own words

WPC: Who put ad in admiration?

Admiration. Let me count the ways.

Mom. Dad. Grandparents. Uncles. Sister. Everybody in my lifeline who came before me. They must have done something right to lead to me. Amore. Astrid Lindgren. Tomaž Šalamun. Slavoj Žižek. Jeanette Winterson. Charles Bukowski. Milan Kundera. Ian MacEwan. Margaret Atwood. Tom Robbins. A legion of other writers. Pearl Jam. Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison. Joan Baez. Bob Dylan. A handful of Slovenians, Marcel Štefančič jr., Miha Mazzini, Tadej Zupančič, Svetlana Makarovič. Nejc Zaplotnik. A fistful of teachers. Maja Turnher. Philip Burt. A couple of friends.

A whole lot of fellow bloggers and people who I’ve found online and will probably never meet. Everybody who dares to share.

People who stay true to themselves. Who fight for their rights, and for the weak. Who dare. Who tell it like it is, but keep their voices down (well, some refuse and yell instead). Who are humble in their greatness, and gentle when victorious. Who do what they say they will. Who are reliable, determined, transparent and full of integrity. Unbreakable and unputdownable. My kind of people.

There is an ad in admiration. But there is mir too (=peace).

As for places, the last town to yield my deepest admiration was Siena last week. I’ve been in Tuscany for three years and this was the first time I saw it. Its ups and downs, brick colour and arches transported me in time, to some place like Portugal or Morocco (have yet to visit either). Or possibly I returned to the time of playing with grandmother’s postcards. I never tired of sorting them by colour vs. black and white, country, city, number of stamps, sender, recipient, whether there was a single photograph on it or multiple. In a way they were my first step towards blogging and admiring the views and words you all post for us.

Not just architecture, the people were very admirable too. I have never seen so many stop and wait for me to take the photo (not of them). A woman stopped on her own accord to explain to us the use of a giant electric charger (nope, not meant for phones, rather for electric cars). And, as it’s a custom in Italy, everybody not just didn’t mind but truly loved our pouncing bestia (except my visitors who managed him for me); a Russian tourist pushed the trolley with his toddler right into the dog, saying that he had three dogs at home. A kiss-and-greet followed.

I bet there were some of Siena in that box of postcards. For an unknown city it felt too familiar.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

Photo: a © signature mmm production

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: Admiration

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Year 3 Anno Domini

Three years ago today my prince in a dark Ford snatched me away from everything I’d known, together with most of my belongings, and delivered me from Slovenia to the south of Tuscany where I’ve stayed till this day. You who were willing to bet that I’d return quickly, I wonder how many cases of whiskey this makes by now.

We kept cramming the car. So many boxes and bags. Slowly packing and waiting for amore I was sure that I had too much stuff to fit in the car. Therefore I packed winter stuff separately. After all, I was southbound. And it’s true – from April to November there is no need for socks, let alone anything else.

Highway stop near Trieste showing the first stage of our travel and the directions of winds. We are headed to where libeccio blows.

When amore told me via skype to measure my round table that I kept on my porch, which I’d already called “Tuscany table” much earlier than any talk of Tuscany was born, I didn’t have any measuring tape at hand so I took an A4 paper sheet and measured it with that. After that I had to google the measurements of an A4 sheet. I forwarded the results to amore and he proclaimed that the table is too broad to fit in the car by the palm of his hand (10 cm).

When he arrived and saw the situation with his own eyes, he immediately knew that the table would easily fit. It turned out that I’d been wrong in my calculation for exactly 10 cm. But by then I’d already said goodbye to the table in my mind. It is poor form to take the Tuscany table all the way to Tuscany.

As we were cramming the car, with back seats folded, I could not help but admire how much space there was. Everything fit: all my boxes and bags, even the winter stuff. We put my orchid in as well. Must be a potted plant when moving, I saw it in American films.

Orchid at the end of the road after much dust had been raised.

And in the end, since the car still seemed half full, I pushed my office chair in as well. (The orchid died a while ago, whereas in the chair I’m sitting right now.)

