In Defence of Reading

reading

Reasons for embarking on this voyage

I love reading other people’s blogs. It’s a new thing, really. My fantasy coming true. Knowing what it’s like to be in somebody else’s head. In everybody’s head. I always thought it’s such a pity we only get to be one person in this life and nothing else.

23rd of April was also celebrated as Dia del Libro, or World Book Day. Even though I was a true rebel, and had spent the day hiking instead of reading, I did find myself thinking about books and wondering why I’m not reading more of them.

But perhaps the most important reason why I’m writing this post, are the few precious comments I have received after posting here that reading isn’t considered a hobby. It seems that bloggers do not agree with me. And it made me smile. Because I too, don’t agree on this one with myself.  No matter how excellent or mediocre (or terrible) our writing is, we all share a love of reading, and that’s how our blogs probably came to exist.

Benefits of reading different things

As per Internet (hope plagiarism here isn’t as big deal as it was in college), reading has many well known benefits that come with it, such as:  expanding our vocabulary and knowledge, improving our memory and strengthening our analythical thinking skills. It’s also good for our concentration and it is said that it improves our writing skills.

I do agree that reading inspires me to write, but I’m not sure if it makes me any better. However, if I get really impressed by a book, my thoughts imitate the voice of the narrator for a good few days after I’m done reading it. It’s automatic, and sometimes I have to remind myself to stop it before having  conversations with real people.  As far as the concentration goes, I don’t know how or when it happened, but my ability to concentrate really became poor for a while, and  I was incapable of reading anything substantial. Even though I tried to focus, reading certainly didn’t help. A lot of yoga, running, and getting nervousness (and coffee) out of my system did.

Only then I had managed to finish a novel that I found satisfying, The God of Small Things, by Arundhati Roy. The novel is more on the line of pessimistic and sad, but the sole act of diving into a story made me happy to be alive again. When somebody’s writing touches me, I start to notice unusual details in the already known surroundings, people and things. Everything looks freshly repainted; it appears as if life reinvents itself. And it keeps on doing that, with each new book I read.

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Having said that, I had to wonder how much has reading Bridget Jones’s Diary  last summer helped me with developing any of the above mentioned virtues and skills? I don’t think it really has. However, when you find yourself on a beach, with temperatures bordering with unbearable, the sunlight piercing through layers of hats, sunglasses and shirts hanging from your head, you know reading Crime and Punishment could be just the thing to send you over the edge. That book is meant to be read in winter, and we all know that. On the beach, you are in desperate need of amusement, laughter, witticisms, ice-cream and romance! Hell yeah, romance really helps! Reading Bridget Jones in fact has healing effects, according to The Bachva Research Centre on the outskirts of Madrid.

Reading blogs, on the other hand, is more a psychological case study than it is anything else for me.  I have insatiable curiosity for the way people’s brains work! This too is one of those automatic things that I have to remind myself to stop doing – analyzing people and endlessly reshaping opinions and theories about them. Amateur theories with little coverage, but with extreme attention to detail, that proved to be entertaining to my friends. I know, I know, people generally don’t feel comfortable when studied by others, but believe me, I learned to keep my theories to myself.

But even if that was all I ever wanted to get from reading blogs, I get my mind blown more often than I would expect. I get caught off guard and start uncontrollably laughing (tea spilling, notebooks falling, and snorting noises included), or it provokes a stream of nostalgic imagery in my head. Blogs amuse me, teach me, inspire and encourage me to be a bit better every day.

There is only one self-help book I read in my life, but it is a big one. Women who run with the wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes, a Jungian psychologist and storyteller. She says that if we decide to live in tune with our true wild nature, we will inevitably at one point go looking for our pack. A pack that we belong to. Now, I don’t know if my role among the pack of bloggers should be the one of a reader or a writer or maybe a mutant creature between the two (as I feel while writing this), but I do know that I should keep hanging around here.

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So, I would like to invite this newly discovered pack of writing wolves to share a bit of your medicine with me!

What is YOUR favorite thing about reading? And what is the last quote that got stuck in your head?

Please share as I would love to hear what you think!

