not so much left

februarie 8, 2012

The Word

 Down near the bottom
 of the crossed-out list
 of things you have to do today,

 between „green thread”
 and „broccoli” you find
 that you have penciled „sunlight.”

 Resting on the page, the word
 is as beautiful, it touches you
 as if you had a friend

 and sunlight were a present
 he had sent you from some place distant
 as this morning – to cheer you up,

 and to remind you that,
 among your duties, pleasure
 is a thing,

 that also needs accomplishing
 Do you remember?
 that time and light are kinds

 of love, and love
 is no less practical
 than a coffee grinder

 or a safe spare tire?
 Tomorrow you may be utterly
 without a clue

 but today you get a telegram,
 from the heart in exile
 proclaiming that the kingdom

 still exists,
 the king and queen alive,
 still speaking to their children,

 – to any one among them
 who can find the time,
 to sit out in the sun and listen.

– Tony Hoagland<a


chinese new year

ianuarie 23, 2012

or: „a crazy person with a pink paint can at midnight”
i tried to catch up on sleep time today, so i woke up all woozy from a nap around 10 pm. i go to the kitchen and melanie says, it’s chinese new year! the dragon is coming! we should celebrate! and she gets more and more into it: but this place is a mess! our entrance is all blocked, that’s bad luck! we should sweep and mop and take our shoes from there! we should put something red on this wall, for good luck and money etc. to which i’m like ok, i have some balloons! so i start blowing up balloons. melanie mops the hallway, i sweep, then she brings out the can of red paint we’d had left from painting in summer. ha! she mixes it with white, so the result is a…peachy pinkish smth. i’m sure it has a name. the initial idea was to do red stripes on our entrance walls, like columns…in the end, by midnight, we have two thick pink stripes, and assorted balloons. i think the dragon came, took a look, and started tearing his hair out. good times all around.


the emotional planner: chasing a good vibe

ianuarie 2, 2012

i need structure to function, even if i understand moods. i think it’s BECAUSE i understand moods. plans are my safety net, and this shows again and again in my daily schedule, on holidays, and in writing. i am convinced that i’d collapse into chaos otherwise and i’d simply give up on doing anything, so i need to know what goes where, because i always anticipate and fear disruption. cue the following things about me that you may have noticed:
– seasonal depression (easier when i know it will be there)
– memory re: birthdays and other days
– getting mad as hell when making plans with someone and then they drop it. i never drop plans. ever. so it just feels unfair and leaves me hopeless.
and i mean at this point it’s not a problem of myself changing in order to become happier. it’s just one of making myself understood quicker/functionally.

anyway:
so it is important to me how i finish/start a year, because i am a firm believer in all that crap: even years SHOULD be good for me AND it’s the-year-of-the-dragon (good!), BUT i also need to: not be alone/feel hopeful and jolly/have a story about it.
i humbly acknowledge that these things can’t exactly be planned, and therein resides their beautiful madness. i can say that i’ll be at X party with persons Y,Z,W…but i have no idea how the night will go and what tiny signs might be sent for me etc. (did i know that a dog would bite me first day of ’05? that i’d cry disgracefully over NOTHING at a friend’s party in ’09, surrounded by friends? ugh rhetorical.)

what happened this year was this:
– i was supposed to go to somebody’s place and i was dropped 2 days before due to change of plans. annoyance. so i got stuck 🙂 with my roomie, i.e. she got stuck with me.
– we had a possible other invitation, but we decided to go out on our own and check out parties.
– dress up as ourselves! epically, cartoonishly ourselves. i had braids, pompom hat and fuchsia pleated skirt. we had wine and a jar in my turquoise bag.
– (getting on the bus with the jar-of-wine in hand, and a guy standing by the driver thanks us for using public transport tonight! 🙂 )
– st-laurent mainline theatre: slowdancing night. we arrived there right around midnight, got our champagne and the last dance card (dance card!!!) and were talking on the sofa when we realized that midnight had come and gone. I LOVED IT! the first year i can remember without countdowns and hysterical cracker bombs, where the passage was harmonious and no fuss, it just made sense.
– then we danced. i danced with my roommate, with two girls in boy suits, with a boy in an evening gown, with a series of other boys, one of which was a dancer. we knew the lyrics to some of the songs, some others i heard for the first time. it felt good and very montreal. i felt my body protest, my joints ache (old lady) and i did pirouettes to show off my skirt.
– then we walked home around 4 a.m, hungry and all. clearly it’s going to be a year for physical exercise…or something. texting. tarot. departures. more kind strangers.


