20 seconds to … myself

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A word is dead
When it is said,
Some say.
I say it just begins
to live that day.

~  Emily Dickinson

‘So, you are a writer?’

[…]

‘Uhmm… I believe I am.’

Those twenty seconds that followed the question had thrown me in a sudden ambiguity continuum and before I could come up with an answer, I knew I had to be honest to myself. I found myself released from that vortex of self-contradiction and desire to find the truth for myself only when the next Christmas tune broke the silence. In the uni coffee shop, while friendly chatting over a nice cup of Starbucks’ latest caffeinated drink conquest. It took me a while to come up with an honest answer because somehow, my friend’s innocent question had succeeded to unleash a tacit torment.

For the first time, someone other than myself acknowledged my calling. I couldn’t help but wonder if there is something about it that just shouts out to everyone ‘hey, I am a writer’ or if some of us posses an extra ability to read people.

It was my chance to be honest to myself and publicly acknowledge who I am.

Of course, the highest story of all is yet to be accomplished because I can feel it grow. Slowly, step by step and drop by drop it builds its way out. Very soon it will be complete, but then will I gather the courage to share with the world? I always end up going back to the great names which went down in writing history and while I do not have any unrealistic expectations of ever becoming one of them, I desire a flicker of their courage. After all, we are being judged every single day of our life, most of time not even knowingly. Yet, we find the strength to carry on, because we are not alone and we have a story to tell.  And not only once, but always, the greatest books ever written were the mere product of a lifetime translated into hope and purpose. Because no matter how harsh this reality is, if we are able to pass on our story we are vainquers. And perhaps, one day, someone’s hero.

Bookaholic Casualties

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When it comes to books, God only knows how many of those I have acquired during the years and with how much sacrifice and excitement! They say that any addiction starts out as an innocent interest or even curiosity; well, it’s a slippery slope!

I believe that the most guilty for all this are just two people in the whole world: Mama and Papa! Oh yes, it is all  their fault for planting and watering the evil seeds of thirst for knowledge and escapades within the pages of their own bookish heritage. The one-wall book shelf filled with fairy tales, adventure books, classics and other categories that included even cooking, travelling and fashion tips of the 60s and the 70s. Oh yes, everything they had enjoyed reading, from childhood to adulthood, was all beautifully preserved and passed on to my sister and me.

However, the more I think, i realize that most of the credit for the criminal mastermind goes to my mother, because I can easily remember her voice, like my own conscience inside of my head, feeding me happy thoughts about reading all the age-appropriate literature all the way to uni days, when she fully supported my choice to become a Lit Addict forever instead of a Law School graduate.

Nonetheless, If I were to track down my own timeline of book acquisition, it would have to start back in high school. It was then when I discovered the joys and thrills of the amazing smell contained in the pages of the Pre-Loved Books, and of course, the joy of huge discount for that matter. There was a time when I was actually negotiating my future orders with the people who sold those books. Ahh, the good old times … Once the uni started, I gave in to French and English writers and other universal writers, also striving to read les oeuvres in the original language. Soon before I realized it, I was having more books than clothes and more coffee that food, that is of course, because you simply cannot have one without another!

I also recall the time when there were bestseller romantic novels coming along my favorite magazine! My mom, sister and I would simply hunt down the next book in the collection and search all over town, just in case we might have missed some previous editions that hadn’t been sold yet. And of course, I wouldn’t want to forget to mention the online book stores that soon became the top bookmarks of the browser. But the anticipation! Nothing like it! Waiting for the notice in my mail box that a parcel just arrived and the incomparable satisfaction of ripping that box open and just sniffing the new books.

At present time, I cannot say that I have recovered from the books hunt and I definitely know that I never will! I am still into all the methods of enriching my book case and ultimately, my addiction! Oops, forgot to proudly yet, modestly, mention that my book collection is now spread all over Europe, from East to West given my previous locations as a soul-searching type of person that I am and that it is in a continuous expansion.

What about you? Would you be able to pin point the moment back in time when the bookaholic epidemic struck you and what were the exact casualties?  Actually, forget the numbers, you can never have too many.

Hello! I love to read.

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Since the beginning of the technological era, the number of book addicts seemed to be on its way to decline. We have to face it though, with all these miraculous, tiny-shiny and super intelligent digital devices, today’s individuals are truly facing a crisis: pulling out of their pocket a fancy electronic device that does enable e-books among other apps and stay modern, or carrying their favorite book tucked inside their bags for a quick reading during lunch time and risk being exposed?

Luckily for the book lovers, nowadays it seems that books are in, once again. Not to be misunderstood, I do appreciate the immense help our phones, Ipods and laptops are to us,  but when it comes to reading, I love it the old-fashioned, classy way. The feeling of the covers, the sound of browsing the pages, not to mention the unique smell of it – I want all that in a book. I remember the days I was confronted with a weekly, two-hour and a half commute from my hometown to the university; all those hours spent travelling by train, my books were my best companion, especially when not in the mood for meaningless chatty-chat about weather, family, political complaints and suddenly, somehow purpose in life questions the other passengers were so eager to ask me. For some unknown reason, back home, people that you meet by simply taking a train or a taxi for that matter, feel this urging need of talking to you. Uhh, can’t even remember for how many times I’d just wished they could carry on with their lives without bugging into mine…

Okay, it might feel kind of awkward being next to some people for about three hours, continuously, without talking but I like to keep a limit on that, after all we are complete strangers to each other, just happening to take the same train. Well, maybe if the complete stranger would be tall, dark and handsome I would consider putting my book down for a moment, but most of the time they were just grannies and grandpas preoccupied about the pathetic state of our country, the young generation’s lack of principles and the expensive price of everything, from bread to  eye care doctors etc

Oh and love life! This seemed to be the grannies’ favorite topic …

Once, I was travelling back home and the train was packed, packed!! People were actually standing up, trying to hold on to something in between the abrupt hops of the stations and it was an unbearable heat as well. I was sitting vis-a-vis from a granny, of course, and next to me was this tacky guy that pretended to caught up in his big book. Hmmm…not very often do I see young men reading on the train, I thought to myself. After a more careful examination of his book, I almost burst into laughter when I saw it was just a bilingual dictionary of some boring, economical terms. I could feel the granny was sizing us up, both young, reading so why not try to make us talk? Uhhh…as much as I tried to be indifferent to the flamboyant conversation the two of them were carrying a few moments later, after I opened my mouth, more out of surprise than desire to communicate, saying: ‘Oh, look! A deer!’

Minutes of uninteresting blah-blah in my ear, I cracked; I closed my book and was checking my phone for no specific purpose.

‘Oh, are you reading Cioran?’ the granny asked me.

‘Well, yes, I am, I have been planning to for a long time and plus the book was a gift.’

‘But oh no, you should not be reading this! this is not a good book for young girls like you!’ as if I was into the occult type of reading, or something.

Nonetheless, by the time we arrived at destination – thank God, my knees and back were now truly aching and so were my tired neurons – all I know is that this guy gives me his card, apparently he was the son of Someone the Third, back home that I have never heard of, and asks me if we could go out in the following days. Now, the granny’s innocent smile had turned into an almost evil-ish grin and while letting out a sigh, she uttered ‘And when you think you were on this train for past three hours, not even talking to each other’ all I wanted to say was ‘Yeah, and how good that was’ I decided it was better to keep it to myself and to, of course, politely reject his date tentative.

Not that I am person devoid of any human interaction, because I love to meet new people, getting to know them and keep a friendly atmosphere, because I really am all that, except when travelling by any possible, human-invented means. When in train, all I can say is ‘Hello! I would love to get back to my book now’.