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ultima_hule

Sep. 18th, 2010

10:01 am - Yom Kippur resolutions

I. Compassion as in http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2010/09/compassion/63156/

II. 15 minutes (at least) each day for my long-term goals:

A. organising the house
B. writing

III. Exercise (this is beyond banal, I know) 

IV. Continue with diet changes (gluten-free, casein-free, largely vegetarian)


Sep. 9th, 2010

11:37 pm - Analyze This

Флоридский мудак все-таки отказался от планов сожжения Корана. Но в лучах славы покупался вволю.

Pastor Terry Jones has announced an intention to call off his Quran-burning, and instead go to NYC to meet with Imam Rauf instead. Maybe our species does deserve to live.

Aug. 19th, 2010

06:42 pm

tried to translate my Russian story into English. could not get rid of he-muttereds and boy-replieds though. also, articles.

any comments, critical or otherwise are obviously very welcome

 

The Day Old Nick Was Not HungryCollapse )

 

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Aug. 11th, 2010

09:11 am

A-She is taking the morning shower. All polishing, shampooing, conditioning, moisturizing and, ahem, shaving takes place in the evening shower. Since her kid lost her school busing privilege, being now too mature to be bussed, but too young to walk alone, A-She has to drive her to school - and to avoid returning home for unfinished business, such as packing lunch or putting on pantyhose and shoes, she now skimps on the morning shower routine. There is only time to wash the smells of the night off her skin.

  
  A-She stops lathering, realizing what that must mean. It logically follows that the smells of, you know, night are not in her hair, for one thing. This is a giveaway of whatever A-She does not even want to know. A dead giveaway, as in smell revealing the Truth. Only in this case it is the absence of smell, of course. The dog that did not bark. Something in embarrassment leads to a superfluity of cliches, as if the language wants to console her rather clumsily: see, others were embarrassed too. What? Sherlock Holmes was not? Sure he was, maybe not about cocaine or That Woman. How about that encounter with a street Arab that left the great sleuth doubled up and clutching at his privates? He learned that day how to conceal his considerable height and this ability stood him in good stead many a time, but did he tell Watson how he came by it?
  
  A-She giggles: she found a vital clue, only to discover that she would rather remain clueless. And she has felt sherlockian long enough to find out that it does not, in fact, make her immune to unladylike thoughts. Which revelation probably came to embarrass her, but failed its mission.

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09:08 am


A-She waits on the bus-stop. There is a pothole full of rainwater in the road right by the curb where the buses stop, and each bus parks its front right wheel in it with a fatalistic sort of exactitude. Then it revs up and away, and the foam on the rainwater gets churned out. This not a foam for which any designer colour would be named - although, thinks A-She, after 'grunge' and all those trends one really should not be surprised by anything, even by a designer shade mimicking dirty rainwater with a bus wheel and a piece of curb murkily reflected. But this is definitely not a pretty foam. A cranky mermaid may well try to frighten her naughty merkids with it: 'If you go on teasing your little brother, you just might end up as a bubble in that pothole your Grandpa told you about last night'. Though nobody, not even Grandpa, believes it, of course. There is no crime that would suit this kind of after-life, thinks A-She. Churned up by a spiky heavy wheel one moment, given a breath of fumes and gone the moment after ... only to be revived by the back wheel. And this is a 24-7 line, too.

  
  There is another kind of foam, remembers A-She. The one that exists on the city rivers and fords: the yellowish, heavy, almost solid kind that says: 'I'm not biodegradable. I shall be here forever and ever, unto eternity, amen' with the non-sound of each laminated bubble: so Zen that it becomes an opposite of Zen. Does Zen have an opposite? The way, but the way back, where there are no answers, on account of there being no questions, on account of there being nobody caring to ask them. That, decides A-She, would be the real one, the real hell - before she thinks of plastic souls, lusting after McNuggets and La-z-boys, Humvees and memberships, trapped in unpopping bubbles and going exactly where they are used to going: nowhere.
  
  --------------------------------
  C'mon, it's not all that terrawful, is it? Of course not. Merely pointless.

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Jul. 31st, 2010

09:50 am


A-She gets waylaid by her daughter. As usual, at the most inconvenient moment - aren't they all? She was going to make supper and needed all her concentration to decide what to do. The days when she planned every meal for a week - with leftovers and desserts - and bought from a grocery list as thoroughly thought out as any atomic bomb specification are long gone.

