Bookworm, Sketching

The Tank Travel Dream

 tank
When I was a kid I read a lot of sci-fi, and one of the books impressed me so much that I wanted to repeat a trick described in it. The idea of the story (the author’s name and the title escape me now) was that if you find a building that has not changed at all and has stayed untouched for a certain period of time you have a door leading into the past. All you have to do is enter this place, convince yourself that you are in the chosen period (the book’s character was hypnotized for first couple of times, and then he learned how to put himself in trance on his own), and go out to the street some years ago. As simple as that.

The protagonist made several trips to the end of the nineteenth century, fell in love with a beautiful girl and decided to never come back, even knowing about all the dramatic events of the twentieth century that lay ahead of him. Love was worth it, he thought.

I wasn’t looking for love in the past. I was only amazed with the idea that a simple building can be a door into another world. I shared this thought with a friend of mine, and then together we started running round the city and looking for a place that might suit us. We weren’t lucky. There were some old buildings, of course, but they were reconstructed or half-destroyed. They wouldn’t work. Finally we found something. It wasn’t a building, it was a monument. A real tank that stood in the middle of the square as a reminder of the Second World War.

“We should get inside,” a friend of mine said. “The tank is the same as it was fifty years ago. We can go to the sixties and have fun.”

I agreed, we could have fun in the sixties, and I already started thinking what I should wear to look modern in the past. But we still had to find the way to get inside the tank. I suspected that the hatch cover might have been locked, but we couldn’t be sure until we checked. The problem was we couldn’t climb up there, the monument was too high. For a couple of days we walked around the tank like hungry cats smelling fresh fish, trying to figure out how we can bring a ladder and get in, not attracting anyone’s attention. Should we do it at night?

Then suddenly doubts crawled in. I thought that yes, the tank is exactly the same, nobody disturbed it for years, but the dust inside must have changed. Every molecule matters, the book said. Can the new dust be an obstacle on the way to our adventure?

A friend of mine had her fears too. “What if we just get insane?” she said.

“What do you mean?”

“What if we get in the tank, convince ourselves we are in the past, then go out to the present, thinking we are in the past because we’ve gone mad?”

This was a very complex concept for me. I was only preoccupied with the possible dust disorder. Still, the magic was ruined: I knew she didn’t truly believe it was possible, and I, deeply inside, didn’t believe it either. We walked around the tank for another day, and then dropped the idea to climb in. Our doubts won over. Plus, we never found a ladder. But I still think it would be cool to go to the sixties or just to see what’s inside the tank.

 

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Bookworm, Sketching

My Blog Is My Selfie

“Concentrate on what you want to say to yourself and your friends. Follow your inner moonlight; don’t hide the madness. You say what you want to say when you don’t care who’s listening.”

Allen Ginsberg

My blog is one big selfie. It’s all about me even though I don’t post any photos and don’t share any details about my current private life. Still, it’s all about me, my thoughts, my feelings and ideas that attract or bother me. I’m in every word here.

Truly, I believe that’s how it has to be. This is my personal blog and this is why I have it: to think out loudly and, if I’m lucky, receive somebody’s response. I’m here to say what I want to say to myself and to those who care to listen.

The first thing I want to see whenever I go to someone else’s blog is the personality behind all the words. I don’t seek useful information or good advice on how to buy property in Miami even though there are many helpful web pages and I respect them. It’s just not the area of my interests.

I look for people. I know that some enthusiasts who get into blogging put aside reading books completely and only read blogs. I’m not one of them, but I get it. Books tell you stories that end sooner or later, and you have to move on to another book. Blogs allow you to meet real persons, listen to them and see how they cope with their life journey. If you like their voice and way of thinking you want to check on them every now and then as if they were your friends; and the great thing is none of them has the back cover saying ‘the end’.

As you can see, I’m a fan of selfies, but not all of them, of course. I like ones that are sincere, true and full of inner moonlight, and I don’t mind a bit of madness in their shine.

 

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Bookworm, Sketching

Sad Roots of Comedy

I am reading Craig Ferguson’s American on Purpose, and I enjoy it. I love his writing style and sense of humor. The most interesting thing about my reading choice, though, is that I recently developed taste for stand-up comedians’ memoirs. Not just anyone’s memoirs attract my attention, an author has to be a comedian. I’m still looking for roots of this reasoning myself, but so far, without finding any, I created a whole list of books of this kind I plan to read. And I’m good at making lists, you know.

