…c’est moi

N-am știut prea limpede dacă să mă simt încurcată sau măgulită de cum m-a privit ieri la training trainerița în ochi o bună parte din timp. Poate e doar buna ei tehnică și toată lumea se simte ca și cum trainingul i s-ar adresa personal. Senzația mea a fost, fără să am nicio amintire a unui contact anterior altminteri decât liminal cu ea (eu auzind de-a lungul timpului mai multe despre ea decât ar putea ea să fi înmagazinat despre mine, dat fiind că ea e o figură mai… publică), că ea știe, la fel cum și eu știu, că există un nivel pe care suntem fundamental la fel. Că recunoașterea este reciprocă.

Fata asta nu e simpatică nimănui. E extrem de bună la ceea ce face și complet incapabilă să-și reprime în vreun fel mândria că se simte isteață și satisfacția pe care i-o dă a face treaba bine și a găsi cele mai eficiente căi de la a la b (băgându-le pe gât, voluntar sau involuntar, și altora). Îi vin ușor lucrurile profesionale, ține minte grămezi de informații și le organizează bine. E argint viu. Oamenii spun că e arogantă. Eu tind să cred doar că e lipsită de o anumită doză de inteligență socială care să o oblige să-și tempereze insufferable-know-it-all-ness-ul. E cultural și personal rigidă în respectarea regulilor și asta îi adaugă în intensitate la necesitatea de a controla totul. Ceea ce, probabil, dacă muncești cu ea, e foarte obositor. Dacă lucrezi după ea, probabil că e reconfortant, fiindcă perfecționismul ei îți face viața mai ușoară (perfecționism cu care nu mă pot mândri, pe de altă parte, deci n-o fi chiar așa grav). Mi-e însă imposibil să estimez cum reacționează la critici. Dar mi se pare ușor de estimat că le împarte cu o naturalețe care-ți dă la gioale. Dacă nu ești la fel de sigur pe tine. Dacă ai încredere în ea că nu e fundamental afurisită, invidioasă, judgmental, că nu-ți vrea ție răul. Or eu nu cred toate astea. Mă rog, despre judgmental s-ar putea să fie așa, dar asta e o negociere pentru fiecare din noi. Mie mi-e, straniu, simpatică. Nu vreau să fiu ca ea, dar există multe coordonate în educația dată de bunică-mea (recognoscibile până și în încheierea ultimei propoziții la 17.00) care reflectă îndeaproape felul ei de a umbla prin lume. Cu disonanța tipică a faptului că lumea aia te laudă pentru anumite caracteristici, dar simultan nu acceptă să te arăți prea conștient de ele. Cu oroarea de a nu fi găsit niciodată o soluție pentru acceptarea unui compliment, altfel decât să bâigui încurcat că nu-l meriți sau să-l minimalizezi zicând că da, și tu te bucuri că ți-a ieșit așa, uite poznă! Ba mi-e groază și de tonul acestei mărturisiri. Cu unele mutații, aoleu Doamne, și dacă c’est moi!

Anunțuri

despre coajă la femei

Constat pentru a nu ştiu câta oară că provin dintr-o cultură în care buna-creştere cuprinde norme contradictorii despre măsura în care trebuie să-ţi dispreţuieşti nivelul organic şi, respectiv, măsura în care el este esenţial în preţuirea ta de către alţii. Am interiorizat o oroare de fizic şi fiziologic ca preocupare în favoarea unei presupuse concentrări asupra fiinţei spirituale, de o ipocrizie cruntă, în condiţiile în care evident că, simultan, este built-in să te preocupe şi aspectul tău exterior, şi boala, şi moartea. Povestea tatei, spusă pe la 14-15 ani, despre cum trebuie femeia să se scoale cu o oră mai devreme decât bărbatul ca să se îngrijească şi să ascundă orice urmă de fiziologic, în scopul menţinerii atracţiei în relaţie, m-a urmărit, lăsându-mă cu blana zbârlită, până-n zilele noastre. Să fii, fără să se vadă ce faci pentru a fi. Fără niciun efort. A, şi în orice caz să îţi asumi merite şi să accepţi complimente pentru lucruri de aspect care nu ţin deloc de tine, dar să nu cumva să te umfli în pene pentru lucrurile pe care le-ai făcut cu greu. Logica normelor simţului comun (căci bun e o judecată de valoare) mă pierde uneori în… inefabilul feminin.

Ei, bine, astăzi m-am hotărât să încalc un pachet de legi nescrise şi să îmi declar recunoştinţa pentru aparatul care mă găzduieşte şi/sau care sunt. În loc să hulesc către mine însămi şi către semenele mele fiecare imperfecţiune, sunt recunoscătoare.

Că am un corp care boleşte neverosimil de rar – nu fiindcă e vreo mândrie, ci fiindcă sunt atât de puţin în stare să-mi imaginez calitatea vieţii oamenilor bolnavi pe termen lung.

Că am un corp cu o graniţă a durerii înaltă, care nu se plânge nici la greuri mai mari – nu fiindcă asta ar fi neapărat un atu, cât pentru că îmi face mie viaţa mai uşoară.

