Archive for June, 2007

how far would you go

Ben has flown as far as Haskovo, Bulgaria.

because he heard his calling, I guess

I hope he has something meaningful to say on Peace Corps 70th anniversary

I hope even the most cynical now see the difference between the American Peace Corps and the American army

You’re welcome, Ben!


green worm

Milko says I am a book addict. If I am a book addict, then everyone is a food / water / air addict. I have heard of people who have overcome their addiction to food / water / air, but to my best knowledge, they live in another dimension. On my current plane of existence donkeys die when they have just learned not to eat. So, I’ll be reading all my way to enlightenment, and I guess, it might take millennia…

Milko says I am a tree killer because I buy so many books. Well, I am a tree killer for sure, and I do confess I have never thought enough about that in ethical and spiritual terms, but I have thought about that in green terms and realized trees are renewable. Still I have to find out the answers to many questions like: Are trees mostly cut to produce book paper? What kind of books get the most paper? What happens to different kinds of books when they are bought and read once? Is paper made of other plants as well? What is the process of recycling like? Why don’t I start a (green) book publishing business (one of my teenage dreams)? Why don’t I promote / start / take part in a book related research?

What I now know is that I need to buy books, so that my students and friends have something good to read ( the town library does not get enough money for books, and I don’t think it spends the little money it gets only on worthwhile books). Many people I know cannot afford so many books; some people do have the money, but they’re not used to spending it on books. As I believe reading is essential, I do have to provide people with books. Lucho has been reminding me of our idea to start a library ( I mean a real library, in a separate room). I have not forgotten Doddo’s suggestion to start a reading group (Would you ever care about bringing back some of the books you have kept for more than a year, Doddo?). So, Milko, the books I buy are used many times by many people, and good books don’t need to be recycled – there will always be people who need to read them. Good books never die. (Dimitar, Radka has brought the Iliad and the Odyssey in English for you).

Now that you have been led to believe I am about to become and angel in a couple of millennia, I’ll make a confession: I am not passionate only about learning and helping others learn. It’s a lot about PLEASURE.

Reading is SEXY, guys. I love practicing it everywhere – in bed, on a bench, on the grass, in a tree, in the car, on the floor, on the table, standing in line, in the toilet, in a boring class. Milko would say I should buy a laptop. OK, Milko, let me ask you a question – Have you ever made love to a doll? I know you can close your eyes and not look at it, but … how does it feel when you touch it? How does it taste when you kiss it? I guess it smells of rubber, and I can hear the funny sounds.

Have you ever loved a book, Milko? I can remember doing that as early as I was 3. I cannot take my eyes off a beautiful book or … shelves of books (blush). Have you ever caressed a matt wax book cover? I guess the purr of a processor on a rainy afternoon could be just as cozy as the rustle of pages, but … the smell? That’s what makes old books irresistible – so sweet and unchemical.

I pray to God / Allah / Buddha / Jesus / Mother Theresa / Green Peace / Al Gore to forgive me. I am not quite sure if I know what I am doing.

The acorn

An acorn shoots and grows into a mighty oak – that’s the logo of the US department of education. I was amazed: 1) I have always perceived an acorn as something magical 2) the logo stands for growing up into what you were meant to be – you see, it’s not an acorn growing up into a tomato or a pine tree, but an acorn growing up into an oak.

What’s so special about that? Well, let ME ask you several questions:

  1. Have you ever thought that YOU were meant to be something special – a unique person who will make his unique difference in the world?
  2. Have you ever tried to find out what your unique purpose is?
  3. Have your parents ever encouraged you to be yourself?
  4. Has your school ever catered for your unique individuality?


It seems that most of us perceive themselves as average, mediocre people who were not meant to make a difference in the world. We strive to survive by being “normal”, by keeping a low profile, by taking up the most popular majors. We grow up to believe there is just one way to be happy, and we have this model reinforced in our minds through soap-operas, Barbie magazines, Big Brother, tabloids, mom’s advice, neighbors’ example, commercials – millions of people cannot be wrong, right?


Trying to find out what your unique purpose is could be painful swimming against the tide. You know, nobody has ever become the prophet of his native village. As we are “only” human, most of us try to avoid any kind of discomfort. Well, I don’t mean sitting down and thinking of what occupation or lifestyle will make you happy is necessarily painful. NO! However, it might take effort to use your own brain; it might give you guilty conscience for you believe daydreaming is a waste of time; it might leave you embarrassed to find out you do not wish for a realistic secure mature life, and you’ve always avoided being a pink elephant, haven’t you?


Some parents do admire their child’s uniqueness, but for the sake of their offspring’s well-being, they try to kill it softly, to suppress it gently, or lead their child to believe that it’s something he should take as a hobby.

To tell you the truth, I personally know just one mom who has been consistent in encouraging her children to be what they feel they should be. She is one of my friends’ mom – she has been a cleaning woman for most of her adult years; she was a young mother of three when her husband died. My friend is a professional artist, and I think he’ll always be what he feels like being, despite the fact that he has his downs in income as artists do not get a monthly salary, you know.

