August 25, 2009

The left ear

In Romania we love papers. For every situation, thinkable and unthinkable, there's a paper. A formal request, a petition, a memorial, a letter or an application. As if I didn't have enough of these things on a daily basis at work, where I suspect we'll end up writing petitions requesting permission to write petitions, today I started putting the pieces together for my MA. Given the fact that I'll be studying in Warsaw, I figured it won't be a big deal (I still have this tendency of idealizing Poland - nothing can go wrong there, nothing works against you). I was particularly impressed by their online registration process, which gave me a very good reason to complain some more about my own Uni here in Bucharest. For about five minutes. Then I discovered it's not easy at all. First comes this part of the registration, then the fun begins. Of course, it all comes down to papers. Apparently, Poles love them as well. When I came to terms with the fact that I also need to print my entire academic record, I finally faced the absurdity of the situation. The guys at the office in Warsaw informed me I cannot mail all these docs. Someone has to take them to the office. But it doesn't matter who does that. Doesn't have to be me, it can very well be some random person. I kept thinking about this, trying to find a reasonable explanation, and in the end I gave up, trying instead to find a random person with spare time on their hands.

And there's another thing I can't understand. The pictures attached to my academic record have very strict dimensions and characteristics (which makes sense), there's only one type of acceptable background (I'm ready to admit this also makes sense) and they have to be semiprofile, with the left ear visible (does this make sense?) And here's the irony: I have a picture that matches the description in the tiniest detail, but it shows the right ear - I took it shortly after shaving the right side of my head and I was very happy to expose it. Before getting my haircut, I pondered over the decision quite a long time, simply because I didn't know which side of the head to shave. And deep down inside I've always wondered if it would have looked better the other way round. Now I know my doubts were actually a premonition. The left ear knew her fifteen minutes of fame would come, sooner or later. I just didn't expect the University of Warsaw to have anything to do with it.

August 24, 2009

I used to be famous

So this is how they get you

The beginning was innocent enough to fool me. It looked like this: getting there early in the morning, exchanging polite smiles with the rest of the people in the office, asking thousands of dumb questions (South Park strikes back - I kept hearing the voice of Mr. Garrison in my head: Remember there are no stupid questions, just stupid people), trying to get everything done during the day and happily riding my bike back home. It lasted for about a week.

The first thing that worried me was that extra quarter of an hour spent at work. It is my firm belief that once you stop working freelance, you trade a limited amount of your time for a limited amount of cash. I thought it was an accident and tried to ignore it, until the next day, when it happened again. It didn't take me long to spend some extra 30 minutes at work. Not to mention I started smoking less, because I didn't have the time to go out of the office and smoke. This is another downside of the whole sharing-the-office issue. And anyway, you can only smoke on the corridor, which is still better than being kicked out of the building. 

When I spent a whole extra hour, I figured I had a good excuse, because I was just about to meet Ceci downtown. By the end of that day, I was starved to death (no time to eat, either, and anyway I hate eating while I'm working, unless of course I'm in my room, sharing some quality time with my laptop and writing whatever is it that I might be writing at that point), pissed off for having broken my rules, even more pissed off atfer having figured out that my rules were rather naive and it was going to take a lot of effort to stick to them.

However, in the meantime I managed to submit the translation for The Eye of the Moon, even though it took me quite some time to edit it, over and over again, just for the sake of having all the characters and all the fun to myself before sharing yet another brilliant Anonymous novel with the world. I did share it with my Mom, who's the master of proofreading, and unfortunately she came up with a very elementary and unproblematic explanation for my fascination. I'm still wondering if she's right, and if my efforts of putting the whole story in a theoretical framework  were marvelously useless. The other good news is that starting this month I've come up with a new column for our magazine, dealing with Eastern European writers, books, editors, translators and everything else that comes with the pack. I'm already planning a few interviews, none of them in Poland at the time being, so I'll have to slowly start planning my trips to Slovenia and Croatia, to begin with.

Getting back to the job thing, today I totally crossed the line. Not only did I spend the extra hour at the office, and probably would have spent another one if it hadn't been for the power cut, I also brought a file home, thus profaning the very last stronghold - Ceci's living room, which I am squatting at the time being. As I sat down with my laptop and lit a cigarette, it dawned on me that I've showed the file enough kindness by taking it out of the office, for a bike trip around Bucharest and a lovely dinner with Ana, and I figured it needed a good night's sleep in my bag. 

August 20, 2009

The Sekalog

Survival guide for the working class:) Bilus dixit:

1. keep fit

2. don't let work overwhelm you

3. don't booze

4. breathe

5. escape from the self *this seemed to be the toughest part, since I'm so in love with myself. A compromise had to be reached, so the fitfth commandment was changed to: escape into the self

6. be creative, which really means "make room in your life to be creative".

With some exceptions, work is quite alright althoug its fictional potential is almost inexistent. But this is mainly because I was never a fan of absurd in literature. However, it might prove to be an anthropological challenge.

My Mom calls me every morning to remind me I have to go to work. I have a hunch it will become a habit.

August 9, 2009

2 wheels, 1 happy girl

And they say money can't buy happiness. One thing's sure: they can rent it.

I just rented mine and parked it in Ceci's kitchen. She was nice enough to host me for a while, as I have to spend a few weeks in Bucharest, training for my new job. And then they'll ship me off to Warsaw :)
I stopped questioning my future, put all my worries aside and decided to go with the flow and see what happens. So I'll spare you the nasty details of my decision making process, my fears and expectations regarding this new chapter in my life. For the time being, I'm learning to accept (radical) change and deal with it. And it's not as scary as I thought it would be.

August 4, 2009

Taczka goes global

It's a Kato tradition and no one can deny it. But we're taking it one step further.
Packing our Taczka T-shirts wherever we go. Pictures with a wheelbarrow, wearing the club's "uniform", are a must.
Keep an eye out, you'll be hearing from us again ;)

Przemek and Jules in UK
Yours truly, back home in Romania
Szabot in Croatia

Owca in Poland - outside Kato (Pieniny)

All of my love

Even though I am perfectly aware that in a certain way this was the end – my mornings won’t start in Kato and my nights won’t end in the tent, I’m somehow incapable of being sad. But not because I don’t regret it, rather because it feels like I belong there, in a way that I can’t fully explain. It almost feels as if I’ve left home for the second time, much in the same way I waved goodbye to my city and moved to Bucharest. Of course, once in Bucharest, I’d do my best to escape from it and run back home for the weekend.
Away from Kato, I can now bet things will follow the same pattern, and I’ll be more than happy to go through the whole packing procedure every Friday or at least every other Friday. Since I’ve had my fair share of tears in the tent, I left the city feeling relaxed and happy and anxious to see what happens next. Almost like reading a good book. Captivating, surprising and mind-blowing.
I hate those moments when it is expected of you to look behind and draw the line. That’s why I don’t have resolutions on New Year’s Eve and I can’t make a list of the things I’ve learnt in Kato and the way they’ve changed me. However, Asia was so right when she told me that what I’ve seen here in Kato (and especially Ligota and the tent), what I’ve learnt, that’s mine for good, and it’s an experience that would have been difficult, if not impossible, to gain anywhere else.
But definitely the best part is the one which was totally beyond my control. It’s as if one year ago, someone knew I was about to dive into the unknown and wanted to make sure I have my safety net. So last year I’ve been offered this safety net, which I had time to test and become comfortable with. And now I’m ready to jump, because back in Kato there’s a bunch of wonderful people and we’ll be just three hours and a phone call away. That pretty much puts my mind at ease.