Sunday, August 27, 2006

Doubt the bump

Last week a bump formed on my lower jaw. It was painful, but I thought it would go away.

Because it was getting more and more sensitive and hurt more and more I decided to pay a visit to my dentist, as I thought it had something to do with my teeth. It didn't. My dentist was undecided on the matter and I got a referral. On Friday I went to see a specialist who declared I had adenitis and was advised to massage the bump with ice several times per day. And if it the bump doesn't subside by Friday I have to go back for biopsy. And then possibly face a more grave diagnosis.

I don't want to be pessimistic. And scared. But my neck started hurting more after Friday's visit to the specialist. I think it's only psychological.

But what if not? I feel fine, not wonderful, but I'll manage. And what if fine is not as healthy as I would like to believe it is?

If only the bump would go away...


posted by Nadezhda | 20:58 | 18 comments | links to this post

Monday, August 21, 2006

Venice, take #1

View from Rialto.

Last week boyfriend and I went to a one day trip to Venice. We visited the city and two of the islands - Murano and Burano. We saw Doge's Palace (also the underground prisons and walked over the Bridge of Sighs; and by the way, the palace is breath-takingly spectacular) and the tower of St. Marco's basilica, from where we got a good view of the city. Unfortunately there wasn't time to do more. The queue in front of the Basilica was just too long (since the entrance is free) and had we waited we wouldn't have had the time to see the Doge's Palace.

We spent quite some time on Burano, but saw very little. We sampled their biscuits (1kg flour and 13 eggs!) and saw a lace workshop. We also peeked into the church, whose tower is leaning, similar to the leaning tower in Pisa. Again, there wasn't time to visit the lace museum, but we did have time to walk around the city with our guide and smell the water from canals.

On Murano we only paid a visit to a traditional glass factory and saw the process of making various objects from glass. Again, there was time to purchase various glass-made objects, but not time to see any other part of the island.

Overall, I was slightly disappointed. We spent 3 hours in Venice and that's decidedly too little time to see the city. We never even got close to La Fenice. The furthest we went was to Rialto and from there boyfriend and I went back towards the Canal Grande. (I am so sorry we forgot to take our camera with us, or you'd be treated to the real Venice.)

Because the ticket for Doge's Place is also valid for 3 other museums and since we didn't see the Basilica and other parts of the town, we decided to go back in either late September or early October on our own and do a REAL tour of the city. I was nervous because our guide planned the tour as though everyone's intention in Venice was to buy as many items of Murano glass and other senseless souvenirs and see very little of the city outside the shops. In my opinion, we also spent far too much time on the boats travelling this and the other way. But the guide did satisy the majority - since boyfriend and I were the only ones in the group who only bought some Burano biscuits. Others simply had to take Venice home with them - they bought biscuits, lace, glasses and souvenir gondolas. Such a shame they spent so much time in the shops they missed the real Venice. No one from our group (apart from boyfriend and myself) went to a single museum.

And another thing - why oh, why is Venice always portrayed (let's say in films) as a dreamy little city on the water where everybody lives in an old palace and runs either a gondola or ice-cream business? When in fact this is a very urban, fast-paced, expensive city overcrowded with tourists and where all the traffic happens on the sea (with vaporetti instead of buses) and no one in their right mind would want to take a gondola ride in the middle of the summer, because the best you get from the experience is 40 minutes of the nasty smell from the canals.

We're also travlling to London in September and then in late February possbily to Muenchen.

P.S. The comments in a single post now work, thanks to the wonderful designer of this blog!

posted by Nadezhda | 11:49 | 10 comments | links to this post

Saturday, August 19, 2006

More of Harry

I see there are more Harry fans out there than I initially thought. Now, I'm planning on writing more on the topic, I just don't know what you'd prefer to read about - something on Rowling's life and what I admire about her, my theories for book 7 or why I like the series?

Suggestions, threats and pleas in the comment box, please.

