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Summer Blues ’12 by bayripley
13/08/2012, 18:21
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It happened again. It happened again in summer.

I have written before, I hate summers. They are nothing but gloomy times for me. In the beginning of this summer, I thought it would be different. I’ll admit it, I failed. This summer is just as gloomy as past summers. This time, it is not only because of my personal life, which is a total mess. This time Turkey, my homeland, has the large share in my depression.

Last night, my close friend and I were watching a horror movie about a vampire girl who lives in a northern European country and sobs when she kills her victims. My friend said she wouldn’t continue watching the movie, and took off. It was 9.30pm. And I thought myself, I would surf the net, fall asleep, and wake up to an awesome week. I had planned it all. I would wake up at 6 am, go to the gym, and start working at 9am. I would finish all the unfinished projects, which literally needed one or two working days of focus. I clicked on one of the news portals. It all started there, and it is not going away.

In the last 24 hours, one of Turkey’s MPs was kidnapped by a terrorist organization. A policeman shot a citizen almost for no reason in the daylight, while the cameras were recording, and he just walked away. The spokesperson of the ruling party denied recalling the members of the parliament to debate the civil war. (Yes, admit it, it is a civil war!) And my favorite columnist of all times was denied his freedom of speech in his column, resulting his abrupt resignation from the newspaper.

Given the conditions, I couldn’t find peace, and sleep rejected me. I couldn’t sleep the whole night; I watched a stupid show on the Internet just to fall asleep. It didn’t work. I will not deny the fact that my life is currently a total mess, but I personally feel ashamed of whining about it when all these terrible things happen in my country.

At those moments, the moments of finding myself in total awe and frustration about the geography where my best memories about life and love took place, I ask myself: Has it always been such or is it me who is becoming more aware every time? I remember the first time I asked such a question: It was the freshman year at high school, and I was an ardent admirer of “Western countries.” I had read “A Tale of Two Cities,” and asked at the conclusion of my book presentation whether the filth of Dickens’ times was long gone or had it transformed into something else along the years. My literature teacher answered: “You will find your answer later in life.” As in many other instances, he was damn right. Nothing bad goes away from the surface of earth. They just transform into other things.

I personally feel the same for my life. The moment you think you are over someone, the moment you think the pain of love is gone and you are all healed, it all comes back in another form. My take on life is “Never celebrate the passing of a bad thing, Just prepare yourself for another form of it.”

The pain is no stranger to Turkey’s geography, either. Nothing was better 10 years ago, they were just worse in other terms. Pain seems to be the fuel of not only gloomy literature people but it is also a substantial medium in politics and history. It just changes shape; the essence is the same.

Given the situation, my biggest regret in life emerges: I wish I had become one of those party animals when I had the chance. I wish I was one of those people who would hear the news while drinking his second mojito in a Cesme beach club in the afternoon. I am not blaming anyone, I am just blaming myself.

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So Let’s Talk About Eurovision – Part 2: Are you ready for the Final! by a21
26/05/2012, 10:29
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It’s tonight. The final of Eurovision 2012 or just Eurovision 2012 since we don’t really care about the semifinals. Ok, I did some comments about the first semi-final so I will do the same for the second semi-final as well. So I guessed that ten countries that would go to the finals would be: Serbia, FYR Macedonia, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Sweden, Turkey, Norway, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Lithuania. I guessed 7 of them right, while Estonia, Malta and Ukraine were the lucky ones instead of Netherlands, Bulgaria and Slovenia. All three of them are going to be at the bottom part of the final chart so it doesn’t really matter. I’m not going to comment about Sweden, Norway and Turkey for the moment, since I will have another section for them further down in the post.

Serbia: I don’t have anything to say about the song. I can’t understand the lyrics, but I suppose the lyrics are great since they passed to the finals. Nothing special about the song, the singer or the show. Oh wait, this is Serbia, right. Every year Serbia is a favorite because they always get a lot of votes. This year they won’t get so much since all balkan countries are coming somewhat strong and I don’t think Serbia is better than them. So boring, really!

FYR Macedonia: I like this song, it’s actually a good taste from the Balkans for a change. Singer has a nice voice and the performance was good. Can get a moderate amount of votes, not gonna be very high on the chart.