  - ... and I downloaded the romance MOD, - says the daughter. She is into "Morrowind" and MODs are the newest thing to explore, it seems. - Do you know what that is? - she asks, not trusting her mom to be either attentive or quick-witted enough.
  - Well, it is for romancing, isn't it? Give me some credit. Kisses, love, all that yucky stuff, - says A-She coldly. The "yucky stuff" period of her daughter's development was actually some years ago...
  - Yes, you can create yourself a friend and she will follow you and talk to you and all that. The problem with these gals is, they always get killed. You stop to protect them, and then you get killed yourself. But most of the time I don't notice them getting killed, you know. I am in the middle of the battle, and when all enemies get killed, I stop, and whoa - she is dead, and I have to reload a saved game.
  "My god, I have given birth to a monster", thinks A-She faintly. Either that, or all those RPGs turned her into one.
  - Love is terrible, right? You always are worrying about them, - says her daughter at this very moment. - Do you think I'm creepy?
  - No, - says A-She, almost with tears in her eyes. - No, I think you are wise beyond your years.
  Her daughter thinks on that a little.
  - That's creepy, - she decides with a laugh, gives mom a kiss and goes upstairs to battle another pack of creatures, presumably with a curvy, slightly dumb and totally inefficient sidekick at her back.
  They grow up in two or more worlds at once, wonders A-She. That's creepy, alright. But at least there is always that saved game.

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09:47 am


A-She returns home from house hunting. They just have, just absolutely have to find a new house - or spend a five-digit sum on upgrades. A new kitchen - the one A-She stands in now is so seventies that a "Jeff Koons Code" can be written based on excavation findings, new floors - coffee-coloured broadloom is as flat as the haughtiest crepe, new this, new that... A-She looks around, remembering the plans laid on buying this home seven years ago. The most pressing ones - new roof, new windows - were carried out, but those that were thought out with the most love and enjoyment... somehow there never was enough time or money for them. They were not the sort of projects that could have been done any old way. The wall of family photos in carefully unmatched frames, a cosy and efficient new kitchen - not the sort of things you want just done and fuggetabootit. It's the same thing that happens when you get married, thinks A-She. When you look back at seven years of marriage, how many delicious things you had thought you would be doing with your husband have actually got done?

  
  The moment she thinks it, she becomes aware of a Stare. The house stares at her - incredulous, betrayed, uncomprehending. You are leaving me? But I thought we were great together, didn't _you_ think so? You said you loved me, you said...you said that you want to have children... How can you leave me? A-She tries to explain, but it all sounds horribly wrong even to herself. "I had too little experience to know what I was getting into, we did not have enough time together, I was too young to know my mind". But however she puts it, the house still does not want to understand. "... and the prices in this neighbourhood have started to drop", finishes A-She inaudibly. Uh-oh. "A girl has to think of her old age - that's what it is all about for you? Money and the right kind of people? So tell me - what _does_ he have apart from e-ee-no-ormous potential to appreciate in value?" A-She cannot think of a single thing to say. "Good-buy, A-She. We had good times together, you and I. Don't bother to get me flowers".
  
  In years to come A-She will remember this moment as one of those revelations that make her aware of a purpose for this thing they call "life". She supposes it is traditional - no pain, no gain and all that - but why do not they explain these things in the "Your First House" seminars?

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09:46 am


A-She goes out to buy lunch. Buying lunch is a thrill - starting from morning, when A-She decides "Today is the day. Today I'm not going to think what to grab from the refrigerator". If the industrial-size stainless-steel perma-frosty embodiment of housewifely economy is not empty of anything that can be rationally combined into lunch - and A-She is very rational - it is a double thrill. Then at lunchtime there is the naughty pleasure of going outside by herself and not in a glob of office comminglers. Their cliques, clacques and caucuses inflict their conflicting lunch plans by e-mail, trying to inveigle everybody to join. A-She thubs (that's when someone "thumbs" and "snubs" at the same time, helpfully says the shell of yesterday's hard-boiled lunch), yes, she thubs them and goes outside.

  
  Spring cannot decide whether to come or not this year. It made a brief appearance in February, making the city thunder through a blitz-krieg of a cleaning, curled her plum-pink lips at the grubby results and said "You know what? without a decent white-washing this place is unlive-able". And the poor city was left waiting. Come on, says A-She to spring, come on. How do you know if you are spring or not, if you do not come? I know I'm A-She because I do what is expected from her. But the spring is terminally undecisive. It tries on a winter hat, a summer hat, even a fall one - all this modern nonsense about finding yourself and not settling for less. Less than what? thinks A-She. You are what you are, you cannot be less than that, you can only be more. Start from what you are and go outside, she says to spring. Plum-pink lips are thunderbolt material, but when are you going to do some serious necking? We are waiting for you, we who melt at your scent, who run outside in shorts, who furtively rub the soil between fingers and convey daily hypnosis experiments on bulbs and buds.
  
  "A small falafel pita to go, peppers, onions and mushrooms on the grill, saladtomatoescucumberspicklesandblackolives. Hummus, please, and no hot sauce", says A-She and clamps her mouth on "What is your return policy?" No returns. Bite the bullet, in this case howitzer-sized and squishy with hummus. Let's set a good example to spring, she thinks virtuously.

