Blog-nill Busyness

This has probably been one of the longest blackouts in my the history of my blog. Fairly certain of it. I would say that it’s not because I’ve been insanely busy, but because I have FELT extremely busy. You know how some days you feel like there couldn’t possibly be enough time for all the things you have to do, then you manage to do them all and feel so exhausted from the achievement that you plop into bed early? It hasn’t been like that either.

 

But I have felt really busy, because I am writing my BA in English Literature, and baby-sitting two wonderful children, writing poetry again, playing Skyrim and trying to use any left-over seconds and minutes on spending time with my husband, because it is what holds me together.

 

I realised yesterday that certain things just go once you’re too busy. Amazing super-hero couples who get children start slacking off in areas of their lives where they were always on top off the things before. Organised young women become less organised. OCD young men start realising that maybe their disorder wasn’t so serious, because the mess doesn’t bother them anymore.

 

Here’s a list of things I realised go when you’re “too busy”:

 

1. Blog.

Don’t think I need to say much here. Unless you are a very popular blogger, whose life it is to blog, who spends a minimum of two hours a day on their blog and commenting and networking… you’ll probably stop blogging for a while. Strangely enough, it’s when life gives you more to blog about that you don’t have the time to blog about it. (Though I very much doubt that anyone would WANT me to blog about my 25 page essay on Shakespeare’s The Tempest and the various forms of critique it has been subject to. Though it’s actually really interesting. It is!)

 

2. Social life

“I would love to come, but…” becomes your new catch-phrase. Often you would love to come, but there is also a certain relief in being able to hide yourself under heaps of busyness and let the rest of the world socialise with itself for a while. They’ll be fine. They may accuse you of being a hermit and boring and that you don’t love them anymore, but they’ll come around once you’re out of the bubble again. I hope.

 

3. Cleaning

Now that you don’t have people over anymore, and you are either out of the house doing busy things, or in front of your computer doing busy things, or in your bed reading about busy things… You stop noticing what your floor and your bathroom looks like. I remember very well indeed, days and weeks when I had absolutely nothing to do, which would tend to end in someone or other coming home and me trying to subtly get them to notice how shiny the kitchen had become while they were out, or how the lamps are a bit brighter, and the toothbrushes whiter… When I am restless and bored, I clean. But when I’m busy, I clearly don’t.

 

4. Personal hygiene

Or grooming, maybe I should say. Though showering becomes one of those “did we shower yesterday or the day before? Can’t remember. Can’t be bothered. I’m probably clean” things. But plucking your eyebrows turns into this ludicrous waste of time, attempting to make your hair look a little less like a sad dog before you leave the house is a no go, and whether your clothes are matchy or just serve the purpose that is currently required of them (right now warm, waterproof and covering all my rude bits) is not really a question anymore: the matchy goes.

 

5. Sleep

This should be further up the list, probably. The busier we get, the less we see those few hours of empty brain-ness as time-wasting crap. The problem is of course that the busier you are, the more tired you are, and the less sleep you allow yourself, till you just want to cry because you’re so tired but you just have to finish writing this assignment first…

 

6. Food

First, you stop cooking anything complicated that will take too long. Then, you stop cooking all the meals you used to. Finally, you live on snacks and toast. Or snack. Singular.

 

7. Health and fitness

Let’s stop thinking of this list in chronological order, because this should really go at the top. If we have any excuse in our lives to stop working out, we usually do. But with the busy comes this feeling that we can’t allow ourselves to be ill, to have colds, headaches, muscle-aches… So out of the house you go, face imploding, because you are too busy to take a break and let your body get back to normal.

 

8. More stuff

What goes for you when you’re busy? What are the first things you give up/neglect when life comes around and starts getting you terribly involved in living it? Besides your blog, of course… say your blog… it’s not just me, say it… please…

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The Importance of Dance, Lanterns and… Two Extraordinary Photographers

This post is about… well, exactly what the title says. I am first going to post a few of the lovely pictures taken by my even more lovely sister-in-law, and then follow them by fucking fantastic pictures taken by my fucking fantastic best friend. At the bottom I will actually write a little, as well. I know, right?

Image

My something blue

Image

Walking away from the ceremony

cake

Reassembling the cake

theo

What my nephew did while I was re-assembling it.

The above pictures were all taken by my lovely sister-in-law, and this is her photo-blog, in case you missed it.

together

First dance

dance

Quite cute

thought

Thoughtful groom

future

Sending a light towards the future

These four above pictures were taken by none other than our extremely talented best man, whose blog can be found here, and who has posted some of her favourites pictures from our wedding, if you want to see more.

To me, it was important not to have a stranger taking pictures at our wedding. I wanted everyone present to truly be a part of our day, and so there was no catering-staff, no wedding-planner, no photographer… well, we did have an officiator, but he was only there for the ceremony. We had extremely helpful, loving friends and family members, who made this day possible through gifts, money, and so much help with food and decorations and planning… and as you can see, they helped us make it the memory of a life-time.

