Category Archives: Relationships

Children saying scary things

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My daughter (10), elated that she got into the class she wanted and avoided the all-girls class: ‘All-girls classes suck!’

Me, naively: ‘Why?’

My studious 10-year-old: ‘Because they’d be all prissy and there’d be no boys to fall in love with.’

Ladies and gentlemen, the main purpose of public schooling, right there… in case there was ever any doubt.

(And I say this sarcastically, of course, because when the knowledge content has been thinned out and dumbed down beyond recognition, what else is left but socialization…)

Things you can observe at 7 a.m.

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I watched blackbirds today.

I couldn’t sleep.

Early at dawn I watched a parent

feed her chick.

The older one was dark –

as burdens darken us;

the younger pale,

unknowing, made a fuss.

Peck, peck, they went

as their small beaks touched

From where I sat,

it looked as if they kissed.

And it occurred to me

that this is how you feed

the nerve to fly,

which I so sorely missed.

Quote of the day

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On sex education:

“There is no sound reason, of any sort or kind, for concealing facts when talking to children. Their questions should be answered and their curiosity satisfied in exactly the same way in regard to sex as in regard to the habits of the fishes, or any other subject that interests them. (…)

The child who is told what he wants to know, and allowed to see his parents naked, will have no pruriency and no obsession of a sexual kind. Boys who are brought up in official ignorance think and talk much more about sex than boys who have always heard this topic treated on a level with any other. (…) All ignorance is regrettable, but ignorance on so important a matter as sex is a serious danger. (…)

Speaking not only from theory, but from practical experience, I am convinced that complete openness on sexual subjects is the best way to prevent children from thinking about them excessively, nastily or unwholesomely, and also the almost indispensable preliminary to an enlightened sexual morality.”

Bertrand Russel – Our Sexual Ethics (first published in 1936!)

Wind in the tall grasses

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Today I will write about the wind in the tall grasses.

Lost, immaterial, like our souls,

Just a passage from one place to another.

Just air. Just breath.

Soft stalks undulating. It’s ballet. Beautiful submission.

Soothing choreography under a ruthless sun.

People pass by on their bicycles

Barely noticing.

Barely noticing the road leads nowhere.

Barely noticing they’re cycling in circles,

Like the seasons,

Inevitably ending up the same, just older. Drier.

Have you noticed how heavy our souls have become

And how they weigh on the landscape

Chased by this cruel big sky?

How hard the wind has to blow to still move them?

Two blades of grass standing tall,

Then bent by the gale. The caress of a green tassel.

Two blades touching each other for a second

Softly, until they don’t. Until they cut skin.

Linguistic Research Project – Humble Request

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To my dear readers:

Hi guys, I hope everyone is doing well! I was wondering if any of you might like to help me with my new linguistic pet project. I was wondering how far the equality of the sexes has come and what it feels like to be a woman in our day-to-day interactions in the 21st century. What are women allowed to do? What are they supposed to want? What is still perceived as taboo? How do people speak about women where you live?

I am therefore collecting instances of oppressive language directed at women and used to keep them “in their place”. For now I am only interested in SPOKEN language, so expressions YOU YOURSELVES HAVE HEARD OR OVERHEARD DURING YOUR LIFETIME. Things like (but not limited to): “What kind of profession is that for a woman?”, “That’s not a girl colour/activity”, “The wife shouldn’t be smarter than her husband”, “All women want children”, “You women are so… emotional/hormonal/impossible”, “Women can’t be top managers because they lack…”, “Women can’t join the clergy because their looks will distract the congregation from God” (as if there are no distractingly handsome clergymen 🙂) or even disturbing stuff such as “She deserved what happened to her because she was too…. opinionated/provocative etc.”

If you have been confronted with this kind of prejudice or you’ve heard it in the workplace, on the street, at a friend’s house, from relatives, on TV/radio or whatever, and you’d like to contribute (anonymously), please submit your examples via the Google Form that can be found at the following link:

https://forms.gle/s51dQeqeMyBSeAk97

Multiple submissions possible.

The data I need is: the expression used; when it was said (what year, approximately); the country in which it was said; whether it was said by a man or a woman and what role/job/relationship that person was to you (boss, friend, colleague, family member, teacher, stranger in the street etc.), and the kind of tone that was used. If you also want to include how that particular utterance made you feel, please do. But please only contribute stuff that you have heard yourselves (i.e. stuff said in your presence). 🙂

I am also interested in sexist jokes that are still current and popular in your region. Things like: “If your wife can come out of the kitchen to nag you, you’ve made her leash too long.”

Eventually, if this actually turns into something interesting, I might add a section on supportive language (instances where women were encouraged to pursue their goals/ambitions/ideals and reach for the stars). It would be interesting to see how these differ in paraverbal terms (intonation, pitch etc.) and in non-verbal behavior (body language, eye contact etc.) from the dismissive comments above.