And off we went. Actually, it was me behind the wheel so we can’t call it whisking away. And I drove all the way to Florence, about 480 km, where he took over for the remaining two hours and a half.

Finally in new home: our volcano (nah) and the ford which could do it all.

And now? In a sense, it is still exactly like it was three years ago: I’m happy, not too homesick (especially since I visit about three times a year and I’ve got visitors even more often), exploring my surroundings, taking it easy. And yet it is completely different too: a few months after my arrival we got bestia, which changes everything and now I can’t even imagine not having him.

The first things I have unpacked in my new home. The framed photo is of one of the three dogs that our family brought up by the bottle. The story of how we found them is touching and you can find it in my blog if you are lucky (hint: it was posted in March last year).

Okay, I know a bit more Italian now (here I’ve written about my early language learning). Enough to explain to the vet any trouble, and defend myself when people think I don’t understand them. I find it typical that the words I use most often are allora, va bene, eccolo, and my favourite, tutto a posto.

So here I am, 260 photo folders later (not to count the photos but there are a LOT), with two years of blogging behind me (and one year on FB!), with red painted nails, on my hands too (!), with an e-reader (and I was SO against them!) but also with many new books, and with newly acquired taste for melanzane, zucchini and this fruit:

I took this photo on the day of my arrival, thinking – how cute, tomatoes are indeed considered fruit here: they put them in the fruit bowl! Then I saw the skull and bones, chuckled at the thought of my theory that natives let the settlers have all the plants from the nightshade family forgetting to inform them they were poisonous, and ran to take the photo.

Little did I know that in no time at all I’d learn to enjoy the best ragu, melanzane parmigiana (which is a COMPLETELY RED DISH, something I used to run away from) and pasta with tuna in tomato sauce. The only thing I (still) don’t eat are raw tomatos in salad. And cetrioli. Too much chlorophyll. 😀

In short, it’s been good for me here, and I’ve been good for it (that is to say he and him, well, bestia is alright too). There is no reason why it shouldn’t continue to be just so. Grazie per tutto!

First photo shoot on the roof in 2013.

(And you who had to say in the typically Slovenian malevolent, down-putting, jinxing, jealous manner how you were willing to bet that this wouldn’t last and that I’d return in no time – beware that I don’t return for real if only to collect those cases of whiskey you owe me by now.)

As the poet Rade Šerbedžija says (I’ve translated the entire poem here):

we are still here
we have yet to be scattered by beasts

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

You and me – best of all worlds. 🙂

Photo: a © signature mmm production

Ikigai

This is something that has been troubling me my whole life. I know, I’m a bit old to not have it sorted out yet. Ah, well.

I’ve come across this neat little scheme a while ago. It struck an instant chord.

In my profile it says that I’m “living in order to learn to earn”. I realise what a luxury this is, most people are pushed into a direction, not necessarily ideal, by circumstances, early in life. But each day I am closer to the centre. Ikigai! Sounds like a war cry.

Let’s see what all I have tried so far:

Natural habitat and pose.

Yes, I excel at this too.

Smoke and coffee (even without a boat)? Tried it. Liked it for 20 years. Don’t like it any more.

Well, yes, but the system can do that alone just fine.

Well… not closing any doors.

No, no, this is mom’s thing. (She made these during her last visit out of the blue!)

No, really no, believe me.

This is more like it…

…while he told me to do it so long ago. And I don’t mean drinking.

But they don’t let me forget my natural calling here. I’ve come to the right country. Etruscans – my spirit animals.

Be as it may, the sanest meaning of life that I’ve heard recently comes paraphrased via C. G. Jung:

Our job in life is to become the person we are when we die.

Photo: a © signature mmm production

In fact, I’ll keep it!

It was two years ago today that I posted my first Manja Mexi Movie blog post. I can’t believe it’s been two years already.

(I know this, even though WordPress has stopped informing me about the number of posts or anniversaries and things like that a while ago. I don’t know what happened. – ADD-IT: The notification came at 11pm. WordPress never forgets, thank you!)

To think that the main impulse for starting the blog was lack of feedback from my family and friends upon sending them heaps of emails with photos from my new life in the new country!

