BELGRADE – In a phenomenon that people are calling “Grumpymania”, the streets of the Serbian capital are abuzz with spirited grumbling and complaining. The weather, for many is too cold. The shopkeepers, for others, are too rude. Slow waiters, idiot drivers, and robotic postal workers are under siege in Belgrade as #Grumpymania sweeps the nation.
My routine had all the usual morning hiccups associated with my as yet decaffeinated state: I dropped the spoon while making my coffee; I found a dark thread on my white bathrobe, which it seemed I had inadvertently put on inside out; the butter knife slipped from my hand mid-toast; reaching for it, I hit the bread and overturned it; I took a new piece of bread (and new knife) and re-booted. Thus reconfigured, I proceeded to my breakfast.
It’s a mystery. Wrapped inside a pickle. On a ham sandwich.
On sale in Aisle 7.
The mystery is that I no longer know where I am when I go to the supermarket in Belgrade. Today, for example, I started out list-in-handed on a journey to IDEA in New Belgrade. I had received in the post a special Happy Birthday coupon for a 10% discount (on almost everything except what I wanted to buy I found in the fine print).
When I arrived, I found a large empty shell where IDEA used to be. It has been “in renovation” for several months now, so one supposes that this is a euphemism for “it’s probably ok for you never to try here again.” Resourcefully, I decided to pull out of the empty parking lot and dog-leg it into Roda next door.
Yesterday I woke up knowing that I would face the mountainous terrain of Serbian bureaucracy in order to finish the establishment of my branding agency. It is mountainous, full of crags, hairpin turns, and impasses due to rock slides, and while it is not impossibly high in altitude, it takes a climber of a certain determination to traverse.
Yesterday morning, that was NOT me.
Is it possible to have an opinion with joining a Cause?
Case Study: Same-sex Marriage. It is not acceptable anymore to merely accept this and generally agree with it. The Socially Acceptable Model is to “celebrate” it. We must loudly proclaim our most underscored, emphatic, and rainbow-painted glee. We must show Vindication and Exaltation. Otherwise, we might be mistaken for a Scalia-style dissenter.
And God forbid we actually do dissent…
We needed movers. We called a few. We agreed a deal with one. He came, he forgot the deal, and he began threatening to “beat” us when we insisted. He said that he had beaten his mother that very morning. He held the thing we had to move hostage. He added, just for information, that he was a “woman-hater.”
All for €20.83.
“I am the author of this book,” I told the nice man who looked Official. “Why is it in the Architecture section?”
“Oh, it says Architecture, but really it’s not.”
“I can see that. But people will not look for it here.”
“This is Biography, Journals, and Autobiography.”
“But it says Architecture.”
“It says that, but it is not.”
CONVERSATION RESIGNATION LETTER.
BY ANNA HEYWARD AND EVAN WILLIAMS
5 minutes ago
By the bowl of stale salt and vinegar chips
Friday Night Drinks
Awkward office party
Ugly office Building.
Please accept this immediate notice of my resignation from this conversation.
I’ve decided that at this point in time — specifically, right after you asked if I “had much on for the weekend” — that it would be best for me to move on and pursue other conversation opportunities.
There are people who are born with an innate sense of orientation. These people always know which way is True North, how to get from here to there without circumnavigating the globe and discovering the West Indies, and do not refer to “right” as the “other left.”
What is True North anyway? Is there a Fake North?
I got a message on Viber 27 seconds ago. When do I respond? Immediately? What is the etiquette? Is there any etiquette?
People who have an active and useful memory of the 20th Century (like me for example) used to send letters to each other, a process by which weeks and months could pass in between missives. When we got email and could send a letter instantly without relying on the post office, we started to think about “response times”. One company I worked for mandated a maximum 48-hour response time for emails. This was soon sliced in two and 24 hours became the etiquette. After that, you were being lazy. Or rude. Or both.