May 31, 2009

Growing older is not that bad, after all

It was the first time I was away from my friends & my family for my birthday. In a manner of speaking, because I spent it with my Kato friends, who are also my sort of family here. There could be only one place for the party: my second home, the tent.
As I'm always late, yesterday was no exception, and so in an effort to make it almost on time, I had to ignore the part where I'm tidy and organized:

And even though I had a day off from work, I still spent parts of the evening behind the bar. Jacek was in charge of the beers, I was doing my best to get the perfect Cosmo:

The ladies:

It so happened that someone else was throwing a party at the amphitheatre in the woods, so we had to check it out. The concert was rather boring, but the walk in the woods wearing high heels was quite adventurous. This was how we managed to spill most of our third Cosmo on our dresses and bags, but it was worth every drop.

I was very impressed by the crowd that showed up for my B-Day in the woods. Zuza and Titior were impressed by the music. Tomek and I were not very much into the concert, then again we have bigger fish to fry (Dropkick Murphys on the 12th of July).


Back in the tent, Smakol asked Ina and me if we could be his sisters. It was an offer we couldn't refuse :)

Later that night, Magda and Przemek decided I was ready for the big initiation. Back in winter, they told me I can't leave Poland without drinking cheap wine in the park. This was the perfect opportunity. And so we headed to the playground, which Magda enjoyed to the fullest before the wine part (after the wine part, things got just a little bit blurry.

Even though I didn't make it to the seaside, I still had sand in my shoes. And in my hands. And on my jeans. Almost as if we had been drinking on the beach, not in the woods near the tent. We did have a little technical problem while trying to open the bottle, but nothing serious, nothing a few good old tricks couldn't fix.

And in the end, there were the fireworks:

May 30, 2009

No use crying for something you don't have

It sometimes takes very little to change a mood bordering depression. Some other times, it takes pills, shrinks and booze. Luckily, this time it took very little. Gumczas is one of our regular customers, a fan of South Park and the kind of person who always stops for a chat when dropping by to have a beer. It so happened that tonight he asked me when was I planning to take off to Warsaw, I told him I wasn't, and in a nutshell I managed to deliver the whole story of the past two weeks. He said it was not worth crying for something I didn't have, and then we talked some more about my other options, he minded his beer and I minded my bartending. But the mere fact that he told me, plain and simple, something so obvious, was a great deal of help. In fact, it was the best thing I've heard ever since I started whining and being totally under the weather. Of course I knew it, deep down inside, I just didn't say it out loud. It's been great hearing it and repeating it, and in the end I came to terms with this new situation. I don't think he has any idea of the consequences of his words, but I'll make sure to tell him the next time.
In the meantime, Mom told me it snowed back home (the horror!), my Dad, who's never had any direct connection with the press (he's had a lot of indirect connections, Mom & I took care of it) made his debut today and I'm just dying to read his text, I got a message from a good old friend which warmed my heart and brought me an extra smile and I got graded for a class I didn't take. It was a 5, by the way, so I was very proud of my academic performances.
It's time for a shopping spree later on today. Shoes, vodka, anti wrinkle serum, triple sec and bracelets. I think Ina will be the only one to truly appreciate the delights and the artistic significance of a Cosmopolitan or two or three in the tent. In fact, she's been the one to understand and appreciate a lot of things, from my hysteria to my unreasonable enthusiasm, sharing stories over lattes on Monday mornings, standing by me and getting bored during afternoon classes and encouraging the revival of bright colours for my spring / summer collection. And even though she did not respond to my call for applications, as she was not reading my blog back then, I couldn't be happier with the way things turned out eventually.

May 27, 2009

Jobs, studies, squats and a baby

Time for some whining. Again.

I just couldn't help thinking about one of the unwritten rules in Santa Mondega (apparently, no matter what happens in my life, there's a connection either to The Book With No Name or to South Park. It all comes down to these two. And shoes.) which states that no one can be happy for a long time. I'm the living proof. Maybe I should go live in Santa Mondega and get it over with.

