January 17, 2019Comments are off for this post.

Connections – Alex

Connections Ioana Birdu interviews

© Ioana Bîrdu

Connections is an exercise of introspection and honesty, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that had a meaningful impact on our lives.

Connections talks about us all – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.


Did you make up stories when you were a little boy? What were they about?

Yes, all the time. And each time they all started with two people who became friends.

I’ve always been interested in drawing and when I was a boy I decided to create and write a book, without knowing what that actually meant. So I began drawing characters and maps of cities and wrote stories about a fight between light and darkness. I don’t know how the battle ended 🙂

What's a beautiful memory from your childhood?

Those autumn Sunday mornings when I went outside, in the yard, right after breakfast. Everything was still green, covered in dewdrops and the air had that particular freshness. Add to this that serenity specific to autumnal beginnings.  

Tell me about a person who changed or had an impact on your life.

Once I met someone who surprised me with a truly balanced demeanour. I found it almost unreal, comparing it to my previous experiences. I believe it overlapped with my realization of how I always get into this unhealthy behavioral pattern, every time I fall in love with someone.

I think it’s fantastic how this coincidences appear. It’s like someone gives you the right answer when you ask the right question.  

What have you learnt from your past relationships?

I’ve learnt to communicate what I feel in a clear, simple and direct manner. I’ve learnt what acceptance means and what I’m looking for. That age and maturity are not a package deal. That it takes two people to build something and that a relationship is something really fragile.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

Yes, a taxi driver wished me the most beautiful thing: “May you have a beautiful, sunny day and many smiles from lots of people!”, accompanied by an honest smile.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

Yes, for a five year old girl. I gave her the most precious treasure I had: my figurine collection (around 200 pieces). Fortunately it’s in good hands now.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

In the evening, every now and then, when I hope to hear the SMS tone, before I fall asleep.

Alex, 29 years old

September 10, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Connections – Andrei

 

connections Ioana Birdu

© Ioana Bîrdu

Connections is an exercise of introspection and honesty, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that had a meaningful impact on our lives.

Connections talks about us all – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.


Did you make up stories when you were a little boy? What were they about?

Yes, I did. When I turned 5, I received my first PC. This happened in 2000. I enjoyed playing on it a lot, initially in Paint, then playing games from floppy disks and a little later from CDs. When I wasn’t spending my time in front of my desktop, I wanted to bring the same experience in my “fighting” against the robots and cars I played with in real life, so I tried to mix the stories in a big one, throughout multiple days.

Outdoors me and my friends from the neighbourhood loved playing with plastic guns or even real gun replicas. Before we started playing we always thought of a script inspired from PC games and afterwards put it in action everywhere we could.

What’s a beautiful memory from your childhood?

I still remember the sounds and the image of my father teaching my mother how to ride a bike in large, repetitive circles in our yard.

Tell me about a person who changed or influenced your life.

I won’t give a name or too many details for personal reasons. The only thing I will say is that she taught me so many things during a year and if it wasn’t for her I wouldn’t be so mature and the person I am today. Thank you.

What have you learnt from your past relationships?

Relationships helped me in life, career and work. They’ve helped me make friends, lovers and enemies. They’ve helped me grow up and head towards roads I didn’t even imagine. I see relationships like an organised chaos that everyone needs to create.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

I can only use the plural here. I’ve met lots of strangers who taught me patience and introduced me to a spiritual world.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

I offered them my time.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

I can’t tell if you mean it in a negative way or not, because many of us consider or associate loneliness to something bad, anti-social. Honestly, I can’t say if I ever felt alone in a bad way but I can tell you this: loneliness is vital for me. I love doing many things alone because it gives me a state of well being. I find loneliness to be a way of escapism and daydream.

Andrei, 20 years old


Want to be part of this project? Just answer the same questions and send them to ioanabirdu@gmail.com Or reflect on them and keep it to yourself, it will do you good 🙂

June 16, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Connections – Vlad

connections Ioana Birdu

© Ioana Bîrdu

Connections is an exercise of introspection and honesty, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that had a meaningful impact on our lives.

Connections talks about us all – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.


Did you make up stories when you were a little boy? What were they about?

I did, beginning with kindergarten although I can’t remember those. When I got to school, they were about everything or anything as long as I had an audience. I told the best ones to my friend, Big Sorin, who was mesmerised and kept asking questions about them.