P.S. Could people stop writing good blogs so that my "Blogs I read" list can shrink to a more decent length?


posted by Nadezhda | 13:01 | 17 comments | links to this post

Thursday, August 17, 2006

How I became a Harry Potter fan

Many years before I read the first book I remember reading newspaper articles about eager fans queuing in front of bookshops in the evening already so that by midnight they might have a fresh copy of the newest volume of Harry in their hands. I imagined what a rush of excitement it must be - how eager they would be to get home as soon as possible and start reading. I imagined they would read in the car already and on their way up the stairs.

And I smiled wanly; thinking myself so superior for not following a trend.

Later that year I went to Amsterdam and while there I saw the first two Harry Potter books in a display window. They were English paperback editions and they were cheap books. For the majority of the travelling I read - but they were other books, which I brought from home. I never opened Harry. Even when I arrived home I put the book neatly on the shelf and left it at that. And so years passed and there were more news about eager fans lining in front of bookshops late at night and again I smiled at their loyalty, hardly ever remembering that I had two volumes of the world phenomenon on my bookshelf.

Some more years passed and the pages had started to turn yellow, when finally I decided to read the books and then pass them on a younger person. It never entered my mind that Harry was a book for children or that it might be inappropriate for my age - I knew it was a fairytale, but I thought I'd read it anyway. Now I'm smarter - I know Harry isn't just a book for children.

It took almost a week to get past the first 100 pages, because I was busy working at my summer job. But even at that slow pace I found the book witty, the story inventive and Rowling's imagination boundless. Her persuasive, realistic, open tone could make you believe that wizards really do exist. There's nothing artificial or forced about her story. She writes it as though she knows it is true.

I couldn't stop reading. I would read for hours on end, breezing through chapters and racking my brains for the information Harry needed. This was a wizarding detective strory - so much suspense, so much action, such nerve-wrecking scenes... Whoever thought this was a children's book?

Having finished the first book, I began reading the second volume in the same day. I finished the second book on Saturday and I couldn't wait for more. I was so desperate for more of Harry that late on Saturday boyfriend took me to CityPark to look for the third book. Sadly, they were sold out. Having to wait a whole day seemed impossible - how I was to endure a whole day without Harry was beyond me. First thing Monday morning I went to Konzorcij bookshop (I don't think I ever woke up so early during the holidays...) and bought the third and fourth volume. Right thereafter I went to a remote library to borrow the fifth book.

I read all three remaining books in a week. I got hooked.

A while after having finished the fifth book something about the plot bothered me. I went online and posted my question in an HP fan forum. They directed me to an editorial on Mugglenet and I dutifully read that. And all the 40 others. Then I began reading other columnists, I began reading fan-written editorials, thinking about theories for book 6.

I found out the day of the release of book 6 just a few hours after it was announced on Rowling's website. Three days later I went to a bookshop to ask when book 6 reservations will be available. The sales lady said they found out earlier that day and that they have no clue as of yet. I was perplexed - I exclaimed I found about the release ages ago and how they could not have known, oh my!, that were the biggest news that week. The sales lady gave me a weird look and instantly I knew that in her book I am an obsessed HP fan. And why would I even pretend not to be one? Long before that day I had made a daily habit of checking Mugglenet for news, reading an editorial here and there and re-reading the books, searching for new clues.

I booked my copy of volume 6 in March and the book was released in July. I downloaded a countdown counter from Mugglenet and counted the days until the release. On release day I came from holidays and three times on the way home I wanted to ask boyfriend to stop in Rijeka as I saw they were putting copies of Harry on the shelves in various shops. Somehow I managed to restrain myself until I got home. I opened the front door and without a hello I asked mother whether she went to the bookshop to get my copy. She replied in negative and I felt my eyes wet.

However, it was only a rude joke she played on me. She had the book and by evening, I already read a third of it. Because of Harry I kept reading all through the night and went to sleep at 7 am.

