Category Archives: Relationships

Out of Words

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I have given life to two children

I have exhaled all my words

I am all written out of poems.

My Japanese ink paintings are modest

They’ve long been made into paper airplanes.

Here I stand like a leafless tree basking in the nonchalance of autumn.

I draw my vigour from the earth

I squint at the antediluvian depths I have recreated and revived.

I blink out of three pairs of eyes

(The plastic crow on my balcony never blinks – I became disenchanted with doves a long time ago

Flight for me is a flight of stairs.

Watch me carry haikus in my bags as I climb.)

I run my fingers through my hair and pear blossoms fill the floor.

Are you emboldened, literati?

How do you rank against my writing?

I’ve been composing multicolored ribbons of DNA and have mastered

The secret cellular alchemy

Of original thought. And original being.

I’ve been weaving balls of synapses into lyrical epics and dramas

Perfecting my bildungsroman for generations to come.

I have fleshed out my heroes (my villains, too!)

And catapulted glitter into the night sky.

There, read!

 

 

Despre viața împlinită (The Stoics revisited)

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“Se întâmplă un lucru curios atunci când cei deprinși cu o viață luxoasă ajung să fie greu de mulțumit. În loc să deplângă pierderea capacității de a se bucura de lucrurile simple, aceștia se mândresc cu handicapul nou dobândit, din cauza căruia nu mai pot fi satisfăcuți decât de <<ce e mai bun>>.”

W.B. Irvine, Ghid pentru o viață împlinită, Ed. Seneca 2017, p. 184

“Dar mulți cititori moderni vor fi uimiți chiar și după această explicație: <<De ce să întâmpinăm deschis disconfortul minor în viața noastră, când ne putem bucura de confort total?>> Ca răspuns la această întrebare, Musonius Rufus scoate în evidență cel puțin trei beneficii ale actelor de disconfort voluntar.

În primul rând, acestea ne călesc (…) împotriva nenorocului ce ne-ar putea vizita în viitor. Când nu cunoaștem disconfortul, suntem vulnerabili și cresc șansele să trăim un șoc când ne confruntăm cu durerea și lipsurile, experiențe de care e sigur că vom avea cu toții parte mai devreme sau mai târziu. (…)

Al doilea beneficiu al exercițiului vizează prezentul. Persoana care experimentează frecvent disconfortul minor va căpăta încredere în fața disconfortului major, așa încât perspectiva neplăcerilor majore ale viitorului nu va fi niciodată o sursă de anxietate în prezent. Se antrenează, cum ar spune Musonius Rufus, pentru a fi curajos. (…)

În al treilea rând, practica disconfortului voluntar ne ajută să apreciem mai bine ceea ce avem deja.

W.B. Irvine, Ghid pentru o viață împlinită, Ed. Seneca 2017, pp. 118-119.

 

 

 

O carte

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lumina slabă a unui felinar picură coniac pe o mână de frunze lucioase

în rest, doar glasul răguşit şi distant al unui radiou străbate bezna

bezna asta groasă şi caldă ca o plăcintă apetisantă cu cremă,

sâmburele de dinăuntrul pralinei e rotund şi tare

mi se rostogoleşte în gură, în jurul limbii,

ca odinioară săruturile tale lacome.

cum se schimbă dragostea,

nimic mai eliberator

decât pierderea ei.

mă aşez acum

cu o carte pe

pe întuneric

şi o pipăi,

doar o pipăi

coperta ei

m-a atins

în locul

acela

acela

tainic

gata.

ga-

ta.

Revisiting the Stoics

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Well, you know what they say, some things never change. Anxious, dissatisfied, relationship not going well? So what else is new?

I’ve recently come across the following, from Epictetus:

“There are things which are within our power, and there are things which are beyond our power.” (…)

“Within our power are opinion, aim, desire, aversion, and, in one word, whatever affairs are our own. Beyond our power are body, property, reputation, office, and, in one word, whatever are not properly our own affairs.” (…)

“Remember, then, that if you attribute freedom to things by nature dependent, and take what belongs to others for your own, you will be hindered, you will lament, you will be disturbed, you will find fault both with gods and men. But if you take for your own only that which is your own, and view what belongs to others just as it really is, then no one will ever compel you, no one will restrict you, you will find fault with no one, you will accuse no one, you will do nothing against your will; no one will hurt you, you will not have an enemy, nor will you suffer any harm.” (…)

– from Enchiridion I

And also, this:

“When I see anyone anxious, I say, what does this man want? Unless he wanted something or other not in his power, how could he still be anxious?  A musician, for instance, feels no anxiety while he is singing by himself; but when he appears upon a stage he does, even if his voice be ever so good, or he plays ever so well. For what he wishes is not only to sing well, but likewise to gain applause. But this is not in his own power.”

