It started on the 12th, when I was so excited to leave on vacation to Berlin. However, a gloomy piece of news dampened my sunny disposition. My beloved Terry Pratchett left us for good.
Suddenly this planet is not so jolly any more. I wept and sobbed until late in the evening. I promised myself my first meal in Berlin shall be sushi, in his memory, as he loved this dish so much.
The next day I left with my bestie to the airport, where we parted for a while, as she wanted to eat and I wanted to smoke. You shall see that smoking is a leitmotif of this entry.
It was fun that we started dialoguing on FB, so people were confused: “why do you speak here, aren’t you together?!”
We looked like idiots, not that we’re not used to it.
Moving on, we traveled to Berlin. Yes, the first meal was sushi, honoring my beloved departed Sir Terry.
The trip was a complete success in every aspect. This time, my feet weren’t swelling like balloons, the weather was welcoming and everything was great: food, shopping, walks…
In one of the days we visited Charlottenburg, a castle where Sophie Charlotte lived a short but full life.
She collected china and fascinating people like Leibnitz or Corelli. She convinced her husband to support an Academy of Science. She played the
harpsichord and she held music in high regard. I’m sorry I didn’t write down her quote on music, which reminded me of the lyrics of a Marilyn song: “Men grow cold as girls grow old and we all lose our charms in the end.”, though it was about the power of music. I’m trying to approximate from memory: “lovers grow cold, friends become lukewarm, but music never lets you down.”
Both me and my friend shook our heads vigorously in approval of this statement.
Moving on, we lived in a rented apartment that allowed smoking inside, quite a rare gem these days. Well, surprise, surprise! I didn’t like it at all! I’m not used to the lingering smell of cigarettes inside anymore. I stopped smoking in my house since 2012, when I was on holiday in Stockholm, visiting friends and nobody is smoking inside there. Coming back home, I brought the good practice along, mostly because my beloved ALF was slightly asthmatic and I wanted to protect him. Though he’s gone, the habit stayed. Anyway, Joop can’t stand the smoke, she runs from the kitchen the moment I light a cigarette.
So now, though I’m a chain smoker, I HATE houses that stink with burned tobacco.
You’ll see I’m getting somewhere with this smoking thing.
Getting back to our trip, the apotheosis of the holiday was a mesmerizing Sting & Paul Simon concert. We sang our hearts out, we charged from Sting’s positive energy that radiates wide enough to cover the O2 Hall and we were happy as kids on Christmas morning.
OK, so we got back in Bucharest, only to attend two more concerts. One at my favorite concert hall in town – Ateneul Român, the other in a very unconventional space – a villa where there’s an art gallery, a minute concert hall and a space to enjoy delicious food. There I met a very special lady. At first, I thought she’s a Chef, but she started telling me about her projects and her foundation that preserves local traditions and values. I was wondering while talking to her how many special people are in this country that are trying to save our treasures of the past?! They have my entire veneration.
Oh, getting back to the leitmotif, it was interesting that in this location, though there were ash trays on the tables, nobody lit a cigarette until the host lighted one. After that, at least half of the audience started smoking. But in moderation, though the wine was pouring generously.
And we arrive on this Saturday when a friend of mine posted an article about banning smoking in bars. Bars, pubs, clubs, restaurants, whatever. The law that is applied already in US since the 90s and in Europe since the 00s. The reason my friend posted the article wasn’t the actual content, but just one thought: “guys, we have more important things to fix in this country, this shouldn’t be top priority.”
I read the article because, as a smoker, I’m curious to find some solid evidence supporting smoking, because until now I couldn’t find valid reasons. I WANT to support smoking, but I can’t find the right arguments to support it.
Anyway, when my friend posted the article, he was flooded with comments. I’ve never seen such a demented debate, even during elections or any other local subject. To my surprise, the argument continued for almost two days, from reasonable pros and cons to personal abuse, invectives, accuses, offenses, and curses. I couldn’t believe my eyes people would spend such an amount of time and energy for such a trivial matter. I mean, for Christ sake, I haven’t seen such a war when animals or people were killed or abused, when flagrant illegalities were committed… Such anger, such hate…
You know what’s funny? The smokers were the balanced ones and the non smokers were aggressive! So smoking keeps you calm and level headed after all! OK, I’m joking, kids, don’t smoke.
