Trip to Memory Lane

I have been doing a little housekeeping on my blog. I cannot believe I have been writing here on and off for over six years. I should have amassed more readership if I had more stamina, or if I kept at it consistently.

One of the problems I have is that I am a person with many interests, that change over time, depending on my current work or environment. I am a little shy of being controversial, because I believe I put here a lot of personal things, and people may very well recognize me from my writing.  At some point I kept a few separate blogs, an official personal blog, an anonymous personal blog, a knitting blog, and a professional blog. People who maintain one blog on a regular basis would immediately see the folly of this approach. It is hard enough to keep one vehicle of thought going, let alone two. And it is not possible at all to keep four of them going, not by one person at least. So I come back here, to take stock of what I have, and migrate more of my blogs into this Loskop site. I will work on categories to separate the personal from the professional and I will keep going. I should also try to get over this anxiety about who will, or will not read my blog. I will have to assume that those who keep up with me here will be kindred spirits. Those who do not like what I write will walk away. To me, writing is a completely pointless exercise if I cannot do it honestly. So you might learn that I am an Arabic translator, who loves the English language more than she loves her mother tongue. You will also know that I am a completely secular and non-practicing Muslim, who thinks that religion serves no useful purpose in building societies and nations. Neither piece of information is newsworthy, but you may also find worse revelations here.

About a year ago, my ex asked me to delete any mention of his name on my blog. At the time he was courting his third wife, who apparently looked things like that up. I was peeved at the request, but I still obliged and deleted the names. However, a Google search will still point to the pages, regardless of their content. This has to do with the way web crawlers work and index the web. I did not see the point of his request until today when I was browsing through my old posts in order to organize them. Some of what I wrote during the time of divorce is extremely raw. Many posts are striking for what is left unsaid, or for the pathetic voice of the female trying to make every possible excuse for why the male in her life is treating her like rubbish, and considering their baby a mere inconvenience to his rest and exercise routine. When I later imported my anonymous platform, the truth sometimes outed glaringly, exposing him for the selfish brute he always was. I was forced to re-live some of my personal indignities in detail, it was not a pleasant memory.

There is an upside too. I can look back at the hardships of those fateful months in 2008/2009 and see how transient and insignificant my current troubles are. They are like small weather patterns in the course a transatlantic flight, the jet flies right through them, and they are smaller to warrant a change in the flight path.  I will therefore carry on, taking pleasure in the fact that I now have a continuing contract as a Translator in my international NGO. My job is as secure as any here, and I just need to find my way within the myriads of bureaucracy and inefficiency. I will make the best of my stay in New York, work hard, enjoy good food and grow in spirit with my growing son. I will no longer dwell on things that have been lost, or at least I will try to truly move on. The history, of all my joys, tribulations and mistakes is there, for anyone who cares to read it. I mostly write with my son in mind, and therefore I want to stay open and honest.

I apologize in advance to the people who know me personally and find themselves misrepresented in any way. You are welcome to write and comment if you want. The things I wrote are firmly anchored in their time and place, and the views I held in 2008, for example, are not cast in stone, but they have to stand in their context. From now on I will try to keep a veil on identities, but I cannot help the obvious ones, for example in the case of my Ex husband, and my son. I have only one of each, and this is unlikely to change. I may also need to do some more work in the area of ex boyfriends, there are also pathetically few of them.

So here again, you will get to know all the facets of this Arab South-African Translator Single-Mom Lover-of-Music-Reading-and-Knitting LOSKOP.

The City of Contradictions

New York city inspires extreme emotions. You either love it, or loathe it, but you can never be indifferent about it. Everyone has an opinion of the city, and the city itself flaunts its  obnoxious self-assurance at a new arrival,  “I am, larger than life, I am the center of the universe, consider yourself lucky to be here”.

The city known as the Big Apple figures it has the right to turn your life upside down and mold its details to her whims, then has the audacity to re-define these details for you. You can still have leisure time, lunch-breaks, traffic jams, coffee breaks, or take walks in the park. But you quickly find out that New York city has taken over these concepts, creating its own unique version. It completes the insult to the stranger by keeping the vocabulary intact while stripping it of familiar meaning.

