The Sun – What a Star!

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That burning ball of scorching misery, otherwise known as the Sun, has committed new outrages against planet Earth and its inhabitants. As mercury is touching the 40 degree Celsius mark – which happens to be the average temperature in Hell – the general population is planning to take prompt action against the offender. I think that being the centre of the solar system has gotten into Sun’s big head. Copernicus, you have created a megalomanic monster.

I must have inadvertently insulted some solar deity because I find that this oppressive heat has malevolent intent. I would cry (out of sheer hopelessness), but the arid air has dried up every secret water reserve in my body, and I simply cannot afford the waste. My internal organs have entered into the process of complete internal liquefaction (which renders the saying “to talk of one’s ass” more literal than one would care for). I think hospitals should start issuing free IV bags filled with ice-cream (and I promise to personally supervise the disposal of unclaimed or surplus IV bags – everything for the cause).

This infernal heat made me realize I harbour very strong feelings about water and its derivatives. I like H20 and I like it cold. If I could, I would make passionate love to it all night long. The only problem is that I’ve been consuming such prodigious quantities of it these last few weeks, I’m sure it will double our water bill. It’s a miracle I haven’t turned into an aqua woman or perhaps mermaid (I hear they make a good living). Another fear is that I might just evaporate and leave only a damp spot behind.

Truly, what does a girl have to do to get some rain around here? I have consulted the oracle of all useful and useless knowledge – the internet. Now, the most popular method includes rain dancing. Native Americans sure knew how to moisten things up. Now, there is just a slight problem. Apparently, I would need goat hair, which is particularly tricky since there is no way I’ll go near a goat – they unsettle me. Also, you have to learn steps. Not an option. Everything more complicated than a swirl turn will end in tears for the spectators.

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Photo source: http://www.fbider.com/181102043726/

Evidently, I need a plan B. Well, I was thinking about contacting “Ra”, which is short for the Egyptian solar deity. In ancient Egypt Ra was a big deal. The general consensus of pseudo-historians on several websites that I checked is that Ra pretty much created everything. One of his closest human collaborators, Imhotep, held several important official positions and even starred in The Mummy alongside Rachel Weisz and Brendan Fraser. What a versatile man!

If that weren’t enough, he also made his mark on the world by writing poetry. Many prominent Egyptologists claim he is the author of “Walking on Sunshine” and “Walk like an Egyptian” (do you detect a pattern?). In fact, this is what it’s written in black and white hieroglyphs inside his tomb. Professor Carter, who had first discovered these gems of lyrical expression, was kept silent under the threat of death. (Things one reads about, eh?) If I remember correctly, the exact nature of the threat was that “should he speak, he would soon be sharing sleeping quarters with Tutankhamun”. The irony…

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Comes with the territory, I guess ..

Photo Source: http://www.smartambala.com/funny-mummy-picture/

All things considered, Imhotep seems the perfect mummy for the job. I figure that we can ask him to intervene on our behalf and beg Ra (or any other smug deity that is responsible for this climate inferno) for some good ol’ rain. In exchange for his good will we will offer him and his better half luxurious accommodations in the state-of-the-art pyramid just outside Cairo.  How could anyone refuse?

Therefore, if you and your family experience a significant drop in temperatures, you’ll know who to thank.

The Bard and his Art

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Before Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy there were Beatrice and Benedick and before Pride and Prejudice there was Much Ado About Nothing. It’s my favourite Shakespearean comedy and one of the finest examples of courting every portrayed. Not for me the verbal chastity of Ophelia or the demure quietness of Violet. No indeed. I’m all the mischievous outspokenness that is Beatrice. I stand in awe of her sharp raillery and unabated cheerfulness. She is one cool lady.

 I suffer from a severe case of friend crush. I ache to ask her over for tea and biscuits every day. She exudes a certain je ne sais quoi. The comical intensity of verbal exchanges between her and Benedick is unprecedented. I enjoy their scenes so much, namely because sparks are flying like swallows during mating season. The thing is that the sly cad had toyed with her feelings in the past, so Beatrice reserves herself the right to plague him to death, which is nothing less than he (or any other unscrupulous swindler) deserves.

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Photo Source: http://felicitousramblings.blogspot.com/2012/03/much-ado.html

The tension is sustained by their incessant verbal sparring. They’re equals, although I would give Beatrice the edge for her (almost excessive) linguistic creativity. Oh, how she taxes the poor man. It’s delightful. The sheer confluence of biting sarcasm, wilful comments and mordant wit leaves me in semantic raptures.

 BEATRICE :  I wonder that you will still be talking, Signior Benedick: nobody marks you.

BENEDICK :What, my dear Lady Disdain! are you yet living?

BEATRICE:Is it possible disdain should die while she hath such meet food to feed it as Signior Benedick? Courtesy itself must convert to disdain, if you come in her presence.

BENEDICK : Then is courtesy a turncoat. But it is certain I am loved of all ladies, only you excepted: and I would I could find in my heart that I had not a hard heart; for, truly, I love none.

BEATRICE : A dear happiness to women: they would else have been troubled with a pernicious suitor. I thank God and my cold blood, I am of your humour for that: I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me.

BENEDICK : God keep your ladyship still in that mind! so some gentleman or other shall ‘scape a predestinate scratched face.

BEATRICE : Scratching could not make it worse, and ’twere such a face as yours were.

BENEDICK : Well, you are a rare parrot-teacher.

BEATRICE: A bird of my tongue is better than a beast of yours.

 I think I’ve just reached a lexical nirvana.  I need a moment to collect myself.

I find theirs the perfect courtship, I particularly like the way the entire scheme is brought about. I don’t set much store by love potions, so you see I’m not up for Puck or some other male fairy spiking a girl’s drink with the renaissance variety of a rape-drug. Luckily, our B &B power couple run with a completely different crowd. Their friends are not blind to their chemistry. In fact, they decide to speed things up by tricking the love birds  into believing that they are lovesick for one another. How quickly we are prepared to believe what pleases us.

