Tag Archives: opinion

friday ‘finking | insecure me, insecure you

We all have them and they live at a particularly exact address: all over the cerebral cortex, with vacation homes in the frontal lobe and the limbic system.  You’ll often find them there, dancing a dancing plague with Oedipus’ and Electra’s complexes, hand in hand with unrevealed-yet Freudian slips and singing out loud tunes of past depressions.

Fears, insecurities, complexes, call them what you may- they’re a constant and they usually

a) come bundled up (where there’s one, it usually has friends- coocoo needs company, don’t it?);

b) are hard to get rid of- if anything, age and a combination of self-imposed “I finally like who I am now, I did two classes on self-discovery, it’s so great to embrace who I am” + a wide array of repeated self-fulfilling prophecies make them fatter, quicker to fire through our neurons and thirstier for those poisonous chemicals that support the whole thing;

c) affect us all- we ALL have them. Like I said, coocoo does need company.

So we know what they’re about. We try to address them by either confronting them straight up (you know, the classic I’m gonna jump out of a plane for my 30th birthday because I’ve always been afraid of heights. And I’m gonna start a support group for people like me, and I’m gonna write a blog about this experience, and I’m gonna throw a party for it because I-was-so-weak-and-this-was-sooooooo-liberating, haters gonna hate but I defeated the fear monster, ohmygodimsostrongnow) or by building smart, fluid, compensatory mechanisms to hide them from ourselves and others. Which is terribly human, and terribly ok- particularly when the result is self- awareness and acceptance that hey, not all of us mortals are perfect (and if we’re not, maybe others are not, either, so let’s play nice with each other, shall we?).

But when the playing nice does not happen, insecurities become more apparent, and we can’t help but notice them (it’s like staring at an ugly wound- it’s gross, but you can’t take your eyes off that damn pus). So here are a few signs someone in your life might have sensitivities towards you that you, the be-the-better-man should try to mind (if you can, that is. Sometimes knowing he/she is insecure doesn’t make it easier to deal with their grouchy, judgmental, unfriendly ass):

1. They like to take the opposite side (don’t be fooled by an affirmation- anything followed by a “but” is nothing but a contradiction in disguise: “yes, but…”)

2. They unassumingly, discreetly remind you how good they are at something. If you admire a new piece of clothing on a common friend, you’ll probably hear “hey, X, didn’t I help you pick that?”- or something along those lines.

3. They take their time introducing you to their friends or making you part of their outside-the-circle activities.

4. They’re askholes. Masked as someone with great intentions and respect for you and what you have to say, an askhole always asks for your opinion, but never follows your advice.

On the same note, they’ll try hard not to ever be in your debt. Whether that takes the form of them insisting on splitting the bill and paying back a gift with another (often more expensive, more carefully picked one) or by never asking for help (when you know they need it, and they know you would give it in a heartbeat), not owing you anything= power.

5. If you ever are so uninspired as to wrong them and fuck up, breach yourself. Doesn’t matter if your mistake is unintentional, if your dog died and you’re depressed, if you don’t speak the language or if you simply thought it wouldn’t be such a big deal- once they see you slip, they’ll prefer to think it’s because you’re badbadbad and will make it a mission to not only point it out, but find other victims of your destroying behavior and be their savior. Game over.

(Now, all of the above are points to look after in people who are close to you, whom you cherish and who care for you in return. If not, that means these behaviors are a pretty clear sign you’re not on the same page, and maybe you should be worried about whether they even like you… just sayin’.)

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friday ‘finking | women are vegetables

Women are savory, men are sweet. (Whoa, get back, this is not a value statement. It doesn’t mean anything but a play on concepts, so bare with me. You’ll say that it’s women who eat sweets, and men like salty, that the girls are soft and the boys are harsh, etc.etc. Sure. But maybe women eat sweets because they lack sugar, how ’bout that?!)

