Monday, December 31, 2012

Belgrade-DC: Resolutions, resolutions...

Belgrade-DC: Resolutions, resolutions...: So, are you going to the gym tomorrow? Or doing Yoga? Or beginning a new diet? I love how arbitrary and fairy-taley the whole "New Year's ...

Resolutions, resolutions...

So, are you going to the gym tomorrow? Or doing Yoga? Or beginning a new diet?

I love how arbitrary and fairy-taley the whole "New Year's resolutions" are, or rather the idea of, oh, I'm going to pig out today, but tomorrow, I'm going to be a good girl (or a boy.) Just because today is Dec. 31 and tomorrow January 1.
I bite into it just like everybody else. And I think it's a good thing.
Imagine if there were no "years," if everything was just a continues flow. We would all be "naughty" all the time, without even trying to be nice.

So, what's your 2013. resolution?

I'm turning vegan tomorrow! Again! But probably not forever. I'm a realist, and I know when my mother comes on Jan. 18th, she will mess up my veganism with her Eurocream (Eurokrem) and palachinke (crepes).
But, better 18 days than none, right? Right?
Also, I'm going to write every day. Either write or rewrite.
I have both my novel-in-stories to work on (I decided to rewrite three stories, and write a new one. Inspiration from my trip to Serbia, the recent one.) and my NaNoWriMo novel. That's a lot of work!
And I'll try to do Yoga every day.
What else?
I also want to finally find an agent, and market my writing much more, maybe enter some competitions, maybe find a residency....
And by the end of the year I might cut my hair off, dye it red and move to Italy.
Just kiddin...
Anyway, I had my horoscope done in Serbia for 2013, and apparently I'll be swimming in business proposals.
We'll see!

Whatever you decide to do, however you decide to change your life in 2013, (which I believe it's going to be an awesome year, since I was born on the 13th), be kind to animals and people! Especially living beings weaker than you and defenseless.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Shooing a hawk away or Madison Square Park on Christmas Eve

Greetings from New York City, another city that does Christmas as well as Munich, if not better!

As I was boarding a train from Union Station to Penn Station, my mouth began watering with all the things that I wanted to do in this city I used to call home, just a little over two years ago.

From Penn station, Madison Square Park is just a short walk away.

And it's my favorite NYC park.


I know, who doesn't love Central Park, right? But Central Park is a city of its own, it's a whole day project, it's a story of its own.

But Madison Square Park?

It had Shake Shack before DC did. Way before. It's across from my favorite building in the world--the Flatiron. 

It's five minutes away from the Union Square.

It's across from the Saint Sava Serbian Orthodox Church on W. 25th street.

It's just in the middle of it all, where ever you want to go, you can have lunch, or take a break, or feed the overweight squirrels.

Yesterday, there was also a beautiful Christmas tree there. And a hawk.

Yes, a real hawk, the first hawk I have ever seen up close.

So, what happened?

Passing through the Park, remembering how many times I have been there, summer and winters, observing sculptures or listening to the live music while having a picnic on the grass, watching U.S. Open on the big screen or waiting in line for the best milk shake and shroom-burger (vegetarian), I saw people staring at something on the lawn, snapping photos with their phones.

I approached, and there he was, or she was--a big bird, big wings, sharp beak, black and white, grey feathers.
So, I snapped a few photos as well, smiling, saying something along the lines--"Cool, I have never seen such a big bird so up close before...or in Madison Square Park..."

Come on, I grew up in a city, always lived in a the city; besides pigeons, not many birds around.

And then someone said: "it's standing on a squirrel..."

My animal-protecting instincts kicked in, and indeed, after seeing a poor, closed-eyes squirrel beneath the sharp claws, I proceeded to shoo away the hawk.

Yes, I said :"shoo, shoo" several times to the hawk, who stared at me, probably thinking "who the hell is this crazy lady..."

The squirrel appeared to be dead.

I felt so sad.

Never occurred to me that the hawk could move from the dead squirrel to me, the lady with a big, grey puffy jacket, and Benetton blue-grey-brown hat, waving her gloved hand in front of the bird's hawky nose.

New York City. Wild, in many ways. 

Just as I was saying how happy those Madison Square squirrels were, having no one as predators except for high cholesterol. 


Friday, December 21, 2012

Don't suck on honey on a German train...or do

I was sitting on a train from Munchen Flughafen to Central Station.

I just missed the first train by two seconds, and the one I was finally on came in 19 minutes.
I was already hungry since Lufthansa only had sandwiches with ham.
"Do you have a vegetarian sandwich?" I politely asked the German flight attendant.
"You can take the meat out," she said and smiled as if she just invented electricity.

Makes sense, right? Well, not to me. How can I protest meat if I throw it away?! Nothing upsets me more than throwing meat away. It's not air. An animal was killed for it.
So, I politely declined the sandwich.

But two hours later, I was starving. And all my food I brought from Serbia, translation--vegan cookies, Eurocream, or kremche as my niece calls it (or the devil food, as I call it since it's delicious and addictive and when I have it in my kitchen, I can't eat anything else,) chocolates of all kinds...all of that, neatly packed in my suitcase.

So, I was sitting across from a gentleman German who lifted my carry-on, and holding on to my check-in suitcase that weighed probably as much as I was, and I rummaged through my purse since the trip was another 45 minutes, plus another 10 to get to the hotel.

And I was starving!

All I found in my purse, eatable, was a little pocket of honey, you know, one of those things you get with your tea in a cafe. My Mom gave it to me since honey is medicinal and it can be used for sore throat, disinfection...
So I opened the little pouch and began sucking the honey out of it.
And I pretended it was a normal thing to do--eat honey on a train. In Germany. Totally nonchalant. As if I were reading a paper or a book, or checking my phone.
But with my peripheral vision, I saw that the German guy across from me was glancing, occasionally lifting his eyes from his paper.
I pretended not to see him. Looked through the window. Looked at my phone.

As I was finishing my snack, squeezing the bag so I get all of the honey, he got up and moved to another seat.

My first!

I guess sucking on honey is considered crazy in Germany! Who knew?!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Wheels up! (literally and figuratively)

And I'm done! I'm done! I have written 50,391 words in one month, of a brand new novel, with no preparation in advance.
I am proud and it does feel good, and I think, at the end, it has potential.
It, of course, needs a lot of work. It's rough, the scenes are not where they are suppose to be and I'm sure it has many holes.
But I still have a rough novel on my laptop. Yay, right? (or Jupi in Serbian:-)
And now I have to finish packing, and shopping.
I'm taking off tomorrow night, through Munich to Serbia, to see my family and friends.
And I will blog from Serbia. Serbia-blog. Blog-o-Nis. Nis-o-Blog.
So, stay tuned.
p.s. I need a big break from my novel. Oh, by the way, the title is Gorilla :-)
So, if you know anything about what I have done for the New Yorker, you'll know a bit what the novel is about.
p.p.s I heard it's snowing in Germany. And in Bosnia. Say it isn't so...?(I better pack my snow boots:)
Hope not to be snowed in, anywhere.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blog-crastinator or 6,666 words to go

Actually, last night I had about 6,600 words left to go. This morning, I made myself write the novel before writing this post. But 6,666 sounds better, right. A little bit of an artistic licence.
So, I have three days to go to win the NaNoWriMo. What do I win? Absolutely nothing, except for the fact that I have managed to write rough 50000 words of a novel in one month. How cool is that exactly? I'm not sure. It's cool when other people do it. Me? What do I do with that novel now?!
It's a rough draft, rougher than anything else I have ever written since I have never before been forced to write so much fiction on a deadline.
And now, even before it's finished, I don't feel like reading it ever again.
But that would be a waste, right? Right!
So, I'll probably let it sit for 20 years (:-) and then pick it up and work on it.

Was this NaNoWriMo challenge a good idea?
I'm not sure. It definitely made me outline a novel I had in mind. It made me write almost every day (I missed one due to guests). And it's a great writing exercise.
But would I do it again?
No way!
I think one novel that needs about another year of constant work is enough.
So, now, I have (let me check) a little less than 5000 words for go, and 2.5 days.
And I'm already tired of writing today, but I have to get in another shift, otherwise, I won't be able to make up 2500 a day, since I also have to pack and prepare for my trip on Saturday.
Here we go! Shift two! (My back hurts, I need to get up and walk around...maybe I should do Yoga?)

On a not-so-related note--anybody been to Munich Christmas Time?

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


NaNoWriMo, Day 21.
(I have just found out last night, while talking to a small press publisher, that it's pronounced Wri, not Wree. Of course, it makes total sense, but once you learn to say something made up wrong...)
I'm hanging in there. I have good days and bad days. Days when I say:"Hey, this ain't so bad" and days when I say: "Oh my God, I just wasted a month of my life."
And I also have days when I don't want to see this Novel I'm writing (Gorilla) ever, ever again.
It's a bit autobiographical, and it brings out some bad memories, and I should not have picked to write a novel when one of the characters is based on something that happened to me.
It was hard to resist.
I should have stuck to what I like to write about: Rural Serbia, and Serbs with their weird and fascinating beliefs.
So not next year!
Speaking of Serbia, and adding Germany, I'm going to both of those in December.
Well, it's my father's 60 birthday, I had United miles, and my husband is traveling at the same time for work.
I'm also flying through Germany and despite the fact that it's going to be freezing there in December, I'm going to see Munich for the first time. Not counting the airport, which is one of the best airports in the world. Clean, efficient, and there's this big cafe with great lattes and wooden benches in the middle of shopping, i.e. heaven!
And I have a perfect 2.5 hour layover in Munich!
What else?
If you were a fiction writer like me, and that's all you really want to do for a living, would you go for a small publisher now, or a big publisher somewhere down the road?
That's a dilemma I'm facing right now.
I have only scratched the Small Presses versus Agent surface, and I have a few small offers. But no big ones yet.
So, settle for small now, or dig deeper, put in more work, not into my book, but into looking for an agent, so it might pay off later?
A friend, a writer told me, the agent game is a "numbers game..."
I hate playing with numbers...