Bosnia-Herzegovina: When I saw the performance, I thought about last year when Italy came second. Yes, because of the piano. If piano gets votes, than this song can be high. But I don’t think so. I think this song is weak and will not top the chart.

Lithuania: Love is blind and what a great idea to wear a blindfold! Yaaay! Come on Lithuania, be creative. Anyway, it was not that bad. The boy has energy and sings well. I was sure he would be in the finals. However only 12 point he’s going to get is from Estonia and vice-versa. pff!

Estonia: Handsome guy singing a ballad and he’s from estonia. Nothing much to say really. I don’t know why we have to listen to him in the finals again!!

Malta: I think it’s a crappy song but they were funny and had good energy. In the end, both people in the hall and those who were watching them on tv enjoyed them. I didn’t expect them to go to the finals, it was a big shock for me. However, I’m convinced they deserved it.

Ukraine: I really think the song of Gaitana should be forbidden but somehow she made people like it. The show was funny with moving screens and dancers. The dress of the woman was horrible. I still think Ukraine shouldn’t have made it to the finals.

So, finally let’s talk about Eurovision !!

In this part, I will only talk about my favorites. However, first I want to draw attention to the so-called Big Five: Germany, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy and France. Since they are not in the semi-finals, we always forget about them. Generally Germany is somehow good while United Kingdom and Spain is horrible. France sometimes sends good songs although nobody understands what they are doing. Italy is generally not very good either. This year, I think all of the Big Five have very good songs.

Spain: I start with Spain because I don’t feel she can get in top 10. But Pastora Soler may very well have the best voice in the contest and the song is perfect for it. Her performance in the rehearsal is great and she can give Spain one of the highest ranks of 21st century.

Germany: Although the song is good and the singer is cute, I don’t think Germany will get good votes. For me, they are not one of the favorites.

United Kingdom: The song of Engelbert Humpledinck can be the slowest song of the contest but I believe it is a good song. I can at least say that he might break the tradition and put U.K. in the top ten.

France: Anggun made a great song. I honestly think it’s one of the best songs of the contest. It’s one of my favorites and I would be very happy if she wins. France prepared an exciting show as well and I believe the performance of Anggun will also be good. However, the competition is though and just nobody votes for France.

Italy: I love Nina Zilli and Italy is my “the favorite” this year. Zilli had a very confusing journey to Eurovision. She was chosen at San Remo Fastival to represent Italy in Eurovision 2012 with her song “Per Sempre” which was a nice song an I quite liked it. Then few months before Eurovision, she announced she changed her song to “L’Amore E Feminna”. Then she made the song more english with a second title in English: “Out of Love”. I think this may even be a first for Italy to be represented by a song in english (at least most of it in english). She made 2 video clips for the song. It seems she just can’t decide. Although I expected his stage show to be better, her performance is amazing on the stage and the song is just perfect for her style. After finishing in second place last year, I feel Italy may win the contest.

Those were the “Big Five”. It’s surprising to see all of them coming strong this year. This year really is a very good year. There are so many songs that can win and so many good songs. It’s going to be a wonderful show. For me, I see all of the Big Five as favorites. So let’s check the other favorites of this year.

Ireland: Jedward added to their popularity since last year and their stage show was very exciting. I believe they have a very good chance at winning. Otherwise they are sure to be in top 10. GO JEDWAAARD !!

Sweden: Euphoria is really amazing. Although we have never seen much success from electronic songs in Eurovision, Euphoria is already very popular around Europe. She is seen widely as the favorite since she won Melodifestivalen. Everybody’s saying Loreen is the winner just like 2 years go when Lena rocked Europe with Satellite. This year Loreen is rocking the house and she’s most likely going to win it.

Norway: I expected to Tooji to strike hard but I think he’s intimidated by Loreen and I don’t think he has the confidence to win this. People compare his style to Eric Saad but personally I believe that “Stay” is a much better song than “Popular”. I think at this point, it depends on the performance of Tooji tonight. He has the energy and the perfect song to rock the house in Baku.

Turkey: Can Bonomo managed to get everyone in Turkey excited about Eurovision this year. Although this year it’s practically impossible for Turkey to win the contest, with a very cute stage show. Can Bonomo guaranteed its place in top ten. The song is not good so of course he needs to be cute. Everything may depend on the performance tonight since it was very sloppy at the semifinals. I think he was excited since he’s very young. Nevertheless, the Turkish trust in him and will still be proud of him even if he doesn’t win.

