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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Ballads of beauty. 12. "Learn to forget".

Learn to forget, when you’re tired, and lonely, and thrown
Learn to forget, when in darkness you’re numb and alone
It is not a mistake to love
As the pain is digging a cove
In the very flesh of your heart
And you feel it is torn apart
By the shards of deception, as cold as it ever can get
You are blessed, if you’re able to move on and truly forget

Learn to be strong, when nobody is lending you strength
Learn to be strong, when the demons are pacing at length
On the alleyways of your life
Only you can win in this strife
Every sunrise’s at first just a beam
Every glory’s at first just a dream
The battle no matter how hard, the wounds no matter how deep
The beloved may go, but your love is something you keep.


© 2010. Anastasia Duchevski

Friday, September 26, 2014

Ballads of beauty. 11. "Beautiful outer world".

I knew you're the one before you came into my life
Didn’t need to feel you, to probe you, to recognize you
I knew it was you who’d take me into the outer world
Take me there, take me to the stars
Release the trapped genie from behind invisible bars

I may rarely speak of love
As the word is just not enough
To tell you how much you mean
To my eyes that have surely seen
Blood, fire, lust
Death, ashes, dust,
Horizons, fakes, empty intentions, true lies
But there is nothing like the light coming from your eyes
Pure as the fire that forges the swords
Strong as the feeling behind the words

As long as your light shines in the outer world
I will find my way to you
I will always find the way to you
In the wide, beautiful outer world
In the strange, beautiful outer world.


© 2010. Anastasia Duchevski

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Ballads of beauty. 10. "Listening to Paramore".

Not Afraid Anymore

You are the bomb, so blow
You are the jaw, so gnaw
I’m not afraid anymore
I’m swaggering on and on
Listening to Paramore
My denim is new
My money is few
My age – an illusion
My mind – a solution

Forging the key to your heart
Would take a master of mind
I’m not afraid anymore
If you’re wizard, I’m spell
If you’re ocean, I’m shore
My faces are cute
My senses acute
My love and my lust
All based on trust.


© 2010. Anastasia Duchevski

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Constantinopolis and a Little Bit of Love...

Spring 2009

The best and most memorable events in my life have a weird habit – they tend to happen by chance. By pure chance, I once had a free weekend; it was a totally random decision to spend it at my parents’, the only place where I watch television, and of course no one could foresee that I would watch news and see a report about Princess Elena, a cruise ship that takes idle vacationers from Giurgiulesti, a brand-new international sea port, to Istanbul and back. And these random causes resulted in a rather concrete effect. I felt a strong desire to see Istanbul – the first of the places I’ve never been to. So, I talked my friend into this adventure, bought the tickets, and on one fine noon we were already boarding the Princess that was standing in its slightly battered splendor at the berth – the only one berth for now – in the newborn port. Thus, I have both confirmed my reputation of a woman of action and had a vacation to remember.

There was one more reason that made me pick up the phone, dial a number and order tickets to a two-bed cabin on deck B. After reading a fair bit of romance novels, I learned that when someone hurts your heart, you have to leave the place where all the drama actually happened. And trust me and my expertise – if you have blond hair, a fair complexion, and a voluptuous figure, you should go due East. Our blonde sisters were highly appreciated there as early as in those ancient times when the Paleologos were ruling Constantinople, and the savage Seljuk Turks were keeping their harems in tents in the Anatolia prairies. The harems have long ceased to exist, the plural marriages were banned in the 1930’s (although I don’t think the hot Turkish guys were very happy about this idea of Ataturk – after all, it’s hard to debate the fact that polygamy has a certain fun about it). Today Turkey is more European than Europe itself, but the fame of the red-haired Russian slave turned sultan wife Haseki Hürrem, i.e. Roxelana, is alive and well. It is odd that such an ambiguous historic figure is so much loved by the Istanbul people – there is the Haseki district, the Haseki street, and her burial vault stands proudly near the mausoleum of her hubby, Suleiman I the Magnificent. It’s just weird that such a patriarchal people treat with so much respect the feminine essence embodied in one woman. Our guide Ibragim mentioned Roxelana about fifty times in the very least. Well, she was beautiful, so… I can’t say the same about myself, but the Turks probably had a different opinion. In two and a half days there was so much balm poured on my wounds that I could have opened a balm shop. We women don’t need notches on the bedpost in order to feel good. A look, a compliment, a click of the tongue, a gaping mouth is sufficient for us. But this is my usual rhetoric blooming on guilt, fat like black earth. And this is not supposed to be a story about me; it is a story about the beautiful city of Istanbul.

As for the heart, if not broken, then pretty much chipped, the Turks have a notion, publicized to the max – “kismet”, which means destiny, fate. If I were purely Russian, not the half-breed that I am, I would probably drain a shot of vodka, say “It’s not meant to be”, and stay home. But I don’t really like vodka, and I do believe in the almighty Fate, but not blindly. I’m an adept of the theory of forging your own happiness, but… there are times when the fire in the forge dies out, the hammer becomes too heavy to lift, and it’s too hard to blow the bellows… And still, despite all the difficulties, despite the pain, despite the cynicism that gets stronger and denser with the years, like cognac in an oak barrel, I waited in a small line to the Wish Column in Hagia Sophia (or the Sweating Column – it regularly gets covered in water drops of unknown origin), and completed the wish-making ritual in strict compliance with the rules. Our guide Ibragim told us how to do it. “Put your thumb in the hole, and turn your palm to 360 degrees. At that, don’t move your legs and torso, or else the wish won’t come true”. An amazing naïveté for a guide, but it had just added color to this rather surrealistic scene.

It is quite easy to turn your palm when keeping your thumb in the hole in the column. If you get the chance to go to Istanbul, visit Hagia Sophia and try. After all, there was a time when this temple-slash-mosque-slash-museum hosted real miracles. I’m not going to retell the travel guide here, let me just say this: Hagia Sophia is a great man-made miracle per se. When you get inside, you feel like a small insignificant little bug, literally nil, in front of the power of the Time and of the human genius. Of course, some day this majestic building will turn into dust, too, but it will take a long, long time. And now… imagine a Christian temple with a round dome (duly surrounded by minarets – Mohammed Fatih’s horse hoofed the marble floor in the greatest sanctuary of Constantine’s city for good reason, a big and Muslim reason). The temple rises to the height of a fifteen-story building, and somewhere in the middle it is surrounded by a mezzanine where tourists and ghosts mingle at leisure. And there are no words to describe the icons made in golden and colored mosaic. I stood in front of an icon depicting Christ for about half an hour, forgetting about the group, the guide, the crowds around, forgetting about my own self… I had the feeling that He posed for the artist Himself. Let the genetic engineers and hot news lovers say whatever they want, about Jesus being a typical Semite, dark-haired, with a thick nose and a bushy beard. For me personally He will always look like the man on the Hagia Sophia icon – fair, handsome, sad, with the kindness and the wisdom of the entire Universe in His eyes.

After making a mental sacrifice to the Wish Column, I walked round the mezzanine, following the jean-clad back of our guide, thinking already about Confucius and his warning: “Beware of the wishes, they sometimes come true”. And I was thinking: do I really need the wished one? Actually, I’m ready to take a risk, provided that the column fulfills its part of the deal. After all, disappointment in men is a kind of sport, too, a blood sport when you come to think of it. In fact, the ancient Greeks already knew that the goddess of love was a real bitch, and her sidekick with bow and arrow wasn’t a better person. And what is more, now they use the new technologies in their doings. Really, the polygamy had a grain of common sense in it. The Prophet Mohammed himself had several wives, although back then the Shari’ah didn’t exist even as a project yet. I saw the relics of this very Prophet in the relic museum at the Topkapı Sultan Palace. He was probably turning in his shrine at the sight of Northern girls, bare-shouldered because of the heat. And the Turkish women wearing black scarves, dark pants and long-sleeved blouses were probably jealous of us wearing tank tops and mini skirts. In fact, there are very few women on the streets in Istanbul, except for the tourists. They are probably at home, in the women’s wing, putting pearl necklaces around their necks, painting their nails red, taking care of children and ordering the maids around, as it becomes a normal Turkish wife. And this probably makes the great reformer Mustafa Kemal Ataturk twist in his grave for his turn.

The heat and the sun, the colors and the noise of Istanbul streets seemed to be a different world after the solemn silence of Hagia Sophia, a silence heavy with the burden of centuries – those enormous spaces and stone walls were absorbing even the usual tourist buzzing, although they were maybe silent, subdued by the grandeur of the temple. Those who say that Istanbul is a city of contrasts are wrong. All the things there are in perfect harmony. If you walk on a cobblestone street, you will see high buildings dominating the narrow walk, battered shops and signboards, and feel the smell of dust, spices and cats. If you walk into a mosque, you will hear the muezzin, punctual like a cuckoo in a grandfather clock, you will see colored tiles, soft carpets and will feel a strong smell of socks. If you pass by a square, you will see clean pavement, an obscure obelisk, pigeons, tourists, stands where you can buy fried corn or bagels, and thousands of flowers. The flowers of Istanbul deserve do be described in a separate essay, but to give them justice a thick volume would be the ticket. I never knew there were tulips of such colors and petals of such forms. And the wild, almost acid violet of the pansies couldn’t have been reproduced by the most skillful Photoshop handlers in their sweetest dreams. Moreover, the flowers are not planted at random along the streets. No, the sequence of colors, the forms of flowerbeds and the sorts of flowers are marked by such perfect harmony, such incredible and fine sense of taste, aesthetics, and botany to give the feeling of indescribable happiness similar to that generated by endorphins. And if you get to think about it, this happiness is caused by realizing that when the nature and the man are working together, the result of their work is something so entrancing and perfect that the writer is at loss what to write and the artist is at loss how to paint… And the main thing is that neither the nature nor the man, working separately, would have come to create something on a par.

I, the clumsiest photographer ever, have never regretted so much about not having a camera at hand, even the poorest one, even the cell phone that was getting bored alone in my cabin. Then I would be able to show pictures, say “cool flowers”, and get it over with, without sweating in the search of metaphors and comparisons. Actually, pictures of Istanbul parks can be found on the Internet, and they are probably made by much better photographers than me, a Quasimodo of photography, and my – ha ha – priceless prose is a much scarcer commodity, which is actually no reason to be happy about. Well, guys, what else can I say – the flowers in Istanbul are mega. Even the rainbow in the sky would be so jealous that it would twist into a spiral at the sight of them. And all this beauty is confined by the flowerbeds along the streets, but we have also seen parks where this splendor is arranged with a truly Oriental magnificence. First, there are literally millions of flowers; second, they are complete with trees in pink bloom, sycamores and cypresses, fountains and wooden benches where mommies, bundled up to their noses, rest with their babies in trolleys. This is some sort of meditation, I thought. You contemplate, and your head is totally empty of thoughts. Color – that’s all there is.