Friday, November 9, 2012


This is my pathetic attempt to procrastinate working on my NaNoWriMo novel.
Why didn't anyone warn me that writing a novel every single bloody day is tiresome? And just a Little bit difficult?
Yes, as if I would listen.
I loveeee getting myself into these kinds of situations. No way out.
Feel free to ignore my nagging (Please don't ignore me, keep reading.)
I'm doing fine, actually, word-count wise, I'm just...a little tired of it.
I want to go back to my book! I want to write again about rural Serbian women, and other stuff.
So, if you also bravely (or stupidly) decided to write a novel in one month, please comment with words of encouragement. Like my book will definitely be a best seller. Effortlessly. That would probably get me through it.
I better get back to writing.
Or? Doing laundry doesn't sound so bad right now :-(

Monday, November 5, 2012

How's your Novel writing going?

So, if you didn't know, November is the Novel Writing Month in the United States.
I didn't know until...this year, I think.
But I bumped into an old friend in a cafe in Dupont Circle on Saturday, and when she asked me what have I been doing,  I said, "oh, I'm writing this novel thing," she said, "You're doing the NaNoWriMo?"
It was as if I said, yes, of course, it's the fall and the leaves are falling.
And yes, I'm on schedule, actually ahead of the schedule. (I wish I were this diligent when I was in college.) But it's not as exciting as I thought it would be.
The idea is that you write 50,000 words of a novel in a month. So, 50,000 is really not a novel but a novella, but I'm sure if they said "write 100,000 words in one month," people would run away screaming.
And you're suppose to "turn off your internal editor," that is if you have one. But that is really, really hard.
So, I, in my infinite wisdom and self-belief, believed that I can write 50,000 brilliant words in one month, i.e. write well every day. Not so much.
What I have managed to do is A) come up with a good novel idea; B) write between 1200-2000 words a day, pretty easily. I could probably do even more, but I usually say: "nah, I've done enough for one day."
What I didn't do is A) stay excited about my novel and the quality of my writing throughout.
But, I'm five days in, and I cannot stop now. I have 8,000 words. I have 30 pages written. And I'm not a quitter, for better or worse. I'm actually one of those people who would stay with a bad investment hoping it would prove to be profitable one day.
I'm not saying this Novel writing thingy is a bad investment. It's certainly an investment of time, and a good exercise, and it's probably very, very hard to write well every single day, if at all possible. But, at this point, I wish I was more "quality," less "quantity."
I also completely neglected by novel-in-stores about Serbia.
The novel I just began writing is placed in the United States. It has one Serbian character and one little Serbian angle but it's a story of New York City, meets Hollywood, and book meets movie.
Writers reading this would probably call me silly (at best) since the whole idea of this "challenge" is to write without editing, and no one (maybe?) can write well without going back and editing.(Right?)
So, I'm on track. I'm "killing" the challenge so far, in relative terms. But I still haven't learned "stay within the borders." I suppose I never will.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Debate

Chances are, if you live in the United States, you're still talking about last night's debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. If you're not talking about it, you're either mute or you're not an American.
I can't even picture an American who doesn't have strong feelings about the elections in three weeks. I think the turnout is going to beat all the polls, and perhaps end some marriages.
I'm not a registered Democrat or a Republican, but I like to describe myself as a "Progressive Liberal Feminist," and, as I'm sure you can guess, I think Obama blew Mitt Romney all the way to where Felix began his jump a few days ago. Why?
It wasn't low expectations. I think we all knew he was going to come in prepared this time, and hopefully interested. He seemed bored to me (or maybe tired) last time. And it wasn't only how feisty he was, which I LOVE (you wanna run a country? You have to be combative!), it's also what he said. I seriously hope he fired whom ever advised him last time on being "Presidential" i.e. laid back, i.e."let Romney walk all over me."
I love that he brought up the 47% comment, and I love that he mentioned that he killed Bin Laden, which he did, and the fact that he equalized the pay for women very soon after in office. And that women have the right to contraceptives, and that he wants to raise taxes on rich, and that he's actually saving our money with Obamacare...(which he is. The emergency care is the most expensive one. Preventative is the cheapest.)
I agree with all of those statements, I understand what he's saying.
So, I thought, he did his job brilliantly. And, Oh, yes, defending Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice! Absolutely brilliant. ( I don't know who can even think that the President decides how much security to send to an Embassy or a consulate?! That's some security State Department's person's job, obviously to anyone who uses his/her brains.)
I'm not saying here Obama is a perfect President. He isn't. He probably could have done more. He should do more. Not only on jobs, but for example, on limiting the assault weapons.
But, please, just listen what Mitt Romney is saying. What he's saying makes no sense to me.
I was a math major in high school and I don't understand how he's going to reduce deficit unless he raises taxes. And I'm tired of his "closing the loopholes" mantra. Which loopholes? Which exact deductions? How much money are you going to save, per deduction, per loophole, exact amounts?
But the thing that really, really annoys me is his stance on abortion. I mean, please explain to me how can you be both pro-abortion and anti-abortion. If you are anti-abortion because life begins at conception, then you HAVE to be anti-abortion even if that life started with incest or rape, or even if it endangers the mother! It's life right?
What, so it's o.k. to kill a baby if it's a rapist's baby? Hypocrisy with a big H. And I just HATE hypocrisy.
I also have a problem when a man who is very religious and has five sons tells me he is against abortion. Men should never tell women what to do with their bodies. Period! If you're against abortion, you don't have one!
So, as I'm sure you can tell, I'm one of the "undecided ones." As undecided as those people in Hofstra's audience last night.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


Yes, if you didn't know November is National Novel Writing Month. I didn't know, until this year.
So, I decided, after careful consideration, (actually, my mother said: "don't go to Ukraine, it's not for you, which totally plays into my childhood fantasy that I was abducted from a castle in Western Europe), that going to Ukraine for a blind assignment (wouldn't know where or with whom) when the weather is cold, and they might not have bathrooms where I might be going (this happened to me in a village around Medvedja in Serbia in 2003, when men just shrugged and turned toward a forest), is not the greatest idea I ever had.
Plus, I already signed up for this novel challenge.
And if you have been reading me, I love challenges.
So, my friends, I'm doing it! I'm writing a 50,000 novel in one month! How? I have no idea! Not even a clue! I see on forums that people have already decided what kind of novel they will write. Me? I'm still thinking, and apparently dreaming. Yes, I dreamt last night that I was writing this novel, counting words, some people tried to derail me, women mostly, but I can't identify them now (If I could I would probably screen their calls.)
But that's all fine, right? I have another almost 20 days to think about the novel, think about the characters I want in it, then on November 1, I set them like actors on a stage, and press play. In my head.
So, I am very, very, very excited!!!
I will also update this blog all throughout the challenge. Unless I have a splitting headache from staring at the screen.
If you want to join me, (I'm suppose to be recruiting "writing buddies" since, they say, it's easier if you have someone hovering over your head the whole month, or, some people would define this simply as "being married."), please e-mail me, or sign up and "buddy" me.
Happy to be happy and miserable at the same time with another soul the whole month of November!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

To Novel, or To Ukraine?

I was asked if I wanted to observe elections in Ukraine. Late October-November. I have to give an answer today.
Why am I thinking about it?
Well, I am a trained election observer and I have done it before, but in Serbia. I'm safe in Serbia. Plus I went with people I knew, and I knew where I was going.
The Ukraine trip? I have never been to Ukraine. I don't know where I would be going, with whom or where I would be staying. I won't know any of those things before I commit. Plus, it's considered to be a "volunteer" work, so the expenses are paid but it's not a job. I don't get a salary.
And I have to make the decision today. Right after I made another decision yesterday. To begin writing a novel.
So, my novel writing, I decided yesterday, after talking to a colleague, a novelist, from one of my writing classes, will begin by me entering the "one- month- novel- writing- competition" that starts on November 1. And ends on November 30. 50,000 words in one months. I love it! It sounds challenging and exciting and that's why I love it!
But now if I take the Ukraine assignment I couldn't do it. I would go to Serbia after Ukraine and be back here in mid-November.
It's one of those lose-lose situations in my opinion. The Ukraine trip could be very rewarding, or it could be difficult and scary. I don't know. Never been.
On the other hand, I look Slavic. (I am Slavic) but my Russian is very, very, very rusty.
I'm sure they're not thrilled by Americans there. But I don't know how I would get by without speaking English to the colleagues I would go with. And I sincerely doubt they speak foreign languages.
So, I'm trying to talk to as many people possible today, get as much info as I can, so I can make a decision by tonight that will not leave me miserable.
If that's at all possible.
So, if you, reading this, have a thought, please share it with me.Or don't. It's up to you. I'll make a decision either way. Just hope it's not one I regret. Again.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

You'll only regret...

