Sunday, 2 September 2018

Heath

We are searching for signs. The human race has detective inclinations, we must admit to that. Ever since yesterday, we have put everything under thorough analysis. We are searching for signs that fall is coming. Or even more, that it had fooled us all and has already arrived for a couple of days now. The sun does not shine as powerful as it used to, the leaves play a metallic jingle every time the wind blows, and the day got smaller.
Meanwhile, others could not care less. 'It's very hot, my dear!'. Still.

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Cătălina Florina Florescu – Theatre



I was present at the launch of the ‘Theatre’ volume written by Cătălina Florina Florescu, an event that took place in Carusel. It was wonderful. Three actors, two ladies and a gentleman, brought to life for a couple of sublime moments the characters from two plays written by Cătălina. I really enjoyed the fragment ‘put on stage’ from the play ‘Mia’ (and the idea of bringing actors to read for the launch is absolutely brilliant), but I was going to fall in love with the play as soon as I got home and started reading it. I was bewitched with the way it was written, with the topics presented within it, with the overt approach of realities (for there are more than one in this life – and not just in Cătălina’s plays – the reality within a couple, the reality of the society that weaves expectations around us, the reality within friendships, family and even that which we set between us and total strangers that we met only once but the experience deeply carved into our souls – whether through the goodness or viciousness they had shown us).

One of Cătălina’s invitees highlighted the fact that it is rare that we find ourselves reading/ seeing/ talking about plays written by women. And so it is. I do not want to search for more meaning into this, but the utterance striked me as revealing.

The other two plays also provide us with an interesting approach. The ambiguity of the framework within which the play ‘What is left there after life?’ enrolls reminded me, from time to time, about ‘Waiting for Godot’. But, in the same time, this ambiguity seems to have a ‘human’ side to it – if the lack of precision can be seen as human – a side that is searching for answers, for resolutions, but does not force the process of it.

A talking dog is the main character of the play ‘The suicidal dog and Laika’. A dog that seems very gentle and has a keen spirit of observation and so I understand the authoress’ mention that it seemed to her that certain things can be uttered more gently and with more tact by a dog than by a human being. The play is also interesting for it has provoked me into thinking about Laika in a different way than I have ever imagined I would.

The authoress’ stage directions indicate her skillfulness and also her love for theatre. In a world that is constantly looking for new values to align with, a world that is searching for its identity but also wants to reinvent itself, theatre is among the few forms of art (or literature) that can easily direct us towards the answers we are looking for. It is, if you want, a different type of mirror in which we can take a glance.
Define your reflection in the mirror held up by the theatre written by Cătălina Florina Florescu. You do need this!

Thursday, 14 June 2018

The Myth of the Eternal Return - Mircea Eliade


The title is provoking enough and the book won't definitely let you down. This coming from a profane, with no studies in the domain or pretentions to understand much.
When I was a child, I never asked myself about the issue of repetition. It was nice how the Easter Bunny kept coming, bringing me new shoes, and Santa Claus pampering me with gifts, among which the chocolate was queen. Years after that, I found myself wandering about the purpose of this cyclicity. Well, there was a sense to the seasons, but why did we have to go through with the whole festival with the bunny and Santa Claus?! And finally, any Christian must suffer psychical and spiritual torments regarding the birth, the death and resurrection of Jesus. What's the point in that?!
Mircea Eliade beautifully described this urge of the humanity, written in its DNA, to find purpose and meaning for anything in this world. To make the time seem less ephemeral, less implacable and more at our disposal - for it always comes back; again with the Christmas, again with the Easter and again with the New Year. And more, he exquisitely explained and described as it appeared for the Indians, where karma comes from. The idea that no matter what you have to endure, one day you will be recompensed. Or that you will be punished for your misdeeds. This serious need of the human being to find an explanation for everything. Or a balance. How scared we are of the things we cannot explain!
While reading this book, I realized that 'an eternal return' is found in the relation child-family. We desperately search in the new member of the family something that will represent us in the future, to live on, to live another life through them... to go back.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

I am looking for a job. Amaze me!