In the Ahmedie Mosque, or the Blue Mosque, as the tourists dubbed it, I didn’t pay much attention to our guide Ibragim’s story, as a) I was mingling in the tourists crowd, trying to escape the smell of socks, and b) it seemed much more interesting to me to look at the tiles close up, to catch fragments of talks in languages known and half-known to me, and to make eyes at a group of cute Italian guys. The only thing I remembered about the mosque is that it had six minarets, whereas the regular number was four or less, that a tile was sold at the Sotheby’s for about 30 thousand dollars, and the mosque boasted a huge number of tiles, and that it was dubbed Blue because the tiles were blue. Of course, it’s beautiful, it’s spacious, but a bit boring – carpets, tiles, and Arabic writing on the walls, and nothing else. Or maybe I wasn’t so much into it because Islam is not my religion, and even though I know some facts about it, and even tried to read the Koran, my heart wasn’t in awe. Making my way with difficulty among groups of variegated tourists, rocking the bag with my sandals (they make people take off their shoes at the entrance, y’all), I was just feeling happy. Feeling happy because I just had my pedicure done and my feet were a decent sight, because the Italian guys were making eyes back at me, because the day was warm and lovely, and because I had a great chance to practice my audial skills in Spanish, in addition to other ten-odd languages that I recognized. If my nose didn’t suffer so much because of the international summit of sock smells, I’m sure my pleasure would be greater. Except for that, I was enjoying it immensely. Blue is my favorite color, and because of the white-and-blue tiles the very air seemed blue. Blue light, blue dream, and God showing His face to humans not from austere icons but in minuscule particles dancing in a ray of light that also has blue hues in it.

After that, we were left to our own devices, and the bazaar was revealed to us. The very Oriental bazaar, for the description of which, as Soloviov said, “one would need two or even three big books”. As for me, description is a trifle, but for the coverage of all of its goods one would need two or three big moneybags. And the pleasure was both visual and tactile. The smooth silk, the soft rugged velvet, the buttery softness of cashmere, the weight of golden bracelets on the wrist, the feet indulging in the warm depths of pointed slippers, teasing spiky sequins on handmade lace scarves… And you can take home all of these for a moderate price, and, after the trip, at home, at some boring party, you can close you eyes, wrap the silk scarf around your shoulders, feel the embroidered flowers under your fingers, and wallow in memories about the city… it was not a city of angels… it was an ancient city, ancient but so young, a hot city smelling of cardamom coffee, a dreamy city falling asleep to the sounds of Bosporus waves, a rich and welcoming city, a city so beautiful that it makes you cry, a city of steep hills curving like the hip of a young odalisque, hills that are very difficult to climb, but when you make it to the top, even if your tongue is lolling out, you steady your breath, you take in the lovely view, drink strong sweet tea sitting near a fountain on an ornate rug, and the foreign words are like sounds of music to you… The old watch tower, the Galata Tower, is rising to the skies behind your back; beside you, on a bench, an antique grandpa with a beard to make the Prophet jealous, smokes a non-filter cigarette and his brown eye mischievously darts into the tourist girls’ cleavages. You can learn new Turkish words from the telephone cards seller as he doesn’t speak English, right next to the telecom shop a brawny guy, burly in an agricultural sort of way, sells cucumbers, oranges, and pineapples, peeled and literally put into your mouth for extra payment. People are just walking, not running, even though they obviously got stuff to do, and there is no wild convulsive rush that is so typical of megalopolises. The sea air is clean and fresh, and even in the port where fishermen sell their catch, there is no usual fish stink; actually, it is there but it doesn’t make you want to go somewhere a couple thousand miles away from the sea and never come back. And you lounge in the sun like a cat full of cream, and order more tea, and engage in lazy conversations, if you have someone to talk to, but in fact you mostly sit in silence, watching the city from the top of the hill, and you feel that it was and will always be like this – beauty and serenity.

There certainly are angels, too. But it’s hard to hear the rustle of their wings when on the Spice Street a bagel seller yells right into your ear: “Hot bagels, just one lira!”, he’s awfully loud, but not loud enough to block the Sufi music from the national musical instruments shop next door, and other marketing yells like: “Yesse, please, applye tee, vyery goode!”. You can only hope that your personal angel won’t let you get run over by a high-tech tram, catch a cold under the swift sea rain, fall from the bridge over the Golden Horn, while you rush for new impressions and pleasures. And then there is the ship again, your cabin that feels like home already, and the usual mess in it, and dreamless sleep in the waiting for tomorrow…

Tomorrow brings the trip to the Sultan Palace, the Topkapı, the relics museum and the Sultans’ treasuries where a bowl full of fist-sized emeralds, amazingly beautiful aigrettes, 80-carat diamonds, and 49-kilograms solid gold candlesticks are most ordinary things. There was another hall where the Sultan rags were displayed. Huge caftans made in red-and-gold brocade looked impressive, especially in contrast with my friend’s grandpa’s words who said when seeing her in a mini skirt: “Why, you couldn’t afford enough fabric for the skirt?” After that, we went to another bazaar, a foods one, where we walked the Spice Street, and saw such spices and such sweets that any sweet-tooth, after seeing and trying those (and you can try everything there), would realize that heaven on earth does exist. I also have to mention the dinner and Oriental show at the Orient House restaurant, with ethnic music and the inevitable belly dancing, quite predictable but still I have to say it was quite captivating. But the number I liked most were the Dervish dances. Two guys in white caftans were simply turning on the spot… on one foot… with eyes closed… for twenty minutes! And the music was matching the dances – real Dervish music. Well, there were many things in the show, as they say, “baloney for tourists”, but the night was wonderful nevertheless. So was the lamb steak.

I could tell as well about our walks in the Karaköy port district, the story of May 1 demonstrations and the congregation of policemen – this year was the first year when the authorities allowed the left-wingers to make a demonstration instead of the usual riots, and we were strongly recommended not to go to the European part of the city but to stay in the port area. So, at 10 AM we were having breakfast in a street café – my friend was having toasts, and I opted for lamb pilaf with veggies and a huge dose of red pepper – and we were watching the TV set above the counter displaying the spirited Istanbul crowd raving in the downtown. Unfortunately, I could not understand what the reporter was talking about, and what the requirements of the protesters were. I know four words in Turkish, and two of them are swear words. Actually, in two days I’ve learned a couple of new ones, like “kız güzel”, which means “beautiful girl”. But I am sure these words were said not to me, but to a Ferrari rushing down the street or a new Sony Ericsson model displayed in a showcase.

Of course, I didn’t relate the events in strict chronological order, but it doesn’t matter. Actually, the thing that matters can be summed up by one phrase. Istanbul is a festive city, it is never humdrum, it is never ordinary, and it is certainly never cold, evil, depressive and aggressive like the northern cities, even when rain pours over it. It is hot not because of the warm climate, but because it has heat in the heart, and is generously sharing the heat with us, random guests, who, as usual, are shown only the best things. If I notice some things of the sort that are not shown to the guests, I will surely tell you about them next time when I go there, because I intend to come back to Istanbul. After all, this is love at first trip, and love, while it’s alive, requires closeness.


Ballads of Beauty. 9. "How did our airplanes fall".

It’s no mean feat
Getting blistered by heat
And cold that conjured the frightening demons of ice
If you call it love, baby, make sure you think twice

It’s no good way
Saying goodbye and stay
You were the dream, the beautiful figment of mind
I was one, too – the blind was loving the blind

How our pretenses have shattered, how did our airplanes fall
How had the glossy paint come off our true intentions
I guess we both had had to remember and mention
The need to keep up the charade or keep nothing at all

Future is lies
The past – consummated desires
Put your cards on the table, feel my scent through the haze
You were too hard to please, I was too hard to amaze

Don’t get me wrong
I have loved you for so long
That inertia crept upon us, and distorted the real
I can’t possibly take it no more, so I’m breaking the deal.


© 2010. Anastasia Duchevski

Monday, September 22, 2014

Ballads of Beauty. 8. "Don't look at the sun, Eagle Eye".

Don’t look at the sun
Eagle eye
Don’t fall for the one
Who can lie

The sun is too bright
They are, too
You might lose your sight
That won’t do

Got used to the lies
The "love you’s"
Your own paradise
Is what you choose

You’re happy with your
Faith in fake
What you hate, you ignore
Big mistake

You believed he’s the one
In your mind
So you’ll look at your sun
Till you’re blind

But then you come back home, and start a fire
And all you think about is his face
His way to speak, his way to walk in grace

And you forget that he is just a liar.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Ballads of beauty. 13. "If only I would know".

If Only (I Would Know)

What could I write that you would sing about
What could I say to make it to your world
All tenderness untold
To have and to behold
I will increase tenfold
All of my love for you
You know my words are true
If only I would know what you would sing about

The words escape to freedom from my being
The only way I have to reach to you
They are so weak and few
Oh, if I only knew
Before my yearning grew
Just who you really are
A demon or a star
Before the words escaped to freedom from my being

I will accept all pains and all deceptions
For just a feeble chance to make you mine
My love can’t help but shine
Exquisite and divine
So easy to define
Who are you? I don’t care
As long as love is there
Protecting both of us from pains and from deceptions.


© 2010. Anastasia Duchevski

Ballads of Beauty. 7. "We are still at war".

It’s been days, months, years, and we’re still at war
A dagger would be less blood than your sweetest words
A murder would be more mercy than your tenderness
A lie would be more like truth than your true intents

I keep telling myself: I didn’t deserve all this
The goodbyes that hurt the most are in fact the bliss
As they’re followed by new hellos and feelings anew
What foolish a role for me, and what fun for you

I’m a loser, baby
This is your victory
I’ll surrender, maybe,
If you promise to set me free
I am tired of fighting back
I am tired of my winning stance
Let the whitest of lies go black
Let the killing move be a dance

‘T was the darkest desire and the purest of sacrifice
‘T was the white of the virtue, the red of the vilest vice
Bleak oblivion for you, perennial memory for me
Plenty of light, but no intention to see

Now the taste of the freedom so bitter on my dry lips
Is that my heart, the thing that so painfully beats?
Dying love takes a lot away when it’s gone
Leaving nothing behind for who might have been the one.

© 2010. Anastasia Duchevski


Query for THE DURRELL BROTHERS AND MOTHER'S CHERRY JAM: A ME-AMOUR MEMOIR

Dear Agent,


The Query Shark taught me (not to overindulge in "that") submissions with queries for interesting but "mute" works lacking its creator's true voice were, are, and will invariably be a false start. Boo-ho interjection to balance the long-ass sentence.

