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...