November 28, 2010


Although I'm overloaded with work and until mid-December I'll barely have time to breathe, whenever I do have a few precious hours for myself I tend to slow down and try not to waste any valuable energy. This means that lately I tried to stick to the basics, like dancing, reading about social change and traditional dances in Cuba, translating and focusing mostly on indoor activities, although it was with heavy heart that I gave El Santino a well deserved break. There's actually surprisingly little snow on the ground and I guess it might still be safe to ride the bike to work.
Lately I've been thinking about seeing a fortune teller, although I don't really have any important questions to ask or major decisions to make. Also, I'm afraid it might mess up my karma, which is something I'd rather avoid, especially since I managed to survive the month of November, famous all over Poland for being the most depressing of them all, without even the slightest mental discomfort.

November 12, 2010

Frivolities of the past

We exchanged earrings in B52 one Sunday morning over Cuba Libre and so began the most outdoor romantic involvement in my life. The setting couldn't have been more appropriate: Bucharest in spring, when the air smells like rain but there's not a cloud in sight, countless parks and gardens and hidden terraces. It was pure bliss while it lasted, but by the end of May it was more than obvious that it couldn't last much longer. It felt as if there were no words left to say, as if we he said them all. We broke up on my birthday and all I remember from that last time we met is my green silk scarf, the awkwardness of the moment, his hand holding mine on the way to the bus stop and the ladybird.
Perhaps the timing wasn't right or we were too young or spring simply isn't the best season for me when it comes to matters of the heart. Then summer came and even though it wasn't a summer to remember, like the incredibly long, hot and eventful summer of 2001, it is safe to assume that it was probably the fastest way to full recovery.
Every once in a while all the stuffed animals, jewelry, vinyl discs, dried flowers, souvenirs collected from flea markets and other trifles, traces of more or less disastruous relationships, end up in a box that spends a few weeks under my bed and eventually vanishes into oblivion. I only keep books, because fiction tends to take a life of its own shortly after it ends up on my shelf, no matter how it ends up there. If it's good, it stays. Luckily, most of the men in my life had very good taste in literature.
The ladybird is the only present I kept over the years. At first because I couldn't let go, later because I kept wondering what it could have been like, under different circumstances, with better timing and lately because it became a much needed reminder of those innocent and amazing years when things only seemed complicated but were in fact simple, honest and unproblematic.

November 8, 2010


It never occurred to me that I might be taking things for granted when it comes to blogging and bloggers. There's a few blogs I came to depend on, much like I depend on my morning coffee.
A few days ago, Nathan Bransford, literary agent and one of my favorite bloggers of all times, announced he was leaving the industry. I read his post late on Sunday, after my intense and illuminating weekend, and I came to realize just how much I was going to miss his advice, his insights, his sense of humor, his tips and tricks. Although the industry in Romania (and Poland, for that matter) has a lot of growing up to do until it can reach a level comparable to the one Nathan used to write about - and by a lot I mean I'm afraid I won't be around to see the miracle happen - it still feels odd knowing that I won't be relying on his teachings anymore, at least not in the way I used to until now.
I can't even remember how many times I quoted him when talking to my friends about the latest developments in our exotic, Eastern-European, self-centered and immature literary world and just how much I wished we had a Nathan of our own - something tells me things would have looked a lot better than they do at this point, the industry would have been healthier and our authors would have stopped being so smug and finally understood it was their readers who count most.
I can only hope he'll stick around, as he promised, posting about books and writing and anything else that might appear on the agenda - I know I'll be happy to follow him and learn a thing or two on the way.

November 7, 2010


This has definitely been on of the most intense weekends in a long time. A little old school, reminding me of the days when I could function with very little or no sleep and lots of activities. I was very happy to discover I could still do that, although I quickly understood it was all very deceiving and that the difference between early twenties and mid twenties lies in the effects of sleepless nights.
But apparently lack of sleep can be illuminating. Or at least it was in this particular case. That and the fact that I have some really smart friends :)
  • I finally understood what Bilus meant when speaking about "the path with a heart". I knew I was walking on mine the minute I stopped wondering "what if", when I settled down and looked at all my projects and understood what was worth keeping and what I was ready to let go. The path with a heart is the one that gives you butterflies every morning because you wake up and you know you're going to take a few more steps on that path and it instantly brightens up your day.
  • In the academic world, the more Eastern European you are, it is expected of you to research your own culture. Ana made a very good point while we were debating the paper I'm currently researching for my studies: no one will have anything against a research conducted in Latin America by a person coming from Western Europe, but they will find it strange if a Romanian does it, and it's equally true for students coming from other less known countries. The fact that I'm studying gender roles in the history of Latin dance seems to have provoked a mild dissatisfaction at the Uni, simply because Romanian culture appears to be very exotic and, truth be told, little known in Poland, so everybody expected me to be writing about it. It's this type of labeling that bothers the hell out of me because it makes people miss the big picture. In this case, my coordinator saw my nationality first and my fabulous research came second, which means I have to work twice as hard to convince him - and not because my idea was not good enough, but rather because it did not match his expectations, built simply on some information he had about me before we even met.
  • Speaking of cultural exchange and peculiarities of different cultures, there's one thing that I could not get used to in Poland, even though I've been systematically exposed to the phenomenon and I was everybody's favorite bartender for a year: what's with the whole excessive drinking thing? Just when I was about to stop asking questions and take things as they are, I had an edifying talk with Karolina (she's Polish, btw) while we were out celebrating the first anniversary of Nowy Wspanialy Swiat, one of Warsaw's hot-spots: it is wrong and not normal to be happy when we meet guys who only drink every so often. This drinking issue should not be the first thing to come to our minds when meeting someone new, but unfortunately it does and it seems to be increasingly difficult to find guys who can handle their liquor.
  • Went to see Herta Muller and was really, really disappointed. Mostly because I wasted two hours getting bored and trying to figure out an elegant way to leave the meeting. Monica summed it up perfectly: if the meeting organized in Bucharest was a circus, this felt like a trip to a museum where you're not allowed to touch, take pictures, ask questions but instead you get very dull explanations. It was not the first time I got extremely bored at such a meeting and I don't know if the organizers are to blame or if it's best to just let writers do their thing and not ask them to perform on stage - they're often less remarkable than their books. At some point, I fell asleep for a few seconds and the only reason why I didn't sleep until the end was that I didn't want to damage my hair because I was going dancing. Turns out my partner and I still have lead & follow issues, which is not exactly surprising but it can be very annoying because it made us waste valuable dancing time arguing. Now I'm pretty sure one of us will resort to murder sooner or later.
It's the first time since I moved to Poland that I'm not depressed in November. True, it's only been a week, but something tells me I might be safe this time.

November 4, 2010

Work in progress and a hint of neurosis

Sometimes, dancing can lead to drama in the blink of an eye. Last week's trainings almost led to murder. So today, when I met Karolina to add the final touches to my dress, I began to wonder if the black tulle should serve its initial purpose and be transformed into a flounce that will make underarm turns look even more fabulous than they normally do, or if I should just wear it as a veil and, while still in mourning, start looking for another partner.
Either way, the dress is a thing of beauty and I can't wait for our first dance. This might be the reason why I won't resort to any drastic measures, at least not in the foreseeable future.