February 17, 2010

One day, I'll look for my head and it'll be gone

Big meeting tomorrow. I had all the materials neatly prepared and figured nothing could possibly go wrong. Now I know something might go wrong, because I left them at the store next to my house. The bright side is I have 2 packs of cigarettes to keep me company while I freak out about not finding them tomorrow morning. Oddly enough, it's the same store where a few days ago I left all the stuff I had just bought and only realized it the next day. This reminded me of my superb grumpy-but-gorgeous pajamas I lost some years ago in Spain and a few other pieces of clothing that have somehow vanished from my wardrobe or from my luggage or God knows what happened to them, the point is I can't seem to find them anymore and some of them were fabulous and I miss them, so if anyone knows anything about them, I'd appreciate the information. Once I lost my birth certificate, found it in one of my Literary Theory readers and then lost it again. Last week I also noticed my contract of employment was missing and I have no clue as to where it could be. Over the years, I've lost countless sets of keys (my own but also the keys of every apartment I've ever spent even a few hours in) and dozens of lip balms.
I really wish I could say I learnt something today, but I didn't, and perhaps I never will.
As for the big meeting, I can either go back to the office, drink hectoliters of coffee and prepare everything neatly once again or go to sleep and figure something out tomorrow morning. A decision that's obviously easy to make.

Berlin reunion

After a year and a half, the three of us were once again in the same city. And we had very little time, yet we did manage to make the best of it.
Meeting the girls and hanging out with them made me reflect upon my shallowness, my happiness and my sometimes very unhealthy obsessions and fears. And while I’m perfectly ok with the first two and content with most of the choices I’ve made, I figured it would be in my best interest to stop obsessing and let go of my fears - in the end, it's been 10 years and it would have been even more unsettling if things hadn't changed at all. However, looking back at those 10 years, with their ups and downs, even though I did manage to come to terms with the fact that as we grow older, we have new priorities and outlooks upon life, I still think we're not old enough for such a conversation:
my high school crush was not a crush, it was a crash
mine is best to be avoided, even after all those years
mine is dead...

It so happened that Ceci was there reporting live from the film festival, so almost all our meeting points, day and night, were somewhere near the red carpet. So I discovered that proximity to glamour can make you feel glam, but also that you can't rely on your friends, especially when you ask them to shamelessly use & abuse their press pass. And so, because Ceci is very ethical and professional at very inappropriate times, she refused to set me up with Leonardo DiCaprio :(
Berlin was amazing and more than just a very good setting for our reunion. I'm officially in love. I don't want to move there, not planning to start over (yet) again, not at all ready for the whole packing-unpacking-life twisting scenario, but it could easily become a regular weekend destination. Coming from a city like Warsaw, which has its odd and melancholic charm, distant and not exactly open to multicultural experiences, Berlin is like a breath of fresh air. It's dynamic, light and positive, with a contagious energy. And I just love the fact that everybody smiles - it's not very common to see people smiling in the streets of Warsaw. Its magic is made up of all those apparently insignificant details: the Russian accordionist on the S-Bahn, the Iranian shop with all the conceivable and unconceivable spices in the world, next door to our hotel, the colorful Kreuzberg district with its extra sweet cakes, immigrants, radicals and the most amazing artichoke in the world, the Russian market with fresh fruit late at night and the Asian supermarket with everything and anything aloe, the industrial buildings and the art world they hide and of course the exciting nightlife. I may have found my favorite club in Berlin, although it's rather an assumption, not a certainty. SO36 was described in my guide as being home to any alternative lifestyle, from gay Turks and metal heads to punks and hardcore vegans. I wouldn't know, because unfortunately we didn't make it there - I blame it on that last round of shots, but another fairly reasonable explanation was that the last round of shots came after we had tested almost everything on the menu. But I think I found the perfect excuse for yet another perfect weekend in Berlin.

