The skill of procrastination


deckchair

This morning, I saw a job ad.

Like all the other job ads,

Like yesterday’s job notification,

Received by email.

Sinking in a bathtub of:

Skills, capabilities, abilities

And the sort

Hard and soft

– What can you do for us?

Personality, emotions

Creativity, uniqueness

Useless.

Praise yourself?

Advertise your skills?

Package your persona, neatly!

Desirable skills:

Teamwork, communication, organization

Leadership, problem-solving

Meeting deadlines, flexibility

Describing aliens

Peeping into neighbors’ houses.

Ups, I got carried away!

 

Don’t have them? Next!

Mass-production, conveyor-belt

Possible job seeker no. 249.

And while I adore the sound

Of abstract sounding donkey-dust skills

I, myself, am the queen of procrastination.

Here’s to my leadership skills of:

Peeling oranges, cutting potatoes

Collecting postcards, gazing at the stars

Spreading butter on toast, window shopping!

I had a dream last night:

Every newspaper’s headline was:

“The coolest job of the 21st century

Requires…..tadam!

The skill of procrastination!

Welcome to my kingdom!

 

The fantastic life of the absurd

 

 

Imagine an all-encompassing society

A ridiculous one, for that matter

So absurd, so out of this world

Even ludicrous stories would stop

And stare!

The most preposterous happenings

Would choke

And swallow nervously.

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Fluffy, flying mini pigs

In airplanes, and cars, and subways

Ruling countries, being leaders.

Because it’s the year of the pig, after all!

Fair and smart pigs would commit

To a society of the animals

For the animals.

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

You, offenders and criminals!

Obey the chain of command!

Walk on a leash,

Do house chores

Help the poor

Live a life of silence

Submit to your master!

You, helpless house pets!

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Art, colors and cubism

Are the new currency.

We trade in oil paintings

Sketches and charcoal pencils.

Cash, banks?

All gone!

We trade in beauty, and imagination!

We all get to share!

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Fat, slim, white, Black

Short, tall, fit, or not

It’s all the same.

No rules, no stereotypes

No ethnicities, no beauty standards.

A meal’s nutritional value

Got into a fight

With the good looks of models and actors.

They both lost.

They vanished.

This fantastic life of the absurd

Would be a bit like:

Bookshops and libraries

Sprinkle and twinkle

In their new roles

As therapists and psychologists.

-For an anxiety and stress-free life

Please, step inside a book, or two

Become a character

Deconstruct your body, your mind

Run in the wild

Of stories and poems

Come back, anew!

 

 

 

 

New Year’s resolutions or how I lost myself

sm-lost-at-sea-72

This is a story of regression and confusion. This is a story of lost paths, mistakes and blind choices. This is a story that does not have a happy end or an end at all.

01.01.2019: I woke up startled that morning and I knew that 2019 is just an illusion. Measuring time was invented by human beings and thus, 8 changed to 9. Because I was conditioned to live by the rules of society my brain acknowledged the coming of the new year. However, I wasn’t about to start making an interminable list of crap with what I want to achieve in the new year or add new fantasies to the all too popular bucket list. It is absolutely unrealistic because you just don’t know what life throws at you everyday. I used to believe that the unpredictability of life is awesome because it does not allow you to settle into routine. I was ,thus, convinced that all you have to do in life is adapt, be flexible and go with the flow. Just see what happens, and go with it, a bit like in Daoism, or a lesson we might have learned from Don Quixote. Do not fight the windmills, do not go against dao, against the path! Just flow with the river ,and nature in the direction they dictate. That sounds about right, nope?

Well, not really. Not for me, at least. I was startled on the first morning of January 2019 because I was lost, and I started to analyze myself and view my entire life under a microscope. I had a great life so far, full of exceptional, happy moments, intense emotions and various experiences that included both gratifying, but also extremely hard and challenging occasions. So far, so good! I lived my 27 years of life by, somehow, following this principle of ‘the path’, following a kind of invisible line that life opened up for me. But all of a sudden, it just didn’t work anymore. It took me places that I didn’t want to be at, it made me travel dark routes outside and inside of myself. After graduating from my master in Belgium, my journey as a responsible adult was supposed to start. Taking into consideration that my family invested financially and emotionally in transforming my being into a succesful and happy adult, I believed I was somehow guaranteed to get there. I mean, I did very well in school, university, master, I managed to be by myself and organize everything in various foreign countries, I had amazing, smart friends, I was creative, clever enough ,and I got involved in the occasional volunteering or other artsy projects. I considered myself motivated enough to achieve what I wanted, I believed I deserved it because I was a good, kind and empathic person that somehow decided that she wants to contribute to other people’s wellbeing. But who was about to contribute to my own wellbeing? Well, everything started to spiral downwards. I just couldn’t find my way, I was struggling in the dark, I was lost at sea. Choices to make, career goals, what job to pursue, where to live, who do I wanna be, what are my desires and most of all, how do I balance what makes me smile and feel good inside with this new-found responsibility to sustain myself financially, and be responsible for myself and my adopted dog? I just couldn’t find any answers at all, and life was crushing me.

