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Sunday, November 27, 2005
Is it really me or an imitation of others?
I have just finished reading Jean Paul Sartre’s “The Words” (Les Mots). This book has really gotten me to think about my childhood from a very different point of view. I used to think what I did was a manifestation of me, I never thought of it as imitation. But I probable was just imitating the grownups, my only companions in our small universe – our apartment.

Kindergarten and my little friends from the block were probably the reason that kept me real. But I always loved to please my parent, to impress the grownups. At about four I was my fathers pride, as I was able to learn short fables (Lev Tolstoi’s from a little book I have later read several times) by heart and reproduce them with the book open with such accuracy, that our guests actually thought I was reading.

The reading part come a bit later, at about 5. It wasn’t my parents idea to teach me. It was just that they used to read after work and I wanted to do the same. So I just told them I wanted to read. I started learning the letter and the first word I ever read was “Flacarile” (Flames), the title of a book that I only read a year ago. The first book I read was “Fram, The Polar Bear”, a quite large book, with lots of pictures, followed by “The Jungle Book”, in the very same format.

I remember this huge smile I had on my face when I ran into the kitchen screaming I could read. They all came to the living room to see the show: there I was a small, tiny little girl standing by a huge bookshelf (we have always had a few thousand books in our living room) and pointing to the book whose title I managed to read…

Then writing came as another means of impressing people (grownups and kids all the same) A secondary school student writing a novel about a girl-bull fighter from Spain…My Geography teacher was impressed! Then in high-school my target was the Literature teacher – the means, essays and the only novel I ever finished. She checked it, said it was good and that I should go on trying to publish it.

I didn’t. You might wonder why…Well the novel was never good enough for me! The hardest person to convince, impress and mesmerize was me…See I was always a great student in my first 12 years in school (before university). People admired me. Yes, but there were two persons that actually knew what a lazy time waster I was: my mom and I. While my colleagues thought I was spending all day long studying to get to be that good, we knew I was always studying in the last moment, with fear deep inside my bones.

It was always easy for me to learn, study, and for most subjects the information was not lost, although to an outsider my way of learning might have seemed mechanical. But I knew my full capacity was never tried out at least. Maybe only for a few hours a day…But I got tired of it and never even tried to push my limits. I’d rather read a book or write one, watch TV or have a walk…

I’m still the same person, although I try very hard to get myself on track, to finally use the maximum of what I have, to stop wasting it. But the easy way is sooo tempting, even for an almost grownup.
posted by Alina @ 10:36 AM   10 comments
Friday, November 25, 2005
New TV channel on the market
It seems the Adevarul newspaper owners will now have a TV channel as well. Magnet TV, as it is called, will have intellectuals as target audience and will promote European movies and news “without blood”. The story in Romanian here.

Actually, I am really curious about this new one. I personally hate the name, I consider it to be a bad choice and I see no connection between it and the target, but maybe I am wrong. Good luck guys!
posted by Alina @ 10:07 AM   4 comments
Wednesday, November 23, 2005
All for the money
It seems that in beautiful Romania a child’s need for protection, love, guidance and support does not exist. All a child needs is money, not someone to stand by him, not a healthy environment, just money, sent by the parents through any means.

My cousin’s mom, my aunt has recently left the country. She is now in Italy, trying to make a living there. Prior to this, they were both living with my grandmother in a commune from the Vrancea County. No real income, no real perspectives. She decided to go work abroad to be able to provide him with enough money for a proper education.

My mom and I had already decided to take him to Ploiesti to make sure he gets a proper high-school education and to help him get rid of the tiring trouble of going to a different town for classes. We decided the best way to have him transferred was to have some legal organization place him in my mothers care.

All set! We filed the request in Vrancea. Some stupid lady working at the Child Protection Office in Focsani (County capital city) delayed the action for about 3 months just because she had no idea how her job should have been done. Then the file finally got to the Ploiesti commission.

