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Saturday, December 13, 2014

The True Story of the Vortex. The Transcendence Files. Prologue - New Draft Version.

‘Twenty by one point five.’
‘Focus on the green light, Agata.’
‘Twenty-one by one point six. You’re doing great, Agata.’
‘Thank you,’ I uttered feebly.
‘Twenty-two by two point zero. Focus on the red light now, Agata.’
My eyelids were unpleasantly itching, stretched and fixed so that the laser could easily cut through my eyeball. The picture was blurry; only two bright lights were shimmering in front of my vision line. Red and green. Like two Vortex suns, I thought. Naruanar, the Red One, and Laicanar, the Green Two.
And the rays of Helwanar, the bright blue sun, were presently warming him. He probably has already gotten married to a noble Ariser maiden… a young maiden who did not have my baggage, my complications, my awful temper and my responsibility for several billion souls, including his own… and his life is probably full of joy. Please, God, let him have joy. Forget me, forget what we had, Nolementar mine - no, not mine anymore - just be happy... 
… for creators and their creations should never ever fall in love with each other. It ends badly. For me, it ended very badly. Rob Nolementar came from the Vortex, saved my life, we shared love that moves not one sun but seven, then I made him go back and never return because life on my world was killing him.
Simple. Very simple. So painful.
I swallowed hard. I should not cry, because a) it has been eighteen months, and b) I was getting LASIK. Tears and lasers do not mingle very well, I imagined. And c) I would be dead by the end of next year the latest, maybe earlier, so I had to endure through a very small portion of forever anyway.
Why I was getting LASIK, you will ask, dear reader? Why bother if I was so certain of my demise?
I just wanted to admire my own world in all its glory before I am gone, to absorb as much beauty with as much clarity and precision as possible. I wanted to see.
So I found a clinic, scheduled the surgery, and was now laying on the operation table, trying to think only about the nurses’ instructions and nothing else, first and foremost – about my Ring of Togetherness that was presently off my finger and in my bag. And my bag was in Austin's car.
Yes. I went back to my old boyfriend. If you ask me why, it is probably the first question in my life to which the answer would be “I don’t know”. Usually, I have answers. Stupid, incorrect, totally off the mark, but answers. How I could give my body to a Human after I have been loved by a Luminite? I don’t know. Don’t ask again. Call me a whore, an idiot, a sex addict, call me whatever you like – just don’t ask me about my reasons. I don’t know.
Maybe I did it instinctively, just in order to survive. I knew I would die in 2012, so I savored every moment of my remaining life. Even as the laser cut through my eyeballs, I was enjoying it, but the joy was so bitter. Bile and ashes on my lips. They were kissed by the wrong man – what other kind of joy could one expect?
Yet I still danced, still breathed, was still kissed.
Still alive.
‘All done. You will be able to get up in a moment, Agata.’
I felt the nurse remove the fixators off my eyes. Wow, that was fast. I got off the operation table, adjusted my blue pajamas, put on some blacked-out shades, then looked at the doctor through the fog.
‘Your vision will be restored to one hundred per cent after you get some sleep,’ said Doctor Vlad. I smiled at him.
‘Did I do well?’
‘You did excellent, Agata.’
‘Thank you, doctor. Thank you, ladies.’
One of the nurses accompanied me to my room. I sat on the bed and tried to focus my vision on her. She was getting less and less blurry by the second. Amazing.
‘One case out of one hundred has pains. Call me if you feel any pain in your eyes. I will be here in a second with some painkiller drops. OK, Agata?’
‘You may as well go get them now. You’ll see – this one case is going to be me.’
‘What makes you think so?’
‘I have notoriously bad luck.’
The nurse giggled. I stared at her through Rob’s old Ray-Bans.
‘Do you find pain or bad luck funny?’
She was still smiling as she said, exiting, ‘Just let me know, Agata.’
‘My name is Gate,’ I growled through gritted teeth at the closed door.
And certainly enough, my eyes started aching in several minutes. One case out of a hundred. Yeah, no shit. I’m one in a million, I’m once in a bloody lifetime.
Well, I was no stranger to pain. The scars on my calves I got in Greece after my self-imposed autodafé were still there. Ugly, just like my first months of that summer. Beautiful, just like my reconciliation with Rob. Reminders.
Austin was busting my head about removing them surgically, but I was only rolling my eyes and telling him to find himself a new scar-free girlfriend if it was so important to him. He merely responded that the scars irritated his skin when my legs were around his neck.
This usually shut me up – I could not tolerate any mention of our intimate rapport outside the bedroom. When I was with Austin, my eyes were always closed. Outside my bedroom, I treated him like furniture. He responded with rudeness and insults, disappeared for weeks, then somehow, after yet another “reconciliation” dinner we ended up in bed together, then, the morning after, it was my cue. I could not feel the Ring of Togetherness on my finger, although it was firmly planted on, I threw tantrums, Austin realized I was thinking about Rob again, called me a slut, then disappeared again.
I cannot call this a relationship, dear reader. Especially after having lived a dream.
Yet it was no dream. I had one person in my life to remind me it was all reality.

Exceller Lenatireya Norui.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Mundo Lingo - Mundo Lindo [A World of Languages - A Beautiful World]. Novelette. Chapter 3.

He holds the door for me and smiles. I smile back and look down.

'Hantale', I say timidly.

'Pardon me?'

'Er... I mean, thank you.'

Wrong again. One of my own would reply "Gi nathlam hi". You are welcome here.

Well, what were the odds?

I feel I am welcome nevertheless, as I enter. I start this snowy but warm Tuesday at Clébard with lemonade and some nondescript rock music. The barmaid is busy squeezing fruit juice for cocktails, so citrus scents dominate the place. The lights are subdued - semidarkness and shadows, and multicolored Christmas lanterns to underline them. Lovely.

A couple is having dinner and chatting at a nearby table, and I am observing them. Young, beautiful, busy. Carefree, but this impression is carefully cultivated, not inherent. They speak French, and I envy them. They speak the same language.

Jay brings me my poison - coffee - and I am enjoying the sugar-spiked fragrant liquid, the emptiness and the coolness of the place. I love the cold... as for emptiness, sometimes it penetrates so deep into my heart I am not sure it is a heart any longer. Yet for the next several hours, I will be home. Ma'weya, ts'muken*, I say to myself. 

*"Peace, sister" in Na'vi.


