Why Do We Give in?

Starlight Cupcakes 017

We live in the world of mass production where a rare thing is created as unique one. Houses and T-shirts, big and small objects often look alike as if they were cupcakes from one lot. But strangely enough, I don’t really care. Things are things. If they are comfortable and not utterly ugly I can live within them and don’t cry about the fact that the tablecloth of mine is not a piece of handmade lace from the nineteenth century. But I don’t like dealing with predictable patterns of mind, ready-made ideas and molded lives.

Many years ago I saw a documentary footage from the 1950s. A woman’s body silhouette was cut out in a big piece of cardboard, and young girls in swimming suits stepped into it one after another to check if their bodies were close in shape to the prescribed standard of beauty.

While standing in line all the girls looked slim and perfectly shaped, but the moment they entered the stencil form the only thing you could see was that they didn’t fit. Some had smaller breasts, some had bigger buttocks, and some were shorter or taller than the cut-out ideal profile. It made you feel sorry for very beautiful girls.

Today the ‘ideal’ patterns are not cut out of cardboard; they are spread much more aggressively by mass media and become part of our mind not only in the area of physical beauty. They touch everything. They dictate all of us what to like, what to dream about, what to believe in and how to live as if we were cupcakes from one lot. Personality doesn’t count because it doesn’t fit.

I keep questioning myself why do we give in. Why do we allow someone or something affect our vision, our choices, our lives? Why do we try to fit even when we know that the ideal is false? Are we that insecure or is it just easier this way? I know there are people strong enough to stand up for themselves, those who stay who they are no matter what. I want to learn their secret, I want to be one of a kind. Don’t you? Perhaps you’re already there.


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Blogging to the Future

Half a year ago I didn’t think about blogging. I heard there are people who write and publish their thoughts and stories online but I couldn’t imagine I would be one of them. ‘I don’t have anything to say,’ that was how I felt about blogging and writing in general.

Then one day some crazy bug bit me and I thought why not? Let’s try and see what happens. I created a page, published a couple of posts and ran out of ideas. The whole month I wasn’t able to write anything and thought that’s it, the blogging activity proved to be not my thing.

In June Writing 101 came into my life and formed a new angle of view for me. First of all, I realized how many people are out there who, just like me, wait for a push to think about something and write it down. And it’s fascinating to see how different people express their polar opinions and feelings when they talk about the same subject and how unique everyone’s experience is. And your own experience also seems to be unique and worth sharing.

The other important and interesting discovery was that, obviously, you can respond to almost any idea no matter how alien it sounds first. If you give yourself a minute and think about someone’s words or images you will hear your own answer which sometimes will be surprising even for you, like, ‘Really? That’s what I think or remember or feel?’

Thanks to blogging I made a good step towards myself and self-discovery and probably towards honing my writing style. Altogether it’s fun and I keep going, to get to know me, to learn writing better and just to see what happens.


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Bookworm, Flash-fiction

In the Antique Store

I never was in this antique store before. Truly, I never was in any of them. It’s hard to find a person less interested in the old dusty stuff that is pricy for reasons I don’t understand. But raining cats and dogs outside locked me in here.

“How are things?” I asked the seller staring at old lamps and plates and worn-out pieces of furniture.

“Fine,” he said. He looked like an antiquity himself. His suit was sewn a century ago, his face was scratched with deep wrinkles and his head was shaking. I almost heard how all his body squeaked when he ventured to make an insecure step.

“This rain…” I pointed at the window. “Do you have umbrellas?”

“These rains never come without a reason,” he said.

“What do you mean?”

“You’re not a customer. You would never buy anything.”

“You’re right. I’m just hiding here. Why, should I pay for a ticket?”

“People like you have no respect for the past. You look around and see only dust.”

I shrugged my shoulders, “Am I wrong?” I took a book from the table in the middle of the shop and opened it. A couple of yellowed pages fell out on the floor. I picked them up and stuck back into the book, then closed it and dropped on the table. The dusty cloud it raised made me sneeze. “You see?”

