On Blogkeeping and Changes

The only change that doesn’t change is change. Duh.

I’ve been up to no good, as always when I’m up to something. In the unlikely scenario that you’re a professional stalker and stalk me proficiently, you would have noticed a few months ago that I went sort of off-the-grid. Not because it’s fashionable and the internet is full of it—see the irony? how can you report your off-grid experience when you’re off-the-grid, huh?—but because I woke up one day with the excellent idea to remove myself off of the face of the earth. (Is there any linguist or language user who would explain to me how to use off of? Or is it of off? Does it even make any sense, language-economy-wise?)

This time, I wasn’t thinking of a literal removal of my person from among the living—though it is indeed my favourite image to dwell upon—but a partial removal of my online persona from among the asocial people who socialise online. I’m kidding, as per usual. Or am I? In any case, in a rare moment of deployment of common sense, it occurred to me that since I’m not using the gazillion social media I senselessly subscribed to, I could just as well delete my accounts. Following this logic, I killed myself on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Blogloving, Vine (the latter was a step ahead and had killed itself before I did) and probably elsewhere I don’t even remember now.

waybackmachine
My blog in 2014 according to the WayBack Machine,  which is terribly wrong about the design

I only kept this blog—should you wonder whether I kept the blog that you’re currently reading, you know—and my Instagram, both of which I hardly use anyway, but anyway. My point is that if you happened to notice me having disappeared, it’s not you—neither is it me; it is what it is. (I understand that a point should be deep, hence the populist and Buddhist crap respectively.) My killing spree also affected the blog as I took down some images that I in retrospect evaluated as too revealing. Keep your pants on, I don’t mean revealing in the good way, as in nudes, but in the indifferent way, as in showing too much of my real-life person, as opposed to my blogging persona.

Please don’t refute this point by arguing that I don’t have a life, less so a real life. I’m aware of this fallacy. Also, no need to point out that once shit gets on the internet, shit gets real; in other words, once online, always online. I’m aware of that, too. My message here is that you may see some images on the blog that you can’t see. See? As in the classic rectangular outline with no content but a cross in it and a message that the image can’t be displayed. Duh. As to the thought of preserving my blog for posterity—though I don’t intend to multiply, so I won’t produce any posterity of my own—the WayBack Machine does this job. Even if poorly, as you can see in the snapshot of my blog from four years ago.

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When You Don’t Feel like It, It’s the Worst

My late grandmother used to have a lot of sayings which I didn’t think particularly clever or relevant. As I’m getting old myself, surprise, surprise, I’m getting my grandmother more. A shame I can’t tell her. (Now I almost sniffed, which is ridiculous because I didn’t love my grandmother that much at all. Feel free to shoot me in my cold heart.)

The grandmother used to say, When you don’t feel like doing something, it’s worse than when you can’t do it. These days this resonates with me more than ever. To complete the picture, my favourite personal growth author writes to the effect that workaholics are the least efficient workers and that when you work too much, you can get yourself to the point when you’re too tired not only to work but also to relax. That’s all me. A shame I know it but do nothing much about it.

Irrelevant shit I haven’t posted yet

Speaking of grandmothers, I visited my late grand-grandmother’s grave today. She was my favourite family member ever. She was a fucking heroine. A shame I didn’t take after her. She was uneducated, simple but commonsensical and she was the bravest person I ever knew. She buried her husband, her grandson and her only daughter, yet she shut the fuck up, dealt with it and lived to 92. How could she do it? I’m only slightly over third her age and I can’t anymore.

My Father Is Visiting and I’m So Scared

I wish either my father or my mother, or indeed both of them, as they were in duty both equally bound to it, had minded what they were about when they begot me.
—Laurence Sterne, Tristram Shandy

My father is visiting tomorrow in the middle of the night. Specifically at 8 AM. This illustrates his lack of both sense and sensibility because it’s four hours before my wake time. It’s not even a real hour.

