Friday, November 29, 2013


Here I am again, writing to get myself together. I do own plenty of paper diaries, but, somehow, I've made this my home, although I'm always away. I cannot believe I keep getting trapped like this. Do you know that feeling when you're buried under sand and every single centimeter of your body is
being pressed and crushed? It's how I feel right now. There's this pressure on my chest that doesn't even allow me to breathe, let alone cry. I tried the drinking, the working, the talking. None of it works. Maybe the writing will work. Followed by bathing and chocolate eating. And a lobotomy, please! I don't really know how much longer I can do this to myself. Giving myself over to others has been the worse idea I've repeatedly had over the course of my life. One day I will turn into that bitter old maid. And then maybe I will finally be numb.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

If I could figure out what is wrong with me, that would be great

You know, when I get sick or tired (not sick AND tired) I lose a part of the ability to like myself and even to enjoy life and be happy. Well, now I'm both, because it's been three days since I'm back from a week long journey around Europe, in a bus, and I came down with a cold and still haven't managed to get my shit together, sleep enough and be on schedule with the work I have to do.
The only problem with this is that now it doesn't only affect me. It affects my family and my love and my cat and even my work. I get to see people hastily, I fall asleep when watching movies, I break stuff and I can't spend a solid hour with the cat in my lap, because I have to multitask, of course. And I'm still behind on the cleaning and the writing, I have so many meetings I have to schedule and well, I'm low on money.
Somehow, I just wish I could get a happy pill, something that would give me tons of energy, do my sleeping while I fold my landry and allow me to work at double capacity. I just need to catch up with everything and not have to drag myself from task to task because my head hurts like a bitch, I get cold and hot every other minute and my nose is like a broken fountain. Not to mention I am constantly asleep deep inside, but no amount of time under the covers really does it for me anymore.
So, yes, I obviously came here only to bitch and complain, because I can't keep doing this to other people. I'll write about it until it gets better, until I get better.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Love matters

As I was returning home today I ran across a beautiful dog. His legs were hurt but in the process of healing, he was limping and he seemed to be excited about all the people he met, but too afraid to let them approach him. I had some bones for the cats around the block and I gave them to him. I then waited for him to come to me and we sat on the grass in the park chilling. He followed me further home and I wanted to take him to some people from an animal protection association that had an adoption stand nearby. He would not come, as there were many dogs and he was obviously afraid of them. So we sat again for a while, I was petting him and we were looking at the dogs playing. I then had to let him go, as I don't have the space to even foster him. I do hope he gets the chance to have a good life somehow.
I kept thinking as we were sitting side by side that me petting him and him following me home does matter. It does matter when creatures share affection. When they stop to really be by each other, even for a while. And when I said love I obviously did not mean romantic love. I meant heart soothing love, warmth, openness, that thing that is just there for everything on earth and sky, but we just choose to channel it somehow. And love matters. It may not feed us, clothe us or shelter us. Though sometimes maybe it does, it's what makes the world go round.

I have this habit of collecting strays. I can't keep them, but I can't walk by and not pet them or say a nice word. I do that a lot with humans too. The world just seems less empty. Just like animals, we get to be both saviors and the saved ones. We get to end up around the weirdest people who just hang out and maybe we want things from them, but in the end the thing is we get to love them just because, no matter how fucked up we all are. We also get to meet the nicest people who seem to stick around and we want things from them as well, but in the end we get to feel loved just because, no matter how little we think we deserve it.
Love matters because it yanks us out of our retarded bubble where we think we know how things should be done in life, it throws us into this whirling pit of amazement and inner light, because it teaches us so much about ourselves and keeps us curious about others. Love matters because we never get to be our full potential, but from time to time we do get to be enough and, trust me, that is a wonderful thing to be. I spend a lot of time berating myself but I believe love matters because it's the best mirror we'll ever have. Our mirror should not tell us "who's the fairest of them all", but it should say "you is kind, you is smart, you is important".

Friday, August 2, 2013

It's my hair and I'll cut if I want to

I feel so fancy with my new haircut. Suddenly, I looked in the mirror and it was the 27 years old me, not the 17 I have been staring these past few months at, trying to get her to grow the fuck up. I actually grew into myself, but I guess it's easier to blame your hair than admit all the things you've been through. I feel that more fancy because I'm wearing my favorite sundress and my huge hat and my antique ring and my cat is parading around the house and we're listening to Charlie Parker and smelling scented candles. I am so very tired it would have been a disaster if I went out. I'm not that stupid to think a big change in haircut will mean a big change in my life. But I am that stupid to keep reading and writing and talking to friends, trying to not give up on the struggle to make something of myself, and that would be a strong autonomous being who will be nice randomly and will bake at the most inappropriate hours. I will give myself the time to handle whatever comes my way at my own pace. Short or long hair, I want beauty to be what I make of it.

Thursday, August 1, 2013


It seems it's just me once again. It's not something I know for certain, but I can feel it all falling apart. In the end, I regret all those things I dreamed about and never got to do. But even through this hangover I know I can't force it. And it's been feeling a little forced ever since the beginning. It just felt like I was pushing and pushing and nothing would move an inch.
Afterall, it seems I am too intense and hard to handle. I do act a lot like my train is about to leave the station. And I am demanding. I have every right to be. I am worth every bit of hard work and I deserve to be with somebody who makes me happy. Somebody who doesn't cloud my heart with their make believe issues. Who cares what I've been up to. Who makes room for me in his life.
But I won't. If this is really happening, I'm giving up for good. I'm giving up on everything. All the good things I will walk by are nothing compared to how demeaning this past month has been for me. I don't want to put myself in that position anymore. Where I can be forsaken any day and not matter much. I just can't do any of this anymore.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Girls and women

I shared Laurie Penny's article last week on Facebook, highlighting a paragraph that appealed to me in particular, especially at that point in my life: "It’s definitely easier to be a girl than it is to do the work of being a grown woman, especially when you know that grown women are far more fearful to the men whose approval seems so vital to your happiness. And yet something in me was rebelling against the idea of being a character in somebody else’s story. I wanted to write my own."
Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the distinction between the two, but also about how much the TV show Girls reflects experiences that many of us, even on the other side of the ocean, live through in our mid twenties. I like to call these years the quarter life crisis, because that's the general feeling I've been living with: a constant interogation about where I'm going and why my trajectory is so different from that of my parents, and the one they taught me I should have, for that matter.
But going back to Girls (I've been obsessed with watching the two seasons for a second time, since I have so much school work to do), I saw this caption a few days ago and I almost cried. It was about when Hannah asked Adam "If you don't like ice cream, what do you like?" and he answered "I like you". I mean, who says that?
I really wish I could say my Adam turned into that guy who "was always here". I wish at least one of my Adams did. But in my experience, it doesn't work like that. A guy who doesn't respect you and only sees you as a random hook up will not wake up one day and say "You chase me like I’m in the fucking Beatles for six months and then when I finally get comfortable with things, you wanna shrug?" He will not go and tell people "I had this girlfriend who at first I didn’t like very much, or, I didn’t take her very seriously, I guess. She just seemed like, you know, a piece of ass. But she was persistent, man. And she just hung around, and hung around, and showed up at my place—and gradually, it started to feel better when she was there. It wasn’t “love” the way I imagined it. I just felt weird if I didn’t know what she was up to or whatever. And I liked knowing that she was just gonna be there, and warm, and staying the night." That. never. happens. to. me.
But generally, if we look closer, Girls is a simulacrum for what becoming a woman means to some of the people of our generation. We learn from Marnie's self-searching adventure, we learn from Hannah's self-abandonment chaos, from Shoshanna's rants and mostly from Jessa, who is her own brand of charming. I think that no matter how much we grow up, we'll always be vulnerable to our desires, especially to those we cannot explain. And at the end of the day, we should just own it.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Birthday wishlist. Second edition

