Travel Advice From My Parents That Probably Kept Me Alive All these Years

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PhotoGrid_1411915240366Since leaving the country for the first time on my own when I was 19, planning my travels has never been easier thanks to the alertness of my parents. Whoever was raised in an Eastern European family is probably familiar with the analysis of any destination that’s outside the EU or the United States. I’m not sure why our parents are so distressed (they might be watching too much TV) but it’s sure as hell hilarious hearing them explain their ‘don’t go there’ clauses. Behold:

‘Don’t go to Africa because of ebola and pirates and terrorism and tribes and being sold into slavery.’

‘Don’t go to Australia because of spiders and snakes and every other animal on that island that exists to kill you.’

‘Don’t go to Japan because of earthquakes.’

‘Don’t go to China. It’s… too far away.’

‘Don’t go to South Korea because it’s too close to North Korea.’

‘Don’t go to Cuba because you’ll be flagged by the United States, which means no Green Card and so what have we been raising you for?’

‘Wherever the plot from the movie Taken was located – don’t go there.’

‘Serbia? As in not-Kosovo? You’ve caught me off guard, I don’t know anything about the place. But until further notice, don’t go there.’

‘Ok, go to Russia, but if you get kidnapped, make sure they keep you within the country. The place is big enough as it is and we’d appreciate if the search for you were as narrow as possible.’

‘Don’t go east of Romania. Go west of Romania but not west enough that it becomes east. You’re not fooling anybody. Oh, except for Latin America – you’re not allowed there because of cartels and drugs.’

Understood?

 

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Parerea Moldovei – de la Tzury si Anghel cetire. Ep.1

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Era o vreme cand eu si Tzury stateam cu sticla de vin dupa program la Aspire si ne conversam. De la Moldovean la Moldovean, noi vorbeam treburi serioase dar stateau constantenii si bucurestenii pe margini si radeau de n-aveau aer. Atunci ne-am dat noi seama ca e rost de farmec. Din pacate n-am avut bani nici de studio de televiziune si nici de scena de teatru dar nu a fost bai. Acum c-avem amandoi blog (intarzierea mea vine cu mataniile de rigoare), the sky above Moldova is the limit. Si uite-asa imi pune Tzury mie 4 intrebari de suflet la care eu ii raspund de la aceeasi origine:

1. Tu cat ai nevoie ca sa iti dai cu parerea?

Deci nu are Internetul broadband cate opinii am eu. Da-s femeie, si-mi bat gura degeaba ca nu ma asculta nimeni. De asta mi-am tras blog.

2. Ce parere ai despre infografice?

Traim in vremuri grele, in care lumea nu te baga in seama decat daca le desenezi. De unde si infograficele. Fericiti sunt cei ce stiu sa dea cu creionul pe ecran, ca aceia or sa faca bani grei.  Eu n-am decat sa stau somera.

3. Ce parere ai despre recolta de popsoi de anul acesta?

Hai ca dau un telefon acuma si-ti zic. Eu n-am de unde sa stiu ca inca nu s-a inventat mall-ul in camp. Da acuma ca veni vorba, n-ar fi o idee rea, nu-i niciodata prea tarziu sa punem de-un startup stil Moldova.

4. Care este haiku-ul tau preferat?

Domn’le, eu sunt diva si-ti dai seama ca nu stiam ce-i ala haiku. Da’ nu-i problema ca am dat pe Google si am gasit urmatoarele versuri care imi aduc aminte de seri tarzii cand veneam acasa direct din discoteca:

‘Ce lung e drumul catre casa,
Cand mama ma asteapta-n prag,
O vad,e parca mai frumoasa,
Ii sarut fruntea si o imbratisez cu drag.’

Ea-si da seama ca am baut si, daca a avut o zi lunga, nu-mi face panarama – ma trimite direct la culcare.


 

Acuma veni randul meu sa il intreb pe om. Si uite-asa, Tzury baby, mi te adresez:

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  1. Bai Tzury, zi-mi si mie sa nu mor proasta, cum gandesc barbatii?
  2. Daca e sa alegi intre o shaorma de la Irina din centru de la Bacau si un Ferrari, care te-ar unge la suflet mai bine?
  3. Ba Tzury, ne iubeste statul Roman?
  4. Ia zi, ce crezi despre roscate?

Luati acest link catre blogul lui Tzury de va lamuriti.

Red ‘Carnegie’ Anghel Presents: 5 Habits of ‘Highly Successful’ Eastern European Men

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1. BEING IMPORTANT.