Basically, plot-wise this is a precursor of modern rom-coms, the difference being that the writing here is actually good (I can see a posthumous Tony nomination coming old Will’s way). As in most of his comedies, Shakespeare provides a foil couple to our two protagonists. In our play this honour belongs to his-and-her’s best friends. The girl is Beatrice’s cousin Hero (a strange name for a girl, I know!) and the boy is Claudius, Benedick’s soldier buddy. These two hit it off from the start, but as usual the playwright prodigy satirizes love at first sight and exposes it as a common romantic trope. He does the same thing in The Taming of the Shrew and in Twelfth Night, which leads me to believe that Shakespeare didn’t believe in first impressions either (wise man that he was).

hhPhoto source: http://www.jeremypresley.com/2011/04/love-at-first-sight.html

In fact, the recurring theme (and possibly, moral) of this comedy, if you care to find it, is that looks can be deceiving. The play makes this clear on several levels: Hero is not really the heroine (she didn’t commit any indiscretions) and sexual attraction should not be confused with true love. Feelings and characters are all ultimately unmasked. Was the Bard trying to get a message across?

  

League of Intrepid Scribbling Talents aka LIST Aficionados

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Hark, the list fanatics of the world! Our time is nigh. The days when list-writing carried a stigma are over, nowadays all the cool kids are doing it. It’s cheap, it’s easy (Koko the gorilla could probably do it) and it’s highly entertaining. Also, it’s something you can do on your own without having to refer to the proverbial wisdom of your immediate ancestors. I am pleased to inform you that being in a relationship is not a requirement (these days so many things are), nor is the psychological instability (although, it helps). It’s just you and your felt-tip pen (the one that has always been there for you when you had to write nasty things about the cute waiter whom you secretly fancied even though he was totally wrong for you and who didn’t even offer to ask you for your phone number for the sake of politeness when you so clearly showed your eager interest in him by patronizing his employer’s establishment three times in one week and even forgot various personal articles (like your mobile phone, your library card and your house keys – making sure he could contact you personally) in the booth – don’t judge me …). My point is, lists can be and , indeed, are useful.

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Photo source: http://www.acraftyaffair.co.uk/the-bright-side-notebook—evil-plans-and-stuff-580-p.asp

Despite the semi-mocking tone in the introductory paragraph, I, in fact, believe that list-making is very conducive towards enhancing one’s performance levels. I will not deny that this particular year was not my best, and I’m blaming the lack of lists in my life for it. You see, I love making lists – I always have. It’s something I was born with, much like my Yeti feet. They are great (the lists I mean, not the curious shape of my pedal extremities) for a multitude of sensible reasons. For example, they help one to organize one’s thoughts. Even the great Hercule Poirot, notre bon ami, had recurred to this technique time and again (see, how I cleverly forced an Agatha Christie comparison into the text?).

 Also, I love the potential productivity that the idea of a list conveys. Naturally, I never get to tick off all the items I put on a list, but it’s the thought that counts (the obligatory lie one must tell oneself before getting crushed under the imaginary weight of self-reproaches and comfort food) or so says the worn-out slogan of every support group in existence. The great news is that there is a plethora of lists to choose from. One must naturally distinguish between serious list that would leave even people that don’t know you in awe (e.g. lists of actors you will eventually marry and then divorce or lists of punishments you want to inflict on your friends for tricking you into seeing any of the three Hangover movies) and lists that you make when you’re feeling frivolous (lists of nine letter words of Greek origin or, if you’re feeling naughty, words with Germanic affixes).

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Photo Source: http://kootation.com/funny-quotes-dear-karma-i-have-a-list-of-people-you-missed-my.html

However, my favourite type of a list is a book list. My Serotonin levels rise at the very sight of one. There are 3 book lists in my top drawer at every given time. I simply love perusing through them. I grant you, sometimes it’s about as useful as reading the ingredients on the back of a flower fertilizer, but it has the redeeming quality of calming one’s mind. It really does. Often, when I don’t feel like doing anything too mentally strenuous, I will go read a book list. Not every list will do, mind you. I’m a list snob (of the worst kind, really) and will accept only those that have been approved by professionals or people who share my impeccable taste.

 Even though I go into a conniption fit whenever I see a poorly-written book list, I’ve learned to control my indignation in front of the perpetrators of such atrocities and I have even learned to fight back by writing my proper book lists  →  epitome of everything that is beautiful in this world (no point being modest about it). Sometimes it’s as intellectually satisfying as actually reading the books because you see, personalized book lists are like chocolate muffins, they just don’t disappoint.

Of course, hiding behind every list-writing enthusiast is a pathological control freak. We are incapable of acting spontaneously and enjoying ourselves (unless we write that ON the list). I guess this must be connected with some inner insecurities which only extensive therapy can cure.  Be that as it may, lists are simply wonderful. They’re full of promises of exciting things to come. Sometimes, that is just what you need.

Whodunit: The Case of the Murdered Metabolism

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The summer holidays… The blessed time when skinny people stroll around in last year’s underwear and sport semi-promiscuous footwear while I get to be the one dressed like a fountain. Even though I’m usually quite upbeat on the subject of historic landmarks, the sad truth is that sharing certain physical traits with them doesn’t encourage social interaction and only earns you the bad sort of attention. I have already hinted at my ability to put on pounds quicker than a pod of whales during plankton season, which wouldn’t be that BIG of an issue were I some sort of a funding institution. What I’m trying to say is that I seriously hate people with black holes for stomachs. They should end up in the 9th circle of hell together with those who deny the existence of global warming and the person that invented polenta. Why oh why can’t I be one of them?!

 During the last 15 years I’ve been on so many diets I forgot that eating isn’t supposed to seem like a daily torture routine. I sometimes wonder what it must feel like to be unhindered by the debilitating awareness of the collective calorie intake of your every meal. Or to eat something because you want to and not spend an entire week in a silent mental panic for having indulged in a meal that had you mixing carbohydrates and  proteins. The horror.

