Continuity

Here is the start of a series of small posts about big topics.

Today the topic is continuity, which is currently a challenge for me, as I’m still settling in a new job, a new town, a new landscape, a new social circle. There is very little I bring over from my past setup: a few important objects, some books, my online identities. I am honestly scared about all this. I am heavily influenced by my surroundings and I tend to blend in the environment where I land. The idea of choosing the environment to match my needs sounds weird and even funny to me. I’m relying on the continuity of the new environment, so that I can merge with it and feel like I have been here since the beginning.

In this specific phase, continuity for me means walking the same way to the office, at the same time of the day, optionally listening to the same playlist. It gives me the ability to predict pretty accurately what I will encounter in the next half hour: traffic lights, specific potholes of the road, the trees along the fields, the beginning of the forest, each bend in the road, sometimes the same people, dogs and cars. It feels especially nice when the songs predictably align to landmarks along the way.

This is an example of a continuity I cherish, and even need, in order to be able to arrive in the office and deal with everything less predictable than this. I’m sure that people who know me for many years would tell: “But you moved so many times! You adapted to new environments so quickly!” – which is true, and was possible because I had continuity somewhere else – mostly in my online circles, that I was able to join from wherever I was located. These last years have been so harsh that I was not that active anymore, and this pillar got much weaker, so I got much more sensitive to changes I was bravely handling before.

Currently my continuity are a couple online chats, a handful of songs that I listen on repeat, an even smaller handful of books, my logs, my dear laptop, my phone, my knitting gear – that’s it. I feel almost transparent, but I’m hopeful that I will find more continuity sources soon – especially as the new town is small and there is a lot that naturally stays the same, even just shopkeepers and people at the pub.

That’s all for today! Take care, and hope you are curious about next post 🙂

Goodbye 2021

Hello everyone!

Since my last post in April a LOT of things happened, and each one deserves more than one sentence and a link in this post. Overall, I’m in a significantly better place than six months ago. Still lots of work-in-progress in many domains, but I can say that I have found help and I am cautiously confident about the near future.

Wishing you all a good start in the new year! Take care and stay safe 🙂

On suspense and spoilers

A few weeeks ago I read about the upcoming 36th America’s Cup, with Luna Rossa winning the races up to the final match with Team New Zealand. Back in 2000 I had been watching the competition with great interest, I woke up at 4AM for almost a week to watch the event live (there was basically no other option to see the full event replayed in daytime, and I was not interested in five-minutes-summaries). My first thought was, quite naturally, to do the same, excited to get back to that state of mind. However, I’m not sleeping too well lately, and the time between 4AM and 7AM is usually the most sacred sleep phase. I noticed that when I get up in that interval of time, the body has to cancel some crucial routines and I feel as if I didn’t sleep at all. The event’s website offers the full replay of the races, so there was not so much pressure in getting up that early.

I thought whether I should check the result of the races before watching the replay. I finally decided against suspense and in favour of spoilers. I do that with movies and books – the tension that piles up in my head trying to follow the story, to pick up all relevant information, is acutely uncomfortable. I am sure that other people consider suspense and plot-following the best part of watching a movie, and I assume the authors/directors put in a significant effort in constructing the plot to maximise the quality of the first watching experience; I’m likely built differently, and I struggle a lot to follow stories based on standard social dynamics, especially crime series/novels. I actually prefer to watch a movie several times, to get familiar with the plot, and then put it aside to pay attention to other sides of the work (photography, secondary characters, music, scene changes, views of the writer about things that are not in focus). Same applies to books. But I’m drifting away! To come back to the America’s Cup, knowing who would win made my viewing experience much more enjoyable. Maybe when I’m watching a live event I identify so much with the competitors while being completely powerless to help, that it ruins the moment. Rewatching the event has more of an analytical purpose and I feel allowed to take breaks, rewatch an action to really understand it, spot some tiny detail, enjoy the movement in a purely visual way and then rewatch it to focus on another aspect of the action. Somehow, I get bored only after at least 10 rewatches for single-use content, and for some favorites of mine, never 🙂 I don’t always need new content, on the contrary: I use known content to get into a mood, or a speed of thought, and repetition is necessary instead of boring. What happens to many people only with pop music is touching many more areas of my experience.

Any thoughts about this? Feel free to leave a comment!

Knitting updates

This time there will be mostly pictures and little text 🙂

So let’s begin! My blanket is almost ready, it fits on two circular needles, the lace section is almost over and there are two more skeins left. I don’t know yet how I will block it, because my yoga mat is too narrow, but I’ll find a way:

I started a smaller project with green cotton, a very pretty skein, but I’m not convinced by the progress, the needles could be a bit too large and the shawl-in-progress is somewhat missing structure. I’m tempted to frog it, but I’m almost finished, so mm, any thoughts?

My last and favorite project is a cotton sweater from a craft book printed in 1985, I chose to swap red for taupe and it’s coming out oh so nicely 🙂

I really want to start another pair of socks (most of my stash consists of sock wool – maybe because it’s easy to grab a pretty skein than buy the amount for a pullover?) but I will finish one of those three projects first.