I was usually the main character and I was either fighting sharks on the Danube or saving people from all kinds of bad things. As a sign of gratitude for the stories, Big Sorin defended me from Little Sorin, who always called me a liar and tried to attack me in different ways.

The best thing is that a few years ago I met Big Sorin again and his first question was if I remember how I used to tell him stories on our way home from school. 🙂

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

The first one. I can’t let go of if no matter what I do. It happened when I was around two or three years old and lived with my grandparents. I lived there until I turned five or six.

It was a snowless winter and the sun had teeth (that's what they said, but I swear I never saw the sun having any teeth). I was all wrapped up in clothes and climbing down the stairs of my grandparent’s house. When I got close to the garden I heard my mother’s voice calling me. I couldn’t see her too well because the I had the sun playing in my eyes, but I sensed her there. I remember her smiling and talking to me and she wore some brown, bell-bottom trousers, left overs from the 70’s probably. I went to  her and all I remember is I was happy. That’s all.

Tell me about a person who changed or influenced your life.

George whom I met when I finished college. At our first beer together - I was going through a period of complete disorientation at the time - I found myself in front of a thirty something year old having the profound sensation that I’m being read as an open book, but in a way that made me feel no threat. And I’m not joking: that person knew all there was to know about me in five minutes.

George changed my life because he was the first person who saw something in me and helped me become more confident. The third time we went out for a beer I found out he worked at RIS (Romanian Intelligence Service) and that he actually was or used to be a spy. This explained some things :).

What have you learnt from your past relationships?

The difference between a monologue and a conversation.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

Most certainly yes, but I can’t recall a story. What I can undoubtedly say is that I learnt to thank without trying to understand why a stranger did something nice for me.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

I usually remember these things when the other person stops being a stranger.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

Loneliness is something hard only when you feel alone among people. Otherwise, until a certain point we are all alone. We take part in longer or shorter conversations and conversations lead to connections. The reason  you gather all of us here.

Vlad, 35 years old


Want to be part of this project? Just answer the same questions and send them to ioanabirdu@gmail.com

February 2, 2018Comments are off for this post.

Andreea

connections

© Ioana Bîrdu

 

This project is an exercise of introspection and honesty, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that have a meaningful impact on our lives. Connections talks about all of us – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.


Did you invent stories when you were a little girl? What were they about?

Of course I did and I keep doing it. When I was little I liked to play theater with my grandma because she raised me and I spent almost my entire time with her. When I woke up in the morning, I went to the kitchen where I hid behind the door while she worked. I was counting on the fact that with the radio turned up and her being caught in her work she couldn’t hear me come. But she obviously knew! Nevertheless, she played my game and walked through the kitchen as if I was invisible, which was something I loved. So I was hiding there until it seemed it was the right time to get out on the stage and surprise her. Then she exclaimed: Ionicaaa! (I’m also named Ioana after my grandfather, her husband, whom I never knew, but everybody who knew him says we are alike; I was born at approximately one year after he passed and in a way I was like her life belt, because she could direct all her love and attention towards me).

I asked her: 'you really had no idea I was there?' And she said: 'no, not at all, are you invisible?' And from that point we made up an entire dialog about my superpowers and how I could be whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted and how when you have an authentic inner freedom that you develop and you believe in, nothing can stop you.

Another favorite story was with my aunt, Mariana, who, by the time I was 7, played Santa for me. Every year during the holidays she called me on the phone and asked me questions about my year and I was telling her poems, being sure that I was speaking to Santa.  She was also my partner in discussion. Whenever she came to visit us I waited for her like a real host with my plastic tea service and snacks and I spoke in an affected way just like I thought adults were acting in those kind of situations. I have many stories like these and all of them are dear to me.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

I have many memories of my childhood, it was a joyful one! However, one of my dearest involves my grandmother, with whom, as I said, I spent the whole time until I started going to kindergarten at age 4. I love her and she is dear to me because she always acted like I was a grown up and included me in all her activities. For example, I will never forget our walk to the doctor, the same route I would later go to highschool and university, where she was going to these galvanic baths. I used to explain to the doctors why I brought my grandma to see them. And while she was getting her treatment, I was walking through the hospital talking to doctors or nurses or whoever I happened to bump into. I was a curious kid, but not a tactless one; I always wanted to understand things around me. And here I am today writing stories, and it looks like ever since those times, I naturally developed this ability to interact with people, ask them questions and try to understand them.

