New year, Old habits.

We interrupt your New Year’s resolution with a horrid statement: time is an illusion. 😮

Let’s say my NY resolution is to reach a new level in my romance zone – the switch from British to French boys should evolve to a new zip code and personality trait. But you can’t reset what you feel as easily as you mechanically reset a machine (rumour has it machines will soon start feeling as well so maybe this is not the most accurate comparison but at the same time hey the future is near A.I. will take over aaaaahhhhhh we’re getting distracted).

New Years’ and birthdays, things I’ve always been ambivalent to. Call me a hater or a sad person that doesn’t want to celebrate the privilege of being born and experiencing the passing of time.

Standing on the cold tile of my new flat’s balcony and watching the fading of a sunset sky, I contemplated the ephemeral nature of time. As I was gazing in the distance, the colours played in rosey gradients, reconstructing the glass and concrete silhouettes that gave shape to a modern skyline. The contour of the mountains in the background turned darker and darker, along with the minutes floating into the evening.

I became aware of time.

Barcelona sunsets, sunsets in Barcelona

It’s a strange feeling, that moment. Being so present makes you oblivious to how time moves with you. A 15 minute change in environment felt like an eternal second. It made me ponder on how humanity started defining temporal concepts in order to make sense of the greatest aspects of our lives: time.

We categorize and think about it ‘all the time’ – we’re running out of it, we have too much of it, we think too much of either what was or what will be, and our perception of its flow is constantly changing depending on the activity that we’re doing. Hours turn into days and days turn into seconds.

The only way is forward and we can’t undo what’s already been done – this is basic, common knowledge, yet we ‘always’ seem to forget. I like to believe that I stopped thinking about the past as much, but how can it be possible when I keep longing for certain aspects of it to be part of my present and future?

No one wants the entirety of the past assaulting us at every thought, yet the past is what represents us best and it’s why we’re so attached to it. Without it, we would not be able to communicate, have personality traits, be… us, with our individualism and uniqueness, differentiating us from the others. As you grow up, you evolve and take in experiences that ‘make you’. The past ‘makes’ us. We ‘make’ the future. The present’s just chilling in the corner.

We keep track of time to assess how much the past has changed us and how much we shall evolve in the future. We want to assess how meaningful our lives are by analyzing our mistakes and setting positive goals for the future. What a great year 2018 was, let 2019 be even better! And for some reason we keep forgetting that there’s today as well.

I think setting resolutions and being self-aware is the bread and butter of a good breakfast – sorry, I meant living a life that won’t make your mind swirl around in circles with regards to life’s meaning and the philosophical disposition of being. The problem is that we don’t keep track of time to know who we are in this exact moment, right now.

Far back in history, people used to follow the sun: it was the arbiter of the flow of time. Nowadays, society forgot about the sun – it’s too busy burying its nose deep in some phone clocks or expensive wrist watches. In the 16th Century, Galileo measured motions using his pulse. Today, we’re barely aware of our heartbeat unless it’s under stress and sending our brain terrified signals to… feel.

The time you do something doesn’t have to be in 2019 or 2024 and it doesn’t have to be about things you could’ve done or could do. The time to make a change is now. The moment you’re present is when you’re actually experiencing time. Now is the only moment you’ll ever have. Now is the moment to change, evolve, create, explore, become the best version of yourself, as you want it to be.

So, my 2019 resolution for us all is the following: don’t wait in order to effect change – especially since, from an environmental point of view, we only have a decade left to set things right. Be conscious of your thoughts, your body, your voice. Listen. Do things at your own pace and set goals based on your own perception of time and ambition, without the pressure of the outside world or societal organizations of time – well, don’t come to work at 12 p.m just cause you’re not taking standard clocks into consideration anymore.

But, most importantly, start now. Live now. Be now.

Titles are just endless distractions

The sound of typing.

Do you know that feeling when you want to start something but then get caught up in the process leading up to that something and never manage to actually do what you had planned? I’m sure you’ve been through this.

For example, I’ve been meaning to write a blog post since publishing the previous one. And I always want to keep on writing after having finished a piece. Yet somehow… I end up not doing it. Again. It seems to me that I only sit down and properly contemplate once in a few months. Why is that? Is it because only once in a few months certain events happen in my life and I feel inspired to write, express, comfort myself? Is it because only then I get the time, the mood, the inspiration? I don’t know how to answer these questions, and it’s definitely not relevant to what I’m about to say. But, I feel like I needed an excuse, an apology. To you, dear reader, but mostly… to myself.

