In absentiam

Friday, August 12, 2005


more pics of me and people around me at

ever wondered what happens to your trash?

there was a time in my life (not that long time ago actually) when I thought that people (as a species, in general) were good only at generating trash and shit. after all, as a species we are not part of any ecosystem or bilogical chain (or whatever the balanced cohabitation of species is called) and we do not contribute to the well being of any other species, other than ours. and often times I would wonder what happened with all the trash that we generate, where does it go and when there won't be enough space for both us and our trash.

well in today's times, my question was finally answered in. ok, so the article is only on american trash (pun intended), some 330 million tons a year of trash, but it's a start if you want to know what happens with your trash . Other figures: NYC exports daily some 25,000 tons of trash, and to dump a ton of trash costs $35 in the US. so if you want to know more about trash and dumping, read this.

on writing I guess

ever since I started writing this blog, I have been really guarded about what I say and how I say it, trying to offend anyone who might read this blog. working for the US treasury's OTA office here in Romania, i was also careful of expressing views that maybe I should not express, considering I work via a contractor for the US gov. the result is a pretty tame and harmless blog, kinda boring and whose only benefit would be only to amuse my grand-children if they ever will be curious about grandma magda... or maybe to some future and/or alien antropologist who would somehow stumble upon my blog in the ruins of todays' world wide web and that would try to piece together from this and other materials (perhaps some ads or something totally irelevant artefact) how was life in the 21st century. and I won't go on with this exercise because I am afraid of the results...

anyway, as I was thinking the other day about my tame blog, this being another excuse I found for not writing more often, I decided to just go for it, and write for the pleasure of writing or sharing whatver I ahve to say at the moment. this got me back to the question of why write? (I am an aspiring writer, as everyone else) question that in the end is reduced to the choice between form or content. its' obvious that form or other purely aesthetic qualities of writing do not concern me that much, but I still didn't find my message in a bottle yet. I mean should I write something with a clear message/morale of the story or just tell a story/fact/observation whatever? I am more inclined to the latter, as what I enjoy most in the books I read are the stories and I don't really bother processing all that deeper meaning stuff. One of the books I enjoyed quite a lot in recent times was the havana trilogy, written by a cuban guy dubbed by some critics as a modern arthur miller. the havana trilogy is a stream of counsciousness of little mundane stories in the slums of havana, mostly have to do with women/sex/food/alcohool (well he is a cuban bohemian after all) though they are not as self-indulgent as one might think from what i wrote. really does offer a glimpse of how people live in havana, though I haven't been to cuba I feel this book comes close to how life really is there because of his author obvious affection for the people around him. he is something of a naipaul but way rougher, and some would say vulgar, but I think he just writes the way life is and feels.

anyway, I am off the track here, I actually don't know what my point was and if I had a point, starting with censorship, going to why write and ending up with the havana trilogy. I guess my point is that I would like to write for the sake of telling stories of people and places, but I am still looking for my "voice." while I did like the way havana trilogy was written for instance and other books (most recently the russian's debutante handbook), I could never write like that, i do have to find my own voice, whatever works for me. and I don't know how you go about that, finding your own voice. my first attempt at it was to write an exhaustive journal that started by being a way to create my own personal space during some rough time, went trhough a phase of solving unresolved issues, then turned into a self-punishing self-lashing piece of writing that almost broke up my relationship with my boyfriend.

and now this second attempt is a rather lame attempt so far, even though I gave myself incentives such as keeping up with my friends and so forth thus seting it for self-destruction as I was trying to tailor it for the tastes (the imagined by me tastes ) of all my friends . the main problem I have actually is not what to write or how to write, but my problem is for whom to write. Once I solve the for whom to write problem, then the what and how will just resolve themselves naturally. if the journal I was keeping was addressed to someone I thought meant the world to me at the time, this blog was addressed to my friends or people I know and wanted to keep up with, and because the person I was addressing it was such a diffuse body, didn't quite work out. and now for instance, I am writing without having anyone in mind, I am writing to work out this issue I have for my own self, as writing for me it's a great way to structure my ideas and thoughts and actually get to the bottom of things.