A music lover with a good ear and a pretty little voice will not contend against Susan Boyle with "Three Little Maids from School Are We" . Usually sung in the shower exclusively, mind you. A moderately talented yet hardworking artist will not contend against Botticelli with a Google doodle.

A mathematician will not tackle Fermat's Last Theorem after his first-ever algebra class... or will, with a chance of 50%. Well, math bug carriers are in fact aliens, so whatever they do to contact the mother ship, it does not apply to Earthlings.

As for writers, well, we are the elite, aren't we?

Word is our sword! Those geeks have 7 notes and/or 7 colors, and we have 26 cool tools!

We have glyph, we have runes, we have icons, diacritics, punctuation, and Cyrillic and Arabic Twitterspeak!

...and rhymes in prose! and poems shaped like maple leaves or apples! and Dada! and rhythm is the dancer, dadadadadada!

and the @DrunkenPoetryExperiment who has never heard of Omar Khayyam and the Rubaiyat, or he wouldn't have called it an experiment!

.... and pics and music and video we pilfer off the nets, and selfies for multimedia books everybody is watching but nobody is reading!

and digits! Lists, bullets - wow, here's the SEO cavalry!

Cue Alphanumeric Party 2014 with blackjack, Gilbert and Sullivan, and scarlet letters!

Ye-ha, we #arewriting!

Then we have informational hangover and bad breath, but we query.

We do it head, feet, then entire anatomy first, as soon as we type the last words of what we think was an edit. Well, the thing we've actually done is a bit of sloppy proofreading. I do not dare start you on differences between revision and developmental edit...

 In some cases, we query as we finish typing THE END - literally as soon as that, convinced that masterpieces don't need extra work and that less is more.

With our own signature girlish glee i.e. the publishing world's equivalent of "EEH-Ah! EEH-Ah!" , we start our social media campaigns.

I should probably omit to mention our occupational disease - a bunch of Marquis de Sade/ Leopold von Sacher-Masoch complexes. But I won't.

Why?

Because we all want to be Rowlings and Martins. Tomorrow, and preferably before the TGIF cocktail with Timberlake.

Bah! Humbug!

Intermission

Like, when you write a nazire (Old Farsi for "poetic reply") to the DrunkExperiment - sorry, I am failing to work "poetry" into THAT, not a single soul pays attention... and your circle is mostly writers and digital marketers... so here it goes:

'Tis not the time you care for,/  'Tis not a place you need,/  'Tis bottom of your wine cup/  You only need to heed. 
#Rubaiyat

Ah, I know. He thought I was mocking him. Well, sorry. I thought I was writing drunk poetry experiments, although my own alcohol intake is one beer per month.

Yeah, well, everybody thinks their favorite foods are really good. And all other foods suck. Just watch Frasier and Niles vs. Martin Crane vs. Daphne Moon and Roz Doyle. Not to mention Eddie. My favorite bit is shoes nuked in the microwave and Frasier: "Uhh, the English Cooking strikes again!"

Incidentally, I think the "dads" of Venus in Furs and Justine are probably turning in their graves like industrial ventilators. In the XXIst century, their immensely important works are respected more and more each day because people never stop reading them. Well, the tendency is good. Only well-to-do people can afford classical education, and the "golden billion" motion vector is towards "golden trillion" - we create so much value nowadays.

It was easy for me. It was a good year when I was born. The world was buzzing about the Moscow Olympics - the 1980's Sochi 2014 and The Ice Bucket Challenge rolled into one.

I was born in a tiny Soviet republic. Today, it happens to be the geopolitical crossroads of Eurasia - again.

Homeland.

Moldova.

I was born and raised in a multilingual culture where education and medicine were free of charge. At all times, at all levels.

The Soviet criminal law, however, dictated that all unemployed people must go to prison i.e. the dreaded GULAG.

The biggest and baddest country in the world did not want for stuff to do, naturally, so the "I can't find a job" adage could only buy you one free ride. To the madhouse.

Intermission

Sorry, I had to stop and guffaw. I usually don't go hysterical over my own jokes, but this particular memory made me, well, temporarily disabled:

Part of High School chapter from My Me-Amour Memoir:

- "publishing" a humorous "newspaper" (hand-written jokes and caricatures) titled "Enough To Make A Chicken Laugh",

- then becoming an instant celebrity as Nicky and Christina were in Barcelona sent to the principal's office because they brayed so hard, they disrupted French class,

- all because of my creation - a dreadful caricature of Brad Pitt sitting on a hillock among goats and shaking, with the caption: Seven Years in Aulde Cuntsvillage, which sounds 10 times funnier in Romanian Moldovan dialect,

- then selling it for actual money that buy me and my friends lots of pie feasts in the school lobby buffet,

 - like, once I bought a stack of 15 pies for - er, let me think... 25 cents. And we all went to MickeyD to get milkshakes, then went to the park,

- I also had caricatures of all the stars I saw on MTV in 1997:

- Madonna - Don't Cry For Me Argentina - crying broad in business suit and bling. Resemblance: 0%

- Notorious B.I.G. - I'll be Missing You - a grave, a cross, and a noir joke caption,

Artist: Anastasia Stratu. 5x5 inches, school notebook paper (lines, squares), pen, pencil.

Quite the auction item... if these little bits of paper weren't floating on the waves of Lethe right now.

- etc. - Actually, I could redraw them and scan them....

Well, today I have professional experience in the field of multilingual humor. In 2003, when in Moscow, I translated Bob Dole's Presidential Wit into Russian... cover to cover.

I also did the poetry, which earned me the following bonus: "ooh, you shouldn't have done it, but thank you", and 200 dollars they still owe me. Not to mention the acclaim, because I was the guest worker/ ghost translator, or, as the politically correct Russian publishing oligarchs used to say, literary Uncle Tom.

But I didn't care. The work was excruciating, true (2002-2005, Moscow, two burnouts down, two more to go)... but the pay was good, the networking was mega-excellent, the lover was well-to-do... what else a modest 22-year-old Moldovan girl needs? Sleep, maybe... and less terrorism.

Back to USSR... how happy you are?

Yes, you are generally not a couch potato and you want to work. So, if you graduated from anything after secondary school, you got the raspredelenie, i.e. for the next 3-5 years, you worked and lived in the place where the government told you to be. It was all up to your grades and family connections. Sometimes in that order exactly. Sometimes in reverse.

This is why Russians are so resourceful and so unlike us. We love working and spending. They love vodka and praying for/ stealing/ otherwise acquiring their daily bread.

We don't fancy ourselves as great thinkers - we grow livestock and make wine, teach, drive red bikes, translate and read. "[They] Do Not Sow" and spend their time inventing a whole lot of ways to make others work for them. Little smiley here - verbal, not the one transforming into a little miss turd on your Mac screen.

Back to the questions for the blog. My question is - why???

Why, when we have the fruit of so many great minds in the world literature, many writers today are inclined to learn from Fifty Shades of Grey?

Potter is OK. Although the "Potter Is Gay" trend started as early as in 2010, I personally learned a lot from Ms. Joan "Intellectual Elite" Rowling. If I had the honor and privilege to meet her, I would tell her I understand how painful it is for a writer to give birth to what the world believes to be your Opus Magnum at such young age... and would tell her that I would love to reread the HP series with Tom Riddle as male lead and POV character... because I know Harry's POV version virtually by heart and rereading or re-listening the audio version by Mr. Stephen "Mellifluous" Fry is no longer fun, alas.

... and that beautiful and totally disgusting Game of Thrones, which I love and hate with all the energy of a junkie mid-rehab course.

ASOIAF does have deep cultural, semiotic, and anthropological layers, interesting signifier-signified and denotation-connotation instances, and complex subtext-text-context-metatext structure...

(Well, my dear late mentor Silvia Harnau, requiescat in pace, was Umberto Eco's and Thomas Sebeok's apprentice, so... it shows, doesn't it?)

....but if we strip GoT of Stark honor, Targaryen glamour, Baratheon comicality, Lannister gold, and of idiocies they all commit, which makes the characters totally unrelatable, all of them, even Daenerys. Remove the three bugaboos - sex, violence, and F-bombs - and we will get a well-written soap opera...

...for all that, the Red Viper snake-head-busting was pretty much a fart in a pond, excuse me, because even the most inveterate fans became critical. Overcooked over-salted mega-tasty fast-food, et punctum. P.S. This is why G.R.R.M. is a genius.

Well, I am A.D.D.C.S., a genie rather than a genius, and my agenda is just to make people smile. Fire and Blood with my order of foie gras? No thanks, I'll have a Kir Royal.

Yeah... after three years in Moscow, Khaleesi would have hatched Balerion the Black Dread, put him in a Louis Vuitton purse, and take him to Vogue Cafe to talk about publishing with her American sharkstar friends.

And solved her reproductive problems, and cloned Khal Drogo (and enrolled him in West Point, too - the source version was a bit uncouth), on her way to a Vekselberg yacht party. Instagram would rejoice. Turd smiley here.

50 years from today, GoT will not be "even bigger", unless Oculus Rift and Morpheus Project are commercialized - I mean the virtual reality projects of Sony and Facebook.

The GoT mass cultural phenomenon will either die slowly, because there is a thing called critical mass, or it will join the halls of fame, or be remembered as...

... "that medieval stuff with tits and weenies - on that old-school Internet where toddlers with something called iPads could see it all. And they had some weird MG-YA-NA-A rules then. I don't know what that means, son, you'll have to go to the VR parlor and Google it."

(For all that, I speak pretty intelligible High Valyrian.... Valyrio muno engo nuhys issa... shh...)

OK. More why? questions.

Why do we pretty much neglect talking about:


Ayn Rand - who is Alpha, not Omega! (motto of post-objectivists);

(I left my copy of Atlas Shrugged in Kishinev... My ex-fiance ordered it on Amazon.co.uk in Ireland and brought it to me as a New Year gift. I gave him a crisp new medical coat. Henry reciprocated with a mega stylish hat.

The hat's here in Montreal, which shows I am a rag hag, not the artsy-fartsy lady whose picture I am drawing with words right now.)

 Amelie Notomb - whose Fear and Trembling title pretty much sums up my reaction to both the movie and the book...

(That small paperback, a treasured possession of mine, is a memoir of a Belgian girl born and raised in Japan, going home, then returning as an adult to work for a year in a typical 90's Japanese corp... with zaibatsu and other animals.

And it was pretty much like my Canadian Bentley Leathers experience, only mine is slapstick comedy with tongue-in-cheek elements.

