I Am Where I Was Meant to Be

I don’t even know what the title of the post means (but I can’t be bothered figuring out a more meaningful one). What is it, to be where you’re meant to be? Who does the meaning? I don’t know. I know who doesn’t do the meaning though: me. (Also, god, because I’m godless and faithless.)

I’m a self-declared Buddhist. Dalai Lama’s Cat advises to turn our prison into a monastery. The idea is that while you’re still confined, you bring into play an element of deliberate consent. I’m also Freudian. Freud advises that when you can’t have what you want, you must want what you have. These two are basically the same idea.

If it were entirely up to me, I wouldn’t choose to be where I am, physically and mentally. On the other hand, why not? There are sure worse places, literally and figuratively. I believe in determinism in the sense that where and when you are born predetermines your options. Don’t tell me that my life would be the same if I were born in a dirt hut in the heart of darkness (that’s literary speak for Congo, Africa).

Having been born in the second world has its amazing perks. Awareness, for example. We’re here an advanced society enough not only to know in theory that there are more advanced societies but also to practically know how exactly they live. I don’t think people in the dirt huts of the third world are quite clear on what life in the first world looks like. I have the benefits of internet, formal education and international friends, so I dare say I am quite aware of what it is to live elsewhere.

IMG_20171202_153657-01
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The second world awareness to me means that I know that I could have been better and also that I could have been worse. I can visualise both variants rather well. Knowing this, I’m also appreciative that I haven’t ended up worse. Sure, I’m a struggling overworked freelancer in a cold flat in a shabby small town, but hey, it’s not like I have to walk ten miles to get water from the well and there are rapists and robbers on the way.

I argue that second world people are the toughest. When you don’t know what you could have had, if only you were born differently, you don’t desire it—you have no idea. When you do know, however, that you could, but most likely won’t (don’t give me the nonsense that I can be anything I want to be), you have to get your shit together and deal with it. That requires both mental and physical toughness.

I mean, I’m not dependent on UNICEF food packets, I get my groceries from Tesco, but I still have to walk a mile to get there and carry the shopping on my back because I have neither a car nor someone to help me. It’s this undemonstrative everyday heroism that I value the most in others—and myself. I wouldn’t choose it, but since that’s what I got, I might just as well do it properly and with whatever grace and dignity I can put together.

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Some Random Reasons to Stay Alive

To take a break from contemplating suicide, I thought I’d brainstorm some ideas to stay alive instead. That’s my notion of testing the power of positive psychology. I believe I’m doing it right, theoretically, but really, I’m not feeling it. Let’s go through the exercise though. Here’s a bunch of random reasons why avoid suicide.

  • People around me would be upset. (They say so, but they might only say so because it’s the right thing to say. They can’t very well tell me to go ahead and risk that I’ll take the advice.)
  • The tenants after me would have trouble cleaning. (I have no previous experience but I suspect that no matter how you do it, it’s bound to be messy. I certainly wouldn’t leave the flat for the occasion, I mean, one step at a time.)
  • The life you save might (not) be your own. (I was told I might live to make someone’s life less miserable. That’s doubtful. I can’t envision how I would help anyone else when I can’t help myself. But let’s keep the option open.)
Time’s ticking
  • I might live to accomplish something useful. (I don’t think so. I’m accomplishing things all the time but I have the unique skill of accomplishing shit that is ultimately perfectly useless.)
  • Other people have it worse, so I should be grateful. (Yeah, sure, but what if I’m not? How do you do grateful? Are there some exercises or something? Besides a gratitude journal, which I’m already keeping, and which clearly isn’t doing the trick.)
  • The cat would be sad. (This is actually legit. The cat would be pissed off and upset in equal proportions. This is probably it. I’d better stay alive because I have responsibility for the cat.)

Well, that didn’t go as expected. Apparently, I have one solid reason to live: the cat. That’s slightly disappointing, but I guess there are worse things and the cat and I should have about half a dozen of good years ahead. Provided that things go well (that is, not worse than the usual bad). What a cheerful post, isn’t it? With a happy ending though! (*Rainbows atop which unicorns are copulating to populate the earth manifest themselves in the sky.*)

A Miniature Portrait in Pink

Peeling pink polish
On a girl who’s been biting her nails
Again
Because the pain is easier to bear
Then


Disclaimers:

  • I don’t bite my nails
  • I don’t use pink polish
  • I don’t write poems

How I Met My Father (and Nothing Happened)

My yesterday’s post concerning my anticipation anxiety (a fancy term for being preventively scared) about my father’s visit rose some questions. Such as, have I never met my father before? What’s wrong with my father? What’s wrong with me? What the fuck is it even all about?