“You didn’t read a line. You’re not curious enough to hear what the book was ready to tell you. You don’t see things that are right in front of you. You’re blind and deaf.”

I looked again at the dark-green cover. The title that used to be printed in gold was almost erased with time. I have an itch to pick the book up again, but couldn’t do it under the drilling stare of the old man.

“How much for the book?” I asked.

“I won’t sell it to you,” he said. “You don’t deserve it.”

“Is this how you run your business?” I grinned. “No surprise there’s nobody here, even with such a rain.” I came up to the window and looked outside. The downpour changed into a drizzle. “I think I can leave.” I turned to the seller, but he was gone, and everything else was gone. The store was empty and sank in the dark.

“What? How? Is it a trick?” I heard my own echo in the dead silence and rushed to the door. I pushed it with all my strength, but it didn’t open. “Let me out!” I cried.

“Pull it, idiot, don’t push.” I heard the old man’s voice. “Nobody holds you here. Or anywhere else.”

I pulled the door and stepped out to the street. The rain almost stopped. “What did I drink in the bar? What was the name of that green stuff?” I rubbed my temples. I looked at the light going through the antique store’s windows. I could see the old man standing next to the wall and readjusting one of the paintings. “I need to sleep it off,” I said to myself and stopped a cab.

“This rain,” I said to the driver.

“Yes,” he nodded. “Such a horrible weather. They say these rains never come without a reason.”

“Shut up and just bring me home! Enough of this shit for today.” I leaned back on the seat and closed my eyes. “Never again I come back to this neighborhood. But what was it that I drank in the bar?”


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Friendship Forever?

When I was fifteen I met a girl I considered my best friend forever. We were together all the time, shared all our thoughts and secrets, and I couldn’t imagine that our roads might part.

Once at school a teacher discussed a concept of friendship and expressed her strong opinion that only then a friend can be considered the real one when you’re ready to sacrifice, to give off your arm, for example, to this person when she or he needs it. Then the teacher asked if any of us had a real friend.

I was the only one who lifted the hand; all other students looked at me with a mixture of disbelief and envy. Nobody was so sure about their life choices but me.

Later I talked about it with one of my classmates who was a smart and very peculiar person. She believed she was a famous poet’s wife in one of her previous lives and suffered for Christianity in the other. She also believed she knew better than others, and I was a kind of her promising protégé she was happy to elucidate. She asked me what made me think that this friend of mine was really the best.

“We have many common interests,” I said.

“Interests change,” she said. “What will be with your friendship when this happens?”

I shrugged my shoulders. I had no doubts about who my best friend was. Ironically, the same year the friend I considered the best and forever stopped being one. There was one event that provoked me to break it up, but even then, in the thick of overwhelming emotions, I knew that eventually it would come to this anyway. We were growing apart and the feel of trust and closeness was dying out.

I learned, not right then though, much, much later that when you are sure about something it doesn’t mean that you are right. You can believe in a wrong thing with the same self-convincing power, but the belief itself doesn’t prove something. Life proves. And to prove anything life needs time.

I met other friends I considered the best and forever, and most of them went away or just stopped being close. I still love them, but that’s a different story. Our lives don’t cross and as friends we don’t need each other anymore, we found each other’s replacements. And it’s Ok. Nobody can be with you forever. Nobody has to. These days I believe you need to refresh your life once in a while, and that includes people around you. But it’s just a belief that needs some time to be proven, right or wrong.


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The Shaky Age Perspective


When I was six all adults seemed to be people from another world, even kids above fourteen were not our, children’s kind.

When I was nine I tried to convince my mom that she was old. She protested, but I knew I was right and couldn’t understand how she could not understand it. We were sitting in front of a TV, and in the middle of our discussion one man on the screen said to another, “You’re thirty years old, you are a young man. Why don’t you do something about your life?”

My mom victoriously pointed at the telly, “You see, thirty is young!”

“Yeah,” I said, “but you are thirty nine!”

When I was fifteen my mom mentioned someone from her work as ‘this boy’.

