The Transylvania Joem: A Young Peace Corps Volunteer in Romania

The Irish Pub
April 15, 2010, 3:16 pm
Filed under: Peace Corps Romania | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Harlem and I had planned to meet our students and Domn E in Medias, on Friday, April 9th. Thus would begin a three day trip with students and teachers from my general school, as well as from Harlem’s high school, in Petrosani.

Harlem and I rolled into the Medias train station a little while after noon. We sleepy-leg stepped out into some sunshine, and glanced about our surroundings.
We had a few hours to kill, and a couple empty stomachs to fill.

Instantly, our eyes fell on the same thing– directly across from the train station was a building with a large sign out front that read “McGowan’s Pub,” and an Irish flag swimming about the spring breeze. We both hooted and hollered, and gave each other those half ‘man-shoves,’ that symbolise mutual accord.

“We gotta!” Harlem laughed, and “we gotta!” he excitedly repeated.

Inside, we found a happy menu listing the long-lost beef-burger with fries. Happiest of all, were half pints of Guinness on tap.

As Harlem and I swigged contently, we looked about the place. The entire bar was filled with young hipsters smoking ciggarettes and downing espresso. Most of their eyes flicked across the flat-screen TVs with gold-leaf frames.

Like it'd all been transplated from a bar back home.

The waitresses were sweet and smiling, and the walls wore real-wood panelling, and all sorts of western-bar accoutrement. I saw the Beetles in one corner, flanked to a side by a print of Ali knocking out Foreman in Zaire. On the opposite end of the bar was Tyler Durden fully decked in his infamous red leather. Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe sat alongside him. Best of all was behind me– the duke and his dog, gazing off into some hazy blue sky in the American south-west.

All of these things were not so much authentic Irish as a strong testament to the cultures that flank either side of the north Atlantic. We, being good beggars, were able to forgive this mis-arranged hodgepodge of pop culture and focus instead on our burgers and beers.

A surprise of unimaginable proportions.


Petrila 1
April 15, 2010, 1:29 pm
Filed under: Poetry | Tags: , , , , ,

A kiss goodbye
abruptly ends at a 3AM cabstand–
hi-jacked by Hemingway’s melodrama
that ruins me somber and wet.

In the frail quiet I fixate
on the distance to all light (left
only in street lamps writing
the bloom of the sleet).

Two terrified vagabonds scream
breaking my mid-street reflection–
they shout at my black shape and
they shriek “VOID” into their colorless world.

You bastard saint of heartaches and
coddler of my manic loves;
I reject you in orchestrated week-sleeps,
but I worship you in cold rains.

Vama 1
April 15, 2010, 1:21 pm
Filed under: Poetry | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Originally written in April, 2009, but never posted. Re-discovered this afternoon:

To lie down, to slither between
the scattered books of her bed–
and she lies with me and then we face
the same way to read a Rumi poem
taped over the front of our faces.

Our bodies become same– so similar
I could misplace my arms against hers.
Is this the covenant of kindred souls?
— The intertwined loss of the individual
in bodies lying unbordered and
the same– a tangle
of ever-dying skin over echoed scripture.

Cursed thus, we will pursue Gd
out of our pasts to the vast opening
where the page ends– and hesitate
wondering if we are leaving or coming
— heretics or prophets here
against the edge of the shadow of
not knowing.

I, sinner, confess that the holy I feel
is in the gratitude for
my body and His blood–
and that I may be half in this soft moment
with you– we breathing, sacred soul.

My Favorite Romanian Cities
April 14, 2010, 11:16 pm
Filed under: EuroTrip | Tags: , , , , , , ,

In the last four weeks, I’ve had the blessed opportunity to travel across an astoundingly large amount of this country– in 30 days I was away from my site for 22. I’ve rolled repeatedly on rails through the deep grooves in the Carpathian swoosh that huddles Transylvania into a tight corner on this wild edge of the world. I have seen :quick counts: about ten cities (and half that many Lupoiacas) in the last thirty days– some cities felt like old friends and some were brand-spanking new.

There aren’t many major cities left in this country that I haven’t experienced. Hence, I feel I can make this proclamation stating which of Romania’s metropolises are my absolute favorites. There are two that immediately hop to mind:

Timisoara is the second largest city in Romania, and a major cultural center. Unlike Romania’s capital city, Bucuresti (which has a negative reputation amongst Romanians and foreigners alike), Timisoara is an extremely attractive place to visit, and instils a certain sense of refined pride in its inhabitants. It has wide-open pedestrian places, cheap coffee cafes, preserved pre-war architecture, and pockets of quirky counter-culture. I once met a poet at a New Year’s Eve party, and he assured me (repeatedly) that Timisoara is the best city in Romania.

In Piata Unirii, I realized that I am a little bit in love with Timisoara.

However, for me, Timi is second to only one place in Romania, and that place is Cluj-Napoca. These are some of the things that I like most about Cluj:

  1. There are about 300,000 people in Cluj. I have heard that as many as one third of those people are students. The result is a city that feels young, fun, and extremely progressive.
  2. Cluj feels international– my first time there I sat on a bench in front of the student center down-town and in 15 minutes I heard handfuls of native English speakers wander by. This is typically a rare occurrence in the Ro, but Cluj has enough of international appeal that it collects wanderers from across the world.
  3. Cluj is green. It is set into the hills near a forest, and has massive parks and gardens spattered across it. Its botanic gardens are mind-blowing. Any city well connected to green blade and leaf makes me feel all sorts of alright.
Parc Central - Cluj

I'd live here, and love it.

I am grateful to find cities here that have made my soul sing. They reaffirm what I might ultimately search for when I’m ready to settle down (whenever that may be) into a place called ‘home.’