February 9, 2010

Świat Książki strikes again

When it comes to book events, promotional campaigns, publishing houses and book parties, I'm very hard to please. I find most of them dull, old-fashioned, predictable and they're hardly ever book-oriented.
In most cases, we are dealing with a universal pattern that guarantees about 10 people in the audience: two or three speakers (at least one of them must be a literary critic), a moderator with very bad moderating skills (usually, some messed up PR person who has to be there because it's a job thing), a pile of books on a table in the corner, three or four on the table in front of the speakers, a venue that's normally popular (pub, club, fancy coffee shop) and a very inadequate timing (very few people bother to enter a club late in the afternoon, and it's even more embarrassing when the event takes place somewhere downstairs, while upstairs the bartenders are getting ready for a busy night, with no customers in sight), some sad little abstract posters and a lonely dusty banner. The really daring and outrageous book events might feature a piano intermezzo that's sure to bore everyone out of their skull and cheap wine that won't even get the audience drunk, as to make things bearable. As far as campaigns are concerned, a book is lucky to get some publicity in the press, a teaser that tries to be funny / witty / controversial and in most cases fails and some pathetic Facebook announcements two days before the event. Most books are just thrown out there and end up in bookstores without anyone noticing they were there. True, I've only had firsthand experiences of the Romanian and Polish markets so maybe the pattern isn't all that universal after all, and somewhere out there another pattern awaits to be discovered and imported.
Luckily, there are exceptions to the rule. And when they do occur, they are truly...exceptional. Which is to be expected, especially when the book that makes the object of the campaign is a masterpiece.
Given the fact that we are talking about the follow-up to The Book, given my emotional implication and the effort put in translating it, it is with heavy heart that I have to announce yet another brilliant campaign made in Poland. My adoptive country wins again, this time promoting The Eye of the Moon.
First there was the contest: smart, perfectly capturing the spirit of the book, introducing the characters and their stories, giving fans the opportunity to come up with their own interpretations (I find it so good I was almost tempted to translate it into English, for the sake of my non-Polish speaking readers).
Then came the trailer:

And then the newspaper - The Santa Mondega Times, an awesome sneak preview to the book:

I do expect a party sometime in the near future. And in the meantime, something to look forward to: only a few months left until the official release of the third book, The Devil's Graveyard.

February 5, 2010

Sequence of events

It is said that as we grow older, memory loss becomes a serious issue. But it wasn't until yesterday that I felt somewhat affected by this - I always thought wrinkles, bills, work and taxes were the big problems that come with the aging process. And I was prepared to fight them with increased intake of coenzyme Q10, a better organized agenda and loads of colorful post-its. It didn't occur to me that I might need post-its to remind me what I did last summer. Or the summer before that.
One week before our Berlin reunion, Vero, Ceci and I tried to remember when was the last time the three of us met. Sure, we managed to meet for a quick coffee and much needed updates here and there - Katowice, Paris, Bucharest, but it so happened that one of us was always missing. So yesterday Vero popped the inevitable question: "When did we last meet, all of us?". It took about three hours, Ceci's blog, my diary and a review of the biggest concerts in Bucharest in the past two years to finally figure out that we last met in August 2008 for a Massive Attack concert. And before that, in October 2007, we all went to see Muse live in Bucharest for the first time ever. By the time we reached this conclusion, we were all tired, annoyed and very confused about our summer holidays, winter breaks, birthdays, studies, jobs and ex-boyfriends. There was no chronology, it was as if everything had happened in the blink of an eye and the overall picture of the last years was very, very blurry. And the biggest problem isn't that everything was dull or not spectacular or not worth remembering - we do remember the details of particular events or holidays, we just can't seem to tell when they happened.

Note to self (and the girls): take pictures, write everything down, use post-its, accept senility as part of daily life.

February 1, 2010

Culinary art

Following a recipe found by Przemek in the depths of the internet and with a helping hand from Magda, tonight I changed my gummy bears routine for homemade cake. It was about time I took cooking seriously, and I am very glad I did. I think I am really talented. It took exactly 12 minutes to turn the kitchen upside down, bake the cake and get down to writing. I also developed new, until today unconceivable feelings for my microwave oven.

The battlefield:
Baked in 3 minutes:

Edible and even tasty with extra whipped cream and toffee sauce: