Europe


So, I’ve been in this long-term relationship – five-and-a-half years, to be exact – and things haven’t been going well recently.  To be honest, it’s been a rocky relationship from the start, and I can only ascribe its duration to my own complacency, oft-misplaced loyalty, and perhaps a mutual recognition of tenacity.  There have been good times, no doubt, but also a fair share of bad times, and throughout it all, a nagging sense of boredom and of things left undone and unsaid.

When Johnson and I got together, I was 22 years old and coming out of a nasty patch; I latched on to him with enthusiasm.  He was a foreigner in my hometown, we were both looking for some security, and the mutual benefits were immediate and obvious.  It didn’t take long for me to invest my heart and time, shrugging off the occasional errant suitor in the face of Johnson’s promises of longevity and fulfillment.  If I was good and devoted to him, he would be good to me, and together, we would go places.

It didn’t take long before I could see we were going to have problems.  He had a roving eye, as is his wont, and I was going to have to fight to remain in his affections.  Over the years, other pretty girls came and went, but I continued to declare my commitment and one by one, they dropped by the wayside.  I wanted to prove I was dutiful and in it for the long-haul, but sometimes the frustrations of all this struggle to stay visible and important overwhelmed me.  I didn’t understand why we couldn’t just sail on an even-keel; maybe we weren’t so well-matched after all, and I should be seeking attention elsewhere. (more…)

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Note: I am not snarking on this man, but would like to say that the BF's back situation is not quite so dire.

I’m heading off on Tuesday morning for five nights in Malta and a much-needed vacation after a stressful first quarter (what else is new? – oh, I mean that stress-wise, not jetting to Malta-wise – the latter is new).  Our flight is at the ungodly hour of 6:30 am, and we are requested to appear at the airport two hours in advance.  To cut down on travel stress, we’ve booked an airport hotel room for tomorrow night, and I intend to head there after work for the luxury of rising at 4:00 am rather than 3:00 am, and the avoidance of taxi/tube/train panic.  Worth £44?  You betcha.

Besides my typical packing freakout (present and accounted for, sir!), I took the opportunity today to engage in pre-vacation grooming.  I opted out of a bikini wax this time in favor of an economically advisable DIY razor-job.  While I have been dreaming of a sunshine and beach holiday, I fear that even Malta will be too chilly this time of year for sunbathing, so I don’t see any point in suffering through a wax when I will likely be clad in jeans and a monochrome tee-shirt for the majority of my visit.

Nonetheless, I have plucked, bleached, and shaved in anticipation – at the very least I am hoping for a Turkish bath and a massage, and, sadly, one wishes to conform to Western beauty standards.  But while I am responsible for my own grooming, it seems I am also responsible for that of my male vacation companion.  I’m not complaining, per se – if one was able to competently shave one’s own back, one would be something of a medical marvel.  But aside from my responsibility for sunscreen, bathing suits, itinerary printouts, and toiletries (all things he has/will forget without my prompting), I am also tasked with boyfriend depilation. (more…)

I am an attractive young woman.  Evaluations of my level of attractiveness and the relativity of my youth will vary from person to person (not to mention day-to-day), but generically speaking, this is a fair statement.  I am also a professional in an industry populated mpstly by men.  As such, I am largely at a disadvantage, but retain one *unique* advantage based on my personal presentation, if I choose to cultivate it.

This is a song familiar to a lot of you.

My office wear is carefully calculated to appear appropriate in the service of my own physical and mental comfort.  Any aspect that could be challenged as “alluring” or “radical” is studiously balanced out.  If my pants or skirt are form-fitting, my sweater or blouse is loose or non-confrontational.  If my shirt is vee-necked and tight, my trousers are wide-legged and paired with a blazer.  My hair, which is highlighted red and blonde, is subject to much comment by male colleagues (usually that it is too red and they prefer me blonder).  I take it into consideration, but still wear silver-hooped earrings every day, because I like them, and their size and shape belies how much my ears stick out (I hate my ears).  Every day, I wear an extremely high-quality, fake silver Rolex and a tasteful silver ring I bought on the street in Barcelona.  I take pride in the fact that people who have worked with me for years are surprised to find out I have a tongue stud, because I chose a subtle one ten years ago.

Pantsuits and pearls are for client meetings, with discreet pearl-drop earrings and straightened hair.  I have one gray suit and one black pinstriped suit.  I wear them with shined, heeled black boots for external meetings, or burgundy Franco Sarto heels for meetings in the office.  I bought both suits half-priced in a sale for $300, and then spent $100 in alterations.  I don’t own a skirtsuit because I haven’t found one that fits me well enough to merit alterations, although I have a gorgeous turquoise shift that my mother bought me from M&S when she visited me last year, which is very professional without looking matronly.  I keep it in the coat closet at work with a spare set of pantyhose, in case of an emergency client meeting.

Having been compared to a librarian, a schoolgirl, and a flight attendant at the office, I am careful to ensure I don’t look too costumey.  I once wore a tight black sweater over a crisp white shirt, with a black skirt and buckled leather boots and realized, mirthfully, that I looked like a Pilgrim, but no one noticed. I wore that outfit again for Thanksgiving, for my own private tribute, because I am an American in the UK. (more…)

Dutch group pushing right to suicide for people older than 70 gains support.

Reports from The Netherlands say that the first country to legalize euthanasia is taking steps to make it easier for people over age 70 to terminate their lives when they feel they’ve had enough.  The phrase being used is, “consider their lives complete” — potayto, potahto.  I am for this, as I am for suicide – the world is overpopulated as it is.  Besides, doesn’t the word ‘euthanasia’ come from the Greek, meaning, “good death”?

Some feel it’s just “wrong”, a response I won’t even take the time to address since it has no justification whatsoever.  Some think that by allowing the practice we are somehow going to provide less care to those who are elderly and sick because we will know that they have this option to just die and so why bother?  I don’t think so.  I think that knowing that there IS something that will finally make the pain stop for a suffering patient can only alleviate some of the pressure and worry involved.  As the terminally ill or chronically pained patient, I can’t imagine how tortuous, how bleak the days must look when you are confined to a bed, attached to probes and sensors and fed bags of IV cocktails that no-one can assure you will work.  Add in experimental treatments and trial protocols, and all those ‘what-if’s’ and ‘maybe’s’ could turn into the cruelest mistress; one who dangles a promise of hope but will never deliver.  As the caretaker of a suffering patient, I think a similar measure of relief could be felt, knowing that your round-the-clock efforts and attention need not become the agonizing motions of just delaying the inevitable.

There is death in this world every day, it is omnipotent.  Our societal constructs have framed our views such that we feel we can categorize and rank death; which is justifiable and which is not.  We mourn when children die but not so much when they are born into abject poverty and despair, facing a life (however short) of ache, misery and brutal truth .  We gravely assess the sick and the elderly and decide in quiet voices that they should be made ‘comfortable’ but declare no intention to ease their agony before their bodies give out.  Why?  Why is euthanasia such an uncomfortable topic?  It is a part of the package, as constant as time, we can’t escape the end that will come to us all, yet we try mightily to bury our heads in the sand about it.

My thought about suicide in general is:  It’s Your Right.  If you want to take the big sleep, who am I to stop you?

“But kadinsky, what if it was your parent or sibling or spouse who wanted to kick the bucket?”

Well, I would be sad about that and I would try to understand why they wanted to do it, but it still is NOT MY DECISION to make.  I might spend time thinking about how much I love that person and all the ways they influence my life and that could very well lead me to a vat of panic and sorrow at the thought of not talking to them anymore, but you see, those emotions I would be feeling have absolutely nothing to do with WHY my loved one wants to end their life.  And that’s the part that I think gets glossed over.  We can never fully know what another person is thinking or feeling, and if that person is in pain, be it physical or emotional, we will never actually know what that feels like for them.  We can try to commiserate, we can try to empathize, but we’ll never know how each day greets them, or what kinds of signals the neurons in their brain are carrying, or the depth of the desolation in their soul.

