February 25, 2009

Kato art (2)

Andrzej is one of the people who come to the tent quite often, but I've only recently found out he's a photographer. Quite a good one, I might add. Of course I couldn't keep that to myself, because his pics are really awesome (I was very pleased to discover that Kato can actually look interesting and intriguing if looked at from the right angle), so without further ado, here's some eye candy. And on this blog you'll find some delightful pictures of the tent. Which is of course delightful by default, but Andrzej did a great job in capturing this delightfulness.

February 24, 2009

Out of Office

What doesn't kill us makes us stronger. By the end of this week, I can only hope I'll be stronger. Deontology prevents me from sharing my horrible secret, but one thing's sure: for the next few days, I'll be spending some quality time with my laptop (a lot more than any sane person would qualify as "quality time"), overdosing on coffee and hoping my brain won't refuse to cooperate just now.
I'll be back on Monday.

p.s. Thank you, Bilus, for the wonderful suggestion regarding the book jacket blurb - if for some reason it doesn't work out this time, I'll keep the idea in mind for my very own bookie about Poland. And also, thanks for the online clock, it really helps keep the panic alive.

February 20, 2009


i.e. malfunction.
This is what we had in the tent today. The wood for the fireplace was wet and frozen, so all my efforts of heating the place were in vain. However, my hoodie still smells like burnt wood (if we were to judge the activity in the fireplace by the smell of my clothes, we could make a safe bet that I've burnt down the forest and half of the neighbourhood). Luckily, we also have a blue machine that I'm quite sure was brought from the Museum of Science, with a simple yet efficient mechanism: it drinks gas, spits out hot air. But today it ran out of gas. However, it kept spitting air. Cold air.
Now that wouldn't have really been a problem, but outside we had an average temperature of -115 degrees Celsius, the wind was blowing, threatening to move the tent a few meters deeper into the woods, and there was so much snow that you could barely see the woods.
I expected the beer keg to freeze (this happened before, and it's rather funny, frozen draft beer looks like half-melted ice cream), you could see your breath hanging in the air, cigarettes wouldn't light, people were wearing their coats, scarves, caps, gloves - under normal conditions, when having beer in the tent during winter, you can skip the gloves & cap part, sometimes even the scarf, but you do that at your own risk - and this is the point I was trying to make from the very beginning: we may have awaria, but we also have the most faithful and wonderful customers a pub could ever have.

February 18, 2009

Back to school

Cartman said it (sang it) better.
Otherwise, fine, just fine.

February 17, 2009


This is not some great piece of news, as it is a matter of the obvious that I am always confused. Only this time, the object of my confusion is as real and tangible as can be.
It all started this morning, when I decided to move to UK for my MA.
Now the thing is my Polish teacher back in Bucharest told me I can graduate one year earlier and continue my never-ending learning process in Warsaw, but I've only recently found out that the MA program he had in mind for me is not even remotely related to literature or philology or whatever is it that I am doing at this very moment of my life, but to politics, history and sociology. Which of course is just wonderful, but maybe not the best pick for somebody who claims to be an elf and is still afraid of vampires, who needs a daily amount of fiction and to an extent makes a living out of it.
One of my best friends, who sometimes knows me better than I know myself, told me decisions are not to be based on the mood you have one random morning. And that one year in Poland is not enough if I really want to make something out of this obsession, and I couldn't agree more. Not to mention I'd feel like I'm cheating on Warsaw and that's the last thing on my agenda. Then my Pani Doktor 2 told me I could just try to continue my philology studies, for example in Kato, as it would be easier since I know so many people in the Theory of Literature Dept, they like me and I like them, problem solved (didn't have the heart to tell her how much I dislike the people in that School of Polish Language, just thinking about learning the language with them for 2 more years gives me nausea). Or I can just move to Krakow or Poznan or Gdansk (where I'll most likely freeze to death for real, but I wouldn't care, I'd be down by the sea). Or to Warsaw, but just pick some other MA.
On the other hand, even though I still love Poland and probably always will, I'm not that madly in love anymore, as to be incapable of taking into consideration some other parts of this world where I could mind my stories and my business, which is yet to be defined. But if I give up now I'll feel like having stopped in the middle of the road, which is one of the things I hate most. If I go on like this, I'll grow old and tired and eventually lower standards. If I don't go on like this, I'll never learn what it really means to thoroughly get involved in something and I'll be forever superficial, which is more or less annoying, especially after a certain age I am quickly approaching. Ok, maybe not that quickly, but anyway.
And this UK thing started a long time ago (I actually feel like it's always been there, it dates back to those historical times when I wasn't even studying English philology), but I suddenly remembered this first obsession of mine because of some bloody literary anthologies I was supposed to write an article about. And I didn't write about the Polish ones, as expected. I spent half a day researching and writing about British anthologies, and it worked better than the madeleine worked for Proust.
There. Now I have to do the math.