To keep us company in this post, here are some of my favourite already published photos:

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Obviously the world is indeed big enough to find a variety of people who are not too lazy to tell you when you make them smile, busy schedule notwithstanding. Thank you all so much for that! I know how precious this is: even I with all the time in the world have trouble following everybody I’d like to. There are just too many brilliant people around!

It’s not just laziness, some friends back home are saying they don’t understand my blog because it’s in English. Hmmm, as little as I write? Photos are in English as well, are they? Whining like some Italians! Aren’t Slovenians known to brag how good we are at English? Because, compatriots, no matter how much you whine, this blog is NOT turning Slovenian any time soon.

And lest we forget, at the beginning, for much of the first year really, there were just about 7 followers, all family and friends. Only after I started joining photo challenges, many more of you came over and some stayed. Among the challenges that have achieved this are (in each line three links lead to three posts for every challenge):

and the latest I have joined:

Soon I will reach the upgrade limit for this one and will start another WordPress blog. Nothing much will change (other than the theme), I quite like it as it is. I hope – I always hope – to do more writing, but just like the rest of the world I’m getting lazier in this regard, posting more photos and less words. They are easier on the eye, it seems, or is it brain. It’s not that words are lacking, I always have a bunch, they are lurking JUST behind the corner. Beware.

Here is a recap of my writings that I posted last June. I find it very telling that only father, Snow Somewhere Else and Badfish commented. Well, I do say it’s for the organised and the mad ones. 😀 (Love you!)

What is alarming is that I’ve only added very few writings to Own Words category since.

Among them are:

In short – nobody has a truly good excuse for not following me. But I cannot and don’t want to force anybody either. Everything I said on this day last year in my first anniversary post is still true: we have strawberries and if you don’t want them – your loss.

And as they say in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels: “It’s a deal, it’s a steal, in fact…

…I think I’ll keep it!” 😀

Truly, from the heart, thank you all for every minute spent in my virtual company.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

Featured photo: The header of my upcoming blog: MLK in Ljubljana. 

Photo: a © signature mmm production

Storygathering

I’ve never felt like writers who invent stories must be feeling. It was always impossible for me to imagine being somebody else.

The latest reap of what they sowed. Some of them were recommended by you, kind bloggers, and some other people far away. 

Once I got this advice from an experienced writer whom I met in Denmark but was Irish: “Write the things you wish to tell the people around you.”

I looked at him while whispering on the inside: “But I tell them all the time. Aloud. Instead.”

I guess I’ve liked being me too much. I like my beliefs, what I stand for, my preferences, my taste.

I like my patterns, there is nothing in my past (and barely anything in my present) that I’d like to change.

Once I took part as a test bunny in a seminar for healers, and they asked me to state one thing about myself that I’d like to change.

That made me a bit angry. Why everybody supposes that we would like to change? Advertisers, sellers, fellow beings, therapists.

Except dogs. They are pretty sure in their unsupposing.

So I said: “Maybe we could work on my anger.”

Then came the past lives talk. Designing my own death in a Stefanel-inspired skirt with my neck on the chopping block in a forested area in Highlander times was fun.

But I’m not a writer. So it must have really happened. 😀

It’s true though: the only stories I gather are my own.

Luckily at least one is happening at all times.

Now – photography, on the other hand…

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

Photo: a © signature mmm production

Good luck knocking

I buy my gifts as if the whole world was available; I just have to look where my hand is about to reach.

Then I know for whom it is too.

So when it is a heart-shaped mirror, it must be sis.

But she is spending her Christmas and months around it in Peru.

After a consultation with my father I leave it gift-wrapped on top of her mail pile that is waiting for her at our parents’ house.

A few days before she is bound to return to this hemisphere for now, mom writes: “What is this heart-shaped mirror that I found on the shelf?”

“Wrap it back, mom. Not for you! Don’t you and dad ever talk?” Dad feigns ignorance and low recollection powers, he must have been on computer.

When sis returns, she must have opened it because she writes, with a heart:

“Oh, just to inform you that as I was packing to return, my old little mirror broke.”