 

 

 

 

One sunny day in Madrid

madrid-cityIt’s fucking Sunday. I promised myself I would publish things on Sundays, and that I wouldn’t use curse words here. How could I have been so ignorant of the obvious fact that I am terrible in  following things through? Here I am. Sunday evening.  Six unfinished blog posts accumulated over the week, and two fresh ideas trying to escape through my fingertips.

How the hell do you people do this?

I live close to Madrid. I woke up nervous and annoyed by the sunny skies outside my window, emphasizing my dark nervousness. Nothing helped; I tried skipping coffee, as it usually makes me even more tense, I ate a healthy breakfast, tried to watch something funny, but I couldn’t laugh.

At one point I was chewing a leaf of Romaine lettuce, while holding the rest of Romaine lettuce in my other hand. That was it. I had to get out of my flat! So I sat on a train, and less than an hour later I was in the centre of springtime edition of Madrid.

I left my flat feeling like the world around me woke up after a long winter, and I was the only part of nature that didn’t get enough sleep. I had to shed my old skin and feel new again, or to be precise, I had to go and buy some nice piece of clothing for myself.

As much as I despise the whole consumerism, capitalism, whatever-ism that’s going on in the world right now, those two new shirts in my wardrobe really  made my day! And also, capitals of countries in general, are full of wonderfully weird people that will inspire you in different ways.

Today there were more transvestites in Madrid than I ever saw anywhere. They were all in their own world, each one for himself. Pink tops, bleached hair. Interesting ways of applying eyeliner.

I liked them.

I saw two really good looking men, sleeping on the sidewalks with their dogs. I guess they were homeless, but to me, they looked so cozy and comfortable, and I thought, well shit, i wish i was sleeping there with one of them. Yes. Loneliness can be very scary.

However, the first thing when I got off the train was to pick up my long overdue cup of coffee and then  happily bounce towards the shopping streets. I got temporarily drowned in a current of marathon runners, that just seemed to have no beginning and no end. Balancing my café con leche above my head, holding my bag and my coat in the other hand, I performed a little running spectacle of my own, as I tried to cross the street in which the marathon took place. I investigated well before jumping in – there was NO other way to make the crossing.

I decided to find the whole thing charming, even though, while I was mentaly mapping my steps across the marathon, there was a man in his fifties, cheering at each and every  runner on that street. He was loud and dramatic, clapping his hands like a sports coach with a very serious expression on his face. “You can do it! Don’t give up! You did so much, don’t give up now! There’s only a little left!” All the runners were ignoring him, without exception, but his persistance and his never-dropping level of enthusiasm astounded me. I guess that’s what we can all turn into if we give up on running ourselves.

It’s a familiar feeling, I know it well myself. When some ridiculous thing, like fear, stops you from doing the things you want to do, and so you end up living your best experiences through somebody else.Or you end up being deadly jealous of them. The way my aunt listens about my travels, half crying from just imagining to travel herself. The way it burns inside my chest when I hear of somebody else’s success.

Those are really pathetic little feelings.  Mere signs of directions in which we should go ourselves. No reason to dwell on it. No reason to clap our hands endlessly at people who don’t even care if we’re there.

Well, that’s it. I’m tired. I didn’t have time to tell you about all the other things I did, families I saw on the train. Mothers with children, almost always without fathers, and when there actually was a father with the family, he would be staring at some young woman’s breasts.

I feel very conservative and dreadfully normal at the end of this day. Will try to mind my own bussiness on my next nervous day.

 

 

Questioning my elevator pitch

I never considered myself to be a person with hobbies. I always had a hard time answering questions which contained that word or any of the synonyms (interests, pastimes, activities). When I was a kid, I was a kid, and I don’t remember too many things. I think I liked reading in winter, and running around the woods in spring. Trying to stay home alone so that I could try on all the nice dresses that didn’t belong to me.

When I was a teenager, I continued reading, started crying, fell in love with music and dead musicians, and with some other real boys who didn’t fall in love with me. I was too busy being sad or furious to indulge in any other free time activity.

When I was old enough to leave, I left, and started doing  things that responsible people did, only I did them badly. That opened doors to new habits like worrying, not really  sleeping and eating twice a week. I tried reading, nearly every day, but could focus on nothing more demanding than Harry Potter. And so I read the whole 7 of them. Or at least 6.

But you can’t really say your hobby is reading. It sounds pathetic, doesn’t it?

