Wednesday, August 24, 2011

This August 20th at 11.30 am in Balchik, Bulgaria it all changed for me, forever. I was running another half a marathon. It was 35° C, full sun, the hardest run ever. We came back and I saw I had 23 missed calls. My mother wanted to tell me that.... my dad is dead...
I felt my heart stopping. It was intensely physically painful. I sprinted to the apartment they were staying at, fastest kilometer in my life.
His lifeless body on the floor. I couldn't believe it. Only the day before we had a family lunch, laughing and making plans. Who allowed that?? What went wrong? Why wasn't I there?
They said he had a stroke and died instantly. It was so hot that day. He spent the whole morning playing with the girls. Then he carried groceries upstairs, maybe they were too heavy. Why don't you build a f*.. elevator in a 3 levels building? It's no one's fault. But I am so desperate to find a reason. He was only 61. He wanted to live. He was not afraid to die, just not yet.. Why did he go so fast? My children would not even remember him. It's not fair!!!
I am thinking about him all the time. All the way back to Sofia I thought I was losing my mind. I am so sad... I have been hurt, don't be fooled by my upbeat cheerfulness, I know what pain is. Deep dark pain. But I never felt so much ... sadness. I could do many things but I can't do anything to bring him back. It makes me feel so... useless.
My mom is devastated. I have never seen her acting like that. She does not remember that August 20 afternoon, as if she wasn't there. It was awful. My parents were making all this plans together. Who is she to make plans with now? I am away, my brother is young and still searching. If it wasn't for my children who she is absolutely in love with, she would be in a very dark place now.
I wrote about my parents few days ago. I never do that. Then I wrote a bucket list, I spoke about how we are afraid of changes and death. As if subconsciously I knew it was coming. I always knew life is short. I did my best, largely thanks to my dad's encouragement, to live my life fearlessly. And now, even more so. Now, I can't stop myself of rethinking everything. It will be a process. Of searching, grief, hope, acceptance...
At the funeral instead of the standard mourning music we played one of my dad's favorite songs of Creedance.


Someone told me long ago, there's a calm before the storm.
I know, and it's been comin' for some time.
When it's over, so they say, it'll rain a sunny day.
I know, shinin' down like water.

I want to know, have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know, have you ever seen the rain
comin' down on a sunny day?

Yesterday, and days before, sun is cold and rain is hard.
I know, been that way for all my time.
'Til forever on it goes through the circle fast and slow,
I know, and it can't stop, I wonder.

I want to know, have you ever seen the rain?
I want to know, have you ever seen the rain
comin' down on a sunny day?

- John C. Fogerty

Thursday, August 18, 2011

My Bucket List

Let me just list ideas as they come, I am sure it will be revised many times.
1. Run a marathon. Sept 25, 2011 New Goal: 5 marathons by the age of 40. (now ran 4)
2. Climb Elbrus June 2013
3. Climb Kilimanjaro
4. Do at least one more paragliding fly. Oct 17 2011, got Club Pilot certified and 20 h airtime in Spain, Bali, Norway, Turkey, Cyprus. New goal: fly in all continents (Asia, Europe check) 
5. Sail the Mediterranean
6. Visit French Polynesia
7. Learn to surf better
8. Live in France visited France several times since Revised goal - live at the Mediterranean. Completed 2012 in Cyprus
9. Visit Machu Picchu
10. Visit Petra done Dec 2014
11. Live in Bali
12. Visit USA at least once year  In progress
13. Dine at El Bulli. They closed it! Revised goal: Noma
14. Visit Antarctica
15. Learn a new foreign language
16. Own a wine collection and learn more about wines wine-tasting 
17. Publish a book
18. Teach for free - judge/coach in mock trials in the USA
19. Being able to do 10 pull ups
20. Skydive -solo static line jump from 4000 ft near Larnaca Cyprus, 25 Nov 2012, 3 jumps in total
21. Learn how to tango
22. Carnival in Brazil
23. Party in New York, Miami and LA, again January 2012
24. Visit Salvador Dali's house north of Barcelona Sept 2012
25. Visit Rowan Oak, W. Faulkner's house Feb 2012
26. Climb Kinabalu
27. Dive from a cliff, at least 6 m high
28. Learn to ride a motorcycle
29. Go to Burning Man
30. Build or completely renovate a house
31. Run with the bulls in Pamplona
32. Ultra marathon
33. Learn to meditate in a spiritual place
34. Bungee Jump
35. Climb to Everest Base Camp
36. Visit Alaska
37. The Pyramids
38. Learn advanced cooking skills by a professional lots of cooking classes
39. Learn to dance in the original country (salsa in Cuba)
40. Learn a fight sport in the original country
41. Visit the "Stans" (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan)
42. Safari in Africa
43. Visit Mongolia
44. Learn to swim well
45. Run the Baikal Ice marathon, in Siberia.  March 3, 2012, finished third(!)
46. Soak in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
47. Help a child achieve their dream of better life arranged a big donation for children with cancer May 2012
48. Go to October fest Oct 2011
49. Learn to paint and draw sketches
50. Visit 100 countries. Now at 56 countries
I am sure I have forgotten some, so allow me to edit this list. I am sure it will happpen.
I have crossed some things, more than what I still need to do, like living in the USA and Russia, learning French and Russian, read the complete collection of Dostyevski, Hemingway, Steinbeck and a few others. Visit their homes and places they wrote about. Visit Japan, China, and most of South East Asia. Party in Iceland and Stockholm and all over the wold actually. Give birth, raise kids. Drive top down at the Cote D'Azur, learn snowboarding, surf in Hawaii, travel Europe by car, travel the USA by car, suntan at Ipanema, go to hundreds of concerts and festivals, complete (a draft of) a book, become a lawyer, work for non-profits for free, work in a bar and meet bands, drive top down from LA to San Francisco on Highway 1 in my own convertible, do paragliding, see a ballet in the Bolshoi, see lots of museums, exhibits, monuments, meet Irvin Welsh in person, visit the Venice Biannual, drive along the Italian West coast etc etc... Hubby just told me I should be happy that by 34 the list of the things I have done is much longer than the things I still want to do.. Thank you, Lord:)
I am overflowing with memories now at the Black sea, in the city of Balchik and with my parents. Just had a big Bulgarian lunch, which includes delicious salads, fish and wines. Everything organic. Pretty much all food in Bulgaria is "real" food, local, sun-grown, tasty, free of chemicals, I love that! But more so, I love those times when I talk to my parents for hours, for life, books, us, them, the future. My parents are amazing. My dad is one of the smartest men I know. There is barely a subject that he has no, at least remote, knowledge of. If something bad happens to me I know I can always call and he will be there, with the right attitude and advise and he would do whatever I need to help.
I love and admire my mom greatly. At 50 or so she picked up hiking and now she has climbed pretty much any mountain in the region. She is good in everything, has gigantic energy, even when she fights me ;), and is full of love. My mom is also like a second mom of my kids and without her I won't be able to afford the life I have, or my sanity.
I made it a rule no to talk here about my kids too much, as I talk and think about them a lot every day. But, well, just as a note: I missed them and is great to have them back. The strawberries are now nearly 16 months and the progress they made with how they interact with other people is amazing. Of course it takes a bit of time getting used to taking care of them. Yesterday we had 8 hours alone and after that hubby and I passed out for a nap in the afternoon, something we normally never do. They are sweet like strawberries indeed, but squeeze you like a juicer. Yet, love them like crazy. I think they are the most amazing kids in the world. So cliché :) 
It feels strange being in Bulgaria again. Hubby is pressing me to buy a house here, by the sea, for ages. It does make sense but not for me. For him it's cool, exotic and different. He is, just like me, fan of the climate, the nature and the food. But I don't feel the exoticness factor. For me it's all too familiar. Nice, a bit boring, a place I left. So I am not looking into houses. Also I am not sure I want to buy a house anywhere right now. The Lora's global travel quest is far from over. I want to do it all: I want to go places, try new things, new sports, climb mountains, learn languages. A house ties you down, plus we already have one, in the Netherlands. That makes me think of my bucket list...
People tease me about the fact that I often talk about my bucket list, an especially that I have one, to start with. I know it's a bit crazy, hopefully I have many more years to live. But it's there as a notion just to keep me dreaming, not because I would stop otherwise, but to prevents me of finding excuses of acting towards my dreams. For my bucket list special, see next post...

