Second-World Alternatives to First-World Products

Second-World Alternatives to First-World Products

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.

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Congrats! There’s a railway in your place!

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.)

 

 

The Joys of Being the Janitor

The Joys of Being the Janitor

I’ve complained earlier of having been unanimously by one out of one vote appointed the concierge. I’m still hating it, faithful to my principle of hating everything and everyone.

A more appropriate word for concierge is the janitor, which is an all-in-one function, rolling into a single person an administrator, an electrician, a plumber and a cleaner, among other things. No qualifications are required because other people don’t know what they’re doing either anyway.

On a Friday morning, I woke up to the sound of water gurgling more angrily than usual in the radiators. That means one thing. I gotta go down to the boiler room and pressurise the boiler. I duly did. The water stopped splashing and I was pleased with myself, thinking how nicely I fixed it.

An hour later I noticed the radiators stopped heating altogether. Also, there was no hot water. Oops. So back to the cellar I descend to examine. The meter shows the whopping pressure of zero. Hmm. I move a few handles tentatively, waiting for something to magically happen. After another hour I break and call the actual plumber.

He’s pretty displeased because it’s Friday and people don’t expect to work on a Friday, unless they’re freelancers, like me, who work 24/7 and rest only when they’re interned in the psych ward with acute overwork. The plumber came and scolded me for clearly not knowing how to pressurise the boiler properly. Dear plumber, I’m a fucking doctor of literature, of course I don’t know how to treat a boiler, but I did exactly what you showed me to do to it, okay?

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An irrelevant image enhancing the horror mood of the post

The plumber started repressurising. It was taking forever and the pressure refused to climb. I guess it was feeling lazy. See above for nobody works on a Friday. The plumber says, That’s weird, it’s like the water is disappearing. I scream internally. I don’t believe in magic disappearances. I say, What do you mean, disappearing, like leaking? The plumber confirms. I’m trying to wrap my mind around it as the plumber sends me out to check all the flats  in the building for radiator leaks.

I don’t get too far. There’s the sound of a waterfall in the cellar next to the boiler room. Properly freaked out, I throw the door open and step in a pool of water as I’m reaching for the light switch. There’s a hole in the ceiling and a thick stream is pouring down from it. I scream literally. The plumber rushes to see if I saw a ghost or what and whistles appreciatively, as he observes the make-shift waterfall. The building has just upgraded to a swimming pool.

What’s above here, the plumber gestures up, clearly delighted to have a little excitement to spice up his dull shift. That would be my flat, I say. Alright, let’s see your flat then, the plumber suggests. My flat is all clear, which is good news, the plumber offers, as he notices my white face. There’s no fucking good news when there’s a fucking hole in the fucking cellar ceiling!! It’s like comforting a dying guy with telling him that at least, when he’s dead, he won’t have to pay health insurance.

What’s next to you, the plumber inquires. An empty bar, I say. We pay a visit there and the plumber is insensitively cheerful to see it flooded. Here you go, he shouts enthusiastically, that’s your leak! I remain quiet and catatonic. The plumber sends me back to my flat to take a Lexaurin and sets off to fetch his mates, so they could have some fun too.

The leak turned out to have been caused by an exploded radiator, which some dumbass didn’t shut down properly and which burst with excitement when the outside temperature dropped too low. I was relieved that I didn’t break the boiler but spent the rest of the day trying to sweep the water from the flooded areas. It was like, uh, sweeping water. Being a janitor is a great job. Not.

Getting Tattoo Number Three

Getting Tattoo Number Three

The other day I saw a wonderfully fitting comics, which I can’t be bothered locating again, so I’ll retell it without pictures:

Getting the first tattoo: Oh, it must be something deep and meaningful!
Next tattoos: A unicorn? Sure, I like unicorns!

(I don’t personally like unicorns, as you might remember from my old blog tagline, which said that I’d feed any unicorn in my proximity to my cat or, even better, sell it on eBay.)

Currently on tattoo number three, I didn’t attempt to invent anything deeply meaningful and entirely new because, duh, you can’t do that, everything’s been here already. Also, we’re all going to die anyway (that’s my deep personal motto) and a permanent tattoo is about as permanent as life. Which is, not much. So I just ripped a prefabricated design I liked off the internet. Shrug.

