Monday, November 15, 2010

Poetry and I

I have a long and loving relationship with poetry, but it wasn’t always like that. At age of six my mother thought me reading from a children’s poetry book. It was a very hot August. We were seating outside in the garden of my grandmother’s house and I was sweating over the awkward associations in the children’s poems, none of which made sense:
“Her hair was a waterfall of light”. First of all there is no waterfall of light, because everyone knows that waterfalls are made of water, that’s why they are called “w-a-t-e-r-falls”. Secondly, it's not possible someone to have a waterfall of hair, because it will fall all off and she would be bald, hardly an ideal of a beauty to inspire a poem, right?
There were frogs with wings and elephants with storytelling talents. It got more and more confusing. At that same time my mother kept telling me that since I am a grown up now, I shall not make up stories about how I can fly or make myself disappear. Tell that to the poetry man with his flying frogs, mom.
But since my mother persistence was undefiable, by the end of the summer, I have read that poetry book so many times that I could recite it smoothly and that impressed the hell of the family. After all, there were nearly thirty poems. I concluded that poetry can bring some benefits after all.
In 1985, at age of nine, I wrote my first poem which sounded pretty much like that:
“How pretty, jolly and playful
is my little grey pussy cat.
She’s got talents plentiful,
to make my mother mad…
I never had a grey pussy cat, or for that matter, any pet at all. And yes, I had mastered the talent to make my mother mad. That must have been some clumsy way to practice, apologetically, using metaphors.
At about that same age I started reading obsessively and, since adolescent poetry was widely available in the library, no one was interested, I kept on reading about girls with butterflies wings, and guys on imaginary horses. Of course my well used library card maybe me popular only with the thick-glasses, middle-aged, virginal librarian. Don’t remember bonding with anyone over reading until much later in life.
My own poetry style moved on significantly from that early canine period. In 1991, at age fifteen it sounded like this:
“There is an ocean of rage inside me,
And there are rivers of tears coming through my eyes,
But one day, with a giant tsunami……..”
It goes on and on, about the cheerful subject of my rage and desire to destroy the humanity. At that time I was also a devoted fan of “Slayer” and especially their song “Seek and destroy”. To my defense, at that age, I like to believe that it was all thanks to confused internal chemistry.
Between 1992 and 1996, my hormones straightened up and it all went into much cheerful direction. It was pretty much all about BOYS, BOYS, BOYS.
(The following paragraph is deleted for the use of ostentatious language and strong sexual content, revealing and embarrassing details of the writer’s past).
At 1997, at age twenty one, I have matured enough to meet the Real Love. He had the impossible name Latchezar, and was from the sort of socioeconomic background which met the strong disapproval of my mother, one more reason for me to pursue, because there isn’t real love without a real suffering. Think Romeo and Juliette, or so I thought. I wrote:
“…You are the End of the world and you are the Beginning,
You are the highest mountain top of Light.
And I will be yours in joy and sorrow…”
Well, as it turned out, it was far too early for the wedding vowels. I realized that one day, after a year of courtship when he left me for his former girlfriend with whom he was “just friends”. The later had spent well that same one year of separation with him, by: Marrying, Giving birth and Divorcing, which left an easy answer of the question I might have had :“What does she have that I don’t?” The answer is of course:  “A child”.
In result I focused on obtaining my Law degree and between 1998 and 2002, my poetry sounded like that:
“Red eyes, unable to see from Fatigue,
Hands shaking from that extra dose of caffeine,
Mind, questioning my ability to comprehend,
There will be an end; there will be an end…”
At school I learned a few universal lessons:
1)      “Life is tough and you will spend the rest of it doing useless activities, because the people above you: the deans, the professors, the associate professors, the professor doctors and the entire bunch, think you should.”
2)       “Life is about suffering, and the more you suffer, the worse it gets.” For example, if one semester I passed all tests with a very decent score and that only made me eager to get even better one next semester. Therefore I suffered even more. In summary, you can never have peace, period.
In 2002 I had graduated with honors with a Law degree, no illusions left about the corrupt Justice system in my beloved country, and a mature love affair with a Dutch man, which subsequently brought me to the Netherlands and series of low paid and unglamorous jobs. For that and other reasons, especially due to the fact that my, awe inspiring at home, resume, only brought shoulder shrugs and some passive-aggressive comment generalizing the former East bloc. (People, we are few very different countries, and Bulgaria has nothing to do with Hungary, really). I wrote some poetry about the difficulties to integrate, and the inability to get back home, defeated.
(The content was removed for using of extreme language, the quantity of self-pity and embarrassing details of the writer’s past).
My love affair endured its fair amount of suffering as well, to make it stronger of course, and his perfectionist self constantly criticizing me, resulted the following lines:
“I didn’t put the garbage out, so the truck passed and the driver was cursing.
I run after, but he didn’t stop.
The remains of last night’s dinner, which you didn’t like, is now rotting in a plastic bag,
 the apartment stinks and the kitchen is dirty….”
The truth is that he was the one running after the garbage truck with the trash bag, and overall did a lot to make our relationship work. But we were doomed. We separated in a sunny day in April when I have I finally found a better for my self-respect job, in a well known Big Corporation and put in use my degree and all the lessons about suffering. I also had to forget my socialist, anti-globalist self and make the necessary to ignore words like “sweat-shops” and “slave-drivers”, “dirty dollars” etc, which all together made the suffering even better.
My next poem, in 2003, was strictly about work:
“Days in, days out, they are all the same.
I come to work, I zone away, I count, I wait, I sway ..”
Like most first jobs, mine was boring. Eventually I got quite involved with a few things at work I really believe in: “Doing the right thing” and well, travel.
So I wrote about Satisfaction and Fulfillment. Somehow that type of poetry was never good. In general pretty much everything I wrote about work was of poor quality, which made me thing that work and poetry couldn’t coexist so …I dropped the work, to become an “expat wife”.
That brought occasional misery, so my poetry writing skills improved.
Now I don’t write poetry. Instead I graduated to Fiction. Until the next big drama that is. Because, as I learned before, there is always something bad that comes your way. There are two things that are infinite: ignorance and human ability to endure suffering and I pride myself to be a champion in both.
In the meantime however, Aloha from Hawaii! 
 Aug 23, 2009 Honolulu