– from Discourses, On Anxiety.


Source: W. Ferraiolo, Stoic Counsel for Interpersonal Relations

Walk, sadness, walk!

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I took my sadness for a walk.

I walked it right out of the park, past the tram stops and onto

the streets flooded with the slow, hesitant steps of old age.

 

I walked and walked and walked it out of my body.

Then I walked some more with it like one walks with a walking stick

until it got blunt.

 

Popov the Clown died yesterday.

Popov the Clown used to say, ‘as long as you have somewhere to go,

you’ll live another day.

But when you don’t know where you’re going tomorrow, you’re nearing

death.’

 

So I walked. Walked my sadness. Showed it the way.

And after just about enough walking,

I felt invigorated and could stand again.

 

So I set it free like a helium balloon and said, ‘Go now.

Go

make the trees red. My eyes have cried enough.’

 

It’s late. It’s November.

A tiny airplane inches forward across the spotless blue sky.

And the sun bathing my face is a thing of beauty.

The Trees That Wanted To Travel

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… A PARABLE

Do you know the story about the trees that wanted to travel?

These were young, tall,  beautiful, trees, and they were able to see very far away. The horizons they saw looked so sunny and pleasantly warm, and appealing. So the trees wondered if not maybe in those lands, far, far away, there was no winter, and they might not have to lose their proud, glorious leavage and maybe they didn’t have to sleep through an entire cold, bleak season only to wake to the same old corn fields.

So they started dreaming about the faraway lands with shimmering white brooks and friendly flowers and strange squirrels. They wondered what it would be like to be caressed and tickled by those flowers, put to sleep by the incessant giggles of those sweet, funny squirrels. Each spring, when the earth thawed, they would begin to stretch and move and try to take at least one step towards the faraway horizons they so longed for.  They tried to lift their roots like a shy bride lifts her train on her way out of the church, they tried to drag their dusty bark a little closer to their dream.  They were never successful.  They prayed and prayed, night after night in the lonely wind, they cried tears of jelly, they implored Heaven.

“Wait a little”, Heaven said. Each time, their prayers were heard, and yet, Heaven said, each time, “Wait a little”.

They asked older trees about it:  “How come you are so at peace? Can you not see the lovely horizons?”, they would ask. But the old trees were wise and rarely spoke. “We have a different journey”, they said, and then looked around to their fruits with their inner seeds, as they lay scattered around on the ground, bathing in their forefathers’ shade.

“They are just sad, too sad to leave their seeds alone, too frightened”, the young trees thought. “They have wasted their entire energy in bearing fruit, and now they can no longer leave, they can no longer reach the horizon. But we, why should we also waste our precious sap on those heavy round things that burden our branches and tie us down?”

Little by little, the young trees became depressed. They simply wanted to travel, they wanted to be free, to move to different places, not to be burdened with fruit, because fruit, they felt, brings responsibility, and responsibility brings sadness, and sadness stops one from moving.

“After all, look what happened to the old trees”, they thought.

They were young, they were so young and full of life and did not want to wait anymore.

“We are taller than the old ones, and our sight is better. They do not know how wonderful the horizons are, but we do, and we want to go!  Wind, will you help us?”

“Of course, said the wind, I will help you.”

“Oh, how great!”, rejoiced the young trees.  “So do it, do it now!”

“But the time is not right!”, said the Wind, astonished.  “Because you have no flowers yet, and no fruit, and there is no seed to carry”.

“It makes no difference, to us”, said the trees, “oh, please, please, mighty Wind, start up a storm and pull us from our roots and transport us, through the stars, towards the gleaming horizons!”

“But then the old trees will be gone too”, said the wind.  “And I cannot take them against their will.  What shall we do?”

