hey you new year, you’d better be happy

You know how you start every new year with a dumb grin on your face thinking that after 12 o’clock  your will power shall change by magic and you’ll actually start doing this and that and being like this or like that? As if the next morning it’s not still the same old you there ( maybe with an added hangover) with your same old habits, and behavior patterns.

Well, this year I refused to engage in this self betrayal of happily giving up to who I am for a projected better me. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against changing or improving or achievement, I just think that these don’t come to replace something. They just complete it. And it’s a slow process, organically built, and it comes with life experiences and living. As simple as that. Not with a list that’s meant to take you places. No list will do that. Only you will.

I won’t deny it, I did make a resolution list – just I won’t swear by it. It’s been made just so I can read it next year and remember how I was this year. A sort of letter to myself that once it’s been written there’s no point thinking about it. Yes, of course I would like to be more organised, disciplined, focused and all that society is so hungry for – but I won’t fight myself for it. After all, I owe it to my inner mini-me, the minimum freedom of being.

But reading the signs   (as any respectable superstitious person would do) I think 2012 will be an interesting year. I finished last year with Murakami’s Norwegian Wood, started this one with lovely company, London fireworks, a random street concert,  Everything is Illuminated – ohhhh how I loved it! the simplicity of it, the savor! lots of chocolate and other sweets, lots of drinks and lots of work. And I realised you don’t need much to be happy. Just a bit of simple magic. Which I wish to all of you.

bfF

Sometimes playing with images is easier than playing with words. And other times it’s the other way around.

once upon a time

Once upon a time, when people used to look each other in the eyes and togetherness was more than an abstract notion, there was a little girl who had 100 wishes, different ones every day.  What she wished for it didn’t really matter, nor did it matter if the wishes came true or not.  It was the sheer pleasure of longing, desiring, finding reasons to look forward for the days to come.  It wasn’t about wanting this or that object, a toy or a trip or a pair of shoes, it was about making bets with the weather, expecting they’d play that song on the radio, her essays being appreciated in the classroom, finding the perfect gift idea, spotting a coin on the street, running 3 seconds faster than last time. It was a little game against fate, her personal way of challenging the stars. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t. But it sure seemed fun. 

What’s happened to that girl today, nobody knows. What happened to simple, ardent wishes, nobody cares. They’ve been replaced with ‘I need’ and ‘I want’.  

kids are alright

For those who don’t know, I work with kids. I know, shocking, flashing news…you’ll get over it. Same way I am trying to for the last couple of years. Not any sort of kids, but small kids, 4-5-6-7-8-yo kids. Those kids who are at the age they are absolutely dependent on the rest of us grown ups and yet would headbut us or slap us on the face or kick or punch or cry from the top of their lungs ‘i hate yous’ so many times a day that it got me thinking it’d be a smashing hit if it was made some track. Anyway, where was I? Ahh, yes. The angelic, innocent, cuddly kids. Leaving jokes aside, I can’t hold it inside anymore and have to share my consternation.

For a long time I couldn’t understand the need for shows like SuperNanny or Extreme parental Guidance. I thought that everything is run by a script and that out there in the real world, parents will know how to say no and kids will know how to say yes. How naive was I.  I entered this world of tantrums and frustration and tiptoeing and negotiation and need of routines and I couldn’t believe my eyes. When and how things changed this dramatically?  Why? And no, not everything can be blamed on technology and stressful jobs. Nor on politics and education reforms.

Everyone became so obsessed with the perfect plan, perfect routine, perfect diet, perfect bed time, that they become alienated beyond repair. Expectant mothers sign up their unborn babies for nursery, in fear they won’t catch a spot. Their kid won’t have the best education. Their kid won’t live up to their life plan that has been designated long before they were born. Career mums go frenzy if their prodigy can’t write by the age of 4 but don’t move a muscle if the kid throws the plates against the walls. The cleaner will pick it up anyway, won’t she? Everything is done with a reward at the end, everything is a commercial exchange, ‘if you behave today in the park, you will get a new ipad app or oreo or ball or this or that’. It’s easier to obsess over the school activities and clubs than to actually enjoy your kid. Teach him about life values. About caring and sharing. About the joy of small things.