Incidentally, according to the Mayan calendar, December 9th is the day when the sword of truth cuts through the webs of lies and illusions. Yet what the Maya hinted at, the Babylonians demonstrated by practical example. The truth can not only be exposed, but also hidden by words.

Well, I am sure the Maya knew that. They tried to warn us about the world ending, after all, but what they did not tell is that the world ends and is being reborn every single minute. Just like us. Today we are not what we were yesterday. Only words are eternal.

Whoa, I am getting way too serious and philosophical again. As I was writing this, the linguists, the translators and the couch-surfers already filled the bar, and while I am musing on eternity here, the fun is starting. The future is now, and now Arien wants friends, and coffee, and ribald jokes... begone from my head, Elvish languages!  ¡Buenas noches!

But what is this divine smell? Ah. Jay unpacks a cardboard box full of mint sprigs, and I am instantly transported back to the times when I was a carefree gray-eyed child who befriended hedgehogs and lizards, and was one with the trees and grass and water and skies. Tonight, there is nothing but stone and concrete around, and my eyes turned green with age, and my words are all I have. Valar ydrassis*.

*"All men must speak" in High Valyrian.

18:45. The flags are being handed out, and the language ball may begin. And does it indeed! The place is brimming with beautiful people... and with beautiful words. "Hello." "Bonsoir." "Wie geht's?" "Estoy bien, gracias." "So nice to see you!"

Sword cutting through illusions.

Sorry, dear reader. I got a little distracted with the multitude of words and with this wonderful Human sport - hockey - displayed on a wide screen. Snow is still falling, but the place is full - you can cut the talk and laughter with a knife. Well, the snow and the cold are a small price to pay for the opportunity to find a home away from home.

As for me, I never spotted any Elves, but I care less and less with every moment spent here. Gotfre zhan, Arien.

*"Forget it" in Drowish.


'I don't want to be someone who tells people what to do', says Seamus.

'So you want to be a translator', I specify.

'Yes, this is my dream.'

'Then you should follow your dream, my friend.'

Seamus speaks Gaelic, and we discuss the difference between Irish Gaelic and Welsh. 

'I only know one sentence in Welsh,' I say. "Rwy'n dy garu di." It means "I love you."'

'Totally foreign,' replies Seamus. 

Later, Seamus excuses himself... to go and socialize with someone less opinionated, I guess. Oh, sometimes I just hate myself. Yet an old dog cannot learn new tricks, Humans like to say.

I remain alone to meditate on another Welsh word I know. Hiraeth. It means homesickness for a home to which you cannot return, a home which maybe never was; the nostalgia, the grief, the yearning for the lost places of your past... No. I am here to find a home, not to dream of the impossible.

Soon, other friends and acquaintances surround me, and I am merry, so merry. Then I look at my watch. A thought fleetingly brushes my mind. Time must be a man. A woman would be more merciful.

'I have to go,' I say to him.

'I see,' he replies, and kisses me on both cheeks.

No, I'm afraid you don't...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Isabella d'Este. Fragment from Roxelana by Pavlo Zagrebelnyi. Translation.

Isabella d'Este portrayed as St. Justina of Padua, the favorite saint of Ferrara

"Isabella d'Este caught everyone's eye, although she was no queen, no holder of great power, but merely the spouse of a little Italian prince, a worthless man by the name of Francesco Gonzaga.

This brilliant woman rose above crime, barbarism, savagery, depravity, cynicism, above avalanches of villainy and rivers of blood. She was no beauty, but so feminine her charms exuded rays of inspiration, in which basked many a poet, artist, musician...

She was aware of everything that was going on in the world; she never missed a chance to help someone in need; she wrote letters to the influential persons of her epoch, using her words to promote artists. She always found the right words of praise for artists, treating them like geniuses; she asked them to present her with their drawings and paintings; she was their best critic; she even gave them minor instructions.

The divine Leonardo painted her portrait, and the image of this astounding woman is here for the successors to admire. Plump cheeks, long thick-tipped nose, strong chin with a hint of a jowl, slightly bulging eyes, small mouth with a promise etched in its pout, a sparkle in the eyes - a sign of an extraordinary mind. Cool, decisive, aware of her own goals and intentions - what woman would not want to be like her?"

Translated by me.

Isabella d'Este. Drawing and portrait by Leonardo da Vinci.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Mundo Lingo - Mundo Lindo [A World Of Languages - A Beautiful World]. Novelette. Chapter 2.

Today, on this stormy snowy Wednesday, this humble Elf girl feels more lost than ever as sweet November turned into bitter December. Sleet and snow are coloring the twilight white, then fall to my leather-clad feet.

I am walking the streets of The Plateau.

We don't know of weather like this in my homeland of Valinor. Anyway, I leave home early, unable to stay put within four walls, computer on, commenting on pictures of those weird beings - how do you call them? Ah. Cats.

So I am walking the streets of The Plateau.

I am still hoping to find someone with whom I could speak my native languages. But even if they will never show up, I am still having fun with German and Portuguese speakers. These are my weakest points when it comes to Human languages - even my High Valyrian is better, must say. Nyke Arien hen Nolementar Lentrot*...

* I am Arien of House Nolementar in High Valyrian.


I enter Le Petit Medley at 5 PM sharp, and my jasmine and peony perfume suddenly plays differently in the warmth, with musk and apple-wood notes. There is some beautiful music on the stereo, reminding me of hot Mediterranean nights; the light is subdued, and the Christmas decorations bring to mind the Yule Ball at Hogwarts...

... Yes, I've been there. I managed to sneak in as one of the Weird Sisters band members - you know, the band who played for Harry Potter and his fellow students in Goblet of Fire? It wasn't difficult - I am very weird myself, as you have probably noticed already :-)

I sit at the bar and look outside. Everybody is going home in their cars, probably dreaming of warm beds and hot chocolate. Me, I never cared for warmth and comfort much, and my home is way out of reach, so I am more than content to sit here and sip lemonade - so co-co-cold lemonade! - and watch the snow dance in the headlights.

The place will be swarming with multilinguals in two hours. Hopefully, they will share some jokes with me as this chapter is turning out to be way too gloomy. Maybe that's because it is no longer sweet November...

