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Tuesday, January 31, 2006
My 18 hour day of yesterday
As I had chosen to have a quiet Sunday, not doing anything at all, not studying, I paid the price on Monday. I woke up at 5.30 AM and started studying. The subject, Science of Commodities. A 120 page book containing all we have studied. At 12 I left, as the exam was at 1 PM and read a little more in the Metro. I had about 7 hours of non-stop studying which is more that I did for most of the exams...So I was pretty pleased with what I knew.

When I got to school I got the good news, or so I thought: multiple choice test format, only one correct answer (Romanians have this habit of sometimes complicating things: you can have one correct answere, two, all, none, but this time it was the easy way!). Then I received the test sheet...After leaving it on the teachers desk I still did not know what I had done. Was it ok, was it not ok? This came as a surprise to me, as I can always tell precisely how good I did. And most of the times I undervalue my work compared to the teacher’s grade. Well, this time I think I’ll pass, but have no predictions about the grade!

After the exam I went to work as I was on the second shift, from 3 PM. On my morning rush I had forgotten my food home, so about 4-5 PM in the afternoon I was dead hungry and had nothing to eat (the catering company had already left as they had nothing more to sell). Oh, well, I managed to convince another three colleagues to order pizza, which we did, so I got my first real meal at about 8 in the evening. After three more hours, I was on my way home. I was here around 11.30 PM and all I could do was change and go to sleep...

The good news: I have only one more exam left! This will be next Tuesday and then I am home free! Actually, not that free, cause there still is the online class with DeSales and the license paper which I am determined to do great, but anyway, I’ll still have 5 days with no school! Then, round two...

Other good news: my pshichosociology results: another 10! A nice addition to my other group of three such grades. Actually the only one im my group and from what I saw on the list there was about one such grade per group. A little harsh to my opinion, but oh well...
posted by Alina @ 9:56 AM   8 comments
The White Castle quotes
As promised, I’ll post some of the phrases/sentences I wrote down while reading books. The first one is the White Castle, the latest of my readings.

“to see everything as connected with everything else is the addiction of our time”

“everything is three-dimensional, reality has shadows, don’t you see; even the most ordinary and patiently carries his shadow around on his back like a twin”

“reviving and reviewing, sometimes painfully, sometimes happily, a host of memories of this kind, all minor, but pleasant to remember”

“A person should love the life he has chosen enough to call it his own in the end”

“the cupboard full of junk that we call brain”

“Of what importance is it who a man is?...The important thing is what we have done and will do”
posted by Alina @ 9:33 AM   2 comments
Sunday, January 29, 2006
Orhan Pamuk’s “The White Castle”
I received two books just before New Year’s, both of Turkish authors but translated in English. I was more than curious to read them, as they had been given to me by K’s aunt and because my only encounter with Turkish literature had been a story book that overwhelmed me as a child and gave me good material for a paper in University.

I picked Orhan Pamuk’s to be the first for a simple reason: it was easier to fit in my purse and be read in the airport on my trip back to Bucharest. But it turned out to be quite a coincidence that I’d pick it: it was also a story of Istanbul told by a European.

The main characters of the novel are a Venetian whose name is not mentioned and Hoja, his Turkish look-alike. The young Venetian’s ship is captured by the Turks (the story is from the Ottoman Empire period) and he ends up in a prison in Istanbul. As he had little knowledge of medicine that he could use, he is often called at a Pasha’s castle to help him with his breathing problems.

The Pasha’s home is where he will see Hoja for the first time. He is completely terrified with the fact that this Turkish man looked so much like him, although Hoja does not seem to notice the resemblance.

As the Pasha demands him to become Muslim and decides to have him executed for not wanting to convert, the Venetian is convinced he will die without ever getting back home. Hoja is the one that saves him and takes him into his home as his own slave.

Although very different in way of thinking, at first, they find common things of interest: first the passion for astronomy and then for science in general. Hoja asks of his more educated slave to teach him everything he knows and is very fast in learning. Then develops his own interests: he wants to build a precise clock to tell the exact time for prayer all over the world.

The irony of these two lives together is that the others come to see them as completely influenced by each other. Later, when Hoja will build a terrible weapon for the Sultan – another important character, with a great love for animals and hunting, seen as ignorant by Hoja and as extremely intelligent by the Venetian – everybody would assume the idea was the foreigner’s. Even if he was never around Hoja to help him with his plan and at that time he was more attracted by parties at the Sultan’s palace, he is always regarded as the mastermind behind it all.