and song of the season/year:

decembrie 20, 2011

i found this song in a ’11 retrospective playlist (of course) less than one week ago, and am still playing it obsessively. i am so excited every time i actually start giggling nervously at the ringtone (see/hear below). i even had a discussion session w my roomie to try and figure out why this particular song has gotten to me so strong and quick – i am ashamed a bit when this happens: with people, with stuff…she just says, well, it’s a good song with a good video…there are lesbians in it…and masks – of course you like it.
then this morning i got it: this song is literally (i still don’t have a lyrics transcription but they’re easy to hear. especially if you are bilingual) about depression/procrastination. it speaks to me clearly every morning as i gather myself up to get out of bed and at the same time collapse under theguilt of finding everything/anything too hard or senseless to do. it takes good rhythm to get through to my apathy, it takes a breezy sound. i liked that the first direct message was that of lust. i liked the french insert, and the rapping. but in the end what i get out of it is me telling myself „gonna bust it out/ gonna work it out”. the voice of a different me trying to get back to me, blah. i could write a 10 page paper about it but i think i’ve made my point.
two days ago, drinking red wine in bed and twirling my dirty hair, i had the same hazy realization I KNOW i’ve had before: that subconsciously i am aware that things are fine, which is why i’m allowing myself to liminally wallow in this light pool of despair. except when i try to grasp it, it slips away, so in my day to day from a point on i sigh, put one foot after the other out of bed and start doing my minimum. here:


look, no irony!

octombrie 8, 2011


one year ago, and six months ago

august 8, 2011

alternate titles to this post:

– „i just want to post something i wrote at some point, so there!”

– „it’s not a personal blog until it gets embarrassing”

– „if it’s embarassing, you could’ve at least made it interesting”

– „the most non-feminist thing i wrote this year”

– „gosh-am-i-glad-that-my-ex-is-not-online”

proceed with patience.

 

 

Cross (7/02/11)

 

He asked, where did you get this from? On a bench in the Botanical Garden, full summer, my head in his lap, him playing with my necklace. The containment of his voice told me it wasn’t the first time he’d noticed it, just the moment he’d chosen to bring it up. There’s Cyrillic on the back of your cross, he said, tracing it with a fingertip, and so I jerked upright to look at the cross, as if for the first time.

I didn’t remember when I’d gotten it or started wearing it on the silver chain along with other good luck omens. It must have come from my grandma, I said. No, she’d never been to Russia – but maybe it’s normal for Orthodox crosses to have Cyrillic on them? No, I didn’t know: I’d never thought of it before. Should I have?

I’d carried these tiny signs against my skin for years, my fingers flying up to touch, my eyes at times obviously registering the letters – спасиисохрани – and my mind still not wondering what or why. He said it was a traditional religious phrase: Sauve moi, garde moi, and I retranslated into English instantly. We scramble all the time between English and French with detours into Romanian or Russian. Sometimes this still strikes me as strange, sometimes it’s just what we do.

 

We were in love, and that was supposed to conquer all. I hadn’t believed that for years, and I had to start believing it again. Save me, keep me safe. I liked how the words were related, yet the concepts diverged: there’s nothing safe about salvation – the leap of faith, the break with old routines. This love of mine, although changing me deeply, was also bringing back things I’d thought forgotten.

When we’d met he’d asked, and by that time I already knew I liked him, so where are you from? Nothing special, everybody asks that. Of course he was Russian (his tone spelled “of course”, and I approved), with his accent and his Slavic face. And me? I think there are no typical Romanian features, except in retrospect, I said, and to that he smiled even larger: oh, you’re Orthodox!

As a child I went to church with Grandma every Sunday, kneeled in the women’s pew,  sang along, examined the aged ladies’ faces and memorized details on the icons, the old bronze and fading colors. I read the Bible like a story book, painted Easter eggs, tidied family graves in the cemetery, sang carols at Christmas. Then it was over just like that, a thing that only makes sense in context.  I’d been a social Orthodox the way people are social smokers or drinkers. My grandma’s village was far away and was dying.

After I met him I had the impulse to try that again, be a believer all the way. Not having stepped into a church in years, there I was looking them up on the map of Montreal. I turned up a Romanian church a few blocks away from me and went one early summer morning. It felt like back home, all the indescribable reasons why I’d gone away – so half an hour in I turned back and left – fume of candles, sweat coated in perfume, bent silhouettes in their Sunday best and fragments of my language trailing behind. I didn’t tell him this. What I told him was: religion is just the golden aura surrounding its culture; my Orthodoxy is not exactly your Orthodoxy. We have different Christmases, different New Years. Romanians abandoned Slavonic in church service, we abandoned Cyrillic a century and a half ago. We are a small nation, bending with the times. And me, I’m neither this or that, neither here nor there. It broke my heart a little every time he said he understood.

