Trackside Safety

Somehow, after all’s said and done, I’ll remember these days.

I’ll look back on my early thirties, and in between flashes of momentary bliss and specks of madness, there’ll be this endless to and fro along slippery rails, as the sun comes up and then as it goes down, brown roofs and patches of green flickering in and out of view, Spotify in my ear and slippery fears gnawing at the back of my brain like piranhas.

I guess I was busy, I’ll think.

And you know, I am. 

I’m in a place now at work where, if it doesn’t kill me first, I can change things. On a very small scale, of course. But even so, the possibility of change, of mattering, even just a little bit and to a handful of people who in turn only matter to you, well, turns out it’s quite addictive. Life cosuming, never ending, harder than hard.

I’m trying. I really am. 

In many ways, it’s changing me for the better. And in some ways, it’s turning me into a monster. 

There are many opportunities these days. To get carried away, to take it personally, to be misunderstood.

But I try.

Sugar, Spice and Other Tragedies

It’s been just little bit crazy around here lately.

I’ve been working like mad day and night since my promotion, fighting a million billion small battles and growing into this neurotic, insomniac monster no one in their right mind would want anything to do with.

But it hasn’t all been bad. We’re building these very precious, slightly deranged and infinitely hilarious friendships in the office, and I just love, love, LOVE my team mates. It has hepled that we’ve been hanging out together outside business hours a lot lately, and that one of my first endeavours as “department dictator” (I have been called that once or twice. Or six times a day. All in good spirits, I tell myself) has been to organize a team building trip. Fun. And. Games.

So you see, I’ve been busy. I’ve been recruiting, I’ve been doing performance reviews, I’ve had Christmas Jumper days, Secret Santa shopping sprees, Thirsty Thursdays in our favourite West End pub. Then the office Christmas Party last week, and a cocktail dress I last wore more than ten years ago (still fits, whoah!). On the home front, we got a new armchair for our guest room (AND got it delivered before Christmas! SCORE!), I brought all our geranium plants inside, almost killed them in the process (they must have lost more than half their leaves since) and then winter decided not to come after all, I ruined St Nicholas (again!) after stumbling upon V’s gift for me two weeks before the day, and we put up the biggest and most amazing Christmas tree our little family has ever had. So yeah. Take that, Christmas! We’re ready.

There are still a few things on the list. The Christmas cards we’ve picked for our neighbors are still stacked, blank, on our coffee table. I’ve got one last Secret Santa gift to get for a gift exchange we’re organising with a bunch of close friends, and I haven’t even thought about what I’m getting him, nevermind brave the after work shopping frenzy on Regents Street. Our tree has been without a topper since we decorated it a couple of weeks ago, and though I bought one a few days ago, it’s still in a carrier bag somewhere, lost in this field of half full carrier bags our living room floor is these days. There are piles and piles of laundry to sort through, and mountains of unopened mail. Last minutes tickets to buy and Christmas brunch menus to plan.

It’s quite a daunting little list come to think of it. But if I’m good at one thing, then I’m good and making scary lists and immediately forgetting them.

And then.

As I’m typing this, we’re on our way back from a week’s holiday at my parents’ place in Romania. With the events of the last few days still raw in my mind, it’s probably not the best time to write about it all. I should let it settle, let things fade a bit before I poke at them with my bare hands. But how broken I feel. And how I never learn. How I never, ever learn.

This is Not a Rehearsal

We sang and danced with strangers last night.

Our fifth and likely the last concert we’ll be going to this year, and the first time we’ve seen U2 perform live.

We’re concert people.

We try to get tickets for something we like every couple of months, and since we’ve moved to London we’ve been lucky enough to sing along pretty much all our favorite musicians.

We’ve been to smaller venues and we’ve been to big, tens-of-thousands-of-fans gigs. We know the O2 Arena inside and out by now, we’ve had seats all over the place in the Royal Albert Hall, we’ve sung and danced in Hyde Park in all weathers.

We’re rock people, we’re folk people, we’re pop people, we’re jazz people.

We’re concert people.

As U2 were wrapping up their gig last night, the third and final national day of mourning in Romania was coming to an end.

We followed the crowds out of the O2, into a night of fog and wintery smells. We queued outside the tube station for a while. People were lighting up cigs, knotting scarves, buttoning smartphones, humming Elevation. It figures. Concert people. Always humming something.

Last Friday, a nightclub fire killed 32 and severely injured 140 young people attending a rock concert in Bucharest.

As details of the tragedy have unraveled, and the authorities’ and public’s reactions have been making their way to me, I’ve sunk deeper and deeper into a state of infinite hopelessness.

It’s a complicated story to tell. This history of my hopeless relationship with my country and my past. A past which, like all pasts, constantly seeps into the present and keeps the wounds open.

In a parallel world, who knows if I’ll ever see U2 perform live. I live in a beautiful Romanian city in the heart of Transilvania. I work long hours, relentlessly climbing my way up the corporate ladder. I’m married to a guy I’ve been seeing for a few years. We own our home together. We have a dog, a cat, or both. My mom drops by unannounced, with Dutch biscuits and home made gerkins. I have at least three friends playing in rock bands. At least one of these rock bands is well known locally. I go to all their gigs. Most times they’re in nightclubs randomly popped up in the basements of historical, crumbling buildings, or in old factories. I make my way to the very front. Never count the emergency exits. Can’t tell if the ceilings are flammable. Can’t use a fire extinguisher. Have astma. Never called 911. I know all the lyrics. I’m with the concert people.

