up Children's Day yesterday. I woke up very early to work on my dissertation and I cooked my own breakfast. I took the bus alongside the corporate slaves and did some work around the office. Then I went on a working trip and I had lunch with politicians. And when I finally got back to town I went to the dentist and didn't complain a bit. In the evening I was too beat to write a word and I did the only childish thing all day (aside from sticking my nose to the window of the car admiring the mountain landscapes). I watched Sailor Moon. It's a pleasure I allow myself every morning. I learn stuff and it really cheers me up.

On days like that I really enjoy being a journalist. I get to meet people and learn about how things actually work. By the things people try to impress you with or hide from you you can actually tell a lot about them, their work and their peer. I meet all sorts of mayors and councilmen and they all try to give you the impression that they are the only ones who put things into motion. But the thing you learn is not that things are actually being done, which is more than most people I know believe, but that communities have always evolved. That there have been times of poverty and times of wealth, that people don't just stand by. They work, they fix things, build new ones. On the other hand, not enough things are being done. There's leaking money everywhere, we should know, it's our job to find the faucet. But weird as it may seem in my line of work, I haven't lost my faith in people. Maybe it's because I've been raised to believe that hard work and education are powerful tools for getting ahead and I see that all around me. People complain. About everyone being liars and thieves and lazy. But even the bosses we hate worked harder than us and learned fast. Even the colleagues we may frown upon have their function in the mechanisms of the business or at least in the social clockwork built around it. I believe in the merits of meritocracy, but I never assume it's intrinsic to our social fiber or that it should be the law everywhere. I guess it makes it easier for me not to be frustrated about the things I learn everyday working at the newspaper. And doing the little research I get to do in between. But that's a story for another day.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Beauty for dummies


I look around me every day and I'm amazed by how many pretty girls there are out there. Beauty is definitely not scarce around here. It's everywhere, on the streets, on the internet, even next door. There's plenty of pretty girls trying to get noticed and turn heads. But then I wonder, if beauty is in such large supply, why is there a market for it? Maybe it's because the demand is huge and people need to be surrounded by and enjoy beauty like they need clean water. And maybe what makes the difference between the best-selling editions and the rest is the complimentary set of goods it's wrapped with.

I've always believed it's not as important if you look like the cover of a magazine as it is whether you're kind or smart or entertaining. It matters and it always will, beauty is what lures people to us, like fish to bait. But on the long run, I don't think it's enough. I will vote for substance over appearance every time. Because I live with myself 24/7 and I don't just need to love what I see in the mirror. And that goes for everyone in my life. If I'm not hot enough to be your friend, maybe we shouldn't even bother.
I have my own definition of beauty and I would be a hypocrite to deny it's been heavily influenced by the images of acceptability of the society I've been raised in. But I believe that being healthy is more important than being thin and that a good complexion is way more beautiful than all the make-up you can hide it behind. I dress whacky sometimes, but at those times I feel great because I'm wearing the things I love. If I do step outside the lines it's because I've found something comfortable that cheers me up. I avoid being noticed, but when I am, I disdain being criticized. And that's because I don't impose my standard of beauty on anyone and I only want them to leave me alone in return.
And all that doesn't matter that much anyway. Because you can curl your hair and lashes and you can pretend you're made out of porcelain with all that foundation on, but an ugly personality will eventually shadow all that hard work put into stealing the spotlight. I like going around unnoticed because I believe it's enough if only the right people see whatever good sides I have shining through. I may seem awkward at times, pretentious to some and annoying to others. There may have been plenty of guys I sighed about who saw through me, but the best ones I know took the time to know me and loved whatever was there.
So in this world where beauty is around every corner, I'd rather lay low and enjoy myself. I know it's easy for me to talk, being petite and cute, but beauty is really just a lure. A pretense to get people to give us their time and attention in the hope they will find what they were looking for. Whoever said it really nailed it. We aren't a body, we have a body. So why not use it in the best ways we can? And always remember our body is a tool that connects us to the material world, not our identity and not the only thing we are worth being loved for.

Monday, May 30, 2011

I'm happy


It's funny, but even though I still hold the habit of complaining about this and that, I'm actually happy. I have major plans, but no major concerns. I'm in such a quiet place and the only reason I would move on from here is the constant pressure coming from the outside. Otherwise, I'm happy.
I spent the weekend at the cabin in the mountains, reading in the hammock, under the trees. There was a puppy sleeping close by and all I could hear were his sighs, the birds singing, the insects in the already tall grass and sometimes the wind. It smelled a bit like cherry blossom and a bit like freshly chopped wood. I could spend forever in that moment and I intend to, actually. Once I'm done with my dissertation, this summer I won't miss one weekend. When I won't be going to the cabin, I'll go to the countryside and when I have to be in the city, the forest is just a few steps away from my home and I can go on a picnic. There's stacks of books waiting for me and that amazing sun and the shades and the grass are just there waiting.
I'm pampering myself with fruit every day. I'm overdosing on strawberries and cherries and lemonade. I dream a lot and vividly and kitty's waking me up every morning just so that I can catch the sunrise and salute it properly with a yoga exercise that helps me find a point of balance every day. The cards and horoscope all say my energy level is high as ever and the little things that keep me back are piece of cake for me to handle.
And on days like this, I know what they mean. I had a lovely morning reading, had walnuts for breakfast, work went by like a dream and I met my dear friend FoxyLove for a walk and a chat. We had ice cream and raided the market, where I got these sweet cherries and other veggies and fruit. My apartment faces the east, so at this time of the day, it's really refreshing to sit here in my underwear and catch up on my work. The lilac I brought from the mountains greeted me alongside my kitty when I opened the door. I wonder everyday why it is so hard for people to let go of trying to feed me their own definitions of happiness. I keep saying, and I don't know where I heard it, that every truth is simple once it's revealed. Spells break, people change, we get older, but not that much wiser.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Fighting the good fight