Yes, I'm in my twenties and am a Harry Potter fan. And now that boyfriend likes the series, too I can only wonder how we'll manage to read book 7 simultaneously when it comes out. Any suggestions appreciated. (We're buying a single book.)

Harry is a legend. With over 300 million books sold, the story being translated into more languages every day, I consider it a part of my world-wise education to know what Quidditch is and why Petter Pettigrew is a rat. Do you need any more persuading?


posted by Nadezhda | 10:58 | 23 comments | links to this post

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Watching Pride and Prejudice (2005, Joe Wright)

I was fighting long and hard and eventually the alter-ego part of me that wanted a final proof of Keira Knightley's abyssmal acting abilities (you know the story: just another talentless but beautiful young actress) got the better of me. However, I was up for very enjoyable two hours. Please join me in scrutinizing all the aspects of the film.

The first thing one notices in the film is that the film-makers have taken much liberty with the material at hand. It's an adaptation rather than a film version of the book. In the book the Bennets do have a farm, but it is not physically connected to their house. The film makes the village a completely rural place that is considerably less sophisticated than the town, which is a gross over-simplification. Whether the script-writer and director thought that the modern cinema-goer is unable to understand the distinction between the lower and higher class (as it was in Austen's day) is anyone's guess. One of the most powerful messages Austen conveys with her writing is that rank counts for nothing when it is not refined by extensive improvement of the mind. This is underlined by the fact that e.g. Lady De Bourgh is very self-centered and simple-minded despite her elevated rank, extensive property and superb connections.

Also Lizzy and Jane's manners with their incessant giggling do point out the fact that they're very vivacious and young, but they almost fail in establishing the difference between them and the rest of their family. Their manners hardly ever appear sufficiently dignified (even less so with Lizzy's wandering about Darcy's home and her listening at the door) and at times their laughter isn't only unguarded but downright rude. Whether this is a sign of the producers' lacking understanding of the manners of the day or their desperate attempt to make the film likeable among the modern audiences is beyond me. (Additionally: the books are still widely enjoyed and immensly popular just as they are, with their old-fashioned manners and extreme politeness, so why would one establish that the material needs to be modernized?)

Some cuts, naturally, were expected when you're making a 300 page novel into a two-hour film and they somewhat improved the film, for example having Bingley have only one sister worked very well, but the downside is that for a newbie, the plot and all its twists and turns are hard to follow and at moments the actions of certain characters seemed feebly motivated, just because the film-makers could not afford the time to offer extensive explanations. The pace of the story is incredible - and it's not always a good thing to do this in a romance. Surely, an action film benefits from pacing, because it builds suspense, but here some of the scenes were rushed and failed to create a sufficient impact. Jane Austen's writing is universally liked and admired because of the characters she portrays and the wit with which their personalities are described; a six-hour mini series has a definite advantage over the film, simply because it has more time to establish the characters.

But by cutting the plot they left out many interesting characters, violently adapted the scenes and degraded the language to suit the understanding of the regular "pop-corn-fun" movie-goer.

While Mr. Collins was decently portrayed, I felt he was not absurd, over-bearing and pompous enough to be thoroughly disliked. Generally, the acting was good, but I didn't have high expectations, so it easier to be satisfied. I can claim that Knightley (Elizabeth) is a far better actress than I estimated her to be, although I don't think the Oscar nomination was completely in place - this, afterall is an award for outstanding achievement in the field - not for doing your job properly for a change. Macfadyen (Darcy) improves on you once you see him in action, although the change in his feelings (with regard to Elizabeth) is not as pronounced as it should be. But there are evident early symptoms of his affection for Lizzy, which I liked, because it gives enough of a hint to the audience to keep its interest. I especially liked Donald Sutherland as the father, Brenda Blethyn as the mother and Simon Woods as Bingley, who in my opinion is the first to really capture Bingley's amiable, warm, but easily persuaded nature.

