The Arrow

There are no answers; only choices.

Archive for December, 2009

Wish List

Posted by thearrow on December 31, 2009

More photography

More cooking

More museums

Reading my magazines

More systematic learning (as in, I have to draw up a schedule for it or it doesn’t happen)

Organize my work and stay on top of it

More staying in touch with friends

Decorate the new place

Happy New Year!

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The World We Live In

Posted by thearrow on December 21, 2009

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Cross-dressing

Posted by thearrow on December 11, 2009

OK. I don’t know if Steve is going to be happy with me blogging about him, but this was hilarious, so he might be fine.

Steve is a tall guy with pretty masculine features, but he’s in touch with his feminine side and wears shirts with very playful, sometimes flowery patterns (on the cuffs).That’s one of the (many) things I love about him. Once in a while he’ll joke that on such and such occasion he’ll wear his pink dress. When his niece heard this, she said that boys don’t wear pink; Steve chuckled that she didn’t say that boys don’t wear dresses.

We were looking at an apartment yesterday night and I noticed the nice hardwood floor. The realtor said that the rule is, no high hells on it at all. Steve was bummed: “so that means I can’t cross-dress at home!” And the realtor didn’t get that it was a joke and she let out a loud “okaaaay!” I was almost suffocating with laughter. Poor woman. I can totally understand why she thought that might be true; when you meet gazillions of new people all the time, you can’t have enough brain bandwidth to figure them out.

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Unmistakably Romanian

Posted by thearrow on December 7, 2009

I went to vote yesterday at the Romanian Embassy in DC, a little before they closed. I asked Steve if he wanted to come in with me, since I was sure they had locked the vampires up that day. We go in, sit down at a table to fill out a form, and, before long, a lady comes in wearing leopard print. Steve chuckled. She was wearing a faux-fur coat and shoes in that print. Her bag was leopard print too.

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Romania and Bulgaria

Posted by thearrow on December 3, 2009

This post is dedicated to my Bulgarian friend and former roommate, Denitsa, who left the States  for her sweet homeland this September. I thought it was fitting to post it after the big NYT hit in my previous post, which includes Bulgaria as well.

A while ago I said that here you can tell what influences Romanian cuisine has by the ethnic-food stores where you can find the stuff we eat. Such as feta cheese and fish roe in Greek and Middle Eastern stores, and meat specialties in Russian stores.

The most intriguing discovery for me was that national differences are a lot less distinct than we like to think they are back home. In Europe, with so many different countries and ethnicities squished together, differences are paramount and we like to look at those a lot more than at similarities. Not only we are different, we are unique, mind you.

Far away from home though, all these differences melt away and the similarities surface like a hidden essence. The first time I thought about this was when I took classes with two Middle Eastern professors. There was an incredible air of familiarity about them. The funniest part was when one of them brought various objects to class to demonstrate how, even when we see the same thing, we call it different ways and focus on different details. Among those objects was her Turkish coffee pot. We only saw them for a few seconds and then she covered them quickly with a scarf. No one else in the classroom guesses what that was except for me. And I have no personal merit in this, of course. I recognized it because Romanians brew their coffee in this kind of pot, thanks to the several hundred years of tango with the Turks in trying to keep them at bay. The Lebanese store behind my building (where I am known as the crazy feta cheese woman)  sells the same kind of coffee pots you can buy in Romania.

The funnier revelation about these similarities came when I had a Bulgarian roommate. She overheard my phone conversations in Romanian and once in a while would tell me, “oh, we have that word, too!” That kept happening a number of times until we thought we should start a list with these words. We had a blast doing that.  In about three months, she could figure out what I was talking about.

The frosting on the cake was when I was trying to explain her how we are out of hot water for two-three weeks in the summer in Bucharest for something stupid called “revizie” (which would be “overhaul” in English). For my two American readers, heating and hot water are, for the most part, centralized in Romania. A lot of people installed their own apartment heating systems, but the big system is still in place. Huge swaths of the city are connected to the same heating plant (or several of them in big cities), which closes down for this annual overhaul, although we all think the management and staff are just lazy and prefer to have no work to do for two weeks. No one believes this overhaul involves as much as tightening one screw. Well, turns out Bulgarians have their “revizie,” too 😀 That totally cracked me up. I thought OK, it makes sense we share a lot of words since a good part of the Romanian vocabulary is of Slavic origin (60% if my memory is correct); the language’s structure is Latin, though. But I didn’t expect them to have the dreaded “revizie.” But, since both countries were communist it makes sense that we share the same stupid legacy of that regime, too.

So anyway, many conversations later, we came to the conclusion that we were actually from the same country. We just happened to speak two different languages.

Posted in immigration | Tagged: , , | 23 Comments »

Happy Birthday, Romania!

Posted by thearrow on December 1, 2009

We celebrate our national day on December 1, our Union Day, when all three provinces that make up Romania  got united in 1918. Two of them, Moldova and the southern province, had been united since in 1859. After a tug-of-war  with the Austrian-Hungarian empire, Transylvania finally joined the other two. This is just a very brief outline to give context to today.

I normally wouldn’t have posted something, but “A Lost European Culture, Pulled from Obscurity” from yesterday’s New York Times hit the spot for me. It’s about the first exhibit in America of ancient artifacts from Romania, Bulgaria, and Moldova (currently The Republic of Moldova, which used to be part of Romania until WWII, when the Soviets “liberated” it; they left us half of it). And when I say ancient, I mean from 5000 to 3500 BC.

As you know by now, I’m an avid museum goer and ancient stuff thrills me. Put me in an Egyptian room and I can stay there for hours. I can’t quite get over the fact that those things are thousands of years old. And now this story comes along on our national day and makes me realize that objects I’ve learned about as a kid (like the ones in the pic) are, um, 6-7000 years-old. And they are part of my cultural identity. Well, how cool is that!

And I can’t help but notice how modern-looking these little statuettes are. Like something Brancusi would have made.

Here’s the slideshow with more pics:
http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2009/11/25/science/112409_ARCH_index.html
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The 'Thinker' and Female Figurine From Cernavodă

National History Museum of Romania, Bucharest
Fired Clay, Hamangia, Cernavodă, 5000-4600 BC
Photo: Marius Amarie

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