Yet the most intense part of the novel is that of the plague that strikes Istanbul. The two men are forced to spend all their time together, finding distractions to make them forget about the terror brought by the plague. They start playing dangerous mind games that often bring pain to them (also physical for the Venetian, as Hoja needs to punish them). This whole period ends with the Venetian running away and being brought home to help Hoja find a way to control and fight the plague.

The strange relationship between the two, instead of making them hate each other, bring them closer, creating an unbreakable bond. They find out all the details of each other’s life becoming part of the other. This metamorphosis is best described by the mime the Sultan brings to impersonate each of them and then show how much of each is actually the other.

Towards the end of the novel they all go to war with the Sultan. Most of the war consists in long travels and hunting excursions as there are no actual fights described. Hoja develops a weird passion: he forces simple peasants to confess his sins, this being one of the games he played with his slave during the plague. But, unless the Venetian who always invented amazing sinful stories, the simpletons only confess petty sins, driving him close to madness.

The moment of glory for their weapon arrives: a white castle in Poland that they could not conquer. The weapon is a failure, it gets stuck in mud, and the castle is never taken. Although they engage in battle, both characters have the same thought: their weapon would remain stuck there…As everybody is holding the Venetian responsible, the two men trade places: Hoja takes over the foreigner’s life and heads to Italy, while the Venetian will continue to play Hoja’s part and return to Istanbul.

In the last part of the novel, no name is mentioned. The foreigner returns to Istanbul, he faces the rumors of their role-change, and tries to forget Him. Only in old age he realized that it is impossible to break their bond and forget Him. They will both remember each other and miss each other as long as they are alive.

I have left out some of the most impressive moments of the book, this is just a brief view of the story. If you ever get your hands on the book, read it, it’s worth your time.

A little about the author:
Orhan Pamuk is the author of seven novels, five of which have been translated into English, and the recipient of major Turkish and international literary awards. His work has been translated in more than twenty languages.
posted by Alina @ 10:19 AM   8 comments
Books I read
This post will have it's own link on the blog's sidebar as it will be frequently updated (or at least I hope so). It contains a list of the books, each with a link to it's dedicated post. Enjoy!

1. Orhan Pamuk - The White Castle

2. Buket Uzuner - Mediterranean Waltz

3. Jane Austen - Persuasion
4. Oscar Wilde - The picture of Dorian Gray
5. Joseph Conrad - Selected Short Stories

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posted by Alina @ 10:17 AM   0 comments
Saturday, January 28, 2006
5 Guilty Pleasures
Tagged myself with Bart's meme, so here goes:
MEME: The Ground Rules: The first player of this "game" starts with the topic "5 Guilty Pleasures" and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their 5 Guilty Pleasures as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next 5 people to be tagged and list their names.

1. I absolutely love dancing…Given the proper music, I can ignore anything and anyone around me and just have fun dancing on my own. This makes me feel better instantly, no matter the situation I'm in and is better than any adrenaline rush. If the perfect partner is involved in this picture, the guiltier the pleasure is.

2. I feel great when I’m right. I love debating and convincing people my arguments are the best. I sometimes simply choose a part in a debate just for choosing and for love of arguing. I don’t have to be 100% convinced to want to convince others beyond doubt.

3. I would do anything for traditional Turkish baklava! As far as I am concerned, this is the real Turkish delight…I am getting some delivered directly from Istanbul today, actually! I bet you all envy me!

4. Time spend in beauty salons…It happens so rarely these days with my busy schedule that it has actually become one of my guilty pleasures. As I don’t have much time, I just go once to have it all done, so I enjoy several hours pampering myself.

5. Reading books. It is my ultimate form of relaxation. I enjoy every minute I spend reading, even if these days that is 15 minutes on the way to work and another 15 coming back home. I sometimes enjoy music played softly, other times the outdoor, and others just spending the morning in bed with my book. But each time I might react aggressively if interrupted :).