Assuming you do have the patience to go through this exercise (in-hale. ex-hale. now think), let me tell you why I believe women are savory and men are sweet (for the sake of this discussion, we’ll forget about sour, bitter and hot [which is not exactly a taste, since we perceive it not with the taste buds, but the pain receptors in our mouth]). Weeeeell… women are savory because they are food (you have to have it, no matter how gross, it still is nutritious). Men are sweet because they are dessert (you go on and fill in this parenthesis with whatever crosses your mind).

Now, if women were savory and we were to put them in a food category diverse enough to cover all their types, I will go on a limb here and say women are vegetables. They need some seeding, some water to grow, a lot of attention; they have a young phase (when eating them too young is both a pleasure and a sin) and a mature, perfect phase; they have a specific cooking temperature and a specific nutrient value; and they have a point where, even dead, they can make some damn good compost.

Here are some of the classic types:

Lady Onion– probably a Pisces, she is the most romantic of the bunch. Her outfits are complicated and well put together from multiple layers, and she is the only one who still owns petticoats, dress slips, silken thigh-highs and bustiers (if wealthy, she is likely to be a Vivienne Westwood aficionado). She likes dreamy soap operas, which she watches drinking tea from a very old and demure tea set. Her lashes are always long and perfectly mascara’d, and she uses them quite often when she’s flirting; another powerful weapon is the streams of perfume she disguises herself in but by which she is easily recognizable. She’s good in crowds, and whether young or old she can bring a plus of savor to any meeting. She sighs quite frequently and she is easily moved by crudeness or misplaced attention, usually ending up in a river of tears over the most trivial of issues. When cooked by the fires of love, she becomes a ghost of herself, almost translucid, sweet and sacrificially discreet. Madame Bovary was an Onion.

Lady Artichoke– a master of disguise and double-entendres, this gal makes the subject of movies, books and infatuations world-round. She’s smart, she’s shrewd and she can talk herself out of any situation. Words are her weapons, although she’s also good looking, poised and very put together. She possesses a huge reservoir of knowledge as well as the most random of abilities- from speaking ancient Greek to car-repairing skills to having an acute vision in the dark. Her sharp tongue and keen self awareness make her magnetic and irresistible to the hoards of men who are ready to die at her door, writing her poems and buying her gifts. She’s almost impenetrable and it takes a long time and a lot of discovering before truly getting to her core. When you do, you’ll discover a very intense, fascinating, umami heart as interesting and as capable as the person who’s carrying it. Most female politicians and all the spies we know of were artichokes.

Lady Potato– very plain but strong and oddly symmetrical, like one of those candidates for “Complete makeover” (has all the right elements to be comely, but no songs will be written about her looks. Her personality is rather beige, as well). Takes the right person to pull her out of her cozy environment, but once out she can adapt to any group and any situation- without ever standing out. She’s the universal companion, never too special but always there, sturdy and healthy like an ox, almost asexual but fertile like no other. No matter the age or girth, she’s always inelegant but never completely ugly, as her kindness and loyalty can easily be read and are always heartwarming. Sentimentally, it takes a long time to get her going because she’s the most stubborn of all women, but there are many ways to make her fall in love- once fully cooked she comes alive and turns into a comforting, familiar, purposeful and long-lasting partner.

Lady Tomato– this one is juicy, exotic, and fragrant- the woman all women admire and feel threatened by (and rightfully so). She’s warm and organic but also sharp and ballsy. She’s not necessarily trying to be in everyone’s faces, but she enjoys the spotlight and it’s usually impossible to ignore her. She’s artsy, crafty, well read and well travelled- a citizen of the world with interest in politics, arts and gastronomy who also has a taste for unique clothes and accessories. She personalizes everything she touches and her style is easily recognizable as a tasteful combination of unique elements, both old and new, bold and discrete, industrial and ethnic. She’s very social, probably dedicated to various charity causes and a community- builder. Interesting and delicious, she has the zest  for life that makes the subject of life- long passions and friendships. Comfortable in any situation and any entourage, she’s a fantastic lover and one of the few females who get better with age.

Lady Lettuce– out of the bunch, this one is the absolute party girl, the “yes” woman- for her, life is a fun game, and a breeze. Loud, sincere and unidimensional, she comes and goes as she pleases and can easily be mixed with any group, anytime, anywhere. She’s the one standing out through her outfits, her crazy hair, her voice and her ability to fill up the room with her presence. She knows the latest jokes, cares about the latest fashions, remembers everyone’s birthdays- she’s a true networker. She can be very smart, but she normally prefers not to get herself involved in delicate issues such as politics or religion (or philosophy, for that matter). She’s always down to play, ready for any adventure, simple and tonic, fun and actual. She rarely falls in love, and when she’s cooked smitten she retires in her den to lick her wounds- so you won’t ever see her other than rational, fresh and ready to go. The best PR agents are lettuces.

Lady Celery– you know a celery because 1. she’s probably wearing her hair short and 2. her perfume is something citrusy. She’s a tyrant of the gym and her body is a temple. She exercises, she eats well, she trims and plucks and moisturizes and she has very specific tastes in everything. She’s subject to a self-imposed draconic discipline which she respects and follows 24/7. She’s tough, she’s clean, she’s detailed and she makes a very dedicated friend, with the condition that you don’t mess with her routines, schedule or diet. She never half-asses things, and she’s always in control of her feelings, her surroundings and her professional life- in short, she’s a tank. She makes a great lover, because her relationships are built with the same dedication, discipline and no-drama attitude. Nadia Comaneci (if you don’t know who that is, shame on you- go look her up) is a classic celery.

Lady Bean– dry, smart and tough as nails, this gal is one of the most interesting in the whole bunch although she does have a tendency to be a misanthrope. She’s the ageless woman dedicated to reading, cats and fashion and usually she’s an apparition you want to touch, listen to, watch and have around. She’s probably a chain smoker, a master at cards and a connaisseur of all society games. Her tastes are refined but she sometimes surprises with her improbable choices- like her preference to drink beer dressed in the most elegant of gowns, at the most exclusive, champagne-only ball. She has an incredible sense of (dry) humor, which she uses to guard herself as she’s, in fact, a softie. It comes in all shapes and sizes, but it always takes a loooooooong time to get her going and reach her un-protected, raw, loving core- once there, though, she’s one of the most delicious, surprising, satiating girls out there.

 

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yuckityyuck | things we know as kids and forget as adults

Yesterday, I ate some worms. No, really.

I am sick out of my mind because, of course, summer is when a normal person gets a cold, right? So yesterday I roll out of my bed, all achy and snotty and sounding like a hydraulic pump, sweaty as hell and feeling like all the booboos of the world congregated somewhere between my nose and the back of my brain. And, with my stomach in knots and my throat scratchy like sand paper, I decide that a nice bowl of cereal is what I need. I go to the pantry, I pick a box, I see there’s enough left for exactly one portion, I pour it into a nice bowl and cover it with almond milk, I grab a nice spoon, I turn the on the olympic games and let myself fall in a cozy armchair. Indulgence. Bliss! I chew slowly, the raisins are plumply popping in my mouth, the milk is silky and delicious and I fucking love it.

And then I see them. Half way through chewing my tenth mouthful, I see them. TENS of them. Worms. Floating. White, fat, and drowned in a sweet death of organic almond milk. What followed was rather cartoonish, with a stunned me blinking like an idiot, my mouth full, staring at the spoon and panicking in disgust, amazed at 1. the fact that the whole thing is tasty as hell and 2. the fact that I’m not puking with a vault like the dumb dude in the Jackass videos.

The aftermath is pretty straight forward, therefore rather boring (spit. clean my mouth with soap. drink a lot of water. discard the wormy cereal. wash the bowl. stare at the box. reflect), so I won’t talk much about it. However, I really got hung up on the fact that, want it or not, I ate some worms. And that they were delicious when I didn’t know I was eating them, but became disgusting as soon as I found out I’m actually chewing on insects. The whole thing made me think: how many more things are there we, adults, are conditioned about and forgot how to enjoy?

