Tag Archives: Romania

When the past haunts your present

22 Oct

“Why do you need two mascaras? They are identical,” I told Lumi, my sister the other day while at the mall.

“Cuz,” she said, moving to the next shelf and grabbing two bottles of shampoo. “When ones ends, I have another one handy.”

“But you can also go to the store and buy one when you run out of it, right?”

“That too, but I feel better having an extra one, for when time comes.”

I could’ve continued to argue with Lumi that buying two mascaras is a waste of money, potentially a waste of product if she’d have it stored for too long and it would dry out. Or chose to drop it, which I did because if anyone knows my sister, they also know, no one has ever won an argument with her. Like everrrrr. But I kept an eye on her and her buying habits and, at the end of the day I realized she has a problem: buying several of the same products, never just one.

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I know curiosity killed the cat (they say; I for one never seen a cat killed by that), but I had to know why, so after a day on our feet, and being 110% convinced my arms lengthen by at least a few inches because of all the bags we’ve carried, I teased Lumi, over a banana & nut blizzard, that maybe she needs help with her impulsive buying disorder.

Licking a spoonful of her ice cream, Lumi responded, “Do you remember living back home, in Romania? Do you remember the shortage on everything, the ratio food, the empty shelves and when they weren’t empty, the little that was there was of such bad quality that no one wanted it? Do you remember any of that?”

“I do, but what has that to do with the fact that you pack now like a squirrel on steroids?”

“It has everything to do with it,” Lumi said, lifting briefly her brown eyes at me, brown that when the sun shines, turns to green. “Communism scarred me. I used to tell myself if I ever have money and the possibility to live somewhere else, I will never go hungry, be cold, walk in bad shoes or wear terrible clothing. I used to tell myself I will never have nothing, but will have everything. And that to me means buy at least two of each product. It makes me feel . . . safe, covered, protected somehow.”

I laughed. “You definitely need a therapist.”

Later on when I got home, I unpacked my shopping bags and the more bags I emptied, the more I realized . . . I’m in the same boat as Lumi! I do buy at least two of the same product. I went to my closet, to my drawers, to my pantry and everywhere I looked, I found more and more proofs that I too am a shopaholic.

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And it got me thinking: am I crazy? Who in their right mind buys two of the same dress/shoes—not even in a different color, which might be an excuse, right? Why am I doing this?

Lumi’s earlier words came to mind and somehow they opened a flood of memories from my childhood back home in Romania. The constant fear of authorities, the poisoned indoctrination the Communist Party shoved down everyone’s throat but also the poverty . . . the constant hunger . . . the smothering feeling . . . the emptiness and helplessness I felt on a daily basis, with no hope things would get better.

And yet a lot has changed since then. I lived more than half my life under freedom and democracy, and for the past 13 years I made the U.S. my home, the best country ever (no offense, world!). A lot of the things I had witnessed/experienced during my life in Romania and under communism are just that, things from the past, a past I prefer not to remember too often for it mostly brings sad/bad memories. I also know that some of those things left scars and made me into the person that I am today. And I think for the most part I accept everything, except I would rather blame communism for my buying disorder (the other option would be to confess I pack like a squirrel on steroids and the image is not very appealing…).

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Europe trip–part 3

29 Sep

I guess one can say I took my sweet time in between the posts about my trip, but to be honest, a lot of those memories are still a blur. So I decided to write about the trip when something comes to mind, like right now about how we lost our connection in Munich.

The flight from Bucharest to Munich went better than I expected. Although the flight was only a little over an hour, we spent it talking to a funny group of Texan young adults (in Romania to teach English to Romanian students). I know, right? What are the odds to find yourself halfway across the world, in a plane from Bucharest to Munich and be surrounded by fellow Americans. Comes to show how little our world really is.

Once arrived in Munich, we said goodbye to our newfound friends and off we went to find our gate. We were told by several airport employees to go to terminal 1, not knowing that there’s where our troubles began. After the shuttle buss dropped us, we went through a maze –I’m not kidding–maze of corridors, gates and check points, making our way to gate 17. We still had time for breakfast, stroll through duty free stores until boarding was announced. 

As we waited to be boarded, my eyes fell on the display flickering our flight and I found odd that instead of Lufthansa there was EasyJet airline. Then looked at my boarding ticket and saw that the flight number didn’t match the one on the display, only the departure time and destination.

I’ve rarely felt as if the rug was pulled from underneath my feet, but that’s the best way to describe how I felt.  Never lost a connection in my life. Never thought not one, but several airport employees can be that… well, I really don’t have a name for it, unless I’m willing to call them something bad. For crying out loud: I show you a boarding pass and you send me to a wrong terminal???