As I usually do, I will leave the tagging part open. If you think the tag is interesting, please go ahead!
posted by Alina @ 12:37 PM   8 comments
Friday, January 27, 2006
One year of blogging…
I stay here at our desk and am hitting the keyboard without looking at it (yeah, I can do that!, although changing keyboards twice a day kinda takes away some of my skills for a short while) and looking at this blog of mine…We shared one amazing year together…We had our over 10,000 visitors and our several hundreds of comments. We have our blogger friends list and our nice little colorful “gadgets”…And we absolutely love the relationship that we share!

I kind of started this blog for all the bad reasons: I was depressed, a bit lonely and quite unsure of myself. I didn’t like who I had become all that much…Well, that has changed since April last year! I got back to being me just as I remembered myself: loving me at times, being completely angry with myself at others, but always with a positive attitude…Got back to the bright colors I mostly wear, read a bit more often and got a great job in the meantime…Oh, did I mention that my salary was doubled? Yeah, it was, so I can say I am quite proud of what I did here in less than six months, considering I also had school, a quite time-consuming relationship and just about enough time hanging with my friends.

Something I changed for the next year: the name I use to post…Kayla Vincent was a nice hideout for a while. But now I’m so into being me, that I will use my own name. It won’t be much of a revealer anyway! People who actually want to know me don’t need my real name to do that!

I would really like to thank all of you who have been reading my blog, to all that have commented here and have become close. The people I can always count to try to understand me, agree or disagree, enjoy debating or just sharing with me…No need to fill in the names, you all know yourselves!
posted by Alina @ 8:17 PM   12 comments
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Stuck in exams
Another exam has passed and one is due tomorrow…As I’ve been working all week, I will do most of my studying tonight (thank God it is not all new to me as I had read some of the exam book before). Then another exam Monday…Followed by a short break…Then the last exam of this session!

So, you can all see why I’ve been so quiet lately :). Things that amused me at my last exam: they gave us their own paper to write on and it was quite thin and ugly. Some students actually were expecting to be given the essay part of the exam to copy it. Are you crazy?

At work it is pretty busy. And when I managed to handle my part of the job quite well (Small/Home-users), I just realized I should start working on the corporate side…That means lots of servers information needed and some Linux soon to come! I am sure all these will seem natural to me at a certain point, but right now I am a little freaked out – I cannot learn all that!!! C’mon, I am not a computer expert. I will be though if I keep it like this!

Other than that, as soon as I finish these three exams, I really should look into some time management books or something. I have a lot to do and much more I want to make room for. And I really don’t want to give up on the things I want to learn/do/experience…

In the meantime, the blogosphere (actually the part I am familiar with) is pretty quiet. Everyone is busy, all of them have exams or lots of work or wedding preparations…As one of my blogger-friends said, let’s wait for the spring, maybe it will get more active.

And speaking of spring, we had some really cold days here…Even -17 degrees (centigrade) at lunch time! I am completely frozen…And totally envious of my colleague Sim who will go to South-Africa for 10 days (a job thing, but still, it is hot there!). They say it will get warmer, but it ain’t happening fast enough for me…
posted by Alina @ 7:48 PM   4 comments
Monday, January 23, 2006
Nutcracker - this Sunday's disappointment
Well, guys, when I announced I was going to see a ballet this Sunday I was sure I’d have a lot of nice and glamorous things to tell you about it. So let’s start: great costumes, great settings, really bad dancing...Yes, really bad, the almost dropped the prim-ballerina, that of course after attempting to drop other less important ones...And their synchronizing, well it got worse than last year...Back then the problem was minor and I could see it because I pay attention to such details...But the overall performance made me enjoy every minute of it.

This time, everybody was with their heads in the clouds, like they had just started dancing after a one year break, practiced for one week and put on the show. Should I also mention that the opera was overcrowded? That there were people with no seats, but still bought the tickets for this performance? That all tickets are more expensive in weekends? Well, none of that mattered for our nice little stars! Thank God my favorite male dancer they have was not in the cast because that would have made the disappointment even more painful than it was.

Maybe the busy schedule (click Calendar, they don't have urls for each page) is the cause of this incident. Well, no, they have 7 shows all this month and there are only two ballets…It seems they really don’t care about their public! What I can say now is that I will pay more attention to who are the leading stars, as the two in this show were not that impressive!
***Update***
The picture is temporary unavailable..The Opera is working on a new site and only a few pages actually run...I don't know how long it will take, sorry.
posted by Alina @ 5:42 PM   7 comments
Friday, January 20, 2006
It’s been a good week!
Definitely it has! It started with a busy Monday. I was also keeping an eye on my IM to talk to K and find out when he would come home. Not yet, he said, no news…But when you think the next day is the one bringing the good news, such a waiting period becomes easier.