Not only are they both extremely talented… it was so much easier to smile and be yourself than if you have a “professional” wedding-photographer that knows how they want things, and the sort of pictures that “couples usually want”. What we got was unique, warm, friendly and quirky. I got so much more than I had hoped for. So if you have very talented friends with their own cameras… spend that wedding-photographer budget on something else.

If you wish to find out how I made the ruffle-cake up top, here’s the link to the Swiss-meringue butter-cream recipe I used. I used a massive Wilton piping-nozzle to get nice, wide ruffles, and also created the roses on top, with a little help from this useful you-tutorial.

The lanterns in the pictures we bought 10-packs for £17, I’m sure you could find them for cheaper. We even had some left over. It was a wonderful way to end the evening, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s looking for the perfect way to seal the wedding-day.

Here Comes the Bride… (And who’s that? Oh. It’s just her shrink).

It is now a few hours less than 8 days  till my surname changes forever. In other words, I will be a married woman, and I am aware that I do not HAVE to change my name, and that I can change back to my “nee” at any moment… but since it is a voluntary action, I do not think we have to argue any further.

My wonderful husband-to-be is none other than a fellow WordPresser. In fact, we met through our respective blogs. It was far from intentional: he read an early blog of mine, he liked what he read, I read his blog, likewise, and a friendly exchange between bloggers began. To be honest, it never even entered my head that we could have any kind of romance ahead in our mutual future, nor that we would ever meet, or even speak outside of the “Leave a Comment” section on the other’s blog.

Ha ha ha.

Well, here we stand today… or rather, in 13 days and a few hours time. Since I will be going on and on about how we met and who we are and all the romantic stuff for several posts ahead, I would like to make this post one of caution… and no. I am not telling people not to get married. Duh. What? I’M getting married for crying out loud! I would never lecture people on that. No. I am instead going to make a weak attempt at being of help to other future brides out there, by listing a few things I didn’t really think about before the wedding, and which have come back to bite me in my more sensitive parts as the day draws near. These are:

1. People.

You may think that it is very obvious exactly who you want to attend your wedding, and who you’d never want to share your special day. Fair enough. To me, it seemed an easy enough question… and then POOF! Out of the blue, I certainly started thinking “how do these people get along? will that person get hurt if I invite him but not her? will these people want to sit together, or apart? is it too long ago that I saw that person to invite them? I know this person will say no, but should I invite them anyway, because it’s the right thing to do?” and hey presto! Your head is suddenly spinning with what-ifs and whose-its. So my number one recommendation is take time to THINK! You may end up not having invited some people that you in hindsight would really like to be there, or inviting some people out of guilt that you regret inviting once you think about the food and drink you’ll be treating them to… so stop to think. Take your time. You’re only getting married once (well, I am. If you’re undecided, maybe it’s not so important. Then you can forget about this one and move on).

2. Theme.

Now, I’m one of those wondrously naive people who can say stuff like “I don’t really care what it looks like/I never really thought about it/I’m sure it will all work out in the end” about things such as decor, venue, general theme of the wedding etc. *stifled laughter*. Mhm. Here’s the thing. Even if you, like me, haven’t spent your entire life planning your wedding-day into the tiniest and minutest of details, all of a sudden things which didn’t seem that important will take on a magnitude that the Sphinx can’t really compare to. So try not to sit there like me, a few days before the wedding, hoping you will be able to find something green in the wild to decorate the room with, that won’t whither and die within two second of being picked. And if you were wondering, yes, it will be important to get those specific candle-holders. Trust me on this. This wedding is stupidly simple, low-budget and laid-back… and the details are still hurting my brain.

3. Expense.

Think about that for a second. If you have a certain dream-wedding in mind, you will definitely want to think about the budget before you pick a date. And once you have thought about the budget, think about it some more. Try to come up with more possible expenses. We have already had multiple: my dress, which was only going to cost me £162 (custom-sown, ordered on the internet, including transport) ended up costing me another £78… in customs. This is a cost that many sites will conveniently forget to mention when you order, so you’ll have to look up possible customs expenses when you order from out-of-borders by yourself. Because when you are already hard up for wedding-funds, an unforeseen £78 is not what you want to have to pay.  We also have to pay extra for the ceremony, which would otherwise have been free, because our officiator is from a municipality not our own. And a cravatt can be much more expensive than you think. So sit down, think about the cost down to the nitty gritty details, and then add extra money (a lot of extra money) for the “in case” fund. Because there will be “I never thought about that” expenses.

4. Help from your friends.

My friends and family-members, and family-members-to-be, are truly wonderful people. If you are arranging a wedding where you are doing basically EVERYTHING yourselves, you will probably need to ask some people for help. Think about who to ask for what. Some people will gladly help you cook or set tables, whereas some may feel a bit insulted. Some you can trust with carrying those rings and getting your grandmother home safely, and some you can’t trust with pouring welcome-drinks. Asking for help can be difficult, and it is, for me. If you are worried about stepping on toes, try to gauge who actually would like to help, and who would just say “yes” to be polite. Just try to keep a nice balance on things: you don’t want to have a guest of yours working their a** off all day, but you don’t want to be standing there doing dishes and carrying chairs either.

