NATION & DECORATION (Part 5): Basilike Pappa & Bojana Stojcic

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A number of experiments have revealed it does not take more than five seconds for someone to judge you when you meet for the first time, forming an opinion based on the way you look and behave. Take our advice: don’t be yourself or you’ll spoil it. Making a positive first impression means pretending to be someone you are not – civil, considerate and law-abiding. A smile is always a winner, along with a handful of promises and a positive approach. Do not despair if you flop badly though as supposedly it takes another twenty experiences for someone to change their initial belief. If you are not sure about your mannerisms, demeanor and language, let your house do the talking. Wow your guests by offering them an amusement ride through your brand new world but check first they hold onto the bars to ensure they survive falling off the horses. Do not worry if the experience seems surreal even to you. On the bright side, it’s better than real. It’s pretend.

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Joy ride (the wheels on the car go round and round)

Inviting people to your newly-decorated house is intended to invite good luck. Still, it may be as frightening as ceremonial ship launching. What if a sacrificial bottle of champagne does not break? You can relax. Nation & Decoration assures you your guests will be so fascinated by your fancy driveway that they will hardly get their own name out of their mouth, let alone talk about serious stuff, which generally scares you to death. Here’s a quick tip: use sarcasm as a mask for your insecurity and a lack of knowledge in a particular field. If you have a bad sense of humor, forget about it, and help us help you by advertising our business and products, specially designed to withstand whatever wear and tear your driveway may see, including extreme temperatures, freeze-thaw cycles and extensive everyday activity.

Driveways tend to be unfairly perceived as nothing but concrete slabs. Big mistake! In our opinion, they need to play a big role in your home’s appearance and are crucial in image management which should by no means be a one-time thing, but rather an ongoing process. Let’s face it, your current image does not say much about you. Actually it says you are a stressed, unreliable, and dangerously arrogant and promiscuous jerk who has garnered plenty of attention for lambasting other people’s (presidents’) policies and actions. With a little help from our eminent designers, you will get a great-looking driveway that will boost the value of both your precious home and your not so precious self. In short, we will assist you in determining ways you could change to project a more positive first impression and/or control what others see, which will hopefully enhance your status and induce likeability in the long run.

The quality of flaunting your wealth invited hostility long before you came on the scene so don’t be surprised that your spending habits have become one of the most common topics of discussion in the media or elsewhere. Other people have it too, but not necessarily your talent. Imagine making a frugal car purchase or, even worse, not knowing what apartment buildings, hotels and aircraft to buy. Pathetic, isn’t it? Your willingness to invest in the driveway will show visitors you are a force to be reckoned with. Therefore, instead of spending your precious time on improving yourself, you ought to invest money you have in abundance in resurfacing your driveway (that is things such as decorative brick or cobblestone, block paving, gravel or decomposed granite). Keep in mind a well-designed driveway is supposed to provide a framework, whereas an extravagant car collection every billionaire needs to have in their possession will be more than enough to provide the content.

Although some people might think refinement and size are just about everything your land yachts have to offer, you should know better. You will be envied one way or the other. The bottom line is some like it hot, while others like it big and classy, obviously to compensate for their apparent smallness in other departments, but hey, at least you have the cars. Take our word for it – few people can resist sheer luxury and spaciousness. Besides, it’s not every day we see such beauties cruising down the road, let alone come face to face with them. To keep everyone’s mouth shut, show off your awe-inspiring collection of expensive cars, from the most obvious models such as Rolls Royce and Mercedes-Benz to the inevitable Ferrari, classic Cadillac, good old Chevy, stylish Lamborghini, and a beastly extravagant limo, all coming with some great stories. Do not forget to put the most incredible car you own on display, built to suit your needs and lifestyle, that is equipped with the James Bond-type safety advances (read: the ability to withstand small arms fire and small explosive devices).

While thinking of the ways to trick the Forbes list into showing your wealth has declined, make sure you have your coat of arms created and give some spare change to charity every now and then. The latter as a rule helps make a great impression and gain/keep a clear conscience. Come to think of it, the whole charity thing has made you pretty tired, right? Why don’t you board your private jet with leather seats for 43 passengers, 24-karat gold seat-belt buckles, TV screens, two bedrooms, and plenty of gold-trimmed details, fly to your super-luxury water villa in the Maldives and let your guests wonder – what’s with the gold obsession anyway?!

Guns n’ Roses (do the hokey pokey and turn yourself around)

You long for appreciation and like to be in the center of attention but fail to have a standing ovation due to the morals of a scam artist and the methods of a shyster. A guest-ready garden speaks volumes about your character so keep your mouth shut whenever possible and take your visitors out front. With a few tricks, you can achieve a more aesthetically appealing environment, in which it will be easier to turn a blind eye to human rights abuses. Mesmerized by your world of make-believe, your guests will gradually stop frowning even on your readiness to go to war to make a profit and boost your ratings, despite the fact you have never served in the military and are disrespectful to veterans. Our acknowledged experts will assist you by choosing comfy outdoor furniture that fits your garden style, as well as your personality. For one thing, you may want to consider investing in premium-quality pieces that are built to last: corner sofas, ottomans, sun umbrellas, a bar table, stools, BBQ, and even a small outdoor heater when evenings get cooler. One of the recent changes in interior design trends has been the use of curves and smooth edges as a way to get your way. Wooden furniture with its sophisticated natural look is always a smart choice. Luxurious teak is another great option, which, if properly maintained, could outlive your frivolous tweets while at the same time preventing your garden from becoming ‘a dumping ground for everyone else’s problems.’

