Laziness

The truth is,

laziness is my undoing.

 

I’ve never had to, never learnt to put in a lot of effort to acquire knowledge and understand things at school. In primary school, I deliberately lowered my grades and studied less so to be more equal to my classmates. Not tower above them like a genius (which I am not, but the average level was dismal in my class). I didn’t understand people who learnt for maths or English tests. I only ever learnt for tests where you had to memorize rather than understand, such as history or biology.

In high school, I was surrounded by somewhat brighter students. Likewise at university, but even a lot of my BA courses were cruising (from an intellectual perspective). I did have to study for them (to memorize), and some sort of motivation to study for exams I do have, but outside that – I just can’t be bothered to systematically work towards improving myself. The rewards are not concrete enough. I wonder if it’s the early years of being so used to doing very little to obtain good results that this has become ingrained. I’m really just naturally lazy too, of course, no doubt about that.

I’ve spent years at a point from which I don’t develop further intellectually. It’s snug here. I’m smart enough. Just enough. I can write tolerably enough. My English is decent enough. Everything is enough. Not great, but enough.

I’ve put no effort into being here intellectually, but I would have to if I wanted to progress further from this point.

But the laziness and self-satisfaction.

I’ve been thinking that I’d like to live like the moomins really. Their family dynamics are delightful. And if you want to be a moomin, there is no reason to become very intelligent, but you would need to have an open mind and an intelligence for living. As a moomin, I can have strawberries on the veranda and stars in the sky bright enough to get a stiff neck from staring. I can build a tree house with the kids and water my husband from the watering can when he is napping (and I’m not).

But it’d take a few years until then. These days, I have to content myself with threatening to water the cat.

And meanwhile, my laziness does frustrate me.

So there. Hoping against hope to conquer it.

Cooking and miscellania

I think most people who know me are aware of what a terrible cook I am. I don’t shy away from informing people about it because I want to avoid possible disappointments or false expectations in the future. I’m definitely not the person who’d be a useful participant in making a grand dinner. I’m no good for anything beyond cutting carrots or peeling potatoes. Even that, I probably do badly according to experts. And the way I use or don’t use kitchen utensils can be frustrating to people who know a bit about cooking.

My particular catastrophes are soups and vegetables. Me cooking a tasty soup happens maybe once a year and I won’t be able to repeat that success. Me managing not to under- or oversalt the potatoes is a rarity too. My oven-baked vegetables will usually end up raw inside, my meat dishes dry and difficult to chew, and soups, the less said about my soups the better. Vegetables in boiled dirty water.

When I moved out of home to university and transferred to my own cooking, I lost 5 kilos. If I can avoid it (I usually can) I don’t inflict my cooking on others. And when I must, I feel bad and insecure about it. None of the long years of attempting to cook well have made a difference.

Until recently.

I think I can no longer claim that I’m a terrible cook all around. There are things I cannot make (soups, sauces, potatoes, pasta), but I’ve gotten very good with salads.  I could serve them to anyone at a dinner party and would even brave a food snob to do his/her worst. As I’ve improved with salads, I’ve also started using them as side dishes, and doing away with the more traditional side dishes that I cannot cook (potatoes, pasta). I’ve also started to use frozen fries and some other ready-mades. I avoided them for years because I deemed such food unhealthy, but I’m quite pleased with my choice to start using them.

My cooking has improved a lot since I gave up on the stubborn insistence on making everything from scratch myself. Now that I use these frozen or ready-made products in areas where my skills are poor, I get good results and can focus on the things I can do well. And I do actually improve in these areas now that I have one third or half of the plate less to worry about.

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PS. After writing this post, I managed to cook up another culinary horror. I attempted to make mushroom pasta. As I complained about my failure to a friend, I was told I’m not that bad of a cook, I simply have gourmet taste. And while I dismiss this as a compliment, it may have a morsel of truth in it. I tend to hold myself to too high standards sometimes.