5. Traditiooooooons. Traditions. TRADITIONS!

Today, quirky and modern is becoming increasingly popular. The bride shall carry the groom across the threshold, the mother will give her away and maybe the ceremony should be held whilst bungee-jumping? There are, naturally, still some very “conservative” weddings, with the white dress, the cake-cutting, the father-of-the-bride speech etc. I have no objections to either. What is important is to ask yourself: this thing that we are about to have/not have at our wedding, is it because WE want it or because a) we don’t want to follow tradition or b) we haven’t even thought about it simply being a tradition because everyone does it? There are some I’ve chosen to stick with: the cake, “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue”, bridal bouquet, brides-maid… but my dress will be champagne, my father won’t walk me down the aisle and our best man is a wonderful woman… but the title is still Best Man, so don’t you go trying to change that around now! 😉 Just consider that a wedding can be exactly the way you want it. Don’t let yourselves be governed by traditions, or the fear of them.

 

One last, tiny piece of advice… don’t panic. Douglas Adams said it right. My husband-to-be has tried to help me in this regard. When I start hyperventilating about the things that may go wrong, everything that will have to be done last minute and all the expenses, he does his best to calm me down. I can’t say I don’t panic occasionally anyway… but it certainly doesn’t help one bit. Here’s a friendly reminder, printed on our custom-made wedding-invitations:

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I don’t know if these words will help any desperate brides or grooms out there. It has given me a nice little venting-space, however, and something to type while the pasta-sauce is simmering to delicious, tomatoey thickness. I’m going to go boil some fusilli now. OK. Bye.

Ask why

An acquaintance of mine and her boyfriend recently broke up. I asked her why and she answered “That’s just how it is sometimes, I guess”.

This led me back to a train of thought that I’ve been stuck on of late. The relationship today, and why it has turned into what it is. The shrug and the “other fish in the sea” attitude which people often have around break-ups nowadays. The disinterest in finding out why it fell apart. The ease with which we can shut people out, because we don’t all live in the same tiny village and have to see each other every day.

Is it that simple? Because we are so many, living in massive heaps of human upon human, we can abandon our partner, a person we have shared every intimate ounce of our lives with for years, and go find someone else to do it all over with? Really?

And why would you not question, why would you say “I guess that’s just the way it is sometimes” and shrug and give up? If you have been with that person for several years, there must be a reason beyond “it was convenient” or “we had sex and then we kept dating”? No?

The hopeful romantic in me wants to shout and ask people to fight, to stop and ask themselves what they saw in that person when they first met them, whether that was a construct of wishful thinking or a real quality, and if so, is it still there? Why is that not so important anymore? Why does taking something for granted immediately make it a negative, in a sense, something which is forgotten and discarded behind all the habits that all of a sudden become so annoying and impossible to live with?

It’s as if people don’t need to think anymore because we can just run away; defriend, delete pictures, block phone-number, change lock and ask your friends if he’s going to be there before you go to the party. Oh, it’s not an easy process in the slightest, but it’s probably a hell of a lot more comfortable than having to face that person and have some form of conversation with them about the reasons it didn’t work out, and the reasons why it should have.

The hopeful romantic in me cannot believe that all the things you loved in a person have certainly magically disappeared. The hopeful romantic in me knows that if it was worth getting into in the first place, it’s worth fighting for. The hopeful romantic in me knows that unless you hate the person for some reason, or it turns out your values differ greatly in the fields of politics, religion, upbringing of children, drug-use or something equally serious, there will probably be a way to find common ground, compromise, forgive and live with each other again.

But no. No say the people of today. We are many, we are young, we have a friend-list of 1000 people to pick from, because hey, we can be bi if we want to. We have longer life-expentancy, so more time to screw up and keep screwing up.

Fine. You do that. I am going to keep loving the man I am with madly, for all the reasons I fell in love with him in the first place, and never let myself forget. Because when you have found something and someone worth fighting for, you do not let go. Under any circumstances. You do not shrug and turn away. You ask why.

Bureaucracy is hard to spell

After yet another black-out, I return. Countless events have transpired since I last saw this tired page. Mostly a battle with the Migration Office and the Tax Office in Sweden, to get my husband-to-be a personal number. Sweden, the land of democracy, justice, acceptance… not too democratic, just or accepting. Even now, riots and burning cars crowd the suburbs of this ‘fair’ capital. Apparently it is to protest youth unemployment and immigration. Too much of the first and of the latter, too much discrimination. Oh, we may rant and rave about the U.S and the difficulties to enter those states, but strangely enough, the fact that my fiancé is an EU citizen makes it more difficult for him to get in… and the fact that we are getting married in two months makes absolutely no difference. The backward thinking of the bureaucracy of this country is astounding.

