Monday, December 2, 2013

2013. Counting my Deeds


Good morning. Ok, so I’ve been thinking. And now I hear Jim in my head saying “No, you do that? I’m scared now!” Adorable as always. Anyway. I’ve been thinking I have to give you all a name. I like how Anne Rice calls all of us, her fans commenting and posting on her FB page. She calls us People of the Page. Well, this is not a page, is a blog, so how about I call you People of the Blog?... No. Sounds like crap. I know! How about People of the Journal? Yeah, much better. I am sure I’ll polish it a bit here and there in the days to come BUT, I think we’re on the right track.

So my dearest People of the Journal, I’ve been thinking to draw the line before End of December and count my deeds for the past year. What I had planned for, what I had done to make it happen and what I have actually succeeded in.

Personally, when I did the counting I concluded I was a major failure in pretty much everything I’ve chased after. Emily on the other hand bitches at me that there is so much more to my “failure” than I want to see. She’s right in a way. But I’ll let you be the judges of my destiny. For once hehe

SUBJECT 1: SCHOOL

   Applying to Boston University

That wasn’t actually a plan. Sometime November last year I ran into this program at Boston University and I decided out of the blue to apply. Two years ago my good friend Adinut put this virus into my blood stream, about screenwriting and all and I welcomed it because it was a different approach to my already established passion for writing. But from being infected to a professional “disease carrier” so to speak – as to consider myself good enough to be accepted into a specialized 2 year program abroad in screenwriting – there was still a long way to go. Or so I thought. I applied literally on a hunch, to try out my luck. I had very little time to prepare a huge file, pass the GRE again (mathematics is a frigin’ nightmare!!!!!), get recommendation letters, send my portfolio and film the video. By the time I sent the application I was so wrapped into it that I actually wanted to believe I was going to get in. By mid of March I received my positive answer. I had got in a class of only 12 students and received the Dean’s Scholarship of USD 10,000. I remember I received the email at about 4:00AM and I SMSed Emily to get her ass on Skype pronto! I was crying and I was crying so bitterly. Ten years ago I had gone through the same thing. Also was accepted, also received partial scholarship. Also couldn’t go because I couldn’t raise the entire amount. I had it in my heart, that this time too it would be almost impossible to raise USD 42,000. Not in Romania anyway.

2    Fulbright.

A month before Fulbright application deadline, I managed to find all the details about how and what and when. I was still uncertain on how the process works, but I was willing to try anything. I have found another scholarship that paid less but the deadline was gone so I could only keep that in mind for the following year. I raced against time to have it all ready, but deep down in the pit of my chest I knew something wasn’t there. I’m a pretty good judge of myself. I could always predict the grades I’d take in school. So when I sent the application out I wasn’t sure I would do so well. Waiting for the answer was one of the most painstaking times of this year. Especially, when nothing else paid off in terms of my efforts to gain more funds and pay at least for the first year. In mid August I got word I had got through the first phase and I was up for the interview in September. I’m not good with interviews. I am impulsive and uncontrollable at times when emotions rush over me. In a way, it’s what makes me who I am; it’s what distinguishes me among others. I always had this thing of being different, of breaking the rules, of thinking people before me are my equals and that being honest and speaking my mind freely, but politely is the way to go about things. Of course, this is a good thing and I stand by it still. Unfortunately, in interviews such as this I guess, it’s not always a good approach. Two things made me fail that interview: first, I believe they were looking for someone with more experience in the field, while I was only at a beginner’s level with no real portfolio in screenwriting to back me up. Second, I believe I struggled just a little too much to explain that filmmaking or documentary production – which is what I am mainly aiming for – is not simple at all. That without the necessary funding, one cannot take a cheap free download movie maker program, film something with their camera, use bad image ad poor sound, or even worse, use music they don’t own the rights for and come up with something that indeed can make a difference. I strongly believe that. Nonetheless, at the end of the day, I do not regret my Fulbright experience. I have no reason why. The only thing that pained me most was that now I was left without any chance to fund my education in Boston.


SUBJECT 1:  SCHOOL – FAILED.

But so not to get a good smacking from Emily, I will also say SUCCEEDED.

Succeeded in proving that I have what it takes to get into one of the best schools in screenwriting in US. Proving that they appreciated my efforts so much that they awarded me an extra USD 5,000 paying for almost half of the tuition for a year. Proving that they were so keen on having me there that they organized private Skype chats with me to know the professors and even got me two jobs on campus: Assistant Professor to Screenwriting Undergraduates and a job at the Career Services Center to help other students in getting a job. They were so nice they even wrote a personalized letter for me to show to possible financers that they really appreciated their help in sponsoring me to go study there. I guess, once you think of it, it’s not all that bad.