Then, Tuesday was the day to go buy the aquarium for K. Wanted it to be perfect and with fish inside when he came home…Well, no such luck, as the fish were supposed to be put in the aquarium after a few days…So I took the aquarium and everything else, plants and sand, and some electronic devices and went home with Sim. She was supposed to spend the night over…When I got home, K’s car was parked outside. Nevermind, it’s been here before I thought, although I had this weird feeling that I would find him home when I got there.

And when I came in, there he was, standing and smiling, as he was very proud of what he had done! I was also extremely happy to see him, but could not believe he was actually there, all that ugly period was finally over.

Now, after three days, I am finally starting to get used to it!

Wednesday we had a little team building activity: going out for a drink. One of our colleagues is going to France for a few months, a scholarship program from school, and we wanted to say goodbye properly. I couldn’t stay long, as I had an exam the next morning.

Thursday was exam day: Fundaments of Information Technology…read Windows, Word, Excel and PowerPoint here :). My grade was 10 (out of 10), and also found out my grade in English was the same…So, pretty good results.

Still have 3-4 exams to go, most of them quite time consuming to get prepared, but I am at my best in what state of mind is concerned, so there should be no problem.

Other than that, I have plans to go to a ballet on Sunday, together with Monica and K and I expect it to be awesome. Also I am about to finish the book I was telling you about and write everything I think about it. So stay tuned! Oh, and also there might be pictures with our nice aquarium soon!
posted by Alina @ 12:50 PM   9 comments
Monday, January 16, 2006
Totally outrageous
Buzdugan and Morar are two local radio starts. They have this morning show every day during which they also air pranks and practical jokes on people. Some are funny, some are lame and some are totally outrageous, like the one I’ve heard today. Pretending to be some state educational authority representative and also promising anonymity to the guy they called, they made him tell them all about his high-school teacher that had persuaded him to have sexual relationships with her…How could they air that? How could they think such a story is a practical joke? I really don’t understand…

Then they were making fun of him. He was just a student trying to convince a teacher to give him a good enough grade to pass, probably a minor at the time. He considered it wrong and stated he should have spent his time doing other things, like actually studying. However you try to analyze this, it was not a situation to make fun of. So it’s decided, they would do anything for some listeners. I guess it is a tough competition, yet not tough enough to justify such behavior!
posted by Alina @ 8:45 PM   11 comments
Weekend survey
Some interesting things marked this weekend. The most important one was seing Monica after 2 years and something…We went to this café called Salzburg…Very interesting, bright, cozy, perfect for catching up. Well, we both moved in different directions, both kind of kissed journalism good-bye…Both miss it! It is still part of us, this writing skill that transformed us. We did use everything we learned there, but for different purposes.

We made plans to see each other again, quite ambitious plans, considering the previous gap, but I hope we can cope with the plan. It is amazing how easy it is connecting to certain people that you haven’t been around in so long…

Other interesting facts, I hate distance, just as K does, especially since we have different ways to cope with it. I just want him back as soon as possible. This week maybe? I’ve been spending way to much time at work since I came back, just because I didn’t feel like going home and pity myself for being alone. And as nightshifts tend to keep you away from friends working in other companies, I said thank you for the friends I have at work.

I’m reading a very interesting book, but I will only write about it when it I finish it. What I wanted to say is that’s in English. It’s been a while since all my readings in English have been school/work related. This book just for my soul is therefore quite refreshing.
posted by Alina @ 7:22 AM   5 comments
Sunday, January 15, 2006
Question
I trust your love, I trust my love, I have faith in us...Why can't you do the same?

Answer:
I know I love you. And I know you love me. That is all I need...
posted by Alina @ 3:37 AM   6 comments
Thursday, January 12, 2006
Photo update
I've just finished posting the pictures from Istanbul I was planing to post since I came back. It took a while...but better later then never!

I still regret loosing 1 GB of pictures because bothe K and I were with our heads in the clouds...they were the best, including the New Year's night and a beautiful sunset in the Marmara Sea. Oh, well, I guess I'll take better ones on my next visit.