Yet, it does appear as if we’ll be able to get married, processing of certificates willing. Mind you, first we have to pay a visit to the British Embassy and then wait for 21 days, and oh, pay £130 for a notification of marriage and a certificate of no impediment. But hey. Getting married was never supposed to be easy. I often joke and say we can skip the “in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health” bit, because we have been through so much already, there’s no need to promise what we already know.

However, on the 27th of July, there should be a glorious beach-wedding, with a ludicrously low budget, and I will be sure to blog about the decorations, menu, dress, venue, suit, preparations and so forth… once they are under way. What with the two of us studying up till now, and having not a penny to our names, this wedding will have to be fairly last minute, in the ‘purchasing’ and ‘preparing’ department.

I would just ask my native country one thing: do not make things any harder than they already are. Let my husband stay here with me. Don’t rain on our parade, or our wedding-day. Give me a job with an income. Any income. And don’t you dare give me anything but A’s on my grades this semester.

Till next time, me hearties.

One Wedding and No Funeral

Yes. It has been almost a year. I know. I’m shocked to see that there are occasionally people still checking in here, almost every day! I do not have a long, elaborate explanation as for why I haven’t written. Life happened.

 

Last time I wrote, my oldest brother and his fiance had just had a little boy. He is now about 8 months old, and a proper person, but a lot smaller than most of us. It’s my job to talk English to him, so he grows up knowing several languages. I have no problem with that. Well, not just my job, mine and my fiance’s.

 

Oh yeah. Remember that amazing person I mentioned frequently back when I was still blogging, last year? We’re engaged to be married this summer. It’s rare, not only in it being my first, last and only marriage to anyone, but also in it being a full-blown WordPress wedding. Oh yeah. Do you remember how he was a blogger and we met through WordPress? Well, he’s still a blogger, he’s been a lot more active than me over the last year, and right now he’s working on some exciting updates to his page. It just so happens that his 2 year bloggoversary falls on the 17th this month, so give him a wordpressent by visiting him a lot! It will be fun, because the changes are happening gradually.

 

What else? Last time I wrote, I was still finishing up courses to get into university. Well, I did a summer course on “Visual and Material Objects”. Does it sound complicated, pretentious, weird? It probably was all of those things, but I enjoyed it immensely. My – occasionally – overly analytical brain thoroughly enjoyed picking apart and decoding images and various forms of art. I feel like I have had good use for it in my current field of study; English. I did English all of last fall, and now all of this spring, and then I will spend all of this summer planning our wedding.

 

So the one wedding should be fairly obvious by now. Best get to the second part before you claw my eyes out.

 

A wonderful, beautiful person in this world has died. Sierra, a girl that I have known since I was 16, and whose blog I actually linked to once or twice, chose not to live any longer, and I have to deal with that over Christmas. I was not angry with her – though I have the feeling that her relatives were, because they did not have a funeral –  I was just sad that she was so sad that she could not carry on anymore. Sierra had a wonderful sense of humour, was very caring, hated conflict, drank like a champion, rocked short hair, gave the best of hugs, doted on Audrey Hepburn and could not stop smoking. I love her to bits and pieces. I still feel tears welling up when I think of her “too closely”, but at the same time I am grateful for having known her, and happy for her that she doesn’t have to be as unhappy as she was anymore. Ironically, her last blogpost is titled “the queen is dead”, and the last thing she wrote in a book we sent back and forth, like a letter, was “BUMMER!”

I can’t bring myself to leave you on such a sad note. Think about all the wondrous and joyous things I will share with you this summer! I am sure to blog about the wedding and the wedding-plans, because apparently everyone does that, and I have noticed that women become absolutely obsessed with that date as it draws nigh, so I’m sure I won’t be an exception. Also, with the permission of my brother and his lovely lady, I will post a picture of the most adorable – to me, and yet – baby ever born!

One thing my English course has taught me – so far – is – besides quite a few things that I know happen to be incorrect, because my fiance is not only English, but good AT English, and most Englishmen would cry if they knew what they teach us at this university – how to write a very boring, overly complex, fancy, abstract, and to most good writers, unacceptable, text, which needs a conclusion that repeats everything you have just told people. To that end (clears throat): In short, I have studied a lot, I have a wonderful little nephew, my friend is dead and I will get married this summer to the most wonderful person I have ever met and then get to spend the rest of my life with him.

 

Write you soon.

How happy some o’er other some can be

Upon my return from the longest blackout yet in the history of this blog, I feel no remorse. My life has been busy and a blur of school, spending time with my boyfriend and friends and trying to sleep somewhere in-between the two. I do not have enough readers that there’s a riot or a global crisis when I take a break from writing, but mayhap enough that there’s a tiny spark of joy on seeing that I’ve finally posted something again.

This post shall be about happiness. Ever since I first read an excerpt from the Declaration of Independence I’ve never quite been able to get over the wording “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. The pursuit of happiness. See, every human has the right to try to make themselves happy. This should give people a clue. It’s not like we’re born little bundles of joy. Sure, babies smile a lot, but they also cry at the top of their lungs a lot of the time. And sometimes there’s no telling why. Are we maybe born depressed and live our lives in the pursuit of happiness?

