Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Nerded up alright

Just a little peek into what my nerdy winter-darkened study breaks look like these days. This is the view from my window into my backyard. I've been studying so much lately that it's all molten into my so-called memory. I'm trying to gather as much important information as possible and absorb it, which is hopefully also going to be extractable from the cauldron when needed. Both of my last exams are taking place this Wednesday - yes, on the same day. Lucky me, I know.

My education seems to be ruining my life.

Backyard, November 2010

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

El topo

Uttaranchal, India, 2008

'We have to go to the emergency room,' says Ivy* with determination and a bit of panic recognizable in her voice.

She's had a sore big toe for an hour or so, but she's been persistent in telling us it's all okay. Nevertheless, we see the pain in her face. Now that she's a bit worried it might be more than a possible fungi case, she's starting to panic a bit as well and obviously feels an I'm-a-bit-scared-but-maybe-it'll-pass-if-I-try-to-look-cute look is in order.

Mars, Will* and me aren't panicking much, since she hasn't mentioned anything up until half an hour ago. We've just met up, but we'll jump back into the car and go to the nearest emergency room. We circle around the block in a hurry and I get an uncomfortable feeling since I become aware of the fact that it must hurt quite a bit and it's not to be ignored anymore.

Zagreb is packed with one-way streets, so we ― not wanting to waste any valuable time ― drive down to the hospital in the wrong direction. It's two in the morning anyway and not a soul seems to roam the obviously abandoned street.

We get out of the car half-laughing in order to try not to panic much. We're wearing our usual clothes, which still might seem a bit weird to regular observers. Baggy shirts, wide Afghani-style pants, scarves and who knows what. So we pretty much orientalize across the street and get to the main entrance.

There's at least five people wearing white, obviously chain-smoking the night shift away and talking about anything other than medicine. We start walking up to them and I get the feeling I'm being scanned by an extraterrestrial vessel. All of a sudden everything goes slow motion and I can feel their horizontal green-laser gaze move vertically over the bunch of us.

It's somewhere in between a Hackney Wick rave and a Star Trek episode, but the scan is obviously finished and the slow-motion bubble bursts from what it seems all to abruptly.

'Is the ER open?' someone of us asks the white-clad assembly.

They giggle between them like they're communicating telepathically and already know what the answer is going to be. Our obviously stupid question opens up an Olympic-swimming-pool-sized space for an even stupider question-response from their side.

'Are you... those... what do you call them... Hare Krishnas?'

I'm sure they can read the expression from our faces, bordering somewhere between how the fuck does that help you? and are you going to help us or not?

They're all reluctant and now pretty much seem like a couple of school kids being questioned by their oh-so-strict teacher about who wrecked the classroom window. One of them extinguishes his cigarette and invites Ivy to follow him. The three of us seem to be stalling our departure from the funny lot for no obvious reason, but eventually start moving towards the door.

'You know, we shouldn't even take your friend in.'
'Umm, why not?'
'Well, you came in the wrong direction.'
'Yes, we know. Because it's an emergency.'

(In fact, we're the assholes here, because we didn't want to take the one-way street around the whole quarter, but just cross the 50 meters towards the hospital. Naturally, with extreme caution, not wanting to endanger any possible oncoming traffic.)

The guys are persistent.

'There are cameras, you know.'

We take the game on.

'Then we'll take the fine and that's it. People do far worse things for no apparent reason. We just wanted to bring our friend here as soon as possible. I'm sure our prompt officers are mailing us the fine as we speak.'

They obviously took us for kids, judging us purely on our looks, but being medical staff and all, they seem to appreciate the fact that we're just worried for our friend. They also realize we're not a bunch of morons (well, except driving in the wrong direction) and they seem to appreciate our sarcastic remark, finally easing up and joining on the conversation about our police, the country, the smoking ban and all that follows.

'We'll just go inside and check whether our friend is okay and we'll be back,' we say and start making our way towards the entrance. It doesn't pop into their head to say something reassuring like oh, don't worry; she's getting all the help she needs, so we pick up our pace a bit.

The hospital is, for the lack of a better word, spooky. It's being renovated or reallocated or whatever, but having just seen an extremely weird film, both our perception and imagination were wildly propped up.

The small entrance contains a wooden bench and an old cupboard with drawers turned towards the wall ― or what was left of it. There was a poster on the door, but we couldn't recognize what it showed through the milky glass, so we passed through the next door. The hallway was most definitely bound to be turned into a horror-film set.

Plywood walls all around the hallway with every second neon light turned on, every second of those blinking in an unnatural rhythm. There's a row of half closed doors on both sides of the hallway, but we're a bit too paranoid to peek inside. There was a tiny waiting room on the left with a light on and a single bench ― right in the middle of the room. You can't see outside from it, since it's hammered out by some more plywood, so it basically looks like a walk-in solitary confinement. We joke around because it's just too surreal.

Still no sight of Ivy.

The three of us really feel like we're on a shooting set and just glance at each other, eagerly waiting for anyone to suggest having a cigarette outside. Bingo!

We're out before you can say cashew, creating a mirrored image of the smoking medical bunch on the opposite side of the entrance only a bit more, as they thought, Hare Krishna. I'm already half way down my cigarette and the entrance door it still screeching. I've never heard a longer and, considering the circumstances, a spookier door screech.

We're talking about the staff not reacting to the screeching operetta since they're probably set designers and this is in fact the door they use all the time anyway. One of them goes inside right before the door was finally about to close, prolonging the screech to, from what it seems, another two-and-a-half centuries.

We're too nosy to find out what the poster on the inside says, so we go back in. The door is still closing, so we simply slide in during one of the screech aeons.

When was the last time you laughed?

That's what it says. In the emergency room. Honestly.
Simply. Too. Surreal.

Mars takes out a pen and draws a couple of smokes on both granny and grandpa's face and we laugh about it. At the peak of our paranoia that we'll be caught, Ivy is coming down the hall, her face expression insanely similar to what one would imagine on someone who's been abducted, probed and left in the middle of a corn field.

'They don't know what it is,' she says, obviously irritated by the whole thing. 'They told me to go to another emergency room.'

We look at her in amazement, at the same time looking for signs of a candid camera. This is too surreal, if that's even possible.

She tells us they checked it out and that the x-ray shots didn't show anything. She should check with a dermatologist, so in the end it looks like we'll have to wait for the morning shift.

Ivy is a really open type of person, so she doesn't mind expressing her dissatisfaction out loud, in front of the whole staff. The three of us are waiting for the Exorcist theme to start playing out of an imaginary music cloud above out heads and for the guys to draw some scalpels and retractors from their pockets. Our facial expression must border somewhere between being scared shitless and waiting for someone to trip over something we've planted.