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Photo Source: http://lolweightloss.tumblr.com/

My eating nightmares date back to when my grandmother was still alive, some 18-20 years ago. Now, she was a woman with very outdated views in general, particularly in regards to nutrition. She was a firm believer in big meals and had somewhat baroque notions about eating – the more, the better.  Therefore, for 5 years, every single meal I ate had the feel of the “last supper” about it. I felt like the male lead in Hansel and Gretel. After all these years, I’m still perplexed as to the motive behind this food torture. Did she want to eat me or was she simply conducting a top secret experiment for the Soviet government that sought to determine how to turn children into potatoes? I honestly can’t tell.

 During meals, whenever I took a breath between mouthfuls to voice an objection, she stuffed another footlong sandwich (that would have sustained a family in Africa for a week) into my mouth and thus silenced all the feeble opposition I had the strength to muster at the time. She then proceeded to explain in an authoritative voice not unlike that of Miss Trunchbull’s  the reason why six year-old girls should devour the same amount of food as soldiers during army training. Apparently, because boys like big healthy girls. No, no they don’t.

 Even though the six-year-old in me still begs me to call social services, I suppose it would be unfair to say that reasons that motivated my grandmother’s actions were purely evil. After all, I’ve decided to look on the positive side of a food regime that made me guzzle my way to every form of eating disorder and made me a target for all types of emotional abuse in elementary school. I mean, confidence and a positive self-image are overrated anyway.

 Over the years I have tried to shed pounds and in the beginning it was a blooming venture. After all, who wouldn’t thrive on a diet of bird seeds and green tea that tasted like toilet water? The important thing is that it paid off and for about a year and a half I actually had the body of a teenage supermodel (well, not far from it anyway). Oh, how I basked in the sickly post-anorexic glow of a successful diet. I still remember with fondness those days of starvation, uncontrolled shaking and fainting fits. Things were way simpler back then. Sometimes at night I still cry over all the clothes that I won’t be able to fit into anymore. You know, the ones that got away.

 I’ve tried to go back and recapture this magical time of undernourishment and morning sickness, but sadly to no avail. I’ve contracted the curse of Yo-Yo dieting. It is the overweight woman’s version of a Sisyphean task. You work so hard to drop those ten pounds around your waist and just as you see yourself reaching the top the earth moves in the wrong way and you find yourself plummeting to a carbohydrate hell.

You cannot ever leave this vicious cycle of suffering, because each time you lose a pound, you gain three – exactly like in the Hydra myth. Isn’t it wonderful how ancient myths lend themselves to moronic misreadings? Yo Hercules, what was your secret? Help a schizophrenic sister in need. I’m really tired of going into department stores and asking sales people whether they have anything in elephant size. It’s discouraging especially since I know the kind of fate that awaits me. We all seem to realize what happens to big animals. Remember dinosaurs? My point exactly.

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Photo source: http://kootation.com/funny-diet-pictures.html

Also, why is it that one’s friends and family always choose to throw food orgies whenever one is on a diet? It is almost as though they got adrenaline kicks from seeing you slobbering over mountains of home-made pastry and avoiding the mini-appetizers section like the plague. Of course, the unsupportive bastards then proceed to shove every piece of fried bread-crumb in your face to observe the nervous twitching in your right eye. The entire mispocha seems to be mocking you and your “silly” diet. Here’s a sample of a polite exchange.

Aunt Louisa: So Mojca darling, are you enjoying not-eating at your birthday party?

Me: Yes Aunt Louisa, I am thrilled to be forcing down a low-fat drink that tastes like cow’s urinary infection while others are giving mouth-to-mouth breathing to rainbow ice cream. Thank you for asking.

Aunt Louisa: I’m glad to hear it, dear. As long as you are enjoying yourself.

Me: Of course, Aunt Louisa. You know how I delight in saying no to delicious food and pretending I don’t want to drown you and your offspring in my mom’s salad dressing.

Aunt Louisa: Indeed? What a droll idea.

Me: Not as droll as throwing the bowl of the expired cat vomit you bought yesterday at the supermarket (and had the nerve to bring it as a gift) in your face.

Aunt Louisa: How charming. Lovely to have had this chat.

Me: I agree, it was only an iota better than undergoing an ovary removal surgery without an anesthetic in an underground Ukrainian facility run by a former poultry farmer who doesn’t wash his hands on principle.

That’s me on my best behaviour by the way. As long as the edacious greed doesn’t get the better of me, I am able to conduct fairly civilised discussions with people, provided that they do not act like flibbertigibbet morons and mention I have fine birthing hips (honestly, what an insensitive dimwit you have to be to say that to a person one week before prom night?). Before I misrepresent another well-beloved myth (tantalising as it may sound), I really should go and have half of a banana for dinner. Don’t you just envy me?

Bon appetit.

The Great Tennis TOuRnaMENT: missing BALLS

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Throughout the years, I have emphasized ever so subtly my deep-seated dislike of sports. I have already made a full exposé on this topic, but what I left out was that occasionally even I, Mojca Pokrajculja, the sports hater per excellence, will succumb to enthusiastic displays of unwholesome frenzy towards athletic pursuits. In other words, it’s tennis season. In case you didn’t make the official page of Roland Garros your homepage during the last two weeks, or if your internet server has been down since Saturday, you might not know that History was made this weekend. First of all Serena won her staggering 31st Grand Slam Title (I was actually rooting for Sharapova, but Serena is just unbeatable) and then there was the Sunday men’s singles finale when a certain someone of Spanish descent won his eight Roland Garros title. I am constantly amazed at Nadal’s ability to make virtually impossible shots from difficult positions. Certain players simply defy the laws of gravity.