Snow, snow, snow. Falling and melting, never managing to cover the sorrows of the land. Only dogs are happy - they can get their paws a little dirty and take their masters out for a little fresh air. Me, I have just decided to take a walk to this very interesting establishment - MacDonald's - and have a cup of this tasty addictive mess I got a liking for on Earth. Coffee.

Somehow, coffee gave me a mood for jokes again. Cue hedgehog with a rifle walking his way in the desert. Not funny? Please. It's an army joke. All right. Next time, I will tell you about bears riding bicycles, so you could scoff and tell me that Cirque du Soleil does not employ animals.

Or maybe it is the gift of Human warmth and attention that put a smile on my lips? I had that coffee in the company of an elderly lady who complimented my hair and told me the story of her life. How did she know I loved stories?

All stories are true...


Well, it's 10:30 PM, the place has filled and emptied, and I still did not get to speak any Hen Llinge today, but at least, I gave a lot of welcomes in Human languages. As for the Elder Tongue - I am still much better at dancing. It's just... I'm afraid I will never get to speak it again.

Yet everyone is so gracious to me today. The snow stopped falling. And it is hard to feel lonely at Mundo Lingo. It's a Beautiful World, isn't it? So... why so serious, Arien?

Interlude with dialogue

While I was not too busy looking for familiar traits in every stranger's face and welcoming the guests to the language ball, I was talking to Mishou, a tall blonde Ukrainian, in Romanian. The language of my favorite Human poet.

'Yes, I meet a lot of Romanian speakers in Montreal', he says.


'Aha. But while they greet you and smile at you and hug you, they pick your pockets,' he replies lightly.

'Gypsies?' asks Raphaella, a tiny brunette with a dazzling smile.

'Aye, romaly', I intone in a passable imitation of a Bohemian singer. Mishu laughs. To us, familiar with the streets of Bucharest, it is a private musical joke.

Then we start discussing the components of the Romi language, and Mishu says it has Urdu and Pushtu and Hindi.

And Ancient Egyptian, I add.

'How come?' asks Raphaella.

'Gyp-sy - E-gyp-tian', I utter. 'It's the same root'.

The group starts discussing this theory animatedly, but I excuse myself and leave. I return to the bar, take a sip of water and look at my watch. It's time to go to the place which I, for want of a better word, call home.

Then I see him.

To be continued...

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The True Story of the Vortex. The Conception Files. Deleted Scene from "Three Women In A Flat".

Ginger was the golden girl, the I-always-get-what-I-want princess. Well, her life at school initially was far from golden. It was in fact as non-golden as it could get, to put it mildly. Her name was actually Gala Belén Maya, but in our first days at Cheltenham Ladies I declared I refused to call her by the name of the scarlet woman who actually made Dali’s life hell, although poor Salvador pretended to put up with her excrements. Yes, that was exactly what I said, word by word.
She was flabbergasted. When she suggested hesitantly we could call her Maya – ‘Maya sounds good, right?’ – I retorted that maya in the tradition of Hinduism meant delusion, and she wrinkled her pretty nose. Was it because she didn’t like the term or she didn’t know what delusion meant – we will never know. Until the present day, Ginger insists she doesn’t remember a single word of that first contact. Nobody believes her, and it’ll become clear why from the next few paragraphs.
She was a stubborn one. She said it’d be Belén then. I smashed back with belena, the Russian for “black henbane”, a poisonous though beautiful plant also referred to as “belladonna”. She beamed and said shyly that Belladonna was nice, and it could be Bell for short.
I was ruthless. ‘Dear’, I said, ‘it is belladonna, but also hog’s bean or stinking nightshadow. I’m sure you prefer the former, but I’m also dead sure the girls would know better.’
Yes, I was a nightmare (to that extent, I still am). At eleven, I could probably give Hermione Granger a run for her money. By twenty-nine I mutated into a bespectacled bluestocking, a dire warning to all the know-it-alls and Mary Sues out there.
Ginger’s Messenger of the Apocalypse, however, was Rose. She eavesdropped on my little lecture and rolled on the floor with laughter. Safe with her totally common name, pretty but neither showy nor mile-long, Rosemary exulted in regaling Ginger and the rest of the school with myriad insulting variations of her quite beautiful given name. The range was unbelievable, from Hog’s Shadow to Stinkerbell to Florence Nightinhog to Stinkadonna to God knows what else.
When Rose wasn’t in the mood, it was simply Hog or Stinky, but when she felt like taunting poor Gin… well, she could become quite nastily inventive. Imagine boarding school… breakfast… girls toying with their porridge… Cue Rosemary, a malicious pixie grin on her face, starting in the creepy mysterious tones of a practiced Shaman storyteller, stressing every key word with such dark artistisme one rarely encounters in an eleven-years-old girl:
‘Once upon a time, the Stinking Maya Queen was hogging in the nightshadows… when Prince Charming showed up… But the gales of stink were so strong that the Prince’s beans shriveled and fell off…’
Then she would continue, to bouts of stifled giggling, ‘But he braced himself and kissed her… and she turned into what she really was – a Frog.’
There are probably no words to describe the hell she put Ginger through. All in all, it wasn’t Gin’s happiest school semester.
As for me, dubbed Gator, or Gate, or – in our senior years – Gates, and Rose aka the Wicked Witch of the Westside, we became the villain and the faithful sidekick, the inseparable double horror of Glenlee House. If some benefic highest power would come and purge the school of us forever, the board would gladly fill the vacant places with Pest and Famine for a light joyous change. The teachers would probably throw a weeklong drunken party with war dances and a pin-sticking ceremony featuring voodoo doll impersonations of Rose and myself.
But it wasn’t all that easy. Sure enough, it wasn’t hard to guess who Attila the Hun and the evil gray cardinal were respectively. I was more than happy with the role of consiglieri, while Rose enjoyed her limelight to the max. What we both did to the teachers is another story.
And Gin… well, she was fated to endure it till Christmas time when, after a terrifying and embarrassing collision, she became our sworn best friend. But that’s yet another story.
At that time, she forsook her given name for Ginger, a new name fashioned courtesy of Rose’s knack for nicknaming and the ex-martyr’s own auburn hair. Gala Belén Maya was for evermore ousted to the stinking nightshadows of oblivion where she belonged. And Ginger, who became known (and hated) as Firespitter, turned her righteous wrath to the girls who used to tag along in Rose’s taunts and my snide encyclopedic remarks. Must say, she proved herself an apprentice worthy of her forked-tongued mentors.
Mlle de Boussignac was fated to become Ginger; the name suited her perfectly. For one thing, it gave birth to our university-years Friday night motto, ‘Gin wants some gin’ or ‘gin for our Gin, make it neat for our honey’ sung all over the local pub’n’club scene to the Sweets for my Sweet classic, drunkenly slurred and quite out of scansion.

