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.


Tõlgin parajasti ühte teksti, ja mõtlen, kas ma peaks kasutama sõna “parendama”. Sest see on just selline koht, kus üks laialdase kogemusega tõlkija seda kasutaks. Sest mõeldud on ju tõesti, et too asi X teeb head veelgi paremaks. Enne oli ka hea. Ja nüüd tehakse veelgi paremaks. Ma saan erinevusest aru, aga…. keegi ei räägi ju nii? Ainult tõlgitud lepingud ja kasutusjuhendid on parendamisi täis. Et jah siis. Tõrgun.

Ei suuda seda sõna trükkida. Eneseirooniaga, pihku itsitades suudaks. Aga no tõsimeeli. Minu sõrmed ei paindu. Või teeks ikkagi naljaga. Ega keegi aru ei saaks. Iseendal oleks siiski parem.

(ranting about my highly personal, language-specific translation struggles)


A few weeks ago, maybe a month, I noticed I had grown tired of pop music. One day I had found it vacant, lacking in variety, and couldn’t see any value in it any more. I thought – oh good, my music taste has finally improved. It took its time, but better late than never. I was really proud of myself.

But alas, I’m listening to Ed Sheeran as I type this. So it’s back to old ways, and it was only a momentary loss of interest. I think pop music has its place with me, its moods. I don’t know what would have to happen for me to grow forever tired of it. Brain surgery perhaps.


It’s interesting because some sentimental type of literature I’m quite allergic to. The other day even Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensbility made me go “eww, none of that stuff please.” But music is different.


“He has the most distorted ideas about wit and humour; he draws over his books and examination papers in the most distressing way and writes foolish rhymes in other people’s books. Notwithstanding he has a genuine interest in literature and can often talk with enthusiasm and good sense about it.”

Dulwich College report on P.G. Wodehouse, 1899


I want to write foolish rhymes in other people’s books too. It sounds like a charming thing to do.


Getting a sore throat

My vocal chords are clearly not used to my recently more extroverted personality. I got a sore throat from talking for 6 hours in a row. It’s not the first time either, but the other time I assumed it had been air conditioning or a draught.


I was quoting Blake, but couldn’t remember the exact words, so took out his book of poems and had a browse.

And the illusion of greatness was shattered. I thought he was more of an eccentric, now revered disproportionately to his talent by people who don’t get his work, than he was a great poet. And as an exercise, I will henceforth criticise some poets and writers I like as mercilessly as I can. No intelligence or fairness intended.


Too beautiful, a man should not write as beautifully as Keats. I don’t have a lot to say against Keats, because my favourite flowers are lilacs and lilies-of-the-valley, which means I can handle beauty and sweetness in excessive doses compared to most people, and Keats is really perfectly fine by my standards. I’d be quite glad to be listening to nightingales with him under the cherry tree and compose odes later. I just wish he wouldn’t be so obsessed with the Greek culture, because it makes my head spin the way he refers to them. I suppose it was his youthful Arcadia and he never grew old enough to be tired of it.


If Shelley lived in our time, he’d be a liberal hipster. Definitely vegan, definitely bearded, and with a collection of vinyls by obscure bands. He’d think himself a great revolutionary, urge people to protest against discrimination and be prolific on social media.  The only reason we know him today is that he lived 200 years too soon. Presently, he’d be a very common type.


Byron is not a Romantic poet and academics should eventually realise that. The only thing that is Romantic is his life and the white open-buttoned shirts he wore. The fact academics confuse a poet’s life with his work points to the feeble-mindedness of that particular brain group. His poetry is false and his emotion is not sincere. I never believe a word he says, but I do believe Keats and Wordsworth and Shelley.  This is the test of the Romantic. Be believable or perish and be banded together with the Augustan writers.


No poet can beat Wordsworth in self-centredness. Reading his Prelude is hilarious. How did people get away with this sort of vanity and self-admiration? He thought he, and he alone, was the true great poet and there was absolutely no other way to be a poet but in the way he was. I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud is a very mediocre poem to be primarily known for too.

T.S. Eliot

He too thought he was the true great poet. There was only his way of writing poetry and inferior ways of writing poetry. He and Wordsworth are two sides of the exact same coin.

George Eliot

A dull moralist who ought have used her unusual life to inspire her work rather than let it revert to moralistic preaching and showing-off of her learning. Deeply insecure person.

W. Shakespeare

His jokes are absolutely not funny. And Kenneth Bragnach’s 4-hour version of Hamlet is every student’s worst punishment. I wish he had written less of kings. It’s very unimaginative of him.


