Thursday, 23 November 2017

Stay Curious

Expectations. One dangerous word. Maybe one of the most dangerous words ever. Everyone has them. Everyone hates them. Everyone ignored them for the sake of avoiding an argument. Maybe the biggest argument we constantly have is the one with ourselves? The relationship between me, myself and I is a rather complicated one. Every disagreement we have in our small world is weighed by expectations. Too high? Too low? None? How can anyone have none?

Expectations are attached to our goals: from walking up to a local shop in search for a salsa dip to getting excited about a job interview. Little crazy happy pumping hearts inside our chests get a bit excited, the brain cannot stop shifting thoughts left, right and centre. Do you know the feeling? I have heard repeatedly recently that I have too high expectations. But hold on a second... Aren't they meant to be higher than the reality should allow us under regular circumstances? Is that not what makes us different from animals and lets us dream constantly? By default 'expectations' are positive. The nature of them makes us anticipate that they will not only be met but also exceeded.

I have met a person in my life that has very little expectations. That strips them of joy, of appreciating little things. I would not settle for mediocracy. It does not make sense. I refuse to live a life with no expectations. I am happy to pay the price in moments of disappointments. It does not make me any poorer. 

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

I'd rather stay left unsaid

My world orbits around words. Profession: a linguist. Should I not know all the words (Chuck Norris-like ambition)? You would imagine that I have an answer for anything and if you are not sure how to say things I will come up with this brilliant phrase to communicate a rubbish message with a cherry on top. I have spent over 4 years interpreting both glorious and bad news and for the last 2,5 years I have been saying what people do not want to hear with such a manner so that they leave our meeting smiling whilst closing the door behind them. It is all about what we say, right? Is that not how communication works? What we require for a basic act of communication is at least two individuals who have a message to convey, right? My applied linguistics professor would be proud. I have, however, found myself in a world where importance is shifted from what is being said to the exact opposite. Silence has never been so important.

Be it at your workplace or at home, it has become far more important what we decide not to say. In a reality where information is overwhelming us with updates vibrating into our bloodstream via Apple Watches, we have forgotten how peaceful we might be with not knowing. All I have been hearing from my friends lately is 'I must know whether...', 'he cannot live without knowing'. What a load of crap. Yes, it is information and not the lack of it that kills us. It can penetrate our bodies and become the most disturbing part of everyday living. I work in an environment where you can constantly hear people talk. Words pour out faster and faster and their meaning is diluted between each unnecessary syllable produced by our tongues, teeth and lips.

This evening a friend of mine asked me for some photos from an event she was exhibiting at. I went back through my photos 4 years too far by mistake. By performing this longer stroke of a finger of my mouse I have taken myself back to the time where I spoke less. I was constantly and shamelessly being reprimanded by my loved one that I spoke too much. He would say it with a twinkle in his eye every time I thought I was invited to Ted Talks on his sofa. And one night I told him I knew he was getting married. It has changed everything. One little sentence. Of course I'd rather not have overheard a conversation about this in the first place. Then I wished I kept my lips sealed for that very moment. Just for a bit longer. That moment that changed or lives irreversibly.

Someone has recently asked me why did I not tell the other woman? Maybe because that would officially make me the other woman and I enjoyed thinking that I was 'the one'. Being covered in marshmallows of my imagination smelling of baby powder was far more comfortable. I knew if I said too much I would strip myself of good memories. 'I'd rather stay left unsaid.' Like the 'I love you' he told me without words every day.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Fresh out of 2049

I am a bit late to the party, I know. When Blade Runner 2049 was out I was away travelling so my excitement was peaking when I got the last ticket to an extra screening that happened this afternoon in Northampton. Thank you Errol Flynn Filmhouse!

If you asked me what was the last sci-fi film I watched I would probably say 'Sailor Moon' (back in 1992). Yes, that is as much as I know and want to know abut sci-fi. As reluctant as one could have been, I pretended that Blade Runner 2049 did not exist when everyone was counting down the days to the premiere. Yes, I did judge the poster (as bad as it could be mr graphic designer). Why did the poster not consist of exactly the same minimalistic and sharp images that the film did? We would be having a different conversation now...

As dark as this picture is, it is also full of extremely well-thought images that simply became a feast to my eyes. Even though I was sat in the second row. The harmony that poured out of imagery, the colours that penetrated my mind and Ryan (rather pleasant on the eye) became a dessert to my Sunday roast. Possibly even the the whole of 2017! Every single one out of 166 minutes became an adventure that grasped me by the throat and did not let me direct my eyesight anywhere else.

Agreeing with IMDB's 'X out of ten' seems like a foreign land to me. I tend to stay away from the scoring that 'the public' gives. As we know the quality 'democracy' and 'free speech' nowadays has been slightly compromised. Nothing in this film has been compromised though. 8.4 is a score not high enough, still. Oh mr Roger Deakins... As one of your biggest fans I think you have set the bar extremely high now. Thank you Denis for putting you picture in Roger's hands. He handled it with so much love and care.

Monday, 6 November 2017

High on heels

Can I start another blog post with 'if you know me'? Oh the rebel inside me...

If you know me, you know that I wear heels. Every day. Preferably all day. I simply love the idea of being elevated off the ground by an inch or two. Yet today I wore flats and tracksuit bottoms to a late night showing of 'Manolo. The boy who made shoes for lizards'. I felt like i was disrespecting Manolo a bit. Sorry Manolo, I hope you will not mind.

As a girl who grew up with SATC (Sex and the City for the less enlightened) I remember vividly the scene where Carrie is robbed of her bag as well as her Manolos. Now, if you are less enlightened again, Manolos are shoes. Not just any shoes though. They are truly iconic and have been so for the consequent 45 years so far. From a shop in London to runways, to film, to SATC (yes, that is a separate category) Manolos have travelled together with times but, surprisingly, have stayed consistent and somehow immune to the changes that came with passing decades. A bit like Manolo himself.

Manolo lives in a century that has happened already or not just yet. Everything about him screams sophistication mixed with humility and eccentrism with a pinch of selfishness. Now this selfishness is not a negative thing. It has become a bit of a trade mark. Manolo cannot possibly imagine sharing his house, designs, life with anyone. Quite possibly because his life is filled with colour, extraordinary friends and memories of growing up in Gran Canaria. Manolo settled in the UK in the 70s and became a British icon but is also listed next to Picasso and Almodovar with regards to being a Spanish XX century wonder. Quite rightly so!

They way he looks at women... From Bianca Jagger and Rihanna to a secretary-looking stranger spotted at a London station wearing his pumps. He looks at women as if they were magic. As if he was permanently in love. The way he speaks about the icons that inspired him: Anna Piaggi, Isabella Blow, Tina Chow - with such passion yet respect at the same time. I was lucky enough to see Manolo at Vogue Festival a few years ago. The warmth mixed with wit and high-pitched comments to express the ridiculousness of a situation are simply theatrical.

Manolo's most iconic shoe is undoubtedly a pump (preferably in blue satin with a sparkly buckle). However, the most influential shoe would be the mule. I cannot even begin to describe how much he changed my attitude towards mules. Manolo said that for him it was all about how they sounded when a woman walked in them. Don't you think that its quite extraordinary for a shoe designer to think of how his shoes not only look but also sound?

Manolo (also Carrie Bradshaw) and I have a few things in common. One of them is sacrificing any pocket money to buy fashion magazines (although he did so in Paris, Carrie did so in NYC and I did so in Northampton...). Imagine that Manolo was the first man on the cover of British Vogue! David Bailey supposedly reported the shoot to be a complete disaster due to Manolo's lack of intent to cooperate. However, his style has remained impeccable. The colourful socks peaking out of his shoes, the imperfectly tailored suits made from most surprising of fabrics, the small round glasses. Oh, there is one more thing we have in common - don't you dare crucifying our chips with vinegar! I guess apart from being an icon, Manolo is just a boy inside. A boy who wanted to make shoes for lizards.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Always a fool

Have you ever wondered what I did for a living? 'For a living' - that sounds so proud. As if that was 'the right thing to do' and doing it provided an instant salvation and justification for the 40 hours of meaningless activities that focus around checking your e-mail ( as long as it pays my bills I guess I can sue this excuse). Going back to what I actually do is that I act as a buffer between two (or more) people or them and their problems. Individually or collectively. I am the cartilage in a knee joint or an intervertebral disc in a spine. Any shock must be absorbed at least partially so that the negative effect on the bone is lessened. Damages must be shrunk to the inevitable minimum whenever possible.

I think as a result of what I have been doing for the last 2,5 years, I am unable to be in any form of conflict. My usual instinct is not to allow a conflict to happen and if it does, to resolve it before it makes any permanent damage. What I tend to tell my team is that intentions are irrelevant. All the 'I-didn't-mean-to's as as important as Kim Kardashian's waistline (I know, there are people deeply analysing it. they must be bored to death). What I have learnt over 31,5 years of my life is that it does not matter what people say to you. You will soon forget it. But how they made you feel - that stays forever.

Last Saturday whilst browsing through 6,734 photos on my iPhone I stopped at one particular one. In that little filtered square there are two legs and two arms. The photo feels a but surreal like the endless stairs by M.C. Escher. The arms and legs belong to two different people wrapped around each other in a hotel bed before breakfast. I do not remember what he said to me that morning. Apart from telling me how he loved my denim shorts that I had since we met. I do remember, however, that it was one of the happiest mornings in my life. Maybe even the happiest so far. 