So far I read only a couple of books. First I went to the boarding school for boys with Stephen Fry (Moab Is My Washpot), then accompanied Steve Martin on his lonely journey (Born Standing Up), and now I am in Scotland, with Craig, whose teachers beat 5-year-old kids on the hands with the belts created and used for this purpose only.

I remember my days at school and many teachers being rude or mean or offensive, but at least they didn’t beat us. I’m so glad that the standards of education changed and keep changing. If they didn’t I would probably have to be a comedian to process all that crap that the gentlemen mentioned above came through. It looks like the laugh is truly the strongest defensive mechanism our brain develops so that we can stay sane, no matter what shit is happening to us. But does the comedy have to come from pain? (This is Jim Carrey’s belief who, I hope, one day will write a book to complete my list of comedians’ memoires). Can’t it have another source, like pure joy, for example?

I think I need to go through all my reading list to find the answer. And if I don’t find any I still will have some laughs. After all, these guys know how to make a joke.
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Bookworm, Sketching

It’s Not the Genre That Matters

dividing line

“What do you read for fun?” This question sounds very strange to me, as if normal reading implied an obligation and hard, hard work and only sometimes you could allow yourself to read something for pure fun of it. Almost everything I choose to read I read for pleasure. As for the genre, I don’t limit my choices. Fiction, non-fiction, who cares? A book in any genre can be a jewel or disaster.

Many years ago I read Ingmar Bergman’s memoirs, Laterna Magica. I still recall some scenes from that book as if I saw a movie or witnessed a real-life event or maybe even lived through the Swedish director’s experience, so vivid was his writing, so palpable were his joys, pains and fears.

Some fiction books, on the other hand, can be pretty boring even in their attempt to entertain. I remember how once I borrowed a ‘humorous crime story’. It was the most tedious read in my life. I noticed the author’s desperate efforts to make a joke here and there and to leave an intriguing hint about the big question, ‘who stole the apple pie?’, but I couldn’t squeeze a smile out of myself so flat and tasteless was it all. I don’t remember anything about this story, not even the title, the only thing that stayed with me was the regret that I opened the book.

It’s not the genre, I assume, that makes a book good or bad, exciting or deadly boring. It’s all about the talent an author has or, unfortunately, hasn’t. That’s where the big border lies that divides reading into fun and disappointment. All the rest is insignificant; at least, that’s how I see it.

 

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Bookworm, Sketching

Too Much, Isn’t It?

manybooks

“Perhaps too much of everything is as bad as too little.”

Edna Ferber

I love reading and I want to read everything that sounds interesting. When I hear about a new book that sounds interesting I want to read it almost immediately, and immediately indeed I check if it’s available online. If the book is easy to get I don’t read it right away because I read something else at the moment; but I put the title on the list of books I want to read. On one of the lists, to be exact, as I have many lists of many books I want to read so badly.

The more I read about new books the longer the lists of books I want to read become and the more I forget the titles of the books I want to read so badly. I even forget where I keep the lists of books I want to read which explains why I have so many lists instead of one.

I love reading the lists of books I want to read (when I’m able to find them). I love it even more than reading the books I want to read. My favorite lists are 100 Books You Have To Read, 100 Novels You Must Read Right Now and 100 Books of All Time You Still Haven’t Read. I write and reread the lists of books so often that I don’t have much time left for reading the books themselves. If you think I’m crazy you are perfectly right, but I’m afraid you are quite crazy too as you are losing your time reading about the books I want to read instead of reading a book you want to read so badly.

P. S. I have no idea who Edna Ferber is, but oh, she’s right.

 

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Bookworm, Flash-fiction

Brevity Teasers

“I would have written a shorter letter, but I did not have the time,” said Blaise Pascal and looked proudly at the pile of paper covered with his neat writing. “Not a blot! That’s how great I am in writing,” he boasted and stroked the upper leaf with his hand. “This feather can’t be used anymore though,” he looked at the broken tip, sighed and threw it out in the open window. The feather did a slow farewell dance in the air and fell on the cobbled roadway.

You know what they say,” Anton Chekhov pensively looked at the feather disappearing under the hoof of a dirty horse. “Brevity is the sister of talent,” Chekhov gave Pascal a wink, “which one you, obviously, don’t have.”

What?” Pascal jumped up from his chair and clenched his fists. “What have you just said? Repeat it and I will punch this grin off your face right away!”