I’m deeply metaphysically terrified of meeting my creator. By which I mean my father. I don’t specialise in family psychology but I suspect that the presence of terror might constitute an abnormal response to the stimuli presented. I was probably terrorised as a child and the primitive parts of my brain remember, though the protective parts of my brain repressed the memory.

My father occasionally calls me to inform me that I piss him off. He uses this in lieu of greeting and doesn’t state any particular reason. I’m not even curious. The reason is probably because I exist anyway. Totally legit, though my father had better blame himself for this fact. It’s not like I made myself exist because I had nothing better to do and thought it would be a good idea.

I certainly blame my father and my mother by association for producing me. It wasn’t very fortunate and everyone would be spared a lot of pain in the ass if I hadn’t been born. I don’t particularly appreciate being alive, as has probably transpired. A shame I was conceived before the rise of the Don’t breed, adopt motto. It’s probably Don’t buy, adopt, but whatever.

While waiting for my fate, aka father, I shot the crazy night storm that is currently happening. You’ll have to imagine that because I shot it with my phone through my filthy window (courtesy of the cat) and the camera captured—nothing.

Nothing

Finding Everyday Inspiration: I Hate My Body

Part of WordPress’s writing course Finding Everyday Inspiration.

When I plagued my readers with the inquiry what I should write about, Michael from Morpethroad came up with a topic I never considered before: “Your body – how you see it, have used it, have cared for it, how it’s regarded by others.” That’s an appropriate occasion to list some of the complaints I’ve been receiving from my body, which I apparently hate, considering how I mistreat it (I’d say outright that I abuse myself, but I suspect it might come out wrong).


I was born with an unsightly brown patch on my face. Since we don’t live in Sparta, my parents didn’t resort to tossing me off the cliff (though if they would have, they’d save everyone a lot of trouble). Whatever the patch was (probably a witch mark), it disappeared before I got old enough to be disposed of in pre-school and exposed to mean kids laughing at me. The kids laughed at me anyway because my father was regularly forgetting to pick me up as he got easily distracted by the pubs he was passing on the way.

I was also born bald. My baldness persisted for several years. My mother made me wear a headscarf to hide it (back then a headscarf didn’t have religious connotations because we were tucked behind the Iron Curtain and knew nothing). She also treated my hairless head with green water in which nettle plants were boiled. It probably worked because I grew hair, lots of hair, and my mother is never going to forgive me that I wear it half-shaved these days. I mean, she put so much effort into growing it.

Some body parts

When I was a kid, I apparently attempted to kill myself. Don’t get scared, it qualified more as incomplete manslaughter rather than as attempted murder. I was warned not to go sledging down the steep hill in the woods behind the house, so I naturally went to sledge there. The sledge gained unexpected speed and since I was too clueless to remember that the sledge had brakes, I hit a tree in full speed. I was unconscious for a bit and had a wonderful dream about the Hansel and Gretel fairy-tale. I spent two weeks in hospital with concussion but was most worried about my parents yelling at me.

Now I think my body is trying to communicate with me but I mostly ignore it. I mean, I’m trying to defeat its demands through sheer willpower. I’m not particularly excited with how the body is working, but since it’s past its expiry date, I can’t return it, so I guess I’d better just get used to it. I could have ended up with a worse one. For example, I could have had crooked teeth. Wait. I got crooked teeth. Anyway. Let’s look at the bright side: it will be so awesome when my teeth fall out and I’ll have perfectly white and perfectly straight dentures to replace them. No?

What I Hated the Least Today 266/365: Freeedooom!!!

I put the nation in procrastination. (That’s smart, no? Did you even notice there was a nation in procrastination? Now you know! You’re welcome.) I hate YouTube. (Wait for it, the link between procrastination and YouTube will shortly manifest itself, if it’s not already clear.)