We thank them and start walking towards the car. They toss some jokes at us from over the street, so in order to make Ivy feel a bit better we start telling her the whole story about what has happened while she was away, the supposed cameras in the street and mirror smoking. She laughs and at the same time can't believe what happened.

She's telling us how she walked down a similar-looking hallway with this dodgy-looking guy and all the neon lights flashing in between all the plywood and the tool boxes on the floor. For a moment there she turned back, probably to memorize the way out ― just in case. She's been taken to a couple of different rooms for the examinations, the x-rays and alike.

As we occasionally tend to say (usually after getting insanely wasted), she uses the expression for a moment there, I thought that was it and starts telling us about her whole underground experience. The upcoming story definitely seems like it's gonna take a while, so we decide to take the long drive around the neighbourhood after all.

*Names slightly changed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

My own hundred

Inspired by otherworldlyone's 100 list, I thought I might share my hundred. I'm not really sure where to start, but it'll probably pick up the pace by itself. Here goes...

1. I'm likely to be one of those people who, as a part of a nine-step program, ring someone up after ten years.

2. I don't believe I'll live that long though. It's not pessimism or self-pity though just a gut feeling.

3. I've learned to believe that gut feeling of mine, although my reactions afterwards can sometimes make me a complete bastard.

4. I don't know how to wipe my nose; it just turns into a half-surgery thing until I'm absolutely sure it's alright.

5. I often touch my nose, checking that it's clean or trying to get rid of the itchy feeling caused by my allergies.

6. I am not always completely honest with people. If something I say is going to raise hell or start a five-year chaos, I'm simply not going to say it out loud.

7. I do stick to my grounds though and I'll defend what I believe in.

8. Sometimes I wish people (including me) would spend less time talking about people and what they said and did and more about other stuff.

9. Egocentric people tend to raise my blood pressure instantly. People who compare absolutely everything to their measures and tastes are simply boring.

10. I have an obnoxious laugh which has made me quite memorable during my life. I have never had the privilege of passing unnoticed.

11. I shiver to the sound of my own voice when I hear it on tapes and videos, the radio and alike.

12. I live in a creative mess. If there's nothing moving around, it needn't be cleaned. (When I have someone coming over though, it's so clean that I get asked how I manage to keep it that way.)

13. I dance when I listen to music, be it my home, the streetlight or a queue in the market. I might get some weird looks, but I get almost as many nod-in-understanding corner-of-the-mouth smiles (if I even notice in my state of trance).

14. I've grown to think that the most important people in my life give me the least respect and trust me the least. And then I think I must be a lousy person.

15. I can have really bad days, with nothing wrong really happening. On those occasions, led by my gut feeling, I just tend to crawl back into bed and wait for midnight. And if I'm not allowed that luxury, I just keep quiet and hope others will too. It's safer.

16. I enjoy a nice company, but I couldn't go on without my alone time. Sometimes I feel much more lonely being around people than on my own. On the other hand, I don't know what I'd do without my friends.

17. I have a really short fuse. That annoys me and at those times I tend to be quite rash. That pisses others off and I usually just leave the scene until I cool off. It's better for everyone.

18. Sometimes the people who I spend a very short period of time with talk to me the nicest and the most honest. I'm not sure if they see me as I am, see me as I would like to be or they're just plain wrong.

19. I worry too much. I've been diagnosed with about-to-be gastritis at the age of eight and I've been getting grey hairs since I was 20. Quiet moments of not worrying, pondering upon things and processing everything imaginable in my head are extremely rare.

20. Lots of people will just call it nervous, edgy or asshole though. I've been described as (and called) garrulous.

21. I think there's a big difference between honesty and a big mouth. I've had problems with both, but am even more annoyed by the latter.

22. I once made a cake with washing powder instead of flour.

23. I broke my arm trying to impress a girl.

24. I am completely frozen when I enter a room and have no idea how to act, even if I'm surrounded by people I've met.
(I just wrote number 24 three times in a row.)

25. I hate suits. The whole thing just makes me feel so cramped.

26. I love coffee, but I'd rather pass than drink a dodgy one (like filter or Starbucks or whatever).

27. There are days when I live on cookies and there are those when I make lunch three times.

28. Twenty-eight is how old I am. And I haven't done much with my life yet.

29. A lot of people will tell you I'm lazy and spoilt. I'm not happy with it, but I don't disagree.

30. I've met some of my dearest friends over the Net.

31. I'm quite unhappy with my life here and I'm planning to move away.

32. I can barely watch a movie since working in a cinema multiplex.

33. I get allergies that come and go, some of those being green beans, cockroaches and horse hair. When I was younger I ended up in a hospital for over ten days, so you'll probably never see me eating green beans.

34. I used to despise onions and olives, but I'll very probably use them if I cook.

35. I can say I don't like green hats in at least ten languages.

36. One of my biggest wishes ever is to be fluent in Icelandic (and a couple more languages).

37. An online quiz said that I'll probably die abroad, travelling. Now, I don't believe in quizzes and I still hope I'll manage to do tons of travelling in the future. On another note, I'd rather go like that then being ran over by a truck in front of my house.

38. I'm a spelling and grammar nazi. I just can't get people who speak (their mother tongue) and write wrong. And it's usually the people who mind it the most are the people who are other kinds of nazis (look under 9).

39. I don't like extremely hot and extremely cold weather. Living in a place where it goes from -15 to 35+, I don't consider myself very lucky.

40. I'd like to live in a wooden house, in a forest, by the lake. I'd probably be scared shitless with all this paranoia of mine, but what the hell...

41. I miss the people who don't talk to me anymore way more than they can imagine. I often want to give them a buzz, but luckily (or not) I don't.

42. I dress and undress in a specific order. Obsessive-compulsive pops into mind, although I've been told by doctors that I'm okay.

43. I have issues with colours. Deuteranopia makes me a rather lousy and annoyed collocutor.

44. Sometimes I'm missing words and need to consult a dictionary. That's exactly why I wish I was better in English (and other languages).

45. The image of the miserable me if too often unrecognizable to others, who then usually think I'm all about drama (and there would be no one luckier than me if everything was to be peachy).

46. I've never been in a physical fight. I've been uppercut by my best mate in high school though.

47. I don't think anybody really knows me. It's got nothing to do with self-pity and probably not much to do with sharing sensible information either. Not that standing in front of someone spilling your whole life out in entries would solve it, but I still feel like no one knows me. People would probably claim differently if you asked them, but then I think about whether they ask themselves the same question.

48. I don't dance. Not at weddings and such. I just feel like I'm on Celebrity Deathmatch. If you see me on a party though, it's a completely different pair of shoes.