On arrival, people generally react in two different ways. The first set of people are those who fall under the city’s spell or surrender to its power. This group includes those who were always fascinated by the fame of the city, from the movies, the sitcoms, the books, and its marketing machine, as a city like no other. In the words of Frank Sinatra, if you can make it there you can make it anywhere. The second set of people show resistance to the city. Those are as varied and diverse in their motivation as the first group, some miss the familiar and resent the ways of this mega-metropolis, others begrudge it is affluence and commercial focus, another group still hates the waste, the crowds, the rush, the bustle.  Strangely enough, every characteristic pointed out as a vice by the city’s opponents could be construed as a virtue by its loyal proponents. It has always been a highly divisive place.

I have made no secret of my sentiment in the past few months. I started out extremely critical and antagonistic of the city. However, like all powerful entities it has started to garner my respect. Never mind how obnoxious it is. Never mind its paved parks, its incomprehensibly ugly architecture and equally baffling modern art. Never mind its packed subways and its never ending rush. Amazingly, this city still works.

Consider first its sprawling size, with over ten million residents, give or take a few hundred thousands daytime commuters. I go to Midtown on Sunday, and it is a different place. I walk at leisure chatting to my son, while during the week I have to keep a brisk pace, if I don’t want to bump into people, and I can only hear him if he shouts. Then consider the city’s diversity, the number of people who live ans survive here without speaking one work of English. One has to admit that things break down sometimes, but I have no experience of any other city of this size, and running it efficiently must be a tremendous challenge. I think what I appreciate now most, is that this monster of a city, made out of so many disparate elements and people, a city you would think that no glue in the world can hold together, amazingly sticks together very well. And this discovery makes this place more precious in the eyes of those who never expected it to pull through.

Last year, I met a South African woman who introduced herself as a proud American. She had won the green card lottery some years back and found a niche for herself teaching computer literacy. At the time I profiled her immediately in my mind, she is a disgruntled white person, I thought, running away from a South Africa that has embraced a majority rule, and from the perception of losing privilege. I have revisited my thoughts about her since then. I remember her saying that she became fiercely American after 9/11, and I thought that was an incongruous romantic rubbish coming from someone as hard-boiled as that middle-aged woman.  Now I think I understand her feeling. New York city may look tough and heartless but if you look deep enough she has a soul.

As late as six months ago, I was quite sure that New York was pretentious and soul-less. I even remember sending an email to my American friend Peter telling him how I despised this place. He said that America had a soul, but it was so well-hidden, that you can only find it when you are not really looking. I think he was on to something.

I think I started warming to New York sometime between soccer practice with Robert and lining up costume-less for the Halloween Parade on Roosevelt Island.  When Sandy came it taught me something more about the New York soul. I saw regular people buying groceries for the stricken and volunteering their time. I saw the city pull together and make alternative plans. I found it quite remarkable. This in the city where people walk past a disabled beggar pretending he is not there. There is a sense of community that defies you not to be part of it. Everyone I know has contributed even in a small way.  If 9/11 forged the American patriotism of my South African acquaintance, then Sandy taught me about New York the community, away from the excess and ruin of wall-street, the lobbying and petty politics of the UN-headquarters, the concrete and the real estate.

It can be many contradicting things – cruel, kind, surprising, hot, cold, exasperating, embarrassing, tragic, funny, and entertaining,  but it can never be boring.  There are  always little nuggets of gold, moments that are there to savour amid the rush, the noise and the stress.

Yesterday Robert and I boarded the local bus on 3rd avenue. The driver was announcing the station then saying : “look to left, smile at your neighbour. Look to your right say hi, make a friend”. It was Friday night, so it was perhaps not surprising that the passengers humored him, but I noted that there conversation on this bus was more animated than usual. Before we got out at our stop, Robert had a chance of singing a refrain of the Wheels on the Bus, started again by the driver. That bus driver may have been acting against MTA rules, but he made many people happy.  Welcome to New York. One day you encounter a happy bus driver, another day you come close to getting run over on a crosswalk. Never a dull moment.

