Friday, 5 May 2017

How I complicate things all by myself.

I wanted to apply for another postgrad programme. My research project being sort of I have a shitload of material, I intend to deal it in this and that way but I'm not sure what would the endpoint be, it took me around a month before I gathered courage and mailed the potential supervisor. There was no reply within a day or two so I was nervous but I thought, I need to submit the application by next Friday, no biggie.
A day later, I saw him on TV, talking from Benoît-sur-Loire, France, where he's with his students on a field trip and they intend to walk (yes, WALK) to Mont Saint Michel... so I sighed that, well, I can't possibly discuss the stuff with him, let's apply without prior approval. It can be done but I'd feel more comfortable if I had the project okayed beforehand.
On I went to the university website to fill in the forms. I had noted down that the deadline was May 12. Twice. It shows that this was the deadline for delivering hard copy documents, not for the application itself, which I found by finding the online forms unavailable.

I got all the bad emotions at once. Cursed myself for not being able to read, I was sad because I'd like to get to that department and then I plainly freaked out because I do such stuff. However, I decided to try and abuse a possibility. I saw a lady from the office for students with special needs last week who was very nice so I thought, after all, I have ADHD in my papers so I may play the I can't read because reasons card. I mailed the lady and asked whether something can be done. She told me to contact Dr. So-and-So, head of the admissions office, she might know about a solution.
I made a cup of coffee and called the admissions lady. She was also very nice, told me to send a request for extending the deadline, letter, not mail, please, adding that the dean doesn't make a fuss about the postgrad students, it will likely be granted and I'll get a bill for admission fees and further instructions, no worries.
I had a bit of hard time to find out how to write formal letters, I've been living in an email time for too long but at the end, I put something together, I explained how I misread the instructions without going into depths of how I cannot read and I'm just a waste of oxygen.

Things are odd. I had a meltdown. I called an unknown person of authority - as in, called on a phone, in circumstances when I had to explain that I made rather a dumb mistake. I didn't worry about it for a month. I do not feel like a waste of oxygen. I'll see where this goes.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Growing a new brain

In November or so, I saw a friend and whined about how I could use some good therapy but therapists are few and far between, I'd need one who takes insurance or at least is affordable and doesn't do some quackery on the side because I wouldn't trust such a person... She said Oh, my friend is a psychologist, she works in the oncology ward but she can take outside patients, I'll mail her if she has a slot for you.
The therapist did have a slot, asked for a note from my shrink so that she could bill my sessions to the insurance and the limit for her is four hours per patient per day. Per day!!! Apparently, there're some different rules for the in-house therapists in the hospitals but I'm not going to look up the whys. It's good enough that I'm getting two or three hour sessions, during the usual one hour, one doesn't get deep enough into the problem du jour.

Something is working.
To start with, I developed emotions. Not that I hadn't had any at all but there was my cold, calculating brain, irony, sarcasm, lack of self-esteem, self-deprecation and occasional destruction of glassware. Then, others started happening. And my, I can't handle them. I've had more than two decades experience of keeping a straight face, pretending to be amicable and smiling at people when dying inside but now there's a shitstorm of something I haven't known. I started sorta liking people - I guess that I'll remain an introvert but not being scared of everyone is quite comfortable.
I decided to move away from parents, panicked at people for a few days and then I calmed down and started looking for a job and thinking about what to move first and I'm actually happy about it even though there will be a major conflict. I'm sure I'll manage it without actually throwing any glassware - note that I have never thrown any glasses at people, usually into the wall and then the Ikea glass was stronger than my office door and made a nice octagonal impression (*). I always turned my aggression towards ugly tableware or myself - and put this way, I did feel about as worthy as ugly tableware.
Speaking of ugly tableware, the other day, I looked at myself in the mirror, thought that I actually had quite a nice face and enjoyed the feeling instead of snarking back at myself. I'm growing self-esteem!

It feels weird and messy and scary. Especially when the damn brain gets high on dopamine or some such and I am unable to handle the storm. My mental templates do not work any more, the depressive patterns of thought are sorely lacking and I just don't have coping mechanisms. I tend to pile all that crap onto those few friends sensitive enough to listen and I feel so sorry for them... at a point, everyone will get a big box of chocolate, right? ------------------------------ (*) which was noticed by my mother who asked. I told her that I threw a glass but somehow, she didn't wonder why so I didn't get told off for being frustrated

Thursday, 30 March 2017

And then, enough

My dear mother has been somewhat irritable. It shows, among others, that she gets easily offended by nothing. Today, we had the usual random editors' debate when doing some proofreading and corrections. The text said something about the Renaissance starting in the 13th century, I said It's crap because even Petrarca is not counted as early Renaissance, early Italian Humanism, yes, but that's not Renaissance, mom claimed that it must be right because the author is an expert, I replied Yeah, sure, whatever but still, it's a piece of crap, as emphatically as it gets in the 5827th debate only this year. Mother took offense and yelled at me how do I dare to use that tone! I'm being rude! and that I must be mentally ill to behave this way.
I shrugged it off. The last time, I had to be on drugs to use that tone! which was the last straw when I decided that I've been offended one times too many and decided to quit my job in the dear family business and move away.

