New work, decisions and breathing

Oh my, again a month has passed without me writing a word. I did make a conscious decision for these past few weeks to just focus all my energy on getting to grips with the new job I’ve started. Frankly, even if I didn’t make that decision I still probably wouldn’t have written anything as I had no spare brain cells left to deal with the the world outside the training and the assessment test, all the new people (so many people!), and navigating the new premises, and pretending like I’m a proper grown-up for hours and hours each day.

It’s all still tough, I’ve another week of training left and then I’m on my own, let loose on the innocent strangers. I have no doubt that it will be a few months yet until I’m more confident about what I’m doing and able to function properly. But I have also made another decision a long time ago, and I am planning on sticking to it – work has never been, nor do I intend it ever to be, the central focus of my life. It’s something I do because inexplicably people don’t want to give me things like food, electricity, clothes and books for free and therefore I concede that I need to work in order to survive. And I need to be productive, and around people even when it tires me, and needed. But it is not my proper life, though I have to spend a solid portion of my days doing it. My life is my partner, my family, my friends, books, owls, my writing, poems and photos, my little and big projects, delightful food experiences, my travels and my imaginary adventures in long-lost civilizations and on the distant planets. And so now I feel is the time to start separating the 8 hours a day I need to spend being the corporate-me, all confident, business-like and acting like I’m totally conversant in stuff I have heard about for the first time only a few weeks ago, from the rest of the time when I get to be the actual-me. It’ll be tough but it is doable and I will do it. Get back to the blog and all other writing undertakings, schedule some small portion of my days to work on a passion translation project I came up with, keep meeting up with important people in my life, just keep living, keep enjoying the small and big pleasures of life.

This sounds like I’m complaining about having to work already. Not at all, I need to be working, the 4 year hiatus from reality has provided me with ample proof of this fact. But you know, you’re always going to bitch a bit about your work, right? Well, I will, a bit, sometimes a bit more if I have a bad day.

Here’s another decision I’ve made though, from now on I shall not write about work. I may mention it in passing, or give an occasional insight into the amazing extent of human foolishness (anyone working in customer care has stories, stories that would make you weep for humankind…). But my writing is my breathing space, and so I intend to figure out a way to leave the work at work and not infect my air with it.

This is not a good or interesting post, I’m aware… But I kind of had to remind myself of these things after a tough week. Now, let the two whole days of freedom and books commence!

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Fight or flight?

What is my dominant trait? Easy – running away from things. Fight or flight? Flight, every time. Or at least that’s the overwhelming desire I have, burning every moment of every day. Run, just run, into books, movies, TV, computer games, my head, another country, a tiny deserted island in the middle of the ocean, another universe entirely. Away from unpleasant realities, responsibilities, work, duties, hardship of any description, expectations, people. Run, run as fast as you can and pray that nothing catches up with you.

 I’m ashamed of it and for as long as I can remember I’ve been aware of it and tried to develop some fighting spirit instead. Because deep down I know, running away isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Yes, there is this wonderful moment, when you feel all free and ecstatic. Just a shiny precious moment of ultimate potential. But then, then comes the guilt, shame, loneliness and fear, and lessening of the mind until there’s so little left you couldn’t fill the matchbox with it. So instead I try to go against that chanting voice in my head, that constant background of “screw it, just run” and try to make a stand instead, an every day warrior, doing the sensible shopping (even when I have to buy toilet roll, detergent or cleaning products – the most hateful purchases), filling the forms, cooking, cleaning, remembering people’s birthdays and anniversaries, working on myself, trying to get better, trying to learn things, understand, be kind.

It’s human, I know, that desire to run away, to hide, or at least defer unpleasantness/responsibility/obligation of any kind. We all have it to a certain degree, the “fuck it” voice in our heads. I allow myself little escapes, in wonderlands and Narnias of this earth, in written pages, and made up histories of my head. These I have to have just to stay sane. Otherwise I try to fight, keep going, get through, and it turns out, as tiring as that is, it’s rewarding beyond anything running away has got to give.

What is my dominant trait? Easy – I persevere.

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Work Worries, also Morning People Are Aliens

I’m up, I’m up, I tell you! Not at all snoozing, see, moving my hand and at least one eye is open, you can go and totally safely leave me in bed without any risk of me falling asleep again!

