October 30, 2009

Live poesie

I am on my way to Berlin, to test the brainwashing capacities of poetry. After a very crappy week at work and some even crappier nights, mainly because they were spent at the office, I decided to meet Ana at an event powered by the Romanian Cultural Institute in Germany. Theoretically, Ana will be working, as our magazine is one of the partners in the organization of this event. But hey, it's a poetry night we're talking about - we'll mostly be hanging out in some former factory (lately, it seems everything happens in either former factories or mines) reading / listening poetry. Ten young Romanian poets are ready to keep us entertained until 3 a.m, and tomorrow night we're attending a "world wide poetry" party. In the meantime, I'm very excited about a first date with Berlin. Not that I'm not happy with my current situation anymore, but one of the best things about living in Warsaw is leaving it for the weekends. As I'm almost reaching Berlin Hauptbahnhof, I'll stop here, for now, and be back with stories & pics in the very near future.

Girl stuff

Imagine packing all your stuff not in a suitcase, but in a coffin. And not in a funny-morbid way, in true Halloween spirit. A simple smear test could help you avoid this highly possible scenario.

Lately, this ad has taken over Warsaw. Yes, it's a very powerful statement, it's shocking and scary. But it's sure to spread its message and reach its target. Because it speaks about something that's indeed shocking and scary and which we tend to disregard, thinking "it can't happen to me". Well, it can happen to any of us. Every day, in Poland, 5 women die from cervical cancer. In Romania, 6. If we were more aware, if better informed, we'd know it can be cured. And if we were scared enough, before it was too late, we'd do something about it. Before we started packing.

October 26, 2009

Happy Birthday, Baby Okro!

Last weekend held a special significance in the history of the tent. I had planned to attend the opening party ever since I heard the news about the possibility of a second bar showing up in the back yard of the tent that wrote history. Then I saw it under construction and my heart filled with joy when, that one night, I finally got a sneak peak inside. Later, my fellow bartenders made fun of me for so desperately wanting to work there. It wasn't really that funny, as I felt from the beginning that, to an extent, Baby Okro was my baby too, so it was a matter of the obvious I wanted to work there. The tent has a history of 10 years now, and I've been part of it only in the past year. With the new one, now that was a different story. It was practically born under my eyes. For the past two months, whenever I called Pan Janek, whenever I showed up in Kato, the first question I popped was "So, when are we having the opening party?". Eventually, we did. On Friday. Of course I was in Warsaw.
In the end, it's not just the tent. The fact that I know there's a room waiting for me whenever I go back, the warmth and coziness only a family can give you (who would've thought that working in a bar can provide you, as a bonus, with a wonderful adoptive family?), the rainy mornings when I seem to have all the time in the world, the late night shifts behind the bar, they're all parts of the story. The more I miss them, the more I feel the need to fill the void with something that will give me the impression I still belong, even if I'm not there anymore, on a daily basis. And since all my life I've been filling voids with books, I can't think of a better moment to start learning the Silesian dialect. In Polish, I'm more than happy to have a distinct accent. It's like part of my expat identity. If I ever manage to say at least the very basics po slasku, I'll do my best to hide any traces of my foreign accent.
I've never been a fan of driving. Nor did I ever want to have a car of my own. Now I'm beginning to think it maybe isn't such a bad idea. If I did, I wouldn't be here, doing my best not to burst into tears, chain smoking and writing cheesy-over-emotional posts. Instead, I'd be on the road. I'm beginning to hate my lack of stability. Last year, back in Kato, i wept for Warsaw. Now I'm here. Weeping for Kato. Looking forward to adding another city to the list...

October 23, 2009

Army Day

Romania celebrates it today. Normally, I couldn't have cared less. But since lately nothing in my life falls under the category of "normal", I had to care. And not only to care, but to attend a formal party at the Embassy, where I drew several conclusions:
- men in uniforms look better in movies than in real life
- I don't feel comfortable wearing the kind of clothes you're supposed to wear at such events. So I don't really follow the rule. However, I had to wear something more elegant than I usually do and even so, I still did not fit in the picture (I don't go for the classic two piece suit). I was quite happy with my little black dress, but I fantasize about showing up at such a party wearing my little black (eco) leather pants matched with my favorite t-shirt with an adorable red devil playing guitar.
- it's tough being a vegetarian and being invited to celebrate the army. Or anything else, for that matter. You basically have three options. They'll all make you look life a freak: a) carefully study all the ingredients and decide what's right to eat and what's not, b) skip food and only eat cake and fruit or c) skip food.
- it's even tougher being a smoker.
- weather is the hottest conceivable topic. I don't know anything about weather and I can only state the obvious, so I'd better start learning this art fast. Speaking of the obvious, Warsaw was so foggy today, that it was impossible to see the Palace of Culture and Science. Anyone who's ever been in Warsaw, even for a minute, knows it's a sight hard to miss.
- 95% of the shoes were black. No word about my shoes :)
Overall, it was a lovely party and I'm already looking forward to Navy Day.

