happiness

Those Rare, Magical, No Internet Days

The crash may last between nine hours and four days,  the symptoms are generally the opposite of the stimulant effects. A person in the crash phase of  withdrawal may sleep for days, notice changes in appetite, and feel depressed and agitated. During acute withdrawal — which may continue for 1-3 weeks — irritability, fatigue, depression, insomnia, anxiety, and cravings are common.

Imposed by deliberate decision or due to the unwanted technological obstacles I’ve experienced quite a bit of internet free days since the beginning of this month. A week ago I was forced to stay in this new state of ‘freedom’ for the whole weekend (tragic, I know, I’m fine now).

Long story short: after some signs of anxiety started to kick in, it was time to start making phone calls. What does an internet provider have to possess in order to be an internet provider in the first place? That’s easy – a shitty costumer service. After a couple of warm exchange of words, we had to agree to disagree in where the problem seems to be coming from. Conversation ended with their promise that Someone will call me and come over to check the router. Naturally, mister Someone never arrived, or did anyone call me, but luckily on Sunday evening my brother managed to fix  the cable problem or whatever and bring me back to life, make me feel like a member of something greater than myself.*

* this may or may not be a complete irony, just like everything else I ever wrote

Phase 1: Hysteria

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During those two and a half days, I was freaking out because:

a) I didn’t collect all the necessary exam materials

b) The new Jim Jarmusch film I thought I had on my laptop wasn’t really there (it was paused after 12% of the movie was downloaded)

c) I couldn’t send pictures of our dog to my sister 😦

d) How am I supposed to know what’s going on in the world?! Don’t tell me to turn up the TV to watch the news, never!

e) How am I supposed to keep up with the mostly unknown people’s lives on Instagram?

f) I didn’t know what to do when I get that sudden, insatiable desire to stream an episode of Seinfeld or It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

g) How do I make plans for going out with friends? Do I still have friends?

After finally reconnecting I downloaded the movie, but realized I don’t feel like watching it, answered a couple of ‘ARE YOU ALIVE??’ messages (ignored some of them, let them wonder you know, that’s sexy, mysterious and shit), turned the laptop off and continued reading the book I started that afternoon.

 

Same thing, different day

Sally Nixon: What Women Do When No One’s Watching

I would be chopping that book into little bits and pieces and dragging it around with me for the next two or three weeks until finally finishing it if I didn’t take another day off yesterday.

The thing is, I wasn’t feeling so well, I had a fever, headache, dizziness, cough – the whole disgusting package and even my poorly functioning brain realized staring into a screen trying to keep up with the Kardashians  complicated relationships in a certain David Cronenberg’s historic drama doesn’t work. I fell asleep, woke up, started thinking about stuff, got depressed a bit, stopped thinking about stuff, got up and grabbed that wonderful novel ( Life Is Elsewhere by Czech author Milan Kundera), started thinking about important, good stuff and finished the book. Even though I felt so beaten up, I could sense that my focus is back, alive and well, almost like it was when I was a kid that could easily devour a 400 page book in less than two days. I know those days are now far behind due to my Internet brain and some other reasons, but I also know there is a way of escaping the modern life shackles for a while.

In order to have an illusion of control, I made a list of what I need to start and or finish in the next week or so:

  • one horror movie review
  • watch two French New Wave films
  • watch David Lynch documentary
  • finish the essay on how Third-wave feminism lost its sense a while ago and is actually being contraproductive
  • start paying attention in my online literature class
  • Dedicate at least 10 minutes of the day to learning some Spanish (DuoLingo)
  • Finally start that small Tristan Tzara/Dadaism inspired post
  • Tell everyone how Kundera is the GOAT ✓

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Today, I am back online and while writing this I’m also watching three hot dog memes slowly dancing to Rihanna’s Wild Thoughts. Loving it. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, educate yourself.  Also, do yourself a favour and shut.it.all.out. from time to time.

Btw, that introduction quote is taken from a ‘recognize a drug addict’ website and is all about the cocaine withdrawal symptoms. Cheers!