“Make a tornado, said the youngsters, take only us, the old ones are sullen and gray and rarely talk. We want to be alone, free from them, too.”

So the wind said “Ok” and started up a tornado, and uprooted many of the young trees, and they were transported through the sky, at incredible speeds, and through the stars, and fell on the horizon.  They fell flat on their backs, and the earth was hard and coarse and it hurt a little, but “no matter”, they said, “how wonderful that we have arrived”.  So they rejoiced.

But after a while, they got thirsty.

“Mighty Rain”, they pleaded, “will you help us?”

“Of course I will help you”, Rain said.

“Then give us a little water!”

“But the time is not right”, Rain said astonished, “because your roots are not in the ground and cannot garner my water.”

“No matter”, said the trees, “oh, please, will you sprinkle us with a little water!”

“Ok”, said the rain, and sprayed them with nourishing water. But they were still on their backs, and pretty soon after, the sun came out again. After all, this horizon was always sunny and without winter. And they had no roots. They struggled and crept, but they could no longer stay erect on their own. But they couldn’t complain. The scenery, the landscape, the sun and the soil, everything was so new to them, and so interesting. So they were contented. Thirsty but contented.

But then one of them caught rot on the side he was lying on, the side that never saw the sun anymore, and got really sick. They nurtured it from afar, but they were very young, and did not know of the cures of the old. So their friend withered away, little by little, and eventually, with a pleading whimper, he died. The other trees became very sad, and worried that they might catch the disease too. They started trying to avoid touching each other, they kept their branches only to themselves, and didn’t reach out anymore. Pretty soon they also stopped speaking, and pretty soon they forgot how to speak altogether. People started coming to the site where the trees had rained down and hauling  them in their carriages to their stoves.

“How poetical”, the other trees thought, “here we are needed, we make warmth for these nice people.”

But soon there was nothing left from them but ashes.

And so, one by one, the trees died. Only one was left in the field, a tall, beautiful, young tree, who began to wonder about the journey.

“Was it the right thing, should I have stayed back home?” These were the questions that his mind fretted with. Here he was on a lovely horizon, but he was, once again, stuck and lonely.  And his roots nearly rotted away like all the others.

Just then, a forester came, and saw the beautiful tree, how knotless his wood was, and how neat.  “What a wonderful kitchen table I could make from this one”, he said to himself, but the sound immediately woke up the tree, and he replied: “Please, don’t, don’t chop me apart”, the tree said, suddenly remembering his forgotten language. “Please help me up on my feet, I mean on my roots, and I will be a beautiful tree for you, I will adorn your yard or your forest, and I will give you shade and pleasant smells all year long.”

“But the soil here is not suited for you”, the forester said.

“Oh, but it is, I will grow and flourish… how can it not be?”

“Well, said the man scratching his head, I simply have never seen any tree quite like you in these parts, I do not know if you can grow here, and you are also so weak…”

“Oh, please try” mighty Man, “plant me please, and nourish my soil, and I will be your pride.”

“Ok”, said the man, and he did. And the tree had a hard time at first, but then he grew and flourished. He felt a little stronger. He was so grateful to the man, and he felt so lucky indeed, that he didn’t dare to remind him of his dream, to travel the world. He decided to stay this time, even though he missed the corn fields, he missed giving his shade to them and he even missed sleeping during winter. But how could he make the journey back? Back to himself? “There is no way”, he resigned himself to the thought. And thus, because he had promised the man, he spread his roots and even bore fruit and he watched his seeds get carried by the Wind to distant places, and watered by the Rain, and he watched his offspring grow at the hem of his shade and he watched them bear fruit of their own, and spread their seeds.  And he got old, very old, and very wise, because the man was a good master, and did not cut him down.

But then in the end, as he watched his offspring create first a bush, then a grove, then a whole forest whose end he could not perceive, as he watched it spread his seed further and further away to fill the horizon, it occurred to him.

“I understand now”, he whispered, now that he rarely ever spoke anymore. “I understand the old trees now. I understand their journey, for they travelled too. And so have I, since I first arrived here.  I have travelled back to myself, after all.”

