Archive for the ‘ENGLISH’ Category

            Almost two months ago, on a March evening, warmer than even my heart, I have been to a concert organized  by Ana Maria Stamp for the release of her new web site: anamariastamp.com. Ana is my daughter’s piano teacher and, of course, a well known presence within the Romanian community in the Netherlands. I met her a few months ago, also at a concert, where I liked her from the first look because of her personal charm, beyond the obvious qualities of pianist, teacher and singer.

            The evening announced itself a true success right from the start when I began my biking ride alongside the Amstel river until the concert’s place. If I truly adore something in my adoptive country is the way people choose to celebrate sunny days. Warm or not, it doesn’t matter, as long as the sun shines, all the living beings in the city go out with their picnic blankets, food, wine and even barbecues, either in the parks or alongside the water. When I see this, I am immediately being transported back to my student years, in Bucharest, where I spent many days on the bank of Dâmbovița river, spoiling myself with a bottle of Busuioacă de Bohotin wine or with a big bottle of Gambrinus beer (note: these are affordable wine and beer Romanian brands). That I was doing it for lack of money, it matters a little. That Dutch people does it for their famous savings culture, it matters still a little, the end result is a lot of noisy, cheerful, young people.

            I arrived there fifteen minutes earlier and, instead of immersing myself in the treasures of my cell phone, I chose to look at canals, bridges and people, and continue to marvel at the unnatural temperatures for an end of March in Amsterdam. It was my first time in Splendor and I knew nothing about this place. After I entered, the first amazement was related to the age of the public. Why did Ana invite so many elderly people, I asked myself from the height of my youth? Until I found out the answer, I was amused how we spontaneously segregated on age groups, just like in the church, in the left row the women, sorry the elderly, on the right, the men, that is the young people (if I somehow still belong to this category). Splendor finances itself through the annual membership contribution. Of the 100 Euros paid annually, members receive invitations to concerts taking place in the theater. This is the explanation for the elderly audience. Those people choose to support young musicians, by contributing annually with some of their pension. Until we get to do the same in Romania, it will take some years, my mother will never be persuaded to give a part of her wretched pension for such initiatives. Both financial and mentality considerations restrain her. After 45 years of communism, it seems natural that the government takes care of such places, not us directly.

            Ana wore a gorgeous dress, Adinda Anna’s creation that invested in it 3 weeks of work hours, the dress marking the end of her design studies. The dress fitted Ana like a glove, a successful combination of femininity and innocence, as I perceive Ana. The show was divided into 3 sections, corresponding to the fields in which she works: pianist, teacher and singer. My favorite (and I have a little intuition that hers too) was the voice. Ana performs old Romanian songs on jazz rhythm, accompanied this time on guitar by George Dumitriu, another known figure of the Romanian community in the Netherlands, who I had the opportunity to see in other musical combinations.

            My cultural evening was a successful one, another living proof that this catharsis (through art) exists and will never die. The bicycle ride back home, at 10 o’clock in the evening, without wearing a jacket, in Amsterdam, perhaps a few feet below the sea level, with my hair blowing in the wind, ended in a perfect way the art therapy offered by Ana Maria Stamp.

            Does it happen to you also as you move forward in your life (this is a sort of euphemism instead of offending people by saying that you grow older) you change some beliefs? It happens to me quite often, of course it does, even the great earth does not sit for nothing, it revolves around the sun all day long.

