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Why Are His Lips Black?

The train of thought can be such a strange thing… There I was, drinking my morning coffee, and I couldn’t help but thinking of this silly song:

And that, in return, reminded me of something else.

Now we go back in time, to the moment when I was four or maybe five – no more than five – and saw a man of African descent for the first time (there are not many of them where I live, and back then, there were even less of them, it was just a small number of foreign students and of diplomats). His appearance puzzled me, so I asked my parents, aloud: “Why are his lips black?”

You see, while both of my parents were white, my father was very white and stayed that way, he could get horrible sunburns and barely ever tanned; on the other hand, my mother was a half-Greek, and she tanned easily, and a lot; during the summers, she’d look like a gypsy. So, when I saw this man, I thought he just spent a lot of time in the sun and tanned even more easily then my mother – but if that was the case, why were his lips black? My mother’s lips never changed color, no matter how much she tanned.

Of course, my parents silenced me, and looked around to see if the man heard me and if he was offended. He didn’t seem to notice.

Some time later, I was looking into a picture book for children, and there was this picture of a black boy and a white girl playing together on a beach. And I said to my father that the boy must have spent a lot of time in the sun. It was then that he explained it to me that some people were born black like I was born white. I was like ‘Oh”, and that was it.

Fast-forward now. I’m twelve or thirteen, and talking to my best friend, like girls talk about this and that. And she tells me, “Imagine how stupid I was when I was little, I asked my dad if a black man could become white after being washed with a detergent!” We both laughed after that silly idea, and i told her about my first question about a black guy, and we laughed some more.

Now when I think of it, both of her parents were very white and barely tanned. And they were both a bit on the obsessed side when it came to cleaning, everything had to be clean and shiny. So her assumption was as logical as mine was, in its own way.

Fast-forward some more. We’re both in our early twenties now, still friends, still talking about this and that. It was quickly after the Belgrade marathon, a sports manifestation attracting many runners, some of them of the African descent. Part of their route went through the street I lived in, so I could watch them from my window, which I did, and mentioned to my friend sometime later that the black runners looked really good. Then she told me she didn’t really like black people. I was puzzled by that, since neither of us actually knew anyone of African descent – how can you dislike (or like, for that matter) someone you don’t even know? And she told me they reminded her of filth. She was well aware it was irrational, and it’s not like she would ever be rude to or harm a person of African descent just because of their origin, it was just how she felt about them.

I asked her what if I married a black guy someday, and had black kids with him, would she see my children as filthy? She was honestly surprised by the question, and said of course not, they would be my children, she could never see my child as filthy.

Huh.

It’s so weird, how some small things we rarely or never think of, can form our opinions, and influence our way of thinking and seeing the world and the people in it.

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Weird Much?

Writing horror/fantasy/murder mystery is considered weird. photo by tassie.sim

I’m translating City of Bones, the third book of the Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare, into Serbian. Recently I’ve contacted the lady who translated the first and is translating the second book in the series to ask how she translated a few things, one of them being the Ritual of Infernal Conversion. It turned out we translated it the same, which made us giggle a bit – what were the odds?

Anyway, when I mentioned that to someone else, the reaction was like ‘Ritual of Infernal Conversion, what is it you’re translating?’ While this reaction was a joke, it reminded me that things I enjoy reading/watching/writing are considered weird by many.

I enjoy SF/fantasy/horror, and many find it childish/creepy. Some of the stories I’ve written are quite creepy, and then some people come to the conclusion I’m creepy. Hey, I’m just writing that stuff! I don’t have the heart to harm a cockroach even though I can’t stand them, let alone anyone bigger than that!

A friend of mine, a very strong woman (talking about personality here) is considered immature by her mother because she reads (and writes) science fiction. Women see another friend of mine as a non-long-term relationship material because he enjoys reading and watching science fiction, fantasy and horror, and he also enjoys reading comic books (which some people see as something only children should be doing). Yet another friend, a writer of fantasy, is often considered to be someone with his head in the clouds, while he’s actually a very down-to-earth person. I know of ladies who write murder mysteries and are considered scary because of that, as if they were murderers instead of writers. And then, of course, there are those who believe that reading itself is for children and the idle, not for serious people; or that being a writer means that you’ve got too much free time on your hands and are available to do the chores they’re too lazy to do.

So, to all of you who might happen to read this, do they consider you weird because of the things you write, enjoy reading or watching?

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Weird Sunday Ramblings

Today we moved clocks. They stole an hour from us. In the autumn, the forces of dark give us an hour; in the spring, the forces of light take an hour from us. Darn thieves.

The weather is weird. It’s almost April, but in the morning it was almost as cold as the February, while in the February it was as warm as the April. Now, in the afternoon, it’s getting warm, but it’s hard to tell for how long. It’s seems that the spring can’t make her mind whether she’s coming or not.

The eggs were weird this morning, too. Just look at the picture — I didn’t do anything unusual to them, promise.

The eggs were weird this morning.

The taste was pretty much the normal one, though. Am I weird for actually eating something that looks like that?

I was thinking about writing another book review today, but decided I needed to rest at least once in a while. So, there’s the review I wrote yesterday, of Richard Matheson’s Hell House. Written forty years ago, it still has its charm, and it’s still haunting, just as a haunted house novel should be.

So, today I’m having some rest and reading a book (scroll a few posts down to see which one).