Many thanks for participating, I really appreciate it!

Words of wisdom, cautionary words

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On creativity:

“If too few opportunities for curiosity are available, if too many obstacles are placed in the way of risk and exploration, the motivation to engage in creative behavior is easily extinguished. (…) So, if the next generation is to face the future with zest and self-confidence, we must educate them to be original as well as competent.”

M. Czikszentmihalyi – Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention (Harper Collins e-books)

On vice and broadmindedness:

“Human wickedness, if accepted by society, is changed from an act of will into an inherent, psychological quality which man cannot choose or reject but which is imposed upon him from without, and which rules him as compulsively as the drug rules the addict. In assimilating crime and transforming it into vice, society denies all responsibility and establishes a world of fatalities in which men find themselves entangled. (…) If crime is understood to be a kind of fatality, natural or economic, everyone will finally be suspected of some special predestination to it. (…) The seeming broadmindedness that equates crime and vice, if allowed to establish its own code of law, will invariably prove more cruel and inhuman than laws, no matter how severe, which respect and recognize man’s independent responsibility for his behavior.”

H. Arendt – The Origins of Totalitarianism (Penguin Classics, 2017)

Any opinions?

Leave your shadows behind

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that hour.

on the long path to spring,

when darkness clears

and the trees drop their skeletal shadows in the snow

like a bad memory,

like baggage one no longer needs

to carry.

when the frost glistens with a gazillion different suns

in a myriad different eyes

and the crows’ croaking falls

silent

silent…

that hour.

like a letter from someone you love,

a letter you never thought

was coming.

when you

leave your shadows behind

and walk into the light.

that hour.

https://www.instagram.com/andreeasepi/

To Belong

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when she first discovered water

she did not go in.

she stood hypnotized. it was too wonderful.

she was, like the lot of us,

gripped by a fear of drowning,

arrested by the vastness and the gleaming.

to discover beauty is to discover

the heaviness of self and the terror

of irreversible sinking.

but look at her now, floating expertly on her back,

swaying with the waves

in her hair,

glistening like a fish,

all serene smiles and joy

and relaxed muscles.

weightless.

she has not mastered water.

she has mastered herself

(the high art of belonging)

and now water buoys her,

offers her up to the sun

cupful by cupful by cupful.

Copyright 2019-2020. A. Sepi. All rights reserved

The Racket

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Once in a blue moon,

beauty settles into my soul

like a swallow in its nest:

gracious and quiet and fertile.

Mere seconds later,

hordes and hordes of selfish people

with steel-toothed hounds and motorized wheels

come rushing by,

hurling themselves at the air, at the landscape, at other people’s souls,

a merciless stampede

raising the dust;

an unleashed army of carnal restlessness, a cacophony of hubris and outrage,

charging headlong, chasing the next empty minute, the next self-righteous cause,

cutting open words they don’t understand

and letting them bleed to death.

In their tow, the bee is sucked out of its flower,

the sweetness of honey is said to become unpalatable

and cross-pollination impossible.

I let them pass,

envy not their rapid advancement,

their heedless lack of regrets.

In God’s love, I am nourished.

Copyright 2020. A. Sepi. All rights reserved.

The Days

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The Days

Remember these days

these brief days

when we walked in groups of one

we gave thanks to the ones who toiled

and our lives touched each other even though our hands didn’t.

 

Remember these days

these brief days

when daddy was no longer at work (yay!)

because people mattered more

than production:

we discovered we had lungs (so fragile)

and the air became breathable.

 

Remember these days

these brief days

with the deafening chants of birds, their speeches, their courtships, their pleas

finally audible,

and how we watched them build nests from our dining room window,

the whole family gathered around the table for once,

the playgrounds locked, quiet,

the streets devoid of the screams of neglected children;

the strange intimacy.

 

Remember these days,

these brief days

when we looked at each other with fear and awe

and doubt and hope and kindness

– but we looked! –

and were on the verge of rediscovering

humanity;

 

A book and a stroll meant the world to us,

we sang on balconies

while deer with unnatural eyes and glistening antlers

wandered into Nara and took the empty metro nowhere.

 

Remember these days

these brief days

when the trees stood erect and reached into the sky while the stock markets fell

(not the other way around)

when the river exhaled a soft haze at dawn before the buzz began,

the buzz of a thousand and one insects.

 

Remember the days

when the engines of destruction stood still for a minute

while food continued to grow out of the dark soil

and we were afloat in the poetry of necessity.

 

Remember these days

for they will not last forever

and maybe, one day, who knows,

they shall be missed.

 

Copyright A. Sepi 2020. All rights reserved