modern

Poetry Nights and how they put everything back in perspective

Sometimes I love cancelled plans, ironically they come to me with a great feeling of adrenaline rush and countless opportunities. I am an introvert by default – it is evident from my need to catch a break for a day or two after spending a lot of time closely interacting with other people for a while. It doesn’t mean they are not dear to me, I just need a small escape gap to give me a chance to recharge my batteries, and then I’m ready to socialize again and be a happy, functional human woman.

Like most of us, I enjoy being around people I like and who I’m comfortable with, talking is of course the main part of the deal so a healthy cocktail of chit-chattery, gossip, simple topics mixed with something new or more challenging is always the unintentional goal. One of the parts of being a social being in general is no matter how long you know someone, if your relationship is solid, you’ll always manage to discover new subjects, learn something and finally, get excited about things you didn’t even know they excite you.

So, cancelled plans. This week is the best time to be alive for all of us chronic cancellation and postponing loving assholes. It is the middle of a summer, the time when I usually turn into someone who is not a very good person, someone who doesn’t have the greatest conversation starters or any creative ideas whatsoever, someone who will talk about mosquito bites and suicide 90 per cent of the time. I would most likely team up with your grandma and present everyone with the data about the horrible effects of sun exposure and how you should, if possible, avoid it throughout the day. Going to the beach happens only from 6 to 7 AM or after 7 PM, there’s no in between. Literally. I will even casually throw in the word ‘cancer’ just to keep the party going, totally unaware how I’m being a bit of a hypocrite since I used to smoke a pack  a cigarettes a day and no one could say a word about it.

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Back to cancelled plans. The past couple of days the heatwave made everyone act like me. They are postponing work, public events – no open movie projections, even some theater plays got cancelled! Since nothing is going on, all we hear in the ‘news’ is: extreme temperatures, the worst summer ever, hell on earth… I read a title that went like this: Our readers experiences: ‘I went to the store today and died’. The whole article consists of random statements delivered by anonymous Croatian citizens (a.k.a. invented by the author) worrying about how to survive the heatwave. My absolute favourite comes from a brave female reader from Zagreb:

I drink water and pee all day, I can’t eat and I usually love to eat. If I put my clothes on, I’m hot. If I take it off, I get sticky. And the worst part of it all – the coffee doesn’t taste good.

What do I do when plans get cancelled and I’m lying naked in a pool of blood sweat next to the ventilator, but don’t want my brain to go into a complete shutdown? I read poetry – no matter if it’s going back to old gems or accidentally discovering new authors, it’s the best cure. Tonight I’m once again hanging out with my queen, Sylvia Plath.

One of her poems that leaves the greatest impression is called Mushrooms and although I didn’t pay much attention to it because of the title that seemed bleak (seriously?), became important to me right after I read it for the first time.

Mushrooms

Overnight, very
Whitely, discreetly,
Very quietly

Our toes, our noses
Take hold on the loam,
Acquire the air.

Nobody sees us,
Stops us, betrays us;
The small grains make room.

Soft fists insist on
Heaving the needles,
The leafy bedding,

Even the paving.
Our hammers, our rams,
Earless and eyeless,

Perfectly voiceless,
Widen the crannies,
Shoulder through holes. We

Diet on water,
On crumbs of shadow,
Bland-mannered, asking

Little or nothing.
So many of us!
So many of us!

We are shelves, we are
Tables, we are meek,
We are edible,

Nudgers and shovers
In spite of ourselves.
Our kind multiplies:

We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.
Our foot’s in the door.

Sylvia Plath, The Colossus and Other Poems (1960)

 

When I read it now, I could swear that this poem is precisely what first inspired Margaret Atwood to write The Handmaid’s Tale, just look at the last verse. Sylvia Plath is an icon of feminism, a real one, not just a ‘one line pony’ as I like to call them nowadays. She lived in the 50’s and was, in a way, forced into accepting a role of a simple housewife, go after society’s rules, although her mind was way beyond that ever since she was a young girl.

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If I Could Just See You From Up Here by Norman Duenas

This is a poem about oppression and how it will not last forever. I don’t think it’s necessary to limit to the equal female rights problem only when oppression is not just gender based problem (what an understatement in lack of a better word), it is everywhere, it is evident, hidden, sometimes comes in layers, sometimes directly in your face. Oppression is the word I would use to describe what Plath was fearing the most during her young and later adult years, the fear of not being able to express herself and live freely without having to answer to anyone’s expectations deteriorated the state of her mental health leading her towards the tragic ending.

Mushrooms speaks to everyone who has ever felt isolated, misunderstood, underestimated or ignored and although it comes in a depressive tone, it is actually a positive, hopeful poem.  It provokes the thoughts of a revolution that will help restore the balance between the greedy oppressor and the underdog. It is in deed a revolution, but not the roaring, powerful kind, it is subtle and quiet, it comes on its tiptoes while you think everyone on the planet is asleep. Nothing is sure except that in the morning the sun will rise and deliver a surprise on its rays.

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We shall by morning
Inherit the earth.

 

 

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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!