My week wasn’t particularly square. Neither was it round though. I’m just running out of ideas what to call my posts in the challenge which consists of snapping and Instagraming a photo a day and throwing a week’s worth bunch together over on the blog. What would you call it? The lazy challenge? The recycle challenge? The zerofucksgiven challenge?
Here you go. I challenge you to scroll down. Not in one mighty scroll, preferably. You know, I did put some minimum effort into making captions for the pictures. I challenge you to read them. Or not to read them. Whichever you find more challenging. Or less challenging. Wait. I know what to call my challenge. The challenged challenge.
What happens on Instagram doesn’t stay on Instagram. That sounds catchy and cheesy, right? What I mean is that I give you literally what I posted on Instagram last week, continuing in my snap-a-day thingy.
I have the dubious (dis)advantage of living betwixt the first and the second worlds. My ass is sitting on a second-world chair, but the first world is at my fingertips, literally, through the internet. If you haven’t heard yet, what I define as second world are primarily post-communist countries in eastern Europe, which are, just like me, sitting uneasily between world one and world three, thus logically constituting world two. Makes sense, right?
Living in the second world entails having mostly second-world problems, which are pretty down-to-earth and typically revolve around the overarching question of how the fuck do I pay the bills. Assorted first-world problems do creep in, such as, what the fuck do I do with myself when the wifi is down, but mostly, first-world problems remain the source of endless hilariousness for me. You know, most first-world problems are not a thing here. Yep, they’re virtually nonexistent. Don’t everyone move in here.
In the unlikely scenario, though, that you’re a first-worlder looking to live in the second world (whatever crimes you committed to deserve that), here’s a helpful list of how to go about it. Among other things, your strategy must cover procuring alternatives for first-world products, which are here either entirely unavailable or are no way affordable. My insider advice is based specifically on Czechia, but should be applicable elsewhere too. Here you go. Take notes.
Item to substitute: iPhone, iPad and other iStuff
Get instead: normal stuff, huh
I suspect it’s not common knowledge in the first world, but when you want a smartphone, you don’t have to buy an iPhone. (Shocking, I know, but indulge me for a bit.) Just Google cheap smartphone in the local language and you shall be surprised to see that there are plentiful non-i-items in terms of phones, tablets, computers and laptops.
Be advised, however, that a tablet is not allowed. I can spare you the waste of money and tell you right away that a tablet doesn’t do anything that a phone or a laptop wouldn’t do. See, you’re already spending less!
Item to substitute: coffee machine
Get instead: kettle
Let’s make it clear straight away. You’re not drinking fancy coffee, and even if you wanted to, too bad, there are no more than two or three cities in this country where there’s a Starbucks. Take-away coffee, obviously, isn’t admissible anyway, so get used to making your own sooner rather than later.
What you do drink is called Turkish Coffee and has nothing to do with real Turkish coffee. For a recipe, see my earlier post. It’s pretty simple, wholesome, and all you need is a tin mug (if you want to go authentic), generic brand coffee and a means to boil water. If you really want to cut spending, you don’t even need a kettle, an oven will do; and if you don’t have an oven, use the fireplace in the middle of your room.
Item to substitute: car
Get instead: bus ticket
This is another outrageous concept, but sorry not sorry, that’s what it is: you don’t need a car. Here, I said it. It’s good news really because you can’t afford a car, obviously. You used the money you saved up to pay for your driving licence already, which is good, you might need it in case you ever need to drive a get-away car.
Look around. It might be that there are buses, trams and trains around. See them? Good. You just got yourself a means of transport. Can’t see anything? Too bad. It looks like you live in the middle of nowhere, where there is no public transport. Never mind though, you can still walk. So put those silly stilettos away in the closet, you won’t be using them here.
Item to substitute: TV and/or Netflix subscription
Get instead: nothing
I’ll let you in to a secret: if you have a computer or laptop, you have zero need for a TV. Actually, TV ownership is here associated with the lower-class (euphemism for dumb people in this case), so if you’re keen on making it (i.e., making it until the next rent is due), you won’t bee needing this crap.
As to Netflix, don’t worry about it too much, it’s probably not available in your new region anyway. Despite globalism, don’t think that you could subscribe to an US version of Netflix or anything really. You can’t, you’re now in the wrong place. The main point is, however: you don’t pay for watching anything. If you find yourself doing it, you’re doing it wrong.
There is obviously so much more, so much more that you couldn’t wrap your mind around it, which is the reason why I’ll leave you to it for now. I might bring more advice later. Or not. In case I do, watch this space. (Instead of Netflix.)