 Now, you might remember last year's birthday wishlist. These things seem to work in the long run. I bought most of the stuff on that list, but it doesn't really matter , they're still presents :D I was going to write a post on how I'm on a freaking rollercoaster lately, but my friends keep bugging me to write the list. Truth be told, this year I want less stuff and more... well,, things you cannot buy. So here it goes.

1. A great party
I want to finally be able to say, wow, my birthday this year was fun. Especially since all the ages from here to 35 are like second on my "ages I hate" list (23 still sucks the most). So I want people to not despise each other on my birthday, to drink and be merry. I want them to wear the stupid princess paper tiaras I'll bring. I will not take no for an answer. I want them to eat my muffins, I'm obviously baking for my own birthday, duuh. And I'm thinking about spicy. And generally, I want to feel at home and at peace and leave that damn party with a smile on my face.
2. An OK on my PhD report
Yep. I have to present my PhD first research report right on my birthday. Needless to say, I am way behind and I know I will panic and I will eventually turn something in. But I want it to be fine, I wanna start my third year and I really wish people will be supportive and help me from now on with my paper. I really wanted this degree and now I want it even more because I can't wait to move on.
3. Another tattoo
I know the last one has just healed, but I really really have my mind set on this awesome kitty/jolly roger idea, where I will use Emily Strange's Sabbath's head as an inspiration. The crossed bones are definitely a must. I'm thinking the interior of my right foot. That's because no matter how many people in my life will want her gone, my kitty will always be one of my centers of balance.
4. Dr. Martens
There had to be shoes on this list. Thing is I went with my friend to the shop to get a pair and they didn't have his size. Instead, I found my dream pair I had been staring at for a while. So I'm buying them. When I'm done with my report. To congratulate myself.
5. New (ear)rings
I want to change my ear and belly piercing jewelry with some simple rings with a ball. The tiniest ones, with that stupid ball I can never get in. It's silly, but these are the things on my mind when I think about going around getting myself stuff. But I never do, because I'm a lazy bastard.
6. Llosa
Yes, apart from shoes, there also had to be books on this list. I've been buying myself Rushdie and Joseph Conrad and goddess knows what, but I've been yearning to follow up on my readings of Llosa, epecially after his visit to my city and the wonderful speech he gave.
7. A mix tape
Seriously, I never ever know what to listen to. And I also think a mix tape is something personal, that one person gives another to convey a message, to strenghten a bond. The last mix tape (OK, CD) I got was in my first year of college. It would be nice to have somebody put together a set of songs for me, that would take some commitment and I could use some of that lately.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


(I'm one year behind with this, I know. But it just feels I'm at that moment when I need to reassert by beliefs and self-love and put everything down so I can come back to them when in doubt. This is my womanifesto.)

I own myself and my happiness.
I choose whether to be happy or sad, not the people around me, not the things that happen to me.
I do not owe anybody to be happy, to look healthy or to be perfect.
I am whiny and bitchy, I get lazy and am a mess, but it's all me and I love it.
I will not measure my success by outside standards.
I am not worth how much money I make. I am not worth how beautiful people think I am.
I believe in education and I want to keep learning for the rest of my life.
I believe in stability, but I will pull my anchor and move on when I choose to.
I believe in food, in its comforting and educational potential.
My body will be a reflection of me and not some farfetched standards others will project upon me.
My clothes will be my costumes and I will play any character I'd like any given day.
My tattoos are a part of me and even more. My tattoos empower me.
My cat is an extension of me. Her love is the only constant in my life.
My career will be kindness. No matter how I make a living, I will strive to be kind.
My love is not unconditional. I will not give it to those who don't want or abuse it.
My choice and pleasure will surpass social convention and others' expectations.
I am not moral, incorruptible, honest or humble. I am human and I make mistakes.
I cherish my life experience, my family and my true friends. I am here because of them.
I will allow myself to be overwhelming, embarassing, shameless and crazy.
I will love myself for all the things I am. And I will change whenever I feel like.
I will be selfish. And empathic to the verge of stupid. It is not a contradiction.
At the end of the day, it's just me. And I love it.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Feels like the first time

Today I got my third tattoo. It's considerably larger that the others and it's really powerful, in my opinion. So I've been staring at it ever since I got home and I keep thinking "I love it so much" and "it's better than what I imagined", but also "mom will freak" and "I'll meet a guy I like who'll hate me for my tattoos". But you know what? Nothing compares to this overwhelming feeling that I'm becoming more of myself. That it's always been there and it's just come to light. And what's really amazing about a bigger tattoo is that it makes me feel like I own my body. Not my parents, not men, not society. I do. And I can make it any species of beauty I want to. It's mine 24/7 and every time I take a shower or see myself in the mirror, I am so excited. I know I will get more over time, and I let almost an year in between them pass, so that I know for sure. But the longing is always there. There is so much more beauty to bring tolight and so many more stories to tell. It actually makes me wish that I took better care of my body. That I kept it fit and ate healthy, so that my skin glow and firmness would actually frame my tattoos better. I was lucky to find a very nice artist, who works fast and well, and who spent a lot of time deciding with me what we'll be doing exactly. I want to post photos of the first part, the outlines, only when it's healed, so a week from now. In a month, I'm going for color. I can't even imagine the magic he'll do with old school colouring!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Tempting faith