The Dilemma of Belonging Somewhere

It has been over a year since my birth country was plunged into a desperate war. When the revolts against the ruling government started, they were only peaceful demonstrations, which were quickly met with disproportionate force. Soon the resistance armed itself and found allies amongst extremist groups, and some Gulf-state governments who were opposed to Syria’s alliance with Iran. The discourse turned ugly. Instead of justice vs injustice and freedom vs dictatorship, we started hearing Sunni against Alawis and their Shiite allies, and “Us” against the”Them”. The morality of the revolution or those who are fighting for it, came under scrutiny.

I for one, was unable to reconcile the aspiration for justice and democracy with the cruel punishment of enemies, or mutilating their corpses. The savagery of both sides intensified as time wore on. And we all know that war is an insatiable beast, and once blood is shed, it feeds on itself in an endless cycle of cruelty and savage retaliation.

I haven’t heard any news about the battle for Syria (or in Syria) in months. I am sickened of body counts,  and it is enough for me now to hear the grim news from my sister. She and her family are fed up with the fighting and just want their old life back. Dictatorship, corruption, and lack of civil liberties seem a small price to pay for safety now. After all this time I see the logic of their argument. And even though I implicitly still support the revolution as a principle I am not sure anymore of the means it employs.

I have left Syria because I had very little in common with the people there. I could neither relate to overt piety, nor to a life of leisure as a socialite. I was often criticized for my  casual dress sense, my inability to apply makeup or style my hair. My sister, in contrast did not have a problem with taking close to an hour “getting ready” every time she wanted to step out the door. Now, she has chosen to wear a headscarf, I think it is easier to just cover up and leave the house rather than get every single hair in place. I have one dry bottle of mascara that I never use, but over twenty years ago, my cousins tried to teach me how to apply, foundation, blush, eye-liner, lip liner, lipstick, and eye-shadow. I think I gave up as soon as that first lesson was through. I could never justify wasting so much time on all this rubbish. Besides, I am happy with the way I look. One of the first things I did when I got divorced was to stop dying my hair. I suffered for two years with my twin stripes, of carrot/aubergine and salt-and-pepper and was thrilled to finally have my natural grey-highlight. Women in Syria would never understand this attitude. They thought I was awfully uncouth when I walked the streets in a T-shirt, faded jeans and hiking sandals. I think they dubbed me as the African savage. Everyone expects an expat to arrive in designer clothes, expensive leather shoes and flawless skin. I only had my casual wardrobe and proudly showed off my arms and legs, tanned by the African sun. After living in South Africa, I became an alien to my country of birth, but at least I had a good excuse then. When I lived there, I tried my best for years. I wanted to belong, but it never worked. In South Africa, I found a place where it was okay to be myself. I belonged regardless of the color of my skin. Most people dressed casually, just the way I liked to dress. Nobody ever asked me what my religion was.  It was a revelation.

I found that I relate to South Africa better than I ever related to my country of birth. I respect and admire the wisdom of its people and the way they transcended their differences and moved along towards a common future. The idea of Ubuntu and the truth and reconciliation speak volumes on the morality of this nation. Yes, there were incidents of bloody conflict, and even the current majority government has made its shares of mistakes and trouble, but none of these come even close to the monumental destruction still under way in Syria.

The nightmare scenario playing out in my birth country does not correspond to any of my views.  I am so ashamed and unhappy about it that I reached a stage of total apathy. Some of my friends write glowing praise of the country they remember, the beautiful Syria, where different sects and religions lived side by side, in peace and harmony. The cynic part of me questions the veracity of such an innocuous image, when the erstwhile neighbors are now caught in an exchange of violence, that causes more bloodshed at worst, or slides into the worst gutter language at best.

I watch in horror, while people I once considered friends defend the indefensible, or hurl obscenities and accusations at others for a difference of opinion. For one group I may be classified as an Israeli sympathizer, a tool of American imperialism. While the others would call me a non-believer, and enemy of Allah. Both groups are fools, and again, I find myself unable to relate to neither.  Before the revolution strayed into sectarianism I enjoyed listening to a few secular voices, calling for a civilian rule, under a liberal constitution. Today, these voices are drowned by the proponents of an Islamic State.

