The linear ever after

Rants

The second sex, may by no means be the weaker one, according to Simone de Beauvoir, but according to Cypriot culture, it’s the one whose life has already been pre-determined. You don’t need to look into the remnants of coffee stained cups or the palm of your hand ladies, your life is spelled out for you the moment you are born without that golden member. Your life is an equation of sums and losses that all equate your perfect, charming quotidien into a meagre sense of achievement.

And here is your cue to say “Thank you”, whispers your grandmother.

My problem with this, is that increasingly, I’m not just hearing about this happily-ever-after from my grandma, whose old fashioned take on life can best be taken as quaint and romantic, if not blatantly ignorant. No, increasingly, I’m hearing this from my peers. I find it disappointing that in the 21st century, the majority of women my age cannot think beyond the domestic box of marital happiness. As 20-somethings, where is the thirst for new experiences? Where is the insatiable energy for learning and self-discovery? Why all this sudden rush to wear our bank installments round our neck with a sense of pride at our adulthood? Why do I feel more added pressure from the women my age, than from parents and extended family?

Of course, this is only exacerbated by the very fact that we are traversing across the very trying expanse of wedding season. I never used to hate weddings, but I do now.  Walking towards the bride and groom to offer my heartfelt congratulations I’m convinced the mixture of exhaustion and greed (after all, why invite 6,000 guests?) makes me a barely discernible figure as I near the couple’s stand; at most, I’m seen as a € sign. And the underlying logic that echoes from person to person leaves me nothing more than shocked: “It’s an investment, I go to their wedding, they come to mine”. So basically, what everyone is doing is circulating the same €50 around and around and around. A genuine gesture, indeed.

But what particularly got me today, was a rather indiscreet question as I was having my morning coffee and talking about canoeing. It cut through my sense of individuality quite sharply: “When are you going to have a baby?” And suddenly I felt the extra weight of expectation, the additional stress of not wanting to meet the standards predefined by apparently everyone in my circle. It makes me want to despise everything within the linear fairy tale that everyone seems to fool themselves into. A baby? I’m still a kid myself!

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t claim to have the answer to a happy life. For some, marital bliss and everything that comes with it may be that which fulfills them. But leave some room for the odd ones out, will you? We can’t all fit into the cookie-cutter world of the predictable. Some of us might want to try going the other route and in all honesty, what’s it to you?

Ode to an earring

Odes

image

You nest in my hair quietly
An adornment of silver and gold.
And today I chose you especially
To dress my sunny imperfections
In your thoughtless sparkle.
But the wind begged for a dance
Tossed you irreverently in arms
That ached to reach you
In a heartbeat you were swept off your metallic hook
Dancing to the rhythm of the swooshing waves.
I searched for your trail along the beach
But you had stolen away,
To lead an independent life
Without me.
Your partner mourns in sorrow
Waits for your mundane replacement
Silently.

Where’s my mojo?

Commentary

So let’s make it clear. I’ve looked at all possible locations: behing the couch, in the fridge next to that tupperware that’s growing all sorts of fungus, in the far depths of my bag, in my tiny car, in my not-so-tiny wardrobe. Where has my mojo gone? Why has it abandoned me?

Or wait. Maybe I’m to blame. It might just be that the very high I was experiencing right about the beginning of 2012 has very cutely come back to bite me in the face. The feeling of I can do everything has quickly given way to: Is there anything I can do? The same person who read three books in the first week of the year, is now reading 10 words a day, claiming a whole page as a cause for celebration. That very same person walks around with dark circles under the eyes, despite a good 7-hour sleep. She’s shunned color and she continuously burns the food, but doesn’t mind eating it because she’s that hungry.

Is this person you too? Want to join forces in rediscovering our mojos? Listening for your suggestions, eagerly.

Random Tuesday

Random Tuesdays

There’s a cat obsession on the internet and of that much we are certain. From the cuteness of Maru to the ridiculousness of lolcats, it seems there is little left by way of a fresh cat perspective. Until I recently stumbled on cat scans. Not the medical, scary kind, but the harmless fun type.