So I go to YouTube to play some super focus brain food study music and—half an hour later I find myself watching cat videos. That’s where the procrastination comes in. It’s a guest that overstays its welcome, lives on your wi-fi, eats up your energy (if you had any to start with) and leaves you brain dead (if you had a brain to start with). Another half an hour later, I find myself watching:

  • Cultural differences between Korea and Japan. (Why the fuck would I watch that? What do I know about Korea or Japan? What do I get out of learning about their differences when I hardly tell them apart? I’m so dumb.)
  • Make-up tutorials for hooded eyelids. (What on earth are hooded eyelids? Is that a rare genetic disease? Do I have it? Why do I watch make-up tutorials when I’m intent on doing make-up my way anyway? [I just slash around with a black eye pencil and call it make-up.])
  • Weird things about the Czech Republic. (Seriously, though, what can I possibly be up to? I am a bloody native and I know the good stuff and the weird stuff already. Am I letting someone who’s clearly not a native educate me about my country? Phew.)

Where the nation in YouTube procrastination comes in is that two thirds of my time-wasting videos are about nations. I’m not sure how the YouTube algorithm came to believe that I’m keen on geography, but now I’m inclined to believe it myself. And since you’re now deep in the dark loop of the Mara algorithm (insert evil synthetic laughter), I suggest that you watch the following video purportedly about my country (it’s pretty accurate, actually). But don’t dare go away after you watch! I have more shit to say after that.

Hey, you’re still there? You’d better. I’ll cut this ridiculously branched-out post short already. By virtue (or vice) of free association (and YouTube suggestions), I ended up watching (several times) a video I’ve seen a while ago and still adore. I’ll post it below so you could partake at my pleasure (don’t think anything nasty, in all decency, of course). It’s about my favourite nation, which are the Scottish (duh).

When you think Scotland, you should think Freeedooom because stereotypes. Stereotypes are fine with me, they help us make sense of this fuckup (pardon me please, plus, credit me with this neologism) which is the world. And when I was thinking freedom, I thought, Wait, I’m still doing this self-imposed What I Hated (the Least) Today blogging challenge, what the heck, why do I even?

Well, I know well why I even, it’s because I’m unreasonably obstinate. I don’t know when to abandon the sinking ship because I’m no rat. I should learn from the rats. I hear they’re smart. Smarter than my dumb ass, clearly. The point of my rambling about freedom and rats is that I’m thinking the unthinkable: abandoning the challenge and getting myself some Freeedooom!!! You know, the challenge of blogging whatever I want whenever I wantever (that’s not a typo, that’s a feature, I mean, neologism).

So what do you think? Yeah, you probably can’t think right now because you’ve read so many words. Sorry about that. Please do soothe your nerves with the following hilarious (I promise!) video while allowing me one last love declaration: I absolutely adore the Scottish accent. Can you imagine the awkward moments I’ve had at numerous conferences when a fellow Scottish academic (especially when male) asked me a question and I wasn’t listening because I was just melting away in the beauty of the accent? Don’t even get me started.

Watch the video until the end so you don’t cheat yourself of the best!

 

What I Hated the Least Today 265/365: My Mother Tongue

Her mother-tongue clung to her mouth’s roof
in terror, dumbing her and he came with a name
that was none of her making.
—Liz Lochhead, “Dreaming Frankenstein”

Yesterday I wrote about the priceless confusions of English, today I’ll do the same for my mother tongue: Czech. It also has a huge potential for comic situations and so many things about it are just plain weird. Looking at it from a foreigner’s perspective as I imagine it, it must come across as staggeringly confusing. It’s a complex language on all levels, including the bloated grammar and devilish pronunciation.

A Czech-Czech dictionary (of loan words)

To start with, how many letters in the alphabet does your language have? English has 26, Czech has 42. Yep. We think that the more, the better. We have twice the number of vowels because each vowel comes also in a variant with an accent (and the u vowel comes with two versions of accents, Ăș and ĆŻ). Cool, isn’t it? But wait, that’s not all! Some consonants come with accents too, when it comes to it. (My least favourite are ď, ƈ and Ƅ  because the poor things don’t have a keyboard key of their own and you have to press two keys to create them.) Oh, and also, ch is a letter of its own.