Yesterday, I said, couldn't have gone worst. Well, it could, and the universe chose to gives me just a taste of it. During a conversation with friends, I was bragging about how I make back-up plans in my head for different situations, like if they set me up and I go to jail, or if I lose everything that keeps me in this town. You know, stuff I also muse about in here. And then I said. But what happens if my life stays the same? Why don't I do great things right now? (And I answered it's because I'm too busy being awesome).
So, crash, boom, bang! The goddess thought she should give me a lesson. And she did. Both the cat and I went to bed scared and bewildered, the main diference being I was also guilt tripping. At least I didn't have any nightmares. But I'm learning, cause it's plain and simple. I'll have to be more careful about the things that I want and the things I let people think I want. The first thing: I need to invest more in the ones I really want. Give them time and discipline and cultivate them. The second thing: things I would like, but don't really want, well, I should just make the difference early on and not act upon them ever, cause there must be a reason they didn't graduate to desires. And a third thing: I need to learn to let go. Of things and people and life choices that no longer make me happy or suit me.
The last thought I had before I fell asleep was that I buy clothes and food I don't need immedialy, but I want them in order to create an array of choices for myself. I do the same thing with people. I hang around people who make me unconfortable or who I don't have any respect for just because I want to have a choice when I go out. That is a stupid thing to do. Lately, I haven't been to at least one of these outings and think to myself when I get home: Wow, that was good for me, I had fun and I learned stuff. OK, I'm exaggerating, there have been a few, but those were with my close friends, like it happened last evening. I was talking about the clutter. The parties that take both time and money for basically nothing, cause I enjoyed myself more at Jazz Day than in any of our bachic experiences.
There goes that. I keep telling myself I have to quit these things and stop indulging these people. That I can replace their presence with all the wonders the world lays at my feet. I only fail at discipline. I fail when I want to be miserable, when I want to crawl somewhere and hide. I need a new strategy for miserable. It should include baking and crazy ol' blues. It should include cheering myself up with flowers and needlework. Not beers and people I should do without. Parties are for when I'm cheerful and rested and surrounded by people I actually want in my life.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Holiday outline. Meh

As long as I don't spend my time on social networks, I am batshit crazy about my life. Then the stupid snake I carry inside since childhood whispers in my ears and compares me to others - I should do this or that, be one way or another, own all sorts of stuff or whatever else I like about their lives and may want for myself. It could be constructive. It's not. Unless we're talking about people I have no connection to whatsoever, like whatever is posted on Pinterest. I don't want *those* shoes, it just makes me think about things I can use to create the looks I like. Whatever, I don't even know why I brought this up. I'm just realizing I'm so intense about so many little things, I consume myself before I get to the ones that really matter. I didn't even feel that yesterday was just one day. It felt like three, for some reason, even though all I did was read, watch Poirot and cook and bake with my mother. And that's also because of the damned social media.
A week of my holiday is gone, there's almost only two days left (though I'm sure Tuesday will be a pretty relaxed day at work). I did a lot of stuff. On Saturday I visited my grandma and went to the cemetery to lay flowers for all those who passed. It was a beautiful day and I dare say it wasn't a sad occasion. We remembered them with joy in our hearts. On  Sunday I visited a friend and saw another play. The reviews I read were pretty bad, so I didn't go with high expectations. I was pleasantly surprised. I liked the construction, most of the acting, the rhythm and the twist. I have to start going to the Hungarian theatre as well, I've seen some hot stuff on the schedule.
Monday was a day for movies, there was a Romanian film week at the cinema in the city. I particularly enjoyed Alexandru Maftei's bitter sweet comedy, if there were no people around me I would have cried like a mountain spring, but it left me with so much peace of mind. Later on, I went with a friend to check out the music at this new rock party they're planning on Mondays, and the theme was supposed to be glam. We were bored to death, had a beer and moved on. The next day I decided pretty much at the last moment to attend the International Jazz Day concert. and I'm happy I did. Again, I found peace where I least expected. Walking home through the park that night, I felt like humming.
I spent the 1st of May with the family in the mountains. When we got there it was kinda raining, but it's not like we ever take the weather there seriously. The next day it was beautiful, I read a lot and sunbathed with one of our dogs there. Yesterday we made cakes and colored the eggs. I was so happy to see they had stickers and I enjoyed myself a lot decorating the eggs and creating scenarios. They didn't need me today in the kitchen, but I went anyway, to check out the proceedings. Tonight I have to attend the midnight mass, otherwise my mom will yell about it for a week. At least there's my brother around to bitch about stuff.
So yeah, I'm planning a super low profile Easter. It's not like I consider holidays to be the highlight of my time. Actually, they're breaks from the stuff I actually do. And it's so funny to see people get tans and new clothes for a family lunch and maybe a party somewhere. I can't really explain it, but it feels petty and pathetic. But here I go again comparing myself to others. Blogs must be part of the same evil conspiration :P

Thursday, April 25, 2013


I slept for ten straight hours and woke up with a swollen face and some swollen sinuses. Also, tired like a mill horse and permanently on a mental screen saver. We'll be working on four newspapers this couple of days, so I might be incomunicado. All I want is for everything to turn out fine so that I can finally have my vacation. A ten day vacation! They say it's gonna rain, but I don't give a damn. I need some regrouping, resetting and time out of the city. I know I always say I need to get my shit together. Repeated trials may eventually lead to success. I bought Palahniuk's Phoenix from Amazon and I already know how I'm spending today's free time, except for sleeping and eating crazy things, of course. Here's something to brighten your morning to the dim level mine is lit.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

You know what? You never know.

I wrote this for Mischievous Sweethearts, but I've been thinking about it a few days now.

I'm writing this while drunk on shame wine and soapy radio. I don't even know if soapy is a word, but I don't remember the right one. Anyhow. I've been told a week and so ago that being alone for so long is just not natural. Fine, that liking being alone so much isn't natural. And it's been obsessing me ever since. So now I'm clearing it up.
I'm fine. Really. I love watching movies on my own. I love going to the theater all alone. I love my time with the cat at home, reading, cooking and baking mischief. I love my job, my education and my family. Chill. I won't die without a man by my side. I love them men. They make amazing friends, lovers and puzzles. But they're not obligatory. There's not that much room in my bed. All I need is great conversation and pretty sporadic sex.
The thing is. I've been promising myself the next penis I offer more than action time to will be owned by a man I can see as an equal and a partner. But at the same time, I'm not willing to give up on the exciting times that come with meeting extraordinarily talented boys. I believe in them saving the world one word, song or play at the time. And maybe they need a push (or more, if you know what I mean) and I'm the girl for the job. Or not. I'm  making a retarded groupie joke. What I mean is I won't give up on the prospective fascinating passion stories, be them romantic or gothic.
But I won't be looking for them. I don't even know why I need to explain this, but have you ever imagined what the men in my books and movies can do? What the men in my songs tell me? Are they any different from the ephemeral love real men can offer me? I can buy my own wine and create my own handmade orgasms, thankyouverymuch. What I want to see is extra quality. I need dream makers and dream catchers. I need shameless impossible to keep pace with men. I want breathlessness and piercing brains. I must have mindblowind indescribable pleasure. Why would I settle? It's not like it's gonna get any better otherwise. I require euphoria!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Baking Sunday III: Strawberry tart

