O_O

It works. Something actually works on me. God be praised it’s a miracle.

I’m notoriously resistant to most medicines and supplements. Only few things that I’ve tried seem to do anything for me. Painkillers work, which is a good thing, but other than that it’s one useless thing after another. Doctors have tried, I have tried on my own, but nothing worth a try yields results. Over the years, I’ve had to learn to live with my body’s little imperfect functionings.

And now something works. I got rid of an ailment I have had for ever, and ever and ever O_O

I’m almost put out actually. I got into a kind of routine with it, it was predictable and familiar. I really had recently come to terms with it. And now – it isn’t there.

That goes to show how easily people can adapt to discomfort and the first impulse upon release also includes an element of regret. Now I have to learn to live in a new way. This post can’t have enough of the surprised smiley: O_O. A new way of living after…..I don’t know what, 15 years?

Fingers crossed the results will last.

 

Delusions

I had a revelation the other day.

I’ve spent most of my life trying to hide who I am. I’ve become so adept at it that it is automatic and person-dependant. People I judge to be more similar to me or who I trust not to be uncomprehending or judgemental see a truer version of myself.  Others see my best performance of a normal person. My family sees a spoilt git with a giant soft spot for cats. I am most myself when alone with myself, or when writing on this blog (though I acknowledge that since I omit so much and don’t cover a lot of things, the overall image would probably be somewhat off the mark too?). The truest version of myself swears more and is less balanced than the blog version. I tame myself a little and don’t say everything that pops in my head. This is all natural and has but a minor effect on the truth of oneself.

Outside the circle of kindred spirits, I don’t consider my social selves to be at all accurate representations of myself. I’m very shy with strangers, and as stated above, I do my best performance of an average person. I also often don’t show my better sides and fear I might indeed come off as rude and selfish.This person is not even a shadow of my actual self. She is a puppet. It would take an extremely clear-sighted person to dismiss it and see beyond.

All this was just intro, not the revelation. The revelation was that the people close to me sometimes surprise me with seeing themselves completely inaccurately.  I’ve always had the audacity to spot it and even correct it, where such correction is not rude. But maybe this is indeed audacity on my part, and not their delusions?  Maybe they too have private and truer selves that don’t come forth in social interaction? And it only appears a delusion to me because I only see their social self. Hm.

Alternatively, my private self is all a delusion too and my real self is that absolutely dull inhibited extremely proper super-quiet and slightly weird girl with no personality and a visible IQ of 90.

No and no. I can’t quite agree with either line of reasoning. People are indeed delusional at times. I’ve had numerous delusions about myself and probably still do (maybe the one above too about how I think my social self is perceived). It is good if they are corrected, particularly the negative ones. Positive delusions I rarely have the heart to correct. It’s like taking away a sugary dream and replacing it with emptiness.

On the other hand, maybe one should not dismiss these self-characterisations of others so readily as delusions, even if they contrast with the personality one knows. Maybe this person has layers one hasn’t had the chance to know yet. That’s the idea I’ve come away with after the realisation, I suppose.

PS. There is no way people are not delusional. Sometimes, it is so glaring it is grotesque how mistaken a person is about themselves. I must be as delusional. Though I’d like to think I was, but am no more. I probably flatter myself.

A year ago, I was propelled on a truth-seeking quest. I didn’t give that enthusiasm a long life, but it has endured and altered me. There is definitely a pre- and post-disillusionment self.

Food abroad

And now for something completely different.

I was looking through my travel photos some days ago. It made me think that I should put down some of my impressions and memories before I forget them. My first thought was not to record them here as much as to make an actual paper travel journal, with photos and a story to each photo that happens to inspire. While not abandoning this idea, some of it might henceforth end up here on the blog, if it seems unfitting for my photo commentary journal. Or if I simply want to write about it here.

Food is something I’ve grown to appreciate over the years and I see it as an on-going process. Currently, I reside somewhere in the comfortable in-between-land where people brought up on microwave food consider me a snob and people who’ve lived on high-quality Western or Mediterranean home-cooking call me a peasant. One thing I’ve always had though is curiosity. At restaurants, I prefer to pick meals containing ingredients I’ve never tasted in my life or familiar ingredients but in unusual company or form. It has to be more than just grilled beef or cheese and tomato pizza.

