Two Decades of Life Untold

So apparently these days, our little planet celebrates 20 years of blogging. If blogging were a person, and not just this concept my parents still can’t grasp, well, they’d be out of high school and on their way to a life of their own. They’d probably own a car. They’d most likely have had their heart broken at least once. They’d think they know everything. Or at least that’s what I was like, when I was 20.

But when blogging was born, 20 years ago, I had no idea it was even happening. I was 9. I was living with my parents and sister in a two bedroom flat in a small Transylvanian town. We had a phone, a radio and a color TV, and knew nothing of computers or the interwebs. Communism had only just fallen, four years previously, opening our country to cable television, whitewashed jeans and Barbie dolls. It was a brilliant, overwhelming time, but no one was blogging about it yet.

When blogging turned six, I got my first PC. I was 15, had just passed my high school entry exam, and would go on to study High School Computer Science for the following 4 years. What I remember most about that computer was that once we set it up, my bedroom kept that new, plasticky smell for weeks, and I felt both special and a little terrified. Like I was an expensive action figure living my tiny life inside my perfectly sealed box.

We had no internet for a while, so the computer was just sitting there, its brand new smell slowly fading, its bulky monitor gathering dust. Then school started and we set up our dial up connection. I’d have to ask my parents for permission to go online, because it was expensive and they didn’t really see the point of it. Sometimes my mom would come and sit by my side, as I was jumping on IRC to chat with my friends, which was all I knew the internet was good for at the time. She wasn’t impressed, my mom.

In high school I set up my first email address and wrote my first line of code ( Pascal ftw! ). My window to the internet was Internet Explorer, and I wouldn’t have guessed there was anything wrong with that. No one I knew had a blog yet.

Blogging had turned 11 when I took my Uni entry exam. Computer Science again, in a bigger city away from home, where my life would finally begin. I was 19 and thought I had all the answers.

It was in a Uni lab that I set up my first Yahoo!Messenger account. The days of IRC were long gone, and I never looked back. My dorm had no internet connection, so I almost failed my first year. After that, I moved into a wonderful, online friendly flat. That’s when I discovered blogging. By then it was already 12 years old, almost a teenager. I thought it was something I could and should have invented myself, and was heartbroken. I’d been born a couple of years too late, in a country stuck decades behind everybody else, where even blogging was bound to come later than everywhere else, I thought. Those were sad, bloggable times for me. But I didn’t blog a word about them. In fact, I watched blogging from a distance for years, trying to figure out its darkest, most embarrassing secrets, so when our confrontation finally came, I’d be prepared.

In the meantime, I was growing up. I tried smoking, I gave up smoking. I had my heart broken, I had my heart mended. I graduated, and landed my first Web Development job in a small Romanian company. I started making money, real money, my money, so I went places and saw things I’d originally only read about on the internet. I didn’t blog about any of it. But people were. Every other person, it seemed, was writing about anything and everything. Current affairs, movies, books, the intricacies of dating in the 21st century, fashion, cats, seeing the world, fighting the world, sharing with the world. I was addicted, but still kept myself at a safe distance.

Years went by and I moved to London. It was a difficult move, followed by a difficult accommodation process. I stopped reading blogs for a while, and focused on turning my life into a less terrifying, more liveable experience. I felt a lot of things. Alone, out of place, proud, adventurous, misunderstood. I didn’t blog about it once.

Fast forward a couple of years to present time, things are somewhat beginning to settle. I set up this blog exactly five months and one day ago. I couldn’t tell you why, or actually, I guess I could come up with a couple of reasons why, but they won’t be anything special. Let’s say it was just about time I gave it a go. Twenty years too late, it’s true, but I guess I’ve always been a bit of a late bloomer. I’m OK with that. As I’m OK with this, my very own little cell in this 20 years old blogging organism, and what it’s become so far. It’s not going to turn into some vital, blood pumping organ, but that’s fine.

I try to keep it clean and healthy, though it’s not always easy. This language I write in is not my own. These people I write for are strangers to me. These feelings and stories I am indeed feeling and they are indeed happening to me, but I sometimes fail to understand them. That scares me. In fact, a lot of this blogging business scares me. It could be why I’ve stayed away for so long. But if I’ve learned one thing from this walking-talking-blinking experience my life has been so far, it’s that most things I’ve been frightened of have changed me for the better. So here you go, blogging, do your thing. I am but a piece of clay in your hands.

