Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Drop ending

Thank God I'm not traveling for Thanksgiving. I bet it's a zoo outthere.
Instead, I'm as free as a bird today.
I took Vinyasa Flow at noon, as a part of my 30-day Yoga challenge. I'm still in it, since I haven't missed a single day since Nov. 15th. I guess that's not too long...Still...
Challenge a Serb, or a Serb-American, or rather tell her (or him) that she/he can't do something and she/he will definitely do it. Spite! Stubbornness! All that good stuff!
So, I have been doing Yoga on and off for over a year now, but lately, it's been really on. I go almost every day, or every other day, and I have to tell you, I have never felt better. Not only am I stronger physically but I feel like I can grasp more in my life than I used to. I used to think strength was overrated. Not anymore.
Feeling physically strong makes me feel...strong. I love the fact that I can do more push-ups than ever, that I can hold plank longer or do a side plank, which used to be a nightmare.
I think I'm hooked. I cannot even imagine not doing Yoga forever.
But lately, since the challenge, I have been missing Budokon's kicking and boxing. There's nothing like kicking and boxing to make you feel like a bad ass, i.e. good!
With all this poetry, I will tell you that today I'm grateful for thinking of a great new ending for my newest story, the one I've been writing a lot about, (Balkan Voodoo), while looking for an UPS drop box on Connecticut Avenue.
I know!
Oh, and it's creepy. But good creepy.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Balkan Voodoo

It's a sleepy, rainy, dark DC day, but I still have managed to drag myself, my laptop and my mouse out of my house. (I used to be a poet, but I hate rhyme.) On my way to my favorite writing cafe, I stumbled upon a dead rat (Columbia Road) the size of my smaller cat. Despite the fact that my head wants to be on a pillow, or on my soft, fluffy Rubenesque cat (the other one), I will start rewriting my Balkan Voodoo story (my baby) in a few minutes. Right after I finish this blog. Why? Because I got feedback both from my teacher and my writing group, though a bit contradictory, but still, very valid, useful feedback. And I'm actually excited about this rewrite! I want to perfect it and unleash it onto the world!
It's amazing what an accepted story (for publication) can do for your confidence as a writer.
I was describing my writing process to my colleague-writer last night, in my car, while almost driving into the Zoo at 10pm (thank God for the gates, otherwise I would be writing this from a lion's belly).
I get an idea for a story. I set the characters up in my head. And I start writing, from my head onto the blank page, visualising what they would do, what would happen, what could happen...It's like a movie in my head, rolling, and I'm just a journalist, writing it down. I think it comes from years of acting classes and actual acting. I don't stop to look up the words. I don't know what will happen at the end, until the end. I swear. So it was funny to me when some writers said last night that they knew what was going to happen at the end while they were reading it.
"I didn't," I said. And I didn't.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Financial hell

I worked 12 hours yesterday, and I can honestly say, it ain't for me.
I started a new job yesterday morning, and I have already been booked for interpretation in the evening, months ago, so, there was no way out. Plus I had to do Yoga at 7am in order not to fail the challenge.
So, my day started at 6:30am, with devouring a Luna Bar with chocolate chips, and ended at 10 p.m. watching TV like a zombie from my bed.
I'm still tired. I'm sipping a latte.
Oh, yesterday, by 12pm, I so regretted accepting this new position. It was completely conveyed to me under false pretenses.
It started well, with a briefing about an interesting case. But then, when I was handed my load of documents, I was hoping a few were just financial before I got to articles and statements.
I ended up analysing financial documents for seven hours, after which I wanted to shoot myself. Instead I called my employer and said that I either have to be paid much more money for this kind of work (which I knew she wouldn't go for) or can only work part time. She hasn't gotten back to me yet, and I feel like hugging random people on the street.
I cannot even imagine going through the same routine even for one more day. It's hell to me. I kept thinking about how happy I am when I'm writing. Even teaching, which I have been doing for 10 years and increasingly am getting bored off, is New York City compared to reading tax reports in Serbian.
My apologies to all the accountants, but your life is my living hell.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