And God forbid you, the carer, the teacher, the nanny, the tutor, the aunt, uncle or whoever, try to discipline their kid. Try to show them what’s acceptable and what’s not out here, in the real world. Then it means you’re trying to suppress the kid’s creativity and imagination. You are trying to cut their wings. I see parents having a go at teachers for saying  ‘ I will not have you shout like that’ instead of ‘ Sweetie pie, could you please use a lower voice? Whats happened?’  or ‘Go wash your hands, you will not pick your nose in this classroom’ instead of ‘ Could you please go wash your hand?’. I mean, says the mother, he is only 4, it’s normal he picks his nose. Yes lady, and he’s gonna do it when he’s 30 as well if you don’t tell him not to. These parents are overwhelmed with the responsibility of 1 kid usually, and ask advice from ‘specialists’ but will go potty when someone else will point out the flaws. The nerve of teachers! Doing their jobs! Funny thing is kids will actually react in a good way to authority. It’s their parents who won’t.

You will say I am exaggerating. I have met so many parents, from such different environments and backgrounds, all of them complain about their kids attitude and behaviour as if it would be something they were born with As if it’s not their responsibility. Last weekend I asssisted a mum having the phone hang up in her nose by her 10 yo daughter. The other week, a mum has been slapped quite hard on the face, in the middle of a restaurant. Did any go crazy over it? No, they laughed apologetically for their kid and commented about children these days. No, it’s not children these days. It’s parents these days.

Is it this country I wonder. The culture. The hysteria of correctness, of libertarian upbringing. Have no clue. What I can say is the kid inside me looks around with big, wide eyes and thinks grown ups do suck.

 

 

monthly report

When I started this blog I had the personal target of posting every day. Far from happening, but it’s still there, at the back of my mind. As is cutting down smoking, eating tasteless healthy food, taking care of my body, reading more or being in Forbes before I hit my 30s.  I often live the paradox of having too much to say and share and ending up not doing it at all.  A bit like when you have all these recipes of tasty dishes in your head, a fridge full of ingredients and you go to bed snacking on some tortilla.  So as an attempt to catch up with you guys, here’s what’s been happening lately and been consuming my synapses:

  • Guy Fawkes night. Been waiting for it for a while, being the 1st year I am in London in this period. Made sure I had my agenda clear. Charged batteries for both my cameras. Even planned a warm and comfy outfit so I could lay on the grass somewhere if required. Then on the day I started google-ing locations for fireworks. the disappointment cannot be described. There were only a few places, not counting the ones you had to pay an entry fee, most of the located in areas I’ve never set foot before. I searched and searched for Central London happenings, but guess what, the more sweat I gathered on the forehead and keyboard, the more empty searches I got. In the end BfF and I decided to go to Embankment, betting our lives something HAS to happen there.  Took the cameras, floated until there, visualised the outrageous amount of mulled wine I was gonna drink and…nothing! Absolutely nothing! Not even the merchant stools from previous years. Not 1 sparkle on the sky. Not a thing to stare at. Dear Mayor of London, I as a foreigner have been deeply disappointed and let down.  There have been more fireworks where I live than in Central. I felt like a kid whose candy was stolen.
  • Country Living Christmas Fair. A massive event I had to work for, this past weekend. I had it all planed. I’d wake up early morning, prepare a snack to take with me, make my self all pretty presentable and use my breaks to snoop on the stools and stock up Christmas presents for my dear ones. Think again. I was supposed to be out of the house at 9am, at 9.15am I’ve been waken up by a call. The drama. The panic. The hurry. I left the house without having my vital coffee, or checking my creased faced in the mirror, ran in my furry coat on a warm sunny day and sweated like a pig, all to discover that Northern Line, which was my only hope, was closed down for repairs. To say I felt the world spinning would be an understatement. I ran again. And the more I ran, the slower I felt I was moving. Another paradox, huh? Did I get lots of nice pressies? Wrong again! I didn’t have time to even drink a drop of water – not to mention my darn coffee. Lots of people, with lots of bags, they seemed thousands to me,  compensated for what I was supposed to do.
  • Eurozone and occupy movements.  Now, I have always been interested in politics and the way this world is. I see it as my duty to know what’s going on with me in the end. Where we and in the last instance, I am heading to. I must say I have never been this worried.  Because I see no outcome. Many have asked repeatedly what good could ever come from the popular uprising – in Greece, Spain, Austria or Wall Street. Many see it as powerless, futureless people massing for no cause, or without having something better to suggest to the current situation.  I think the premise is wrong to start with. It’s not about the consequences or what they/we can change, It’s about a basic, most fundamental human response possible.   When we lack outcomes and we endure unnatural, abusive encroaching from all directions, the only thing left to do is to make sure they understand you reject it.  It’s a dignified gesture that states our human condition and natural rights that come with it. I have see footage from around Europe, many taken by friends who are in the middle of all this. I must say I am not happy. I fear my future and my unborn children’s future. And i frown at people my age or a bit older not giving a monkey’s ass about it.
  • Christmas plans. I have always spent Christmas with my family – I am one of those rare species who enjoy their parent’s company and whatever relatives come along. But this year I might be stuck in London. Now that is what I ‘d call a big booooo to life! Good thing is, though I am very behind with gifts – see previous points, I have stocked up on Christmas cards, with which I couldn’t be more pleased. And I was able to personalise them with the most mushy greetings ever. Don’t judge me, I am not cheesy all the time! But their illustrations were so sweet and endearing I just couldn’t help myself. Not to mention the great service.  I got them this morning and I must say, I have found my new obsession for whenever I need personalised stationery.
  • New year’s Eve. Now, if you read previous point, you know I might be in London for Christmas, which leads to the next big thing. What is there to do on New Year’s Eve? And I don’t want to leave it on the last day, as I already experienced the Guy Fawkes disappointment. Any suggestions will be more than welcomed.
This should cover the last month of hectic thoughts and wishful thinking I’ve been going through. Did I mention I would really like to start posting daily?