This tendency to avoid safe choices and not having a Michelin-star-only budget has led me to have many disappointments and some positive surprises. Overall, the average level of medium-priced restaurants in the Baltics and Eastern Europe has not been great, or I’ve just had incredibly bad luck selecting my foods. It is the sad truth that most of my food memories are either completely forgettable or very bad, with a few unexpected surprises thrown in.

Starting with the good:

Cold beetroot soup

I had this in Palanga in a place called 1925. Cold beetroot soup looks beautiful on photos. Just look at it. This shade of pink is really, really inviting.

yum

Picture from here.

They often top it with egg, which makes it even more visually attractive. Nonetheless, I was really sceptical about enjoying this. Somehow a cold sour soup just didn’t seem like a good taste combination. But I enjoyed it. It was delicious. I’m going to try and make it at home at some point.

Kibinai and caraway seed juice

Kibinai are a traditional Lithuanian pastry filled with minced meat and onion, but vegetarian options are widespread. Kibinai can be had in Trakai, which is a small town close to Vilnius, known for the picturesque 14th century Trakai Island Castle. These pastries are quite similar to our local minced meat pies so the taste was no novelty, but it was interesting to learn about the Karaite people through them. I had never ever heard of Karaites before or could suspect that Lithuania had been home to cultures quite different from its own.

Another thing I enjoyed about Trakai was the caraway seed juice. I had it in one out of the way restaurant late in the evening, after wandering about aimlessly looking for some place to eat. The food was forgettable, but that juice. I later examined all the juice isles in Lithuanian supermarkets to find a buyable version to take home, but to no avail. In Latvia, I repeated the process, but no luck there either.

Trakai

Trakai Castle

Latvian ice cream

The amount of choice is enough to make one slightly dizzy, going back and forth between the ice cream sections in supermarkets. There’s absolutely every flavour a person like me could ask for – there is always bread ice cream, often with cranberry – it got removed from our local market, probably too niche, but it was one of my favourites – there is everything from lemon sorbettos to toffee, apple, blueberry and the conventional vanilla and chocolate. And unlike our local ice cream – Latvians use milk or cream as the main ingredient in theirs.

Russian dessert in Warsaw

The restaurant was called Babooshka. It had one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. I would definitely go back.

Home-made potato chips in Cesis

I had not tried a home-made version before but it was really good. Sadly, that restaurant had closed down when I visited a year or two later. No chance of having those particular chips again.

Trout salad in Riga

This restaurant has also gone out of business by now, but it managed to make me a fan of trout after an abysmal experience I had with it some time before in Krakow, where it had tasted… mouldy.

Spring rolls in Vienna

I had them at a supermarket’s Asian restaurant. Spring rolls were an untasted food to me then, but I was instantly a fan. After that life-changing experience, every time I went out and the menu included spring rolls, I had to try it in the hopes of tasting their goodness again. But the spring rolls one can have in countries like Latvia are completely sub-par and I was always terribly disappointed every time, to the point of struggling to finish them. They don’t make them from scratch here. They use frozen ready-made ones imported from somewhere cheap. The quality has been abysmal and I’ve given up the search of finding good ones nearby.

And since I started on it already…

The abysmal:

Cream soup in Riga

I’m not 100% sure what this soup was supposed to include as the main ingredient – cauliflower or pumpkin or mushroom, but they had used what tasted like margarine in it. This thing that tasted like margarine overpowered the flavour of the soup and made it feel and taste like you ate margarine soup. It was really hard to eat it and I struggled with being sick throughout.

I’m one of those people who does not like to waste food, so I make an effort to eat, even when I dislike it. Particularly so as a guest. It was an ordeal.

Home-made soup in Poland

Another great feat of bravery. I was a guest and was made meat soup for lunch by my perfectly friendly nice host, but I do not eat the fatty white bits of meat. They make me sick. They go round and round in my mouth and induce the vomiting reflex. But there I was, sitting at my host’s living room table and doing my best to eat it up and not let it show I hated it.

