Lying

After a year (or years?) of living in my post-disillusionment world, I think I’m one of life’s liars after all and feel a growing desire to return to my kin and its ways of seeing.

Oscar Wilde has written of that type of liars in his The Decay of Lying.

Some random excerpts:

One of the chief causes that can be assigned for the curiously commonplace character of most of the literature of our age is undoubtedly the decay of Lying as an art, a science, and a social pleasure. The ancient historians gave us delightful fiction in the form of fact; the modern novelist presents us with dull facts under the guise of fiction /————-/

*

Many a young man starts in life with a natural gift for exaggeration which, if nurtured in congenial and sympathetic surroundings, or by the imitation of the best models, might grow into something really great and wonderful. But, as a rule, he comes to nothing. He either falls into careless habits of accuracy /—–/ or takes to frequenting the society of the aged and the well-informed. Both things are equally fatal to his imagination, as indeed they would be fatal to the imagination of anybody, and in a short time he develops a morbid and unhealthy faculty of truth-telling, begins to verify all statements made in his presence, has no hesitation in contradicting people who are much younger than himself, and often ends by writing novels which are so lifelike that no one can possibly believe in their probability.

(Happy Oscar, little did he know what was to follow and how much more mundane literature’s subjects could get!)

I think understanding the truth about the way society works has completed me, made me more well-rounded, which is likely to benefit me in all sorts of ways, but I do not enjoy living in that kind of world.  Now, it has also run its course and I want to shift focus.

As Oscar said somewhere else, lying and poetry are essentially connected. Yes, I mean that sort of liars, not the types who lie on their CVs and other similar self-serving behaviour: I mean the fantasists, the dreamers and believers in things that are not strictly true or rarely true but can become true when you believe hard enough. That sounds so unicorns and glitter. But well, I feel a longing for the unicorns and glitter people as well. They make my heart happy.

And generally, I think the dreamer side of me has become a little neglected lately and I want to nourish it a bit more again. Become less world-aware.

 

 

Procrastination

Recently, there have been these theories going around about procrastination being linked to perfectionism and self-esteem. Allegedly, people who procrastinate are the types that tend to set too high standards for themselves so they are not even motivated to begin because the likelihood of falling short of perfect is high. And it’s generally demotivating to contemplate doing things under such pressure to perform perfectly. It is also linked to one’s sense of self-worth. Procrastinators, like defensive pessimists, use procrastination as a coping strategy to deal with failure. The defensive pessimist will imagine everything that can go wrong. When it doesn’t, they feel a sense of accomplishment. When it does, well, they expected this anyway. For procrastinators, the focus is slightly different, it’s on maintaining a positive sense of self-esteem. So, when putting off studying for an exam until the last minute, and then failing, the procrastinator failed not because of their lack of ability, but because they did not prepare properly. The latter is a lot easier to accept, no ego bruise will follow. You got the ability, you were just lazy. If, however, the exam turns out a success, more reason to be proud of oneself for making it even under such circumstances. Such ideas are summarized here, for example: Warning: extremely clickbait title.

So yes, these ideas seem to dominate the popular science psychology articles. I don’t know if they are equally dominant in the less popularly accessible segment of psychology. I hope they are not, because reading these explanations for procrastination was very eye-brow-raising for me.

First: don’t these people with such hypotheses consider putting off doing the dishes as a form of procrastination? If they do – and I would – then how can one possibly fit perfectionism and self-esteem into it? Perhaps an obsessive-compulsive person with a cleanliness fetish might be daunted by the thought of not getting the dishes absolutely spotless, but surely this is not the case for the average procrastinator. Maybe I miss something. These articles always talk of deadlines, essays, work-related procrastination etc., but what of cleaning the bathroom, weeding the flower beds, mowing the grass and other such activities. I would be very interested to know how does one fit “putting off going to the supermarket for milk” style of procrastination into the self-esteem and perfectionism explanation.

I do think I am missing some vital piece of information when reading such articles, because researchers cannot be so blind to ignore these forms of procrastination also happening.

Yes, I think perfectionism can be demotivating and make it hard to begin on something. But I don’t think it’s the universal key to unlock the mysteries of procrastination.

Some alternative hypotheses:

  1. Evolutionary psychology may not be my favourite branch as it is often too reductionist and dismissive of potential for change, but sometimes it can work for explaining things better than many other theories. It’s certainly very intuitive. So I’d intuitively hypothesise that evolutionally, human beings have not been accustomed to much consistent, regulated effort and the time management required of us now is very new to our brains. Rather, in humanity’s long infant stage, we did things in short intensive bursts, followed by periods of rest/doing nothing much. Most procrastinators are similar, are they not? They can get it done, they can work hard when required, but most of the time they spend in some sort of energy conservation mode. Such as: you go hunt that mammoth, then you eat it and stay put and don’t do a great deal. Maybe you pick your teeth with the bones. Even the division of the day into work and leisure time is a relatively new invention in the context of how long the human race has been around. So the short energy burst theory is one hypothesis.
  2. Second: similar difference as between extroverts and introverts when it comes to social energy. Procrastinators have less motivational energy, they prefer to conserve the little they do have and do things that are easy and undemanding most of the time and only to activate their motivational energy when it is unavoidable. I wonder if there is a concept of motivational energy in existence? I hope there is. That could also explain why people are super motivated on the first few days and lose it along the way. It just runs out. Most of us are not blessed with a lot of it so consistency in attaining one’s goals is hard for us.
  3. The negative impact of the must. Most people don’t like doing things they have to do. If phrased like that, this is demotivating. It seems almost hard-wired into a lot of people that whatever is a must is an unpleasant duty, even if it wouldn’t be in essence (like going for a run or gym). I’m definitely like this, perhaps to the extreme: make something a thing I MUST do instead of CAN do and I feel its oppressive weight descend on me and kill off all motivation.
  4. Points 2 and 3 stem from this evolutionary tendency and help to explain variation. Not everyone is a procrastinator, so the evolutionary theory cannot explain why some are classified as procrastinators and others not. Unless. One adds the component of other personality traits that can either neutralize (very high discipline and motivational energy, very high ability to accept authority) the general human tendency to do things in short intense efforts or cancel it out from manifesting.

It’s all rather vague and hardly more than a mind game, but it makes more intuitive sense to me than the perfectionism and self-esteem theories that strangely ignore aspects of procrastination where it is hard to imagine those forces being at play. I hope someone comes up with a more plausible theory.

Also, perhaps this perfectionism theory at least is yet another ‘saving of face’ strategy of the procrastinators themselves – being a perfectionist makes for a good, comfortable excuse. One can be proud of being a perfectionist. But admitting you procrastinate because you lack discipline and motivational energy is not so nice. I certainly procrastinate for those reasons.

On a personal note, I intend to carry out an experiment in mid-September and live without the internet. Since I do my work with the internet, I will get internet access during work hours, sufficient to read e-mails and do the truly necessary things, but no internet outside of work at home.

I want to see how that impacts my procrastination and whether I spend time better. I want to get something written, something that I see as my BA thesis in creative writing. But I put it off and off and off. So drastic measures are required. I get internet back when it is writ. I fear though, that I would just find other ways of wasting time instead. Such as daydreaming in bed of the alternative lives I could have or cleaning the floors (because I must write, but can clean).

Reasons for living

Sometimes, when I’m very very unhappy and don’t know why I live, I think of the trees and feel responsibility. Who is going to love the trees when I die? No one in the entire world cares about those trees except me. And that seems important somehow, that trees are noticed and cared about.

Looking at people

These hot weathers are making me very sleepy between 2 PM and 6 PM, which is now, while writing this. If it wasn’t so hot, I’d go to sleep.

Since it is, I’ll write about beauty standards.

This is Luka Modric, footballer. I think he is handsome.

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This on the foreground is Fabio Cannavaro, also a footballer. I don’t think much about him.

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I’m fully aware that on any who-is-hotter internet vote between these two, Cannavaro would win hands down (if using photos where they are the same age certainly) and I’d be among the very small minority who prefers Modric.

This is my peculiarity number one. I don’t fully know why I sometimes have unconventional preferences but I’ve managed to connect it to the way I look at people. This is my peculiarity number two.  I tend to view people more as an artist than as …. anything else. This means I do the very confusing thing of sometimes having a crush on a person without actually ever having thought of them through the lens of sexual attractiveness. I simply find a person inspiring. Striking. Paintable, photographable, a challenge sometimes.  Not blandly conventional. Not wallpaper-like. During World Cup, I did have a crush on Modric, maybe still do or this post would not be happening, but one of my most infatuated declarations of the time was “The entire Croatian team is like wallpaper to me compared to Modric” And it wasn’t about his qualities as a footballer.

I’d declare the same if he wasn’t a famous person. Because yes, yes, I did that during school, when I had class mates and training group members – I frequently liked someone no one else seemed to. And sometimes was teased for it, like now I’m being teased for liking Modric and Shaun Evans, and people like that.

Of course I also liked people everyone else liked. I like Marlon Brando, Charlton Heston, James Dean, Morrissey, James Norton.

They are conventionally handsome but not blandly so. I would be inspired to paint them.

This post is getting all over the place. I wanted also to write about female beauty in connection to my peculiar way of looking at people. At school, I always seemed to single out some girl for her beauty or charm. So I was often gazing at her full of admiration, wishing I could be more like her too. Nowadays I do that on Instagram. I think for the past few years, M has been for me the epitome of perfect female beauty (if interested, I can share who this M is). Yes, of course it has got misinterpreted too. But no, not lesbian, just fond of beauty.

So while people fail to realise the purity of my admirations, I fail to get their harshness and it is often confusing to me why people judge other’s looks so harshly and with such narrow-mindedness too.