 

Tell me about a person who had an impact on your life. 

There are several people who were more than welcome in my life and that taught me a lot in a given period. I’m not a declarative or full of effusion person from this point of view and I don’t want to use big word such as “changed my life” because the impact a person can have in your life depends on how much you allow it. The people I would like to mention are my parents, my grandma, my childhood friends, my highschool friends who are still my friends and Stephan, who is my mirror. Meeting him two years ago made me feel, for the first time, that I wasn’t alone. Alone in the sense that I wasn’t the only one seeing things the way I do. And this brought me comfort and joy, a state of wellbeing that stays with you whether that person is close to you or not.

Professionally, the majority of people I’ve worked with were people who taught me a lot, who believed in me and who sometimes gave me more responsibility greater than I thought I deserved and for that I thank them!   

What did you learn from your past relationships?

How much time do you have to read it all? Either way, I will shorten all my learnings in a well-known quote: “Never do to others what you wouldn't have them do to you”.  In a nutshell I self-educated to take each person as she is and not try to project on her my needs or expectations because it’s unrealistic.

Although many of us have a tendency to exaggerate the image of others for the better or for the worse, most of them are pretty clear in their intentions, throughout their behavior and not their words. This happens because we are often led by the most powerful instincts that we have in us, fear and desire for self-preservation. If you learn to read people, read their behavior and the words behind their words, everything becomes easier!

Did a stranger do anything nice for you?

Yes, many times! There are small gestures that reveal someone’s goodwill and I always appreciate them. For example, being allowed to pass in front of someone in a supermarket queue when they have a bag full of groceries while I only have a bottle of water. Or those moments when I wait at the pedestrian crossing on a rainy day and see a car coming my way slowing down so that I won’t get sprayed with dirt while it passes me. I notice all these things and say thank you in my mind every single time.

What about the other way around, did you do anything nice for a stranger?

Yes, I also did nice things for others. The most frequent one is feed the people who need it. If I go to a restaurant with my friends and there are leftovers I always ask to have it as take away and later give it to someone on the street. I hate wasting food and there is always someone who needs it and it’s such a simple gesture to do. It’s a thing I encourage!

When in your life did you feel most alone?

I am someone who functions very well on her own and I don’t usually suffer from loneliness, I actually enjoy solitude the vast majority of time. I like reading and writing and think about what’s important to me and to my life. And yet, I felt alone two times during my childhood: when one holiday, the hotel elevator went up several floors with only me inside and one summer holiday, at the seaside when the small inflatable boat I was standing in got carried away. My parents still say that I was barely moved by the wave a few feet, but I was downright terrified and I'll never forget the strong feelings of helplessness and fear I had.

Oh, and there’s one more. When I was 10 I woke up one morning and heard my mother crying and I knew my grandma died (one day before she had a heart attack and got admitted to hospital). I felt alone because I knew a very important person in my life was gone and I was never going to see her again.  

Andrea, 30 years old

Want to be part of this project? Send me your answers at ioanabirdu@gmail.com

May 18, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Barrie

Sometimes we go through experiences that overwhelm us. We feel alone and helpless, or need someone to share the little things that bring us joy. Other times we rush into judging others without knowing them or having any idea about the things they’ve been through.

I started Connections in a time when my life didn’t look very colorful or happy and it served as a self therapeutic exercise. Then more people got hooked into it and I decided to take it further.

This project is an exercise of introspection and sincerity, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that put a mark on our lives. Connections talks about all of us – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.

It’s a project that continues to do me good and I hope you’ll get something good out of it as well.

*

Did you use to invent stories when you were a little boy? What were they about?

Not that my old brain will remember.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

My best memories date back to 9 months living on my grandfather’s farm when my Dad was away. I was young but everything is vivid – if I had to pick one, sitting on my Grandpa’s lap while he drove the tractor; he let me steer and I thought I was driving!

Tell me about a person who changed/influenced your life

I had a senior military boss who gave me an opportunity to flourish and the belief that I could do well. The best mentor I ever had.

What did you learn from your past relationships?

Life is too short to be unhappy – sometimes you need to be brave and set off on your own to find the freedom to be happy. Sometimes, that is a selfish – but necessary – thing to do.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

Not yet – how cool would that be?