There the opposite moments as well. The moments when people make you feel foolish, embarrassed or perhaps simply stupid. Again, it does not matter what they say. They probably have an 'I-didn't-mean-to' up their sleeves ready to roll it out like a clown pulling endless pieces of fabric that only change in colour. When you last broke a mug, did you mean to do it? Possibly not. I will go further - definitely not! The end result is, however, the same, whether the intention is there or not. The mug is broken. Maybe it was your own mug, maybe your colleague's or it belonged to a loved one. Was it a thoughtful gift? A souvenir from Amalfi coast? A meaningless purchase or a secret Santa drama? Does it matter?

There is this guy that has been trying to date me for about a year with approximately 6-month intervals in between. Let's call him mr Canada (long story). Mr Canada had the ability to look at me as if I was magic (that give you the highest score one on my brownie points list). He also actually listened to what I was saying during each date - that was refreshing. He loved Greta Gerwig's films- yes, these men still exist. Sadly, together with all these wonderful qualities he had a shameless ability to make me feel like a fool. Did he mean to? Possibly not (I would not go for 'definitely' here). If you are stuck for excuses and explanations for cancelling meetings or not getting back to someone mr Canada has them all. And the only thing I am angry about is that I heard them all a year ago. For 2 months. And then I allowed myself to hear them again in April and then again in October this year. 

What I very often say to my team (yes, they hate hearing that) is that you cannot change other people's behaviour. All you can change is your attitude towards it (cliche!). And it is the sad truth and it sucks and we can stamp our feet all we want here. What I have learnt this month is that I cannot get angry at someone acting the same way over and over again. I just have to come to terms with it. This process can go two ways: I can either accept it and make friends with it or accept it and leave it for someone else to make friends with it. The liberating feeling is that the choice how I respond to this behaviour and the terms are mine. I might as well pray as I preach. 

Sunday, 14 May 2017

There is no key to happiness. There is this book though... Happy as a Dane

I have a terrible habit of judging a book by its cover. Literally. Not metaphorically. When I shop for books, forks or toothbrushes, they have to come in beautiful packaging. This time, I went against my nature (or nurture) and went for a book with the ugliest cover every (sorry publishing house WAB). I so did not enjoy this cover, that I even had to post a picture of this book in black and white. That is due to my lack of tolerance for red (apart from lipsticks). But the cover of this book is hardly the subject of this post. As a matter of fact (after this long and probably unnecessary introduction) it is the contents. The reason why I picked it up from a bookshelf in Poland, whilst visiting mum an dad, was the title - Happy as a Dane

I have visited Copenhagen just over a year ago. Despite minus million Celsius (who goes away in February to a colder country?!), despite the lack of sunshine, despite not knowing what we were doing and where we were going we happened to subconsciously live an extremely Danish week (miss the alcohol poisoning as it turns out). When I got on the underground (being used to the London tube), I was amazed that nobody was rushing! I live an hour away for London and go there rather often. Even if I am there with no specific plan, not having to be anywhere at any particular time, I find myself rushing through the crowd in pursuit to catch the next train. God forbid I miss it as the next one is in.... ONE MINUTE! Such a difference, right?

The short experience of Copenhagen I had was: beautiful spaces, natural materials, people having time, people not being scared to express their opinions, people enjoying little pleasures. Little did I know at the time that the latter was called hyggeling. There was something in that country that attracted me with its serenity and openness. These are exactly the qualities that are being carefully described by Malene Ryndahl. Malene has a distance towards Danes having the label o being happy as she moved out of Denmark at the age of 18. As an immigrant myself, I realise that once we move abroad we happen to realise what we have left behind. Being emerged it it, we do not realise that what we have is not necessarily a norm. Malene investigates the theory of Danes being endlessly happy at the same time. By no means does she serve it on a silver plater. Malene challenges herself and expresses her opinions fearlessly, just like a Dane. 

Malene grew up in a respectful home that was still far from perfect. There was no happy ending but what her parents taught her, were the core values that both her and her brother live by. It turned out that her brother suffered with allergies and asthma and started treating the symptoms by changing his diet. As a result, he opened 42 RAW - a restaurant I have been craving to eat at for months before I went to Copenhagen and it certainly was the first place to visit on my food map. I was sure that it was just ran by an eager veggie with hate for 'normal food'. To my surprise, it was a result of a business that went down and the need to express oneself, have a place in the community.

This is by all means not a self-help book. This in not a recipe for happiness. Malene takes us on a journey with 10 values she believes enable Danish communities to be happy. However, one does not have to be Danish to live by them. Regardless of nationality, you can be happy. The truth is that happiness lies in ourselves. Not in our partners, belongings, bank accounts. My parents also taught me something 'Danish'. Focus on what you have, not on what you do not have.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

The Life- Changing Magic of Not giving a F**k

Do not be mislead by the title. Life is not actually about being careless and inconsiderate. Quite the opposite. The 200 pages that you are possibly going to enjoy are nothing but an eye-opener on how ridiculously careful and considerate we should be with regards to what we choose to spend our resources on. The focus, for a change, is ourselves. Do you remember that wonderful, inspiring, relaxed and content person- YOU? If you are reading this review, you probably have forgotten that person ever existed. Worry not, there is a way to redesign your life by using 'The surprising art of caring less and getting more'.

