armyofsnails: (time snail)
I've been watching BBC's recent, lavish production of War and Peace over the last couple of weeks. I had to read Tolstoy's gigantic novel as a kid growing up in Russia, as obligatory part of school curriculum; I hated it at the time. Tolstoy's writing did not resonate with me at all, not until I read Anna Karenina of my own volition years later, and then I *kind of* got it. Though as far as Russian classical writers were concerned, Dostoyevsky in my mind was always vastly superior to Tolstoy, and still is.

Anyway, BBC's version of War and Peace is beautiful and entirely anglicised. Despite mixed acting levels and sexualisation of the source material, I enjoyed the series. But having just finished the last episode, which portrayed the brutality of war, grief and loss unexpectedly well, I am now struck with a realisation that has never occurred to me before:

The reason we believe that adversity is supposed to bring us enlightenment, is because so much of humanity's creative output tells us so.

Much of Tolstoy's novel towards the end is about the transformative power of grief and about forgiveness; the main characters achieve a sort of personal enlightenment through it, become better people. Countless other works of literature, art and music focus on the same message, over and over again: that grief transforms you, makes you better, makes you care more for others, gives your life meaning. This message then permeates our culture and  makes us believe in this as a way of life, the way to be.

Trouble is, grief is not by its nature transformative. I know this now, as a 37-year-old adult who has so far been through some horrific, hair raising experiences. I honestly can't say any of it has made me a better person. The people close to me who have also been affected by these events, have only been made worse for it, much worse. Angrier, bitterer, more hating, more short-tempered, more broken, less forgiving. I can count on the fingers of one hand, those who seem to have become better through adversity - and this is only because their circumstances have improved with time and this has permitted them to relax.

So I don't know whether to dismiss those literary and artistic examples of transformation as beautiful bullshit that's moving to read but has no bearing on reality. Or whether to acknowledge that I'm missing something and not trying hard enough - even though surely telling someone who is grieving that they are not doing their best is just a tad inconsiderate.

I have more to say on the subject, some of it far too personal for this post. I don't really use this site anymore to record the details of my life. So I'll leave it at that for now. Maybe later I'll write more.
armyofsnails: (time snail)

I was talking to A over e-mail (he is away at the moment). In response to my previous LJ entry, he said, "It is interesting how you talk about the distance and what emotions it may or may not afford you or entitle you to. However, I feel the truth is closer to when a person we know, even admire, for whatever reason, however distantly dies, it hurts, and everyone's processing of that hurt is so personal - there are few rules governing who has what rights and where."

But it's not about that. When I talk about not being entitled to emotion it's largely influenced by what I hear coming from people in situations like this. I looked at V's Facebook this morning, and it was inundated with messages of "Why?" "We love you" "You were beautiful" from people in a public display of grief, as if they were pretending that Facebook had the power to communicate with the dead. And I felt a little weird because of this. This entitlement to grief is quite the phenomenon, not just because of how easy social networks make it, but in general, in humans. And it seems to offend those who are close to the person; in this case, one of my friends said simply that "We appear to be able to love others only in death". i.e. only feel the void they leave when they are gone. It's especially poignant with suicides by people who may have done it for reasons of loneliness and alienation.

So as a one step removed person I don't feel entitled to grief. Though I feel it, still... I feel very, very sad for everyone I know who loved him and who is in pain right now.

Here it is. So weird reading it now.

(Original entry posted in 2001 - about the fictional version of V - and Tom Waits...)

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

armyofsnails: (time snail)

Happy birthday, [livejournal.com profile] el_kab!

A flaming heart of bones and nails... )

(This is a photo from an art exhibition I went to recently in Mile End, unfortunately I can't remember the name of the artist).

armyofsnails: (time snail)

Two years ago this week, on the night of the infamous London riots, I met two rather eccentric looking gentlemen at a dinner party in Hackney. Our very first conversation was about the bus that was burning outside their flat in Dalston, while listening to police sirens outside, eating soup and drinking cider in the relative safety of our host’s apartment.

Over the course of the next few months, I got to know them better. One became my lover, the other my friend. Through both of them, I was introduced to some inspiring people, had the best times of my life, felt accepted and appreciated more than I had ever been before. I became aware of my own freedom and the opportunities around me without the burden of control and insecurity that are so often falsely sold to us as the necessary peripherals of a relationship. I gained new understanding of my own capacity for empathy and compersion.