What were her mother’s thoughts, we never found out. When we, Gin’s two freshmen friends - or freshwomen according to Rose - met that stately, still strikingly beautiful and quiet woman on a weekend at their Riviera estate, we were too mortified to bring the subject up. We addressed Gin as “dear” or “luv” for the rest of our stay. The only daughter of Señora Lucia, named after a genius’s muse and a famous Flamenco bailarina, to be named Ginger, or Gingerbread, or worse, Firespitter, in that exquisitely tasteful small villa, to her mother’s face? Unfathomable.

To be continued...

Monday, December 1, 2014

The True Story of the Vortex. The Conception Files. Deleted Scene from Chapter 4.

I was heading home, cheeks flushed with active physical exercise and the chilly October air, a bunch of short-stemmed white chrysanthemums on my left arm, a fresh Vogue under the same arm, and a bag of groceries in my right hand.
The city was beautiful, awash with russet maple leaves, displaying an elegant tiredness of a working Monday afternoon in the violet-tinged autumn air. I could feel leaves rustling under my sneakers as I walked home.
I was singing under my breath as I unlocked the door, threw the magazine onto the rug by the book shelf, then proceeded to arranging the flowers in yet another inherited antique vase, a large spherical Bohemia glass bowl.
As my hands were occupied with the flowers, my thoughts were occupied with Rob. With good reason, too. Finally, a list of questions was formed in my mind, and the seriousness of the situation was starting to bear down on me.
Why was he in the park yesterday? If it was a coincidence that he found me and requested to sit on that bench with me of all people, then I’m Sponge Bob.
Furthermore, who or what was there in the bush that alarmed him? And why did he react so strangely when I told him I come home alone after my night shift?
The crucial one: how come he, who could have any girl in the world, including the one who was looking at me haughtily from the October Vogue cover, was – or seemed to be, or pretended to be – interested in me?
And if he was pretending, why would he need that in the first place?
What was I to him?
I didn’t know whether I’d be able to gather the courage to ask him all of that, but I knew I'd ask one thing for sure. At some point, I’d muster my courage up and ask him whether he would or would not be sorry to break my heart.
My bouquet now looked pretty good in its vase, and I put it on the coffee table. Rose would probably scoff again, asking why I insisted on spending my hard-earned cash on something so inutile and short-lived, but it was one of my numerous idiosyncrasies. To me, home wasn’t home without flowers, and as Rosemary kept telling me that I should get men to buy me flowers if I had to have them, I usually replied that we cannot expect favors from nature and our job was to take them from it.
I paused to think about the last time when I received flowers from a man. It was quite a while ago. Giving flowers to a lady wasn’t in vogue anymore, I guessed. Or was it just me who was excluded from the circuit of flowers in social life?
Big deal. I would continue buying them from that shop by the Square-Victoria underground station, and no harm done, really.
As I was standing in the middle of the living room and admiring my arrangement, somebody rang the doorbell.
‘Who is it?’ I asked into the intercom.
‘Delivery for Ms. Carson’, said an unfamiliar male voice.
A couple of moments later I could be observed standing in the middle of our living room, a huge bunch of blue chrysanthemums in my arms, and an expression of utter amazement on my face.
The flowers were exquisite – long slim stems crowned with purplish-blue stars, emanating their lovely bittersweet scent. I opened the card.
‘What an elegant hand’, I heard myself say aloud.

The card read, “I wish I was there. Rob.

Friday, November 28, 2014

In A Glade. Ukrainian Lullaby. Performed by Milla Jovovich. Translated Lyrics and Video.

In a glade by the Danube
A nightingale is singing
He is calling, he is calling
His soul mate to his nest

Oh, weet-weet, tee-weet-weet
A nightingale is singing
He is calling, he is calling
His soul mate to his nest

In a glade by the Danube
There music is playing
Bass is roaring, violin is crying -
My beloved is feasting

Oh, weet-weet, tee-weet-weet
There music is playing
Bass is roaring, violin is crying -
My beloved is feasting

In a glade by the Danube
I am grieving in solitude
I am weeping in sorrow
Because of you, my beloved

Oh, weet-weet, tee-weet-weet
A nightingale is singing
He is calling, he is calling
His soul mate to his nest

Oh, weet-weet, tee-weet-weet
There music is playing
Bass is roaring, violin is crying
My beloved is feasting.

Translated by me.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Mundo Lingo - Mundo Lindo [A World of Languages - A Beautiful World]. Novelette. Chapter 1.

Hello! My name is Arien, and I am an Elf.

Surprised? Don't be. Yes, I am sort of permanent resident here, and can totally pass for one of you. And you guys dress like us every other day - for Comiccon, for Halloween, for work sometimes, when you decide a bow and arrows sticking out of your briefcase can help you get a date with the pretty colleague from Accounting. For the ladies, it's even more obvious - you wear heels and earrings. Enough said.

So you and we are practically one people, except we have sharper ears and bigger heads - both literally and figuratively. Ellen sila lumen omentielvo!*

*May the starlight guide you on your way - a greeting in Quenya

Anyway, I am stranded here in Montreal, Canada, for a while, and several weeks ago I wandered into Mundo Lingo. This is a networking and socializing event for multilinguals and people who want to learn languages. Wow, I said, that would be cool if I found someone... with whom I could practice my Hen Llinge. I've been a very bad Elf in school, you see... cared more for dancing than for The Elder Tongue.

I am also hoping for a Na'Vi from that Avatar world, Pandora, but no blue-skinned nine-feet-tall individual has been noticed yet at Clebard on Tuesdays and at Le Petit Medley on Wednesdays. Well, here's hope. But I met a living replica of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, and he appreciated the compliment when I told him of my impressions.

Unfortunately, there was no Enterprise ship parked on the corner of St. Hubert and I Heart Languages. I checked. Well, oel ngati kameie* anyway!

*I see you - a greeting in Na'Vi

Mundo Lingo is the epitome of the multicultural Montreal. Also, it is the perfect setting for jokes like "a linguist, a translator, and a couch-surfer walk into a bar".