My dilemma is that I cannot openly criticize the religious tone of discourse, for fear of offending my religious friends. Besides, I do not want to look as if I am supporting the alternative (the current bloody regime that continues to kill people with impunity). On the other hand I feel that I do not have any stake in this battle anymore because, in all honesty, I neither want the religious extremists to win, nor can I ever accept the criminal regime to stay.  Unfortunately for everyone, these two sides have the best chances, because they have the strongest foreign support (Russia, Iran and Hezbollah – on the side of the regime, and the Gulf States, and the western world, on the side of the armed religious insurgence). This balance of power has so far kept both sides more or less evenly matched, but sooner or later the scales will tip to one side.

I withdraw again to the safe cocoon of African politics. For all its faults at least the ANC is still ruled by a civilian constitution. It recognizes the rule of law, not the rule of God or the ancestors. The more Syria slides into anarchy the closer I retreat into the safer ground of my South-African identity. One post I recently read likened a birth country to a mother, and an adopted country to spouse. So according to this analogy I am an ungrateful daughter to the mother country.

If this were true then I could argue that my mother country never treated me well in the first place, I felt like I was kept by an evil stepmother, who constantly pushed me into things that I did not want to do. My adoptive African mother was kinder and loved me the way that I am, I call her my true mother. Again, this is something else where I differ from the people in my birth country. Belonging to the birth country is not a choice in their opinion. It is a sacred duty. And blind patriotism makes the best fodder for senseless wars.

A Yearning…

I want to slip into a fold of time, and steal away a man from my past. I want to come back to this moment, to having him beside me, and the children we could have had. I want him to tell me that he lives through their smiles, and without them his life, is not a life that he wants. I want to raise our kids. I want to grow old with him, a man that I knew for more than half my life.

I want to be where desperate questions have become a certainty. Where I know that he is with me because we are, because we belong. Not because of fear, or lack of options.

I want to fast-forward the groping, the learning, the exploring, the desperate tug of war for boundaries. I want to know and be known to him like the palm of his open hand.

I want to be young again, and choose the right man, and still retain, the place where I now am.

The Perils of Instant Online Posting

There is a special thrilling moment in the blogging. After you tie off the final thoughts together and put the full stop to the last paragraph or sentence, you give your post the final review and then you hit the publish button and relish the excitement of setting your words free to the world. It often happens that you discover one stray typo after the post goes live, or an awkward phrasing. Most of the time, however,  the integrity of your post survives and it is unlikely that the slip will cause major embarrassment.  This is because a blog post normally follows a certain structure. It is a piece of writing that evolves from an idea, into an outline, then a coherent piece. Each blogger is different, but I find that I have to start from a central theme, that I might develop as I write, but it is still a slow-brewing process. The most important part for me is to find the idea or theme of a post. I sift through dozens of online articles, or blog posts. I mine my own daily experiences or observations, in a hunt for one suitable subject. So regardless of how effortless posts look, they normally are a product of a relatively lengthy process. Of course, there are the odd exceptions like the Hello World page, or the re-posts from You-tube.

Things are a little different in the world of social networking. Technology has made it so easy for us to connect to our social networks. Whether our portable device of choice is an iPhone, iPad, or any other Andoid tablet or photon, there are endless options to use them for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Flickr among many others. So I can connect at any place and time, to interact with my cyber-friends. I can read posts, re-post them and post photos at the flick of one finger. And while commenting or tweeting may take a little bit more effort, the platforms themselves do not encourage verbosity, or limit my thoughts to a few characters, which makes a touch screen keyboard sufficient. I feel that blogging -with the notable exception perhaps of photo-blogging- cannot benefit much from the technology of portable devices. Because although the applications for tablet and iPhone exist, the limitation of keyboard and display size require at least an investment into portable keyboards, or extra-ordinary manual dexterity that I do not possess. For me, blogging involves many stages of careful thought and reflection, while posting on my social network is much more impulsive. As the connection to social apps becomes so much easier, the act of thumbing up other people’s thoughts or pictures; re-posting jokes or articles; and writing that quick comment, turn into something like a nervous reflexes with little or no thought at all.

The danger of this instant reflex lurks closer than you think. A few times I gave thumbs up to a story, when I actually wanted to flip it off my screen, because I found it silly or distasteful.  At least once I wrote a comment or a whinge that I later thought will be misunderstood. Most of the time I caught these things within minutes, but since these actions are “out there” immediately after I click on them, there is always a chance that one of my friends would bear witness to them, maybe even the very same one who would get offended. It is a peril that one has to live with; a means of culling that friend perhaps.