“Sorry about that, had to do it,” I reply.

While in reality it was good luck knocking. I had merely known it would.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

And these are some other, Niki’s hearts from my yesterday’s visit to Il giardino dei tarocchi. Next time we go together.

Photo: MM

How much is it if I cry?

First a song by a Serbian band that I have translated for the occasion, then a true story, which is how I like them the most.
Riblja čorba: Dva dinara, druže / Two dinars, comrade
Translated by Manja Maksimovič

We were coming up with names for our children.
I loved her more and more every single day.
I was certain that I’d finally found the right woman.
We were saving for an apartment together.

I was sitting alone at our table.
Everything worth a damn had gone down the drain.
A woman made an ass out of me again.
I was just supporting cast.

I wished to howl, I ran downstairs.
I wasn’t able to hold it much longer.
A social case in front of the toilet said:
“Two dinars, comrade.”

“Number one, one dinar, number two, two.”
My glance pierced him like a sword.
“Excuse me,” I inquired.
“And how much is it if I cry?”

Should one drive from Ljubljana to Rome, out of one home into another, this means 7 to 8 hours highway time with many pit stops. Not only bestia but also I have to use the toilet on several occasions.

The first one comes soon, because amore needs an espresso to see the day clearly. This means a cappuccino for me. Immediately upon tasting it, my tummy makes a rumble and I cringe in pain. What a godawful broth. I almost have to run.

The toilet of the bar is next to the gas station. There is a bus, with people smoking in front, obviously travelling great distance, south to west.

When I reach the toilet, there is a line and a woman is collecting coins. Obviously the bus women have invaded the premises. They occupy all the sinks too, performing morning ablutions, watering their faces and cleavages, gurgling, making horrible-sounding attempts to clear their lungs. Like at home. Don’t you just love sleeping on the bus.

The scene worsens my pain and to think that I’ll have to pay for the experience makes me make an epic eye-roll.

The coin-collecting woman throws me a glance and mumbles something in the cursing way of a gypsy, possibly convinced that I cannot understand. But I can.

(She, in one of ex-Yugoslav languages:) Rolling eyes, are you?

(Me, repeating after her:) Rolling eyes.

(She, aghast:) You are Macedonian!

(Me, looking her in the eye:) Do I look it?

(She, laughing now in disbelief:) You are Slovenian!!

Since we are in the middle of Slovenia, this shouldn’t come as such a surprise but I know, Slovenia is a transit country. And Slovenians would rather not discuss nationalities with a coin-collector. Instead they would stare dead ahead. Or check their nails.

(Me, deciding to be jovial:) You can tell me, what on earth are you putting in these coffees so that everybody needs to come in here and pay you? What a market niche!

She grins widely now. A booth empties and I run in. Upon exiting I’m even happy a little and ask her how much she thinks it was worth. She says: “Daj šta daš.” Give what you give. I give her 50 cents to make it level with the toilet in Pisa where I was similarly appalled that I had to pay, but there the price was fixed, and greet her goodbye, still grinning. Obviously I made her day.

When I have to pee again, it’s hours later and we are in a service station somewhere in Italy. Off the highway it’s all rather the same until you start to climb the Apenini. I have to walk up and up and up to find a toilet.

As soon as I see there is no line, I decide to dash for the closest booth, when I pass another lady employee. She looks at me in something like horror but I choose to ignore her and proceed, thinking: “Oh no you won’t, goddamnit. You don’t even speak my language. You don’t need these bloody coins, your make-up costs more than my bra.”

Then I stop listening to my internal monologue and while peeing have a listen around me. Something is off.

I buckle up and just before making my exit I realise what is happening.

I only hear male voices.

She did try to warn me.

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

Featured photo: Off the roof this morning. Photo: MM

Kissmas for birthday

Today is your birthday and as every year, the whole world will celebrate it.

There are so many moments I could share that would shed light on why I love you. Let me at least attempt to count the ways.