Stupeur et Tremblement the movie is sakura-scented heart-piercing drama... with a few comic relief moments that are simply hysterical on that backdrop, and the music score is 100% Beethoven... 

My original unabridged copy came to me through an Ambassador's daughter in Rome, Italy, who UPS-ed it to my friend and former client Nicholas Kuzmin, editor of Expert Magazine in Almaty, Kazakhstan, who sent it by snail mail to me, to Kishinev, Moldova. All because I said I couldn't buy the original French version anywhere in the area... and expressed a modest wish.

Today, I am frustrated because I gave it to a friend of a friend of a friend... and naturally, it was lost. Also, I cannot locate Nicholas... because his name's like John Smith, and he does not reply to my e-mails... but I will never forget him.

We did kazworld.info together for a couple of years. He also owes me a little bit of money, but that's negligible on the backdrop of our relationship that lasts, I think, for a couple of reincarnations already...)

OK, can I borrow some writer's block from, I don't know, people who complain about it? I feel I have graphorrhea - the other extreme... well, Leo Tolstoy had it, just like the nasty habit to do rewrites - he rewrote War and Peacefour times, which is not an urban myth, but something I learned in 8th grade....

Nejma - whose Amande. Un recit intime opens doors to women's wings in Morocco houses, and shows the Muslim sexuality as it is.  Nejma wrote and published this memoir in France, and is now wanted in the ISIS world, and if she is ever extradited, she will be burned at the stake, or so the 2008 book store gossip went.

Sir Salman Rushdie, William Somerset Maugham, The Durrell Brothers, Umberto Eco, Carlos Castaneda, the classics, etc., etc., etc.?

Have we learned everything we can from them?

Will any of us ever reach that threshold when, unlike Socrates, we will say, I know everything!

Did they have infinitesimal sales? Did some of them die the gruesome death of

The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonor'd, and unsung?

Or is it just me who gets goosebumps not because winter is coming - yeah, in Canada, this is kinda news to us.... but because this is Sir Walter Scott?

Do I hang out outside my target audience/market/niche?

Why Amazon.com? Why not the Gutenberg Project?

Or am I just a jejune "bring-culture-to-the-masses" caped crusader?

Am I fated to watch really nice YouTube ads of Chanel and Marriott Hotel, and that would be it? The only reaction of the nets to me?

And will I lose hordes (or is it herds? excuse the cynicism) of Followers in the social media?...

... just because I have been hiding my grumpy elitist self behind plain denim and khaki army tops and Game of Thrones audio books for some time? And now am back to silk and lace and silly hats and opera and Sir Salman? Also back to Ecco sandals, coral army tops and turquoise beads in plait a la Parvati Patil with The Prodigy Essentials as accompaniment? And am therefore not being myself?

Because everybody tells me nobody likes smartypants immigrants? Because I dare not to care?

Ah. Right. Western culture is where nerds are treated worse than Hindu pariahs.

Which is why, when your high-school chess-club chew-toy classmate operates on your prostate 30 years later, dear Imaginary Jock, use your two IQ points, please, to read off a little piece of paper: I trust you do not poss-ess a vin-dic-tive na-ture?

The Big Bang Theory helps. But it has a specific albeit large target audience. I am so happy it is growing. Well, we are all Outernationals today - that's one. Two: you don't need to know advanced integral calculus to laugh your butt off watching Penny go up the stairs, call herself Queen of Nerds, while Howard is staring at her butt.

Intermission

I have recently had a vivid Freudian TBBT-themed night dream. I was in Kishinev circa now, dating Dan Balan's little brother - you see, Dan, his O-Zone band, and I are alumni of The No.1 French-Romanian Lyceum in the City formerly known as Soviet School No.1 of Kishinev... 

OK, enough namedroppings... although it is in line with Larry Durrell's jibe about the seagull Aleco and them threatened to go about the house waist-deep in guano....

Anyway, I dumped the boy because he was 16 and I could not bed him legally (GoT 18+?). SUDDENLY, I am in L.A., and Chuck Lorre meets me, and he says he needs a young woman for a crazy Russian both-brainer nerd pride activist for his new Nerds Victorious show, and I say yes, and they cast me, and I say hi to Mr. Parsons and Ms. Cuoco-Sweeting, and we shake hands, and... I wake up.

I don't need Marie-Anne Lenormand to tell me my ids and superego want Fame whereas Anastasia merely wants to be friends with interesting people and to find a normal boyfriend. But I believe in sublimation, you know.

Although I'd love a reading from my late Grandma... she was a bit of a village witch... but I am sure she is in her own brand of heaven now.

What's the matter, Mary Jane?
It's been a hard day.
So place the "Don't Disturb" sign on the door... (c) Alanis Morrissette

Yeah... so here I am, in Canada, home to my favorite ladies Nelly Furtado and Alanis, and Celine, and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named (Bieber)

I am relatively freshly arrived from a culture where the nerds bully the dummies. That's a minus. Montreal and Toronto are brimming with my friends and classmates. That's a plus.

Our classification did not depend on body shape, or parents' money, or how many shoes you have, and whether you wear pink on Wednesday.... only intellect and temperament made you who you wanted to be. 

Buff brainiacs and skinny pale dummies look as normal to me as the regular American teenage sitcom cast. I myself contracted the bug of weightlifting and power sports at 29 from my radio personality rock band front-man friend Paul Shnaps. Dancing and swimming I loved always. So I'm a jock; bite me.

Only joking, of course. Great-grandma Anastasia Duchevski-Braga is also resting; I don't want her to turn in her grave - what if she can somehow hear me talk like that in earnest?..

Well, the metaphor is lame and moot, I agree. I never knew her. Great-grandma Anastasia died three months after I was born. I was named after her as my mother Eugenia was her favorite out of 13 grandchildren.

My social group couldn't even begin to imagine spending their free time in therapy or hiding in lockers, and we never had locker culture anyway. We carried our stuff in huge bags back and forth every day. That was a form of post-Soviet sadistic fitness, I am sure.

 No, we had a starry-eyed surprise of a universe full of extracurricular activities - not chess or archery camps, but circles... dancing circle, languages circle, poetry circle, aerobics circle etc.... 

Summer camps were fun, too. the Soviet and post-Soviet summer educational programs were legendary. It is sufficient to Google Artek (camp). Trust me, this is the direct opposite of GULAG.

I never went to a camp per se - well, with my parents and my childhood rules... to let their precious little greenhouse orchid to go thousands of miles away? Alone? (Educators and other kids didn't count.) With boys in the same town? No way, Jose.

Well, there was also a totally non-funny case when I was abducted and almost raped at age 8, but my love for nature i.e. Gerald Durrell by proxy saved me... but that's a long story, and it's 3 AM here....

...anyway, I got my proper passage into womanhood with my first and then-very-much-beloved boyfriend Drew, Muscat wine and a hot tub soon after I turned 18... very romantic. We did it on the birthday of my favorite poet, too.

And it was funny, like pretty much everything in my Laughing-Buddha-worthy life.

Well, a Russian classic said no fiction was ever as captivating as life is. All stories are true.

Anyway. Back to Drew.

My BFF Diana sent me a joke birthday card from Mannheim, with a joke condom stuck to it. And Drew and I were both idiots, and too young to think that we should invest in expensive and effective contraceptives...

... and here is yet another blessing of those that would take both my fingers and toes to count: I did not get to plan a pregnancy yet and therefore was never pregnant. No Dead Souls to my account, thank God.

 So Drew brought me in his arms to the queen size bed in my coming-of-age-gift - my new apartment...

(from which the six-months chaperon has recently cleared out...)

... and...

...it was probably the German Teerex who shagged me...

 .... because the actual experience was like pushing a Steinway through a porthole.

Anyway. Back to summer camp.

I did not make a scene about wanting to go Artek - the haven of straight-5 pupils. a) I was never one for crowds or mobs or throngs - figures, right? and b) I knew it was like begging for water in Sahara.

And I wasn't a teenager yet, so the "talks" with Mama were still dormant, waiting to rear their... I mean, to kick in.

So I just said - there is a summer camp near the village, and my BFF is like resident there for the entire summer. Can't we compromise?

So that blessed summer, for an entire month, I traveled hither and thither with the milk truck and the supper truck as they were bringing supplies to the camp and taking dirty dishes back to the village. And I even stayed one night, but never saw the little fairy who allegedly appears at midnight, if you throw white metal coins into a bowl of water, while hiding behind your bedpost...

Yeah... the air in that truck was quite rarefied. Smiley turd here.

Years later, aforesaid Paul nicknamed your humble servant "Duchess". Well, it is kind of on the nose... and people would never believe it wasn't me who made up this pompous nickname for myself.  So I decided to say I was flattered and to close the subject.

"Will Madame check her pole? Or will she keep it up her butt?" (c) Dharma and Greg

No, I am not a tantrum kid - even as a baby, I rarely yelled and bawled... maybe once, when my big brother put two plums hamster-like into my mouth, so I would shut up, and ran away to play with his chums... Mama was slaving at what passed for laundry at a collective farm in 1981 beyond the Iron Curtain...

... in a picturesque village with no central heating, or gas... we had water and electricity and were grateful. It was decreed by Lenin, not by Stalin, that the electrification of the country was a top priority. But in truth, many still used oil lamps... after the 1980 Moscow Summer Olympics, mind you. You guys had Jobs and Wozniak already. We had, well, this...

Probably, this is why it is impossible to shut me up today. I am rebelling. Although I love plums - and all fruit or berry except grapes. My Mama's a fruit nut, too. She must have at least an apple per day, otherwise, she's unhappy.

... But when I was six months old, I did not have that information yet. So I just sat there, gagged and immobilized like a regular Stockholm Syndrome candidate. Mama, after several hours of silence, started suspecting something and came over to check on me.

Yikes. Hamster baby with big green-gray eyes full of tears. sitting like a bird in a nest i.e. the hand-made play pen her big brother made for her with his own hands out of old apple containers - real wood! - and with a lot of Papa's most expensive three-inch nails.  No Monsanto for this girl, please. Anyway. Mama horrified.

Vadiiim! Vadiiiim!

Bupkes Vadim. Vadim yok.

 Papa about to come from work.

Vadim Dimitri Stratu, 9 years old, gangling, wiry, fair-skinned, blond hair, green eyes, ears like satellite dishes on a condo building... wanted and dangerous!

Bottom line: baby Nastiona red-faced and sniveling and bawling, Papa so irate, he's breathing fire. Mama trying to protect her special boy from a Tom-Sawyer-worthy punishment... Snafu in the purest sense of the word.

Well, you must be familiar with the mega hilarious bestseller "Playing Moldovans at Tennis" by Tony Hawks... I guess, dear Ms. Reid, this is the point where I pop the question?