Russia: Yes, there is a big possibility that Grannies from Russia will win the contest. That reminds me of “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. Figure it out why. I’m so afraid that Russia will be the winner tonight because there are so many good songs that it would be a disastrous joke to see them perform a second time tonight.

Azerbaijan: The host of this year has Sabina singing a ballad with her amazing voice. I believe Azerbaijan will get some extra votes since they are the host this year and those votes may put them in top ten.

Other countries which may find themselves in top ten are Romania, Serbia, Denmark, Cyprus, Greece and Iceland. I don’t want to comment further on them since I already said everything there is to say about them. This year, the competition is crazy, there are so many good songs and I’m so curious to see the results.

Finally, I’m going to make my top 10 after watching the performances tonight. I’m watching the contest at the famous Eurovision party: “Dix Points” (#dixpoints). So it’s gonna be a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy it as well.

Catch you up after the results !!



So Let’s Talk About Eurovision – Part 1: First semi-final ! by a21
23/05/2012, 15:30
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Those were the 10 countries I predicted would be the finalists from the 1st semi finals: Romania, Israel, Cyprus, Denmark, Russia, Ireland, Austria, Switzerland, Latvia, Greece. I got 6 of them right!. First, let’s check those who didn’t make to the finals:

Israel: For me, it was the biggest shock of the night! It was one of the songs I liked the most from this year’s competitors. I would have liked to see them at the finals.  They didn’t do any performance mistakes, however I believe they were only voted off since they represented Israel.

Austria: I don’t know why I picked them. I guess I thought that there should be a group of people on Europe who would vote for them. But honestly, so glad we’re going to see a finals without them.

Switzerland: Another disappointment. The song was very good in my opinion and they did a very clean performance of “Friendly Rock”. I believe they should have made it to the finals. I guess nobody votes for Switzerland either.

Latvia: I liked the song before the semi-finals. However, their performance was poor and the rythm of the song didn’t keep up to the pace of the semi-finals. They were boring and didn’t deserve to win.

 

And now those who made it to the finals:

Moldova: One of the 4 countries that I didn’t expect to see in the finals. They performed better than I expected them to and deserved their place in the finals. I don’t think they will make their way to the top in the finals, but they can certainly get a good amount of votes.

Iceland: I don’t know why I didn’t expect them to win. Maybe I thought that without their scandinavian buddy countries in the semi-finals, they wouldn’t get enough votes to advance. However they have a great song with a theatrical and impeccable performance. They can get good votes and make their way to top 10 in the finals with a bit of luck.

Hungary: I think they have a very ordinary song without any special performance. I don’t think they should have won the semi-finals and don’t think they will be on top of the chart in the finals either.

Albania: Last of the 4 countries I didn’t expect to see in the finals. I guess they received votes of solidarity from some countries and for the great mystical voice of the singer. I still don’t believe they should have been in the finals and certainly they won’t get good votes.

Romania: A very catchy song with happy tunes. Although they had some problems during their performance, they were lucky. Could be a summer hit in Romania. They will not make it to top ten in the finals but certainly deserved to be in it.

Denmark: Although I didn’t like the song, I guessed that a lot of people would and they would be in the finals. They had a cello player dressed like a rapper and a singer with a sailor hat who was acting like a fish. We see a lot of sailor and sea themed performance. I guess it’s because Azerbaijan is a landlocked country. Anyways, although I still don’t like them, I think they will get enough votes to be in top ten.

Cyprus: They were on the popular songs of this year. Again, I didn’t like them. On top of that their performance was horrible, the singer didn’t sound right. They were popular enough to get the votes to win the semi-finals but hopefully they won’t win the finals, although I still expect them to place high.

Greece: This year, they are not as popular as they should have been. Greece is always a Eurovision favorite. Although this year, I don’t expect them to win. They have a catchy song with an appealing performance but they are just not popular enough. The song can be a summer hit in Greece and Turkish coast. They will place high in the finals, although not that high since we have seen better songs from Greece fail.