I’m trying to get back into a sane sleeping rhythm. I got a job (yay!), I’m starting on the 5th of February and I’ve decided that I would use the time I have left into getting myself a bit more human, so that it doesn’t come as too much of a shock when all of a sudden it’s expected of me every day… It’s going… ok… Or at the very least I am getting up in the mornings and going to sleep at reasonable o’clock. But I’m not enjoying it. I’m not a morning person. I don’t trust morning people, you know, the ones that are all smiley and chatty two minutes after they joyfully jumped out of bed, and do a 5k run before breakfast. I think they’re aliens (sorry mum). I’m more of a bleary-eyed monster impotently raging in the shower I reluctantly drag myself into using solely my sense of touch because the vision has not rebooted yet. Also, don’t talk to me for at least an hour after I got up, I’m busy locating my brain and figuring out which limbs are responsible for which actions, the sounds you’re directing at me make no sense and I don’t like them.

As much as I’m delighted about having a job (and don’t get me wrong, I am, I’m so relieved and happy), I am also terrified. I had a thoroughly unwanted 4 year break, I’m not used to working anymore, the getting up early, the being places on time, the whole office environment, the co-workers, the customers. I know, I know, a couple of months and I’ll be fine again but meanwhile my brain is feeding me a diet of increased anxiety and catastrophe forecasts. What if I turn out to be so hopeless that I can’t even pass the test after training, and therefore will be asked to leave in a couple of weeks? What if everybody just hates me on sight? What if all my preparing for getting up on time doesn’t work, I sleep through my alarms every day and get fired for being tardy? What if I develop some sort of speech impediment that doesn’t allow me to speak to people politely and instead causes me to shout streams of abuse at the clients on the phone? And so on, and so forth… I’m pretty certain none of it will happen but I don’t seem to be able to stop thinking about it…

This makes me act a bit funny. One moment I’m walking about happily, looking for some office-y looking clothes, planning to get a haircut so I look vaguely presentable when I start, and the next wanting to punch strangers in the face just because a sudden surge of anxiety turns into inexplicable rage, and at least if I’m in prison for assault I won’t have to worry about any of this. I don’t, by the way, punch strangers in the face I mean. You don’t really know me, so I feel it’s best to clarify these things.

I guess I’m just going to try to enjoy my last few days of freedom, read some books, walk some walks, eat some doughnuts etc. And when the work starts I’ll do what I usually do – my best (also drink lots of coffee) – and hope it’s all gonna be fine.

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In my last job. Totally working…

Is it here?

Oh dear.  9th of January 2018 and I’m only now sitting down to write the first post of the new year… This year has started somewhat inauspiciously for me, I spent the first week in bed, with the mother of all flus, – fever, headache, aches and pains all over. Let’s just say that’s my allotted sickness for the year done and over with and now I can move on to other stuff.

A general post-festive blues is where I’m at. Anxiety, pacified for a bit by the fairy lights and Christmas displays, has been rearing its ugly head. I’m reading quite a bit, hoping to bring it to heel, leave it behind in some imaginary worlds. I’m not feeling all that colourful or brilliant, more like I’ve been leeched of all tint, left invisible and gray. Slight heartache and the cold in the soul.

I found this poem, clearly written on some other January day. The question is one that I continue to pose to myself today.

is it there

somewhere in the

smoke

in the morning

in the mist

city moist with

layers of

Dublin sounds

like a drunk acoustic guitar

at this time

of half-hearted january birds

curiosity bites

through

is it here

potent tiny part

asleep

for a long winter

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I like the name “armillary sphere”, don’t you?

In Florence, just a few steps away from the Uffizi Gallery, there sits one of the most wonderful museums I’ve ever been in – Museo Galileo, formerly known as the Museum of the History of Science, housing one of the world’s largest collections of scientific instruments of astonishing beauty. I don’t know about now, but when I visited there, some ridiculous amount of years ago, it was pretty much empty. The crowds of day-tourists bypassed it completely on their set route across Ponte Vecchio, by the Uffizi Gallery, through Piazza della Signoria and then further on towards Duomo. I didn’t know about it either, I just sort of happened across it and, on a whim, decided to go in. Initially there were a few curious souls wandering around but as the hours passed and the closing time drew near, the only people who remained were me, completely engrossed in the exhibits and reluctant to leave, and a couple of the museum’s staff members.