It wasn't actually Sunday, but I'm using the generic title :) This Saturday, I was coming from the pool and stopped to buy some strawberries, as I've seen them everywhere lately and took a chance to give them a try. Tasteless, of course, because the local sorts have not grown yet. So, as I wasn't going to get much pleasure from eating them, I decided to make a tart, to at least use their aesthetic potential.
The pastry base was a personally adapted sponge cake, which turned out perfect. I used three yolks and a spoon of water, which I beat with five spoons of brown sugar until it had the consistency of cream. Four egg whites were beaten with a knife tip of salt and a teaspoon of vanilla sugar. I then mixed the two manually, being careful to keep the airy texture. Added five spoons of flour and a bit of baking powder and put everything in the oven for half an hour. I was very excited to use my new tart tray, which is indeed non-stick and did its job perfectly.
I then had a little accident, as I was trying to warm a ready-made chocolate glaze in the microwave. 20 seconds in it got burned and the plastic cover made the whole house stink for hours. But I imediatelly got myself together and made another glaze out of cooking chocolate and butter, which I melted and mixed over bain-marie. I used about 100 g of each. Since I didn't want to wait much for the glaze to get a little thicker, I set it on the cake and then covered the outer part with strawberries cut in half. In the middle I sprinkled some almonds I cut roughly on the spot. As the glaze was still very hot, it mostly gathered in the middle of the cake and the butter raised to the top. That is why after half an hour in the fridge, the middle was white and everything was better than expected! I took half of it to my parents', who are regular cake eaters, as my mum is a very passionate cook and baker. I've already picked the recipes for May. This week, I'll just stick with some basic vegetarian recipes, because I don't have time or energy for anything fancy.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

A personal brand of ecstasy

I'm back. And I must admit that my absence was due to a long period of lazyness combined with continuous sleazy partying. It's not that I haven't been doing anything, I've just been doing a lot of bad things. But I know how it goes, it's ups and downs and I'm feeling an upward trend is on, so I want to keep growing.
But here are the highlights. Bear with me, I know this is annoying, but I need to keep track of myself in writing. The trip to Serbia was great. I keep joking about the fact that for the first time in my life I felt like an Italian cherrybomb actress who's surrounded by lighters before she even takes the cigarette to her mouth. I went there with the group from the local department of the national television. They were most galant and fun to be around. The trip by car was beautiful, it went from rain to snow in the mountains and sun along the Danube. At the forum I got to meet a few cool fellow journalists and learn a lot. I presented a paper on networking for journalists and the new media. Donji Milanovac, where we were staying, is a nice quiet small town right along the Danube and I loved the sights. The only thing I did not like generally is the food, but I survived. I'm really glad I got to be a part of this and I hope it opened up new opportunities for me.
When I got back the crazy partying began. I guess it's because I was tired and stressed out. It's only been three nights, but it feels like I lost two weeks. However, that first week, I got to go to a box sparring and a book launch, things that were equally new to me. I generally avoided book launches because I only care for talks about books I've read already. It's a weird thing, I know. Last Sunday, just like today, I went out walking/hiking with my parents. At least somebody is willing to get out of the city and into the green, cause I long for it every day.
Talking of longing, I had a terrible time on Friday. I was tired, someone yelled at me, I had an anxiety atack, and by the time I was done with work, I was a wreck. But I felt a bit of hope as I realized I got out in time to go see a play I've had my heart set on for months (Zenobia). As I was walking towards the theatre, I wasn't feeling broken or empty, there was just a crazy storm inside of me, that pushed from the inside. Unfortunately, they didn't have any more tickets, but I got some for yesterday (La rascruce de vanturi). I can't really comment on the play, it gave me mixed feelings, like most do. At times I enjoyed it, at other times I just wanted to leave. But then something happened. I woke up obsessed, with a special kind of high. And I've been thinking about it all morning. I've also been thinking about this indescribable feeling I get at the theatre. It's not the storytelling, and it's not so much the acting. I imagine this is what the true believers feel like in church. A sense of communion, of feeding on blood and body, of both catharsis and revelation. I've always believed this kind of hysteria comes from the running energies and I can see why in that hall, in the dark, they get stronger and stronger. It must be the best rush in the world to be on that stage.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

I'm out

"I'm having a terrible day. It's snowing in March, I have a hell of a cold and I hate my hair. And I've been thinking a lot lately (despite my fever) about things I've written about before. Such as the things I believe in and whether and how I stand for them"... is what I was writing this Wednesday. And then I just stopped because I was going to get all preachy and write things I might delete later. Maybe some other time, when I don't begin my post whining.
In another line of thought, I feel like I've been all out partying lately. I went beering with the boss on Monday, a colleague and then the babe on Thursday, to a concert on Friday and then another one on Saturday. I know it's a walk in the park for people around me, but for me it's a lot. I'm a stay at home read a book kind of girl. Speaking of which, I just had to buy Rushdie's Midnight Children. I savor it one page at the time and can't wait to share the joy. The concerts were nice. The black metal gig was part sad part funny, but that's just me. Anyhow, I had a good time, I felt more at home than in those stuck up joints we always go to. The one on Saturday, those boys were bluesing right down my alley. I don't know if it's a verb or a thing, but I liked it. I also went dancing and I have to thank a very dear friend for sticking with me the whole night and telling me enchanting stories about Star Wars. That same Saturday we were at the rugby match. We lost. My favorite player was not even in the field and we got stupidly outplayed by two essays in like 5 minutes. However, I can't wait for the next one. Yesterday I cut work to go to the movies. I watched Oz the Great and Powerful alongside 100 children. It was amazing! The audience can really make a movie more watchable. I would have bitched, but their amazement made the film a wonderful experience for me.
So this week I'm leaving for Serbia. When I'm back I have a lot of shit to do, like an appointment at the tattoo parlor, signing some contracts, attending some conferences and even more plays and concerts! Not to mention I have a new swimming buddy and as soon as the rain stops, I'm taking the bike out on the hills. I also have to buy some daffodils. But whatever, I'll be writing from Serbia, I hope, where a whole bunch of us journalists will be networking. But about that last thing, some other time.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Globetrotting tastbuds II: Japanese

Yesterday I went to the newest Japanese restaurant in town, Nobori, (it's not that new, but it is the latest opened) with a colleague. We wanted to try as much as possible, so we picked a day with an all you can eat bufet. Needless to say, we left the place barely walking. And I only had a serving of each thing and no soup. They had three types of soup available, but none of them made me curious. I wanted to try miso, but I guess I'll have to make that myself.

So back to the menu. They had all kinds of nigiri sushi, as well as some salmon sashimi. I also had some surimi maki and a kani-tamna roll. Of all the sushi, I liked the Wasabi most :)). Really, I was taught how to make sushi by a Japanese friend and as spectacular as it looks, I find it to be a quite boring thing to eat. But the Wasabi paste made it all better.
The tofu was quite allright, not the spongy thing you find in supermarkets, I tried also the pickled mix of veggies, which was surprisingly refreshing. I highly recommend the fried pork and chicken, there was something about the tempura flour that gave them a great taste, and definitely add some spicy sauce. The Teryiaki chicken I was so keen on trying is definitely something I don't plan to cook. The sauce is too sweet and the meat too tender for my taste. I wasn't in the mood for trying the pork hot dish, so I know nothing about that, but the garlic rice was just perfect. I'm sorry they didn't have any noodle food, I'm a huge fan of ramen. I'm also a huge fan of the fried vegetables (Kakiage) and I intend to master them :) At Nobori they were better than the catering versions I'd tried before. The fried zucchini and eggplant were not bad either. They also had cheesecake and banana Tempura, but I was too full for sweets and the Teryiaki reached my sugar maximum for the day anyway.
Overall, I am very satisfied with the meal. It was a constant discovery and I can't say I hated any of the dishes. The place is very nice and clean and the service is good. The music seemed a bit annoying, it made me sleepy and felt a bit stereotypical for an Asian restaurant. I'm sure there's more to Japanese classical music than a couple of string instruments going on in a monotone rhythm.

