Sketching

Self-Made Boundaries

I think I’m a reasonable person. At least most of the time. But still, pretty often I find myself doing a very strange thing. I procrastinate.

I know what I like to do and why. I know what goal I want to achieve and what exactly I have to do to get there. But I don’t do it. I used to look for excuses, like, I have no time, I am not ready, I need to learn more about how to do it… Now I know it is all crap. These all are made-up reasons not to do what I have decided to do. So I don’t look for an excuse anymore. I just don’t do anything. Yep, as simple as that. I don’t even promise myself I’ll start next Monday. I know so well that Monday will come and go, and I won’t move a finger.

I believe every psychological issue has a root, and there’s no sense to try to fix yourself until you find this root, the seed that caused the whole problem. Looking for this seed, I have read so many articles explaining reasons for procrastination. They all make sense, but something is missing. I understand why people procrastinate, in general; I understand it, really, but I can’t apply this knowledge to change my own route, my personal approach. All those ready answers, like fear of failure or fear of success, don’t help; they don’t seem to be right or personal enough to explain what forces me to sabotage my own plans when I have developed a step-by-step strategy and a strict schedule. Am I that lazy or don’t I care enough? Maybe my goals are not really mine? Maybe I’m nuts and ask too many absurd questions?

“My doctor told me I shouldn’t work out until I’m in better shape.” This is my vicious circle. Thank you, Steven Wright, for putting it in words for me. I can’t start changing until something changes, who knows how and when.

Can it be that procrastination is my destiny and all I have to do is surrender? I think it can be, especially if I choose Steven Wright as my best adviser. “I bought some batteries, but they weren’t included.” Yeah, exactly, I know what he’s talking about.

 

The Daily Post

Sketching

The Turmeric Turmoil, or The Danger of Easy Solutions

“I look old and I hate it,” I say to a friend over Skype. “Should I try some fancy anti-aging cream?”

“Try a homemade mask,” she says and sends me a Youtube link. “It’s a Brazilian woman, she’s very popular.”

I don’t speak Portuguese but click on the link anyway. The ‘Brazilian’ woman is blond and speaks English with an Australian accent.

The recipe of the homemade mask that promises youth and beauty in ten minutes and forever is simple. A tablespoon of turmeric powder, some milk, two drops of oil. The ‘Brazilian’ applies the mix to her face to demonstrate how smoothly it looks. Then she washes it off and claims that, due to this mask, she always looks young and fresh and pretty without any make-up.

“Well, she is young and fresh and pretty,” I think. “She barely needs any mask at all.” But I have an hour before my son leaves school so I decide to give it a try. What do I have to lose?

I prepare the pumpkin-colored mix and spread it over my face. When the mask dries I rinse it off and look at myself in the mirror.

My skin looks fresh and smooth and pretty. And it’s bright-yellow.

“Oh my god!” I’m ready to faint. “I have to leave in half an hour! And go outside! Where there are people!”

I grab face cleanser and nervously rub it into my face. My face is still yellow. I grab soap. It works. The yellow turns green. My skin is still surprisingly soft and tender. I could be the most attractive corpse in the cemetery beauty pageant.

“I have to leave in ten minutes!”

I call to the friend who sent me the damn link and skip all the preambles, “My face is green because of this stupid mask! Was it a prank?”

My friend sounds innocent and surprised, “Has it stained your skin? Really? They should inform about this, don’t you think?”

“I’ve no time to think! What can I do?”

“Uhm… Well… Maybe, try olive oil. They say it cleans the skin.”

I hang up. I won’t add greasy glitter to my already olive face. I take a deep breath and think. Then I grab a bottle of baby cream and a roll of kitchen towels. After five minutes of aggressive scrubbing I sit before a huge pile of dirty paper, and a desperate red face with greyish-green spots all over it looks at me from the mirror.

I give up. Seven blocks of shame on the way to school are inevitable.

In the street, I fix on the tips of my shoes. I don’t look at people. They look at me.

I rush into the school, grasp my son’s hand and turn to leave.

“Are you all right?” My son’s teacher stares at me. “You seem… agitated.”

“Uhm… Yeah… I don’t feel well.” I put my hand on the stomach to prove it and pull my son outside.

We almost run home and bump into Mrs. Gossip right next to the house.

“Hi Joan! Have you heard what happened to…” She breaks off and stares at me for fifteen long seconds.

Great! Now all neighbors will talk about my green face.

“You look… somewhat younger,” she finally says. “Have you used Botox?”

I search for sarcasm in her eyes but find only disapproval and envy. She keeps talking about how inappropriate it is to do what I’ve done, but I don’t listen. She said ‘younger’! The mask works! I’ll have to do it again!