One of the reasons why I was very happy about going to Warsaw was getting a job there, and not just any job, but one that really made me enthusiastic about having an office, a schedule and waking up early in the morning, basically the three things I hate most in life. So there I was, happy as can be about finally becoming part of the system. The system will have to wait and so will I, as the job is temporarily unavailable. The other bright side was doing an MA at my beloved University of Warsaw. Having intensively studied their webpage, I figured out I can choose between Classic Philology, Linguistics and Slavic Studies. I wanted Polish Philology. In the meantime, although I have no idea what I'll be studying next year, I have to go home, pass my exams and present my paper. Which is still far from having a finite form. Not to mention I didn't learn a thing. And even that would be ok - there's lots of people who have no job prospects, no MA and still manage to live happily ever after. Apparently, starting July I'll also be homeless. Mostly because when giving me this scholarship, the Ministry of Education didn't take into account the fact that the academic year only lasts 9 months, and so I'm stuck in Kato for 10 months because I signed a contract. Since my akademik is closed during summer, and so is another akademik in Ligota, I only have two options left: see if there's any chance to move to the third akademik, or go live in a squat. In Wroclaw, as we have no squats in Kato. I couldn't talk to the director of the third akademik today, because the door was locked. No big surprises there, but when I asked the lady in the reception when is the director to be found, she said she didn't know. I asked if there was any kind of programme, she said she didn't know. If there's anyone else I could talk to about this issue, she didn't know. And the fact that she was so utterly unwilling to help was not what annoyed me most. It was her condescending smile, telling me straightforward that she does know, but she's just not in the mood to give me any kind of hint. So I waited a while, went back to see if the door had miraculously unlocked in the meantime, smoked, waited, erased half of  the messages in my phone, smoked and in the end left. My only consolation is that the reception lady weighs at least 100 kg, she looks older than she probably is, her hair - better yet, what's left of it - is a hopeless mess and she's obliged to wear a hideous blue uniform. Who cares about all the above mentioned crap? At least I still have my clothes and my shoes to hang on to. Yesterday, while unwrapping the present from my parents, my flatmate asked me what exactly am I going to do with all the shoes when I have to move away. I don't know, and this is indeed a problem. I'll have to come up with a solution to this one even before I find a job, an interesting MA and a place to live.

The fact that I'm growing older and in a few days I'll have to switch to new lines of cosmetics, designed for people in my new age group, isn't helping either. As to slow down the ageing process, but also in order to fight the effects of pollution, smoking, stress and to prevent all sorts of diseases which I don't have but I might, one day, I started drinking chlorophyll. Luckily, my parents are insane enough as to have provided half a liter which will keep me up and running in the following months.

The good news is the tent is having a baby. A brand new tent will be installed in our back yard really soon. Of course, the old ones stays right where it is. 

May 21, 2009

Tribute to W.C. Williams

Last weekend, at about the same time with those Juwenalia things (which, by the way, continue this weekend), some of our regular customers had their own party.
I'm not even sure I should call it a party, because it was more of a parade - outdoor activity - playing silly - having loads of fun kind of activity, which of course ended in the tent.
Taczka Runners is exactly what the name claims it is :) Taczka means wheelbarrow, and once a year these people gather and run around with their wheelbarrows. Something like that.
So they met somewhere in Piotrowice, I guess, (at least I think that's Piotrowice in the pics) and pushed their wheelbarrows all the way to Ligota, towards the final destination, the tent, occasionally stopping for a beer or two and trying out unconvetional means of transportaion. As two of their favourite bartenders joined the fun & the parade (Magda and Jacek), their other two favourite bartenders (Titior and me) could barely keep pace behind the bar. One by one, we ran out of glasses, beer and energy, but I can't remember when I've had that much fun in the tent. Brilliant.
My mind's made up. Next year I'm joining them. They brought me a t-shirt with the logo of Taczka Runners, now all I need is a wheelbarrow. A red one :)


Some time ago, it was rumored that the world is going through an economic crisis as never seen before. It affected the stock market, the banks, the fashion industry, animal rights activists, corporations, the coral reefs, entrepreneurs, religious and sexual minorities.
But before they even knew what was going on, one particular group had already been ravaged by the crisis: Romanian publishing houses, cultural magazines and mainly all cultural organizations, institutions, foundations and associations. All of a sudden, their old practice had become somewhat legitimate. They never really understood the terms of their own contracts (especially when it came to making payments) and they never really had any respect for the people working for them. What they didn't have, until the crisis became popular, was a good excuse. Now they have it. Of course they still have demands. Could you? Would you? Is it possible? Please, try to... Incapable of saying no, I'd always say "sure, no problem, will do, when do you need it?" and then call my parents to ask for some extra-money (strict deadlines require extra amounts of coffee, extra packs of cigarettes and new shoes). So it's like this: I work, Mom & Dad pay. Now I wouldn't see any problem with that, if I worked for my parents. But I don't.

When you have one unpaid contract, it's no big deal, you can wait a while. When you have two, it's time to ask yourself some questions. When you have three or more, it means you're downright stupid. Given the very good opinion I have about myself, it was hard to admit I was downright stupid, but in the end I had to.

Yes, there are some exceptions. I'm just not going to talk about them now because I am pissed off. I'll try to calm down using the good old method and go buy myself a new pair of shoes.