Lanterns, sun-loungers, and national flags of friendly, rich countries are a trendy addition that could add a personal touch to your outdoor setting. You may need to steer clear of ‘extraordinarily low I.Q,’ ‘inferior intelligence of black people’ and ‘get that son of a bitch off the field right now’ rhetoric when your guests ‘come from shithole countries’. To avoid the feeling of discomfort due to their refusal to stand for the National Anthem, the least you can do is ditch the Flags of our Fathers if you haven’t been able to stop seeing radical Islamic terrorists everywhere. Moreover, rumor has it you actually have to include Jews in your anti-Semitic ideology. Show your guests you can be the perfect host by (temporarily) getting rid of front and backyard fire pits, hate speech and attitude on border walls since they pose environmental hazards, along with a global change in thinking.

Garden ornaments have recently been welcomed back into the fashion. Hand-crafted stone statues of meditating frogs, cherubs on pedestal, gargoyles and dragons will satisfy everyone’s taste. Our professionals propose impressively powerful crouching griffins as gate keepers, that is guardians of the divine, suggesting you ‘abandon every hope, who enter here’. Bitumen sculptures that look like melting molasses are equally effective, accentuating never-ending transformations and transience while smartly concealing your love for tarring and feathering. Grotesque garden gnomes are gaining in popularity as well. Whether they pursue a leisurely pastime, fishing in a pool without fish and napping while the world is falling apart or wear executioners’ hoods and stab each other in the back, you have to admit they are adorable. However, as they are traditionally male, showing that sexual equality in the gnome world is only a pipe dream, don’t forget to hide them if you want ardent feminists off your back. Having a small garden pond is very modern nowadays too. Even though it might be a reminder you are a cast out of the duck pond, often teased for your own faults, make no mistake you are slowly turning into a narcissistic swan that will eventually be accepted among other animals and treated as an equal. Bear in mind at all times your guests’ attention needs to be kept so strongly on the water, luscious greenery, works of art and juicy Mexican gardeners and grilled meats that they find it impossible to look away. Under no circumstance are you to mention the past since they could realize the hollowness of the value system and remember better days easier than you think. Voter shortsightedness is your best card so do everything in your power to prevent even a mild degree of myopia from being corrected by disposing of glasses. If they start to question though, pour them another drink. When needed, turn to bribery for total memory erasure and lasting voter gratitude. It may be early for history, but it is never too late for historical revisionism.

Whatever you do, do not allow the house or garden to steal the show for they ought to give a grandiose view of your own appearance and emphasize your talents and aptitudes. No worries, other people’s pursuit of truth cannot and will not overshadow your relentless lies. You and you alone have weaponized nonsense that, thank god, never goes out of stock so they better see ‘the bigness of it all’. After all, you are the real Shady. All other Slim Shadys are just imitating.


 

*You can read more of Basilike and Bojana here and here .

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I’M AFRAID OF AMERICANS ~ BOJANA STOJCIC

Attention, attention. Air raid. Go to a bomb shelter immediately. Open the windows, lower the shutters, turn off the power supply, turn off the gas, and take only the bare necessities with you. If you are in a vehicle, park it on the side of the road and head to the nearest underground shelter. Air raid, please follow the instructions provided by the Information Center. Over.

On March 24, 1999 at 7:45 PM CET, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) launched air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), composed of Serbia and Montenegro, during the Kosovo war, with the bombing of Serbian military positions in its southern province of Kosovo. An uninterrupted 60 second signal tone denoted a state of emergency that lasted until 5.30 AM the next day. We heard bombs rumbling in the distance. I remember the panic, the terror, limbs going numb, heart racing, squatting in the middle of the living room and holding each other tight. An ‘imminent threat of war against Yugoslavia by NATO’ was declared on national television right after the fist bombs hit, along with a list of instructions on what to do when air raid sirens go off, followed by a huge mobilization of troops and resources. As of day one, the creepy music of penetrating warning sounds was played on a regular basis, giving us chills every fucking time.