I just made myself hot chocolate with small marshmallows, poured it into my fancy cappuccino mug with hand painted blue flowers, and sat on my sofa with my laptop on my lap cushion, pretending I'm in a loungey cafe. I have no time for a cafe, I'm afraid. So, I have to improvise.
I'm starting to work in a law firm in DC tomorrow morning, full time for five weeks, as an analyst, or more correctly, "a Serbian bilingual professional."
I also signed up for a 30-day Yoga challenge at my local Yoga studio.
Which means I have to do Yoga for 30 consecutive days, otherwise, my name will be on a wall of shame, and I will be outed as a loser.
My parents are also visiting from Serbia.
I had my writing class today as well.
I have been booked months ago to interpreter tomorrow and Saturday evening. So, I'm working for 12 hours tomorrow, from 9:20 to 9:30.
But I also have won $4 on lottery, which is a sign (maybe), a $100 Benetton gift card in a drawing (definitely a sign), and today a literary magazine called my story excellent and wants to publish it in its summer edition.
So, I'm a little busy.
I feel that the stars are aligned in Leos' favor now.  I feel like I'm climbing. I feel...good!

Monday, November 14, 2011

In Vino Veritas

If you like wine, or vines, or drinking or the countryside, you should keep reading. For the rest, bon voyage et au revoir.
One way to celebrate the Veterans Day is to go winery hopping. Which I did, with friends. We decided to go the Vintage Ridge, one of the highest rated Virginia wineries, then Three Foxes and finally the Naked Mountain.
I have already been to the Vintage Ridge, which is in or very close to a sleepy town of Hume, Virginia. It's a beautiful winery with excellent wines, food and service. My favorite wine of theirs is Maiden Voyage, which is sweet, fruity white wine. The setting is exceptional inside the tasting room,  where the tables are amongst the huge barrels with different grapes in them. Every wine is served with small niblets of food, carefully chosen and artfully arranged,  to bring out the flavor. But if you're really hungry, eat first, or you will get tipsy.
The Three Foxes has a beautiful vineyard in front of a small tasting room, but, it was kind of crowded inside, and we were rushed by the woman pouring just drops of each of ten wines into our glasses. She wasn't nearly as nice as the Vintage Ridge connoisseurs, but the Foxes do have some good white wines, for example, Il Gatto Bianco, which I purchased. Just a bottle. Has a great label with a white fluffy cat. I didn't buy it for the cat. I swear. I like the wine! Honest!
The vineyard itself is huge with beautiful views, as well as tables and chairs with individual barbecues.
The Naked Mountain was kind of sleepy, wine was just o.k., but the land was spectacular! Vast and attached to a small forest, with endless views of colorful Virginia fall trees and vines. Unfortunately, no one was naked.
All in all, if you want to go to just one, go to Vintage Ridge. It's still the best Virginia winery I have been to. But if you want to do more than one, (recommended) if you bring your own food, friends and nice weather, then you should stop by the Three Foxes or the Naked Mountain, buy a bottle and have lunch. But just for tasting? It's not worth it. Keep looking. Virginia is full of vines.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

An affair...with a story

It was a cold and rainy day... I'm kidding.
I had my writing class this morning, and am full of impressions.
Also, I'm back in my blog inspiration zone cafe, with my latte and alfajor. My mother would say: "you'll grow a latte in your stomach."
Hardly, I have it every other day.
So, my writing class. Fifteen of us, and all but three had their stories read. My expert analysis so far: we have one female writer in it, who is definitely going to be published, maybe even successful. She is so talented. And I know what you are thinking, and I'm flattered, but I'm not talking about myself here. She's real, people.
Everyone else is either a beginner, or isn't talented. I can't tell. I need more than one story to decide which.
Yes, there were a few cute stories, but except for one (and one of mine, of course, but I'll play modest outside of parenthesis) everything else was mediocre at best.
To be honest, some are probably just making the same mistakes I did when I first started writing fiction, with journalistic background. Their style is too non-fictiony, too dry. "This happened, then that happened, then this. The end." But that aside, if the story is really strong, that can be fixed, can be learned, can be rewritten.
So, I think, at this point of my writing, I can spot a talent.
In my writing group, I have many more very talented people. And it's great! We all seem to want each other to succeed. Maybe we are a little competitive, but in the best sense of the word. Competitiveness that drives you to get better, to perfect yourself.
As my Facebook friends know, I have finished a new story (yay) two days ago, and I can honestly say I'm in love with it.
I wrote it in one breath, in about three hours. That's how I write.
Then I left it alone until the evening, and touched it up a bit. Then a touched it up, just a tiny bit yesterday as well. But the reason I keep reading it is because I enjoy every word.
And I'm so excited about presenting it to my writing group!
It's like it's my little baby, and I'm so proud.
p.s. If you're thinking I need therapy, maybe you shouldn't keep reading my blog. It's just going to get worse from here...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

