Jul 26, 2015

LovelyWeekend

This weekend I decided to do something completely unreasonable, stupid - from a financial perspective - and fuck the fact that I've a debt on my credit card I should be working on (as in paying out), and decided - in a rather impromptu manner - to spend the weekend in a rather expensive hotel just because my friend Carrie had a work related activity there, so we could spend her free time together doing what we do best when we are together: watch movies and talk our heads off. It was indeed a wonderful weekend, and though not as full of movies and videos as we would normally have, we do tapped a new source of online videos that gave us lots of material to giggle and to play with for future fics. ^_^

Picture found on google.
In the moments where Carrie had to go to her work stuff, I was simply chilling, taking bubble baths, reading, and goofing around youtube.com. It was in one of these goofing sessions, while jumping from video to video - you know the drill, you start with something quite inoffensive, like "filofax planners" and somehow end up in the channel about 100 ways to braid your hair - I suddenly found myself on the channel of a young Mexican girl who calls herself Miumiku Miau. She?s so lovely and so funny that I immediatelly got hooked on her channel. She talks mainly about make up and wigs - which she's a fan of - and also shows how to do different types of Asian inspired looks.

The search that landed me on her channel was one where I started to jump from video to video about Korean girls either taking off their make up, or putting it on. The thing about both Miumiku and these girls, is that their actual face is completely different from the one they  paint on.

Googled picture.
Videos of women putting on tons of make up to beautify themselves, going from "ugly" to "gorgeous" are quite a thing, and these videos of Korean girls and their radical transformations are something that teases that morbid little bone in you. I mean, really, you actually see in a video, someone become someone completely else. Some videos are even about how these girls' boyfriends react the frst time they see them without make up, which, yes I don't find it so funny.

This whole thing got me thinking about the image we have of ourselves. Back in my days, make up was already invented - hehehehe - and us girls were quite on it. Some of us didn't wear make up because our parents didn't consider it good for us to start wearing make up so early on - though we all sneaked into our mom's make up stash and played with it, practiced - and so though the thing was there, we had a much more conservative use of it. We learned tips and styles from our mothers, sisters, girlfriends, and tried to copy styles from what we saw on magazines and TV. Today's youth has endless online resources to educate themselves in the art of make up, as well as enough material to convince themselves they need it.

In my time, make up was supposed to be a tool to highlight your best features: bring out the color of your eyes, the shape of our mouth, your cheekbones... Yes, it was also a tool to conceal perceived imperfections, but it was more about your actual face and what could you do to bring out your natural features. What goes on today, is nearly a surgical procedure with no scalpel, but al smeared on with coats after coats of make up. Though the videos are entertaining, what are they saying to our girls? Is it true that they are ugly without make up? Is it true that they are born ugly and must cover ther faces with a new one? One you can't possibly be born with? Are we also telling our girls that prolonged use  of make up damages the skin, thus their natural beauty will wilt and die young under the weight of the imposed, artificial face? Are we conscious that we are condemning our girls to a life of always hiding their true faces, made believe that who they truly are is a thing of shame?

Though the videos are funny to watch, and I'm hooked, I think we should tell our girls that their faces are nothing to be ashamed of. Anyone judging them for it, anyone picking them for their make up, rejecting them for their real faces, are as supeficial as make up itself. It's ok to be you, so be you, not your beauty products. After all, you are the one taking you to where you want to be, not your foundaion.

Jul 19, 2015

Stalling

I've been kinda stuck this week, truth to be told. Classes start next week, on Saturday, at the university, and we don't even have the syllabus yet to prepare for it. as a matter of fact, we just got the corrections to last semester's paper, for which we already were given the grade in the most obscure way possible. I would say that I'm not complaining, but I am, and I think I have all the right to do so. I mean, really, how can professors expect any seriousness from students when they themselves clearly practice none?

This second part will be about auditory, and since my knowledge of auditng is quite rusty, I borrowed a book from one of my classmates to get up to date. Of course, ask me if I've read it. No, I haven't. I'm actually lagging on a lot of things, including my penpalling, where I'm oddly stuck on a letter, which I started writing but can't seem to be able to continue. Instead I'm caught reading... that second book from the Millenium trilogy. I'd tell you the title, but I'm reading it in Hungarian, and you know how the title is different in the different languages. I think in English goes with something about the girl and the hornet or something like that. However, now I'm hardly even advancing on that because I'm re-reading a fanfic in order to get through a fic I'm writing. And in the meantime, all piles around me. Hell, why do I do this to myself? Oh well, I'm off to continue reading that fanfic.