so for whom to write? I cannot keep writing for myself as soon it would get to self-indulgent and I would get bored with it and stop doing it. writing for significant persons in my life could work I guess, but my lovely significant other is not really into reading. maybe the challenge would be to write something he would like to read, after all I want to tell people and place's stories and he does like people and places. I dont know why I am a bit afraid of this, maybe because I tend to think that I am more liberal than he is in my values/opinions, and some of the things that I am into might not work out for him, if I don't explain where they come from, and explaining stuff is always bad literature I think. I have to write for someone that could relate to my feelings of anxiety over mcmansions' developments for instance, or "reads" things much in the same way I do. I don't mean that whoever reads whatever I hope to write has to achieve the same conclusions as I do, or share entirely my judgement, but should be someone who uses the same emotional "dictionary" as I do. I mean something like in the unbearable lightness of being--if you remember there was a whole section on the book explaining the emotional meaning for certain words for some of the protagonists of the books, explaining the gaps in communications, the misunderstandings etc that in the end led to some separations.

so: I have to write for someone that shares my emotional "language". or maybe I should write a dictionary first for what things means to me, and then write stories.... write the glossary first I guess....well, I'll keep thinking about it, if you had the patience to read all the way down and have any suggestions/comments drop me a line or two...

bucharest bitching

so finally when the whole blogging phenomenon is at its apex, the romanian media finally mentions it, but not to describe the way it is changing newspublishing and so forth, only to talk about corporatists blogs to better and cheaper market stuff. and of course only business blogs are mentioned in an article quite badly written (the article, not the business blogs that I checked out for couple of min but not really read them) without talking about where do blogs came from and why and the political/news blogs. not to mention the idiotic title, but who I am to comment anyway. anyway, the article appeared in capital, and you could read it here if you read romanian and don't believe me.

in other bitching about romania news, the traffic from mogosoaia to bucharest is justt getting worse as days goes by. for the 15-20 km I have to drive everymorning to get to work, I have to leave some 45min to an hour before I have to be at work because of the damn traffic. and this is august and supposedly the traffic is not so bad. the thing is there is an intersection on the road that takes me into Bucharest (used to be secondary road but now with all the people migrating to the wanna-be "surburbs" and the trucks traffic redirected this way and all the warehouses on the "beltway", it is becoming a main entry to Bucharest), intersection where most trucks go left towards the warehouses on the "beltway" or wherever they go in the morning and cars that go into Bucharest go straight. and because this intersection is blessed only with a mocking traffic light (it's only flashing) and its a one lane for eahc eay type of affair, I get to wait anywhere between 20min to half an hour every day before passing through. or if I am in a my-old-dacia-is-a-4x4 mood, I go on the right side of the road where the way the car goes up and down it feels like I am on the sea.

and with all the talk of a bucharest metropolitan area these days (my "village" will be bucharest proper and I will have a Bucharest id hurraayyy!--you won't get this joke if you are not a Romanian that lived before 1989 and knew what a bucharest id meant), nobody is really doing anything about it, other than canceling the buses that link bucharest proper with these villages and towns on its outskirts that are for all intents and purposes part of bucharest and from where some good hundreds of thousands of people commute every day to Bucharest. so if the state buses are canceled, only mini-bus lines operated by private owners circulate, more expensive and with a really random schedule, that only leave their final station if they are full etc. leave things to the market, and the market will take care of them, or so they say....not to mention the rampant fiscal evasion with these mini-buses that do not give tickets unless you ask for and so forth...

as I read in a newspaper the other day, the only good this bucharest metropolitan area measure will do is having to look 2 days for a parking in the downtown area instead of 1,2,3 etc hours.

I'll stop now, as one seinfeld character once said "serenity now! serenity now! insanity later !

Friday, July 29, 2005

really long time no see: budapest and other

so I was kinda abandoning this project, until someone just mentioned that they have actually log in every now and then to read my journal and see what's with me. this and I was really busy and out of bucahrest for 2 weeks, one time in budapest at a summer course, and one time somewhere around dracula's castle somewhere in romania's mountain that is for a conference on financial crimes (speaking of this I have no idea how I ended up there--I mean it was work related--but seriously now, can someone really see me fighting financial crimes in romania or at least mingling with the people that really do?). mmm

but I haven't writing here in so long, now I think I might have mentioned this financial crimes conference in a previous entry. yes i did mention it, I just checked...