Maybe you wonder what triggered these strange thoughts. Well. I go to school in my decently sized but scarcely populated country’s capital city, and the other day I was making my way back from the school-grounds to the subway. I was dressed in a very plain black coat, black pants, black boots, colourful scarf. My hair a complete mess as always, but that specific day, a fashionable mess. A latte in one hand, a cigarette in the other, I cruised with my shoulder bag through the crowds. I felt at one with the city. I stopped dead in my tracks next to the subway entrance. There in my head stood the strangest question ever, bent over laughing at me in a very annoying manner: right this moment, you are the person you’ve wanted to be since you were quite the young lass. You look like you could be anyone in a crowd of thousands of other Stockholm girls like you, with slight variations. You flow through the crowds and move with the beating of this city’s rather unrythmic heart. You are she, the woman that you looked at years and years ago and somehow decided you wanted to become one day. But are you happy?

The answer was of course yes and no. Though there are times in our lives when we are absolutely over the moon, and others where we are way low, for the most part we’re pretty content, and if someone asks we can give people a list of the things that are good in our lives right next to the things that are bad. A lot of the time we put quite a big focus on the things that are not good, or not as we wish them to be rather. I bet you that if you start keeping track of how your friends respond to “how was your day?” or “what is happening in your life right now?” many of them will either start off, or quickly fall into, a long list of complaints regarding their health, co-workers, work-load, family, out-of-date cellphone, few too many pounds around the waist, too small kitchen, horrible weather… and it never ends. There will always be a million and thousand things that could be improved in our lives, and for some reason we’re really good at noticing them and then pointing them out to others. No end.

But then when you’re there, whining and bitching in your head about something really frustrating or annoying or how tired and stressed you are… you can just stop for a split second and ask yourself the classic question: What about if this is as good as it gets? Say that you, right now, are at the high point of your life. Then shouldn’t you be overjoyed over all the amazing things you have at the moment? How about the fact that you don’t have a blister on your heel, that the coffee wasn’t a dollar more expensive than it was, your mother didn’t call you a whore today, and yes, it’s raining, but it’s not hailing! For lots of people the reverse psychology of thinking about how much worse things could have been doesn’t work, but just consider, we really notice the bad things when they are present, wouldn’t it put us in a better mood if we noticed how un-present they were?

And if you’re depressed, if you find yourself constantly bitching and moaning and making the people around you cringe when you walk into a room because they know their mood is about to drop by about 30 degrees… so what? What is so wrong with not being happy all the time? It’s a bloody fact that we can’t maintain the same happiness for an extended amount of time – actual study showed that people, after having won a really big, like huge, sum from the lottery were right back at the same level of “happiness” a week after the win as they had been at before the win. This is true! -, and every single person, be they life-coach or millionaire or rock star or preschool-teacher, every single human on this earth has had, or is about to have, a bad day. But no, when there’s misery on the horizon, people run. When did sadness, anger and frustration turn into the Black Death of our time?

So kids, happiness cannot be maintained as a constant. Happiness is a bit of a rollercoaster and if you don’t like it that’s tough shit. P.S Doing E won’t help, I’m sorry. I don’t know this from personal experience but I have noticed from hours of observation that drugs wear off once you run out of them. Sorry. And if you’re feeling down, don’t be so afraid to show it. Please don’t go all emo and start cutting yourself and your bangs, because a) it looks bad on most people and b) the bathroom zink becomes a mess and you’re probably going to be too depressed to care about cleaning up yourself, so someone else will have to do it. But don’t go around trying to hide your sadness thinking people will run from you if you don’t. There is nothing wrong with not being the most energetic flying squirrel on a sugar-high around, 24/7/365,25. Because nobody is. It’s OK not to be OK.

O brave new world. That has such people in’t!

Good evening/morning/midday/midnight my dears! I have once again managed to be absent for an indecent period of time, and have come back with some new perspectives.

Exactly. Perspective. That’s what my brain has been mulling over in the very slow and painful process of thinking these past few days. So allow me to just as slowly and painfully take you through the reasons why, and what is has finally come up with. Oh, and don’t expect anything grand.

A few days ago my lovely boyfriend came for a very enjoyable visit; we went out to a great restaurant, set out on a midnight hunt for chocolate in dangerous territory, went dress-hunting but found only pizza and Zippo lighters and most glorious of all, talked. We discussed little things and big big things, and somewhere in there, I gained new perspective. The realisation that some things you just cannot understand until you have actually experienced them yourself! “Huh. Well that’s fairly obvious” you might say. But just stop to think for a second.

We are the centre of our universe. From within our heads, we observe, think, smell, sense, calculate, remember and react to everything that happens around us. From within our heads, we imagine what it feels like to be someone else, or to be in a different situation, one so very foreign to you that your brain has to conjure images from movies long ago seen, stories long ago read and cat pee long ago smelled. Yet there’s a funny part of our brain that tells us that we understand exactly what the other person is talking about. A part we’d like to think of as not only imaginative and creative but also very empathic.