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I wonder if it would be at all possible to give this blog a scrapbook style look, so I could write marginalia on old posts, and publish bits of saved drafts months later, and use cuttings from old texts, so they’d look like cuttings, and paste them where I want.

Wishing the internet to be more like paper….I should just write on paper.

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Nightingales are singing outside the window and I’ve decorated my room with what I love best – the sweetest smelling blossoms – cherry and apple. There is an abandoned garden next to the house. It’s not charming as my fantasy childhood one, the house on this property has no roof and looks depressing, but the garden is a beauty in spring with two gigantic bird cherries, apple and pear trees in bloom. No one goes there, except children, and myself.  It’s a bit creepy to a coward like me. A part of me thought that perhaps there is some drunks residing in that house, but the non-wimpy side was tempted by the short-cut and the blossoms, so in I went. And now my room is filled with spoils.

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Why is it that some people can look both beautiful and ugly? Why do I have to be such a person? What is the truth? Average? Yes, but these contrasts can be disturbing. I look in the mirror or take a photo: ugly. And feel bad about myself and curse my fate. I look again from a different angle: tolerable. I go out and walk past a mirror in the store and am astonished and confused by how pretty I am. And all these things must be true. The ugliness, the averageness and the hint of beauty somewhere between the lines.

Complaining

This month work has been a mixed bag. On the one hand, I have had month-long contracts lately, so I have no deadlines, can work at any hour of the day, take two weeks off and do 12 hour days the other two. It is all up to me and I’ve enjoyed the liberty.

On the other hand, the current assignment is so painfully dull I’ve likened it to scrubbing the same spot on the floor for 3 hours. Imagine that! Could anyone scrub the same spot meticulously for 3 hours without abandoning it in hopeless boredom? I manage it for 10 minutes until my mind wanders elsewhere or I open some other website, watch a film or indulge in my one filthy habit of reading sub-par content. This post here is just another result of that mind-numbing scrubbing I couldn’t take any more.

I don’t have ADHD. This translation would put anyone’s attention span to the test.

To pass the time, I took this social intelligence test, where you are supposed to tell by a person’s eyes what mood they are in. And my score was so pathetic I will go hide under the blanket and reflect on my delusions. Test can be done on this link.

People this bad at reading others shouldn’t be wanting to be psychologists. I got 26.

Witnessing dementia

There was this old gentleman who seemed gentle and shy. I didn’t register more at first, because I had things of my own to think of. It wasn’t a people watching moment. Later I saw him again in an unsettling situation.

He must have had dementia. Somewhat prematurely. He looked 75 at most.

There was a woman accompanying this man. She was one of those types children’s literature is full of – the strict aunt who knows best what’s proper conduct and goes about trying to shape everyone accordingly. No resistance, no nonsense and very little gentleness.

The old man wanted to use the bus toilet. He had opened the door and was about to enter it, but his companion lady interfered and told him that the bus is stopping now so he can use the toilet in the petrol station (like all the other people with the same need had). He resisted, he feared he would miss the bus if he goes there. The woman said the bus will wait. They argued. Briefly verbally. Then, as he continued resisting, like a child rather than an adult,  she started to forcefully pull him out of the bus, shake him and attempt to drag him to the petrol station toilet. In response, he clung to the door handle of the bus. She was very angry and frustrated, and he was resistant and scared like a little boy. It was….disturbing and unjust.

I wanted to interfere. It was very hard not to interfere. Only my shyness stopped me.

Swearing

I wonder if gamers  who make YouTube videos swear more than others?

It hurts my ears the way they talk with a ton of swear words thrown in. Trying hard to be cool and copying the lower IQ but higher social capital assertive types?

Or does every normal person just generally swear that much these days so that the F-word has become a conjunction?

Book destroyment

Destroy + enjoyment.

These are my favourite books from when I was a child, and remain among my favourites even now. Sadly, they look terrible.