A serious post, for a change...

I have been writing this blog for only a few weeks, and I'm already breaking the cardinal Rule Number One: Dont' blog from home. I am, in fact, in my bedroom, listening to Zdravko Colic's music from before I was born, and sipping real hot chocolate I had made for myself (cocoa, brown sugar, vanilla extract, milk. Minus marshmallows and whipped cream. Out.) The reason I'm already breaking the rules is that the rules are there to be broken (no, I'm kidding), I'm having a couple of very busy days, and I don't want to have more than a few between posts. Such as me, a dedicated person ;-)
Tomorrow is the asylum case I'm working on. On Thursdays I have my writing class. Between these, I have a tone of reading to do. And my mother is here, so I'm trying to see her every other day.
On a more serious note, I went to a panel on Kosovo in the Wilson center yesterday. It was shocking how no one in the Reagan building knew where the Wilson center was. I felt like I was walking through a maze.
A political scholar from Serbia was talking about different possibilities of what could happen in regards to Serbia not recognizing Kosovo as independent, and the ramifications of it, as well as how the EU is blackmailing Serbia. He didn't say that, I did.
My humble opinion has been that the best thing to resolve the Kosovo issue would be partition. But now, that I know more, I'm not so sure. This political analyst said that the partition would endanger Serbs and other minorities who live in other parts of Kosovo, besides the North, plus it would set dangerous precedents (Macedonia, Republika Srpska...)
An interesting thing was that he was shooting down all these different popular ideas, possible solutions,  floating in the media and among people, until there was none left. Actually the only solutions he saw--dual sovereignty, high degree of autonomy for minorities, didn't sound like a solution at all. It sounded like a consolation prize.
The most interesting thing on the panel was a gentleman from the Albanian-American society, council, group, or something similar, who, during the Q&A, held a small speech on how Serbs on barricades in Kosovo are just troublemakers, and then finally asked, why is the Serbian government supporting them? I think the answer was something along the lines: What else could they do? Everyone has to walk on eggshells around the Kosovo problem. And damned the first one who says: we have to accept its independence.
I wouldn't want to walk on that politician's grave.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Cupcake at the Barre

My husband wanted a membership to Phillips Collection for Christmas last year. So I got him a dual membership--a gift that keeps on giving--to me.
Today is Phillips Collection's 90th birthday. We were, of course, invited to it. But the reason we showed up at 10am-ish, like old people, is because we each got a free Georgetown cupcake! By 12pm. That's one way to promote art!
It worked. The museum was packed with people by 10:30am.
In all fairness, we did want to see Degas' Dancers at the Barre, since the last time we were at Phillips for an Artful Evening (first Thursday of every month) you couldn't even come close to the dancers or the barre. And there was nothing free!
So we glimpsed at the Dancers from a far, smirked at the coughing crowd and screaming children
(why do Americans love to cough and sneeze in public?!) of a hundred people on the third floor of the Phillips Collection, and went downstairs for a cocktail and live jazz.
Cupcake or no cupcake, Degas' Dancers are spectacular. And the entrance is free today, it seems, for general public. No cupcakes, I'm afraid, but there is a real barre. You could even try stretching on it...
p.s. A secret cupcake (in a small pink box) turned out to be Red Velvet. Not my favorite, but I have to admit, it was yummy!

