Posts Tagged ‘kindness’

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friendship day.

August 2, 2009

I logged onto Twitter this morning and in the trending topics was “Happy Friendship Day”.  Now I didn’t know what this was because in England we don’t have “Friendship Day”, but I think that the sentiment is nice. Though at the same time, really we should appreciate our friends (just as with our mothers, fathers, grandparents and valentines) more than one day a year, it’s nice to have a day dedicated to cherishing our friends.  I am lucky to have accumulated a few very close friends around me (you know who you are) who are always willing to listen to me and help me out, and I’ve helped them out a fair few times myself.  We are honest with each other, and we are comfortable enough with each other to not have to fill every waking moment with chitchat.  We can big-talk, and we can small-talk, and it’s all fine because we enjoy spending time together.  So I wanted to thank my friends for being true friends.

I also wanted to touch on when people say (leaving high school or university in particular, this is common) “we really must keep in touch!”  I never really stress over keeping in touch with people, and I am not somebody who sends out mass emails or letters informing everyone of what I’m up to (usually because I would not have enough major stuff to fill half a page, and I could blabber on about minutiae for a book’s worth) – my philosophy is that if you want to keep in touch with somebody because they are that important to you, it won’t be an “effort” because it will be something you genuinely want to do.  If you and the other person let a friendship drift, then it just means that you’ve both moved on to other things in your lives and your friendship wasn’t built to last.  There’s nothing wrong with that, and it shouldn’t spoil the good times you had together – it shouldn’t tarnish the memories.  Sometimes people just move on, and nobody can take everything and everyone with them, otherwise you’re not moving on.  I don’t feel any bitterness towards people with whom I used to be friends with and from whom I’ve drifted apart, because that was just the way it was meant to be, and I am grateful that I had positive times with them rather than negative.  The occasional card / email / letter / text message is enough commitment for both of us, and it’s nice to know that we haven’t forgotten one another – friends can glow fondly in your memories even if they’re no longer with you! So I feel very zen about it all, and I wanted to take this day to appreciate my friends past and present, and future too. 🙂

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translation.

July 20, 2009

As you may or may not know, a year ago I graduated from Oxford University with a BA Hons degree in French and Spanish.  I’m still waiting for that to deliver the promised kick-start to my professional career while I flounder between perfume shops, hospitals and careers guidance diplomas, but one of the more interesting aspects of that degree was the idea of translation.  It relies on two not-so-basic conceits – that you understand what the words mean in the passage you are translating, and that you understand what the author of the passage is trying to say.  These two ideas have to be grasped before you even attempt to replicate what you’re translating in your chosen language, and these two ideas are much more disparate than they may first appear.  Let me break it down for you, because I have a point to make 😉

You can see the word “tree”, for example, and it conjures a certain image in your head.  That image represents what “tree” means to you.  The Spanish word for “tree” is “árbol”.  So you can put “árbol” down.  That’s done… but by doing that, you’re having faith in the fact that the image you see when you think of “tree” / “árbol” is the same as what the author’s conception is.  If for example, the author has a completely different idea in his head, then your translation may be distancing yourself from his/her original intentions.  And that’s just one word; what happens when you have sentences, paragraphs?  Translation takes a lot of confidence and a lot of people-studying and effort to grasp what people mean when they speak; all the nuances behind their choices of vocabulary, their syntax.  At the heart of it: can we really trust that people mean what we think they mean when they say what they say?

I started thinking about this after Saturday night, meeting with Karina and Davina at Las Iguanas for some caipirinhas and tapas (which was delicious).  Karina was talking about a lil’ dispute she was having with her boyfriend (who lives at a distance), because she had a hospital scan (I won’t go into the details on here because it’s not really my place) and was somewhat nervous.  When, after listing his (admittedly inferior) stresses in retaliation to her current stuff, he finally asked “Do you want me to come down and visit you?”, she said “No, don’t be silly, you need to save your money.” (He’s moving)  And he took that at face value, and didn’t come down to see her.  Hence Karina’s somewhat irritated diatribe against him on Saturday night. Now, I know from my knowledge of women’s minds that they often don’t mean what they say, and they can in fact often mean the opposite of what they say.  By saying “don’t visit me”, Karina was sending a message saying “I don’t want you to spend your money, but at the same time I really wish you could come here and support me because I need you right now, and you shouldn’t need me to tell you that because in addition to the fear of this scan, I don’t want to succumb to the humiliation of appearing weak to you and admitting that I want you here with me.”  Me and Davina understood this straight away, but evidently her boyfriend did not.  But who is in the wrong?  I mean, he was only listening to Karina’s words and following them.  Should he have known better?  After all, if he’d said “No” to her in the same situation, Karina said she would have scraped together whatever she could have and gone to visit him regardless (I don’t doubt that this is true).  But then, Matt might have meant “No.” He’s a guy, guys tend to be more straightforward, perhaps more two-dimensional at times.  And Karina would have gotten it wrong.  It’s almost a no-win situation if you can’t navigate the nuances of people’s thoughts behind the words they say… which is difficult when their words tell a slightly different story.  We all have to play translators at times.