Bars, more precisely. At Clebard, the bartenders are so nice they put lemon in my water without me even asking. The bartender from Le Petit Medley, a young man with long hair and truly inhuman sadness in his eyes, just brings water to me whenever he sees me hyperventilating. So nice.

You see, city air is bad for someone known as Arien, and my favorite Park Mont-Royal is so cold and unwelcoming for a stranded Elf girl at this time of the year... not to mention the squirrels who beg for nuts, and I don't usually carry those on me, not even in winter. Squirrels still like me... well, nutters know a nutter when they see one. Only joking.

So, I told you about the place. The time is circa now. The mood is... noisy. Well, there are lots of words uttered all at once in a confined space. But imagine the energy, imagine the genius of place! And if you do, you'll just drop everything and start... how do you people call this?... ah... Googleing!

Yours truly likes to arrive early - I need to cross two cities and crawl under a river to get there, but when the Anar* is out, I just take the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and am there in due time to observe how the place fills up.

* Sun in Vrtaxlan


Then The Emperor enters - well, his name is not that, actually, but this is how I call him. He is the one who will welcome you and give you a sticker flag of the country from which you come, and flags of the countries whose languages you speak. Easy.

I personally love the early hours, when people come in, meet friends - new, old, and those who are in your life forever, and I feel like home again. I speak nine human languages,  you see. I also know Latin and Ancient Greek, but as of now neither Mark Anthony nor Alexander the Great have been noticed at Mundo Lingo. Maybe they're busy. Or in disguise - I don't know. I mean, look at me - I am an Elf, but everyone thinks I am Polish :-)

Also,The Boss has no flags of Valinor, my homeland, but I think J.R.R. Tolkien would not mind. After all, The Professor spoke six modern and two dead languages, and I think he would have enjoyed Mundo Lingo enormously.

So would Daenerys Targaryen, I believe, although her favorite little dragon would probably not fit into her Louis Vuitton purse, if she ever chose to wear one with her Dothraki leather boots. I think Dany could pull it off, though - the weirdest matches are made not only in heaven, but also on Fashion TV. Oops. Getting too philosophical here.

Then the happy hour starts, and to my eyes, I can sort of imagine why it is called happy...

To be continued

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Kisses. Song by VIA Gra, Ukrainian Lady Band. Lyrics. Translation.

You should not have deciphered my weaknesses
You should not have decoded my SOS signals
I could not bear that sweetness
Everything that happened between us was revenge

And there are no places left to hide
Please hold me tighter

Leave now, not through the window, but through the door
You pretended to be a kitten, but you are a wild beast
It was me who could do it, it was me who was in your life
You say you do not trust what you see, well, don't

Nothing matters now
I am not afraid anymore

Please guide me with your hand
Please shield me from full moon with your body
I am ready to have you lead me
The higher is the love, the lower are the kisses

You should not have deciphered my weaknesses
You should not have decoded my SOS signals
Your wings are full-fledged now, so fly
I remember everything - it existed and it exists

There are no blames left to take upon
Please hold me tighter

Please guide me with your hand
Please shield me from full moon with your body
I am ready to have you lead me
The higher is the love, the lower are the kisses

Nothing matters now
I am not afraid anymore

Please guide me with your hand
Please shield me from full moon with your body
I am ready to have you lead me
The higher is the love, the lower are the kisses.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Dark Side. My Old Poetry Dated May 2003. Translation.

The Southern Cross is somewhere beneath my feet,
Somewhere behind my shoulders are Solar flares,
Magnetic storms, and the light of silver rays -
My own guiding lights.

Somewhere in front of me another ghost lingers,
Out there, in my future, I will say goodbye to him again,
I will lose my breath in a furious white-hot cry, and I will
Pray for forgiveness.

And a vers-libre will grow through my pores and my tears,
Like grass, and it will be about forgiveness, for my hands
Have left lots of traces of evil, so that I am now afraid
To hurt the air with my breath.

When will the white darkness find itself another victim?
Oh heavens mine, I have been so many things among the white ones
I am becoming now a mirror-surfaced Venus of Milo
Will you look at me?


When you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss is gazing into you.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Everything has happened already; my sixth sense is exhausted
My tears drop poisons, which hurt the tissues of hearts
I have more than one heart, probably this was decreed
By the Lord of our local universes here.

One of them is black, high winds blow there,
There are pains that suddenly curve into upturned eights, then sing victory, then
Melt the baby minute into pastel colors, and disappear
As everything has happened already.

My other heart is whiter than diamond dust,
Whiter than silver, and fairy tales live there,
Their names are not human names; they won't be erased
By time or demons.

A numb pagan, I prayed to rainbows and fires,
Give me a ray of light, give me love, and I will fight till my last drop of blood,
Give me a voice, and I will unveil the secret of salvation

To all, for you are all saved already.

Translated by me.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

As he floats through the clouds. Li Bai. Dedication to Meng Hao-Jiang

As he floats through the clouds
He is divinely drunk in the moonlight

Not wishing to serve
He got lost among flowers and blooms

He's a mountain
And I'm bending my knees to the mountain

He's an icon
I am merely ashes and dust.

Translated by me.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Anti-Geisha. Song by VIA Gra, Ukrainian Lady Band. Lyrics. Translation.

I thought, as I saw him, despite permanent sleep deprivation
How handsome he is, how sure of himself, a real sonovabitch,

I thought, as I saw him, how endlessly I am sick of him
Why didn't I kill him by now, people, I do not understand - he's a maniac!

I would run away somewhere, but does relocation help?
I mulled this over and over and over, but I can't help realizing he is the best after all
A scarlet patchwork quilt floats in front of my eyes and covers me head to toe
I was flying with him, but was waking up alone.

A fleeting falling and not a single word about the future
There is no continuation after a geisha's kiss
Our souls are not simple things - white is mixed with black
Your pain will soothe with her pain only an anti-geisha
A fleeting falling and not a single word about the future
There is no continuation after a geisha's kiss
Sometimes, dear boy, it is not the strongest one who wins
Your pain will soothe with her freedom only an anti-geisha

I thought as I saw him and took the razor out of my plait,
He is so sure of himself - well, I will get him back for this, the sonovabitch,
A scarlet patchwork quilt floats in front of my eyes and covers me head to toe
I was flying with him, but was waking up alone.