The US is celebrating Mother's Day today and I just happened to read the op-ed of one of my colleagues which seemed very ambivalent about women and their role in our society. He made a reference to the cultural custom of women not being allowed to sit at the same table with men, which is still enforced by some ethnic groups today. And at some point he says that women's emancipation has been ailing. And that women now think they deserve everything, although they can't perform all the jobs men do and haven't permeated elite fields. And that men have accepted women at their table out of pity and as a compensation for this lack of success in acquiring equal rights.
It's really hard for me to work in an environment where there are only men. It's hard because they feel like they have to "behave" around me and that makes them uncomfortable. It's hard because they talk about women as sexual objects and most times they enforce the double standard when judging them. It's hard because men who work together do act like frat boys, although I've never felt intentionally excluded from their guys time.
But it's going to be even harder to go to work and shut up about all the things I want to say in response to that piece of writing. So I'm saying it here. Women have permeated elite fields. They are in top politics, in the army, they run huge corporations and they are top achievers in academics. I was very proud to read this post on Femisting which shows that women are almost half of the people awarded PhDs in the US. Also, I've read that this year it's the first time women have surpassed men in terms of number of college degrees. In Romania it's already been the case for some time, including the PhD level. Some of the most powerful emerging or developed economies are ruled by women. Brazil has a lady president, the chancellor of Germany has been for quite a while now a woman. They are secretaries of state, members of Supreme Courts, ambassadors or chiefs of Parliaments. The underlying paternalistic character of Romanian politics did not get us very far. It's not that we lack competent women, they just hit a glass ceiling at some point. Tell Sweden, Norway or New Zealand women don't belong in politics. And then some. When women entered the workforce massively, after World War II, the country GDPs rose considerably. Pepsi, Kraft Foods, IBM, Xerox, Yahoo and many more leading companies have executives or chair women leading their worldwide businesses. I'm only ashamed at the fact that women in powerful positions aren't such a mundane thing it would just be superfluous to give such examples.
Some of these women and many more performing in top fields, as well as all the amazing ones we all know, are also mothers and wives and daughters. Men complain about having to be civil around us, about women expecting them to honor and respect their work and care, but is it really such a burden to acknowledge how hard it is to balance a job, housework and care? Reading for my dissertation, I keep remembering all the things I've distanced myself from while working around men. I had forgotten that women not only work harder for a career, but they have to do so while experiencing pregnancy and child rearing and being expected to do all sorts of other chores, as well as care for other members of their family. In some societies it's less the case so, but in Romania most men are offended when asked to take out the trash, help with the groceries or do the dishes, let alone take parental leave. I have some amazing male friends who can take care of themselves and others. They cook, can sew a sock or a button and help their mothers, grandmothers and girlfriends with the housework. But then again, I know so many others who get mad if their mothers don't iron their shirts or if a woman sits at the same table with them and speaks her mind.
So yes, call me a crazy feminist. I'm tired of trying to sugar coat it and I'm tired of avoiding to be antagonized because of it. I don't see why women don't deserve respect and I don't see why they don't deserve equal rights. Change may feel threatening, but it gets better every day.

Monday, May 2, 2011

A hard day's ramble


OK, so after two looong days in which I tried to catch up with all the work I'm years behind on I found a couple of minutes to post here my babbling from Mischievous Sweethearts. You should visit it, though, if you haven't already, my friend FoxyLove makes some really good points and is a gifted writer.
I, on the other hand, am the laziest person I know. Yes. Now I'm gonna complain again. I have two months left to write my dissertation and I barely have an idea for the research. I'm thinking of writing about the large percentage of people entitled to child rearing benefits who for several reasons don't receive it. I also have to write and publish an article if I really wanna become a PhD student this fall, as I've recently made up my mind. I'm exhausted and I can't even remember my own name, but here's hoping tomorrow will be less about walking around the city and doing housework and more about having some me time and hitting the books. Hopefully, I'll also get myself together to share the recipes I try every now and then. And more blabla about my plans.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I now know


I don't really believe any of that stuff I said or was told by others. Like the fact that there's plenty of people who wish me the worst because I didn't deliver in their lives and that's why things aren't looking up for me. Or the fact that I push people away because I don't believe I deserve their trust and affection. Or that we only get a limited amount of love and mine has run out.
I actually know that I got just what I wished for. When my last committed relationship was over I wanted a few years off. To figure out what I actually liked. Where I wanted to go in life. Who I was when all other variables are constant. And I'm not even half way there yet. But what I do know for sure is that I'm where I'm supposed to be and that somewhere deep inside I still believe in love and that it's never too late.
I'm moving through the five stages of grief. It's not so much about the death of my dating years as the burial of the that void of personality and character and perspective for myself as an individual. I've been through denial, trying to hook up with boys I used to dream about or those who were trying to lend a helping hand. And it didn't work out, because it was not what I was looking for. I've been through anger, bitching about everyone and everything and making innocent people feel bad about themselves just so that I could get the edge off. I've been through bargaining, trying on relationships with people who I knew didn't fit me, but could maybe give me an idea of what I want. I've been through depression, giving up on the idea that faith or humanity or myself had anything left to love. And I guess now I'm growing into acceptance, realizing I am an amazing person even taken separately and that we all are once we put on the right goggles.
But mostly, I know I'm almost into a new phase, which is evolution. Where I've already assumed the lessons learned so far and will actually be making baby steps towards the future I imagine for myself. A future where I can let someone in, as a partner and a trusted friend, and not be afraid to reveal myself to them, nor change my way or the things I enjoy just to make them love me more. A future where I can be loved for who I am and not who I could or would've been, where I am a person and not a hypothesis I create in my head.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Yet another quiet Sunday


"I don't think you appreciate the severity of your situation. You are rapidly approaching end stage male spinsterism. That cat, that diabetic cat that you're shooting up with insulin, buying dime bags of catnip for, that means you've given up on ever finding anyone."
(Gregory House)

P.S.: I stumbled upon the above comic on Tumblr and only today figured out the source. So I must give credit to cat versus human. Check it out, I'm already a big fan!