To make it more fun, we have decided that each noun will be either a he, a she or an it. I’m talking about grammatical gender. If you wish to use a noun, you need to know its gender so you could pick the correct ending. Have I mentioned yet that all nouns and verbs and some other words are assigned a plethora of different endings, based on how they’re used in a sentence? Czech is an excessively inflected language. (Inflected, not infected, but maybe infected with inflection?)

For example, the neutral word for cat in Czech is kočka. It refers to cats of any sex. The word itself, however, is feminine—for grammar purposes, this word is a girl. There’s another word for the tom cat (kocour), however, there is no special word for a pussy cat. We just use the basic neutral form. So when I want to say, My cat is a pussy cat, I’d say, Moje kočka je kočka, which sounds obviously like a tautology.

Here comes the real twist though. You know personal pronouns? It’s he, she, they and others. So, when talking about the female cat, we use the pronoun she (ona). Pretty straightforward. When talking about the male cat, we use the pronoun he (on). However, when talking about kittens (koĆ„ata), do you think that we use the pronoun they (oni)? Nope. We use the exact same word that we use to refer to females (ona). So, in Czech, when you have a bunch of kittens, they’re all female to our grammar.

Did it blow your mind?

What I Hated the Least Today 264/365: That September Feeling

Fellow blogger Amy’s post on her ambivalent feelings about September made me think about what I think about the end of summer. My September perceptions split in two opposing groups: those happening on the 1st September and those anytime after that.

Last year’s September

1st September

Oh my god, I mean, oh my universe, it’s September! Yay-you. What do I do? I want to do something new. Start a new blogging challenge! Start a new life! Get a new kitten! *I’m excitedly pacing around the flat and wondering what to start first.*

Anyone knows if the kids are at school today or if they’re going only on Monday? At any rate, serve them well. They’ll be removed from the streets, won’t make so much noise and maybe get educated in the process.

I think I want to go to school again. School must be different now. I am different now. I want to learn stuff. Gain an encyclopaedic knowledge of irrelevant trivia. Maybe I’d pick up some Maths. I nearly failed it but this time I’d rock it.

2nd+ September

Oh fuck, it’s September. Woke up all drenched after a nightmare when I was sick, missed classes and got hopelessly and forever lost. Once for all, my stupid mind, you’re done with school. No last exams. No last theses. No last anything. You’re good.

Except it’s got so cold. And getting colder. Constantly cold feet, hands and nose for the next nine months or so. Time to take out the oil heater. I’ve already put on layered clothes. I’m taking out scarves and mittens. I’m terrified of winter.

 

What I Hated the Least Today 263/365: Overheard on TV

I haven’t owned a TV for many years. Therefore, whenever I happen to find myself in the proximity of a switched-on TV, I am fascinated. I find these infrequent encounters with TV programming highly entertaining, but the charm would quickly be lost if I had one of these things at home.

I listen to the TV a lot because my upstairs neighbour is a 24/7 viewer. Actually, he would be less of a viewer and more of a professional ignorant because I suspect he just sleeps with the TV on. Also, he has his window permanently open, so I can (have to) eavesdrop on the programme of his choice anytime I go to the balcony to take a sip of fresh air (*smoker’s cough*).

I like it the most when the neighbour has a nature documentary on because the commentator’s voice is always so soothing. Think of The lion attacks the gazela announced in a smooth, velvety voice with absolutely no sympathy for the gazela and no cheers for the lion either.

A gratuitous weirdly filtered snap

Today’s programme was particularly varied. The first words I heard when I emerged at the balcony with my morning coffee were The body was found… I didn’t hear the rest but instantly started to compose in my head a blog post on how you shouldn’t watch TV unless you love bad news. Curiously, audience laughter followed shortly after this. It was apparently some morbid sitcom.

Mostly, there are commercials. Like Imagine how it would be to drive the perfect car, blah, blah… I started to imagine it. My imagination was put to a premature end when I drove into a bridge because I can’t really drive. The ad wasn’t thought through properly. And I clearly wasn’t the target audience.