Predictive text is particularly damning in this area, as I found out recently while posting on my tablet a message to Nelson Mandela for his birthday. My “Happy Birthday Tata Madiba” came out as Happy Birthday Tara Marina. I was horrified when I spotted this a few minutes later. I quickly discarded my tablet for my trusted laptop and typed it correctly. Barely a minute later a friend commented that I was a day early… mistakes are caught quickly in cyberspace.

Of course it is perfectly okay, people can make stupid mistakes on social networks as they do in the live social sphere. It is a bit more public, that’s all. So, the moral of the story: Treat your status update as a blog post. Respect it and give it some extra thought, it saves you unnecessary embarrassment.

Food, Glorious American Food (not)

One of the first culture shocks I suffered after coming from South Africa, was the monster of American food markets. Mind you, I spent ten years in South Africa, so my palette was not too demanding, and since I did not visit any fancy restaurants in the past year, I still have very primitive taste when it comes to food. Soon after my first frustrating visit to a New York supermarket, or food retailer, I found out that Americans do not make simple straightforward foods.

The first thing I wanted to buy was cereal. For years in South Africa, my breakfast consisted of Weetbix, topped with the fruit of the season and milk. Such a simple thing is extremely hard to find here. Instead there are the Corn Flakes, the Crispies and various other types with more than necessary sugar content. Things get much worse when we are talking children cereals, because they are mainly chunks, or nodules in violently brilliant color that cannot possibly be natural. I have resigned myself to giving Robert occasionally some candy in those awful colors because there are no other kinds, but I am not about to give him breakfast disguised as candy. I have enough trouble as it is with his sweet tooth. The candy of course is a completely different story, in South Africa we had Smarties with natural food coloring, here they insist on electric greens and blues for their m&ms. Everything else has the same hideous colors, so I take refuge in the imported brands. The local -much advertised- brand of chocolate is beyond awful, I would take Beacons (our local and by no way best brand in South Africa) any day instead. Even Robert, who is hardly discerning when it comes to candy, does not like that local brand.

The next horrific discovery for me was the bread. Why do they bake every type of bread with really noticeable amounts of sugar? For the first time in my life I found myself carefully reading the ingredients of bread, which is supposed to be the simplest recipe humans ever made. It is not that simple here. There is bread with High Fructose Corn Syrup (more about this in a minute), and bread without it, but they all taste sweet. After four months of reading bread packages, I was complaining to a colleague that this terrible place (I could not stand New York in the beginning) did not even have plain simple bread. He told me to look for bread alone, which turned out to be the name of the brand. I finally can eat bread without tasting sugar.

The issue with High Fructose Corn Syrup is another strange phenomenon of America. This type of “sugar” is used for almost all beverages, and like anything else in America, the effects of its heavy usage, good or bad, will be upon us in a generation or two. Regardless of whether this is a natural or a synthetic sugar, there is a problem with the American diet and its dependence on sugar. I rarely use sugar for anything other than baking, but I still feel that my consumption of it has increased.

One of the things I miss most about South Africa is the abundance of local fruit and vegetables. I also miss the local South African meat; the excellent beef, ostrich, fish and chicken I used to enjoy. Perhaps things have deteriorated in the year I was away, especially in terms of prices, but the quality is still the same, I think. The fruit I had back in April was wonderful. I ate my fill of mango, pawpaw and avocado and many others. I cannot do the same here. Who knows what types of industrial pesticides are used on the produce here. In South Africa I never bothered with organic. Here, for the privilege of eating organic food and produce,  I easily pay double the regular prices for groceries, but I cannot bring myself to eat anything else. The thought of handling mass-produced meet makes me cringe.

Of course there is no escaping normal non-organic food when I eat out or buy my lunch from one of the mobile vendors so common to Midtown Manhattan. And sometimes it is simply too expensive to buy organic, so I go one step down, to kosher for example. I sometimes even wonder whether this whole organic food is not just a ploy to make us paranoid consumers fork out more money. I questioned this today as I was choosing some peaches from the “organic” basket. Nothing but some stickers distinguished its peaches from the regular peaches across the aisle at half the price.