Friday, November 4, 2011

A drink out with the girls and boys

I met my friends in Proof on 8th and G last night, for a drink. The guys were happy drinking Bourbon, or Scotch (who cares, it's all the same to me) and I really wanted a Mojito. I don't drink often, and I only like sweet drinks, (I know, I'm such a girl) cocktails, an occasional glass of wine (sweet, fruity,) or Champagne/Prosecco. I see alcohol as a treat, like chocolate or cake, or sometimes, if I remember, I have a drink when I'm stressed. Last time I treated myself with a cocktail, minus friends, was when Bray and Scarff was installing my new washing machine for several weeks, or when I was negotiating a contract with four businessmen. So, when I do decide to go out for a drink (I don't drink at home unless I have guests over) I get excited over that cocktail or two, like a little girl.
So, when Proof didn't make Mojitos (who doesn't make Mojitos?! Lameness!) I asked for a Bellini. Nope, they heard of it (impressive!), but they didn't have anything peachy. So, I ended up with a glass of Prosecco, which was yummy, and in a stylish flute (very important) but not what I wanted. A friend wanted a Heineken beer. They didn't have that either. So when we all finished our second or third choice drinks, we went across to the Poste. And they made me a Mojito! But a mediocre one. And I'm somewhat a Mojito snob. (Wait, this is very deja-vu-y?!) In my drinking life, I have sent several mojitos back since rum was floating on top and I'm not a pirate! I have also had some amazing crafty ones, like the one in Chi-Cha lounge recently, or the one my friend Jon or John (Damn you Jon Steward) makes at home. Mojito is like a cappuccino for me. If it's good, it's really good, if it's bad, it's undrinkable.
The Poste's Mojito was drinkable, just too watery, too much ice, not enough rum, or flavor, or mint, or syrup, or...
We also ordered food which came in like, I would imagine, a fat camp. A cheese plate had six pieces of cheese! Small pieces, bites. Pathetic! And every other portion of finger food we ordered (fries, smoked trout pate...) was minuscule! The guys picked up the bill, but I'm betting it wasn't cheap. It's in Hotel Monaco, and the lobby, the bathroom, everything is so fancy.
After probably ten orders of finger food, and several drinks (I only had one) we left, hungry.
So, If you want a good cocktail in DC, a Heineken beer or if you are hungry, don't go to the Poste or Proof. That's my seasoned advice to you, my green DC friend.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Broken Ana

"What did you do on Halloween?"
I took a late Power Vinyasa class. Then watched House. Went to bed half an hour after midnight, and never turned into a pumpkin. Lame, I know.
But, the Post-Halloween day happens to be the first day of a month. I often (when I know what date it is) try to do something "useful" on the first day of a month. Or a year. Or on Serbian Christmas. It's because I had been brainwashed by my mother that you should start something you want to be successful at, on Serbian Christmas. So if you always wanted to fly, you should try that on Jan. 7th, according to an old Serbian belief. I believe that my mother learned all these from her late-grandmother, born and raised in a village in Southeast Serbia. I question her sources...
So, today, I made a plan. I'll be working on my Broken Mirror story, then submit it to my teacher for review. Then work on my Does Ana have a reason to sleep so beautifully probably for the last time, before I submit it somewhere. And then, I have a 3pm meeting with a contact to brainstorm about my career. So, I'm half down Ana story, and decided to take a break by writing this blog.
I think my writing is going really well, in general and today. There are days when I can't even think about writing (makes me nauseated) but mostly I am really looking forward to it. Like today. But then there are days when I want to write but everything that comes out seems contrite and cliched.
Today was good. Worked pretty fast. Came up with some original solutions for unoriginal problems, some great descriptions. Have been working on being more descriptive in my writing, up to the point that I have been told recently that I'm too descriptive. Hmmm... sounds like something my mother has been saying about me since I was five--that I'm either at one end, or the other. It has been hard to strike a balance.
But, I'm planning on being done with these huge stories for my book soon, then move to the remaining...twenty...or so. Yes, I know, it's a lot. I actually become a little bit discouraged when I realize how much work is ahead of me, but then, I realize how much work I have already put it, and I hate doing things in vain. So, hopefully, I'll have a second version of my first book, by Jan. 2012. Exactly a year from my first version.
Come to think of it, it has been a long year...but that's probably because I have lived it in DC...