Those ill-advised individuals who follow my blog know that I don’t have a life. It won’t therefore come as a surprise that in the balancing act, my highs of the last year are pretty low. Perhaps not incidentally, they are all associated with WordPress in one way or another.
In 2017 I did not get featured on Discover, or whatever they call Freshly Pressed now. I used to covet this caveat before I discovered (and freshly pressed) that I’m too subversive to get publicised anywhere (unless I invite myself, see further below).
On a side note, I’m so wiped these days that I spent five minutes trying to remember the word subversive. It’s ridiculous because, as I rarely fail to mention, I have a PhD in literature (in-yer-face), and, furthermore (and is the same as furthermore, hence it’s pleonasm—I am aware of it and yes, I just spent five more minutes trying to remember the word pleonasm), subversive is my middle name. (Kidding. Slavs don’t get middle names.)
What I did in 2017, however, was WordPress user testing. You might or might not remember my enthusiastic, carefully crafted (and subversive) post on my experience. If you missed it, read it (because I wasted so much time and effort making the post), and if you’re not up to it, please be advised that user testing didn’t involve testing on humans (or pets). Wait. It did. Never mind.
What I got from this user testing (no humans or cats were harmed in the process, or not too much anyway), was an Amazon gift card (I’ll be buying self-help books on how to make myself, the world and the web a better place) and a one-year extension of my WordPress subscription. Hey, I got to do what I love and I got rewarded for that! Now, that I call a sweet deal.
My another not-too-dazzling highlight was when I was a speaker at WordCamp. Keep your pants on, though, it’s not what it looks. There indeed was a national WordCamp in my area and I did actually speak on the stage, but it was part of lightning talks, a free-form session in which volunteers from the audience were encouraged to come up and talk. No one volunteered but I invited myself (see above for not getting invited anywhere unless I invite myself).
I blame the great coffee that they offered for free (well, included in the price of the ticket) at the event. Considerably better than my generic brand coffee. IT people are known for their coffee after all. (I’ll start buying better coffee when I earn as much as IT people.) Well, where was I? I took the microphone fearlessly (I was high on caffeine and anti-anxiety meds) and said: “They say that each day, you should do something you’re scared of. So I guess I can check this box for today.”
The audience was well pleased and applauded me, but, much to their dismay, I went on and couldn’t be stopped. I have photos to prove it. I won’t be posting them here because that would not be exactly in keeping with my idea of blogging anonymously and enjoying the privileges that come with it. Duh. Huh. So these were my WordPress highlights. That’s all, guys. I’m going to get high on caffeine or benzodiazepine, I’m not sure which yet.
I’m still finding everyday inspiration. Or rather, looking for it and not finding it. Here’s where my readers’ suggestions come in (cheers to you, guys!). I asked what to write about and I’m still shocked that anyone bothered to advise. Actually, it looks like everyone bothered to advise! I have shit to blog about for the rest of the year. I mean, I have suggestions to blog about, which I’ll turn into shitty posts (like this one, you’re welcome).
Trent from Trent’s World came up with a challenge for me to “do something that is completely different”. I love the idea (wait, I don’t love anything). Anyway, what I’ll pull off is something I’ve never done before and shall never repeat again. I will blog a recipe. Yes, you heard right. I don’t blog recipes because a) I have none, b) my concept of cooking is so barbarous that my recipes would probably get me banned from WordPress.
I give you a recipe for a Czech Turkish coffee. I don’t mean Czech-Turkish with a hyphen. It has nothing to do with Turkey. Therefore we call it Turkish (because logic). I have no clue how the misnomer happened. And I make the most terrible coffee (ever, forever). You absolutely shouldn’t try it at home, even if you manage to get hold of the rare ingredients required for this abomination.
the cheapest generic brand of coffee you can buy (or steal)
tap water, preferably hard (so it gives your kettle limescale)
optional sugar, absolutely no milk (this isn’t baby formula)
booze (preferably slivovitz, but rum will also do, as will anything really)
Fill the kettle with water and switch it on (use only as much water as you need to save electricity).
Grab a large mug (half a liter is about right). Throw in two or three spoonfuls of ground coffee.
Pour boiling water in the mug.
Add slivovitz to taste.
It’s perfectly normal for the coffee grounds to float on the surface.
The coffee tends to be strong, so have your heart medication ready.
The grounds are not consumed but left at the bottom of the mug.
Some people stir the coffee to make the grounds settle, I just blow on it—less dishes!
If you can’t wait for your coffee to cool, just throw in an ice cube or two.
If you’re wondering, all of the above is true and that’s how I take my coffee. It’s a thing.
Today’s writing challenge suggests that we rewrite James Joyce’s Ulysses. I’m on it, so see you in seven years. Wait.
