All things come to a beginning

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Word of mouth

"I hate you new guy who sits next to me" ( is only one example. "Vent" ( is the mothership. Clearly, blogs are often used to rant and rave - typing from the top of your lungs.

Telling a friend or, god forbid, a colleague, about something or someone that's pissing you off, is muy risky. Sure, it feels good to get things off your chest, to get the edge off, to put into words and curses what has been occupying your mind. But this "steam of consciousness", if you will, is bound to fall into the wrong hands eventually. And, with some luck, what you whispered to one other person in confidence has by then been twisted and added onto. While all you said was "You know, he gets on my nerves sometimes", that can easily morph into "Sofie hates his guts, always has", all the way up to "I hear he found a bloody knife in his pigeon hole - no points for guessing who placed it there...".
In that sense, sending your frustration out into cyberspace seems much safer. But is it? Everyone knows the stories about people being fired after their superiors found their blogs & read all about themselves being shred into a million little pieces.

The only way to be absolutely certain is by being absolutely private. But I know that for me, that's never going to happen. I can sit up and say "Okay, from this moment onward, I won't say anything about anyone that could possibly be used against me", but I generally last, oh, fifteen minutes. Unless I'm home alone all day. In that case I can hang in there for at least two hours before I'm caught grilling the fridge for the latest juicy gossip. I can't help it, stuff comes out. And I'm worried one day it's going to get me into big trouble. But you know how it is, it can be such a relief to vent. And when someone tells you something negative about somebody else, you're not going to snitch. You'll either try & change the topic, or just kinda go with it. Which, technically, makes you a hypocrite. And before you know it, you're caught up in a situation where you have incriminating info on pretty much everyone and at the same time, you know you've said things at a certain time (very late or very early) and in a certain context (drunk/angry/stressed/overcaffeinated) that you'd rather other people didn't find out about. And you know that if you overheard other people talk about you, you'd probably walk away with a seriously damaged ego, a severely reduced faith in mankind and a very heavy heart.

Another way, I guess, to avoid drama would be to always be upfront with everyone and demand the same of the people around you. But can you actually do that? How often do we really mean what we say? What does it even mean to "mean" what you say? Doesn't that always only apply for that particular moment in time? Can you get angry at someone, or be hurt by something that was said ages ago? Is it possible to always be politically correct, to avoid saying anything that's even slightly incriminating without turning into Susie-No-Opinion?

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Learning to love you more

I'm big on people, on pictures, on scrapbooking, on words & on randomness. Imagine my excitement when I stumbled upon The idea is to give people random assignments, mostly with a self-reflexive, stop-and-smell-the-roses edge, and have them send in the results. Some things are pretty lame, most are pretty self-involved but there's some gems there too. Here are some that I liked:

Assignment #10: "Make a flier of your day"

Assignment #18: "Recreate a poster you had as a teenager" - Marcia Carmen

What a wicked poster! I remember how shocked my mom was the day I took down all my kittens and puppies posters and replaced them with the likes of Will Smith and the actor who played the older brother on "Boy Meets World", hehe.

Assignment #39: "Take a picture of your parents kissing"

Looking through these, I was surprised at how unattractive most middle aged people are and how many of them clearly feel very awkward making out in front of a camera. Why is it that younger people have no problem hamming it up and making fools of themselves? How can you look so uncomfortable embracing someone you've lived with for over 20 years? Is it the camera? The love-on-demand? A generational thing?

Assignment #55: "Photograph a significant outfit".

"What I was wearing when I saw him with his new girlfriend (and got sick because I drank too much)." - Julia. I don't think I have such a strong memory for outfits, but I thought it was such a recognizable situation. Part deux of the break up: seeing them with somebody else. Happily. Ugh. Pass the bottle!

Assignment #63: "Make an encouraging banner"

Sappy? Cheesy? Maybe. But doesn't this sum up the feeling & reassurance we all crave? Come on, be honest.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Blue moon

A while ago, one of my profs sent all of his students a heads up email about a 3-day workshop in Amsterdam. Free of charge, on the topic "how to write reviews". The basic set-up is watching a dance performance in the evening, and then spending the following day writing a review on it and getting coached by experts. Three days in a row. Whoah! I may have peed my pants a little and replied as fast as I could. I think I actually sent an email that just said "PICK MEEEE", and then sent another one going "Sorry about that, I was in a mad rush, I wanted to make sure I got to you first. So have you picked me yet?". Alas, there was only room for eight people and a couple of days ago I got the "we're sorry to have to let you know" email back. Too bad, I would have loved to go. But on the upside, I'm happy that I found out about it and more importantly that I got excited about it. Cause come to think of it, writing reviews would be a pretty sweet gig. Sure, you'd step on people's toes and as terrible as I am at handling criticism I'd probably end every article with "So in conclusion, it was great. Exactly as great as that other show I saw last week. Basically, everyone's equally good. Unless you disagree. Then you're right too. Please don't hate me xoxox". But I'd learn.
Tell tale sign number 2: I have to do an interview for a school project. And i'm super excited. I read up on the guy, and I'm looking forward to talking to him.
Tell tale sign number 3: at my exam today, the prof said he liked the paper I wrote for his class. It could have done with a bit more theory, but "very pleasant to read and that counts for something too". Because I'm difficult that way I had an initial "But I don't want to be pretty, I want to be smart!" reaction, but really, who am I kidding? There's no shame in producing something that doesn't make people squint & frown. Something that's readable and graspable.
So bottom line: writing is something I enjoy and something I am not terrible at. And just because so many other people say they want to write while very few actually end up taking it to a professional level doesn't make it an unworthy goal to have.

Right now, Joni Mitchell's "Blue" album is playing. A cd I picked up just like I picked up Tom Waits's "Closing Time" , in a "this sounds like someone I should own atleast one album of" mood. I gotta say...good call.

I am on a lonely road and I am traveling
Traveling, traveling, traveling
Looking for something, what can it be
Oh I hate you some, I hate you some, I love you some
Oh I love you when I forget about me

I want to be strong I want to laugh along
I want to belong to the living
Alive, alive, I want to get up and jive
I want to wreck my stockings in some juke box dive
Do you want - do you want - do you want to dance with me baby
Do you want to take a chance
On maybe finding some sweet romance with me baby
Well, come on

All I really really want our love to do
Is to bring out the best in me and in you too
All I really really want our love to do
Is to bring out the best in me and in you
I want to talk to you, I want to shampoo you
I want to renew you again and again
Applause, applause - Life is our cause
When I think of your kisses my mind see-saws
Do you see - do you see - do you see how you hurt me baby
So I hurt you too
Then we both get so blue.

I am on a lonely road and I am traveling
Looking for the key to set me free
Oh the jealousy, the greed is the unraveling
It's the unraveling
And it undoes all the joy that could be
I want to have fun, I want to shine like the sun
I want to be the one that you want to see
I want to knit you a sweater
Want to write you a love letter
I want to make you feel better
I want to make you feel free
I want to make you feel free