Saturday, January 5, 2013


Last spring (it must have been April or so), courtesy of a colleague from my last year of Bachelor's, I read a book entitled "How I Became Stupid", written by a man named Martin Page. Much to my disappointment, the book gave neither definite instructions, nor a weekly training plan. It was mostly just a rant about the materialism that encroaches contemporary society.

Right... this blog post is not about that book.

Yes, it was a fun book to read, but the words gave off a repetitive smell of frustration (... this is where you smile...), and the whole endeavor suffered from a horribly-picked target audience. I think of the people who need to read it, and most haven't cracked open any book in ages. Or maybe they have, I couldn't possibly know. I could say I've learned better than to be judgmental of others, but that would be pretentious. In fact, I just don't care to judge.

So, anyway, I was hoping that this book would teach me how to become stupid ("laid back about life", if you prefer a fancier wording), and since we're both here dealing with this blog post, we can both agree that something went terribly wrong along the way, and I've failed. Although it happens that I sometimes feel stupid, I'm afraid that's a very different feeling. Reality always turns to kick me in the butt like a donkey on steroids.

 Stanley Library at Girton College

Christmas, for some reason, is usually important to me. I'm not religious, although for cultural reasons, I will say I'm sort-of Christian (I'm spiritual, but no Jesus, bibles, or Popes for me, thank you very much). I loathe the fir tree massacre that goes on on Christmas. I hate the flocks of entranced shoppers who create stampedes in supermarkets, and I'm also not that big on giving and receiving presents. But underneath all that, I love Christmas for the personal experience that it stirs up in me. I definitely looked forward to Christmas.

But the problem is that attachment spawns expectation, and like Charles Dickens himself tried to warn us, "Great Expectations" lead to nothing good in life. I'm sitting at the table, looking at the top-right corner of my monitor that reads "Sat, Jan 5", and I'm trying to figure out what the f**k just happened over the past two weeks, while I'm downing one glass of wine after the other. I'm not sad, I just... am. I'm wondering whether Christmas actually was the most recent thing I've given up on.

A few weeks ago, I attended a Christmas carol concert at the Stanley Library in Girton College. Schubert's Winterreise. True to the name of the song cycle, a few days later I was boasting on having booked 3 flights, 3 train rides, 2 bus rides and 1 car ride, all for 218£ - Heathrow to Heathrow. To the wrong people, and out of nervousness, but I was boasting. I was going to gloriously roam half of Europe (extra-)low-cost, so that I could be home for Christmas. I was going to have a great Christmas. Eventually and predictably, I felt like I was putting on a show for myself, and I simply didn't want to attend my own show. Subconscious self-defense, I suppose. I'm supposed to make an effort towards nice holidays, not all the effort. "Home", whatever that means, was the most isolating and depressing place I've been to in the past few months - hardly surprising for Everybodyleftville.

Driving would have normally made me tick, but after my father said "Catch!" and threw me the car keys (much to my surprise, I may add), half an hour later I found myself just holding them and staring at the car. I felt nothing. "OK, maybe if I drive 130 km/h... Still nothing? OK, maybe if I drive on the left instead... no? Slow down and drift sideways into the next curve? Ho-hum... OK, let's face it, this isn't working."

My grandmother is very old. There were moments when she did not recognize me, and I simply didn't know how to deal with it. I thought I would be wiser and more prepared for this, but I just cowardly locked myself inside my head, far from anyone else, and threw away the key. I was hugging her, yet she didn't seem to acknowledge that it was me. Everything was wrong. I left.

At the moment of reading "How I Became Stupid" last year, I saw the point, but I didn't know just how to get there. Whether I want it or not, though, things are starting to fall into place in that direction for me. Slowly but surely, one day I'll get to the point where I can write a post to advertise my achievement of complete, utter stupidity.

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