October 22, 2009

I beat the system everywhere I goes

The initial plan, as suggested by Vero, was to meet her and Ceci in Warsaw on the 8th of December and celebrate our 10th anniversary (are we old or what? We've known each other since forever) here, as the immigrant punks that we are. The concert was a perfect pretext, although we don't really need pretexts. In the meantime, plans have changed, and we're most likely celebrating our lifelong friendship back home, at a date that's still to be decided. However, the concert is still on, so I just couldn't resist the temptation.
Two years ago, back in Bucharest, it was hysterical. Of course, we were all there, in the front row, having almost as much fun as they seemed to be having on stage. I was so excited about the concert, that I actually managed to convince the editor-in-chief of a very serious and high-class cultural magazine, where I happened to be working at that time, to save a page for this story. It was one of my best texts ever.
If I weren't so mad about them and so happy to see them again, I'd take some time to be depressed for going to the concert alone.
And even though my employers are not reading my blog, I would like to informally announce them that I won't make it to the office on the 9th of December. Nor on the 10th. In fact, as the concert will be on Tuesday, I'm planning to take the whole week off, to wear purple, lose my sanity and wits, to read Jonathan Safran Foer and be illuminated, and I'll dedicate all my energy to saving my generation from the east infection. Totally hardcore and made with love.

October 20, 2009


Directory of contemporary Romanian artists.
A very cool project. And I'm not just saying that because I'm in it :)

October 14, 2009


Despite all the warnings, I was so not ready for this:

Neither was Mickiewicz.

What bugs me most is that I didn't have a proper summer holiday. This morning's snow was the end of the illusion that I might take a few days off and pretend I'm on summer holiday in the middle of October. Now I need to go shoehunting and figure out a way to bring all my stuff from Kato.

October 11, 2009

Playing cool in Krakow

The weather in Poland seems to have finally come to its senses. It’s dark, cold and rainy. Just perfect for exquisite shopping at the flea market in Cracow’s Kazimierz, very early in the morning, followed by some tranquil hours when writing is the one and only thing to do.

I arrived in Cracow two days ago to help a Romanian director and film producer who’s documenting a movie. I was supposed to do some translations and then mind my own business. The difference between what I thought I’d be doing and what I actually did was huge. This was not work, it was a fictional bubble that nurtured my brain and warmed my heart, and it was so perfect and round that I even gave up the idea of a night in the tent just because the pieces of the puzzle here in Cracow matched in a way that I had longed for. I felt like myself again, conversations were meaningful and every meeting, every interview seemed to add more sense to the story she’s documenting, but at the same time to deepen the confusion and to bring to light different perspectives, some of them so dissimilar that they bordered absurdity. And even though this is not my project, and my contribution to it was minimal, the trip was very inspiring simply because I spent my time with people who are passionate about what they do, are fresh and creative and believe in the work they do. This made a very valuable point in terms of my current work situation, cleared my mind and the whole picture. It also reinforced my beliefs in my priorities. When I asked A. how she managed to stay focused on her projects, putting a safe distance between her and all the exterior, disturbing factors, she replied with one of those memorable lines that are worth keeping somewhere in the back of your mind, to be brought to surface when overwhelmed by uncertainties: Everything that’s not related to my artistic projects is inexistent.

October 8, 2009

The Nobel Prize in Literature

Awarded to Romanian-born poet and novelist Herta Muller. I'm so happy and excited, almost as if the prize had been awarded to me :)
Details to be found here.

October 4, 2009


A few days ago, in a small shop on Warsaw's Nowy Swiat, the man behind the counter asked for my ID before selling me beer. Friday night. Erasmus party in some obscure hip hop club in the neighbourhood where I spent my first summer in Warsaw. The bodyguard wanted to see my ID before letting me in. This morning, in the store next to Asia's house, in my beloved Ligota, I got my Marlboros only after showing the saleslady my ID. She studied it for about a minute and then told me I didn't look 25 and she's still not sure she should sell me those cigarettes.
They probably don't know it, but each of them made my day, simply by asking this question, which used to piss me off when I was 16 and wanted to buy beer and / or cigarettes. I just love to see the wheel turning and to find myself in similar situations, having completely different reactions. Gives me the illusion of universal equilibrium, even if it's only a matter of minor, yet essential details.

October 2, 2009

The aftermath

So the bubble popped, leaving me with a mild trauma that still disturbs my sleep. I did the math and figured it's going to take me a few months, a trip to Slovenia, three pairs of shoes, countless hours at the library and about five evening shifts in the tent as to fully recover. It was only this week that I finally came to understand Warsaw. All this time, I claimed we had a special connection, a bond that was beyond words, but I was so far from the truth. After the most intense and stressful ten days in my life (this is what I get for having wanted a real job, with an office, a schedule and a shitload of responsibility) I grasped the meaning of the word zbombardowany (bombed). Much like the city during World War II, I was a wreck. And had to start the rebuilding process from the very basics. On Sunday morning, having shipped the last group of guests back to Bucharest, I managed to catch my breath and hop on the train to Kato. And life seemed to be getting back to normal. I'm still far from having settled down, and under normal conditions I would have complained about the mess I'm in, but the past weeks have taught me a very valuable lesson: there is always a solution, even in the most desperate and edgy situations. So I was finally able to sit back, relax, and congratulate myself for having pulled through.
One year ago, I was in the process of adapting to a new city, crying my eyes out and wishing to go back to Bucharest, as nothing seemed to make any sense. The pieces of the puzzle just wouldn't match. The awful start is now just another reason for me to make fun of my impatience and crisis-management issues. Much in the same way, I'm dealing now with another brand new beginning, which puts ten times more pressure on my head, but which I seem to handle with a greater deal of calm. If growing up is all about being less hysterical and finding creative solutions to all thinkable and unthinkable problems, then I'm determined to stop fighting the ageing process. However, my biggest wish for next October is for it to find me in the middle of something. Anything, as long as I'm in the middle. I love beginnings, I'd start over and over again, as long as I don't have to do it in October. I'm afraid I'm developing a pattern and, if things carry on like this, I'll have not just a pattern, but a phobia.