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09:45 am


 A-She rides in the car to work. Every time she moves her head a cloud of nice smell gets dislodged, and A-She smiles. She did not care enough - as usual - to get her hair trimmed in time, so now they are too long and getting longer and this morning she just slapped some hair-cream or other to make it look fashionably tousled rather than plain slovenly. It may still be too long, but she hoped that at least the cream made it look as if it was long on purpose. Funny how life goes on, thinks A-She. You do not get to the hairdresser on time because it is too much effort, then you have to grab a bottle of goo that you bought - as many others - to start a new, slightly more glamorous life, and the smell lifts your mood just enough to get you through the day... and maybe make an appointment for that haircut. Yes, that's funny, but it seems to A-She that all her life is now like that. Surf the net when you are supposed to be working - do it for enough days - and you finally get motivation to finish that project. And do it on time.

  
  The smell reminds her of freesias - though the name comes to her with difficulty. Mainly because the smell is warm and fresh, and the name is freezy. I will try to remember it next time, says A-She to herself, yes, I will: freesias smell like spring and there are spring frosts and forsythia, also shiningly yellow. She imagines a lemony-yellow cake and a bouquet of freesias in the background. And a slogan "Fresh, never frozen". A campaign for a cake brand? A patisserie? Never mind. No, the slogan better be just "Fresh". That's enough, freesias will suggest the rest. In real life, she thinks, people never start with a picture and slogan. They would start with a product, won't they? At least A-She supposes that's how they work. For example, they get some sort of shampoo, and then they have to think of that princess who slept for a hundred years and had to wash her hair after. And the hair grew all the time. As it does. The name of the princess does not want to come to her, and A-She panics a bit, but then she remembers that in most fairy-tales it is just "The Sleeping Beauty". Which makes sense - who needs a name for a girl who is not going anywhere for a century?
  
  What would I not give to be that princess, thinks A-She. Reinforce the brambles with electric fence, put up notices about landmines, add 24-7 security that will redirect the prince to the nearest castle with a suitable maiden in distress, and let the princess sleep. Just think - all the children in the castle slept, and the maids slept, and the birds slept, and the soldiers ... whatever. You get the picture. Yes, I'll make that appointment today, thinks A-She. If I am not that princess, no point in letting the hair grow.

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09:45 am


A-She gathers her strength from small things. Small, itsy-bitsy bits of strength: a cuddle with her kid, a look at her husband and a warm, soft kiss in the hallway, shining icicles on lilac branches, memory of her mother saying "you are strong, you are like me", a hot shower, spicy Chinese takeout. They are small, but they are free for the taking and A-She takes them and carefully stashes them against the time when even breathing is a chore to be done to get from one morning to the next. She is ruthless, robbing her husband of long, attentive talks, her kid of playing, really playing with her. She is constantly on the lookout - where to conserve, what to take with relative impunity, how to make amends without spending her precious hoard. She is analyzing absent-mindedly: am I entitled to this, can I allow myself to do that, or have I gone too far? Most of the times, the answer is yes, but sometimes she panics: what if she has overdrafted her credit? But she needs her strength, and so she takes little bit here, little bit there, one day not reading to the kid, another not preparing dinner.

  
  She remembers time, when food was a pleasure. Sometimes these memories manage to deceive her and she starts baking, cooking, improvising, and trying out new recipes. And spending her strength, but also gaining some from the creation of marvelous stuffs. But the food still is not a pleasure to eat when it is ready, only a memory of a memory of a pleasure. She also remembers time when traveling was fun and she takes books from the library and starts to plan vacations, and her husband agrees with her on everything, and makes suggestions to show that he is really into it, and he hopes that this time, this vacation would be different. But it is not. A-She gets afraid when decisions are to be made. Decisions take too much of her strength: where to go, what does she want to do there. And the thought of going shopping, or flying, or anywhere at all where there are people is too much. The effort of not noticing them, not paying attention to them is too much, because there are so many of them everywhere. And talking is even worse. A-She has to remember that she is to show interest in people, to ask the correct questions, to remember their names and the names of the kids, to be interested in their affairs. And she is so not interested. So that takes too much of her strength and she does not have friends anymore. First they got used to her stopping in the middle of a sentence, because she couldn"t think of a reason to finish it, then they got used to her forgetting their birthdays and the birthdays of their kids, then they got used to her forgetting to call them two-three times a year to chat and exchange news, and then they got used to there being no A-She. Long before that A-She got used to there being no friends. Anyway, it took too much of her strength to make herself interested enough to talk to them for twenty minutes. And even with her PA reminding her about birthdays, it took too much of her strength to make a call.

   A-She knows that she is strong, because her mother has told her so. But she has to save her strength, you see, because there will be some time, when it will be needed, really needed, and then she will do everything. She will be strong. She is strong. She is alive, isn"t she? If that is not a proof, then she does not know what else to do. If living is so hard, isn"t being alive enough?

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