Imber Levis

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On Siblings

I was an only child for a grand total of five years. Then in 1984, one year after having recovered from Diphtheria (do the maths I guess my parents were relieved that I survived and that led to to other things) my first sister plopped into this world. To my mind this was a surprise and shock all rolled into one.

At first MC adored me and was the proverbial little shadow. Copying me, following me everywhere and crying every time I went to school. I remember reading her stories everyday. Then after we moved from the Indian reservation we were living in to an industrial town her personality traits began to come out.

One was the refusal to take advice. Dressing her would take hours. Choosing clothes needed her full approval. Haircuts had to be to her liking and to this day she still has a very individualistic style of dress and how to do things.

Another thing which amazed me was the way she adapted to school. That was frightening. Within a couple of months she was writing, counting and speaking in French way too quickly. Considering that I was a student who struggled (especially maths ugh) I was wondering how she made education seem so easy.  Probably her first challenge occurred when she studied chemistry at sixth form level. Other than that she was one of those lucky people who can put in a minimum effort and come out with a collection of A++’s.

Generally it is the eldest who leads the path so that the other siblings follow but I was never really one to go out an socialise so I guess she was the first to go out on a Saturday night, argue with parents constantly and normal teenage stuff like that.

Now she’s been married for five years but still really hasn’t changed, maybe more responsibilities have obviously crept in but the dress sense and the super sociable aspect are in there .

Despite what I’ve said about MC being choosy, she never was very difficult to get along with. I always found her easy going and since there’s a five year difference between us we’ve hung out with each other more and she befriended everyone who in that clique at the time – and still talks to them regularly.  Taste-wise we’re very similar; we both like the same music, books and films but then when it comes to opinions on other matters, we tend to differ.

In 1988 my other sister arrived on the scene. This was another deceptive one.

In the beginning Y was quiet and very unassuming. She did what she was told and clung to my mother constantly. Probably the one and only weird thing she did as a kid was stuff potatoes up her nose.

Then when the teenage years started to crop up I noticed the timidness of yore was replaced by a certain confidence which verged on the authoritative. She started to tell people what to do and the right course of action to take. This increased more and more throughout the years until we would joke and call her the voice of reason. At one point one of my friends said that meeting her was like encountering the truth. She hasn’t let go of this aspect of her character but she’s channeling it very well due to her line of work, which involves giving advice and helping others in need.

With Y, my bond is totally different than to MC’s. Yvonne gives me advice on many things as she is more down to earth and practical and we do share the same views on things. However when it comes to music, books and some films (really it’s musicals – I hate them, she loves them) we do differ but it’s never affected us at all. She’s knows how to get along with people so she knows how to address me when I saying weird things.

As the eldest, I never really fought with my sisters and we are not polar opposites so there’s never been any type of tension.Communication between us three is still very good ( we have sibling nights, were we all meet and have a laugh) So yeah I’m happy that we do get along.

As I am a bit of a reserved person at times, I really do love my sisters for many many numerous reasons. Mainly because they’ve always heard me out when I’ve had problems, even if it’s silly. They’ve coped with my eccentricities but saying that they’ve tried to help me along the way and point out what I’m doing wrong (not that I follow it but I’m improving on that aspect) Another important thing is that no matter what any of us have done they do forget about it, well there’s the screaming and shouting, but that passes rather quickly.

In 2010 my whole family went off to Glasgow to visit my youngest sister, who was on work placement. It was a time when I missed them and I genuinely did feel their absence. It’s strange how one is ‘bound’ to a sibling and not having them there made me want to communicate with them even more. Maybe there are tough times but when you’ve traveled and shared so many things then it’s difficult not to have them around.

On Parents

Ever since I turned 14 I always had this great shame of my family, especially my father. In fact I am lying.  When I was a kid my dad used to force his interests on me. He liked cars, trucks , wood carving and Lego. I hated all that stuff (except Lego Technics, those made my eyes pop out) and liked playing with my plastic animals, reading and watching cartoons. So from an early age I never knew what to say to him. Most of the time he annoyed me as well, his loud way of talking and his love of war films.

As for my mother, when I hit the dreaded teen years, I became deeply embarrassed of her eccentricities. Both my sisters found her hilarious but I just wanted to shy away.

True they both helped me a lot as I was a child with severe dyscalculia and I was constantly bullied due to the fact that I wasn’t really interested in ‘normal’ things people my age did like sports. Plus later on during my o levels they both supported me. But I guess I chose to deliberately ignore that and keep on being embarrassed.