49. I've always wanted to go see a shrink. (Some of the westerner readers might be surprised, but we haven't had much of that here - not as much as you see in American media anyway.) I've always thought about sharing my thoughts and problems with a complete stranger, who'd just say something like It's completely fine; you can work it out by doing this, this and this.

50. I embrace shitty moments rather than ignore them. Welcome, depression and pessimism...

51. I white-lie to my parents from time to time. I do that for the peace between us. My mum doesn't believe me when I tell her that.

52. On the day my older brother was getting married, my father (all in tears of pride and loss) declared that his only son is getting married. That was probably the crappiest moment in my life and I'm quite sure he still has no clue about it.

53. Although pretty much everyone thinks we're a big happy family, I have a really lousy relationship with my parents. I know I'll be very much sorry for not working on it more, but I can't seem to work it out. My reality-ignoring family will just call me garrulous again and suppress-and-ignore it.

54. I tend to lose my best friends because of some pointless fuck-ups. I usually never get to know what had happened and will probably still be thinking about it on my dying bed.

55. Sometimes I wish I lived in a sound-proof flat. A house by a lake would work too.

56. I haven't had the chance to sing as loud as I could yet.

57. I never got a rejection letter for a scholarship that I'd applied for. As I found out later, my professor hasn't even mailed it due to personal preference ― only one candidate had been suggested. (I never took the last exam with that professor and still don't have a degree in that.) This and many more (and much worse) examples just remind me of how much injustice pisses me off.

58. My Croatian professor in high school flunked me in my final exam. I had applied to a university abroad, but it didn't happen in the end due to the flunking.

59. I have (had) a feeling Fight Club was written about my life. I'm just waiting to start living it. Whenever I travel, that's the only book I take with me.

60. I used to adore Alanis Morissette, having her posters and shit all around me room. High school was a really shitty period for me, but I still think she's dome some seriously good stuff and I listen to her music from time to time.

61. I used to get into verbal fights with my high school librarian. She was simply a cow.

62. When I see people who've broken my heart, I'm still so glad to see them that I find myself stuck with a grin on my face. I'm a moron.

63. I once got so drunk I vomited all over the my room up to a meter above my bed. That time my mate and me almost froze to death sleeping in the snow during the night. I was indeed happy to be alive and awake, but then I saw the wall. Mum blamed it on some made-up sausages and never mentioned it again.

64. I once switched focus and saw the sky as a wallpaper glued on to a giant see-through dome. I'm still not sure I believe what the science tells us.

65. I love flying and especially take-offs ― the feeling when you get off the ground is just mind blowing.

66. I've been told I'm a fantastic person by complete strangers. I've also been told I'm a complete ass by non-strangers.

67. I used to have blond hair up until I was three or so.

68. Last time I counted all my nicknames (and that was around 1998), there were 115 on the list. I reckon there's be more to add to it.

69. People used to take my being okay with everyone both as a quality and a flaw. Now everyone pisses me off.

70. I have a tendency of overreacting when it comes to something that annoys me, even if it's about my best mates or people the closest to me.

71. I reeeally can't sit around people who chew with their mouth open, which turns the Sunday lunch into an excruciating hour.

72. If someone tells me something in confidence, it stays with me.

73. I have my father's eyes and it's driving me crazy. All the things that I got from my mother are the ones that drive her crazy. And then she drives me crazy.

74. I talk about India too often. I just felt so good there that I can't let it go. I've had some nice times and I've had some not so nice ones, but I simply can't wait to go back there.

75. I gave up on going after my retirement. I've busted my ass off during university ― although it was fun, I was so overstrained that the only sleep I would catch was in public transportation.

76. People ask me why I don't apply for Whichever-Country's Idol. I think that would be my very last option.

77. Most of my embarrassing moments involve alcohol. I still firmly believe I can tell when I have to stop though.

78. I got so mad once that I smashed a whole butter package against the table. I spent the next half an hour cleaning it up and cooling down.

79. I had a pig when I was little. I'm quite sure they made me eat it as well.

80. The most beautiful book I ever read breaks my heart every single time I read it.

81. I think a broken heart lasts a lifetime. You can see the people, chat to them and look at their photos and it's all fine. But somewhere deep inside the void is still gaping.

82. People think I speak tons of languages, but I don't really speak that many. The fact that I can say liver in Lithuanian, Sanskrit and Old Greek isn't really going to help me in life much.

83. There's some stuff I'd like to write on here (look under 49), but I won't.

84. I'm terrified of funerals more than I'm afraid of dying myself. I feel like an old man sitting on the porch and leafing through obituaries.

85. I'm starting to cope with the fact that I will most probably never get my wishes fulfilled.

86. When a friend of mine told me she'd really like to see me less miserable and happy in my life, I started realizing that on the outside it must look even worse than it is. I'm still miserable and I rant all the time, but I'm trying...

87. I wish I'd moved out when I was eighteen. I would've had much less grey hair now.

88. The stupidest thing I've ever done would probably be hitting a guy that trained boxing. I was also lucky enough not to end up in trauma.

89. I used to hide from my class mates when I started smoking because I was too embarrassed of how good it felt.

90. I swallow a lot of air and burp abnormally. I've managed to burp both the longest word in Croatian and French and am still working on antidisestablishmentarianism.

91. If someone told me I can travel to any desired location for free, I'd surely struggle to pick it out.

92. I have enormous prejudice against certain nations. I suck, I know.

93. I planned to get married for a passport, but she's getting married next April. Not to me.

94. Having to come back from India (there I go again) was probably one of the hardest things ever. *shivers*

95. Although I'm a terrible student who never really got the hang of how to actually do some serious studying, I still daydream about being a world-known scientist.

96. I never thought I'd even get to number 96. There was a blank moment around number 35.

97. I'm meticulous about my computer ― every icon on the Desktop is in its place. It doesn't amaze me that I have so many problems with computers that even my geek friends find them unbelievable.

98. I hate Murphy and his laws. And Freud.

99. There's not much that beats camping and partying with mates, staring at the bright stars from my hammock and walking back home through a thick forest in complete silence.

100. I do side-way flips in my hammock.

Now I'm on a roll here and the more I write, the more details about myself surface up. The things that I should change, things that I could do... I could go up to 130 at least. But I won't.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Thursday night out

Last night was alright. I spent it with some friends I don't get to see that often. We hung around at the ex-squat, which has been turned into an autonomous cultural center, where I was invited to play a chill set. So I met up with Cloud, had a beer and went inside the maze of rooms and halls.