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Everybody leaves

I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while now but it seemed too grim and dark to post it on a colorful blog like this. However, as the winter is slowly hitting the road, I guess I can see now how behind the whole idea there was something more I wanted to say. But basically it’s true. There are very few people who stick by us throughout our lives and even those have to move on at some point. We seem to forget every time we get left behind that once again we took things for granted and we go on and on doing the same thing with different people. It can’t even be called a mistake. Mostly because the first time we do it may turn out to be a mistake, but choosing to persevere in our absurd game of building social relations as if they were forever can only be called a choice.
I should know. I’ve moved around all my life. I’ve had different sets of friends and colleagues every few years and somehow I never learned. Not to mention family. Relatives, grandparents, siblings, even parents will not be around forever. Best or worst case scenario they die on us or we die on them. Some will leave or some will simply drift away. Blood relations and decades of sharing practically everything do not guarantee that in a few months the people closest to us won’t just vanish into thin air.
But this is not really what I wanted to talk about. I wanted to talk about change. About how some things, especially people, who leave our lives, are actually what made us who we are today. And if we cherish ourselves we should look at all this loss with more consideration. If I were still besties with my childhood neighbor I would be a different person right now. I’m not saying I’m the best alternative version of myself. We can’t always see things as better or worse, but as different. But as long as we like this one version, we can easily discard and make fun of the others. What I’m saying is that change is good and however painful or confusing loss may seem at some point, it may be for the best.
So now that it’s spring and the cold is melting away, we should maybe leave the resentment build over the winter behind. And look further ahead. But if we insist on taking one last glance over the time past, I believe we should do it with more tenderness and self-awareness. We are what we are not only because of the things that have happened to us, the people we’ve met, but also because of those that didn’t and the ones we were spared of. People are constantly changing and that is a beautiful thing. And knowing that everybody leaves eventually doesn’t mean we shouldn’t trust or invest in others. It means we should have the courage to take a (hardly calculated) risk and take the leap. And most of all, cherish who we are right now and cherish the people we have in our lives. Because we never know when that might be over and who could come and take their place. Nobody is irreplaceable and nothing is forever. But again, the whole beauty stands in this inconsistency, whatever makes us human must be deeply connected to the uncertainty that comes with human interaction and we all owe it to ourselves to try and beat the odds from time to time.

Friday, March 4, 2011

The Elephant's Journey


"The past is an immense area of stony ground that many people would like to drive across as if it were a road, while others move patiently from stone to stone, lifting each one because they need to know what lies beneath."

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Something to believe in


Yaaay! Daisydays has a new spring look, somehow the old version was just sad. It's not like I write super happy stuff, so at least the view should be refreshing. I don't know why most times I sit down to write I end up complaining or something like it. At least I finish up in a more cheerful note.
Today I was wondering why I didn't react when somebody asked me last summer how do I put up morally with my job. I guess it was because I still felt like I have control over what I write and to some extent it's true. I don't get asked to write something I wouldn't and I haven't been censored yet for anything. But I also don't use it to forward my opinions. I guess I started working with a belief that you can do journalism and keep the scientist's neutrality, that you can pick the good news and the subjects that lack controversy and that way avoid taking sides. I can't say I've succeeded in that completely, mostly because there have been subjects that changed my opinions based on first hand experience. It still feels like if I were a different kind of person, one that not only stands behind her beliefs, but also shares them and tries to bring more people on that side, I'd be a different, maybe a better journalist. However, I may not do it out of respect for other people's points of view or out of trust they can think for themselves or just because I'm a coward and I lack the will to walk the walk.
And it's not the only thing that gives me this feeling. It's also that I don't take part in protests. No matter how strong my interest in the matter, no matter how mad I am about a certain situation. My most active endeavors have been signing petitions, supervising elections or participating in clean-up campaigns. Again, it might be because I see the problem as deeper rooted or I see better means to make a change. But maybe it's because I'm chicken and I don't publicly fight for things I believe in. It's true, sometimes I heat up discussions so much, people want to hit me. I've been accused of being a long list of -isms and most of them make me really proud, although I don't see how I could deserve the honor.
I just wish I'd act more according to my beliefs. And I know it's a recurring theme in my writing. But I guess I tackle different aspects of it. I'm not saying I want to go swing a sign. But I would like to help people better understand things. To give them a chance to be on that side that is closer to their deepest values. Because I guess deep inside I think most of these values are part of our collective consciousness and even though there are different right and wrongs, after several filters we can all tell blue skies from pain.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Headcase


It finally dawned on me that I have the amazing talent of scaring people off. Not pushing them away. That I still don't master too well and it's a different cup of tea because it's something conscious. I'm referring to when I'm having a great time and the other(s) just want(s) to get the hell out of there and away from this crazy lady (I've been considering adopting another cat, so it's just a matter of time until I become that lady). Thinking about it, I realized it's not just one thing that does it, I have a whole array of loony ways of creeping the hell out of people.
For example, I talk about my past love life. And I don't do it like any regular harmless crazy who just says "I hated the guy so much I wanted to chop his head off". No, I'm all about how lucky I've been and how much everyone enriched my life and all that stupid hippie talk. Now nobody likes a high hippie. People usually think I'm a huge liar or I'm still hooked or I'm just a weird case of easygoing commitment seeker and confusion is worse than a psycho. Except for when I'm the psycho. Cause I like to take things to a whole new level. I sometimes say things that are scary in themselves. I give people bad trips or uncomfortable truths. Because I have a hard stomach I can talk about any sort of gruesomeness while eating, while I'm sure my audience is not as excited.
I also stand on an intellectual high horse. Yeah, I start light but eventually, as I heat up the debate I want to discuss ideas and not the weather. I'll get stuck on the big stuff when all people want to do is drink their beer. It's Christianity or neurosis or the depiction of female sexuality in witch folklore. And I even take it further and at some point the other is so tired or just wants to go back to the mundane talk about pets and mold. Best or worst case scenario, the light conversation they're gonna get from me is about me.
Honestly, I'm the biggest over-sharer I know. I'll talk about more than people want to know any day. It's not enough that I talk a lot, I talk a lot about myself. About my family. About my friends. About every little thing I want to brag or complain about. What I had for lunch and how my cat fell off the bed last night. And nobody wants to know those things. But I do it anyway because another bug in the head I have is being super egocentric. Most people, I don't talk to them because I really care what they're saying. I'm just waiting for a subject I'm interested in to pop so I can take my turn to yap and yap about myself. I'm usually, deep inside, totally dis-considerate towards other people's thoughts or whatever it is they want to share. I only remember what people I really like say. And you know that saying, I don't even like the people I like.
So yeah, I'm pretty scared myself now. I never really thought of all this until a few days ago when a guy just couldn't wait to beat it as fast as possible when I put all of the above charms into a conversation that had gotten a bit on the dark side. And I don't blame him. I just hope realizing this stuff will help me control it and make a step towards learning to really have a conversation, not just using others as mirrors for all the crazy stuff I bottle up every day.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Here's hoping


