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Dydd Gwyl Dewi hapus pawb! I almost forgot it is St David's day and with moderate shame I admit only Google reminded me. I should have known it was the first of March when I saw a daffodil in full bloom close to our mooring whereas the day before it wasn't blooming or wasn't even there for all I know.
The more spring-ey it gets the lesser the chance of roasting potatoes in the stove (an easy and cheap dinner option) and the closer the moment when GMT becomes BST. An extremely philosophical summing up of the change of seasons...
I like London Underground mice. They seem to be the most numerous at Tottenham Court Road station - probably the best place for TFL mouse spotting (for those so inclined). Every day I'd walk very close to the edge of the platform and stare at the rails where the mice are, which undoubtedly makes me look like a potential suicide. I bet they are responsible for signal maintenance and if they go on strike the signals fail (which happens all too often). Overground stations are serviced by pigeons and all emergency services are provided by gappes whom you're supposed to mind...
I decided I want to learn Swedish. The only two problems with that are the fact the Welsh does (or at least should) occupy a decent portion of my time, especially in my second year, and that I'm somewhat reluctant to give up another of my evenings at home. An alternative would be self-study, but I'd buy a hat and eat it if this motivated me to move my four letters.
I've tried with Welsh. Took me a few years to develop a collection of teach-yourself books and a sizeable list of useful links. Then I enrolled on a course...
Three entries and all of them ending with an ellipsis. I'm either a master of suspension or a very undecided person. I like ending a sentence with some space for reflection but I don't like overdoing it. It's one of these "loaded punctuation marks", it can't be used innocently as you please because it's too visible and if you overdo it the text will be indigestible. For me a successful written text should be able to express whatever it wants to express without needing to resort to excessive aid from punctuation marks, capitalisation or lols and smileys. Dot dot blwdi dot.
The first proper DIY I've ever performed came to life when I was about 4. Out of plywood, bits of wood and nails of various sizes I made a big car park for my cars. I was quite pleased with the final result, although in the end it failed to incorporate a spiral road from the top floor down. From then onwards came a selection of tree houses, or rather tree platforms and various swinging equipment, all not dangerous enough to send me plummeting downwards and, for example, break my neck. Since then I tend to trust my DIY skills.
I'm a bit of a phone-o-phobiac. I remember, when I started my current job, for months I was dead scared of answering the phone. I'd never worked in a place where I would need to answer the phone before, appreciating instead the joys of being a lone translator. Come to think of it, I'm not a great fan of answering the phone even at home – and neither do I enjoy making calls. Given the choice I'll always go for email or turning up in person. I wonder if this has something to do with my "preferred sensory modality" being visual?
On top of my job vocation crisis I'm having a learning crisis. It's nothing new – every now and again I realise there are hundreds of various courses waiting for me to join them, with subjects ranging from languages or creative writing to psychology, clothes design and IT.
The apogee of it all will be fifty new bookmarks in Firefox which I'll never get back to but which will seem absolutely essential at the point of creating them. And then I'll get over it for a couple of months, until I get in the mood again and start creating new bookmarks.
If I were ridiculously rich I wouldn't work (or, at least, not full-time) but instead I would spend a decent portion of my time attending lots of various courses - joining them and leaving them on a whim. It definitely wouldn't be the "investing in myself" crap - I would do it purely for pleasure and wouldn't give a damn about whether it is useful or not.
Right – I found what seems closest to my "vocation in life." (I always suspected it'd be "doing lots of various things"...) The only thing I have to do now is get ridiculously rich.
I'm not getting over the vocation and/or learning crisis. Since I'm not yet ridiculously rich and it doesn't seem like the situation is going to change any time soon (if only because playing the National Lottery seems way too much hassle – ticking your numbers, going to submit them, checking by means of whatever media are at hand that you didn't win...) I just browse the course offers, I add to bookmarks and... and that's about it. It's not about being ridiculously rich – it's about not having to think whether a given course is definitely the "best deal" you can find.
I decided I must have an intuitive connection to world's underlying uber-language, which enables you to understand all languages of the world. The connection is still rather weak, therefore it only works with Dutch. I've never known Dutch, never even flicked through a teach yourself Dutch course - and yet I scored something like 65% in a "how well you know Dutch" test. I must admit knowing English and some German helped, but otherwise there's absolutely no reason as to why I should have scored this high. Since coincidences don't exist - the logical explanation is the uber-language connection. Surely.