There's a big opening in the wall, slightly but noticeably bigger than a regular door. The sliding doors were open, but I still couldn't see inside, since it was covered with a big black cloth. I move the cloth away and suddenly I'm feeling like I've just stepped from the Witch's Closet into Narnia.

It's a rather small space, much smaller than the rest of those in the squat, but it's way larger than anyone's living room. Compared to the rest of the squat (which was at this time
insanely clean, shiny and awkwardly scented), this room really does look like someone's flat. A bit like mine, in fact.

Considering the vast size of the space, it still looks way-too-obviously crammed with stuff. It's like someone had to move suddenly and just dumped all this here. But it certainly has the at-home feeling to it.

There's a couple of armchairs, two big couches and some chairs to fill in the space. Some bean bags have also been left lying around for whoever needs to squeeze in. Ther
e are from what I can count ― seven or so computers which the guys use to surf, play games or mix music. They're Linux people after all. But mainly psychedelic.

There's three pieces of string art illuminated by a couple of black-light lamps lying half hidden around the room. It barely gives you an idea of the space around you, but the bright-lit threads serve as a form of lighting nevertheless.

There's an L-shaped bookshelf in the corner and a small kitchen squeezed into the corner right opposite. There's a mocca maker on the cooker which reminds me of India. Change subject.

I look around the room trying to absorb whatever I can catch glimpses of in the half dark. I see a poster of Patrick Swayze and some penguin drawings on the wall. I notice Cloud is also looking around, as if she's trying to vectorize the whole area in order to be able to get out of it when the time comes.

So we sit there, drink beer and wine and spirit, chain smoke cigarettes and it's all fuzzy and nice and warm and we're thrilled not to have to be hanging out outside. Or in bars, which are overcrowded anyway. I'm playing some music, but the mixer is broken, so I can't really hear what I'd like to play next. I just put my headphones back in the backpack and played spontaneously. It was a new experience and the feedback was okay. From
all those nine or so people that were there.

So, after six hours
― which felt like two and a half ― we head off home. They guys came by car, but since I live so far they call it Mongolia, I usually just thank myself for the offered ride and hit the tram station. It's okay outside and not that cold really. Besides, I could use some fresh air.

I'm standing at the tram stop and checking out what's going around. It's late Thursday (or better said, early Friday), so there's not many people out. On the opposite side of the street is a punk, trying hard to hold on to her Taft-secured coiffed styling, roll a cigarette and keep as less possible surface of her bottom on the cold pavement as possible.

I think I giggled a little, but I couldn't hear it due to the loud trance music coming of out my headphones. My night tram isn't coming for another twenty minutes, so I take another one that comes after only a couple of minutes, simply to cut the journey into smaller pieces. Not the ride home

Night trams during colder times aren't what you'd call my favourite thing, since they're most often full of drunkards using the opportunity to warm up a bit. But it being a Thursday and all, I manage to take a seat. Diagonally from me, there are three girls sitting and one standing up, holding on to the one who's squeezed in the middle. Not really holding on; more like patting her on the back, since she seems completely spaced out. There's a handkerchief by her feet on the floor, so I figure she'd already vomited and her girlfriends tried to cover it up. Well, ain't that sweet...

They're all wearing black except one, who's got brown leather boots. She's the one who looks the most scared of them all, maybe because she's trying to figure out how to get her friend home and trying to convince herself that everything will be okay. I think to myself that I might ask them if they need some help (since heaven knows I've been the one who's spaced out oh so many times), but I see a series of images in my head
― like in Guy Richie's films, you know ― and I retreat. I reckon I'd seem like a total perv anyway.

The patter seems to be the most confident and I figure she's going to work it all out. I get out at a stop, hoping that I've hit the right one. Cloud got me some kind of a pastry earlier, so I nibble on it and cross the block to get to my tram stop. I zip up my jacket, but it's not really that cold in fact. I roll another cigarette and it seems like it's the five-hundredth that evening. I don't care, since a track by Ocelot is playing and I feel like dancing.

I often start moving waiting to cross the street or at the bus stop, so I often get looks, but I don't really care. So many people are crazy in this city anyway and I assure myself (and you) that I'm probably one of the less creepy ones you can run into. There's some more people coming to the tram stop; three girls and a guy. One of them is also completely wasted and I can see her make up all smeared up from meters away. I wear specs, so that distance is worth mentioning.

She sits down on the bench with her head in her lap and the whole bunch seem to be talking to her in shifts. She starts yelling, so they take a step back and the guy walks away, clearly pissed off. One of the more-or-less sober girls follows him and the other one is blankly standing in front of the messed-up Witch of the East. And she's not happy about it. She's checking her watch every now and then. Eyeing me eyeing her. I pretend to look in the distance. And I squint
― that's my distant look.

I have no idea what's going on actually, since there's some out-of-this-world Norwegian forest sound wrecking my ear drums and I don't really care. I'm having my cigarette and I don't really care. It all looks like a mute drama to me; or like a pre-audition rehearsal in front of the jury-occupied room door. The drunk dragon is flapping her arms around, her outfit completely disobedient to her moves. The friend is pretty much pissed off beyond recognition by now and is as me looking forward to the tram finally coming any minute now.

The tram is taking too long and I'm sucked back into my music universe. I reckon it must be pretty weird seeing someone dance in the city in the middle of the night, but it's one of the little joys in my life. I mean, it's not like I'm using some MC Hammer moves or what not
― I just don't suppress the urges that I get from the music and I simply move to it.

I think to myself again how it's a crazy world and I add another mental check in my notebook. By this time, I'm already smoking my third cigarette. When I exhale, I can't really tell where the cigarette smoke ends and the frozen breath begins.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Living my life

This is living my life. With constant insomnia and unpracticality. Nothing to add or explain really.

Home Sweet Home. Not.

Oh my!

I just got this photo on my email and I simply kept staring at it. The first flash was Budapest. Or some other cold city, I'm not sure. But when I glimpsed at the photo, I suddenly had a burst of feelings in my gut. Like I've been there before. Well, I have, but not when the photo was taken.

Zagreb, The Flower Square, 1957 (Author unknown to me)

It's always weird, the story with one's hometown. And how much you're capable of loving it and hating it at the same time. Heaven knows I've had a constant roller-coaster ride with mine since whenever I started caring.

I remember my mum taking me to the center when I was a kid. We'd go to the main market to pick up some groceries, take a walk along the most popular streets so that mum can do some window shopping and then take a break. I was all light-haired and light-eyed, constantly wearing brown and beige or some other earth colours. I'm holding the tram ticket in my hand like it's an ampoule of liquid gold and hopping alongside mum, taking the city in, but also being slightly aware of the fact that it's still a bit big for me.