Jul 12, 2015

A Matter of Jobs

Early this week an article in the national press - in our financial paper, which is unapologerically right winged - revealed that an important part of young university students (this means those students aged 18 to 29 or so), would rather work in the public sector than the private sector. Does this come as a shock? Well, when you are set on trying to destroy the public sector, and paint it in the darkest of lights, it does. For several decades now, the public sector has been constantly shown as inefficient and dishonest. A rather neoliberal plan had been put in motion where different functions of this sector have been transfered to the private sphere, by cutting budgets to make sure it can be made by public institutions and means, and all the while presenting public employees as overpaid lazy people.Of course, many people have been placed for ages in different areas of the public sector who are, indeed, overpaid, incompetent and lazy.

The image of the private sector has also always been portraid as the one sphere where professionals can really grow, where there are chances and where those who really want a chance can get that chance. For ages now, the private sphere as been positioned as the place where you can be creative, where you can be the best you there is, and where - if you are good enough and work hard enough - you can become rich.

Of course this is all a sham, but it has taken years for people to realize that. Yes, there are lazy, overpaid people in the public sector, but so there are in the private sector. The difference is that in the public sector there's a chance to denounce them, while in the private sector there isn't. Truthfully, each company hires and fires whom they please. There's corruption in the public sector, but there's also in the private sector, with the difference that the same act, which would be a crime in the public sector, in the private is simply business, lobbying, and how things are done. There's no crime in it.

As this has become more and more evident, the new generations start seeing past the propaganda and into palpable, real differences, such as the stability and the better wages paid in the public sector, even to lower levels. CEOs can often be paid much better than the President, and many different bosses can pocket obscenely large amoounts of money, far more than the heads of many public institutions, but when it comes to the lower levels, to the "ants", as a friend of mine refers to us, the public ants can actually make a living from their wages, unlike their private sector counterparts. Public employees have stability, so they can invest in a home, studies and so on, without being afraid that at any moment their contract could be rescinded out of the whim of the company. Yes, because no matter how good you are, truth is that your contract often depends on the plans of the company that don't include you. Restructuring, downsizing, change of business, merger, etc.

In a world so ridden by economical crisis, with fear of default everywhere, freshly minted professionals, seek for something that would give them stability and an income that's enough to keep them afloat. Why wouldn't they? The short term thinking that for so long infected many, those who saw growth in job hopping, those who believed that specializing was death and knowing about everything was the future - thus often falling into the trap of always only knowing things marginally, or filling themselves with shallow knowlegde that would sufice for an introduction, bt not real development - they have been left behind. The future is no longer envisioned in brokering, as the ghost of Jerôme Kerviel still haunts many, and the uncertain plans to become a visionary with a company of one owns goes up in smoke at the sight of the hardships experienced in every market. We don't need to be in Greece or Puerto Rico to feel the strain.

The article tried still to tarnish the public sphere, rubbing under the nose of the reader how this sector was overpaid with "useless" pluses, such as anuality (a plus some public employees receive for each worked year), which is often mocked as "paid only because the Earth took another round around the Sun", ignoring the fact that it actually pays for the accumulated experience employees gain by staying in the given institution and working there, each day inevitably getting to know better the business they deal with. Many do fall for it, but some perhaps ask themselves why some companies are willing to pay bonuses based on how the company did, or give a fix number of shares for each finished cycle, and then many refuse to pay their workers for their loyalty, their staying, their accumulated experience and improved knowledge. Many private companies seem to build on a constantly rotating base of workers, job hoppers that constantly stay in the early stages of the learning curve, and move away before they could become real assets somewhere. It's an expensive strategy for the company, the constant costs of hiring and raining new workers, the costs of the mistakes of the newbies, and the added cost of severing contracts. It's expensive if you think of the money invested in the training that won't be fully reaped as the worker will leave before reaching a full status, where the worker knows the business of the company so well it starts producing more, finding new ways to do things and actually becoming the productive, creative people we've been told they could become.

For the worker also, well, job hopping can be done only for so long, as we all know that after some time, people become less appealing for hiring. Maybe at 20 you find it easier to adapt from one job to the next, but that's not the case when you are 35 or closer to 40. A large jumble of short term experiences might give you a plethora of little cases on a given field, or many given fields, but it will lack the depth needed to actually produce and create something of value. Today's youth maybe can see that, or so I wish to believe. As we have woken up to the decency of equal marriage, maybe we are also waking up to other truths, like there should be no battle between public and private sector, but more transparency, honesty and decency towards workers in every sector. We wake up from the opium dream and realize that jobs are not some hobby or a funky thing to be oportunistic with, to be shallow about, and that the future rests on our shoulders and not on "oh well, something always comes up".