By the way, they made a movie already. I just Googled it... and it's Sunday morning. Wow, I am so happy right now. Smiley turd here.

Or maybe will re-watch R.E.D. - the final scene, where Bruce Willis romps around Tiraspol... I remember the audience's reaction when we went to see R.E.D. to the Shopping MallDova cineplex... Wild.

Well, we're 50% Romans and 50% Dacians, so... coldness and snootiness no pasaran!

So. The question. I noticed you around... I find you very professional... would you consider representing me, Janet?

Sorry, no virtual scotch invented yet. But this is the visionary's job. To figure out stuff like that... provided there is the respective number of zeroes on the respective cheques... and preferably "more than at a bookstore's door when Mr. Spock has a book signing".

(Totally non-PC joke pilfered from Frasier.)


Back to school

Every now and then, my classmates left the "circles of life" as their parents immigrated. Today, some of them I cannot find on Facebook probably teach astrophysics at Berkeley or manage the Fermi. If they had been Hindu, they would have been called Rajesh Ramayan Koothrappali, and nuff said. Namaste.

Today, all my friends are Somebodies, starting with the current Moldovan President's son Nicu with whom we were at the Lyceum in the same year, and with whom I flirted very delicately, just a little, a couple of years ago.... 

Well, back then his Papa, now - President Timofte, was just an obscure politician, Nicu was TV football presenter, and he was gorgeous, and I wore my black lace gloves and black-and-white ensemble avec fantasy tie, and pink Palmers lingerie that day, so who can blame me? Didn't work, though.

Moldovan girls are modelly and numerous, guys are few and VERY picky. And I ain't no pixie, even when there isn't an ounce of fat on me....So the party was over, and so were we.

....That party was at the Kishinev apartment of my friend and classmate Natalia whose husband Radu was Attache at the Moldovan Embassy in Washington D.C. at the time. "Big deal" scoff to balance the long-ass namedroppings sentence.

Here's another thing to balance the scales: in bourgeois homes back then, it was en vogue to decorate walls with carpet pictures, like icons or flowers or stuff made of little bits of carpet and prints. 

So I see a contraption like this and ask: "Wow, what a pretty picture, who's the artist?"

My parents have a carpet Jesus, but He is totally recognizable, you see.

The hostess, Natalia's mother, looks at me as if I've just crawled from under a log in da jungle, and says haughtily but politely, in perfect replica of Kitty Montgomery,

"Leonardo da Vinci, dear. "The Last Supper".

I think back then, in 2008, I pre-invented the Internet meme "FFFFF****CCCCK!"

Bite me, Doamna Whatsyourname!

When I left for Canada, I gave my art to my parents whose old, humble but large, light, and clean home with pastel-colored walls are now decorated Anastasia style, from rafters to sauna!

Henry loved it there, too.

Alas. I hate modern art. Bright silk batiks with elves, flowers and butterflies dominate the collection. Red poppies, Daenerys Targaryen  holding a black egg, haystack batik (Papa's favorite).... a ginger cat catching red and green fish in a Cubist aquarium with fish bones by his tail... 

I see the ginger cat, the live cats - I call it the new cat farm enterprise - and my parents almost every day in Skype.

I remember it as my Tara, my Drogheda... 

....or Paradise temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

My father is getting old and indifferent. Sometimes I feel he has more fun with cats live than with us in Skype. My mother is even more a Fiona Armstrong Cleary than I - a Scarlett. With the exception that my father and her husband is still alive, and I pray he stays healthy for a hundred years more...

I recently scraped up 20 bucks and sent them some glucosamine...

Oh, hell, this is transforming into a sob story. Moving on.

 I'd rather be an Anastasia Steele, for that matter.

Wait. I was. For 7 months of BDSM (shh.. don't tell Mother). Didn't work. Both sadist. And it hurts sometimes.

Yikes. I'd rather be Justine O'Neill - she became my favorite in the end... as I grew up. (tongue-in-cheek so sharp I think I have a new dimple).

Anyway, back to the party.

After a brief metaphorical knockout, I try to save face. "No, Doamna Whatsyourname, it's not a Leonardo!"

Yeah, no shit.

'But it is, dear! See? There's Jesus!"

One more minute of this, and a) I am going to resort to some form of violence like mental pictures of boxing and... wait, Game of Thrones was an obscure fantasy novel then, or b) she's going to tell me Santa is not coming tonight, because it's April, and I am going to do something unpredictable and scary.

Cue quotes from the entire Art Gallery subscription I had at that moment.

Madam Kapatsina mollified.

Phew. Smoke. Holly Golightly style. Black lace gloves and all.

Ah. Pearls, too.

The President's son married a skinny b*tch a couple of years later.

I'm only joking. If I go on like this, 95% of Moldovan women would be skinny b*tches. Nope. Just a girl. Pretty, smart, cooks, cleans, makes kids by the bucketful, diamonds all about her - the whole Stepford Easter Blowout package.

I wonder if they give you one at the store for free, if you divorce the old one under a prenup...

"His loss." (c) Frasier.

"Thank you, Lord, for letting this cup pass from me." (c) me.

We had no idea the concept of Most Likely to Succeed was a thing. For us, the post-Soviet intelligentsia born on the rim between Generation X and Generation Y, who turned 20 in 2000, it was a bit redundant.  I am sorry if I sound brazen or supercilious. I do not intend to offend the beautiful WWWestern cultural anthropology. I am writing in English today, aren't I?

I just want to say that in my classes of 1998 and 2002, everyone was likely to succeed. Even the dummiest dummies who caught enough economics-babble and psychobabble to start their own businesses, were likely to succeed. Megabrain training is a top priority for a Ph.D., not a man who sells window frames in Eastern Europe... and earns much more than the former.

For all that, nobody has the world on a string. Roses and champagne : shit and heartache usually come in perfectly equal proportion to any kind of person, to any kind of life. Pray forgive the platitude and the expletive.

Russia has her period. Again. Well, they call it a cycle for a reason.

India is as messy as ever, no matter how much you eat pray love and outsource Santa to that beautiful hell.

China will be China. I know a little bit about psychology, in line with Diana Krall's song, but I have no idea how the Chinese really think... they are more alien to me than Klingons.

Although I love their poetry. Don't speak the language yet, though. My long-term new languages agenda concerns Portuguese and Arabic. Those Li Bai poems were translated from Russian into English.

The Eurozone is just the geopolitical equivalent of an old toothless but still strong Edward Cullen with non-idiot Volturi circling him like, well, vultures but not daring to start the victory martini-shaking yet.

The Third world states mind their own business.

Africa with its safari, blood diamonds, and baas rule remains what it always was - bananas. The cradle of life and our backup files in case of an Apocalypse Now.

Ah, almost forgot. Someone should write a real good eulogy for icecaps.

Well, the Earth Inc. server is not infallible, and God's patience is not infinite like Himself.

It just boils down to a simple equation. WWWest vs BRIC with ISIS playing both sides against the middle. Cute.

Mal du siecle. Except for us it's mal du millennium.

Now, finally, shall we proceed to personalizing queries? Well, if you kept reading to this point, what do I have to lose?

I am sorry. I just love telling stories - in writing and as a public speaker. Rhetoric Art, Diplomacy, Negotiations classes used to be my favorite, not to mention speeches at student conferences.

Clown school remains what it was - a pipe, or, rather, a Dunhill dream.

Well, my Chinese zodiac sign is Monkey. A Scorpio to boot. Although, according to some versions of sidereal astrology, I am exactly that new whangdoodle. Opiuchus.

"Do you like me now?" The Libertine Johnny Depp would ask.

So.

1. I wrote a query template for my Sol Vortex literary project, and Dear Ms. Requin Reid was my customization homework setter. However, I can personalize it for male sharks: Dear Mr. Requin Axelrod.

Dear Ms. Requin Reid,

Title: THE TRUE STORY OF THE VORTEX. THE CONCEPTION FILES.

Genre: Technofantasy.

Word count: ~159,000 words.

Tagline. All stories are true.

PROTASIS.
Node. Agata "Gate" Carson, the queen of undecided color on the story's chessboard, finds it easier and easier to choose between the "black" and the "white":

----- KADE warlords' badassery and trigger-happy attempts to "influence the influencer",
or
----- Rob Nolementar and his fellow Luminites, whose agenda is even more selfish,

... as the need to choose throws her into a charmingly lethal vortex of causes and consequences.

(X) Major psychological setback punctuating the hard decisions Query Shark loves so much/ (Y) Luuuv as primordial choice-determining factor Pick one. Or both.

X. A caring and decent soul's struggle of self-preservation vs. impartiality - "Luminites and KADE Emissaries are all my own, Rob, but you are protecting me from them!"

Y. Rob Nolementar is her lover. They are quite crazy about each other, too.

Aside. Yeah, you always find it kinda easy to choose sides... when both are asking for the same favor, but only one will obviously whack you afterwards so you won't change your mind.

Whoa! Cruxes.

Whom will Gate help to win in the Last War?
Will she understand KADE and their dire need for change, which, in theory, can justify any means?
Will she favor her Luminite protectors?
Will she change the future of the Sol Vortex or keep the status quo? Just as she planned from the start?

The point. To tip the balance of forces, thus changing the political regime in a clustered society.


Who I am. I know you do not require this section, but in classical queries, you are supposed to take one paragraph to prove why you are qualified to be an author. So, who am I?

An alter egos convention - not to confuse with multiple personality disorder:

***** Multilingual Fox - speak five, understand three more, 16 years in the language services, still love it, although the fire is

embers for: translation | terminology | German and Italian | interpreting | proofreading | lexicology | language services management;
still burning hot for: structural linguistics | consulting | negotiator-jitsu | semiotics;
blazing ultra for constructed languages aka conlangs. Valyrio Engosso Ydrassis?

***** Metatag Hag - when writing articles on social media management and marketing.
***** Lit&Lang Lyceum denizen turned International Business major. 
***** Czarina of Nerds - if ever there was one.
***** Oxford comma fan.


Thank you for your time and consideration.

Sincerely yours,
Anastasia Demetra Duchevski-Casian-Stratu
Phone: +1 438 998 0974
E-mail: anastasia.stratu@gmail.com
Mailing address:
440 Boulevard La Fayette
Longueuil, Quebec J4K 3A5
Canada
Skype: Mearien
The point where this query transforms into a joke of a synopsis.

------------------->>>>>>>>>>>>>.<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<--------- that's the bugger.


Foreword / potential back cover text / extract from the potential series' promo

"With the acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook and the development of Project Morpheus by Sony, virtual reality is becoming less virtual and more of a reality.