Which wise-face said that "you'll only regret things you haven't done?"
I heard this a long time ago, in Serbia, and for a long time thought it true.
Not anymore.
Not that I don't have regrets. But they go both ways.
For example, a few days ago, I decided that I will go after fellowships. At this point, I realize, it is something that I would love to do, a fiction-writing fellowship. Anywhere, though Harvard would be my first choice.
But in 2006. I had an offer from Boston College for an assistantship and full scholarship for an M.A. in Slavic Studies, which I said no to because...I'm embarrassed to say why, but, at that point in time, to that Marija, it seemed like a right decision.
I also said NO to two excellent full time jobs--one when I got into grad school in DC, and another, when I was about to move to NYC.
So, am I the only one who thinks about the past a bit and wonders if I made the right decisions, and wonders where I would be now if I had taken any of those other paths?
It's not that I'm not happy with where I am right now, but I have to admit, sometimes, I feel a little lost. And a little bit with a "multiple personality disorder."
Well, I'm doing 246 different things, but none of them with a 100 percent. And the road to here has been fun, no doubt, and educational; it's just, I wonder something, how stability would fit right now.
Back in 2006, being an assistant in college sounded wrong for me and reporting sounded right, but now, I realized, I don't really want to be a reporter. Which is kind of a bummer after you get an M.A. in it, and spend a lot of time and money on it.
On the other hand, getting an M.A. in creative writing or acting probably would not have been the best decision either.
And now, I feel a little bit like a cat (nine lives and all). I'm applying for fellowships, I'm sending my book to competitions, and to agents, I'm looking for a full-time job in Communications, I want to start my own Internet business, I want to keep learning Italian, and I want to live in Europe again.
And I'm also still interpreting, teaching and consulting on-need basis.
One thing I know for sure. I love to write. Not articles, but fiction, historical fiction, or really any fiction. I actually get goose bumps from reading my own good fiction. Weird, right? From reading other people's great fiction too, not just my own...
So I should probably follow that path as long as there is one. What if it turns into a dirt path? What then? Still follow it? What if I hit a forest? What then? A flashlight?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Volkswagen, Schmoltzwagen, Fraudwagen, Thiefwagen

It's just unbelievable how quickly one can transit from ecstatic to miserable.
I had a wonderful, active visit to Rome, then Belgrade and Nis, Serbia, and I was full of positive energy and interesting fiction material until Saturday.
On Saturday, my car, my VW Beetle got a pneumonia. How do I know? Its underbelly began banging while on Rock Creek Parkway. It was so bad that I had to have it towed to a VW dealership in Bethesda-Martens.
So, if you have been "reading" me, I'm sure that at some point I have mentioned how in love I am with my car. It's perfect. I talk to it. I have a bumper bully. I have, since Saturday, vanity plates: "MARIJA." I don't like letting other people drive it. And I mourn every scratch incompetent DC parkers put on it. I never, ever hit it, I drive it carefully, all in all, I just love and respect my car.
And a service manager yesterday gave me long a list of worn out and rusty parts, including my brake pads that need to be replaced.
Have I mentioned it's certified pre-owned, with a service warranty?
So, I have been extremely stressed since yesterday and my only way to battle stress-Yoga and dark chocolate--hasn't helped completely.
I am so angry with Martens VW that I want to sue them!Make them go out of business. Have them file for bankruptcy.
I have been bringing my car for a check up every 3-4-5 months, last time in late April and "everything was fine." All of a sudden, I don't have to tell you how huge my bill is, after the warranty, cause, "it doesn't cover everything."
So, I'm not sure if they certified a car that should not have been certified, or if Martens VW is so bad at what they do that they have missed all the warning signs. Or they just wanted things to get so bad, maybe even waited for my warranty to expire so they can charge me an arm and a leg. And they are pricey, let me tell you. I used to think, it was because they were good, better than the rest. The exact opposite.
So, I have called VW America and complained about the dealeships' poor service. I have contacted BBB and filed a complaint with them as well. I'm not going to be duped or frauded. I'm am not going down without a fight, especially since I know I'm right.
What would you do if you go for a physical in April, and the same doctor tell you then you're in perfect health, and in September, you're dying of something? Exactly!
But the real problem is, I love my car, and it's sick. So, I really want them to repair it, put new organs, whatever it takes, clone it for all I care, and not just sell it and get another car. New Beetle is really the only car I want. And they don't make them anymore. Maybe, for a reason :(
My father said: it seems that those Beetles are gentle. How appropriate for moi.
So, if you have any advice on how to deal with this problem, I would appreciate it.
In a meanwhile, my poor little car is still at the shop. Probably sad and lonely.
p.s. No, I'm not crazy. I just love my car. Deal with it.

Friday, August 24, 2012

When in Rome...

And I call myself a writer! For shame! When I get busy--work, travel, I cease to be a writer. Lame. Embarrassing. Pathetic.
Actually, even though I have a day off before I have to pack for Rome, I barely dragged myself to my favorite cafe to write. "I'm tired, I have so many things to do, blah blah..."
But I did drag myself out, half awake ( I didn't have much sleep last night, and not to good reasons either), and took a bus.
Yes, I was even too lazy to walk.
But now I'm good, my brain is at about 40% capacity, and I'm still waiting for my soy latte to kick in.
And yes, I'm still vegan, until Sunday. On Monday, I'm reverting back to vegetarian. Why? 'Cause I'll be in Rome, and you can't be a vegan in Rome. Food, dude?! Cappuccinos?! Why do you think I'm going to Rome?!
That would be a great book title, or a story: "She went to Rome to have a cappuccino al banco."
And to put her hand into La Bocca Della Verita. Uh huh.
Last time I was there, I wanted to see the Bocca, but no one could tell me where it was, and by no one I mean random Italians in coffee shops and postcard stores.
So, this time I'm coming armed with directions and maps and walking shoes.
And I'm putting my hand into that Bocca, damn it!
Funny thing, I forgot what I wished for three years ago when I flipped that coin into Trevi. So, now how do I know if it worked?!
This time I'll write it down. Actually, I know what I want. Besides to come back to Rome. Hey, that one came true! Almost. Three days away...

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Sharks, kayaks, Amazing Graces, interviews, Roman cappuccinos

Hello earthlings!
I know, I dropped from the face of the earth.
Where have I been, what have I done?
Well, just got back from Boston's South Shore, Boston proper and Cape Code-Province town and Hyannis.
Great vacation, except that no one told me there are sharks in Cape Cod. I, typically found out after I got out of the water in Hyannis. Thank God it was still kind of chilly for me (everything below 80 is chilly for me) so I didn't stay long in the water nor went very far. 
Boston was as charming as always. I bloody love that city. The salty fresh ocean air behind skyscrapers! Big parks! Excellent shopping and cafe culture. What's not to like?!
And I finally kayaked! First my family made me paddle boat, which I didn't like since it was too hard (but I never fell in the water, thanks to my Yoga skills, I'm guessing...) but then, once I got into kayak and learned how to turn myself around, hello fun!
As usually I regret not trying it earlier in my vacation. Oh, well, there's always next year.
In other news, VOA Serbian Service interviewed me about my writing successes. The interview
My story "Just a boy" was accepted by Amazing Graces, a book of fiction by DC area female writers and it will come out next year with promotion in Politics and Prose. Hugely proud of that.
Two other stories: "Bucket of melted pig's fat," and "Storm" have been accepted by two magazines and are coming out in September and October. 
What else? Have a few agents interested in my book which I finally finished (sigh) for the second time. So I'm keeping my fingers crosses to find a publisher by the end of the year. 
And lastly, I am going to Rome, Italy and Serbia at the end of this month! The reasons? First, I love Italy and I am from Serbia. Second, my nephew is getting baptised. Third, I'm learning Italian. Forth, I want to do research on this Vampire story I have began to write but don't have enough info to make it historic.
There you go. Not that I needed four reasons to go anywhere.
And one more thing. My birthday is next week. Any ideas on what I should do on that day (Monday)?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Home is a relative word

I don't think there is anyone on this earth that hates home renovations more than I do, nor any daughter that is more different than her mother.
My mother, my beautiful kind mother loves her home, and is constantly trying to improve it, nurture it.
Me? I can't wait to buy a plane ticket and escape it.
Unfortunately, the home I live in needed new kitchen counter tops. The old ones were not exactly falling apart but esthetically they were not the most pleasing thing. A few tiles had began to break.
Me: "So what? Who cares? How much is this going to cost me? HEY, that's three or four tickets to Europe!
(I measure everything in tickets to Europe. I used to measure value by how many shoes I could buy but I grew up.)
A realtor-friend: "Whether you want to sell the place or rent it, the new counter tops will increase the value of your apartment."
My mother-in-law: "You should do it sooner rather than later so you can enjoy it."
(Question. How do you "enjoy" granite kitchen counter tops? Anyone?)
Hmmm, I'm not sure what I enjoy more. The dust, the splinters, scattered paint on my curtains, wine rack or hardwood floors, or the fact that I haven't been able to even have water from my kitchen in three days, let alone food. Or the fact that I have to clean since I have cats and they can't wait until the housekeeper comes, which is Friday afternoon. (It's Wednesday.) Nor can I live and breathe among white dust.
(Disclaimer: I hate to clean almost as much as home improvements.)
Also, the fact that everything in my living room and kitchen is covered in white dust, is not helping with my neuroses. The fact that I have to spend any amount of time in the room makes we worry how toxic the dust really is. Am I inhaling it? Is it in my lungs? I think my throat is scratchy, yes, there is definitely something in my throat. (Ran to the bathroom. Brushed my teeth five times, then mouth washed it another three until I almost threw up. Damn, I still have something in my throat!)
p.s. If you see me on the street, keep going, I might bite your head off.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Just a boy...