Note to self and everybody else: I'm not even done writing and I feel I'm being very unfair to Poland. Or it may be that the time has come to acknowledge that countries and cities do not have souls, so it's no use being over-emotional and worrying about hurting nonexistent feelings.

February 13, 2009

This is not a hierarchy

For the past almost 25 years, I've successfully managed to avoid V-Day. In a manner of speaking, as fully avoiding it would be rather time and energy consuming given the fact that everything turns red and chocolaty one week earlier. I've been anti-establishment and critical of this uber-commercial celebration of love, heartbroken and feeling sorry for myself, madly in love and in no need of a special day to celebrate it, every year I could find a reason. But not this year. I am bored with ignoring V-Day or making some nasty comment about it. Instead, I made a list. My totally favorite couples of all times.
  • Stan Marsh & Wendy Testaburger. Things are plain and simple. There's no room for doubts or uncertainties. Stan throws up whenever Wendy talks to him (and everybody knows Stan only throws up when he's in love), Wendy is a very resolute little girl (Stay away from my man, bitch, or I'll whip your sorry ass back to yesterday) and leave it to them to find the easy way out of a relationship (Bebe: Wendy breaks up with you. Stan: Wait a minute, what did I do wrong? I haven't even talked to Wendy in weeks).
  • Master & Margarita. They do not deserve the light, they deserve peace. And they'll never be separated again.
  • Ana & Gruia. The phrase "match made in heaven" was coined because somebody, a long time ago, had a great intuition that these two would meet and eventually (it did take them some time) end up together. They are not fictional characters, but they may very well be, that's how unique and wonderful they are.
  • Dante & Kacy. Yes, they are the couple from the book. I loved them from their very first appearance in Santa Mondega. She's a grade A student, he's a grade A moron. A combination that works perfectly every time.
  • Mom & Dad. Great job, you guys! If I grow up to have half the harmony you have after all those years (but who's been counting?) I'll be more than happy. I can only hope you pass the secret on, when needed.
  • Sid & Nancy. Now I don't particularly fantasize about being killed by a crack head boyfriend, nor about ruining his nonexistent career. I'm not going to start digging just to get to the source of my admiration for these two, let's just say I haven't fully outgrown adolescence, so weird role-models are still allowed.
  • Bonnie & Clyde. A bit on the edge (maybe too on the edge). Much like Sid & Nancy, they are not to be taken too seriously, but I've always liked people who exaggerate, who take everything to extremes, to the very last consequences.
  • Henry Miller & Anais Nin. They were intense and passionate. The kind of people who burn. He wrote. She wrote. Did I forget something?

February 12, 2009


Whenever I'm done translating a book, I have a strange feeling of emptiness, some kind of nostalgia, which makes me want to endlessly edit everything. Today I said goodbye to Michael Sadler, who's been my imaginary friend for the past months, with his hilarious novel, An Englishman in Paris. I probably got that emotional because I could see a great deal of myself in him, I was writing about my own expat experience while translating his. Head over heels in love with France, Sadler takes one year off to discover the wonders of everyday life a la francaise, the subtleties of French cuisine (figuring out, at the end of his journey, that there's few parts of an animal that he hasn't eaten) and wine tasting, gets accustomed to verlan, couscous restaurants and triple parking and eventually falls in love, thus discovering the advantages of understanding cricket when involved in a liaison dangereuse with a Frenchwoman.
There's plenty of books quietly waiting for their turn, they'll fill up the void and I'll end up missing them, as well. I even missed Woody Allen once the ordeal of translating Mere Anarchy was over - it was probably the most time-consuming translation I've ever done, resembling more to solving a puzzle that has a will of its own, and the main cause for 2 extra wrinkles on my forehead and some very chic dark circles around the eyes, sparing me the nuisance of using three diferent shades of brown as to obtain the smokey eyes effect.
I will not even mention The Book With No Name (there, I did it) and how I felt when that was over, as you are now very familiar with its consequences. It's a good thing the follow-up is one of the above-mentioned books, quietly waiting for their turn. As a matter of fact, I'm also expecting a new Woody Allen and apparently Sadler will also be back, as An Englishman Amoureux. It seems to me I'm beginning to settle down, learning how to be faithful and commited. To several men at once.

p.s.1 I think I'm catching a cold. I can tell that by the amounts of chocolate I've been eating lately.
p.s.2 Today I would have happily kicked some guy's ass, if I were that kind of girl. I sometimes regret not being. Sanchez would've done it.