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Photo source: REUTERS, http://www.europe1.fr/Sport/Multisports/Articles/A-Nadal-la-bataille-1544103/

Even though the entire post could be easily made into an ode dedicated to the Majorcan force-of nature that is Rafael Nadal, I should stick to my agenda. Indeed, my plan was to talk about the final act of the tournament, but not in an annoyingly analyzing way (although I could probably pull that off as well). I watch Roland Garros almost every year. I’ve been a great Rafa fan for the last 8 years and for me this tournament represents the annual sports catharsis. For some inexplicable reason I get very invested with the players I like. Therefore the semi-final match between Nadal and Djokovic was almost torture to watch (but in a good way). It had more ups and downs than Mickey Rourke’s acting career. For Djokovic’s fans it was probably a tragedy in 5 sets. They’ll get over it. Anyway, my goal is not to discuss the virtuoso shots, the double faults or the match highlights (although, they are all available on youtube in HD – so go crazy, I know I have). What was not so glorious was all the drama, and if you watched the match, you know what I’m talking about.

Near the end of the second set the match was interrupted by a group of homophobic bigots. They were standing in the back row holding banners with abusive content. What has this to do with tennis, you ask? Nothing, and that is exactly the point. Members of an anti-gay group simply decided that the Sunday Grand Slam final was the appropriate time and place to promulgate their narrow views on humanity. Let me explain. Some weeks ago, France passed a law sanctioning the same-sex marriage; a fact that did solicit a standing ovation from me, but that wasn’t so well received by all French citizens. Anyway, people being people, some of them got a silly idea into their heads that homosexual relationships are wrong and sinful. Crazy, I know. Be it as it may, they decided to voice their displeasure during  Nadal and Ferrer’s confrontation. Regardless of how one feels about their “cause”, sporting events are not platforms for mal-adjusted individuals to spread such verbal filth. It is not in the spirit of sportsmanship.

Eventually, the crowd booed them out (as they should) and they were asked to leave the scene. Just when things were getting back on track, another incident took place. This time a bare-chested man whom I dubbed the Idiot in a Plastic Mask (all copyrights reserved) wielding a torch in his right hand burst onto the central court to make a similar anti-gay statement. It was a scary moment. He seemed to have come out of nowhere and he appeared to be moving towards Nadal. Luckily, the security guard tackled him fairly quickly (talking about man on man action, ironically enough) and eventually he was removed from the court, but it took another minute or so for the smoke to literally blow over. I promised myself to stay above name-calling, but such an act of cowardice could only come from a beslobbering boil-brained lout (thank you Shakespeare Insult Kit). He put in danger not only the lives of the players, but also those of the spectators. This kind of behaviour has no place on a tennis or any other kind of court.

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Photo Source: http://www.lalsace.fr/actualite/2013/06/09/des-anti-mariage-gay-perturbent-la-finale-de-roland-garros-12-interpellations

I really hope that the individual in question will be legally persecuted. It is a shame that sporting events must be polluted by such primitive provocations. These people have no respect for the game at all. To think that they spend hundreds of Euros to get the tickets just so that they could cause uproar during the match is ridiculous. I mean, there were people willing to prostitute themselves for those seats, or so I hear. In words of a randomly picked tennis enthusiast who commented on this act of cave-man mentality, “C’était lamentable.” Yes, Mr. Anonymous Commentator, it was. I only hope interruptions of this kind won’t become a regular feature of sporting events. It would be a real pity, wouldn’t it?

My Life: Into Darkness (special edition)

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It’s been a while. No, I have not been abducted by an adorable pointy-eared Vulcan (fingers crossed, though) nor have I forgotten my WordPress password (well, it depends on how you interpret the term “forgotten”. Personally, I favour the open-minded approach that involves resetting the password twice in a row because you misspelled it. It happens to a lot of people, so wipe that sardonic smirk off your face, Reader.). I have been really busy with school. Actually, as far as my parents are concerned, I’m working on my thesis right now. I chose not to tell I’m writing for a blog (of whose existence they are blissfully unaware) so as not to make them even more disappointed in me than they already are. You know, I think it’s hard for parents to accept their child is a socially unadept numskull, but after a lifetime of scoring poor results on various aptitude tests, they can’t pretend that they didn’t see it coming. However, it’s sunny in Paris, so all is well with the world. I ignore the source of such panglossian optimism in the face of bleak future, although an empty box of double stuffed Oroes might provide an invaluable insight into my seemingly vacant mind.

In truth, hiding behind this façade of carefree buoyancy is an anxiety-riddled mind. I’m finishing my studies and like the majority of my generation (or at least that is the lie that I keep telling myself) I’m currently in the process of re-evaluating my entire existence. It is all very disagreeable. For a long-time I knew exactly what I wanted to become – a wisecrack feminist with attitude, but I’ve asked around and apparently there are no vacancies for this particular job at the moment. So much for that dream. However, if you know anyone who’s looking to hire a person whose resumé is as varied as the daily diet of a supermodel, please, let me know. All of a sudden I find myself facing the harsh realities of life. What city should I move to? Would it be wise to continue my studies? Is one supposed to eat apples before or after breakfast? All these are issues that won’t let me sleep at night. I’m at a crossroads and instead of excellent career prospects, all I see is warning signs. Stop! Severe Unemployment ahead, or Careful, Begging is right around the corner and, of course, my personal favourite: Beware of having hopes and dreams! High Risk of failure.

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Source: http://www.someecards.com/usercards/viewcard/MjAxMy0wZjBjN2QyNGRkMTJhMDY3

I’m serious. Everywhere I go these days, there’s only talk about recession, redundancies and the rapacity of rotten CEOs. To be honest, it’s a wonder I’m not already on antidepressants. Thanks to news programmes on every second-rate network, we get to hear about the economic calamities 24/7. Believe me, I’m not denigrating people who listen to the depression generating  media. I simply choose not to spoil MY days with reports of impending financial doom (it seems we haven’t hit the bottom yet). Therefore, my last visit to the bank besides leaving me financially empty also left me feeling emotionally distressed. I was patiently waiting in line to deposit a dishearteningly small amount of money on my bank account when a senior citizen engaged me in conversation.

