January 30, 2009

The Book With No Name. Again

It took about three shooting-sessions in the forest & in the tent, 6 hours of cutting, putting the pieces togethere, laughing, with me learning new words in German (highlits of the night: Spannung and Ubergang), lots of smoking as my voice, recorded, is really high-pitched (it may be high-pitched by default, except that I don't hear it when I speak), in the meantime Maxi was running out of time as she is way more perfectionist than I am and she also had a train to catch, but in the end we did it.
So here it is, without any further comments.

The Book With No Name.

p.s. I used to read this blog (Letters to Marc Jacobs), until this lady got bored with waiting for an answer from Marc Jacobs. I'm actually considering, due to the amount of information on / related to The Book With No Name, starting a new blog, Letters to Anonymous, and move the entire obsession there, especially as I did get some feedback by now :) That would bring me one step closer to acting like a mad groupie (I do have all the symptoms, by now).

January 25, 2009

Tent stories

Sanchez hated strangers coming into his bar.
This is the very first line of The Book With No Name.

I also hate strangers coming into the tent. And not only because Sanchez is my hero and I hope someday he'll show up in my life to teach me the deepest darkest secrets of bartending, but because strangers coming into a bar which has its own set of unwritten rules, very well known by the regulars, are a real pain in the ass.
There's several categories of "strangers" in the tent, equally despicable.
1. The disoriented pretty little girls. They usually come up in groups of 4-6. I see them walk in and I can bet at least three of them will be drinking beer with raspberry syrup. As they are probably used to places that have central heating and walls, they are inadequately dressed. Hence one beer is more than enough. They overdose on perfume, which mixes with the smell of burnt wood, beer and cigarettes, making my liver happy for the night. They want beer without alcohol, wine, I do expect them to ask for a Mojito sooner or later. As they never sit at the bar, I have no idea what they talk about. Not that I'd really want to know, as they pretty much manage to piss me off by simply opening their mouths to order beer.
2. The self-sufficient ones. They try to act cool. Unlike the pretty little girls, they'd like to pass as regulars. Except that they don't. The pattern: they show up, take a tour of the bar, find a seat, usually at the bar, wait until they establish eye contact, and the damage is done. What kind of draft beer do you have? What about bottled beers? (Darlings, why should I force myself to pay attention to what kinds of bottled beer we have left in the fridge that's in the opposite part of the bar, and which our regular customers just open and help themselves??) Do you have votca? (How about some champagne and caviar, on the house, 'cause you're so awesome?). Eventually they decide, but can't move their asses to the fridge, so go-fetch beer-take money-give the change-answer two more utterly idiotic questions. By the way, ashtrays are to be found on the bar, if you get your Tyskie beer in a glass with the Zubr logo it's because we're out of Tyskie glasses and it's either this or plastic cups so no need to be sarcastic about it, I can't - or rather don't want to - change the music or turn down the volume, and by no means do I want to make friends with you after you're half drunk and think you can just hit on the bartender.
3. The tormented souls. They come to the pub because life is hard. They have to end world hunger, bring peace to the Middle East, save the planet, and make it back home for supper. Being so overwhelmed, they skip the hello / thank you part, and sometimes don't even say what kind of beer they want. Good thing I'm such a cool bartender and guess.

Fortunately, these people are less than 10% of the customers in the tent.
The rest of 90-something% say hello when they show up, engage themselves in light conversations while waiting for their beer, smile, bring their glass back for a refill, bring the empty bottles back to the bar, hang around, smile some more, they're a source of positive energy, and some of them are by now more than mere acquaintances.
It's no surprise the atmosphere is so familiar and cozy when Jacek is behind the bar - he's been there for quite some time, he knows everybody, many of the people in the tent are his friends, so that's how it should be. But it was one of the nicest surprises in this city to see myself somewhat "adopted" in the tent, and feeling the same coziness no matter on what side of the bar I'm standing.