As my mother and I have the same permanent residence, we were asked to file lots of papers to prove she could take care of her nephew. And so we did! Yesterday the case was discussed by that stupid commission…And their reply? Not final yet, but still…

The child can be supported by his mother! There is no need for him to be placed in my mom’s care! She can send him money! My problem with that? Well, there is no guarantee she will have a job that will pay enough to send him money, at least for starters. There is no guarantee she will be able to keep that job. Not to mention the fact that lots of people work there illegally…The other problem, which is not financial, he is 14! He cannot take care of himself, go pick up the money and establish the budget for the whole month! He might need documents that my mom won’t be able to sign, so it will take an enormous amount of time to get things done and papers sent, then translated into Romanian….

You might wonder why they reached this conclusion…Well they are obliged to pay 800,000 ROL per month to each minor placed into someone’s care (less then 30 dollars). We don’t even want that money, but you cannot choose to receive it or not. The law has been recently changed and all should receive this sum…So the conclusion is that a child’s protection only revolves around the money that child has! Pathetic!

Of course he will still leave with us and he will still go to school in Ploiesti. And we will go through a whole lot of trouble for any documents signed by his mother that he might need…But I wonder, how many people trying to help a child would do the same?
posted by Alina @ 5:19 PM   7 comments
Ten Sharp - You
This song was first played to me by K. I got to love it, and now it's on my daily playlist. Enjoy!

It's alright with me as long as you are by my side,
talk or just say nothing, I don't mind your looks never lie.
I was always on the run, finding out what I was looking for and
I was always insecure, just until I found

Words often don't come easy, I never loved to show you the inside of me oh no my
You were always patient, dragging out what I tried to hide

I was always on the run, finding out what I was looking for and
I was always insecure, just until I found
You you were always on my mind, you, you're the one I'm living for
You, you're my everlasting fire, you're my always shining star.

Nights always are good friends, a glass of wine and the lights down low.
You lying beside me, me full of love and filled with hope
posted by Alina @ 11:59 AM   0 comments
Kayla has a new toy
Yes, my friends, I finally got myself a nice little digital camera! It actually is a quite tiny one, just like me...I bought it on Sunday, with expert help provided by K, of course. As expected, I started playing with it immediately, so you can see some shots taken at the office on Views of a Broken Mirror. Do enjoy!
posted by Alina @ 11:07 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, November 22, 2005
Some more office fun
WAYS TO TURN MEN DOWN

This came to our fun mailing list with a warning:FORWARD TO WOMEN WHO NEED SOME LAUGH AND TO MEN WHOHAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR!

HE: Can I buy you a drink?
SHE: Actually I'd rather have the money.

HE: I'm a photographer. I've been looking for a face like yours.
SHE: I'm a plastic surgeon. I've been looking for a face like yours.

HE: Hi. Didn't we go on a date once? Or was it twice?
SHE: Must've been once. I never make the same mistake twice.

HE: How did you get to be so beautiful?
SHE: I must've been given your share.

HE: Will you go out with me this Saturday?
SHE: Sorry. I'm having a headache this weekend.

HE: Your face must turn a few heads.
SHE: And your face must turn a few stomachs.

HE: Go on, don't be shy. Ask me out.
SHE: Okay, get out.

HE: I think I could make you very happy.
SHE: Why? Are you leaving?

HE: What would you say if I asked you to marry me?
SHE: Nothing. I can't talk and laugh at the same time.

HE: Can I have your name?
SHE: Why? Don't you already have one?

HE: Shall we go see a movie?
SHE: I've already seen it.

HE: Where have you been all my life?
SHE: Hiding from you.

HE: Haven't I seen you some place before?
SHE: Yes. That's why I don't go there anymore.

HE: Is this seat empty?
SHE: Yes, and this one will be if you sit down.

HE: So, what do you do for a living?
SHE: I'm a female impersonator.

HE: Hey baby, what's your sign?
SHE: Do not enter.

HE: Your body is like a temple.
SHE: Sorry, there are no services today.

