“And now the living room,” Pamfil invited

Mira Tudor_Poets, Artists, Lovers. A Novel_ebook cover_blog_sm“And now the living room,” Pamfil invited. . . . Ela found it a particularly welcoming environment, not only because it was nicely tidy and clean, but also because everything in it was old, worn-out, and, as such, not strident but rather self-effacing—a notion Ela embraced in her work as a piano teacher even as she sometimes felt it had been an obstacle in her life, keeping her from becoming, if not a concert pianist, then maybe an accompanying pianist for a violinist like Pamfil, or for one of the musical talent shows on TV.

She was good, or better said, she had been good once: now that she was in Pamfil’s home to show her prowess, she felt inadequate. True, she often spent extra hours after teaching keeping her fingers nimble, but somewhere along the way she stopped teaching herself new pieces, and to her that meant she stagnated in the interpretation of the old pieces too, for so often when you’re confronted with the challenge of interpreting a new work, you realize how you may improve an old one. But such thinking was not helping her much at this moment. She had to muster whatever confidence she could and get on with it. She decided to rest a little—and calm down—on the settee before playing, so she wiped her hands on her thighs and spent a few moments studying Henriette, who sat down at the desk, herself too in the throes of anticipation, trying to decide how to approach their act.

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With Pamfil and his music, Anca discovered a different intensity of being alive

Mira Tudor_Poets, Artists, Lovers. A Novel_ebook cover_blog_smWith Pamfil and his music, Anca discovered a different intensity of being alive. She twirled in the room like a girl turning into a woman by magic as she listened to The Doors to her heart’s content, and several times she took that energy outside the dorm while playing their songs in her head. She didn’t know what to make of Jim Morrison’s poetry, but, like koans, his verse left her hovering in a space where she could receive new meanings and feelings.

She also fell in love with Joan Baez, and at noon, when Pamfil was selling his tapes and his friends were away for lunch, she went with determination after the folk musician’s soaring inflections, besotted with her purity of voice, richness of tone, the joy that swelled and ebbed in her music as she tackled sad stories, and her talent as a guitar player.

And then there was Led Zeppelin. Anca played their ballads over and over again, feeling them weave their way in, more beguiling with each turn and return, until they erupted from the pit of her stomach in bursts of guitar, voice, and drums. She couldn’t have enough of Jimmy Page’s guitar-plucking and Robert Plant’s whispering and caterwauling, of all the drumming, strumming, screaming, and wailing.

Anca’s soul was metamorphosing in contact with this new music, and Pamfil kept the process going by supplying her with information and new songs. In the mornings, as she did stretching exercises, he provided the aural background, and in the evenings, as they took walks together, he introduced her to stories from the lives of her newly favorite musicians as well as from Woodstock—that four-day festival of August 1969, with its hundreds of thousands of flower-power hippies and an amazing lineup of musicians in their midst entertaining them with the best rock and folk music on offer, and capturing, as they did so, much of the spirit of the period. Anca soaked it all in, feeling, in turns, entranced, excited, and achingly happy. Anca soaked it all in, feeling, in turns, entranced, excited, and painfully happy.

From Poets, Artists, Lovers: A Novel. Your vote on Kindle Scout would be much appreciated—and if the book is selected for publication with Kindle Press, you will receive a free copy. 

The thoughts of a millenial

amrita sarkar_of opinions“It is so intense, it makes you want to stay alive. To keep going. To keep chasing it or trying to make it last. We call it something indefinable that goes by the name of love, but, essentially, it is a puzzle we can’t work out. I’m not sure I’d want to work it out either.”—Amrita Sarkar, Of Opinions

Fellow WordPress blogger Amrita Sarkar of ofopinions.wordpress.com has expanded her blog posts into a book of the same name, Of Opinions. With thoughts ranging from beauty to emotion and memory, anxieties, and relationships and social media, this book is a map to how a gifted twenty-something experiences and judges the world.

The essays are a sort of distilled college compositions, imbued with the insights of a student who wants to own each thesis statement. While I would have preferred conversations structured by their antecedents, there’s an urgency and freshness in Amrita Sarkar’s writing that would have been lost in a more academic essay. And it’s that approach that leads the author to some pleasant moments of discovery, and the older reader to a reconsideration of how to frame certain age-old questions and some new ones, like what is beauty, what do give and take when we’re active on social media, and how millenials engage with other people, the media, and their aspirations.

 

“The Thinker and the Lover,” Henriette mused

Mira Tudor_Poets, Artists, Lovers. A Novel_ebook cover_blog_smThe Thinker and the Lover,” Henriette mused as her eyes glided over the movie poster. “Interesting. ‘Inspired by the novel Narcissus and Goldmund by Hermann Hesse.’” She turned to Ela and Pamfil. “Have you read this book?”

“No,” they both said in unison.

“So does this mean the thinker doesn’t love, and the lover doesn’t think?” Henriette quipped, heartily amused at the notion.

“We’ll see,” Pamfil said. “I imagine it’s probably about personality dominants than a clear-cut dichotomy. I read somewhere that the ‘lover’ is an artist, so he clearly thinks a bit,” he added with a smile.

Some two hours later they were outside again, walking down Dacia Boulevard to Romana Square.

“So how did you like it?” Pamfil asked.

“I liked that the artist was also a wanderer. Many artists are wanderers at heart,” Henriette said.

“I felt sad for the scholar,” Pamfil said. “He helped Goldmund find his path in life but couldn’t help himself. He died unfulfilled, unloved.”

Henriette shook her head in disbelief at Pamfil’s way of showing his soft side. “But Goldmund loved him,” she countered, even-tempered, keeping her gaze ahead.

“But are they separate people or just separate ideas?” Ela put in.

“What do you mean?” Henriette asked, turning to her friend.

“Maybe Narcissus and Goldmund are facets of the same personality, complementary aspects of one’s psyche rather than opposite characters,” Ela said. “Forces that struggle to express themselves, seeking fulfillment of the mind and the senses.”

“Mediated by the mysterious soul, perhaps,” Henriette interjected with a smile.

“Perhaps.” Ela took in the amber light around her, in the sky and on the beautiful late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century villas of French and Neo-Romanian eclecticism.

Henriette looked at Ela looking at the city at sunset.

“My place?” Pamfil asked. “You could humor me and play some piano,” he added, turning to Henriette. “You and Ela.”

From Poets, Artists, Lovers: A Novel. Your vote on Kindle Scout would be much appreciated—and if the book is selected for publication with Kindle Press, you will receive a free copy. 

Developing Photos with Light and Grass

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Artists Heather Ackroyd and Dan Harvey create portraits with living, growing grass. They germinate grass seeds, spread them over burlap slathered with water paste, and then manipulate the light they’re getting—they keep the canvases in a darkroom and project at them the light of negative images. The idea is simple enough, but it does make you embrace nature in a grand way, doesn’t it?

Here’s more about it.

“Really? You can change men?” Henriette blurted, amused.

Mira Tudor_Poets, Artists, Lovers. A Novel_ebook cover_blog_sm“I’d like to meet him again,” Ela said.

And she did, a few weeks later, in May 2001, when Henriette invited both Ela and Pamfil to one of her performance pieces, Channeled, at another art gallery in Bucharest. The work involved twenty teenagers of various ages typing in a makeshift chat room, in a physical setup that mimicked that of an Internet café, with computers on desks arranged against the walls of the gallery.

When she arrived there with her two friends, Henriette greeted the gallery assistant, grabbed some informational materials, and proceeded to walk around the room in order to catch some glimpses of the chat conversations.

“Remember when I went to Prague for New Year’s Eve in 1999?” Henriette asked.

Pamfil, who had been browsing a brochure, lifted his gaze to Henriette’s.

“With that friend from high school?” Henriette continued.

“Yes, I remember,” Ela said. “When you broke up with Har.”

“Yes, after a year with Har,” Henriette echoed. She looked at Pamfil. “I went to Prague with a guy, and we fought and went our separate ways, and then we met online in a Bucharest channel—a chat room—on mIRC.”

“And then they had champagne on the Charles Bridge at midnight,” Ela said, smiling at Pamfil.

“Yes, we drank champagne when we met on the Charles Bridge,” Henriette told Pamfil. “We opened the champagne and took a picture of us kissing, in the middle of a crowd that pushed from all sides.”

“Nice story,” Pamfil said. He looked at the people typing on keyboards. “What do they write about?” he asked, his eyes now focused on a screen.

“Ask them,” Henriette replied.

“They look like they’re having fun,” Pamfil said.

“The idea is that online chatting is a form of communication that people engage in to alleviate anxiety,” Henriette explained.

“Interesting,” Ela remarked. “They don’t look anxious.”

“Sometimes boredom is just another word for latent anxiety,” Henriette said. “They may seem like they’re opposite notions, but boredom often gives way to anxiety.”

“Is that from your artist’s statement?” Pamfil asked with a smile.

“It is.” Henriette smiled back.

“Is that what you had in mind when you titled the piece Channeled? The fact that you’re channeling young people’s energies into an activity that helps them psychologically?” Ela asked.

“That, and the fact that chat rooms are called ‘channels’ on mIRC. Also, I wanted to refer obliquely to the fact that what’s channeled is the impulse and need for real communication, and what they get is a travesty of that. And yet it has its value. I’m not sure I’ve succeeded very well in conveying my conflicted stance on technology,” Henriette said pensively. “Let’s talk some more over tea,” she added, switching gears.

They headed to a tea house, revved up by their performances for each other.

“So how was Prague?” Ela asked once they sat down and ordered tea and petits fours. “You never told me much about it, except for the fact that you didn’t get to visit any museums.”

“Yes, I went with this bunch from high school,” Henriette said, settling into her seat.

“Were they fun?” Pamfil asked, his eyes boring into Henriette’s.

“If you consider early mornings spent drunk in bars fun, they were fun, yes. I may have been too sober to appreciate it.”

“Did your boyfriend like his booze too much?” Pamfil asked, a mischievous tone in his voice.

“Hard to say ‘boyfriend,’” Henriette said, darting a look at Pamfil.

“Was this some sort of revenge on Har?” Ela ventured.

“Not really. I wanted to get away, that’s all. Try something else.”

“That’s a good reason,” Pamfil said. He wanted to appear lighthearted, but his comment came out brooding.

Ela sought out his gaze. “Is it?”

“Once you try it, you may discover it isn’t,” Pamfil said with a forced laugh as he met her eyes. “But unless you try it, you won’t know. So yes, by any means, getting away is fun.”

“But we can’t stay away,” Ela retorted. “Shouldn’t we try to work on our routine instead?”

“Routine. Interesting notion. I’ve thought of it too. Don’t give it much credit, but yes, I’ve given it a lot of thought,” Pamfil said, his eyes lively.

“And?” Ela asked dryly.

Pamfil gave her a keen look. “And it can be a killjoy.”

“Even the routine with a loved one?” Ela probed, peering through the large windows at passersby so as to avoid Pamfil’s piercing eyes.

He kept watching her graceful profile. “There is no routine with a loved one. Lovers are supposed to change each other all the time.”

“Really? You can change men?” Henriette blurted, amused.

“Some women can change some men, yes,” Pamfil responded without missing a beat.

From Poets, Artists, Lovers: A Novel. Your vote on Kindle Scout would be much appreciated—and if the book is selected for publication with Kindle Press, you will receive a free copy.