When I first went to their place, his mom was eager and proud to show me a pile of drawings – she had kept EVERYTHING he had drawn since the day he had got hold of a pen. When he was leaving for Vienna several years ago, she was a bit worried. I told her, “Don’t worry. He’ll survive. He can always take any job.” “Why should he take ANY job?”, his mom asked, “He is an artist. He has talent. That’s what he should do.”

Since then I have been trying to be like my friend’s mom to my son, who, coincidentally, has the same name as my friend’s. I don’t know what is to become of him,. Few people were born with such conspicuous talent as my friend’s or Mozart’s. So I just keep showing my son all the opportunities I know of, encouraging him to believe that he can also invent opportunities. I hope some day he finds out what his “acorn” is like and lets it grow, and I would not be crushed if he turns out to be a gay artist, for example.

As for my own parents, they did not worry much about my vocational choices. They believed I should become what I am capable of and feel happy about my choice. I am not sure if they believed I was special, but they did not relate my vocational choices to survival as it was communism back then, and everybody was guaranteed physical survival through a job and a salary. Well, they knew teaching would not bring me much money or prestige, but they did not yield to their friend’s pressure “A teacher? She is so bright! She could have been accepted anywhere. Why didn’t she take up international business? She’ll be satisfied with teaching?!?”


When I was a student, I was lucky to have teachers who liked me for what I was, who believed it was cute to be different, to be oneself. They believed in me and encouraged my individuality – most of them. I was lucky not to be taught by the scared people obsessed with survival who teach my son and students today. That mattered a lot.

It’s not easy being oneself today. People around us are so obsessed with physical survival that their idea of success and happiness is buying an apartment and a car, and all the fancy trinkets that are believed to exude prestige. Most kids today grow up seeing only what their parents and neighbors can see. What most of them can see is misery. How sad.

How about you? Do you care about letting your acorn grow?

don’t ever look them in the eye

just that? and then what?

“Don’t ever look them in the eye!”, my friend said after he had seen me surrounded by a group of gypsies in the square. “If you stop to talk to them, you’ll never get rid, so you’d better not even look at them.”

When I talked to one of them on the phone recently and explained that I cannot possibly go on supporting financially their 18-member family, so they should try to find jobs, do the things I have taught them to, she was amazed and asked, “Is it unpeasant to you [to give us money whenever we ask you to, no matter how much]?!?”

I don’t even remember what I answered. I was pissed off. What if I had never looked anyone of them in the eye instead of spending so much time with them and giving them so much money? They wouldn’t be pissed off by me now. I just know it.

observer walk

While I was walking through the square early in the morning, I heard someone play the guitar. There were people sitting on the benches and watching the performer on the big stage. There was no guitar player but a mime artist. I took some poor photos of him and went on. While I was taking pictures, I felt a lady’s look on me. It was someone who works in the same building. When I approached her, she asked me “What is this free trial for 14 days?” looking at a billboard of the Bulgarian Telecommunications Company. “Internet”, I read for her. Then she asked why there was someone on stage, and I said there were theatre days in town. Then she said she could not walk slowly and hurried up the street, so I said “Bye”

She is not blind; she is not even short sighted. I have known her for several years. For 2 of them her office was next to mine. Back then she asked me many questions. For example, “Please, tell me if my printer is color or not”, so I had to read the label on the printer for her and say “Color”. Then she asked, “Where could I find ink for it?”, and I said “Downstairs, from the company which sells computers, printers and ink”. “Do you know their phone number?”. “Yes, I do.”

As for the theatre days, there are huge posters all over town. I do not have much time for theatre these days, and I don’t know the exact days and stuff, but it was enough for me to see the posters once, so I was not shocked to see the mime artist today.

What if there were no posters at all? Would everyone in Haskovo be shocked by a mime artist and not know what to make out of his sight? What if they did not explain it on TV? How would people know what to think about that?

my gift for you, my hero

Here is a new blog. Many people helped create it for you. You are someone’s hero. Help him find the hero in himself.

you are my hero

you might see this, if the one above would not open


Oh, oh, oh, oh –
It must have been cold there in my shadow,
To never have sunlight on your face.
You were content to let me shine, thats your way.
You always walked a step behind.

So I was the one with all the glory,
While you were the one with all the strain.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain.

Did you ever know that youre my hero,
And everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings.

It might have appeared to go unnoticed,
But I’ve got it all here in my heart.
I want you to know I know the truth, of course I know it.
I would be nothing without you.

Did you ever know that youre my hero?
Youre everything I wish I could be.
I could fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings.

Did I ever tell you youre my hero?
Youre everything, everything I wish I could be.
Oh, and I, I could fly higher than an eagle,
For you are the wind beneath my wings,
cause you are the wind beneath my wings.

Oh, the wind beneath my wings.
You, you, you, you are the wind beneath my wings.
Fly, fly, fly away. you let me fly so high.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.
Oh, you, you, you, the wind beneath my wings.

Fly, fly, fly high against the sky,
So high I almost touch the sky.
Thank you, thank you,
Thank God for you, the wind beneath my wings.