"Marija, you were acting in NYC and you were a broadcast journalist, what is wrong with you?!" is what I was thinking just before I got up in front of that mic yesterday afternoon at The Writer's Center in Bethesda. I was nervous and I should not have been. My story was good, I knew that, I practised reading it out loud, and had 11 friends and a teacher in the audience supporting me.
But I was still nervous, so nervous that I was a little short of breath when I began reading. But then, I relaxed soon after.
I was worried that people won't understand every word I say since I speak English with a Slavic accent. And they needed to understand every word of a six-minute excerpt. Every word was precious, there was nothing to cut off. Believe me, I cut off everything that I could in order to tell my story.
But I didn't tell the whole story.
I was cut off almost at the end.
So, after the readings ended, people I don't know came to me and told me they wanted to know how my story ended. And that they liked it.
I remembered, even in front of a camera, or on the stage, I have always been nervous. But I have never, not once, screwed up.
I actually was told in grad school that I looked the most comfortable as a TV anchor. Huh. True story.
In sum, the reading went smoothly, people loved my story and enjoyed my "actor's" presentation. Oh I played that baby up, inflections, different voices, moods...
So I'm extremely satisfied how everything played out.
My teacher was too, saying "you have no competition in the room," just before she left. And "has this story been published?"
We're talking about my new story here,"Just a boy," It's a story about a little girl, a Croatian little girl, whose mother left her for another man, and her father died in World War II. The story is about the night when her father comes back home after three years and finds out that his wife was impregnated by another man before she left.
Pretty heavy stuff, I know, but all my stories are like that. Well, almost all. I have a few light ones, just to mix it up.
So, this morning when I got up, everything was back to normal. I need to work on my book. I need to work on my query letter. And I need my latte. Quiet, rainy morning, after a loud, fun day.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Provocative and scandalous

A writer I took "Reading and Writing short stories" course in September with, asked me last week if I wanted to read at her reading. She said she liked my writing. We haven't been in touch for at least seven months, and just out of the blue, she drops an e-mail saying something like, "I really liked your work and I was hoping you would read..."
I was flattered to say at the least.
And I of course jumped at the opportunity.
I actually had a trip to Philly planned for that (next) weekend, train tickets, hotel booked. So I picked up my phone and moved everything for two weeks down the road.
When I told our mutual teacher that this writer invited me to read with her, she said, she was "pleased and hoped that we would stay in touch."
What can i say except I've been feeling pretty good with myself as a fiction writer ever since. Have I mentioned that this other writer is truly very talented? She won some scholarship I'm thinking about applying for now.
All this, and the fact that tomorrow (probably) or any day after that I have two stories coming out in two magazines, makes this a pretty great week. One in NYC, one in LA. Huh!
So, my reading is on Sunday. I am very excited and just a tiny bit nervous, but mostly can't wait. You see, I used to be a broadcast journalist and actor, so I'm used to the spotlight. And, honestly, I like it.
As far as my book goes, I'm almost at the point where I'm ready to send it out again, but this time it is way better, much, much improved from the first, "impatient" version. It's actually over 70 percent rewritten completely.
Part of me wants to do it today, part of me wants to wait another few months.
And as far as the Sunday reading goes, I still haven't decided which story to read. I'm leaning toward one, but it's hard. I cannot be objective about my writing. But I will definitely pick one that I have work shopped and got good ratings on.
So stay tuned. My "Does Ana have a reason to sleep so beautifully" and "Broken Mirror" will be looking for their readers soon. And I promise, they are both provocative, scandalous. No PG 13 here...

Friday, June 8, 2012

Zoran Djindjic, rolling in his grave

A few days ago, I glanced at a list of Toma Nikolic's (new Serbian president) advisers and advisers to be. And I got an instant headache.
After reading a distinguished list--a former mob lawyer, a Dean of an University involved in repression against anti-Milosevic students (i.e. moi) and faculty, more recently accused of accepting bribes, a Nikolic's family member, a police general close to Milosevic, Milosevic's wife Mirjana's book editor, and another former member of Mira Markovic's JUL party, who stole Serbian parliamentary elections for Milosevic--I thought two things.
First, it must be a Saturday Night Live skid. It must be!
Second, Zoran Djindjic must be rolling in his grave.
Between this government that mocks the hell out of everything that OTPOR, and students, and people fought for and suffered through, and sends Serbia straight back to the 90s, or the hell, and the fact that Boris Tadic (former Serbian president, a prime minister to be) refuses to step down even though he LOST the elections, fair and square, I think that if there is life after death, Djindjic probably wishes there wasn't.

All I can add is that if I weren't attached at hip to Serbia, I would be laughing too...

Monday, May 28, 2012

Inspirational microwave

Loud beeping sounds woke me up at 5am. They were coming from a microwave no one used for days. It just magically turned on, beeping like someone was trying to kill it which is exactly what I wanted to do after it made me get up from my cozy bed. After unplugging it, I went back to bed, but couldn't fall asleep (of course, I never can.) When this happens, sometimes I think of my writing. So, my thoughts fell on one of my stories I just haven't been able to finish, or rewrite for at least a year. Suddenly, while laying in bed, with my eyes closed, it all became so clear. An eureka! An epiphany! A resolution!
Then I continued thinking if I should just get up or will I remember my idea in the morning. While in that process, I also got an excellent idea for the query letter and the structure of my book!
While going in my mind over these ideas I thought brilliant at the time, I somehow fell asleep.
I know what you're thinking. I woke up at 9am forgetting everything.
But I didn't!
I got up at 830am and wrote the ideas down. But then, today, I actually wrote a new story, and it's brilliant! I'm so happy!
So, thank you microwave! Even though I never use you (microwave breaks food into indigestible particles and radiates you) you proved to be very inspirational!
Actually, feel free to wake me up in the middle of the night from now on. I have a deadline to uphold!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Why Nikolic won Serbian elections

I woke up this morning and the world was different. I wish I could say for the better.
Toma Nikolic, I found out, won the presidential elections in Serbia. Toma Nikolic, for the ones who don't know, is a "former' Radical, former Seselj's guy, who reinvented himself into a fairly new Progressive Party leader, about four years ago I believe. And the Radical Party was once in coalition with Milosevic.
So, Serbia, my friends, as much as it pains me to say, seems to be going backwards. It's already in the 60s compared to the States, according to my "Mad Men" analysis (everybody smokes and leaves trash on the grass after a picnic...), so I'm guessing, it's skipping the 70s, and going straight back into the 90s. Yay! 90s in Serbia (Yugoslavia) were so much fun! I mean, you couldn't gain wait because there was no food to buy, and you couldn't go anywhere because there was no gas, no money, and no one would let you into their country anyway, and you were actually encouraged to spend your whole salary in one day since it wasn't worth anything the day after...and then, in '99, you got bombed! Excellent! Good times!Parties all night, free fireworks and toxic fumes!
But I don't blame an average Serb for Nikolic's success. I actually blame the Democratic Party who played God, when it was suppose to help Serbia. They were the ones who let the corruption cover Serbia like weed. They were the ones who were arrogant and untouchable.
Guess what? When Serbs get angry, they do things to spite, even though it might not be in their best interest.
But Serbs should know Serbs. Or do they?
I am so frustrated that I sometimes think I would want to form a party of successful, incorruptible Serbian Diaspora, who wants to go to Serbia, run an "Obama" campaign, and get the country in order. I would fire everybody, and then hire the best professionals with squeakily clean background checks.
But it's probably just a dream...

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Organ's Madam

Have you ever been to Madam's Organ? Well, if you haven't, maybe you should.
It's an institution in Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington DC, and I was there last weekend.
It's a large saloon with live music and delicious, delicious Rum Punches. People dance on the ground floor in front of the bend, or play pool on the floor above, where there's also a DJ later in the evening. But there's also a rooftop bar, if you like getting drunk while star-gazing. It was a little smokey there (on the rooftop) last weekend, but if you don't mind cigarettes, cigars or whatever else that might have been, it's a charming place to have a drink.
At one point, while trying to talk to friends through good, loud blues, a guitar player with a red hat walked up the first floor and began picking girls and sitting on their laps, while still playing the guitar. I don't know if he picked to sit only on skirted legs or what his criteria was, but I was stunned and amused!
I wonder if I should have tipped him?
As Schwarzenegger once so eloquently put it: "I'll be back!"

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Another challenge? Give me a...

I have finally started writing the analytical "dissertation," i.e. the article on democratic transitions. As I listened to Srdja Popovic's, the CANVAS' s (Center for Applied NonViolent Action and Strategies) mastermind, interview, and laughed at his jokes interwoven with impressive answers of someone who knows what he/she is talking about, I realized two things. This is going to be more fun than I thought, and as difficult.
I just have so much material to go through, so many interviews, and unlike Popovic's, the others are just more or less useful. And not as fun.
But I bit it, so I have to chew it, as slowly as necessary.
The other thing I'm doing, starting today (actually I started the day before yesterday, but I skipped yesterday, so it doesn't really count) is another challenge! A writing challenge! Is there another kind? ;-)
So, there are 17 stories in my manuscript. I have to touch up or rewrite each one, in 17 days. A story per day. Then I can submit the manuscript to those open calls waiting around for no one else but me.
But I also have to work on the article every day.
Here we go.

Day 1:

I'm half down my latte (I only get one a day, otherwise I jump like an energizer bunny).
Worked on a article for about an hour (roughly).
I'm about to work on my signature story, Balkan Voodoo.
You're probably wondering why I haven't worked on it before I wrote this? Well, I needed a break from the article. I get so into the stuff I'm doing, that it gives me a migraine sometimes.
So, buckle up, here we go.
p.s. If you want an autograph, you better look me up now, cause in 17 days...I might not talk to mortals...

Monday, May 7, 2012

Who will kill the dragon now?

Post-Djurdjevdan day, or Serbian Saint George's feast, you know, the one who killed the dragon. And the dragon can be, at this point, whatever you want. Use your imagination.
And post-Serbian, French and Greek elections.
A day after I celebrated Slava at a Serbian-American friend's place in Vienna, Virginia (I wish it were the other Vienna,), in whose backyard I saw five young deer, closer than ever before ( What?! I'm a city girl, the closest I came to a deer was at a zoo, I think,) Serbia is a mess, as I anticipated, having spent half a month there recently, talking to people about the elections (among other things.)
So, now you have a pro-Western Democratic Party and the anti-Western, anti-charisma Progressive Party (Progressive my gluteus maximus) vying for the nice, leather arm-chairs in Belgrade, and if the story isn't sad enough as it is, throw the former Milosevic's party, SPS, (who did, not-so-surprisingly, well) in the mix, and have a nice food-poisoning. Or a metaphorical suicide.
People are not happy with the way things are in Serbia. I get that. I think the Democratic Party didn't do enough to stop the corruption, for one. It's like a wide-spread virus. But the alternative is worse, in my humble opinion.
I mean, just imagine, (without throwing up) that Toma Nikolic is the president of Serbia. If you don't know who he is, here's your link.