This spring started with a wonderful day. It was sunny but still a bit chill, the snow was melting and birds were singing like crazy. I didn't feel so good, though, but managed to get back on my feet and visit my parents for some conversation and my mother's amazing cooking. So all in all, I have high hopes from the rest of this year. It's going to be yet another turning point in my life and I'll try to take it a step at a time.
Two seasons have passed since I last wrote here and things have been weird. My cat is everything I imagined and more. Her unconditional affection and good energy make my whole day better when I get home and have helped me deal better with things by putting them into perspective. After she came into my life I had a few months of social isolation. I really enjoyed spending my time at home cooking and reading and all. But somehow in the winter I got pulled back into my crazy old ways, spending nights and money in search of fun, something that would take the edge off. Maybe it was because I had some extra work and was also stressed about my exams. Maybe it was because of the excitement of enjoying old friends' company and making new ones. But I eventually got tired. Good thing my course load is completed and my grades are better than ever and I also managed to gain some pennies on the side helping out with all sorts of academic stuff. Still, I feel like it was too much and I should fall off the radar again. I won't just stay at home. But I'll be searching for more self-fulfilling entertainment. Someone I follow on twitter said a while ago that fun is fast food, but joy is a four course meal.
So there is a lot to look forward to. It's the final countdown for foreign universities' PhD admissions and I should also take a step towards ensuring myself a spot here at home. For the last semester I'll be working on my dissertation and getting the scholarship would help so much. I want to keep working at the newspaper for as long as I can because experience in a field, even remotely connected to my area of interest, is quite something on a resume. Also, I'll be trying to keep close to the university staff and lend a hand anytime they need it, maybe next year we'll be some sort of colleagues.
I intend to keep writing as often as I get the chance here because I use it as a diary and it really helps me put things in my head in order. There are two other online projects I've been or will be working on. It's a blog I write with a friend and an events website where I'll probably be writing reviews. Because I wanna be out doing all these things I love - concerts, theater, movies and so on. I want to put my money to a better use than just cocktails and drunken mornings. I'm compiling a wish list and I'm trying to figure out how to manage all the things I want to do for myself. I've always been busy so this is nothing new to me, except for the fact that I finally feel like I can see where I'm going and I have a strategy for how to make the trip both effective and delightful. So here's hoping that my plans will work out better than expected because, you know what?, I finally believe I deserve it.

Martisor






There is a custom in the Balkan area according to which every beginning of spring we wear a lace made out of entwining white and red thread. Some wear it on their wrists, like I noticed with my Bulgarian friends and some wear it together with a small decorative object (used to be a small coin or even a button, now the sky is the limit in terms of variety) on their coat’s lapel, as we do in Romania. Some wear it just for a few days and others until the weather gets better. In some areas people wear them until they see the first stork. In others, until they see a blossomed tree and when they take it off, they tie it around a branch.


Even if it became a commercial holiday, in which people just buy and gift these tiny decorative objects, Martisor is already a cultural reflex for Romanians. People make these gifts in order to show appreciation, but it’s such a wide spread practice that women who don’t receive any will wonder why. But as a ritual that marks the beginning of spring, Martisor is also associated with practices of cleansing, of welcoming the new season with a clean house and holiday clothing. In most areas men give Martisor to women and children to the elderly. But there are regions, such as the Eastern part of the country where girls make gifts to boys and they receive gifts on Women’s Day, on the 8th of March.


Initially, the lace was white and black because black was not associated to death and suffering. In later customs, black had been replaced by red, as a symbol of youth, of beauty and vitality. Red is also associated to spring as a new beginning, so the Martisor is a symbol of the succession of the two seasons – one coming and the other one going. Back in the days, mothers used to make Martisor for their children. Later, women and young girls started wearing them as well, as ethnographers explain. Some women wore it as a necklace and men would decorate their hats with them. People even tied them to their doors and roofs so that the house is protected from evil spirits.


There are various superstitions about Martisor. Some say that wearing it protects children from disease and young girls are protected from the blinding rays of the spring sun. The two threads had to be entwined because this action kept the bad luck away. Another superstition is about the “old ladies”. Between the 1st and 9th of March people can pick a day and depending on the weather that day, you can predict how your whole year will be.