And there is one more success in this. I made so many new friends, from all over the world, who have kept in touch even after I withdrew from the program due to lack of finance. And not only that I made new friends but it helped me reinforce old friendships and solidify my relationship with dear people in my life who were at my side every single step. From my family, to Jim and Eileen, to Adinut who I can see right now, driving and bitching at me in a supportive way to make me snap out of my “end of the world” attitude to Emily, my baby sister who hugged me half way through the night in Brussels, when I found out I did not pass the Fulbright interview. People who inspire me and who find a way to give me one little reason to hang on to just when I think there is nothing else for me to grab onto and go on.

SUBJECT 2: MY WRITING

1     My books

Again. I am pushing and bitching at my friends to publish and come into the open with their work, but it took me a while to get mine out there. Yet this year, was a good year for writing. Nevertheless, I had planned to finish my second book and be able to edit both and have them published on Amazon Kindle. Unfortunately, applications stole all my time away and more so, my mind was blocked only on waiting, therefore even my imagination faded out. After I realized I wasn’t going to Boston, I failed to write because somehow, my brain considered my writing would be useless now that I’m not going out there to make the best of it. I felt there was no purpose to my writing anymore. So nothing happened on that front anymore either.

2    The Blog

This blog was my way to release the pressure. Writing it came much easier than my usual writing. It’s about my life, my everyday struggle and happy times. I could write 10 pages in two hours without even blinking. Plus, it felt like the right thing to do. People say I’m highly active on FB. Sadly, I have so little time to do anything in life that keeping in touch with my friends has become a constant fight. I organize charity events through FB, I speak with very old school mates of mine whom otherwise I haven’t seen in person in years and I can rejoice their accomplishments from family, to their unchanged personalities, to the places they travel to making me part of it all. Sometimes I feel like I live in a different country all together. Seeing anyone for a coffee takes minute planning and weeks to happen. What a waste! More so, this year, due to everything that happened with school, my grandfather, then again my divorce last year, I feel I have changed a bit. My nerves have worn down more than they had for the past years and my patience is thinner. My smiles perhaps a bit shaky, my attention also a bit scattered with the new work volume. And I felt this would be a good way for people to understand there is more to Mela than her work face and giggles. Believe it or not, there was a time many years ago when people dear to me did not believe I could cry. When they remained in shock to my tears. Yep. I can cry and I can bitch and I can be bitter and I can be horrible and all that. Probably more so lately than I have ever been before. And I apologize for the confusion I have caused to people knowing me happy all the time. For the past two years almost, I have only operated on enough energy to keep me going, get my ass up in the morning, help it survive through the day to then collapse in the evening. Not enough left to feed happy Mela, but only to keep her afloat. So I’m sorry if I’ve changed a bit. It’s not change, it’s survival mode. But stay assured. You can still count on me; just get over my bitchy face and moodiness sometimes. Because if you care to ask or dig a little deeper, you’ll find Mela in there sweating her ass off to keep the wheels spinning.


SUBJECT 2: MY WRITING – PARTIAL FAILURE

I promise I will finish the books. Slowly but surely, I find my pleasure in writing again. I find my lost excitement and my selfless adoration for my own characters. I start to remember I used to write for myself, because it relaxes me, because I believe in my own creation and that even if it stays hidden in a drawer, somewhere, my work is still valuable. Very valuable to me, as it is part of who I am. As David once said: “You’re a writer. You wake up in the morning thinking about writing. Writing comes easy to you. Others write because they have to. You write because you like it.” There’s another friend right there, who is on my Good Guys list. Thanks David.

As for the Blog, I think we’re doing pretty good hehe. I was a bit surprised to see people actually took interest in my posts. Some of them should be read as they concern my NGO work and as a team, we’d love people to be aware of our efforts and assist in as much as they can, as many as they can. Other posts, are obviously my random thoughts and idiocies so… haha I can only imagine what crosses people’s minds when they read all that!

SUBJECT 3: VACTION

1     Vacation with mom.

Yes, I’ll say no more on the subject. We’ve done it this year as well and I’m already thinking what we can do next year. Some things will always have priority in life and this is definitely one of them. So stay tuned for 2014 because I’m scheming already in my little head… mmmwwwuuahaha!!!

2     My vacation with Emily

It’ll be three years in April I believe since I met my baby sister. Well, I re-met her. I’m sure we were sisters some other time. Or some other life. We’ve met through our passion for writing and we’ve been best friends ever since. A few months after speaking to her online for the first time I decided to drop by for a visit. Following year she came to see me. Now I went to see her and it was one of the most relaxing vacations ever. We think alike, feel alike and we’ve grown into stronger people since we’ve met each other. It feels like a long time ago. So this is definitely a success right here!