#sodramatic #longlivethehashtagsforenlighteningthemood

I spent the past hour looking for a good writing tool that would inspire me to keep focused once I get cracking. I ran several tests, and after finding the one, here I am (gotta say Scrivener is kinda cool). But I still procrastinate. I noticed this when I work as well. I do something important for a few minutes, then automatically check my phone for social media or any other distraction that will help my mind breathe after all those 5 mins of hard work. I get distracted when I watch a movie, or am at the gym, in the metro, and so on. My attention span is getting shorter and shorter, and the number of articles that I read (or try to) and videos that I watch (while browsing on my phone at the same time) confirm that most people nowadays do the same. No wonder that due to our shortened attention spans, we no longer have the time or focus to reflect on someone else’s

Hey. Trying to prove a point here. Got distracted for a bit.

I’m sure everyone’s read at least an article on how we don’t have the patience, focus, and determination ‘we used to’. We’re growing impatient while walking on the street, when we’re tired, hungry,  waiting in line, for a text, anything… We’re especially impatient when we are out of our comfort zone. We pay less attention to books, hobbies, people. We don’t have time to commit. We need to focus on ourselves, on our careers, our future, but let’s not forget the past, and maybe it’s better to live in the present and I think that

Oh, time. Thyme? We got distracted again.

It’s because my phone keeps wanting to be in my hand. I think I’m different than others, ‘Oh I don’t spend all my time on social media’, ‘I post only once every few months on Facebook now’, but alas I’m lying to myself. I used to judge people for checking their phones first thing in the morning and endlessly browsing through feeds without seeing that I was doing exactly the same. Hypocrite (insert angel emoji). What would it be like if I inserted an emoji in this blog post right now? Let’s see.

😎

Dammit, Andreea. This attention span needs to be longer than 6 lines a paragraph.

Social media, you either love it or hate it. But we don’t like dualism, dear, things aren’t always just black and white. They can be grey, beige, purple, and all those combinations. I do feel both ways when it comes to it. For one, it does make you feel closer, connected to people who are far away from you. Distance is sometimes hard, but this helps us keep in touch in quite a busy modern lifestyle. Yet, we become a spectator of people’s lives, all through the lens of a wonderful device: the smartphone. And so, watching television has been replaced with watching videos on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, Vine… (does anyone remember that?).

And then you have the opposite part of the lens. Us, the sharers. We express ourselves through our photos, words, we become a new persona. We carefully choose what and how to share and which angle and filter would work best to portray us (#datpronoundroppin). Is that a bad thing? I have to say I like my Instagram profile *product placement*. It’s a simple way for me to share part of my view of the world, allowing people to have a glimpse of my mind. Freedom of expression? Ahh let’s not talk about freedom, it’s too heavy of a subject.

But I also like my Instagram profile because of my phone. This piece of technology that changed how easily and quickly we can achieve things. We’re scared of artificial intelligence taking us over. To me, it seems that we’re just going hand in hand with it anyway. We open our eyes to it in the morning and stare till our eyelids lazily fall in front of the blue light screen. My screen is colour coded (yes, I am that person) and I just love watching the order of my apps because the colours are so beautiful and it gives my visual mind a sense of calm and relief (am I weird? I guess so) and the screen is so bright and the text looks so clear and I take pleasure from just looking at it and

uuuhhh heeeyyy capitalism just slapped me in the face. or it caressed me and thanked me for being its diligent follower.

So easy to be distracted in this mountain of choice. Many things to do, but so little time. Many things to write, but so little space.

Sorry, just seen someone’s messaged me. I better reply before I Screen Shot 2018-06-25 at 22.50.04.png

 

Streams of thoughts and loud voices

in my head.

Barcelona metro black and white old symmetry

I get out of the metro. There’s no rush, there aren’t a lot of people around me I’m up the escalator and I’m typing a message to a friend on Instagram we’ve met during Christmas it’s a funny story I finish texting him, saying that I can’t wait to get home and read Harry Potter and go to sleep am I boring? I don’t know… a guy is climbed up on a ladder trying to fix a light in the ceiling of this somewhat dirty metro stop I walk past him and watch three girls coming down the stairs: black, pink, blue I keep walking and walking and walking and oh there’s three gentlemen and oh god that’s such an ugly cockroach and then I walk and I think to myself thank God I’m not sleeping in the streets, thank my parents actually for supporting me for so long giving me the life, well now I’m living the life, but am I really? well I have money and a shelter and I’m going to bed soon and ooops I almost bumped into someone and now I walk past the red… red windmill as in a bad replica of the Paris Moulin Rouge and then I keep walking and pass by trees and grey pavements and loud cars rushing and rushing towards who knows where? I wouldn’t want to be rushing anywhere our entire lives are just an endless stream of rushing… rushing… I keep thinking to myself… well I’m very deep in thought right now but I’m interrupted by this couple saying good-bye in front of a large, black door.