Which was some three weeks ago. I got scared because parental units had me manipulated into not moving away or moving back to their house a few times already. I wasn't still very sure how depression-free I was. I talked to the few remaining friends and acquaintances (yes, I brought my father's hotel into black numbers and all I got was minimum wage, snarks, a burnout and my social life got almost entirely destroyed, what a bargain) about it and that I'll need all the mental support I can get. Everyone was pretty positive and when they said that I should have done it years ago, they said it nicely enough.

I started looking for a job and oddly enough, there are jobs where I could use my education and experience and I would get paid more than a cleaner, even! The original plan was to start in around September because I promised some business stuff to mother but then I discovered some ultra-cool openings. I already sent a pile of papers to one place and I'm working on another; it's not that secretary in a back office in some cushy government institution but nice managerial jobs at universities. And then I made another decision: bite it. If I get my nice university job, one of which would include one's own secretary and an office with a view, I'm just packing my purse and leaving. I should have done it years ago indeed.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017


I studied somewhat erratically. Ended up with three stints at various universities and only one degree but that's besides the point.

In, erm, 2003, I enrolled for art history at the Bratislava university. For the heck of it. I spent only a year there because while the lectures were cool, the exam system was just awful and I decided that the pain in the arse of memorizing hundreds and hundreds of works of art, dates of creations and their authors and then guessing from bad black and white reproductions at the actual exams is not worth it and went elsewhere.
I liked Bratislava, it's not too big for me (I'm a small city girl, not big city girl) and it's just pretty. Interestingly, it was the only time and place where I had something like student life. Hanging out with people and doing that social life stuff, I mean. I lived at the dorms of the traditional sort which included mice, cockroaches and mean receptionists/chaperones/wtf, frequented a selection of cafés, ate at exhibition openings... it was good.
I had been planning to see the Dream x Reality exhibition and as it goes, I kept postponing it until it was almost too late. Meantime, the catalogue sold out, which pissed me because I have a thing for propaganda and the WWII bit of Slovak history is quite interesting for various reasons.

The Central Station is as ugly as it was in 2004 when I was there the last time. The passage to the trams stinks. The city got new trams, though. I wandered through the centre and, well, it was different. All the places where we used to go somehow disappeared. The Architects' gallery moved somewhere, elsewhere... oh, those were the parties! I happened there once and as I used to wear what was then called architects' uniform aka black from head to toe, they thought I was there with those guys who were exhibiting their works, I befriended some people so they would invite me to the following events, one of the architects had a winery so he would bring his own produce.... Then those moments of recollection - oh, we were in the old city hall with the Medieval seminar to see some bits of architecture, how could I have forgotten. And in the, was it Franciscan? church... The usual conclusion: I need to get back to my books.
It was sort of sad. Bratislava has become much more cosmopolitan in the bad way.

I love carnations. For whatever reason, they are totally out of fashion. For whatever reason, I keep telling people that I love carnations and hardly anyone pays attention enough to notice it - yes, I know, people live in their respective universes that revolve around their heads but that's why God gave us notebooks, to note shit down for later use - so when I get flowers, I get either roses which generally suck and wilt within two days or some ugly crap. Or orchids. For some reason, I find cut orchids somewhat pathetic and sad. However, we live in the century of Fruit Bat so ladies are allowed to procure their flowers themselves. And in Bratislava, there used to be a florist's which had carnations in an assortment of colours and they always had green ones. I would buy 10 or 15 of them when I was going home for a longer period of time. Haven't had green carnations for years, I discovered some once in a florist shop in Prague years ago but that was it. I didn't hold hopes but it was there!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Something changed

Three and half years in a hotel in the middle of the woods. Also known as Job from Hell. I quit last April or so, burnt out, at the bottomest bottom of depression that far. Some basic recovery took a bit of time and antidepressants and suddenly, I got back to normal. Or at least normal-ish.Then, new problems arose. I guess the last time I wasn't depressed to that extent that I'd be actually able to do something long-term and reasonable was 7 or 8 years ago or even more - about the time I graduated and a bit after. Meantime, I got kicked out of the Ph. D. programme and another school, published two books - or it might've been only one and the other had been published before, I'm too lazy to go and look it up right now - and got persuaded into the hotel nonsense which seems to have eaten half of my brain.

I'm at a point zero and need to find out what to do with my life. I should move my ass away from parents' where I got stuck while working at the hotel and not being able to manage a place on my own. I should get a decent job or some such. I should get some friggin' self-esteem. And that's the main problem. I'd describe myself as 'can read, can write, can find her own ass without a map, knows nothing, never had a decent job' because three-ish languages, art history degree, having run a hotel, that doesn't count. Everything I do never counts because everything I do is a trifle any asshole could do. Also, I'm fat and ugly.
I have antidepressants that work (and that's a source of major fun as well but that's another story) so I have energy enough to deal with this shit and started getting some therapy. The therapist says that I seem to think in less messy ways but... well.