Since I’m a self-declared Buddhist, I picked what’s called the ensō, a hand-drawn circle achieved by a single stroke of the brush. It’s symbolic of Zen or anything you want, really. The image that I brought to the tattoo artist was computer-made, but the guy turned out to be less incompetent than I’d feared and suggested he’d do it for me with an actual brush. Hey, so I ended up with a unique pattern after all!

My appointment for the deed was at 8 AM. What the actual fuck. I don’t normally get up until noon, so this was an act of torture. I walked in the studio zombie-like and proceeded to undress with machine-like movements (not to undress completely, just partially, because I’d freeze to death, duh). As the man prepped his junk (no innuendo intended) and switched on the tattoo machine, the device started to make sounds like the dentist’s drill and I freaked out. (I’m terrified of the dentist.) I may or may have not yelled:

Aw, fuck, I should’ve taken Lexaurin before THIS!

The man made me promise I won’t swear at him dirty, which I did (promise), and I also promised that I’d just cry quietly and that he needn’t mind me. Besides dentists, I’m terrified of pain, which, it turns out, is entirely idiotic and superstitious because during the one-hour tattooing session, I didn’t experience worse than gentle discomfort (only as the needle hit the collar bone—I’m having this circle shit circling my shoulder cap) and it was just nice, wholesome physical pain, which is laughable when compared to the stuff I deal with courtesy of my depression slash anxiety.

I had a lovely chat with the tattoo guy though. What a social occasion for me who doesn’t have a life! The man turned out, surprisingly, to be able to digest my very black and mean humour, which I rarely encounter in people (or in animals, I suppose). So, I seated myself in a comfortable cross-legged meditation seat, ready to go:

He asks: Uh, how long do you think you can sit like this?
Me: Uh, hours on end, I guess?

Please note that I’m a girl and a yogi girl, and hence it’s totally normal for me to sit cross-legged. It’s the best because I don’t topple when I have the extra support of the crossed legs.

On this note, the tattoo man was quite trusting and didn’t seem to mind that I had my knee in his crotch half of the time. No one got hurt though, I mean, except my shoulder, apparently, which didn’t even hurt. Some way into it, I started to doze off. Yawn. I really should be sleeping:

You okay? asks the tattoo guy.
Yeah. Just bored. I retort.

On which he offers me the tattoo machine:

Wanna try it?

I’m considering it. But:

Nah, I’m good. Wake me up when you’re done

In case you’re dozing off reading this, yawn, let me conclude that all seemed to go well, I love the result, and since I had such a good time, I’ll be coming again. As to a picture of the result, I didn’t take a good one when the tattoo was fresh, and now it’s not a good time, since it’s healing and peeling and whatnot. But I assume you can imagine a circle around the shoulder, right? Also, an afterthought: the priceless response of my friend, whom I bragged and who isn’t into tattoos:

But won’t that show too much in summer? 

Hmm. That’s sort of the idea, no?

So I Was Trying to Cook…

So I Was Trying to Cook…

I cook every day. Still, I’m even worse than the worst cook ever. In cooking, I follow strict principles:

  • the dish must not require more than two ingredients
  • no more than two pots and one piece of kitchen utensil are allowed
  • it has to be done in under ten minutes

I usually end up with cooked frozen veggies and tofu.

I was feeling ambitious today, though, so I procured exotic ingredients to produce a shockingly complex meal. An omelette.

It involved eggs, bacon and onion. (This breaks the rule of maximum two ingredients.) It took half an hour to make. (This breaks the ten-minutes-tops rule.) I had to dust off a plethora of kitchen utensils I own just so but never use. (This breaks the two pots/utensils rule.)

In short, I wasn’t recognising myself. I forgive myself though for I did not know what I was doing. (Literally.)

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Guess what! An omelette.

I needed to Google the recipe. Why, no, I don’t really know how to make an omelette. The recipe called for a pan, but fuck that, I don’t keep such devilish devices at home. So a pot it is instead. The instructions demanded that I beat the eggs. What? I’m pacifist, I don’t beat anything. I compromised though and massaged the eggs for a bit in a mug with a fork. That’ll do.