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

I always try to buy a coffee for people I see on the street and offer a few coins and some words of encouragement/a listening ear.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

When I separated from the mother of my children … it was the right thing to do for the adults – but I ache still at the lost time with my children.

 Barrie, 50 years (32 in my heart)

*Want to be part of this project? Send me your answers at ioanabirdu@gmail.com*

April 20, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Insects

This short story was inspired by the weird noises our bodies sometimes make and a story by Roddy Doyle. You can read it here or download a pdf version (find it at the end of the page). It's also a writing exercise, so I'll be happy to hear your thoughts on it.

It all started with that dream.

'Wake up. Lena, wake up.'

His voice, the only familiar thing in the dark, reached to me and I grabbed and held and let it lead me.

His arms around me, strong, safe, warm. We stayed like that until my body softened and the knocking of my heart, like pounding, at a door of a house at night, where you thought you would be safe, returned to its normal course. My shirt, pasted on my back, got colder as drops of sweat rolled down my neck.

I heard my voice trembling and low.

'John, I’m scared.'

'It’s alright, you’re safe now. It was just a dream.'

'It didn’t feel like a dream, it felt real.'

He nodded and said dreams always feel real. Even in the poor light of the room I could see his eyes worried, loving. I must have looked as terrible as I felt.

'I don’t think we should watch those movies before going to bed', he said walking his fingers through my hair.'I was afraid this would happen.'

'I don’t think it was the movie, it wasn’t like the dreams I usually have.'

'What do you mean?'

'You know how you joke about being from another planet, how you sometimes feel you don’t belong?'

'Yes', he said softly.

'It was something like that. I was in a place I didn’t belong, but everything told me that it’s where I needed to be. And I wasn’t myself. I mean, it was me, but it didn’t feel like me. I, I felt like an alien, like an outsider trapped on a different planet.'

'You mean green, oval shaped head, noseless and big dark eyes?'

'It wasn’t physical', I said ignoring his joke.'I was in my own body, but I couldn’t control anything. It felt like I was one of those ventriloquist puppets and someone was directing my every move. Even my thoughts. I was terrified. I don’t remember much of what happened, the images are starting to fade away now, but the feeling is still here.'

'Yeah, I hate that about dreams, it’s so frustrating. But Lena, it was just a dream. You're here with me and you are as gorgeous as you always were', he said playfully and kissed me.

Hours later I was still awake. I didn’t want to close my eyes. I was afraid if I fell asleep, I would go back to that place. It was too much. I tried to think about the next day, about work, and all the things I wanted to do. Anything that would keep my mind busy and feed it neutral, safe images.

In the morning I heard John get out of the bed and go to the bathroom. Afterwards, the sound of water falling down on his body, changing rhythm along with his movements.

I remained there listening, unable and unwilling to move. I wasn’t ready to face the world, my head was still foggy and I felt exhausted after the other night. I hated that feeling. I knew from experience I won’t get rid of it too soon. It will follow me throughout the day haunting, lurking from the shadows of my mind.

He was now in the kitchen. The smell of fresh toast and a faded voice from a podcast running on his phone reached to me, as an invisible path to the outside world.

Get out, get out. No, not yet, I’m not ready yet.

I moved to his side of the bed and felt his perfume on the pillow. I pressed my face against it and breathed deeply. It felt familiar, comforting. The next time I opened my eyes he was sitting on the bedside, leaning down over me.

'I’ll see you tonight', he said and placed a kiss on my forehead.

Don’t go, don’t leave me alone, I wanted to say. Instead I mumbled something and hid more underneath the blankets.

Finally, in the bathroom, I looked myself in the mirror.

It was fine. Everything was fine. I was as normal as any human could be. I didn’t feel fine though. My mouth was dry, my jaws were clenched and my stomach hurt. I stretched my back, washed my face with cold water, then stepped into the shower. Showers always helped.

*

'What do you want for dinner?' John asked one day.

'Locusts', I said without even blinking.

Why did I say that?

He laughed.

'I’m afraid we’re out of stock my dear lady. Should I interest you in some burgers instead?'

It took me a few seconds to get back to myself. I laughed and hid behind his joke.

'Make it a veggie one', I finally said.

But I couldn’t help the feeling that something had changed, something was different. Something was different with me.