"Virtual reality will surely transform life - our environment, energy, communications, politics and policies, law, security and defense, military, healthcare, our human rights and freedoms, our entertainment, our international trade and our consumership patterns - including the information we consume. I believe even the geopolitical map of our world will change in the foreseeable future.

"The Sol Vortex as the "true" story of a clash between the real and the imaginary, the objective and the subjective, the physical and the metaphysical - in short, between reality and virtuality, is bound to enrich our literature and philosophy.

"I am sure the outreach of this story will take us to the next level in the vortex of our lives, taking us beyond pure pastime. Its motto, All stories are true, will become, for want of better words, truer than ever." Oleg Vorobiov, SEO Analyst and Sol Vortex beta reader

Intro quotes to support the case.

"Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Arthur C. Clarke.

"Technology has replaced God in the Western mind." John Clute, John Grant.

EPITASIS.

Parties. Hoopla aficionados all.

Heroes. Crazy quilts of smartassity, romanticism, and vice-ridden humanness.

Sidekicks. His is as "soft" as a whore's heart. Hers - a whore, period. Both female.

Villains/decision-makers. KADE warlords, Luminanime elite, and neutral Avguri.

Fifth column. Pheairras - the smartest people in the book. They choose to be big shark in the cold dark rather than small fish in the warm pish. And keep residence in the good clusters while working for the bad one, in line with any regular yuppie dream. 

Aloof and therefore assholeish balance-keepers: The Skydwellers and the Shadow Emperor.
Sources of conflict. A buttload of 'em.

1. The warlords are basically O.K. So what if they want to play the queen in order to tweak the fates to their own benefit? Everybody wants a place in the sun, let alone in a world where sunlight waves are convertible to currency with Sol Vortex biotech and bionics.
2. The elite cluster disagrees. Also has different views re: whacking.
3. The Avguri play both sides against the middle.
4. The balance-keepers do not fix unbroken things as a matter of principle, but they love to assert their awesomeness. For both, they use methods from stupid to dangerous, which makes you wonder how they managed to climb so high with so few IQ points.
5. Etc.

What the blazes is Sol Vortex? The seven-suns astral-physical energy production system Gate invented. It is populated with conflicting....

---

All query materials and more information on other projects - literary and social-action like my URBI ET PLANETAE program - are on my Transarcane Cities by Fantasy Vortex blog under the tag "Chum Unleashed".

Also, I am planning a webinar-like launch party for FantasyVortex.com, to which you are of course invited as the first name on our guest list. I will send you the invitation in due time.

I only have to figure out how to serve food and drinks at a webinar, but I will come up with something legal, nice and cost-effective.

Thank you for your angelic patience!

Please note I am not seeking representation for the publishable parts of the Vortex series. I will be ready to query with Conception-2013, the third on the Sol Vortex timeline and the first in the main story arc, no earlier than the eve of the Pitch Wars of 2015.

When I asked if you would consider representing me, I had in mind the Me-Amour Memoir under the working title The Durrell Brothers and Mother's Cherry Jam. I have already prepared the proposal. It needs a little non-compulsive editing, after which I will present it to your attention, should your answer be "yes".

Also, the query, synopsis, and full framework draft for Conception-2013 are ready. All  that is left are several months of blissful writing and intoxicating development editing.

Yet I wrote a query that is a bit unorthodox, didn't I? It is a queery rather than a query. Well, I used my client's SEO content creation guidelines, as I had become a professional SEO content writer/translator in March 2014.

Moreover, I have been reading the Query Shark Blog at work all winter - well, it was slow business season. So I did an average of  two pages of translation per day, which normally take me an hour - with cookies and Pall Mall breaks.

Usually, my office hours were filled with socializing, coffee, vending machine goodies and efforts to abstain from braying like a mule while the colleagues were sweating in their cubicles all around me.

Well, translators work with confidential information most of the time, and their brain kinda tends to bubble, sparkle, fart, and whistle when there's a huge deadline...

...so I had an office with a door, lock, and window. Mid-contract, they moved me into a hovel with no window and so dingy Mrs. Weasley wouldn't have considered it for a broomstick shed.

When this happened, I realized they would never transfer me to business development as I requested during my brilliantly passed test period probation review. Well, maybe that's because they did not have a business development department in the first place.

Anyway, back to query.

Do you think this kind of formatting is a gimmick? After all, I only used bold, italic, numbering, and lists as my tools - without any particular formatting frenzy.

And if I learned anything at all, I learned one thing for sure. Lit sharkstar agents can forgive anything for voice... 

....and I've been singing Mozart-meets-MTV potpourri all Saturday, and enjoyed it immensely, too. I hope you smiled a couple of times, too.

Or, if you do think this is a gimmick, could you please tell me why my brand of querying would never work here in the Americas?

I do have a massive platform of contacts in Europe, but they are all clustered in Moscow. And I'd rather flip burgers chez le Macdo than return to Moscow for any other purposes but tourism.

The reason I left my prettily decorated apartment in Kishinev, my own language services boutique agency aka micro-enterprise, my family, skyrocketing number of friends, and very eligible S-hole fiance, was that

- I wanted to swim with sharks and whales, not in a little bowl with guppies and goldfish and Nemo and stuff. I think my Fish Zodiac sign would be Swordfish. Not too big, but nosy, charismatic, moderately dangerous, and in essence delicious.

Especially the freshly caught one from the Aegean... I spent a month in the Greek islands paradise -  flew there for a writing holiday in October 2011. So did Agata Carson, my protagonist in the Sol Vortex novels.

My only regret was that I had to choose Kalymnos in the Dodecanese, because my own pilgrimage point is Corfu, but it's too cold to swim there in October. Met a very nice Scottish couple of alpinists, too - we were villa neighbors... 

Well, A Month in Paradise Anastasia's Version is a freaking novel with series potential....

It's just that I have a rule - never build characters based on people I saw on TV and never describe location based on places I saw on Google Maps. If one wants to write about Barcelona, one must fly to Barcelona - it's a dirt-cheap city, too -  not buy a sump pump instead, then spend the night on Antoni Gaudi dot com.

- After 16 years in the language services and four burnouts, and as soon as I got my Canadian social insurance number and permanent resident ID card, I knew I was done with languages but not with words.

- I know it is not a qualification - it is more like justification why I can hardly keep a simple hello note within two paragraphs. I have been writing since age 5. Started with poetry about the cat, Grandma, and Aunt Valentina washing dishes in a bowl with soapy water.

My antiques dealer Cousine Alla, who recently moved to Cannes with her husband and little daughter, and used to model in Montreal in the 90's, knows all the stories - she is my number one fan.

Well, let me drop a little more names, please - we can always vacuum later. It's Sunday!

Due to the details I explain below, and according to the five handshakes theory,

There is one handshake between me and Mr. Henry Kissinger, and his and my so-called contact Mr. Sinelnikov also connects me not only to Mr. Kissinger, but also to the ex-President of Israel,

Mr. Sinelnikov used to make documentaries discussing World War III - and pretty much anticipated it, I guess... so, in April 2012, he was badgering Mr. Kissinger and President Peres with his correspondence, and I translated it. A couple of paragraphs. No more.

I am looking at one of the two letters now and see a lot of passive voice, which is normal for Russian but not good for English. I am ashamed. But I had translated that letter before I moved into an English-speaking environment and started reading Query Shark archives. 

But let us observe the magic of namedropping. My ex-fiance Henry Francis is of the Connemara Caseys and cousin to Myles Gibbons - the archaeologist, not the athlete. He claims to be related to Brian Boru and to one of the UPS founders, is himself a math major and M.D. - and with all that he is now, poor thing, very ill, and working al fresco at his brother's farm, and planning to start breeding horses....

 ...but that is not why I refused his fourth proposal, but because he is a Royal Asshole if there ever was one - I mean, he was Royal Asshole in my phone all the time we dated and lived together... Anyway, Henry tells everyone in Connemara that his girlfriend is Kissinger's translator... I only hope he at least adds "ex" to both "girlfriend" and "translator".... otherwise I'm in trouble.

We had started dating a week before I flew to Greece.... and my Kalymnos personal diary is truly a Freudian psychoanalyst's dream i.e. Dr. Frasier Crane's.

 By the way, Henry is a carbon copy of Mr. Kelsey Grammer, both looks and voice.

 For Mr. Sinelnikov, I did yet another interesting job. So I am also a bit of a detective, I guess - he asked me to find and translate a very rare Romanian book on Tantra Yoga and tantric sex,

- I spent my two weeks' holiday at my parents' place, on the phone and in the nets, and located a bookstore lady in a small Carpathian town, the name of which I forgot, and the lady told me kindly they have just sold the last of their fifteen copies,

- but Mr. Sinelnikov was unhappy and, of course, never paid me,

- so I now feel free to tell true stories about him... to be continued!

O.K. Two handshakes between me and Mr. Dmitry Medvedev, whose speech for the World Grain Forum 2009 I translated that summer... 

...and missed the deadline by 30 minutes because I spilled yogurt on my keyboard and ran to the Internet cafe to finish the English version of the President of Russia's speech....

In my culture, we call this kind of snafu "Jewish luck". 

And it's all gone to hell now, accompanied by the usual whistles and farts Russians like so much. Whaddya know, Vladimir Vladimirovich was bitten by a zombie Nazi and transformed into Putler virtually overnight.

I am now afraid even to talk to my Russian friends, because the slightest hint to politics makes them explode. I have just posted a collage with victims of Russian interventions in Moldova, Georgia, Ukraine, Chechnya... the aforesaid Paul reacted with a "?" 

I wrote a huge letter explaining what I meant and that friendships should never be lost to politics. Paul is silent. I do not have the habit of tickling sleeping puppies. So I'm gonna make new friends... strictly in the Russian opposition.

And my Duchevski genes are in fact Polish, not Russian. Poland's full of Duczevski. I also have relatives in Brazil - and Moscow, too... We actually have a little Duchevski-only club on the social networks.

Typical. All we need is a freaking corkmaster, hugely expensive tobacco, and some lobster a la Parisienne. Reality check, please!

Finally, a bunch of oligarchs - I worked in Alisher Usmanov's structure for a couple of years, translating stuff about football and Arsene Wenger, just at the time when Mr. Usmanov bought participation in the London Arsenal Football Club....

...probably being jealous of Abramovich and his stories of Chelsea... Did I say stories? Sorry. I meant "money".

My full professional profile is on LinkedIn, but there is this small but important detail where it all started: in 2005, I was assigned translator to an investigation team of the Federal Security Service aka the much-dreaded KGB. We were looking for 76 XVIII-XIX century icons somebody stole and supposedly escaped to Cyprus.