Wait, I don’t mean that you wait seven years! The prompt is actually to write a story set within a single day, like Ulysses. Fine.
I will rework the book, base it on my day and will style it to convey the same impression that attempting to read a few pages of Ulysses gave me. My impression was that of a self-indulgent, neurotic and pretentious piece of text(s) that was never intended to be read by anyone but its author.
Why, no, I have no default reverence for classics only because they are classics. If you’re up to reading a strenuously detailed chronicle of what I’ve been up to today rather than what Joyce’s Leopold Bloom was up to on 16 June 1914, grab a mug like the one (two) below and let’s get down to it.
Slept without sleeping pill. That is, didn’t sleep. Woke up 11:15. Too early. Went back to not sleeping.
Alarm at 12:00 | Cuddle the cat. Feed the cat, give her water, clean the litter. Coffee brewing while bathroom.
Then | Coffee and cigarette no. 1. Yoga. Feels great. Then feels boring. The corpse pose. I can’t even.
Then | Saturday, so vacuuming. Take rubbish to the bin. Check mailbox. Avoid neighbours.
Then | Yogurt drink and cigarette no. 2. Out at the balcony. Fucking freezing.
Then | Reply emails. Cigarette no. 3.
3:14–4:45 | Copywriting. New banknotes in India. Again. Country is a mess. I’m wiped. Cigarette no. 4.
5:00 | Cook. Eat. Try not to sleep. Message beep: Movie tonight @ 8? Hell no. Ok then. Cigarette no. 5.
6:00 | Reply blog comments. Remove chipped nail polish. File nails. Have shower. Lost track of cigarette nos.
8:00 | Movie. Fun. Then boring. Dozing off. When will this end? Oh there’s a cat!
10:11 | Home. Fuck that. Work ahead. Miles to go before I sleep. Robert Frost.
I’m done. Now imagine that someone writes an entire bulky book like this. I mean, incomprehensible to anyone but himself. In this case herself. I’m tempted to annotate the above text for you but that would lose the Joycean charm.
It’s challenging to take part in a challenge when you’ve already taken your challenged part in every challenge. In other words, I’ve already been challenged to everything. In other other words, I’ve already written about everything. This includes today’s stale prompt, which is, If we were having coffee. To exterminate any potential bacteria and fungus in the stale coffee prompt, I’ll be having slivovitz instead.
If we were having slivovitz, I’d be more annoying than usual but that wouldn’t matter because we’d be having slivovitz.
If we were having slivovitz, I’d be complaining about my shitty life and punctuate my rant with the assertion that I’m not complaining. (I am aware of the irony.)
If we were continuing having slivovitz, I’d request that you compliment my hairdo, make-up, glasses, apparel and also my being a badass smartass.
If we were still having slivovitz, I’d produce fifty most recent pictures of my cat and demand that you praise her.
If we were having more slivovitz, I’d recite by heart several poems in several languages only because I can.
If we were having our last slivovitz, I’d reminisce about the communists and cry because a democratic revolution interfered before I could become a pioneer (the communist version of girl scouts).
If we were having slivovitz, we wouldn’t have slivovitz again for a very long time.
I’ve been to a not-date with a fellow patient from the psychiatric ward. (An intriguing premise, right?) His diagnoses include but are not limited to depression, alcoholism and asocial tendencies. (Getting interesting, huh?) I share the same diagnoses, minus alcoholism, plus anxiety. (Gotta have something extra, you know.) Nothing of note happened. (Anticlimactic, I know.)
On my not-date, I had not-coffee. That is, tea. The asocial alcoholic, let’s call him John Doe, had tiny coffee, in which he dipped his biscuit British-style. I ate my biscuit dry and was disappointed that John hasn’t given me his. I’m used to gifts of coffee biscuits from the mental ward because all the patients, on learning these are my faves, would bring me theirs in an attempt to fatten me up. (Didn’t work out.)
John is mildly scary and appreciates my morbid sense of humour. Hence, to start with, I observed that should he wish to drag me in a dark alley and kill me, he can feel free to do so because, being depressed, I wouldn’t be particularly upset to be dead. John didn’t feel like it. So we proceeded to sit in a smokers cafe and discuss the delightful graphic images on cigarette packages, which are probably intended to discourage smokers but which cheer me up.
I neither loved nor hated my not-date. However, as I’m socially isolated, I welcomed the opportunity to socialise, be it with an asocial person or not. My therapeutic programme involves at least one face-to-face social interaction per week, so I was pleased to have fulfilled my duty for the week. That’s how I go about my therapy – I duly do what I’m supposed to, and it does nothing for me, besides a rather weak and short-lasting satisfaction when I cross an item, like social interaction, off my to-do list.