Tying the knot

Commentary

Everyone assures you that there’s no pressure. As a matter of fact, this very statement makes my heart stop for a few seconds. Why the reassurance for something that isn’t an issue to begin with? This catch-22 forms the very core of Cypriot culture: don’t worry too much, but we’re watching you; don’t stress yourself about it, we’re already stressed out for you; no need to push yourself, we’ll push you. At times it feels as if living my life is a vicariously shared experience with half the people in this town. Oh wait, facebook granted me that.

But let me give facebook some credit. If anything, facebook redefined relationships: single and looking, it’s complicated because I’m that cool or in a relationship and it’s serious. Recently, on my newsfeed more and more relationship status changes are creeping up: from relationship to engaged and, lo and behold, from engaged to married! Don’t get me wrong — there’s nothing better than seeing friends living their version of happily ever after but does this happy ending have to happen to everyone at the same time? My savings account pleads otherwise.

Add all of this in the real dimension and you’ve got yourself set up for moments of awkwardness. Last week we were in a bit of a pickle, my boyfriend and I. Seated at a local alternative hotspot with a couple of friends, drinking our wine and fooling around, we thought the alcohol had gone to our head when we saw a ring on our friend’s finger. We were flabbergasted but elated, we were delirious and exploded in riotous laughter: it was a moment of utter and complete joy.

But then.

Yes, then as we were about to toast to new beginnings, my significant other and I were the odd ones out. It didn’t matter, really, but it was an “all-eyes-are-on-you” kind of moment, and my boyfriend, not one to disappoint, was tactfully trying to remove the perrier bottle cap ring in mock-engagement to a life of gas and bottled liquified happiness. Sure, no pressure.

So here I am, hanging out here at the bottom of the barrel and I am simply echoing we are still young. Can we move to a new dimension, where I am still armed with the element of surprise and I can actually move beyond the tight little squares under my feet that dictate my directionless movement? When I get there, I’ll update my facebook status. Watch for it in your newsfeed.

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Do you speak djeaksli?

Commentary


Hwia j jekhuiosdk H skunm, eippaem oi husyehj hjs. Apwoke nmxh hs kuawer sk? Rjia ojk pwopen ase.

In my head, all of the above makes sense. I have the uncanny ability to take words and mix them up, re-invent them if you like. I make nonsense out of sense, because that’s simply more fun than logical. I often don’t know what I’m talking about and I most certainly can’t understand my thoughts, but at least I know that I created the confusion in the first place.

It works wonders for my sanity.  Others may be intimidated by life and other such existential questions, but no, I am anything but deterred when it comes to lifting my little finger and dusting off the “where am I going” chapter of yours truly. That’s a big question; I hardly ever know where I’m going literally, let alone figuratively or worse yet, in ten years’ time! To avoid from going insane, I start to think / speak nonsense, because I understand it better than I  understand the big questions of life. All I’ve realized is that there are no answers. And the questions? They keep getting harder if you listen to the little, tiny you inside.

So when the going gets tough, the tough gets nonsensical. Try it, it wklwues.

Switch off

Commentary

Today I’m not going to drink more than three cups of tea, no matter how much I convince myself that my throat hurts or I have that craving. I will drink more water and I will make a mental tally of the liters I down by night time. It will be close to the big two and I will feel a sense of achievement for doing something that should be part of my mundane routine anyway.

I will not spend hours getting tangled up in website links and referrals and e-mails and replies. I don’t have to update my facebook status or tweet that I’m drinking water for the day because it is not important. I will not open photoshop to edit any one of my candidate photos for flickr. I won’t even browse other photographs for inspiration and I most definitely will not log in on tumblr. All that inspiration and clicks can be downright distracting, especially if it leads me to etsy. I cannot allow myself to go on etsy, or any other online shop for that matter, because today of all days, there will be no window shopping. Even my metaphorical wallet is empty.

I will make the bed in the morning, and I will actually eat breakfast because it is the most important meal of the day I persistently choose to forget. I will call my mom to see how she is because I will remember to reach out across the telephone line that separates the measly distance between us. If I’m ambitious, I will also make the 10-minute drive to see my grandmother, who speaks in television language because that is all the company she has. I will make her day by sitting down next to her and listening to all the episodes I missed during the week. I will call my friends for a casual coffee drink of water and I will make the effort to be more than a Facebook friend.

Today, I will set aside time to read my book, even if I’ve forgotten its title from the time it’s been to hold it. I will not do this before I sleep because I want to read more than just a couple of sentences. I will write in my real journal, not my blog, about the thoughts in my mind, the things I most wish for, the quotidien that saturates my minutes. I will think of friends abroad and actually call them. Or better yet, I will sit down and write them a letter, not an e-mail. I will play songs I’ve forgotten about and I will sing along fearlessly. I will take a walk on the beach and I will write a poem. I will jot down my ideas on actual paper that is inside a thought notebook, not a post-it note.