My old friends embraced my new partner with open arms, because of his compassionate and peculiarly eccentric personality and his readiness to spend time and effort on the people who are important to me. They embraced my new friend because of his artistic flare, extroverted nature and the effortless way in which he makes connections with others everywhere he goes.

In the heart of it all is an extraordinary love story that I am happy to be a part of.

Looking forward to the good times ahead.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

armyofsnails: (time snail)
This wonderful man was my physics teacher when I was a teenager and until the point when I left Russia for the UK, aged sixteen. He was one of the most amazing, inspiring individuals I had ever met, and - goes without saying - my favourite teacher of all time. He changed - directly or indirectly - the lives of many of his students, which is why decades later they still talk about him. I am glad and not at all surprised to find him just as sharp, witty, active and beautiful as I remember him.

The link should Google translate reasonably well.
Read more... )

Birthday

Feb. 2nd, 2013 08:30 am
armyofsnails: (time snail)

So I'm now a year older (not far off trying to make people forget what age I really am... futilely no doubt. But who cares if I'm thirty or fifty, right?) I was going do to a summary for 2012 but failed miserably, so this is a substitute for that.

Some of this may read as a bit of a 'London life' informercial.. Hello Time Out? )
armyofsnails: (Japanese)
I feel like I should start apologising for my Prozac-like posts of late... Or maybe not. Deal with it. :P

I wrote this in response to an e-mail from my boyfriend the other day. Nothing particularly ground-breaking in it, but it does structure my thoughts on the subject a little, so here it is for what it's worth.... )

Love

Mar. 30th, 2012 01:55 pm
armyofsnails: (Simpsons)
Don't think I have ever felt so happy.

Not the bouncing off walls, manic kind of happy, but calmer, more like the feeling of sunshine on the skin.

It's quite scary to think about it. Just how much is our - is my - happiness externalised? Does it really have to depend so much on other people? And how come one so often rests the foundation of one's well-being on something as apparently capricious as romantic love? I suppose that the more experienced one gets, the less capricious one tries to make it, but even then one still misses the boat every now and then.

But nevermind. For today, for foreseeable future, hopefully for unforeseeable future too, I am in love and the world makes sense in the way it has never done before.
armyofsnails: (fear me)
My boyfriend described me last night as "happy-go-lucky". It was meant as a compliment but it made me wonder... Am I really? Guess in some ways, yes. Is that a good thing at the tender age of thirty-two (and a mere fortnight shy of the higher number)?

Guess if I wasn't I would possibly be in a different place in my life right now. Or not? But why should I care? I'm doing all right. Now, that's a happy-go-lucky kind of statement if I ever saw one.

Useless fact of the day: most of the driving scenes in the film Happy-Go-Lucky by Mike Leigh were shot on my street in north London - they go straight past my front door several times. I've moved from the street with Chtulhu and the Goat with a Thousand Young to the street where a highly strung driving instructor shouts at an insanely cheery 30-year-old woman. Who said life in N8 was boring?
armyofsnails: (racer)
I've actually not updated this thing for so long that I've been "nudged" by one of my ever faithful LJ friends... useful feature. <3

The reason for the silence is that I'm idiotically busy and only have time for gnomic Twitter posts. I'll get a couple of free days over the Christmas and New Year break and will attempt to write something meaningful then.

For now suffice to say that life is moving in mysterious and unpredictable ways and that I'm probably the happiest and most fulfilled I've ever been. In part this is because of a new development in my... what do they call these things? romantic landscape? Anyway, yes. I'm finding out about crazy over-the-top romance and the joy of little things in life and how to care for someone in ways that I have perhaps not been able to do before. I never thought this could happen and never hoped for it, and I'm not sure what it all means, but it doesn't matter. Whatever it means and however long it lasts, it's a journey worth taking.
armyofsnails: (time snail)
Acquisitions of last week included a giant stuffed lizard tail, a top hat with skull and red feathers (both from the magnificent Rumpus party) and a pumpkin, discovered in my bed just as I was going to sleep. Mr B is like a house cat who instead of dead mice leaves me random little objects on my pillow. This one is a seasonal gift - a green and orange pumpkin that looks like its skull is opening up to give birth to another pumpkin, like something from a pumpkin themed horror movie. I'll take a photo when I get round to it - and then it's getting cooked and eaten.