so on to my budapest trip: there are new pictures on my photoblog ( with random things from budapest. I was generally in class from 9 to 5 with a lunch break and for the first 4 days it kept raining, so I didn't get to do much visiting around. the class was organized by soros' central european university, teh hot spot for young central europeans (it's actually a very diverse graduate school). the course was finally entitled "civil society organizations: policy entrepreneurship" or something to this extent. there were people from places as far as india, pakistan chile and argentina (22 countries represented in all), and most of them were professionals in non-profit organizations in developing countries engaged specifically in influencing public policy making for the economically/socially disadvantaged.

it was quite a group, and had a lot of fun meeting all of them and hearing their stories and their struggles and successes, quite inspirational I might say. the course in itself was ok, though the theoretical part was very basic (at some point they were discussing the definition of globalization and other terms like this) and I think after they recruited professionals with some years of working experience and most of them with graduate degrees they could have leveled the theory they taught with the knowledge already in the room. plus that most people were interested in the practical aspects of the course, in learning how to influence public policy making.

and the practical aspects of the course were more instructive. we were introduced to the RAPID framework developed by the guys at Overseas Development Institute (ODI)-- useful tool to some extent to help people organize and identify key issues and areas and people, though not always relevant to small organizations that do not have much reach (you can find more at it's an interesting and useful site for people trying to make a difference in public policy) . anyway, teh guys from ODI were infectious in their energy and presentations, I enjoyed just watching them during their two-men show. and speaking of show, they have administered a test designed to identify what kind of public policy entrepreneur I am--the four possible profiles were the networker, the one who likes to build thing, research and of course the political animal. I cannot remember right now the names they used for these 4 categories, but my highest score (the only one out of all the people) was in the area of the political animal, and they even choose to give as example of this type not other than Machiavelli. the description of this type was someone who likes to identify who holds the real decision power in a certain setting and then just cultivate these strategic relationships. so go figure, magda the power broker.....

so this was budapest, nice city but with a really weird feel. it didn't feel like a city where people lived, just a turist kind of place, not like any other city I have been. they have a lot of street coffee shops where you can hang out, all concentrated in some hot spots, but very expensive (prices like in a US starbucks), rarely you could find cheaper spots (there are cheaper places of course, but one needs some insider's knowledge to access them :)) the most disapointing aspect of it though was that there were so many old people begging on the street and so many homeless drunks and the like. I really thought I would not see so much of this, and couple of years back when I went there I didn't see as much poverty on the streets. I guess this whole eu thing didn't pay off for everyone in the end.

let me think what else happened: flooding in most counties in romania (not in bucharest though or where I live), government announcement of resignation and then 10 days later of not resigning after all (all this happening during some important week for us with a lot of high officials), and now canicular weather. some 37 celsius degress were announced, but in the city I guess it will reach 50 or almost there.

and the biggest news for me: I might go to mexico for a 15 days vacation with my short cute little guy. and we plan to go to guadalajara and oaxaca and of course some nice place by the beach ... I am waiting for my visa interview on monday to see whether I will be allowed in, and then purchase my plane tkt that will send me directly into bankruptcy. I guess everybody is flying to mexico so I could barelly find a flight at the lowest rate of 1000 euros.. its insane. and apparently the off-season tkt is not much cheaper just 900 euros !!!. oh well, its guadalajara, mexico after all :)

nothing else really happned, but now that I have updated my whereabouts, maybe my next entry will be something deep and meaningful, though with this weather I find it difficult to be meaningful, I just want to drink some cool drink with little umbrellas in it somewhere in mexico :)

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

long time no see

I haven't been writing lately, being relatively busy, and not to mention that the nice days outside are not the best incentives to writing on-line journals (by definition, an activity for rainy days, or for boring times, or for times when the existentialist crisis is looming in the dark and the only saving device, the only way you can keep hold of your identity is by sitting down and writing so that the points of reference of your world are fixed in the symbolic reality that keeps us sane).

