NATION & DECORATION (Part 4): Basilike Pappa & Bojana Stojcic

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You have an ideal job, an ideal house, an ideal family and overall lead an ideal life. Alas, it is just for show. In reality, it is all more like a boring screenplay with a vague notion about the plot and you as a lead character. Let our interior designers help you get your life back on track by redecorating your house and changing your pursuits until you become a full-time member of the cutthroat world and stop giving a crap about anyone but yourself.

Men in Tights (if you’re happy and you know it)

We have all had just about enough of the limitations that come with age and interior design styles. Women in the throes of MLC have an all-inclusive package today: xanax, a handsome yoga instructor, a cone bra à la Madonna, an autobiographical novel and Botox to wipe the misery off of their faces. Besides, it is mostly wives who have exclusive rights to exploit their talents and decorate their home, which can be a real nightmare for men’s OCD and emasculate them by leaving them little room to properly express themselves, drinking, smoking, farting, and being (for once) right. Men may also find it tricky trying to strike the right chord with their target audience, that is when selling themselves while remaining relatable. To deal with this injustice, the Nation & Decoration team has come up with ideas that will turn your garage into a statement against feminine domestic authority and help create your own getaway where you could take up a hobby or hang out with you male friends.

‘Fun’s for the young’ belongs to the past as it is never too late to start an awful band, recapture hard-partying youth and interrupt your family’s and neighbors’ lives. Stop burdening yourself with soundproofing (what’s the use of putting your heart and soul into making music if it’s for your ears only), as well as a lack of music education (it’s overrated too). When there are lonely suburban hubs and fathers, neurotic wives, confused teenage children, the burden of living next door to Alice, microphone stands, amplifiers, passion and inspiration, you cannot go wrong. Don’t be another middle-aged man on guitar, desperately seeking Susan and band mates. Find them and practice basic chords together, gradually progressing to the greatest ’80s hits of all time, in your newly decorated garage until your fingers bleed (i.e. into the wee hours, even on work nights). We cannot guarantee that your wife and kids will be delighted to see musical midlife crisis making an updated comeback so better get used to the ‘just fuck another woman already’ or ‘dad, shut up, we’re trying to sleep’ chorus, and remain composed. We do not expect somebody who thinks their best years are behind them to understand you, let alone someone who likes to watch a girl hanging atop a Wrecking Ball to respect your music taste. Remind wife again you have no interest in sex whatsoever (at least not with her) and the brats this is a journey for the young at heart.

Since you may be out of touch with the market, our celebrated professionals will assist you with tips on building a proper rock star image. Push the boundaries of taste some more by teasing your hair, and digging out your leopard-print spandex and shoulder pads. If you opt for an eye patch and a neckerchief, you might need an adequate alter ego, something as original as Ziggy Stardust. Get your first tattoo, an army of groupies and a camper van, and hit the road and top music festivals. When at home, give the lady of the house a chance to live out her teen dream of hanging out with the band by carrying equipment, setting up lighting, managing sound levels, serving beer and cleaning up the mess (if she wants to give you a lap dance, she needs to deserve it). Should your fooling around with other fans infuriate her, tell her it’s only rock ‘n’ roll. If you yourself ever get tired of your Boys from the Hood, our designers propose buying an unsuitably-powerful racing bike and joining other middle-aged men in lycra. At least your MLC is less dangerous than acquiring a tastelessly expensive motorbike.

When looking to bring in eclectic design styles into your home, think big and remember the best breweries usually start as home brewing in a converted garage. Now you too can have your guests watch distribution from brewery to glass with its boilers, fermenters, and a fridge transformed into a five beer tap system. Divert your unwanted visitors’ attention away from your mistakes and real problems by getting them roaring drunk, encouraging them to sit behind the wheel and speed off (safe driving is for pussies anyway). When making your own beer at home, there are a couple of things you need to know. Plenty of brewers use at least one electrical appliance in the course of a brew day. A typical garage being electrically malnourished, you may need the electrical service upgraded to include a dedicated circuit-breaker panel for multiple circuits in order to handle heavy power consumption. Electrical work is generally not a DIY thing. However, our professionals trust your competence. What does a pro know that you don’t, right? Having said this, we also suggest you steal power from your neighbors, which is particularly convenient if the pole is in between your houses. By doing this, you will not only be able to support your equipment but also prove how resourceful you are. The worst thing that can happen to you is electrocution but don’t despair – you come out ahead no matter what you try; you were born under a lucky star.

