about guilt… and shit

A colleague of mine told me at lunch that she thought I looked so zen about life in general that she thought she should adopt my attitude towards everything. Which sounded quite flattering, up to the point where she said she thought I was simply not thinking about certain problems (that she does/others do worry about) – which sounded as if my attitude was a bit silly and at best mildly irresponsible. But, in any case, if I did worry about the same things, then the zen was just a facade and her image of me was ruined 🙂 .

Luckily, I trust her and, generally, people around me, therefore I didn’t get sucked into any kind of spiral of suspicion about what kind of implied judgment her comments may have contained. I just realised how differently people can value things. Because balance, to my mind, is not made of ignoring any kind of stimulus that might throw you off balance. And therefore ignoring stimuli doesn’t bestow any value upon one’s state of balance. Balance is taking in all the stimuli, thinking about what makes them powerful and choosing, in an as informed as possible manner (insert ten-line disclaimer here), which ones you allow to change your behaviours and which ones you stop fretting about. (Because, as far as I am concerned, balance is about managing comfort, angst, guilt and perhaps other little runaround cousins of theirs.)

Some decisions are easy: apparently worrying that somebody else makes less of an effort than yourself in a commonly run process is really time and energy-consuming for many people – I hardly ever bother thinking about it, except maybe when I fold a mountain of laundry – again. I realise though that it’s a matter of trust in the process partners and that trust works like a market force (I’ll have to think about this in more detail at some point – apparently people write whole dissertations about this 🙂 ).

Worrying that you will get ill or that you should eat very healthy food so that you live longer is, again, something that doesn’t keep me on my toes. I’ll go with the mainstream in maintaining my body in functioning order, check everything regularly and take action when there are repairs to be done, just as I maintain the house, but, although I might feel guilty about things I eat for ecological reasons, I refuse to feel guilty about `feeding my body poison`. Foods will keep being processed, ingredients will change with the years, either I’ll get cancer or I won’t. But I’m not going to pay for the insurance daily and get it anyway, I don’t think it’s worth it.

Some decisions are hard: motherhood decisions are hard. Do I adopt an all-healthy diet for the kids? No. Am I irresponsible for not doing so? Do I cut the tv completely? No. Are they going to develop attention disorders from it? Do I teach them schooly stuff early? Not really. Aren’t they going to miss the headstart I had when I went to school reading fluently? Do I try to dam in the pink spree of my four-year old? No. Shouldn’t I stand at least a little bit more feministically in the matter? (all right, the last one is already discarded to the non-issues bin.) 

Also, womanhood decisions are sometimes hard. Do I work at how I look or do I try to accept myself, my age and my body as they are and be happy with that? Do I like who I have become or do I want to change as a person? Is this point in my life determined more by comfort or more by fulfilment (and then again, who says they can be told apart?)?

Political decisions are horribly hard. There is so much information to take in, so little time to deal with it before there’s more information, so many voices that should be listened to properly before dismissing, joining or splitting their message into usable and unusable bricks… Am I guilty for being partly an economic migrant? Do I have the right to protect myself by not reading the garbage or should I know it all in detail?

All these decisions, taken on a daily basis (do you use two or three sheets of toilet paper?) or for life, entail a plethora of feelings about who you are based on those decisions and about your human worth. The most common of these, in my case, is guilt. Which seems to never stop pouring from everywhere, even with so-called zen. I remembered twenty things, I forgot one birthday  (guilt). The children who came to my daughter’s birtday party didn’t actually eat sweets – ever (doubt and guilt). Guilt for consuming, guilt for ecological gestures that you couldn’t afford or simply didn’t have the time for, guilt for non-bio food, guilt for your economic status, guilt for the age of the car’s engine, guilt for ever watching tv, guilt for being broken by the time you get home and not feeling like a good roll over the floor with the kids, guilt about fishsticks, guilt about the fact that you felt good about doing a nice thing, therefore it’s not nice anymre, because it’s not selfless – and it spirals slowly into the absurd.

Balance is being a witch from Discworld (I really loved this image): you learn to balance the pain (or guilt) into a big ball and pour it into something else. One day at a time. And this is why trying to achieve balance is, to me, more valuable than many other things – because you get to live and experience and learn from all the shit, but you do your best not to put it on others.

Anunțuri

fac grevă împotriva grevei!