February 11, 2009


Season 13 Premiere (yaaay!)

One month left. Finally, something new, as I'm very close to being able to recite all the 12 seasons by heart, not that anybody would ever be interested in such a performance. But just in case.

Note to self

One day, when I manage to overcome my laziness, I will correct all my mistakes. Spelling mistakes, that is. Having nothing better to do, or better said having tons of things to do but being too lazy, I was admiring my masterpieces, browsing through the book-under-construction, the blog and the diary. Now it may happen that I'm in a hurry and my brain is faster than my hand (not that this happens too often, but it's a possibility) and I just don't type some letters. Let's say this is an excuse. Some other times I'm just not paying enough attention, which is still ok, but only when I write in Romanian, as I am one of those fortunate people who can write properly in their native language without having to think about it too much. What pisses me off is that I started this blog in English, and had a lot of reasons to do so, but back then I had a good command of this language, which I seem to have lost along the way. It's either that or I stopped paying attention to details, which is equally bad. Because there's very few things more embarrassing than spelling mistakes. Maybe chipped nail polish and animal prints.

February 9, 2009


It's here! My special signed copy. I have to keep it secret, keep it safe, or the Bourbon Kid will track me down. I may have understood something, everything, or nothing. One thing's sure:
"And all the while as you search for the truth, it will be there right before you".

The book and the postcard that came with it helped deepen my confusion, I'm now even more intrigued and pondering over the decision of continuing my quest or giving it up. I have all the reasons to go for option number 1, and only one to choose number 2 and stop where I am: my fictional life is rich enough as it is, if I add more ingredients to it, than I can stop calling it a fictional life and start using the medical term. On the other hand, somebody who understands the story very well and encourages me to walk on, made a very good point:
: what if i go insane?

him: what if u r already?
Touche, my friend, touche!

February 7, 2009

The people & the wardrobe

I've recently figured out that life and wardrobe are very much similar. Not to mention that whenever life gets messy, the first step in order to get back on track is to clean my wardrobe. Suddenly, after performing this sometimes annoying yet necessary action, everything is easier, and compared to making some sense of my wardrobe, making sense of my daily agenda is child's play.
Every now and then, it's worth reconsidering where things stand in terms of the people around, just like when you open the wardrobe after a shopping spree, and you know you need some room for the new clothes, and that it's time to let go of those you stopped wearing a long time ago.
Most of the times, clothes fall under one of these categories:
  • the ones you don't wear, and know for sure you never will, but you just don't have the heart to throw them away. The reasons don't matter, what matters is that somewhere on a shelf there's a bunch of stuff that you'll never touch again. But it's there.
  • the ones you no longer wear, but keep them because fashions come and go. One day, they may see the light again.
  • the clothes you're never bored of. they still fit you, they make you glow, no matter what, no matter how long you've been wearing them. And they match all conceivable contexts. They seem to have been made for you.
  • the ones you want to believe are still fit. You insist, squeeze yourself in them, or ignore the fact that you've lost too much weight, they look ugly, and make you look ugly, they don't feel comfy. Or right. There's something wrong with the fabric, with the colour, with the size. It just takes a little time and a strong heart to admit to yourself it's over.
  • the new ones. Some of them, chosen because they match your definition of style. Sooner or later, they'll fall under one of the categories above. And the most intriguing of them all, the new clothes that you never thought you'd be wearing. Surprisingly enough, they're fit and cozy. And bring up a whole new perspective upon style.
I always find it hard to pull myself together and start putting things in order. Once I take the first step, the job is half solved. I cleaned my wardrobe this morning, and came up with this theory while sorting out the laundry.

February 6, 2009

Bartending, fashion and a new quest

Somebody paid me a visit after asking Mr. Google a question about "Grumpy's downtown bartenders".
I don't know if you found what you were looking for, but you gave me a wonderful idea for which I am very thankful.