Russia: Come on Russia !! and Come on Europe. Yes they are cute and yes they should perform in the finals. But aren’t they also scary?! Seriously, although Russia always gets a lot of point, this year I’m annoyed at every vote that goes for Russia, s.Grannies are a nice addition of freakiness to the contest but please don’t let them place high in the finals with their horrible song.

Ireland: JEDWAAARD! You love them! Last year, their song was better but they performed poorly. This year, their performance is great and have an appealing stage show. I believe they will place in the top five in the finals which means I place them higher than any country in the 1st semi-finals. And who knows they might just win it ! Just don’t forget to vote for them!!

 

So that was it. I believe the second semi finals have better candidates to be the winner of Eurovision 2012. See you later and don’t forget to listen to all eurovision contestants in the special playlist of AvukatFM on Youtube.

 



Rain and Tucson, and my father. by bayripley
14/11/2011, 15:43
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A very hot Izmir afternoon, I came home and found my father dead. After 58 years, which he had spent mostly working, he passed away due to a heart failure—leaving all of his loved ones in a state of shock. I remember that day had started just like another Friday, he had woke up really early, went to work, came home, and had a shower afterwards. My mother found him, and when I came home, the doctor chose to give “the news” to me rather than my mother. The reminder of 2009 passed with other unfortunate events. A friend’s father passed away, a friend had a stroke and almost died, and a schoolmate was killed in a car accident.

A poem about leaving suddenly in Turkish.

Back then, I thought that pain in my life would never cease. My father always missed Istanbul, the city where he spent most of his childhood, and I had to live in “his city” to finish my degree. Things in my life, like inadvertently moving to one of the neighborhoods he had lived or walking everyday by the elementary school he had attended for a year, were keeping his memory alive, with a grave pain accompanying it. Izmir also became a city where I hated spending time. I remember, before moving to Tucson, my visits to my hometown were compact: I would visit my dentist, meet some friends, see some family, and in a day or two, I would be back to Istanbul, where pain had become somehow less evident. 13 months after my father passed away, I moved to Tucson. And, I unexpectedly loved this city. I loved Tucson although it wasn’t, at all, similar to the previous cities I had lived.

A hazy Paris night

Tucson was smaller population-wise but geographically wider. Its weather was dominated by an ardent desert climate with almost no rain. It was very remote to my previous life, which took place in Amsterdam, Istanbul, Paris, and Izmir. And everyone, including me, found my immediate admiration to Tucson inexplicable. But Tucson revealed its meaning in a moment which is very unlike any Tucson moments. It revealed its meaning under the rain.

For the last week, Tucson gets probably more rain than its monsoon season. Last Monday, my roommate and I couldn’t bike to school because of the rain. Last night, we came home from our Saturday dinner by bike, under the rain again. This morning, I am writing this piece in our front yard while rain is unusually watering all our plants, and a couple of drops are splashed onto my computer screen. (By the time I proofread this entry, in the afternoon, it is still raining!) Tucson weather is definitely not acting as it should.My roommate and I make jokes about being in London or Istanbul when we drink coffee in our front yard. And this unusually moist Tucson days made me realize why I love this city that much.

A view on the way to Tucson

When I was in Istanbul, or in Izmir, landmarks, avenues, streets, a random elementary school at the corner, knickknacks in my mother’s apartment, in less words anything reminded me my father, which is not a bad thing. However, they also reminded me the pain I had to cope with after his sudden death. I could not remember my father’s jokes or wise words, because the shock, and the following sorrow, was constantly with me, dominating everything about him. My father’s memory was by no means stripped from the pain of his death. However, Tucson, with no physical reminiscent of him around, gave me a new life where I was alone with the memory of my father, not the pain. Tucson was the city where I reconciled with that bitter aspect of life, the death of a loved one. It does not mean that I will not miss him when something good happens in my life. I already foresee some hidden tears at an important event, like a graduation or a birth; but this time I will be armed with the cleansing Tucson granted me.

There may not be many art galleries in this city, or the nightlife can be a joke considering other places on earth. Public transportation may be weak, and the rain may be a rarity in our lives. But Tucson will always remain the city that healed me. So, if still, anyone is wondering why I love this city so much, you have just read why.