SUBJECT 3: VACATION – SUCCESS

Yes, I know I only spoke of failure. Unfortunately, even though I had a great time in vacation, I was pretty much split with my sorrow about Boston. Vacation mended some, I have to admit, but coming back home, to face the same reality made me continue to see everything as a failure.

SUBJECT 4: RANDOM

1    My grandfather and his endless survival trials

My grandfather is a soldier. A fighter. A friggin’ stubborn little man who will only know peace in his grave. Seriously! He can’t stand still for a minute. He needs to do something at all times. So he fell of a tree a couple of times. A few years back he fell from an apple tree, 2 meters high, on soft land in the garden. Broke his left arm, collar bone and fingers. I have never seen someone more purple and bruised then him back then. And he looked like a naughty kid eating his chocolate on the side of the hospital bed.

Three years ago, he fell again. Linden tree, 5 meters high on cement in the front yard. Two weeks before my wedding. Broke his arm, hurt his head, broke his pelvis in two locations, broke his femur and some toes. They gave him 15% chances of survival when going into surgery. His Alzheimer took a turn for the worse and for a few days he didn’t know where he was. God literally added days to his life that time, there is no other explanation to his survival and to his incredible comeback. He’s walking now, sometimes using a cane, he’s coherent and the Alzheimer is under control.

But this year one of his kidneys decided it was time to retire. So he went through a 5 hour long surgery to have it removed. He was the only patient of 87 years old admitted into surgery in the entire Urology block. I spent those five hours with mom, at the door, watching as patients were brought in and out. As doctors came in with news. As some patients past away as we were waiting and we shared hugs and held hands with the mothers, daughters and sisters receiving the awful news. And we did not know whether we would be next on the black list. Back in 2010 when he had fallen, it was raining and storming when I arrived at the hospital. He was laying half naked on a stretch with weights on his chest to keep his spine straight. He looked at me, took me hand and asked me where we were going. I spoke to him and then as they were getting him into an ambulance to transfer him to Bucharest, I cried so bitterly, I couldn’t get off the hospital floor.

Now, they finally let us into ER where they had taken him after the surgery. We weren’t allowed, but we literally stole some white robes and sneaked inside. Both mom and I were crying and kissing him, and holding his hands as he was trying to wake up from the anesthetic. Until the surgeon came in and kicked us out. We looked haunted. We left only after we took the phone numbers from all the staff to make sure someone would call us if anything went wrong.

So I say – SUCCESS. Thank you Lord for letting him with us just a little longer. For giving him back his reason and enough strength to be independent and on his own. It’s not easy and he’s in pain most of the time. But he still gets up to hug me and kiss me. Thank you.

2     My father

Well, my parents have been divorced since I was 1 year old. My father didn’t know me even though I take after him like two drops of water. He cheated on mom and then remarried the respective woman with whom he had another girl and boy, my half-siblings whom I don’t know either. I think I’ve spotted them all one time. He divorced his second wife a few years after.

My father was a beautiful slender man. Very tall, with curly chestnut hair and green eyes. I have his smile. I smile with my eyes like he did and I have these wrinkles everywhere just like he did. I have his passion for things, his stubbornness and his audacity. I have his energy and his positive glow.

My father was essentially a good man, I believe. But a stupid man, made weak by his family and by his own lack of strength. What a pity! I believe he could’ve become the great man he had the potential to become if he had just cut loose from the restraints holding him back. Still, I do not think he had an excuse to not be a part of my life even if not married to mom anymore.

But enough talking bad about the dead. He passed away August 24, this year. And even though he’s always been present in my life through his absence; and even though I was angry with him for not recognizing me when he past me by on the street; and even though I made peace with myself in what concerns him when I was about 20 – the child in me, running around in the park at the age of 4 calling every men “daddy” looking to hold their hands – missed him. Missed him so much, that the day mom called me to say he is gone, I stopped in my tracks and burst into crying. Crying for a man who never really addressed me a word, for a man who I couldn’t even call “dad” because I have never used the word in my life. For a man whose name I rejected from the moment I was conscious of it until the day he passed away. When I was in primary school I signed all my test papers just Melania. I did not want to say Radutoiu (his name) as I considered only my mom deserved that from me. When I was 14 and did my ID I pleaded with mom to give me her name. When I lost my ID at about 19, I again wanted to take mom’s name. When I enrolled to college I made a huge scandal of why do I always have to put down the name of the father in the forms, because he doesn’t deserve it. He doesn’t even know where I’m applying, less of anything else! A week after his death, I had to fill out a form for some household issues. The name of the father came up again and I filled it out without a moment’s hesitation.

The human mind is an open book where not all the letters are clearly visible. Mine at least has yet many blank pages to be filled and from the looks of it, many of my childhood pages have been stuck together, and where I thought there was just a story of anger, I find a story of loss mixed with a kind of love I did not know I have.