My incapacity of saying "no" has brought me enough trouble over the years (and quite a few very pleasant surprises, but that's not the point right now). The biggest problem is time management. I overload myself with work, and then wonder why I never have time.
Since I'm probably my biggest fan, I could not conceive blaming everything on me, so it's got to be somebody else's fault. Time-eaters. They're the ones truly responsible for the messy life I lead, for the lack of sleep, for the deadlines I rarely respect. I was tempted to blame the tent for the 4 precious hours spent selling beer, instead of writing / translating / learning. Luckily, I know myself a little better than that. The real time-eater is the Internet. And my addiction, which I've mentioned a few months ago. If I had some minimal discipline, I'd gain a few hours daily. So my New Year's resolution (I didn't have one on New Year's Eve, so that means it still counts) is to stop hitting F5 every hour to see if there's anything new on the blogs that I follow, to read the news once a day, instead of ten, to spend more time offline, to stop taking South-Park breaks (this is indeed a challenge) and to use only the English-Romanian dictionary when in need of a word for the translation (that means stop wondering what are the Polish/French/Spanish equivalents of that word, the etymology, possible other meanings in slang and so on).
Let's see if it works, and how much time I need to forget all about this resolution.

January 20, 2009

Weather report

Disney and Kato may not have many things in common. But this morning, when stepping out of the akademik, it felt exactly like a cartoon: spring was in the air, everything was defrosting, melting, the sun was shining and i swear I even heard the birds singing. If i had taken a few more steps in the forest, I would have probably met some rabbits and deers, got myself killed by some crazy hag, brought back to life by Prince-Charming and you all know the recipe for these Disney happy-endings, what a pitty I was just taking the trash out.
Anyway, this is only partly relevant. The thing is, whenever I smell spring, after a winter that's practically frozen all my senses, we're talking about that very first breath of fresh air, my mind goes blank, I can't focus on anything else, as one idea takes over: the open road to the seaside.
If everything goes according to plan, i.e. managing all the technical details related to my hundreds of tasks, I'm on my way :)

Later edit: the trip to Gdansk, by train, takes about 10 hours. By plane, it takes about 940 euros. As I've been rather lazy in the past few days, I need to catch up with work, so I don't have 10 hours. I don't have 940 euros, either, and if I did, my guess is I wouldn't spend it on a trip to Gdansk.

So very problematic

For the past four days I've been having a sharp pain in my neck. To be more specific, on the outside, but sometimes it's so sharp that I can feel it on the inside as well. If I need to see what's behind me (be it the bookshelves in the classroom, the vampires or the wild boars in the forest, the fireplace in the tent or the customers on the other side of the bar) I have to practise my pirouettes, since I cannot turn my head like any normal person would do. I still claim it's broken, although the kids in the tent did explain me that it's basically not possible. Then again, I'm the one feeling those sharp pains, so this time I cannot fully trust what they say. Being the hypochondriac that I am, I've developed several scenarios, diagnosed myself with hundreds of diseases and yes, it's most likely that I have a broken neck.
In the meantime, took a test in Polish today (the last one in this semester), went on a bike trip in the woods, went to the cinema, cooked, cleaned the place up, slept a lot, basically I did everything I could think of except for studying but hey, I'm cool enough to pass some test, or at least I hope I am, went to work, decided to buy a bike which I will name El Santino (no need to wonder where I got the name from).
So I guess my Mom was right when she told me I completely lack equilibrium, since I'm either sitting in front of the computer, working more than necessary and not doing anything else, or doing everything but what I'm really supposed to be doing.
I'll be back to normal tomorrow, since over the years I did learn a valuable lesson: books don't translate themselves, and that goes double for the articles to be written. I still wonder how I manage to complicate things when they're so very simple in the beginning. Not to mention my broken neck which makes everything even more complicated.

January 16, 2009

A Few Don'ts

This will not be about poetry, although I do have Ezra Pound to thank for this wonderful title. And actually it's not a few don'ts, but one: if you happen to be in Katowice at some point, no matter what happens, don't go to this place called Straszny Dwor. Even if it's the very last option. Straszny Dwor looks like a disco of the '90s, where girls wear heavy make up and light clothes and guys get easily drunk, and the rest of the story you can easily picture. After a busy night at work, Tomek and I went there for one drink, and although we knew this place was really crappy, we did have a lot of fun, it was like taking a trip to the zoo at 2 a.m. Seeing the horrors this place offers, we decided to go to the center for some party, and I can only hope this will happen as soon as possible, since I only went to one party since coming to Kato. A great party, but still, not enough.
Above all, I liked this girl wearing a very short silver skirt (might have been a belt, actually, I couldn't really tell) and I decided to get myself one of those, as it would definitley add some color to the tent. That would be the second step towards compromising myself. Took the first step today, when I was browsing through the French edition of Glamour (I just wanted to read something in French, and this was my only option, ok?!), which made Jacek smile in a "what the hell is wrong with you, dude?" way. As we work together, he's seen me reading Kerouac, Marx, Eco, my Polish textbook, various Romanian magazines, Llosa and a Theory of Literature reader, so I guess Glamour did not really fit in the picture. Once I get a silver skirt-belt, everything will suddenly make sense.