Premise 1: I have a very long history with bartenders. I've been hopelessly in love with some of them, some others were a continuous source of entertainment, others have skills that border magic, one of them, although a fictional one, is the reason why I've become a bartender myself. (I know that if my Mom's reading this, she will sigh sadly, as she's been hoping for the past 10 years I'd be over my obsession for bartenders & bartending. My Dad, however, will be happy to know I'm not over the decision of starting my own business).
Premise 2: Add to this the inspiring above mentioned phrase, music to my ears, one of the best titles ever, (without actually being one), which makes me think of a dusky, hidden, damp and cold basement, nevertheless upbeat (and open 24 hours). The place where special bartenders congregate. Those bartenders with a true calling, the artists, those who believe in their mission, as they know that without them the world would be at loss, who passionately pour each glass of beer and uniquely mix every cocktail.
Conclusion: I will start by making a T-shirt for myself with this inscription. On the house, one goes to Sanchez and two others to my fellow workers. The rest of this limited edition will be distributed according to my evaluation & criteria, based on the bartending standards in the tent, over the next few months or so, to those bartenders in Poland or wherever I may be travelling in the near future. We'll have our own secret club (which is not that secret anymore as I've just announced it here).
Now all that's left for me to do is to reveal my inner designer skills, that I'm sure I have, I just don't know it yet.

February 5, 2009


At last, my love, we meet again. I've missed you so much, I can't wait to wander your streets, to see if you've changed, to check out what you've been up to. It will be a short visit, but I promise, I'll soon be back for good.

February 4, 2009

The horror

Not that I've been very picky in terms of fashion this winter. I was struggling not to freeze to death, so the stars of my very own fall/winter season were farbics like polar, cotton, wool, high heels were history (due to the living and working conditions), and I kept everything simple. But the smell of spring and the increased amount of sunlight gave me hope and confidence that spring/summer will be different, and I'll get back to my good, colorful and creative dressing habits.
Today, checking out style.com, I came across this piece of info:
"Leave it to a new generation of designers—Proenza Schouler, Alexander Wang, and London's Meadham Kirchhoff, included—to revitalize the eighties, a decade most of us were happy to say goodbye to forever". You can say that again! Here's a sample. It may cause serious eye damage.


Meadham Kirchhoff
Photos: style.com

Case study

We will call the subjects of today's study Pani Doktor 1 and Pani Doktor 2. Since the main purpose of my being in Katowice is studying, writing my final paper and training myself for the MA in wonderful Warszawa, I do have to interact with the people in the University. I've figured out by now (it broke my heart, but that's the truth) that there are people on this planet who don't like me. Which is acceptable, but if you are responsible for my learning process, you should at least act professional, display a fake smile and pretend to care. Because that is your job, dearest Pani Doktor 1, you get paid for this. I don't want you to be my friend, we don't have to go out for coffee and talk about my future plans, but I expect you to be less biased and make it less obvious that you like some people and don't like some others. As our group of foreign students was not exactly a homogeneous one, it was clear from the very beginning that the ones who speak perfect Polish are the only likeable people, whereas the rest of us, who were here to learn some more, to improve, we were the despicable ones. If we also refused to take part in some of the extra-curricular activities, we were doomed. But still, it's a huge step from not liking me to ignoring me / not hearing me / not being in the mood to reply when I say hello. This pisses me off.
Pani Doktor 2, on the other hand, was not responsible for my learning process in any way. We met thanks to my totally awesome Theory of Literature professor. She didn't seem to mind the fact that I sometimes mix up the cases or use the wrong verb. I speak Polish well enough as to be able to explain what my paper is about, and that's all that mattered. She practically took me by the hand and showed me the most wonderful place in Kato - the Silesian Library - and we spent a very enjoyable afternoon drinking coffee, talking about poetry, translations, vegetarian food, travelling, Kato and Warsaw, her writings and mine.
Now I'm curious about something: how come Pani Doktor 2 has impecable looks (she reminds me of Anna Wintour), is warm and nice without being over-friendly, whereas Pani Doktor 1... well, let's just say I'd rather not comment on this aspect. Is there some secret formula, that cool women apply successfully, and that uncool women fail to understand?

February 3, 2009

The Victory Dance

The announcement :)
I will be the happy and proud owner of a book with an autograph from THE MAN! And he called me "delightful". I mean, my totally favourite author, the one person who's proven that Eco's theory about the Model Author and Model Reader is not only theory, but fact, called me "delightful". Which I obviously am, but what were the odds to hear it from him? After translating The Book With No Name, I wouldn't even dare to dream that this moment would come.
And it only gets better - because I emailed him (took a long deep breath, came to my senses and wrote something coherent, not just "OMG, you're so cool and awesome!") and he emailed back and, well, the point is, there's probably nothing more rewarding than fiction coming to life.
In other Book With No Name related news, we have now the Polish version, published by Swiat Ksiazki, with a very cool video promoting it (see below) and I am planning my next move, which is still not to be discussed, but I will keep you updated, as I have this theory, that the curse of the book is somewhat different for its translators.