  • How you say upon exiting a grocery store with handfuls of bags: “Did you notice in what bad mood the cashier lady is today? She’s almost crying.”
  • How we pass a lady at the beach parking who managed to bury her car deep into the sand, and I know you will go to help her immediately in a very determined, not to say stubborn way. And you do.
  • How you tell me that you will fix Ubuntu in Slovenian for when my mom visits even though she would not know Ubuntu if it landed on her head.
  • How you took my parents and me to a Tuscan Oktoberfest in a pub, which developed into a PARTY. Photos are from there. Crazy people! Us and them.

    Photo: BM

  • How you ask me “What would you like for dinner?” almost every night.
  • How you find a most challenging recipe and just do it.
  • How you impressed my mom the first time you visited me to spent New Year’s Eve together and I was sick and you went shopping with her. She said: “He knew every food you like and don’t like!”
  • How I write a trilingual shopping list and then you go to the store alone and buy everything right except you bring honey (miele) instead of milk. Talking about improvement.
  • How you agreed to translate with me a book into Italian even though my Italian was non-existent at the time. Even though nothing came out of this deal, I appreciated your intent.
  • How we were googling matching finger tattoos instead of rings if the need arises before living together but now I can’t imagine you suffer through this process without serious damage to the tattooator.

Not us! (God forbid.) Just a design saved long ago.

  • How you love your crazy guy (below) and how we translated his song into English together on a favourite day of this year. Last year you took me to his concert too. Entire families with little children, nobody drunk, all singing in unison, a guy dressed in Van Gogh running around the stage, and Caparezza enlightening the youth of today drawing a great comparison.

Tanti auguri, amore, and let every moment of your life live to its full potential.

Mica Van Gogh by Caparezza

Before you start calling Van Gogh “crazy”,
you must know that he is the roof and you are the ground floor
before saying that he was out of his mind,
you do a drawing with a sheet of paper and crayons

Van Gogh,
not just some guy over there
but one who at your age
was reading books by Emile Zola
was versed in Shakespeare
was versed in Dickens
while you read DVD Recorder manuals

Him,
three hundred letters, of fine literature
you,
one hundred and sixty characters and two smilies,
and that’s it.

Him,
London, Paris, Anverse,
you,
megastore, hyper, multiplex

Him,
far away but he knows all about his brother Teo
you,
living with your brother but you know nothing about him

Him,
on foot in the fields, stimulated
you,
closed inside a room with cramps on a treadmill

Beh, already at the first glimpse,
my dear boy,
you ought to agree that…

You are crazy
never mind Van Gogh

Van Gogh
when he was sixteen, he was visiting art collections
you,
at sixteen, collect Yugioh cards

Him,
at twenty, in the Louvre salon
and you,
in the SUV salon losing everything but your shirt

Him,
oils on canvas, creating paintings
you,
oil on muscles, body-building contests

Him,
countrywomen, models, and prostitutes
you
spend your nights in the bed with your laptop

He is talented and you know that
this is something that you don’t have

He
bets on himself
you
on poker online

Him,
euphoric at having met Gauguin
you
euphoric at having snorted cocaine

He,
absinthe and poetry
you,
without poetics

He
has faith
you
feel to be the Messiah.

Van Gogh,
a razor and he cuts his ear off
I hear you talk and
I’m about to do the same.

I have the razor in my hand
but I won’t kill you,
I’ll have pity on you because…

You are crazy,
never mind Van Gogh

You vandalize everything
when your team scores
you stand in line
to buy a smartphone

You are crazy
never mind Van Gogh

Ok, Van Gogh was eating paints out of tubes
and other absurd things,
probably less toxic than your cheeseburger

He had hallucinations that alter the sight
you eat mushrooms in Amsterdam
but this doesn’t make you an artist

You live and breathe for cellphones
him for sunflowers
hanging around with you is like being alone

Turning point, change of wind,
like in the game of rubamazzo,

There is news, ragazzo!
You are not sane anymore…

You are crazy
never mind Van Gogh

Translated by us ❤

This is a drabble, a one-hundred-word account.

Greetings from Trastevere. For some reasons I thought night shots never amount to anything. Photo: MM

I steak you

Just today in Roma I entered a shop with many shirts.