I was also peeling and cutting an onion. I couldn’t believe what was happening. It was seriously surreal. Onions might be nice, but they’re optional and I don’t remember ever going for the option. (It goes against all that my minimalist cooking code represents.) I was trying to make small cubes from half an onion, alas, I somehow ended up with thick crescent-shaped slices. Whatever.

I vaguely remembered from my random observations of people cooking that you put the onion in first. Which I did. It well quite well to start with. Then I put in the bacon and poured the eggs over it. Only then did I attempt to add salt and pepper, which turned out to be a bit late because it didn’t mix. Oh well.

I proceeded to hypnotise the pot and wait.

The recipe claimed the omelette is ready when the top gets crusty. The top refused to do such a thing and while I was willing to wait for it, I was increasingly disturbed by the smell of something burning that started to emanate from the pot. I tentatively poked the work in progress and found that it got stuck to the pot. *shrug* I peeled it off and discovered the omelette’s bottom is burnt and the top is raw. Interesting.

It tasted better than it looked but you’d better not try this at home.

Making the World a Better Place

Making the World a Better Place

Because that’s what you say in tech, right?

I’ve always wanted to be a software tester. (Always means ever since I got sense and shifted my flaming passion for Scottish Literature—why, yes, Scotland has a literature—to all things tech. After all, it is a truth universally acknowledged that code is poetry.) If you’re, like me, deeply in love with WordPress and testing, I have a secret to tell you. You can totally test WordPress! Check out WP Horizon testing environment! (This so deserves exclamation marks in two consecutive sentences.)

That’s however not how I got to be a WP tester myself. (No, I’m not really a WP tester, but I had a go at it, twice!—another excited exclamation mark.) A few days ago I received an email from WP offering me to take for a test drive a new commenting interface. I nearly spammed the message (because, hello, if it’s too good to be true, then it must be spam). Then I googled the sender, who actually appeared to be WP staff. (Either that, or I’m the victim of a conspiracy scheme. Or I’m just paranoid.)

I replied not at my earliest convenience, not even ASAP, but immediately. I jumped at the opportunity, obviously, and reserved my slot for a video call straight away. Another day, I found another email from WP in my inbox. It was an invitation to do user testing of WP’s new editor. (Yep. That’s how popular I am.) I tried to act casual. It didn’t work out because I replied in the affirmative (What’s more than affirmative? Superlative?) and hastily signed up for a slot for another video call. (Whew!)

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WordPress swag ❤

I got instructions that I didn’t need to prepare for the testing in any way. So I took a day off to prepare for the testing. (Yes, I know.) On D day, as the H hour was approaching, I started to panic. For no good reason, but try telling that to my anxiety. I ended up medicating. (Perfectly legit and prescription sanctioned.) Shaking just a bit, as the Lexaurin was starting to take effect, I opened the link for the video call as my clock struck five. (Kidding, I don’t have a clock, this is the 21st century.)

A youngish good-lookish male face popped up on my screen (the youngish good-lookish guy would surely prefer not to be named here and I can’t vouch for the youngish and good-lookish part because the picture was small and blurry). But, that was a reason to panic. I know what a video call is but it didn’t occur to me that we’d be exchanging faces. I thought we’d be exchanging screens (screen is not an euphemism). Damn it. Seriously. I wasn’t presentable. I was wearing pants, but a hairband and no make-up isn’t presentable. (Of course that no one cares, but I do. Full stop.)

For convenience, let me call the youngish and good-lookish guy GOD. (At the uni, I’d idolise professors, now I idolise tech people, so GOD it is.)  God spoke to me: I can’t see you. I talk back: It’s a good thing you can’t (not what I said). Of course God can’t see me, I have my camera covered for paranoia security reasons. (Also, I didn’t switch on the video function in the app—duh.)

After initial ice-breakers (Hello, I’m God and I am who I am. — Hello, I’m Mara and I don’t have a life and you’re the first person I’m speaking to in days, so please excuse my, uh, everything.), we got down to the testing. I opened the new commenting interface and went aww. Seriously, guys, it’s pretty and practical and when I love it, you’ll love it too. I wouldn’t bother praising something I don’t adore.