Oh, and Happy Birthday! 20 is an age of wonders.

January This and That: Hom/pelessness, Death of Girly and Orgies, Orgies Everywhere!!!

OK, so January started off kind of yucky (food poisoning on New Year’s may sound like fun and games, but it’s really not), then it also turned out to be one of the more depressing months (spent most of it glued to my laptop, choosing Domino’s pizza toppings, Tori Amos heartbreaking tunes on repeat in the background), and it definitely had its “wait…what?” moments which make (my) life so ridiculously thrilling.

*

To begin with, for reasons we have absolutely no control over (and which I won’t go into for now, as I’d have to order half a dozen pizzas just to cheer myself up), it doesn’t look like we’ll be buying a home any time in the near future.

Of course, after having pretty much turned our life into this non stop, soul destroying house hunting madness, the realization that we’re not actually getting a new place hit us like Miley’s damn wrecking ball. (See? I know Miley! I’m hip and cool and not at all old.) The thing is though, after about half an hour of pure, hysterical madness at the futility of it all, I was suddenly zen. And for some reason, I still am. There’s no pressure. I am no longer counting every pound.  I am no longer wasting away what’s left of my, well, let’s say youth, blindly digging for the best averagely-shitty-house/indecently-humongous-price combo. I am not worried, frustrated, hopeless every single waking moment of every single waking hour and even in my sleep. I am free.

It’s true, there may come a time when I’m back to my maniac house hunting self, but that time, my friends, is not today. Today, I am a homeless gal at rest.

*

I was getting ready for work a couple of days back, and as I was running back and forth around the flat like a headless chicken, I caught my mirrored reflection out of the corner of my eye and realized I looked very much like a certain type of girl. I stopped and checked again, just to make sure. And there it was, this strange girl staring back. You know her kind, I’m sure. The kind who brushes her hair. And properly, with a brush, not just her fingers. The kind who wears a skirt every once in a while. Who carries a handbag, a wondrous, bottomless handbag stuffed with a million incredible things without which the world would be a much sadder, uglier place. Lip balm. Hand cream. Eyelash curler. Even just saying the words is miraculous to this kind of girl. Eyelash curler… Magic.

I used to be that girl and completely forgot about it. It took seeing myself in a dress, for the first time in months, to remind me of this eyelash-curling-nail-polishing-lip-glossing version of myself I’ve so suddenly parted with. Because these days, things are different.

I have to walk to the bus for almost a mile in the morning, and it’s pretty much always raining. Bye bye dresses, high heels and any attempts at hairstyling. Hello jeans, snickers and ponytail. I’ve also got to carry around a laptop all the time, so a backpack really does make more sense than a super duper magical handbag. And then, I’d much rather sleep than curl my eyelashes into perfection every morning.

I haven’t completely given up on my femininity though. I still wear mascara. I still put sunscreen on. The inner, fashion aware girl is not completely gone. In fact, out of what I guess can be called a slightly deranged sense of guilt, I’ve just ordered some face creams online, enough to last me for a couple of lifetimes at least. That should count for something, right? I’m still trying, right? Right?

*

So. Remember this guy? He’s the Romanian dude at my office who thinks we should be spending each and every second of our time at work together, out of some strange form of Romanian solidarity. In light of recent events, I feel I really haven’t given you enough details about him, as it seems he’s really a character worth developing in this super duper soap opera style story my life seems to be turning into these days. So here it goes, meet meet my wonderful, ever surprising new colleague, Bogdan:

  • Bogdan is a web developer.
  • Apart from that, and the fact that we are both Romanian expats living in London, we have absolutely nothing in common.
  • He is married.
  • Both him and his wife are very religious, which is something I wouldn’t really mention or care too much about, but I think it gives this wonderful story an extra kick. Patience, my friends.
  • After we became Facebook buddies, he told me that his wife had looked at “all my photos”, and said I was very attractive.
  • That was a bit strange. Not to mention that I’ve got about fourteen hundred photos, because since I’ve moved to London I need to photographically document absolutely everything, every second, or else my mother thinks I’ve died a horrible death and starts calling me six times a minute. But I digress.
  • Also following our Facebook befriending, he said he’d seen a couple of photos of my boyfriend V, and that he was a very muscular, handsome man.
  • This made me laugh. Muscular? Muscular??? My V.? (still makes me giggle) Of course I told V. about it and he took it very seriously, his super duper self esteem reaching infinite heights. As for myself, I concluded Bogdan was a bit weird, and that definitely muscles were in the eye of the beholder. Then I pretty much forgot about it.
  • Bogdan and I sometimes have lunch together in the office canteen.
  • On one such occasions we were having noodles. They were quite tasty.
  • It’s then when he told me that I was oh so sexy, that V. sounded absolutely amazing, and that his wife and himself would really like it if the four of us would get involved in a wonderful lustful adventure.
  • I choked on the noodles.
  • I decided I’d be wearing the pants in my relationship that day, and so I didn’t call V. to ask him whether he thought we should take our relationship further, into a bright future of all Romanian orgies. Instead I took it upon myself to break Bogdan’s heart, and the only way I knew how was to lie.
  • So I told him that, however flattered I was (Me? Sexy? Sure, I’ll take that!), my religion pretty much frowned upon such exciting things. Surely he could relate to that, he was a religious person himself, right?
  • Yes, he said, but his religion was not that strict. ( Note to self: really need to Google up this religion of his, it sounds like fun and games. )
  • It’s not you, it’s me, bla bla. How does just being friends sound? ( I’m apparently quite good at this breaking up with your orgyfriend thing.)
  • So now we are. Friends.
  • It’s a strange friendship, I must admit.
  • We haven’t gone for noodles since.
  • V. was, of course, flattered by the proposal, but hasn’t yet dared to complain that I didn’t ask for his opinion before turning it down.
  • We’re still not religious, not even a bit.

*

That’s it for January! Sorry about the humongous post, I just felt like writing, actually writing today, which I guess means I’ve overcome my depressive January episode. A surprise orgy proposal can do wonders for your perspective on life!

I’m posting this a bit early this month, as I’ve got a couple of full days ahead and I probably won’t have a chance to write anything else before the weekend. So I wish you all a happy end of January and an exciting February ahead!

Top of the Pile #6: The Poisonwood Bible

Originally, I’d wanted to read Kingsolver’s Flight Behaviour, a recommended literary prize winner on Amazon’s Kindle storefront. But by the time I was just about to click the lovely orange button and have it delivered to my tablet, my internet connection died and didn’t recover for a couple of hours afterwards. This happens more often than you’d think, so if by any chance any of you happen to work for super duper Virgin Media, do listen to this hopeless cry of mercy from a long time, awfully distressed customer, and get your sh*t together, or else. Or else, I tell you!

So anyway. As I haven’t managed to buy any juicy reads today, I turned again to my old Kindle library, and go figure, I actually stumbled upon another Barbara Kingsolver book I had no idea I had (Hopeless book hoarder, you say? Oh well…) – The Poisonwood Bible. I have absolutely no recollection of when I got it and why I never stumbled upon it before. Especially since I already read Kingsolver’s The Lacuna and absolutely loved it, and was actively looking for more of her works.

So I’m now positively engulfed in The Poisonwood Bible, and will most likely continue to be so for a while. It’s a 600 page book after all. Plus, it’s getting colder and colder these days and I can no longer read while waiting for the bus without risking some oh so very unfashionable frostbites. But what am I if not a born risk taker?

*

I finished The Railway Man last night, and I ended up liking it quite a bit. Actually, like is probably not the best word for it, as it can be quite difficult read a times, with lots of graphic, horrifyingly violent episodes. But I very much enjoyed the writing, and the true life story was positively overwhelming. Towards the end (my Kindle said I had about 10 minutes left to read), I was alone in the flat and I began reading out loud. I sometimes do that when I really like the writing style, go ahead, make fun of me. But anyway, as I was reading and coming towards the end, I had tears in my eyes and my voice was breaking, so I had to stop and finish it silently, because I’m silly like that.

642 Things to Write About #1- Start a story with the line “My mother broke every plate in the house that day.”

My mother broke every plate in the house that day. In her country, she’d told me when I was little, broken plates and glasses brought good luck. We’d be winning the lottery soon enough, I thought, as she was dragging her feet through sharp shards of porcelain, talking to herself in a low voice. “Peasant!” she cried, and smashed a flowered soup bowl against the counter. It took three or four tries and it only broke in two, almost identical pieces, one could still probably eat out of if they tried. I remembered it, it’d been a wedding or baptism gift we only got out when we had people over for dinner. Tough soup bowls were now a thing of the past.

