Thursday, July 27, 2006

Life is full of surprizes

Photo courtesy: Ocean Liners Gallery.

I just found out one of my ancestors travelled with Titanic. Whoever knew, huh? And you'd be right in thinking that he was not a child or a woman and he wasn't lucky on that fateful night, either.

I'm beginning to think that I should definitely terrorize my relatives into telling me more about my ancestors. Seems like they're having such fun keeping interesting facts from me.

posted by Nadezhda | 18:15 | 2 comments

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

In the news today...

Dearest readers, I have been neglecting you and I apologize. It was not deliberately done, merely an unhappy consequence of having been in lots of pain and having spent an inordinate amount of time driving in a car in the last week.

Presently I have:
1. sore muscles (having spent three hours per day dancing in the last week and that under the gaze of an Italian maitre d'ballet whose only occupation seemed to be correcting the tiniest of mistakes the most talented of dancers - with the bodies I will never ever have - who, if truth be told, were so above average that he needn't have bothered anyway. But rest assured that he DID in fact bother and consequently he gave me a total of two corrections in the whole week. You can imagine that I nearly fainted with pleasure when the said person finally noticed there were other people in his class, too).

2. freshly painted nails (metallic pink!),

3. much catching up to do on the blog,

4. an essay to write about Iris Murdoch,

5. lots of Google searching to do for my research project (the mentor I contacted seemed interested and I'm calling her tomorrow to set a date for our meeting in-person and a more thorough discussion of my plan),

6. a year more than I had a month ago,

7. a pre-paid one-day trip to Venice (to attend with boyfriend),

8. a huge sunflower,

9. a one-week holiday in London to plan for September,

10. an almost empty bank account,

11. NO headache (which is an important achievement seeing as yesterday was the day I realized people complaining of severe headaches were in fact not hypochondriachs, but people who pretend everything is OK and even try to laugh only to find that their headache hasn't abated yet - not having been someone who had trouble with headaches previously, I can only say that it is horrible - to the point where I was seriously contemplating seeing a doctor today if the headache persisted. Occasional headaches were frequent companions of mine for the last month and I realized they occurred when I was too hot and drank too little water; yesterday, however, the headache just wouldn't go away in spite of having drunk an indecent amount of water),

12. a newfound liking for Kiera Knightley's acting abilities (see a forthcoming post about Pride and Prejudice, the film),

13. a newfound respect for the makers of film sequels (Superman returns is plainly too good to be made just for money's sake),

14. a well-paying job that I like doing,

15. a wonderful boyfriend whom I love more deeply and completely than I ever thought I'd love a man,

16. new running attire (3/4 length trousers and two new T-shirts) and

17. still NO new shoes (they sold out the entire stock on the first day of the sales by 16.30 and even if they haven't - they discounted that model for only 8 euros - I bought 2 new lipsticks instead).

I don't have:

1. youth (not trying to be overly nostalgic or depressed, but when I was 15 I imagined that by the time I turn 24 I'll have my own car, a job, a steady relationship - which is the only thing I do have - and if at all possible, my own place to live). Sadly, sans boyfriend, I feel none of these goals are anywhere near the horizon for me. (Maybe, just maybe I should be glad to have boyfriend and forget about what I don't have?) Anyway, when I was younger I thought being twenty-something is really IT, you're really an adult and responsible, you're on your own, successful and all that. As for me, I don't think things have changed much since I was 18. I'm still shy and introverted, which leads people into believing I'm self-conscious; I'm still unsure of myself, I'm still doubting my abilities and still fear driving and dying young. I still fear my beloved ones would die or suffer, and while I know I can hardly do anything to prevent this, it remains one of biggest fears.

2. enough time,

3. the inspiration and time to write the "novel" I've been planning for four year but never wrote beyond the introductory few paragraphs,

4. enough courage to do everything I want to,

5. much suntan, but I never wanted it, so that's all right.

posted by Nadezhda | 12:06 | 11 comments

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Watching Good Night, and Good Luck (2005, George Clooney)

"This might just do nobody any good. At the end of this discourse a few people may accuse this reporter of fouling his own comfortable nest and your organization may be accused of having given hospitality to heretical and even dangerous ideas. But the elaborate structure of networks advertising agencies, and sponsors will not be shaken or altered. It is my desire, if not my duty, to try to talk to you journeymen with some candor about what is happening to radio and television. And if what I say is responsible, I alone am responsible for the saying of it. Our history will be what we make of it. And if there are any historians about or years from now and there should be preserved the kinescopes of one week of all three networks they will there find recorded in black and white, and in color evidence of decadence, escapism and insulation from the realities of the world in which we live. We are currently wealthy, fat, comfortable, and complacent. We have a built-in allergy tounpleasant or disturbing information. Our mass media reflect this. But unless we get up offour fat surpluses and recognize that television in the main is being used to distract, delude, amuse, and insulate us then television and those who finance it those who look at itand those who work at it may see a totally different picture too late."

