The Real Problem

Blogger Z is absolutely right: research is fun and writing is easy. Also, teaching is highly enjoyable and service, when done on one’s own terms and chosen wisely, is very rewarding.

The real bitch, at least for me, is submitting the piece I have written and waiting for a response. I will send out an article on Monday and already my hands are shaking, I’ve been hyperventilating on and off all day long, and I’m going to pour myself a huge drink after I finish writing this post.

And then there will be months of waking up and grabbing my phone to see if any responses to my submissions have arrived, knowing that if there is a rejection, I’ll be sick for weeks.

Yes, I know I have blogged about this before, but the problem isn’t going away, so I’ll keep writing about it until I figure out how to deal with this. And no, the solution to this will not have anything to do with growing a thicker skin, just like the solution to poverty has nothing to do with bootstrap pulling.

This is making me very irritable, so expect many angry posts. I’m going to go get that drink now.

A Little More on Religion: What’s God?

My posts on religion have confused everybody so much that now my own husband gently informs me that the Inquisition burned people alive and reader llama brings to my attention the fact that there was never a female Pope. So I want to explain what the word God means when I use it and then I promise to shut up on the subject.

You know this feeling you get when you look at the Cathedral of Salamanca, walk into the Great Mosque of Cordoba, listen to Pavarotti sing, or read a poem by Quevedo? Or the happiness it gives you when you do something nice for a person just because? Or the pain you feel when you see a stranger cry? Or the shame you experience after you hurt somebody? Or the amazement you feel when you look at a baby? I call all these feelings God. I don’t think my terminology hurts anybody.

Everybody else should feel absolutely free to call these emotions whatever they like.

P.S. I also want to clarify once and for all that I abhor any form of organized religion and believe that religious fanaticism of any kind represents the greatest danger to our planet that can be imagined.

Still Think Ron Paul Is a Libertarian?

Then you need to stop listening to the voices in your head and listen to Ron Paul himself:

Not all Americans are comfortable with the Obama administration’s decision to mandate coverage of birth control and morning-after pills, and the considerations of these people, many of them Christian conservatives, are worthy of careful consideration — not mockery. . . Many others oppose it out of strict moral conviction, and their voices should be heard. . . As president, I plan to defund Obamacare and all federal programs that use tax money taken from the American people to promote abortion and provide abortion services domestically and globally.

Because the voices he is listening to are exclusively those of religious fanatics.

The good news is that this creep has no chance of becoming president. The bad news is that Ayn Rand isn’t with us any more to see what Libertarianism has degenerated into.

Important Advice for People Who Want to Publish Research

Choose the journal where you will submit your piece before writing it and peruse the submission guidelines attentively. Otherwise, you will have so much revision to do, you will be bogged down in it forever.

I just made the mistake of deciding what journal to submit to (which was decided with the kind help of my colleague Jonathan) after the piece was ready. And then it turned out that they accept 20 pages maximum. I cut down the article as much as I possibly could but I still have 21 pages with bibliography.

Also, if you think you might decide to publish overseas, then remember that you will have to overhaul the bibliography and the citation format completely. British journals, for example, have a completely different standards for the bibliography than American journals.

So choose the journal and only then start writing.

P.S. Probably everybody already knows it and I’m just inventing the wheel, as usual.

“Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?”: On Domestic Violence

Three of my aunts have been victims of domestic abuse for decades.

The eldest of the aunts, a strong, intelligent woman who has experienced a lot of hardship but always laughed in the face of every contretemps, lived with an alcoholic husband who beat her whenever he got drunk. When she was in her fifties, she finally left him, moved to a different city, started making good money, and met a man who cherished her and treated her very nicely. After a couple of years in her new reality, she left her boyfriend and went back to the abusive alcoholic.

The second aunt also lived with a violent alcoholic her entire life. He’d get so drunk, he’d chase her around with a cleaver. Her sons spent their entire childhood and adolescence trying to get between the drunk, knife-wielding father and the terrified mother. The eldest son had a nervous breakdown after one of such assaults and ended at a clinic for nervous disorders. He had to drop out of school and go on disability. Finally, he told his mother that he would never speak to her again if she continued living with the alcoholic. My aunt moved out. Her employers were so happy that they gave her an apartment of her own as a gift. All of the relatives chipped in for furniture and appliances. The sons were ecstatic. The ex-husband didn’t do anything to get her back. He found a new woman, married her, and left my aunt alone. Two years later, my aunt got back together with him.

The youngest of the aunts also lived with a violent alcoholic who beat her on a regular basis. She divorced him after decades of abuse. Of course, now she is back with him, and yesterday he beat her again. The police in Ukraine never takes any interest in domestic violence, so, I guess, this aunt is also doomed to being beaten for the rest of her life.