I was being extremely helpful. Such as: Oh, the Spam icon is the same red colour as the Bin icon, and I’m not sure how I feel about that. On which I went to my desktop to check what colour my Windows bin is, and it was grey. God, shall we make the bin grey, pretty please? I got an hour to play around with the new interface. According to God, it should roll out in a few weeks. Also, I was granted permission to blog about it because it’s apparently not secret. (Unless it is, and I’m an Edward Snowden.)

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Packed with Jetpack

The testing was awesome and thoroughly enjoyable. I even got excited. (I never get excited unless there are kittens involved.) I was so excited I could hardly talk. You’d never believe they gave me a doctorate in English Literature if you heard me struggling with conditionals and spontaneously constructing new, never heard-of tenses at the spot. (*shrug*) At the end, I was asked for some general feedback on WP. I complained that with my second-world earnings, the cost of the paid plans is a small fortune. (Another greatly helpful feedback. Not.)

We said goodbyes. And God will never know I’m pretty. (Does one qualify as pretty when one is only pretty when made-up and dressed-up?) Anyway.

Cut. Enters God2. That’s the nickname for the other youngish and good-lookish WP guy whom I had a video session with. This testing was about the new editor. (But really, it was all about me. Better than therapy.) God2 says that he isn’t testing me and that there aren’t right and wrong answers. I say: Sure. (And I think: Sure, that’s what you say, but I’m prepared, and I start: “WP was founded in 2003 by Matt Mullenweg and is currently running on more than 60 million websites etc. etc.” Because I’m a Wikipedia.)

To start off on the right foot, I immediately offend God2’s professional pride by confessing how I disapprove of the new editor. However, I blame myself. (I’m not sure why but I say so, and that’s enough.) God2 is visibly upset and blames himself. On which I’m sincerely sorry, from the depth of my cold black heart, and I mention kittens. Not related to anything whatsoever, but kittens! God2 cheers up because he has three of them. Kittens. I cheer up because he’s a cat gentleman (the male mutation of a cat lady).

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I have a rainbow WP sticker and the cat isn’t impressed

I beg God2 to outlaw hamburger menus and toggle options. Because I WANT TO SEE IT ALL. At once. That’s how greedy I am. In exchange, I promise God2 that I will give the new editor yet another chance. I mean it. For God2’s sake, I’m writing this in the new editor! Also, to give the impression that I’m knowledgeable (and to pass the test which isn’t a test but it is), I throw around random terms: Calypso. Framework. CMS. target_blank. White screen of death (no, seriously, that’s a thing!).

I wanted to conclude with something deep and important but I forgot what. Instead, I’d like to thank everyone involved, that is, WP staff, particularly God1 and God2, my laptop Lena and myself, who collectively made all this possible. Also, I’d like to thank my cat (who makes the world a better place too). The testing opportunity was a geek girl’s dream come true. So you know, WP people are really trying to do their job, as I’ve seen for myself. Let’s gloat in that. Here’s to WordPress (*raises her mug of generic brand coffee*)!

My Cat Is Trying to Kill Me in Unexpected Ways

My Cat Is Trying to Kill Me in Unexpected Ways

Cats are generally deemed to be plotting the early demise of their owners. I don’t think they have it well thought-through because procuring a new owner might present a problem. It doesn’t make sense for the cat to dispose of the human, unless the cat wants to feast on the dead body. But cats don’t make sense. Neither does mine, however, she is not be underestimated. She doesn’t simply plot to murder me, she also actually acts on her murderous intentions. Her schemes for getting rid of me are extremely clever. You’d never expect that, especially if you believe that your cat is dumb.

There’s murder in her squinty look

Method #1: Death by Starvation

I avoid conflicts at all costs and my cat knows it. Anytime I’m preparing myself a meal, the cat acts like a drama queen. She makes as if she wants my veggies, tofu or soy. She doesn’t actually want any of these things. The only thing she eats is dry food and the gravy from meat pouches. Not the meat, she chose to be vegan. So, I always prepare food with the cat meowing like I’m murdering her and making me feel guilty. The cat places her hopes in my inclination to avoid guilt and conflict and expects me to stop making myself meals, hence dying of starvation.