I don't care though – I'm going for the top. Literally. The break that we're taking, it's up. At the top floor. I can see everything from there. Everything.

It's eighteen floors up or something like that, but it's the high point for me. I have a Coke, as I always used to. My mum would usually have a piece of cake. I somewhat reckon she'd rather have me have a piece as well, but I'm stuck on Coke. I think that annoyed her a bit, since I was a lively little turd – even without the Coke.

At those times the top floor of the so-called skyscraper was open and I was usually fighting the wind, making myself look a bit like Quasimodo with the huge lump of air beneath my unzipped but firmly-held sweatshirt. My mum found it funny. She rarely finds things funny nowadays. I remember her smiling a lot more.

She wasn't so stressed out back then, even with everything that was going on. Sure, she must've been a bit worried and always extra cautions taking me into the city and all, but I surely never felt it. She was relaxed and I was relaxed. The truth is, I've always been a kid who could take care of himself. I used to walk back home from kindergarten. My folks always knew where I was and what I was up to. Maybe that's why it's been getting harder ever since.

But I remember the awesome feeling of roaming the city. I couldn't have been over four or five, but I recall the awesome feeling that I'd get. I was clutching on the iron fence, trying to align both my eyes so that it didn't obstruct my view. Mum would sit in there alone, her only company being the bag of newly-bought whatever and the already-half-evaporized Coke. She must've been into her bills or something, or simply taking a breather. But she smiled a lot more.

I don't know if it's her or me. Maybe I've changed. Maybe I'm the one who's not smiling as often as before. Maybe it's me who's not laughing anymore. Not projecting it on others, not spreading it around. Is it me who's so miserable with all that's going on that the only thing that keeps me going are memories from the ancient past?

The building has been redone now. Typical modern mainstream style, same as typical communist bulk style like before. All darkened glass, with the reflection of the sky along the whole thing. Rooftop sealed off, with some fancy sushi place that only those same-looking darkened-glass sky-reflection people can afford to enter.

There are no cake slices. There's no Coke. And there's no little Mla.

Now I'm dark-eyed and dark-haired. I've started greying years ago and even found a grey beard hair the other day. I still live in the same house, forty-five minutes away from the Square. A forty-five minute ride I can barely stand whenever I need to get something sorted in the city. The building is ugly, the people are obnoxious and there is rarely any fun at all.

Why the hell do they tell us to grow up?!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Gotta love airports

I just remembered a rather funny anecdote from when I was travelling to India the second time, back in 2007. I'm sorry I seem to be talking about India all the time, but I'm trying to make myself to write down more about it (especially in order to finish my So-Called Book), so please bare with me.

So, I book my ticket, go to the office, cash it out, get out on the street and start dancing and giggling uncontrollably. Movie scene. I got a really good deal, since I was still under 25 then and I was really happy about that. I pack my shit up and my friend Maja takes me to the airport. I'm not taking anything warm to wear, since the temperatures there are 25-35, but it's December here and people are giving me weird looks. I know better.

I have a cup of coffee with Maja, do some shopping at the tobacco shop and get a small but insanely appreciated gift from Maja - a Snickers. I suggest we go to the counter, so I can check in and get that over with. At this time she's completely cool, letting me do all the blabbing and all. If I get aware of the fact that I'm leaving for India for five months, I'll start running around the airport in circles. Like when a soccer player scores.

Okay, check in time.

'I'd like to check in.'

I give her my ticket and my passport and she's completely Mona Lisa with me. She checks the passport, glances at me and checks the ticket. All of a sudden she's all nice and all, giving me the widest smile possible.

'So, have you ever flown before?'
'Yeah, sure.''
'Out of the country?'
'And you're travelling alone?'
'Yes, I am.'
'To India?'
'Umm, yeah.'

Maja is standing next to me, checking out brochures like's she's taking her next vacation somewhere in Polynesia. In fact it's just a bunch of those small name tags that you can put on your luggage. So, the hostess is giving a call to Istanbul Atatürk Airport to confirm my flight and motioning me to to put my backpack on the baggage strip. All with a gigantic smile.

She puts the big label saying IST and BOM on it and another one saying Türk Hava Yollari - Turkish Airlines. She doesn't stop there, but puts at least five more saying Special Care, VIP passenger, Extra Heavy, Handle With Care and what not. I'm looking around to see where the candid camera is hidden. By this time there's at least another hostess and a host with her and I feel like there's a light spot on me. Or one of those red sniper dots, you know.

And everyone's smiling at me. Maja is just grinning, but she also has no idea what's going on. So, the hostess yells to the main desk host or whoever he was:
'This gentleman is flying to Mumbai, so please take special care of him. He's flying India by himself and he's fourteen.'

I look at her in awe and can't suppress a burst of laughter. I hope none of my saliva jetted her way over the counter. Maja is laughing like crazy, but you can her no sound coming out of her mouth. She's trying to cover herself up with those tiny name tags, but she fails completely. It's just name tags.

Not that it matters really. Thanks for the compliment, now I feel even younger. I wanna make the most innocent expression possible and even put my hands on the counter, like a puppy putting its front paws on the table. But I try to get a grip.

'Umm, sorry, but I'm not fourteen.'
'But your ticket says Young Passenger.'
'Yes, it does, because there's a discount if you're under 25. I'm 24.'
'Aah, okay.'

She's a bit embarrassed, but in a cute kind of way. My backpack and all its tags are on their way to wherever the whole machinery is located, somewhere behind the counter.

'My baggage is going all the way, right? I don't have to pick it up in Istanbul?'
'No no, it's going all the way, don't worry. It's completely secure.'

With all those tags I can't imagine otherwise, but better be sure.

'Okay, so here's your boarding pass, you've got enough time in Istanbul to look around and enjoy your trip.'
'Thanks very much!'

I turn around and everyone's looking at me like I'm wearing the fuzziest cuddly-panda-bear outfit that was ever made and I figure they've all got lolly-pops and candy prepared for me. Maja is totally grinning all over the place and I figure she'll be telling the story to everyone as soon as she gets to work.

So hang around a bit more, we say good bye and I catch a glimpse of her just standing there, her hands down and looking somewhere in my direction, but not really at me. I go behind the corner and see a bunch off people waiting at the security check, some of them knowing the routine and already taking off their belts.

Here goes.

Somewhere in Iran, 2008

You can also check India (Take One), India (Take Two) and India (Take Three) for some more stories.

India (Take Three)


The second time I was travelling alone, but I knew where I was going to and what was waiting for me. Or at least I thought so.

You wouldn't believe what kinds of things run through your head. Names of neighbourhoods in Kathmandu, my French friends' middle names, specific flags of the world and strange words in half-dead languages.