            The big epiphany stroke me during my last sky holiday in Austria. I would like to mention that I am not a fanatic skier. I am a ten days per year skier. And then I limit myself to a couple of down hills per day, sprinkled with a bit of adrenaline and a lot of staring at the beautiful mountain ridges. It is the third consecutive year when in Austria we don’t have snow for Christmas. Everything is green as if the snowdrops will bloom soon. Still, the sky industry cannot afford to sit for nothing at the mercy of global warming. A lot of money is being pumped in creating an artificial fairy tale landscape in which snow strips descend into the valley from the top of the mountain like a kindergarten child drew them with a paint brush. You don’t do this, auf wiedersehen tourists in the next season. Because since we multiplied like rabbits and forgot to die from a plague or simply from old age, it is a big fight on resources and everybody book his sky holiday since summer. Nobody waits for the first snow to fall cause you are left without accommodation. I remember when I was a young skier in Romania. If there was enough snow, we skied, if not, we were having parties in the pension or we stayed in Bucharest. As it says, we lived in harmony with nature. We got what nature gave. In this way, somehow life had more depth and more beauty.

snowing

            The same with food. How delicious was the first spring salad made from fresh radish, green onions and fresh garlic! After a long winter full of pickles, potatoes and jams, with the crocus and the first leaves, my stomach got some raw food and enjoy it like a child. Nowadays we have all year long vegetables and fruits with taste made in laboratory by some ancient people like me that tasted real food when they were young. Since this epiphany stroke me, I make sure I mostly buy products according to the natural rhythm of nature. Ok, sometimes I reach out for some delicatessen grew in a greenhouse or wherever they come from cause I dislike extreme behaviour.

            But let’s come back to the sky topic. You have already understood that I would prefer to burn at the stake all the machines that produce artificial snow and sky only when the heaven wants us to. Maybe in this way I can get rid of the feeling of quantity and would receive in return some quality. While I write about snow, my thoughts run to some effects of prosperity related to seaside visits. In the old times I associated the sea with the summer. Either in the car or in the train, I was so much longing to have a glimpse of the sea after passing Constanța. I will never forget the profound joy when my eyes were suddenly struck by the first waves. This deep feeling was possible because: 1) the rest of the year, nobody afforded to fly towards warm countries besides the cranes, 2) we did not visit the Black See so often as today simply because we did not have enough money.

            Do I suffer from acute idealization of the past? Certainly I do. But more than that, I wish we can live again in harmony with nature, even this nature already destroyed by us, the greedy ones, in which during the summer you build a sledge and during the winter you apply creams against sun burn. As I write these words, outside my window started to snow with big snowflakes that melt in the palm of your hand or in the open mouth of a thirsty child. And what do you think? I don’t have an appetite for skiing or for sledge because I did all of this already the other days on artificial snow. The snow produced with a financial effort to make the customers happy, customers that paid a lot of money to be here. Among them, full of new beliefs, I find myself also.

From some time ago I had enough of the eternal world separation between men and women. You know, the famous saying that all men are made by the same mother and all women are Oscar winners at rivers of tears and emotional blackmail. All of the sudden you wake up in a category, not knowing what to do with your uniqueness. Even so, sometimes or periodically, here I am generalizing things, what can you do about it.

So let’s take as a case study a couple after the well known first three years of their relationship, period in which everything happens without any effort from both sides. I would choose one problem from the many they need to surpass, meaning their sexual life and I would start generalizing a bit. It seems that in most of the cases, his desire stays high, while she becomes metaphysical exactly  when the table is set. He inflates himself with frustrations like a sail will catch the wind, while she feels as misunderstood as Jesus was by the Jews. He threatens with manual works, she just looks at him with a superior smile, full of disgust. He mentions that he will start consuming powder milk, breastfeeding wouldn’t be enough anymore, she bursts into tears and she calls all her friends.

wolf_predator_wildlife

The biggest irony is that each one requires a bit of understanding from the other one. He claims the biological truth, explaining that his needs are different by nature and those needs need to be satisfied. She talks then about what her heart needs, pretending that she cannot have sex on demand, immediately when his biological wind blows. He needs to pose as the creator of the intimacy that they used to experience, to take out the gift of listening from his saddlebag and also his abilities of curing, to connect to the stars to better feel her thoughts and her emotions. He cannot walk all day hunting in his pre-historical clothes, talking all day long with the other hunters while she kills herself cooking over the fire with their children hanging on her skirt. And after dinner he just sets the rock by the entrance in the cave, looking lasciviously to his woman. No, not this way anymore, cause the times are different, the women have evolved by extending their right to vote in society and within their household. Besides his tasks as a hunter, modern life requires from him also a part-time job as a cook and babysitter. Maybe he did not notice, but since a while ago, every morning she brings the children to the wise man of the village and then she goes also in the forests looking for food. In the evenings, she is dead tired, feeling attracted more by the pillow than by his beautiful sweating hunter body.

