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I am a small mountain 

March 29, 2017

I am a small mountain. 

I don’t make the weather. 

I mind my own magic 

And keep my bliss together. 

I am a small mountain. 

Step by step is the way to get everywhere. 

And here. And when you do, 

I’ll greet you with breathable air 

And a breathtaking view. 

I am a small mountain. 

At the top you don’t have to look down 

To know you can aim even higher. 

I don’t stand to be conquered;

I rise to inspire. 

I am a small mountain. 

Wherever you go from here,

Whoever you meet and whatever you do,

You can take my blessings with you. 

I’ll be a guardian guide for you. 

I am a small mountain. 

Right place and right time is a welcome 

You offer your life without doubting. 

If you want to ( … ) your dreams,

Ask me how. 

I am a small mountain. 

Alexey Timbul (c) 2017

This poem is a credo, a manifesto, a prophecy. Written in El Medano & Denia in Spain and published during Kathmandu Triennale in Nepal. 

Pulling… turnip(s)

February 18, 2017

I recently learned that another Russian fairy tale which I’ve translated for e-publisher Terrylab awhile back has made its way onto iTunes as an interactive bilingual storybook!

Turnip Giant (Репка) is a classic folk tale about the value of teamwork in getting sh*t done. Check it out (along with the two other fun app-books) and tell me what you think.

Coincidentally I’ve just come across this cartoon which upgrades the narrative for the Millennial audience(s) and I can certainly relate… 🙂

new-repka

Now, if anyone has any Russian-English / English-Russian translation projects in mind – let me know! I love the ambassadorial role of “literary interpretation” 😉

P.S. All images are property of the copyright owners.

101 Solutions: Dance Every Morning

November 19, 2016

Midlife *risis is not an event, it’s a process… In the spirit of ch-ch-changes, I decided to follow a fabulous pocket book “101 solutions to get out of crisis” by Madrid-based artist Alexander Rios. How hard (slash) fun can it be? I already cut “crisis” out of my vocab & said no to credit cards 😉

20. Baile todas las mañanas. (Dance every morning)

Oh, I love dancing. I love mornings. Easy, I’ma dance every morning for a month, ok week ok tomorrow?! [This went on for a while]. No, I must dance 101 mornings in a row… it’s a 101 project! I should run a seminar: “How to ruin everything you like”. Why can’t I just dance?! I managed to do it “only” five times in six months. Each time I loved it and then discounted the experience as non-systematic… Let me state for the record: every time you get to dance in your life, it counts! As a white man, I embody a history of suppressing freedom of movement and physical self-expression not just for my brethren but for all kinds of beautiful people around the world. Thus, liberation begins and continues with dancing on/for my own. Hereby, I present evidence of a project and move on with my shenanigans.

The track list (linked to respective YouTube videos to get y’all into the groove):

Jason Derulo “Talk Dirty

“Been around the world, don’t speak the language / But your booty don’t need explaining / All I really need to understand is / When you talk dirty to me…” #Anthem. The weird sidestep is the trumpet part 😉

Years & Years “Shine

“I remember us alone / Waiting for the light to go / Don’t you feel that hunger /I’ve got so many secrets to show…” There was quite a bit of jumping around. I’d love to see these guys live! #WishList

Alla Pugachova “This is it (Вот и всё)” 

The foremost Russian pop diva proves you can dance in the throws of melancholy. Catharsis as a pas de deux for one. [Lyric translation: “Everything hidden in my silence is visible in my eyes”]

Milan Grajetzki “Makes Nose Ants 2 U

Track comes from my obsession with Alicia Vikander dancing in an elevator at the Met Gala… “Manus x Machina” is code for “mesmerizing in each role”. Lots of elbow and shoulder work 🙂

Lex Allen “Cream and Sugar

This song is an onomatopoeia! It sounds like smoothest cream and sugar swirling in my mind and heart and… Hence, lots of circular motion 🙂 I nearly went all out dervish on this one!