Outside Eastern Europe, the status of being important usually involves having a power of decision that impacts anything from people’s lives to the state economy and beyond. Statesmen, businessmen, media icons, for instance, qualify fair and square. In Eastern Europe, on the other hand, the status of being important ceases to be a status and turns into a habit, whereby ‘highly successful’ men appear in a lot of photos on the Facebook page of fancy club X. It’s a matter of spotlight and self-proclamation, which I assume dates back to the times of our ancestors, who’d proclaim themselves rulers of uninhabited lands. Now that there’s not much land available, ‘highly successful’ men are eager to take up social space instead and, since Eastern Europeans have a hard time minding their own business by default, social space is always on the rise by means of rumors, gossip, unasked-for opinions and, generally, word of mouth. So the habit of being important translates into the number of hands that a man shakes when he walks into a room and, believe me, some of them spend a good 20 minutes asserting themselves this way, whichever the setting, be it clubs, gyms, clinics or kindergartens. To the ‘highly successful’ Eastern European man, being important is a 24/7 matter of business.

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2. HAVING A BIG PENIS.

As a fact, this is essential for success but, as a habit, it is the Pandora’s Box of the ‘fake it ’till you make it’ principle. Despite that, ‘highly successful’ Eastern European men do it anyway and allow me to clarify.    

In Eastern Europe, tradition has it that a man who spends his days inside the highest social circles, who attends the most exclusive events, wearing the most fashionable outfits and expensive watches, having the prettiest, blondest high-legged women talk to him while he sips on his whisky on the rocks – such a man CANNOT possibly not have a big penis. I’m using a double negative to highlight the gravity of assuming otherwise. If anybody, let alone a woman, dares to preach against this traditional belief, the man becomes well entitled to sue them for defamation, pending to receive state compensation for moral prejudice. Now allow me to clarify further.

Say you were to have carnal knowledge of one of these ‘highly successful’ men and find yourself dissatisfied at the end of the episode. Say you use your ability of sight to check for and confirm the cause of your dissatisfaction, located between his legs. At that point, know that your argument is invalid. Not your senses, not science nor religion may be used to prove that a ‘highly successful’ Eastern European man has anything short of a colossal sexual endowment. It will not stand in court, society will disregard it, while your credibility will be forever lost.

3. HATING ON WOMEN BUT SCREWING THEM ANYWAY. 

The ‘highly successful’ Eastern European man knows that women want him. He exists as a trophy for the opposite sex, a burden with which he must live the rest of his days, being bound to a life of objectification. This reality appalls him but, since nature made him the dominant, illustrious male that he is, he must abide by the rules of his creator and engage in intercourse. And so, with a bitter heart and in spite of his utter disgust towards women, he goes on to seduce these unworthy, materialistic, promiscuous breast-bearers.

Honestly, that’s how I see it, considering that every damned time I go out in a club, males pose inaccessible and act like all they really want is to be left alone. It’s like they need to be on the night scene, they need to rent out a table and exhibit opulence. After all, I assume that’s essential to how they entertain the habit of being important. But really now, all they ever do in this context is drink, shake hands and just sit there with their ‘crew’, watching women like they’d be watching spineless reptiles reproduce on National Geographic – with a raised eyebrow.

For the record, they’re the reason the gender gap in Eastern Europe is a mile wide with spikes down under.

4. WEARING A SHIRT, BLAZER AND WATCH AT ALL COSTS.

Even if this means selling their laptop or mortgaging their golden Jesus necklace charm. Massimo Dutti clothing items ARE Jesus and I’ve learned this first hand, when one of my ‘highly successful’ male friends called me up one day to ask for a ridiculous amount of money. I though he was being chased down by the mafia but, as it turned out, all he (urgently) needed the money for was a blazer and a watch. Thus, you can imagine that my answer was no.

5. MAKING CONTACTS.

The ‘highly successful’ Eastern European man cannot function without a list of high profile contacts that complement his habit of being important. Moreover, he can’t not have everyone else know about it. In case you’re looking to feature on that list,  you’ll find that you need to fit into the following necessary categories of connections:

  • the gypsy mafioso
  • the club owner
  • his follower best-friend
  • the famous person
  • the female companion
  • his mom
  • his manicurist

If you can’t be any of the above, then dream on, minion…

The Anghel Family Conspiracies – Ep.1

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PROFILE: My Grandmother – analyst, sociologist, psychiatrist, private investigator, prosecutor, authoritarian leader, oracle extraordinaire. Born and raised on a village farm, she spent most of her working years as a nurse before dedicating herself to the experimental task of raising ME. If I had to think about one word that describes her best, it would be suspicion. With Grandma, there is no such thing as ‘innocent until proved guilty’. We’re all guilty. Of everything. And it’s only a matter of time before she gets to the bottom of it.

