As a small child I wanted to be an awful lot of things I was decidedly not. Frankly, I still kind of do, want to be them I mean – a dragon, a witch, an interstellar astronaut, a pirate, a ninja – you know, all these realistic career goals. But to be perfectly honest, I have never really minded being a space-faring dragon ninja pirate witch only in my imagination. It would be so much hard work in real life. I’d rather stay in with my books…
When I got a bit older, in my teenage years and well into my twenties, I pretended to be too grown up for such silly fantasies (although I’d still play them out in my mind, vengefully, whenever I was forced to do the dishes, or hoover, or clean my room, or do any chores really). Instead I decided I would imagine myself to be a femme fatale: mysterious, lofty, graceful, seductive and desired, though mistrusted, by all the cynical, witty private detectives around. I am supremely unsuited for such a role, you’d know that instantly if you’d met me, but hey a girl can dream, right?
I tried, without much success, to cultivate this persona. I mixed it, on and off, with a dash of a sophisticated, cosmopolitan woman about town. I imagined myself exchanging witticism with writers, painters, the bohemian intellectual elite, in smoky jazz bars of Paris, Berlin, New Orleans, Buenos Aires, or any other sufficiently intriguing sounding place. And naturally breaking all of their hearts, after torrid and angst-filled love affairs. I practiced secretive and fetching over the shoulder sad seductive smiles, that were meant to speak volumes of my intellectual and emotional depths and my mysterious tragic past.
Needless to say, to my chagrin, nobody, and I mean nobody, not even the most gullible of strangers, was buying it. There were (and still are) good reasons for that. Firstly, I completely didn’t look the part. I’m rather tall, but not in this stunning willowy way you see in the movies. I was rather skinny back then, but still solidly built, with sturdy utilitarian ankles and proletarian working hands, with a wide roundish face. I don’t think it’s a particularly unpleasant or ugly look, but it does not really evoke mystery. I come from a long line of peasants, and farmers, and hard-working folk and it shows even if I myself prefer hedonistic laziness.
Secondly, I grew tall very quickly, and it took me some years to rediscover the proper use of my suddenly too many, much too long and interference-prone arms and legs. Full disclosure – I’ve never really mastered that. I trip over nonexistent obstacles, I walk into door frames, furniture and walls, I have punched myself in the face by accident more times than I care to admit, I have a sad propensity for sticking unsuitable (though mostly edible in their nature) substances unthinkingly into my mouth (fresh chili, red hot spoons, a heap of cinnamon to name but a few). I’m clumsy, is what I’m saying. And I’ve always been. I remember, at a very early stage in the relationship with my current partner, I was leaving the room, and wanted to give him one of these long-practiced over the shoulder, flirty and mysterious smiles and then continued to promptly and energetically walk face first into the door frame, which I could swear had jumped out of its original resting place, only to get in my way. This pretty much sums up how successful my attempts at grace, seduction and mystery were.
Thirdly, it’s hard to play a cosmopolitan and a touch world-weary lady of mystery when you don’t know squat about the world. I grew up in a fairly small village, it was a good childhood but not precisely filled with exotic experiences. I only started venturing outside my own country at about 18 years old. I was always well read, fairly smart and certainly not afraid to talk to just about anyone who would listen but again not really in the elegant, witty way that was required for my purposes. I tried cynicism, sarcasm and arrogance as the stand-ins for wit and intellect, but that didn’t really work, it just made me insufferable. I didn’t know anything about fancy and sophisticated food, or drinks back then. I didn’t really have a clue about anything besides what I read about in the books. And my reading material would be a mishmash of high literature and popular genre fiction, literary classics and the lowest forms of erotica, psychology and facts about the dinosaurs, philosophy and the owls, the history of the Roman empire, and tidbits of historical trivia about beautiful combs used to remove the lice. And I loved all of it at once.