I've had a good week, though odd in some ways, and something has happened towards the end of it that has made me feel totally overwhelmed and amazed at life and at the people I know in it, and also full of joy. It's probably a bit of an overreaction, perhaps because it has caught me just at the right moment. I just wish I could spread this feeling to others who need it more than me right now. Still basking in it for the time being (I'm sure that eight hours of 1:50 M&E/FF&E coordination meetings tomorrow will lessen it somewhat.... meh).
armyofsnails: (fear me)
I've passed my Part 3 course yesterday.

Just need to apply to ARB through the office and I'll get my ARCHITECT title.

Only took 12 years of my life to get there. I'm called a snail for a reason.

In other news, one of my past projects (the business park) won an international award today.

And I just bought expensive tickets to a pretty unusual foreign destination.
armyofsnails: (Default)
New name, new icon.

The berries are blood red, pretty and poisonous. On a recent country walk I was rather taken by them but didn't know what they were until I looked them up a little while ago. Turns out, they are called bittersweet nightshade or simply bittersweet. Makes me think of a lampshade and/or of my current state of mind. Either way, it'll do for now.
armyofsnails: (food snail)
These days I'm spending a fortune on food. I devour a bowl of fruit every morning as a snack when I get to work, that on top of my normal breakfast. I don't eat much unless it's fruit, but the quality of the stuff I buy is high and I source out fancy items, so more often than not I leave the supermarket having spent upward of thirty quid on what is basically my day-to day sustenance. Yesterday I made a hijiki salad with smoked tofu, bean sprouts and avocado, just as a midweek treat. Had the remnants of it for lunch today. It tasted superb and looked bloody good too - shame I didn't take a photo.

I also drink considerably less than before. A glass of wine here and there and maybe one moderate visit to a pub during the week. At weekends all bets are off, but even then it's nowhere near as much as I used to go through (although it largely depends on who I'm hanging out with).

Overall however my food and drink expenditure has gone up several fold. Throw at least two restaurant meals a week on top of that - I socialise a lot with people who are into food so it's almost an inevitability. Cooking at home sometimes replaces this but it's often equally expensive because of all the special ingredients I end up buying.

One thing I've noticed is that I hardly get colds or flu any more. I used to fall ill at least once every two months. This hasn't happened for almost a year. I'm pretty sure this is connected to my changing eating habits.

This reminds me, [livejournal.com profile] wknoxwalker, we need to arrange a date for my own dinner party... :)
armyofsnails: (time snail)
The combination of four walls and a roof in a fixed geographical location has a strange power over us, often on an almost unconscious level. Hell, I should know, I design these damned things for a living after all.

I am leaving one such place behind once again. And it feels... bloody marvelous actually.

Let the good times roll.
armyofsnails: (time snail)
I've said previously that I have no regrets about anything I've done, but it's not true. I have many, and am willing to admit it now. My biggest regret is that I didn't get certain things in the open as soon as they emerged, that I sat on them allowing them to fester until the end result was simply appalling.

I am an idiot. An indecisive, scared, angry idiot.

I could have saved myself two years of heartbreak and mental anguish simply by being honest with myself and others. Firstly, I shouldn't have flattered myself that I was doing the right thing when in reality I was helping no-one, and secondly I should have got rid of my anger and my issues more efficiently, which would have allowed me to keep certain promises I've made.

I'm fine. I'm just older, wrinklier, more cynical, more bitter and more broke than I could have been. Am I smarter? Doubtful. Unless hindsight counts.
armyofsnails: (time snail)
I no longer have any idea what it really means to care about someone else.

In my earlier, naive days, I thought I knew. As life gets more muddled up, and as the scuffle for self preservation takes precedence, this concept - the concept of caring for another - seems to be slowly but surely rubbed off me until it's nothing more than a vague, barely recognisable outline.

If I ever cry over any part of my youth, it will not be the loss of my perky boobs nor my liver function nor my stupid hippie belief that I can change the world - it will be this.

Tell me I'm selfish. In return, I'll tell you a life story - or three. Then I'll listen to what you have to say again.

The problem is that there is still an enormous gap between my chosen behaviour and how I feel, and that's killing me. The tension will ease with time, I'm sure.
armyofsnails: (zen snail)
Tym: kids don't understand the rape cage next to the handcuffs on a bedpost
Tym: we're all monsters
Tym: some just had better luck at channeling it
army of snails: I guess you must be right
Tym: what separates us from other monsters is that we can make really kick ass ham and bacon

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