 In my experience, people jump to the occasion to offer advice. Well, on a Wednesday morning at eight o’clock I was the only person under the age of retirement to wait in line at the local bank. My presence caused quite a stir among the bank’s regular clientele. One dapper gentleman, in particular, found my being there peculiar. He showed an interest in my studies (a sign of good breeding) and after a few polite inquiries I was made privy to his personal philosophy (a sign of bad breeding). I particularly enjoyed the part where he over-emphasized, or so I thought, the utter unemployability of teachers. This was merely a follow-up to his remark about me never finding a job. His words really got me thinking and I’ve decided that from now on, I will only be hitting the bank just before closing time. I have grown used to demoralizing encounters with my relatives (they almost always give me fair warning), but how was I to anticipate a rhetorical ambush with dyslogistic intent at the break of dawn? Not cool. I guess that is just another crippling aspect of the ubiquitous Stranger Danger rule.

 I am aware of my proclivity to exaggerate facts and events, but this encounter really had quite a cataclysmic effect on my well-being. To be told by a stranger with an arguably objective viewpoint that 5 years of continuous examination and studying was pointless can be a disconcerting experience even for the super smart. I don’t know about others, but apart from injuring myself in creative ways (sorry, but I call that a skill) I have no talents worth mentioning. My options are limited. I know about the outrageously misleading initiative behind you-can-be-whatever-you-want speech. Despite the fact that it has a very demulcent effect on pre-school children, this belief system is completely bonkers. For countless reasons having to do with the genetic wheel of fortune and one’s social and cultural environment, not everyone can become an astrophysicist or Australia’s next top model. It doesn’t matter what others say, sometimes you just cannot make it work.

 college-students-unpaid-internship-jobs-graduation-ecards-someecardsSource: http://www.happilycynical.com/2012/10/finally-formerly-broke-j-school-student.html

Then, there is the ruthless competition. Is it just me or are the universities spewing out young bright students? It’s so annoying, right? The only reason they’re so exceptional (apart from the enormous talent and the hard work yadda yadda yadda) is because there are mediocre people like you and me. But does anyone ever think of that? No… Therefore, in behalf of all the mediocre individuals in the world, I demand an acknowledgement of our contribution to progress from the academic community. We matter. Remember that the next time you will get turned down on a job interview – and you thought I wouldn’t find the silver lining.

 Even though this post won’t solve anything, it feels nice to spew abusive drivel every one in a while.

Until my next rant “Live long and prosper”.

Nonsense and Insensibility

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Friday, March 1, 1813

 Dearest Jane,

Too much time has passed since I had the pleasure to hear from you last. Is your family in good health? What shocking news have you to relate? Please, favour me with another of your tales of jilted lovers and cuckolds. I must be entertained. It is very taxing to have to be confined to one’s own lodgings all the time with no one but Aunt Margaret for company. The horrid snow has kept us inside for the better part of six weeks. The solitary situation of our little cottage discourages any visitors and forces us to endure a life of complete social reclusion. As a result, my Aunt has grown very fidgety and ill-tempered. Last night she caught me reading Mr Byron’s verse. Apparently, it was very unbecoming of me to sully my spirit with musings of such a vulgar mind. How she provokes me with her nonsense! For a moment Jane, I was not the mistress of myself and I felt in danger of losing my self-possession. Another trial for my poor nerves.

6a00d8341c52c453ef00e54f45f58f8833-640wiPhoto source: http://cynicalmother.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/20120830-094312.jpg

Naturally, Aunt took away the book and offered several ill-disguised comments about the imprudent ways of young ladies of four-and-twenty. She finished the lecture by remarking that I have always been an impressionable child and will certainly come to a bad end. She then informed me that we will be going to the Vicarage in the evening to share a pleasant supper with Mr. and Mrs. Albert Collins and their youngest daughter. Jane, you know how I hate to be hard on any of our sex, but by some stroke of personal misfortune, Mr. Collins became eternally bound to the silliest woman in the country. She possesses little beauty, even less wit and hardly any manners.

As for Fanny Collins (the elder Miss Collins went to London for the season to be observed by every eligible gentleman with at least three thousand a year), she has recently returned from a boarding school with all the usual accomplishments. In her mother’s words she draws beautifully, sings like an angel and plays like a true proficient. My dear, the lady seems perfection itself. I would never have suspected young Fanny of withholding such artistic talents. Indeed, I would dare to suggest that nobody, having known Fanny as a young girl, would ever have supposed her to become the object of such universal praise. I am led to assume that she only displays this wide array of talents when the company is equally excellent of being able to properly appreciate them. I spent half an hour with the dear girl and I confess of not being particularly overpowered by her conversation.

When I had already resigned myself to spend the evening sedately contemplating the eccentric floral pattern on Miss Collins’s sleeves, the dinner was interrupted by the arrival of a young gentleman by the name of Mr. Edgeworth. I knew him to be the nephew of Lady Collins and was predisposed to believe he would posses as much personal charm as his aunt and cousin. Unfortunately, he proved himself to be entirely agreeable in person and in spirit. This is all very vexing for I had decided to dislike him and now I am prevented. Nor is he lacking in judgment or good sense for his manners are generally thought pleasing while his countenance expresses openness and good humour. I am compelled to admit that the change of dinner companions did produce a very desirable effect on my spirits. This being so, I shall not loose hope of one day meeting lady Collins’s disagreeable relations.