Method #2: Death by Stroke

My cat scares the shit out of me. That’s her thing. Not only does she creep on me, disappears and then reappears at a spot where she absolutely couldn’t have got herself in the split second that it takes. She also haunts me when I sleep. She recently undertook to climb on the cushions next to my pillow in bed. So when I wake up, she’s hovering over my face, very close and very big. Her other move is to position herself at my nightstand and wait for me to turn my head when I’m reaching for my phone. It’s pretty scary to look up the first thing in the morning and see the cat triumphantly towering above me.

Method #3: Death by Assault

My cat is a living assault weapon. It’s not just the usual love bites and scratches which I incur when I show as little sense as to touch her when she’s in play mode. Cats have a somewhat violent idea of what constitutes play. When my cat has the crazies, she runs around like crazy (hence crazies), jumps like a bunny and basically walks on walls and the ceiling. She also waits in ambush behind the fridge for me to walk by and then jumps at me. This is normally okay because she bounces off, but the other day she hit my shin. The impact was surprisingly painful. I guess she graduated to aggravated assault.

You Need to Know What I’ve Been Up To

You Need to Know What I’ve Been Up To

I’m so kidding. First, you naturally don’t need to know what I’ve been up to, and second, I haven’t even been up to anything in particular. The following uneventful events have happened:

  • I can now break down an AR45. This is ironic because I’m pacifist. I learned this very dubious skill when translating a manual on how to disassemble an AR45. Of course, in an ideal world, I’d never be translating this because I don’t have a clue about the subject. Also, in an ideal world, I’d reject this job on moral grounds. In the real world, though, my bills don’t give a shit about my high moral ground. Shoot me.
  • I’ve been freezing my ass offLiterally. I probably shouldn’t wear thongs in winter. I don’t mean flip flops. But I want to have nice panties in case of my sudden decease. I’ve already drafted a parting note saying, I told you so. I’ve set up a heater next to my heater (see picture) and keep both at full blast. The mounted heater on the wall isn’t heating, bastard, because it’s probably broken and I’m too anxious to call service. Serve me right.
Double heating
  • I can’t remember when I last left the flat. I haven’t been out forever. Partly because of anxiety (when in doubt, blame it on anxiety) and partly because of the fucking freezing rainy weather. I’ve crafted a voodoo doll of the weatherman and use it as a pincushion. The weather forecast keeps on forecasting mayhem for in(de)finitely.
  • I’ve been getting high on sleeping pills. A sleeping pill is probably not your first go-to option for getting high. It works wondrously for me though. I carelessly took the pill before my evening bathroom routine instead of after, and while I was swaying around so I could hardly find the bed, I had such a great laugh. Don’t ask me what I was laughing at. Probably myself. I’m hilarious, right?
Unhelpful Conversations with Myself

Unhelpful Conversations with Myself

I have a number of selves. It doesn’t particularly bother me but my psych says something about mixed personality disorder. As long as he is pleased with himself—I guess it’s his job to call me names.

He calls me the wrong names though. I’d expect more of an educated person. He insists on addressing me with my academic title, except, as most people, he gets it as mixed up as my personality disorder. Once for all, an MA title is lesser then a PhD title and the correct address is a fucking doctor, not master (the prefacing four-letter word is optional).

I would never admit it to my psychiatrist (lest he should come up with an extra diagnosis for it), but two of my selves  regularly engage in passive-aggressive arguments. My emotional self oftentimes seeks help from my rational self, and my rational self is being a jerk (so is my emotional self). Examples below an irrelevant picture.

This thistle is irrelevant. Just like me.

Emotional self: I’m freezing.
Rational self: Wrap up.
Emotional self: But I’m freezing!
Rational self: What exactly do you want from me?
Emotional self: Help. And a kitten.
Rational self: Stop wasting my time!
Emotional self: I hate you!

Emotional self: I’m feeling exhausted.
Rational self: You’re not. It’s psychosomatic.
Emotional self: Don’t dare tell me how I’m feeling! My therapist says all feelings are valid.
Rational self: I’m just saying your valid feelings are psychosomatic.
Emotional self: Shut up.

Emotional self: I can’t focus.
Rational self: So focus.
Emotional self: But I don’t want to.
Rational self: Irrelevant.
Emotional self: I want to die.

How to Take the Worst Photos Ever

How to Take the Worst Photos Ever

I specialise at taking bad photos. Scratch it. I specialise at taking the worst photos ever. Since the internet is full of how-to articles on taking better photos, I thought I’d contribute with my valuable experience of how to take worse photos. And since I recently blogged an anti-recipe, let’s continue with an anti-manual.