So, imagine this "lovely, charismatic gentleman", (I think sarcasm is too mild of a word for this) representing Serbia, and telling everybody in the West-- F U, We (the Serbs) don't want to be in the EU, we want to be a part of Russia (close enough to the truth) and Kosovo is Serbia.
The mere idea makes me want to change my last name, and I said, a long time ago, (back in high school) that I would never do it.
Except, maybe to Tiger. I like how Marija Tiger sounds :-)

Friday, May 4, 2012


I have just finished my third rewrite of the"Bucket of melted pig's fat," one of my latest stories about an escape from a concentration camp in Serbia. It's not only about the escape, it's about rural Serbia, and love, and hunger, and war.
So, now, I can leave it be this way, I can send it out, or I can wait a bit and try to deepen it even further, but adding more scenes, chapters...So, I can really use another life-time. If anyone knows where I can buy one, please, do tell.
In a meanwhile, I had a bizarre occurrence the other day. I have received mail for a literary agent nearby.
I thought, if that is not serendipitous, I don't know what is. And I don't even really (maybe) believe in serendipity.
But, I decided to go there and deliver her mail, and tell her that I am a writer.
And I did.
Bad news: she represents only non-fiction. Or at least that what she told me.
Good news: she referred me to a NYC agent. Well, not really referred me, but told me of an agent with Slavic roots who might be interested in my writing.
And now I just need a steel-clad query letter. And heaps of luck!
As you can probably guess, I didn't gather the courage to write him yet. As thick skinned as I'm trying to be, rejection hurts.
There are also a few other outlets, open calls for book manuscripts I should really send mine to. I'm just waiting for the literary Godot, or to perfect my book, before I do so.
I need serious time and schedule to update my manuscript after all the feedback that I recently got. Recently, meaning, since January.
So, I really need another challenge. I need to challenge myself to rewrite my manuscript asap. But how much time should I give myself? These calls, they have no deadline! Or do they....?
I also have a friend, who knows Tea Obreht's agent, and who offered to refer me to him. Scary, right? Very. I'm not ready for that. But when will I be?
O.K. The Challenge starts on Monday! I just need a deadline. I'll find one today, and get back to you.
Why Monday? Well, I'm busy this weekend...

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Painful peppermint

It's one of those days when I should have stayed home.
I have a free day, which for me means I have to organize, I have to so something useful, I have to either interpret, write an article, or write/rewrite fiction. I opted for fiction (I know, you are stunned) and decided to go to Tryst, close to my Yoga studio. Then to Yoga later.
And I decided to have some tea. Peppermint tea. Damn you Peppermint! And Why? Someone told me recently that it's good for your stomach.
And now I'm in pain.
The metal teakettle they brought me poured piping hot water everywhere, except in the cup. This includes my leg. And I love my left leg just the way it is.
Well, now a part of it is red.
So, I wish I just stayed home, and wrote that article, or interpreted, or even did the laundry.
Now, not only am I in pain, but I have no desire to write/rewrite anything. Except for this little whining post.
p.s. Any lawyers out there? Can I sue the coffee shop? Can I, can I, for all my pain and suffering?
I miss Dolcezza...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

iBaby, iHoney, iWacky...

It's a big day for me! I finally bought my first Mac! And it wasn't an easy decision, let me tell you. So, there's Mac Pro and there's Mac Air! Oh my, my sufferings along the way! I mean, the Air looks so sexy and sleek and anorexic, but the Pro has better guts--more memory and better processor, but it also likes to munch more so it's a bit heavier--less than a kilogram--so it was a very tough decision. I decided to go with the substance over looks, this one time, and My Pro is now comfortably resting behind a deadbolt in my apartment. If you're visiting soon, please don't even try to approach my new iHoney with drinks, food or any kind of bodily fluids. If I see you even attempting to sneeze near it, I will tackle you!
I'm in Dolcezza (of course, ) writing this on my old (2007) Toshiba Satellite U300, currently in hospice state, and when my husband asked me an hour ago:
"So, you're bringing your new Mac to Dolcezza?"
I said: "No, no... no, no, no....NO!"
Last night, I blasted a colleague's story at GW for her adult character talking to her purse being unbelievable, unless she's wacky. (Which she wasn't.) I said, and I quote: "if you talk to your purse, you need professional help."
I vow to you that, as much as my laptop is perfect, shiny, problemless, I will not talk to it, or call it "baby!"
I only personify my car (red VW New Beetle,) but, come on, can you blame me? Have you ever seen a New Beetle up close?
New Mac is not that cute, but, if you come over, don't even breathe too close to it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Black tie, white lie

The article on Morocco is almost finished. I just have to put some final touches, and voila, it's on its way to the editor. Monday, probably. And then he'll probably asked me to edit it, which is fine. I think it's too long anyway, but it just grew that way. I don't want to cut until I know what he wants me to cut.
Other than that, I'm yearning to return to my book. I got feedback on several stories in it and I'm really itching to edit them. But I should really get on my democratization article first. Why is writing fiction, or blogging or even travel writing so much more fun than analytical articles? I know why! I can't use my imagination, nor experience, just dry facts. Sigh.
But I said I'd do it, so I'll do it. You know me (no you don't), it's hard for me to start something lengthy and demanding, (like marriage or a novel), but once I do, I usually like working on it. I will like this article too, once it's published. The fulfillment, ahhh.
Other than the writing, I have this black tie event tomorrow, and I still don't know what I'm going to wear. And I don't sound girlie or superficial here. It's important what you wear to black tie events, that's why they are called "black tie." Even though I find it sexist, and I'm a bit tempted to actually wear a black tie to it. And nothing else. Kidding. Don't censor me, I'm just kidding. Anyway, my bark is wayyyy louder than my bite, usually, sometimes, maybe?
I have a big mouth, and fast fingers, that's it. I'm actually quite harmless...

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

An ode to....(with pictures)?

Things are slowly getting back to normal. My normal. Whatever that is...
I just had another interview for an article (or maybe I should call it a case study) on democratic transitions, and I have so much material, that frankly, I'm a little intimidated of the moment when I have to begin writing it. and that moment is close.
I also started another article on Morocco, in Morocco, that I really ought to finish. And I'll do that, just as soon as I finish this.
I was warmly welcomed back into my GWU fiction writing class, and I have enjoyed it immensely last night. I really missed being around fiction writers, analysing, dissecting...  And most of all, I miss writing!
Journalism on the side, I have not written a word of fiction in about two months! TWO MONTHS!
It's bad, it's really bad, but, I realized, I can't have it all. (Sniff, sniff).
So, I'm not going to write about Morocco, since I'm doing that for a magazine. I will post when it's out. I wish they could publish it first, and then I could write it.
To recap.
I have visited two continents, five countries and 11 cities in 34 days. Six days in London, three days in Paris, one in Oxford, five days in Morocco, one in Skopje, Macedonia and the rest, in assorted cities in Serbia.
In London, I saw Rosetta Stone for the first time, in the British museum, went the the National Gallery of Art three times (yes, I need professional help), not because I'm a nerd, but because it was raining. And I love Van Gogh.
In Paris, I went to Louvre, again. (Last time, 2003.) And I again had to elbow my way to Mona Lisa. I know, it's a cliche, but it would feel weird going to Louvre and not saying salut to Ms. Lisa. After all, she is very charming, and well preserved. I wish I would look that good at her age.
I also went to the Eiffel Tower at night, something I haven't done before. Ms. Eiffel is indeed spectacularly beautiful when the sun goes down, and the lights start flickering, even more so than during the day.
Paris has beautiful gardens so Jardin de Plants and Jardin the Luxembourg were on the menu as well. People dancing tango in a park near Notre Dame was somehow so French, so movie-like. I can't imagine people dancing tango near the National Cathedral in DC. If they do, I will move to Mars.
This time I actually touched L'Arc the Triomphe, another thing I haven't done before. But having croissants and un chocolat chaud on Champs Elysee afterwords is not a good idea unless you hate money.
I got a massage on a Rue Mouffetard near the Pantheon, and that was a first too. That I would recommend, especially since you only tip.

In Paris, I often felt like Kate from the movie "French Kiss," one of my favorite of all time, and severely underrated. While on the metro, or walking, I would see the Eiffel Tower, out of the blue, peeking, and it seemed somehow alive, as if sneaking on me. I might sound like a child, but it made me smile. It made me happy every time I saw it. It's a symbol of France for me, and France is my first love. My elementary school, fifth grade French class crush.
I guess this post turned out to be an ode to Paris. So, be it.
Part deux, demain, ou plus tarde.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Danger! Bananas!