He understands nothing from this new world order and he claims back the beginning of their relationship when she was extremely radiant and available. He cannot understand what changed since then. Full of tears, she explains that at the beginning he was different, more gentle, more caring and more present. He looks at her with big eyes and concludes bitterly that he is the same person, everything happens in her head which by the way encountered a short circuit lately.  He can see with his eyes the way thoughts are moving in her head like cars in traffic, his opinion being that she needs to approach a specialist, better saying a traffic police officer. Of course, now she will push that button for tears, known only by her, and here we go another evening spent with philosophical conversations, ended with an angry sleep, back to back like two potatoes bags.

red_fox_animal_wildlife

On another evening, she tries to calmly explain to him that she understands his frustrations, still he also needs to understand that her body functions optimally only if her mind and heart are settled, pouring balance and well being into her beautiful body. She expects that he will act as an engineer, keeping under control her mind just as a machine in a factory. But she doesn’t want things to happen like in that nice English movie watched together in which the wife, cold as a piece of meat from the refrigerator, offers her services to her husband, at the end telling him bluntly: „this should be enough for a while”. Suffering from abstinence, he is about to say that it’s better this way than nothing, but he stops just in time otherwise he will witness again rivers of tears and sighs until late in the night. He had enough of going to the office next morning, not only full of abstinence, but also tired as a carthorse.

What should be then the winning solution of this case study? Maybe the man should sharpen his sword of femininity and learn to handle it with more elegance. And the woman should give up her expectations of her guy being at the same time a hunter, a shrink, a father, a brother, a lover, a husband, a friend. And to clean by herself her eternal full of thoughts mind which brings back at the surface, exactly when the bed is made, all kind of old and unsolved frustrations from let’s say five years ago when he was found guilty of a crime for which he was already convicted several times.

As the years go by, traditions become more and more important to me. Especially that now I am the one who needs to preserve them, reinventing them sometimes. I do prefer spending Christmas and Easter with my family, rather than embarking on a sky trip or on a Mediterranean cruise. Maybe a Christmas or an Easter sort of emptied from the religious meaning or rituals.  It doesn’t matter. The meaning can be adjusted according to your own preferences or beliefs. In the end tradition can represent just a repetitive ritual, wanted and welcomed.

 

What’s important is the freedom of choice. Not something pre-determined, imposed and in total disagreement with who we are deeply as human beings. If we don’t like it, even more we totally dislike it, honestly it’s not a nice tradition anymore, but a nightmare. What is my neighbour going to say if I don’t wear new clothes for Easter (a Romanian tradition implies children to have new outfit for Easter)? How am I going to be seen by my friends and relatives if I don’t buy presents for Christmas? Are they going to think of me as stingy if I offer them something small and symbolic? Why should I buy Christmas presents out of social obligation without any feelings involved during the acquisition process? How many times I heard people saying: „I do not have money for holidays anymore cause I MUST attend several weddings (in Romania is accustomed to give consistent money presents when participating to a wedding)? Some years ago my reaction would have been: why do you do it? The response I always got was two big rounded eyes full of disagreement and the words I MUST, spitted out with indulgence for my lack of understanding when it’s about life and social obligations.  Nowadays I just don’t react anymore, I listen, keep my mouth shut and pass on to the next topic.