Taking photos that suck something fierce is an art, like everything else. You’ll need to practise it to perfect your skills—but remember that the practice for crappy photo skills consists in taking pictures as little and as far apart as possible. The next you’ll need is to equip yourself with the appropriate gear (the cheaper the better) and to follow a few principles, listed below.

Gear for the Worst Results

Use your phone camera. If you own an iPhone, give it away to that homeless guy at the corner. If you’re serious about worsening your photo skills, you can’t hope to achieve it with an Apple device. Get the cheapest generic brand phone that is available to you. Make sure to treat it poorly. An important warning: never clean the phone lens! When you get your lens soiled and keep it that way, you’ll be always taking dirty photos. Cool trick, right?

Suitable Subjects

Forget about sweeping panoramas and people portraits. These are unsuitable subjects for a photographer who seriously sucks. Pick as lowly subjects as possible: a manhole, a candy wrapper in the gutter, a supermarket floor. Advanced students of the art of shockingly bad photography may proceed to selfies. Be careful though, your selfie must never contain a face! Aim at your feet, hands or crotch. For illustrations of the appropriate method, see examples above.

Post-production

Cancel your subscription to Photoshop. Forget about Lightroom. Forget about any post-production at all. Your astonishingly bad photos must be presented as-is, #nofilter. Crooked horizons and tilted walls are highly desirable. Once you master the skill of snaps that suck, you’ll be able never to take a straight picture in your life again. If you publish your work on Instagram, don’t forget the elite tags: #random #whatever #icanteven. Happy shooting!

Shit I Carry in My Handbag

Shit I Carry in My Handbag

I used the word shit in the post title. I wonder if there will be repercussions. Will I get reported as a threat to society? I’m terrified so say anything these days because I never know what I’m allowed to say to keep it politically correct, gender neutral, family friendly and whatnot. But when thinking of pretty much anything in life, the only word that comes to mind is shit (also, crap, but that doesn’t solve the problem).

I’m currently prepping for a school reunion tomorrow, where I don’t want to go but socialising is good for my mental health (I don’t think so, but my psychiatrist does). It’s a one-day trip, I’ll be home for the night (unless I get mugged and murdered), so I’m putting just a few basic things in my handbag. When I contemplate my labour, I’m thinking, Shit, (here it goes again) I have some baggage (my psychiatrist agrees).

My trademark crotch selfie

Here’s the setup of my handbag, minimum requirements, but the handbag is still more of a hand-carried backpack than a ladies’ purse.

  • Several open tissue packs (sometimes I try to consolidate the packages into one, inevitably tear the wrapping and end up crying over it, ultimately using the tissues right away).
  • Lipstick, lip gloss and lip balm (I have a serious addiction to lip balm, jokes aside, I urgently need to reapply it at least once an hour. It’s probably a nervous tic.).
  • A cute white and red pocket mirror (let’s gloss over the fact that it was a freebie from my preferred tampon brand).
  • Phone, earbuds, wallet (the size of a handbag of its own), keys on a ring (some of the keys I carry around solely as talismans because I have no idea what they open).
  • A book to feel good about myself (which will never be open even on public transport because, duh, I have mobile data to keep me entertained).
  • A bottle of water, a flask of slivovitz in winter (drink or freeze, I’d rather be drunk than frozen, much more pleasant).
  • Cigarettes, lighter, a spare lighter (seriously; also, smoking kills—ultimately—which is a disadvantage it shares with life).
  • Cleaning cloth for my glasses, hand sanitiser, hand cream in winter (my hands are just as dry as my lips, and both are just as dry as my creative juices).
  • Lexaurin in case I get an anxiety attack and think I’m dying (which I,  in the last analysis, am since I’ve been born).
  • Umbrella (even in winter because I bloody hate the cold white shit of snow in my hair and a cap doesn’t come in question because I do my hair with care and won’t have it messed up).

I hope I have packed all I need. Now please excuse me, I need to reapply my lip balm, go paint my nails and otherwise make myself presentable so my schoolmates think I have my shit together (both I and my psychiatrist disagree).