lifestyle

Sunday Clichés

Ideally, Sundays should be all about:

  • sleeping in without feeling guilty for avoiding responsibilities
  • breakfast + coffee in bed
  • staying in bed for as long as possible
  • cuddles and kisses
  • showering is optional (depends on how wild your Saturday night was)
  • brushing your teeth isn’t optional, but feel free to take your time
  • deliberately missed phone calls
  • writing haiku poetry inspired by random objects in the room
  • fluffy socks
  • watching this movie

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  • online food orders
  • inventing new wor(l)ds
  • being quiet
  • being too loud
  • more coffee
  • screenplay ideas
  • finishing a scrapbbook
  • firmly deciding about painting over that wall even though you know it’s not going to happen
  • laughing about it
  • raindrops on the window that will all be gone by Monday
  • uninstalling Pinterest from your phone
  • the dogs taking themselves for a walk
  • movie soundtracks
  • serial killers/real life crime documentaries
  • convincing everyone Lana del Rey is one of the greatest living artists
  • having too long conversations about which numbers are male or female
  • the same thing with colors
  • and geometrical objects
  • exploring Marina Abramović’s career phases
  • crying a bit because you’re not Marina, feeling better afterwards because you’re at peace with yourself
  • finally watch the rest of Jim Jarmusch’s Paterson
  • going to bed early because you never really left it in the first place

 

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Shoes and Prejudice

Well educated, not as much formally as informally when it comes to hobbies, foreign languages, exploring other cultures and wast interest in popular culture in general. These are the self confessions of a snob. Never the materialistic, fashion label obsessed kind, but the more subtle, equally annoying specimen. Lurking from the dark, sitting in a semi comfortable seat of an old art cinema, reading Le Mond and Le Nouvel Observateur in public transport, having coffee and initiating discussions on existentialism, judging you for your ‘too mainstream’ way of wearing Docs and rolling eyes so hard it hurts when someone proclaims their love for Starbucks.

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Huhhh, try typing and then saying all of it in one breath, it was as exhausting on paper as much as it is in real life! And it’s just the tip of an iceberg. The persona behind the mysterious description is me, of course, but it’s not a post only about me. There are many ‘me-s’ around me: educated, somewhat intelligent young people who are often subconsciously looking down at different lifestyles and interests. At the same time, we will be the first ones to raise our hands when asked if we believe in diversity, tolerance and acceptance through breaking the mental and physical borders that our world is constructed on, but fail to lead with an example in our closest surroundings.

The unusual part of this millennial paradox is that, unlike in case of other flaws and misconceptions, I’ve noticed it in my own behavior on many occasions before even thinking of looking for it in other people first.

Living In a Bubble

I know I keep returning to this topic, no excuses, it’s because I feel this has been a problem of mine for a long time. The simplest way to function in every aspect of life would be surrounding ourselves with people who are similar to us. Similar background, habits, level of education, interests, whatever. Everything similar, not too many surprises. We are drawn to that concept, mostly led by past experiences and the usual, just go with the flow of what is already close to us attitude.

No matter how much time and effort you put into creating that firm bubble of safety, there will be a time when you’ll just have to break it and step out of it. Or life will break it for you just because it can. Luckily.

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All of this is closely connected to the overused but true ‘it is important to step out of your comfort zone’ mantra. What I’ve learned from my humble experience is that people are the most challenging, but also the most rewarding part that comes with the discomfort zone. The range of emotions, both good or bad, can’t be overpowered by any experience that doesn’t include dealing with people.

The Rule Book

I used to have rules. No, that’s a lie, I still have them, but some of them are fading away. Not strict, army type rules, but more like a list of details that served as an elimination system in meeting new people. The places people like to go out, music they listen to, movies they watch, the way they dress (shoes are the biggest deal breaker for me), how much make up a girl wears, what school did they go to, etc. Those are all either visual or superficial traits you can check by scrolling through someone’s Facebook profile for a second.

‘No way I’m hanging out with him!’ In under 10 words it’s done like it’s a no big deal, like there may not be any missed opportunities behind it. The number of times I’ve jumped to conclusion combined with the number of times someone didn’t want to have anything to do with me based on the first impression leads to….  a pretty big number I guess. But anyways, that’s not the truly sad part, what sucks is never realizing how inefficient our personal scanning machines are.

Becoming more opened towards people with different tastes and thoughts about how to live a life doesn’t mean forcing an introvert into turning into a very loud, outgoing person or abandoning your firmest beliefs and passions. The trick is letting the guard down, at first by focusing on it until it finally happens spontaneously. New experience begins with letting other people’s ideas come in and out again, like taking deep breaths while trying to relax.

What’s the worst thing that can happen? I can only think of not liking and completely disagreeing with someone’s way of thinking and it’s totally alright,  as long as it’s respectful.  I like to remember situations where I had to collaborate with different individuals which led to a pleasant surprise, making the grumpy old me admit I learned something new and useful from the horrible shoes wearing people.

