is this a new kind of privilege?

Last Sunday, I bought “Conversations with Friends” by Sally Rooney.

In Kyiv, it’s rare to stumble on a book in English without Stephen King’s name on it, but I found it. It was jammed between Rooney’s larger novel “Beautiful World, Where Are You” and another book the name of which I don’t remember. I spent most of that day reading the book — happy because I haven’t read a fiction book in a while with such enthusiasm. More precisely, I haven’t even had the right state of mind to read anything like that.

These days, having the mood to ‘just read a book’ has become infrequent— something that was so commonplace in my life before is a new form of privilege now. A book demands a certain peace of mind — a special type of focused thinking that isn’t easy to employ today when life is anything but peaceful.

Often, my mind is in a state of ‘barely functioning.’ I don’t cook. I don’t wash dishes. I rarely clean my flat. We have an open balcony, and it would’ve been covered in pigeon shit forever if it wasn’t for my boyfriend who cleaned it last weekend. The only thing I’m still able to do — work aside — is to make a pour-over coffee every morning for us. That’s the end of my functional.

Is this robot broken?

I still read the news. I’ve tried to do so less, or even stop, but then something significant happens and you get stuck in the circle of refreshing web tabs again, obsessively. Blasts in Crimea? Great. More money and arms from the US? Great. Martial law and mobilisation are set to be continued for three more months. Not so great, but expected anyway. Nothing about the end of the war, though, and it’s a shame.

As Anastacia put it once nicely: “I’m sick and tired of always being sick and tired.”

Life is strange sometimes. It knows little about what a ‘balance’ is: it just throws more bullshit at you even if you’re already drowning in shit. My residence permit has expired a couple of months ago. I wasn’t able to get a new one because my lawyer kept on saying “it can wait, it’s war.” Turns out it can’t wait, my lawyer can’t do it for me anymore, I might need to pay a fine and I’ll have to leave Ukraine to try and figure out how to get back.

I hate how being gay means you need to do and think about things straight people don’t — in my current case, to look for a stupid semi-legal way to stay in the country your boyfriend lives in because you can’t just marry him and live happily ever after.

Every time such things happen to me, I think: “WHY WOULD I CHOOSE TO BE GAY, YOU STUPID PEOPLE?” It just doesn’t make sense. I would choose to be gay only If I had a weird kink — enjoy inflicting more and more problems on myself all the time. I’m not into that. I’m very much into having straight people privileges. Sadly, my dick lays still every time I see a woman.

Life serves me lemons, and I haven’t figured out how to make lemonade yet.

In such trying times, I realise how much I just want to read a book and think of nothing else.

To read a book because I’m bored of how boring life is.

Open it, touch paper pages, sniff a sentence or two, and start eating pages until I’m full and can’t take it anymore.

I just want to read and think not of the family that I don’t talk to, the war that shows no signs of stopping, the humanity that doesn’t seem to get better — maybe we can’t, maybe that’s as much as we can do as species? It’s like some of us can excel, on an individual basis, but as a whole, humanity is getting plentier but not smarter.

Most of the time, people who scream about the approaching doomsday seem too hysterical to me — today I think that they’re acutely correct in their shocking estimate of our future.

Perhaps, in their radical plea lies the answer to that timeless question that does bother me— what’s the sense of life?

Perhaps, it’s to know that the end is near but I don’t have to surrender to it forcelessly and let the ending spoil my journey — I can try and enjoy as many bits and pieces of it as I can.

When everything is dying — me included — the best I can do is to flip the last page of Rooney’s novel and meet the end of this world with a bit more open and enlightened mind.

So — for now — I can let myself read “Conversations with Friends” by Sally Rooney and think of nothing else.