They had all been like blessings to me. The slammed door and the echo I’d felt shaking the windows for half a second, the broken dinner plates cutting the floor and the soles of her feet. The two of them, they’d become dry skins of the people they used to be. Two random pieces of molten plastic, mistakenly glued together after a fire mishap. It was a blessing to see it turn to dust. “Liar! Lying peasant!” and then some sort of boiling silence, as there were no more porcelains left to break.

I was counting the scratches on the table top. Scars left behind by nana, auntie Jean and mother, the three of them endlessly chopping the same vegetables every day for decades on end. The juices of meats and tomatoes had filled the lines with the color of earth. I would not keep it, I decided. I knew I’d have to wait for them all to die before I could throw it out without breaking their hearts and having myself removed from their wills. It was going to take twenty years, maybe more, but I’d be patient. I was determined. My children would not rest their elbows on that table top. They would not see the map of our unhapiness scratched in rotten wood. My children would have good lives. No porcelain either, plastic would be the new thing by then. Who’s ever heard of a smashed plastic plate?

My father was gone for six days. On the seventh he came back and couldn’t find a glass for his drink. He slammed his fist on the table top, his fingernails dirty with damp earth. Mother was sorry, crying over the broken porcelains. I tore a sheet from my history schoolbook and made a paper cup. The ink was slowly fading, mixing with the wine. Father was drinking the story of the Roman Republic, his lips turning darker with every sip. My fingertips were tracing the lines on the table top. The next day, they said, we would drive to the market. We needed plates.


642 Things to Write About is a book of writing prompts lovely V. got me a couple of years back.

Blue Monday and Other Bruises

You may not have known this, but there’s this very legit life changing thing called Blue Monday.

Now, of course there’s nothing stopping us from being super duper depressed all the time, but on Blue Monday we should all try our very very best to be the most depressed we can possibly be, if not for the sake of our own depression records, then at least in order to prove the scientists right. Because they are. Always right. It’s true, they didn’t quite agree whether Blue Monday was this past Monday or the one before, but they were sure it was around this time, and that we should prepare for it by buying wagons of comfort food and having a huge cute cat video collection to turn to when things got particularly blueish.

I don’t know if it was the scientists, or the fact that I’d come across a million Blue Monday blog posts and knew it was coming in advance, but the thing is, I’ve been feeling quite down these past couple of weeks.

It’s never just one thing. In fact, sometimes it’s every single thing. As if each and every detail of your life has gone out of their way to turn your reality, hopes and dreams into a big, stinking pile of dung. Then sometimes, it’s nothing you can put your finger on, which is even worse, because you know it’s there, looming over you, but you can’t see it or smell it or punch it in the guts.

With me, it’s always the first type of Blue Monday. Everything is wrong. Broken beyond mending. Oozing stench and hopelessness.

I would think of random words and build these impossible, excruciating mind maps reaching all the way across my existence, from one unhappiness to the next. I’d decide I was hungry, for instance, and this harmless thought would bloom into a web of disastrous thoughts: But I don’t like any of this food. Chips with everything, what’s wrong with these people? I’ll end up having a heart attack before I’m even 30. Not that I’m otherwise healthy anyway. I’ve got the stupid asthma. And with my luck, I probably won’t be able to get pregnant anytime this decade, if ever. Not that that makes any difference. I’d just have to bring the child up in a one bedroom burglar friendly rented flat. I’ll never afford a place of my own at the rate this market’s going. And my contract ends in June. Steve hates my guts, he definitely won’t renew it. So there I’ll be, looking for a job. Me. With my Russian accent. With my antisocial-people-hating attitude. I’ll be destitute in no time. V. will no doubt dump me soon enough. I’m surprised he hasn’t already. I am, after all, barren, homeless, and prospect-less. Unloved and alone will fit the picture perfectly.

Well, you get the idea.

So I’ve been carrying all this with me for a little while, and what can I say, It’s been great. I’ve been a pleasure to be around, I’m sure.

I haven’t worked much and I haven’t read much, in fact I’ve just vegetated, wrapped up in half a dozen blankets, randomly clicking this and that on the interwebs while stuffing myself with mountains of clementines. Apparently I treat my Blue Monday as I would a common cold, I’m weird that way.

Things are looking up though.

It’s almost the weekend. I’ve just ordered a bunch of stuff I don’t particularly need on the interwebs, and that’s bound to make anyone jump with joy. I’m reading a good book. I’ve got no house hunting weekend plans for a while. There’s cheesecake waiting for me in the fridge tonight. Blue Monday is but a smudge of dirty blue in the past.