Thinking about CVs and other job application paraphernalia. I quite like the idea of being represented and judged only by my words, with no mug to try to grin its way into people's soft spots. It's like with publishing fiction, only more immediate and way less elated. Actually, it's pretty much like the 100 words thingy – you have to be concise but meaningful. It's also quite a challenge for me as I always write too much rather than too little. I must subconsciously feel that this way I put myself across better – that is, if someone bothers reading it all...
For the first time this year it smells of spring, outside, but also inside. I'm not sure how that works – maybe it's sunshine heating up walls and roofs that emit a different scent, or maybe it's just some general "springiness" in the air. Each year it never fails to puzzle me. For a few days I'd feel somewhat out-of-place and then, just as easily, get used to it. After that I'd feel out-of-place again should winter strike back...
It's always been like that with me and change – a big out-of-placeness at first and then rapidly getting used to the new.
Day the fourth of Doing Something About My Need to Do Something. Or, to put it less vaguely, day the fourth of composing a decent CV and a supporting statement for a job vacancy I decided to have a go at. No, it's by no means the dreamjob (or doesn't seem to be), but, at least, it'd give me two more days of annual leave. From the initial enthusiasm I'm slowly entering the "what if" stage ("what if they'd want me to wear smart clothes or even semi-smart clothes?") and wondering if I'll progress on to the "yeah whatever" stage...
They say that when you're jet-lagged you feel as if you were observing life rather than participating in it, or something to that effect. Well, it seems like they might have introduced a few time zones between my home and my work as I definitely don't feel like a participant today and if I'm therefore meant to be a mere observer I perform my functions with some perception-slow-down enhancement function on. This explains me gaping intently when a guy was washing (or drowning) windows by means of a brush on a long stick with water squirting out of it...
On the train to work today I had a chance to sample a lecture from a somewhat Manic Christian Pracher. Not having encountered any real-life Manic Preachers before I was rather excited, but then Mr Preacher rambled on for two stations, deciding not to give away even a bit of his point and got off completely without a punchline. Maybe it's because he didn't even have a beard? Surely, serious preachers should have beards... In any case, I'm kicking my four hind letters for not getting into a conversation with him – maybe at least I'd get to hear that punchline?
Whoever decided that people should work for five days a week and have only two days of weekend was either a workaholic or had a bizarre sense of humour. Also, travelling for an hour just to spend further 7 hours doing something that doesn't even relate to you seems a somewhat strange arrangement. I know, I should be happy that I'm not a Victorian orphan working in a factory with only a day's leave every couple of months...
Well, all this goes to prove how humanity shouldn't let random ideas be introduced without consulting everyone. Me in the first instance.
It's funny when you're almost ten years older than the minimum legal drinking age and they still won't sell you alcohol without an id (which I never carry around with me and especially not when buying alcohol – that would be too easy). Better still, I don't think I fulfil the visual requirements for the minimum legal smoking age either (or whatever it's called this week) – I was recently almost denied the right to buy rolling papers (didn't know they were tobacco products either...)
Makes you wonder why the age of consent is generally lower than the minimum legal drinking age...
A follow-up statistical note: it is indeed rather interesting when you look at the distribution of minimum legal ages around the world (yes, I've done my Googling) – drinking normally varies from 16 to 21, smoking from 15 to 21 and the age of consent (drumroll) from 9 to 21...
Conclusions? When 21 or over you can safely do anything anywhere and won't get arrested (ok, at least when it comes to the aforementioned themes). Smoking and drinking requires a person to be more mature than potential parenthood. Must be that having children is easier than handling the world whilst drunk...
I almost envy people who know precisely what they want to be "doing in life". My problem is that I know hundreds of things that I would like to be doing but can't decide on a single one and it seems this is what being grown up is supposed to be all about. When you're a kid you can do football one year and French another, switch from hobby to hobby and (unless you've got particularly strict parents) nothing major happens. When you're an adult this is irresponsible behaviour. Seems like I must be either irresponsible or not an adult...
When you walk somewhere you've never been before you first feel the excitement and satisfaction of discovering the place, but then the feeling is immediately followed by some strange sense of loss that you'll never be able to see it for the first time again. This feeling has a habit of haunting me pretty much everywhere – in life, music, literature – some inexplicable longing to get something or somewhere and at the same time to be always getting there but never actually completing the journey… It's by no means unpleasant – just the opposite – condensed nostalgia which is both happy and sad.