As you can see, I’m not even talking about cases where the abuser threatens the victim or the children to prevent them from leaving. The women I’m talking about seem to choose to go back to the abusers. For people who didn’t grow up in an abusive environment, this is incomprehensible. We get frustrated with the victims, baffled by their seemingly illogical decisions. “Why doesn’t she just leave?” we ask. “Why does she keep going back to the abuser? I just don’t get it!”

Right you are, you don’t get it. Neither do I nor anybody else who hasn’t been a victim of domestic abuse. People who grow up in abusive environments only know the kind of reality where one partner is an abuser and another one is a victim. Even if they manage to escape from their abusive relationships later in life, the kind of anxiety they experience outside of the familiar pattern, keeps driving them back into abuse.

A habitual victim of abuse spends his or her life awaiting beatings. An expectation of horrors, as we all know, is often more difficult to deal with than horrors themselves. In the relationships with their abusers, all three women I described above know when and how the abuse will happen. In their worldview that was defined by patterns of abuse since the beginning of their lives, this is better than a situation when violence can be done to you at any time and you are not equipped to predict or anticipate it. They go back to their abusers because they are familiar with them. For such women, the choice is not between being and not being abused, being and not being terrified. The only choice they have is between being abused in predictable ways or awaiting in horror violence that can happen at any time.

And this is a true tragedy.

How to Remain Alone Forever

Mind you, in no way am I suggesting that there is anything wrong with being single. Singlehood rocks. I had so much fun during mine that I’ll never dump on this wonderful way of being. The post is aimed not at the happy singles but at those who don’t want to be single any more and have no idea why things are not working out the way they want.

How to Remain Alone Forever: A Set of Instructions

1. Convince yourself that “relationships are hard” and repeat this bit of wisdom accompanied by a heavy sigh at every opportunity.

2. Decide that in order to be romantically successful, you need to figure out what “men” and “women” are like. Watch TV shows and movies, read books and articles that will explore the list of glaring differences between genders. Remember, there is no hope of encountering a partner unless you know perfectly well what all men / women are like.

3. Whenever a relationship fails, remember that this couldn’t have possibly had anything to do with you. The problem lies always and only in the low quality of your partners.

4. Remember that all the good ones must already be taken. To support this conclusion, keep getting involved with the bad ones.

5. Be on a constant lookout for people who want to use you. Especially those who want to “just use you for sex.”

6. See every relationship that ended as a waste of time. Keep saying things like, “I wasted years of my life on her /him, and all for what?” Resolve never to waste any more of your life on relationships that might end 20 years later.

7. Ask everybody you meet a multitude of questions that will gauge the degree of their readiness for a serious relationship. Remember, if they are not ready to get engaged six months after the first date, they never will be.

8. Only engage in sex after you have received firm guarantees that the relationship will go somewhere.

9. If people you meet disappear right after you have sex with them for the first time, convince yourself that this has nothing to do with your value as a sex partner and everything to do with the general meanness and shallowness of human beings.

10. Remember that the search for a partner should become the central activity of your existence. From now on, you will have no time for your friends, relatives or hobbies until the goal of finding a boyfriend/girlfriend is achieved.

11. After you find a boyfriend/girlfriend, make sure you don’t waste any time on activities that don’t contribute to the success of the relationship. Your partner should only be exposed to your married / partnered friends. Make sure your partner never sees your single friends. For one, they are all desperate to have somebody in their lives, and they might try to take your partner away. At the same time, you don’t want the sight of all these single folks to reawaken your partner’s longing for the times of her or his singlehood.

12. Make sure your partner doesn’t see any of his or her single friends either. That would be so unfair after you have sacrificed all of your single buddies for the sake of the relationship.

13. People in relationships spend all their time together and know everything about each other. If your partner doesn’t like you going through his or her pockets or won’t share passwords to email accounts, this means s/he has something to hide. Make sure you leave no stone unturned in an effort to find out what that something is.

14. After you get dumped, repeat the entire process all over again.

15. And most importantly: as you keep self-sabotaging this way, never ask yourself whether you really need a relationship or are only doing what you think you are expected to do.

What’s Your Buying Addiction?

There are two types of goods I’m addicted to buying:

1. Books. It was very difficult to get books when I was growing up (unless you are talking about the collections of speeches by the Communist Party leaders), so now I feel compelled to own as many books as I can. With the advent of Kindle, however, this buying addiction has become much cheaper because I can download thousands of books for free.

2. Non-perishable food. Ukraine has a legacy of famine in the twentieth century that claimed about 1/4 of all people living in the country at that time within less than two years. This, of course, has had a profound psychological influence on Ukrainians. (When a Ukrainian goes to a psychoanalyst, for example, the famine has to be addressed at length.) This is why I feel very anxious and unhappy when I don’t have stocks of grains, flour, sugar, etc. in the house at all times.

What are your buying addictions?