Flash-fiction

Burnt Match

Image Credit: Januz Miralles
Image Credit: Januz Miralles

Matt arrived late. When he entered the church it was already crowded. Numerous colleagues and students sat on the benches and looked at the coffin where the Dean lay. Matt breathed in thick air and felt overwhelmed with the suffocating vibe of death. He made a hasty step to leave but then changed his mind and only loosened his tie. He leaned against the wall near the entrance door and looked at the widow. As always, he couldn’t take his eyes off her face.

Wrapped in a long black dress that accentuated thinness of her body, she seemed more fragile than ever. Her red curly locks, which usually hung loose to her shoulders, were now hidden under the strict black hat. Her stiff, straight posture and a slight tilt of the head made her look like a burnt match. She stood near the coffin and shook hands with people that kept coming over to her to express their condolences.

“She doesn’t hear them,” Matt watched her force a mechanical nod. “She doesn’t see them. She’s barely there.”

Last time Matt saw her at the Dean’s birthday party. She laughed at her husband’s awkward jokes holding onto his shoulder, and the flame of her hair danced along the rhythm of her laughter. Matt chuckled too, not able to resist her contagious joy.

“What does she see in him?” Matt looked at the Dean’s bald head. “His thick glasses? His false teeth?”

“Well, it’s not fair,” he said to himself. “He’s not so old to have false teeth. But he’s too old for her.”

Now he was too dead. Matt looked at the corpse in the coffin. There were no glasses on the Dean’s nose; and he didn’t smile to show his horse teeth. He looked calm and secure as if he knew that, even dead, he still owned her, as if he was sure that now, leaving this world, he would take all her warmth and brightness with him so that she could never look at anyone else the way she used to look at him.

Matt wanted to come up to her and look into her eyes and say something nice and encouraging. He wanted to try and erase the lines of pain destroying the beauty of her pale face. But he kept standing next to the wall. He was afraid to meet the dark emptiness of her look which replaced lively sparkles that had always flicked in her smiley eyes. For the first time he didn’t want her to know he was there.

He left the church, not waiting till the end of the ceremony. She won’t notice anyway. She won’t care. He had always been in the shadow of her love for another man. Now, he will stay in the shadow of this man’s death.

Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie

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Sketching

Coming Back to the Road

I’ve been blogging for about half a year. By no means it is long enough to say I am an expert or anything, but I have felt comfortable with my own writing routines. Or it seemed so a couple of weeks ago.

I spent last two weeks away from the blogosphere revising my aims and goals, and it made me lose connection with the writing habit that I considered to be pretty solid. It feels as if I was going along a road that I knew would bring me somewhere, but then I stepped aside, just for a moment, and sat down on the grass and looked up at the sky, at white clouds slowly float above. And when it’s time to get back to the road I am not so sure anymore if the path that seemed to be mine is really mine. I don’t know if I have chosen the right direction or if I actually want to go anywhere.

I kept asking myself whether I should blog if I am not sure why I am doing it.

Today I got up at six in the morning. I had no reason to do so, but I woke up with a sudden wish to jot something down. Does it mean that I have been missing writing all this time and that I need to take to it again? Probably yes. In the end, it doesn’t really matter if I know where the road goes. It goes somewhere, and, while I enjoy walking, why not pace along?

There were several times in my life when I felt an unexplained urge to do something new. I never questioned it, I just followed it. And years later, when looking back, I can see surprisingly pleasant results those initial impulses brought me to, although then, in the very beginning, I had no idea of what would await me ahead.

I guess it’s the same with blogging or writing in general. I don’t know where it will bring me. But I can go on and see what happens. When something pushes you from inside you should give in to that urge even if you can’t decipher the message of your inner self yet.

It is so easy to shut down and lose the habit of expressing yourself, especially after a couple of discouraging remarks from people who judge you by your words. But the truth is you don’t write for anyone else. You write because you want to say something out loud, to let go of the ideas and feelings that boil up in your head; otherwise they will have to steam out through your ears and nostrils or run out as tears through your eyes.

Come back to posting your tiny little thoughts, I say to myself. You need it, so just do it. As simple as that. Keep telling what wants to be told. And even if your way of expressing yourself is awkward and full of silly mistakes you still have the right to speak. While speaking aloud, you learn to free your heart and be who you are.

Sketching

No Time To Think

centipede

Life is too short to think too much.

When I start thinking about something too seriously I stop acting. I become an alive illustration of an old story about the centipede that decided to figure out which of his legs should go first, and after that he couldn’t make a step. My portrait exactly. When I plan something too carefully I get paralyzed by the amount of details I have to work through and by fear to make an unforgivable mistake. So I don’t move at all.

Knowing that about myself, I try not to overthink things but act right away. Plunge in and see what happens. It probably won’t work for everyone, but I have to adopt this motto. If not, my short life will end up in infinite hesitation and pondering, “Which way is it better to do?”

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