Translated by me.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Oh The Pure Water Told Me. Song by VIA Gra, Ukrainian Lady Band. Lyrics. Translation.

You girl friend mine, blue-eyed current
Please tell me of my beloved
Into my maiden dreams turn his path
Please bring him onto your shore

I am waiting for him for too long, so it happens
Waiting for him for too long

Oh, the pure water told me
Where my love lives
Oh, the pure water told me
About the place where I will meet him
Oh, the pure water told me
Why I do not sleep at night
Oh, the pure water told me
About the one I will love

You girl friend mine, blue-eyed river
Please tell me the truth about my beloved
Show him to me and, like the sky charms a bird,
Chain him with your charms to my heart

I am waiting for him for too long, so it happens
Wise river, please help me

Oh, the pure water told me
Where my love lives
Oh, the pure water told me
About the place where I will meet him
Oh, the pure water told me
Why I do not sleep at night
Oh, the pure water told me
About the one I will love

Oh, the pure water told me,
Oh, the pure water told me,
Oh, the pure water told me,
Oh, the pure water told me...

Oh, the pure water told me
Where my love lives
Oh, the pure water told me
About the place where I will meet him
Oh, the pure water told me
Why I do not sleep at night
Oh, the pure water told me
About the one I will love.

Translated by me.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The True Story of the Vortex. The Conception Files. Chapter 13. Sabbatikos. Reconciliation Scene. 18+