If you want to make a habit of spending time in the garage, keep in mind the floor is almost always the second-dirtiest thing in the world (your mind being number one). Fortunately, there are more than enough options when it comes to making the oil-stained concrete floor look good. Get your wife to scrub it on all fours, preferably with a mild, acidic cleaning solution that can be obtained at our hardware stores. Having created a clean pallet, use the best garage floor paint you can find on the market, i.e. our popular epoxy acrylic product. For a more resilient and costly alternative, move up to our industrial epoxy coating. This will naturally require extensive surface preparation so make certain you recruit your children and their friends, promising to pay them and, when they get the job done, simply don’t. This will teach them a valuable lesson on how to treat their own employees later in life. Lastly, many homeowners are nowadays turning to rubber overlays or composite products to top off floors. Nation & Decoration also offers large mats and rolled sheets in various colors and sizes, cut to fit your space. You won’t make a mistake whichever you choose. The bottom line is your wife will be happy as all these clean easily and are generally impervious to petrochemicals, antifreeze, household cleaning agents, sperm and vomit.

Our eminent designers advise keeping the garage as simple as possible since you do not have to behave here or worry about what others think. Harsh fluorescent bulbs, a vending machine, nude calendars and posters on the walls and a couple of sofas are enough to provide it with a no-nonsense look. Make sure you install a safe garage door as well. Instead of consulting the owner’s manual, we would visually inspect the garage door each month, looking at cables, springs, rollers, and pulleys for signs of wear. Don’t listen to safety maintenance companies trying to sell you a trained technician when you can do all this on your own. It is a well-known fact everything is a matter of perspective and self-esteem. After all, you can explain possible dangers to children by placing your fingers between door sections. Needless to say, ensure the garage door opener control is out of wife’s and kids’ reach. Now lie back and enjoy your solitude, masturbating to a vintage gay hardcore magazine until you go weak at the knees. The lack of heat and air conditioning should not be an issue as your transition from a warm-blooded animal into a cold-blooded one and vice versa literally takes seconds.

The garage is your retreat so it is more than ok to have the guilty pleasure of building small tracks and playing with model railways too because your love for choo choo trains holds a big place in your heart. Don’t take it seriously if you are mocked for your teeny tiny houses and engines, especially by two-time losers who are desperately unenthusiastic about anything. With digital command controls and all that jazz, this is clearly more than just a toy so don’t waste your breath. When it comes to illegal stimulants, your children are, in our opinion, big enough to see you consuming them. They are doing it themselves anyway so stop hiding. However, they might moan about your laid-back nature, lack of authority and interest in their problems. The key to using rewards and punishment effectively is to make them tangible and worthwhile, respectively, if you want to manage their behavior the right way. If you ground them and take their cell phones (or at least bribe them), they will surely stop cutting classes and the idea of dropping out of school will never again cross their mind. On the other hand, it won’t be the end of the world even if they do. You went to college and see how it all turned out. Better get the best earplugs, shut everybody out, and go on pumping iron. Your infatuation with an attractive neighbor half your age is a project that needs detailed planning if you want to make your dream come true.

The man in turmoil over his stale existence is a tale as old as time. Don’t fall into a trap because now you have the garage all to yourself where you can disappear for hours while never leaving your home. Your loved ones will eventually accept your choices and won’t stand in your way if you want to make a mess of your life, that is until you make a mess of theirs. By then, we will probably be out of reach. Be that as it may, you should still know one thing – nothing is irreparable. When things go from bad to worse, resort to the good old tool box to fix what’s broken.

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Basilike Pappa wrote: ‘The light of a candle makes our embrace longer’. If you want to find out what else she is capable of, you’ll need to check out her blog Silent Hour. My selection of her exquisite poetry includes: this and this.

Photography: Seph Lawless

LIKE A CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF

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I wonder why we are all unique in one way or the other. Because of who we are? (Too shallow). It’s because we are throughout our lives shaped by our experiences, people we meet, people we don’t, schools from which we graduated or dropped out of, careers we pursue or stopped pursuing, trains we caught or missed, dreams we thought would never come true and the ones we have yet to fulfill, our fears: the fear of dying, flying, aging, loving, not being loved, being paralyzed, imprisoned, abandoned, rejected, not respected, the fear of mutilation, separation, humiliation and finally shame. According to surveys (source: Wikipedia), some of the most common fears are of demons and ghosts, the existence of evil powers, cockroaches, spiders, snakes, heights, water, enclosed spaces, tunnels, bridges, needles, social rejection, failure, examinations, and public speaking.