We made our way back to terminal 2 as our Lufthansa flight took off. At that time I was livid and sick to my stomach worrying about having to buy new tickets, and losing our train connection from Rome to Verona. Pat kept telling me to breathe deeply and accept the fact that was nothing I could do to change what just happened. Trust me, breathing exercises never helped that much as then. I managed to calm somewhat until, explaining to the Lufthansa rep how we lost our connection she said in an arrogant and dismissive tone, word for word: “That’s the most stupid thing I’ve heard in thirteen years working on this airport. Who here would direct you wrongly?”

With my minds eyes I saw myself reaching over the counter and grabbing a handful of her shirt, saying, “You call me a liar and stupid???”, but instead I said, “Ma’am, as much as your airport is a nice venue, I would rather travel to my destination. Hanging out on an airport is not my kind of fun time.”

Pat stepping on my foot made me pause and take my eyes off the Lufthansa rep, long enough to take yet another deep breath. I should’ve inhaled enough oxygen by now, enough to transform it in smoke puffing out of my ears but boy, I was aching to wrinkle that woman’s starched collar. 

Somehow I managed to be civil. Fifteen minutes and two phone calls later we had brand new tickets that costed us only $105.00 each. If all worked out well, we’d make it to our train connection on time.

Eventually anger and frustration drained out of me, leaving me exhausted. The entire time we waited Pat and I talked and, the more we talked, the deeper in conversation we went. Like to survivors on an island we shared plans, dreams, memories–we talked so much and I have to say, there was nothing that could make me happier than my kid sharing so much of him. There’s a glow in Pat’s eyes when he talks about himself, a glow that makes the blue in his eyes so intense and so alive. 

In looking back I do wonder if all of that happened because he and I had to talk. Not just any talk, but deep talk, the kind of talk that makes one vulnerable but also so, so human. The kind of talk where all masks fall and one’s heart and soul are out there in plain light, without holding back. 

I always considered myself incredibly lucky to have a great relationship with my kid, but for some reason that talk we had waiting for our flight taking us from Munich to Rome, made me realized, my kid is not a kid anymore, but a young man making his way into adulthood, having incredible plans for the future. It also made me realized how much more mature he is now compared to myself at his age, but most importantly that, if I were to go tomorrow, I’m leaving behind a great legacy, a man who I have no doubt will make his way through life in a healthy, solid, clear, strong manner; that whenever life will throw curves and hurdles his way, he has the tools he needs to go through them all. 

When time came to leave, I remember finally buckling my belt on the plane taking us to a brand new adventure. Pat reached over and kissed the top of my head, then interlaced his finger with mine. “Thanks, mom,” he said. “What for?,” I replied. He smiled and pushed his side onto mine. “For listening.”

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Europe Trip–Part 1

25 Aug

Memories. Some are kept in one’s soul forever, never to be shared. Others burst open our hearts and we can’t find peace until we do what we were meant to do from the moment we build them: share them with the world.

It’s been a week since I returned from my trip to Europe–Romania and Italy to be exact–and I’m still trying to recover from it. Not the sleeping pattern (which gave me grief only when I went to Romania, but not here back home), but trying to browse through memories, feelings and emotions I’ve witnessed and felt during my trip. I wish I could hold onto each image, each step I took, too afraid that time and space will dust them into oblivion until they’d end up shelved somewhere in my brain.

I’ve never journaled a trip so bear with me; I’ll try to make these sharing interesting enough for you to come back for the next one.

For today I decided to share a few  facts about this trip:

  1. Our itinerary included: Bucharest and Black Sea (Romania); Rome-Verona-Venice- Milan-Mantova (Italy).
  2. We’ve been on ten flights.
  3. We had screaming babies on all ten flights therefore I haven’t slept on any of the flights (yeah, talk about exhaustion as its best).
  4. We lost one connection in Munich so we had to buy new tickets.
  5. I watched eight movies during the longer flights (Houston to Frankfurt and Frankfurt to Houston) and i can only remember one title (Crazy, Stupid Love, which was actually funny).
  6. I took over thousand pictures; I had to delete some apps from my phone to make room for more. Patrick took about the same amount on his phone. I regret not taking a real camera (Iphone takes decent photos but not as clear as a camera).
  7. I played cards and “table” (a Romanian game) with my dad 6 hours every day for 4 days while at the Black Sea.
  8. I rekindled with friends from high school, one who lives in Italy and one who became a famous actress in Romania.
  9. I went to my first soccer game, cheering for my all-time favorite team, Steaua Bucuresti. They had a great game, but weren’t able to score.
  10. I had more than one glass of wine, one night in Rome…

And now I leave you with a few photos all taken before flights… enjoy!

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Where I’ve been…

21 Aug

In my last post I promised to reveal where I was on vacation so here I am telling you all the big secret… I’ve been to Romania and Italy and soaked my soul in the goodness of my parents, hugged my relatives and laughed with my friends. I had an incredible trip I hope to never forget!

I have so many memories, some tattooed in the folds of my heart, some on my brain’s  “screen” and some in pictures. I decided to write in episodes my entire trip, but for now I leave you with a bunch of photos.