HE: If I could see you naked, I'd die happy.
SHE: If I saw you naked, I'd probably die laughing

HE: Where have you been all my life?
SHE: Where I'll be the rest of your life - in your wildest dreams.
posted by Alina @ 4:57 PM   12 comments
Saturday, November 19, 2005
Quote from "Wedding Crashers"
True love is the soul's recognition of a counterpoint in another...
posted by Alina @ 6:48 AM   10 comments
Friday, November 18, 2005
Strike terminated
The Metrorex employees’ strike was terminated today after the Sector 6 Court of Law had declared it illegal. This decision was based on the fact that the employees did not provide the required one third of their activity, which would have meant, in the eyes of the Metrorex management, a metro out of three taking its normal route.

The employees have presented previous agreement that stated that, in case of strike, they had do choose between one third of the working hours and one third of the route length. They decided to go for the first choice to avoid discriminating routes. More details here, again, Romanian only.

So the strike is over for now, as the employees can appeal in 10 days. I have to admit, as much as I was troubled by this strike, I hoped for a more favorable closure for the employees.
posted by Alina @ 12:06 AM   16 comments
Thursday, November 17, 2005
Metro Strike, part 2
Today I decided not to be the taxi going prude that I was yesterday and took a tram and two buses as an alternative for the metro. Considering the fact that it normally takes about an hour to get to school with the metro and a bus, I thought 2 hours for the new alternative will suffice.

Dead wrong! After two hours, not even half of the way was completed! Let’s start with the beginning though…The 10 minutes trip with the tram turned into 20. I finally got to the first bus stop and thought, hey, I still had time. After the first four 381 buses that I couldn’t get on because they already were full when they arrived, I started to doubt it!

The picture of the buses will stay in my mind for a long time, though. People’s faces practically glued to the bus doors, 5 minutes needed for the bus to finally shut the doors and move on, due to the fact that it took a while to get 4 more sardines in the bus! People swearing when they had to get off the small part of stair that they were on so that the bus could move on.

To my delight, a private minibus stopped and the driver shouted: “Going to the University! Get in!” It was close enough to Romana, so I got in. Checked my phone’s clock, I was still on time. Then, after five minutes, my dreams were shattered. For the remaining 1 hour and 20 minutes the driver managed to get us to the University! “It’s the first time I realize how important the metro actually is”, he said. Well, if there was one person left that had no idea about its importance, now it was all settled, no more ignorance in what the subway is concerned!

So I missed my class, but at least got some great news when I arrived to the office (I am only visiting, I’m on night shift today): the paper I needed badly by tomorrow will actually handled with even greater speed. So there still is hope…Let’s all pray the strike will be over!

Yet, according to Ziua (Romanian only) yesterdays’ negotiations failed. According to the same newspaper, the Traffic Police announced more of their agents will be present on the streets of Bucharest, handling the increased traffic. Well, yeah, they are out there, I actually saw them: they were practically doing nothing at all. The traffic lights were the major rule. And of course they were nowhere to be found in places where there actually were traffic jams at crossroads…
posted by Alina @ 11:32 AM   8 comments
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Metro strike
Yes, it officially started! The metro trains are not available from 4 AM till 4 PM. Isn’t that great? Well, let me tell you what that meant for me today: then only pretty fast way to get to school or to work or from school to work is with the metro. Without it, everything turns into a disaster!

Today for example, as I didn’t have 2.5 hours to get to school, I took a cab. Same thing from school to work, as I had a meeting at 3 PM and couldn’t afford to be late. What this meant? Well, let’s just say I spent on this two wonderful trips almost as much as I spent for metro and all the other means of public transportation in a month!

Normally, I am a bit pissed off! Not because of the strike itself, God forbid, the Metrorex employees have a right to protest! I am angry at those they are protesting against. About one or two months ago the metro prices were increased. Also, there is so much advertising going on in the trains and in all the stops that it makes you dizzy. I cannot understand how these incomes cannot be properly managed, so that employees can get their raise!