January 15, 2009


Kazimierz Jurczak is a professor at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow and at the University of Warsaw. And he's also the most important translator from Romanian to Polish. Tons of books, conferences, articles, you name it, this man is really awesome. And I'll be interviewing him at the end of the month.
Oh, and here comes the bragging part, quote from his reply to my email:

Droga Pani,

przede wszystkim, gratuluje swietnej polszczyzny!

There. That's how wonderful my Polish is.

Tickets and cigarettes

It's easy not to notice the absence of those less pleasant aspects of daily life. Once they're out of the scenery, I barely think about them. Because I have to try to get accustomed to the new nasty realities, those of the new places. I almost forgot about the 1,5 mil. stray dogs in Bucharest, making my life harder because a) I wanted to take them all home and b) I was afraid of them. Forgot about the beggars, as well. Spotted a few here as well, moved on before becoming annoyed by their presence (or before wanting to take them all home, i'm always torn apart between my stupidly naive ego and my vicious one).
Anyway. Here in Kato it's hard not to notice the staggering, plastered people on the bus, almost on a daily basis, be it morning, noon or night. What first seemed to give this place some local color, has now become utterly disturbing.

So this morning I had to wake up at 7. Grumpiness level - the words to describe it are yet to be invented. Still, I put on my best smile, a chic dress and a colorful, woollen scarf, my scarlet boots (not made for walking) and headed downtown, longing for some coffee, thinking about language ethics and esthetics (homework!), making mental shopping lists, picturing a bright sunny day while trying to figure out what to wear at work as to prevent an unwelcome metamorphosis into an ice statue, as statues don't sell beer and that would be against my job description file. Still, I was quite happy - in a manner of speaking, I mean, how happy can you be at that time in the morning, having had half a cup of coffee on the run?

And there she was. I've seen quite a few drunk men falling asleep and then falling off the chair during my bus trips to / from the akademik. So I might say I've become somewhat immune. But girls? I guess she was about my age, with a face so white it would have made goth kids jealous, huge red eyes and a high-pitched voice that made me dislike her the moment she walked to the front of the bus (lucky me, I happened to be sitting there) and asked the driver for a cigarette. It's a common practice to ask the driver for a ticket, but I had never heard anybody asking for a cigarette (and yes, I do know these Polish words, and between bilet and papieros there's quite a difference). Obviously the driver ignored her, so she takes out her phone and takes a picture of the guy, screaming she would go somewhere and do something (no idea, didn't get that part) because she needs to smoke and he has to give her a cigarette. The she starts kicking the driver's cabin, screaming, coughing, shaking. I was really uncomfortable with the thought she might vomit. I can't stand that, I can't see people who vomit. It makes me sick. The mere thought of her splashing her innards all over the bus made me want to vomit first. I didn't, as it would have been too complicated to get back home, pick up some new happy-go-gorgeous outfit and make it to school in due time.
And then she collapsed. Some guy who had been reading his newspaper in a perfect state of calm helped her get up and take a seat. Oh, the joy, right in front of me. Honey, if you start coughing and do vomit, please try to do it in the opposite direction. The nice gentleman also opened the windows, as if it wasn't cold enough, as if fresh air could actually help her. And we were back to the coughing - vomit alert - collapsing routine. The thought she might even die there did cross my mind, and that would have grossed me out completely, not to mention ruined my karma for the rest of the week. And I had no idea how to explain my teacher "um, you know...some girl died on the bus". That excuse is about as lame as the one with the dog eating the homework. I was pissed off, frozen, and felt no sympathy whatsoever.
The nightmare came to an end when she decided (and informed the driver) that she can't possibly travel like that, and she swore to file a complaint. She thanked the kind gentleman for his help and she was off.
Luckily, the rest of my day went better. Way better.
But every trip taken by bus brings me one step closer to that driver's licence I've been postponing for so long, and to a serious talk with ze parents about this year's Christmas present.

January 14, 2009

Game on!