Today, I’m changing everything. It all starts today.

Ode to teenagers

Odes

To misunderstood teenagers everywhere: It gets better. Wait for it.

This is for you:

Back to those zit-infested mornings

where your face was like pizza,

or the ugly side of the moon

shining on a class full of strangers

who cannot understand what you are

going through. Loveless

eyes scanning the area desperately

for lips to hang from, and words to decipher.

Back to days where insignificance

is of such great significance,

where the high is the low,

if you want to fit in

with the in-crowd of moaners.

Katy Perry reminds us well

of those hot days in summer with lovewords

pasted in online chatrooms.

It was the dialogue of the era.

A constant buzzing chatter, meaningless

communication. This was.

Meow

Commentary


I grew up in an apartment block. Loosely translated that means that I have no fond memories of kicking the ball around with the kids next door, or riding my bicycle through the streets without a worry. I had to turn 27 to do that.

To be fair, it’s not that the neighborhood vibe didn’t exist where I lived, but the view from the one side was the busy avenue with cars and beeps and danger, while the back view used to be an abandoned field that turned into a football field on weekends and a car park by night. I never ventured out to play because I was afraid of balls, and besides it was much more fun to be the writer, madly typing made-up stories on my typewriter about what life would be like on the streets. I was a peculiar child.

It wasn’t until 13 that I learned about cats. We were always a dog-loving family; we considered cats too indifferent to love and a bit of a hazard at the height of five floors. As such, I never experienced the incessant meowing in the dead of the night, when all but the cat kingdom lays still. I got my fair dose of that while staying over at my grandmother’s while the parental units were on vacation.  The TV was playing the popular telenovela of the time (before  dubbing hit the scene) and suddenly I heard something. A few minutes later, I heard it again. Surely it was coming from the garden. I raised an eyebrow and wore my Sherlock Holmes expression and rose to the investigation. As I neared the back door to the garden, the sound became louder and it was unmistakably a…a….baby! A baby in the garden! My mind was scribbling stories of a heartless mother, an unwanted baby abandoned in the garden to be found and raised by us. The excitement!

I quickly went to my grandmother and whispered that I had something urgently serious to tell her. I pulled her to the side and whispered the breaking news: I think there’s a baby in the garden. Listen.

Quiet. Followed by fits of laughter.

How was I supposed to know it was a cat? I’m sure someone else has made this comparison before, no? It’s the freakiest love call in the world, if you ask me. I’m  convinced it’s an ultimatum: I’ll stop your ears from bleeding if you give me some.

And hey, I’m not even being vulgar.

On bigshots

Rants

I think my friends in Chania, will be able to relate to this letter. In fact, the whole world has had the privilege of dealing with the worst kind of mankind: the bigshot.

Dear Mr Important,

You stride in and take a seat all up in my face with your fancy shoes and your nervous smile. You are agitated, though you are selling me the spirit of I-know-it-all. You start to mouth your $5-dollar words with the hope that I can’t decipher what you’re saying, but hey, I’ve spotted your grammar mistakes too mister, and don’t get me started on your idioms.

Your “it’s not me, it’s you” mentality is truly charming. Sure, blame it on the new kid while you polish your new status car and jingle your car keys before me, because God forbid I mistake that for change in your pockets! You only deal with big fat bills, after all. Or your American Express. A credit card or what I like to call fake money, bigshot.

So stop playing with what’s not there and focus on the big picture. Have a look in the mirror and look at your sorry self staring back at you pathetically. Ask yourself where along the line you forgot what it’s like to be a person with a three-dimensional personality. But hey, who am I kidding? You’re living your dream of being a prick and screwing everyone over: you jab and you kick at me and everyone you know, smirking in your fancy suit like the big idiot you are.

Funny, how a few 2-cent words will do to paint a picture of you, mister. How does it feel to be so worthless now?

Your truly,

plainbananas xx

Ode to sockets

Odes

Unobtrusively you stare

from the low end of walls;

hidden behind furniture,

you peek at the surroundings.

I turn you on with a simple click

and watch you slavishly work

to please me,

at a big price, nonetheless.

You keep a low profile

and store canals of underground cities

below the very floor.

Wired and electrified you wait

for the next power cut to illuminate

the power of the socket.

You muahaha as you watch

the panic, the disarray

of the darker version of life.

On summer

Rants

Hello summer,

We’ve been waiting for you. We’ve quantified you to the certainty of 30 degrees Celsius and we monitor the weather forecast like hungry wolves. Clouds tomorrow? Saharan dust? Let that not come in the way of your arrival, we beg. But the tell-tale sign arrives overnight, and we don’t even need to check our thermometers to confirm your entrance. Suddenly, hair frizzes up, furniture is coated with a thick film of moisture and we are scooped up in a dense cloud of opaqueness. Humidity heralds your arrival. And instead of a warm welcome, we’re thinking, how could we forget about what you do to us every year?