 

Save me, keep me safe. I used to say my prayers every evening before bedtime. To consider missing that would be as disturbing as saying I miss home. I wrote to Grandma to say I’d gone to church, and to ask about my little silver cross. She wrote back to say she remembered. The village priest had brought her the cross from a pilgrimage to a Moldavian monastery forty-something years ago, and she sewed it in the lining of my father’s overcoat. She found it years later, while mending his broken pockets, and put it aside for her grandchild, me, not yet born.

People here in Canada say wow, that’s a nice chain. Some touch it on impulse, sifting the metallic cluster through their fingers. I’ve had some remarking I was a Christian, with satisfaction as if this reinforced their own faith, which I don’t mind. But the moment he pointed out the Cyrillic, a current of recognition and panic crossed me.

Spasi i sahrani. I saw myself standing in the pew at the Russian church in Nowhere, Ontario, and someday in Some Other Place, Russia. I would have Russian Orthodox children, I who had run away would be anchored again in a family and tradition, and this felt like something I wasn’t equipped to fight. Salvation and safety was in starting from the words.

 

Language has always been my territory. I moved in the world dancing among phrases and grammar structures, not expertly but in awe. I’d gotten English and French and been enamoured with each in turn. It made sense that my new love would manifest through a language so particular and akin to religion.

A new language probably happens less than a new city, less than a new love in the average person’s life. That day I went online to learn the Cyrillic. These days I’m taking Russian classes and learning extra with textbooks and CDs. He’s in Toronto now, his voice in French over the phone barely real. I don’t know what will happen with us. But built inside the Russian I’m acquiring there are permanent undertones of love, yes, and prayer, yes, and housekeeping.

 

 

 

 


writing about learning russian

iulie 30, 2011

i read this book that i liked a lot, sometime this spring – beginning of june, i guess – i started it on a cold rainy weekend, amidst some stress, maybe that`s why it made so much PERFECT  sense to me. the book is by caroline adderson, it`s called ‘the sky is falling’.

things this book can be said to be about:

– vancouver!!! the house the heroine rents in is on trutch! and she studies at UBC. so many places and things where i jumped up and gasped as in ‘i was there!’

– the ’80s, the Cold War. this is what the title refers to. of course i know nothing about that, because i`m a)too young, b) from the other side – but for the same reasons i`ve always been curious. though it still sounds very abstract to me. i can`t understand what people were afraid would happen. nowadays we have global warming, and our brand of terrorism, and a response of permanent terror is still weird.

– first love / considering lesbian attraction. what the narrator`s thoughts and feelings and problems are is so removed from sex and couplehood that it endears her instantly. and she`s 20. mmm, i was like YEAH  all along, although of course i realize she didn`t uphold herself as a standard of normality.

– and the name of her love object is sonia. i giggled about it and couldn`t help telling sonja. vancouver and sonias, it`s a thing!

– RUSSIAN. now we`re talking. although this could be split in 2 parts: the literature one and more importantly, the language. i don`t care enough for chekhov, on which the narrator is writing her thesis…but book-wise, at some point, she develops a short theory about kitty`s attachment to and fascination with other women in ‘anna karenina’. on the other hand, language….maaaaan!

i know more russian than her now. which is totally beside the point. the author admittedly speaks no russian at all, and did all the insertions in the text with the help of friends. but the sense of adventure in starting the study, of the doors it opens and the mysteries it entails, and how, without knowing at all what you`re doing you can go around renaming each object automatically – this is so well written. i don`t often envy people for having STOLEN MY THINGS  and written them down, but this is it; one of the cases of, damn, i should have written that, not her. i don`t even mean the whole book, just the interwoven language parts. i realize also that for westerners russian has a different sort of mystique than for me (although i`m questioning that now a bit: it can`t be that different. i come from the west of this language too, and was too young to suffer OF it. if anything, my take on it is americanized, as compared to my parents`…..).

anyway: i have been there, done that. the russian learning. the impressing-people-with-the-strange-alphabet-i-can-write; the letting-them-think-i-am-more-fluent-than-i-actually-am; the instantly-translating-things; the doing-my-homework; the wonder of language acquisition which i had been unable to theorize with either the english or french while getting the basics of them.

the narrator doesn`t choose russian; i don`t even think she says she likes it. she just ends up taking it, passively, where russian is a metaphor for…everything: for the age and times she grows up in, for the actions and plans she gets dragged into, and the general atmosphere – the ominous thrill of it.

so yeah, in spite of the not-so-plotty content, i loved this book from cover to back cover and am recommending it warmly. not only it gave me a huge russian-learning boost, it re-sparked my reading interest and, again, made me miss vancouver.