Ideas Unlimited @ Chania, Crete

October 15, 2016

#BetterLateNews … This summer, three of my #eyewitnesscollage pieces partook in an exhibition “Ideas Unlimited” on the island of Crete in Greece. First, at the ancient Sabbionara in Chania in July and then at St. George’s Gate in Heraklion in August. It was an honor to be a part of this international event curated by Hercules Papadakiss and Linda Talbot. Fascinating to have watched these images come full circle from remnants of paper in street ads on the walls of Bologna, Paris, Santa Cruz and other places… to their digital life as ongoing “Eye Witness Collage” series on my Instagram account… to paper prints again to be hung on the wall. Art and nature are cyclical, I guess 🙂 Onward!

Below are few images from the Chania opening of “Ideas Unlimited” courtesy of Hercules Papadakiss.

 

 

So I ran my first 5K… Dreadful.

June 11, 2016

Last Saturday, on the eve of turning 37, I ran my first 5K race… I hated every minute of the training month and detested every step of the way. I’m also genuinely happy I did it.

Disclaimer! This is NOT a popular ableist narrative, rehashed. “I pushed my body to the limit, gave it my all and triumphed in the end.” I am a genetic lottery winner who has abused the privilege of taking basic mobility and functionality for granted. With great luck comes far less responsibility than with great power, evidently. I’ve read too many of these stories in the past few weeks. I quit smoking a dozen packs a day, lost a gazillion pounds, insert your wishlist here, ran 5K and so can you! F*ck off. Some simply cannot. Some just won’t. Some don’t wanna. #NoPreaching … I was curious to try. My body (very) reluctantly cooperated. Let me frame this. At the start, my registration number was 13… “Fine, I don’t like you either!” is what I thought. At the finish, there were no insights, breakthroughs, accolades. The kind volunteers simply motioned for me to turn in my chip. All meaning is assigned. Here are 5 things I learned about running and myself.

 

1) It ain’t the legs, it’s the lungs. Leg muscles may build & recover with impressive resiliency on a couch-to-5K program. I followed the most basic plan I could find (the graciously laconic schedule by and I combed through dozens of ’em. Anything more detailed/demanding then “run this many minutes today, don’t run tomorrow” would have scared me off. Capacity of lung tissue for regeneration, however, is still a contested topic. I smoked for twenty years. I didn’t smoke for the last six months. So for me, it wasn’t the threat of thigh cramps, buckling knees or ankle strains. I had to re-learn to breathe, re-ration the oxygen, re-consider every cigarette I ever had. While I am cautiously ecstatic I don’t smoke now, I cannot say I regret smoking in the past. It must have mattered then. I own it. Nothing fun runs on regret.

2) Failure tastes like sweat, and bananas. I completed the race with the 26:57 time in 171st place of 300+ participants. My finish line was not pretty. It didn’t feel good and, thanks to official website, there’s proof it didn’t look good either. I presume organizers selected the best available shot! According to RunnersWorld calculator, my age-graded results median was 49.78%. I am utterly average. What a wonderful and challenging reminder! I had secretly hoped/dreamed of coming in last… In the all-or-nothing cultural dichotomy we inhabit, there is equal glory in the self-made catastrophe. “To score 100% as a 37-year-old man, you would need a time of 13:25,” says the page. No shit. I would probably have to die, be cremated and get my ashes spread downwind to achieve that. I’ll take the delightful 26:57 as my lawfully witnessed result to cherish in sickness and in health. Also, as I ate my official finish line banana and cheered the last group of arrivals I became very aware that I could not possibly have run 32-37-41 minutes straight… These “late-comers” were clearly stronger runners than me. #MediocreFailure

3) You are what you eat. I am Campari. Having just given up on the smoking, I was not ready to face up to the drinking. A fair share of my caloric intake historically comes from grapes, if you know what I mean. I mean, I am a (mostly wines) drinker. Fun fact: if you drink three generous Campari cocktails for dinner, the morning run will feel like a bona fide act of atrocity. #ExperientialLearning is an efficient instructor. I made sacrifices adjustments. Here’s my only tip: don’t drink and 5K. I am hypothetically thrilled to have segued into addressing my alcohol habits. However, as of today, I am resolutely unresolved about this. Because running has the strong aftertaste of existential crisis in full bloom and Campari is f*cking delicious. No preaching, just questioning.