“How can you call him a boy?” I resented. “He’s twenty five, he’s a man with a beard, he’s totally an adult!”

“Ah, for me he’s a very young boy,” my mom sighed.

When I hit twenty five myself I was shocked. I felt, “That’s it, I’m a grown-up.” I stepped into the world of adults that seemed to be so alien even a year ago. I didn’t have a beard, but it wasn’t too consoling.

Next Monday I will be thirty nine. My son won’t tell me I’m old, not because he is smarter than I was, but only because he is four and can’t count further than ten where, probably, the border of strange adulthood starts for him.

It’s funny to look back and see how the concept of young and old changes. I’m not old, and if somebody tries to convince me in the opposite I won’t believe them, no matter how desperately they try. But I can look at a twenty-five-year-old thinking “Oh, that kid’, and, like my mom years ago, I don’t care if he has a beard.

These days I think I won’t get old, ever. I don’t mean on the physical level, of course, here you meet the power you can’t overcome. But on the inside, there are two stages for me, live and dead, the rest are nuances not worth attention. My belief is that if you don’t let it your soul will never get blind, deaf or callous.


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Chatters on the Road


If I find myself sitting in a bus or train next to a very chatty person I feel lucky. I know the time will fly and I won’t have to suffer for hours from boredom, staring at the monotonous patterns behind the window. Reading in a moving vehicle makes me dizzy, so I can’t entertain myself this way, and a talkative neighbor is the best thing that can happen to me in a journey.

I don’t care who this person might be, of what gender, age or profession. If he or she is ready to talk we’re great friends till the end of the trip. Everyone has a story to tell, and I’m curious to listen. Curiosity killed the cat, they say, but they are wrong, they don’t know better. On the road, curiosity is your best companion.

I once found myself on a plane next to an Irish man living between Paris and Moscow. In Paris his family stayed, in Moscow he worked. We talked for four hours nonstop and touched every topic possible. I didn’t notice neither turbulence nor extremely uncomfortable seats, and this is always a big win for those who fly economy class.

Long trips next to someone you never met before and surely will never see again help people open up and talk about things they would never bring up with their close friends and relatives. In a car that moves somewhere you feel surprisingly free.

During a long train trip an old alcoholic shared all his life with me and in the end asked if he should quit drinking. He was twice my age and it seemed quite absurd to me to recommend him anything, but I did. Or it sounded as I did when I simply told him what he had already decided himself.

If I could I would travel much more, not only because I love seeing new places but because every travel promises you at least one new story, a glimpse into someone’s life handed directly to you.


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Fear of Dogville


I rarely watch horror movies; pure fear is not my taste. Besides it’s difficult to get scared if you can predict the next step too often. But I sometimes am afraid of a movie before I see it because I know it will make me feel awkward or uncomfortable or painful.

There are some films on my list marked as ‘should watch this masterpiece’, and they stay unseen for years and get dusted and the verb ‘should’ fades out until I almost forget about the existence of the movie.

One of them, for example, is Dogville by Lars von Trier. I have huge respect for this director after seeing Dancer in the Dark. I was crushed with its emotional power and recommended it to a friend and lent her my copy of the movie. She, an owner of an enormous video collection, was preoccupied to get her own one.

“Don’t hurry,” I told her. “It’s a great movie, but you won’t ever wish to see it again.”

She watched the film, loved it and didn’t buy her own copy. You just don’t want to come through some things more than once.

When Dogville was released I read a short synopsis saying that the main character was enslaved, abused, raped as part of daily routine of normal life. I skipped the movie.

It’s a strange paradox that you can be impressed with someone’s talent but not care about what they have to say to you. I know how powerful the director is, but I don’t want to see his movie just to hear once again ‘people ain’t no good’. Maybe it’s true from some point of view, still, why should I see it illustrated on the big screen and get depressed?

There’s a well spread belief that the art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable, and I agree with this. The art is multitasking and must provoke critical thinking, too. But still, something keeps me from watching a movie like Dogville and probably always will.


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