cluj

august 28, 2009

this is what i wrote exactly one year ago today – i found it while tearing papers because i’m procrastinating packing for seattle:

fried eggplant smell means the same as last year the slanted light above those streets behind ‘arta’ the smallish statues and one morning i saw yellow leaves in a tree from far away i thought they were flowers this is how oblivious one year has made me of course mornings go colder mist by the river and the dew in the grass layering layering my students are planning careers one of them’s working at the new mall they built where we used to walk by the lake last night we went to the swings after dark to drink cola light and sing but we’d forgotten the lyrics to all songs this is how you know you’re being erased


you had time

august 27, 2009

You Had Time
How can I go home with nothing to say? I know you’re going to look at me that way, and say,’What did you do out there? What did you decide? You said you needed time, and you had time.’

You are a china shop, and I am a bull.You are really good food, and I am full. I guess everything is timing. I guess everything’s been said. So I am coming home with an empty head.

You’ll say, ‘Did they love you or what?’ And I’ll say, ‘They love what I do. The only one who really loves me is you.’ And you’ll say, ‘Did you kick some butt?’ And I’ll say, ‘I don’t really remember – but my fingers are sore and my voice is, too.’

You’ll say ‘It’s really good to see you.’ You’ll say ‘I missed you horribly.’ You’ll say ‘Let me carry that, give that to me.’ And you will take the heavy stuff and you will drive the car, and I’ll look out the window and make jokes about the way things are.

How can I go home with nothing to say? I know you’re going to look at me that way and say, ‘What did you do out there? What did you decide? You said you needed time, and you had time.’ You had time.


a bend in the river

august 26, 2009

why do i still insist on trying to write, when v.s. naipaul already said the only things i had to say, and so much more?!?!? all i can do is try to not copy the whole book here, but to quote discriminately. but read it-read it-read it. oh.

*”I didn’t want to go back. not the first time. i didn’t think my heart could stand it. but the airplane is a wonderful thing. you are still in one place when you arrive at the other. the airplane is faster than the heart. you arrive quickly and you leave quickly. you don’t grieve too much.and there is something else about the airplane. you can go back many times to the same place. and something strange happens if you go back often enough. you stop grieving for the past. you see that the past is something in your mind alone, that it doesn’t exist in real life. you trample on the past,you crush it. in the beginning it is like trampling on a garden. in the end you are just walking on ground. that is the way we have to learn to live now.”

*”i thought when i went to england i would put all that behind me. i had no plans beyond that. the word ‘university’ dazzled me, and i was innocent enough to believe that after my time in the university some wonderful life would be waiting for me. at that age three years seems a long time – you feel that anything can happen. but i hadn’t understood to what extent our civilization had also been our prison. i hadn’t understood either to what extent we had been made by the place where we had grown up, made by Africa and the simple life on the coast, and how incapable we had become of understanding the outside world. we have no means of understanding a fraction of the thought and science and philosophy and law that have gone to make that outside world. we simply accept it. we have grown up paying tribute to it, and that is all that most of us can do. we feel of the great world that it is simply there, something for the lucky ones among us to explore, and then only at the edges. it never occurs to us that we might make some contribution to it ourselves. and that is why we miss everything.

when we land at a place like london airport, we are concerned only not to appear foolish. it is more beautiful and more complex than anything we could have dreamed of, but we are concerned only to let people see that we can manage and are not overawed. we might even pretend that we had expected better. that is the nature of our stupidity and incompetence. and that was how i spent my time at the university in england, not being overawed, always being slightly disappointed, understanding nothing, accepting everything, getting nothing. i saw and understood so little that at the end of my time at the university i could distinguish buildings only by their size, and i was hardly aware of the passing of the seasons.and yet i was an intelligent man, and could cram for examinations.”

*”you’ve talked a lot […] about those girls from East Africa in the tobacco kiosks, selling cigarettes at all hours of the night. they’ve depressed you. you say they don’t have a future and that they don’t even know where they are. i wonder whether that isn’t their luck. they expect to be bored, to do what they do. the people i’ve been talking about have expectations and they know they’re lost in london. i suppose it must be dreadful for them when they have to go back. this area is full of them, coming to the centre because it is all they know about and because they think it’s smart, and trying to make something out of nothing. you can’t blame them. they’re doing what they see the big people doing.”

yay pity party. two in one, crushed as a person and as a writer. thankyouverymuch, sir.


vancouver says goodbye…to summer

august 26, 2009

– 2 days at wreck beach- one swimming and suntanning with lora, the other a picnic plus hardcore gathering blackberries w/elena &sonia

– when i was the most *heartbroken* – 2-3 afternoons, straight off work – i’d just go to jericho and sit next to a log and watch the ocean and try to write. one day i had a huge coffee thermos. omg, energy drink buzzz, by the way!

– sam , on and off commercial one sunny day

– sandwiches and milkshakes with yael&co. on their ‘porch’

– salads and indigequeer shorts with lora one night – walking alone downtown at night, never fails to…impress me. it’s so alien.

– twilight. with e. and lora. and commentary by ovidiu online

– romanian dinner w/ nadia at ‘transylvania’ restaurant. haha, i couldn’t have left without it. (also, when nadia returned from europe she was *accidentally* on the same plane/almost same class w/ matt damon!! i freaked out!!)

– planning. forever smiling and planning. explaining to people that i’m not sad. except i’ll have to give a lot of books away. oh well, bygones

– following: goodbye parties (trying not to think about) aaand my last US trip for a while. what’s not to like??


weekends and windows

august 26, 2009

i.e. What i’m looking forward to in Cluj, now that i know i’m going back:

– yes: weekends.

-and windows.

– summer holidays.

– supercheap trips to awesome places in Europe (do not contradict me at this point or i might cry: London-Berlin (Gotha)-Dublin-Belgrade-Istanbul, and later Norway

-drama with the kids. basically, yeah: the kids.

– people to tell stories about Vancouver to


= chill

august 11, 2009

it’s raaaining agaaaain (obvs, as soon as i started describing the heatwave haha)

and i just napped a bit and had a freakin nightmare involving something from home – even more: home in bistrita. bah.

coke. energy drink. coke. coffee. whatever.

(„is it my fault?”- well duh. „did i do the best i could have?” – are you seriously asking that?)

sleep on it if you can.


discuss!

august 11, 2009

this is an argument that always blocks me. what do i say to people who believe this?:

„the bottom line of leftist thought is that individuals cannot know reality or truth, that there is no objective truth. if there is no objective truth, then everything is excused. if we cannot know reality, then to act and build is futile. if an individual is just a collection of neurons and genes, or a receptacle for whatever environmental data that’s input, then he isn’t responsible for himself. in a world like this, everything’s on the same level, whether it’s a bach sonata or a papier mache pig made by a retarded kid. everybody’s on the same level; you’re supposed to care as much or more about thousands of vietnamese strangers as you would about your own family. in a world like this, what can you value or turn to but the approval and love of other people – any other people?” (mary gaitskill – ‘two girls, fat and thin’) (do NOT read that book, though!)

reasons i’m having trouble with this:

– my own screwed up feelings about family values

– third world inferiority complex turned elitism (it IS environment, people!)

– whenever i try to take an individual stand against the „everybody’s on the same level” thing, i do it in a psychotic and unavoidably random way. (i.e. someone’s story is as interesting as any other story – then why THAT someone? i don’t know why.)

i can’t even say more about it.