I will start at the end.
I landed at Dulles airport around 2:30pm on Wednesday, coming back from my last leg-- London. I was asked if I had any food with me. I have issues with lying to authorities, i.e. I suck at it, so I didn't. I said I had a banana in my purse, and if that's a problem I'll throw it away or even eat it. I mean, it's a banana, not a crocodile. So, this nice, tattooed, body builder of an officer wrote a big A on my landing customs card, and the first thing that I thought, a Scarlet letter? But why, I didn't do anything, I swear!
So I ate my delicious London banana, bought in a very nice Marks and Spencer close to Kilburn Park, and waited for my luggage.
Almost at the exit, I was stopped by another officer and sent to an A line. Oh, come on, I said, I don't have anything!
So, the following is, as accurate as possible, a conversation between me, nauseated and migraned from the turbulence, with another nice, perky male officer.
"I have no idea why I was sent here, I don't have anything!"
"Really? You sure? You don't have a banana?"
(How did he know I had a banana? Are they all phychic? Or maybe bananas are new tools terrorists are using and they started tracking all of them.)
"Yes, I had a banana but I ate it."
"Now, while I was waiting for my bag."
"And what did you do with the peel?"
(Here, try to imagine my extended eyeballs...)
"I threw it in the trash!"
"Well, go and get it?"
"I'm sorry?"
"Ma'am, either you go and get your banana peel, or you can seat down and wait. It's your choice."
"But why? I don't understand, it's in a trash can, in the women's bathroom!"
"That goes into the landfill, and we have to incinerate it. So either you get it or we will."
A moment here, in which I'm looking for a candid camera.
Then I said fine, went back to the bathroom, and took my banana peel, luckily still on top of the trash, with a paper towel.
Then this nice officer handed me an ordinary looking trash can to put it in. No flames, no gloves, no sculls and Xs on it.
Then they x-rayed my luggage once again, and looked at my passport for the fifth time.
All because of that banana.
I didn't even enjoy it.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

An American girl in Nis

I have just bumped into an American girl from Florida, with Fulbright scholarship, in Costa Coffee in Nis. I know, weird, right? There are only the two of us, in front of laptops and without cigarettes, and of course, we both live in the States. And she has a Mac. I should have known even before I asked her if I could share her outlet, the only one in the non-smoking area.
Why would they need more outlets? Who goes to a cafe alone, and with a laptop?! And doesn't even smoke?!
So, I've been in Serbia for the last two weeks. Four days in Belgrade, two in Vojvodina, and the rest in Nis.
I was surprised at how Belgrade affected me this time. I mean, I have always loved the city, I have lived in it for three blissful years, and always felt nostalgia for it when in the States.
But this time, I was instantly frustrated with smokers, and the fact that it took me a while to find a non-smoking restaurant downtown to have lunch, and a non-smoking cafe to have coffee in. It's also remarkably dirty. Cigarette buds everywhere. The city will, in a few years, have cigarette buds instead of concrete, unless they start cleaning, or increase the price of cigarettes. Or come up with a fine for littering-- my personal favorite.
The people also seemed depressed. I don't know, this time Belgrade seemed unwelcoming and grey.
I still had Greenet Moka/Mocca/Mocha in Nusiceva every single day. It's my little Belgrade ritual--I buy a local paper or magazine, order a small Moka with whipped cream and act alien.
I did work a bit. I had two successful interviews with two remarkable people--former Serbian prime minister Zoran Zivkovic and CANVAS founder, former OTPOR leader, Srdja Popovic who made me laugh all through our interview and was so incredibly positive. The exact opposite from what was in the air.
My analysis? He travels a lot!
Nis is more-less the same since a year ago, maybe even slightly improved when it comes to the infrastructure, but the people are desperate. Everyone I talk to is pessimistic, bitter and doesn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Unfortunately.
I did manage to indulge a little (or a lot) by , for one, finding a warm private pool near my parents' house, to which I'm going almost every day. I was stunned when they told me they are closed on Sundays!
Hence, this blog.
I only took one horseback riding lesson this time which I deeply regret. The reason is the stick shift. I hate the bloody thing. I drove my father's new car from the OMV pump half way from Belgrade to Nis, and I did fine on the highway, but once I got to the city, with all the pedestrians jaywalking, and bad driving, I had to stop-go, stop-go, and the bloody thing has six gears! Six stupid gears! Who needs six gears?! An Audi, of course. I hate those too.
So, in order to ride, I have to drive, and I didn't want to drive the damn stick shift, so I didn't ride. And now I'm sad.
I love it, horseback riding, I missed it, and I'm an ass.
That's my new resultion--I'm going to find some kind of regular horseback riding around DC as soon as I get back there--in a month.
I'm here for another four days, then I'm heading to Skopje. It will be interesting to compare Macedonia to Serbia at this point in time.
And that writer was right (as writers usually are).
"You can't ever come home."
I don't even know what home is anymore....

Friday, March 16, 2012

Greetings from the land of plains and two hour Yoga

So, believe it or not, I'm writing this from Kula, a small town in Vojvodina, close to Vrbas, Sombor and Novi Sad.
A very unlikely place for me to write my blog from but it's 9:16pm and there's nothing better to do here.
Not that I don't like to write my blog. I do. I truly do.
This is actually the first down time I had since I left DC on March 7.
London was hectic and fun!
It was my sixth time in London and I still haven't seen it all, and it still feels like home.
Let's see, what did I do? Once I got to Belgrade, it seemed so long ago...
I went to Harrods, I remember that. How could I forget an eight pound hot chocolate, (I'm afraid to convert) and the fact that you could not enter the tube on Knightsbridge (I think, or something like that), and the huge crowds in the coffee/chocolate/tea room that made me abandon my Earl Grey. 
I also went into the National Gallery of Art for about 20 minutes before closing and dotted on Van Gogh's Sunflowers and a few more of his masterpieces.
The Portrait Gallery across the street and the Victoria and Albert museum were interesting, but not extremely impressive, but The Natural History museum is a remarkably beautiful castle. Did you know that? I had to go to the entrance to believe that that beautiful, massive building is a natural history museum. The queen's residence maybe or an art museum, but natural history? Gotta love England!
What else, what else? Oxford, yes! Such beautiful architecture! Wonderful old buildings of the University. Blackwell's monstrosity of a bookstore in which I found and indeed fell in love with a vintage Master and Margarita poster, with a black cat holding a smoking gun! What else could I say but priceless. So priceless that I'm willing to tag it along with me to Paris, Morocco, and London again. Can't wait to frame it and stare at it in DC with content.
What else did I do? Had lunch and shopped with a friend in High Street Kensington then walked along Hide Park to the mentioned museums.
Had my beloved afternoon tea with another friend in Carnaby street off of Oxford Street.
Walked from the Trafalgar Square to Covent Garden.
Went to Alice's bookstore (Alice in Wonderland) in Oxford and this little nook of a cafe for lunch and latte, called Granola.
I think that's probably enough for one post.
So, London? Always a good idea. If you're flexible on weekends (regarding travel, it's hard to get anywhere)...

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Ready, set, a week!

I'll be London bound in exactly one week, on a flying bar, i. e. Virgin Atlantic.
I don't think I was ever this excited about an actual flight. And, my friends, I fly a lot, aaaah lot!
So, today, a little bit of anxiety began kicking in, just about all the things I have to do, need to do, must do, in a week, since I'll be away for more than a month.
For example, I have to see a doctor on Friday since I probably need vaccines for Morocco and the last one I  got was in high school. I actually remember it quite vividly. Second floor of my high school in Nis, dark, late afternoon, bad light bulbs, small room with dark brown doors converted into a medical office for one day. Poorly...
I also still have my beloved fiction writing class at George Washington University, and some interpreting work on the day before my trip.
Since I'm planning on writing two articles--one analytical and one travel, I need to make sure I bring everything I need for work. I should actually do at least one interview before I go.
I have already set up most of my interviews in Europe, so that's good.
The act of packing this time will be fun, since I'm visiting five countries and over ten cities in a little over a month. Not to mention the fact that I need clothes for interviews, and casual strolling, as well as for cold Serbia and warm Morocco in April. As I said, fun as euphemism, since I'm allowed only one suitcase. I couldn't bring more than one anyway, considering that I only have two hands, and one back. (Backpack, laptop, purse...)
But despite my whining, I absolutely adore all aspects of traveling, which you will be able to live vicariously through this blog.
The only thing I regret this time is the fact that I will (sigh) miss many of my classes. It truly makes me sad, and reminds me that I cannot have it all despite the fact that I keep trying. Damn, so close!
So stay tuned. Starting next Wednesday-Thursday, I'll be blogging about my days in Europe.
Exciting, right, right? Oh, very!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Half around the world in 40 days

So, my friends, so much has happened since I was here last.
I booked my first two legs of my over-a-month-long-European-and-African-trip.
And I booked one of those on Virgin Atlantic.
I feel like a kid on Christmas Eve.
Well, as well traveled as I am, I have never flown Virgin Atlantic before. And I heard that it's decadence in the air.
Imagine my joy this morning when I chose a seat not that far from a bar. Yes, an actual bar. I knew I haven't seen it "all " then. And I want to. (Well, maybe not all.)
So, I'm taking Virgin Atlantic to London, then staying with one my my best friends in the whole wide world, for three days, then flying to Belgrade. I'll be in Belgrade for a few days, then I'm going down to Constantinople, or Nis. (Not Istanbul, the Emperor Constantine was born in the same city as I was, Nis, though it wasn't Nis then, it was Naissus.)
After about two weeks in Nis, I'm going to Skopje to meet my husband.
Then, the two of us are going to Paris. (Yay!) By the way, I have been in love with Paris since my second French class in Fifth grade.
Then, we're going to Morocco, to visit friends.
Then back to Paris for another few days. More croissants and Champs Elysee.
Then back to Skopje.
After that I'm going back to London for another few days. And only then, back to DC on April 11.
I'm leaving on March 7.
But that's not the end. Oh, no. (If you know me, you know it never is.)
On April 15, I'm going to Puerto Rico, on a cruise, as an interpreter, but still, on a week-long Caribbean cruise.
And the bonus is--I'm going to all the islands I still haven't visited, such as British Virgin Islands and French West Indies.
Oh, joy. Does it come across the screen? My face hurts from smiling...
And, I'm guaranteed a very nice, spacious suite on the cruiser, with a window, and everything included! That includes an open bar. AN OPEN BAR!!!
So, I'll be back from that working-heavenly trip on April 22.
There you go, that's why it's 40 days.
I'll be traveling for about 40 days, non-stop.
I have to start travel-writing....
p.s. A disclaimer: The author of this blog is not, I repeat not, an alcoholic. As a matter a fact, she's pretty lame when it comes to alcohol. She sometimes gets tipsy from just looking at it, and definitely from one drink. She could probably not walk after the third one, but she never tried. She, in fact, usually has only one drink, and only on special occasions, like all inclusive cruises, or parties. Or vacations. Or...
p.p.s. Alcohol in general is bad for you. Well, actually, I think one glass of wine or beer a day is good for you. But, still, don't drink! Well, maybe just mojitos and strawberry daiquiris....