Minor Hypocrisy by bayripley
10/09/2011, 21:28
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The country I grew up has neither a clean record nor a bright present towards the minorities it is home to. Putting some exceptions aside, our governments have never liked minorities, and not only the ones it officially recognized, like Greeks or Jews, but also the ones that you could call, in my native language, “aykırı sesler”, which can be translated into “incongruous voices”. The ones, who know exactly how governments treated those voices because they were once underrepresented, are in power now, and they ironically have adopted a similar discourse to their oppressors’. And including the last one, every government acts as if they treat the minorities fairly. This is what I call “grand hypocrisy”. If you wander in Turkish academia, you will find quality research on the history, but this “grand hypocrisy” is not my topic today. I want to talk about something similar but different in level and size. I want to talk about “minor hypocrisy”.

My academic interest to minorities does not rise from an awkward personal affection, as some fellow students ridiculously put it with funny statements like “You know, I love Islam. So I study Turkish society.” I believe how institutions and people treat minorities reveals a lot about their set of minds. In a responsible academic environment, an accurate study should distance the people from the institutions to a possible extend. What strikes me in my own life is how, sometimes, those people we dissociate from their governments actually behave the same way. The hypocrisy I call “minor” emerges when those people proclaim themselves strictly distinct from their vicious past and present governments, but they treat their friends and loved ones just like their governments did, does, but hopefully will not in the future.

No theory is good without an example. Here, take O.N.L. He is an educated, so-called humanist friend of mine. He likes to distinct himself from the society he lives in with his artistic expression, clothing, personal attitude, and his total adoption of and adaptation to the “humanist” discourse which welcomes “everyone as they are”. If you ask his friends or family, or even to those who watch him and his plays on the stage, he is a very nice person with a big heart. He detests the current government not because of political differences but also because the government does not treat the differences in an embracing way. He, himself, is an incongruous voice; and he mourns for the catastrophes that the minorities of our country went through. He even shared a video on Facebook condemning the past. Maybe not a good citizen for the current mentality, but such a good friend, and even a good intellectual, right?

However, when how he treats his friends who had to leave the country unfolds, we see a different story. This “nice person with a big heart” tends to consciously forget some of his friends live abroad. In addition, the departure of his friends, who were close enough to confront him with truths about his life, enabled this person to passively expel them. Their choice of living outside the country, or their obligation to do so, gave him the opportunity to gentrify his environment. He cut the communication with them, he deliberately lost touch, and it was something he could not do before, not to hurt the humanist image he is counting on in his personal relations. This virtual supporter of minorities failed to distance his behaviors from his country’s past and present towards his friends of a different type of minority.

So, when I saw the video he shared on Facebook, I immediately recognized a minor version of the grand hypocrisy I always condemn. He is the bearer of the pieces of a grand hypocrisy, and I am sure he sleeps well with his minor belongings. On the other hand, I feel the need to address any hypocrisy I detect, and minor or grand, it doesn’t matter.



Blogs, too. by bayripley
03/03/2011, 07:24
Filed under: Uncategorized, web | Tags: , ,

Probably the zillionth entry about the Blogspot Ban in Turkey. I personally don’t care about repeating a theme. I intend to speak more than “free speech”, a concept that I hope every reader of this blog is familiar with.

After the ban of blogspot.com and related blogs in Turkey, Turkish blogsphere has entered into frenzy against the government. The legal regulation of the AKP government, which did nothing after the YouTube ban but advice to “circumvent” the obstacles, enabled the banning of blogspot.com related blogs in Turkey upon the request of Digiturk, a satellite TV provider. Digiturk detected some extremely famous blogs broadcasting Turkish Football League matches, which have a billion dollar value for four years, and are supposed to be watched only through Digiturk’s satellite channels or official website.

The importance of blogging has been the very subject of some of my entries. Some articles on this blog are also written for expressing some political opinions. I don’t want to write about how as bloggers we have to react against the government. I just want bring out some aspects of this legal framework, and its application.