After a while, my body signaled it too, through unfamiliar and strange noises, like some kind of animal was living inside me, releasing occasional groans and complaints. Fortunately, this mostly happened when I was alone and if he was around, I’d hide my belly under the blankets or blame everything on my digestion and he would smile and giggle and make a funny joke about his cooking skills. He was perfect.

Other than that things were fine. I made myself believe it for a while. I was fine. I was normal. Many people went through this. I just needed to be more careful with my nutrition. Maybe drink less of that soda I liked so much. That must be it. I decided to get rid of it. Too many bubbles are bad for you, not to mention all that sugar.

Things were fine. Everything was fine.

*

One day in the kitchen I was preparing a shake before my morning run. That always gave me enough energy to keep me going for an hour or so. I cut a banana into round pieces, put it over some frozen spinach, added water and some lemon juice, then mixed everything up in the blender. As the mixture turned into a uniform green liquid, my eyes wandered across the room. On the left side wall, a spider climbed its way up to the corner of the ceiling. Small, rapid moves, stopping from time to time as if paying attention to its environment. Maybe it knew, maybe they have a sense about things like these. I watched it for a while. It didn’t look scary or repulsive as it used to, rather tempting and mouth-watering. Before he got out of reach, I grabbed it in my hand and felt the little legs tickling up and down inside my closed palm, then, as if split in two, I witnessed myself take it close to my lips, put it in my mouth and swallow. It tasted delicious and I yearned for more.

What’s happening to me?

Later that evening the noises started again. I was craving. I wanted flies and spiders and bugs. I wanted insects. Despite the attractive colors on my plate, I couldn’t touch much of dinner that night. Nothing there looked as appetizing as it used to, but I felt guilty and forced myself to eat it. He enjoyed making things like that for me.

'Surprise', he said. 'I made your favorite.'

It wasn’t the case anymore. To my horror, my favorite would now have been a bowl full of swarming brown and dark creatures, with small eyes and a handful of legs.  

'Looks delicious', I said and flashed the smile that never went wrong.

After dinner I helped him wash the dishes, then closed myself in the bathroom. I turned the water on and let it fall. My stomach was louder, more vocal, angry and demanding.

Sometimes people try new things. I am just experimenting. Nothing unusual about that.

In the morning I was out on the running track again. All warmed up, I watched the orange rays of light slid playfully through the branches of the trees and inhaled the smell of freshly cut grass. I felt invigorated, powerful, my senses more perceptive than usual. I directed my body towards the lake and switched from sprint to my comfortable speed.

There was no one else, I was relieved to notice. No one to see me pass through the little swarm of flies. No one to see me open my mouth and absorb them one by one, hungry, impatient, ecstatic.

It was fine. Everything was fine. I was just going through a phase. I had to be careful though, I couldn’t get caught. I couldn’t let others find out about this. Especially John. What would he think of me? I didn’t want to lose him. No. I had to control this, whatever “this” was. This addiction, this abnormal and bizarre thing I accepted so freely. I took a deep breath and continued running. Everything was going to be fine.

Days passed and things seemed to go back as they used to. Or so I thought. My life was unfolding to the same comforting routine for over two weeks now. And then, the craving started again.

It was late in the night when I couldn’t bare it any longer. John was lying by my side, snoring softly, unaware. I got out of the bed, out of the house, straight into the barn. Under the pale light of a candle I saw John’s fishing tools, neatly arranged for the next morning. I knew I should find something there. Bingo. Close to the hooks and the rods, there were bait worms swarming in a tall, transparent jar. And in a second, just like an animal on its prey, I devoured them. No, maybe not devour, but sucked them and chewed on them as if they were fruit jellies.

In the bathroom I brushed, flossed and gargled until my eyes began to wet. Back underneath the blankets, John’s body was burning and moved slowly after I kissed him on the neck.

That was it, I was fine now. I was done with it. I slept like a baby that night.

*

'Have you seen my Willy worms?'

'What?'

I didn’t startle. I was sitting calm at the table, sipping on my coffee, scrolling the news headlines on my phone.

'My Willy worms. I use them as fishing bait.'

'What about them?'

'They’re gone. I had them in a jar and I can’t find them.'

'Didn’t you use them last time you went fishing?'

'I did, but I just bought a new batch the other day.'