Burnt cake locally

I know this isn’t something I had abroad, but they actually had the audacity to serve burnt cake here! I thought it deserved a mention.

Notorious bright yellow pineapple sauce

This too was local, but while I’m at it, I cannot omit it. I ordered fish with pineapple sauce. What was served to me was frozen-defrosted-frozen-defrosted fish, completely watery and tasteless, full of bones. And instead of a nice tasty sauce with real pineapple pieces that I was expecting, I got this unnaturally yellow fake-tasting colourant and artificial flavouring overdosed nightmare. If one remembers Delboy’s luminous paint, then it was that shade. That time I could not eat it and most of it was sent back untouched.

Hungarian goulash

Far too spicy. Not surprisingly. But yeah.

Heart soup in a road-side place in Croatia

The menu said lamb soup. I had never had lamb much, or I couldn’t remember its taste, so I figured I’d give it a go. What I was served was lamb heart soup. Needless to say, it was horrible. I could not eat it. It is also the only experience I have of a completely deceptive menu.

 

Not quite abysmal, but memorable disappointments:

Octopus

It was served in a beautiful seashell and it was supposed to be a seafood salad, I think, but it was really mostly octopus salad and it was quite rubbery. In the end, I was struggling to finish it for the monotonousness of textures and the rubber-like feel of the octopus.

Octopus

No cakes

One of the things I enjoy doing abroad is looking at what is sold in supermarkets, but in my mostly Eastern European travels, I’ve not seen very impressive cake selections. Nothing really compares to what we got at home. Cake abroad is usually sponge cake of some type. You don’t really get a lot of variety in texture. Poland was the first country where I noticed it, but others have not been better. Latvia tries, but it does not compare. What many countries do have are special bakeries and people actually go and buy their breads and cakes from the bakery rather than a supermarket bread and cake section. It is much rarer here to do that, and practically unheard of for bread.

 

PS. Latvia has improved. I have to take back what I said about its cake options. They have surpassed ours. And ours have gone down lately as well. So not only do Latvians make better ice cream, they also seem to have things going for them in the cake department.

Shameful

Like the two springs before, I’m reading Jean-Christophe. This time it’s the second book. The first 50 to 100 pages I was a bit tired of the story. There seemed no development whatsoever, just the same type of things repeated over and over again: criticism of the local (French) music and art scene, Christophe alienating everyone, gathering enemies and falling into troubled relationships with women, and other people. The way this narrative repeats itself in just slightly different forms IS tiresome. It’s very predictable that after the artistic commentary and struggle chapters comes an infatuation chapter.  And not only that but there is no change in either either. This is not a typo. But anyhow.

I somehow got over this. The other day I felt a pleasant kind of cosiness to pick this book up again and be in the company of Christophe. This will sound sentimental – I’m trying to think of a way of phrasing it so it will sound less so – because it isn’t so – it’s a very down-to-earth sort of feeling, but he is like a friend to me. Reading this novel is like interacting with a friend, keeping an eye on his life and doings. A gentle, earthy sort of pleasure. Like touching moss or tree bark.

That was my first emotion and mood. But it got worse. I noticed I was slightly falling in love with me him – (if ever there was a Freudian slip, this has got to be the master slip…). When his appearance was described, I noticed it particularly (no, he isn’t beautiful). I’m also becoming to understand his strength. In the first book, the narrator kept referring to Christophe’s strength, but I failed to see a neurotic like that being particularly strong. Now I can see it more, though his type of strength is hardly my prototype, which probably made the suggestion laughable at first. One lives and learns.

Admiration and adoration of fictional characters is something I do sometimes, being of such a temperament that adores, but I don’t recall ever falling in love with them. I can’t say I have done so now either, but I noticed the gentle buds. So yes, I obviously have a screw or two loose.

Oh. And I think trees and moss are my favourite things in nature.

Improvements

Nothing to report as far as my shop projects go, but my writing HAS improved. After the first mediocre and unsteady attempts, I have found my footing and feel optimistic. It can only be uphill. Yes, I might reach a place where I feel I can’t get ahead, it is inevitable there will be setbacks on the way, perhaps discouraging at times, but I would still have achieved a new quality.

