Saturday, 28 February 2009

Being Smart

It's easy to be smart. Kind of smart.

It's so easy to call people names: the driver that makes you drive at a much slower pace you would choose by yourself, the colleague who does something a bit differently from what you wanted, your teacher or boss who tells you to do something that you don't really want. Or the members of your family for not reading your mind and doing some pretty unimportant thing or not doing it.

It is so darn easy! Easy to make comments, asking yourself who the heck they think they are and how they couldn't see there was a better way of doing things.

It's even easier when it comes to celebrities. In the spotlight, they are like live targets. They probably exist for us, ordinary people, to be able to let out all that energy that gathers in us somewhere and makes our hearts heavy. Thank God for those who create scandals so we can be horrified by them and righteous in the worst meaning of the word!

And if we want to say that we know better what should be done and in what way, there is one group of people that is really most handy: the politicians. Everybody knows what a mayor should be doing for the city, the president for the country and all the members of parties and different parliaments. We know how they should be doing it and, most of all, we all know how ridiculous the things are that they actually do.

I often wonder how come the things are going so wrong when there are so many smart people out there! Telling their opinions out loud as well-known facts, no matter how many arguments there are against them and feeling so confident that they will be admired for their wisdom.

It is much more difficult to listen. And to be quiet. And take your word back if you realize you are wrong. And not demand things you feel entitled to at any cost for others.

It's difficult sometimes - for some people even much more than for others - not to say out loud what makes you angry and what is bad, mean, wrong, disgusting or of any other negative quality. Yep! It's hard.

Just imagine a group of people eating dinner and one of them complaining about a dish they are all having. How can you enjoy your pizza when the person next to you comments on it all the time: it's too fatty, the dough feels like plastic, it's tasteless and does not resemble pizza at all? If you like it in the beginning, you would probably much rather eat in peace.

It's pretty much the same with everything else in life: the people you think are quite nice (yes, you know nobody is perfect) are said to be mean, envious and the worst hypocrites ever, the films you like are described as cheesy, average or simply trash, the products you are pleased with are not fancy enough. All that is said by people who believe they are so smart they have the right to judge everything and everybody. And the worst part: if they have audience - listeners AND readers, others learn from them and start doing pretty much the same.

In such an environment it takes some creativity and imagination (or simply some good will) to make a nice comment. Not to praise something bad, but to honestly say that you like something. Or that you think it's quite nice. It's good. Pleasant. Funny, sometimes - I'm a deep believer in funny - or well meant for deeds that went wrong. Because sometimes they are.

I'll finish this and go now. And I won't say a word - until I have something nice to say.

A moment for Funny Grammar

I'll just stop here for a moment now and come back later to write some more. As a teacher, I've had the opportunity to learn a lot from children. I'll just give you a few examples:

Irregular verbs:

choose cheese cheese
sing sang song

and one that actually makes some sense (somehow):

forgive forgave forgotten

Exercise on past simple and past progressive:

He cooked dinner when he was cutting his finger.
He drove home when he was crashing into a tree.

I hope it made you smile. :)

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Why can't I sit still?

A student's reflection on his schoolwork - In his teacher's dreams...

At school we learn things. Why? Many things are simply interesting. Besides, it's good to know a lot. Education is important. I want to have a good job when I grow up.

I don't always listen at school. I often turn around and chat with my friends. I sometimes shout so that those who sit at the other side of the classroom can hear me, too. If I'm angry, I quarrel loudly. And if I'm bored, I play with other things. I usually do my schoolwork, but not always because I don't always hear the teacher's instructions.

It's so difficult to sit, listen, write and be quiet. WHY?

Maybe I eat or drink the wrong things. I eat a lot of sweets. I like soda. But maybe that is too much sugar and additives. They make me restless and nervous. Then it’s more difficult to follow the lesson.

Maybe I have too much energy. I don’t do much in the afternoon. I watch TV or play computer games. I think I need more time outdoors with my friends. I sometimes go for a walk, but not often.

I don’t always have time to do what I want. I have music lessons and football practice five times a week and when I do my homework, the day is over. I just have dinner, have a shower and go to bed. I sometimes listen to music a little, but not for long. School is the only place then, where I can relax a little and talk to my friends.

Sometimes it’s so boring. But everything is boring if you don’t understand. Lessons become more interesting when I follow and understand. And it is even more boring if I leave my things at home. If I forget about my workbook, I cannot do the exercise at school. If I don’t have any work to do, it’s boring. Boring boring. Boring.

I must do something about that. I don’t like it when the teacher or the parents are angry with me. And I hate bad marks.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Out of the Box

I wonder how it must feel to be closed in a box, seeing out without fully understanding what is going on. The people seem nice enough or at least indifferent, some of them, but what they are trying to tell you, is beyond your understanding. I wonder.

Coming into a new country, taking a seat in the classroom and finding out you don't understand A SINGLE WORD.

I guess it must be CONFUSING. No matter how you shake or nod your head, you can only hope you're doing the right thing. Hopefully, they don't expect your answers to be one hundred per cent sensible or even correct.