And the real journey after the storm was this:  they bore fruit, and seed of their own type, and then the Wind would say, “Very well, I will help you when the time is right”, and carry their seed to proper fertile soil, and then the Rain would say, “Very well, I will help you when the time is right”, and water their seed, and a twig would grow out of it, and then that twig would become a tree and spread its seed to fertile soil, and the men would say, “Very well, I will help you, because the soil is right”, and nurture the soil and gather the fruits and plant their seeds and so on until the horizon was reached.

And now, he understood Heaven, when Heaven said “Wait a little”.

Why Women Love (Great) Shoes

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Well, gentlemen, this is a little counter-intuitive, but let’s face it. Ever since we were 4 months old, lying on our backs and able to focus our beautiful eyes for the very first time, what did we perceive? OUR FEET.

I know, I know, you were also perceptive during that time – which is why you still like big breasts… But we women are a little different. More sophisticated, if you like.

Lying in our cribs, playing with our hands and feet in an intelligent manner, we noticed something special. Besides breastfeeding us, our mothers also bought us pretty socks with endearing animal heads on them, cute little baby shoes in polka dots or stripes, and let’s admit it, they were marvelous. Great playing companions.

From the moment we started taking our first wobbly steps around the house, what did we hear?

“WATCH. WHERE. YOU’RE. GOING.”

Now you tell me how we could have done that without glancing intensely at our shoes… ahm, feet.

Later, when you marry us and put us forever in charge of hauling supplies, pushing prams, walking the dog, texting angrily and generally taking care of your imperial needs, we end up so downtrodden and hunchbacked under heaps of responsibilities that it’s no wonder we forget to look up while walking. 😉

So what – pray tell – is the thing that most often catches our eye?

That’s right. OUR SHOES.

Small wonder that they become our best friends. The only thing worst than a tooth-ache is a shoe-ache. Blisters. Big ugly red feet, raw with wounds. So stop obsessing about how many we have and indulge us. Because when your wife, mother of 2-3-4-whatever, goes out of the house now, she rarely has time to look at her face in the mirror. Her face has become inconsequential. But whether she wants it or not, whether she plans it or not, she always-always sees her shoes. It’s inevitable.

And truth be told, I have received far more compliments for my shoes lately than for any other accomplishment! They’re just so visible. People stop to compliment your children, and you know that’s, well, the polite thing to do even though they hate your brats. But people complimenting your shoes… – now you just know THAT’s for real!

Shoes can be playful or sad, the talk of the neighborhood or just plain boring. They can be youthful, classic or elegant, comfortable or uptight, vivid and bold, or conformist and conventional. Shoes are statements we make everyday.

Shoes are the colors of horizons we would like to see: blue, yellow, orange, dark red or green. Shoes are the toys we never had, or the toys we loved and remember. Shoes are the zillion different personalities we go through from one day to the next. Shoes are great indicators of our hormone levels.

Shoes are quirky and sentimental. Shoes can be loud and funny. Shoes can shine like the sun on a rainy day. Great shoes can combat winter depression. Which is why I went to Italy and bought myself a pair of the softest leather boots the color of ripe quinces. The color of shrill outrage and of the sun.

DSC_0743

These shoes are made for walking…

 

Come on ladies, keep walking (in your own shoes)!  🙂 And show me the snazziest ones! Show me a shoe near you!

... and what is what they do...

… and walk is what they do…

 

My book is out!

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Are you familiar with CreateSpace? The website that lets you create, edit, publish and sell your own creative work? Well, I’ve tried it, and as it happens, I have a new book out.

It’s called Acid EROSion – The poetry of wounds still raw.

The page layout in the interior of the book is pretty lame, (I basically just wanted to dip my finger into the sea and get it over with, since I never would have finished it otherwise) but it only costs a few bucks, too, so check it out!

http://www.amazon.de/Acid-EROSion-Ms-Andreea-Sepi/dp/1479159468/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350384969&sr=8-1 (if you’re in Germany, Europe)

http://www.amazon.com/Acid-EROSion-Ms-Andreea-Sepi/dp/1479159468/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1350384884&sr=8-1&keywords=acid+EROSion (if you’re overseas).

Let me know what you think, and please don’t slit your wrists after reading it! 😛 Writing IS therapy.

Lessons to my 15-year-old self

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Yesterday was International Day of the Girl Child.