'Then it must have been a fox or a raccoon. A lot of neighbours complained they began barging in. Mary lost all her chicks because of them.'

He paused a little considering the option.

'Yeah, might be. I’ll need to do something about it these days. And I guess I’ll just have to manage with the rest of the bait I have for the moment.'

As he drove away from the house I put my hands in the pockets of my dress and took out a small plastic bag with the rest of the Willy worms. I ate them slowly, one by one, and felt outraged at the possibility of him entering the kitchen right that second, discovering me. Then, I wished he did. I wished for him to see me eat them. I wished he would ask me if he could try one too. I wished he’d like it and do it together.

After I finished I threw the empty bag in the bin and went upstairs to wash until I made sure there was no trace of flesh between my teeth. That was it. Cured. Revolted. Never again.

And I was cured, I’d sorted myself out. The thought, the memory, the taste of it, it had me aching all day. I couldn’t let it go. I tortured myself until I knew I was fixed.

It was protein I was after. I had decided that after I had done a little bit of googling when I went back to work. It made sense; it was fresh air across my face. Something about the taste, even the look of insects. That was what I craved - the meet, the protein. I had stopped eating meat for the past months and now my body was sending me signals. I’d been looking pale, I’d been falling asleep in front of the TV like old people do. That was what I craved for, meat.

During lunch break I went to a restaurant near the office and ordered stake, but spit it all out as soon as the first bite touched my tongue. I ate the salad and the chips and asked for the bill.

By the time I got home I knew my protein theory was shit. There was nothing wrong with me, except I wanted to eat insects.

But I had a life, that was the point. I had a fiancee I adored and a job that fulfilled me. Well, most of the time. I worked in a charity organization and I was pleased to do something I believed in. The money was ok, not enough to consider myself rich, far from that, but enough to bring to a starting family and to afford a two week vacation abroad, once a year.

The point was, I was normal. I was a thirty three year old woman, who lived in a nice city and enjoyed the occasional night out with her friends; went to her book club once a month and had sex with her partner often enough to qualify as regularly. We’ve been together since high school and I would like to have had sex with other men, but that was just a thought, never a real ambition or anything urgent or mad.

I was normal.

Next day at the office I went to the bathroom with a casserole of crickets, hidden in my bag. On the toilet seat, I ate them one by one, until there was nothing left. After I finished, I checked myself in the mirror, even though I’d been careful not to let myself get carried away. I was clean, spotless, my normal self. I went back to my desk and ate my lunch with my colleagues, a sandwich I’d made myself that morning - avocado and tomatoes. I felt good, I felt great.

I was controlling it, feeding it. I had learnt not to take from John’s fishing lot, it would have been too risky. I found a pet shop near my job and discovered they had most of the things I wanted. Ironic, I never thought I would be grateful for people owning rats, and snakes and reptiles as pets.

So I was quite surprised when, at our anniversary dinner, I ate a moth, right in front of him. It happened too fast, it was too instinctual for me to be able to refrain myself. One minute it was flying above our heads, desperately hitting the lightbulb, the next it was in my fist, then my mouth and finally swallowed up with satisfaction.

And then I froze. I was terrified.

This is it, this is where I lose him.

I looked at him waiting. He looked at me in silence, then eventually

'It was you, wasn’t it?'

'What do you mean?'

'The worms. My fishing bait. Was that you?'

I couldn’t do it, I couldn’t hide it.

'Yes', I admitted.

'Why did you do it? Is this a new diet thing of yours?'

He was giving me a way out, an explanation that made more sense than anything I could have made up. But I could do it. I couldn’t go on like that.

'I ate them', I said.'I like eating insects.'

He went quiet again, for quite a while, then looked at me and said

'How was it?'

'It was good, I said. It was great.'

*

Download the pdf file: Insects

 

April 5, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Rodrigo

Sometimes we go through experiences that overwhelm us. We feel alone and helpless, or need someone to share the little things that bring us joy. Other times we rush into judging others without knowing them or having any idea about the things they’ve been through.

I started Connections in a time when my life didn’t look very colorful or happy and it served as a self therapeutic exercise. Then more people got hooked into it and I decided to take it further.

This project is an exercise of introspection and sincerity, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that put a mark on our lives. Connections talks about all of us – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.

It’s a project that continues to do me good and I hope you’ll get something good out of it as well.