oh they’re speaking in English, but I wasn’t paying attention to what they were saying, to the meaning of the words they were saying I am just surprised that they’re speaking in English well it’s not like that is not an often occurrence in this city. He kisses her on the cheek maybe it’s a first date maybe not maybe they’re friends they’re quite old maybe not that old and then they’re gone and now I see two women kissing each other on the cheek hugging each other speaking in Catalan ‘yeah well I will see you again maybe at that …?’ and the other one starts talking about her plans for the weekend and I question myself how do I even understand without even understanding?

hey this is interesting, looking at people, looking around me, watching and taking everything in, the streets, the lights, the silence, the footsteps, the noise, my breath, people sleeping, people eating, people dreaming and screaming, maybe I’m going to remember all of this so I keep walking. I see a man walking his dog, it’s a very tiny dog, he’s throwing something in the trash I keep walking and I see so many bikes and I think to myself oh I really need to buy a bike but am I going to buy a bike? what about money? well… money… I look at my reflection in the restaurant window several people are having dinner as I get onto the street filled with restaurants and people eating and drinking and enjoying life, but are they really enjoying life? what exactly is happening in their minds? what is it that upsets them, or makes them happy. so many people talking so much noise plates forks clutter drinks glasses chatter where am I? who are they? some of them are tourists, maybe on a date but there’s a lot of groups here as well are they all tourists? do they speak the local language? do they speak more? they’re all of different faces, ages, features, I look at a waiter he’s smoking a cigarette, hunting to see whoever’s gonna pay the bill.

and I turn around the corner. oh a handsome man smoking a cigarette looking on his phone, of course he’s looking on his phone everyone is on their phones these days including me sometimes well who would’ve thought that I’m not perfect? but does perfection lie in not using your phone? there’s the guy at that restaurant who always returns my gaze back when I pass by and look through the window. I really need to buy some empanadas from there one day will I ever find out his name? I keep walking and walking and there’s only the sound of my footsteps left on the street and I think to myself am I gonna get home and manage to remember all of these thoughts and everything that I’m thinking? am I gonna be able to write all of this down?

black and white photograph thoughts blog post dating rain

ah noise so much noise after all that silence and quietness and peace so much noise from that motorbike and it’s screeching and scratching my eardrums and I think to myself of course pollution transportation motors grey dark industry capitalism death ah there’s a car and its so intrusive with those flashlights so strong i turn left and I’m so close to home but I trip on a little hole in the ground because everything is under construction in this society and a city is defined by the amount of concrete it has growing within it and i see a policeman he’s playing with some keys in his pocket and he’s also smoking why is everyone smoking? and those keys are so loud why am I even thinking why am I not shutting up can’t i just keep walking without a constant buzz in my head?

I’m so close to getting home, there’s a person across the road speaking in Italian maybe? melone, corleone, I don’t even know hahaha am I actually laughing in my mind oh two joggers I will definitely go to the gym as well yes of course this is what I keep telling myself and two cars cross and a key enters the keyhole and I get inside of the elevator and I look at my reflection in the mirror and why am I looking in all reflections that I pass by why do I need this feeling of safety that the person thinking and staying in front of this mirror is actually… me? I feel so much comfort, why does knowing who we are make us feel like this well I suppose it’s good to know that I’m back to myself after being in the minds of so many people… walking and listening to their conversations and their voices and I take a deep breath in but I put the wrong key in the door and this is the first time it’s happening since I moved here well I suppose it was bound to happen since I’ve been streaming of thoughts but here I am, in my room, so much comfort, so much silence, I open my computer, and then… I start typing.

 

belong, be part of, fit in, exist, reside

First of all, I would like to thank everyone who accessed, skimmed through, or even read my previous post. It looks like over 170 of you saw the post, and I really appreciate your interest (much love, many hearts). I will definitely tackle on the topic of relationships, ghosting, dating etc. in the future, as these are aspects that every single one of us goes through, and they often become part of our identity.

And speaking of identity, it’s a topic that will be discussed today. I spent a lot of time thinking what to write about next. There are so many thoughts and opinions that go through my mind, or that I listen to, that sometimes I wish I’d have a ‘pensieve’ (like in Harry Potter), where I could take all my memories and put them in a bucket and then sink into the bucket of abyss (well I’m just blabbering now so let’s get down to business).

