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Monday, 14 October 2013

News story

Aunt A's depressive friend invited us over for tea tonight. I have politely hesitated and wondered if it's the right word choice, but decided to use it anyway: it was a hellish evening. 

Not that my day was up to a brilliant start, aunt A being her usual self. Today she exploded because she can't figure out her umpteenth glucometer and I was cooking. I was fucking cooking and, as she was quick to point out to aunt MT, I don't regularly cook. I don't cook for her or uncle A (ever, she'd be quick to add) but I was cooking lunch for aunt MT and cousin N. Well yes. You see, they like my food and they don't imply I'm burning the kitchen and house down when I cook. They don't whine or tell me I'm doing everything wrong. They don't think every choice I've made in the process is somehow designed to make their lives miserable. They offered to help. They haven't ruined the fun of cooking for me. We'll leave that there. 

Work was uneventful, except for the bit where I'd highlighted one of the wrong answers as correct and had to tell Pf2 about it (he was awfully tactful and I thank him for it.) He thanked me for the problems I submitted and told me they were great. I saw some of the others and knew they weren't that great in comparison but appreciated his observation anyway. I scored 89/100 in the exam I didn't study for. Not  my proudest moment (I'm a little embarrassed, I should have been able to get a bit more) but it's enough that I can still show my face around. 

When they picked me up from the bus stop they asked if I wanted to come along with them for tea, like I had a choice when they were already running late. I thought it would be harmless and should have known better. For the better part of two hours I sang "Valerie" in my thoughts and looked at my plate, doing my best to disengage myself from our hostess's horrible table manners, the dreadful conversations that would not for five minutes straight take a turn for the better and the overall shoutiness of people being opinionated and angry about the world being a horrible place (in spite of the fact that it's actually getting better). 


The first thing I did when I got back was take a look at my e-mail (it's safe to say the gay stranger won't be answering) and the news, where I found the most curious "news article." You know how, on slow days, they'll pass any random fact off as "news" and call it a day? It could be a celebrity doing something outrageous, it could be the results to some survey about sex (it's the thing that gets them traffic), it could be one of those poorly worded headlines about facts that aren't really news. Well, one of them reminded me of SmTn and it seemed like the perfect excuse to write him an impromptu e-mail. While I do hope to see him online soon and have that serious conversation we should probably have, this e-mail was all about the fact that when things go as bad as they did tonight I think of him and remember I haven't once had a conversation so morbid with him. If anything, he'll try to cheer me up when I'm even a little down in the dumps. Because he's lovely. Of course he is. And right now aunt A is complaining (conversations now that she gets to let off some steam around aunt MT are almost entirely made of whining). I know I'm in bad shape because I'm now always paranoid she's talking about me and I should probably address this with the therapist, but for now it will have to be enough if I remind myself that SmTn is lovely and smile.

[12:04am edit]
I should be sleeping, I know. And I was about to go to sleep, having watched this week's episode of The Mentalist and all, but there's something I thought I'd write anyway before that.

There was a time, some ten odd years ago in school1 where our social studies teacher asked us to prepare a news article to share with the class. I found this weekly assignment to be impossibly boring. I've never been one for the news, you see, because they're invariably bad and there was a time when I thought even sad lyrics in otherwise nice songs were not worth anyone's time: why would you go out of your way to spread the sadness? While I now understand there's an art in showing sadness and stirring up the gloomier feelings in others, i requires a certain elegance that will never be found in any newspaper or magazine. In school1, when my turn came, I chose a news story about the Chinese zodiac and how some younger folks were giving up on their older signs to instead worry about their Chinese ones. It was a big story with pictures and a whole colourful page dedicated to it somewhere in the miscellaneous section (I presume). The teacher then said something along the lines of "linaThumbe sure is smart, look at the very important story she chose to share with us!" and I have to admit I did not see the sarcasm in her statement until this year. On that day I felt proud to have found a somewhat cheerful story. 

While part of my sentiment now is, in fact, based on the innate wish to prove yourself right at any cost, I can recognise the foolishness of my choice and still be proud of it. We all had some kind of idea of what was going on. She'd taken the time to leave out whatever ancient civilisation we were studying and tweak the syllabus (which likely never existed in the first place) to talk about the important news story of the moment. I can understand why it's important for young people to be up to date on such things and I can admit my deliberate pride in not having any idea what was going on in the world at any given time was probably not the most clever position I've taken. However, I can still find merit in the idea of finding the happier and more trivial news. I know they're just filler, and unimportant, and most often uninteresting too, but isn't it nice to have news that aren't bad even if they're not properly news? Isn't it nice to talk about something that won't stir up arguments and upset people and remind us all how fucked we are? Bona fide good news are hard to come by, and I'll celebrate them anytime they come, but, in the mean time, it's nice to read something that's not depressing. It's like the comic relief in otherwise not so cheerful films (see: the Thénardiers in Les Misérables). 

Also, though some are quick to point out "You're smart" to me let me counter with this gem: when our 4th grade teacher asked us all to investigate Gandhi, it was my very first time investigating anything. I could not find a single decent source, I used the internet instead of a book and didn't even use Encarta. I wrote down what information I could find and sounded relevant in my notebook and considered my assignment done. Then our teacher said "You can all go out to break when linaThumbe tells us Gandhi's full name." Of course, it's the one thing I didn't know. Honest to goodness, it did not occur to me to look up his name or write it down anywhere. He was Gandhi, wasn't he? Well, the teacher thought he was ending the class early and being nice/easy on us. Now I'll never forget his first name is Mahatma. Well, maybe there's more to it (I just looked at his Wikipedia article and there are more names), but that's the important one to remember. It's also quite the lesson for me: I'm not quite that smart. I'm not as clever as I'd like to be and not as intelligent as others seem to believe I am. I don't think I've come around to making peace with that yet, but it's worth noting I actually realise it. 

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