1. Gross is fun. Handling crawlers and critters, slapping mud, putting your hands on everything, walking through marshes heaping with leeches, chasing smelly chickens, examining worms and frogs, staring at piss and shit, running barefoot, not minding dog hair, eating stuff you dropped in dirt, licking icicles (real ones, not the type you buy), kissing (all) animals, sharing your gum- remember all THAT? Wasn’t it fun to not care? Wasn’t it delicious to actually look at yourself and see that you’re all dirty? The growing up shit we all do (learn-about-microbes, shun bodily functions, move from the back yard into a sterile concrete office and so on) plus the invention of hand sanitizer killed all the joy. So go ahead, go do something gross we used to have fun with as kids. Like, fart.

2. Your body is fun. Playing with your weewee moves from exploratory to dirty a bit too quickly, in my humble opinion- I’m still amazed that parents nowadays make their 4 year olds wear bathing suits, complete with tiny bras for little girls- really?? Isn’t that a little extreme- even for decency’s sake? What ever happened to finding your belly button and being so fascinated with it you’re drooling all over yourself? What happened to giving names to all of your toes, to staring at yourself while you make faces in the mirror, to cutting your own hair and laughing about it? (Note: we all know adults who are so enamored with themselves they can’t help but staring at their reflections in every window they pass by- that’s NOT the type of self-love I’m talking about. Being aware of your body, liking it for what it is, not obsessing over what it looks like- you know, having fun with it without feeling guilty, or dirty, or weird- that’s what I’m talking about). So go on. Touch your toes. Explore your belly button. When’s the last time you looked at your tongue?

3.  Forgetting is fun. Not much to say here…. except that I’m still shuddering about eating worms. And I miss the times when life came to me hour by hour, when my brain was so busy discovering the new that it didn’t linger much on the old, when I was programmed to forget what was unpleasant and move the fuck on. When I didn’t mentally go over my conversation with my boss a hundred times, each time picturing a new way to eat the bitch alive. When I didn’t get so hung up on shit I couldn’t control. So go ahead, for your own sake, and remember to forget.

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ready, steady, fight | 5 reasons why conflict is good

Harmony? Not for me. Go ahead, boo. But enough with the zen, I say! (If only for the fact that this zen thingie is- and should remain- something to vie for, intangible- indescribable- and- absolute. All the hoards of seasonal seekers who pretend they are it do nothing but cheapen the hell out of an otherwise deeply meaningful philosophical concept. But that’s another story.)

I believe nothing good ever came out of harmony. True, it is most desirable, because it’s rare and yet easy on the brain (symmetry is the easiest on the eye, harmonies are the easiest on the ear, and so on) – but it’s also true that in nature, most things are unstable and balance is not only hard to attain, but also almost impossible to maintain.

Chemistry operates with instability. Chaos breeds creation. Conflict is what commends change. Big Bang, innovation, discoveries, evolution and revolutions alike happened because delta (the difference between what was and what had to be) was greater than zero.

Just to make sure we’re on the same page here, let me explain myself. To me, “conflict” is the existence of more than one angle to an issue, coupled with the high probability that more angles than one can be considered valid. In my book, conflicts are an imbalance that can very well exist in a benign, live-and-let-live state foreverandeveramen. But, more often than not, they get taken into action. Their manifestations, usually belligerent, range from a benign domestic debate to full-on international wars. This applied stage is what communism was for socialism: a twisted practical application of an otherwise inoffensive theory.

As a natural phenomenon and socio- political glue, I respect conflict. As a personal source of advancement and perpetual provider of fun, I also crave it.