The Ultimate Satisfaction

Be careful what you wish for, it might come true!

It’s exciting to daydream about future plans, but it can get a bit too exciting when all of a sudden it seems like it may actually come true. I want to do that… one day! If I had a penny for every time I said it, I would be moderately wealthy by now. Daydreaming in general is my safe place, it can be completely devoted to details like someone’s shoes and socks combination, or it can lead to making up hilarious scenarios in my head. The leading roles sometimes belong to people I know like friends and family, sometimes it’s random strangers or even completely invented personalities.

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It’s all about the Fear

I do feel like there was a certain change in my mindset, though. I no longer follow the familiar routine:

I’m not ready yet, I’ll do that after I’m done with this thing, and then I have to finish that other thing, and then I’ll go for what I have always wanted.

Solving the step by step puzzle becomes exhausting and in the end I’ll lose the primary goal from my focus and that’s that, until the next time when I start it all over again. What lies beneath it all is the fear that derives from two sources – the natural fear of failure and more complex and contradictory – the fear of success. Overthinking is the mother of all failures, it is even bigger than actual failure because it stops you from trying in the first place and that is when you feel unhappy. Overthinking is the opposite of the best Instagram filters – it brings out only the flaws and worst case scenarios, creating scary endings in our minds before we have even reached the beginning. It takes a lot of time to learn how to wrestle with the ‘overthink’ demon and finally pin him to the ground. We all have this image of our ideal self in mind, it can be more or less realistic depending on our ability to be an objective observer,  but the more you stray away from that image, the bigger the frustration.

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Never Complain, Never Explain

The best way of living a calm, fulfilled life comes from not comparing your own status, abilities and achievements with others. Sounds simple, but we all know it’s not always THAT simple, right? I suppose it was easier to achieve in the pre-Internet era, but when it comes to emotions and ambition, people weren’t that different 20, 30 years ago after all. Just the other day I had an interesting discussion with a friend that made me think about the absurdity of the social media persona most of us have created. It doesn’t mean we are all ‘selling’ that filtered image with a goal to become a brand and attract audience, but even the intimate moments serve as a representation of something we are trying to emphasize. What we seek with it, to be more precise, what our online persona looks for is approval. Approval of our life choices, looks, boyfriends, girlfriends, jobs, careers and lifestyles. The next step, if possible, is causing admiration and, although we are reluctant to admit it, jealousy. Just for a day, or maybe only for a couple of magical moments that are captured and enhanced through the lenses of our super smart phones, we are the winners. Yes. Look at me, I love life and it loves me back.

Don’t Follow Leaders

I don’t know what I think about it now, it used to annoy me much more before, I guess I’ve learned to deal with it. Also, I follow the imaginary line that gives me a ‘warning’ when someone crosses is it. My closest friends never cross that line of overly exposing themselves while begging for approval and I am very grateful for that. It makes me feel at peace and destroys the anxiety from its roots.

During our conversations we got to the conclusion how real satisfaction is achieved. I call it a ‘modern-day ultimate satisfaction‘. The recipe? I get goosebumps only writing about it, yet it’s so banal. When something (or someone)  special happens to you, you don’t immediately share it with the rest of the world. Maybe later,  but here’s a crazy idea,  maybe never.  You jealously keep that information for yourself and cherish the intimacy, there are no Facebook check-ins, photo albums  Instagram posts, screenshots,  etc.  Whether it’s just a shiny detail that made your day or grand life achievement that’s going to make a bigger impact,  don’t spill the beans just yet.  There is something so appealing in a dose of mystery, compare it to a sexy outfit that can be revealing, but it’s not really showing too much. This feel good experience can’t be overshadowed by any amount of attention. When it comes to making plans, I heard smart people conclude that the more you talk about your goals and dreams,  it is less likely they will come true.  So, once again,  be careful.

