6/29/2018


I went through a reading crisis which worried me quite a bit. It's like, when you have a cat and one day she suddenly stops eating, you have a reason to worry. Likewise, when you have a Mervi and one day she stops reading, there's something wrong. I got to the root of it fast though - the reason was lying in the list of obligatory school books. As soon as you have mandatory reading list and deadlines for book reflections, even the nicest thing - like reading - can turn into work. And well... work is work. Help.

I had to think about it for a while and it seems like I was able to come up with a solution. I told myself - the school books are your work so you read them during your work time and you do not write those book titles down in your notebook for the annual book count. The book count and evenings are only for fun reading as they always have been. So by making a clear distinction between what I have to read and what I want to read, I was more or less able to overcome my crisis. Although, there is so much stuff I need to read in connection with my studies that my eyes get tired often and I read less in the evenings. But that's not too serious a thing. The main thing is that I have gotten back a healthy appetite for reading.

I got sick last weekend (I suspect it had something to do with the fact that I didn't have any time to catch my breath after returning from Newbol and my body just decided to do a shut down). So as much as my headache and runny nose let me, I could read. And I mean, fun read. I had a stack of books which I had brought from the UK and which patiently waited for their turn. Now it was their turn. And now it was their chance to save me from the insanity of solitary confinement - I don't do well, having to stare at my ceiling and not having anyone to talk to for days on end. So I read. And among other stuff, I read Hemingway's For Whom the Bell Tolls. It turned out to be one of those books that makes a lasting and very emotional impression. I mean, it was so good it hurt! The last hundred pages needed to be read all in one go because it suddenly became a matter of life and death to find out what happened to Robert Jordan. Knowing Hemingway, I knew there was very little chance for the book to have a happy ending but even with that knowledge the ending hit me hard. I literally cried through the last pages (really bad idea when you already have a headache). Some 5 days have passed now and I am still under this book's spell. If there has been one man who knew how to write, it was Hemingway (and that despite all his chauvinism). He was a wonder of a story teller! Read the Bells if you get a chance!

I'm better now and am back to work, although I should have stayed in bed for a couple of days longer. Sometimes the burden of doing nothing is too much to bear. Anyway, I'm reading Vladimir Sharov's The Rehearsals now, a book that came to me from Dr A. N.'s "advanced reading class". It's so strange I am occasionally not sure I can make it to the end but I will. I understood what the book was about by the 100th page or so. Weird late Soviet / early post-Soviet stuff, all very allegorical and deeply-deeply steeped in the Biblical motifs.

Other than the stupid illness, all is well. I'm occasionally watching football in the evenings - sorry to see the Germans leave and hoping for Uruguay to kick some Portuguese butts. Enjoying the summer (or what's left of it) and being exceptionally grateful for all the good things I have in my life. Waiting to see all my Newbold people in the end of August. Waiting for the new concert season to begin in the autumn.

The song of a day - no, of a month - is Tchaikovsky's Hymn of the Cherubim. Heavenly!

6/10/2018

I'm really bad at shopping. Like, really really bad.

When I go to a shopping mall alone, I last for about twenty minutes. If I'm with a friend, I can stay for some thirty minutes before I feel an irresistible need to leave. Which makes it sometimes quite difficult for me to shop - if I don't find what I'm looking for in first two shops I go into, there's a good chance I leave without buying anything. So I always have to be very strategic when it comes to choosing the shops. I basically need the first one to be the right one. And even if I truly need something, it may take me up to two weeks before I feel motivated enough to go to a mall and buy it. There is something about things, about great quantity of things, that makes me so tired in my head. I just don't like stuff.

I don't understand people who think shopping is fun. It isn't.

And I am one of those weirdos who actually thinks owning 25 pairs of shoes is unethical. It's morally wrong.

Which, of course, doesn't mean that I don't value certain things. I do. I have my mom's watch and it is immensely valuable to me. I have a violin which some well-to-do friends helped me buy when I was a poor student, and I have a very emotional relationship to it. S. knitted me a sweater as a Christmas present and I love wearing it. I have a cool ceramic kettle in my kitchen which I bought together with my mom and I'm glad I have it. I like the quality - emotional and sentimental quality - of things.

And the shopping rule also has exceptions. I like bookshops - for very obvious reasons - although I get tired even there. Then I like buying concert tickets online. The good thing about this is that I don't end up with more stuff in my drawers, I end up with more beautiful memories and this is brilliant. And then there is one more odd exception. In a mall, I can stand for 15 minutes and window-shop for watches. Considering my 20 minute shopping time limit, this is really something.

When I finished teaching Greek a month ago, I felt like celebrating. It had been a tough year and yet, all turned out so very well in the end, the students worked hard and the results were very good. Newbold was happy, I was happy. So I thought - let me pat myself on the back and reward myself. And oh, why don't I be creative and get myself a thing as a present this time. Maybe even a watch so that this one time I would really have a reason to turn my window-shopping into real shopping. And it would be such a nice reminder of my teaching year. Something tangible. A thing.

So I went shopping just before leaving the UK on Friday. I didn't take me longer than 20 minutes, honestly. And I left the fancy shop as a proud owner of a watch I have decided to call The Greek Watch, honoring the endless hours of preparing for Greek classes and commuting between Tallinn and Riga. So let me proudly present, a thing of a watch:


--

It is wonderful to be back home. Last week I was feeling pretty homesick so I got a little emotional when I saw the Old Town steeples from the plane window. There's no place like home! The first thing I did after dragging my suitcase home was to go to a grocery store and buy dark rye bread, real bread. Yesterday I got to taste first fresh strawberries and fresh pickles and I suddenly realised summer had reached this far Nordic corner of the world while I was away. Summer and home, ah! And today I'm taking revenge for the past Sundays when they made us sit in the classroom and study from morning til evening. I'm lazy-ing around my apartment, listening to my favourite radio program, reading the newest William Dalrymple book which Dr A. N. gave me as a present (W. D.'s Koh-i-Noor was published in paperback literally while I was in the UK so it's like a warm bread straight out of oven) and thinking about calling my Mister Little Brother to get together for lunch. Maybe a walk in the Old Town in the evening... Take that, classroom! Revenge tastes so sweet. But home tastes sweeter yet.