So I'm trying to figure out what time it is (because after the connection in Istanbul I simply wasn't sure anymore), but it's hard with this Indian guy sitting next to me. Or should I say lying. He keeps dozing off and, from what it seems, almost consciously and intentionally leaning off to my side. Luckily, there's the video screen that keeps me occupied with documentaries about the diamond industry in home-looking factories of wherever or just the snowy screen. Thanks.

In front of me is a so-much-in-love-it's-disgusting German-speaking couple that, with no consideration at all, pushed their seats fully backwards, squeezing me between Snow White and their unconditional love. The head set is astonishingly broken, so I can only listen to one station at a volume nine out of ten. Another big no-no for me.

The only ray of hope seems to be the eventual appearance of the world map, showing how we're flying over Ankara, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Karachi and hitting Ahmedabad heading south towards Mumbai.

That city is so insane that Delhi seems like a merry-go-round now. It's said to be more cosmopolitan and open than Delhi, but with its seventeen or so million people, I just saw it as a place I had to get out of as soon as possible. Same as Delhi, it just seems to be a place where you land and start your India tour or spend a day or two before flying out.

Although I really enjoy roaming Delhi, Mumbai simply seemed too much at that time. As soon as we landed I started sweating immensely and got reminded how it felt the same three years earlier. Hot hot hot. I had to get used to it as soon as possible, so I took the taxi to the Central which would give me a chance to cool down a bit.

Everything that I imagined - how silly of me - was the exact opposite and it felt like waking up into a nightmare. The colossal and supposedly magnificent building of the Victoria Station wasn't visible to me. I just saw this huge thing that seemed to contain all the possible horrors of big cities. I was aware of the fact that I was gonna get hassled over and over again, but I clenched my teeth and went inside the station with what I hoped looked like cool, confident and independent expression.

I didn't make more than a couple of steps when I found myself standing in the middle of the immense station (it's the world's third biggest station), turning on my heel and hoping for a familiar signpost or an arrow of salvation. I decided to run for the counter that sounded a bit odd, but was hopefully going to help me get moving - Freedom Fighters. The funny thing is that I felt exactly like that at the time, like I had to fight my own way through this big mess to reach the freedom that was waiting for me more than five hundred kilometres further south.

It took me around an hour to check dozens of windows, storeys and platforms and my plan to roam around the city for a while quickly evaporated. I took the first train out, sat by the window and watched a mega city wake up.

Two thirds of the city's population live in slums, small shelters made of any material that could be put in use, from carton to nylon, with little or no water, power and living conditions. I thought I'd be used to this since I've been to India before, but it was way too overwhelming. There's supposedly less poor people living here than in Delhi, but they sure seem to be way more exposed to the eye.

I got pulled back to reality, other than that outside the window, by the conductor. Since I left a bit more abruptly than I intended, I didn't have enough cash on me, so I went around the train trying to get the money I was owing the conductor. Soon I realized that being without money in India is one of the worst things that can happen. It took me what seemed an eternity to get one Euro worth of rupees from a group of Australians, with hundreds of Indian eyes staring and somewhat enjoying the situation.

This hit me a bit hard and I even started questioning this whole trip, my decisions and doings for the passed while. It happens to me quite often, but I wasn't expecting it in India. I had enough time to think about people, life and everything on a thirteen hour ride south anyway. After another train change, a ridiculously expensive rickshaw ride and a night in a fancy hotel, I was there.

At last.

- - -

And this is all I've got for the So-Called Book so far. I will try to work on it...

Karnataka, 2007

You can also check India (Take One), India (Take Two) and Gotta Love Airports for some more stories.

India (Take Two)


Coming to India for me was more about recognition than the first-time shock. All the stories, photos and mind images only inflamed my imagination and I was ready to experience India in my own way.

There's all kinds of people coming to India, and for many different reasons. Enlightenment, yoga, relaxation or simply travelling - you name it. I read in a guide that everyone experiences India in their own way and that, after all, India is what you make of it. I believed it and I was determined to do so. And after eight months on the Subcontinent altogether, I've come to realize that it's so true.

Landing into Delhi in the middle of the night and seeing my friend among all those Indian faces felt great, especially after a couple of glasses of wine we've had up there above ten thousand meters. The guys (my friend and her boyfriend) were coming back from a party and (supposedly because of the fog) they had some problems finding the airport. In fact, they were pretty much drunk. Well, when we got to the car, he was sleeping with his head on the steering wheel and after he woke up, he spent around ten minutes looking for the car keys that were in his hand, so yeah, they were drunk.

It was definitely a fun ride into the city, driving on the left side of the road and trying to get accustomed to the twenty-five degrees in a late December night. From what it seemed then, the first India was like a bait to get me closer and take me deep inside.

You can also check India (Take One), India (Take Three) and Gotta Love Airports for some more stories.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

India (Take One)

After I got back from my second trip to India in 2008, I started writing The So-Called Book, trying to combine my impressions from both the first and the second visit combined.

It's turned out to be a bunch of my thoughts really, which felt weird since they didn't make much sense to me anyway. I was writing a lot and it literally poured. I couldn't write fast enough. Nevertheless, when I started typing it from the notebooks on to the computer, I never managed to get past the second chapter, since it was just too painful to re-read the whole thing and get reminded.

Maybe this will make me get on it. So, here goes...

- - -


It all started with Dr. Marten's. They were huge before and they were still quite big then. I met her at the university cafeteria when she made some comments about the mentioned shoes. I didn't like her at first and I think she didn't like me either, but somehow she became a light spot in my life.

We'd run into each other at university and sip watery coffee while waiting for lectures. We'd drink bad coffee, chain-smoke and talk about the usual stuff: travelling, photography, languages, scholarships... But never Dr. Marten's. And this is approximately where the whole story starts.

I had seen an application form for a scholarship in India and when I saw her the next time, it was the first thing I blabbed out. If I can remember correctly, she was already in the process of fixing up the necessary documentation and trying to figure out how to spell her name in devanagari.

From then onwards, everything seems like a chain of events that enriched and in a way, which now makes perfect sense, changed my life. To good and for good.

My thoughts were with her all the time, and with that envelope on the way to Asia. My head was thundering with thoughts about what might happen and how it could all turn out. It never, not once, hit me that all of this would occur.

So in a way, the one to blame for this whole avalanche of actions is her, and maybe a scholarship obsession we shared at that time.

She was emailing me from India on a regular basis, which is technically way more demanding than one might imagine and by the time she got back, my head was already full of information. Although India was nowhere near the top of my wish list, we started thinking about going to India somehow.