This superstition comes from a story that has some historical roots. It says that Dochia, the sister of Decebal (the king of the united tribes that lived on the Romanian territory before the Roman invasion) was courted by a Roman soldier and she didn’t want to marry him. When her brother committed suicide (rather than see his country in the hands of the enemy) she ran away to the mountains. It was the beginning of spring and the weather was very unstable. She tried to disguise herself as a shepherdess and she had lots of sheep skin coats on to keep her warm. But as she was moving upwards on the mountain with her sheep, the weather kept changing and she would take the coats off one by one. At some point, when she was left with barely any clothes on, it suddenly got very cold and she froze. She remained knows as “the old lady Dochia”, although the legend says she was young and beautiful. The first days of spring are named after this legend, to emphasize the instability of the weather during that week.
I was planning for a while now to write a little post about these Eastern European customs, especially because I know we have a few foreign readers and maybe they would enjoy an insight into our cultural practices. As for my fellow citizens, please feel free to complete or correct my accounts. And may all of you have a happy fulfilling spring!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Why this year I love Valentine’s Day




A couple of nights ago one of my friends told me she hated Valentine’s Day because it’s a foreign holiday and it has nothing to do with our national traditions. Also, she said she will only celebrate our own holiday, called Dragobete. This is celebrated usually on the 24th of February and is an equivalent to tomorrow’s American holiday. Boys and girls used to pick the first flowers of spring and then sit around fires on top of the nearby hills. At lunch time, the girls would run away and the boys who liked them would try to catch them. If the girl also likes the boy, she can kiss him in front of everybody, this sometimes meaning they are engaged for an year or even longer. Unmarried girls would gather the last snow and use the water for beauty rituals and other spells throughout the year and the older people would avoid killing any animals this day so as not to spoil their mating season. The girls who would not meet any boy this day was “cursed” not to be loved by anyone that whole year. It’s a lovely holiday and I adore all the symbolism it implies. I will celebrate it as well, even if maybe only for the rituals. But I don’t feel that this tradition is any closer to my heart than the other one, since in my family’s village nobody knows much about it and they have never celebrated it. I remember many magical holidays and rituals my grandmother would perform, she even had her own spells and ways of understanding nature and reading a calendar. But none of those she taught me about was a celebration of love.
I’ve usually been single on Valentine’s Day, I had this really interesting habit of breaking up with people just before. At least I saved them some expenses. But I always spent it by myself, daydreaming and eating chocolate. I felt free and full of hope, like the whole world is laid down at my feet and I considered it to be a day I cherished all the love I had received and all the love I was going to enjoy. So I never felt lonely or sad on Valentine’s Day. Just pissed, because I used to condemn the commercial feel the whole holiday was infected by. But now I know they would always find something to sell and a reason for people to buy it. So why not enjoy the new decorations kicking out the snow flakes, why not welcome all the warm colors that invite spring in? I’m really happy when I see a lot of people carrying flowers and being more attentive and tender than usual, even in public places. When people say they can love each other all year, I couldn’t agree more. But they should be encouraged to publicly love each other just a few days a year. So I pardon public displays of affection on love related holidays. It beats the hell out of winter’s ass and it brings a feel of hope all over.
So this year I’ll be having a pretty uneventful Valentine’s as well. But I’ll be happy for every couple I see on the street, I’ll buy myself flowers and treat myself to a nice evening of music and maybe wine. Because this year I have something special to celebrate. For the first time in a really long time I feel there are some great people out there and that maybe I’m ready to give it a shot. I caught myself thinking one night that good things don’t happen to me. And just switching that mindset has made me realize I want those nice things and I think I’m finally able to enjoy them. So this year I believe and that’s a wonderful reason to celebrate. Chances are the road is long, but I enjoy walking and I have to thank my dirty Cupid for pushing me forward. Just the thrill of giving it a try was enough to get me to ask myself the right questions.
Valentine’s Day is not just a holiday the corporations use to creep into our lives. It’s a good reminder to invest a little more in our romantic lives, a boost to define where we are in this respect and whether we want to sit on the side or dive heads in. After all that time when the more Valentine’s approached, the better I knew I wanted out, I’m in a great place now and I finally believe it can only get better from here. So you people enjoy being in love every day and know that tomorrow I will not be engrossed by any of you groping and slurping on each other’s faces on the street or the bus. Happy spring holidays!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Initiation rites






Coming home from an African art exhibition today I got to thinking about rites of passage and how they play the role of landmarks and boundaries in people’s lives. And I realized they’ve been blurred and transformed so much we don’t know when we’re past a milestone anymore. Where is that ceremony for entering adulthood? How do we know that society welcomes us as full contributing members? And are there different rites for different aspects of our lives?


Of course, the most classical ones remain the coming of age parties. Some have a sweet sixteen, we have a big eighteen party, other cultures have full-fledged rituals of initiation that include separation from the family and learning what adulthood is all about. But in our society, are we really made privy to grown-up life? Not really. It’s a great thing that we are encouraged to figure it out on our own and build our own definitions of being an adult. Crossing to the other side might happen when we leave our parents’ house, or when we get a family of our own, or when we get a job or finish school. Or whatever we choose to see as a landmark. Finishing school, by the way, is a pretty common one. As I wrote a while back, it’s when former generations expected they would find employment, move into their own homes and start a family. But people now are marrying older, are traveling a lot or studying for a longer period of time. So it doesn’t really apply to as many people anymore. Although, if I may make a short comment, even this view is a bit too centered on our own cultural experience. In some cultures marriage comes first, at a very early age and it’s a rite of passage to adulthood as well. In others it’s strictly a question of coming of age and all the rest can follow only after being introduced to society as an adult.


But what about love life rites of passage? I amused myself trying to figure out when did I actually start dating. Because if it was when I had my first “boyfriend”, it means I’ve been doing it for a really long time. When I was in 5th grade a classmate sent me a piece of paper asking if I wanted to be his girlfriend. I wrote back yes and a while later he sent me a Valentine card and we went for a walk around the block. And that was it, we didn’t even hold hands. Could it have started when I had my first kiss? Or my first “I love you”? Or my first date? That would be weird, because I had a couple of committed long term relationships before I even went on a real first date. So when did it start? And moreover, is it going to end? Not making a big deal out of serious dating anymore, as we are no longer pressured by time or society to marry in our 20s, we’ve grown to treat it so shallow. We “try on” people, see if they fit. We actually run from commitment because we are scared of ending up with the next best thing. It’s a great thing that we are allowed to choose and experience, but the question is if we see the larger picture and whether we actually choose to enjoy all the opportunities that cross our path or we just ended up in a vicious circle of bad choices, when all we wanted was somebody to cross the borders with.


