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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.

How to spend a Monday morning

  • Wake up at 9.40 because someone is calling. Not because I actually would wake up so early. It’s always either the cat making a racket or someone else disturbing my sleep.
  • Be in a bad mood and compare myself to Natasha Rostova. Fret about the usual things.
  • Make breakfast, find out there is no work with deadlines to be done today and that the employer seems to have taken a holiday.
  • Contemplate going for a walk in the woods. But later.
  • Decide that I have to have a more regulated schedule or I can’t handle this year of not being able to do anything to better my life. I’m probably still  – or again? – at an age where a year seems like an eternity. Count how many books I have on my shelf that I haven’t read – 31 – and decide I’ll try and have the lot of them read through by June. Consider it unrealistic, and decide 15 is a better number. Transfer a bunch of non-fiction PDF books to my tablet for reading in addition to fiction.
  • Since the cat is hyperactive, play with her. Play with her lots.
  • Discover that one girl on Instagram has an awesome cat duvet I must also have. Google for the same store and the duvet. Contemplate how great internet shopping is as it allows me to order unusual stuff from abroad. My country is such a backwatery place with a very small market, so the stores here only cater to the average of average in taste. It’s not possible to get a wood imitation bathroom shelf or blue wallpaper with roses. Importing minority taste items just isn’t profitable here.
  • Start humming Softly As I Leave You. Since I don’t know the lyrics too well, I automatically switch to Fly Me To The Moon at one point, unsure of what that song is at first. Find it on YouTube and continue. Be eyed by the cat suspiciously. Try to get over it and carry on, but her disapproval is too evident. She is more of a Beethoven aficionado.

In other words, on days like this, I love my job. I do have some work I could be doing, but it’s not pressing, so it will be done in the evening.

Job market absurdism

I saw an ad for the job of a translator, translating technical and legal documents.

The requirements – and yes, requirements – included having a positive attitude to life.

I don’t think pessimists would make for any worse translators. The only place where they would not be great is the service sector.

So who do I complain to about this sort of personality-based discrimination? It has nothing to do with a person’s actual skills and ability to translate.

Why, what with all manner of discrimination types being discussed to death, has practically no one pointed out the extreme discrimination that goes on in the job market? Why is it okay to discriminate based on some qualities and not others?

Language fun

“Most people come to exchange language and attraction”

(source: someone on the internet)

 

That phrase is too good not to be put down here. There is a certain delightful freshness in how non-natives use English and what they sometimes do with it. I’m a non-native too, so I know I occasionally do things a native wouldn’t. I’m not able to detect my imperfections myself, unless I put them there on purpose, but when those whose language skills are poorer than mine do it and hit upon a particularly good phrase by accident….I’m not outraged, I don’t think their English sucks, I find it wonderful.

Now I’ll go and exchange attraction with a book. I hope some of its charm will pass on to me too.

Psychedelia

Or an ordinary Saturday.

Something was different at the forest today. When I began my walk, on a pretty Saturday afternoon, there were many people out by the seaside as well. I never thought there wouldn’t be, but as I reached my destination, I was completely alone. Not another human in sight for miles and miles.  All the crowds had decided to leave that spot to my sole enjoyment.

My pastures

I love to be in that particular place alone. Such delicious serenity and it allows me a glimpse into one of my dream lives. On both sides of me there are coastal pastures with cows grazing, a forest grove behind me and the sea facing me. I like to imagine that this is my farm land and I’m overseeing my fields and livestock. Whilst wearing a 19th century gentleman’s outfit. With a walking stick and all. Or to lie down on the bench by the sea, and imagine I’m a Romantic vagabond, with a fedora hat and the compulsory piece of grass in my mouth.

Cow stare fest

As I was leaving, some of the cows took a particular interest in me. First it was one that started staring. Then three more followed. Stood in line and stared. Maybe they disapproved of my strangeness.

A list of things that annoy me without good cause

In other words, what an arse I am.

1. Nitpicking and pedanticism. I find it mind-boggling, for example, that people can fight on internet forums over comma use and call each other imbeciles for putting commas in the wrong places. Detail is important, but I dare say not equally important in all contexts. I’m more of a “can’t see the trees for the wood” person.  A misplaced or missing comma seems a very trivial thing to me, provided its wrongness isn’t glaring.

 

2. Excessive and constant frivolity. You know, people with whom you can never talk seriously about anything. People who make light of your problems for god knows what reason. Perhaps to cheer you up, or more likely, because they can’t deal with seriousness. People who are like butterflies, without any substance to them, although they may have great charm and beauty. People who don’t put their heart deeply into anything.

 

3. Superficiality. Read above, I suppose.

 

4. Being too grown-up. Having no magic in one’s life, but careful, plan-based living like Soviet economy. People who are too grown-up would never do a thing that was impulsive, silly or not regarded among the accepted grown-up activities and behaviours. Their success is measured through the possession of a partner, house, car and a career. Having a reasonable amount of money in the bank is essential. A too grown-up person looks down upon young people and their sincere emotionality and dreams. Sadly, sincerity and ability to lose oneself in something pleasant has been lost for them. They are matter-of-fact, disgustingly unromantic and non-idealistic. No wonder they rub me the wrong way!

If it were a list of things that annoy me WITH good cause, middle-aged sex tourists would be the next item.

 

5. Being dull. This is something I always feel a little bad about. It isn’t really fair to dislike someone because they are boring. I’m especially bored by people who are too grown-up without a spark of fun or mischief in them, by people who have mediocre hearts and mediocre minds. Given a choice between getting to know a dull person or a bad person, I’d take the latter, provided they are not a complete heartless maniac. I don’t approve of this preference and often hit my fingers with a ruler to reprimand myself.

Not a real ruler, of course, an imaginary one.