The debate about euthanasia, whether assisted or unassisted has been going on for decades and I have yet to hear a justifiable reason for denying it.  The Religious Ones denounce it “on principle”, to which I scoff heartily. I find very little concrete logic in most religions, but let’s leave that for another day.  I just don’t get it, how any person can feel they have the right to interfere in someone’s suicide.  That would be like someone feeling they also have the right to tell you when you can breathe or have a thought – does. not. compute.  No-one questions it when you take steps to “improve” your life, whether it’s eating better, exercising more, finding love or donating your time to philanthropy – but try and bed down for the dirt nap and you better watch what you say to any and everyone or else you’ll be labeled as an unbalanced nutbag, incapable of making your own decisions.  If we can trust our species to know when we want more from life, then we can also trust ourselves to know when the ride is over.

There is a video after the jump that will save your life, but first, I have to introduce it.

Do you remember when you were a kid, and you would pretend to speak Spanish (or French or Swahili or Mandarin), and approximate a bunch of sounds that seemed suitably foreign and, to your ear, could passably compare to the language you were imitating?  Heck, I practiced this at a bar recently when a dude I didn’t really want to talk to approached me and I pretended to be Russian, and quickly mentioned that I “no speeek Eeengleesh” (I thought it was a reasonably muddy Eastern Bloc accent at the time).

My mistake.  “Как поживаешь?” He asked with enthusiasm.  “Ahahaha!”  I said, nervously.  “Yur agzent… bery gud.”  Then I hightailed it to the bathroom to hide.

Anyway, if you have ever been a child, you know what I’m talking about: the pleasures of gibberish and linguistic imitation.  When I attempt the broken, ungrammatical Spanish I sometimes inflict on folk today, I can’t help but give it a little extra UMMPH, a little rrrrroll of the “r” – una pequeña mas pasión! – than I would making the same ungrammatical statement in English.  “I no go… THE BED!” for example.  My Spanish is slightly less sophisticated than that of a very emphatic toddler, but just as intense.

In the same vein, I have wondered before what The English sounds like as a gibberish language to foreigners.  Surely kids in Mexico and Spain and Chile were pretending to speak English in the same insane-o manner I was pretending (still do!) to speak Español.  Turns out, I was right, and there exists a grown-up person music video from Italy (very close to Spain) from 1972 that nicely illustrates the point.

I can’t possibly list all the reasons you should watch this video, but I will start with: (more…)

When I moved to Scotland over two years ago, one of the things I purchased on my very first trip to the grocery store was a bottle of Glenfiddich Single Malt Scotch Whisky, aged 12 years.  The handsome green bottle was encased in a tall, serious, emblazoned tin, with the prestigious history of the whisky detailed in gold lettering on the back (for quickie course of the proud tradition of whisky/whiskey, the Wikipedia entry is as good as any a place to start).

I stocked up on a number of basic necessities that initial trip – it was a new home, never mind a new country! – but the bottle of whisky still made the list of must-haves.  I was already entertaining fantasies of newfound friends, colleagues, and yes, gentleman callers, popping round for a chat, a smoke, and a civilized drink.  I was ready to embrace Scotland, and if Scotland would embrace me, I would greet it with a glass of decent Scotch and amusing banter!  I was ready for this new life, and eager to partake in the cultural mores of my new home.

Ignoring the fact that I was never actually swept up in my envisioned social whirlwind (due to my inherent loner tendencies and the reality that it was so freezing cold six months out of the year that I left my apartment only to go to work and Blockbuster), the whisky did not go down as smashing a treat as I had imagined.  Oh, I did have people over, but I quickly discovered that the offer of whisky was far less compelling than the offer of beer, wine, or a vodka mixer (all of which I fortunately kept on hand).  It turned out to be a good thing I never sprung for a proper whisky tumbler, after all, as I couldn’t convince anyone to drink the stuff. (more…)

Not that I mean to continually yank off of  Best Week Ever, but they did post this amazing video from Charlie Brooker’s Newswipe that is a pitch-perfect takedown of the composition of the modern news report.  While I’ve been subjected to a lot of background BBC recently (and honest to Dog, if this was playing on the telly while I was otherwise engaged, I wouldn’t cotton-on at all), I think it holds true for the American news report as well.  Watch, listen, and let your mind numb gradually to the dulcet tones of the standard news story.

Yeah, it’s perfect.  Right down to the punny sign-off.  Three cheers to modern, by-the-book television journalism.

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