I’m not saying I want to live in a rigid society. It’s just that some sense of tradition would be nice and I’d like it if there were some rules and boundaries I can then choose to rebel against. I know that they haven’t disappeared completely and that we still have unwritten rules we live our lives by. But now the limits are so much wider this freedom feels overwhelming sometimes. Or it’s maybe just me, after all I am just a conformist little girl…

Monday, February 7, 2011

Soul mates




When it comes to looking for the love of their lives, many people say they are searching for a better half or soul mate. But I’ve grown to believe that the latter has little to do with the rest. Our soul mate could also be a parent or a friend or a child, a sibling, even a pet. We don’t necessarily have to be in love with our soul mate and there’s little chance if we are now that we would be forever, although it might help. It’s not very likely that we could be in love with a person forever, but that’s another story for another post. However, a soul mate is forever. No matter how much we love or hate them, these are the people we cannot shake off. Ever. A thought that is both comforting and terrifying.


I have days I hate my soul mate’s guts. And days I keep telling him how much I love him. It’s a weird kind of love and hate. Some soul mates are joined by common interests or blood ties, some are just so good together they can’t breathe in each other’s absence. We are more like astral twins. Somehow we're so much alike it’s annoying, because we can smell each other’s bullshit. But we’ve developed in different environments and maybe we play different games. I slip through the fingers and hide. He goes out there and drowns his bad days in the crowds. We both feel alone sometimes and we’re in a strange way together through all that. Inexplicably, we share moods or we’re on the extreme opposites, but never on asymmetrical positions. I guess we still resent each other for all the chances we didn’t take, for letting our love story fail and for giving other people what we owed each other. And we still believe in the back of our heads that whenever other options fail, we’ve still got each other. If I’d have to pick a literary reference where I can see a resemblance, it would be Mircea Cartarescu’s (Romanian postmodernist poet and novelist) “Gemenii”. However much things have changed, I believe we have an absurd symbiosis, we don’t “match”, we “melt”. It might sound strange, but sometimes it feels like we inhabit each other. Funny thing is we still can’t have a decent conversation without dancing our stupid cha-cha. Two steps forth, three steps back. I’m the one with the steps back. I guess I still can’t lose my grip. So acknowledging the big place he still has in my heart is a first step.


However, I still want to underline there is no point in assuming a soul mate would make a good partner. At least in my case, sometimes I think we’ve hurt each other so much, there is no more room for trust or any sort of joint plans. But mostly, I really believe people find great soul mates in their friends, because they are there through so much more than lovers. Bros before hoes, right? Friends make great soul mates because we pick them, they are the family we choose and in time they are some of the best investments we can make.


I may be pushing an agenda here, but seriously, you don’t need to be sexually attracted to somebody to share the deepest spiritual and intellectual connection. It’s actually a pretty shallow criterion. And whatever cultural stereotypes we’ve been fed by the romantic literature and movie industry, we have to let go of. Because they just create absurd expectations. Lovers don’t have to be our perfect matches and soul mates don’t have to be the love of our lives. They can be annoying sweethearts we can’t ever let go of because some day, under the same stellar conjunction, we were born twins from different mothers.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Finding magic

I might have mentioned earlier how I see magic as the ways in which we channel our will to bring about change in the surrounding world. And I’ve been wondering lately whether we can use it to bring love into our lives. That one big true magical love everyone is talking about. I recently read a lovely article on finding and using magic in our everyday lives and I now believe it is not about grabbing that love by the balls, but about inviting it in and not drawing deadlines, about making room for it and being able to fully embrace it when it comes along.
We might not realize it, but we all are magical beings. We perform rituals every day, we use spells and potions to get closer to the objects of our desires. We just don’t do it consciously. Living a magical life is about living consciously. That thing others call living in the now. But as magical creatures we don’t have to let go of all of our desires, but to acknowledge they are all means to greater ends. That what we actually seek are not the material things, but rather abstract concept that make us happy. When we want clothes or perfumes we actually seek beauty and appreciation. When we want cars and money we want status and the thrill of open possibilities. When we want somebody we want company or love or support etc. And when we seek these things we perform rituals that are either of our own making or behaviors we have been socialized into. Every time me take a bath we perform a beauty ritual, or a cleansing one, or a social acceptance rite if that’s our only motivation. When we go to work we perform a daily ritual of ensuring security and prosperity. And so on and so forth. The trick is to actually acknowledge the real reasons behind what we do. They actually reveal our true values. Lying is not about not having principles, for example, it’s about seeking acceptance or even peace of mind. "No man chooses evil because it is evil; he only mistakes it for happiness, the good he seeks", Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley once wrote.
Once we are conscious of the higher motivations behind our desires and actions, we can transform them into more efficient rituals. It doesn’t take a witch to cure our deepest wounds or give us the highest high (although sometimes we do meet one in disguise who turns our lives around). We can use our own rites to make each day more meaningful, to enhance the magic in simple moments. Turning our beauty endeavors into self-love rituals, each meal into thoughts of gratitude towards all the Earth’s miracles that have landed on our plate, every reading into a trip to foreign lands and a chance to make new friends. Because once we start seeing the small things in a magical way, we’ll unconsciously add quality to our lives. We’ll want the fresh and tasty veggies and we won’t let others tell us what beauty means. We’ll be able to enjoy a good conversation and move on from people who only spread bad energies, or maybe we’ll make their day and that great feeling will come back to us threefold.
The great things we want for ourselves will be easier to see. I used to think I was spoiled by fate because I usually got what I wanted in life. The big things. Like a good education and finding a job, or like getting a guy. But the truth is I wanted some of these things so much I could see them. And visualization is one of the best ways to attract the things we want. The first step is enjoying what we have and through that realizing what we want. The second one is getting the best of that. And things don’t just come because we want them, sometimes is takes a lot of hard work. But keeping in mind the real reasons we do that work usually helps a lot. Talking about it, thinking of the best ways to get it and being patient helps a lot. Not putting deadlines or time frames on things keeps fear of failure and desperation on the side. Being able to wish for something but not feel pressured is what makes the difference between “things” and motivations.
So when we seek love we must understand it doesn’t just grow on trees. If we want it for the right reasons, if we really want love and not just company, not just social acceptance, not just a cure for loneliness, then we get one step closer to it. And we might meet love, but can we tell? Do we know anymore what it feels like, after being stomped over time and time again? We can, once we regain our innocence. Once we understand all those reasons for trusting others and even for allowing ourselves to get hurt. Once we let it all go as lesser attempts to get what we want and we believe that every time we give it a try we get better at it. And once we find it, we finally get a partner in magic. Now all the rituals will be in two. Rituals of spiritual nurturing, rituals of pleasure, rituals of security.
Humans are magical creatures because they can use their will to make the world a better place for themselves and others and they can do it consciously. I didn’t want to sound like a guru, but spending time in top of snowy mountains has really given me fuel for thought and magic is my new favorite word.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Single and fabulous