A couple of years ago, in my third year of university, I remember taking a course on nations and migration, as well as intercultural identities. One of the many interesting subjects we debated then was a ‘sense of belonging’, or what we mean when we talk about ‘home’. I recollect how a lot of us wanted to make the differentiation between ‘home’, as in where our family lives, and ‘home’, as in our student accommodation at the time. A home doesn’t only refer to a physical space where you grew up in, but also to your country, culture, understanding of the world. I believe that the most important aspects of making a ‘home’ is culture and… objects. Things. The realm of the physical.

We are so attached to things that it came to a point where we are characterised by them. We don’t feel comfortable in a new space unless we fill out that space with bits and pieces that we think represent our selves. When we move into a new house, it does not become a home until we’ve spread around our personal photographs, clothes, books, computer, decorations… everything that we hold dear. Time also plays an important part of this house-home transition. The more time we spend in a place, the more comfortable we feel there.

Of course, there are people that have left all these physical and material objects behind. And they feel so much better. They are free from the physical constraints of space and can do whatever they want. They are backpackers, travellers, adventurers, or minimalists, people who are content with who they are and what they have (or don’t). People who grew tired with all the clutter in their lives, and wanted to belong anywhere and nowhere at the same time. Or just people that realised value shouldn’t reside in things, but experiences, memories, or other unquantifiable and spiritual/ emotional aspects. But are we strong, determined, or willing enough to let go? To lose our sense of ‘belonging’, in order to live freely and assess a new identity of… ‘not belonging’?

Culture, or rather a sense of national identity, is another aspect of making us ‘belong’. I believe that culture came before nations, even though today, one is more transparent than the other. I spent quite a bit of my teen life traveling through Europe, thanks to my beloved mother and her job. The division between ‘us and them’ stroke me every time I would land or take off in or from a foreign country. And after moving to the UK for my studies, I started to feel a bit weird when I’d come back to Romania for the holidays, and all of a sudden everyone was speaking, behaving, and looking… Romanian.

But then, I remembered Benedict Anderson’s notion of ‘imagined communities’ (throwback to uni, once again). Anderson claimed that nations are alive only because our minds imagined and socially created them. He talks quite a lot about how the printed press (his book was published in 1983 so the internet wasn’t really a thing back then) helps in delimiting this boundary of ‘nationess’, by also creating a division between the local and global, the ‘us and them’. This for me became extremely clear during Daily Mail’s campaign against Romanians and Bulgarians, after the work restrictions had been lifted. One would think that ‘divide and conquer’ is not the norm anymore, but in a present where break-ups are the norm (be them political or romantical), maybe we were wrong to assume that.

After living in the U.K for 4 years, I ended up doubting to whom my loyalties lay. I was born and raised in a culture, yet I don’t identify with it anymore. I spent 4 years in the other, where my acculturation process went quite well, but despite taking over some of the characteristics of that culture, I still don’t identify with it. At the moment, I am in limbo. Or maybe I just lost my ability to imagine… communities. But in the end, there’s nothing wrong with being on the grey line, instead of the black/ white one. Things shouldn’t always be definitive, deterministic, and other D words. We shouldn’t be defined just by ONE culture, but by every bit that we’ve experienced. Or maybe we shouldn’t be defined at all.

So, the next time someone asks you, ‘where are you from?’, think for a second. Are you a backpacker, traveler, an adventurer, or something completely off the books? Where do you really belong?

P.S Thank you Dan, for helping me sort this post out!

To date or not to date

I have an issue with modern dating. Actually, with dating in general. Actually no, with relationships. In fact, I have an issue with society and humanity as a whole. Why, oh why do we spend countless of hours, texts, emotions, energy, hoping that we will have the time of our lives, but always living in fear of being hurt or rejected? Of course, I’m being a bit negative here, relationships are what determine our lives, from the moment we get out of our mother’s womb to (most of the times) our deathbed. All this time, our histories have been tainted by our obsession with sex and passionate pain. But nowadays we don’t go and kill our lover for cheating on us (well, depends doesn’t it), now we just block them on social media, ignore them or trash them out, again on social media or to our friends, or if we pass by them on the street we act like we’ve never seen this person before in our life.