The copyrights of trillion dollars film and TV industry of mainly USA, Britain, and Turkey are systemically violated by some TV series portals, which stream full seasons of TV series filmed in these countries. They are subject to similar bans, but they have already established a very efficient network, a privilege that does not belong to a simple blogger; so a client is never deprived from watching the last episode of his favorite TV show utmost 2 hours later than the original broadcast. In addition to that accessibility, many decent companies advertise on those sites. A TV show, which was broadcast last night, has attracted over 20,000 viewers in 24 hours. Consider at least 10 new episodes a day are uploaded to one of those portals, and although those videos are shared by some others, the estimated viewers and the market value of those “sites” are quite high.

You seriously don’t want to upset devoted and some thousand TV series addicts, but chic fashion bloggers, bright politic activists, or depressed homosexual teenagers are OK to get rid of. If they are operating under the same umbrella of some rule breaker, they are easily kicked out of the “clean and safe” cyber area of the government.

I should remind you that “clean and safe” cyber area is also free of porn and dating sites. It used to be clean of any YouTube junk. And yet, all those material, and maybe even more could be found on Facebook, which seems politically untouchable and probably legally unchallengeable. Another reason might be that Facebook is also providing a significant mobilization and cyber space for the campaign of the ruling party. YouTube was closed for videos insulting Ataturk, and although some “citizens” of Facebook-land insulted the same persona, Facebook was never even threatened by the legal officers.

Having said that, a dear friend of mine, and a very talented TV critic through her blog, is actually embodying all those examples above. Her blog is no longer reachable through legal ways, and the TV show she constantly writes about is aired tomorrow. She basically will not be able to upload her entry to her blog, and she already expressed her frustration on her Twitter and Facebook accounts. The suggestion of the audience was fast and simple: Put your writing on Facebook in form of “Notes”. She said she would think about it.

This ban has not only silenced bloggers, but also forced them to take a “more conventional” way to place their thoughts. This ban has not only limited a free thinker, but also suggested her a position in the “determined” and “clean and safe” environment designated by the power.

This ban did not touch some 20,000 devotees of one single TV show, but actually a critical voice among them. I think this is what we are supposed to react against. The majority is still doing fine, those who are writing about it seems to be in pain.



What if? by bayripley
30/09/2010, 05:51
Filed under: Uncategorized

You felt that it was time to decide: You would either go on like that, or you would change. You made your decision; you left the path of the usual and took the reformed one. You left your city, you dumped your lover, you changed your major at college, etc. Now, you like it or not, you have a new life.

If you are a (wo)man of such important, profound, challenging, reformist—or even revolutionary changes, there are certain encounters you get to rethink about your decision: You see your former classmates in the bookstore, you notice something new in your ex’ facebook page, or you simply hear from a childhood friend. This obvious phrase is automatically on your mind: What if… What if I went on with economics, what if I got married to her, what if I was still living in that city…

You are certainly aware of their transformation, though—a new professor at the department, your ex’ newhairstyle, some news about the people you used to know. You did not leave that road for “a change”. However, you are almost 100% sure that if you did not let that groundbreaking decision change your life, you would suffer until the end of it. You can even experience that in certain occasions. Your pal, who used to share his concerns about economics, is constantly whining about his job, your ex’ new is as dull as you used to be, or some guys from the old town are still sticking with their exodus plans, even though they are more and more rooted to that old city.

I adore this moment of notice. During these encounters, during this experience of self-questioning, I wonder if everyone feels the same. Therefore, this entry is not a one-direction text, but it aims to have you readers engaged. Don’t hesitate to describe your emotions during such encounters.

To state my own, I am going to use this lovely word of “anxiety”. My first reaction is an abrupt anxiety, which is derived from an imaginary time and place travel. The very moment right after my “what if”, I feel like I have never made the change, I feel like I am stuck at the realm I used to belong before my decision. This covers my soul with a grave anxiety; a very powerful and destructive sense of insecurity follows right away. Now that I know by experience that a better life exists, but feeling of being stuck is right there, I feel totally insecure in that familiar but not appreciated time and place. Full of panic, I look for something that would remind me reality, take me back to the life after the decision, to my lovely, genuine life. As soon as I get that, I feel the relief, and even mischief. I boldly made the decision, and now, I have all the righteous reasons to disdain.  I feel awesome afterwards.

And the most inspiring aspect of this experience is its length: All these emotions rule in a span of a second. It feels like an emotion shot, a strong slap on the face, a masochistic catharsis, a bigheaded regard towards life.

It feels so good! It feels great!