That’s all for now! Until next post, stay safe 🙂

On welcoming inputs

Last night I thought about why I don’t feel entertained by novels and movies anymore, and have trouble listening to the news and sometimes even to everyday conversations. I guess there are many factors at play, and different combinations for each situation; still, there is a leitmotiv in my perception that connects them. I apologise for the somewhat vague title, but this is the best fit I could find.

I have realised at a way earlier point in life that I receive information from the outside world in form of a mix of events that can be explained with laws of nature (in the broadest sense) and the opinions about these events. This seeems so obvious that it’s odd to mention it at all. What I recently realised is that I used to give both of these categories the same attention, the same right to be heard; and that I was listening to any input with full focus, genuine intention to understand it well. Not surprisingly I was good at school and I was regarded as a good listener, but I regularly and increasingly got overwhelmed.

The solution that most have suggested to me is “well, focus on some specific topic, filter the inputs the you get, there will always be too many situations that would need your help anyway, think about yourself first”. I understand , but I manage only to half-heartedly agree with that. I recognise my finite resources and I’m working on acknowledging my own needs, but I have no usable logic for picking up a topic. I guess it has to do with my intention to work on a given issue that I met directly, not on what someone managed to convince me to. I would feel horribly guilty to have followed a good marketing feat and have disregarded a more urgent issue just because it was not as brilliantly presented. I think of many examples of great storytelling that made a legitimately good work in raising attention on some obscure yet important topics, but I have the uneasy thought that there is much more in the shadows that can’t sell itself as effectively, and it would be inhumane to expect it to.

Connected to that, I got the increasingly clear perception of that “listen to me, disregard the others, I’ll make you change how you think or confirm your views” in works of fiction. I started to read books in a different way. Until recently, I was reading to discover new topics and the views of the authors, and use them to build my inner world, changing them as little as possible. What happens now when I pick a novel is that my brain defiantly grabs a notepad and takes notes about what views the authors want to bring forward, tries to find out inconsistencies, reasons to stop reading. Same happens, with more success for the brain, when I watch a movie. I seem not to be able to get into suspension of disbelief, and I see the movie as if I were on the set: I can almost hear the director telling what he/she wants to see the actors doing (which brings its own pleasure, as a behind-the-scenes experience). I can only watch videos and read text where the self-irony or self-observation is so blatant that I’m not expected to approve the narrative or have empathy of any sort. The focus moves to the acting ability, the photography, the use of narrative devices for fun. I can watch the Monty Python’s Flying Circus or the IT Crowd over and over, and I am very wary in watching anything new, even when I get suggestions from friends.

I think there is a lot behind this change in my perception and I’m trying to understand it better. I would be curious if anyone has similar experiences or has hints for further exploration on the topic.

Craft and kitchen updates

Here is a small update of what I knitted, painted and baked recently.

My big blanket project is progressing nicely, the wool is a bit rough but very warm. The rows are getting longer and longer due to increases at the corners, and I will soon add a second circular needle! It was odd to start with the row in the middle of the blanket and then add rows around the sides of the rectangle, but it is working out very well and surprisingly fast.

A few days ago I painted a horse without mixing colours, as if I were adding one puzzle piece at a time. I’m not trusting myself with colour mixing, I suspect that I generally use too much water and paint too fast over areas that are still wet.

And last but not least, my last loaf. Before that I baked buns, but they were gone so fast that I don’t even have a picture of them 😀

Stay safe and healthy, wherever you are!

Finger painting experiment

Hello all, after a longish break from blogging here I am again, this time with a painting technique that I tried out for the first time only recently. Well, maybe not, but I can’t remember if I painted with my fingers during kindergarten years.

The inspiration for this painting is the word “mirror”. I have read about the ability of horses to mirror a person’s feelings and thoughts, so I chose to represent this word with two horses. Furthermore, I painted with both hands at the same time, mirroring their movements. For the final touches I used one hand at once, but always the same hand for the same side of the painting.

I used a A2-size sheet of paper, acrylic paint and a base layer of diluted tapestry glue (it kept the paint moist for long enough to edit any part of the painting at will). The whole process took a bit more than half an hour.

I sort of like the left-side horse better than the right-side one. The shadows have more contrast and make it look like it bends its head towards the other horse, which is a bit more static in pose.

I consider this almost as a screenshot of a thought. If I were to paint it again, I would work more on the planning, blocking proportions, and on the actual process of putting paint more accurately on the paper. This version is almost pure movement, which has its purpose and right, but makes me feel it is not a full thought.

And not last, the feeling of applying paint directly with my hands had something refreshing, daring, and direct, a feeling that I want to savour again. Acrylic paint is not toxic (but always check the instructions on the tubes!) and it washes away pretty easily with warm water and soap.

Till next time, take care and stay healthy!

Bread updates

Lately I had a short break from baking, as I struggled planning the two-day process, and would not fall back to a quicker timing. After two weeks of store-bought bread I resumed baking:

The first batch (three small baguettes) came out crispy and tasty, but I forgot to put salt 🙂 The second large bread was a wonderful mixed flour loaf, that stayed soft for a whole week. And my last batch came out nice too. I guess I will bake buns more often, as the leavening and baking times are significantly shorter than for a loaf.