However, much to my surprise i have recently found out that there are some people actually reading this thing, so to some extent it is working as a means of transatlantic communication. not to mention that the prospect of writing a summary of the conference i just attended in a politicallly correct way it's somthing I would rather do after my blog.

so...nothing new and exciting to report. my life is still to a large extent ruled by bureacracy (i think romanian style bureacracy is the sure cure for liberalism--soon I might even join the NRA--just joking, don't take me all that seriously) and if at the beginning bureacracy stories were kinda cute, now I just get goose bumps when i think of it.

as I was saying, I attended last week a conference on financial crimes investigations, along with a lot of prosecutors, and people from various institutions fighting economic and financial crimes. some of them were just straight from the movies, especially one of the prosecutors who was very upset all the time, but really cute and sweet, and kept asking all sorts of questions to presenters and who was really unhappy when the people arrested by him would be freed by judges. other than that, all of them had great stories about their cases, and the extent to which romanians go to defraud the state budget and all their schemes and of course all the money ending up in their popckets are just incredible.

I have made a new friend at the conference, i think at least that I made a new friend. he really changed my views on all these people coming to romania to help and to assist the romanians in the process, as he genuinely seemed to care about what he was doing and more importantly how. though he is older than me, he has that childish quality that most americans I know have, that way of appreciating life and things around them, though he seems also very lonely.

and, interesting read from the nyt: there was some weeks ago an article on academics doing research work on women's orgasm (great line of work, though I wonder how talking about female orgasm in terms of evolutionary necessity or not for it, and disecting every facet of it affect one's sex life). I did read some other interesting articles last week i think, but cannot remember what was it for the life of me. and today there was an article on my favorite Japanese writer--Haruki Murakami and his latest novel (the article is somewhere on the most email articles list). also in today's most emailed articles, an article on the intern program at the heritage foundation, if one needed more proof of the craddle-to-grave indoctrinating conservative machine... oh well...

hmmm ... what else... I am making friends at the national bank who seem very surprised and shocked that I came back from the states after 5 years spent there. I took some more pictures maybe I will post them on the photo blog sometimes this weekend.

and I am very happy that the movie green butchers is playing in bucharest this week--this is a nordic dark comedy about 2 young clumsy and unlucky and sad butchers who open shop in a small village somewhere in nordiclands, and by accident start killing people. it's a real treat this movie, if u can see it, it will put u in a good mood somehow in a dark comedy sort of way.

Monday, May 16, 2005

its not my birthday anymore, so I feel old and decrepit... oh well...

these past days, I have been trying to fill the shoes of an older sister-role model for my younger (13 year old) sister. I am trying to remember how was I at that age, but I dont have the slightest recollection. I have no idea what was going on in my head at that age, and I remember I was a relatively regular teenager, in that I was depressed all the time and trying to figure out the meaning of life and concluding periodically that there is no meaning, everything is useless and futile, and so forth. I went through a hippie phase and a Depeche Mode phase--the DM phase lasted to this day, I still think they are the coolest... I used to wear funny clothes and hats, had crushes on older boys, usually those with a romantic-philosopher aura.

but my sister is the exact other type of teenager I guess. she seems angry all the time, or at least annoyed, she's into R&B and 50 cents, and celeb gossip, and mercedes and these types of things. she keeps talking all the time, and most of the time comenting on other people, including mine, hair, dress, appearance etc. but on the other hand, she is extremely responsible, working with our brother on his school stuff, helping him out with assignments and all sort of other things.

so these days I am hanging out with her trying to find out her likes and dislikes, and telling her stories, and generally trying to gain her trust, being a role model and so forth. we are going to the gym together, and I am trying to figure out what books would she like to read so I got her three in a boat and the adventures of the brave soldier sveik (sp). an though I am trying to get to my brother as well, it seems like a lost fight, he's into comp games, and he is almost like a junkie when it comes to these games. he plays 2-3 hours in an internet caffe where he can play online and then at home for other 2-3 hours, and there is nothing he is interested other than computer games...

so that's my exciting life these days...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

It's my birthday!!!!!!!

I really like birthdays. So much so that I am even writing this. I like birthdays not because on this date xx years ago, I was being borught into this world (actually the part with xx years ago is the unpleasant part of the birthday), but because every year, on May 10th (btw, this is King's day in Romania as well) I get all these phone calls and emails and I get to talk and see my friends and family. Because of hectic life-styles and residence-related logistics issues (not to mention my anti-social mood of late), I don't get to see or talk to my friends quite as often as I would like, but on my birthday, most of them find a way to get in touch with me and that's really really great.