I do not know how it works for others, but my experience is so vast that I can brag about it. Among all the statuses, the one being a candidate looking for a job is the most remarkable. It goes from bizarre, to hilarious and to serio-comic.
Being a professional in the domain of letters, my searches have always orbitated the following jobs: teacher, translator, copywriter or content writer. Both in Romania and abroad, life has blessed me with something to recount.
Teacher
When you are living in a country whose language you do not speak, but English is in high demand and you have a somewhat knowledge of that, you seize the occasion. The funniest part is when you realize you are introduced to other people as native English speaker, even though you know – and hope the others know, too – that English is not an official language in Romania. Then, still, when you realize that the reason you are introduced in this way is to get more money from the parents for your English classes, the thing is not so funny anymore.

These last couple of years dawned on me with a realization regarding Romania: moving from one region to the other may equal to a stressful attempt to adapt. Or to readapt, according to each case. The most precious moment of them all, when I was looking for a job as a teacher, was when I was interviewed by the manager of a private school. Her mere curiosity regarding my family name started a whole deal of personal questions. When she found out that my husband is French, the next question she addressed to me was totally unexpected – And how is it to be married with a French? At first, I though it was a joke, that she did not actually expected an answer from me. But she kept insisting. Not knowing what to tell her (for I had no other marriage to compare it with), I stated that it must be the same as if I was married to a Romanian. The lady was not at all satisfied with my answer. She corrected me, because – let’s face it – she knew better than I did that it must have been different. That everything was more romantic, for example. And we never get back to discussing my professional experience.

Copywriter/ Content writer
Everybody prepares before an interview. The best prepared ever were those who worked in a company and who, after greeting me, and receiving me in an office, let me recount for 10 minutes about my professional track. When I was in the middle of things, they stopped me and asked me about the position I applied for. I told them that it was for the position I was called for a day ago – copywriter. Oh, we’re sorry, but it’s been a long time since we did not have this position available in our company. So I stood up and then directed myself towards the exit. I gently smiled at the people and opened the door, expecting to be greeted by the ‘you were tricked’ team and a cake. I am still waiting for that!

Test. This word has lost its meaning to me. It’s almost a swearing. Or equivalent to an abuse. Just like me, I am sure there are many people that have been subjected to this abuse. People that are searching for jobs in a creative domain. One may say that I have written novels of tests. But the stupid people grow wiser. Eventually! As it happened, I declined the magnanimous offer to solve a test that would have lasted 13 hours. A pro-bono work, of course. Yes, and it was not me who estimated the time it would take to solve the tets. Thank God, I did not do it! Maybe if there were more of us to refuse such proposals, claims like these would no longer exist.

In the meantime, others play hide-and-seek with the candidates. After you have sent them your resume, their answer is swift. You have to solve a test by writing a text of 700-2000 words. With no other disussion beforehand. Yes, of course. We don’t have so much time. But because we live in the century of speed we should show more respect to the time a candidate spends in a recruiting process.

Is there a mondus operandi in the recruiting process? Of course there is. When one invites a candidate to an interview and one does not ask about the candidate’s interests in the respective job, one does not describe what one wants from a potential employee, but only puts the candidate in a room, in front of a computer and asks the candidate to spend around 4 hours in order to solve a test, one assumes that the employer has at least made a selection through the resumes. I, the candidate, was wrong. After a while, being called to be informed that I had passed the test (ahh, the test!!!!) and that I should come for an interview with the potential manager, I came with the hopes one has when going to a second interview. What a pity! After five minutes, I was told that the interview had to stop there. The reason? I did not have enough experience. Dazed, I asked why did they call me for the second interview, in the first place. They told me that they were impressed with the way I had solved the test. But still, not good enough, given that my lack of experience disqualified me. To my mind, they should have started the other way around.