To the inexperienced eye, Grandma represents the humble Eastern European old woman with a garden, who cooks, cleans and takes care of every living soul within her jurisdiction – that’s 3 cats, 7 dogs, me, mom and stepdad. Many have fallen victims to this intricate illusion of innocence and, for 14 years, I myself was naive enough to believe that Grandma had nothing to do with the intrigues surrounding my adolescence. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Beneath that apron hides the mastermind of a thousand conspiracies, to whom even the likes of Dan Brown should offer their respects.  Sitting on our terrace, with her fat female cat in her lap, Grandma observes, plots and carefully collects data from our casual conversations over dinner, only to piece everything together into one big speculation that baffles the common sense out of me and my mother.

You also have to trust me IMG_20140826_181155when I use the term ‘jurisdiction’ because her *Terms and Conditions always apply. Being the bo$$ of the land, all inhabitants must abide by her code of conduct. For instance, I can’t walk out of the house with a cleavage or a short dress and neither can I come back from a night out without being invited to an office (kitchen) interrogation the next day. Every unidentified car that stops in front of our gate is thoroughly inspected, a situation which often escalates if I happen to step out of it. And don’t think that I’m her only target – I may be the juiciest catalyst in our family but the last time my mother arrived late from a business dinner, she was accused of having an affair.

So you can see how living with my Grandmother can be a stimulating experience.


Last year, I had a really hard time going though my year in Computer Science. Five months into the course, I was sad and hopeless and computer illiterate, close to giving up as I was to failing the year. Then, during a moment of lucid thinking, I decided to stay in England for the spring break and study study study, despite breaking my usual habit of flying back home every holiday.

For a while, my decision went unnoticed, until one day, as I was sweating off my brain in the library, I receive a call from my mom:

‘Do me a favour. Log onto Skype so that your grandmother can SEE that you’re in your room. She suspects that the reason you didn’t come home this spring is because you’re secretly visiting your father in Italy.’

For a person who hasn’t been exposed to anything but communism and 21st century country life, Grandma sure makes some bold accusations. So I log onto Skype, I talk to her and explain my reasons for skipping the home visit. Looking back on our conversation, I assume that all my talk was for nothing because the one and only thing she responded to and didn’t hesitate to point out was that I got a bit chubby since the last time she saw me. I denied everything. Ok, maybe half of my wardrobe didn’t fit me at the time, but I was stressed and the only thing that kept me going with my studies was Ben & Jerry’s Caramel Chew Chew – end of story.

After that episode, my mom reported that Grandma was a peace and that ‘our operation’ had been a success. Needless to say, a week later I receive another phone call from my mother:

‘Child?’

‘Yes?’

‘I need you to be honest about something.’

‘I didn’t fail yet, if that’s what you’re wondering.’

‘No, no that. Listen, I need to know: are you pregnant?’

Let me just say that nobody could ‘read my poker face’ at that moment.

‘Excuse me?’

‘Well… your Grandmother thinks this is the case.’

But it really wasn’t and I demanded an explanation. Turns out, Grandma had pulled off another one of her flawless inferences based on the following premises:

  • the child refuses to come home on holiday despite having done so for the past 2 years
  • she never sacrificed her free time for studying, EVER
  • she obviously gained weight
  • there is no available information on her romantic life
  • her mother is always hiding something

THEREFORE, she must be pregnant.

Touché, Grandma, touché…

DISCLAIMER: All the above remarks are made with love. In our family, Grandma is highly cherished – for keeping us on top of our game, among many other things. She also sends me home-made pretzels in England, so my loyalty to her is absolute.

5 Facts About Being a Red Head

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With 4 years’ experience of being red headed, I think I’m air-tight qualified to speak the TRUTH.

1. People will judge you. With red on your head you’re asking to be labelled and, mark my words, it won’t always be pretty. You’ll be a ‘slut’ in Eastern Europe and you’ll be either ‘intriguing’, ‘fun’ or ‘trouble’ in the West. ‘Attention whore’ is always an option. ‘Emo’ maybe, if you tend to wear dark colours. If you’re overweight and a red head, people will assume you have a complex and treat you with contempt. On the other hand, if you’re hot and a red head, do not generally expect to get along with women (though I think Google image search might have a hand in this). Children will look at you and call you ‘Cruella’ despite the inaccuracy, while Americans might go as far as taking you for a socialist. Expect the classic inference of ‘ginger therefore no soul’ to come up pretty often too.

2. Your fashion senses will be tingling like crazy. Why? Because you’re in grave danger of pulling off the wrong colour combinations and I’ll take you through it just to prove it:

Dark green makes you look like a Christmas tree and white clothes will stain from your hair. Wear yellow and people might stop at you instead of the traffic light.  Black is safe but it might attract unwanted attention from Goths, whereas pink only helps if you’re going for ‘grotesque bimbo’. Grey just isn’t an option and, as for blue, you’ll need someone with you at all times to Photoshop down the contrast. The best you can do is use (the right shade of) red to accessorize and accept your fate.

I’m sorry but I never said that being a red head was easy.