I would be as non committal as possible. I never yelled at them or treated them badly. I wasn’t even a problematic teenager ( maybe a super unambitious 20-year-old but how many people have career aspirations from the ages 20 – 25?) but I kept my distance even if I had to attend a gathering I would stay a long way behind them or when they would eat out I’d make sure not to go. Once as an effort I went to London with my dad in 2000 and our differences came out big time.

So when did this all disappear? I would say round about Christmas time this year. As always my gf helped me with this.

I started to realise that these two funny people I call my parents have cared and were continuously there for me from the day i saw daylight and it was rather silly of me to keep my distance. Perhaps it was my behaviour which was embarrassing Yes maybe what I am saying is a tired cliché but it is the truth and there’s no other way to put it.

I even went with my dad to the movies the other day. I didn’t mind it at all!

On a Weird Habit

 

 

No matter how hard I try, I can never do anything in a conventional manner. From learning how to read  to simple actions such as following a map. There always seems to be a right way and a wrong way, and it seems that I have always taken the wrong route.

Which leads to one other thing about me that is strange.

When I am very tired, to the point of falling asleep, it’s like my brain takes on a different character and dominates all my thoughts or maybe to simplify it my subconscious takes over and then I start repeating totally disjointed nonsense. For example if I am in this state and someone asks me if I had a good day, then I will answer ummm did you step on any flowers lately, the tombstones look awful pretty today.

Last week I discovered that this even has leached into my reviews. A couple of days ago I decided to review a track when I was practically sleeping on the keyboard. Here is the end result:

Over the course of a couple of singles, the band’s sound has been perfected. Personally Glitch is the best thing they’ve recorded. The guitars are crisp and the tune itself is a stunner that will get people moving. True, it does look like a nineties Indian restaurant. More importantly its got a makeover, which should make it more prominent.

Read that last sentence – TOTALLY out of place with the rest of the paragraph. All I can say is that at the time I was probably thinking of an Indian restaurant I was going to go to that weekend. Really I find this puzzling, strange and confusing.

Anyone can give some insight???

On Age

 

In 11 days time, I will be officially entering my mid thirties (well 34)  and for some strange reason, I am a bit conscious of it. Actually I am lying a bit. I started to reflect upon my age ever since last year when I heard a colleague complain about the fact  that in the school the pupils all stay the same age while the teacher is growing older. Since then I have been noticing that there are some signs of age cropping up. Weirdly enough its not things like getting tired easily or walking slowly ( if anything my sleeping pattern is down to five hours or even less) but its things like keeping up to date with things and being internet savvy.

According to my observations of students and people of a younger generation who are  around me ( aside from students, I dj to crowds in their early twenties plus there’s an age gap between my youngest sister and gf) kids, who were brought up in the last twenty years or so seem to be able to focus on many things at once or multi tasking. Whereas people my age  were taught to sit and focus on something til the very end, while generation Y’ers can surf the net, send an sms, write an assignment, listen to music and carry out errands and the outcome is very good. Would it be safe to say that internet (or World Wide Web if you are fussy) has managed to achieve this. Sure there are people my age who do this too but we weren’t taught how.

I also notice that pictures and visual aids play a more important part , rather than blocks of text. Take a look at Facebook or  Tumblir and you’ll notice the importance of pictures in today’s society.  I’m not lamenting death of text and all that cause it won’t happen but in the last five years or so I’ve never seen such a reliance on pictures.

Then there are things like television programs, slang and so on (except music, I thin I’m pretty up to date there) but that’s my fault as I barely watch tv or read about the latest things in that sector.

How do I feel among all this change? In some ways I feel old but I am trying to keep up to date with what is happening and I’m making an effort to improve my internet skills and despite the fact that I do stumble a bit I do have help and I do feel better than staying in some type of time warp.

As I said earlier all of these generalisations are culled from just me observing people, nothing more or less.

On Malta (the first of many)

In 1991, After 14 years in Canada, we moved back to Malta for good. There were a myriad of reasons but I guess the main ones were because the economy was on the mend and that we would be close to family.

Needless to say that this was a culture shock for me and it took a very long time to for me to get used to Maltese culture and I admit even to this day I still feel like a bit of an outsider in certain aspects (but more of that in the near future).

Do not get me wrong, I do not hate Malta. True it’s like living in some fantasy land where reality is slightly unhinged but I got used to that, to be fair I found living in Canada (with the exception of the reserve and there are exceptions to that exception!)  difficult as well.

In a previous post I mentioned driving mania and so on but those are just minor things, I think that one aspect of our culture that took me a long time to get used to is simply … ‘talk’.