santa_claus_in_red_192851

Recently I had a conversation with a friend coming to Nederland from a Muslim country, but not a very orthodox one. I’ve always perceived her as a woman of our times, a pleasant partner for chatting in front of a cup of tea. She was complaining about the cooking effort that was needed to be put in celebrating her son’s birthday. She wished to organize the party at a playground, not in her house. I said „Great, just do it”. „Yes”, she said, „but I cannot do it. Cause there they serve only ordinary food while everybody expects me to cook some traditional long cooking food „. It did not matter that we were talking about a children party, there were some untouchable social norms to which she needs to obey. I felt a punch in my stomach when I saw the sadness and tiredness in her eyes. But it was clear for me that she was dealing with a deeply rooted constraint. It was not the moment for me to erect into the liberator of her chained spirit. We both moved on by passing to a topic that makes me furious ever since: to have sex with your husband/partner just because that’s what is expected from you, not because your mind, heart and body want to do it. Cause isn’t it that biologically speaking a man needs sex more often than a woman and if you don’t respond affirmative he will look for alternatives outside your house? Every time I hear this, my veins get thickened with tones of feminism. Starting from the basic principle of freedom and equality between two partners, why can’t you just sit on the couch with a glass of wine, trying to reveal together the reasons why you are not interested in his proposal? To find solutions together, to understand each other, to help each other. How come we are talking about offering your body as a sacrifice on the altar of your marriage? In the third millennium, somewhere in Europe…

 

This conversation brought back a scene witnessed few years ago in Romania in a friend’s kitchen together with two women, both mothers of boys. One of them was pregnant with the second child, another boy. I started to comment that I really love little girls. The reaction I got immediately left me speechless. The pregnant woman said: „I am very very satisfied to have another little boy because women have a tough life. For example, they must obey sex (I quote approximately) everytime their husband feels like doing it.” „Yesssss, you are right”, said the other mama, „it’s so true”. In the next minutes I left that apartment with a sudden head pain. You need to understand that those women were middle class ladies with bachelor degree and non-stop access to information. Not some women from rural areas in Romania, illiterate and poor. Even so they did not discover the freedom of mind and the right of deciding for themselves.

 

I still declare myself a partisan of traditions. The smell of fresh cooked sarmale during the Christmas eve (a balcanic dish consisting of minced meat folded in cabbage leaves), the beauty of colinde (romanian Christmas songs), the lights of the Christmas tree, breaking painted eggs during Easter morning, men spreading perfume over women during the second Easter day. Everything lived with conviction and joy. Any tradition that subjugates me, makes me sacrifice or hurts me, I reject it from the bottom of my heart, no matter of the social consequences.

Between us

Posted: 18 Aprilie 2016 in ENGLISH
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Between us

just a few meters of parquet

and two wooden doors, poorly closed.

Between us

the old sadness,

the tears that have fallen and the ones that have not.

 

Between us

transformed in clay, in space,

all the knifes-words, with big or small blades,

all the screwdriver-words or the pocket knife ones

and the almost deadly ones, pistol type.

 

Between us

with opposite effect,

lies the big words, the effusions,

the promises, the stereotype phrases,

the fairy tale ones.

 

Between us

live together

all the betrayals, the revealed lies

and the hidden ones,

the desire to change and the self retrieval one.

 

Between us

the differences of being, thinking, talking

become a wall.

Still between us

brick by brick

are stuck our own wounds,

fears, failures, cowardice.

 

Too much to climb…

Only some super powers

or the untraceable God

or the death

could bring us together again.

Recently, a good friend provoked me to offer her some examples of the cultural differences that I am experiencing since I set my foot on Dutch land.  So, here I am trying to put them together. I notice that these differences do not irritate or make me sad anymore, on the contrary they start to amuse me and to enrich me. It might be a sign of integration, who knows!