 

Halloween princess

I’ve never been too much into the whole Halloween thing.  Though I’ve always been a consumer of horror movies ( since too early ages) and always liked to see others in fancy dress, I just couldn’t really get the idea behind the occasion.

That until last week, when I had a chance to go to a Halloween kid’s party, somewhere in Hampstead. From toddlers to teens, all wearing from funny, to ridiculous, to scary, to breath taking costumes,  a mix of excitement and emotion, early start to entering a character’s skin.  Story teller, hunting for clues around the museum and sticking and gluing terrifying finger puppets, were a few of the adventures that enchanted kids and especially myself. Ohhh, how I wish I was a kid again.  The things I missed out! Though it might be a bit late for me to look like the cutest girl bellow:

 

 

And, since today is Halloween, it means there are 55 days to go until Christmas, and maaaan, does time fly or what? So I need to start stocking up on gifts and not very easy to decide on what, for who,  will they like it?! But at least I found my salvation with the perfect personalised Xmas cards that not only are insanely cute, but the illustrations are all hand drawn, making a difference in a clip art saturated market. Pity they didn’t have Halloween stationery, would’ve gladly gotten a few, but I forgive them as they only started the project.

stop. start. all together now.

Some days, especially when it’s grey outside and you can feel the wind crawling under the windows, one feels they need to grow up. To face their age and the new wrinkles and live up to them. To dress sensible and act sensible and most of all, do sensible things. Start thinking of a 10 years plan. Start putting money aside. Start living less in the moment and more in the future. Start projecting 10 steps plans for 10 big achievements.  Start being a social creature and making acquaintances more than friends. Start having dinner parties. Start caring what jobs the others have. Start sending mass -produced xmas cards to people whose names and addresses you have in an excel sheet. Start drinking only wine and deny you ever tasted beer or vodka. Start saying no to smoking. Start answering the emails on time.  Start talking about personal trainers. Start talking about international problems not because you care but because it’s such a hip subject. Start forgetting that life has colour and taste and fragrance beyond your wallet.

 

Stop having lie-ins. Stop having movie marathons. Stop having food orgies (ie one cheese cake in one go or a whole pizza for yourself followed by a chocolate). Stop skipping on the street. Stop humming that tune in public. Stop making silly faces at friends. Stop wearing funky colours. Stop smiling like you mean it. Stop being what you’d like.

Because you need to grow up. Because the society needs you. Because you have to be what everyone expects you to. Because you don’t want to be uncomfortable.

 

Then again… who am I kidding? Sun will come out again and I will return to the same old me. Only that I really do have to start answering emails on time.