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Gloom Cupboard and Paris under bombs

Today, one of my early non-fictiony pieces was published by a small magazine with great taste :-): Gloom Cupboard:
It's, I believe, the third story from the top. So scroll down. Or read it all, what do I care.
I think I wrote this story in New York City, probably in 2008. But it could have been 2007. or 2009. Either way, it's been a while. I edited it a bit along the way, and submitted months ago. I actually forgot about it until today, I got an e-mail saying that The Gloom Cupboard (I love the title) loves it and will publish it.
It's about NATO bombardment of Serbia and lots more--its effect on people's lives, but also general Serbian traditions, superstitions and the way of life in the 80s and 90s.
It's a bit funny at times. It's actually pretty good. So read it.
What else?
I still haven't decided on a new challenge. I have a trip to Europe up in the air so it's throwing me off a little. It's hard to plan when you can't plan.
I might just look into it tomorrow and jump into it on Monday.
I'm loving my GW fiction class, by the way. It's fun but also very technical and I need that in this stage of my writing career, if you can call it that.
Plus, my teacher is funny. I enjoy funny people.
And my last submitted, discussed story looks like a horror movie now--his comments and scribbles all over. But that's good, right? He's giving me a genuine and extensive feedback. Not like a teacher I had in The Writer's Center in Bethesda--she would not mark up the story, just write down four pathetic comments on a piece of paper and you go, figure out how to become better by yourself.
So, read Paris under bombs and comment, s'il vous plait?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

New challenge, Dolphins and Stingrays

Aaaaaand I'm back.
I'd like to write, "unfortunately," but despite the fact that I had a great time in Grand Cayman, I missed my cats, and civilization as I know it, i.e. my laptop.
I made some amazing memories and lived through some unadulterated moments of happiness, such as swimming with, holding and petting the stingrays, and feeding and belly-riding a dolphin, both must-dos if you are ever on Grand Cayman, but a week was enough. Enough of swimming in the warm Caribbean sea, walking along the white, sandy Seven Mile Beach, eating incredibly tasty sea food (seriously, I don't know how they do it, I didn't have a single bad meal in a week), drinking frozen cocktails and relaxing in the hot tub literary in front of my resort suite's balcony.
But I'm back, having missed one of my fiction writing classes ( now I can say "unfortunately,") and with my inbox full of things to do.
So today, going through my fat e-mail box, I found another challenge I can do. Another book competition ending at the end of March. I'm thinking about it...
Also, I'm planning on going to Serbia and assorted European countries in mid-March. So, it would have to be another short-er challenge. That, and I want to go vegan-ish, at least for a time before I get to Serbia. Because, you can't be vegan in Serbia. At least not in late winter/early spring, whatever March turns out to be.
Considering how snowed down and freezing it is right now (Europe), probably still winter.
Anyway, the point of this post is:
If you can go to Grand Cayman, go, it's worth the trip. It's only three hours direct from DC.
And wait up for another writing challenge, probably.
p.s. If this post isn't coherent, it's probably because I'm writing it while my in-laws are watching SuperBowl. In the same room, yes.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Greetings from Grand Cayman and Challenge Update

So, my dear readers, all two of you ;-), I am finally on that coveted vacation on Grand Cayman Island.
But, since I have some swimming and drinking to do, I'll keep this short.
Yes, I have completed my challenge (Yay!). I have mailed a new copy of my book to a competition on Friday, Jan. 27, with about 42,000 words in it.
What happened...
Well, I was so busy those last few days with writing, fixing the book, table of contents, some work, my car's battery dying...that I didn't have time to blog nor do Yoga (Sigh.)
But I got it all done. My car got a new battery, and I finished my manuscript with borrowing two stories from my first version a year ago. Everything else was brand new or somewhat new.
So, keep your fingers crossed! If I win this, I will be published and all set.
Greetings from Stingrays and Blue Iguanas.
I have to go now, but I'll write with more details in a few days...

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Challenge: Days 15-18

Yes, I'm human, and I dropped the ball.
On Thursday, Day 15, I went to Baked and Wired in Georgetown and had a bad latte, or a too strong of a latte for my sensitive stomach (that's why I always drink single shot ones) and got heartburn for the next two days.
And heartburn makes me depressed and drains all creativity out of me.
So, on Day 15, I fixed up my recent story, The Storm, based on my writing group's critique, but on Day 16, I didn't feel like living let alone writing.
On Day 17, I was hosting a birthday party. Alas, no time.
And today is Day 18.
Today, I will write, damn it!
So, in my view, since this is my challenge, I haven't completely failed it if, and only if ("If is good,") I still manage to have 40,000 by Friday.
Today is Sunday!
My new writing class starts on Tuesday night, so I have to prepare for that as well. And I'm exhausted from the party. And I have to get ready for Cayman Islands. But I will write, damn it.
So, I need 1000 per day, starting tomorrow. Today. Tomorrow. Today.
Or maybe I can cheat, and include a story from my previous version?
"Be first, be smartest, or cheat," said Jeremy Irons in a movie recently. I like that saying. Preferably I'd like to do/be all three ;-) just this once.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Challenge: Day Fourteen

I can't believe it's been 14 days already! That's crazy!
Today I had some work in Chinatown, and I brought my laptop so I can go writing right afterwords.
And I did retouch and change the ending of my newest story (A bucket of melted pig's fat).
That, my friends, took me at least an hour. Or more. I didn't have a stopwatch but it seemed like two.
First, I had to read it from the beginning, then change it along (I come up with new ideas while I'm reading my stories), then write another ending.
I'm still down to a little less than 35,000 words.
I actually thought I would be over that number by now but I guess my decision to leave math behind when I started college was a good one.
Actually, it wasn't my math. The document showed way over 3,000 words, but a piece of an old story was hiding below.
Oh, well.
So, now it's too late to start a whole new story, since I have no idea what to write about.
And I need about three days for each story.
So, I need another two stories, or one really long one.
Should I go back to Gorilla? Or start something new?
I don't have time for experiments though.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Challenge: Day Thirteenth or the Luckiest Day on Earth

If you think that having someone clean your house isn't inspirational, think again.
Today, while my housekeeper was scrubbing my bathroom, I almost finished my new, wonderful story, with a very sad name--Bucket of melted pig's fat.
Now, you know I'm a vegetarian and an animal activist. But this is a true story, told to me by my mother, and it's about my great grandparents. Apparently, pig's fat was liquid gold in World War II. So, as much as I'm against animal cruelty, this story is true and needed to be told.
It's fictionalized, of course.
The other reason I named it this way, is because an agent told me it's a great, specific detail, and good stories have those.
Plus, admit it, you want to read the story, or you are completely repulsed by the title.
That's what I'm going for, one of the other. Not really ;-)
I'm also very tired today, and even more surprised how I have managed to write over 1,000 words (I started this story yesterday) in such state. My writing group met last night, and we had wine over discussions, then we took it down to the bar. It was oh, so fun, but then, at midnight, I couldn't turn my brain off, and I think I spent the whole night thinking about their stories and mine. About characters. About what they could do.
Hmmm, maybe this challenge wasn't such a good idea. I might need therapy after I finish it.
Also, I would not have been able to write this post if it were not for caffeine. Who ever invented or found, or produced caffeine first, should be given a Nobel prize for...peace.
p.s. You can tell it kicked in, right? Anyway, I'm down to 35,000 words! 5000 more to go, and 10 more days. Easy, breezy. ;-)
p.p.s. Stay away from pig's fat. It will slowly kill you. And I had my first tater tots last night. Four. Those will kill you too.
p.p.p.s. What am I talking about?! Therapy? I'm going to Cayman Islands right after the challenge. All the therapy I'll need is shopping with a frozen cocktail in my hand.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Challenge: Day Twelve or The Day I realized I might be screwed

I gave it all I got, i.e. I included every single story I wrote that has a value, in my collection, and I'm down to 31, 789 words! Only! Pathetic!
I wrote another 1800 today, or a beginning of a new story (it's actually a complete rewrite of an old story, The prisoner, that a year ago was written in this manner--this happened, then that happened, then this. Now I know better.)
So, I have ten days to write 8,200 minus what I have written today, (so 6,400 or less, if I keep writing) providing that it turns out to be good enough.
I'm just a tiny bit nervous.
I don't know what else to write about. I'm fresh out of ideas.
I could get back to Gorilla and the feeling of wanting to slam my laptop on my head with it, or I have to come up with another two, completely new stories.
Damn, when I started this I actually thought it would be easier.
And it's not like I don't have anything else to do in those ten days.
I have some work, I have a party, I have a new class, I have a workshop and a trip to prepare for.
On top of all that, my computer is acting up and won't print.
Fun, huh?!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Challenge: Day Twelve or Half Done

I cannot believe that I have been writing 12 days in a row. I mean, some days less, some days more but it was always on my head, and I made a point to leave at least a couple of hours a day for writing.
Today I wrote and rewrote 600 words. A little flash-fiction. I might expand, we'll see.
So, I have 11 days left to finish the 40,000 words, put it in a book manuscript form, and mail it.
Also today, I went through my last year's version looking for hidden treasure, and except for a few excellent story ideas, I have already milked everything I could have out of that journalistic attempt to write fiction.
And to think that a year ago I thought that version was great?!
Who said that ignorance is bliss!
Knowledge just makes you hungrier and restless.
I'm getting of the philosophy wagon now (I didn't even have anything to drink, I swear. Maybe I should.)
Tomorrow, I'll count all the words in my new version, see how many I'm missing. Then try to write more. And more. And more.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Countdown: Day Eleven

I had so many things to do today, so I got to writing only in the evening.
I tuned up my newest story, and that was it.
But at least I'm still in the game, plus I feel rested from writing.
The good news is that I got into a George Washington's Community, i.e. free writing class for the whole spring semester, and I got in based on the story that I wrote about six-months ago, Angel.
The bad news is, I'm planning on traveling this spring, extensively.
So, I really, really want to take this class (it's suppose to be awesome) but I also really, really want to travel.
So what do you do when you really, really want two things that are mutually exclusive?
I can either try to defer (I'm not sure if that's possible) or miss several classes.
Hmmm, not ideal. I hate missing classes.
But I haven't been to Serbia in a year.
So, a lot to think about.
But the challenge is still on!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Countdown: Day Ten or It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