Let’s start chronologically. I grew up with both my parents in what was then considered a perfectly normal family but would today be probably called dysfunctional (because today we have pretty terms for everything). I moved out when I was eighteen and then the whole of my family went crazy (that is, even crazier) and started suing each other for an assortment of reasons (also, I didn’t sue anyone because I couldn’t be bothered).

To skip the boring details, the result was that I lost touch with various family members for various lengths of time. The constellations are constantly changing and currently, no one talks with anyone else, except for me, who talks with everyone but tells no one that I talk with everyone. Totally straightforward.

I resumed contact with my father last year and we occasionally speak on the phone and rarely visit each other. His today’s visit was a social call and an opportunity to tell me in person that I piss him off, in case it was not clear. I can’t find a convenient label for my father, so let’s say that he’s difficult (to say the least). He is a rather offensive character too (either that, or I’m hypersensitive).

The father arrived while I was mid-way through my first morning cigarette and contemplating whether the situation is as extreme as to require administering Lexaurin or not. I didn’t get to either finish my cigarette or to come to a conclusion of my contemplation. Well, I let the old frail and ill person in (I have a fixed image in my mind of my parents when they were in their fifties and somehow can’t take it that they’re getting on their seventies these days).

I offered the usual soft beverages. Father replied I may just as well shove them up my ass unless I have rum. I unwisely admitted I had slivovitz, which he decided to have for breakfast. He consumed a considerable portion of my stock before his second wife arrived and put an end to it (he doesn’t have two wives, he remarried after divorcing my mother). There’s a reason why his liver is a goner. So, I was trying to maintain a conversation, which wasn’t too interesting, and I learned the following trivia:

  • I piss my father off. (Old news.)
  • I only cost my father money and nerves. (I guess so.)
  • I should start growing my hair back because he won’t have me attend his funeral with my head half-shaved. He didn’t appreciate that I put on a hairband to hide my hair and no-hair. (I’m not fucking getting my hair grown even if it should be father’s last wish. Full stop.)
  • I should avoid alcohol. (I agree.)
  • I should quit smoking because I’m an idiot to smoke. (I agree.)
  • I should pull myself and my life together. (Yes.)

Well, what an uneventful visit and waste of time, even. You asked for a picture of a sun if the visit goes alright, but I don’t remember what the sun is. I have a rough idea but I haven’t seen it for weeks. Instead, here’s a picture of fog. Close enough, no?

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

Why the Nuthouse Was My Best Holiday Ever

These days it’s the first anniversary of my nuthouse staycation. Despite the bad publicity these institutions suffer, my experience was that of the best holiday I ever had. There are so many reasons.

  • You’ll never have more you-time. There was an obligatory programme to take part at for most of the day, but it was all focused on being with yourself. You have no worry in the world but to attend to you. That’s not what you can normally do in your life outside because you have other duties to prioritise.
  • Everyone is nice to you. If everyone is already nice to you anyway, congratulations. It’s not my case. The psychiatric ward staff was obviously trained to treat the patients with extra care because they’re frail things. No one gives you weird looks when you’re doing something weird because, hey, you’re certified crazy and you can do whatever you have to, no questions asked.
My madhouse mandala
  • You can safely contemplate suicide. Planning suicide is my favourite activity, which can be fully and safely enjoyed in the ward. Jumping out of the window is out of the question because the windows are barred and you can’t hope to hang yourself either because anything that could be utilised for the purpose will be confiscated. You can then indulge in your thoughts at peace.
  • You discover your creative potential. I can hardly draw a stick figure but the regularly scheduled creative sessions unleashed my potential. Well, I have no potential, but I would enjoy splashing watercolours on the paper and colouring mandalas. You need to be careful with morbid motives in your art though because you might be taken aside for an individual consultation with a therapist.
  • You’ll never have more crazy fun. Contrary to popular belief, there’s more hysterical laughter than hysterical crying in the ward. Occasionally it gets all mixed up when one patient is having a hysterical meltdown and another is having a fit of hysterical laughter at the former. It’s not mean really, it’s just a spontaneous reaction. One shouldn’t take oneself too seriously so as not to get too crazy.

I’m Procrastinating and I Know Why

Most of the time, I know exactly what to do. Much of the time, I do the exact opposite.