funny-hand-life-cartoon

I wish I could say I found what I was looking for. But I didn’t. I can just say that I struggled with being an English teacher in Shanghai, a tourism lecturer in a university in a 3rd tier city in China and a tour guide in Turkey. Now I am back in Shanghai, doing a second master because I still haven’t found my path or I don’t have the courage to wander in the dark aimlessly. I don’t have resolutions for 2019 because I need to learn how to function again as a human being in society. I need to start again, by being a baby, a child, a teenager ,and finally an adult.

I lost my motivation ,and determination to fight and achieve what I want in life.

I am lost at sea, I am just floating endlessly, I am reading too much, watching too many movies, reflecting too much and feeling like a wreck, a failure. I keep wondering where did I go wrong? I mean, where did I lose my real self?

The self that desired to travel the world for a year or two and discover, discover, discover ….without plans or too much money? Well, I am afraid to let go and just travel. I am afraid that I will lose out on precious work experience to add on my CV when I am away on my year travel. I am afraid that I won’t have enough money and I will get stuck in the middle of nowhere, broke and vulnerable. I am afraid that I will spend money that otherwise I could have used to do something else with, like saving to be more financially secure.

I want to become a writer and publish my poetry ,and maybe in the future, short stories or a novel. Am I doing anything to achieve that? No. I am afraid to send any of my work to any publication or contest. I am not confident enough that I have what it takes ,and I am so scared to get rejected.
Where do I want to be? In a middle-sized European picturesque city where I could draw inspiration for my life, and poems just by walking on the streets and breathing in the spirit of history. I want to be able to admire the exquisite, old buildings touched by lives lost and lives yet to come. Where am I? In Shanghai, a giant glass-like city, full of impersonal skyscrapers, commercial shopping malls and ugliness.
I want to be economically independent, and have a job that fulfills me. What am I doing? Well, after a year of looking for jobs in various places and not finding anything suitable, getting rejected too many times and not even discovering what exactly I should be doing, I am now doing a second master in political theory. Gosh, I don’t even wanna do that, but I am too scared of not having anything to do at all. And I am so disillusioned with politics and leaders. I have always been. It is a pain for me to analyze and learn about political systems because I can only see failures in them, just like I see myself now.

I lack self-discipline and motivation, I eat too much and I even put on 10 kilograms since I have come back to Shanghai. I am highly disappointed with myself and it is hard to admit that ,by my own standards, I have become a failure. How can I say that? It is painful and I don’t know where it all went wrong. The hardest thing right now is to start addressing all these issues. And sadder than everything else is that I am clueless.

doors

There are too many doors, and choices in front of me or maybe not enough. I remain numb, and unable to open any of them. I have this recurring dream where I have to run away from this terrible, bulky man, who wants to hurt me and touch me. I am in a fancy mansion that has never-ending rooms and doors. I always open too many doors and I see theatre-like scenes full of everything that one can imagine. The horrible man can never catch me because we always choose different doors. What to choose now? In my dream, I never stop opening doors and exploring rooms until it’s time to wake up. I would appreciate any comments with advice or suggestions!

Ode to the strong

 

 

Tough as a white dove,

Tough as a wounded street dog,

Tough as an injured soldier on the battlefield,

Tough as a crawling baby,

Tough as a hunted deer,

Tough as an old, dying tree,

Tough as human-invaded nature,

Tough as a war refugee…

Cuz they are the resilient!

That’s how tough I wanna be!

 

As tough as the frail,

As tough as the gentle,

As tough as the weak,

As tough as the soft,

As tough as the poor

As tough as the lonely

As tough as the sick

As tough as the homeless…

Cuz they are the resilient!

That’s how tough I wanna be!

 

Stories and histories

They say that pictures are worth a thousand words. These antiques live down at Mu Lan Warehouse, a two hours away trip by metro and bus from the center of Shanghai. Spiced up by layers of dust and erosion, by dirt and hundreds of engraved fingerprints, they routinely inhabit an old, covert secondhand store in a space forgotten by the fast pace of the big city’s hustle and bustle. The spirit of these objects’ previous owners live on through them. The lives, stories and trajectories of their owners are deep inside the core of the antiques. At the same time, these broken down, malfunctioning and in a way ‘dead’ items tell a story of their own existence. They have a life of their own and possess an acting energy, a life force to call it so, that exercises an influence on owners. Of course, the owners had an agency of their own that guided the trajectories of the objects.