During those thee and half years in the middle of nowhere, I kept buying things and stacked them aside. Clothes in the size that will suit me best when I lose that extra weight (15 kilos down, 30 to go yet and I don't care if it's reasonable or healthy, I won't be 20 again but at least I can have the figure and common sense be damned), books, just stuff. In summer, I wasn't at home, in winter, it was winter but now I have daylight enough and still some time so I started throwing things away. Very cathartic, I highly recommend it. Also, no, I won't need 30 somewhat worn t-shirts useful for painting or other dirty jobs, one will do and one can always find some lousy clothes that can be tossed after one use. Nobody will ever need 20-years-old travel guides or trashy novels. The sound of stuff falling to the bottom of the dumpster is very refreshing.

Mom got the same idea, mainly because her office is moving to a smaller space and she wants to retire and she has her own furniture there and 20+ years ago, it was expensive furniture! so she can't throw it out and she likes it so she can't even donate it to some nice people. I hinted the city dump but she wasn't persuaded. Instead, she decided to remodel the so-called guest bedroom, her former office which has been a depository of shit nobody needed since around 1997. Cue trashy novels, random trinkets, a big box of plush toys because what if someone visited with children... We, and by that I mean a generic 'we', not me and mom, it was actually a cousin, neighbour and neighbour's son, moved the butt-ugly made-to-measure shelf to the attic. The neighbour who had built it those 20+ years ago offered to take it to the city dump but mom didn't want to - she will put things in it. The things are mainly her old books, dusty, moved to the dusty shelf in the dusty attic. "I'll throw some old bed sheet over the shelf so that the books don't get dusty," she said. The spare room will serve as my office until... well, I'll gather some courage and money and move away and I'll try to make it happen as soon as possible. I asked for two of mom's tables, I don't really like them but they are tables and they are free. I refused the shelves and I insisted, the tables are tolerable while the shelves and cupboards are butt-ugly.

My parents seem to be developing hoarding tendencies and it's making me nervous. Yes, I have a lot of shit. No, I don't know about all of my shit because during three and half years in the woods, I employed the retail therapy a lot and due to who-knows-what, I developed some memory problems so I don't always know what I have but I'm dealing with it. As in, actually sorting things, throwing away the bad stuff, donating whatever I won't be needing any more but may be of some use to someone else and mentally cataloguing the remains. It feels so good! Now I need to find a big box, I have some yarn to donate. (Some = ten kilos or so.) I'll still have a stash beyond lifetime but what the heck.

Off to dumpster diving, no way I'm buying a cardboard box.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

More indoor gardening

I finally got a new Vanda x caerulea. Medium, they said.

If this is medium, I guess I don't want to know how a large one would look. Yes, it's Nicotiana glauca on the windowsill, some narcissi and the orange-flowering thing is some supermarket Ornithogalum.

Next time, hopefully outdoor gardening.

Monday, 23 January 2017


Since my parents got cable some 15 or 20 years ago, they started watching Eurosport. Apparently, arguing about tennis and football has become almost the only reasonable communication between them but I stopped caring about their somewhat dysfunctional relationship years ago. But, that's besides the point although family matters are a continuous source of unbelievable stories.
I don't really like winter. It's best experienced someplace like Innsbruck, from a nice warm café of the Central-European style, watching the snowy peaks from a safe distance while slurping coffee and waiting for spring. But, there are winter sports. Those performed by others, obviously. (Yes, I love snowboarding. Yes, I'm pretty bad. Nope, haven't been anywhere for a few years because I lived in fucking mountains and I hated 9 of every 10 seconds there, the 10 % was botanizing and I may be exaggerating, even.)

The downhill in Kitzbühel has over the years become one of the most important family events, and probably the most funny one because during Christmas, we tend to argue a lot over something like mayonnaise or who looked funny at whom, and during the summer reunion, there are a few annoying relatives I can live without. Watching downhill skiing is a shared activity enjoyed without any drama.
For those who do not know or care, the Streif is said to be one of the most difficult pistes. And that's the point. We sit, watch and scream things like Now he is dead! No, he's dead now! Nope, he's still moving but they'll need to cut him out from the safety netting! @#$%^!!! 149 kph on this!!! plus quite some less articulate things.
Then the winners and survivors are happy and the watchers have had an adrenaline rush that lasts for quite a few days. And now back to the scheduled boring stuff. Not the Australian Open, just some clerical stuff.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

New Year

No resolutions, I don't bother. I only have plans.

I still somewhat miss the joy that writing used to bring. It all comes out somewhat lifeless although I keep trying. Or, maybe, my rants were never any good but I just didn't notice and none of the, erm, two? regular readers bothered to say anything.

One of the plans is to deal with the herbary backlog dating to 2013. Which will be fun because the 2013 loot is mostly from the Mediterranean and I'm not exactly an expert on the area. I didn't keep very consistent notes on that trip either. I started today and the bulk of the work done was shifting the stuff in the compost bag. Maybe it could be a method. And maybe I could use it for other stuff. Also, here, have some indoor gardening.