Oh, come on, Blaise, calm down! Don’t take it so seriously,” William Shakespeare tapped Pascal’s shoulder.

But Bill, don’t you see, he’s mocking me!”

Tony made a joke, that’s all. He’s a satirist, that’s what they do.”

Pascal looked at Chekhov through his narrowed eyes and murmured several words in French, one of them being ‘merde’.

Chekhov took off his pince-nez and, while cleaning it with his handkerchief, looked with his near-sighted squint at the cloud that looked like a grand piano. “But tell us, Bill,” he said after a long pause. “You are agreed with me, aren’t you?”

Well, you know what I wrote in my last work…”

About the cuckoo prince? Yes, I remember. But tell him,” Chekhov pointed his pince-nez at Pascal. “He has no time to read, he spends it all on writing without blots.”

Shakespeare nodded and recited, “Therefore since brevity is the soul of wit, // And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes, // I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.

I will be brief,” repeated Chekhov and giggled, “Pascal is tedious and should quit writing.”

Damn you idiots!” Pascal jumped up from his chair again. “We are not friends anymore.” He pointed at the door. “Get out of my house!”

Shakespeare shrugged his shoulders and got up from the couch. “Ok, Tony, let’s go. It’s time to pay a visit to someone else.”

“To Charlie maybe?” Chekhov put the pince-nez back on his nose.

Sure, why not?”

They came out to the street and stopped a cab. “Bring us to the Dickens’s house,” Shakespeare said.

Yes, bring us to Dickens,” Chekhov grinned and rubbed his hands. “We have some brevity issues to discuss.”

“All right, sir,” the cabman said, and off they went to see the man working on Little Dorrit.

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Bookworm, My Favorite Names

Nothing Better

adams

There is nothing better than sitting home on such a gloomy and rainy day like the one I’m having here and reading one of the books of Douglas Adams. The brightest and shiniest writer who makes you forget about the weather, the universe and everything.

The first his book I read was, of course, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I remember how it sucked me in right away, from the very first words, and after the Earth was destroyed I couldn’t stop laughing till the very last page. After the book, I believe that the meaning of life is 42 and the only words you should keep in mind are ‘Don’t panic’.

I couldn’t let go of  the book and put The Hitchhiker’s Guide in my bag to read it in the bus on the way to work. I took a seat, opened the book and started giggling excitedly over one scene after another. Suddenly I felt an urge to look up. When I did so I realized that the whole bus, each and every passenger turned to my side and stared at me as if I were a runaway from asylum. Slowly coming back to reality, I fixed on their weary, drowsy and totally confused faces and felt sorry that they didn’t have this book in their hands. One of the men who seemingly envied me asked, “What is this you are reading?” I proudly showed him the cover and plunged back into the intergalactic journey.

There’s nothing better than reading one of Douglas Adams’s books, and not only on a gloomy day like this one. Any day will become sunnier. The only thing that makes me sad about Adams is the fact the he died and won’t write anything anymore. All the rest, thanks to his immortal magic, turns into mostly harmless.

Bookworm, Sketching

Creative Dawn Hours

I read an article about biphasic sleep which claimed that humans are genetically predisposed not to sleep all night long, but wake up in the middle of it and start acting right away. The article also promised that the early morning hours are the best time for creative work. The idea is based on the fact that for many thousands of years humans didn’t know electricity and went to bed, or better say to cave, when the darkness fell. Naturally, they got up at sunrise and started a day in the middle of which they had their refreshing siesta and hit the hay for another time.

It reminded me of Napoleon Bonaparte about whose strange daily routine I read many years ago. He went to bed around eight in the evening, slept till midnight or so, then got up and started planning his wars. As we all know, this schedule of his proved to be very productive.

“Ok,” I thought. “I can give it a try. I will get up at about three in the morning and try to write something to see if this time is really perfect for being creative. If yes, I’ll have a sure trick to tame ever capricious Muse and will write a masterpiece.”

I usually wake up in the middle of the night for my portion of insomnia so I didn’t need any help of the alarm clock, and my husband kept happily snoring when I crawled out of bed to tiptoe to the computer.

“Ok then!” I rubbed my hands in anticipation of the powerful influx of inspiration to hit me in the head. “Let’s see what ya got.”

I stared at the blank page for a while waiting for a brilliant idea to flow into my sleepy brain. Nothing flew in. “I need a cup of tea,” I thought. “Surely, it will help me to brace up.”