The film boasts a wonderful and absolutely enchanting musical background and inventive, fresh camerawork (lots of smooth, circular movements). I also liked that the film ended without the kiss (or wedding) between the two main characters, because it resisted the convention while keeping the scene effective. (Don't you just hate that only once the characters kiss at the end of a romance you really "know" they're going to be happy together?)

The film suffers from lacking the Austen spirit, because it fails to capture the attitudes and manners of the time; BBC mini-series did a much better job of bringing forward the actual spirit of the era. I should also bring attention to the fact that the two renditions of the novel are very different and that by no means is the film only a short version of the 1995 mini-series (Jennifer Ehle, Colin Firth). Also there are far too many coincidences, Knightley is startled too many times just a moment before something important happens. I wish they found some different solutions to writing those scenes. Some of these moments are effective (Darcy's first proposal), but the quantity of these moments makes you feel "deja-vu" all the time.

If you don't feel like spending the time it takes to read the book or watch the BBC mini-series (6 hours), then you could as well watch this film, which is throughly enjoyable, but keep in mind that it is not a religious rendition of the original Austen's plot.


posted by Nadezhda | 13:04 | 16 comments | links to this post

Saturday, August 05, 2006


What to buy your girl cousin, who turned 15 and is going to high school in autumn? Help me god, but I still consider her a child; - for me she'll always be the little cousin and I have no idea what to buy her.

She doesn't do make-up (so no luck there) and desperately wants to have her toung pierced (her parents disagree - to put it mildly). I was thinking about giving her Snakes and Earrings, but her mother might have to kill me if her daughter suddenly wants a split tounge along with a piercing.



posted by Nadezhda | 10:07 | 15 comments | links to this post

Friday, August 04, 2006

Eternity is brushing your hair when you forget to take your Prozac

"You are what your deep, driving desire is." (supposedly a Hindu proverb)

It is a thought that strengthens me, makes me believe I need not follow the path my parents did; that a different future - a happier, brighter, well-lit, warm place - is destined for me. But every other day - and on rainy days even more - I am reminded that I am a descendant of my parents and that the same blood courses my veins. I might just as well end up like them.

I like to imagine that there is this other myself, a fully formed version of me, who will support me through difficult times, who can carry my full weight and more. Who will tend to me when I can take no more.

The clouds have gathered again and the depression spreads her wings.

Bach was a genius. Chopin knew utter despair.

Whatever I try to do these days seems to take an eternity; whatever I do get done, is far from being well-done. And there's the constant presence of that other, quiet voice, at all times softly whispering in my ear: you can't do it. Those other things were just luck. In reality you don't have it, you never did.

I doubt myself again. I am constantly tired, I have no desire to keep breathing. Some people should never have children.


posted by Nadezhda | 09:24 | 11 comments | links to this post

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

A time of longing

I've been at home these past days, but I'm swamped in work. Just yesterday I found out (after having talked to my mentor) that I'm probably going to do a cohort study, which is a big, BIG thing for me. And for almost anyone my age. First, I'm going to take part in a national study which begins in Autumn and I'm going to process the data and possibly write an article or two once we collect all the data. I'm going to use the knowledge gained to improve my cohort study, which is estimated to last 5 to 6 years.

I'm so very excited because it's a big project, a challenge and a wonderful opportunity to do some serious research (and gain experience). It's a subject I'm very much interested in as well, so persevering shouldn't be too difficult. I've been doing lots of reading on the subject lately and the more I read on it, the more interesting it seems.

I've loads of reviwes to write for you, and I appologize for the delays, but the inspiration just hasn't been around lately. I'll try to post something tomorrow, but please, be patient, if I don't make it.

Additionally, I've been wondering (and I'd really appreciate feedback on this in the comments!) how you found my blog (si.blogs, a link from another blog - which one?) and if you're a returning visitor, why you keep coming back? I'd really like to get a better picture of who my readers are and what makes this blog interesting to read. I know some of the readers already, because they post comments, but I suspect there are some readers that never comment... so here's your chance to de-lurk.


posted by Nadezhda | 11:35 | 15 comments | links to this post