I’ve been procrastinating a lot these last few days. I know why. Because I’m an idiot. Also because I have too much work and there is no end to it. I’ve been diligently overworking myself for the last few weeks. That’s the very definition of idiocy: doing the same thing and expecting a different result. The last time I worked myself through to the madhouse, which wasn’t that bad but somewhat counterproductive.

So I’m procrastinating now by blogging. I also procrastinate on social media. I’m not sure what I’m doing there and what the point is, I pretty much just open the relevant app and close it again without even bothering to scroll. I procrastinate by posting idiotic posts all over the place too. I wonder if the motive is that I’m trying to make someone somewhere care. I really should care more for and about myself.

Another underlying reason for my current procrastination and pissed-off-edness are two social occasions I’m facing. One is the long anticipated visit of my father, who never fails to make me want to kill myself. Another is an impromptu business thing scheduled for the next day, if I survive. For both events, I guess I should make myself presentable. Not in my usual way presentable but in a respectable way presentable.

I should probably remove my black nail polish and replace it with something decent aka boring. I might have to wear a headscarf because my father is irritated by my hairstyle and I don’t want him get a stroke. I suppose I shouldn’t wear my big dangling earrings and my favourite lace collar either. Sigh. I hate it to assume an air of normalcy / professionalism. If you’re waiting for the point, there’s none, sorry. Gotta go do some serious work now.

This pretty much sums it up

When Good Things Are Happening and You’re Pissed Off

I’m fucked up. Seriously. It confuses and saddens me because I’m a rational person and I don’t make sense to myself. My reactions to things are the opposite of what you, I or anyone would reasonably expect. When something bad happens, I’m perversely pleased and think, Serve me right, I deserve it. When something nice happens, I’m pissed off. Well, WTF?

Today I got an invoice paid for some work which I’ve already done and more work that I’m yet to do. This angered me immensely. I was hoping the invoice wouldn’t get paid and I wouldn’t have to do the rest of the work. Yes, you’re reading right. I’m actually upset I got paid for my work.

Also, I got a new proofreading order for two academic articles. My dream job. I responded to the inquiry with the estimated date of completion and my hourly rate. The customer accepted. Again, I was saddened and pissed off. I don’t want to do anything, I just want to lie down and die.

I also get a coding job to do tonight in an ongoing project. I fucking love coding. Yet I hate it that I have to do it. I wonder why. What’s wrong with me? Anyone has any ideas? Could be that I’m scared I won’t deliver the jobs up to my standards? My standards are much higher than anyone’s standards and my work is safely above-average, so it should be no issue. Am I scared that I won’t meet the deadlines? I bloody always meet the deadlines. So what the hell? I wish I had and made more sense.

I lit my new candle, which I hate because I think I don’t deserve such a nice fancy candle, and I’m off to work. If you figure me out, please do tell me.

Unhelpful Conversations with Myself

I have a number of selves. It doesn’t particularly bother me but my psych says something about mixed personality disorder. As long as he is pleased with himself—I guess it’s his job to call me names.

He calls me the wrong names though. I’d expect more of an educated person. He insists on addressing me with my academic title, except, as most people, he gets it as mixed up as my personality disorder. Once for all, an MA title is lesser then a PhD title and the correct address is a fucking doctor, not master (the prefacing four-letter word is optional).

I would never admit it to my psychiatrist (lest he should come up with an extra diagnosis for it), but two of my selves  regularly engage in passive-aggressive arguments. My emotional self oftentimes seeks help from my rational self, and my rational self is being a jerk (so is my emotional self). Examples below an irrelevant picture.

This thistle is irrelevant. Just like me.

Emotional self: I’m freezing.
Rational self: Wrap up.
Emotional self: But I’m freezing!
Rational self: What exactly do you want from me?
Emotional self: Help. And a kitten.
Rational self: Stop wasting my time!
Emotional self: I hate you!

Emotional self: I’m feeling exhausted.
Rational self: You’re not. It’s psychosomatic.
Emotional self: Don’t dare tell me how I’m feeling! My therapist says all feelings are valid.
Rational self: I’m just saying your valid feelings are psychosomatic.
Emotional self: Shut up.

Emotional self: I can’t focus.
Rational self: So focus.
Emotional self: But I don’t want to.
Rational self: Irrelevant.
Emotional self: I want to die.

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

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 ensĹŤ (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 ensĹŤ, 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 ensĹŤ 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.