In a parallel world, if I die at a rock concert, it will probably be my own fault. I should have stayed at home. I shouldn’t like rock. The all-powerful God of parallel worlds doesn’t approve of concert people. I should know that.

I’ve lived in a parallel world for most of my life. Then I moved to London.

I get glimpses of it, my parallel country and its many parallel layers of grief.

They break my heart.

#colectiv

Welcome to the Planet

Back from our impromptu honeymoon, and immediately dived into fifty shades of crazy at work.

Just as things are reaching that particular degree of lunacy where the only viable solutions are to murder half the people in the office or pack up and leave, well… just as I’m cleaning my desk drawers and hitting the road, they offer me a freaking promotion. Of course, it all makes sense. It all. Makes. Sense.

And yes, it’s just the kind of job I’ve been after for a few years now. I’d be crazy not to jump at the chance.

But this is not your regular workplace.

Not your regular workmates to hang out with by the watercooler on a random Tuesday morning. Nobody dares to hang by our watercooler for too long anyway. You can get stabbed in the back half a dozen times as you wait for your cup to fill.

We are violent, unscrupulous creatures, thriving on our collective toxicity. And now I get to chomp my way to a higher, slightly more comfortable spot in the food chain.

Please forgive me while I shrink into a corner to cry over my surprise salary jump.

All jokes aside now, I’m seriously doubting whether I should take this new role, and the infinite levels of insanity it will bring along. I’ve asked for a little time to think about it, and if thinking about it means worrying myself into super duper, insomnia flavoured misery, then yes, I guess I’m thinking about it good and hard.

In other news…

I’m doing very little reading these days, but lots of walking and listening to extraordinary music instead.

Green Park is turning a million shades of gold, and I’m actually looking forward to autumn for once.

It’s been a year since we closed on our flat, and drove a car-full of potted plants and bed linens across London, to spend our first night in the place on a blow up matress in a freshly painted, deserted guestroom.

One week since our wedding, and they must have been feeding these flowers some pretty extraordinary things, because half a dozen bouquets are still holding strong in various corners of our living room.

More than two years since I’ve started this blog, and coming close to six years since we moved to this country.

Dust in the wind and all that.

Apart from my work related dramas, the coming weeks appear to be rather uneventful, so I’m planning to binge on various TV series, cook fool-proof dinners and carve pumpkins.

There’s an awful kind of beauty in the way things have settled in my life lately, and I think what I’m mostly working on right now is trying to enjoy it as much as I can. As scary as it is and all.

Feelings, Big and Small

It’s been a while.

I do miss this place.

I do miss this place, but…

Well.

I’ve been working like crazy. My current office is an absolute jungle – people constantly shouting, badmouthing each other and coming close to strangling each other on a daily basis, but somehow, despite the craziness, I seem to be doing very well. I may well start a dangerous catfight in a meeting one day, but at least I absolutely adore the guys in my team, our deranged shared sense of humour and the work we’ve been doing, and so most days it’s a blast.

V and I are still debating on where our careers are going, and struggling to answer a million other difficult questions. But we also try to focus on the good stuff.

We began our summer in Mallorca and ended it in Cascais. In between, we left work early on a few occasions to make it to the evening mathches at Queens, our favourite grass tennis tournament. Then we traveled to Birmingham for the Women’s Tennis Classic finals. An AC/DC concert on Wembley. And supporting Romania in the Rugby World Cup on Stratford Olympic. A roadtrip to Stratford Upon Avon, and the opening night of the BFI London Film Festival. And guests, countless guests, family and friends. Walks, dinners and laughter. Lots of laughter.

And then, this Saturday.

This Saturday we got up earlier than usual, changed into freshly pressed outfits, walked to the local Register Office, and got married.

A low key, intimate affair.

So low key that I did my own hair. And made my own bouquet the night before, with grocery store roses and a bit of YouTube guidance.  And I would have definitely ruined my chances at a happy marriage before it even began, had someone not remembered the “something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue” thingie just as we were leaving for the ceremony. Reluctant to upset the nuptial gods, but mostly giving in to very stubborn and loud peer pressure, I ended up borrowing earrings and most importantly, wearing a ridiculous aqua-blue hairpin stuck to one of my bra straps for the rest of the day. Thankfully, it was invisible to the outside world, but that particular detail didn’t really make me feel any classier.

And now here we are. Together. Not more together than before, but a slightly different, matching-wedding-bands sort of together. Although if I’m perfectly honest, we’ve been wearing our matching wedding bands around the house and out and about on weekends for a month or so anyway, to get used to them. We’re super duper traditional like that.

I had cake for breakfast today, by the way. Then I spent the rest of my morning doing load after load after load of side plates and flute glasses, straightening sofa cushions and polishing silverware. Then I had cake for lunch, of course. And now, everything feels pretty normal again. If it weren’t for the flowers. They’re everywhere. In glass vases, in milk carafes, in recycled pickle jars, on every surface of every piece of furniture in every room.

And so, happiness. Or something like it. Something very much like it.