Being tempted by the minimalistic design of the cover (yes, I just did judge the book by its’ cover) I have treated myself to this book and decided to take it on a plane trip. As an extremely overbooked person trying to please everyone around me, the only reading time I manage to arrange is on the plane, train or any other more or less glamorous means of transport. Sipping on my Benugo flat white whilst munching on a nut bar, I have bravely decided to make the first step to de-clutter my life. After all, it was the last day of April and I was going on my first holiday since the previous October. That itself was a reason good enough to spend £10.99 on this publication with a slightly controversial title.

Having located my gate I went for it. Ready like never before. Page one, here we come! From that moment it was just Sarah and I(sorry aircrew for ignoring you shamelessly). I was catching a 2 hour flight and before my journey finished, I was more than half way through. I was ready to stay on the plane for another journey just to finish it off. I did not care where that plane was heading from my destination. The feeling I got was similar to the one that any runner gets when they cross a finish line beating their PB and the run was so enjoyable they feel they could do it all over again (I know, not a popular feeling!). In order to finish it off, I have actually arranged to cheat on my close ones for a couple of hours during the day so that I could return to Sarah. If it was not for the fact that I was on holiday I would probably call in sick (sorry boss).

Let me be clear - this is not a classic self-help book. Although if you picked it up, you probably need help. Well done for admitting it - that is the first step! Spending time you do not have doing things you do not want to do with people you do not like? Sounds familiar? Add spending money you do not have (hallelujah for interest-free balance transfers) on things you do not need. The common reason why we do it (on condition that we are nice people) is because we care. The issue that causes chronic unhappiness, however, is because we care about everyone around but US. Shifting your focus to your slightly more selfish self without harming others is a challenge to begin with. It is a skill and like any skills it can be learned. And the method Sarah suggests is the NotSorry Method (try to comprehend that dear British people). Imagine a world where you do not need to feel sorry as a result of your poorly-made decisions and all the ‘yeses’ you have thoughtlessly verbalised.

TLCMoNGF should be on your coffee table by now if you are the annoying (yes, simply annoying!) person who says ‘yes, sure’ when it means ‘absolutely no chance’. Stop using ‘I’ll let you know if I can make it’ as a euphemism for a good old and not so popular anymore NO. It is fine, we are adults that are allowed to make our own decisions, remember? We do it all day for a living in a workplace. It is perfectly OK to say NO. Quite liberating as well. Do you not believe me? Believe Sarah. After all she has also KonMaried her sock drawer as a seating point!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Not-a-love story to fall in love with

Being a helpless romantic (at peak of my helpless romanticism) I could not help but attend the preview of a rather loud production featuring the most desired Canadian blond man (sorry Justin), Ryan Gosling himself. Of course I am talking about La La Land. Quite selfishly, I purchased one ticket. First, I wanted to have this sequence of beautiful scenes peppered with music all to myself. Second, I felt it may be way too intimate to share. Rightly so as I sobbed shamefully for the duration of the last song (to unhidden disguist of the man sat next to me who was in tears as he reached the bottom oh his red wine glass).

If you have not made any resolutions for 2017, I suggest you make an unaccompanied trip to the cinema. Yes, you might receive an odd look from the couple behind you. Resolution number two in such case would be to practice ignoring what other people think. It's deeply inrrelevant. Forget yourself, dream, soak the beautiful colours and sound in! Imagine yourself tap dancing with Ryan Gosling whilst looking at a sunrise over LA. Why? Because you can!

Thank you, Damien Chazelle for picturing this love story stripped of a happy end in such a unique manner. However, your illustration of 'what if' is truly frightening! It is rather disturbing how different your future could be if you made one different choice five years back. If you chose to love yourself a bit more. If you had half of the faith in you that other people had. If you loved jazz enough. And old movies where women were true heroines. Dear Damien, you throw that 'what if' in our open-mouthed faces without a warning. If it wasn't for Emma and Ryan's comforting exchange of smiles at the end, I think I would have given up on the whole idea of trying!

Following my intimate trip to the cinema, I immediately found comfort in the wonder of modern technology or just the reality of everyday life (depends on your age) - Apple Music. With a few taps of my fingers I effortlessly managed to stay in La La Land. On my 15-minute walk home I ended up tap dancing (in a rather poor manner) on every red light. La La Land has welcomed me with open arms. And that's where I am intending to stay for the foreseeable future. DND.