You will need:

  • a cat
  • a scanner
  • computer

Once you bring those three together, you can submit your image at http://thecatscan.tumblr.com/

Here are some random cat scans. Enjoy!

My 2011

Commentary

2011 has treated me well. I travelled, I explored the world through the lens of my diana and lx3 and I read plenty (though not as avidly as I would have liked). Here is my year breakdown.

Note: Most of these are in no particular chronological order

1. The most anticipated item of the year: the stache! After much begging and volunteering to start a fund for movember, I was given the privilege of the stache preview in December. I’m happy to announce that this look is now a permanent fixture in all our joint portraits.

2. November brought a new person into our family unit of two: the Bear. He’s still nameless though he’s much of a character. I caught him reading on my wing chair that night, but I’ve even come home to him watching TV and eating cereal and his most recent feat was climbing the Xmas tree á la King Kong style. We don’t know what he’ll do next, but he sure fits in.

3. Lomography featured largely in 2011, mainly because it was my Xmas present to myself last year. This two-shot was quite a good accident. The third shot, of our other partner in crime, George, brings the photographic trio full circle.

4. Reading in Dublin was a pleasure. This was a small park right outside the biggest park ever, that we traversed on a two-seater bicycle (that was fun!). On this trip I had the lovely company of Margatet Atwood and The Year of the Flood, which I miraculously read through, while managing to do quite enough touring.

5. The beauty of the lomo lens: This colorful scene was straight out of Little Miss Sunshine almost, and lucky for me, just outside my home. The large puddles / lakes that form near the area make for the most spectacular reflections.

6. This birdcage has been in the family for about a decade and it used to be white. Living by the beach has turned it into a wonderful rusty peppermint color that I love. It’s  something that’s not coming off of our veranda wall anytime soon.

7. My grandmother had a rough 2011; in July she broke her ischial spine on her pelvis and was bedridden for about 2 months. She is now mostly recovered and able to walk without the help of a cane, but she’s spent quite a few hard months. This photo was taken during a drastic cleanup of her house. Quite unlike my normal photographic habits, I decided to take a self-portrait in my grandmother’s yard during the big mess.

8. Taking it easy with the kids: the cutest niece a person could have. Learning to be patient: the only thing that got me out of 2011 reasonably sane.

9. Discovered gloriously delicious tea from tea pigs, palais des thés bubblegum tea and generally stored up in herbal goodness in 2011.

10. Tried my first, and most likely last, bitter ale at the Guinness Factory. Trying out the 120 format on lomo was fun, but also disappointing: I had a whole 120 color film completely ruined by overexposure, and thus forever a mystery.

11. The year of many notes, by no letters, sadly. Friends across the world (you know who you are), I will make it up to you in 2012!

12. The endless pursuit of great indie coffee/ tea shops continues. I have just added a great one in old Nicosia:  Τα εφτά κλειδιά

13. My lovely, lovely mom. 2011 came along with a new resolution: more portraits. This is as candid as it gets.

14. Taking dark alleys and forgotten routes has always brought out the best exploration photos. If you exclude the rancid smell of urine, that is.

15. I love feet shots and always will. Our other addition to the household is Pingoo, our friendly bed penguin. My friend Gigi, understands my feet addiction and follows suit.

16. Paying closer attention to detail really got me out of 2011. As a perfectionist, I’ve got the bug for getting lost and sidetracked in intricate details that really have no use for the purpose at hand. It’s a problem I am gradually coming to terms with.

17. Back in the middle ages, maps read: There be dragons here. Discovering the wonderful Custard Factory in Birmingham was a resulted of our chat with an art gallery personnel, who ended up drawing a little map of how to get there in my journal. After walking for hours past the commercial junk recommended to us by the air host, we finally got there and it was wonderfully refreshing.

18. My belated Xmas present arrived sometime in January. A new toy and a new perspective. It was quite amusing that we got each other cameras for Xmas. It also made shooting more difficult now with so many choices.

19. Bicycles everywhere in the city of Dublin. Renting some off the bike stations resulted in some near-death experiences, but ultimately great fun. It also led to the sad realization that Cyprus will never be bike friendly, thanks to all the reckless drivers.