In the end, those who take the metro are the only ones ever paying more! We are supposed to pay more for our trips, we are supposed to take all those advertising campaigns, and we are supposed to pay with money or our time during strikes!

All I hope for is that this strike won’t last too long! Because it is really killing me! I cannot afford wasting more time on getting from some place to another, I don’t have that time and I’m not willing to make it…I can hardly wait for the news stories on this subject that I'm sure will be available soon.
posted by Alina @ 8:11 PM   2 comments
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Happy Birthday Cris
It was Cristina’s birthday on Sunday, but we only got to celebrate it Monday evening. We went out to have dinner at a restaurant in Regie, “Pui de Urs” (Bear-cub). K and I arrived there at about 11 PM, and Cristina and our other room-mate, Aura arrived ten minutes later. Cris was tired and a bit stressed and upset, I could tell, but she looked really good, although she didn’t want to believe it.

We gave her the presents that of course she loved. I got her a pair of earrings and K got her orange gloves and some exquisite chocolates. She also got a beautiful bunch of roses. Little by little she started feeling better and we ordered – beer and food. Of course, everyone laughed at me again because I wasn’t able to finish one bottle in 2 and a half hours…

Of course I talked a lot to Cris and dearest K took advantage of it and finished my tomatoes and cheese salad. But I forgave him. Cris also shared some of the chocolates with us but we still ordered desert – papanasi (something like this – 2 doughnuts covered in sour cream and cherry jam). They used to be great at this very restaurant. But we had a bit of a surprise, they ruined the recipe! Luckily, that was the only bad piece of news that nigh!
posted by Alina @ 8:40 PM   3 comments
Message through Marwa
Ashraf al-Akhras and his bride, Nadia Alami, are two people in love whose most importan and happy day as a couple, their wedding, was turned into a tragedy. A suicide bomber attacked their wedding party at the Radisson SAS hotel in Amman, Jordan, on Wednesday. See more details on Marwa's blog.
And a message that we all should acknowledge:
"To those who wrongfully think this is ISLAM:
This has NOTHING to do with Islam. Killing innocent people like that brutally has nothing to do with the merciful, most peaceful and forgiving ways of Islam. Those who claim to do it because or for Islam know nothing about their true religion."
Maybe focusing on the direct impact, leaving abstract numbers of victims behind will help
posted by Alina @ 10:26 AM   6 comments
"Blogs make giving personal"
Via DCS
Mr. Nelson, a 35-year-old management consultant and a co-founder of the widely read Command Post site has put together a new blog coalition, Strengthen the Good, to focus attention on microcharities. He started by asking for donations to support a California mother of 13,Susan Tom, who had adopted 11 mentally and physically disabled children, in addition to two of her own. After two and a half days, Mr. Nelson raised more than $15,000. Susan Tom had adopted 11 mentally and physically disabled children, in addition to two of her own.
Now more than 200 bloggers are linking to Strengthen the Good, highlighting the causes that Mr. Nelson brings up. Most of the diarists have not heard of the charities before. But they do not seem too concerned about the groups' legitimacy. They are familiar with Mr. Nelson, and that's good enough.
What is the reason behind such trust? "You find someone whose opinions you share, and you're more likely to trust that person," said Meryl Yourish, a veteran blogger. "You consider it vetted through them. That's what Alan is doing here — the legwork, to find what's worthwhile. And I trust him to do it." (Full text of the story: New York Times)
posted by Alina @ 9:44 AM   0 comments
Monday, November 14, 2005
A little fun
Coincidences

1981:
1. Prince Charles gets married
2. Liverpool wins the European Cup
3. There’s an attempt to assassinate the Pope

2005:
1. Prince Charles gets married
2. Liverpool wins the European Cup
3. The Pope dies

Conclusion: If Prince Charles gets married for the third time and Liverpool wins the European Cup again, someone should definitely warn the Pope!
posted by Alina @ 5:54 PM   13 comments
Sunday, November 13, 2005
FJSC meeting
Thursday night I went to meet my ex-colleagues from Journalism. My ex-group has this good habit; they meet every Thursday in a small pub called Red Lion. Quiet, cozy, warm, friendly, everything you need for a meeting with old friends. I had been to one of these gatherings last summer and had no idea they kept going. Yet I am glad they did.