We are influenced by births and deaths, jobs we’ve done enthusiastically or half-heartedly, past lovers, loves of our lives, unrequited loves, crying over spilled milk (it’s no use), spilling the beans (once, many times), people we trust, people we don’t, people who betrayed us, people we deceived, people we lied to, people we have been lying to, people we could never lie to, truths yet to be told, our friends, our families, our acquaintances, our neighbors, our parents, in-laws, strangers in the night, our soul mates, people we have nothing in common with, best sex ever, worst sex ever, public sex, private places, words spoken, messages between the lines, messages taken, messages misread, secret glances, memories (good and bad), diaries, photos, galleries, books, songs, funny jokes, lousy jokes (why laugh then?), witty people, boring chores, errands to run, demanding bosses or just bosses, a wish to become a boss but knowing deep down you’ll just go on being bossy without being someone’s boss, perfectionism, a lack or ambition, excuses, secrets and regrets, drunken parties, camping sites, starry nights, starless lives, falling in love, falling out of love (will I ever love again?), falling apart, falling, falling…

We are molded by being polite for no reason or for a good reason, not offending somebody, offending somebody, being offended by somebody, meeting somebody, fancying somebody, dating somebody, getting married, having kids, getting divorced, getting back together, our first kiss (cat got your tongue?), first sex (painful), last sex (don’t remember), sleepovers, confessions on the dance floor, estranged siblings, estranged partners, being born again, food to die for, girls and boys to die for, dirty hospital linen, good doctors, bad doctors, cramped buses and deserted beaches, moments of utter happiness and profound sadness, embarrassments, school trips, day trips, bicycle rides, journeys we took, places we visited, going to visit, about to visit, shall never visit, paying a visit, being visited.

Images take turns before my eyes, images of big beds, empty beds, small beds (who mentioned small beds?), snoring, hiccuping, does somebody out there still think about me sometimes – wishful thinking, wishes coming true, wishes we stopped wishing, cruelty, poetic justice, paradise found, paradise lost, paradise regained (maybe), breathtaking waves, breaking the waves, empty stomachs and full hearts, full stomachs and empty hearts, a carousel: an amusement ride with seats for riders, how amusement stopped being amusing. When did amusing turn into amused (if at all)? I love you’s, don’t forget to take out the trash, why didn’t you take out the trash? I am happy. I am unhappy. (Are you happy?) 2 in 1, a baby bump, 3 in 1 (when are you due?), light, who turned off the light? I can’t see (light at the end of the tunnel).

 

DID I LET THE GENIE OUT? OUCH!

Back in the olden days, as Peppa Pig says it nicely, I used to take notes about everything and anything when I was younger: diaries, random thoughts, essays, short stories, arguments, romantic ideas, secret longings and so on. I remember even keeping a war journal during NATO’s air strikes against Serbia, a painfully honest, and rather hard to swallow testimony of a time from the perspective of a 22-year old English Language and Literature student back in 1999. Interestingly, this speaking straight from the shoulder is the only thing I never ever went or wanted to go back to. I do know where the book’s hidden though. The thing is – I’m still not sure what I might find there, what horror, shock or disgust for once the genie is out of the bottle, there’s no going back. Actually, I got my mind set on pulling it off the shelf this very summer. It’s gonna take time, a whole lot of precious time, it’s gonna take patience and time, to do it, to do it, to do it…to do it right child. Whether I’m going to do it for real this time or wait another 20 years is yet to be seen. Anyhow, I’ll keep you posted.

I loved spreading my thoughts on a white piece of paper, and decorating the page with dried plants, drawings of my own, intriguing quotes, book excerpts and magazine cutouts. It was liberating, truthful, direct, maybe not always virtuous, but certainly done with a good intention even if unsuccessful or foolish at times. Some notebooks I kept, some I gave as a present to my high school darling at the time, some I shared with the class as a part of a regular school assignment. Some I burnt, literally (where there’s a teenager, there’s drama), some disappeared mysteriously and some still lie hidden at the back of the drawers and shelves at my parents’.