Having read so many job ads, I learned to recognize just by reading it if the employer does not have quite a clear idea about the expectations regarding a possible candidate. Even better, a candidate could really be taken off guard when she/ he goes to an interview and finds out she/ he has to work in shifts, during the weekends, and for the first two weeks she/ he has to work as a casheer, cleaning lady, baker, doorman and to make the inventory – even though none of this challenges were mentioned in the ad. Again, time is money. For both sides. But why does the one of the candidate seem to be of a less value? Had I known, I would not have applied and neither would they have wasted their time interviewing me.

When I was led in an office with the shutters down, so dark that I could not see anything, I could only think that the person interviewing me had a sleepless night and did not want to scare me with her/ his dark circles under the eyes. Still, it turned out that the interviewer was a young and lively miss. I was surprised to see that, after five minutes since she entered the office where I was waiting for her for more than twenty minutes, she went towards the switch and turned the lights on. Just in time to see the amazement on my face when I was told that besides the typical work of a copywriter, I was also supposed to come up with ideas of a botanical nature regarding the creation of food supplements that would sell big-time in the far-off America. I was very happy to realize that my mother had, actually, a well-equipped kitchen. Not only did she had the amazing book written by Sanda Marin (a recipe book), but also the one written by Maria Treban (a book about plants and their healing properties). 
Primula veris alleviates the respiratory distress. Oh, and how well it does that!

Friday, 4 May 2018

On the occasion of Vlad Musatescu's birthday


Today we celebrate 96 years since the birth of the Romanian writer who marked my adolescence and, later on, my writting style. Another year went by and I was able to enjoy his works, his jovial and forever young spirit. I cannot imagine what my love for books, for humorous people and adventures would have looked like, had not been for Vlad Musatescu's books. But I know how all of these are because he took the time and opportunity to write them. Is there a greater joy?! And thus, my pledge is to give that joy to you, too. And keep his memory alive.
Vlad Musatescu lives on!

‘You stress yourself in vain, master! You won’t wake up mister teacher even if you fire off a gun… It’s the same for me, too!’
‘What do you mean, you’re just as difficult when you drink?’, I angrily asked.
‘Me? Ever since I’m reformed, I don’t drink anymore. I was talking about mister teacher. I know him for a while, now. It’s the same for me, too. He falls asleep in the carriage, and I can’t wake him up…’
‘And you don’t know his address?’
‘No! Since he doesn’t talk… How can one find it out? I only work during the night. And I take mister teacher in my carriage only when his drunk, ‘cause he only drinks at night. Otherwise, he’s a great man. I take him up to my home, I put him in the same bed as my wife, but I sleep between them so no fuss is created, and on the next day he pays me off. Even the rides I did not make… ‘cause he’s a fair man.’
(excerpt from “Approximate Adventures”)

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The Divine Order, 2017

(Photo source: IMDB)

Having a brave and provocative script, the movie "The Divine Order" is more than a simple presentation of the Feminist fight for women's rights in society.

Usually, people are ashamed to talk about Feminism - and this because the whole idea of Feminism has been shaped in the back of their minds as representing agressive women that hate men. Others prefer to silence me by pointing out that nowadays women have access to anything they want and that the situation has very much changed, or even that nowadays women are positively discriminated (check the month of March in Romania, with its traditional Mărțișor and the related flowers).
It's true, things have changed a little. But the prejudice lingers on. I must admit that I have thought about it for days, after seeing this movie, and was somewhat scared to take in the information that in a certain canton in Switzerland, women received the right to vote only in 1990. 1990 was yesterday, of course the prejudice lingers on.

Should I give you an example from 2018?! I recently recommended a book on Goodreads to a man. It was a book written by a Romanian contemporary woman writer (on Goodreads, if you rate a book with four or five stars you can recommend it to your Goodreads friends). The reaction I got was absolutely ghastful. The man wrote me a message and asked me what was it in his looks that made me think 'he was gay'. Moreover, he considered it acceptable to alter the title of the book with a diminutive suffix so he could indicate the smallness of the importance of the book. I'll let you draw your own conclusions!
We need more of these types of movies. Not because we hate men. But for the mere reason that women should not be referred to by means of diminutive suffixes.