Ages later I got out of the bathroom, squeaky-clean, hair brushed and blown dry, wine and tobacco stains cleaned off my teeth, eyebrows plucked, and extremities clumsily self-manicured and –pedicured, legs shaved. Almost decent.
I rummaged in the closet for a fresh sundress, pulled it on and froze on the spot. Something was wrong. It felt like a groceries bag pulled on a hand puppet. Whoa. I used to have quite some curves to clutch at. Where was it now?
‘Oh! Where art thou now, o voluptuous heifer?’ I exclaimed to the stranger in the mirror.
It mimicked me. I did a couple of ape-like grimaces and laughed. Well, I was laughing more and more lately. Good!
I reflected on near-death experiences and a potential loss of a great love being the best diet recipe, although I wouldn’t recommend it to my worst enemy. Well, maybe except an overweight Kee-Axi bitch who blamed it all on extra amount of scales while gorging on some innocent roadkill?
So here I was. Was it actually me, this unknown person with hard eyes and hollows under prominent cheekbones?
Plus, my hair was now falling down to my waist. What used to be a well-groomed shoulder-blade-length cut was now an unruly wild mane sun-bleached to the color of straw. From tasteful light chestnut I have gone blonde. Great. Well, I could afford losing an IQ point or two.
The sundress was flopping about me as I walked. What the hell? I took it off and threw it onto the floor.
Ah. Nudity. Much better.
As I was observing myself in the mirror, a silver voice came from the door.
‘Gate? Is that you?’
Six months ago I would have jumped, blushed, and run for cover. But my new badass self dictated otherwise.
Although my heart was thundering, I kept still as a statue. I surreptitiously dropped my eyeglasses on to the floor, then composed my face into a haughtily welcoming mask in the best imitation of Mother Cairn, and turned slowly to face my prodigal Ariser.
‘Yes,’ I said, my voice dripping with royal coolness. ‘It is indeed I. Good afternoon, Rob.’
I’ve seen all sorts of expressions on his face. But it was the first time he gratified me with a dropping jaw and popping eyes.
Go, Gator, I told myself as I took in his smooth gorgeous face, his otherwise unruffled appearance, his white shirt and khaki pants almost indecently crisp and fresh for this kind of heat.
Well, my Eve’s outfit was definitely the attention-grabber in that room, I thought triumphantly as I walked towards him while his shocked eyes taking in… well, everything, from the overgrown hair falling all over the place like an unkempt lawn, and down to other more conspicuous body parts.
‘Take a seat, please,’ I continued in the same high-society hostess voice. ‘Would you like some iced tea?’
Silence. He was gawping at me. I couldn’t take it anymore.
‘Oh, for the Thirteenth’s sake, Rob,’ I said lightly, letting a bit of pressure out in a small burst of giggles. I sat in an armchair and crossed my now slim, shapely, killer legs. ‘Bad sunstroke? You look like you’ve never seen me… in the altogether.’
But he wasn’t a teenage boy. Oh, far from it. By the time I uncrossed and recrossed my legs in a passable Sharon Stone imitation, he already recovered and sat on the sofa opposite me.
‘I cannot say I got tired of looking at you… in the altogether included,’ he retorted lightly. ‘But what happened to you? You look… like you haven’t eaten since I… for months,’ he finished somewhat lamely, and I saw again the shade of guilt in his blue eyes.
Go baby, go. Walk in my shoes.
But there was something strange going on. With me, not him. He continued caressing me with his gaze, this time with deliberation and relish, rather than shock, while I was analyzing the goings-on inside me.
I was still madly in love with him, I still wanted him more than anything, I’d still walk through fire for him, and yet those dumbfounding eyes lost their effect on me. They were even more beautiful now that they had this new tinge of well-earned guilt in their blue fire, but…
I stared into his eyes again, at length this time. Yes, those Luminite eyes have lost their overwhelming power on me. My heart still squeezed painfully when I registered how beautiful he was, but without the effect of being hit on the head. He was totally unchanged, if maybe more rested and less harassed, as if he was having a passably good time away from me…
I felt bucketfuls of ice fall in avalanches around my heart. Well, brace yourself, Nolementar.
I let the pause drag as long as I could, while staring at him unblinkingly, then said, ‘Anything else of interest to you?’
‘Er…’ He faltered in his would-be-calm poise.
I could see he was nervous. By some miracle the power rapport changed. Now it was I who was holding all the levers.
Well, almost all. I should keep in mind he could play the game, too. By not playing it at all.
‘Yes,’ he said finally, calm again. ‘I came to say I’m sorry, to explain myself, and to see whether you still want me.’
‘Hmmm,’ I purred. ‘Let me see… No, Rob, I do not accept your apology, I do not care for your explanations, and I don’t want you anymore.’
I observed that guilt flicker in his eyes with newfound sadistic pleasure.
‘Well, what did you expect? Three months of Robinson life would turn anyone into a Nazi.’
‘Fair enough,’ he conceded gravely. ‘I can see now you’ve really changed, Gate.’
‘Yeah, yeah… how are you, anyway? I hear Paris is lovely at this time of year.’
I was smiling, but my eyelashes were down so that he wouldn’t see my eyes screaming, I am still madly in love with you, I still want you more than anything, I’d walk though fire for you, but you must be taught a lesson, and I must find a way to forgive you for those months of purgatory… But if he came to offer me heaven as lightly as he cast me into fire, he got it all very wrong.
‘You learned how to be cruel, Gate,’ he said heavily.
‘I had a good teacher,’ was my obvious reply.
‘OK,’ he said half-angrily, half-tiredly. ‘I think I’ll have that iced tea, then you’ll hear me out even if I have to tie you down and…’
My laughter was icy.
‘You’re into BDSM now, Rob?’ I trilled, as I got up and walked to the bar.
I poured him an ice tea and swaggered back to his chair, making sure to let a drop fall off the tall frosty glass onto my bare hip.
He watched it progress down my leg and swallowed. My, I was good at this.
‘Could you please put something on? It’s distracting,’ he said, accepting the glass with a stiff hand.
Oh yes. He was a man, after all. Luminite, magical, outlandish, God knows what other fairytale rubbish, but he was a man in the first place.
‘Sure,’ I shrugged.
I went to my bedroom closet where I chose a white silk male shirt, which I left unbuttoned, then checked my reflection. Good. If I knew anything at all, this would disconcert him even more than mere nudity.
As I returned, I went straight to the bar and poured myself a glass of ice-cold white Muscat wine, then lit up a cigarette and went to see him react. If he was surprised, he hid it well.
‘Living on the edge?’ he inquired. ‘It’s 10 AM, Gate. Any new habits I must know about?’
Well, this was fun but getting too tiresome to be worth it.
‘OK, what did you want to tell me, Rob?’ I said irritably, dropping my sex bomb charade with a sharp draw on my death stick. ‘You came to talk? Talk. Don’t mind my little R movie routine, I’m just bored and trying to have fun. Well?’
‘Sorry.’ Only I could hear sadness through that businesslike manner. ‘I’m at a loss. I came to talk to my Gatie and I find an absolutely different woman.’
‘Her evil twin?’ I suggested, drawing on.
He chortled. ‘Thank heavens. It is you.’
‘How come?’
‘Signature crackpot jokes. Now, why do you look like you’ve just escaped a concentration camp? I did make sure you are provided with everything you need or want, food included. Well, sorry I didn’t ensure you as much emotional comfort, and you’ll have a lifetime to taunt and punish me for that. But trust me, I had my reasons.’
OK, that did it.
As I felt a nice massive Gator tantrum coming, I gave it free reign.
With a quick flick of my wrist I sent my wine glass flying and crashing into the wall. Damn. He didn’t even wince.
I jumped off the chair and screamed at the top of my lungs, banshee-like, nostrils flaring.
‘Need or want? Emotional comfort? You son of a rotten goatfish! Dratted toad-kisser! Who do you think you are, coming here and trying to be funny! Concentration camp? I’ll give you concentration camp, you vomit-flavored lollipop! Go have green dragons blow their noses at you! Three months of… of… of this!’ I was working myself up into hyperventilation. ‘A holiday in KADE Continent would be enjoyable compared to these three months of hell! Shut up laughing, you dirty, vile warthog ass wiper!’
Damn. It was too late when I remembered that he actually liked shrieking hysterical women.
He was already laughing, tears of mirth springing to those maddeningly beautiful eyes. I was never able to understand this addiction for tantrums, rather perverse for a Luminite person. ‘It was all that time spent on Earth that corrupted him,’ I thought.
‘Yes,’ he said, still laughing. ‘It is the time on Earth that corrupted me… although… I’d rather call this enhancement. Oh, Gatie…’
He looked at me and I saw the old love, the love I remembered so well, that I couldn’t make myself forget about, shining bright in his eyes.
‘My sun, you didn’t change, after all. And what perfect use of Luminite expletives, although I’d skip the KADE holiday part if I were you,’ he added, suddenly serious. ‘You don’t know what it’s like…’