Ori de câte ori merg lucrurile binişor şi lumea arată mai sărbătoreşte şi dă să mi se facă pace, Belgia mai dă cu o grevă în om… grevă generală pasămite, a întregului sector public, atunci când nu mai ai zile de concediu sau ore acumulate pe care să ţi le iei ca să şezi în banca ta acasă. Deci mă voi îngrămădi cu ceilalţi amărâţi posesori de maşini şi obişnuiţi cu disfuncţionalitatea tuturor iluziilor de dialog – pe autostradă. De preferinţă sculându-mă înainte de şase, ca să şi ajung cândva. AAAARRRGHHHHHH!

teme şi aiureli

1. De obicei, mă motivează să mi se dea o temă. Dar de data asta e nesuferit. Am de scris un articol despre Alice. Pe care l-am început de trei ori, din care un început depăşeşte deja limita maximă de caractere specificată în temă, dar nu ajunge nicăieri; dar n-am timp să fac niciun fel de cercetare cumsecade, urăsc să scriu remestecături, n-am nicio idee şi descopăr că amorul ăla infinit care mă făcea să vreau să disec fiecare virgulă s-a aplatizat mult – lucrarea de diplomă despre care spuneam, râzând, că o fac în mod terapeutic, ca să scap de Alice, a funcţionat perfect. Terapeutic, adică. Nu că nu-mi mai place, dar nu mă mai obsedează şi nu mă mai face să râsu-plânsu.

Şi pentru că am o temă şi am mult de lucru la muncă şi weekenduri şi seri pline, şi pentru mă consider disciplinată, mă simt oribil de vinovată că nu am terminat şi că se apropie data de predat şi că nu-i acord fiecare secundă pe care o pot rupe de altundeva. Şi deci nu scriu nici chestiile care mă preocupă cu adevărat, fiindcă e furt. De timp şi de energie de gândit. „Unchiule Charles, ce să fac?”

 

2. În mail mă aştepta un mesaj cu greşeli de ortografie care zicea că e de la o editură nou înfiinţată şi că ce frumos ar fi să public la ei un volum de poezii, că sunt mişto. Că le-a citit domnul cu pricina pe Bocancul literar (unde nu mi se vede adresa de mail nicăieri şi n-am nume). Suna intens ca la scrisoarea cu moştenirea nigeriană – flutură-i omului gărgăunii din cap şi ia-i banii (că adicătelea un număr anume de exemplare, jumate banii ei, jumate banii tu – ceea ce înţeleg că se practică, e drept, dar omul fript cu ciorbă de antreprenori belgomarocani suflă-n orice chestie care n-are sediu decât pe internet). Noroc că n-am visuri egotrippăriste şi că simţul ridicolului propriu nu-mi permite să mă simt măgulită de asemenea idei mai mult de 30 de secunde.

 

3. În ordinea de idei dintre cele două puncte anterioare – joaca de-a publicatul în lipsa organului format din biluţe chinezeşti de găsit calmul (deşi mă-ndoiesc că posesorii de facto ai organului cu pricina sunt calmabili aşa), am o vinovăţie în plus de mărturisit. N-am pus mâna să revizuiesc călina nici măcar un pic, deşi dacă ar fi să fac ceva cu ea vreodată, ar trebui s-o fac minimal prezentabilă. N-am timp. N-am timp nici măcar să jelesc că mă aflu, din nou, în punctul ăla al vieţii de care mă străduiam să mă scutur acum zece ani: cu mâna în scorbură, cu nucile în mână. Capacitatea omului de a se face prizonierul definitiv al propriilor imagini despre ce-şi doreşte este nelimitată. A acestui om, în orice caz.

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.

venting

I am being a moderate on a daily basis, consoling my co-workers with plainly idiotic words of wisdom about how they would not want to be in the office at 40 degrees Celsius either. AND YET – oh yes, this is about the weather, although I despise the main small-talk subject of the civilised world – I’M OFFICIALLY DEPRESSED!!! An entire month of July composed of rain, wind and 17 degrees, after a similar June with on and off a mildly sunny day, followed by a forecast of an August like last year (for the record, last August was said to have been the rainiest August since they started measuring) would get down the merriest soul. Because you only just make it through 9 (NINE!) months of soggy streets and grey everything by hanging on to the promise of a SUMMER! And we’re clearly not getting one (oh yeah, we got a taste of it for two weeks in April: reminder to self: book staycation in April next year and runaway holidays soon after). No, seriously – 17 degrees? Plus going to Barcelona for a bit of sun and being mercilessly rained upon for an entire weekend, plus going to Berlin (with the honest hope of a more continentally temperate weather) and having had to buy shoes and socks to make it through the weekend? Seriously? 10 days of actual holidays in a warm place just before you have to start a whole new year of everythingatonce cannot possibly make up for this… bleah!