Telling a story to preach your own ideas is cheap. Art should exists for art’s sake, not for spreading one’s ideology. And Jean-Christophe strong? He? He’s an absolute neurotic. Writing like this at the turn of the century is also very dated. One should have written like the modernists to be hip.

And to finish it off with a particularly infantile poem by William Blake, which happens to be one of my favourites:

A flower was offered to me,
Such a flower as May never bore;
But I said ‘I’ve a pretty rose tree,’
And I passed the sweet flower o’er.

Then I went to my pretty rose tree,
To tend her by day and by night;
But my rose turned away with jealousy,
And her thorns were my only delight.

Out of this world experience

I switched off the light last night to go to bed, thought of something for a couple of minutes and then turned the other side. Little did I expect to have my first and only otherworldly visitation that night.

I saw two tiny silvery spots on my sheets next to the pillow. They looked like glitter and were placed symmetrically like eyes.

I thought what the hell and tried to rub them off, assuming they were glitter. They wouldn’t go. I thought WHAT THE HELL and tried looking away in case this was an optical illusion of some sort. Still the glitter eyes stayed next to my pillow. I removed the sheet in case something was glittering under it and could be rubbed off this way, but to no avail.

And this is the last I remember….

I’ve had trouble falling asleep these days, so I’m really surprised I fell asleep instantaneously after messing with the glitter eyes. Maybe it was my sleep fairy. In which case, sleep fairy, I am most truly sorry for mistaking you to be glitter and trying to be rid of you. Please come again and glitter next to my pillow. #waitingfortonight

The base and frivolous things I do

My recent surge in frivolity requires a proper send-off (temporary, of course!), hence sharing my greatest current fictional infatuation.


morse purr

I have moods where I act like a complete airhead and my favourite conversation topics are other people. Such moods tend to alternate with more serious, intellectual or melancholy moods, where I prefer to discuss the nature of selfishness, the shortcomings of personality theories and my lack of prospects in life. In my reading habits, I tend to alternate between serious literature (usually classics) and light literature (usually children’s books or adventure novels). In films too, I cannot imagine watching three comedies in a row without having a good dose of drama in between. And the dramas I divide into those that might personally impact me (due to being able to relate) and those that most likely won’t (war films, hero films, stuff like 12 Angry Men). In short, I like varying things up a bit and cannot imagine spending time with only one type of things or indulging only one side of my personality.

There is an embarrassing side to it, however. A side I’d really much rather eradicate but which probably is just another manifestation of my general tendency of liking low culture. Except I can’t say I liked THIS, I just do it.

I read internet comments and internet forums quite often. Sometimes I visit blogs and websites by the kind of people you’d meet in reality TV. I’m sure there are decent people in some reality shows too, but it shouldn’t be hard to deduce the type I have in mind. It’s not something I particularly like doing, but I do it out of habit. It gives my brain a rest, and at one point, I must have done it to keep myself informed about how the average person thinks. I no longer feel like I care, but the old habits die hard. Sometimes I feel grateful my world is so different. Other times I feel alienated and depressed that I must live in a world where mentalities like that predominate.

Mostly though, and this is why I wanted to write about it in the first place, is that it has left its mark on me. One cannot consume anything on a regular basis without it leaving a trace on their thinking and being. My core personality and values are relatively fixed since the dawn of time, but subtle changes can be produced. And these changes are hardly flattering.

I’m far too impressionable and sponge-like and I ought to make that quality work for me and not against me. When I read good literature, I’ve noticed my writing automatically improves and takes on slight style influences from the author I’ve been reading. It’s not deliberate, but it happens. I read Keats and Lucy Maud Montgomery during my first years of university and my writing was really a poor imitation of their work in hindsight, although I never consciously meant to imitate it. And those two I liked. A year ago I read A. S. Byatt and started writing my novel roughly around then, her influence had crept in, even though I didn’t even like this novel of hers and didn’t finish it.

The gist of it is, I shouldn’t consume so much things I don’t like out of sheer apathy because such things breed apathy and mental stagnation. And I may have moods when I want to be emotionally dead, this is why I read such stuff, but I do not like it.

There is  a vast difference between consuming high culture and low culture on an emotional and intellectual level for me. When I’m exposed to truly beautiful, engaging, challenging art (in any form) or ideas, it makes my eyes shine and I feel enlivened, inspired. My mind is a lot more alert and I’m brighter. When I indulge my base side, I just feel apathy. I feel like I imagine a stay-at-home-housewife must have felt in the old days. You stop using a part of your brain and all you can think of is new hair curlers and shoes and what your husband is doing. Difference is, I do that to myself. I feel a lot of people are doing it to themselves. Too tired after work for worthwhile things, so you just watch TV series on the internet.

