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Hello, Eric!

Back in Amsterdam, back with Eric, my friend’s big yellow cat. He seems happy to see me. I’m happy to be here too but confused at the same time. My stay in Bucharest now seems both extremely magical and extremely short. I wish I could have stayed longer. But hopefully I’ll get to go back soon.

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Freedom?

Today I painted one of my summer watercolor commissions, a watercolor of the Romanian Atheneum, a historic concert hall, surrounded by fluttering pigeons. I wanted to channel the idea of freedom. Paradoxically I don’t feel at all free right now. My imminent departure hangs heavy over me. Experiences are more poignant and perhaps more lovely but feel a bit like the last few warm days before an oppressive winter. I know that I have quite a lovely life, and many great things waiting for me. Still, I am in the point in my journey where I question everything and where I start wishing that I could stay. Maybe for another week or two. Maybe forever.

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Dramatic Architecture

Today my cousin left and as for me, I felt lazy but mostly content. It was like the calm after the storm. Not sure there was much calm before, but perhaps it was good for me to blow off some steam.

I painted a house that has very dramatic architecture, one of my favorite houses in Bucharest. I really like the way it turned out. I guess the house is as temperamental as I am, but much of its charm lies in its flair for drama. My cousin and I talked a lot during the short time he was here, especially over dinner last night, which was lovely. We agreed that the best people you meet, the ones to seek out as friends and partners are the ones with whom you feel at ease being yourself, not the ones with whom you feel like you need to be on your best behavior. It’s not something new, it’s something I’ve known for quite a while. Still, liberating to hear again, as some of the people that meant a lot to me, whom I have purposefully walked away from, were the kind I felt like I needed to tone myself down for. Which is a shame for everyone involved.

Anyway. Today I told my lizard over the phone that last night I ate coliva ice cream. She said that was good because coliva is holy. She even managed to tell grandma about it, despite grandma’s advanced hearing loss, and they both found it very interesting and amusing.

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Complaints About Urban Pigeons

“They fuck on the AC units,” my dad said. I thought it was both hilarious and true. Still, no matter what activities they’re engaged in, I love the cooing of urban pigeons near my window. I also love the sound of the streetcar. I awoke to it this morning, and half asleep, confused about where I was, I thought it was the doorbell.

This pretty much describes my day. Much like the city, which is at once light-hearted and neurotic, I was caught somewhere between laughter and a temper tantrum. I had a fit over the same old stuff, stuff that always makes me angry, having my wishes overlooked, my feelings invalidated, simply not being understood or taken into account.Sometimes I think family can piss us off the most because they’ve been doing it in exactly the same way for such a long time, and the anger compounds. Why can’t people learn? I’m not just talking about those who constantly hurt my feelings. I’m talking about myself too. Why can’t I learn not to have hurt feelings over the same old stuff, not to expect anything different from people who keep behaving in the same old ways?

But I don’t mean to suggest I had a bad day. It was nice, full of sunshine, my outburst of anger like a thunderstorm on a sunny day. I also had a very special meal. My cousin and I went to a place called Mahala, where the decor was very cool and the food very good. My favorite? Coliva ice cream. Coliva, by the way, is a type of sweet people make for the dead.

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Back in Bucharest

We’re back in Bucharest. The sky is gray and it’s been raining a lot. Last night my aunt gave me a bright orange rose from her garden because she thought it matched my dress. I was sad to leave. But walking around Bucharest this evening, gray clouds and all, I felt happy to be here, happy to be part of this big and unique city.

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A Walk in Sibiu

It was supposed to rain all day. The excursion we’d planned was quickly abandoned in view of the forecast. Instead, I decided to walk around downtown all by my lonesome and take pictures. I also had a wonderful snack: a covrig with sunflower seeds instead of the usual sesame or poppyseed variety.

The rain didn’t start until the evening. It’s beating on my windows now, a perfect soundtrack to fall asleep to.

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A Trip to Sibiu

We got here after a four hour journey and I am tired. So I painted an old vintage iron my aunt keeps in her kitchen for decoration, and took a long walk in the evening to decompress. The linden trees are in bloom here too, and the city is beautiful as ever. My favorite picture from my walk are these two girls talking on a park bench, next to the remains of the old medieval fortress.

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Cat

I never like leaving my old ladies. My old lizard and I were both very sad this morning. She shared with me her secret treat of dry cornflakes as I cried into my coffee.

Later, as we said our goodbyes under the grapevines in the yard, the resident stray cats watched impassively. I suppose I could not have stayed forever. I have things to do, paintings to paint, an art show to prepare. And the old ladies don’t mind me anyway. Still, I hope my old lizard will continue to apply lotion to her legs twice a day.

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Obsessions

Here is a list of grandma’s obsessions, the things she repeats over and over throughout the day:

“Did you feed the birds? You could scatter some breadcrumbs for the birds.”

“Is the gate locked?”

“You need to come back home and live here. You can buy an apartment if you don’t want to live with your dad.”

“Where is she? What is she doing?” (By that she means her sister, my old lizard, who needs to be accounted for at all times).

“What time is your train tomorrow?”

“When I die, don’t come, you’re too far away, it’s too much of a journey.”

“Go pick a bucket of apricots so we can make jam.” (I refuse! Making jam is a most useless endeavor that gets my lizard very tired. The pantry’s already full of jam nobody wants to eat, and it took a lot of love and care to get the lizard’s legs back to normal).

“Scatter some bread for the birds. You are useless! If I’d been like you, dogs would have eaten me!” (I’m not sure what particularly about my bread scattering skills offends).

“Is the gate locked?”

“What time is your train tomorrow?”

“Where is she?”

“Take my advice, don’t stay in that faraway place. It’s no good. Come back home. Surely you’ll find a job.”

“Go pick some apricots.”

I refuse!

Well, at least the lizard’s skin is looking much much better and the swelling in her legs is gone. We spent some quality time together this afternoon, gossiping and laughing, but I wasn’t able to extract a promise that she’ll look after herself from now on. I’m sad to leave, but in a way I’m glad I won’t be here to lose my mind when they slave for days over the jam nobody wants to eat.