The only bad part of this day, so far, was that I went to a coffe shop and decided to order a cake as birthday present to myself. Unfortunately, the cake tasted soooooooooo bad--too bad I didn't order my usual Tiramisu (coincidentally, that particular coffee shop makes one fo the best tiramisu in town). My only concern right now is: should I take this as a cosmic sign that "change is bad" or to "stay on course with my diet and healthy style"? hmmmm...

in other news, there are no news. The day is gorgeous, but rain and storms are again announced tonite. I had all sorts of weird coloured dreams last night that I don't remember, and that's about it for today.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Before or during nap time test....

You are .doc You change from year to year, just to make things tough on your competition.  Only your creator really has a handle on you.
Which File Extension are You?

try their ""which nigerian spammer are you?'quiz....

around the world in 30 days

no I haven't been around the world in 30 days, this is just the first coherent combination of words that sprung into my head now... for whatever reason I have felt dizzy the whole day, like somehow some of my brain's elements were not coupled, or were dephased. my cousin said that it's the weather... and to solve my dizziness problems I have just ate a really big icecream, even though for the past 10-12 days I have been exercising and conscietiously (sp.--this spelling device is a funny thing--the gmail spelling tool suggested replacing my "conscietiously"with Connecticut.. oh well I am too lazy to check the MS word spelling) dieting... oh well I guess I won't lose those pounds today :)

i am slightly dissapointed with the rather tepid response to my blog, though every now and then someone will mention it, I guess it was/is an unssuceful replacement of live communications/conversations, in part probably because I 'neglected it a bit.

now it truly feels like an exercise in futility and narcissism, writing for the sole purpose of hearing me write (or rather seeing myself write and published :)) it's like a cry in a void that doesn't even return the echo of the cry...and as opposed to other people putting themselves online, I dont have much to share at the moment.

trivia: bill clinton is visiting bucharest at the end of may to give a speech, and talk about development, fight against hiv/aids and other things like that. the cheapest tkt u can get though for this event costs 500 euros....

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Romanians and Iraq

There are three Romanian journalists kidnapped in Iraq, threatened with execution if the Romanian government does not withdraw its troops. The second public message from the kidnappers shows one of them already dressed in the orange suit that signifies that he will be the first to die. The deadline for the execution is today, April 27th at 4 pm. (news story)

This week a Romanian soldier was killed and 2 were wounded in Afghanistan this week during a patrol mission. Seven Romanian troops were travelling in a research armoured amphibious carrier, the first in a column of five vehicles, returning to the base after having carried out a patrolling mission, when at about 60 km from Kandahar it ran over an explosive. The blast set the vehicle on fire and the ammunition it carried eventually exploded.

Surprisingly, this kidnapping and the death of the Romanian soldier killed in Afghanistan have got really little press outside Romania, as opposed to other high-profile cases or nationals of other countries. Romanian troops are part of the force deployed in Iraq and they are only involved in the reconstruction/peace keeping process in Iraq. We also have doctors and nurses there that take care of soldiers/civilians wounded regardless of their nationality or religion. The Romanian doctors and nurses are actually living in the Abu Ghraib prison.

The irony here is that there is a strong Iraqi diaspora in Romania; under the former communist regime, a lot of Iraqi came to Romania to study, especially medicine, and then some staye, married and had kids here. After the fall of the communist regime, more Iraqis came to Romania, especially businessmen. Some of them have been involved in all sorts of shady business, being featured constantly in the newspapers.

One of this businessmen, Omar Haysam, has been actually the three journalists' sponsor for this trip, and some allege that he was behind their kidnapping. He was arrested for fiscal evasion shortly after their kidnaping, and still is under the arrest. He was also accused in some Romanian media of having connections of terrorist networks, and having helped financing them. Officially though there was no confirmation or infirmation of these allegations. The kidnapping has spurred an immediate reaction from the Romanian government to investigate all "Arab" businesses in Romania. They were criticized though for racism by civil society representatives. The former party of government has been accused of connections with these "dirty" Arab businessmen (photos with them and various shady businessmen circulated in the press), though they have denied any links with them. Shortly after his arrest, Omar Haysam was thrown out of the PSD party.

I don't know what can be done for the Romanian journalists kidnapped, or for other civilians and soldiers caught in the middle of this conflict. I just hope that no more innocent lives will be lost for nothing. it sounds cheesy I know, but what can I do I am a cheesy kinda gal...