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Mondays are for Excerpts

2 Jun

HIDDEN HEART–Excerpt

“What I want to let everyone know is that I’ve decided to step down from my position as director of the Titan Project Development office here in Bucharest and I’d like to introduce to you the new director . . . Anastassia Cosma, or as many of you know her, Tessa Cosma.”

The room exploded in applause and cheers. Victor let the cheering go for a couple more minutes then made a sign and soon the room fell quiet again.

“Nine months from now I’ll send you all greeting cards from the French Riviera, a cigar in one hand and a brandy in the other, but most important I will not think of any business, any contract, or even of you.”

Laughter from around the room interrupted his speech, but he again demanded attention and continued, “And you know why? It’s because I know that the company will be in the best hands I could possibly trust, in the right place and with the right commander. For those of you who know Tessa, you know that she’s a beautiful woman, with a brilliant mind and big heart, but a tigress when it comes to business. She’d show her claws in a split second. Fear her and don’t try playing games; her sweet smile is just a mask. Now that I said what I had to say, please join me in congratulating the new director of our company!”

Victor put the microphone down and reached to help Tessa stand. He shook her hand, then hugged her for a few seconds and stepped aside, for others to come around and congratulate her.

Tessa felt like a truck had hit her. She had no idea Victor wanted to retire so soon, nor that she’d replace him. Her mind swirled and struggled to respond to all the questions people asked her, shake their hands and accept their congratulations.

“What an incredible surprise, dear,” Daniel said when he finally caught her in his arms. He took her hand and walked to the dance floor and moved with her in the slow rhythm of the music.

“I feel like I’m dreaming and soon I’ll wake up. I mean, I had no idea he wanted me to replace him . . . can you imagine?” Tessa leaned against Daniel’s strong body—she still shook from the big news Victor just shared minutes ago.

“I’m so proud of you,” Daniel whispered in her ear. “You’re incredible and you deserve it.”

“Serious?”

She looked into his green eyes trying to read his mind. He looked good dressed in his black tuxedo, white shirt and black bowtie. There were many nights they argued about her extended work hours and constant traveling. He’d complained about it so many times; hard to believe that after all these years and so many arguments, Daniel finally accepted and agreed to share her with her work.

“You know this means I’ll be away from home even more, longer trips, longer work hours . . . can we survive this change?”

He twirled her twice releasing her from his arms, then brought her back and said, “Nice presents would help me forget about my lonely nights.” He winked at her and smiled while the band switched to an up-tempo rhythm and more couples joined them on the dance floor.

“You know, I feel I’m in the best place of my life, ever. I have you, an amazing job, I have friends and family that love me and I love them back. This incredible feeling of ha—”

“Tessa, here you are! Come, we must hurry!” Eva grabbed her arm while Daniel held onto her other arm.

“Hey, I’m dancing, can you just wait until the dance is over?”

Tessa tried to free her wrist, but Eva had a strong grip on it and didn’t let go. She looked over her shoulder at Daniel, who let go and backed off. She had no choice but follow Eva out of the room.

“Jesus Christ, are you crazy? Can you just stop and tell me what’s the matter?”

But Eva didn’t reply right away, still holding Tessa’s wrist, walking faster and faster. “We must go. Now. It’s urgent.” Eva hurried outside the hotel. A cab waited for them and she opened the door, dragging Tessa inside.

“Emergency Room, Floreasca Hospital, please.”

Tessa froze hearing the address. A knot formed in her stomach and her throat, and when she spoke, she didn’t recognize her own voice.

“Is it my mama?”

 

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A to Z Challenge–Letter H

9 Apr

Last week I was fortunate to start the A to Z Challenge on Rosie Amber’s blog where my novel A World Apart was making headlines for the letter A. Thank you Rosie for the incredible effort to organize this event, the love and support you show all of us, and thank you to everyone leaving comments and showing interest in my novel.

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Today I’m back again with yet another novel of mine covering the letter H in the challenge. Hidden Heart is my debut novel I published 3 years ago, a multicultural romance set in Romania and Italy, modern day. With stellar reviews, 100+ ratings and almost 1,000 readers adding it to their to-read-shelves on Goodreads I couldn’t be happier with the way people around the world received it.

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One of the latest reviewers calls Hidden Heart, “Drama galore, a hero to die for, a heroine with brains, that’s my kind of book. Hidden Heart delivers that and more.”

Please hop over at Rosie’s blog to see what else she has in store. Along with Rosie there are 2,000 bloggers from around the world featuring throughout the month of April authors from all kind of genres and what books you can read next. Don’t miss out on this opportunity.

Happy reading!

Winner Announcement for the 2013 Debut Author Giveaway Hop

12 Dec

The 2013 Debut Author Hop is over. The lucky winner taking home an e-copy of the novel The Blacksmith by Ana Calin is … Holly B.