Seems I have been missing out on a lot of things: promotions, new jobs, new hair styles. A baby girl! Exactly, a baby girl I had no idea of! My colleague Vlad and his wife are guilty of it. I knew they got married a long time ago, but I had no idea about their daughter.

Conclusion was, I should try harder to be a part of these meetings. It really helped me relax a bit and forget about all my worries concerning work, school, my paper and everything else that’s on my mind.
posted by Alina @ 8:42 PM   5 comments
The Iovan case
There’s a news story I’ve been meaning to talk about for some time now. I never had the time for it, or the proper mood until now yet.

Which are characters of this story? Famous designer Romanita Iovan, one of the 50 richest women in Romania, according to a Capital top, her husband, Adrian Iovan and a presumed thief, Bogdan Iancu are part of this long debated issue.

On the night of October 5th, Adrian Iovan shot and killed a man that had broken into their house. Iovan caught the man, later identified as Bogdan Iancu, steeling some of their belongings. Iovan is presently being investigated. He has to prove he has been acting in self defense, clearing some very blurry details on how Iancu has been shot and where he had been found. Bogdan Iancu’s family, on the other hand, accused Adrian Iovan of murder. More details here, Romanian only.

False accusations followed these events (Ro). A convict stating himself and Bogdan Iancu had been Romanita Iovan’s lovers. He was not well-informed, it appears, as he stated they had visited Romanita at her present house back in 2001, when that certain house was merely a project. Also, the fact that Romanita knew Iancu was never proven, the conclusion of the investigation being the exact opposite.

The only innocent victim of this story was Romanita and Adrian Iovan’s unborn baby, baby that died soon after this event. One of the mother’s statements really touched me:
"I found out I was pregnant on October 3 and I took it as a much too precious present"(it was her birthday), said Romanita. "Unfortunately, I could not enjoy the moment too much - only one day of happiness, and then, on October 5, the nightmare began. All these events have jeopardized by baby's health. I am not 20 anymore, therefore I cannot say I have all the time in the world ahead of me. I am 41, and I do not have much time left. The doctors told me to rest, but could I rest now?” (Evenimentul Zilei- online edition)

Self defense laws are pretty blurry in my opinion. Who can clearly state when you are allowed to fear for your life and fight back? Maybe it wasn’t self defense at all, maybe we should have an American-like law that allows us to take action against those that decide your property is their playground. This is not the thing that the kind of debate I want to focus on though!

There are two other facts that really pissed me off about this story.

The first one, the nice little Gandul online team! I understand, you want your readers to comment, but when they state the she was not pregnant, she had a parasite inside of her, it gets pretty nasty! Also when they state she was to old to have the baby anyway…Another amazing comment “she should be ashamed cause she’s a tramp married to a killer! Did you lose the baby because of this or because Adrian Iovan hit you in the belly because you were cheating on him with Bogdan?”

It is not the opinions that bother me that much. It is the level of this conversation, which is simply low! I don’t get it, without using words like “shit” or other slang words are they completely unable to express an opinion? Why do they feel the need to use dirt instead of arguments, no matter which side they are on? I guess this says a lot about the education (or lack of it) of those reading this online newspaper…I don’t think a little comment moderation would kill the rules of free expression in this case!

The other fact, a TV show broadcasted by Antena 1, produced by a famous Romanian group called Divertis. They tried to make a funny/ironic story of this tragedy. And they got the three main characters face to face, fighting and blaming each other. No respect shown to any of the sides. I wanted to look at it, but simply couldn’t. There are things you simply don’t joke about.