This is a hopeful matter of jobs: we, as a society, are starting to see the light.

Jul 5, 2015

To Get on with Changes

This week I turned 39, on Tuesday. It was quite nice because my coworkers (the ones that work in the same space where I'm located) were so sweet as to get me a cake. And not any cake, but an eggnog cake! Nothing like being older and single and able to enjoy a cake that can get you drunk ^_^. And turning nearly-40 (one more year and I'll be 40!) totally entitles you to get the freaking cake you want and celebrate your birthday exactly as you see it fit. I'm also having today a family-friendly birthday where my nephews pickd up the cake and things are planned around the children, mainly, but given that I already had my real birthday with ethilic cake, sushi and series with my friends, well, I don't mind at all the subdued family-version. It do must be sad for one of my age to only have the family-friendly celebration. I never get tired of thanking my good Fates for making me smart enough to choose the childfree life.

As a new year in my life starts I´m actually feeling motivated to do some changes, live life more fully. I'm already tackling my closet, and thinking that maybe it's about time to downsize the amount of clothes I have (fleeting thought quickly dismissed because, yeah, no!), and rearranging things in it. I just started and there's plenty to do. I aactually had a friend of mine and his girlfriend to take a look at my closet so they redesign it for me, make it more space efficient, so that's on the way, but in the meantime, I have to live my life somehow, don't you think? Then there's this upper part where I keep a freaking lot of stuff. Maybe I could find things there to get rid of, and get myself more space... hmm.

The question of the books is also another that has gotten me thinking quite some. I need to reorder, and some stuff needs to be recycled or something, like the tons of magazines I already read, and need no more. Maybe some files as well. Yeah, maybe that too.

It's kind of amazing how once you've gotten rid of things in your lif, things that really didn't contribute in making your life better you suddenly feel more invigorated, more ready to make your life lighter, more willing to take a closer look to your life and what's in it, what adds to it, what takes from it and what's just taking space.

Well, I gara go now, I've a lot of stuff to organize!

Jun 28, 2015

Stand in the Eye of the Storm

I've been falling off a little on my regular rhythm here. A lot of changes have happened, there have been a lot of things over which to think about, a lot to meditate on, and also a lot of things with which I sumply have to come to terms, accept them as they are.

This week I finished the first of two graduation seminars at the University where I study, with a less-than-satisfactory grade. Less than satisfactory for me, mind you, as I did pass and not with the lowest grade possible. The bar was raised much higher in this class than in others - regarding the grade you needed to pass (normally you pass with a 7 out of 10, but for this class you needed an 8 out of 10), which wasn't told to us  from the begining, but only in the last session with our tutor. Sadly, the actual tuition wasn't matched to these expectations, nor was the actual paramethers of grading any clearer than a picture of the monster of Lake Ness in a foggy night. I did spent a few days mulling over it quite upset, but then again I decided that it wsn't worth my time. Truth to be told, what matters in the end is the diploma I'll get and the knowledge I've gathered, and all the rest is simply "inmaterial" for me. In a weekwe'll be starting he second and last seminar, which will be on auditing. We are supposed to go auditing an enterprise, which will be interesting. I have no idea how people at universities actually think students can so easily find companies that will allow them to peek into their books and get information for school projects. That's just not the way it works.

In this week that passed, I have racked up my debt on my card due to an emergency: my previous laptop - well, my eight years old netbook, Nagi - died on me. He was having a lot of trouble of late, being incredibly slow to open even the simplest of things, like a word file, or a dossier, and then on Monday, it showed the "blue screen of death" as it crashed on Carrie and I while we tried to download some episodes of Hannibal. Nothing else to do, I had to buy myself a new netbook. This one, actually, an 11 inch Toshiba, Björn. I like Björn, but I'm at odds with it as I can't set the Hungarian keyboard on it, and the Latin American one (which I haven't used in ages now) is driving me insane. Choosing Björn was actually a long process in which I requested Carrie's expertise in computers. My only requirement at first was to get a 10 inch netbook, and not in an off color. However Carrie convinced me to look at other stuff like hard drive space - ok, I was considering that one too - RAM, and the processor's MHz measurement. Thus, after a long chase, and me outruling everything of 12 inches and I, I allowed myself to be convinced to choose an 11 inch netbook. I honestly consider it a commitment, because I do want something I can put easily in my bag and also something that fits in the folding table of a plane.

Setting Björn to work wasn't an easy task either, as Björn can't get on the internet with a cable, so you have to deal with in entirely on wireless connection, and have you tried to install Office with a wireless connection? It took me over nine hours to get it on with the trial version! I do bought a Home&Student Office - one of those perennial packs, because I'm not into paying loads for yearly licenses - but if I have the chance to get a trial, why not profit from it?