Once I used to believe I was addicted to love. A lovaholic. A relationship person, somebody who could not function well without being attached from the hip to somebody else. I’ve been in serial relationships most of my dating life and all that time I was never single for more than three months. And now it’s been more than two years. And I’m just now starting to realize why it is so. It’s not because all guys are jerks and there’s nobody out there or I just haven’t met him. And it’s not because there’s something wrong with me or I’m not ready to go back to being in a relationship. The one great reason I’m still single is because I chose so.
Whenever my grandmother asks me if I have a boyfriend or a concerned auntie wants to know when I’m getting married I keep wondering why is it that people expect us to pair up all the time. Is being single like being homeless or unemployed? Is there still such a great social stigma associated to it? We all know that some decades ago for a woman it was more tragic to be single than unemployed. Actually, it was the possibility to work outside the home and support ourselves, own property and decide upon our own bodies that created this ever growing pool of singles nowadays. And so we should ask ourselves, are more and more people single because there are less options on the dating market or just because they can and choose to do so? I would rather agree with the latter. You see, we can now choose to spend our lives experiencing multiple relationships or none at all, instead of being in an oppressive marriage we never wanted in the first place. We can choose to get out of a dysfunctional relationship instead of enduring it all just for the sake of not being labeled with the oh so scary sticker of old maid.
I enjoy being single for both the perks of said independence and for being able to avoid the pitfalls of relationships. The independence doesn’t just mean “you can do what you want”. You can actually do as you please in a healthy relationship as well, because I trust in a good partnership you will want the things that are right for you and your partner. It’s more about escaping that constant scrutiny. You’ve read about it a thousand times in women’s magazines, it’s awesome to be single because you can wear granny panties and you don’t always have to look great and smell nice, nobody will notice that extra couple of kilos on your hips after the holidays and your hair doesn’t always have to be shiny. Yes, they say they love you just the way you are. But we notice stuff. We notice the cavity in that tooth and the dirty fingernail and the pimple on the nose. And we know men notice far more things and expect far more effort to be put into our looks. Yes, we all love to be pretty every time we go out the door, but sometimes, at home, we just want to sit around in our pajamas with our hair stuck to our head, eating cheesy puffs and watching bad TV. And you can do that when you’re in a relationship too. But not whenever you please. These are just examples, but the bottom line here is that the constant scrutiny of a partner we want to spend every breathing minute with is quite heavy on our shoulders. And singles have it easy that way.
And then, we don’t get to worry about all those things people who are dating do. Like what he’s thinking of every second, is he having doubts about us, is he checking out that girl, is he cheating on me, is he really over his last girlfriend, why did they break up anyway, is there something wrong with him I haven’t noticed yet, where is this going and why won’t he talk about it, are his parents going to like me, is my father going to break his legs, how many children are we going to have, should we move in together, will we ever earn enough to buy a house and build a family… That kind of stuff. We don’t think about it all at once. But over one year, most of these questions are bound to pop out in our heads. And some of the things we worry about might happen on the way, bringing about a lot of pain and a need to reconsider our whole existence.
My biggest concerns as a single person are what to have for lunch and whether to build a career in this or that direction. I sometimes think I would have no time for a relationship, between my work and education, my family and my friends I hardly get to read and the pile of books and magazines waiting for me is getting larger by the day. But the thing is I don’t feel the need to or want one. I believe this is an awesome time to enjoy myself and know all the things that make me happy. To push myself and see where I draw the lines and to grow in whichever direction I want without having to adapt my future plans to future plans I’ve made in my head with somebody else. I don’t look at it as time between relationships when I get to become a better person for somebody to love me more when I finally meet him. It’s a transition time between school years and junior level jobs and the days when I’ll actually be working at securing a bright future for myself. Maybe I’ll meet someone, maybe I won’t, maybe I’ll have children, maybe I won’t. What I can tell you right now is that I feel fabulous about being single and I can’t even put in words all the great things about it. And for anybody to change that, they’d have to be at least as pretty damn awesome as I am.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Karma and its army of demons