When something breaks it's best to wait for it to fix itself or for the problem to go away. It works. For example my headphones (or, as they are apparently called, "earbuds"). After about a month of working rather fine the right one decided it's more fun if it starts buzzing. For about a week it buzzed away happily whilst I ground my teeth without much mirth but deciding that changing the headphones, especially as the current ones were still considered new, was too much hassle – and there you go – it fixed itself. Good things come to those who wait?
Ever since I was a child I wanted to live close to a railway line or a port. It surprised me that this prospect never met with much enthusiasm and people complained about the noise instead. I haven't managed to live anywhere like that for longer than a few weeks yet, although you could possibly argue this, as our boat is just about within an earshot from the tube line and what is a marina if not a scaled-down port? Come to think of that it seems I indeed have it all but from a bit of a Lego perspective...
Thinking about yesterday's entry. It seems to be symptomatic of me (don't you just love the word) that what appeals to me is somehow related to travel, distance and the unknown. I think it's mostly the last one – I've always been a sucker for "discovery". It reminds me of the Moomins – when I was a kid I was absolutely convinced that everyone's favourite character was Snufkin – after all he led such an interesting life: a traveller, a free spirit, always up for the new. I was fantastically surprised to learn that people actually preferred Hemulens, Little My or even Sniff.
I'm a master of procrastination. In the past I used to fool myself many a time that I'd do something I planned to do (and planning was the most carefully performed bit) by the interim deadline I set for myself, but I've given up on planning (or, if I do it, I treat it as some sort of personal practical joke). Funny it doesn't apply to my job, only to translation and, ever since I remember, studying... Some time ago my friend and myself decided we should put "being easily sidetracked" on our CVs. Procrastination would be the next super-skill...
Translating again. My publishing house remembered about me after a year of almost no contact and sent me a book to take care of. No idea why, but translating this year seems different, easier. I don't even have to try too hard to make things sound natural in the target language. The main reason is I no longer feel obliged to stick to the original too faithfully. This might not be a good thing when you’re translating fiction, but when it’s some silly guidebook like the one I’m taking care of – it is. And I can procrastinate freely – a bonus!
When you think about your work it seems a bit dualistic. On the one hand you’re just a teeny weeny little cog in a huge graduate-producing company. You don't matter too much and can be easily replaced. But on the other hand quite a few students’ “academic lives” depend specifically on you and you have access to such data and resources which, if messed around with, could bugger a few things up should you be a nasty creature. The power and, at the same time, the lack thereof. Escaping dualisms just to get yourself up to your ears in it.
In the main quad, outside my work windows, lots of people are preparing some sort of gig. No idea what the gig is actually supposed to be but the music they’ve been playing all day is quite good. So good that I opened my window and am trying to freeze myself and the people I work with as the weather isn’t yet (or not any more) too springy. I also checked the Student Union’s website to see if they’ll tell me what’s going on. They didn’t, but instead I got all nostalgic – I almost want to be a student again!
The gig (or whatever it might be) preparations continue, only the music has gone fantastically cheesy. Maybe it's time to reconsider closing the windows... 80s pop, nostalgic as it might make me feel, is getting a bit too much when someone plays it over and over again with what seems like utter seriousness and listening to “It’s raining men” three times almost in a row it a tad tiring to say the least.
The uni where I studied also had events organized in the main quad. What do unis without main quads do if they want to organize a concert?
There comes a time in your life when people ten years younger than you all of a sudden stop being children or, better still, stop even being teenagers. There comes a time when you finally stop wondering whether you’re an adult yet – and the funny thing is, you don't even notice when it happens. Finally, there comes a time when a great number of your friends start having children and all is considered in terms of “about time” rather than “irresponsible youngsters”. Then you lose your long-standing self-definition and either fit in and do the same or…, well, or not.
It’s ridiculous how a random, unimportant event can affect your mood. It can be that an email from a person you don't know and don’t really give a toss about sends your good spirits plummeting downwards into utter gloom. Or you overhear an argument on the bus and it makes you disgusted. Or a stupid kid kicking flowers in a park… It’s tiring to be affected by the outside world so much, especially by events that don’t relate to you in any possible way. The reasonable side of you knows these things shouldn’t matter – and so how come they do?
Recently I keep seeing cameras. The other day someone was filming someone in the main quad with me in the distant background (btw: what’s the chance of “quad” being my most often used word here?) and only a week ago I seemed to have been filmed when crossing the road outside the main quad (there, said it again). I’m making quite a career playing bit parts. But even if they choose to show the footage on tv I won't be able to follow my newly-began visual glory as I don’t have a tv set and don't intend to get one…
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