*

Did you use to invent stories when you were little? What were they about?

I used to play with action figures, mixed with all the toys. Building huge cities across the house. My parents’ legs covered by mattresses was mountains, hills. The track in the carpets, roads. Other thing about inventing stories I would like to point out. The video games was pretty.... simple. And added to this, there was the fact that they were in English. My friends and I barely understood its stories or mechanics, so we INVENTED, and I mean, A LOT. So someone, for example, invented that in a motorcycle game, there was a trick that you would be able to enter in a house and have a lunch and sleep a little.
We all tried for weeks to do the trick. Back in my memory, there was a whole world inside those games. It is with a bit of melancholia feeling that I look back to those games in emulators to see that most of the fun was just in our heads.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?
The infinite freedom in the afternoons with street friends. Dirt roads, bicycles by our feet.

Tell me about a person who had an impact on your life.
A history teacher, who taught there was many views for the same reality. He gave me a copy of "Chariots of the Gods?" by  Erich von Däniken. I think there I earned the right to be curious.

What did you learn from your past relationships?
There is no free-ride when you talk about relationships. The persons involved will be touched and marked, somehow. And I don't see it in a pessimist perspective, by the contrary, there lies the beauty of it.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?
I cannot remember anytime where someone helped me, without me asking first for help. Usually I like to be in the other side, being the stranger who helps.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?
Often. I like how people react with disbelief at random acts of kindness. There is some kind of magical, humane touch in it.

When in your life did you feel most alone?
At night, after college or work, in a daily commute, at rush hours. I believe it is that small period where all the hopes of the day where lost and new one did not born yet.

Rodrigo, 28 years old

*Want to be part of this project? Send me your answers at ioanabirdu@gmail.com*

February 2, 2017Comments are off for this post.

Duncan

Sometimes we go through experiences that overwhelm us. We feel alone and helpless, or need someone to share the little things that bring us joy. Other times we rush into judging others without knowing them or having any idea about the things they’ve been through.

I started Connections in a time when my life didn’t look to colorful or happy and it served as a self therapeutic exercise. Then more people got hooked into it and I decided to take it further.

This project is an exercise of introspection and sincerity, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that put a mark on our lives. Connections talks about all of us – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.

It’s a project that continues to do me good and I hope you’ll get something good out of it as well.

*

Did you use to invent stories when you were little?

Playfully, yes. I miss the fact that the stories I would make up cross boundaries - into space and the past and the present, knights and aliens and whatever I could get my hands on. That’s interesting to me, rather than the nostalgia for toys of the past which are linked to the future with some ideal about learning to code. It’s the imagination and creativity which went into whiling away the hours. Childhood is a magical time, in the sense that nothing is grounded in reality - when you’re little you don’t really have a grounded sense of time and place, so inventing stories is part of the process of figuring out what’s really happening.

One game I played was about watching a small figure running alongside us in the car, where I sat in the back with my brother, staring out the window and seeing this figure jumping on walls, around people, over street signs, always racing to keep up with us. I think a lot of people saw that too. I don’t remember what stories I made up though - no characters from that time have survived the transition from childhood to adulthood, and I miss that.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

Watching my father come home through the window in our living room. He travelled a lot, first as a sailor and later in a job which I didn’t fully understand, but which often seemed to take him to the middle east, or America. I remember him coming home, and simultaneously not knowing who he was whilst unquestionably knowing he was my father.

Tell me about a person who changed/influenced your life.

There are two - years ago when I was lost and in need of some direction. I went to an art college and the two English teachers there somehow managed to shape me into something worthwhile. It's the classic one-teacher-you-never-forget, except I was lucky enough to have two of them. Both held a passion for what they did, and I know I probably made them question that a few times, but they instilled something valuable in me, and I'll always be grateful that they were able to look deeper than anything else before, and see a way to make me stand for for things I believed in.

I revisit those days quite often, but I hadn't realised it until I answered this question. I don't really know how to spot talent, or how to nurture and develop it, but I feel like they did and that kept me going for a long time.

What did you learn from your past relationships?

That I can be distant and uncommunicative.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

Ah, there are so many people I could mention. There are so many low-level moments of kindness, but I love those as much as the grand gestures. As someone who's travelled for work quite intensely, I've come to appreciate the small acts of kindness from strangers in strange places as much as anything else.