Furthermore, I’m loving it. I love words. I love the new things I learn about language and what I can do with it. And loving a thing is terribly important. If I work on maintaining these habits, writing a book may not be a mere fantasy.

*pinches herself*

I find it hard to believe sometimes that I’m actually doing it. I’m really and truly working towards my own book. And I believe in myself. It is amazing to be able to believe in yourself after years of self-doubt that brought you down and led to inactivity and not doing anything for your dreams.

 

Things not going perfect

Oh hai.

I’ve started a number of small projects in the last few months. Starting involving conceiving them, figuring out the details and taking first small steps. And not a single venture has been a complete success.

The stock I bought for my vintage shop is not ideal. There is only one item in mint condition. The others have slight signs of wear and one item makes me think why ever did I buy it. Who would be so crazy to buy something so impractical? Well, I liked the colour. And maybe someone likes it too. And if no one does, I will turn it into cat toys. Because the colour is wonderful and the material is sturdy.

My cat emporium. I was very pleased to have finally found an outlet for my half-hearted wish some 5 years ago – that of making pillows for an additional income. Pillows is the only thing I’m good at designing and sewing, but I couldn’t think of who would buy such things. Now I’ve turned it into making sleeping mattresses for cats. And at first it seemed like a brilliant idea. Until I realised I’d have to make buttons or use zippers rather than make the cases fixed to the mattresses for eternity. My sewing machine is not good enough. It’s from the 1950s. It can’t do finishing well. It can’t do nice button holes. And a new one costs a bunch. But it has to be figured out somehow.

The cat toy I made yesterday lacks stuffing and I need to open it up again (if possible), but it looks better than I expected, so this is a small success among the countless little setbacks.

And lastly, there is my writing. I was feeling unusually confident the last few months. I felt I had become a writer. I could write all of a sudden. And C was not right for telling me I could not. I do develop. I had done so with seemingly no effort, mere absorption of good writing. Anyway, I was bursting with things to write. I wrote some snippets. They confirmed my feelings. I had improved. It was wonderful.

I carried a bunch of ideas with me for a week and a half and then – when I put them down, all the old problems raised their ugly heads again. I got stiff, I got inhibited, I had nothing to say, the inspiration had faded. Thou must not wait for thine inspiration to flee! This is one golden rule I ignored that time. Inhibition is an old friend. I have to consciously deal with that. When I write for an audience, I want it to be good, and the wanting it to be good and the presence of an audience has an unusually crippling effect on me. Just as doing a public presentation or standing in front of a camera has. The desire to be good overrides everything, and you end up sounding really bad, because you are not yourself any more and are afraid of words and unusual turns of phrase. Safety becomes the guiding force. Tedium, effort. When truly inspired, I am a little more free of that, but it is never entirely gone and definitely a constant enemy I have to tackle with.

What with all these setbacks, I haven’t yet reached the “I’m not doing it” it phase, though. I’m a little discouraged, but the main thing is to keep at it and some of the setbacks also seem very natural. Of course my first vintage stock trip would not be a complete success. It’s not like I’d end up losing money on it either. I will do better next time. The cat toys can be fixed or new ones made. The sewing I will try to figure out somehow. This is the most daunting of the lot for sure. But learning to make beautiful buttonholes IS a matter of practice and if it allows me to sell pillows for cats, I will learn it. Yes, I’m a terribly weird crazy cat person, okay?

And writing, I did a number of things wrong, which led to the first result being poor. I will try again.

 

 

Curiosity

Isn’t it a little bit wonderful, and curious, how people, what with all their self-centredness, take an interest in the world, and I don’t mean the world of other humans (like me with my interest in human nature), their ways, motivations and creations , but in things completely out of the humanosphere – like birds and mosses. What drives a person to want to understand the life of mosses? What is it to us how these mosses live in the forest? The possibility of learning something beneficial to us, such as discovering medicinal properties of plants or finding things in the behaviour of higher animals that could add to our understanding of human behaviour, yes. There is that. But, but.  It’s not always that.