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Bubble Trouble

There are people who ‘get it’, also there are people who just don’t,  no matter how much you try to explain something.  I’m the one that likes all the best stuff – the best films, TV shows, books… If I stumble upon a classic movie that is praised by everyone, finally watch it and get disappointed because it didn’t live up to all the hype, I’ll tell you it’s overrated and worthless because my opinion truly matters, and if you don’t agree with me…

Well, you are entitled to your opinion and I respect that, but I will secretly judge you because I KNOW STUFF, I GET STUFF better than you do.

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This is an exaggeration of course, I’m not really a delusional narcissist, at least not a serious one.  I’m sure everyone has similar thoughts occasionally, even when we’re unaware of it.  We are born with a self-defence mechanism that keeps us in a bubble which helps us maintain confidence in our intellectual capacity and skills. Some bubbles are thicker, some are very fragile, they vary from being stable or changing from time to time. For instance, you know those days when you feel like things are perfectly falling into their place and with a little effort and focus, you can do whatever you set your mind to… and then there are the dog days when the gut keeps telling you it’s just not worth it, you’re going to die anyway, etc.

A piece of art about nothing

Nothing is everything. Experiences and routines we go through every day, people we meet and talk to, casual coffee breaks, business lunches, awkward first dates, sleepy late TV nights, not so casual sex encounters… Whatever you go through on a daily basis can be turned into a story for a broad audience.

In modern TV era no one had done it better than Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David. Seinfeld will stay forever relevant because it deals with those little daily ‘nothingness’ moments that can be so familiar. Even if you’re not a comedian who lives in NYC and hangs out with three equally crazy friends who are all, just like you, incapable of forming meaningful relationships while getting into absurd situations, and… oh well, you get it, even then, those Seinfeld stories seem ridiculously close and personal.  When the series came to an end after nine amusing seasons, Larry David placed himself in front of the camera, but this time in a much more aggressive and politically incorrect version starring in Curb Your Enthusiasm. Some even consider the show better than Seinfeld, but I can’t fully agree even though I enjoy every minute of it. I’ll never stop rewatching Seinfeld whether I’m going through each episode starting from the beginning, or just clicking on a random one, but sometimes you need to move on. I think Curb Your Enthusiasm is the answer as it represents a natural follow-up for every Seinfeld fan which comes in a more direct, more absurd, hard-boiled form.

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I have seen some of the Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Jerry Seinfeld’s way of creating a talk show with famous guests by literally driving them in a car, talking, then stopping at a coffee shop where they continue to, you guessed it, talk. I mentioned this to a friend who watched a Larry David as a guest episode and asked me ‘what the fuck was this all about, they’re just having a random conversation about basically nothing. And then it ends. And that’s it.’

Why is nothing bad? Why can’t nothing be enough? Of course it can, Seinfeld is a big pile of nothing in particular, but it didn’t stop it from rewriting the history of TV sitcoms. Obviously, there are people who ‘get it’ and those who don’t, no matter what.

This brings me to a completely different genre of films that are very important to me.  I hear people complaining a bunch of times about Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise – Before Sunset – Before Midnight trilogy being overrated because, as it’s written in the plot description:

‘The plot is considered minimalistic, as not much happens aside from walking and talking.’

And then it ends. And that’s it. What some people don’t like or don’t want to realise is that walking and talking can be more than enough. Whenever I watch any part of it, I am left with a big smile on my face overshadowed by melancholic yearning towards something or someone I have not necessarily met. Sometimes it’s clear to me that what I’m feeling is a complex set of mixed emotions towards a fictional construction, like living in a parallel universe for a while. I guess it’s because I strongly  identify myself with Céline, a character played by Julie Delpy, an actress who deserves a separate post so I won’t start going on about her right now. She is a careful romantic, kind of awkward because she thinks and (sometimes annoyingly) overthinks stuff and desperately looks for a conclusion even if the question is not easy or even impossible to answer. Completely rational and irrational and dreamy at the same time, that’s what draws me in every time, I guess.