3. You will have to adapt your environment. That’s because the red colour gets on EVERYTHING. Clothing, bedsheets, towels, headphones and… walls. Hence, instead of fighting the power with soap and frustration, you’ll have start ‘chameleorating‘. I’m not so sure about the walls, but every other item shouldn’t be a problem.

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4. You will be harder to forget. Take that to be your superpower. When you walk into a room, people will notice you’re there. On the downside, they’ll also notice when you aren’t. You need to be aware that, as a red head, you’re pretty high up on people’s mental check-lists, so going incognito will be hard to achieve. Also, don’t try being anyone’s mistress – those red hairs stand out on beds and floors like they own the place.

5. Once you go red, there’s a chance you can never go back. At least not without losing your sense of identity. With time, people will associate you with the colour and they will start calling you ‘Red’, or refer to you as ‘the red head’. Soon enough, you yourself will be referring to the colour of your hair more often than you should and you’ll even sometimes use it to justify your actions. ‘Yeah, I can pull off a stunt like that – I’m a red head.’ You’ll notice how the hair colour slooooowly infiltrates almost every aspect of your life until, one day, you’ll think about what you used to be like before going red… and not remember. Suffice to say, if there’s no memory of that, neither will there be a vision of the future with you wearing any other hair colour. Personally, I dread the day I will wake up to see a brunette in the mirror. It even gives me nightmares. Talking about not being a red head, hi hi, it’s funny – until it’s not. And I’ve already warned my therapist about it.

Undoing the Curse of Applying for Grad Jobs

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Being a final year sounds to me like being in labour for 10 months. They say that it’s painful and that you have no choice but to keep pushing. Not only is there a dissertation to be written and re-written, but you also need time to cancel your Facebook profile, to think about what’s next and, more importantly, to do something about it. I suspect this is where grad applications come in. Unless you’re doing a masters degree to delay contact with the real world (which I am not), grad jobs are the latest #trend in coping with your new adult life. Rumour has it that they pay well and can even restore meaning to your work after graduation. All I can say is let’s just hope this is more than a myth.

On that note, I’m writing this article because I am applying for grad jobs at the moment and I really need to get myself into thinking that every damned application is worth it. With internships, I used to gamble my chances because the alternative was spending a free summer in the sun. As of July 2015, that alternative will DIE and, with it, a zombie alternative will emerge, involving spending the rest of my young adulthood living with my parents and shopping at Primark – so not my priority.

But enough complaining. I’ll save that for later posts. For now, using the power of suggestion, I will lay out the benefits of pushing through those endless, tedious, mind numbing grad job applications:

1.    For one thing, as you get ready to sell yourself, you get to look back over your achievements and realize that you haven’t been so useless for the past 3 years (unless you really were and your CV is 2 paragraphs long – in that case, I would recommend therapy)

2.    Never say no to a chance of using your written communication skills. These days, it’s pretty hard to give up hashtags, getto jargon and ‘like like’ in casual dialogues. I’d say job that applications have the power to keep you speaking Human more than anything else.

3.    All those interview and online app questions set the scene for some serious introspection. ‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years? Why do you want to work for the company? How do you handle failure?’  These questions have a point in that they kind of guide you through the thinking process you’d otherwise use if you weren’t so desperate, impatient or unmotivated. It would be good practice to consider these issues anyway but the problem is we don’t, because we’re too young and wild and free to care yet, so thank you, multinationals, for keeping us down to earth.

4.    Let’s not forget about those online numerical, logical, situational reasoning, killmenow assessments. Personally I hate them but they remind me of a good piece of parental advice: ‘In life, you will have to do things that you don’t like – it’s unavoidable. What speaks about your character is how well you handle them’. So if it’s timed math tests that speak about my character, SO BE IT! – I will practice the crap out of them until I score max points and move on with my life in glory.

5.    I hate to admit it but Snoop Dogg is right: keep your mind on the money and the money on your mind. So I might as well try coding this next one:

     if (grad job) {

     salary && bonuses == Marc Jacobs, Adidas, Estee Lauder, maybePrada

     else

     Primark}

Did anyone say Primark? Ok, it’s time to start another grad job application.

I bet you’re wondering why now.

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Red, Right & Wrong – a display of the ‘moral high-ground’ that comes with being a red head.

As if I’m not a loud mouth already, I now have a blog and I expect this to be an entertaining experience just because I live in England. People here do not meet up to share their drama, or complain or boast or generally RELATE to others. This island is a sad, sad corner of Europe, where I have to pay 5p/minute to call my girls back home and bitch about life. But since my appetite for human interaction has lowered significantly over the past few months, I’ve decided to take it online. Plus, this is a wonderful way of getting rid of the feedback loop that comes with sharing thoughts. I do want to be heard, I just don’t necessarily want to argue about it.

We can move on now.