East of Constantinople, West of Shanghai


The case of the missing parcel

You remember the bit about sharing the funny and surreal bits of the everyday life of a freelance writer, in order to captivate the audience and, in theory, sell more books and get more Patreon supporters?

Well, try this one for size…

A few months back I translated a short essay in narrative form, about time travel and politics, The Political Travails of Time Travel, by Tamil writer and poet Gouthama Siddarthan. It was a fun job, and I enjoyed it greatly. The book in question was published – in a number of different languages – and is having a well-deserved success, and you might want to check it out.

The author was so nice he sent me a bunch of copies of the printed work. Here is where the funny and surreal bit begins.

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Night sky

There’s a comet in the sky, and it will be at its brightest next week, which is fitting, considering Christmas is approaching and all that. A good opportunity to carry outside my telescope and some hot chocolate, and spend a few hours watching. The comet is called 46P/Wirtanen, and it is not visible in the naked eye except in really clear sky/no lights areas; but otherwise can actually be spotted with a good pair of binoculars.

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I should be writing, and I’m not

I should be writing, right now: I have a 7000-words story in the works, right now, and I’m on the right track. I’ve got the characters, the voices, the sequence of events, the right imaginings. The deadline looms closer, I have lots of other things to do, and I’d like to post the story ASAP to the editor.
I should be writing.

But I am in no condition to do it.

This afternoon my brother went to see some clients of his – they have a food joint, and he’s doing their website, and went there to discuss some details, including his payment.
A person there laughed at his work, and said he could get paid in food.

This person in question has nothing to do with the business my brother is working for, but he’s a representative of the local administration. A person that knows quite well our current situation, and that knows full well my brother’s qualifications as a web designer, web master and software engineer.

But we are poor.
And to some people, being poor equals having no dignity.
You can be made the butt of every lame joke that comes to mind to any wanker, because you are nothing. 
It is not so.

My brother has a different character than I have. He shrugged it off, and went on discussing his work with his clients, focusing on the job at hand and on his payment – that will be long in the coming.

I got angry. I got angry because nobody deserves to be treated like that. Because joking about another human being’s situation is cruel and wrong and I despise anyone doing it, especially if he is in a position of power.
I got so angry I was physically ill.
Because it’s been almost three years now. Three years of people thinking that because you are in need, because you are working hard to pay your bills, because you don’t have “a real job”, then you are dirt.
I got angry because this shows me there is no way out.
You will get no help, no respect, no hope, no assistance.
You are poor. What a laugh.
You could always work for food, right?

I will write a book. A book about all the small violence and the brutality you are supposed to accept with a smile from certain people when you are poor. But I won’t write it now, because my hands are shaking.


It’s not depression, it’s just an overload of a-holes

Ever since I saw my father sink into depression and drag all of our family with him in his self-destructive attitude, I have blamed myself for not being able to catch the hints early on, and I have also started keeping my mind under observation.
Scared of losing it? You bet.

I have written in the past about the ups and downs of pursuing what could be described rather presumptuously as a creative career – be it writing, or teaching, or scientific research.
The condition of being constantly engaged, the mind constantly working on ideas, connections, developments, is in my opinion a big help in keeping dark mood at bay, but when it fails, it helps the dark moods to come on and do their thing.

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In the last few weeks, while battling with insomnia and other things, I noticed a curious thing: I’d be perfectly fine until sunfall, and then a sort of exhaustion would creep over me, stopping me from doing anything constructive.
Even reading a book becomes a fight, while a deep sense of unhappiness sets over my spirit.
It really got me scared. Continue reading