It’s so easy to disregard people, and so many of my dissertation participants have mentioned being ghosted or just ignored, with no apparent reason other than ‘the other person just stopped replying’. It’s rude, disrespectful, and a perfect example of how fluid and malleable our daily lives and identities are nowadays, or what Giddens, this sort of badass sociologist, called ‘confluent love’. This type of love is short-term and disposable, and partners should actually split up if they do not feel comfortable with each other anymore, or if one is annoying the other. It seems that we no longer care to ‘commit’ to our significant other, or work towards rebuilding or fixing the relationship, rather act the same way as we do with everything now: broken phone? No worries, I’ll get a new one. Had a fight with a friend? That b**** is gone from my life. Some might say that this is not true, but what I noticed is that my generation constantly tends to act this way (myself included).

Why is it so difficult to be honest with each other? Why can’t we just say ‘I’m sorry, but this is not going to work, because of this and this and that reason’? Why do we have to brush past people’s feelings and, if we receive questions or texts from the person we’re ignoring, we think they’re desperate or clingy (well, in some situations, they are?). Yes, it will definitely hurt the other person, but isn’t closure what everyone seeks when something with no explanation happens? When someone passes away and we don’t know why, the pain will linger much longer and will be stronger if we do not get closure. When someone tells us that we’ve done something wrong, the stress of what could’ve been done better is always greater unless they give us feedback and explanations as to why we’re mistaken. When we connect with someone so deeply and then they trash us out, the questions and racing thoughts will never stop unless we get closure. We tend to put the blame on ourselves, maybe we talked too much, maybe our jokes weren’t funny, maybe we sent too many texts, or maybe… maybe.

Then comes the question, who is at fault for this? Is it the other person for being ignorant and dismissive, or is it you for not ‘knowing better’ and letting yourself be fooled once again? Part of this concern is our fault, because now we are so used with building up unrealistic expectations of ‘instant messaging’, that if someone doesn’t reply within the minute we immediately expect the worst. ‘He doesn’t like me because he didn’t reply within 5 mins of my text!’, when the guy was probably on the toilet reading the ingredients for Glade because he forgot his phone in the other room. Some people are truly busy and do not have the time to reply straightaway. However, they usually don’t post on social media or ‘are active’ whilst not replying to you. Those are just… relentless, let’s say.

I mean, if you truly want to ignore someone, at least have the courtesy not to post on social media. Or maybe some even forget to reply. But if they forget to reply to your message, isn’t that enough of a sign that it’s not worth wasting your time with them? And this doesn’t apply to romantic interests only, but friends or acquaintances as well. Here I am, asking all these questions, proving how we became so obsessed with checking when ‘he/she was last online’, or wonder if the message went through, or ask why we were left on ‘seen’, and so on, constantly feeding into your irrational fears. Technology is so innovative and life-changing, but in a weird way we’ve managed to make it the most sickening way of communication.

I’ve spoken with a lot of people who have been in long-term relationships for years, and they often expressed their concern regarding today’s single life. ‘I don’t think I could do it, honestly, now with all these dating apps and all this effort… it is a lot of effort’, says my beautician after I explained the topic of my dissertation. Truth is, in today’s technological era I don’t even think we can get to know someone and fully commit again. We’re so used to texting and instant messaging that we don’t even take the time to meet up with a person face to face and relate to them on a ‘real’, meaningful basis (I’m talking here about situations were people are in the same city, not 500 kms apart). Again, several of my participants have complained of how when they met with a person they’d been speaking with through instant messaging or text, it often happened that they were dull, or not at all what they’d expected. We waste so much time texting and talking about meaningless things, which are good sometimes, but not ALL the time, that when we’re faced with each other there’s nothing left to say.

I’m not sure what the point of this first post is. Technology, dating, or both? I started writing it when I was furious because something similar had happened to me. We spent some amazing, quality time together and then I get the silent treatment, without doing anything wrong whatsoever (and I’m not being subjective here). Of course a stream of questions and doubts stormed through my mind, but luckily I have amazing friends and the capacity to realise that there is no point in living in the past and trying to relive what happened, or finding answers to my silly questions. When you have apps such as Tinder (which don’t get me wrong, can sometimes be of immense help when you want to meet people, especially in a new, foreign place), characterised by how quick and frail you can build relationships, of course we can’t expect the other person to always talk with us or to be sincere about their feelings. Unfollow, unfriend, unlike, delete. It’s so easy, isn’t it? So easy.

So let’s try to be more honest with one another, and let’s try to put more effort into building, mending, and maintaining relationships. Everyone knows that lying never does any good, yet we keep on lying and creating doubts. We keep on ignoring just because it’s not in our comfort zone to reply to someone, we just ‘can’t be bothered’. The truth hurts, but it’s the best step towards healing that one can get. And now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be on my way to have an honest conversation.