I saw a shirt that I would buy if it wasn’t in one colour only, ugly brown. On it were a bear and a girl (or was it a boy?) walking hand in hand. The bear was huge.

They appeared pensive. There was a think bubble with a drawing hovering next to each head.

In hers was: A heart.

In his was: A steak.

The reason I entered this shop was its name.

It is called: Trust Nobody.

He said later: “But they didn’t need to be so blunt.”

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

WPC: Bouncing or bound boundaries?

Boundaries, limits, borders. Let’s see.

1. I have never felt to have sufficient boundaries. And look at me now. Who said that if a frog had wings, where the end of it would be? I’ve always felt that nobody has gotten to my wings yet. And still I refuse to fly.

2. Unlike having boundaries imposed, which I view as something external, I draw my own limits most gladly and often. I tend to speak up if I have a problem and not suffer in silence. Masochism may be a drug of the nation, but I have moved. To hedonism. Which brings us to:

3. Borders used to be much more defined, back in the days of smuggling Brooklyn chewing gum, fancy pencil rubbers and alluring deodorants. When you get to the Slovenian-Italian border now, there is nothing there except a wave of nostalgia.

4. This blog has a photo posting limit. I’m closing in on it. Not quite clear what to do.

5. My days have time limit and I have acquired too many excellent and prolific bloggers to follow. I’m terribly behind you all and it’s accumulating. It’s breaking my heart a little but I WILL make up for my slacking and come abreast. The same goes for my favourite writer and her instalment novel.

6. Where exactly is the division between a photographer and someone who takes photos? Or a writer and someone who writes? In the second case I came to observe that it might be the moment when one lets out one’s characters to play rather than having the stage just for oneself. The case of photographer is trickier. Is it when one sells the first photograph? This I did only a few times and only together with articles for magazines a long time ago. As for my characters? They are still bound. (As in: taxi drivers know their streets, whereas drivers of taxis use GPS.)

7. In the case below, the scaffolding has provided just the right inter-species boundary. And yet they caught the same kind of sleepy. (I remembered just in time that this is a photo challenge.)

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈

Photo: MM

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Boundaries.”

Thursday Doors, September 17

Today a little ditty to go with the doors. And no need to repeat CBIT (Can’t Believe It’s Thursday).

Add-it: The ditty in the captions is not visible to all, it appears, that’s why I repeat it here:

Some come with Uncle, don’t mind the mismatch,
others with beer umbrellas and latch.
Some with graffiti,
and some with leaves,
some sporting flowers come with a beast.
Despite saying ‘Doggie’ some come with a cat
and if one is really lucky
some come with Dad.

1, 2: Motovun, Croatia
3: Ljubljana, Slovenia
4-8: Grožnjan, Croatia

Photo: MM

For Norm Frampton’s Thursday Doors challenge.

Voluble Monday

It’s not Silent Sunday because it’s Monday and there are words, but this photo is very telling.
 

This building in the very centre of Ljubljana has hosted Nama department store since I know of myself. Until recently it also gave home to the Večer newspaper Ljubljana office, on its top floor, where my father worked for several years, and a few floors down there was Slovene Emigrant Office (SIM) where I spent a few years of my only office time, editing and writing and translating for a couple of newspapers for Slovenians living abroad.

It was good. I could bring my dog. And I was able to work with Vida and Maja (mentioned in my About me), which will always count as nothing but good times.

And now, now the new urban planning has eliminated traffic from the street below and planted trees. The building is refurbished. The sailor has lost his Evening (Večer) ship, and the sailoress is left without her “Native soil” (translation of Rodna gruda, one of the newspapers for Slovenians abroad).

And through it all the ship Nama sails on. And it’s good: even though sellers might seem at times like they don’t really wish to sell you anything, it was here that my amore bought his coppola.

Another voluble photo from his first winter visit: amore from Italy + coppola from Nama halfway between Nama and Tivoli in Ljubljana in front of a photo of Maribor featuring my grandmother’s apartment.

Photo: MM

≈ Manja Maksimovič ≈