P.S.: Speaking about Japan, I remembered I never mentioned attending Ben Haggarty's story telling performance at the Stories Festival of Transilvania. He was wonderful, and waking up the jungle with our eyes closed was enchanting. In the introduction, he told us about a man in Japan who would go around the villages on his bike selling sweets. And the kids who bought sweets would sit in front while he told stories, while the others sat in the back. So he told us two stories, one for each group of kids. They were both in many ways similar to stories we have here in Romania. The one of Jack resembled Danila Prepeleac and the one about the rocks was constructed like one my grandmother used to tell me, about the girl whose earrings were stolen by a bush. But you can see the whole thing here. I, for one, have always loved stories. People say that's why I wear glasses, but what do they know. I see way more than they do with their perfectly healthy eyes. :)

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Baking Sunday II: Swan eclair

I am so tired I wasn't going to write anything, but just fall into bed. However, I need to gather some will to remove my make-up, so I'll somehow do this today. The making of the eclairs actually began yesterday. Only they were assembled today. And my mom should get most of the credit, but I helped with every step, so here it is: we put 20 spoons of water and 20 of sunflower oil in a pot on the stove. When it started boiling we took it aside and added enough flour to make it a dense dough. That dough went into the oven, first as balls, and second S-shaped. We then made some vanilla and chocolate pudding, Today each ball was cut in half horizontally and the top was also cut in half, this time vertically. On the bottom half we put the pudding and added whipped cream. Then the S went in just like the swan's neck and head and the top pieces just like wings. And ta-daam! There goes a fancy desert that is really easy to make.
Bonus: yesterday I cleaned my freezer and I had some pastry dough laying around. Today I turned it into mushroom strudel. In also put in the filling black olives and some parsley. They're not genius work, but they'll be just fine for a snack at work! And the whole thing only took an hour or so. Next week, alongside some cake, I plan on making ciabatta, maybe with some olives and red peppers. And then I can snack on them filled with fresh cheese and basil! Oh, I love food so freaking much!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Fall off the edge

"I mean, could the people who control all the money and politics ever invent a scarier warning? Didn't these same science experts used to say the earth was flat? Wasn't it really important we should stay at home and be peasants and slaves or we'd fall off the edge?"

Neddy Nelson (Party Crasher) in Chuck Palahniuk, Rant: An Oral Biography of Buster Casey (2007)


This post is long overdue. But last evening, on my way back home I was thinking about Palahniuk's characters and how uncomfortable they can be, yet in the end they soothe my feelings of inadequcy and actually reamp my will to fight. Because Madison in Damned and Daisy St. Patience in Invisible Monsters and Rant Casey in Rant and Tender Branson in Survivor and Victor Mancini in Choke are basically walking disasters, each of them has something really fucked up about them. But they are somehow involutarily screwed. Most of them had been groomed or ignored into who they became by their parents, and Freud seldom sleeps in Chuck's novels. Actually, most of his main characters are unwilling participants into something greater than themselves, and this is the case also with Lullaby, Diary, Haunted and, of course, Fight Club. They get sucked into this great scheme of things, where they are underdogs and victims and sometimes heroes for a while, either it's hell after comminting suicide, or an initiatic journey, or Party Crashing, or becoming a religious celebrity, or being a sex addict, or a huge art insurance scheme, or murderous black magic, or a writer's retreat turned slaughterhouse or, well, Fight Club. And then, when your world and theirs are all upside down, they rise above. In one way or another, there's something about most of Chuck's protagonists that makes them famous or delivers them from their wretched lives or turns them into modern-day Jesuses. And it's something entirely of their own. It's their courage or their innocence, their pure desire to fix things, to survive and beat evil, their need to save and be saved, to transform a life of pain and boredom and retarded social labels into something meaningful. They may be ugly, disabled, addicts, slaves, outcasts and whimps, but they each have one specific something (even stemming from their flaws) that takes them to greatness, in some form of it or another. It doesn't always mean salvation, but it does most of the times mean catharsis. I think if Chuck wasn't so effervescent, if he didn't use so many facts, if he didn't make me think "I see what you did there" every few pages, if he didn't awe and amuse and turn stomachs quite so much, I'd still love him most of all my Chucks just because his books would leave me with a wicked aftertaste, somewhere between fucked up and good.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Globetrotting tastebuds I: Chicken Tikka Masala

OK, just so you know, I didn't follow the recipe entirely, so one may argue it's not a full-blown tikka. However, I've had this at Indian restaurants and I vouch it's the same taste an texture... fine, mine is better! :) One way I strayed from the original recipe is I didn't use Garam Masala. Instead, I used two different curry mixtures, one mild and one hot, which together have the masala spices anyway and add a little something as well. I found them at Auchan, and there's plenty more where these came from. I intend to catch 'em all.
At some point I was cooking on three fires, so it's been hectic, but I managed to slip that last drop of Shiraz I had around while I was working and I think it helps with the focus :P. So, first I sliced the chicken meat I had from that Asian soup last week, I kept the legs and breasts. I also sliced some extra chicken breast, because obviously half a home grown bird was not enough for three portions. I fried all that in a wok for 10 minutes, while I chopped a red onion, six (home grown, so smaller) garlic cloves and three (dried up, but I recommend fresh) hot peppers. Added all that to the meat, with a spoon of chopped ginger and fried for another 5 minutes. I then added a cup of (also home-made) tomato juice and two spoons of each curry powder, as well as one of paprika. I let it boil for a while and added a cup of chicken broth.
While it was all boiling in the covered wok (for like 20 minutes) I boiled the rice as well. I am too poor (and cheap, I admit) to buy Panzani's wild Basmati rice (as soon as I find a cheaper thing, I'll get it), so I used some long grain rice. It was good enough and pretty tasty too. Towards the end, I strayed again from the initial recipe and added 200g of cooking cream instead of fat yoghurt. My tomato juice was already sour enough and I wanted a silkier texture. It was a good choice :) I ate like there's no tomorrow and can't wait for the next time I have that on my plate. I'll also soon be checking out Indigo, the local Indian restaurant, because I miss the really wonderful naan bread and mango chutney and what not.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

When nobody's watching

Here's my latest post on Mischievous Sweethearts. I hope we can revive our soulsearching loveable blog again, because I miss musing around there with my friend. Also, I'm thinking we can have a guest post from the babe.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about the fact that I haven't been concerned with my spiritual self for a couple of years now. Yes, I've been praying for these past few months, but my prayers are actually therapy. I count my blessings and wish really hard for the people in my life to stay healthy and happy and maybe sometimes I want a thing or two for myself as well. But it's more like a list to Santa, a hint to the universe as to what I want from life. However, I have not been concerned with findind that quiet place inside anymore. That one moment that lasts forever when I'm nothing and everything at the same time. That pursuit has been a great part of my life and my dreams for as far as I can remember. And I've lost it, I let it go, somehow I wondered in a darker place. I remember saying I'm angry all the time for no reason, I remember people telling me I've become so self-centered... when I was actually anything but centered.