After assiduous inquiries (Aunt Margaret kept steering the conversation towards religion) , I learned that he gains his bread as a tutor at a boarding school for young gentlemen and has great expectations of being made the Chief Teacher soon. Lady Collins finds him a very suitable match for her daughter and I have reason to believe that Mr. Collins looks upon the match with a favourable eye as well. Poor Mr. Edgworth, it would seem he has no say in the matter. I simply cannot imagine him married to Fanny. At dinner I must have betrayed some feelings of fondness for him, because during tea, Lady Collins took special pains to persuade me that ever since the young Miss Collins and Mr. Edgeworth had been infants, there has existed a great attachment between them. However, I think that Mr. Edgworth senses there is some mischief afoot and I observed with pleasure that despite Lady Collins’ indefatigable efforts to bring the young people together, he did his best to appear unattached. The woman has not yet mastered the art of subtlety.

I had to moderate my inquisitive spirit in order to calmly enquire after his plans for the term of his stay here. He appears to have a large acquaintance in Dullchester and intends to avail himself of the advantages that this shall bring. In any case, he seems very anxious to spend as little time at the Vicarage as possible without appearing utterly devoid of civility. In turn, I remarked that I felt the lack of society keenly, especially since everybody had gone to London for the season. He then put himself at my disposal and solicited the pleasure of my company for the next day. I found myself unable to refuse his generous offer. A very bold move on my part, I am sure. Aunt Margaret would have certainly disapproved if she had suspected what sentiments prompted me to give such a speedy consent. You know it is not in my nature to doubt the intentions of an amiable young man, especially when he should pay me the compliment of preferring my company to that of others.

The rest of the evening was spent in contemplation of a passage from the Bible which our host was gracious enough to bestow on our tired spirits. Fortunately, I have managed to overcome my natural repulsion for religious readings and appeared only slightly out of spirits. I do pity Mr. Collins for Nature did not bless him with a charismatic personality.

This is all the news I have the leisure to communicate to you at present and I hope you will not find my letter too dull. You must not expect anything better from a creature capable of such moral depravity.

Yours affectionately,

M.P.

Romantic Pollution: Love is in the Air, Part 2

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In part 1 I made quite a strong case against the sending of Valentine’s Day cards. If my unbiased reasoning didn’t persuade you, you’re a lost cause anyway, but I will nonetheless take the liberty of pointing out that the generic Valentine’s Day cards are killing trees. Are you absolutely sure that you will be able to live with yourselves if you realize that you are responsible for the Valentine’s Day Tree Massacre? Now, I would hate to influence you in any way; however, you’re invited to think extensively about your carbon footprint.

sad_singles_awareness_day_card-p137973152203291541envwk_216

Photo source: http://www.zazzle.co.uk/singles+against+valentines+day+cards

Now that I have provided you with a sound excuse for forgetting to send a card (- My pleasure), let us go back to a time when men didn’t have to buy chocolate or flowers and women pretended to be OK with that. So, many years ago, in a place that we now call Rome, there was a festival called Lupercalia.

As far as I can remember, February has always been associated with emotional and bodily cleansing (even in ancient Rome). Lupercalia happened to be one of the most important festivals of the period. Symbolically, it was similar to modern Lent, but since this was pre-Christian era we describe these customs as savage and uncouth. Priests and ordinary folk gathered at the place where the power duo Romulus and Remus were said to have been found by their adoptive mother the she-wolf (btw, “lupus” is Latin for “wolf”, therefore Lupercalia …). Animal sacrifice was an essential part of this event. The unlucky mammal chosen for the job was either a goat or a dog (whichever was easier to come by in those days). After the nasty part was over, they used the blood to smear the foreheads of the desirable men (you’ll soon see why). The other distinguishing feature was full frontal nudity. Let me elaborate.

shewolf

Photo source: http://www.timelessmyths.com/classical/rome.html

Dashing young Romans with eye-popping abdominals had to take off all of their clothes in order to move freely around the gathered congregation. You know how clothes like to get in the way of running around and gallivanting … However, before the athletic section of the evening began, the young gentlemen had to fortify themselves by eating and drinking to their heart’s content (and their stomach’s capacity). Then, unhindered by their under-garments, they each grabbed a strip of goat skin (they couldn’t let it go to waste, could they?) and hit married women with it.

Yes ladies, I realize that this sounds like a textbook example of domestic violence, but let me assure you that it was not so. In those long-forgotten days, women were willing to expose themselves to a slight whipping on the back every once in a while. On February 15 of each calendar year, women received a ceremonial lashing in order to ensure their fertility. You get the picture: man hits woman with a phallic-shaped object, woman starts to bleed and nine months later she is in the throes of childbirth. It represented “symbolic penetration” because men were not stupid enough to actually allow the vigorous youth to perform the marital duties for them. Just think of it as the old-fashioned equivalent of the pharmaceutical industry.

A fun fact. It seems that not every young man could become one of the venerable Luperci. The priest eliminated from the pageant all bearded men. It seems that the individuals in question were found irresistible because of it. How times have changed! Today men are discouraged from growing facial hear and I think it’s for the best. We shave, you shave. That’s the deal.

Well, so much for the Romans. Now, as the suck-face fest of 2013 is rapidly approaching, I only have some last-minute words of wisdom to impart to all love birds. Those of you who still haven’t found the perfect gift don’t panic (it’s bad for the heart) and for heaven’s sake don’t go buying some silly thing like a 12 pound teddy bear. It might have been cute when you were seven, but anyone above the mental age of 12 should possess sufficient amount of good sense to avoid the toy-section of department stores (on Valentine’s day).

One last thing, last year I remember not getting any flowers or chocolate delivered to my home. It almost made me think that this was intentional. I’m certain there had to have been a mix-up at the post office. Fortunately, I’m not a person to give up and throw in the towel at the first difficulty. Therefore, I’ve decided that this year all persons wishing to prove their burning passion for me (I know you’re out there), can do it in a very organized way. Just follow the instructions at the bottom of the page. Remember, absolutely anyone can join this terrific cause.

Goodnight and Happy Valentine’s Day. May Love be ever in your favour.

Instructions:

Ground rules:

1. Will not except the following: flowers (too cheesy), chocolate (the exam period has not been particularly kind to my figure).