My opinion is this: the law will decide if Iovan is guilty of anything. And no matter how many abortions Romanita has had, no one deserves to loose a baby, the pain is as real for all of us. Maybe the guilt is bigger in her case.

What I know of lives being endangered? Well I have had a knife held on my neck skin for about 2 minutes. In broad daylight, in the elevator of my own building! And all that because of a phone that he decided he wanted and eventually got to have. Well, I tell you something: if I had had the needed power and a baseball bat, maybe I would have used it: for threatening my life, for making me feel unsafe in my own home, for the years that followed and that were filled with fear! I sometimes want to get back at him for the fear I always experience when people hold knives of scissors around me, anything with a blade…Sometimes, just sometimes, fear can paralyze your senses, but it can also light up the rage, the animal instincts in you.

It is never right to kill a man, so if people want to blame something, blame that! If you believe property and your own life need protection against any endangering factor using any means available, ok preach that. But a little decency would not hurt any of the debaters.
posted by Alina @ 7:50 PM   4 comments
Sunday, November 06, 2005
Sweet November
It seems this autumn is decided to never ever let us decide what we think about it. First it frightens us with rain, then it suddenly becomes all bright and shinny, then it gives us the pain of freezing cold and dry days and now it’s again gloriously sunny. I experienced an incredible autumn day today, although it’s already November and now would be a great time for all those cold and rainy days…It looks like nature here in Romania has decided to surprise us each and every day. We no longer know what to expect from our four (still??) seasons. And we had the arrogance to believe we knew them perfectly!
posted by Alina @ 8:19 PM   16 comments
Overwhelmed
You cannot hide from feelings, be it sorrow or joy. First you try to hide somewhere, a certain room that apparently gives you comfort. A place you like more, a place you’ve always used for hiding or a place you’ve always been to when you were at your best. Then you feel it, starting to come closer and closer, like mist rising from the ground. So you try hiding into something, you pick up and finish a book you have been reading or call a friend or watch a movie, or clean something (funny thing, people always tend to put everything around them in order when their soul is a mess…they say those of us who always need to have everything in perfect order are the most tormented ones). And you feel better for a while. Shorter or longer, depends on how much you can struggle to keep being focused on your getaway activity. And then it’s over: you have finished the book, or the movie has started showing the long list of people that gave it life or you have run out of places to straighten, and then…then you’re restless no longer, you’re simply overwhelmed!...
posted by Alina @ 8:01 PM   7 comments
Friday, November 04, 2005
Se7en
Tagged by Haal and Nightlegend, so this was a must!

Seven things I plan to do:

1. Read more (for me and for school)
2. Travel more when school is over.
3. Manage my time better, especially when it comes to school projects.
4. See more of my family and friends (I don’t really know how or when though)
5. Eat healthier, even if that actually means cooking
6. Move to a warmer country when I grow up
7. Get serious about the stuff I want to learn

Seven things I can’t do:

1. Not trust people.
2. Not talk for more than 15 minutes
3. Say “No” when my friends ask me to do things I don’t want to do
4. Stop needing to be the center of people’s universe at certain moments
5. Stop being optimistic
6. Watch a horror movie (if I really want to see it, as it happened with The Ring, it is a great effort not to run scared)
7. Give up easily

Seven things I say more often:

1. Yeah, right!
2. Ma lasi? (Spare me)
3. Whatever!
4. Si porcii zobara…(And pigs fly…something you say when someone says something that is impossible/not tru)
5. Never mind…
6. Tinerii din ziua de azi…(Young people these days…)
7. There is only one perfect woman and I am her (with Oana’s approval, of course, yet less used these days)

As for the seven people I want to tag, I think most of those in my blogroll have already been tagged. If someone hasn’t been tagged, they can consider themselves tagged as of now.
posted by Alina @ 9:35 AM   10 comments
About Me

Name: Alina
Home: Bucharest, Bucharest, Romania
About Me: "This is my church. This is where I heal my hurts". It's also where I feel free and my preferred means of expression.
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