Că am un corp care m-a dus cu siguranţă şi cu seninătate prin două sarcini şi naşterile aferente, schimbându-se, protestând molcom, dar fără să se rupă, strice, înţepenească sau să dea, fie şi milimetric, vreun rateu – iarăşi, nimic de-a face cu mine însămi, dar ştiind câtă jale se strânge în inima celor cărora organismele lor le refuză această experienţă, deşi şi-o doresc aprins, recunoştinţa se impune.

Că nu i s-a rupt nicicând niciun os.

Că se îngraşă numai atâta cât se îngraşă atunci când nu am grijă de el şi că slăbeşte atâta cât slăbeşte când trec la mind over matter.

Că nu se arde la soare (când are şansa să-l vadă).

Că se adaptează la frig şi la cald cu aceeaşi uşurinţă.

Că nu se pune de-a curmezişul niciunei dorinţe printr-un „nu pot” categoric (mă rog, slavă Cerului că nu mi-am dorit niciodată să fiu flexibilă ca o balerină, că probabil că i-aş fi întâlnit rapid limita 🙂 ).

Că, deja de ani de zile, produce suficiente endorfine atunci când mă trezesc copiii noaptea încât să nu fiu o momâie a doua zi.

Că, deci, în loc să fie silfid şi fragil, aşa cum mi-am dorit ca fleaţa întotdeauna, e robust şi demn şi nu mă lasă baltă.

Că mă rabdă.

Poate că e bine uneori să conştientizezi la modul cel mai propriu că te simţi bine în pielea ta, fără să ai niciun merit în chestia asta, şi că ai de mulţumit aleatoriului genetic că ţi-a dat această coajă şi nu alta. În ciuda zilnicului „dar dacă ar fi mai…”.

somewhere in there

In keeping with how eclectically I usually write this blog, this has nothing to do with books (or politics), language (or children) or basically anything I have been thinking about lately. And yet it is a recurrent thought that kept gaining flesh… and yet it is, like all of the above, (also) about identity.

The way we conceive ourselves – and it’s very difficult to figure out if this is characteristic of women and men at the same time or even of most women – seems to be this archetype of who we would like to be/used to be in photos/intend to be at a certain time. It seems to me that, at any point in one’s life, there are things that a person is, and yet thinks (or merely hopes) they’re not.

`I look all right these days, if only there wasn’t for those pimples` – followed by a mental photoshop brushing away temporary things that are not essential to who you want to be.
`I’m actually not someone who wears glasses. It’s just because I can’t stand my contacts lately and I don’t dare attempt surgery and… oh yeah, because I have bad eyes` – photoshop to your face 4 years ago when you were wearing contacts or to 9 years ago when you refused to wear the glasses on the street.
`I’d be feeling very well with myself if it weren’t for those extra pounds. I don’t recognize myself in the mirror, this is not me` – photoshop brush to 63 kilos that you may have had 10 years ago, while at that time photoshopping towards 59.
`My cheeks in this photo look like a basset hound’s, but it’s just because I was pregnant at the time, this is not how I generally look` – accompanied by silent envy towards all the gorgeous pregnancy photos of friends, who probably photoshop their own head out of those pictures as well…
`I sound like a very controlling mother, although this is really not how I am, I want to…` – photoshop towards a mental image compiled from Hollywood family movies where kids roam around free all day and yet follow the most perfect table etiquette.
`I’m really not an office clerk, I’m a writer…` after years of deskjobs in which you never wrote a line of literature. (all right, this is really not one of my thoughts, it’s more inspired from the `Bartending is just a temporary thing until I get an audition` – I admit as an identity decision that I could never live in the insecurity anything artistic as a vocation presupposes.)
`I’m sorry my house is such a mess, I’ve only just gotten home…` – whereas it would look just the same at any moment someone visits without calling beforehand, because the way the house it’s supposed/designed/imagined to look only lasts while the cleaning lady has just left the living room and is sweeping upstairs, only to be completely lost for another week by the time she goes out the door.

The thought came back to me again yesterday, in Polish class, when a colleague describing me said `she has curly hair` – and although I had taken the mysterious change that electrified my hair a few months ago for a temporary, `not-me` phenomenon which will pass, after which I will `be me` again, it dawned on me. Every single day I will be things that I want to photoshop away and things that are esentially the way I want them to be. Things I know and I don’t know about myself. Outside and in. There are `ways I am` that I will have to fight my whole life because they will not simply allow themselves to be changed radically, but will allow a daily `straightening`. The things by which I define myself are not pick-and-choose, although, for the sake of minimal confidence, they are the ones one rather concentrates upon. I don’t think there is peace to be had with all these things I don’t like about myself (temporary or not). But the layers I try to strip away in order to get to `really me` are, sometimes, to be accepted as inevitable, and sometimes, as demons that can be louder or quieter roommates on my asteroid, but the `baobab plucking` or `volcano cleaning` keeps me on my toes and makes me aware of my shortcomings towards others.

about languages… and stuff

This is about bilingualism. Or at least, that’s where I started. Then it turned out to be about identity. And then about history and information in general. I am in awe at the fact that people ever manage to stick to one `subject` – to me everything seems connected with everything else. It might be time to convert to some native religion on some virgin island 🙂 .