If you want to check the pictures out, just go here, here and here.
posted by Alina @ 7:35 PM   7 comments
Wednesday, January 11, 2006
"I'm small but I'm strong..."
I wish I didn’t feel so lost, neglected, forgotten, alone, misfortunate…but I do! A small thing to all others and most of all even to my self…But it’s quite enough to make me feel like that…Weak, abandoned…Not finding my axis mundi…Not being able to rely on it actually, not able to see it and be strong while relying on it…I so need to be around people. Need it enough to come to work 6 hours earlier, for extended coffee breaks until my shift starts and more work than I had planned to do…
Vuelve, que sin ti la vida se me va
oh, vuelve, que me falta el aire si tu no estas...
posted by Alina @ 2:34 AM   4 comments
Kids will be kids…
A 4 year old sitting in the subway train near his grandmother. She looks at him and suddenly notices a scratch:

Grandmother: Oh, you have a scratch on your cheek. How did you get that?
Boy: Where? Here? I..have a wound!
G: That is a scratch. How did you get that (she spoke very calmly and with warmth all the time)?
B: I don’t know…
G: Did someone scratch you? Did you fight with other children?
B: I don’t really know..
G: How can you not know how you got scratched? This happened today…
B:…
G: Did you do it to yourself? By mistake?
B. Yeah, I think I did it by mistake…I think I fought with another boy by mistake…And when he tried to hit me…I was also trying to hit him…aaand, he scratched me with his hand… By mistake!
posted by Alina @ 2:29 AM   0 comments
Monday, January 09, 2006
Dog Alert!!!
Well, it’s been a really crazy and quite busy weekend. After running home on Saturday morning to see my mom, I came back Sunday as I was supposed to work. The night before, my colleague Sim called me, asking me to meet her before going to work as she was afraid of the dogs that usually hung around there. I said ok, never gave that much importance to her fear, so at about 15 minutes to 3PM (our shift started at 3) we were both coming out of the metro stop near our office.

What can I say? I was wrong not to take it seriously. When we got there, about 15 angry dogs were blocking the way (a man with a Dalmatian went through them, just to make them a little angrier…). So we thought of taking a detour. It was hard to walk as the melted snow was now frozen, but we kept going, we had to get to work eventually.

When we reached Mobexpert, a huge store selling furniture, I was already feeling home free. Yet the dogs there, quite friendly, but a lot of them and wanting the food in our bags, thought to make it harder for us to keep our cool. There was a security guy, but he didn’t do much. Actually “nothing” would apply better! We passed those doggies and I was already blabbing about how we were safe now when three really mean looking dogs rushed barking to get us from under a gate. We got so scared that we practically jumped in the middle of the street, causing drivers to panic and honk…

We eventually got to the office, 40 minutes late and exhausted…And I sent an email about this to my boss as I hope this will be solved soon. During weekdays, there’s no problem as there are always lots of people coming the same way and the dogs are nice and cuddly. But during the weekend, the world is theirs…

Well, after such canine adventures, we finished our shift and Sim came to my place and we stayed up till 4 AM talking about how it feels to not have the loved one close by. It made me feel better, this conversation, as she is more experienced with such topics…I hope time will go by faster, as it’s a busy week with two exams and lots of work and that things will get back to normal soon…A week or so, that’s all…
posted by Alina @ 2:19 PM   0 comments
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Don't be fooled by the sad note, I'll be ok
I wish I knew why a room that you are not in is suddenly short of air or how to make it better. I wish I could know why it feels so hard although there’ve been hardly two days without you. I wish I knew who exactly to be mad at for this painful situation. I wish you were here…

So I am back from the city of two continents and I have already started work. And although my mood lacks my normal spirit which some of you find so special, it really has been an amazing trip, far better then I expected.

I started the New Year with new things, my first sun set in the sea, my first “real” profiterole, my first walk on the streets of Kadikoy and Moda at night, after sunset…

In the last days of the year I have also glanced at what I’ve been missing all these years in terms of a real family and got a view of the Black See from the other side…

In the first days of 2006 I made new decisions and once more I realized how hard it is to be far from K, although it’s just an hour’s flight between us. The truth is we are now on different continents, walking on different streets and breathing different air.

In the end I would like to thank you all for your messages and wish you a great New Year, with all the joy, success and other accomplishments that it should bring! I will soon post pictures of my trip and let you know how it all went. Take care!
posted by Alina @ 5:48 PM   8 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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