Malta, being a small island, means that people do live in close proximity to each other. This results in lots of gossip. Now everyone gossips but what bothers me is that this leads to an ultra sense of secrecy that verges on the ridiculous. I get irritated hearing people talk in low voices or whispering in each other’s ears, or even worse the famous sentence that begins do you know about so and so, don’t tell anyone else. Although I’m not the type to blurt things out, I find it strange that if you are open with your feelings and express your views loudly you can get into deep trouble here.  There have been many times in the past when I would receive an e mail from someone asking me why I was spreading gossip. In reality that person would have told me something which I considered funny and felt like sharing. After learning some lessons the hard way I just tell people not to share anything cause its most likely that it will come up in a conversation.

It is safer that way.

One of the best scenes from the movie Doubt:

 

New Blog Title

 

 It means drizzle. The reasons why this was chosen because:

1) I like the sound of the word. 

2) It sounds cool in Latin.

3) Ideas really just do drizzle out onto the page.

 

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On Driving

When I moved to Malta from Canada in 1991 , I went through a major culture shock and it took me a long time to actually adapt myself to the Maltese way of life. Saying that, there are two things which I cannot get used to.

1) That there isn’t wall to wall carpeting in houses ( I know its impractical but seeing all those bare tiles is weird)

2) The fanaticism over driving.

Honestly if I could count the amount of times I’ve had people ask me ‘Do you drive?’ I would need a mathematician to create some sort of formula to accompany said question.

If you want to receive over one hundred ‘likes’ on Facebook all you have to do is write ‘Passed my driving test!!’ and trust me it will surpass even the cutest baby photo.

I have always promised never to make fun of my culture to people who live outside of the island but since the majority of  my foreign acquaintances do not drive and don’t even care, they find it hilarious when I tell them about our obsession with learning how to drive. I mean technically speaking Malta is small and a bus ride should take only twenty minutes to arrive at a destination so driving is futile.

Just to put you in perspective, when I was 18 , I attempted to drive but after 6 months and never progressing, my instructor abandoned me ( this after the day I crashed into a wall and crushed the bumper)  so I thought that I, simply, am not capable of driving.

This summer two events changed my opinion.

The first was the overhaul of our old bus system in 2011. I thought that after a year things would improve but I was still waiting for very long periods of time, walking through small villages to reach my destination. I would arrive late or I would have to prepare at least 90 minutes beforehand. To be fair things have improved slightly ( I still commute now and then) but I still have to wait for over an  hour before a bus shows up.

The second event was my gf  taking me out to an abandoned parking lot and letting me drive her car. This was a huge confidence boost and I did feel like I could attempt driving again.

The thing is most instructors assume that their pupils know how to drive already but in my case its not simply a case of  pointing at the various pedals and telling when to use them. I need to know the mechanics behind each gear, lever and button. At least this was put in perspective for me.

I guess there is a happy ending to this story as I have started to drive and despite the fact that I still feel confused now and then I am determined to get that license and there are signs of improvement with each lesson. I do have a long way to go though.

Here’s what I feel like when on the road 

 

Fan

Now and then paragraphs and images just pop into my brain.  I like experimenting with different styles as I’m not sure which type suits me. One thing I do believe in is presenting a clear picture so that the passage plays like some sort of film in the person’s mind. I’m very rusty so do excuse me if the writing’s a bit on the creaky side.

**********************************************************************************************************

There were ten fans.

Ten ceiling fans, each swirling clockwise like ten dervishes. All in rhythm and moving at the same speed. Nothing was out of place.

or was there?

As the librarian was stared at these ten fans, he noticed that one of them was quivering slightly. He ignored it thinking that it wasn’t a problem, anyway he had a tiring day and didn’t have the initiative to tell someone to fix it. Mondays always drained him so he decided to not to call the handyperson.

The next day the quiver turned into a shake and by Friday the whole thing was practically dislodged from the ceiling. Only a couple of screws were keeping it from obeying the laws of gravity.

At this point the librarian began to reflect on this black sheep of a fan, wondering the direction it would go when it fall. Would it fly in the air? or  would it just go straight to the ground?

Just then the librarian’s colleague walked in and began to leaf through the books and began to utter out some chit chat about how the students adored his lessons and had many followers who looked up to him. At this point he wasn’t really listening (and he had heard this diatribe  countless  times) and was  staring intently at the fan, having a gut feeling that something interesting was going to happen.

SNAP

The fan broke away, the blades slicing through the air and straight into the colleague’s neck, the body slumped on the floor with a dull thud while a pool of blood was slowly turning the white tiles a rich shade of crimson. The head just finished rolling and stopped at a nearby shelving unit.

The librarian walked over to the body, inspected it and then said out loud.

‘I assume that was your biggest fan yet’.