In a material culture world, these articles are more than lifeless things, they are actors that impose their will on people and spaces. What might their stories and histories be?

Their beauty and uniqueness lies in the dust that covers them, in their cracks, in the faded paint, in the fingerprints that touched them. Antiques have soul or a multiplicity of souls that can touch your inner self, your life, your space, your house. They come with a vibe that bounces back and forth between past, present and future. Antiques kick ass in comparison to new, mass-produced, hollow items.

I don’t want to make a case about how sustainable it would be if we were to adopt these antiques and give them a new home, instead of buying new articles all the time, whose production requires the use of too many resources!

But let’s imagine the stories of the antiques  in the pictures!

Female silhouette frame:

The deceased Mr. Weng Zhou purchased the object at a flea market during a business trip to Beijing on the 12th of September 1955. He hid it in a secret compartment of his brown leather suitcase and never revealed it to anyone. When he got back home to Guangzhou, in the middle of the night, he locked it up  in the drawer of his desk. He was fascinated by the female silhouette, attracted by its shapes and by its apparent nudity. He imagined its nudity, he played with it. Every midnight he would slip out of his matrimonial bed and go to his desk, take out the female silhouette, gaze at it for hours on end and get lost in imaginary scenes of passion and perversion. His wife was a shy lady that never wanted to experience anything new in bed and had a totally conservative notion of what their sex life should be. The female silhouette incited Mr. Zhou’s and his midnight fantasies made up for his wife’s lack of imagination. When Mr. Zhou died, his children inherited his possessions and decided to get rid of the ‘useless’ decorative objects. They frowned when they found the female silhoutte and threw it in a bin never to talk about it again. The female silhoutte was meant to burn with a pile of rubbish in an incinerator outside of Guangzhou. However, the antique collector, nicknamed Tintin (yes, like the Belgian comic book character) rescued it during one of his collection journeys and brought it back to his Shanghai store.

 

Broken typewriter:

My name’s Jack the Ripper. I killed a few, but I also gave birth to a few…books, satires, novels, poems, letters, newspaper articles, love notes, etc. My keys moved with the speed of light from morning ’til dawn, at very  odd moments. I slept very little, if at all. I never took a rest and I almost never had time to replace my ink. My life was long and painful, whereas my friends, the poor paper sheets, were regularly doomed, destined to die as soon as they were picked up by my master’s fingers. During my entire lifetime, I gave birth to 3 novels, 4 love letters, 12 break-up letters, 3 satires, 55 poems, one nonfiction book and a bunch of newspaper articles. Should I be content? I killed, ripped, cut the throat and abdomens of other 113 letters, 12 novels, 5 books, 89 poems, 27 love notes and 43 newspaper article. I am surely an innate murderer. Despite, my life was nothing but miserable. I fretted the writing pace of my master, he struck me down various times, he tossed me in the middle of the room, he threatened to burn me and terrorized me with abandonment. He poured whiskey on me, he smashed glasses of wine on my keys, he took out the letters he hated,  he punished me for his writer’s block and every second day he would pathetically apologize to me. He liked to call me “The industrial-strength machine” since I was highly resistant to his constant abuses. I felt more like ‘Jack the ripper’, guilty and full of shame. Of course I wasn’t psychotic, but one day I couldn’t take my master’s temper anymore and I broke down for good. He put me out angrily in the middle of the road, hoping that a car would run me over and smash me into little pieces, However, his will was not to be. It so happened that Tintin saw me when he was crossing Wuding Lu, picked me up and took me to his antique store with the taxi. I get peace, company and a lot of affection from visitors in the store. Look, I was even given  a voice by a visitor and now hundreds of people will get to see me and know my story. Boy, I am happy!

Can you imagine the stories of the other objects in the pictures?

I wish I was a square-dancing lady!