2. Cards are out of the question – didn’t you read the post?!

3. However, I might give my heart away for a good book. For further information you can contact me via telepathy.

4. Personal dedication: Selma G. you’re a dear and I love you to bits. Here’s to friendship!

Romantic Pollution: Love is in the air, Part 1

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There are 256 shades of red. I think this week I managed to see every single one of them. I suppose all shopkeepers must believe that without the red colour extravaganza flashing at innocent passers-by the world would collectively forget the emotional whirlpool in the middle of February. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day, but that is no excuse for stores to sell exclusively heart-shaped candy containing cheesy verse (that’s right kraft foods, I’m talking to you). Really, why in Venus’s name is that necessary? If I want to stuff my face with chocolate pralines, I don’t need to hear some cliché line about “tender pleasures from the bottom of the heart”. I would much more appreciate a random fact about climate change. For example: “While you’re deciding whether to buy this chocolate or not, the Amazonian Rainforest is being destroyed. Therefore, by the chocolate and go save the world.” I offer this slogan for free. You’re welcome.

Red-Hair-Shades-Light-Red-Hair-Color-Dark-Red-Hair-Color

Photo source: http://advancedhairstyle.com/hair-style/shades-of-red-hair-color.html

Romantic pollution is a problem, but more about this anon. What I really wanted to focus my attention on is the rich lore surrounding Valentine’s Day. As usual, the holidays sometimes loose some of their meaning if we forget the centuries of rich tradition behind them. For this reason alone, I decided to offer a short walk down History Lane and take a peak at some familiar myths surrounding the festival of romantic love.

For example, did you know that the original Valentine was a martyr? Well, now you do. Indeed, he was a poor romantic soul who could not suffer to see true lovers separated and since the course of true love never did run smooth, it so happened that some powerful man (let’s call him Emperor Claudius) was against love and wanted to keep couples from living happily ever after. Very unfairy-tale like. Ok, maybe I slightly misinterpreted history, but the fact is that some soldiers weren’t allowed to marry in order to concentrate on more important things in life like carousing, raping and pilfering. We wouldn’t want that qualities in men to disappear just because having a family could teach them empathy. Just imagine what other soldiers would think.

The point remains that in some regiments marriage was prohibited. As mentioned above, the decision was made by an emperor who must have thought that babies come from Ciconia Ciconia (aka the white stork) and was probably a man whore himself. In any case, Valentinus wouldn’t have this, so he married the lucky doves in secret. Unfortunately, there is always some bitter person who has been left at the altar and that miserable git denounced Valentinus to the emperor. The poor creature then died a gruesome death (a moment of silence, if you please).  In honour of this occasion, I’m being made a martyr as well. On February 14, while lovers all over the world will stare in each other’s eyes and exchange tender vows of eternal affection (with Two Cellos (cover) version of With or Without You playing in the background), I will be behind close doors writing about the cultural and political impact of religious quarrels on 17th century French literature. And after the exam, I’ll get to go home to revise for another exam. It feels as if my wildest romantic fantasies are finally coming true.

However, let us not be completely pessimistic about the immediate future. In order to cheer up, I think we should hear another slightly made-up legend about our brave Valentinus. Where did I finish? Oh yes, he died, but before that he managed to give rise to yet another Valentine’s Day tradition, namely the famous Valentine’s Day card. They might have imprisoned him and threatened to end his life, but he kept his spirits high. Even during his imprisonment, he kept busy. The story goes that he healed the turnkey’s daughter and befriended her, although not necessarily in that order. So, when he felt Death’s cruel touch approaching, he sent her a card to thank her for her friendship and he signed it “Your Valentine”. Truly, the man was a saint.

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Photo source: http://www.dumpaday.com/random-pictures/funny-pictures/funny-pictures-of-the-day-51-pics/attachment/funny-valentines-day-card/

As for myself, I don’t believe in writing cards for Valentine’s Day – I mean, I don’t want any written evidence of a long-forgotten crush come haunting me some day. Sure, it’s not as compromising as nude photos (seriously people, you really thought they wouldn’t get discovered?!), but it’s a terrible burden anyway. I cannot forget that scene from Harry Potter where Ginny sends him a Valentine’s Day card that belches out some atrociously maudlin song (this is the wizard world after all – if cars can fly, cards can sing). Why people invite such shame on themselves I will never know. There is not a Memory Charm strong enough to efface that kind of humiliation. I remember blushing for her and for Harry.

In case you don’t find Harry Potter legitimate literature, I have another example that proves my point and it’s from Shakespeare. Do you by any chance remember the unlikeable Malvolio from Twelfth Night? He also received/found a note that he decided was addressed to him. It might not have been a Valentine’s Day card per se, but it was certainly written in that anonymous spirit (and sent with malevolent intent). Of course, the guy had his faults, but I think what Maria did was cruel. Even though the text itself doesn’t give exactly this impression, I remember watching the 1996 film version where I really sympathised with the character. I mean one should never play with other people’s sentiments, no matter how stupid the reason. Making Malvolio believe that Olivia was in love with him was almost too painful to watch. If any low-life nitwit ever dares to do that to me, I reserve myself the right to remodel his face. There is a limit to humour. In my case, it is when retribution engenders brutal physical violence.

To be continued …

And the Award for the Most Hysteric Reaction goes to …

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The moment YOU have all been waiting for has finally come. On January 27, I’ve been nominated for Liebster Blog Award by two different bloggers (talking about coincidences) and I didn’t even have to use the Force. The two individuals obviously possess a superior sense of judgement and can appreciate great literature when they see it. Also, they’re both terrific bloggers. Without further ado, I would like to introduce you to deepsspace and supernova, whose blogger names confirm my private belief that all men secretly want to be space versions of James Bond. As much as I would love to give vent to all gender-stipulated stereotypes, I don’t think the time has come for me to pour my vitriolic criticism on others. Therefore, before I trick myself into any more digressions and get booed from this blog portal forever, I’m gonna enjoy my 300 secunds of fame.