Some girl in a movies said that faith is for the weak, an excuse not to go grab whatever we want then and there. In that line of thought, I believe a lot of concepts like that actually help us deal with reality, give us a sense of order in a universe that is so much beyond our understanding that we need to oversimplify it. But what if there is certain equilibrium? A law of compensation that keeps things straight. A strange way of this cold impersonal universe of taking care of us. Karma is a rather comforting concept in a way. It gives us the peace of mind to leave pain behind knowing that we would be avenged. It helps us get off the door in the morning, knowing that whatever keeps the balance out there will make all things right in the end. But when it comes to relationships, I’ve noticed karma is a pretty scary word.
When they are in love, people want to be loved for who they are and not just because they love the other. So nobody gives it too much thought. But when things get ugly, some of us have that fear in the back of their heads that however they hurt their partner, it’s coming to bite them in the ass. That’s why we persevere in our mistakes in a way. Fear has never been a good partner.I saw this card on Post Secret which said “my wife left me because I wouldn’t admit I cheated on her. I never did”. 
This kind of makes me think about two things I observed quite often and wrote about before. One is that when we start lying, it’s always about little things, so as not to make our partners worried or angry. We start with the most basic thing, saying we’re fine when we’re actually not (well, men know that when women say everything’s all right, there must be something fishy). Then we get to things like “going out with the girls/guys for coffee”, when you’re actually going dancing and drinking till morning. And we end up lying about working late when in fact we’re with somebody else. One of the worst case scenarios. Thing is a lie will always lead to another and no matter how many white lies we tell, eventually we’ll lie about something big. I see people after decades of marriage who resent each other in one way or another and they never say it. The other thing the card reminded me was that we mirror our behavior in our partner. Yes, there are genuinely jealous people. But some of the most violently jealous people I know are those who cheat. You lie and cheat so you expect your partner to lie and cheat. And sometimes being labeled the bad guy actually turns you into the bad guy. Instant karma. We don’t really need a force of the universe to bite us in the ass. We do a great job ourselves. Hurting other people will eventually hurt us. Because we’ll live in fear. Because we’ll lose trust. Because the weight of lying will be so heavy on our shoulders, we’re bound to drop it.
And what happens when we hurt bystanders? People involved in our relationships in a way or another, who suffer by association. Do we really have to think about each and single one of the people our relationship felonies affect? We make and lose friends, we get close or become strangers to families, we step on some toes whenever we are with somebody. Every relationship at the time, I believe. Somebody is bound to be unhappy with our choices, every time. We’ll win some and lose some and sometimes we’ll get away with it.
Ah, getting away with it! Nothing as scary as that. Can being a bitch in one relationship pay up in the next one? Does cheating now make you bound to be cheated on later? Somehow I’m sure it’s not how it works. The problem is that when we expect these things to happen, it’s like inviting them in. When we believe we are sinners and deserve the wrath of whatever is out there, we end up punishing ourselves. When we see ourselves as monsters, we are the ones that take a little bit of our beauty away each day. It’s maybe karma, it’s maybe conscience, it’s maybe fear.
I am actually a strong believer in the Wiccan Law of Threefold Return. The one that says that whatever benevolent or malevolent actions a person performs will return to that person with triple force, or with equal force on each of the three levels of body, mind and spirit. I also believe this whole belief system to be based on the power we all have to channel our will to transform what others call faith. So for now let’s just look at karma as a motivation we give selfish people to be altruistic and build our own laws of return. What is certain is that love and positive thoughts will always give good returns. Treasuring others' affection and trust can’t hurt and living as a free open fearless person beats the dark shadows of karma any day.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Eastern Europeans don't speak romance


After having my mind blown by Bertolucci’s “Last tango in Paris”, my first thoughts went to my amazing Western lovers and to how movie-like our relationships have been. It sounds a bit farfetched to make generalizations based on such few cases. But maybe I can extend my sample by also considering my most favorite men, who are directors or writers or just some of their characters.
I’ve always found Eastern Europeans to be a bit on the dark side. They have this obscurity that somehow makes you feel like you could never penetrate to a level where they would lose the grip. There is something about them that is never satisfied. Like they could always get better, but they’re not even bothering to look. I do believe that all of this brings along a lot of frustration. Of the Eastern Europeans I got to know better in time, I find Serbians to be the most shady. I think they pair a nice imagination with some serious case of always feeling wronged. Hungarians are still a mystery to me, they do have a potential for romanticism, but maybe they’re too well programmed to roam free. Bulgarians are nice guys, but you can never be sure they’re not being sarcastic. I don’t think it’s a national trait, but maybe a case of Romanians being lost in translation. The latter speak a really weird kind of romance. Because they’ve always experienced it second-hand. That kind of traditional courtship inherited through the ages is almost gone. The one where you would dance with the girl on Sunday and then try to get her alone when she’s out working or whistling over her fence and then eventually stealing her in order to oblige her parents to give you their blessings. Romanians have borrowed bits and pieces from Italian or French and now American fashions of the times and forgot how to pursue women in their own way. The most obvious example is the toxic bachelor syndrome, where men figured after a certain age there is a flip in power and now they can sleep around and convince women it's all right for them to do so because they call it open relationships and everybody does them nowadays. However, I believe women much rather adopted platform high heels than fancy-named polygamy.
What I’ve always loved about the French, for example, is that openness to however sophisticated or absurd approaches to courtship. That ability to see women as means and not ends, to not think about whether tomorrow they may still belong to them. And that gives them a freedom that Easterners’ fear or ridicule would never allow them to experience. The freedom not to think twice before they speak and not to have to hide behind words. And the ability to be there and not somewhere else when they’re with a woman and treat her like she’s the only one left on Earth. When I talk about darkness I don’t refer to mystery. I refer to being impermeable to intimacy and in that sense the more you go East, the thicker the barrier gets.
Latinos are not big on intimacy either, but that fire that everyone talks about, it’s there all right. These guys know what they want and they take it. And they hold on to it. Not by always fearing it’s going away and bitching about it, like Eastern Europeans do. But by being a bit overly possessive and mostly by being insatiable lovers. They are maybe not the most fancy guys you can find, but I believe they know how to enjoy the really good stuff. The sun, the sand, the food, the wine and especially the women. Uncomplicated lovers, I believe they make it to our hearts easily because of that warmth they effuse. But what I like the most about them is that they can really fight. Not just stand there and look angry, not just offend you and walk away. They argue the way they love, spending a lot of energy and burning all of the tension then and there.
It’s a pretty sensible subject and I’m sure anyone could disagree with my experience. It’s always been a bit wrong to put people of a certain nationality in the same box based on traits we consider to be inherent to their ethnicity. But I believe some of the cultural heritage does express itself in our everyday lives, and why not in our relationships.