As time went by, I stopped expressing myself in this way. I’ve never known why. At first, I thought I had lost the ability to produce anything meaningful, experiencing a creative slowdown. But then again, I’ve been constantly pressed for time since I started studying and then working and silly as it may sound, I forgot (not how to write but to write in the first place). So I can’t even call it writer’s block as I haven’t done any writing until now. I could have lost interest though or simply haven’t had anything to say, which is highly unlikely.

Whatever the case, here I am now, not actually having any specific goal ahead of me, but a blank piece of paper and a huge drive to get down to work. I haven’t just come up with some super original idea. As I said, no plans whatsoever. A notion that I haven’t forgotten how to write and that I still can just popped into my head. So I’ll just play it by ear and see what happens. You may call it a revelatory moment, a mental breakthrough, a sudden insight, a moment of illumination, an epiphany. On the other hand, these undefined perplexing thoughts which came rushing to my mind might as well be a result of inner turmoil, disturbance, confusion, sadness, rage, anxiety and restlessness I’ve been feeling lately. It is highly likely this whole thing I’m doing is some self-healing attempt, some process of recovery, some journey I am determined to embark on in hopes of getting out of this mess. Yes, that’s what it is – an attempt to get to the root of my obnoxious mood swings or shall I call it neurosis. I guess most of us suffer from it at some point in our life, which doesn’t necessarily mean we’ve radically lost touch with reality but have rather been feeling symptoms (mild or not so mild)  of stress, depression, moodiness and/or obsessive behavior. As a matter of fact, a recent study says that moody neurotics are more likely to be creative geniuses (or original thinkers, as someone put it nicely). That’s why I’d prefer to refer to it as soul-searching, reconciliation and finding peace I long for. It’s gonna take guts, patience, time and energy but I believe I’m ready. This conversation with myself I have been putting off for too long is meant to scrutinize my feelings, decisions, motives, convictions, attitudes and finally reactions. Anyway, I am basically certain only of my uncertainty at the moment. Something’s telling me we’re all going to find a whole lot more than we bargain for.

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LET ME INTRODUCE MYSELF

I am a teacher who teaches, a translator who translates, a would-be blogger, a workaholic, a perfectionist, a sarcast, a skeptic, a realist with dreams, an art lover, a travel freak, a tennis fan, a coffee junkie, a carnivore, an environmentalist, a political being, a good person, a bitch, a neurotic, a soul searcher, a careful daughter, a caring daughter, a missing sister, a part-time wife, a part-time friend, and a full-time mom. I am a citizen of the world (who happens to be the citizen of Serbia), once a permanent resident of Canada, now a German temporary residence permit holder, a legal alien in all three.

Who am I? One in a million, one and only or one and lonely?!

Let’s find out. Marcel Proust, the French essayist and novelist, believed that, in answering these insightful questions, we reveal our true nature. Here’s a part of Proust Questionnaire:

__1.__If you could be someone else, who would you like to be? – An eccentric artist, opening my eyes wide to the usual incredible sunset.
__2.__What is your idea of perfect happiness? – A happy family and a peaceful frame of mind.
__3.__What is your greatest fear? – The death of loved ones.
__4.__When and where were you the happiest? – When my son puts his arms around me, every time, any place.
__5.__What is your favorite word? – Freedom and culture, absolutely priceless.
__6.__Which talent would you most like to have? – A talent for singing.
__7.__Who are your heroes in real life? – My son and my husband.
__8.__What do you consider the most overrated virtue? – Modesty.
__9.__On what occasion do you lie? – To protect others, to protect myself and prevent disasters.
__10.__What do you most dislike about your appearance? – I used to really hate my nose and breasts when I was younger. Luckily, I’ve grown up.
__11.__If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? – I’d like to be more patient and less pig-headed.
__12.__Which words or phrases do you most overuse? – I mean.
__13.__What do you consider your greatest achievement? – Remaining relatively sane and stabile against all odds.
__14.__If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? – A male, to hear their side of the story.
__15.__What is your most treasured possession? – I don’t think I have one. I’m not good at possessing things.
__16.__Who is your favorite fictional character? – Goofy, Daffy Duck, Foghorn Leghorn, Tintin.
__17.__How would you like to die? – Healthy and old, in the kingdom by the sea.
__18.__What is your current state of mind? – Somewhere in between.

Ok Marcel, you’ve stripped me naked. Psychoanalyze me.

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