Aaanyway – an article about unbalanced bilingualism got me thinking about why it was that I seem to have trouble speaking my own language with my children, although it is a language I am still very comfortable in, of which I love the versatility and of which, conceptually, I want them to have the benefit. Of course, there are all the contextual excuses – that the home language is the same as my partner’s language and the school language, therefore it’s far more contexts of Dutch to outbalance Romanian exposure; that I have to switch a lot and that I am not comfortable with the people in the room not knowing what I just forbade the kids to do or the people in the supermarket not being aware of the contents of a conversation that has them as a subject (`please let this lady pass in front of us at the register`, `watch the cart!`) etc. But there was a question in the article addressing one’s potentially internal reasons for linguistic inconsistence. And, while painting walls in the study, I went with it to see where the answer might take me.
It may be that what I often perceive, while translating, as shortcomings of Romanian in comparison to some Germanic languages is also perceived, consciously enough, as proofs of shortcomings in the `signified`, of empty spots in the fabric of `the world according to the Romanian` (because I strongly believe that language shapes the way one sees the world). It may be that those shortcomings (that I supplement linguistically by long and uneasy periphrastic constructions) become symptoms of where my original identity was lacking perspective, symptoms that I compensated by adding new layers of identity on. It might be that the fact that I am embarrassed to place the kids in front of even DVD’s dubbed into Romanian because of the sloppiness and fake tone of the translations, the unnerving quality of the TV shows when we are there on holidays and the `quick-and-dirty` way of making money by publishing children’s books/CD’s with idiotic poems/songs illustrated with a couple of animal shapes printed off the Internet without paying the rights, or printing Disney’s integral with texts that twist the language in ways it was never supposed to be twisted – drastically reduce my linguistic exposure resources – but also, mainly, get me down. It might be that my guard is down insofar as speaking Romanian is concerned because I’m all the time angry at and dissapointed with my country and that it takes an effort to filter the `now` out of the legacy of beauty that I need to pass along.
And that took me to another thought. I am very much aware that there is no such thing as absolute truth where personal or national identity and even history is concerned. But, for the sake of the game, we hold some stories to be commonplace in order to be able to relate to one another. Obviously (to me), Romantic nationalism put in place all sorts of fictions about nations and collective identities and especially about reasons to be proud of what you are (even though you have no merit at all in being born where you were born and even less in not trying to see how anyone else sees the world). These fictions have been, to large extents, debunked at some point in the 20th century – in any case to the point that nations had to admit the existence of quite a few skeletons in their closets. However, manuals all over the continent kept selling plenty of the Romantic dough – and many of us didn’t question it. I have met an extremely intelligent Finnish guy who claimed unflinchingly that the Kalevala was an absolutely unique product of national genius and that no other nation had ever produced a saga (he was a bit appalled at the wikipedia page with which we opposed his stance). Just as I have only met Dutch people being very-very-very proud of being Dutch – because oh, their commercial and colonial history and oh, their standing up to everyone and anyone and oh, such a little country among so many powerful nations and water… And of course, when asked, they will tell you that it’s not always the nicest of histories and that in fact it is based on a lot of suffering for others and mistification afterwards, but the core is unchanged – whatever is objectionable can be swept under the carpet of national pride. Where I come from, relativity in this sense has become the norm – because we know that the communist-nationalistic manuals we learned our history in gave a very warped vision of the world and because we are aware that their predecessors stem from a rather nationalistic age as well, I, for one, have no clear idea about any historic truth (apart from years and wars – which can be interpreted in all manner of ways). My lack of trustworthy information about the place I come from makes me relativise all messages I’ve ever received about my identity. Having been fed `national poets` whose value I couldn’t really, objectively, appreciate and `national values` which turn out to be inexistent in a free world, there is this fundamental lack of `pride` in my identity: there are, of course, wonderful things where I come from, but I see them being destroyed year after year by greed, stupidity, cowardice and, more than anything, a basic incapacity of working together towards any goal. So the strange thing is – I question other people’s rationale of national pride and can even find it misplaced, but, for the simplicity of self-definition, I miss it.
And this might be it – we live in a world in which nurture, as far as values are concerned, is placed significantly above nature. If you are a greatly successful farmer on land where your ancestors were greatly successful farmers, your added value is seen as minimal. If you come from a modest family and make something of yourself intelectually, it’s all your merit – these are, I think, strong and widespread beliefs (maybe `well-bred` as a concept is going to win back some force in the years to come, who knows). Conserving your given identity feels like little work, shaping a new and better one gives you an individuality which you can take pride. It might be then that it is sometimes easier speaking a foreign language because it is the signifier of who I worked to become instead of the signifier of a random complex of events shaping me from the start. With the added bonus that the people that I tried to approach were actually happy being what they were, as opposed to the people I was slowly drifting away from. In which case the right operation to sort this out might be embracing all of the identity layers instead of unconsciously fighting some of them; and only buying one’s resources at an old books’ shop 🙂 .