As I understand the rules are the following:

When you receive the award, you post 11 random facts about yourself and answer 11 questions from the person who nominated you. You pass the award onto 11 other blogs, tell them you nominated them, and ask them 11 questions. You are not allowed to nominate the blog who nominated you.

I am ready to comply with all the requirements. However, since I got nominated by two bloggers (a fact you might see me mention time and again), I’ve decided to answer a couple of questions from each. Naturally, I chose the questions that embarrass me the least and do not make me appear as a total idiot (I guess that’s for you to decide, but I beg to you to be merciful – a woman’s ego is a fragile thing).

But, first 11 things you’ve always wanted to know about me, but were too shy to ask.

1. I kept believing that my acceptance letter to Hogwarts would arrive until the day I started high school. Why didn’t it Dumbledore? WHY?!!!

2. I think university PE classes are the most perfected form of torture. – Looking like an overcooked tomato in front of cute guys is unacceptable.

3. Everybody with an ounce of sense should read Jane Austen. That includes men.

4. I’m addicted to all orange-coloured fruit.

5. It’s my personal opinion that I have the best taste in men.

6. One of my best friends calls me Frankie MacNutty. I’ll leave you to ponder why.

7. I’m a sucker for English accents.

8. I don’t like people who cheat in exams. It’s wrong.

9. I always sing when I’m blow-drying my hair. Then I pretend not to know where the noise is coming from.

10. I cannot even feign interest in Apple products.

11. I still haven’t learned to use make-up properly.

 THE SELF-CONDUCTED INTERVIEW

 What is your dream job?

I guess running a bookstore where I could organize Austen literary soirées and LOTR conventions.

Would you rather lick peanut butter off a hobo’s bare feet or spend 2 months in jail? (Please include your reasoning)

After a fair amount of cogitating, I’ve decided for option number 1. Sure, spending taxpayers’ money in order to read books undisturbed for two months seems like a good plan at first, but how will I ever explain this when I become the first female president of Slovenia?  No, thank you. Second of all, I have never licked peanut butter off a hobo’s bare feet before, so maybe that is something that has been missing from my life. Also, once you’ve tasted Vegemite, you become less picky as to what you put in your mouth.

What have you learned today?

I’ve learned that my grand-father who is 79 has a more fulfilling social life than I do. It’s not particularly flattering.

If you were going to write a book, what would you call it and what would it be about?

The first novel shall bear the title “The memoirs of MP: Perils of a secluded existence”. And since it will become a national bestseller after only the first week (I mean let’s face it, who wouldn’t want to read that), it will be followed by an equally outstanding sequel “MP – Magnificent Paradox or Merely Perplexed”. And after winning several literary awards and feigning indifference for having changed the literary perception of the 21st century reader, I’ll rise to critical acclaim and go global with my third book (oh yes, it’ll be a trilogy)”MP: Mission Probable” where I’ll seek to underline the importance of human compassion in socially challenging situations (e.g. when you disgracefully slip on an inch of uneven surface on the street and even children point at you and laugh).

Do you like to plan things out in detail or be spontaneous?

Professionals in the field refer to my state as “anti-spontaneity”. It even takes me 10 minutes to pick the right low-fat yoghurt in the store. The staff at the supermarket hates me.

What’s your favorite part about today so far?

Listening to the soundtrack of City Hunter (the manga). “Get wild and tough … “ (This calls for another session with my blow-dryer.)

What is your favourite animal?

The Mary River Turtle. It looks like the reptilian version of David Bowie.

imagesI honestly hope it’s a boy turtle.

Do you think global warming is due to human activity alone?

I think the kind of global warming we’ve been experiencing in the last 20 years is mostly due to human activity. It’s 96% our fault. We’re bad people.

Your favourite colour, what does it make you think of?

Green. It makes me think of Middle earth. Occasionally, I will pretend to be the fair Queen of Gondor.

arwen_sword_ford_nlPhoto source: http://dubomax.tripod.com/SdA/images/personnages/arwen_sword_ford_nl.jpg

Your favourite tree and what do you find fascinating about it?

That’s a no-brainer. Although I’m no tree connoisseur and can barely tell the difference between an oak and a chestnut, I can recognize my favourite tree at once. It’s Wollemi Pine. What’s so great about it? Well, for the last 65 million years it was thought to be extinct. Its exact location is known only to a handful of people. Thanks to the guy that stumbled upon it at an undisclosed location in the Blue Mountains (New South Wales), it has the cutest Latin name ever: Wollemia Nobilis. I love this tree because it revives my hope in the human race. Its sole existence nowadays is a miracle and it is to safeguard treasures like this that we have to fight against climate change and pollution.

Do you like Star Trek, The Next Generation?

When I was a kid, sure. These days however, I prefer the adventures of Han Solo.

My questions for the nominees:

1. Aragorn or Thorin Oakenshield. Explain your choice. (Please try not to base your decision on your libido.)

2. Which is your favourite book and when did you read it?

3. Do you know the capital city of Slovenia? Can you pronounce it?

4. When you put on a dress, do you feel pretty? (I particularly want to know a guy’s opinion on the subject.)

5. How many of Jane Austen’s books have you read?

6. Pro or anti sports?

7. Do you like Flight of the Bumblebee?

8. What’s the weirdest thing that you’ve tasted?

9. If Steven Spielberg ever makes a biographical movie about you, who do you want to be cast as “you”?

10. Which was your favourite day this January? Why?

11. Which would be easier to give up? Chocolate or meat?

 

The nominees:

http://thurstanbassett.wordpress.com/

http://elodieunderglass.wordpress.com/

http://shakemyheadhollow.wordpress.com/

http://sl.gravatar.com/nuderamblings

http://adrianhoran.wordpress.com/

http://piecesofmyrandomness.wordpress.com/

http://rarasaur.wordpress.com/

http://happinesswithausten.wordpress.com/