Cannavaro above. Not my type, but I see he is handsome. It doesn’t inspire me, but I see that objectively he was/is.

Average people though, they seem to have their taste and then everyone outside it is ugly. Ugliness is rare and I don’t think one sees ugly people too often. When one does, it is as transfixing as beauty.

 

God this post is bad.  Sorry Internet, for polluting you further with rubbish (I decided to cross out all bad bits). Maybe I get  back to it and write a coherent one later.

And that is why I’m putting it up here in all its draft-like state to taunt me and inspire me to get back to it and fix what I begun.

 

 

 

Berries

Yesterday on my bike ride, I smelt apples. Then I got some tiny apples at home from my great-aunt’s garden and sniffed them like an addict. The first of the many smells of autumn.

Sadly, fat chance. Heat wave persists. I’m glad that weathers with temperatures between 27-33 C are not an absolute staple on our latitude. I cannot imagine living in a country where all days of summer where like this: too hot to go out between 10 AM and 8 PM. I don’t enjoy temperatures over 25. My cat is suffering too because her fur is very thick for a regular domestic cat.

The complaints won’t end here.

I normally love anything local nature can bestow – berries, cherries and plum alike, but too much is too much.  This week every meal has had berries in some form with it and I’m entirely sick of berries by now.  There’s two cups of black currant and raspberry smoothie waiting in the fridge. This black currant variety is particularly tasty too. Rich, not watery, but I just can’t eat more berries and enjoy it.

Sample menu this week:

Breakfast: cheese sandwich, berry cake, small bowl of gooseberries, raspberry smoothie, tea

Lunch: celery cream soup, plate of red currant

Dinner: egg sandwich, black currant smoothie, plate of raspberries.

This picture is from some years back, but that’s the sort of quantities we are talking of. Current menu in the fridge includes black currant, raspberry and gooseberry.

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Yes, I’ve put many in the freezer, but it seems a shame because some do lose their qualities through it. I wish I wasn’t such a creature of variety and could eat the same thing for a long period of time. Oh well. I do eat. I just feel enthusiasm is not there, the emotional enjoyment.

Some readings

This is good:

He fell to thinking … slowly, listlessly, wrathfully. He thought of the vanity, the uselessness, the vulgar falsity of all things human. All the stages of man’s life passed in order before his mental gaze (he had himself lately reached his fifty-second year), and not one found grace in his eyes. /…/

He did not picture life’s sea, as the poets depict it, covered with tempestuous waves; no, he thought of that sea as a smooth, untroubled surface, stagnant and transparent to its darkest depths. He himself sits in a little tottering boat, and down below in those dark oozy depths, like prodigious fishes, he can just make out the shapes of hideous monsters: all the ills of life, diseases, sorrows, madness, poverty, blindness…. He gazes, and behold, one of these monsters separates itself off from the darkness, rises higher and higher, stands out more and more distinct, more and more loathsomely distinct…. An instant yet, and the boat that bears him will be overturned! But behold, it grows dim again, it withdraws, sinks down to the bottom, and there it lies, faintly stirring in the slime…. But the fated day will come, and it will overturn the boat.

From Turgenev’s Torrents of Spring

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Turgenev is pleasant, but I don’t find myself  having a lot to say about him at this point. Some books and writers are like that. I COULD make an effort and think of something, but since this isn’t school, where I must write an essay about everything I read, I’m not going to force it.

I liked Bazarov at the end. I think this is important to record for my future self. I don’t normally think of people in letters, but he’s such a clear case of INTJ.

I also felt that Maria Nikolayevna is the worst female literary character I’ve ever encountered. She is Satanic and I despise her. I think almost equally as I despise pedophiles. To conciouscly, with deliberate intent and forethought, to destroy beauty and innocence instead of protecting it, is one of the worst crimes. It is so bad in my book I forgot how to spell “consciously” while typing it. I might see myself as an amoral person, but this is my one iron-bar-fixed principle. The people who violate it are the lowest in the hierarchy of humans and nothing can redeem it. Not having meant to – that could, but to do it with deliberate intent just for fun? I could duel with one like that.  If I was in a book like Turgenev’s and women were allowed to duel. That’s how much I despise. Silly hero complex kicking in again.

One other person spoke of a similar behavioural thing as my hero complex but referred to it as her pathological bravery. This doing things requiring more than it is really in you, whilst not looking like a hero and nearly breaking under the weight, but doing it, because you have the willpower and I don’t know what. High standards?

 

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.

PPS. I was hesitant using the word ‘disillusionment’ last time. I figured later it was because of the common connotation of it having something to do with an idealist turning into a cynic. No, not that kind of disillusionment. I’m as Romantic as ever. Core nature and all that.  It’s more of a veil having been lifted between myself and the way society works. My mind is like a computer-scanner now in spotting the patterns. It can become something you want to un-know though. It takes away from one’s humanity. Fortunately, it is not my only mode of thinking.

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.