The problem was, and is, that you take a look at me, have a short conversation and it becomes immediately apparent that I’m more of an excitable geek, with nothing like a full control over my limbs, or mouth, who constantly goes off on rampaging verbal runs about all of my favourite things, which happen to include:
- sci-fi TV shows;
- fantasy novels;
- lots of dragons;
- even more owls;
- computer games;
- books, books, so many books;
- various weird needle crafts;
- smells (yeah, I know, it IS an endlessly fascinating subject to me though);
- cutesy stuff;
- alternative universes;
- possibility of alien life;
- stand-up comedy;
- and very many other things that a self-respecting femme fatale would not have anything to do with. Ever.
So eventually I spotted the lost cause and gave it up.
If you have read my earlier posts, you may have noticed that this was not my first attempt at creating a persona distinctively different from what I actually was like. Nor was it the last. I am a reader, and a bit of a writer, and a very good dreamer of unrealistic dreams. I like stories, narratives, and character creation, and I used to crave a certain level of dramatic tension in my life. I wanted things to be mysterious and interesting, not commonplace or ugly, or dull. And like most youngsters, the best way I saw of achieving that was to create some drama myself. There was some genuine trauma in my teenage life, but I shrunk from confronting it, I did not have the tools, nor courage for that. I wanted drama that was aesthetic, fascinating, and most importantly, within my control.
Now, in my old age (I’m in my mid-thirties in case you were wondering, so you know – all mature and wise in the ways of life), drama for drama’s sake is not exactly what I’m after anymore. And maintaining exotic personas seems like a waste of my limited energy and time. But I still love a bit of mystery and interest, and wide-eyed astonishment in my life.
Mystery eventually got fed up with my clumsy attempts at reaching it by means of pretending to be a generic noir fiction character, and started slapping me in the face every other day, pointing at various things in my immediate surroundings and irritably saying: “Look at that you silly creature! Ponder it for a moment and tell me do you really need anything more than that?!”
There are the big stuff, the vast mysteries – Life, the Universe and Everything. We all know that the answer is of course 42 (or should by now, if you don’t know, go read Douglas Adams and then come back when you finish to thank me for the recommendation). Having that answered once and for all, my brain remains free to wonder at the mysteries of all other sorts. I’m not a religious person, nor would I describe myself as spiritual. My brain is largely, as far as its weird quirks allow, as utilitarian and pragmatic as my ankles, hands or face. That is not to say, that I have no space for wonder and awe in there.
My sorts of mysteries are everywhere. I think about them a lot. I wonder, I ponder and I cogitate.
Why did a girl I saw earlier today wander around Dublin at 5 pm, in 11 degrees centigrade damp Irish weather, dressed in a strapless tiny green summer dress and sandals, but with a big wooly hat on her head?
Where do all the coins from the tills of small Polish shops go? The people tending these shops never have any, even though they always demand them from you. Do they perchance have to provide a greedy dragon with a constant supply of small change?
How do so many women find time and energy for daily complex makeup, elaborate hair styles and removing hair from their legs? Do they just not sleep? I don’t sleep and I cannot do that…
If there are intelligent alien life forms on strange distant planets, circling unknown stars, do they play their own versions of D&D and what are their imaginary worlds like?
There is a shop (actual physical shop) in Dublin called The Website Shop. Apparently it contains web designers, ready to design your professional website. It has a phone number prominently displayed on the marquee above the storefront. But not their website address… I’ll reiterate. It’s called The Website Shop. It sells websites like other shops sell ham, and bread, and shoes, and plugs, and it has their phone number on a marquee, but not their website address… Just.. Why??
Who buys all of these highly specialized kitchen slicers (you know: banana slicer, avocado slicer, egg, mushroom, tomato, any other food stuff slicer)? Why? Have you no knives? Not even one?
How many different types of vinegar in your pantry is too much vinegar?
How are the random single hair sprouting on my face seemingly overnight? I look in the mirror everyday and there’s nothing out of the ordinary to be seen there. Then, all of a sudden, a long dark hair sits in the middle of my confused chin that wasn’t there (the hair, not the chin) the evening before when I washed my face before going to bed. HOW??