I ended up chatting with one of them, a youngish lad with very good English. He seemed a bit taken with my enthusiastic enquiries, plus I was an 18 year old girl with pretty blue eyes, talking to him about astrolabes and antique globes, he didn’t stand a chance. Long story short, after the closing time, I got to see the museum back rooms, some of the things that didn’t make it to the exhibition rooms and for a few moments I held a stunning 16th century compass in my hands. It was a small ornamented thing, I saw a few ones like it in the museum, but this one I got to touch, got to feel its weight amplified by the centuries it held within itself. It’s easily the most precious thing I’ve ever handled and as I cupped my hands around it, gently, like I was holding a small fragile bird, I was close to tears, not mentioning supremely tempted to just leg it out of the place and keep it (hey, I didn’t ok, you can’t blame me for thinking it though).

You may be wondering “what’s so special about some old scientific instruments, I have no interest in that sort of stuff at all?” Well, neither did I to be honest. As I said, I went in on a whim. But honestly, if you’re ever in Florence, just go. Just look around, spend some time, I promise you, you won’t regret it. It’s a charmed world of gold and brass sextants, astrolabes, globes, strange vials, clocks, armillary spheres, thermometers and strange contraptions, all of them beautiful to just look at, even if you’ve no idea what they were used for, works of art. Feel yourself go back for a moment to a different time, when the world was even more of a mystery, and feel, embodied in the exquisite instruments around you, the hope, the will, the endeavor of the brilliant humans from another era. It’s a hopeful and uplifting sort of a place.

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Photo from the Museo Galileo’s website

 

Verbal archaeology

verbal archaeology

resurrection

however temporary

of lives once lived

and migratory people

by the means

of old past-due-date

words

smiles covered with

spiderwebs and ash

frozen mid-breakfast

in your own Pompei

…………………………………………

I fall into

the between space

where life is not properly lived

but rather

flickers like the old

movie tapes

all jerky movements

and unearthly glow

faces all look like

they’re wearing too much

makeup not real enough

sounds much too loud

blaring their insignificance

I walk

through moments

like through separate frames

wondering

what post-production

will turn these

incoherent days

into a story

with a beginning

or an end

or a moral

or a cautionary tale

I don’t flow

I blip in and out of

view throughout

the sets

verbal archaeology

Dissonances or Hang the DJ

For the first time in about a week, I’m sitting in my sitting room, dressed in jeans and a cozy jumper, instead of my pjs, almost like a real person. I’m still a bit of a snot-monster but definitely on the mend now. I even went for a little walk, because I’ve been getting cabin fever.

It’s a Dublin kind of a day (I have to stop saying that, I used to say that in Canada when the weather reminded me of Ireland, but now I’m back in Dublin every day is a Dublin kind of a day really) – fierce mild and drizzling. Maybe it’s the lack of sleep, or maybe it’s the remnants of sickness but the world feels a couple of degrees removed from reality and shimmering on the edges. It’s not unpleasant, just a touch trippy.

On Grafton Street Christmas decorations and lights, in Stephen’s Green some trees are losing the last of the colourful leaves, while others, a few confused cherry blossoms, are blooming like they’ve decided December is not really a thing they could be bothered with. Half-walking, half-swimming through the misty, muted universe in which the seasons and moods change on a whim, without discernible rules.

My music selection only intensified the sense of the surreal. I made this massive eclectic list and put it on shuffle. For a while, as I was walking, my phone decided to play solely Polish songs for some reason. They sounded so out of place, a soundtrack of a bygone era, of another life, not well suited to Edwardian redbricks, uncomfortable strangers unaccustomed to the rhythm of Dublin streets, and all of a sudden, I found myself looking at familiar places like I never saw them before, missing a heartbeat of the town, and a step or two in the process. Shortly after that “How to Disappear Completely” came up, so painfully perfect, so at home in this city, in this day and this dreamlike state that I could feel every last note, every scrap of lyric pouring out of the headphones, straight into me, coursing through my veins, liquefying into perfect rain(or possibly tear)drops at my fingertips and falling onto the expectant ground, spreading in the mist, flowing down the Liffey, the canals, the sea, and for a couple of minutes the whole world vibrated enthralled, the impeccable reflection of the song as I stood rooted to the spot, letting it carry me, letting myself dissolve and disappear.

I feel such love for this city sometimes it’s bruising my heart, it makes it hard to breathe…

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