The truth is I've been playing so many parts I've lost count and sometimes I get them wrong, and sometimes the masks overlap and it's a mess. I've worked so hard to be a good student and a good daughter and a good girlfriend, I never had time to actually be good AT something... and to actually be a good person. I feel like I wasn't good at my job or studies, I rarely genuinely wanted to do something for the sake of it. I was just so great at playing those parts because I needed the validation. Psichology says we have two main types of motivation: extrinsic and intrinsic. And the latter comes from the inside and in the long run gives us a higher level of satisfaction. Well, most of my motivation was extrinsic. It doesn't mean I didn't enjoy stuff. It means I did it for the sake of others and the rewards that come with it. I played the parts that were expected of me. And when I got tired of it I got wasted until I didn't know who I was anymore. I sometimes envy actors. Off stage, when they take off the make up, they must be so tired of being somebody else, of having their whole bodies live another life for an hour or two, that they can actually be their true selves. But then again, plumbers fix their own pipes as well and chefs cook their own dinners sometimes.
The thing is... I don't need to find who I am, it's not about that anymore. I need to start living more AS myself. I sometimes wonder how people can still stay innocent or passionate or dreamy at 30 and I think it's because they can separate themselves from all the crazy exterior numbing crap. I do that too, but out of habit, I sing in the street and I dance around the house and I dream on the bus. But once I can consciously truly go back there, to my place inside of genuine peace and joy, to restore my faith and see the world as a river, well, only then I'll be able to be every single day the person I am when nobody's watching.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

All new

Yay! Yesterday I was really nervous about the outcome of trying a new thing and I'm happy to say it turned out allright. It's my hair. I didn't want to bleach it and I couldn't possibly imagine how to get the layers of red and black out of it without having to cut it to a bob. Then my friend told me about Color B4 and, after weeks of pondering, I eventually ordered it on eBay. I then waited another week to get my spirits up and really do it. The truth is I didn't have my hopes up. And it's not a spectacular result. But I'm back to my natural color, more or less, with a tint of ginger. I had some red highlights, bleached underneath, which I'm happy were not completely discolored, but have also a lighter shade of ginger. I'm obviously coloring it in a week or two, because I want a full, eterogeneous color. Something very close to my natural one, as I don't want to be bothered with coloring this summer and I want it to naturally adapt to the sun and water and so on. Until then, I have to do some conditioning treatments, as the color removal has left my hair slightly porous. Oh well, at least it came out as I wanted and all that money didn't go down the drain.
While I was waiting for the smelly stuff to do its thing and shrink the color molecules, I had a frozen pizza I bought from Lidl. I was surprised it was really tasty and the ingredients had nothing weird and chemical about them. I was a bit disappointed when I got home and realized it had some green stuff on it, but it wasn't broccoli! I hate broccoli. It was spinach, instead, and spinach I love, courtesy of Popeye, my chilhood sweetheart :) I also got from the supermarket a bouquet of pink tulips. They are so beautiful and lighten my day. Having flowers in my kitchen (having a cat doesn't give me much option as to where to put the flowers) also motivated me to do the mountain of dishes and clean up. I was going to do that when I cook the tikka (I know, it's been a week, but my parents keep bringing me food).
I got to ski one last time, the slope was perfect this weekend. However, while I was super excited on Sunday, the teleski broke down and we had to climb our way back to the car carrying the equipment. Talk about working out! Still, I've been feeling sort of sick and sort of tired these past few days and I've passed on some opportunities to go out with friends and listen to classical music. I'm trying to get myself back together, because life never seems to stop and wait for me and there is so much to do. I just hope we get a really long holiday for Easter, like a week or so, and then I'll just sit around and enjoy the sun.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Kitchen genius

Well, I have so many things to write about, but I'll start with the title of this post. Maybe add the pics later. My cooking genius mostly manifests itself when I have to improvise.Yesterday I wanted to make chicken soup with plenty of vegetables, but I couldn't find everything I needed. therefore, I decided on the good old chicken noodle soup, because I was sure I had some homemade noodles somewhere around the house. Well, turns out I didn't. So when the chicken broth was done, I decided to improvise. The meat I set aside anyway (the skin and bones went to the neighbourhood kitties) for the tikka, as well as a cup of broth. The rest of it became a super hot and spicy Chinese noodle soup. As I thought I might as well use those instead of my grandma's missing noodles, I also found some freeze-dried Asian seasoning and some other dried veggies  I boiled for a few minutes. I then added the noodles and went crazy with the Sichuan pepper :P Also, I used two spoons of tomato juice and one of soy sauce and ta-daaam! Super soup to the rescue!
Now, getting back to the news, I'm almost certainly going to Serbia in the beginning of April, to the International Romanian Journalists' Forum annual meeting. However, I won't be attending the EspaNet social policy workshop in June. It's pretty late to look for summer schools now, but I'll keep an eye open for the conferences in the autumn. So at least I'm traveling this year :D
On Tuesday I went to see Ionesco's The Bald Soprano at the National Theatre. As it happens sometimes with books, I only liked it after I left. I did enjoy it, but while I was in the theatre, I couldn't help feeling a bit uncomfortable, for some reason. I actually have lines from the play ringing in my head all day ever since, so I guess it did the trick. I'm sorry I'm not a good reviewer, I am too sensorial about my experiences sometimes. Then, yesterday, I went to the Vaya con Dios concert. I feel like I'm repeating these words, but my general impression was the venue was highly inappropriate. That specific concert should have happened with a maybe 200 people audience, in a fancier setting, because the band was definitely more of a jazz ensemble to me and the atmosphere should have been one of intimacy, considering their songs. Dani Klein's voice was made, indeed, for dimly lit concert halls, where you're close to the stage and can enjoy it to its full extent, but I was still impressed by her standing after all this time.
I can't wait to make my appointment for a new tattoo, but I think I'll do that next week. I'm happy to have found an artist whose work matches my idea of old style and I hope it'll come out better than I can imagine, it happened the same way with my first two. I'll be writing about it once it's done, so don't stray too far ;)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Baking Sunday I: Brownie

I know I've already posted my spicy muffins recipe, but this is the first episode of Baking Sunday, a day I will reserve for sweet and salty treats and, hopefully, share them here. This week I made brownies, it's been on my mind for quite some time. I picked an easy recipe and they came out perfect!
So here it is: I melted about 160 g of black vanilla chocolate with 150 g of butter over bain marie. When the chocolate mix was homogeneous, I set it aside to cool a little. Then, with the hand mixer, I beat 2 eggs with 1/2 cup of brown sugar until the latter was completely dissolved and the consistency was that of a milkshake. I then added the chocolate mix and incorporated it. 1/2 cup of flour and about 30 g of cocoa were then sifted over it and incorporated as well. As soon as the batter became homogeneous I put it in a tray covered in baking paper. It went in the oven for 30 minutes and voila! Habemus brownies. My first intention was to glaze them. But they are perfect and I feel no further decoration is needed: soft on the inside and a bit crumbly on the outside. I had my first bite while it was still hot, but after it cooled down, I served it with some bits of pomelo and whipped cream on the side :)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