20. A quiet vigil at Phoinikoudes, Larnaca after the explosion at Mari. This really shook up the whole island and those days were dark and bleak. I can’t say that that there will be much light on the case, in due time. Disappointment prevails.

21. My bike was a birthday present from 2010, but it really travelled great distances in 2011. On the last day of 2010, I remember riding across timid rain capturing the very last moments of the year. Here, we were riding across the vast expanse that is Oroklini lake, near my apartment. It felt out of this world, but all those mosquito bites put things in a realistic perspective.

22. The year of Catan, surely. The game was a gift by a fellow friend, but was neatly tucked into the closet because its instructions were a goddamn booklet. So after a year of storage, my friend was in Cyprus and he finally showed me how to play in less than half an hour. It soon became an addiction. Midnight Catan sessions that progressed way into the early morning hours, fueled by cookies and hot tea and when hungrier, Indian cuisine. It really left its mark on 2011, and now we’ve got the expansion pack and I’m convinced we’re turning into the Cypriot version of the Big Bang Theory somehow. Who’s Sheldon?

23. One of our most beloved agrotourist locations in Cyprus is 3 Elies. It’s the most authentic little resort smack in the middle of nowhere. There’s fireplace, nature trails, great trout for dinner made my Androulla, and many many cats. This multiple exposure hides two.

24. Met my nieces and nephew in the summertime for the first time. This was a walk on the beach, when my niece was so excited to see the sea. It makes me blush that I take it for granted.

25. 2011 brought with it a lot of new recipes. For Easter I attempted to make candy pops, that tasted OK but didn’t look like the real thing. Luckily no one knew the original idea, so considered my own works of art. The bows and sticks featured were in preparation for the choc pops.

26. The sun sets on Oroklini lake. Discovering the beauty of my area has surely been a highlight of 2011. I have just recently taken up jogging along the beach every morning before work and I’m surprised that I never made the most of the what is available to me here until now.

27. A hurried trip to the city of my heart: Chania, Crete. On the weekend of Monday of Lent, we escaped to Chania to revisit memories, old friends and favorite spots.

28. My failed resolution to pick up rock-climbing as a hobby. Maybe 2012 will be kinder to this resolution. After observing a group of climbers, we headed for Ayios Nicolas for some biking and I almost fainted on those altitudes. It resulted in a half-hour surprise nap by a river, while my other half was having fun taking photos of me passed out from fatigue.

29. Beautiful dusk from my window. Those reflections, those colors — make me remember why I could never leave here.

30. Pimped rides with pegasus, but 2011 was the year I bid my little old car, Dot,  goodbye. Just as I wasn’t looking, I managed to get myself a deal on my car, and ended up with a brand new Toyota Aygo. Its flaming red is more to my taste than the old black. But Dot was my first car, and as such, very dearly missed.

31. Kids will be kids, but grownups need to be kids too sometimes. Relearning life through a 4-year-old’s perspective ain’t easy, but it’s good.

32. Having the sister to myself has been a treat. Here, we went on a great photowalk across town and I snapped this great portrait of her. Hopefully 2012 will bring a collaboration that could result in some monetary fruit, if she ever agrees to listen to my ideas!

33. I’m thankful for having friends who will willingly drop everything for an existential conversation about the meaning of it all. 2011 has taught me that I am definitely a lot more complex than even I ever imagined. I’m slowly learning to accept the most unexpected things about me, and more importantly, to embrace risk and learn from it.

34. 2011 changed the way I saw my life. Taking hard decisions is part of life, and being honest with what you like and don’t like is equally important. You need to be passionate about what you do full time, and if you’re not, you must change something. I’m changing things in 2012, but without 2011’s insight, I would be nowhere.

35. There’s a lot of home, in homemade, and I carry it with me in whatever I do: From jewelry, to writing, to photography to baking. You can’t separate the past from the present and carrying it with you is a good thing, really.

36. This unconventional portrait of my mom makes me think that there’s always a hidden side to us. And we sometimes hide it from ourselves even, but it’s there. I’m trying to reconcile myself with my hidden side, which is full of flaws and misery and pessimism, but hey, I’m not there yet. I’m trying, and that counts, doesn’t it?