Anyway, this is how things are currently. Björn isn't as fast as I expected him to be, but it's ok, and I'm much happier now, feeling safe about my documents, knowing things won't just get up in smoke and disappear from my computer when I most need it.

I've now a couple of days of calm before the new seminar starts. I'm getting ahead with my letters and also took the chance to start reading "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" in Hungarian. These days of peace and quite should be savored. However, a damp spot just fell upon these perfect days yesterday, as my cat Hyperion came home in a pretty bad shape. He was salivating a lot and acting a bt strange, unable to walk well and generally looking bad. As we could, we took him to the vet, not knowing what had happened to him, whether he was poisoned or not. He started getting more and more aggressive until he was just crazy out of it. The vet said he was completely disoriented and couldn't recognize anyone. He was in such a defensive, out of his wits state that it was impossible to try and treat him, even after being shot with diazepam. The vet said he wasn't poisoned, but he suspects he had been hit hard and that the blow may have affected his brain, due to which he couldn't recognize anyone, making him rather dangerous. He has been kept at the vet over night, and today we will be told if there's any hope for him or if he shall be put to sleep. It´s kind of awful trying to imagine life without Hyperion. We have other two cats, but Hyperion was, really, like a ray of light, the one that made stuff more colorful around.

We now must wait.

Jun 21, 2015

Blessed Litha!

Today is Litha in the Pagan calendar, and that makes today the longest day of the year. Most of sunshine, I believe, but not here, since it's all dark and rainy in here. So, though the day is clouded, it's still the year's longest day, the one with most light. What do we learn of it? For me, Litha represents work, the hard work you do to get what you want. It's all that commitment, effort that goes into making your dreams come true. Also, on its own, this hard work isn't just a chore, but a joy in itself. Yeah, yeah, that sounds a little like those religious preachings about how sacrifice is a joy and yadda-yadda-yadda, but hear me out (though I have probably said this a million times just on this blog), hard work is - well - hard (it wouldn't be hard work otherwise, duh!), and though it isn't always joyful, there's a certain satisfaction you get when you are doing it, because you are doing it. Like when you are at the gym and you push through your routine, and though your goal is to improve your body, when you manage to nail some movements, or like in yoga, when after some weeks (or months, depends on your body) you manage to do that position that seemed so freaking hard.

A rainy Litha says to me that even though things might seem gloom, the joy of the effort is still there. So, it's still the longest day of the year, it's still the one with the most of light. What I take from this day is that circumstances shouldn't stop you. Things will happen and will pass, but what you do, the effort you make to make your dreams reality, in spite of all that piles against it, it's what matters. I think today is a wonderful, wonderful day for Litha... and an awesome rainy day for staying at home and curl up with a book and a hot cocoa. :-)

Jun 19, 2015

Reclaiming Freedom

Freedom, now that I enjoy it again, is so big around me! It's endless and suddenly I want to go wild and dive into all of it! Maybe I wasn't shackled before, but I often did feel that way. Little freedoms I wanted, I craved and yet I passed on because of a commitment I made, a requierment I didn't believe in, but which was expected from me - in an outspoken way - in order to make something else. Well, every sort of contract or community requieres members to fulfill requirements, so naturally, believing in the project, I gave up freedoms that may not be essential for my daily life, but which have always made me feel powerful. The restrain to that power, the cutting off of that freedom - though I voluntarily put a halt to it - made me resentful every time.

There was no happiness in saying "I resisted that", but rather always bile and anger and desire to hurt along with the thought "I'll murder you because of your insecurity I had to turn that down". It was never a pleasant feeling, it was never something that made me feel good in any way. Yes, I can feel good through restriction, like when I keep my diet, or I hold up on some fun in order to study or something like that, but there are freedoms, simple freedoms that are far more embedded in my that I thought I first. Freedoms I now recognize as galvanized into me, that maybe do not make me who I am, but are a reflection of the person I am: a free and independent person who chooses to live outside the "traditional norm", the social construction in some things, picking here and there, at will, the elements that make her life regardless of what others expect from people.

There's beauty in reclaiming back yourself, your whole self, your freedom, your independence, and that should always be defended.

Freedom extends huge around me, larger than the wings of eagles and angels, more obicuitous than air and land, far more precious than anything. It's overwhelming, teasing and wonderful and I stand here, before I make any moves, before I rush into it and gobble it all up, I stand here and watch and marvel and think: this is were I belong, this is what makes me happy.