Anyway, I’m done with the smoking trip. Getting back to my experiences, I bought a book I love. I heard about this character years ago, but now I’m reading the story and it’s amazing. It goes like this: a homeless recovering drug addict gets saved by a CAT. A ginger wise Tom that saves his life every day since the day they met.
I highly recommend this inspirational story, it warmed my heart beyond words.
Especially as I’m a firm believer in being saved by animals, especially a ginger Tom.
This is a truly bitchy post. So stop reading right now and move on to another blog.
I have very strong opinions about people who reproduce only because “it’s time”, peer pressure, archaic family model, to strengthen the bond with their partner (newsflash: studies show that a new born is the most common reason couples grow apart or break), to pass the financial crisis by being in maternity leave so they have a safe income and cannot be fired etc.
Unfortunately, most people reproduce for these reasons and we are way too many on this planet already.
In the meantime, I have the highest respect for the people that decide to adopt an animal and treat HIM or HER like a member of the family, an offspring.
Because they understand from the beginning they are in for grief.
First, they are babies. They ruin things, they pee and poop everywhere, they chew shoes, they cry when left alone, they cry when they are hungry or just demanding for attention.
Fast, too fast, they become adults. They understand wrong for right, they become the loyal companion, the best friend, support in time of sorrow, partner in time of joy. They comfort you, the cuddle next to you, they lick you, love you with their huge hearts and generally offer you more than you can ever offer them.
And they grow old. They become grumpy, sick, they need help, assistance, treatment, time. Suddenly, they are your dear grandparents.
And way too soon you have to let go. You’re helpless, no matter what. So helpless that you’re angry. No matter how much you prepare for this moment, it hurts excruciatingly. It’s your baby. If you’re lucky, you spent a decade or two with this loving angel. Sometimes unfairly less.
Now this is what I call brave. To see your children die and your heart ripped out of your chest.
Whether you would have asked me 2-3 weeks ago what I wish for Christmas, the list would have looked quite posh.
This perfect Marc Jacobs bag
These stockings, garters & boots from Dior
The new Ka in purple
A new lover.
In the meantime, my cats were sick. Nothing serious, nothing that couldn’t be treated. But I faced a fragile and vulnerable side of them. It wasn’t fun and games any longer. I realized what’s important.
So now, all I want for Christmas is long healthy life for my three little rascals, I would trade all the shoes in the world for their wellbeing.
Ok, I also whish for the first edition of my book to be sold out.
My literary agent, Ms Merrilee Heifetz of New York, is one of the coolest people in the world, and she has only once suggested that I should write a specific book. This was some time ago. ‘Listen’, she said, ‘angels are big these days, and people always like books about cats, so I thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if someone did a book about a cat who was an angel or an angel who was a cat or something?” ’
And I agreed that was a solid commercial idea and I would think about it. Unfortunately, by the time I had finally finished thinking about it, books about angels were the-year-before-last-year’s thing. Still, the idea was planted, and one day I wrote this story.
(For the curious: eventually a young lady fell in love with the Black Cat, and he went to live with her, and the last time I saw him, he was the size of a very small mountain lion, and for all I know, he’s growing still. Two weeks after the Black Cat left, a brown tabby arrived and moved onto the porch. As I write this, he’s asleep on the back of the sofa a few feet away from me.)
While I think of it, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my family for leaving me alone to write, and for sometimes insisting I come out to play.
Neil Gaiman for the 2005 Smoke and Mirrors edition, about the Black Cat character from his story The Price.
“Because I could” is the easiest answer. But this is not it.
It was a process. Last year I was in Amsterdam watching Dutch painting. Unbelievably beautiful. And I wondered how it feels to leave something after you’re gone. Something that stirs emotion in people. SOME kind of emotion.
Also in Amsterdam, I saw AC/DC for the first time. The moment I saw just the famous lightning on stage, I burst into tears. They filled stadiums since the 70s, they brought joy to several generations.
I’m no Angus Young and no Van Gogh for sure.
Still, I felt I can DO something that matters.
And a year later, this March, the idea struck me. For the sake of literary twists, let’s say I was… thunderstruck.
I discovered GIA. The people who save animals. Not just rescue and release, not squeezing them in overcrowded shelters, but SAVING them. From deep wounds. Finding good homes and families for them. Therapy programs for elders, education for children. A kind of love like I never encountered before.
I put together all my knowledge: I work in advertising + I love animals + I write + I know a lot of people. Smart people. Famous people.