I give you another example.  After seeing Davina and Karina, I went to the club to meet B and his friends for the first time (which was exciting).  The night seemed to be an unqualified success: I had a great time at a club I previously had written off, thanks to he and his friends embracing me wholeheartedly.  He and I were quite touchy-feely, we spent the whole evening talking, dancing a little bit, joking with his friends and other people we ran into (he seemed to know practically everyone).  When we got out of the club at 4am, my bus wasn’t coming for another hour, so we wandered around trying to contact another friend of his who seemed to have gone astray, eventually waiting at the bus stop, chatting / hugging / flirting.  Nothing too untoward, a brief kiss on the lips when my bus finally arrived.  So there was nothing wrong with that, right? It was flirtatious without going too far, a fun night without us exchanging wedding vows, a light-hearted night of clubbing with friends and with someone who might become more.  After my last relationship getting far too intense far too quickly (despite my lack of feelings), this should be exactly what I wanted.

Of course, I was still worried that maybe he had gone off me.  Because he didn’t jump on top of me, rip my clothes off and make love to me on the floor of the nightclub, I didn’t know if he still liked me.  I am aware that this is more than faintly ridiculous, don’t worry – and if this had happened, I would be worried in contrast that all he thought of me was that I was an easy slut.  So I was trying to read entirely too much into his actions.  Let alone the fact that mine mirrored his in any case… isn’t it easier when the other person makes the first move?  When they seem to know exactly what to say?  Which I clearly do not.  We texted briefly on Sunday:

Me: “Hey hope u got home ok this morning! I had a fun time last nite, thanx to u and ur friends for entertaining me! How ru doing today, up to much?x”

Translation: “Hi, I hope you somehow didn’t think I was an idiot last night and behaving too drunken / flirty / not flirty enough.  I think I might like you, you need to tell me that you might like me too and that you want to see me again. And preferably at a different venue with just the two of us.

His reply: “Hi  yeah good to meet u 🙂 I’m ok just been chillin all day with music and cats lol x”

My interpretation of this: “Hello, yes you were nice enough but I don’t know if I want to see you again, I have not been thinking of you too much today and I was quite drunk last night so pay it no mind.

The exchange of text messages went on a bit longer but I cut it short soon after because I wanted to maintain an air of nonchalance, as in “I’m not that easy, you don’t have me wrapped around your finger, I have other things to do!  I will talk to you when you happen to cross my mind again, maybe in a day or two, because my life is perfectly fulfilling tra la la.”  The messages and nuances hidden behind words can just as easily apply to silences/ goodbyes, and we need to interpret and translate pauses and immediate replies accordingly.  Today, when I was half-expecting him not to text me (I had resolved not to initiate conversation – air of nonchalance, nonchalance!), I was on msn and suddenly he starts talking to me (he was set to ‘invisible’ so I didn’t even know he was there) and we have a great conversation.  We flirt and joke a tiny bit and he says “ok lover” at one point.  My current interpretation: everything is in a spirit of fun, but we are still flirting with each other and there’s some affection there so this just might work well so DON’T BE A FREAK AND OVERANALYSE THINGS!!! And although I feel relieved, and I feel like I have learned sometimes that it is better to say what you mean, and other times it’s better not to say anything at all, it is obviously far too late for the restraint from over-analysis!  So I’m cooling down and determined to enjoy this flirting stage, whether it evolves or not… because after all, this is exactly what I said I wanted… and I don’t remember any hidden notion behind that when I said it!

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pride.

July 9, 2009

Pride is a funny thing.  On the one hand, we are taught it is a bad thing to act too proud, and we should aim to be humble human beings who are never too busy or too above our station to help out our fellow man or take a little time to do whatever.  But at the same time, we should also be proud of our achievements and who we are, and never lower ourselves or do anything that is genuinely beneath us.  They are both sentiments I agree with wholeheartedly, but they also seem to contradict one another and I don’t know exactly whether pride is a bad thing or a good thing. I like to think it is a good thing, because an overdose of pride to me is arrogance; just enough pride is when you are aware of your worth and what you should and shouldn’t do.

Another thing that people say is that “pride comes before a fall”.  I haven’t experienced exactly that, but today I went to visit my grandmother after a depressing morning at home which culminated in my receiving a phone call that was for my father (I am the house receptionist, after all) and my father asking where the phone was.  I stormed out of the house after quickly making myself fit for public consumption, and went to see my nan to talk to her about the current state of play regarding my uni funding (it looks like I may not get any after all, though if I do get it it will be like hitting the jackpot! But I’m sure I’ll expand upon that situation in due course, and there is nothing I can do for the moment other than wait and see) and to de-stress.  While I was there, she gave my some great advice about the job situation, but advice I didn’t really like at first: why don’t I get Jobseekers’ Allowance (aka. unemployment benefit) until the hospital pulls its finger out and gives me some hours like they promised?