I was in a rather stressful period, stuck in between university, work and life-concerning issues and I felt like I really needed a break. Not pondering upon it too much and getting into way too much debt, we booked the flight and not long after we were ready to hit the road.

Visas, vaccinations and all the official stuff had been sorted and one morning we were on our way, with two of our friends waving as us from the platform at the Central.

- - -

भारत एक विशाल देश है|

This is me, riding a saikil down south, blissful as a warthog, 2004

You can also check India (Take Two), India (Take Three) and Gotta Love Airports for some more stories.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Fifth... floor.

I'm thinking whether I should write. I shouldn't since it's already quite late and I have a busy schedule planned out for tomorrow (like it matters), but I might as well drop a line.

I've been shocked today. Proper shocked, like when you realize you're going to trip and fall over (seeing yourself in slow motion as you're drooping downwards for aeons) or when you send a personal email to your whole address book.

I had a bad morning, waking up too late, living through hell tutoring the kid and being too late for the lecture that I wanted to take. I'm not the type who'll burst in after thirty minutes and apologize. Not with this.

So I meet up with a friend (let's call her Cloud) and go around a bit, check some literature with my mentor and have a coffee. God knows I needed it. During the one-hour coffee (which is short for our terms) we come to the conclusion that we're all fucked up, that we have no future and that we're doing a lot of stuff that we don't really want to do (but have no other choice really) and that we're both kind of stuck in the stuff we're into.

(I'm always missing an English translation of the Swedish phrase att syssla med, which would mean something like to be occupied with, but in such a different manner that I would actually just camouflage it in between all the English).

I have my job as a hobby. I have my PhD as a hobby. Nothing is proper. And a sentence comes up and really carves into my brain. I have my life as a hobby.

We both just give up and puff the last cigarette smoke. Cloud takes off since she's got some more stuff to do and I bravely take the elevator and press the five button. The automated voice says Going... up. ... Fifth... floor. Literally. In English. That's what you get for studying at a philological university.

I'm sitting up there and it's already getting slightly dark. Since they changed the time last weekend, it's getting darker even earlier. I'm the type that need a kick in the butt, so I get right on it and do some quite serious work. I was really surprised by myself since I really did do a lot of work in those couple of hours.

So I figure I'll go have a smoke, make a tiny break, have a refreshment and I can go back to translating again. I click the elevator button, the doors open and I enter. I'm alone in it and it's no wonder, since it's already late and no one sane is still in the library.

The ride to the ground floor takes eight seconds and I half-consciously glance at the mirror. I hate those elevator mirrors. I don't know if they make them especially to ruin people's lives it's the lighting, but you can see every effing thing in them. I hate them. I don't really hate many things, but I hate those.

Within that second I catch a glimpse of my face and see a grey hair. It might not really come as a surprise, since I've been getting grey since six or seven years ago. People comfort me saying it's genetic. Yeah, I have more of those than my older brother. So, that's no wonder.

But this one was in my beard. Now, this sounds even more hilarious, since I don't actually have a beard. I don't have a beard at all. I have some hair above and under my lips and a bit on the chin, but that's all. People find it funny. I find it irritating. I have to shave or I'd look like a mountain shepherd in his teens, but there's really not much to shave. I don't know how to put it properly, but it sure as hell is super annoying.

The elevator is too fast and I simply don't have the time to actually panic about it. There's a Door... opening and a ding! and there's two people staring at me, waiting to get into the elevator. Yeah, now you wanna go up. Dammit.

I barely manage to roll the cigarette while everyone's chattering on the big flight of stairs in front of the building. It's dark and there's no one familiar around - maybe for the better. I simply can't believe it. Am I that old? Am I that fucking old? Do I really deserve this? I'm going over my chin with my hand, as if I'm going to feel the hair under my fingers. It's miniature. But I think Laika can see it right about now.

I'm not the panicking type. I'm depressive and pessimistic and annoyed and hard to handle, but I'm not the panicking type. I light the cigarette and think to myself, for lack of a better word, what the fuck?! I don't know if it came out loud, but I didn't really care.

After the whole day and all the crap that's happened (well, it might not have been that bad, but let's stick to the mood), after the twist that I managed to pull off and all the stuff that I've managed to translate, after convincing myself that I'm doing OK - this happens. Geez.

I go back inside, enter the elevator and hear the so-well-known Going... up. ... Fifth... floor. Fuck... you. I wanted to say that. But I didn't.

This is not a photo from tonight, since I was obviously in too much shot to take it. It's from when I was going up the highest building in Zagreb. Not much to do with this actually, but you get the picture...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Rant #596, Stardate 1524.562.6

The mystery has been unveiled. It was the neighbour after all, hammering the whole flat down. The bathroom tiles, the living-room wooden floor, everything is gone. No wonder it’s taken him so long (he was still banging up until two hours ago or so). One would expect some serious sledge-hammer business for that kind of work, but I guess the nut cracker seemed more appropriate.

Getting that out of the way, I thought I might write about what happened yesterday at lunch and what got me so edgy in the first place. I was just telling someone about it and I reckon I’ve chilled enough to write it in peace. I don’t think I overreacted, but I think I could’ve handled it better. Or different. Or both.

So, what you need to know is that I’ve been at university for ages. Starting off with German and Linguistics and taking Swedish as a minor in the meantime, I ditched German (seriously creepy psycho professors) and took Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology. I like what I’m studying and I find most of it quite interesting.

Nevertheless, life takes its own toll and direction and sometimes one’s forced to press the pause button. Unfortunately, not everyone is always keen on asking what one’s been doing, but rather choose the path of blissful ignorance and with it, almost necessarily, a fair amount of prejudice. If I tell you I’m in my tenth year, I’m quite sure your first thought would be yikes! Yeah, I think the same, no worries about that.

Anyway, I won’t go an about why it’s taking me so long, but I’ll just say I’m two exams away, with my final thesis already approved and all. The problem is that not everyone in my family takes is the same way I do. I mean, I can’t blame them, since I really should’ve taken care of it ages ago, but I sure as hell can’t bite my hand off now, can I?

My older brother has finished business and is a director in a major firm. My sister finished languages and is working in a big construction firm. And me?

I suck:
- I don’t have a degree yet
- I’m not engaged or in an already serious relationship
- I don’t have a flat of my own (and a thirty-year-long loan from the bank)
- I don’t have a steady job yet (tutoring, writing, editing, translating and such doesn’t really count around here much)
- I’m a complete outcast since I don’t stare at the news and gossip around
- I like travelling (which makes me a complete lunatic not appreciative of his home land)
- I go out as much as I can and enjoy open-air parties, walking through the forest and just sitting in the grass (what a weirdo)
- I’m a pretty short-fuse type of person (and people tend to cope with that even harder than I can)
I suck.

