I recently received a phone call, followed by an email message that begins with:
Dear Roxana Arama,
Congratulations! You are a finalist in the 2017 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Literary Contest. You should be very proud as PNWA received close to Eight Hundred contest entries from all around the world. An agent or editor will be selecting the first, second and third place winners in each category.
At Mişcarea de Rezistență, Marina Constantinoiu and Istvan Deak continue their long investigative series Frontieriştii (The Border People) launched on March 15, 2016 and documenting the atrocities committed against those who tried to cross Romania’s closed borders between 1949 and 1989.
In their September 30, 2016 installment—In 1975, State Security Accused the Border Guards of Covering Up for the Border People—the two journalists write about a Romanian man who succeeded in fleeing the country and who might now live in the United States. His name is Ioan Timiş and he was born on October 30, 1958 in Borșa-Maramureș, Romania. Continue reading
A homegrown elf?
Yes, a homegrown, real-life elf with a tiny hat and a beard, an elf who talked and ate and, I assumed, pooped too.
This story happened a long time ago in my native Romania, when I was no older than fourth grade. It happened soon after a dusty patch in our schoolyard got covered in gravel. Rocks of all shapes, all colors, all textures, all sizes. One morning, a girl in my class had exciting news for the rest of us. (I don’t remember which girl, so I’ll use the name Dana so no one feels singled out.) That morning, Dana revealed to us that our school’s gravel patch was not full of rocks but of elf-eggs. Continue reading
I was born with ten fingers and ten toes. My mother was so relieved when she counted them, that she failed to notice that I was born without a national identity. Continue reading
“What’s war like?” I asked my grandfather once, when I was in middle school.
A long time ago, my grandfather, Dumitru Morgovan…
He was sitting on the sofa in his living room, rich Persian rug on the floor, dark wood furniture about him—a safe storytelling setting. He had a mellow Transylvanian accent and not a tooth left in his mouth. I don’t remember how he started to tell me about his four years on the battlefields of World War II, but I remember how animated he became when he described how his friend’s head was cut off by shrapnel and how it rolled on the ground with its tongue flicking in an out, collecting dirt. My grandfather mimicked the scene, his tongue flicking in and out of his toothless mouth, and then he stopped and didn’t speak for a long time. He just stared at the red-hued Persian rug at his feet. Continue reading
Nobody had died there, an elderly woman from Orşova recently told the journalist. Nobody had died there, it was all legends.
“It’s been more than 26 years since the Revolution, and Romania doesn’t remember them anymore. Or doesn’t want to remember,” writes Marina Constantinoiu, the journalist at Mişcarea de Rezistență who, together with her colleague Istvan Deak, is attempting to salvage a piece of history that everyone seems intent on burying.
First things first: being a fiction writer is, in my opinion, a type of fortunate madness, sanctioned by society, tolerated by family, where a lonely person locked in a room, hallucinating about figments of her imagination, playing god in a world of her own creation can claim to be a functional member of said society, and could even be gainfully employed, to the relief of said family. Continue reading
Years ago, while studying for my US citizenship exam, I paused over the words “the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. Because I grew up in Europe during the time of popular uprisings against communist regimes, I was used to words such as freedom and justice and equality in revolutionary speech, so the pursuit of happiness sounded like it didn’t belong in a declaration of independence from tyranny and oppression.
The Declaration of Independence (1776) – Wikipedia
It wasn’t the first time I wondered how had those Founding Fathers been so enlightened to consider the mental health of their people at a time of war and disease and superstition. Today we have counselors and self-help and wellness support groups, but they didn’t, back in 1776, yet Jefferson thought it was important to put those fine words in the second paragraph of the Declaration of Independence. Continue reading
I stand on the other side of fear
And I’m alive. He isn’t. Continue reading
When my friend Cristina speaks, I listen. Cristina is both a scientist and an artist, and throughout the years she guided me in learning about the world of science and the world of art. Years ago, she explained to me how the Inca irrigated their terraces in Machu Picchu and Tipon, and later she exposed me to the forgotten artisanal Romanian culture. A few months ago she told me about her experience in Greece, where she stood inside the ruins of Mycene (second millennium BCE) and felt the air and the ground vibrate with sound. Cristina knew she was experiencing pressure waves vibrating in the air around her and inside her body, but still, the experience was eerie.