During the most puzzling moments of my life, when I found myself at crossroads unable to make any kind of decisions at all, my mum would tell me that I’d be better off with less functioning neurons. Of course, in a sarcastic way, but still with a concealed indication of yearning. Why would she say that? Obviously, she doesn’t actually want her only daughter to be less able, but she prefers her daughter to be less of a perfectionist and would love it if she’d stop over-analyzing any teeny-weeny detail of her life.
Just to add a bit of a context, for the past two years of my life I have been struggling a lot with becoming a full, responsible adult capable of choosing a career, setting goals and assuming responsibilities. I am overwhelmed by adulthood and I am nostalgic of teenagehood.Sometimes I feel like I am not ready to choose anything that concerns my life, except travelling destinations and books I want to read. Sometimes I am even confused about that. I don’t know if that’s gonna change at any point, the inability to choose seems to be a constant characteristic of mine since as far as I can remember. It started when I was about 3 or 4 and I couldn’t choose between toys, then I couldn’t choose between cakes, then I couldn’t choose between games, then I couldn’t choose between boys, then I couldn’t choose between universities, between countries, between jobs and so on…
I am sure of nothing, and I know nothing. It is like Socrates put it, I cannot affirm any truth or certitude in what concerns my own life. To a certain extent I can only live life randomly and realize on the way what isn’t good or ‘the truth’ for me. The more I read, the more I travel, the more I work, the more I study, the more I experience, the more I meet people, the more I feel and the more I go through relationships the more baffled I am.
The critical way of thinking, analyzing any aspect of any issue, from academic articles, to theories, to art currents and to psychological matters transformed me into a person that self-doubts too much and over-analyzes her path in life. I am way too scared to be living life in the wrong way. Where does that come from? I think it comes from the multitude of choices we are presented with nowadays. I keep thinking what to choose and make scenarios to see how and where I would end up if I opened this door or that window instead. When I am mid-way on a path I feel my option was faulty and I end up relinquishing. I gave up too many times to remember and always in search of something fictitiously better, only to realize that I never actually pursued anything until the finish line. What I did realize so far is, that no matter what I choose, there will always be shortcomings.
An important question to ask is : Am I a fickle product of a capitalist society that needs to feed on new products every 6 months or so?
In my case it is not about the materialistic reality of products, but rather about the variety of experiences and emotions. I hunger for intellect and intellectual ideas, for books, for self-discovery, for exploration, for travels, for happiness, for events, for new music, for new social currents….gosh, and overall I think too much. On top of this, it is extremely hard to adapt to a society that constantly imposes trends and a set of rules in everything. (how we define time, when to work, what to do, how to construct our CV and life path, blah blah…how to be competitive and successful).
I hate all of this. I long for escaping this choice-making environment. I am pretty sure I was born at the wrong time.
21st century is not my time.
I slowly started to envy people. I envy the square dancing ladies and I envy people who fit their society-assigned roles. Why? Maybe because they are more simple, because they use their brains and bodies to live in the moment, to go with the flow without any kind of perfectionist ideas or any ‘what would it be like’ ideas, or how to improve the ‘self’ at all steps ideas…
I envy the square-dancing ladies because they have this fantastic routine of dancing in the evening at the same hours in public squares in Shanghai. Because they enjoy the dance, the music and the community feeling without their mind wandering off to far-away imaginary lands.
I envy some girls back home because their whole existence is to be in relationships and their purpose is to get married, form a family, be pretty, follow the latest beauty trends and go to as many weddings as possible. Why do I envy them? Because they don’t overstep and ask themselves if there is more to existence than this. Because they enjoy every bit of their lives and don’t self-analyze. Of course they have their own issues too, but those go down to what kind of dresses are the best in the fall season (pretty easy to solve, right?).
Thus, I understand why my mum sometimes wanted me to be a woman with lesser analytical capabilities. For my own good…my life would be less troubled.
There are many things I appreciate about who I am, don’t get me wrong…but sometimes my stream of thoughts gets too heavy to bear> forever questioning, on a forever quest to find something, a restless spirit in search of a substance (what, more exactly?happpiness, love, friends, career, spiritual development, psychological self-awareness and understanding, self-acceptance, self-love, language learning, creation etc. )
To end with, I think I am doomed to put forward my own creation during my mental struggles. I hope that one day it will be a novel or a book of poems.

Word Doodling

Philosophy-will-make-you-rich

 

A canvas is the rationalizing, patronizing 

Tool of a tool of an artist of his hands

Of his form as artist, of his copy of the copy

Of the fake of the fake

As Plato might say, of something real 

In heaven.

But what would a canvas look like

In heaven? 

 

Ideas, just ideas of thoughts, of randomness

Ideas of questions, never answered

Forever questioning philosophy

Ideas that give rise to things big and small. 

What is a chair? 

I am philosophizing in class

But the world outside 

Is full of reproach. 

Why? Forever questioning, forever wondering

The mental issue of the privileged

The higher concern of those…

“Distinct from animals”

My philosophy professor said:

– Without critical thinking

Constant questioning, a.k.a philosophy 

We are like animals!

Or dead, not worth living. 

I beg to disagree

I wish to disagree. 

An animal is not a lesser being.

People concerned with the material

Might do so to survive.

It is a choice, 

to do philosophy or not 

to see the purpose of philosophy or not.

A dog is a dog of the shape of the copy

Of a painting of the absurd of a dog of a question

Philosophy is a 

privileged person’s CONCERN. 

P.S: I, too, philosophize.