Have you heard about….??

Do you ever discover something ( like a song, series, food recipe, piece of clothing, any kind of skill ) that everyone was fully aware of since the beginning of our time on Earth?

Yeah, me too.

Nevertheless, you keep proudly talking about it, share thoughts publicly and basically acting like you single – handedly discovered a new planet in our solar system.

Yup.

Love it.

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Just kidding with  Despacito actually, I was seriously obsessed with it for a couple of months during its ‘prime time fame’, learned it by heart, but now my ears are bleeding just like everyone else’s. My Spanish has improved by 0,005 %, though!

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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My Coffee Addiction and Why I Love It

Finding photos to accompany this post will be the easiest task in the world. The small piece of visual heaven is made with a perfect arrangement of a nice, round cup filled with hot, dark, bubbly beverage surrounded by ‘casually’ placed books, blank sheets of paper or recently turned on laptop waiting for you to start getting shit done. Even though I am aware those photos are staged (I mean, who reads 5 books at the same time and aligns their markers by the shade of their colour?), I love them and can’t stop looking at them because they make me feel at peace.

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I sometimes imagine I am the one who just took that alluring photo, although my current surroundings are nowhere near that photogenic. I know that everything I plan on doing will have to wait just a few moments longer until I take at least a couple of sips of my morning/afternoon coffee. I take mine dark, unfiltered with a couple of drops of milk or cream, this is what I consider to be ‘a real cup of coffee’. Everything else that is prepared with too much milk and sugar is coffee for babies,  tasty but doesn’t have the ability to get creative thoughts flowing or giving me a clear perspective and focus.  If I’m alone, it is a ‘wake up’  peace and quiet morning coffee, while another cup much later in the day is closer to ‘work’ coffee most of the times, meaning I expect from myself to start or finish something I’ve been thinking about, it’s often something to write about or coming up with new ideas. Or at least try to, make notes and sketches, sometimes only starting something without finishing, but nevertheless, a necessary energy boost.

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An ancient ritual vs. modern age

Wikipedia taught me that coffee first appeared and was prepared as a beverage we know today in 15th century Yemen and a century later started its journey towards Persia, Turkey and Africa. Europe didn’t stand a chance, people got hooked, everyone started to talk about this magic potion and the rest is history.

The preparing process is a ritual of its own, after brewing it, as we all know, coffee can be made in numerous ways according to individual taste and culture it derives from. It’s funny how a banal detail like a single cup of coffee can differ from country to country, for example I learned a long time ago that according to classic Italian recipe espresso needs to be served with a slice of lemon. I haven’t tried it yet, so I can’t judge in advance, but if Italians say so, it should work, right? I found a short, informative article with some other specificities, for example, I am not so excited about the coffee + garlic combination, but this Moroccan ‘grinding a mixture of spices — including sesame seeds, black pepper and nutmeg — together with ordinary coffee beans produces an unusual, but a very strong drink’ is now on my ‘to try’ list!

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This multicultural coffee spirit is something that should be protected from corporations like Starbucks who are limiting the creativity and imposing the same products on worldwide markets. Commercial success of well-known brand seems to create an approval among us, the customers, making us feel like buying an overpriced pumpkin white chocolate mocha latte is totally worth it. Some countries feel like their national identity and tradition are so strongly connected to coffee consuming culture they look at Starbucks and similar companies as a threat to their core values. Ok, we can all relax and agree that those companies are not really about the coffee, of course that is not a first place you will look for an espresso, but still it feels like a small earthquake that is about to leave its mark.

Coffee is not JUST a product. You can spend a looong time in company of a one cup or you can finish up your small espresso in two seconds, in both cases it is a ritual because it gives context and meaning to different  social encounters.

 

Cigarettes and coffee, man. That’s a combination.

Jim Jarmusch won my heart once again with his 2003 classic  starring legends like Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Bill Murray, Roberto Benigni.  What he did was show the series of conversations around a table while drinking coffee. Couldn’t be simpler, but yet so complex because the range of topics is unlimited and unpredictable, just like in real life. The film embodies what I’m basically trying to say here, but in a much more coherent way.

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In my country, when you want to invite someone to hang out and talk about serious stuff or just to relax, you say:

‘Let’s go and have some coffee!’

Notice the use of verb ‘have’ instead of ‘grab’ or ‘take’, it’s not about taking two coffees to go and chat while walking down a busy street like Seinfeld characters would do. No, sitting in a  café bar having a cup of coffee can be a therapy session, a date, a trip through memory lane, political discussion, you name it… The point is, it can last for hours. Some say it is decadent and call it a deliberate waste of precious time due to laziness, but I call that a great time investment, a custom that needs to be preserved at all costs.

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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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