We get carried away with romantic notions of the Ss: sun, salty sea, seashells, sand. As we slap on our sunscreen with SPF 1,000 under the scorching sun, we soon realize that it’s about time we bought our own beach umbrella because there’s very little hope we’ll ever manage to get the few sunbeds that offer it as option. As we enter the water, we yelp silently, trying to look good as we enter a liquid version of our freezer. Of course it’s refreshing, we fib. “Look at me, I’m diving in, ha ha,” and our heart comes to an abrupt halt before resuming again when we break the surface. “God that felt good!” we say through clenched teeth. Around us, a few hundred others do the same, and we try to ignore the persistent question, as we hit a warm spot while we’re swimming. It’s the currents, we convince ourselves, though we know as we eye the crowd that it’s plain human nature. Oh yes, gross, summer, gross.

Then come plans for traveling and discovering and getting away from worries and people (though the latter, few of us would admit). We make grand plans for escape, and monitor prices closely before booking on the day when unexpectedly, prices rise, dammit. We buy travel guides and optimistically keep them on the coffee table, hoping that we’ll pick them up before the trip. We make our budget so that we never keep it, and come back with empty pockets and ticket stubs that we’re not sure whether to keep as souvenirs or throw out. As for our peace of mind? No room for that, surely, with the stress of seeing all the sights, avoiding all the touristy places and getting our value for money. Going back to work no longer seems like a bad idea, actually.

And when we start to take at least three showers a day, we remember why it is that you stink summer. We are gullible people, we like to live life in postcards that say “Wish you were here!” or go to work dancing to summer beats, sipping on mojitos. But when you arrive, you bring with you the unbearable heat, those long long days, that need filling. So we venture out to coffeeshops more, we go out at nights, because we wear denial on our sleeves, and by the end of it, we come out of August broke and in despair. We wait for the first rain eagerly, and monitor thermometers for temperature fluctuations. We are people of routine and we work in this cycle.

For now, in early June, all I have to say is “Welcome back.” By the end of it, we’ll hate you, that’s a promise.

plain bananas x

Ode to Muffin

Odes

In memory of our dearest dog, Muffin.

You woofed your way

into our plebeian hearts

and left a blondish trail

wherever your nose led you.

Mr Carrot had it in for you

for biting his head off;

Mr Ant was afraid

after you shut him up.

And now, you lay hushed

below trees that you played with;

and house corners wait patiently,

– in futile –

for your bouncing company.

I cling onto your long sigh of goodbye,

your soft exit.

No flowers for dead muffins, no remembrances.

Doggy sticks would do you just fine.

You always liked to plead and whine for them,

and we loved it.

And we loved you.

And we do.

Keeping the balance

Commentary

Photo by poca-traça

I’d like to say that as I ride my bicycle past manic drivers and clouds of CO2 everything blurs as I become one with my vehicle. In reality the only thing that keeps me focused is my inner mantra: Keep your balance, don’t topple over. A quick pause is enough to start me thinking of the small tyre width, the slight swerve that might send me flying into the windscreen of the speeding car jetting down the other lane. No, the fears of the modern cyclist cannot easily be assuaged — they keep the adrenaline at an all-time high.

I only recently bought a bicycle and it’s true that you never forget how to ride one even if it’s been decades since you’ve been on an uncomfortable saddle. As I started cycling again I realized that I am invisible! Owning a bike has its burdens and this is perhaps its heaviest one. Yes, I can cycle close to the curb but sometimes it seems I might as well be riding on it. I could, but pedestrians have an even bigger problem recognizing that cyclists have their own pavement rights too. Cycling lanes? A luxury for Cyprus that is simply non-existent. Why create a new lane when we’re only just starting to fix up our roads? It feels like cycling through a mine field avoiding those crater-like potholes.

I know the solution is simple; I can protect my brain and other body partsby wearing protective gear. This has its advantages. For starters, I know I look like the biggest dork on the planet and immediately think that there’s no way anyone could avoid spotting this knight in plastic armor on the road. It’s my saving grace — I look like such an idiot, it’s began to feel reassuring.

Riding the streets of Larnaca is a dangerous enough feat as it is, and add to that my natural gift of clumsiness and you have a recipe for a potentially serious disaster. But I combat this with carefully planned routes; I consider the quieter streets, I wear my brightest clothes and as a car brushes by I hold my breath for good luck and good measure. As I cycle vehemently through streets with no name to meet friends for coffee I know that by the time I arrive I’ll be sticky with sweat and my knee might be scraped, if not bleeding. I know I’ll lock my bike against a tree I can see while I’m sitting, and then make my bruised way towards the table waiting for my disheveled company impatiently.

It’s always nice to make an entrance, at least.