The one which sticks in my mind is from last summer, arriving back in London on a delayed flight. Helping another lost traveller get home when the trains had stopped running, then finding myself in the back of a taxi with very little money. That taxi driver took pity on me and drove me all the way home even though I couldn't afford it. It's late at night, I'm broke and someone goes out of their way to get me home, I wouldn't say it restored my faith in people, but it made me feel good about wanting to always believe in people.

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

Once, when I was smaller, I remember walking with my mother and finding something on the floor. It was money, I knew it was something important. She picked it up and we'd found a £50 note. We were standing outside of a funeral parlour too, so a sad story pretty much wrote itself there and then. We handed the money in and heard nothing back, but I hope that action was received by someone who needed it.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

When I was trying to figure out who I was. Or rather, which person I wanted to be, of all people who were an option. There’s no-one who can make that decision for you. As I grew into adulthood I remember being overwhelmingly scared and I resisted for a long time. Looking back, I was lucky to have the time and the ability to make those choices, and to a certain degree my hesitance meant that a lot of options became closed off very quickly.

There's a difference between being alone and being lonely. I could be alone for a long time and often I'll need that. But a little bit of loneliness goes a very long way, and I'd do most anything to avoid that.

Duncan, 41 years old

*Want to be part of this project? Send me your answers at ioanabirdu@gmail.com*

October 25, 2016Comments are off for this post.

George

Sometimes we go through experiences that overwhelm us. We feel alone and helpless, or need someone to share the little things that bring us joy. Other times we rush into judging others without knowing them or having any idea about the things they’ve been through.

I started Connections in a time when my life didn’t look to colorful or happy and it served as a self therapeutic exercise. Then more people got hooked into it and I decided to take it further.

This project is an exercise of introspection and sincerity, a way of traveling back in time to reflect on some of the moments and relationships that put a mark on our lives. Connections talks about all of us – the experiences that bring us joy or sadness, the little things we might take for granted, the people we meet.

It’s a project that continues to do me good and I hope you’ll get something good out of it as well.

*

Did you use to invent stories when you were a little boy? What were they about?

Yes. Somehow I got the idea I was good at writing, although It wasn’t something i later developed because of my law carrier. Nonetheless, I do remember how i used to sit on a chair at my grandparents house and tried to write meaningful stories that i would later read to my grandma. I can’t remember what they were about but i know for sure my characters were people with no super powers. I think this is why I always loved Batman, he had cash, no super powers.

What’s the most beautiful memory from your childhood?

My childhood is filled with beautiful memories. I don’t believe in fate or luck, you know. I do believe that all the good things that happen to us are our own creations, results of our past actions. But not to completely disappoint the adepts of Good fortune, i believe humans can get lucky once in their lives and that is when they are born in a certain family or environment. That’s the only fact you have no influence upon and that is pure luck. Having said that, I consider myself one of the luckiest people alive. So my memory will have to be a family portrait, one Sunday evening, all gathered in our living room, three generations, probably with the TV on.

Tell me about a person who changed or influenced your life.

My grandma who stood by me until I was 20 years old. She was a teacher and before I got to first grade she used to teach me how to multiply on the beach. I was her last student, probably the one in which she invested the most. And i believe i made her happy. Even now, when i do something i think would make her proud i wink at the sky.

What did you learn from your past relationships?

To better know myself.

Did a stranger do something nice for you?

It was my first time at Garana Jazz Festival and I was there camping. And even though my father advised me to set up my tent like a church, up in the hill and not near the swelling river, where the animals might come to drink water, i set it up 2 meters away from the river. It rained for an entire hour, the river overflowed and took our tent with it, until some friends managed to save it. And there I was soaking wet, in my slippers with all my clothes wet, in the tent. There some people allowed me to stay in their van, gave me a shirt and a shot of pălincă [romanian brandy].

Did you do something nice for a stranger?

I rather keep this to myself.

When in your life did you feel most alone?

I haven’t had too many moments like this. No matter what they were, I’ve always had my safety places where I knew I could always come back to. Nevertheless, loneliness in small portions can be therapeutic. We tend to forget this, but the moments of solitude we have with ourselves are very healthy. I have this moments when i run. I’m all mine for an hour.

George, 28 years old

*Want to be part of this project? Send me your answers at ioanabirdu@gmail.com*