7 tips on avoiding the darker pits of online dating from a despair expert

As lockdowns progress and our worlds shrink to the size of a phone screen, the hopes to casually bump into the love of your life on a weekend trip to Paris start to evaporate. A lot of my friends are trying Tinder for the first time — and I worry for them.

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Alice In Wonderland 2010 movie poster

Just like any other great technological invention, say, explosives or nuclear reaction, Tinder has great capabilities of both creation and destruction. It’s a tool that allows you to reach great people that you would have never bumped into in real life. …


Fiction Friday

So, that was last Friday. I had great plans for the evening — to draw myself a bath and chill for a bit with my own new toys that arrive in discreet boxes— so I tried my best to put the spawn to bed a little earlier. Naturally, that backfired.

We had to go through the full extended routine: “Mom, I want to watch another cartoon”; “Mom, I’m a dinosaur, dinosaurs don’t brush their teeth”; “Mom, read me a story”, “Mom, I want water”; “No, not the puppy, I want to sleep with the pink elephant!”; “Mom, why birds don’t have hands?”; …


Fiction Friday

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Circe Offering the Cup to Ulysses, John William Waterhouse, 1891.

She goes through the dusty boxes and broken furniture of the attic, settles on a stack of shabby leather suitcases under a tiny window, and fishes a pack of cigarettes and a lighter out of her bra. Her white dress is stained and dirty from a long stair climb, and the choir of concerned voices of the wedding guests is starting to rise from the hall reaching out for her like a cloud of angry bees. She wishes she’d care.

She lights up a cigarette and takes a long drag, filling a sudden hole in her chest with bitter smoke.

Ten years.


A kind of list you won’t see on your front page

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Photo by Ilyuza Mingazova on Unsplash

What constitutes a good person is a subject that was debated by everyone, everywhere: from the Ancient philosophers spitting out grape seeds from a bed filled with concubines to that neighbor that decided to start drilling the walls while everyone is in smartworking.

Probably this is why we so often opt out to measure our worth in money, followers, possessions — these things, in contrast with goodness, virtue, or decency, are not debatable.

Each aspect of human virtue can be scrutinized, instead. Selflessness is awarded in principle, but in fact, it turns you into a doormat others can take advantage of. Niceness, politeness, and likeability are glossy but can hide a manipulative psychopath. …


studying my own weaknesses

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Photo by Sinitta Leunen on Unsplash

Because if I’m being really honest, all my life revolves around just one object:

a bathtub.

A bathtub is the reason why I don’t live in my hometown back in Russia anymore. I could go on a long rant about the politics, the career opportunities, the social climate, and the daily doses of homophobia and misogyny that had hurt my gentle heart. That would be true, but that would be also false — because this shit is everywhere.

The reason why I don’t live in my hometown anymore is that the tap water there hits your nostrils with a trademark fragrance the second you turn it on. And the color — it is unnoticeable while the water runs, but as soon as you fill a container as large as a bathtub, you will see the tint from all the oxidated iron that went rogue in the water pipes. And the sight of it evokes despair so profound that my family had dismounted a bathtub altogether, opting out for a shower stall instead. …


Following the fashion world descending from celebrity castles to TikTok videos, as a bystander

For me, it starts within the deep snows of the Ural region of Russia. My university classmates repost translations of luxury runway shows, show off statement bags and LV checkered patterns. I move through the city wearing a second-hand fur coat, huge wool boots, and up to five layers of pants. It was hard to figure out which one of us looks more ridiculous.

Fashion enters my world as someone’s desperate dreams, so far from my everyday reality that I couldn’t even feel anything about them. “You know what’s luxury” — they whisper — “it’s these Prada shoes, that Birkin bag, that Balmain latex suit”. …


hands-on exploration of the forms of emptiness in urban life

Publish something every day, better trice. Hustle. Refresh the newsfeed. Read the news. Keep up. Network. Sell. Refresh. Watch. Buy. Share. For a Westerner of the twenty-first century, nothing is more unsettling than an empty space, than a piece of time and space not chock-full of content — be it a pause in a conversation, a waiting line, or an idea of death.

But the masters of the past civilizations had a different approach to the void.

The ancient masters had a way to play with the void instead of denying its right for existence; they would caress her as a lover with a stroke of a brush, they would worship her as a goddess in days-long meditation practice — and then strangle her to harness her powers. …


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Doodling mine

Once, I’ve found a pupa of a butterfly. Actually, it was my mom—the cocoon fell from a branch of blackcurrant where she was collecting the berries, and she brought it to me, without taking her heavy gardening gloves off. It was the middle of September, the time of falling leaves and stupid wool clothes, always two sizes wrong and smelling like dust in the attic.

The pupa was brown, slightly iridescent, delightfully heavy. Her bottom half could move, bending under the tiny plates — she would wiggle it from side to side if you’d poke her with a finger, like a tail of an irritated cat. …


Is it you, or is it me?

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Photo by Mikita Yo on Unsplash, fragment

Some days, I think you are not enough for me. Some days, I think you are way too much.

Sure, you are not New York, or London, or any of these progressive, edgy, sci-fi megacities from the movies. You are not who I imagined being with. You know that. I complain a lot.

You are too loud, too extravert: your trams are filled with people shouting juicy personal details in their phones, looped conversations heating up the air; your streets get clogged whenever someone meets their friend — or an enemy — and they won’t move till they’ve said it all. You are too traditional — do you really need to sneer at me whenever I order a tea-and-toast instead of your favorite coffee-and-croissant? You are inconsistent. …


It’s okay to change the climate

Once upon a time — approximately 2.4 billion years ago — when the Earth was young, steamy (with volcano eruptions) and intoxicating (with over 70% of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere), there lived a bacteria called cyanobacteria.

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Photo by Joel Filipe on Unsplash

She floated in a world ocean surrounded by her merry single-celled cousins, busy transforming water and nitrogen into food through slow, anoxygenic photosynthesis, never wishing for anything else. But she felt she was different. That she could change the world.

According to scientists, cyanobacteria was responsible for the Great Oxidation Event, (dubbed Great Oxidation Catastrophe), which completely changed the Earth's atmosphere, inverted its whole biosphere inside out, and resulted in the first mass extinction. …

About

Luna Lovecroft

Add Drama Button. Stories from another hemisphere. Russian in Milan, Italy. Get a letter from me: https://slidetosubscribe.com/adddramabutton/

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