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My conclusion would be, after years of trying to explain things I like to people I like in a way that doesn’t suit them doesn’t really make sense. If a couple just walking and going through all kinds of banal and complicated topics while contemplating the meaning of life and relationships isn’t someone’s cup of tea, what can you do? Tell them they are missing something very important? Tell them there’s more to movies than adrenaline packed action thrillers or dumb romantic comedies? No. We find what we like or it finds us eventually, it’s not that the other’s ‘don’t get it’, they just ‘get’ things differently and there’s nothing wrong with that as much as I would like to scream otherwise. 

Chin up, make sure your bubble stays strong, but peak out every once in a while to see more clearly what’s really going on.

 

New Year’s Resolutions For Dummies

Stop smoking. Less coffee, more water. Doing some exercise from time to time would be good. No sugar. Yes fibers. Be positive. Have a career. Make an impression.

Sounds a bit like the beginning of Trainspotting where, for a moment, we rebelliously agree with ‘don’t choose your parents’ life‘ rant but continue to do the opposite. New Year’s resolutions have proven to have 99 % chance of failure because of unrealistic expectations we impose to ourselves, especially at this continuously hungover part of the year when our minds and bodies are even weaker than usual.

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New Year, new me (image: Ewan McGregor in Trainspotting)

It’s just too much pressure and besides, who says those good, healthy choices are actually good for everyone in equal measure and should be treated as a higher value? How about stop focusing on generally proclaimed virtues and vices we’ve been hearing  through fairy tales since early age in which the world is presented as a canvas that has been divided in the middle with a firm, visible line? There’s blackness and evil with all of its mean, fucked up creatures on the left versus light, happiness, unicorns and princesses on the right. Fortunately, life is not that simple and boring, there’s a mixture of both sides in all of us so trying to get things perfect is useless and brings us nothing but a great deal of anxiety and long-lasting discomfort.

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There are lines that respective members of society shouldn’t cross, but they are not so firm and difficult to manage, they can easily be pushed, walked on, even coloured in order to pretend they’re not there. And also, the least but the most important – it’s not all about us, our moral codes and chosen lifestyles that are publicly revealed only to make others jealous, learning to step out of my head for a while to admire the world as a whole, complete place instead of dwelling on the same thoughts throughout the day is the only real goal for this and every other year.

The rest is much more simple, so I started to make a list (which is still in progress and will continue to be for the rest of 2017) of proposals I’m putting down ‘on paper’ in no particular order for my forgetful, confused future self:

  • Learn new recipes because you’re getting boring with the ones you have mastered by now, don’t play safe. Risk a little, ruin some food ingredients, that’s what cooking is all about! Totally.
  • Try writing in the morning and not late at night because your brain doesn’t work so good at the time as you like to think
  • Is it time maybe to start learning another language? No pressure, this is just a hint of a suggestion, just let that sink in first. Once again, no pressure.
  • Finish the books you are reading, what is the point in starting to read three books at once and then stopping in the middle of it although you liked them all? Seriously?
  • Get some brighter nail polish colours, there’s a whole bunch of crazy palettes to try to have fun with and you stick to black/red. I won’t say anything about the clothes this time.
  • Postponing it won’t make it go away. Or would it?
  • Live accordingly to this Polish saying: Not my circus, not my monkeys.
  • Play more with your dog.
  • Compliment people. That doesn’t include lying to them, just be kind.
  • Build a tolerance towards those who have completely different opinion (ideology, religion, opinions), just maaaybe you might even learn something from them. – Ok, like what? Just try.
  • Practice storytelling and character development
  • Think in advance – do the hard work of putting the new music on your phone sometimes, you don’t want to get stuck with the same three albums on repeat for the whole year while wanting to kill yourself. It’s hard, but someone has to do it.
  • Stop saying: Nope, I’ll rather fucking kill myself and then doing the thing anyway.
  • Watch Shawshank Redemption, why do you keep avoiding it?
  • Don’t judge people for posting annoying NY resolutions
  • Don’t get angry at people for being angry on themselves
  • Avoid Instagram stories
  • Stop saying things like: Oh, yeah I really want to hang out with you, see you some day next week. Maybe, if I don’t get terminally ill or my fourth grandma doesn’t die by then, see ya !
  • I would like to write down something like: less internet, no phone in bed but let’s not get too crazy just yet.