‘Of course I do, you dung-brain cheater!’ I screeched. ‘Where do you think all of this came from? You think I spent three months waiting for you on the porch, you moronic roadkill eater! Do I look like bloody Penelope? I almost died of mental hunger in this blasted bookless place, you disgraceful kisser of unwashed horse undertails! Where – have – you – been? And now you show your crap-stuffed face here and snigger at me, you miserable booger!’
I stopped, unable to breathe. I guess I was done for the day, what with teasing him and yelling quite nasty things at him. Well, they were nasty in any terms, not just Luminite. Unless they made one laugh themselves stupid, that is.
‘OK, OK, plead guilty,’ he said, clearly restraining his laughter, quite unsuccessfully at that.
It was rather putting me off my shrieking match as I was feeling ridiculous. All right, time to change tack.
‘You are an asshole, Rob,’ I said weakly, falling into my chair, my barely covered chest heaving. ‘OK, as an afterthought it came to me you were right to leave, but you could at least warn me. Tell me. Kiss me effing goodbye! Not break up with me by a note like in some lame third-rate TV show! And what right did you have to lock me up here? I was going mad with doing nothing for weeks! You could at least have those guards bring me normal books!’
‘Oh, crap…’ He ran his hand through his hair, guilt now obvious on his face. ‘I forgot. I am sorry, my sun, I forgot. The books. Damn, I thought you’d ask the guards to bring you some!’
‘Do you think I’m stupid? Go get the chicken droppings removed out of your ears! I said NORMAL books! They kept bringing me paperback romance and Hello! magazines, you furball-eating dog hairdresser!’
He suppressed another guffaw.
‘Yeah right, you forgot! No Internet, no phone, not even bloody TV! Right! Do you think I have swamp ooze for brains like you do?’
‘I didn’t want you to degrade to TV.’ He was trying so hard not to laugh, I almost pitied him beneath all my anger.
‘Rob, I am in no joking mood!’ I growled. ‘My next glass of wine will fly at your head, I promise!’
‘All right,’ he said decisively, seeing I was at the end of my tether.
He streaked to the bar, poured me another glass, and shove it into my trembling hand.
‘Listen. You’re not going to like it, but I left because you needed to remain alone and sort out your guilt issues. Alone. Without me reminding of them to you. Right?’
I reflected on that for a moment. ‘Right.’
‘I left because it was the only help I could render. Do you think it didn’t break my heart? Leaving you there in bed, pale, twitching, crying in your sleep? I was a dead man walking. Trust me.’
I fought back furious tears.
‘Hello, do you even listen? Why – didn’t – you – tell – me?’
He streaked to the bar again, brought me my cigarettes, and clicked the lighter.
‘There. Stop yelling, darling, you’ll hurt your throat. Again,’ he said with a pained expression, and I realized he knew I shouted myself hoarse while looking for him all over the island.
He must have received reports on what I was doing every day of those interminable months. At that thought, I burst into tears. However, he didn’t dare approach and take me in his arms, although I could see through salty streams that his urge to do so was overwhelming.
‘Did you… hic… get reports on me?’ I spluttered. ‘And why didn’t you tell me when you’d come back?’
‘Because I knew that’d make you spend your energy on waiting for me. Focusing on me instead of your own self. I wanted you to focus utterly and completely on you and none other but you. And see me… well, from another perspective… to see the dung-brained dog hairdresser warthog ass wiper that I am. And then indulge in yourself a bit. As if I was deleted from your life.’
‘But… you could call… or let me know you were all right,’ I continued weakly. ‘You’ve no idea how much energy I spent worrying about you!’
‘Silly girl,’ he chuckled softly. ‘What was the Ring for?’
‘Don’t tell me about the stupid Ring,’ I sputtered, my last sparkles of anger dying away. ‘It was always clear!’
‘Which means?’
‘Which means you’re OK, but…’
‘So what was there to worry about?’ He dared to sit on the arm of my chair as he saw the change in me. ‘I know what you mean. It never shone other colors.’
‘What if it did turn red? What if anything happened to you, and I’d be just stuck here not knowing where are you and what’s wrong with you!’
‘Well, if it wasn’t for that prophesized connection between us… I’d say you’re well shot of me,’ he said gloomily.
‘What?’ I felt outrage being replaced with… I didn’t know how to define that emotion. He thought he didn’t deserve me?
‘Rob, you fool… didn’t it occur to you I’d die in all possible outcomes? Including if the Ring just slipped off my finger?’
‘You know it will never do so. And I’m made of stronger stuff than you give me credit for,’ he said, looking straight into my eyes but still not daring to come closer and hold me. ‘And your Ring… it was indeed always clear, because I wanted it to be so. Unless when you were sleeping.’
‘What? You were missing me or thinking of me only when I was asleep? But…’ I couldn’t make myself believe it. ‘What an outrageous lie!’
‘I’m not lying,’ he said, looking down at me, the familiar blue twinkle in those gorgeous eyes rekindling. ‘I did let myself think of you or drown in longing for you only when you went to sleep. Again, in order to not distract you from the most important thing – yourself.’
‘How is that possible?’
‘I come from a dynasty of Sages. And I’ve lived a long life, Gatie,’ he said seriously. ‘I am certainly able to exercise mental control over myself.’
‘But how did you know when I was asleep?’
‘I watched the progress of my own Ring… letting go when it went clear. It meant your mind was at peace. And your sleeping hours were criminally short, if that comment is allowed.’
I exhaled. ‘You filthy swamp ooze eater,’ I said, leaning onto the chair back and draining my glass. ‘You put me through hell.’
‘I’ve been through one myself.’ He took the empty glass out of my hand, then seated himself back onto the sofa, looking braced for something. ‘OK. Do you think you can handle another rage match?’
‘Why?’ I asked warily, jerking out my weary and – I should be honest here – half-drunken relaxation. ‘What now? OK, bring it, Torquemada.’
He sighed. ‘This is the worst, and the one I feel really guilty about. I… it’s just so unimportant under our circumstances, and may seem quite petty to you… Anyway, I used it as a pretext to leave because, to tell you the truth…’
‘Rob, please! You’re a walking torture device! What else did you do?’
‘Well…’ he stared at his impeccable brown loafers. ‘It was this contract I signed ages ago… to cut it short, I had to do a European tour. Concerts, you know…’
God. I almost forgot he was a freaking rock star, to top it all off. He looked at me guiltily. It was now my turn to gape, paralyzed with this piece of information. As I stared, his voice was growing more and more hesitant.
‘The band was irate because we didn’t rehearse, and the performances were, well, total crap, because I had other things on my mind…’
He paused. I inhaled.
‘Are you through?’
‘Well… no. I also noticed how you seemed unable to come up with a single idea or impulse when you were… with me… so I just sort of let you alone… for reasons of having the SLB written inclusive. Boost your creativity, so to say. There.’ He sighed. ‘You can kill me now.’
‘I sure as hell will!’ I hissed, flaring with rage again, this time in real earnest.
And I lunged, shirt hems flapping around me.
I blamed it all on the alcohol later, but in that moment I wanted to hit him even more than have him make love to me, and that I was longing for ever since he entered my shady, white-and-blue living room.
He didn’t let me hurt him or, rather, myself. He caught me deftly, taking the shock of my weight, rolled gingerly off the sofa, and pinned me to the floor. I writhed and hissed, staring into those maddeningly beautiful eyes with rage.
‘I think this is when we kiss,’ he said in a whisper rough with anticipation.
Then he did it. He kissed me. I would be right to say he kissed me like never before.
My sizzling rage turned into pure lust, my hiss turning into a calling purr right there on my lips.
His glowing heat engulfed me into an intoxicating haze, and everything vanished. My hatred, dismay, pain, and urge to cause him as much pain as I’ve suffered – it was all gone.
I knew he wasn’t lying. My absence from his life was as excruciating as my own experience. Really, what did I care? I realized then, as I soaked in his glowing heat, as I stared hungrily at that haunting face, that we’ve actually done it. I sorted out what I had to sort out, I created what I had to create, and he just stayed out of my way in order for me to do it.
Yes. He knew me better than I knew myself, and he was right. He helped me immensely by giving me the chance to fight my own dragons alone.
And in another blinding flash of realization, as his lips crushed mine, I knew one more thing.
He couldn’t help me slay my own dragons just because he loved me too much; he worshipped me wholly and absolutely. Dragons included.
We didn’t notice the night fall; we were too absorbed with each other. And when I woke up after hours of refreshing sound sleep, he was there to kiss me good morning.
I felt amazing. All in all, it was a good summer.