You might feel that these words decribe the current time, but it is not so. This is the speech given by Edward R. Murrow at the beginning of of the film Good Night, and Good Luck. It is a film that became famous because George Clooney directed it.

This is a film about the mass media (TV), but it is also a film about politics. About deluding, misleading and giving false evidence. And if you think "terrorist" instead of "communist" every time the latter word is spoken in the film, this black-and-white mastery becomes hauntingly contemporary.

"I began by saying that our history will be what we make of it. If we go on as we are then history will take its revenge, and retribution will not limp in catching up with us. Just once in a while, let us exalt the importance of ideas and information.

Let us dream to the extent of saying that on a given Sunday night the time normally occupied by Ed Sullivan is given over to a clinical survey on the state of American education. And a week or two later, the time normally used by Steve Allen is devoted to a thorough-going study of American policy in the Middle East. Would the corporate image of their respective sponsors be damaged? Would the shareholders rise up in their wrath and complain? Would anything happen other than a few million people would have received a little illumination on subjects that may well determine the future of this country and therefore the future of the corporations?

To those who say people wouldn't look; they wouldn't be interested; they're too complacent, indifferent and insulated, I can only reply: There is, in one reporter's opinion, considerable evidence against that contention. But even if they are right, what have they got to lose? Because if they are right, and this instrument is good for nothing but to entertain, amuse and insulate, then the tube is flickering now and we will soon see that the whole struggle is lost. This instrument can teach, it can illuminate; yes, and it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it to those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights in a box. Good night, and good luck."

And if the above two quotes aren't enought to convince you to watch the film, then it might just not be a film for you. Sadly, many people left mid-way through the screening of this film on Sunday.


posted by Nadezhda | 15:39 | 0 comments

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Perserving it for future generations

I've just become part of Movement for perservation of public healthcare. I think it's worth trying to prove a point this way. Unless in ten years you want to be paying grossly huge amounts of money for every time a doctor dedicates 15 seconds of his precious time to you.

As I said: it's worth a try.

posted by Nadezhda | 16:41 | 9 comments

Friday, July 14, 2006

Blood donor?

In the last few days I've been the most unproductive I can be. I woke up late, then laid a little longer in the bed, the watched numerous episodes of Scrubs and afterwards I'd cook a special lunch with plenty of veggies. (I'd love to have a big, fat cookbook with healthy recipes, but it seems the time where I realize I'll actually need to go to the library for that hasn't come just yet.) Then I'd watch some more Scrubs upon which I'd either go jogging or to Šmarna gora.

The today's hiking on Šmarna gora was not to be, though, as I donated blood this morning and am not feeling quite well. I've been a blood donor for a year and a half now, but unfortunately I've only donated blood twice.

Last Autumn my ferritin level was low and I suspected problems with iron and donating blood would just aggravate these problems, so I skipped. Then Spring passed way too quickly for me to come to the realization that I could donate again. Now they called me back and I gladly went, for I dearly like to do something good for someone, especially something that only takes bearing a bit of nausea and a possible collapse, but possibly also saves someone's life. I'm quite determined to donate blood again in half-a-year, if my iron levels stay normal.

Additionally, I am registered in the Slovenian Bone Marrow Donor Registry as of last year and I'm still willing to offer my help that way. Being either of the two (but preferrably both) enables you to help others in the most altruistic way possible. Summer holidays are a time of great demand for blood because of the (car/motor) accidents that happen, but proportionally little people donate blood. You get a day off work and a light meal when you donate blood, so become a donor today! Maybe one day you'll need a transfusion yourself and you'll be glad Slovenia has so many blood donors that can help you in a time of need.

Last year I passed out after having given blood (didn't drink enough afterwards), but this year I'm fine. I've been feeling a little light-headed and dizzy (and thirsty!), but otherwise I'm fine.

Have you donated blood? Do you intend to?

P.S. The photos from my holidays by the sea-side still haven't reached me, so be patient.
P. P. S. I hear it's finally raining outside. I only hope the humidity lessesns after the rainfall. It's been killing me.

posted by Nadezhda | 16:54 | 17 comments

Monday, July 10, 2006

Holidays in a boat

One would say that for a sensitive gal like me, going on a boat for holidays is the most thoughtless thing to do. And they would be right.

When I close my eyes or stand still, my world still rocks and shakes and I can still smell the salty water.

I might post some photos later, but I'm not sure how many, since I was not the one to take them and I'm not sure how many photos'll be appropriate for posting.