Are Social Networks Killing the Art of Personal Blogging?

Most people invest a lot of time and effort in social networking. Virtual socializing has almost replaced actual socializing. For people who are shy and introverted like myself, it is much easier to share stories and news on my wall. The social networks make it also very easy to wish people well on their birthday (rather than diarise and try to remember it ahead of time), it is also no effort at all to congratulate social network friends on their successes or send them well-meaning words when they advertise a failure or difficulty. I know many people who have sworn off social networking because they feel it infringes on their privacy. They think, and rightly so, that they have no control over the information they share with the world. Once you write a word or a statement it will be out there, whether you delete it, or close your whole social network account, it will remain accessible to someone out there, and is therefore bound to haunt you for the rest of your life. If you think conspiracy theory and big brother, you are going to have a huge problem with this idea. However, if you think human accountability, responsibility, and standing up for consequences, you will be able to breathe a little easier.

Personally, I find social networks hugely useful. They connect me to members of my family whom I am unlikely to meet anywhere else. The last time I visited my birth country was ten years ago, and I am unlikely to visit anytime soon. My other friends in South Africa, I see once I year at most and it is wonderful to be able to see the events of their lives on a daily basis. I see the pictures of their growing children and follow them on their vacations, when the great distance prevents me from keeping closely with them. I have no qualms about posting my own pictures, comments and ideas on a social network either. I feel it is one way of communicating with friends across great distances. The great success of social networking shows that it has filled a great need to communicate between people. This came of course with some disadvantages, I hinted at earlier. They are a poor substitute for actual face-to-face socializing, they perversely encourage people to become anti-social, for example it is easier to write a message on friend’s wall (and I mean here a friend in the old-fashioned sense) instead of picking up the phone and talking to them. They have also diluted the old-fashioned meaning of the word friend until it became synonymous with somebody you met once at a cocktail party. Finally, they simply produce too much information, which places pressure on our time. Once you are aware of these negative aspects, however, you can target them specifically with remedies. For example, give actual, not virtual, time to your real friends. Regularly cull friends with whom you are unlikely to cross path with ever again. Exercise your own rules in your own personal space to limit the amount of time wasted on social networks, and limit your interests to things you really want to know about, and to as little products and services (advertising) as possible.

Social Networks are in the end a business, and the members are potential capital, so the more time you spend interacting with them the more likely you are to buy something from them or from one of their partners or advertisers. You have to balance the benefits you get from them against the time and effort you invest. It is no surprise that in their quest for larger chunks of your time these networks make it increasingly easier to share, connect and communicate with other. The most famous social network is constantly evolving and upgrading. Giving users more and more ways to build a profile, that is now almost indistinguishable from a blog. I cannot think of anything I can do on this blog that I cannot do on my social networking “site”. With the added advantage that on the social network I already have a built-in audience in the form of my social network friends. During the past year, as I experienced a hiatus in my blogging enthusiasm I wondered whether sharing through social networking had something to do with it, and until now I am not clear on this in my own mind.

What is your view of this phenomenon? Do you think the blurred boundaries between social networking and blogging are positive or negative? Will blogging survive and evolve through this, or will it be in the end one application or function of social networking? I am curious to find out.

Keeping New York at Bay

New York is perhaps the most pretentious city in the world. This may not be directly obvious, given that the vast majority of its people are far from snobbish, but it is has this attitude about itself. It fancies itself the best city in the world.

I came here reluctantly. I stay here, as I keep telling myself, temporarily. I try to let the city not get too much under my skin. But still, it is hard to keep it out. For one its noise permeates everything. It feels like you are permanently stuck in traffic, in an idling car. You can even feel the vibration on the road. Only in an idling car you are capable of listening to, and having a conversation with your five-year old son. Here it is not always possible.

My son is quite happy here. Six months into my exile here, he started saying that New York is the “bestest city in the world” – Africa already seems to him exotic and far. He sometimes imitates me by saying he wants to go back to Africa. Mostly when it is terribly cold outside. Still, I think he gets too much American “culture” – I sometimes wonder whether it has anything going for it other than Thanksgiving,  Fourth of July fireworks and Halloween. Even those if you think closely were thanks to non-American elements. I mean Halloween is an imported feast, Thanksgiving was due to the natives misguided generosity and the Fourth of July, well, it is just when these haphazard immigrants decided they have what it takes to become a nation, but do they really? It is another story.

I am always at pains to find the genuine heart of America, the soul of America, if you will. But perhaps New York is the wrong place to look. Because here they built shrines for the mighty greenback, and in my opinion the whole structure is going to crumble around their ears very soon. Apart from the greenback there is nothing much left here that is American. All is made in China, even my highly touted iPhone.

Greed seems to be the machinery that fuels everything in New York. Those people rushing and jostling on the bus or train or subway are perhaps rushing to close some deal. Wall Street is the place where people dream of making a fast buck, and where so many already watched their wealth evaporate literally into thin air.  The city lives on hype and lies. In fact hype might have been invented in New York first before Hollywood took over manufacturing it. How many people followed the illusion of wealth this city represented only to end up in a gutter. How many people believed its golden lies?

I refuse to be swallowed by the city and all it stands for. I hide on Roosevelt Island, where I can watch the city at a safe distance. And like my island, I still refuse to let the big city take me over. For how long? Only time will tell.

I’m Posting Every Week in 2011

When the year started I was busy with a translation project but the blogging challenge of 2011 caught my attention and I loved the idea of participating, but as I mentioned in my previous post I was too timid and too cowardly to go through with it at the time.

My life is now on auto-pilot, a stretch of turbulent free weather ahead, and hopefully it will continue this way.  I have little heat, passion and anger to drive my blogging zeal; my best blogging days were when I moaned and whinged about work, my ex and the assortments of misadventure I seemed to be plagued with. For once though I want to blog for pleasure, for the exercise of writing and putting thoughts to paper. I tried to explain in a previous post my fears and what is blocking this venture, but I am determined to conquer them and going public with this challenge is the best way to “shame” myself into doing this.

A post a day, is a little to ambitious for me, so I am going with the challenge of posting once a week in 2011, I know it won’t be easy, but it might be fun, inspiring, and wonderful. Therefore I’m promising to make use of The Daily Post, and the community of other bloggers with similar goals, to help me along the way, including asking for help when I need it and encouraging others when I can.

If you already read my blog, I hope you’ll encourage me with comments, likes, and goodwill along the way.

Signed,

Robert’s Mother.

Blogophobia

I have been away from you dear blog for a long time and it makes me feel terrible. I am beginning to feel an onset of a new condition that I will call blogophobia.

There are many aspects to this fear of blogging in my case. Firstly, as of today I find that I have already skipped many key events of the past year without comment. There are also many half-formed thoughts lurking about as drafts, suspended in their own temporal dimension, as the weight of passing days buries them further away from the here and now. Whenever I start to blog they seem to reproach me at my tardiness, so I just turn my head away from the blog sighing that perhaps it is too much work and effort to dig this far into the past. When I re-read the half-formed thoughts in some of these drafts, I fail even to remember what I was on about, and in this case it is easiest to hit discard draft, but  I still have seven half-finished ones waiting to see the light.

The other aspect of my fear is that I am, as I often find myself in life, straddling some fine dividing line. I do not think I have anything profound to say, yet I find myself too proud, and too old to post just every day drivel. And caught between what I can write and what I aspire to write I just stay silent. My blogophobia gets worse when I read a terrible piece – How awful, I never want to sound like THIS. It deepens again when I read something brilliant – There is no way I can ever write like THAT; it is a vicious, and never-ending circle.

Like anywhere else in life though, it is useless to stay afraid. A day comes when you have to face your fear. So what if I do not have anything important to say? So what if I never come up with a profound thought or never blog a life-changing adventure or experience? There is blessing in being ordinary, and there are pleasures in blogging about toilet-training mishaps or toddler language and logic.

Even in the middle of all this ordinariness there bound to be a light-bulb moment, and a brilliant thought, but if I do not put my fingers to the keyboard to capture mundane moments and thoughts, I will never have the courage to articulate occasional brilliance.

I am hoping this will be the year to get this blog going again. Maybe I will take this blogging challenge for 2011.