This little assignment was just the start of my problems. I was employed after having signed a document stating that I would get 5 years of jail time and confiscation of property for deliberate mistranslation, and other similar penalties. I said "yikes" internally, then showed them my work permit and translated-into-Russian and notarized diploma....

... given that my list of grades was tweaked by my previous employer to show I also speak English and other languages "legally" - because I am self-trained in English and Italian, you see, and did not speak fluent Spanish until many years later, and only understand basic Portuguese,

...but Mr. Kushel worked Portuguese and Spanish as well into that fake with my name on it,

... so that I could authorize all his "corporate" translations for bupkes, without him needing to pay real local Portuguese translators who charged their weight in gold,

... and then he had the fake document notarized by his buddy notary -well, he was da boss... Also Sprach Goatman, as we called Mr. Kuchel,

... in fact, that language services agency was and is still used to launder porn money, and he wanted to make me a little scapegoat i.e. make me CEO, some time next month,

....but all I accepted to that extent were fancy business cards, because my lover was a 40-year-old well-to-do Muscovite who really cared for me back then,

... so at a certain point I took my good diploma and my fake, and quit with 250 rubles in my pocket and to my name,

.... and a new story started,

... and Mr. Kuchel is presently blacklisted in all the possible blacklists, but is still making money in Moscow and writing "white papers" on "translation theory" with a bunch of spelling errors, not to mention others... and Russian is not an easy language....

... so I shredded the forged document later,

.... and took the first assignment from the mighty FSB - translation of a bunch of texts from the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation into English.

Well, to make a story short, my property grows like a little cherry tree, and I don't have a single tattoo on my body.

I did not get to finish the job, though, so I do not know whether they found the icons. By June 2005 I had my second - the worst of all - burnout. Mother came over and took me home... and that is one non-funny story, too... 

... as her precious girl was so full of heavy Russian drugs she could not speak, literally - she could only point at very expensive airport ice cream, so Mama had to dump eight bags of size S clothes, a laptop, a VCR and me in the medical room...

 ...run to find a currency exchange, change the last of her money, and buy me the ice-cream I wanted, with little chocolate wafer tubes,too, and some delicious fruity drinks, and

...it seemed heavenly delicious to me - I still remember the taste of those sorbets and vanillas and wafers...

... so by the end of our ice-cream break, I managed to say - "Mama, please don't cry, people are looking"...

.... and I couldn't talk anymore, because the night before, I went into neuroleptic shock because of a certain overdose given to me by an eager unqualified  nurse, and my own tongue almost suffocated me to death,

... then it started pushing itself out of my mouth,

.... and my BFF Svetlana Savetina aka Awl aka The Warrior Exec, a petite, fiery, acid-green-eyed, stunningly beautiful advertisement executive was dry-eyed and burning with destructive energy, and yelling over her cell at VIPs to get her two economy-class tickets to Kishinev NOW, or else she'll burn down the Kremlin tomorrow after lunch with Abramovich's wife,

... and my Muscovite lover cleared out and dragged his feet to the suburbs, to his wife and teenage daughter, because it was our breakup that was the cherry on that particular cake, and I never saw him again,

... and, in form of goodbye, my Mama cursed him, wishing him the same "joys" with his very clever, nerdy, and homely bespectacled daughter,

... and Svetlana cursed him, too, rather more inventively, because she was his mistress before me, but became my friend and got to love me more, and never spoke to him again, or so the gossip online goes,

...then Svetlana was dialing new numbers and yelling at me, "Put your fucking tongue back into your mouth - your mother is dying here, and you are just killing us all, but no, you gotta have fucking fun!",

... and I couldn't explain it was not exactly a black-tie ball for me either,

... and the psychiatrist Lydia, daughter of Seraphim, who treated me after my first burnout the year before, said, "You have a beautiful healthy intelligent girl, Eugenia - just take her home, Moscow is not for her",

.... so here I am, finishing my ice-cream, and Mama is calm, because indeed, people are looking,

... then I light up a cigarette in the medical room toilet, for some reason thinking it is the smoking lounge, and a lady in a white coat wags her finger at me, and takes me outside, and holds me while I smoke my Kent 8...

... and all I remember about how my Mother looked that summer day are huge red rims around her eyes, thick black pants because she is always cold in Moscow, and that day turned out to be a scorcher,

- and I am in denim and white blouse and red accessories, and that fantasy tie that did not get to woo the President's son, and I am a size S,

- and the lilac blouse with yellow flowers later became  my "fat blouse".... until I needed a bigger one,

... and I still see before my inner eye a shiny medallion with Mother of God and baby Jesus that I put around her neck as we were waiting for our delayed taxi, and Mama had a little access of nerves herself, and I took my old medallion and put it around her neck, and she calmed down at once...

.... I was only 24. And inside me, there was peace and light, and down on the meadow, under the willow, a bed of grass, a soft green pillow.... and elves and flowers and butterflies, and huge perfume duty-free shops, which I loved all my life, 

.... and - but I didn't know it yet - a vortex of seven multicolored suns, one moon - the Haven, and one black dark planet cast away to the place where light does not linger...

.... that was my sci-fi/fantasy manifestation of Moscow.... KADE - The Kee-Axe Dark Empire,

... but I was young then, and when I remembered a joke, I laughed out loud. Imagine what "fun" was in my Mama's heart then... 

....and she didn't know yet that business Russian-style will bring me two more of these "gift packages"... burnouts, I mean... in 2008 and 2012? because I continued working with Russian clients in Moldova,

... and, in accordance with our Jewish luck and total absence of Jewish relatives, except BFF Svetlana the Warrior, the plane was late six or seven hours, because they had to transport two convicts back to Moldova that day... also guest workers, like me, only of a different shade of grey...

... then, a little later, Mother starts seeing Gypsy witches and village wizards and charlatans and astrologists and mothers of dragons and shit, and talks about how they "cured" my Uncle Dimitry of "depression" for a couple hundred euros only,

....and that she is willing to sell the farm aka my Tara and Drogheda, and give them all the money, only to see me cured.... 

... and only when Father threatened to put her into the hospital for a couple of months to stop doing stupidities, she desisted, but

.... one witch told her that a black woman did me a black thing in Moscow, and she tells me,

... and I, the idiot, with my Western upbringing and transparency and honesty and shit, say, "The only brunette I knew in Moscow is Svetlana the Warrior",

... and my poor mother deduces that my dear Awl is "the black woman" - after all, she had slept with Vladimir before her princess did, so "burn her! burn her!",

.... and I have a huge row with my mother,

.... and then - the idiot me - when Svetlana the Warrior asks why Eugenia is so cold with her, I tell her the story and see Svetlana the Warrior cry in Skype and barely utter... how come... Eugenia... she has a higher education diploma!....

.... and I use all my diplomacy to calm her down, and we correspond from time to time,

.... but Mama and Svetlana the Warrior don't talk anymore...

- but all is well that ends well. As you can see, dear Shark, I am a helluva survivor. May I shake your fin? It's a dream of mine, as you already know.

- The best thing is that I know for sure there will be no more burnouts... because I do not burn anymore. My dragons are all grownup and roaming the world... my slaves are free... my husbands are all forgotten, except Henry, who is a BFF now...

... I am still the same Daener... I mean, Anastasia,

.... I do not burn, I merely exude warmth and light.... after all, my Sol Vortex with its seven suns has enough of that,

- The 8 bags of Moscow clothes are to this day a source of joy for slimmer friends and poorer villagers,

... I am healthy as a horse, sleep well, eat well, party hard.... and don't work. As I said, Canada finds me unemployable.

I call it The Curse of the Overqualified.

My Mama calls it "well, just make sure you take your medication, we'll take care of the rest",

... and it is touching yet redundant, because
... in 10 years of taking hard drugs, some of which, like some Parkin-something poison I took in 2005, are today prohibited, you kinda develop a habit,

 .. but my mother, when she was young, saw an Apparition - a cloud, gilded with sunlight that looked exactly like Mother of God with baby Jesus in her arms,

.... I wasn't even in her plans, let alone give her pain and torture of Biblical magnitude, but she had my brother who was a toddler back then,

... and my brother is 8 years older with kids who are now teenagers,

... and I have already written an entire chapter on my niece exclusively,

.... so Vadim has even more stories than I do,

.... and all our stories are true.

Even with the Atlantic between us, our roses are Growing Strong,

And Tara-Drogheda never looked better, according to Mama's stories,

And the goats are a problem, because nobody is buying goats in 2014,

And who knew I would come to live in close proximity to the Douglas Clinic in Montreal... which I no longer need - hey, I got better things to do with 4,000 dollars per month now! Smiley turd here!

to be continued...

In June 2012, I had my last burnout, which was a hoot. I slept with vitamin IVs in my arm literally for 14 weeks, woke up to eat and get injections, and slept again...and was watching breathtaking Vortex night- and daydreams, 


...and the next two week, with three ladies in the VIP ward and one other princess' mother, we gossiped so much I had calluses on my tongue.

It's just... I was under a lot of stress, so I snapped, but my parents panicked and put me on an ambulance just in case.

In April 2012 I got my LASIK, and it was a shock because SUDDENLY, you are no longer blind as a bat... then I spent a blissful year at Tara-Drogheda, then got my Canadian immigration visa, and here I am! Please like me on facebook!

Then I gave Henry the boot forever, because his Royal Assholeness beat his own records hands down.

On the third day after my LASIK, Henry said it was too hot to come over through traffic on such a hot day, and  buy me food, even though he said my parents could go to that wedding because he'd take care of me

... but over the phone, he only said, "If you are not coming over to watch Game of Thrones, I am watching it alone."

So I went to buy food and it was windy, and I got sand in my eyes freshly cut after LASIK, but it's OK. My vision is perfect again, after five years of virtual blindness.

Then we made peace, and got engaged, but not out of love. He finally started to see my potential as I started planning my business development and promised him 4,000 euros for fictive marriage and European passport, which was a bluff... well, that's another long story.

By April 2013, I finished my last two translation assignments in Europe: major surveillance and tracking equipment project for the Ministry of Internal Affairs of France under top security clearance, and a huge text on analytic chemistry for Guatemala Nickel Company, which got me enough money to immigrate to Canada.

Those commissions came in handy as I mothballed my little company then. Earlier, Mama and I had given our savings to my struggling brother so that he could get rid of one of the car loans. Well, Vadim started repaying me my part a couple of weeks ago, so... what goes around really comes around...

I also have yet another well-to-do friend who is ready to pay my rent. But I did not say "yes" . I prefer to earn, not get alms, unless I am with my back against the financial wall. Then, I accept gracefully and let the person know when I would return the "friend loan".