I refused to go to his funeral. I only remember him from their marriage photos. A handsome young man with an incredible smile on his face! I did not want to see him dead. I did not want to ruin that image of him. But I did go to his grave, with mom, a few weeks after. Never had I had a feeling more dreadful than stepping inside this old country like cemetery looking for his grave. Row after row, reading each cross with my heart skipping a beat with every letter my eyes rolled over. Eventually we found it. The dirt still fresh, flowers everywhere, candles melted onto the dirt. I saw mom crying. Mom, who has suffered and carried that sufferance with her for all these years. Mom, who I’ve made suffer unconsciously through my innocent father search in all other men when there was nothing she could do to help me find him. Because he wasn’t there out of his own will.  

We cleaned the grave and planted some flowers, watered them then rested for a moment. This is the most time I’ve spent with my dad. And for once in my 31 years of life I took pleasure in saying dad. I’ve rehearsed it for two weeks since I’ve learnt of his passing away. Because the day I found out, I wanted to text Adinut and tell her “my dad is dead”. But I kept looking at the word and it felt so unnatural that I deleted the message and never sent it out.

Well, I’ve never had a better relationship with my father than I have now. And to top it all off, there is one more thing. Like the cherry on the cake. My grandmother on his side passed away this April and was buried on April 24. He died on August 24 and then my grandfather from his side past away two weeks ago. On November 24. My mom’s birthday. The three people that have constantly nagged and bruised my mom’s spirit all were connected in their death with her birthday date. I’m not a church going person and my relationship with God is not the classic one. But I do not believe in coincidences. I believe in God having a sense of irony of the most delicate kind and even though I don’t agree with Him sending such signs almost a life spent later, I do appreciate His weird way of comfort. If it’s meant to be a comfort as that they all went away on such a day. It’s like telling mom, “I have not forgotten about you. What goes around, comes around.” We mourn them all. I mourned them all even though I didn’t know them. At least my grandparents. As for my father, his blood in my veins makes me know him a little more.

I wish he is reborn a better father next time. I have learnt my lesson from his mistakes and will do my best to be a good parent because I know, that in this world, one thing alone never dies: the love between parents and children. At least from where I stand.

So I say this is a SUCCESS. I got my dad back. In a way. Upon his death bed he told the medical staff I was to be notified as well if anything happened to him. Because he had another daughter. He did not recall my name, but he knew I bore his surname. Maybe there is a reason his name stuck with me after all these years and failed attempts to get rid of it. I know he missed me. I know he wished he knew more of me. I wish he had the courage to act upon these wishes. But for now rest in peace.

Well, in general lines, this was it. Of course, there are the little things of everyday life. Grasu, my incredible animal soul mate who has been there for me in ways I can’t explain and only animal lovers understand. My team in Light into Europe who has supported me in coming up with my first filmed project and I’m still not getting over the success of our endeavor. All my colleagues who are putting up with me every day at work. You guys are included in the category of people that I was apologizing to earlier for any unexpected/moody behavior changes I might’ve gone through.

It’s been a very, very difficult year for me. And yes, I do feel I have exhausted all my options and yes, I do feel I don’t know where to turn next. But I also know giving up is not the solution. Right now, I’m trying to find a new way to see my dream come true: to study abroad, to make something out of my talent to write and help as much as I can. It’s what really makes a difference for me.

I wanted to write this list so that when I draw the line, I am able to take each conclusion and give it a solution for 2014. I may not be able to make it all happen and the way I see it, it will probably not be easy. I’ll try not to falter. I will try my best.

As usual, this post is not written in the purpose of boring everyone. There are people out there with problems bigger than mine. But we all have to find a way to deal with them, especially when they take over our lives and we seem to drown in them. This is part of my way of dealing with what’s happening. So, what can I say. My big dreams for 2013 are like a sunken ship. They’ve stayed on the ocean floor for almost ten years and this year I’ve managed to bring them to the surface enough to see the light again. My strings broke, my backup plan malfunctioned and I had to let go again. Now they’re back on the bottom of the ocean, waiting for me to come back for them. One thing though. They seem to be rust proof. At least so far they’ve shown a great amount of endurance. I pray they continue to stay that way and have enough faith in me that I’ll submerge for them; even though, as I grow older, it is harder and harder and I get more scared to dive so deep. I need better lung capacity, therefore I’ll start shouting and creaming at people for exercise. Hahaha JUST KIDDING!

Ok, well I’ve made this post long enough. I’m satisfied. Hahaha! You guys have a great Monday – if there is any such thing! – and keep warm for the rest of the week. MUAH and hope you had a good year!

Yours, as always,

Mela

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