PS: Mom, start making peace with the curliness of your hair before you come over. It ain’t gonna be any different than in December!

blogul ca confesional

„an insufferable know-it-all”, cât de tare Hermione îmi defineşte momentele de ruşine că iar am vorbit prea apăsat, am tăiat cuvântul cuiva în goană, sperând în sinea mea să nu-i încurc prea rău, dar să zic totuşi şi eu… Că am râs prea cu poftă, când susceptibilitatea altuia ar putea să fi interpretat că… Că am căutat pe wikipedia sau pe imdb ca să-mi dovedesc dreptatea prin implicarea unui terţ într-o controversă irelevantă – dar dreptatea aia, când eşti „verschrikkelijke betweter”; oare de ce lucrurile care te compun şi te fac uneori folositor sunt totodată sursă de ruşine? Iar am păcătuit, părinte, iar nu mi-am văzut lungul nasului, a vorbit gura fără mine, am făcut un banc prea mult, m-am simţit prea în siguranţă şi mi-am imaginat că şi cei cu care convieţuiesc îmi împărtăşesc siguranţa şi că nu le pot face rău. Pare că totul e o negociere a unui punct de echilibru extrem de fragil între ce dai şi ce păstrezi, între ce crezi şi ce spui, între cine eşti şi cine vrei să fii, între munci, vieţi, relaţii, răspunderi, amoruri, vieţile altora… un gest în plus şi faci o zbârcă. Şi uneori o vezi în timp ce o faci, dar nu mai e loc de dres, şi dacă o admiţi, e ca o pată de grăsime pe care te apuci s-o ştergi cu şerveţelul – se face doar mai mare. Şi dac-ar fi să facem penitenţă realmente, ce, n-are dreptate Yusuf? Se aruncă chitara cu totul – se-nchide, în cazul ăsta, blogul, se tace cu adevărat. Doar că nu cred în penitenţa care neagă substanţa penitentului. Deci se înghite ruşinea cu linguriţa şi se merge mai departe. Sperând că ăia dragi o să ştie că „but she meant well”.

despre evoluţionismul relaţional

Aseară, cu exact acel puţin înainte de a adormi care garantează preluarea în subconştient şi rumegarea îndelungată, am auzit un fragment de argument la o controversă fără liman şi lipsită de soluţie: „Poate că relaţia a crescut în dezechilibrul ăsta pentru că de asta era nevoie…” Şi deşi cel de-al patrulea stomac al minţii mele e mai raţional în starea sa de trezie decât în semisomn, sunt bucăţi de convingeri care îl fac să fumege în toate stările.

„Adică cum?” mestecă el în ritm alert: „în relaţiile în care bărbatul îi stâlceşte nevestei lui arcada săptămânal, relaţia a crescut aşa fiindcă de asta era nevoie? Ea avea nevoie s-o mai plesnească cineva din când în când de toantă ce e şi el avea nevoie de o supapă?”

„Adică cum? În relaţiile în care unul munceşte şi altul bea de stinge, relaţia a crescut aşa fiindcă de asta era nevoie? Unul avea nevoie de bani pentru a-şi susţine slăbiciunea şi celălalt avea nevoie să „lighten up” şi să relativeze gravitatea datoriilor?”

„Adică cum? În relaţiile în care unul munceşte serviciul şi celălalt munceşte serviciul plus casa plus copiii, relaţia a crescut aşa fiindcă de asta era nevoie? Unul avea nevoie să se simtă miriapod şi celălalt avea nevoie să i se spele şosetele?”

Argumentul evoluţionist aplicat relaţiilor îmi ulcerează niţel capacitatea de digestie. E întru totul de înţeles că relaţiile cresc aşa cum le laşi să crească şi evoluează în funcţie de nevoile şi disponibilităţile fiecăruia. Că unde unul cedează mereu şi altul câştigă prea uşor, creşte strâmb şi că acolo unde nimeni nu dă nimic de la sine se usucă creanga. Că unde amândoi dau în gol împotriva valului realităţii creşte relaţia în bălării şi că acolo unde se cooperează cu simţ practic ieşi la lumină mai iute. Dar că nu te poţi opune evoluţiei naturale a unei relaţii de cuplu sau că ea reflectă, împotriva exprimării explicite în alt sens a partenerilor, complementarea lor implicită în plan raţional/afectiv, dominant/subordonat, control/abandon, asta nu-mi intră-n cap. Poate o să-mi intre cândva, aşa cum am integrat-o pe cea cu a şti că eşti nevrotic nu te scoate din starea de nevroză. Până atunci, sufăr de indigestie.