Monday, August 8, 2011

July 24, 2011
I seems to be writing often from the airport, but here I am again. Moscow, Sheremetyvo terminal D, Blues&Jazz lounge... A bit more than a week ago I was sitting at the exact same chair waiting for a flight to Berlin. Different state of mind for too many reasons to list. 
I am so ready to be away from Moscow right now. I need to recharge. I need change. Not only change of scenery, I need to think about bigger changes. Change is the only constant in life. That, and death. But why are we so afraid of them both?:) 
I started writing again. Nothing big yet, but I downloaded the draft files of the book I wrote in Portland and am mentally ready to read it and evaluate what am I going to do with it. I also signed up for that marathon. Enough procrastination, let's have it done. It's going to be Berlin, Sept 25. In fact I am ready to run now, but all the August marathons are too far from the places I am going to visit.  I was thinking of going to Oslo which is at the exact same date, but it's smaller. Besides you never know what psycho is hiding in the forest. I was shocked about the events there... I saw it on the TV at the gym yesterday and kind of made me want to puke. What can possibly happen to you that you go at a youth camp and start shooting at scared like bunnies, little kids. Since being a mother, violence against children drives me nuts. 
July 30, 2011..continue from Biarritz. Or actually somewhere above Belgium. I am in the plane. A bit hungover from too much champaign. Champaign should impress, people think. I wasn’t that impressed. In fact I don’t like champaign. 
Biarritz will be listed as one of my favorite vacation spots. Last night my friend and I had a very interesting conversation with two French ladies in their sixties. They were of course all stylish and gracefully aged. I love how French women do it, aging. There is a lot of dignity in it. But so we were discussing Biarritz, men, rugby, and the Russian "parvenues" at Cote d'Azur. It was enchanting. I love France. I love the scenery, the people, the food, how the language sound, the culture. I love feeling in Europe again. I am now slowly moving my mind into direction the Netherlands, both physically and emotionally...
Aug 7, 2011 Nice, on the way to Cannes. What is it with the French? I am under a spell. What is not to love here? Ok, except that it's jammed with tourist, the dog shit and the seedy parts of town. Every paradise has some down sides. But seriously, France is something. I guess it's also the whole way of doing it. Driving with the top down, having the option to stay anywhere, do anything, the feeling of freedom which I am nearly addicted to. 

I am happy to have imported that car from the U.S. It's an oldy, but a goodie. Didn't pay too much for it, but the amount of joy it gives is only multiplying with time. When I was 14, I was reading Rich men, Poor men one long boring summer in my grand-mother's place in a small Bulgarian town where nothing ever happens, so people get married at twenty to create some tolerable eventfulness. I remember dreaming of racing top down at the French Riviera, tanned, beautiful, rich and free. And it all came true this week, only I am not rich, and freedom is a bit of an illusion. But it's so wonderful when dreams come true.