A Yerba Mate, Latte, Arranciata and a Hot Chocolate later, and I'm done with my semi-new story, A night more expensive than the century. 
I should probably check my cholesterol when I finish this challenge.
I'm so happy my friends, so happy.
Two days ago, I was working on Gorilla, and wanted to throw up every time I thought about writing. And I blame my husband. He's the one who's been pushing me to write that Gorilla story.
It's a fascinating story but it's a novel, not a story. I think I said this before.
And it's not like I'm not on a deadline here. It's not like I'm casually strolling whenever I feel like it, to a coffee shop and writing something that will take months, if not a year. No pressure.
No, this challenge is actually mostly what I have been doing for the last ten days. This and Yoga, to keep my sanity.
So, as much as Gorilla has potential, it has to wait until I finish this collection. I always wanted to write a novel anyway. But one difficult challenge at the time.
So, another 2,300 words today. Over my quota. And I enjoyed it.
And it's Friday the 13th. So appropriate.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Countdown: Day Nine

Better day than yesterday. The sun was shining, I felt happier and was more organized. I did Yoga at noon, then went to run errands and write.
I wrote some, didn't count since I realized that the story I'm working on right now (The story of Gorilla) is not really a short story, but more a novella. It would be very hard to turn these multiple connected stories into a short story, at least it would for me. 
So, I don't know what to do tomorrow. Should I continue working on it with no clear end in sight, or leave it for now and work on something else? Maybe rewrite a story from my first version? Or start something else, new?
Either way, it will be a setback. 
So, I don't know, I don't know, I don't know.
I could certainly finish Gorilla in time for the competition, but I don't know what the quality will be.
I somehow feel I don't have a full grasp of it. Probably, again, because it's a novel material, not a story.
Oh, well, I'm a bit stuck. 
How do I get unstuck?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Countdown: Day Eight

I didn't have such a great writing day today.
I felt tired this morning, and especially tired of writing. And I had some errands to run so by the time I got to Dolcezza and had my latte in my hand, I was depraved of all creativity.
Instead, since I had to write (I don't give up easily) I researched a bit for a story I'm currently writing (the story of Gorilla) then I wrote another pathetic 200-300 words. I was embarrassed to even calculate (I think it was about 222) but, hey, it's better than nothing, right, at least I tried.
Still puzzles me why it just flows on certain days and it's like pulling teeth on others.
I guess we are not meant to write well every day.
That's why it's a challenge.
I didn't even go to Yoga today.
Well, I'll be back tomorrow, hopefully. I'm planning on doing Yoga first, then writing, to boost creativity, if it proves to be boostable.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Countdown: Day Seven

I got tired of going between my Yoga studio and my favorite neighborhood cafe for the last few days, so I decided to take off this morning to Georgetown, to Baked and Wired.
Ups for B&W: I cannot get online, ever, so I'm forced to write, resulting in 1,133 words today.
Downs for B&W: They have the best cupcakes in the city, and it's nearly impossible to resist.
So, I had half of Karen's Birthday, (it's my compromise) which is currently my favorite (chocolate cake, butter-cream frosting) and a latte, of course.
The latte did give me a little buzz later on.
So, this challenge will result in a speedy-finished second version and more pounds.
Anyway, last night I realized that if I write about 1000 words a day, for the next 15 days, I will have all I need, plus two days to fix everything up and mail it to the competition.
So, now, tired or not, I have to write every day.
And today I opted for a new story, instead of rewriting the old ones.
I don't know, I read some, and these are good stories, but written in a very non-fiction way, so, as my mother would say," I can't catch their head nor their tail."
Some other day.
In a meanwhile, new story. It's going to be a long one, I can tell.
And this one is actually a bit autobiographical.

Helping to save a mother and three beautiful gray-and-white long-haired kittens

Monday, January 9, 2012

Countdown: Day Six

Words in the new collection: 25,693;
Words put in so far, today: About 500
Words in a new story finished today (happiness, happiness, joy, joy): 3,668
Lattes: 1
Chocolate and assorted sugars that help me write: 0
Retouched stories accepted for publishing (Bastard's Wife for Orion Headless): 1
Words to go: 40,000-25,693= a little less than 15,000, or about 5 stories.
Days left in this challenge: 17
Extraordinary circumstances: First snow of the year in DC! I just made my wish...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Challenge: Day Five

Great day, my friends, great day!
I kept writing my new story, preliminary titled Revenge. Another...I'm not sure but at least 800 to 1,200 words put in today, most of them, I think, good. Yes, I know, it's hard to believe that not everything I write is brilliant ;-) but it's true.
Actually, when I read something that I wrote couple of years ago, sometimes I think: "Holy Crap", and not in a good way.
Also, I got an e-mail from a magazine accepting, actually loving, my old story, Bastard's Wife.
They called it "wonderful and powerful."
It's been a while since I read it and worked on it. So I read it today, and it's good. Some parts are great, some parts a little creative non-fictiony, but all in all, it's an interesting story, massive, vast, but interesting.
So, I have two short stories accepted, and one poem published so far. Not bad. Not bad at all. Right?

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Challenge: Day Four

So far, only 520 words today. Lame. I'm a lame writer today.
I came to a cafe after my Yoga class, and again, my laptop was acting up. I really have to buy a new one, and a Mac, since I'm pissed at PCs. But I'm afraid that getting used to a new laptop will distract me from my writing challenge.
So, I'm procrastinating. And making sure I back up everything cause this little ass here could die on me any moment. (Please don't. I apologize.)
Anyway, I keep writing this new story, titled Revenge, and it's developing into something long, so, I have no idea when I will finish it. I think it will take me days. And I have no idea where it's heading, really. I titled it Revenge from a line from the beginning, but then, it took a life of its own and went some place else. So I either turn it around and make it about revenge (hmmm, interesting idea) or just let it be and go wherever it needs to go and then re-title it. I know, the latter sounds easier. When did I ever choose anything easy? It's a rhetorical question.
But I'm still on track. It's not even five. I might actually put in all 1000 words today. After I rest from...I'm not sure what.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Challenge: Day Three

Quirky day.
It started with me not being able to turn my laptop on.
Panic. Fury. Desire to kill a meat-eater.
Luckily my husband was at home (sick).
So, this was the scenario.
My laptop won't turn on, I'm freaking out, snapping at the cats, him, walls, flowers, air.
He googles on his small notebook I hate (it's so slow!): "laptop won't turn on."
Very peculiar directions pop out:
"Take the battery out, turn laptop upside down, hold the "on" button upside down, for at least 30 seconds, then turn it around and turn it on, then put battery back in."
Let's just say, mildly, I was skeptical.
I'm swearing, and thinking about who's to blame--the last guy who allegedly fixed my computer, or me, who didn't back up my work from yesterday. I call myself an "idiot" multiple times.
Still desperate.
He does all the weird steps and it works! Happiness and joy!
I backup my work and swear never, ever to leave anything not backed-up.
Then I pack up and go to Baked and Wired in Georgetown, and tired as I was (I slept about seven hours. I need nine.) I pick up on a beginning of a story from months ago, and to my huge surprise, it takes off, and takes on a shape!
It's promising. It actually made me emotional. I know, I'm such a wuss.
Now, it's still very raw and not even half-way in but I put in about 1,600 words! That's more than my quota for the day. Yay!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Challenge: Day Two

Today I decided to do Yoga before writing, just to see how that physical exercise affects my intellectual work.
I'm not sure if there's any difference.
Anyway, I have just retouched another story, Tombstones, I wrote months ago and forgot about. It's short, but sweet, in a serious way. So, with it, the count is 21, 112.
I have two more stories I started and never finished. (Pathetic, I know). I just didn't know how to finish them at the time. It happens to me a lot. I get an idea for a story, or a writing exercise gives me one, but then don't know how to finish it. So I just leave it, hoping that a little writing fairy will come at night and finish it for me.
Hasn't happened yet. But still hopeful ;-)
And I forgot my notes on two other orphan stories at home. And I have an extremely annoying neighbor in this cafe, who will not stop talking loudly, right next to me.
So, I don't know how many more words I will be able to contribute by the end of today, but I will try.
I'll start with moving to another seat.
Don't say "write from home." Booooring.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Day One

I half-strolled, half-rode to Dolcezza, with my ailing laptop, still good enough for writing, exactly at noon. Kind of symbolic.
I have rewritten my new story, New York, New York. I know it's not really the most imaginative title, but it works for now.
So, it took me three hours to significantly rewrite 4,000 words.
Not bad.
So, I'm down to...wait for it...wait for it...(How I met you mother, I know, it's just so funny and I swear, I have never used it before)....-19,600 words!
That's about half of what I need.
Of course, I will need to do a little more edits for this story, but nothing significant, I hope.
I'm waiting for the feedback on it first.
So, I will get some late lunch now, I try to do some more work this afternoon/evening.
Damn, it's cold outside! Good for writing I guess.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012


Countdown to finishing my second version of my first book of prose starts tomorrow!
I will keep a blog-journal of what I do every day towards the goal of finishing it by Jan. 27, since on Jan. 28 I will be on Grand Cayman Island drinking a Strawberry Daiquiri. Oh, yes!
I want to submit my manuscript to a book competition at the end of this month.
I have about half of 40,000 words ready to go, and another 10,000 in the works. So I need to drain 10,000 out of my head or my first version.
The problem with that is that I have become a better writer in a year. So, whatever there was in the first version, needs to be reworked.
And I have...what...23 days. (Faint sound)
You should keep me in shape with your comments.
I like deadlines, they help me strengthen out. Like boot camp.
So, let the games begin....tomorrow, that is. Now I will watch new Parenthood.
Challenge Number One of 2012!