A 14-year old gets shot in Pakistan for having the most normal of opinions; girls across parts of Africa and Asia  have their genitalia mutilated and are forced into abusive marriages. Lots of girls don’t even make it into the world, they get “terminated” before birth because apparently they’re “not worth it”. Here in the Western world, we have it easy by comparison. Still, there are a few things I would like to tell my 15-year-old self if I could go back in time:

1. Find out what you’re both passionate about and good at, and stay the course. Remain focused. Don’t feel guilty for wanting it.

2. Don’t believe in fairy tales, movie scripts, and classical gender roles so much. Cut your own path.

3. Don’t feel guilty for being different (or better) – celebrate it! Be honest and assertive about your needs – it’s your right.

4. Be yourself. You might lose a few “friends”, but you’ll make new ones who are better for you; they will love the true you, not some mask, and they will share your ideas. That’s 10,000 times more fulfilling and you won’t waste precious energy pretending.

5. Family is important, for support. But be careful who you marry. A lot of early love is self-suggestion. Marrying the wrong guy can put an end to your dreams. But dreams can rise again from their own ashes. More importantly, don’t allow your hormones to put an end to your self-esteem.

6. Laugh a lot, don’t take it so seriously and give freely to others. That’s the best recipe for avoiding depression. Some will take advantage, but you have the strength to move on.

7. Cut down on that perfectionism. You don’t have to be perfect at all times. You’re allowed to make mistakes. And you definitely don’t have to be nice to everybody under every circumstance. If you feel your resources are dwindling – allow yourself time to replenish, too.

Sexist much?

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It all started out as a harmless chat about motorcycles. He bragged about his, I bragged about my husband’s. Then he said that’s too easy, he does off-road, ’cause riding on tarmac is for 60-year-olds. I said I’d be glad to pass on this very useful piece of information, but don’t go putting ideas into my husband’s head, I don’t want him to croak and leave me alone with two mouths to feed (that is basically his contribution to our children’s education at this point).

“You women murder men’s freedom, that’s the truth of it”, he postulated. ” You bury us, both metaphorically and literally speaking.”

“Damn right we bury you”, I replied. “What would you rather have us do? Let you rot in a ditch?”

Haha. Seriously, who is killing whose freedom here? I’m a girl but I am as footloose as any man, I love my freedom, my mobility, my time, my privacy, and my independence just as much as any hairy fellow. All I dream about is to see the world, to meet the people, to do the deeds. Perhaps I’d like to ride that bike myself once in a while; heck, maybe I’d like to take it for a ride and never come back. And let you eat my dust. But I have to be a responsible mother. Somebody has to be.

See, if you’re a woman, you don’t really have a choice. I mean, you do, but it’s ten zillion times tougher on you, because there is that thing called biology. Biology never forgives. If you’re a woman, you are almost required to have kids. Because without them, you will not feel fulfilled in your higher calling. Because without them you will feel like an empty, useless shell that shrivels up like a raisin and dies pointless and alone. Or so you think. If you do not think that, don’t worry, the 10,000 other women around you will devote their every living moment to convincing you. There is an arduous competition going on among women and it concerns procreation and kids. And the thing is, even if what you like is your peace and quiet, your time for creative intellectual impulses such as reading, writing, studying, or your career, or your research, or your travels, once you have kids, you will find that you love them more. You won’t be able to help it. You will eventually love them more than any other living being on this planet. You will give up your freedoms and your pleasures for their sake and you might even engage in propagating the silly competition. So you sacrifice.

Men always complain about what clingers we are. Damn right we cling! What else is there to do when we’re practically jobless, financially dependent, and no longer enjoy any mobility or freedom of our own?! When our brain is jello after the chronic sleep-deprivation that comes with raising a couple of rowdy youngsters and trying to do a good job of it, too. Let me tell you, freedom lovers. Raising kids is like applying heat to firecrackers. They keep exploding in your hand. And we get the burns.

So yeah… Tough women take your freedom away, weak women are clingers. You basically want to conquer, but not govern – just pillage a little. Oh, and in the meantime we should wait patiently for your return. In case you ever return.

Let me get this straight: we should be independent and strong enough to face hardship alone (oh, generous master!) yet delicate and feminine, smart and sexy, tender and maternal, relaxed and understanding – and at the same time willing to fall for the likes of you???

Ahm… You still fail to see the flaw in this scenario?