Bog body

 

Postmodernist meaninglessness

Reading legal documents is sometimes worse than any postmodernist work of doom and gloom and general lack of meaningfulness.

Marriage turns into an economic contract and child custody laws make the child into a property of the parents. The child’s life is thus neatly split between two parents, because the right of both parents to see their child equally is superior to the child’s right to a stable, settled environment. But it’s not really that. I could envision a teenager who may even enjoy the change of scene. It’s the tone of these things. The extreme regulation, the splitting of hairs to achieve equality.

Films watched

This is going to be longer than my books list.

Favourites

Ben-Hur (1959) – Did I really watch it for the first time in 2017? It seems like I’ve been familiar with it much longer.

Jeux d’enfants  (2003) – I rated this with a 7 on my Imdb account, but it has grown on me and stayed with me. It’s completely twisted, but very powerful and romantic. My favourite type of plot, the “us against the world” movie. Obviously no form of depravity is too great to spoil the romance of that for me.

Trouble in Paradise (1932) – Outstanding black-and-white comedy. Gorgeous opening scenes. Loved the romance and the humour and the realism.

Trouble-in-Paradise-22169_3

A scene from Trouble in Paradise

 

Quite highly liked

Il Grido (1957) – Melancholy, beautiful, realistic

The Snake Pit (1948) – Probably the best portrayal of mental illness from early Hollywood that I’ve seen.

Die Puppe (1919) – Wonderful humour, unexpected for something made in 1919

La signora di tutti (1934)

He Loves Me…He Loves Me Not (2002) – Charming

La double vie de Veronique (1991)

 

Liked well enough

How Green Was My Valley (1941)

The Lost Moment (1947)

Dead Poets Society (1989)

Les enfants du paradis (1945)

The Last Station (2009)

Shakespeare in Love (1998)

Stroszek (1977)

The Painted Veil (2006)

 

Not my cups of tea

Les Amants (1958) – The story was implausible the way it was portrayed and the characters seemed to hover around without actually being present in the moment. Visually, the scenes towards the end were beautiful, but it didn’t save it for me. It just struck no chord at all.

Raintree County (1957) – Tries to be a great epic, but does not quite deliver.

 

 

Meanderings

Birds are singing! I can’t believe this.

Since there is no winter any more in my country, they figured they might as well skip straight to March. If only the weather would follow suit and give us an early spring, an early May, with blossoms and things.

I almost want to go out for a walk in the forest to see if there are any signs of this false early spring other than birdsong.

When I haven’t been melancholy, I’ve been very nostalgic lately.

Even my nightdreams are filled with nostalgia. Sports, school days, the people I knew once, checking what they are up to now. Then watching videos of life in the 1930s. Haymaking and summer camps.

Much that has happened in my twenties has been a mistake. Sometimes I feel hot flashes of shame running from heart to head when I think of the stupidity of myself. But then there are some redeeming factors, like the discovery of beauty and poetry, and that there were people like me in the world, though extremely few. It wasn’t a happy time. Happy times stopped at 18. I just tried to do the best I could given the circumstances I was in. It wasn’t very good, but I’m a lenient person on shortcomings if they result from weakness and stupidity, not malice. I was lost and immature, like a lot of young people. I had no confidence.

But I rather like to hurl abuse at life and circumstance, instead of being humble and wallowing in the misery of my bad fortune. I find it somehow satisfying to say “I’ve had a rotten life/youth”. The anger and passion I put in that statement feels good. I have very high internal locus of control, but this statement incorporates the acknowledgement that at least in this, circumstances were to blame. As in: you are dealt a rotten hand at cards, but you try your best to make something of it. That would be the best metaphor to describe my life.

Life is almost a personification to me. With a leprechaun’s temperament. Or any mythical creature from European folklore who can be both generous and very mean. I see myself as forever battling against Life. I think not yielding to misfortune in spirit is important. If Life gives me some horrible disease, I want to be able to laugh in its (Life’s) face and continue hurling abuse at it.

I’m being very weird now, I guess. I don’t suppose a lot of people have personified life. Some have a god, but it would be inappropriate to shake your fist at a god. Life, on the other hand….Oh yes.