He's thinking about offering a signed copy of The Eye of the Moon to the best video featuring The Book With No Name. See for yourselves.
I'm thinking of giving it a try, hence I've been writing scenarios and driving everybody insane
Maxi is thinking about joining me on this new quest, which will certainly be more complicated and adventurous than the quest for cake, which took place last Wednesday.
As with any quest, failure is possible. But hopefully, once we're done with our Polish exams (yes, I do have a certain order of priorities, or at least I'm pretending to have one) we'll get to work and come up with a video.

p.s. Tomek informed me today that there are no vampires in our forest, as they appear to be afraid of wild boars. This made me feel better about my late night walks to the tent and back.

January 13, 2009


In case you were wondering (and if you weren't, too bad, you should have been). I've got nothing to do with Shakespeare's elves (little people who belong to the same family as fairies), with Santa's elves (although I do have a special gift, the gift of gift-wrapping)or with H.C. Andersen's elves, who are tiny and have wings that reach from their shoulders to their feet.
I'm one of Tolkien's elves, and I guess that pretty much says it all. It's true, on a bad hair day I might be mistaken for one of the elves in World of Warcraft (a Night Elf, not a Blood Elf), but still, nothing to do with any of the above-mentioned elves.
There, I said it, I feel much better.
Thank you.

Quote of the day

"This city is a collection of sleeping places and workplaces". (Maxi about Kato. She's just returned from a trip to Warsaw and told me she finally understood my obsession) Come to think about it, the city provides us with the very basics. Which should be enough. I mean, if I were to move to Jamaica, which has been my dream for quite some time now (at the moment, it's just a dream, not a plan. Poland wins again, as it was first a dream and later became a plan) I don't think I'd want anything more than a place where I can crash after a hard day's work :) So Kato is my Eastern-European Jamaica.
They're actually quite similar, wouldn't you say so?

p.s. If by any chance I do move to Jamaica, the first thing on my "to do" list will be convincing Pan Janek to open a subsidiary of the tent there. I don't care how many bars they have there, this one's worth opening all around the world.

January 8, 2009

Kato art

So very monotone. In the akademik, on the way to my room.
Work in progress. It's not only a mater of art, it's a matter of identity.

2 seconds artistic performance, as Maxi put it.

Maxi documenting the process. Thanks for the pics and for your support :)

Told you it was a matter of identity.

January 2, 2009


When I was younger, I would tell everyone that "home is where your playlist is". Home can be anywhere, as long as you have your music to keep you happy. Later on, the postulate changed to "home is where your playlist & internet connection are". Now I'm working on the updated version. It just isn't that easy anymore. 

Whenever I'm away, be it for two days, a few months, a year or more, home is the place where I set camp. I need my very basics - my music, my internet connection, my beauty rituals, and then it's like magic. That place becomes home. I've called "home" all sorts of hotels, from the fancy ones to those reminding me of the few years I've experienced in a communist regime, the apartments that I rented in different cities, the apartments that my friends rented (I'm sorry for all the keys I've lost), I even called "home" the red tent we lived in by the sea, that summer, for almost two months. Of course, I called "home" my parents' place. And the orange room that I painted & decorated myself. 

"Home" is my room in Kato, in the student dorm, although I'm rather dissatisfied with the smoke-detectors and the walls, which could really use a new layer of paint. The thing is, not only Kato, but my parents' place, Bucharest (and all possible homes over there) - they're all just stops along the way. None of them is the final destination. What's worse is that I have no idea which is the final destination. It's like speeding down a road that's only partly familiar, towards a  big question mark. There's nothing mine, nothing stable, nothing permanent, everything can be easily packed in a few boxes and moved away to some other destination, the final one, or just another stop along the way.

I'd probably be sad if this didn't give me a taste of freedom never before experienced. 


Winter break almost over, just a few days left before going back to Kato, don't feel like drawing the line, to see what's left of 2008 or make 2009 resolutions that I'll abandon in no time. 

I'm happy, and that counts more than wishing this & that, I'm easy and light, I finally managed to gain and maintain stability and tranquility, and if things go on like this, then it's just perfect. And if they don't, well, there's always a solution, an antidote. 

Oh, there's one thing I wish. Maybe two.

The polar monkey in the pink pot, the one C. didn't want to buy me, although I was almost crying in the middle of the shop, and fresh strawberries - not the plastic tastless strawberries you find in  supermarkets these days.