The reason why I didn’t really like the idea at first was because I didn’t want to be lumped in with people who don’t ever bother getting a job but just live off handouts from the dole.  I didn’t want to feel I was lazy, and I don’t like accepting charity.  But then, as my nan gently explained to me through a couple of anecdotes from her own life, I was being too proud and I should accept something that I am currently entitled to, especially as everybody else in my position does so and more.  And I realised she was right.  I researched JSA when I got home and went online, and it’s £50 a week.  That is a considerable amount of money that would really help me!  So I have applied and am waiting for the Jobcentre staff to call me (within the next 2 days, apparently).  Fingers crossed!  Perhaps it will be a karmic trigger and something will cause the BRI (hospital) to call me Monday and say they have finally got some hours and want me to come and start working at the job I have been waiting on for a month now.

I generally wouldn’t characterise myself as a proud person – I don’t feel I am at all snobbish, and I am open to talking to and interacting with anyone regardless of their appearance or their walk of life.  I think I am friendly and I am willing to help anyone who genuinely needs my help.  But in this instance, I realised I was being proud (the bad definition) because I was essentially thinking that I was too good to be claiming this benefit.  And that brings to mind another saying: cutting my nose off to spite my face.  There is nothing wrong with being proud of yourself and your achievements, and rightly so – but I was today reminded never to be too proud to accept help when you need it and when it is available to you.

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Something legitimate to blog about.

June 30, 2009

Okay, so I actually have something serious to say.  I know, that didn’t take long, this is only my second post, but late last night and early this morning two instances have occurred that kinda restore my faith in people.  Bear with me.

I have been searching for the mp4 of Ciara’s new video Work (which you MUST see!!! download it here) for over a week, since the video premiered on Channel 4 and subsequently on youtube.  No matter how much searching I did, the only place I could find the video was on youtubealike sites for streaming.  NO DOWNLOAD.  So I began to get frustrated, and I tried to do what the fast girls do… I found a link for the video in some random format (.mkv, as a matter of fact) and atttempted to convert it.  Now this is where the story gets sad… the conversion wouldn’t work.  No way, no how, no dice.  So I went back to the blog where I downloaded the mkv thing and asked very kindly in their shoutbox if they could upload her video in .mp4 format.

The other story is in fact very similar.  I like Toni Braxton.  I possess near enough all of her music (certainly all of her output that has been released on CD).  So I was idly reading about her on wikipedia, when I discovered that there was a song of hers that I did not have.  Once the world ceased to fall down around me, I subdued my anger and shock and went in search of this song (FYI, it is called “No More Love”, it features Irv Gotti, and you can download it here because I love you).  I spent over an hour on google, youtube, limewire, but all I could find was the lyrics to the song. The full lyrics, nonetheless.  This piece of evidence suggested that the song had ben widely heard, despite being quite a few years old now (2003-ish I believe) and being blocked from release by Toni Braxton herself after she got her panties in a bunch found out there was this whole controversy with another song she wanted to release, which sampled the same 2pac song as Jay-Z and Beyoncé’s “Bonnie & Clyde ’03” (which only copies Queen Mariah’s “How Much” anyway… why am I supplying all this information?).  So to cut a long story short, I couldn’t find the damn song, despite using all of my (usually more-than-sufficient) resources.  Same as with the damn video.  So let me tell you, dear reader, what I did.

I reached out. I went on Last.fm, I found somebody who had been listening to this song recently, and discovered that they were already my ‘friend’ (because we’re all friends on here, yknow? *strokes cat*).  So I messaged him and asked him very kindly, once again, if he could upload the file and send it to me.

In both instances, it took them less than 12 hours not only to fulfill my request, but do so with a smile.  Not only was I overjoyed to have the video and the song (disclaimer: it’s not actually that good, and I can sorta see why Toni blocked it… if you want some real Toni Braxton recommendations, hit me up and I’ll see what I can do for you 🙂 ) that I had sought for more time than I would care to admit yesterday (hell, I went to the gym!  I can waste the rest of the day if I want, it’s already a qualified success 😛 ), but I was really touched (I’m being serious now) by the fact that these two people whom I have never met, and whom I don’t really know and who don’t know me, went to the lengths to share this material with me.  Just because I asked them to.  And they did so so promptly.  It was a really nice thing to do, and even if you’re not interested in Ciara or Toni Braxton (which, btw, if you’re not, I advise you to keep that on the DL because otherwise I will have to swing my ponytail on your ass block you cry), I wanted to do the same for you and share the love, share the links and hope that you download one or the other and enjoy.

If you have any requests, let me know and I’ll do my best to hook you up.  I do have more to say, and I will probably say it sometime soon, but I actually have to go and do a real-life thing so I will close by saying that in a world where people often let you down and mess you around, and sometimes / often it is easy to believe that you can only trust you, yourself and you (which is not a sentiment I entirely disagree with, actually), there are still those certain human beings that will overlook self-interest to help someone out.  That makes me smile, and that really is something I thought was worth writing about today.

(don’t worry, more red danger miniskirt sexy love to come soon. probably)