4) Inspiration is not guaranteed. Nor optional! I could not get into it: the tales of ultra-marathon miracles, tumblrs full of yes-you-can quotes over images of puppies doing yoga atop ocean cliffs at sunrise, anything remotely “motivational”. I could not even get a running soundtrack together. Techno, country, Beyoncé, 90s Russian pop?! The demoralizing morale of this story was simple. I just did not want to run. Solace came from unexpected sources (as it does). Haruki Murakami’s memoir “What I talk about when I talk about running” was a fittingly uneventful meditation on putting one foot in front of the other. It did nothing as a book. It worked well as a pendulum. Run, read, run. Turns out, Eurovision Song Contest entries are 3 minutes each. Campiest way to measure time, 2016 edition: Amir. Samra. Justs. Drink water. Carry on. Last year two of my college friends participated in the Loch Ness Marathon in Scotland. I thought, whoa… alma mater mates ‘n Nessie, wish I was there! So on my training runs I imagined myself retroactively vicariously alongside them. Inspiration is sought.

5) Do whatever you want/can to experience your life in new ways. I follow an Instagram account of Jean-Jacques Gabriel, an artist, yogi, father, partner, handsome devil, beautiful soul, a guardian of many truths. Once upon a moonlit lake shore nestled deep in the tumultuous heart of West Virginia, we shared a series of seemingly inconsequential experiences that resonated with a provocative “does this make you human?” For me, the challenge of this 5K endeavor was to embody a different aspect of being alive, hopelessly struggling for love, haplessly hustling for attention, ah the bustle of  midlife crisis re-emergence. I did it. It is done. And so it is. There is freedom and beauty in those sentiments. I’ma let ’em seep in.

Would I sign up for another 5K? Highly (un)likely. In the meantime, thank you to the fine organizers of IV Espíritu Triabona, my psychotherapist extraordinaire Bogdan Bova, friends & foes near ‘n far, and my partner in too many crimes, Giada.

Y’all’s support, ambivalence and side-eye mean the world to me.

P.S. For good measure, here’s a good piece on ableism for y’all to read 🙂

101 Solutions: Credit Due

January 24, 2016

Midlife *risis is not an event, it’s a process… In the spirit of ch-ch-changes, I decided to follow instructions of a fabulous pocket book “101 solutions to get out of crisis” by Madrid-based artist Alexander Rios. How hard/fun can it be? I already cut “crisis” out of my vocabulary 😉

54. Destruya su tarjeta de credito (Destroy your credit card)

I’ve been frustrated with Paypal Mastercard customer service for a while, so this was a perfect call to action! I present my little installation titled “5338750253501102 steps towards financial healing” … yes, it is indeed a cut-up credit card assembled as a house of cards… subtle symbolism is my artistic forte 🙂

DSC_2992 DSC_2997

I look forward to 99 more ideas! Meanwhile, check out Alexander’s other great work!

101 Solutions: Say No More!

January 3, 2016

Midlife crisis is not an event, it’s a process… In lieu of 2016 New Year’s resolutions, I decided to turn for help to experts. I remembered that my fellow artist Alexander Rios has a fabulous little pocket book “101 solutions to get out of crisis” … Eureka! I just gotta follow the instructions. How hard/fun can it be?

  1. Deje de usar la palabra crisis. (Stop using the word crisis)

Brilliant. To commemorate the learning and initiate the practice, I took a copy of London Financial Times Weekend Edition – this iconic pink newspaper my longtime recreational drug of choice – to see how much crisis can be eliminated in one evening. Within 48 pages there were 13 (!) crisis … including four in one article on the struggles of the diamond industry. True story with or without irony. So I cut out the thirteen words + the diamond into a collage “When life gives you crisis, make diamonds”

When life gives you crisis, make diamonds!

When life gives you crisis, make diamonds!

Here is the making-of process… I look forward to trying out a hundred other helpful tips! Meanwhile, check out Alexander Rios’ awesome projects and order your own copy of “101 solutions to get out of crisis” … and I’ll think of what to call my process now that I can’t use midlife cri… 🙂

Check out other actions: 54/Credit and 20/Dance!

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