An alternate story

I went on Thursday to see my first musical, except for the ones seen on screen, of course. I had good seats at the Hungarian Opera's Erzsebet Bathory and I have to admit I didn't think for a second about the time or how much longer will the show go on. So I did enjoy it. Some of the songs were Eurovision material, but that's just me and I don't pretend to know much about it. But the show was dynamic and the storytelling marvelous.
Elisabeth Bathory is credited with an unofficial number of over 650 victims in the chronicles of the time. Hundreds of villagers spoke against her at the trial and accused her of beatings, torture and murder. The show at the Hungarian Opera presents a different story, that of a countess accused of crimes she did not commit, who, during the interrogations, tells the story of her life. Somehow, the story is structured as a fairy tale, in which the princess is under arrest in a castle, locked down by the evil character. A savior appears and he slowly unravels her story and the truth. However, the ending is that of a tragedy, for several characters are killed or sentenced to death.
As others have mentioned, the story gives an alternate reason to Bathory's reputation of being a prolific serial killer. Palatine Thurzo, assigned by King Matthias II to investigate the alleged murders and tortures, was, in this story, a friend of Bathory's deceased husband and had lusted for her for years. The Hungarian king and nobility also had an interest in removing her, as she inherited a considerable fortune.
Throughout the show, the image of the countess remains dignified and I particularly liked her song after being sentenced to death, in which she says, in a nutshell, that she'd rather die than bow down to her accusers and that a Bathory has a moral responsibility to keep her head high. The countess was known not only for her beauty, but also for her brains. She was fluent in four languages in an era when some noblemen could hardly read and write and took care of all her husband's estates and business while he was away at war and after his death. A strong Protestant woman was definitely not something to have around in those times, and such practices of discrediting popular figures were not new to the Hungarian crown.
Some 150 years before, the other Matthias king, Corvinus, is credited by some historians as the creator of the legend of Dracula. While Vlad Tepes, supposedly the original vampire, was incarcerated by his cousin the king, rumors spread throughout the region, mostly through the stories of German merchants, that he liked to drink the blood of his victims. Even his name, Tepes, means the Impaler, because this was his favorite punishment method. However, it was a popular means of awe and terror in those times around Europe. As the use and consumption of blood was considered a thing of the devil in those times, it's easy to imagine how the rumors spread and became scarier and scarier.
Bathory fascinated legions of Black Metal songwriters as the most bloody woman there was. She fascinates me, on the other hand, as a very controversial historical character. The hypothesis of the conspiracy against her is at least notable, especially if we look at the years... the accusations against her started soon after her husband's death. She was known for her vanity and her bad temper, yet she seemed composed enough to manage several estates and intervened to help women among her subjects. Maybe we should not forget who wrote the history, how men in positions of power manipulated information in the Dark Ages and how, all in all, this particular story is on so many levels a story of the struggle for power.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Worst case scenario

Well, it's not the worst case scenario, really, because it still entails me being healthy and I can't imagine not having my family, but it is what gets me through tough times when I feel like everything is crashing down on me. I sometimes freak out over the thought I may not be able to find a job someday and that maybe I will not be able to finish my PhD. I basically worry a lot about someday not being able to make a living, because it does happen to plenty of people, and then I begin thinking about the alternatives. I could move to the country. My grandma's house will still be standing and will still be ours. There's also still plenty of land to farm, and I believe my education also means I will be looking for the best crops and the subsidies and support a farmer can get, apart from what I would need to eat, of course. And even if I wouldn't make a business out of it, I could still make a living, because my family network also means support, even if only to get me started. I would paint my own house and tend to my own garden, eat my own fruits and vegetables and have happy healthy animals around. I wouldn't need a closet full of clothes (not that I don't realize I don't really need it now either) and, hell, the internet is everywhere now. I'd sometimes go to the city for shopping, the movies and shows I want to see, I'd have my books delivered electronically to my device and I could even keep teaching. I'd teach English at the kinder garden, I could even tutor kids from the village for their national exams, I could consult for the local administration and maybe even start a few community projects. I'd work my ass off on days you can work and I'd spend my winters and rainy days next to the fire, reading and doing crafts. Yes, the scary thing is old age, but the way I see it, I may not even make it there. And if I do after a lifetime in the country, it's likely I'll still be able to provide for my basic needs. So whenever I think I'm getting fired or expelled and I'll have a nervous breakdown and fuck everything up, there'll always be the option of going back to the roots. And sometimes it sounds like a better case scenario.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Spring is lazy, long live spring

Of course I've been lazy and didn't write a word. I also have been reading way too little and sleeping way too much. I can't remember the last time I watched a movie. Somehow, I behave like I'm tremendously tired, but actually I'm just lazy and haven't found yet that joie de vivre. Maybe it comes with spring. So here's what I've been up to.
I went to see the Idiot at the National and I got hooked. I liked it so much that Friday I hurried from work to also see Zenobia, but they were out of tickets. Anyway, I have a date with a friend for a musical this week and got tickets for a couple of plays this month. I was going to watch some Romanian films, but I guess I still have to find the energy to get off my ass and to the cinema.
Last week I was on duty and school also started again, I also had some translation and an application to write, so I guess I was pretty busy. Still, I haven't written the damn syllabus and I feel like my work at the newspaper is getting really dull and most of it is my fault.
Yesterday I cooked some glazed ribs on the grill and I thought about this being the recipe that will inaugurate my food section on the blog. I was too lazy to take pics, though. So maybe next time. I'm not sure yet, but maybe it'll be some pasta. Also, I'm making this year a travel around the world food year, so for this month I picked India. This means I plan to finally get to that Indian restaurant in town and cook Chicken tikka masala. That recipe I will definitely document, sometime next week, when I get all the ingredients.
If I haven't been writing (the blog is not so much of a problem, but my thesis is frozen), I've at least been swimming at least once a week and got to ski another weekend. However, I wish my cat could scold me and send me out jogging, I need more vitality and to get toned and anyway I just sit around watching Agatha Christie's Poirot. My meals have been less chaotic and I pride myself in picking fruits and vegetables over fast food every time I feel the urge.
I am such a small person to be concerned with just my schedule and mundane things. I somehow think once I get these out of the way, I will more fully enjoy the pleasures of the brain. But oh, well, I'm thinking again about making this just a private journal, I'm only writing to myself anyway.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Tea time

Today I received a box of wonders, among which was this fine selection of teas (can be purchased here).

So as soon as I got home I thought about something to make today's tea time special. Therefore, I eventually decided upon my spicy muffins. I only had 50g of butter, so I reduced everything in the recipe to 1/3 of the original quantities. Also, the only flour I had around was a sunflower seed mix for bread and I said why not, it can't be any bad.

