#52Beats. Beat Two: Marie Kondo vs. Charles Bukowski

“Life truly begins after you have put your house in order.” After reading this opening sentence, a younger, punk-er me would’ve put Spark Joy by Marie Kondo (aka KonMari) firmly down and gotten on with her life. The current, slightly older me accepted that the line is a good opener for a book on decluttering. The slightly older me is also better at the “buffet” approach to information. I hate mango, but I’m not going to turn my nose up at red velvet cupcakes just because they happen to sit next to the mango on the buffet table.

Besides, I knew what I was in for when I picked up Spark Joy, having read its predecessor, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up during one of my recurring minimalism phases. Sometimes, in the middle of a life dominated by deadlines, it really is soothing to sit down with a coffee and read about proper sock folding techniques. (This is not a joke. Pages 98-99.)

I like to think that I have a halfway decent handle on house organization: I know what I own, I can locate most things within a minute or two, and I know the critical masses of both chaos and order that tip my stress threshold. Still, KonMari’s book did inspire me to a couple of organization sprees, which were useful in a household still reeling from a cross-country move.

Then, as I was contemplating this blog, my mind went back to a poem by Charles Bukowski  called Air and Light and Time and Space (once excellently illustrated by Zen Pencils). The poem is a dialogue between Bukowski’s narrator and an unnamed party, who recently sold a house, bought a studio and is excited about finally having “a place and the time to create.”

Boy, does Bukowski let them have it. Continue reading

#52Beats. Beat One: Introversion

During the very first week of my project aimed at no-pressure blogging, I spent a long time paralyzed by indecision on what I should blog about. Well. If anything, that proves that 52 Beats should be a useful exercise for me.

The thoughts going through my head went something like:

“I should totally talk about the Marie Kondo book I’ve been reading.” – “Is that really what you want to dedicate the whole weekly post to?”

“I should talk about the Bristol Zine Fair!” – “You can describe the entire experience in two sentences.”

“How about the whole introvert thing about having time and space to myself?” – “You’ve got friends who will take that personally and assume you hate them.”

“I think I want to take my laptop to a coffeeshop and blog from there.” – “Excellent, let’s establish that as a habit.” [and then spend weeks not blogging because we didn’t manage to get out to a coffeeshop that week]

So. I’m blogging from the corner of my couch, surrounded by the strewn-around results of the organizing kick I’ve been on thanks to the Marie Kondo book and the pieces of the costume I wore to the Bristol Zine Fair, and having taken the time and space to myself is the sole reason I’m still healthy and relatively sane after two ridiculously busy weeks.

And since I can’t decide on which of the three main subjects to blog about (four if we include the perfectionistic habit-building aspect), let’s have ourselves a three-part blog this week I’m going to talk about introversion, as this was the subject most frequently on my mind during this week.

(I had intended to have a multi-part blog, but the first segment ran long enough to make me want to procrastinate on the rest, and I know where that road leads.)

I, Introvert

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the grips of a dilemma. Continue reading

52 Beats. Beat Zero aka What’s This About

So here’s the deal. Recently, more often than not, I found myself drawn to the blog of Anna Chernykh (sorry, western peeps, Russian only). I would find myself reading it during work breaks, in transit, you name it. Some posts or post series I would re-read multiple times.

While there’s nothing weird about going back to certain texts because they are helpful, inspiring, or both, that was not the case for me. That’s not to say that I consider Anna’s writing is useless and uninspiring – far from it. It’s just that I didn’t come back to her words again and again for advice or inspiration. Upon some reflection, I realized I kept coming back for comfort.

Something in her style, her manner, the personality of her blog, was soothing. It didn’t hurt that many of the subjects she writes about are close to my heart, such as non-obsessive minimalism, intuitive eating, mindfulness, and such. But I’m just as happy to read her updates about personal experiences, or her reviews of books. I suspect I’d readily read her writing on most subjects.

It’s not often that I read non-fiction for comfort. My traditional idea of comfort content is fiction and stories, whether in the form of books, movies, or TV shows. Non-fiction has always been a purely informative realm for me. Its information could be utilitarian, educational or entertaining – but never comforting. Until I stumbled across Anna.

That got me wanting to blog again. (*pause to appreciate the narcissism*)

No, seriously, bear with me here. Continue reading

My Stranger – A Writer’s Love Story

Once upon a time I would spend a lot of time in one bar I know. Some weeks, I would show there every evening. Others, once or twice. There would be weeks when I couldn’t make it to the bar once. But I never stayed away for long.

In that bar, I would meet a stranger. And a stranger they would be, always, no matter how many times I had met them before.

There was no knowing how the night would go. On some nights, we would make each other laugh, or try to outwit each other in cheesy banter. On some nights, we would stare into each other’s eyes – in confusion, in understanding, in anger when the understanding went too far, revealing things we were not prepared to know about the other and ourselves.

On some nights, we could dance like a perfectly choreographed musical troupe; on others, we stepped on each other’s toes, slipped, tripped, laughed in amusement, groaned in frustration, left in a huff. Some nights, we would be all over each other for hours; on some, a five-minute talk would make it clear that neither was in the mood.

Ultimately, I didn’t mind how the night would go. I would just be glad to be there. To have shown up, be it for five minutes or five hours, be it for a dance, a chat, a kiss, or a fight.

Then, one day, the stranger wasn’t there. Continue reading

On Choosing Where To Make Your Stand

I recently had a rare and precious chance to get a cross-section of public opinion on my act of civil dissent, while remaining largely anonymous (i.e. “that stupid cow in the red hat”). While I’m cultivating a habit to steer clear of internet comments, I waded through this particular minefield in the name of research. Said research was quite rewarding: I found that people’s criticisms usually fell into one of three categories: (1) why aren’t you at work? (2) what is this going to achieve?; and (3) why aren’t you protesting something closer to home?

It’s N3 that I want to talk about. Not the blindingly obvious reasons why I’m protesting against Trump while I’m in the UK. But the connection between protesting and home. Continue reading