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Of course our parents told us not to damage books, but what can you do. There is a distinct correlation between the more a book was loved, the worse state it ended up in. I plan to replace them all one day, unless overcome by irrational sentimentality urging me to preserve these ugly editions.

I am really in two minds about this sort of active interaction with books.

When I was a full-time English student, I also enjoyed writing into books, underlining bits and arguing with authors if they irritated me. I’ve not been doing that at all any more because to the current me, it seems a shame to ruin books, it seems disrespectful. And yet, I found it fun to take a look at my old favourites and see what parts had resonated with me enough to underline.

Anne of Green Gables was the first book in English that I bought together with Oscar Wilde’s collected works. I have no memory at all what made me buy it, but it was to become one of the influential books in my life.

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I found no logic in the sentences I had underlined in my Anne, except that they refer to her imagination:

cookery

If you want a misery to pass faster, do like Anne:

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Next up is my Keats. He was my introduction to the Romantic poets and led me to see that there had been people who thought similarly to me. Of course, right now my take on the subject has become more nuanced, but at age 21, it felt like home-coming. My soul mates! Anne and the Romantic poets! It didn’t matter that they were fictional or dead. Not when you are used to thinking there is and never was anyone like you.

I think I was set on analysing Keats’ use of dreamy words and underlined all instances of “ethereal” and other words that sound distinctly dream-like, such as “eglantine”, “forlorn”, “myriads” “dryads” “nymphs” “gossamer” etc.

myriads of

ardent listless

I love those lines still. But my most favourite line by Keats is the following:

two luxuries real

It gave me such a chuckle. Keats seems completely oblivious to how amusing this pairing is, and that is why I love it the more. It was really his letters, rather than his poetry, that gave me this feeling of belonging with the Romantics

 

The following is a somewhat later extract from a biography of Patrick Pearse where I argue with the author. Excuse the handwriting. I can do better, but this obviously didn’t seem like the place.

pearse argue

 

I admit I found it fun to explore such books. Yet I still feel hesitant about taking up the habit again. I’m currently reading – took a break for a year – Jean-Christophe and often want to underline parts or comment on something, but I seem to have grown completely out of writing in books. I don’t want to ruin them. However, my Jean-Christophe is an absolutely ugly old edition I got for free, so maybe for ugly old editions or cheap new editions of no particular beauty I should take it up again. I’d definitely use a pencil rather than a pen, though.

Irreverence

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.

Keats

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.

Shelley

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

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.

Wordsworth

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.

Rolland

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

Late night reading

This is great stuff:

Do not think of what will be in a year, or in ten years. Think of to-day. Leave your theories. /…/ Live in to-day. /…/ If you are good, all will go well. If you are not, if you are weak, if you do not succeed, well, you must be happy in that. No doubt it is the best you can do. So, then, why will? Why be angry because of what you cannot do? We all have to do what we can…. Als ich kann.”

“It is not enough,” said Christophe, making a face.

Gottfried laughed pleasantly.

“It is more than anybody does. You are a vain fellow. You want to be a hero. That is why you do such silly things.… A hero!… I don’t quite know what that is: but, you see, I imagine that a hero is a man who does what he can. The others do not do it.

“Oh!” sighed Christophe. “Then what is the good of living? It is not worth while. And yet there are people who say: ‘He who wills can!'”…

Gottfried laughed again softly.

“Yes?… Oh! well, they are liars, my friend. Or they do not will anything much….”

They had reached the top of the hill. They embraced affectionately. The little peddler went on, treading wearily. Christophe stayed there, lost in thought, and watched him go.

 

(From my favourite book)

I was disappointed by this English translation. I have an edition in my native language and this paragraph is much superior there. The above reads like something I might have written. I find it hard to resist improving it. But what can you do, I’m not going to type up this quote in my native language and I wanted to record that idea somewhere. It was at once new and instantly strikingly relatable.