The list goes on and on (I could really pull off BagLady’s Ten Things, haha), but I won’t prolong it any further. It just boils down to what’s important for yesterday’s event and it boils down to one fact. I suck.

When you suck, the problem is no one really gives a crap about what you say. Or what you think. This is in fact fine by me, since I still didn’t seem to manage the better-keep-your-mouth-shut routine quite yet. Discussions usually end up with someone – usually me – pissed off and annoyed.

But when it doesn’t even come to the discussion, I just feel like someone had just fast forwarded, seemingly clairvoyant and already presuming what I had to say. Well, this is what happens often when my brother is around. Geez, I so don’t want to turn this into a Dear-Oprah rant (I don’t even watch TV), but it might sound like one.

I’ll try to make it short:
- my brother is the oldest and therefore obviously the favourite
- my sister is the only girl, so that’s hear deal
- i’m the last and left out there, stranded and left alone without a life
- whatever my brother and sister do is fine
- whatever i do is a semi-revolution, rebellion against everything dear to them and a step away from a train wreck

In fact I’m not really that bad – it’s just that I’m interested in some things that they aren’t and I’m a bit off the mainstream, so I’m considered weird. Here comes the topic. It’s linguistics.

I don’t know why, but people get goose bumps when they start talking about the language. Maybe it’s the errors that we all make on the daily basis, I’m not sure. But it’s really not a really popular topic, believe me. My folks even appreciate the whole ethnology story, learning about cultures, preserving our old customs and stuff. But when it comes to language, everyone takes a step back.

It’s not that I bite. I’ve learned not to even think about starting the topic. It’s like talking to people who champ. You can train yourself to ignore it or leave the room. There’s no making it right. I suck at that and usually take a platter and go away. Actually, people find it very weird that I eat standing up. They say that’s why I’m so thin. Well, that’s what keeps me sane.

So, my whole family meets up for lunch on Sundays and it’s already started by the time I enter the dining room. I’m not late, but they just didn’t wait for me. Figures. I say hello to my nieces (8 and 6 years old and the nine-month-old munchkin) and play with the little one a bit. She’s walking around, so she needs to be watched over.

She stares at me with this look that you only see on small kids. She knows my face and she’s examining it like it’s a map. And she can’t seem to get used to my laugh. I have a really weird, loud, tractor-like laugh. She’s not scared; she just can’t seem to work out the whole machinery behind that sound coming out of my mouth.

So I sit down on the floor next to her and I talk to her. Under my breath. I’m not the type that goo-goo-gah-gahs kids, so I simply talk to her. She’s doing her own business, playing with a piggy bank, but carefully leaning on my bended knee. She isn’t so stabile yet and she knows it. Now, I’m in a pretty messed up state: I’m scared and edgy and tired and hopeless and no one is looking up from their plate.

As if she read my thoughts, the kiddo drops the piggy bank, catches my eye and gives me this peaceful but intense look, as if to tell me it will all be OK. I swear, sometimes I have the feeling like she can relate to what’s going on in my head. Now I regret storming out because I only spent two minutes with her in the end.

Now that this came back to my mind, I find the whole fuss so irrelevant. I don’t even see the point of writing further, but I might as well finish it since it’ll come back to my mind eventually.

After my first bite at the table (since I had my soup standing up in the kitchen) my sister-in-law asks me about something which is not only a bit, but completely into the language sphere. My family members lift their heads like gazelles at the water trough sensing danger. I'm a tiny colourful bird on top of a rhino, trying to get some minerals from the mud behind its ears. I know this is a dangerous ground, but fuck – I'm riding a rhino!

I don't know what bothers people so much about talking about errors in speech. I mean, there's so many different languages and there's so many people and so many rules, but everyone's so sensitive about it. Talking about the world order, war crimes, recent disasters or someone's placenta are no uncommon topics at the table, but mention grammar or spelling and everyone will instantly put up a force field.

So I do my best and try to envelop it in a really short and acceptable answer in order to wrap it up as soon as possible, but the avalanche has already started. I know I'll be the one thrown off the mountain, but there's no point in pushing someone in front of me either.

We talk about some common errors (something like your and you're in English) and by we I mean my sis-in-law and me. She’s the only one who talks to me normally, listens to me and is indeed interested in a topic she asks me about. My bother cringes, because if it's not business management or soccer, he's out. Like my dad. My sister is avoiding the whole story, because she knows she's as edgy as me, but at least she has a way out as soon as the lunch finishes. My mum is blissfully chewing her mouthful, acting like she doesn’t see the gigantic tsunami in front of us.

So my sis-in-law and me’re talking onwards and by the time I’m on my second bite, the whole bunch has already hijacked the whole conversation. Damn.

Don’t you dare tell us how to speak. We know our language and you can say what you want. We’re older and we know better. Where did you get the nerve...?

At this time I place an imaginary mouse trap over four of my fingers and hope there’s a meteorite coming our direction. Since it’s my profession, I try to point out (with the calmest voice ever) that it’s simply grammar and spelling and that I’m trying to lead a conversation here.

So, they’re yelling, I can’t get a word out of my mouth and my sis-in-law is slowly aware of the fact that she could’ve chosen a better timing – purely for her sake. In a family where offspring gets muffled down, she’s smart enough to know she doesn’t have a chance. Not with my whole family in one corner of the ring. Well, not my mum – she’s still blissfully chewing.

I’m not going into details of the football-field debate that followed (it’s just pointless), but before my third bite I just got up and left the table. My brother made what he obviously thought was a funny remark and I just couldn’t stand it anymore. I hope one day I win a Nobel Prize or marry the princess of Jordan or something – and then I’ll show him. Haha, I’m such a dork.

Anyway, I got up and left the room. He didn’t come by to say bye on the way downstairs. Nor did my sister. Nor my parents. I’m quite sure my sis-in-law would’ve, but I get why she didn’t completely.

I understand them. They think I’m too edgy, that I have a short fuse, that I’m impatient and that I can’t shut up. Umm, excuse me, but don’t they think I know that?! They’re quite much the same – or even worse; not willing to pay attention, let alone to listen. I’m aware of the fact that I’m fucked up and hard to deal with, but at least I don’t think I’m perfect. I guess they are.

Anyway, I’m pretty sure they just shook their heads, made another bad joke and finished their tasty lunch. It doesn’t matter anyway. It’s just going on in my head. My dad asked me why I got angry. He doesn’t have a clue. They don’t know me at all. If some of them ever read this, they might get to know me a bit better. Because we don’t talk about that. No one cares.

I’m a stranger in my own home.


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