Turns out, it was an amazing choice. The seeds even roasted a bit in the oven and the overall result was delicious. But here's the recipe: I mixed 50g of melted butter with 30g of brown sugar and 20g of powder sugar, one egg, 35g of flour, a pinch of baking powder, 10g of cocoa, a pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger and Cayenne pepper. All that went into the silicone muffin shapes, filling about 2/3 of each (a total of 6). On two of them I placed, as an experiment, pieces of marshmallows. In the end, it didn't look very pretty, but they turn into this crunchy frosting, which is great. I put the muffins in a tray and in the oven at around 200 C and left them for around 25 minutes.
So when they were ready, I made tea. This time I chose Harvest Apple Spice and it was divine. I had some muffins with no frosting and drew them a whipped cream cap :) I was really into indulging this afternoon.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Weekend update

I'm a lazy bastard, I know. However, I'm a busy lazy bastard. Last weekend I went to see A Midsummer Night's Dream at the local theater. Needless to say, I was charmed by the script and concept, but a little aghast (if that is possible in the English language) by part of the staging. At times, and those times were quite often, I felt like the director tried too hard. And tried too hard all over the place, both at the more intense scenes and while begging for a laugh. I did have a good laugh, I have to admit, and I must applaud the cast. So all in all, things even out.
Later on, the babe took me out for a drink and then we went dancing with more of our friends at The Rock is Rolling Party. Me, I had the best of times. I got bored once or twice and, goddess, most of the people annoyed me, but I danced my ass off and stayed till the end. It was good to see old faces and lose the grip for a while. However, I'm committing again to my goal of not wasting a night's sleep, because on Sunday I was high on lack of it and had no appetite. Also, I might be too old for this.
These past two weeks I've been going to the pool and swimming more and more laps. I can't wait for my next visit, because I really need some time in the sauna. My muscles hurt like hell after the sliding contest with my family this weekend. We went skiing and yesterday, after hitting the slopes and a late lunch we took our sliding gear and had some fun right next to the cabin. The snow was great and our mountain dog was thrilled to chase each and every one of us until the sun set and the ground really froze. The bruises and torn muscles are witness to that.
I went to a small birthday party this Friday. Our former dean is 70 and I was pleased to be invited. I felt a little weird, as only one other current PhD student came, but we were among the very few invited, so I guess they did want us there. I might have made some inappropriate jokes, such as "well, it's the last time girls will stand in line to kiss you", but I hope I got away with it. I was also presented with some nice opportunities, among which the invite to attend a lecture of a family demographer on Thursday and the chance to at least look at, if not join in, the work of a team of researchers who tangentially touch upon my subject of interest.
I also managed to survive what I like to call TGIP (thank goddess it's payday) on a Friday, post-Valentine's Day, which you may not think is much, but in my office is hard to complete successfully. I want to watch Les Miserables this week, but maybe in my next post I'll write a few words on Hotel Transylvania, I do feel like it. And, of course, as soon as I'm done with Rant, it definitely needs a couple of lines as well.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The scientific mind

Lately, I've come across many instances that reminded me how important it is to teach children (and especially adults) to perceive and make sense of the world in a rather scientific manner. The great thing about science, someone supposedly said on American television, is that it's true whether you believe it or not. And this is especially true of the laws pertaining to the physical world, such as astronomy, physics, chemistry, biology, to some extent, and so on.
But my field of expertise lies in the social world. And the scientific character of social research is often still questioned, but in the academia I believe it is widely respected. I've talked before about the TV show "Numbers", in which a brilliant mathematician used equations in order to assess behavior and social patterns. That is possible nowadays. Another great thing about science is it all ties up together.
But getting back to the social sciences, and in my case particularly sociology, I believe one of the best things that can happen to a person is to start seeing the world using the famous sociological imagination. Why is that? Well, first of all, there is a whole new understanding of the world around us. One of the ways sociology makes sense of the world is through social statistics. And let me tell you, there is strength in numbers, literally. A wonderful presentation by Hans Rosling will make the point for me.

Second, and most important, this understanding of the world makes you a better person. It wipes away prejudice. It makes you aware of the factors that shape the lives of a particular group, be them economical or historical and so forth. If only we'd had a better understanding of the social world, I believe a great deal of conflict could have been avoided through the ages. Of course, international relations and critical theory actually maintain that prejudice was only one of the immediate causes or even pretense reasons for wars and genocide, as the power balance was actually at the core of these conflicts. But at the more micro level, in our everyday lives, as women or members of a minority, be it sexual, ethnic or religious, we can very well feel the negative effects of prejudice based on purely ignorant understandings of the world, which can easily be disproved by solid social research.
I don't believe science is opposed to religion or the other way around. I believe some religious people oppose scientific research or the scientific thinking that contradicts their dogma. But, overall, religions have profited widely from scientific discoveries, beginning with the maths architects used for their amazing cathedrals, to audio systems that make the Pope's speech audible to thousands (and millions, by television). Today, the church uses social survey data to better understand its flock. Science, on the other hand, and especially social science, has only profited from religion in terms of knowledge. Studying religion, we are better able to understand how normative systems were formed and maintained, how communities construct the concepts of mutual beliefs and traditions and, among many others, how structures of power operate and thrive.
What is so cool about thinking at least a little like a scientist is that it no longer shatters your world when people contradict you in an argument. Scientists are obsessed with continuously defining the issues they study and assiduously trying to disprove them, after spending a hell of a lot of time bringing arguments in favor of their work. Bringing validity and reliability into your own way of thinking is liberating, helps you understand that attitudes and beliefs need to be based on solid reasoning, but also that better reasoning can make you change your mind. And that's not a bad thing at all. It's how the world evolved, after all.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Of love and peace

 photo by Gregory Maiofis via the near and the elsewhere

I'm sitting here with the cat purring on my chest, stretching her little claws and grinding away anything bad left in my world. Loss is supposed to make us sad and empty. But all I've been feeling these past few days is happy. And loved. I get home and get cooking and suddenly it's quiet and I'm at peace. I slide down the slope blinded by snow and I'm feeling so lucky. I want to share all that from now on. I've been saying it every year, right? It's six years since I started blogging and I don't think half my posts are still here anymore. However, I want to make a fresh start of it. Maybe this time it sticks.

I've been thinking about things to share that will take me further from the personal gibberish I've been writing so far. So it should be recipes, movies, books, plays, records, workouts, cats, you know, the things that make me tick. I'll be trying to make a schedule so that I'm around here at least twice a week. I'm still at the newspaper so maybe I'll pick an issue every week to discuss, maybe it will help me brush up on my opinion pieces style. I hope I do get my work on the thesis going again so I might write a monthly update of my progress and most inspiring or surprising discoveries. I don't know what else, but I miss writing and it's high time I got those thoughts I have on the bus somewhere safe, where I can revisit them.
It's always a new start with me. I have amazing plans for myself and I'm trying to replace worrying with dreaming. Maybe I'll tell you some more next time about this journalism convention I've been invited to and the research seminars I want to apply for. Hopefully I get to go to both!