I guess it must be COMFORTABLE. They understand. If not from the beginning, they realize quite soon, that you cannot do so many things. You will fail, sure, but nobody is angry. So if you don't mind failing, that's just fine. Going to that same place every day, meeting the same people, saying "yes" or "no" from time to time, being quite good at P.E. Football is fine.

I guess it's INTERESTING. These people actually live in a different way. Not like on another planet, but still. How different? I'm really not sure.

I guess it must be DEPRESSING. In time you realize you're failing over and over again. Your parents cannot do much about it. Your teachers are at a loss of ideas and you are... well, you're just a kid. A dictionary is a good idea, but even then... Thank God for football!

I guess it must be BORING. Once you have learned about most of the things that are different, except for the language, you are not learning much. Sitting there in that current of words is like listening to the noise of the traffic in the streets. It could just as well be silence or lectures on quantum theory. Nothing much for you there.

I guess it must be FRUSTRATING. You are not one of those diligent students, but you do want to do a little schoolwork from time to time. The teacher would probably praise you. Numbers are alright, but when you come to words, well...

I guess it must be INSPIRING. It gives you hope, seeing all these kids around you, especially when they don't bother you. They call you by your name and they know, too. They know you might say something that does not make much sense. They are learning. And so are you. And sometimes when your answer is particularly out of place, you can have a good laugh together. Things are finally getting better.

I guess it must be a TOUGH LEARNING EXPERIENCE. But your brain finally has enough. It has gathered so many words by now, in so many different situations, that you can actually re-use them. And the people understand. And they are glad you can do it and they can help you now.

I guess it must be UNBELIEVABLE, once you grow up and look back.

But I'm really glad that I don't really know. I can only look at that box from the outside and do what I can. And wonder.

Monday, 23 February 2009

Chasing Winter Away

Tomorrow will be their day - Shrove Tuesday. But they have been around for some time now. Their job is to chase winter away, so that spring can come into the land. And this is how they arrived to our village for us to see and hear them:

They danced and rang their cowbells. They made such noise that cold and bad weather are bound to go.

Traditionally, only an unwed man could become a Kurent (or Korant) as the mask is called. They danced and danced and received handkerchiefs from pretty girls. They stuck them behind their belts. And danced on. It takes a lot of energy to persist for days under that heavy sheep skin (seven of them, really), but they have to do their job properly.

After the dance they put their masks on display, so we could have a closer look:
Those are their red tongues, sticking out. Aren't they scary? Traditionally, they never took their masks off, nowadays it's different.

I hope the spring that's coming will be good. We have the Kurents' good wishes and maybe I'll be good, too. Good enough to stop making good resolutions every day.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Time: given, stolen, borrowed, wasted?

I had a week off - what a bliss! No getting up early without really wanting to, no preparation for the next day, no... you know. It gives you more time to do the pleasant things, either it's glaring at the TV or computer screen or baking an cooking. Time for activities by choice. Yaay!

Waking up on Saturday morning: what is that thing in my throat, a razor? What is this odd feeling in my head? My knees all soft and my darling nowhere in sight?

Not a flu, but stronger than an ordinary cold, whatever it was it STOLE my week off! Yes, I like watching TV (far too much), but I also had other plans for the week. And I did try: I cleaned the kitchen a little bit, but got SO tired! Ironed some clothes and washed some more, cooked almost nothing.... even less than I wanted. I wanted to bake bread, to cook something new, write interactive exercises and make a presentation or two on Power Point. I wanted to start doing something for myself and exercise a little, one way or another. And make some new plans. Instead, I am wondering where all that stuff is coming from - where is it stored before it runs through my nose, litres and litres of it? And why can't I turn my nose round and just pour it out from time to time?

So tomorrow a new week is starting (or is t today?) time will be flying as always.


No, I'm not that frustrated, or too angry or sad. I am a little, though. But then I remember my lazy moments when I have time and don't do what I want to do when I can't. Yep, time for another resolution: I MUST change that.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Having and longing

Why is it that people long for warm spring and hot summer days when it is cold out there? Why would many jump at the opportunity to go skiing and playing in the snow when there is no snow in the view?

I guess it is in the human nature to wish for what we don't have and not care so much for what we do. And what has this day given us to appreciate?

I'll limit myself to one thing: the time I have spent with the loved ones. And I do not only mean the moments when everyone agreed on everything. I also mean the little quarrels that hurt our feelings a little bit, just enough that they can be mended a few moments later. I mean the mess in the kitchen we make together and the cleaning that I can do myself. I mean the names I'm called and the names I give to others. All the smiles and jokes, all the faces we make. Mixed together these things spice my day in a pleasant mixture. I also mean all the "hello-s" and all the "goodbye-s" you can say or hear in a day. The moments alone when you know they will be coming back.

Isn't that just nice?

And what has that got to do with the photo? Nothing much, maybe. I'd like to be there on that sunny day. But when I have a chance, I don't go. So much about appreciation! Lazy me!

But I will change that!

Stirring WHAT?

My thoughts. You know, when you get too lazy sometimes to think properly and your mind just slips away in ordinary thought over and over again? It's generally known that every muscle needs workout and so do the little brain cells up in the attic. That's exactly what I intend to do here: stir thoughts a little from time to time, whether you're reading or not. Of course, your comments are most welcome, so I'll try to choose thoughts worth stirring.