Hope you have a great 2012. I await for it eagerly.

Snap it

Commentary

If you think your iPhone app can do pretty much what this little gem can, then the this article is not for you. It’s for unsuspecting photography nerds who like photos more than cameras, but need cameras more than photos. Does it make sense? Then read on.

I’m not the greedy type, to be honest. Sure, I become fixated and obsessed on objects but not if I already have a similar object that gets the job done. That was my take on photography when I first started experimenting with my precious burgundy point-and-shoot Sony T200. It was small enough to fit in my bag on a daily basis, it was simple to use and met all of my needs. Until last year when I stumbled onto lomography entirely by a fortuitous accident. Then into my life, came the Diana.

With its unpredictable grainy view of life I was hooked: flash filters, multiple exposures, redscale films — I was hooked on a life of analogue and curious snapshots. I took photos more liberally and intently that I ever did with my digital camera and the result, no matter how far from my original intention, always surprised and fueled my fervor for film. Around the same time, I was given the Panasonic LX3, a great upgrade from my burgundy treasure and suddenly I was granted with choice — a dangerous thing.

It is around then that I started to appreciate the need for more than one camera: each one tells the story of the capture moment differently. Each camera is a new set of eyes with which to view the world, and I now find myself in the awkward situation of wanting more than my one set of eyes. Fellow photographers get this, everyone else thinks I’ve just wasted my money on another camera (insert condescending eye roll here). But hey, you can’t blame a girl for wanting to see the world in fresh ways, right?

Right.

 

 

 

Get me the gear

Commentary

I was always the kid whoshowed up all red-eyed on the first day of school because of no sleep the night before. You can blame it on the stress of the first day, or the excitement of returning to routine, or downright weird, but it happened every single year. Now, on the more responsible end of classroom, my problem is mostly managing to wake up on the first day of school not sleep. But if there’s one thing that merits excitement at the beginning of the new school year, it’s nerdy supplies. And whenI say nerdy, I mean nerdy. 

These are some of my most coveted items for the new school year (take note, readers):

it's an achievement during the school year

*sigh*

Become a gamer: check

Commentary

I loved the 90s even though I never owned a Nintendo Gameboy. My best friend did and I have some memories of a vague 8-bit version of Mario chasing after mushrooms. I dreamt in geometric Tetris blocks once in a blue moon, only in hope. You see, I was never a gamer child because my parents were against it. We didn’t even have a computer in the house until I was about 14, not that we minded much.

But now, I see the side effects to that kind of upbringing. For starters, I go gaga over any technological gadget out there. Granted, pretty much every one does, but my problem goes a step further: I obsess. As I also obsess about the fact that in an alternate universe, I might have been a gamer. So I bought myself a Wii console, because now I pretty much make up the rules of what I can and cannot buy. And just when I was about to give up on it — you can play wii resort and wii party so many times on your own, after all — I discovered Monkey Island. And World of Goo. And and and. And just when I had started to give up on my latent gamer persona theory, BAM! I am now a no-life, addicted fiend.

Mission accomplished?

I’m starting to have my doubts. My parents knew something after all…

Ode to siesta

Odes

Fatigue creeps up on me

like a hungry bitch after lunchtime

looking for scraps of dreams

and pillow feathers to cling on.

She invites me to her bed,

warm and soft,

and gently kisses my eyelids

to a lingering state of limbo.

I let myself go between fragments

of whatifs and havetos

until I lose control.

It’s quite the fiesta,

if you know what I mean.

Random Tuesday: Student talk

Random Tuesdays

One of the undeniable perks of being  a teacher is the vacation time, sure. But what happens during the remaining 9 months of marking and marking and marking? In a perfect world, marking wouldn’t really be as long and tedious as it actually is, because most of the essays would make sense. In reality, most are full of errors and malapropisms that offer a glimmer of hilarity to the whole ordeal.

This blog captures some of the great student gems found in writings. It’s quite amusing, if not frightening, what spellcheck lets you get away with.

Have you got any glaring examples of language misuse? Please share!