P. S. I would have never thought I'd actually engage in half an hour technical talk about a football match with my boyfriend - ever.

posted by Nadezhda | 16:23 | 0 comments

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Reading The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

"He stepped onto the path that led through the swamp to the History House.
He left no ripples in the water.
No footprints on the shore.
He held his mundu spread above his head to dry. The wind lifted it like a sail. He was suddenly happy. Things will get worse, he thought to himself. Then better. He was walking swiftly now, towards the Heart of Darkness. As lonely as a wolf.
The God of Loss.
The God of Small Things.
Naked but for his nail varnish."

The good thing about procrastination is that when you stop at the right moment you can enjoy twice is one go. I got to write about one of my favourite books last time and now I continue writing about my other favourite book: The God (as I like to call it).

I intended to read this book back in 2000. Never got to it, I forgot about it and 6 years later I found a piece of paper, darkened with age, torn at one end. It said in large, bold letters (in handwriting that used to be mine): "The God of Small Things (Arundhati Roy) - India". I cannot even begin to tell you, how happy I am that somewhere, stashed under a tower of old newspaper clippings, old books and old notebooks a single, vulnerable piece of paper staid put long enough for me to discover it again. But this is not the end of the story about rediscovering The God. I went to the library and borrowed the original. Then I got busy and I stopped at page 30 for a small eternity. (Do try to get past the first 150 pages. I promise you will be glad you finished the book.) The book had to be returned to the library. And so it was. Next time I borrowed the Slovenian translation. I dearly wanted to read the original, but this is what you have to put up with when you're too slow a reader and still prefer to go to the library than to a bookshop. Then I found a niche of time and started reading. I read at night, well after midnight when I got to bed and could not fall asleep. Not that God helped me in any way, it did not affect my sleep center. I staid up later and later, reading, immersed in it, my gills again breathing the natural way, feeling at home.

God is a lyrical, profoundly poetic, profoundly beautiful and profoundly realistic book about a fortnight in the youth of dizygotic twins, growing up in Ayemenem in Kerala, India. It is a story about then and now, about the fortnight when the twins and their mother, Ammu and their uncle, Chacko, are visited by Chacko's ex-wife and his daughter. Their visit ends with a double catastrophe. A girl and a man die. It is also a story about decades later and how the twins still feel guilty of the crime they didn't commit. How their wounds are still fresh inside them. Wounds that began that fortnight. It is a story (the kind I like very much) about a disfunctional family at a time of social, cultural, historic transition between the old ways and the new ones. But more than that - it is a book with the prehistoric theme of forbidden love ("Slowly the terror seeped back into him. At what he had done. At what he knew he would do again. And again.") which is told in a fresh, juicy manner, erupting with clever literary devices and tricks.

This book, more than anything I've read in my life, made me say: this is how a child thinks, how she behaves and how far her understanding goes. Because still, this is also a story about three children and how they see the world around them. This is a story about three clever, wonderful, intelligent children and how much (one could also say: how little) they amounted to, because they were deprived of motherly love. It is a story about the damage done by shifting the weight of responsibility (is love a responsibility?) on children. A story about the freedom of choice, about the Caste system, about one's misery and about blaming others for your own faults. It is a story that cuts deeply, that makes you swear under your breath that there's been enough injustice in this world.

"Suddenly Ammu hoped that it had been him that Rahel saw in the march. She hoped it had been him that had raised his flag and knotted arm in anger. She hoped that under his careful cloak of cheerfulness, he housed a living, breathing anger against the smug, ordered world that she so raged against."

The stories of then and now intertwine in a fabulously crafted way. The architecture of the novel is nothing short of perfect. The suspense, the chill, the love, the hatred all told in a breathtaking fashion, fresh and new and daring. A Novel that lets herself live the way it was meant to and does not shy away, does not fear she should have been "different and more serious" to deal with a serious subject matter. A novelist that manages to capture with a single short paragraph the essence of a relationship between an aunt and her niece. And the aunt's personality. And her wounds, still open, still fresh. A writer who manages to steer clear of the question about the nature of love, of the propriety of an attachment. Someone who worships the emotions as they are and allows room for error. Allows for change. But also want this, as it is, and wants it now.

"Ammu saw that he saw. She looked away. He did too. History's fiends returned to claim them. To rewrap them in its old, scarred pelt and drag them back to where they really lived. Where the Love Laws lay down who should be loved. And how. And how much."

Not that it matters, but this book was the winner of the 1997 Booker Prize. The God of Small Things remains Arundhati Roy's only novel.

"[...] with his back against the mangosteen tree watched her walk away.
She had a dry rose in her hair.
She turned to say it once again: "Naaley."


posted by Nadezhda | 20:22 | 6 comments