I don’t call them New Year’s Resolutions. I prefer the term “Casual promises to myself that I’m under no legal obligation to fulfill.”

Black humour, cold weather and warm, happy feelings

After a colossal fuck up of a week and much more pleasant first part of the weekend, I can only super intelligently conclude – life moves on. It really does. Even if it’s moving in a slightly awkward, gloomy way. The love of cinematography and simple design aesthetic of clothes, interior and life in general started bringing Scandinavia to my focus 4 or 5 ago. More precisely, the mentioned cinematographic aspect placed Denmark in the spotlight of my interests. I have this love – hate relationship with the most internationally acclaimed Danish director, controversial (by American standards at least) Lars von Trier because let’s say I like half of his (newer) work and the rest not so much due to unknown reasons, I’ve never felt the need to explore them by now.  I just want to add that the ‘touchy’ subjects or gruesome, overly sexualized scenes are not part of the problem, on the contrary, I am used to and usually drawn to that kind of ‘vivid’ expression.

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Anyways, thanks to von Trier I’ve discovered the Dogme movement and director Thomas Vinterberg whos style blew me away after watching the movie The Celebration.   The days of following Dogme rules are now behind him, but I continue to appreciate every new film he creates. Ugh, this was not supposed to turn into a movie post, but I have to add some other directors like Nicolas Winding Refn, Anders Thomas Jensen and Susanne Bier. Many different styles (for example Winding Refn and Bier are almost incomparable to me; aggression vs, pure emotion), but they all have something in common – the dark, ironic, raw, sometimes humorous approach to the story. The dark part can easily be described as ‘too dark’ for those who like to cherish society’s taboos or are simply used to a different sense of humour/storytelling.

All  those elements they generally have in common can be perscriped to Danish mentality and social structure; this can’t be applied to the whole nation of course, it’s more of a generalized stereotype of traits such as: self criticizm, tolerance, equality, being prone to modest, but quality lifestyle, etc.  And of course, the all round acceptance of alcohol consumption from the teenage years – maybe that’s why the Danes keep regaining ‘the happiest people in the world’ title.

The motivation to write all of this on a cold but feel – good cosy Saturday afternoon is one word  that is getting more and more popular on social media – hygge (pronounced hoo-ga or something like that – Danish language is weird).

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The thing about languages is that each one of them has some words that can’t be translated in English for example, but they can be closely described in a way, but without capturing the full meaning known to the native ‘inventors’ of the word. To put it as simply as possible – hygge is a trademark that represents Danish approach to life, it basically means ‘creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people‘.

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It can be translated as ‘cosyness’ or ‘togetherness’, but the simple translation doesn’t do it justice.  Having a tasty cup of coffee/tea with your friends is hygge. Reading an awesome book curled up on a sofa with a blanket is hygge. Having a walk in the park while holding hands is hygge. Inviting a couple of friends home for a simple dinner and talk is hygge.

You get the picture, and if you haven’t by now – google it, the photos are amazing. Also, I have to share another quote/description of hygge that I found and find the most attractive, just reading it makes me calm down:

A complete absence of anything annoying or emotionally overwhelming; taking pleasure from the presence of gentle, soothing things.

The christmassy time of the year we’re in now is when hygge is most appreciated due to cold weather, especially in Denmark and the rest of the Scandinavia. It’ s a way of saying ‘Yes it’s really dark and cold, but hey, we can be happy and have fun nevertheless!’

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I appreciate the little things more than anything, I’ve always had, even though I didn’t know that whole set of feelings and simple pleasures has its own name. The best part of it all is, you can create hygge with no problems starting from your home – find some candles, use different lightning or even light bulbs, get a warm blanket, maybe a new fluffy rug… or take a bubble bath! You can experience hygge alone or by inviting your favourite people over, the only important thing is to feel comfortable and relaxed. That’s about it, can you feel it already ?

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