Here are the 5 good things that, in my opinion, come from conflict:

1. Information– imagine, say, three people who know each other well and have the same views. If you’re trying to tell me that their talk about the weather, the last soccer game they watched or the color of their kids’ fecal matter is a conversation, you’re delusional.  After all, to converse comes from the Latin conversus, “turned around”. Information gets exchanged if, and only if the parties have different tastes, preoccupations and habits and, therefore, curiosities that need be fulfilled through the analysis of delta (in this case, the difference between what I know and what you know).

2. Therapy– not only you’re letting steam out about everything and their mother (sleazy boss? Shitty in- laws? PMS?), but fighting provides an occasion to spill the beans on everything you’ve been keeping inside on the subject. A heated argument is the only acceptable venue for becoming a little extreme, and when both parties do it it’s.. well, therapeutic. Out with the poison, in with the relief.

3. Productivity– in physics, the sum force of two opposing forces is the difference between the two- if the two forces are equal, the sum is zero and you’ve accomplished precisely shit. The smaller the angle between the two, the larger the sum force. I am not one to preach compromise, but I do have a streak of utilitarianism in me, and I do believe there’s always a middle way that may make all parties happy. But in order for that ideal, productive way to be found, differences- and conflict- need first be acknowledged. In other words, if there’s more people than you in a particular issue, chances are that the best solution for everybody is not exactly what you want- get over yourself and accept that.

4. Socializing– if you think your kid will learn basic social skills from you hovering over him like a freak and telling him “no, Billy, you need to share”, “no, Billy, you need to be nice”, “no, Billy, put your penis back in your pants”, you’re- again- delusional. Billy will wait until he’s old enough to close a door and the first thing he’s gonna do is slam it in your face. NONONO. What Billy needs is what we all grew up with- a cold shower. Distributed religiously, every day, by other kids. Only through trial and error will he learn what it means to be part of a group, of a hierarchy (commanded mostly by age, at that age) and a network and, most importantly, how he can influence his position in this network. Billy will also learn to talk, not talk, approve, disapprove, make friends, deal with enemies, stand up for himself, stand up for others, be humble, be proud, be competitive, risk, pay off, think, choose, suck up and suck it up. All- thanks to differences.

5. Make up sex. And this, my friends, is pretty self- explanatory.

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hiya, comrade | 5 signs you grew up in Communism

Communism is not dead. Not while my entire generation of always- hungry, always- cold, hypochondriacally, emotionally scarred and perilously reactionary Eastern Europeans  is still alive, roaming the world and every once in a while tweaking from some old memory trigger, like dogs in a Pavlov experiment. I grew up grey, silent and scared- most def not feeling or playing victim here, but looking back at my childhood the truth (that I grew up grey, silent and scared) is even harder to deal with now than when I was living it. For the very simple reason that now I know more about what could have been and wasn’t- not for my generation, and not for my parents’.

As a kid, life seemed real easy- all you needed to do to survive was to keep your mouth shut, do everything your parents tell you to do, never ask questions, never display any artistic tendencies other than for glorifying the party and, most importantly, study your little brains off. Life was regimented, and everything was planned for you by the beloved dictator- what to eat (because everything was on ration), what to study (because all curricula were pre-set nation-wide), where to work (because everyone got assigned a job and that was that), what city to live in (according to your job repartition) and how many kids to have (correct answer: as many as possible, as abortions were illegal and the whole thing was enforced with mandatory monthly GYN exams. No, really. The party needed as many little buggers as it could get). Cars could only drive every other day according to their license plates- to save the country some precious gas, I guess. Vacation was mandatory, through pre-arranged, pre-approved travel packages according to your position. Aside from all the things you could and had to do, there was also a shitload of things you absolutely could not do (not without being taken away and made friends with a salt mine, that is): make jokes about the party, switch careers, buy gold, leave the country, refuse to make politics, own anything that was not locally-produced (including, say, a pair of jeans), go to church, like the West, read any censored material, state your opinion, stand out, have an abortion etc.- and that was that.