I was sipping tea and staring at the blank page. “I want some cookies as well.”

I was sipping tea, chewing cookies and staring at the blank page. Inspiration turned out to be quite a mannerless guest and was late or not coming at all. “Probably I should start without it,” I thought and stared at the blank page again.

I swallowed a cookie, sipped tea and finally decided that yes, there is no point to wait anymore. I started typing. “It’s dark because it’s night. It’s quiet because everybody sleeps. The cookies are nice and crunchy, and tea as well.”

I reread what I’d written. “Yeah…” I yawned. “I never bored myself as significantly as tonight.” I reached for a cookie, but they all were gone. I finished tea and yawned again.

“Maybe I should think of planning a war?” I looked at the ceiling and gave it a thought. No, a military career didn’t seem appealing. ”What a pity, I’m not Napoleon.” I sighed, switched off the computer and came back to bed. I hugged my soft pillow. “I love you, my dear,” I whispered to it. “You are so much better than this stupid computer. The cookies were nice though. Maybe tomorrow I’ll try the biphasic sleep again.”

 

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Bookworm, Sketching

My Cup of Tea

Cup of green tea

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry considered water the most precious drink on Earth and whenever he went to a restaurant water was the first thing he would order. Once he was lost in the desert and learnt the real price of the drink we usually think too simple to pay attention. It is interesting that you have to come through real crap to learn what is really important and how little you need to be grateful. Thanks to the crash of his plane that landed in the middle of nowhere the pilot wrote The Little Prince, one of the most beautiful books in the world. Here where the theory of lemons turned into lemonade becomes handy.

I don’t drink pure water that often; obviously, I need to crash somewhere first, but my favorite beverage is still pretty simple. I love tea, plain green tea, no milk, no sugar, and I don’t care if it’s served hot or cold. The only requirement is a cup must be big.

Some people believe that the choice of a drink adds features to your psychological portrait. I don’t know if it’s true or not; I think the favorite taste can be just a matter of habit as I see many people around pouring Coca-Cola down their throats to accompany the sweetest cake they just swallowed. Seems to be too much sugar for me, but for them it’s just the right amount. I wouldn’t claim it a psychological cry for love, but I definitely see it as abuse of one’s own health.

My own favorite drink may suggest that I am secretly addictive to caffeine for green tea has a lot of it, even though not as much as coffee which I never drink just because I don’t like the taste. If I liked it, who knows, I’d probably live on it as I always need a push to do something and I’m pretty far away from being able to appreciate such simple pleasures of life like free-of-taste water.

 

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Bookworm, Sketching

The Work Equation

little-island

One of my friends suffered for years from Sunday Sickness. It’s a term for an abrupt drop of mood that hits you on Sunday evening when you realize that tomorrow is Monday and you’ll have to go to work. This friend wasn’t an exception within my other acquaintances; the last hours of the weekend are tragic for so many of us. But one day this guy changed his job and forgot about Sunday Sickness forever. He couldn’t wait for the Monday morning to run to work that he now loved.

I think it was Confucius who said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Well said, hard to argue, and a story of the friend of mine proves it. When you do something you like, even if it is your job and you have to do it every day as you are paid for it you don’t feel the burden of obligations anymore, you are happy.

We all want to be free from annoying duties, from worrying about money that we will need tomorrow and we all dream about winning a lottery that would give us the golden opportunity not to have all these duties, worries or needs. But the chances to hit the jackpot are so minor that, let’s admit it, it’s not much of a hope here. Besides, how long would you enjoy the routine of stretching in a deck chair on the beach with a glass of martini in your lazy hand or jumping from one plane to another in a rush to see all the sights of the world until they turn into one big messy picture where you can’t distinguish which is what? The endless leisure can become a pretty hard task as well.

It seems that the hope hides in another place prompted by the old Chinese philosopher. We can find a job that would bring us joy and feeling of self-realization and forget that we are at work. Probably, our main task in life is to find this spot under the sun so that we all can work creating something that we ourselves like and someone else will enjoy, too. It’s not easy but still possible as some of my lucky friends prove.

As for me, I was looking for something that would be meaningful to me for years, and after reading The Element by Ken Robinson which turned out to be really great help I think I found my little island on the intricate map of life, and, day by day, I am building a bridge to get there. And so far it’s fun.

 

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