The other day, I started to analyze the first report my daughter got from school. It’s a well done paper that describes my little one very well using ratings and comments. On one specific comment I would like to perform a text analysis. My daughter’s teacher says: „From time to time, Anna literally likes to hang on to me.” For a better understanding, I mention that we are talking about a four and a half years old child. Who according to me, naturally, needs from time to time to be hold by the teacher. But according to the teacher, my daughter is like a monkey who uses her as a tree because isn’t it that the monkeys like to hang from a tree while they meditate on Darwin’s theory of evolution. I see it as a desire for love and security, she sees it as a lack of independency.

Staying on the same page, I remember an event from her swimming lesson. It’s nothing special that my daughter is already trying to deal with swimming, here is well accustomed and almost mandatory to learn swimming from an early age. If life throws you in a canal, you should be able to survive all by yourself, not to go down like a rock. At a certain moment, out of the blue, she hangs on to the teacher’s neck and, with the Romanian passion that I blessed her blood, she gives a very sweet kiss. Proud of her little gesture, I smile to the teacher who almost drawn herself out of shame and panic. To defend the teacher, I need to mention that a couple of years ago Netherland was shaken by a pedophile case of a day care worker, Roberts Mikelsons (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amsterdam_sex_crimes_case). Since then, kindergarten’s male workers have dramatically changed their career, becoming painters, plumbers or business men, according to their possibilities. If a mother sees any part of a man around nursery schools, she grabs her child and runs away quickly. Now, the swimming teacher is a woman, but maybe in her mind my daughter was a proud member of the LGBT community and, instead of an innocent  kiss, a sexual harassment accusation would have been run. Meanwhile, praise the teacher for this, she has overcome her fears and got used to the love gestures of my little monkey.

 cross_culture

Changing the direction, I was also in the position of a cultural shock, some months ago when the school began. In the Dutch school community the play dates are a common practice. We also have this in Romania, but at this age, 4-5 years old, it is natural that the parents participate in the play date by drinking coffees and gossiping while their children are playing around. It was on a Friday, my daughter comes out of the school and she is officially invited to play with a colleague. I think I have seen the girl’s mother two times before, we were barely saying hello to each other. In 2 minutes, my daughter was sitting on that mother’s bike, waving me good bye. On my face, a big stupid smile appeared. The mother noticed my hesitation and asked me if I am ok. I blushed, I stuttered, then quickly redid my neural connections, so I succeeded to exchange telephone numbers and addresses. And my daughter was gone while I stood there, with my feet stuck in the concrete, looking how my little one is disappearing from my sight.

Our daughters continued to play together, either in their house or in our house. The parents seemed nice, so naturally, from my heart, as Romanians are saying, I tried to befriend with them. I invited them for a coffee, I told them a bit about my country and my life, but every time, smiling politely,  saying that they are busy, they declined. I understood in the end that our daughters playing together does not mean automatically that we are going also to have a relationship.

A positive difference for me is the way in which parents and the system react when a child is sick. In Romania, most of the time, a flu is solved in the hospital’s emergency room with parents going home with a long list of drugs to be taken. And the child is kept at home, otherwise the parents will be blamed by society. In Netherland, things happen differently. You go rarely to the emergency room, especially if we talk about little babies. To the GP you go if the sickness lasts too long or if it seems that complications appear. If the GP does not notice something abnormal for a child with flu, then you are sent home with the famous Paracetamol and the recommendation for the child to drink and rest properly. Personally, I came home from the GP with a prescription only one time.  If the children don’t have high fever, they are sent to the kindergartens and schools, by thinking „the strongest one will survive and if not he will become stronger.”

Something that I like a lot is lack of fights in public. Especially the ones between lovers that most probably happen inside the house and also there with a low voice. In 4 years of living here, I witnessed two romantic fights, in fact more of a hysterical women shouting, the masculine side was replying politely without showing their muscles. Talking about public space, I wouldn’t thought I will miss the whistles that you can get easily in my country when walking in the street. It’s not clear for me how do you approach a woman here, but I swear that nobody ever looked at me in that typical way. I guess I am not the ugliest woman, also I do not posses very long legs, but still nobody looks at nobody? Honestly, I do miss some sexual comments, you know, a confirmation that the woman inside me still exists.