Dead wrong. Assuming that you understand someone else perfectly is the exact opposite of empathy. Empathy is to attempt to relate to what someone else is feeling, knowing that their situation is unique and you can only try to imagine what it feels like. But for some curious reason, this part of our brain – let’s call it the “I’m awesome because I can relate perfectly to everyone” part. Or maybe imo for short. – tells us that we in fact know what they feel, know what they think and so in some strange sense are connected to them and can not only offer kind advice and solace, but give instructions, and tell them that they are wrong.

Well, let’s just for a second try to tell that part of our brains to go screw themselves. I know that right now you’ll have to stop yourself from thinking either “I know exactly what she’s talking about, I feel like this all the time!” or “Whoa, she’s gone batty, she must be this and this kind of a person to talk like this, I have her pegged” but whichever one it is, that’s the part of our brains that we somehow can’t seem to switch off in the interactions we have with other human beings. Just try though.

From this place where we are standing now, isn’t it somehow easier to understand others? Because when someone says something, instead of our brain instantly jumping to five thousand conclusions about how they feel, what they must be thinking and what would make them feel better/what they ought to do about it, we can just sit back, watch, listen and actually hear what they are saying, and not what we think about what they are saying. I know it gets eerily quiet in there when you do this, but it’s also kind of fun, and a relief.

Maybe people would sometimes just like to be heard, to be listened to, and not to always get a pat on the back or a “The sun will come up tomorrow!”/”There are other fish in the sea!”/”Get off your high horses!”/”You’re doing it wrong!” etc. Maybe if we take the little imo in our heads and bundle it up in a roll of duct-tape and tuck it away in a dark corner for a few hours each day, we could honestly see what is going on around us, and not just what we think and feel about it all the time.

Studies (can’t remember where I read this now, was some kind of medical or psychological journal) made with 3 and 4-year-olds has shown that it’s around that age when, if put in front of a model of say, a small mountain, it’s around that age that children develop their ability to see the mountain from someone else’s perspective, and not just the side that they see. So we obviously have that ability somewhere. Unless we grew up and lost it. But are we really the people with “different-coloured lenses on our glasses” (thank you Fynn and Mr. God, This Is Anna. Still one of the best books ever) or do we have it in us to take those lenses off from time to time, open our eyes and see things as they truly are?

For he that hath, to him shall be given

Congrats to my boyfriend for guessing the previous post’s quote (are we surprised? Not me!). As promised, the person who guessed correctly also got to pick my theme for this weeks post. I got a few options and eventually settled for the one that I was most unwilling to write about, because generally when you’re hesitant to write about something, it’s because you have a lot of questions/emotions regarding this thing, and so if you write about it, it will inevitably become very interesting.

Ha ha ha ha ha.

No, but seriously. Knowing me as well as he does, he said “Maybe you should write about the problem you have with people doing things for you, and them giving you things”. What does he mean, you may ask? Well. For the longest time, since my early teens, I cringe inside whenever someone does something nice for me, or gives me something. I get this instant rush of guilt, of “Why are you doing this for me? Do you want something from me? Or do you honestly think I deserve this?”, and as soon as I’ve – less than gracefully – accepted the gift – less than gratefully = either saying “Thank you!” a hundred times, as if the person gave me something absolutely wonderful, or grumbling about why they would do something like that for me, and could I please refuse to accept? – my mind starts racing towards options that would help me somehow repay the person for the favour/present.

Through the years I’ve had lots of theories as to why I do this. One is that I have this need to be one step ahead. I need the other person to know that I love them more, that they mean more to me than I do to them, and unless it’s either in perfect balance or I’m ahead of them in this “game”, then I panick and sit in a dark corner staring at the gaping void which is my debt to this person.

OK, that’s a little over dramatic, but you get the point.

Another possible reason is I really do not feel like I’ve earned anyone’s kindness, that I don’t deserve anyone going out of their way for me. That I have not made myself worthy their love and their displays of affection, so the little person in my head that goes “dude, you are a really crappy person, it’s a fact” has a great big party whenever someone does something really nice for me. “Look!” he says. “Here’s this really awesome person doing something really nice for you. We both know you don’t deserve it, in fact you barely deserve being acquainted with someone this awesome, so I think you should feel really, really bad about yourself now. OK. You work on that and I’m just going to go make some tea.”

Either way, it’s something I can scarcely get past, no matter how hard I try. If someone gives me a compliment about how I’m a great person or how gorgeous I look, it takes a whole lot of willpower to just say “thank you” instead of “Uhm, is there a person standing behind me that I don’t know about?” or “You are mistaken, you just need to get to know me a little better”. If someone offers me a ride, I need to be able to give them gas money, or supper, or coffee, and if all else fails, a really big hug and an “I owe you one! Next time we have lunch it’s on me!”