May 15, 2009

Party time

Ligota has become the playground for some festivities called "Juwenalia". This means students (and not only) gather for three days of music, drinking, smoking and partying. A stage was installed right in front of my akademik, the buses coming to Ligo are packed and the city center is deserted. Of course, the demand for beer has increased and the air smells of grilled meat. It pretty much resembles the beer festivals that sometimes happen back home, the only difference being that I can avoid those, as they do not happen in front of my house. The crowd is pretty chill, everybody's sitting on the grass having a drink or two, reminding me of a hippie jam festival (I think it's a conspiracy. If I manage to survive this summer staying away from beads, flowers, acid and headbands, while staying true to my hair-styling products and my wardrobe, I'll offer myself a reward in September). True, I'm a little bit jealous, we don't really have such student fests back in Bucharest. If we did, I'm sure I would have complained about them as well, but I think the idea is quite ok and I'd be happy to complain about the Juwenalia taking over the city.
I've been waiting eight months for something to happen in Kato. Something that would really, really make me want to leave the house / the tent on a Saturday night. Not one, but two such events are scheduled for tomorrow. One of them is a wardrobe party somewhere downtown, where you get to trade the clothes you're bored of with the clothes other people are bored of, and an after-wardrobe-party with some DJs in I can't remember what club. The other one is at the Museum of History, celebrating the '20s and '30s with a clothing & jewelry presentation and Charleston classes. Back in March, Magda asked me if I could work on the 16th of May, as she knew there would be some party in the tent, and she wanted to make sure it's not going to be her shift. Of course I said yes.

Me first

Everyone else will have to wait. Especially everyone who wants something from me, especially if they want it done the day before yesterday. I've switched myself to "school-mode" and it's quite a pleasant feeling, but then again there was no way out. One month left to go and I still have to complete my paper and get ready for the exams. The bright part is that I'm going back to Bucharest in June (even if it's going to be for a little while) and I'm so happy I feel like dancing around the house whenever I remember that. So now I'm spending most of my previously nonexistent spare time in the library, reading and writing and hoping that I somehow manage to pull through.
Luckily, last weekend I've fully recharged my batteries. Mainly due to the two days spent with Vero, which have taught me a few valuable lessons. She's always been the rational one, so it's no wonder that talking to her helped clear things up. We did figure out, among other things, that our lives are perfectly ok just the way they are, and even if we are growing old we did manage to accomplish some things and we can be quite proud if we feel like looking back from time to time. She also made a very good point when telling me that my tendency to fictionalize life is worthless unless I take it to its very last consequences. But I sometimes just don't have the nerve to do it. On the other hand, I'm old enough to try. And we agreed that the comeback of the hippie fad is not for us. And so we talked our way through Katowice and Krakow, debating life, shoes, men, muslims, computers, translations, cultural shocks, food, concerts, the tent, commitments and decisions.

We said goodbye just as we would have said it back when we were both back home, and we knew we could easily meet the next day. No tears, no dramas, no promises and no plans. I took it as a confirmation of our growing up process, which we took one step further. We know by now we'll always be there for each other, so getting back to our own lives was easy and natural. And energizing.
So I came back from Krakow happy and light (the children of the flower are calling, even if I refuse to wear their clothes), prioritized, took a break, became efficient, planned my chores and ate my veggies. I still didn't learn how to say "no" and there's some things I just couldn't stop thinking about (my fictional lives), but then again this has now very little importance.

May 6, 2009

Running away to join a different circus

I'll be back once I figure out how to say "no".
Or once I've had enough sleep.
Or maybe tomorrow I wake up in a better mood, prioritize, take a break, become efficient, open my bag of tricks, do all my chores, eat my veggies, breathe, stop thinking about it, take it easy.
The book Maxi sent me some time ago, Tokyo Doesn't Love Us Anymore, features among other things some pills that can erase memory. Sometimes I wish I could get my hands on such pills.

May 5, 2009

Dropping a line

I sometimes feel like a text-generator. Lately, if I'm not in the tent, I'm probably in bed with my laptop, writing blogs, articles, press releases, my final paper, reports, some more articles, trying to add the final touches to a short story I've been asked for months ago, and dreaming about the moment when I'll have time to focus on the bookie. It's like giving up writing, so I can focus on writing.