Until the next episode, I live with the conviction that if you did not die after you first months in a new country, you can enrich yourself, at least getting rid of some unhealthy habits that you inherited from your native land. The ones that you choose to proudly preserve and give forward, make you more aware of who you are, where are you coming from and how beautiful is in fact the world in which you were born.

I’ve never asked and I will never bother doing it. I am already convinced that according to all the psychology books I am passing through a normal phase. For the last months, I am experiencing a powerful desire to go back to my childhood. It manifests itself or, better saying, I allow it to manifest itself in a rather hilarious way.

I am not good at memories from my early childhood. I guess I was so busy doing my things that I forgot to stop once in a while from playing and experiencing to enroll memories in my brain. But one powerful sensation remained. The pleasure I felt when drinking semolina with milk. Not the one made for adults with plenty of semolina, but that one made for babies that you can drink from a child’s bottle. One week ago I couldn’t resist the temptation and I prepared 500 ml milk with 2 spoons of semolina. Everything seasoned with plenty of sugar. I did not go so far by drinking it from a child’s bottle, but the result was consumed by sipping, not by using a spoon. I felt such a pleasure that the process was repeated few days later. A dream comes through!

Staying on the same page, few days ago I rubbed for almost 15 min two yolks with a lot of sugar by using a wooden spoon until I obtained the most creamy cream ever seen. The resulting product was slowly swallowed to ensure a long lasting pleasure, all ending with licking the plate and the spoon. It was a sort of joy combined with revenging all the frustrations from my childhood when my mother used to drive me away from the kitchen when baking cakes. Why did she do that? Cause I wanted to eat all the composition before going into the oven.

mother_baby_hands

Another jumping back into my childhood happens when I smell burnt nature. Either is burnt wood or maybe the burnt remains of the harvest, I do not know, what I know is that it smells like late autumn in my teenager town. The sensation is so strong and so real that I burst into tears. I cannot be sure but I guess that more 20 years ago, in similar circumstances, all I wanted was to grow up and leave home to be free. What to do with this freedom, I ask myself sometimes, nowadays?

What’s happening to me? Probably more things coming together. I’ve become a mother, translated: I need to take care of somebody, not somebody takes care of me anymore. It’s not a burden, I almost don’t see it as a „must do” this responsibility of being a mother, I just do it most of the times and that’s it, but somewhere, deep inside, I know it in a painful way that it is a irreversible thing.  I am taking care of my child and it’s still me who’s taking care of myself.

Another rose in the bouquet is to leave in a foreign country. Foreign in fact is the perfect word to describe the situation. Foreign weather. Foreign nature. And especially foreign people. I register everything in my head, I analyze, I draw conclusions, but sometimes everything is so „foreign” that I wish I become a suitcase travelling physically back home and  in time back to my childhood.

Everything packed together with this adult status that I didn’t quite get the meaning yet. I mean I have a lot of theories about adult life with which I live comfortably most of the time. But every time a crisis hits me, I end up saying to myself: It’s very difficult this adult life. Somehow I intuit that the answers are out there waiting for me, I intuit that happiness is possible also at this age, not only when you are a child. Or maybe I am too optimistic as a good friend will tell me for whom the conclusions came already: the happiness that you experienced as a child will never comeback, all we can do as adults is to find small pleasures going from one day to another.

While looking for answers, life goes on. Today a semolina with milk, tomorrow yolk with sugar, the day after tomorrow „bird milk” at my mother’s place (a Romanian sweet composed by eggs, milk and sugar in which the white part of the egg is cooked as clouds floating in the milk).  There are days when I am just a mama for my child, in the same way my mother was a mama for me when I was a child and I watch her with such a joy while she is enjoying the simple food I prepare for her, knowing that this will register mentally and emotionally like „food just like my mother used to do”. This memory will stay with her the entire life, just as it stayed with me and it will stay until the end.