In the most recent phase of my life, I became The Volunteer. It started as a one year exotic experience in a foreign country and it developed into this chronic state of never working very hard, but still working every day for free. An outsider might say I live on extended vacation, but an insider (me) knows things are not as easy as they seem.

However, I learned how to have fun for cheap. Knitting, hiking, recycling, thinking about writing and most recently, summoning the balls to write seriously, have all become my official hobbies. For the first time in life, I’m doing things universaly recognizible as ACTIVITIES.

Writing a blog must be a fun way to explore your abilities as a writer, and a useful tool to get a new perspective on life. It is like journaling, people say. Bloggers suggest. Random people encourage. Everything about it sounds so promising.

Honestly, it scares the hell out of me.

But still, I guess this is my elevator pitch. I am excited about writing a blog, excited about the possibility of improving my writing, thinking and blog-making skills (how the hell do you make categories?), and being heard somewhere by somebody. That’s pretty amazing to me.

I think this could be a good way of pushing myself to stay positive, which I really want and need. Hopefully, it’ll work.

the weekend

According to my favorite astrologer, this was a week of facing my relationship with my mother. Or discovering the things I inherited from her, it being DNA or an attitude or a pattern. Ironically, it has been even more than a week since I’ve been trying to reach her. And we still haven’t spoke.

Apart from that, I faced a rather uncomfortable issue of not having enough money to go on a trip that I had planned long time ago. A trip to a beautiful city called Valencia.  My first and rather desperate thought was to call my parents, and ask for the money, since I had already made a promise ot go on the trip, but had unexpected bills to pay right before. But there was no response. I tried calling last minute, and begging for help, but  the only backup system I ever had was unavailable.

After two sad and quiet days of me sulking around in the office and in my flat, I finally gave up the trip. I googled all the advice on “broke and alone for weekend” and came up with a nice list of fun and useful things to do, like cleaning the appartment, finishing the scarf I’ve half knitted, reading a book  and learning new things,  applying for jobs in several countries, and rescuing my house plants. Writing this on Sunday, I have to say, the weekend turned out to be something very very different.

First I thought, it was only going to be a lazy Friday. I bought a bottle of wine and for the millionth time in my not such a long life, I started watching SATC. Probably Season 3, since it has always been my favourite. It was magical. Outside the sun was shining, but I was tipsy and drousy and had the curtains pulled on so I could watch, yet again, other people’s lives that I secretly wish for myself. I watched the series so many times, and still, this was the first time in my life that I cried during nearly every other episode.

I can’t believe I am actually saying this, but giving myself the permission to spend two and a half days drinking wine and crying over a series,  opened a door to emotional healing. The thing I thought existed only in those books I never read.

It made me think of my mother. And my sitting, waiting, wishing for permission and instructions on how to live my life, how to think of my experiences, which ones to call successes and which ones to define as mistakes. My real mother is a woman who probably knows nothing of what’s in my head right now, but the mother in my head controls everything. And I’m an obedient little kid, waiting for approval from an imaginary friend.

 

I can’t say I became smarter or accomplished a lot this weekend. After all, the only tangible results that show after these two and a half days are a sweeped floor, some washed clothes and sore muscles from two evening runs I just had to go for in order to stay sane.  My skin looks radiant from all the antioxidants in that bottle of red wine (or so I like to think) and my head is clearer on at least one thing: I only need approval from myself. Unfortunately, the house plants didn’t catch any of the healing effects.

 

 

p.s. Notes after a run:

REMEMBER TO:

  • Quit smoking
  • Go to a doctor
  • Write seriously
  • Apply for everything
  • And never EVER give up on being yourself.

the story

The last 4 years of my life have been hectic. I’ve been moving from country to country, packing my bags, working, repacking, volunteering, scratching my balls, hesitating, stressing out, having heart-breaks and panic attacks and weird inflammations, worrying about money, crying, dieting and gaining weight.

One day I realized I forgot all the good things that happened to me along the way. The bad habit of dwelling over my own mistakes, left virtually no space and energy for focusing on positive experiences and appreciating the good that had happened. Therefor, I’m embarking on a mission of digging up all the good memories from the past 4 years, as well as trying to find the positive in my every day , very disoriented life.