But again, as a kid, life seemed easy. Sure, your phone was bugged and sometime you could even hear the guy breathing while surveying your conversation, but that didn’t seem so bad back then. Sure, your papa could suddenly and mysteriously disappear if you happened to admit to knowing what a banana tastes like- but even that was easy to learn how to avoid. The school uniforms, the teacher’s appropriate beatings and calling-of-names, the severe lack of toys and the fact that you would only see chocolate at Christmas were also fine- because we didn’t know anything else. So life was good, Communism was fine, and childhood happened without us ever developing a consciousness as pieces in a big, drab and rather ugly puzzle. And we certainly didn’t know that, as adults, we’ll become shiny, funny upside- down mirrors of our ingenuous political past.

But we did, and now we know where our weird, shitty habits stem from.

So- in case you think you’ve been adopted, or sometimes find yourself using some harsh foreign accent that seems to come naturally, or maybe suffered from memory loss and want to meet your former self, well… read on. You might just discover you grew up a Communist.

Here are the signs:

1. You’re paralyzed by choice– also called The Syndrome Of Infinite Possibilities, our inherent lack of exercise when it comes to making choices shows its ugly head almost every day. We go crazy when we need to pick our college classes, we overanalyse to the point of madness and we spend hours staring at supermarket racks, reading every label, crazily overwhelmed with options.

2. You are paranoid– this one is pretty self- explanatory. You’re scared. You’re pissing your pants every time you said too much, shown too much, known too much (or too little). You feel every deal is an attempt to rip you off. You are convinced you’re on your own and you should always, always keep an emotional reserve, even from your life partner. You put yourself down just to make sure  no one else gets to (“You, kill me? You, kill ME?!? NO, I KILL ME!!!!!”). Kindness makes you skeptical, as do praises. You don’t know how to take a compliment, and criticism almost flatters you- as you really, really think it’s only given out by people who secretly envy you.

3. You know stuff 15 years after high school- like, all capitals. You also: speak several languages (including Latin), are pretty good with geometry and calculus, can write cursive with the dexterity of a surgeon, know pre-med anatomy and can recite Mendeleev’s periodic table- because they made sure we studied (with a stick at hand for the occasional- and very painful, especially on the knuckles- correction).

4. Secrets– you know what the wrong word can do to a person (umm… get ’em arrested?), so you are very, very careful with what information you let out. When you come to possess secrets, you’re a tomb. You keep yours, you keep your friends’, you keep your neighbors’, you keep your dog’s. And when there are no official secrets to be kept, you start filtering info anyway. Just in case.

5. You own things, things don’t own you– yes, there was a recoil after the revolution- for the longest time people were supposed to own the same amount of stuff, so now you binge. And you buy. And you buy- just in case tomorrow there’s nothing to buy anymore. But even so, things are just things to you- they’re important, they can make you happy, but they do not own you. However, a few mentions have to further be made:

a. Homo faber– in other words, you make shit with your hands. Back in the day things broke down hard and long, and after 50 years of practice everyone can repair and rebuild everything and their momma. So you, too, can sow buttons, weave carpets, trim vineyards, bake bread, repair electric networks and, if in dire straights, act as a dentist, dactylographer, pedicurist, mechanic or therapist. In your house, nothing gets thrown away because everything can be repurposed and used anew.

b. Luxury is cheap- it takes you exactly 1.47 minutes to learn how to rock the most sophisticated outfits, maneuver chop sticks or recognize the most expensive of perfumes, because you’re the third generation dreaming of the nice stuff you see in movies- and you’re ready for it. That being said, you can always make happy with very little… and you know, you really do know the difference between “want” and “need”.

c. Fixations- you got’em. Be it something you saw in movies, or something some foreign tourist had left behind on the beach, or something your father bought on the black market and your family used, in deep secrecy, at very special occasions- whatever it is, you’re sure to have a fixation. Mine is Nivea creme- back then the blue tin box was the symbol of capitalism, hence illegal, therefore very hard to procure- and now, of course, I amass it in considerable quantities all over the house- just in case tomorrow they stop production.

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