Burns Junction

Burns Junction, Oregon. Population One
Nature’s grandeur, empty highways, a huge country with a good deal to explore, road trips in the USA are the epiphany of life itself. You may start slow and hesitant, but the more you go, the better grip you get and it soon feels like your engine never wants to stop.
Here I was in Portland, Oregon for a year. I felt I travelled the West coast and it was time to move inland. Driving from Boise, Idaho to Lake Tahoe in Nevada meant passing the Southeast part of Oregon that pretty much looks like taken from Kusturica’s “Arizona dream”, the wind blowing dead bushes around a flat, luminescent, never-ending desert.
We were early that day and our small group didn’t have breakfast, so I opened the map and looked for the next town to stop. And here it was, Burns Junction, Oregon. Looked promising and luckily so, because for the next hundred miles there was nothing else on the map.
Half an hour later, we saw a sign “Burns Junction” and behind there was a small oasis composed of a trailer, a gas pump and something that appear to be an abundant all-American diner. Just a truck stop before the city, we thought, and drove on for another fraction of time until sudden gas deficiency announcement made us realize that we needed Burns Junction ever so much. We stopped the car and looked in the map again.
And then it hit us….The trailer, the gas pump, the dinner, this was it. Burns Junction, Oregon.
We drove back laughing at our own ignorance and making references to the only citizen of Burns Junction: Mr. Joe. In one small town in Oregon one was the local gas station manager, the diner cook and waiter, but also the mayor, the doctor, the teacher, the lawyer, the plumber, the mechanic, the engineer, the entertainer.
Few minutes later over hot coffee, buttered melting scrambled eggs, and homemade biscuits we found out, that without internet, cell phones and the cable TV, a thirtysomething guy indeed called Joe and his girlfriend, led a happy fulfilling self-sufficient, and maybe a bit lonely, life, in service of us, the road travelers. We humbled down when he was joking: “When my girlfriend goes to visit her mother, I need to change the road sign to Burns Junction, Population One”.