I’m light-hearted by nature sometimes. This I don’t really have a problem with. It alternates nicely enough with serious moods. But the baseness just gives me a bad feeling, like I was constantly lowering myself. What a pompous narcissist, true enough, but I can’t help how I feel. I do feel it degrades.

It’s my single filthy habit. Like other people have smoking or drinking or casual sex, I have dumb internet content. I try to quit it but never quite seem to. Maybe I should make a new year’s resolution the next year. Or get myself a motivational wristband.

Little annoyances

I’m struggling to adjust to my reduced circumstances, to use a somewhat Victorian phrase. I never thought a person like me would find poverty and saving difficult, but I’m finding it difficult. Back in the days I went to university, I was often poor. I lived in a truly Dickensian flat and sometimes had to make do with a very small allowance for food.

That flat was so cold in winter that at one point I had the smart idea of heating the kitchen with the electrical stove and moving my bed there. To be warm for once. Next month’s electrical bill made it clear it wasn’t very clever.

Taking a shower there was a nightmare too. The bathroom was so very cold that I much preferred a bath, but the hot water tank couldn’t handle both a bath and a shower right after each other, so it often ran empty by the time I was ready for a shower. And if my hair was full of shampoo, it was very, very annoying.

One spring, we had a mosquito infestation in the town. And my flat was severely affected. The mosquitoes came in through the ventilation shaft so the place was packed with them. I’m a great favourite of the mosquito species as well. Maybe they sought me out. When standing in the bus stop near that house, I was the only person they attacked. It felt strange to be waiving my hands there while others stood calmly. And no escape from them even in the flat. It had a balcony though. And in spring and summer it was warm there. One could go for a walk in the graveyard or the manor park nearby. Those were nice things. Lilacs blossomed on the edge of the graveyard.  The closest store was located next to the Rapists’ Wood, as I called it when I first saw it. I never had the courage to walk through that wood because it looked exactly like a spot where one might get assaulted. Some places just give me a bad feeling like that.

In Poland, we once stayed at a hotel that had formerly been… something else. I’m not sure what, but it could have been a care home for the elderly, a hospital, a tuberculosis hospital, a mental hospital. It had long eerie corridors, old furniture and bedding reminiscent of the 1960s. There were sinks in the bedrooms. The shared bathroom was located in the middle of the corridor. It was a huge room with some 20 cubicles, all last renovated in 1970. No one was there in the corridors or in the bathrooms. It was dark. When I entered the bathroom, the window was open, the wind blew in, and it gave me the creeps. So much so I couldn’t use it, but rushed back and had to ask my friend to come with me to the bathroom. I was too scared to be there alone. It felt like a place of suffering and misery. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. I’d like to go back and find out what had actually been there.

Anyway, I’m used to living frugally, I’m used to inconvenience. Why can’t I do it any more?

I don’t seem to manage keeping to my monthly budget at all. I keep getting myself things that I shouldn’t be getting if I wanted to save. And I do want to. A year ago I could afford these things. I can’t any more, but I carry on like I did before. Dream of travelling somewhere and get myself hair curlers for 50 euro because I absolutely need a third one. Every girl should have one for soft waves, one for small waves and one for big waves. Naturally. And I lacked the one for big waves.

I don’t even have much to say to this except sigh in dejected despair and hope I’ll adjust to being poorer sooner or later. Because I can make poverty fun. I still can do that. If I can’t afford a fridge, I can store food on the balcony for most of the year. If I can’t afford a proper stove, I’ll get a single hot plate. If I can’t afford a bed, I’ll sleep on a mattress and the dishes can be washed in the bathroom sink. This sort of life and circumstances is nothing to me. But somehow I find it hard to give up on presents for myself. Things bought for no practical reason whatsoever – books, hair curlers, clothes, shoes, writing paper etcc. My priorities have never been with the practical. And maybe having to use the balcony as a fridge could be an acceptable trade-off for me. As long as I’m okay with it, does it even matter that my priorities are completely askew?

I should write a post on how to avoid buying necessary things and what can be used instead. Oscar Wilde would probably agree with me that buying necessary things is tedium itself. One should always prioritize the beautiful (the engaging, the interesting etc.). I find his general life philosophy to be a little too superficial and decadent,  but I do agree with him on a number of points.

Anyway, I was exaggerating somewhat. I do buy necessary things when it is unavoidable and usually reach a somewhat better compromise than living for years with no fridge, but my general inclination definitely is towards pretty things or fun things. Not laptops, phones, fridges, stoves and TVs.