My debut book is out – now the tough part begins

Loveinatimeofinternationalliving.jpg
Cover art: Dave and Les Jacobs / Getty Images

It all started with an essay posted on Medium that gathered unexpected momentum and provided a case study for the network effect on social media platforms. By the end of the month of publication the essay had made its way to more people than I loosely called friends on facebook.

And so, after more than a year of work nights and weekends, dozens of heartfelt conversations and countless revisions, Love in a Time of International Living is available on Amazon for the price of a cup of coffee!

Dotting the final ‘i’ on a debut work was difficult and nerve-racking and it helped to have a hard deadline before a trip. Since this was my first “proper” collection, I thought it was important to get it out there as soon as possible and judge by the response. I guess I am not a perfectionist. Rather, I am someone self-involved enough to believe she has something interesting to say while taking herself lightly enough to make it possible to publish.

Continue reading

Advertisements

Don’t be stingy with your culture, share it

Martenici
Bulgarian martenitsi marking the beginning of spring and our hopes for a healthy year ahead

 

As a Bulgarian living in the United States, I was often aware that people found me interesting. Friends of friends I was introduced to would stick around just a little longer to find out how someone like me ended up there, ask about the language, which stirred curiosity with its non-Latin alphabet, or inquire about my country’s Communist past.

In London Bulgaria is less of a mystery. Although I still inspire some interest as an immigrant from the highly corrupt poor cousin someone reluctantly invited to the EU party, more often than not I find myself on the inquisitive end of curiosity. Continue reading

Love in a time of international living

London evening, 2014
London evening

My generation has a problem

“My girlfriend,” said the boy typing away on his phone, “She’s in Canada.” I snuck a peek at the screen and could see he was sending a video of the impressive piano rendition we were all listening to. “When are you seeing her next?” I asked. “In ten days.” And his face beamed.

My generation has a problem. Well, of course, it has many. Continue reading

Цветя

Имам си една теория относно подслушването: няма нищо лошо в това да дадеш ухо на нечий разговор в автобуса или тролея, ако човекът говори достатъчно силно и свободно, разбира се.

Хората обичат да споделят с непознати. Сякаш сядат пред чист бял лист и, необременени от стари цветове и отминали детайли, рисуват себе си така, както искат. Не се притесняват за впечатления и последици, защото такива няма – образът живее от пазарчето “Борово” до подлеза на НДК и после се губи сред миризмата на чанти и шума от продупчени билетчета. Тогава има ли значение колко точно са слушателите? Не. Но виж, да запишеш подслушан разговор – това си е почти престъпление. Да откраднеш нечий чужд образ и да го накараш да живее я в някой файл, я в някой мухлясал дневник – някак си не е честно.

Continue reading

Generational poem

You call us apathetic
You say we’ve lost touch with the world
You say we don’t communicate
We haven’t much to say and are not eloquent

And yet we pour our souls out to a stranger
Because we are always in need
Of a soul who will listen

We don’t write poems of international acclaim
But we capture our hearts and minds in online epics
Seventy-three times a day
Creating oxytocin so our brains continue to churn ideas
In the incubator of the shower or in the hollow darkness of the mind
Before deep sleep

In the age of fifteen million novels published a month
And exabytes of data born online
We persevere, we are masters
Of the art of the mundane

We are weekend hippies with neatly trimmed facial hair
Pleasantly fragrant armpits and shaved legs
Who go to work on Monday morning
With a certain dignity
Quoting Whitman and Dylan Thomas
To the neighboring cubicles

We work at corporation-less businesses
So we can be big business’ biggest competition
We hate customer service
We hate the Internet company
We hate the network provider
We make tea in a thermos in the morning
And walk by Starbucks smirking

We study anthropology
We double-major in English and Spanish literature
With a minor in women’s studies
And go into consulting
The best minds of our generation
Are thinking about how to make people click ads

We have no savings
We work till the a.m.
At McKinsey and Deloitte to pay off student loans
And save enough to go to Argentina, Cuba, Vietnam
We work at an investment bank until we go insane and take two years off
To build schools outside Bogota

Or we don’t work at all
Because we want to find the occupation that will get us out of bed
We seek meaning in our work, and money too, but meaning first, did you?

We take public transportation
We protest any cause
We save the polar bears
Mull over water prices in Bolivia
Mourn Santa’s helpers in Sichuan

You say we have no depth
And when we take a stand you fault us for our lack of understanding
You say we have no morals
Yet you tell us our friends are not allowed to marry
Or have to leave the country
Or have to leave their country

And we laugh through our tears, and our friends’ tears
Because we know you won’t be here forever
And one day we will have our way, and our children,
Rebels too, perhaps will have it even better

You say we have no generational identity
But if identity is forged through music
We have our festivals and camp-outs
Where we sway like angel haired hipsters in sublime êxtase
And if identity is formed through reading, writing
And if it is through coming together in protest
And if it is through suffering loudly
We are all right

And for that we are self-righteous
And arrogant and have a strong sense of our greatness
You say we are the generation “me”
We are the generation “me”

If you ask us, who are the voices of your generation?
We’ll tell you, you’re hearing them now.

So, where is home?

“I’m a citizen of the world” is a laughable cliché. Yet when a friend used it in all seriousness the other day I wasn’t able to respond with anything but a nod of agreement. She’s a German-born Iranian whose family lives in Zurich and she told me that at a bar atop a tall building in London, where we both live. Then she said she felt Germany was her home but almost in the same breath mentioned a possible work assignment in Australia in the coming months.

 

Fitting in != being similar

London is like that. I used to stand out with my Bulgarian passport and tenure in Argentina and the United States, and here that’s the norm. But I’m starting to think that the reasons are not simply geo-economic but rather generational. Few of my peers are living close to where they were born, few speak one language only and still fewer are planning as their next step “settling down” in the place they are from or even the one where they are currently residing.

Continue reading