The number of times I’ve snuck money into people’s bags and coats, the backseat of their car, dropped a bill on the floor so they’d have to pick it up or dashed to the cash so I can pay for the meal first are too many to count. The problem goes further where it takes quite a bit of effort to ask someone to do me a favour. To ask someone for a ride for instance, I first need to make sure it wouldn’t be a bother to them, and that I can give them something in return. To ask someone to pick something up for me from the store, I need to make sure I’m cooking them dinner later. If I want someone to look at something I’ve written, I need to at least do that for them in return, or maybe send them a “thank you!” card. When I lived in Canada, our aforementioned crazy downstairs neighbours turned out to be a hopeless case and there was never peace between our two households, but here’s a little story as an example for what I’m talking about.

One Christmas, I worked long hours at both my jobs, so I was never at home and when I was it was more or less to sleep or eat. I had no energy to get the house nice for Christmas, especially when I’d be spending so little time in it. So there were two or three decorations kicking around in the living-room, but no lights, no tree, no nothing like that. I really didn’t think much of it till the neighbours left a rather acrid note, where among other things, they said “Tell Amki to stop being such a grinch and put up some lights and have a swig of wine and maybe she’ll enjoy Christmas better”. This note made me cry. Sobbing I explained to my boyfriend at the time that I was as far as one could be from a grinch, that I in fact owned not one but TWO Santa-hats, and that on both my jobs I spread the most Christmas-cheer out of anyone. So first I wrote this really elaborate poem, that went something like this;

There once was a girl, who lived on your roof.
She thought that for Christmas, she needed no proof,
That she loved it so dearly, with a glee and a joy,
That only was seen in a wee girl or boy.

Her neighbours they said “we think you’re quite bad,
yes, like a mean grinch!” and it made her right sad.
For Christmas she’d wanted some glimmering lights
to put on her house, and spark in the night.

But she’d had no time in between Christmas-shopping,
Between present-wrapping and all the corn-popping.

She hoped everyone knew, that in her heart beamed,
A love for the season that practically gleamed!
And that no-one would doubt it, so bright and so strong,
That it lit up her Christmas and all the year long.

But then as I was about to put that on their door-step, I realised it was just too spiteful, and unless it left them completely unphased, I’d just make them feel guilty. So instead, I found some time to get Christmas-lights, put them up on Christmas-eve, and left a little basket of chocolates with a note and a drawing of the Grinch on it which said; “Look up! Merry Christmas!” This resulted in the crazy neighbour-lady bundling up the stairs with a hastily wrapped box of chocolates and an offer to have some of their Christmas-dinner the next day. Everything was back to normal a few days later when they found some other strange thing to complain about. But yes, that is how I tried to resolve a situation that had started with a rather nasty insult.

This trait of mine must be really annoying to most people. Mainly because I do so love giving people things, and doing stuff for others. Now, that’s not in general. I’m not a good Samaritan. Though I get a little burst of happiness every time I manage to help a perfect stranger in whatever little way I can. But that’s just the self-righteousness getting to my head. No. I just absolutely love giving things to the people I love, anything I can do to make their lives better, anything at all to make them understand how important they are to me. So when someone loves giving and doing things for you, but turns into this little cringing, pale, wide-eyed creature every time you try to do the same for them, it tends to get annoying in the long run.

So, does anyone else have this problem? Have you had this problem but managed to work through it to the other side, where you can accept things like a normal person and not feel a twinge of guilt? Do you have any suggestions? Would you simply like to say “Oh my, first world problems, poor you. Over dramatic nutcase”? Anyway, comments of any kind would be welcome.

Oh. And the same thing goes for this post’s quote as for previous one!

I frown upon him, yet he loves me still

You may well wonder why I didn’t apologise in my latest post for not having written in so long. Well. It occurred to me that since I haven’t made any promises about posting on a regular and frequent basis, I haven’t really let anyone down, and so there was nothing to apologise for. And I’m rather sure that even my most dedicated readers – if I have such – do not walk around crying for days if I haven’t posted in a while. So I figured maybe I’ll stop apologising for something that doesn’t really make anyone angry or sad.

Speaking of moods and feelings, those are things that have come to me easier of late. To people who have just met me, I tend to come off as a – and here I’m quoting comments that people who don’t know me have made on my behaviour and mannerisms – energetic, happy, enthusiastic, cute, nice person. I think this has something to do with a) I can get very easily excited by very silly and mundane things, b) I tend to smile and laugh a lot, because I noticed that people who cry all the time aren’t invited to parties as often, c) I have this problem where I need people to like me so I’ll be very friendly and d) if I don’t feel like I’m up to being social and nice I don’t leave the house.

But also, and most of all, I have since my teen-years done a really good job at hiding and suppressing my negative feelings about people or events. I have a fear of confrontation that prevents me from speaking my mind on many an occasion, and I constantly worry that other people will get down or depressed if I express any displeasure or sadness when around them. So in all of my friendships, I have very few fights, and never any serious ones. The last time I raised my voice at someone I was 16 and the someone were two random kids who ran past me at a summer-fair and sprayed me with that horrible gooey foam-stuff they have in cans. (To whomever invented those things; I kind of hate you.)