In the evening, I went out to hear Interrupted intercourse isn’t a safe planned parenthood method, blah, blah… I was all ears, wondering where this would go. At that point, the neighbour, a poor fellow smoker, got a fit of smoker’s cough, so the next I heard was only [brand name]—The National Condom Manufacturer. I’m not sure it makes sense. If the whole nation was using their condoms, there would be no nation, no?

I’m glad I don’t have a TV. I’d never enjoy it because I’d spend all the time overanalysing insensible ads and possibly sensible ads whose only two faults are a) they are ads, b) they are not targeted at me. I mean, give me cat food and cookies ads anytime, but car and condom ads? Whatever.

What I Hated the Least Today 262/365: Concrete Poetry

Be warned. This is extremely dumb.

I’ve been thinking about concrete poetry. Not concretely, just generally. It happened after I snapped a snap of concrete. I thought I’d produce a concrete concrete poem.

Concrete poetry
P
 o
   u
      r
        i
          n
            g

               c  o
                     n  c  r
                              e  t  e  ___

Yeah. I know. Shoot me and pour me with concrete.

What I Hated the Least Today 261/365: MS Paint and the Practice of Ensƍ

Recently I noticed a huge discussion sparkled about MS Paint, which was announced to be retired but the decision was promptly withdrawn because people are sentimental about it and not ready to let it go yet. I’m pretty unsentimental and don’t give a shit.

But—this was the first app (then called programme) that I ever used on a computer. I was in my early teens and among the first at school who got a computer at home and later, dial-up internet. I was allowed an hour of computer time per day and spent it drawing wildly coloured zig-zags in Paint because I couldn’t draw a straight line if the life of my dog depended on it (yes, I was a dog person as a kid).

For the sake of reminiscing, for the sake of trying something new (something so old that it is new again) and just for the kick out of it, I opened Paint today on my laptop. I selected a thick painting brush and started to draw circles. My mouse movements, though I thought them quite precise, translated into very shaky and jagged  lines.

I’ve always been attracted to warm colours and to the shape of the circle. I find warm colours soothing and the circle is the only shape that doesn’t have edges. I feel edges as threatening. Whenever I attempt anything with a brush or a colour pencil (which is rarely), I do circles, semi-circles or waves. I am aware that I suck at being creative and I can’t produce anything even approaching a realistic depiction, so I always do abstract crap.

Drawing ensƍ (no, these are not onion rings)

Since I started doing yoga a few years ago or so, and especially since I started meditating, I became a bit interested in the philosophy of the whole thing. It’s not that there is any unified philosophy, and I’m not really looking for one either. However, I came across a number of concepts which appeal to me and to which I can relate. It’s best described as a personal eclectic selection from Zen Buddhism.

The traditional symbol of zen is ensƍ, a circle which is hand-drawn in one stroke and not corrected once it’s complete. I prefer an open circle, whose openness implies development, movement and is associated with the beauty of imperfection. The practise of drawing ensƍ is a self-expression of the creator at one particular moment, which is transient. It allows for the release of the mind, letting go of the need to be in control, allowing oneself to be imperfect. This is obviously helpful for anyone with mental health issues.

During my yoga practice, I have been experimenting with mantras, which is like positive affirmations, but more specifically, it’s an idea you keep in mind while doing things on the yoga mat and, perhaps, off the mat too. At first it sounded like mambo jumbo to me. Then, I had to admit that for your mindset, it is more beneficial to be telling yourself something positive than to be imprinting on your mind that you’re a loser (the latter of which is what I’m naturally inclined to do).

What I have ultimately learned from yoga are some generally applicable values which I’m trying to cultivate. I’m not saying I’m any successful at it, just that I have discovered and pinned down the words for some values that are important to me. I’ve never been religious or spiritual, and I still keep it pretty secular, but it’s a new experience all the same. In case you wonder, among the things I’m working on are: generosity, patience, gratitude, acceptance, fearlessness, focus, flow and others. Also, I’m practising creativity—I mean, I just made a connection between MS Paint and Zen Buddhism.