May 3, 2009

How I managed to get really pissed off in the tent

It's not uncommon for people to get drunk in the tent.
It's also pretty common for some of them to come to the tent with their kids. Leaving aside the fact that 4-year-olds drink unthinkable amounts of Coke and eat tons of potato chips, what annoys me is seeing the adults getting plastered under the eyes of their children. Luckily, this doesnt' happen frequently. But when it does happen, it's enough to knock out my zen & positive energies.
Two nights ago I was behind the bar and all of a sudden this little one shows up, asking if he can help me. Sure, kid, except that it's not so crowded now and I spend my time smoking and chatting to those who come by for a refill.
Now I know I can easily relate to mostly anyone, but I've never been a magnet for kids. Whenever there's kids around, they will most likely not see me as a potential friend / playmate. This little one felt safe behind the bar, that's my bet (I'm aware I may be over-interpreting the whole situation, but I somehow feel I'm not). Anyway, he started asking questions about the beer kegs, the cash register, the Batman action figure we keep behind the bar, I was doing my best to answer clearly, without making any grammar mistakes - I don't care if my Polish is not perfect when talking to grown-ups, but with kids it's different, they should hear a language that's spoken correctly and without mistakes. And so we spent quite some time behind the bar, until the Father shows up and says "it's time to go". The Kid says no, he asks for his toys and tells me a story I didn't quite catch, but I kept asking questions and then he showed me how his toys glow in the dark. In the meantime, the Father, who had serious problems with his diction (bigger than mine, a foreigner who's just learning the language, bigger than the Kid's) insisted they should go home.
Eventually they left. By bike. Or at least the guy tried to ride his bike, which had a baby's chair attached to it. And of course he couldn't - he could barely stand, not to mention walk (actually, he looked as if he was sailing). So he fell and so did the kid. Luckily, at about the same moment, one of the guys who sometimes hangs out in the tent, and one of the few people who know that drinking and driving aren't a match, took the bike back in the tent, told us he'd leave it there until the next day and took the two home by car. I was extremely sorry for that kid, and utterly annoyed for the rest of the night, no smiles were delivered with the beers, no chit-chats, and I guess it was quite obvious by the look on my face that I'm not exactly in the best mood. When Pan Janek showed up around midnight, the first thing he asked was: "you've had enough today, haven't you?".
Now I don't particularly care if my customers drink until they fall into a coma. Or into something else. It's really none of my business. Last winter, when I was somewhat more emotional and one of our old regulars almost froze to death after having spent a few long hours drinking in the tent, I felt quite guilty. In the end, I had been the one pouring him beer. Now I don't care anymore, I don't feel responsible in any way, they pay, I pour, end of story, they're all adults and it's their decision to drown whatever they want to drown in alcohol. Although my theory is that problems can't be drowned, for they are excellent swimmers, and if you're happy, you're naturally high. For the rest of it, you can sometimes get drunk (it happens to all of us, once in a while), have a drink with your friends, have another drink if you feel like it - but there's a huge difference between enjoying a drink every now and then and being an alcoholic.
Things are more complicated when there's kids involved. And I sometimes hate my lack of initiative and my incapacity of doing the right thing. That child does not belong with that father, and in this particular situation no argument can convince me that the little one is better off with that guy, just because he happens to be his father. But I just stood there and did nothing, I'm still sad when thinking about the little fellow, and the worst part is that I have absolutely no idea how can things be sorted out.

May 2, 2009

Jak nie ty to kto?

I found this inscription meaning "if not you, who?" under a bottle cap which marvelously cut my finger in half (almost).
Today, and only today, I'll have to disagree with Cat Stevens. The first cut is not the deepest :)

Goddamn stereotypes

Poland is full of stereotypes about Romanians. In the eyes of most Poles* we're all gypsies, poor, we live in some underprivileged country and we can barely make ends meet. This of course pisses me off every now and then, for two reasons: 1. because they have no idea what they're talking about and I hate it when people talk just for the sake of hearing the sound of their own voice and 2. because I have to build up some patriotic discourse which makes me feel uneasy, as I've never had a healthy amount of patriotism and I never really gave a crap about the places people come from (that includes me).
That's why the best part of the Festival in Krakow was not me getting back to the kind of work I was used to, after having lazily spent a few months polishing my Polish and my bartending skills. It wasn't the great fun I had, either.
The best part was this: hundreds of people enjoying Shukar Collective and their kick-ass concert, a crowd fascinated by the flawless performances of Masca Theatre (photoblog here), a club full of people dancing to the music of Romanian DJs.
Onstage and offstage, they were beautiful, colourful and talented, so I somehow took their success as a personal one (in the way that I made a point, nothing more).

*the funny thing is, it's the eyes of those people who have never ever in their lives experienced Romania, directly or indirectly. Those who have traveled there, or those who have had some contact with it, are rather moderate. They did notice the good parts and the bad ones, but at least they got rid of all the cliches. And there's a few others who are curious, they ask questions and plan to take trips to Ro. So at least they're willing to give it a try and see for themselves.

May 1, 2009

My heart breaks

...knowing that this weekend I won't wake up and see this:

I don't care what people say, I don't care that Vama Veche has drastically changed over the years. I've always had a good time there, and every 1st of May has been a great party, prefiguring other endless parties in summer.

Photos courtesy of Vero. She and Ceci have been the ones to have shared these special moments with me, always there, always smiling, always full of energy and ready for another sleeples night and some Cuba Libre. And I'd give just about anything for one sunrise in VV, with the two of them.