Most importantly of all, it has prevented me from having fights in my romantic relationships, at least until very recently. I was worried that I, when angered, would say hurtful things that I couldn’t take back, and that mayhap my outburst would lead to a break-up, or the other person seeing me in a different light, or that they might perhaps feel really guilty about their behaviour and try to make up for it for months afterwards. So instead I would do my best to shut up whenever something didn’t feel right, whenever I felt a bit mistreated or overlooked, and I would either try to blame it on my own inadequacy, or go around harbouring this grudge for really long, and eventually bring it up at some point months later, together with a long list of other misunderstandings and slights – guys, if this sounds familiar to you, that might be because lots of women tend to do this very same thing, only some of them just put hot sauce in your underwear instead of trying to discuss the issues at a later time -, which would make my other half very confused and quite hurt. This would generally end with me apologising for my behaviour, and the issues were never resolved.

I know, very healthy behaviour. I thought this was a bad cycle that could never be broken; me getting hurt or upset, not saying anything and bottling it all up, taking it out on myself or letting the other person know way past the issues expiration date (you know it’s past the expiration date when it starts getting this funny-looking red mould stuff on it) and eventually feeling like crap for saying anything, apologising and ending up with nothing resolved and a little more guilt on my conscience.

But you know how we tend to think we can’t change and then realise one day that we have? It hit me about a month or two ago, when I just had a fight with my boyfriend (who has a blog, check it out and pat him on the back for being such a good person to fight with!). Anger and hurt had been felt, words had been said – no name-calling though, to everyone’s relief. I suck at name-calling anyway -, misunderstandings had been had and eventually cleared up, apologies made and everything was back to normal. Then it dawned on me. I had never, NEVER had a fight with my significant other before! At first I panicked for a second, wondering if this was a bad sign perhaps, but then I mentally broke down laughing at myself. How could fighting be a bad sign in a relationship? Something so normal, something that everyone does, something that is perhaps vital to a healthy relationship?

I asked the relative of a friend of mine what she thought was the secret to a healthy long-term relationship, the very day after we’d – we = in this case, me and boyfriend – had a really proper fight, and to my great surprise her answer was, straight up, without hesitation; “You have to be able to fight”. Needless to say, I laughed helplessly for a few minutes. The world is strange sometimes. Over time I thought more and more about this, and tried to figure out why this was. Why were the fights necessary, why would they be good, would a relationship work without them, what are the pros and cons? I realised rather early on that of course there are different reasons why people fight, and HOW they fight, and that these differences are very crucial.

The unhealthy fights – and please remember I have only been an observer to these and can’t really speak from my own experience, so feel free to butt in with comments and your own perspective – often come from one or both parties feeling hurt/betrayed/overlooked etc. A dangerous thing with these fights is that one or both parties feel wronged, and that instantly also makes them go “I am the victim here, you are the bad guy, and I am right”. When someone steps into a fight with the “I’m right” card taped to their forehead, getting anywhere in that argument is going to be very difficult. These fights tend to escalate into the kind of screaming profanities at the top of your lungs, packing your bags, slamming doors kind of thing. I think it’s impossible for an argument like this to end well until both parties learn to listen to what the other person is saying and give them a bit of empty space to express themselves properly in.

The healthy fights – and if you don’t think there can be such a thing please say so and why – mostly come from one or both parties not really understanding where the other person is coming from, and why they are doing/saying what they are doing/saying. In these fights, people will be upset as well, but only because they can’t understand the person they love in this instance and that always makes people sad. This tends to not result in name-calling, but rather a lot of hand-waving and the voice climbing maybe and octave or so as you try to get the other person to listen. The reason these fights are good is because there is no “I’m right” card on anyone’s forehead, but simply a “Would you mind explaining what the hell you’re doing, you idiot. P.S I love you” sign on the wet floor. In these fights, there’s an unspoken understanding that whatever the other person is doing it’s probably not to hurt you, and nothing personal, and you will probably stop being so mad at them once you understand why. You can look past the upset feelings of the fight into a future – hopefully nearby, long fights are never fun – where you can understand why, and once you understand, you just love each other more.

So no, I’m not saying that constantly fighting is going to build a stronger, healthier relationship. Nor that yelling and feeling upset every once in a while is a fun and productive past-time. But I am saying that if you can’t fight, if there is never any reason for you to fight, then you are either cloned from each other and have no individual thoughts, or you are hiding the hurt feelings and misunderstandings, keeping them to yourself and sowing seeds of resentment that will eventually make cracks in the foundations of your relationship, so you had better talk while the wound is still fresh, or it might always leave a scar there.

(Seeing as how in this post I sound like some kind of relationship-guru that’s hopped up on caffeine and narcissus-gas, I would really like your input and stories from your own personal experience.)

 

Fun competition! First person to identify the quote I used for a title to this post and tell me the name of the author and the work it was in – in the comments below, creepy phone-calls from hidden numbers are discouraged – gets to pick the topic of my next post! Not much of a prise I know, but it’s the best I can do for now, I spent all of my money on Roombas.