As long as we are in the green dollar fields now, let me share one more fact: I have a good credit history. Here in Canada, I have  a single credit card with 1,000 credit limit and +4 dollars on it. This is the first loan in my life - my Omnia Captum LLC never had any loans on the balance sheet. Only black, never red in over three years.

Why, pray tell me, a freelancer translating crap at home needs a business loan? And yet I knew people who did it "to have their business grow", because the title of director-general of a limited liability company is heady stuff, just like the money. Only I personally am not easily intoxicated.

"Neither a borrower nor a lender be". Well, I love being a lender. I am unemployed for 8 months... I did not get my assurance-emploi, because I didn't qualify for it.

And I still live long and prosper. 

By the way, I can also write a lot of satire re: immigrants being nostalgic while sitting on their butts and getting welfare. My own nostalgia is strictly related to my village and my city... and country, too, of course. It has probably the most beautiful scenery in all of Eastern Europe... well, Romania can top us off hands down, but it's the same people and the same language... so it's still us.

Russia, too. Russia's too big to be entirely bad or entirely good. As I said, she has her period. Or still the PMS. Either way... if Russia is like my Mama or me that way, well.... there is one big excrement hitting the ventilator threat alert.

But when it will all be over, hopefully, Russia will be like Germany is today. Very good immigration programs for Jews, Romes, Turks, Romanians...

My dear friend Rodica Avram moved with her husband Serge Avram and two little sons Paul and Albert to Bonn last year. This week, on the 4th of September, as they were celebrating their 4th anniversary, their third son, Matthias came to the world. Kudos Rodman!

I call her "Rodman" since lyceum years... she hates it, because she does not get that the contrast between Dennis Rodman and her - who was prom queen material all her life - is hysterical.

She is also the one who keeps berating me for losing the "Enough to Make A Chicken Laugh Files". Because she co-authored some issues.... I just tell her to relax - there's enough funny stuff on the Internet. I do not mention it was actually Rodica who lost them. Sunny smiley here.

As for Moldova...

 Friends report that traffic is getting worse in Kishinev and taxi services are suffocating under demand, because they are cheap and people don't want to bother with own car or public transport anymore.

Well, that is true - I for one don't know how to drive because I never needed to learn... 

So if the reader is familiar with Playing Moldovans at Tennis, Cristina Iovu's bronze Olympic medal, or Nathalie Portman's grandmother being a soprana at the Kishinev opera in the early XXth century, or so the gossip in the arty crowd goes, then this scene will need no further explanation:


EXT. INT. October 2008, one last warm and sunny day, red and green and yellow tree leaves, beautiful Kishinev, Stephen the Great Boulevard/Ismail Street corner.

Anastasia boards a trolleybus at the Ismail Street station.

The trolleybus takes the Stephen the Great, the heart of this city whose first birthday was in 1437. Anastasia sits on a window bench next to a lady in her forties, prematurely aged, very tired and modestly dressed, obviously a villager or farmer.

Anastasia is wearing a designer white coat, Ecco stilettos, blue silk scarf, and turquoise-blue color contact lenses. She is clutching a vintage purse and a bag of freshly-bought CDs, magazines, art albums, and books.

Streets of Kishinev. Trolleybus. Ringtone: tata-ta-ta-ta-tada (Sex and the City intro music)

Anastasia rummages in purse, takes out a tiny ridiculous pink phone, drops it - a good-looking young man helps her, she gives him a smile and thanks him. Trolleybus stops. He exits, looking back one more time.

The she is talking with BFF over the phone:

Maryana (voice-over): Where are you?
Ana: On a trolleybus, go figure.
Maryana (shocked): Oh my God!! What happened? Are you OK?
Ana: Whoa, relax! Geez... It's just three long stops, I'm not getting a taxi for that... Actually, I do fit in here, you know.
Maryana: Actually, you're B.S.-ing me.
Ana: Bingo!
Maryana: Where are you going? The Press House?
Ana: Gemini. OK, it's my stop. See you at your place at 7. Bye!

Anastasia hangs up and tries not to listen to the farmer lady's conversation with an older woman, also modestly dressed and very thin, obviously a 60-dollars-per-month pension-money lonely city hobo grandma.

Farmer Lady (speaking Moldovan Romanian, subtitles): And can you imagine, bones cost 40 lei at the Central Market (4 dollars)!
Hobo Grandma: Yes... outrageous.... outrageous...
Farmer Lady: I better pay 80 lei and buy a pig's head - we will eat for two days! Even more.
Hobo Grandma: Very wise... very wise indeed...

Meanwhile, Anastasia is blushing, trying to hide her scarf under her coat, and to conceal her goodie bag.

Anastasia (voice-over, looking at the ladies and eavesdropping on their conversation, now on purpose): Babousyaka is about the same age. Oh my God, if she and Grandpa Simeon, may he rest, had not have worked her tail off to give her six children six college or uni diplomas, she would have been just like this lady.

Only not in Kishinev, where old ladies like this one can at least beg and get alms. Grandma Olga would be stuck in her village, which now looks like it hosted a Visigoth disco party... or, rather, a Hunger Games arena. And yesterday, there were six old lady beggars between Gemini and Pushkin-Renaissance Boulevard corner... competition... growth driver my ass...

Cue Anastasia's stop being announced. She takes a 100-lei bill out of her purse, shoves it quietly into the younger lady's pocket, and exits, but does not get to leave. The Farmer Lady stands in the trolleybus door, preventing it from closing.

Farmer Lady (holding the 100-lei bill): Thank you, miss. What is your name?
Anastasia. You are welcome. I am Anastasia.
Farmer Lady: I will go to the village church and pay for a mass for your health, Anastasia. Good-bye. God bless you, child.
Anastasia. Good-bye, ma'am. God bless.

END SCENE


Today, Moldova is under the personal wing of Angela Merkel. So I just can continue taking care of business here in Montreal, without worrying about my parents becoming refugees in their mid-sixties.

Seriously. Merkel said that - and we do not waste our time with satiric current affairs mass media.... I swear I learned about The Onion only after having immigrated to Canada.

Recently, I have read an article on moldova.org about Angela calling Vladimir Vladimirovich on the cell and saying: Vlad, if you repeat Das 1992 mistake and move in with Deine troops, we are taking Moldavie into Die Eurozone on Der basis of  Die urgency.

Well, I embellished... with the scraps of German that still remain in my active memory... but the essence is this. Either you stay away from Moldova, or it's World War III.... and Mr. Sinelnikov getting filthy rich... not that he begs for alms beneath the walls of Kremlin.

How about us Westerners, both old and new - what is on our mind?

Stupid trends on Twitter - you enter #BadHogwarts hoping for something curious, and see a bunch of writers doing wordplay along the lines of Fifty Shades of Fenrir Greyback: A Study of Werewolf Sexuality.

The Ice Bucket Challenge as a new way to "hobnob with your snooty friends and save the International Doll Museum" (c) Martin Crane rephrased.

Of course, ALS is serious, but what people do for it is not. Typical slacktivism. Charities should be based on the medieval Ottoman Empire vakhf model, not on blah-blah-black-tie-shows and people getting eye blood vessels popped because they are getting - in summer! 30 degrees! - a whole lotta ice on their head. But they still do something trendy to help the world. Kudos.

The forerunners of behaviorism, transactional analysis, Jungian archetypal psychology, deviant psychology and Papa Sigmund are represented today by Erika Leonard James. The epigone of Venus in Furs and Justine is Anastasia Steele.

Because we are "great with lines and terrible with stories" . 

This is not the fruit of my Lady Imagination with her penchant for embellishment dangerously bordering on purple prose. This is something I found in a Twitter visit card of a young gentleman who wants to write for Frasier.

Kids skip school because it's Beyonce the Goddess's birthday i.e. some sort of Easter-meets-Sh-abbes-meets-Ramadan. And they Tweet about it to their teacher.

But:

America has:
A Future City, TX
An advantageous immigration program for talented people
Former nerds who sit in laboratories and look for a way to do something new and fashionable with the atom
A whole lotta math bug carriers come over and stay because U.S. labs and unis are their lairs where they breed and reproduce...
Or looking for money to fund space programs and look for Einstein-Rosen tunnels,

Canada has
A whole lotta woods, water, mountains, fresh air, and lack of crime
Snow. The kind who knows nothing.
You can go in your underwear to the depanneur to get cigarettes and coca-cola - but still, better to throw something on because a) this is not how your mother brought you up and b) the police can stop you and c) oh dear God. Oh, OK. I'll say it.

Winter is coming.
Blargh.

Maybe, as a final favor, Dear Ms. Requin Reid, can I indulge in more questions?

Why does Canada find my talents totally unusable on her job market? Because it is the most rigidly regulated labor market in the world?

Yes, I did translate about bags and cases and buttons and bows at Bentley Leathers for a while, but they sacked me 4 months before contract expiration, because my French was too European for their taste. Honest Injun.

So I have three freelance peanut contracts, a tiny Quebec loyalty tax credit, and a whole lot of friends and relatives to help me... and I start with them as I am counting my blessings.

I have time to write and read, and design, and whatnot,

I am considered pretty, and my true stories of my starry a-hole boyfriends are, well, a true story,

I am healthy, and I am a gym mouse, so sports stories about silicon on treadmills etc. are abundant,

The working titles for my Me-Amour Memoir are:

The Durrell Brothers and Mother's Cherry Jam

Childhood: My Family and Other Livestock
Teen years: The Kishinev Quartet
Student years: A Zoo in My Apartment

Series potential:

Adulthood: Someone flew over O.Henry's nest. Was that an African Swallow, an European Swallow, or Anton Pavlovich Chekhov?

To top it all off, I am 33. Christ's age is a huge rite of passage in the Christian Orthodox tradition. If I live to see 34 and 1 day, which I will, then I'll consider my own little walk of Virgil and Dante officially over.


Agata Carson, just like me, has a lot of stuff in her head. Hence all her trials. Support it with Google and basic knowledge of the theory of systems....

....and the pipeline will stop producing only when my heart will stop beating.

... and till now, we were talking about the English pipeline...
... I have also a French one, as a Quebecoise writer, and a Russian one, as a Moldovan writer,

Not to mention my documentaries like the Informational Jihad study, for which I was collecting material all spring...

...while being interviewed for secretary-slash-social-manager positions, for which - haha! guess what! - I am "overqualified and you'll get bored with us in two weeks."

Well, sometimes honesty is refreshing. But wasn't that possible to deduce from my resume... not wasting half a Monday out of my and their lives?

Well, they did not want to believe I was a modest person who can live like a queen with 15 bucks per hour. Not that it is my potential net worth.


And I am also funny... I think... *blushing modestly like the hypocrite that I am*. 

Thank you for your time and consideration.