The following day, the sirens start wailing at 1.30 PM. Once again, we switch off the lights and electrical appliances, open the windows wide, and lower the shutters, blocking out the sun, rain, wind, life. Wrapped in a blanked the color of veins, I’m kneeling on the floor in the dark half of the hall in the central part of my parents’ house, listening to the indistinct voices of the street, the voice of a mother, a grandfather, a brother, a husband, a toddler, whimpering dogs, and bewildered roosters. In the night between Mar 25 and 26, I heard the deafening noise of swarming planes for the first time. Deadly mosquitoes buzzing endlessly in the skies above made our blood run cold and caused us to develop an arrhythmia on the spot and chronic insomnia and noise phobia with time. The sound produced by warplanes, especially when flying low at high speeds and perceived as danger, is hard to describe. Your body reacts without conscious thought, seeking cover, and you feel its intensity in your nostrils and your throat, it chokes you, it makes your knees tremble, it vibrates in your stomach, turning your bowels upside down, it incapacitates your legs, paralyzes your spine and tongue, blurs your vision and messes with your brain. The lights have gone out, candles being a rare commodity these days. We have only one left which we decide to keep for a rainy day. I close my eyes for a few seconds and feel a wave of claustrophobic darkness wash over me.

Three days after the bombing had started, the wise men of our small tribal community decided we should start hiding in the basement of a shaggy old house at the end of the street. Most towns didn’t have a proper underground bomb shelter so that people were mainly hiding in house/apartment building basements. The decision to leave your house and join a bunch of strangers isn’t the one you’ll make lightly. However, the elderly think it’s necessary when the unthinkable occurs. Choosing your emergency shelter supplies is not easy either as you have no idea how long the air raid could last and what might come out of it. Most importantly, you need something to keep you comfortable and well-fed during the time you’ll spend there. A sandwich, enough drinking water and blankets were a must. But, as no one could imagine a temporary visit to the shelter would turn into a prolonged stay, a couple days’ worth of non-perishable food, let alone the first aid kit, wasn’t on our mind. Everyone thought about how to make it that very day. Tomorrow was too far away.

Our new temporary shelter was a centenarian, which made it the oldest fella in the neighborhood. Stone, and blocks made of mud and straw were protruding everywhere. In today’s world of advanced architecture, such a home would be considered healthy and safe for a living after some additional renovations, but no house can be safe enough to protect you from bombs unless it’s a proper fallout shelter. In spite of this, at the time being, we find comfort in sharing our plight with others, although we don’t really know each other. Ironically, a couple of decades later, I’ll read about a video game, the war and post-war world of the underground nuclear fallout shelter that will prove to be massively popular on mobile phones and PCs, which will be downloaded by millions and earn staggering $5m in its first two weeks on sale. It’ll be described as ‘a highly addictive building and management game in which you construct your own vault and carefully manage the people and resources to create a thriving sun-free community.’ They suggest stockpiling granola, as well as salt, pepper and other spices. Oh boy! If the game makers had known half of what we did about the shelter, they would have never come up with such a dull pastime because it’s impossible to turn an apocalyptic hell into a home.

I walk into a dungeon I’ll be sharing with my neighbors, cramped in a matchbox with wooden benches on the side, waving hello to wrinkled faces of the elderly, kids chit-chatting, serving tea and sweet coffee, sleeping, acting out, a two-year old girl who can’t stop crying, and her older sister who has a hard time being called by her nickname (Nato), preschool and elementary school children with their parents who cling to the hope that this frenzy will soon come to an end and a charismatic guy in his late 60s apparently skilled at making everyone feel better. I’m trying to avoid close encounters, unnecessary remarks and compulsory smiles, turning my head not to feel bad breath coming from teeth they haven’t brushed in days. It’s terribly cold and smells of mold. I’m wearing a T-shirt, an undershirt, a sweatshirt, a woolen sweater, a warm hoodie, a winter jacket, thick tights, two pairs of woolen socks pulled over my knees, and sport shoes. I take a seat on a bench without backrest, feeling cushions underneath, and cover my shoulders with a blanket. After a few hours of uncertainty, the sirens blare the end of danger and we all go home only to head back to the improvised bomb shelter as soon as the ear-piercing screech goes off again. We’re back to black: drowsy kids, worried parents and toothless old women in PJs who hurried back, obviously forgetting their teeth at home. They don’t feel like prattling any more, and place their hands over their mouths when laughing wholeheartedly. Leaning against the wall, I’m closing my eyes to catch up on some sleep but wake up at the slightest sound. From a heavy sleeper, I turned into a light one. A pin dropping two rooms away behind a closed door would startle me awake, let alone a truck driving by or honking.

I’ve been dreaming a lot lately. I had a dream that all people were created equal…

 

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* You can read more of Bojana’s work at Blogging with Bojana

JOURNAL OF A MOM – WILD IS THE WIND ~ BOJANA STOJCIC

It’s almost 9 AM and my son B. is still in bed (read: we’ll be late for our fruit smoothie, we’ll have late breakfast, we’ll drink milk later than usual, we’ll go for a shorter walk so as not to be too late with the afternoon nap, we’ll have late lunch, a late afternoon milkshake, late dinner and finally we’ll all go to bed late). Once a proper routine is set, everything’s easier. I’m waking him up, whether he likes it or not. I’m tickling his feet, touching his fingers, his knees and tummy (he’s rolling over onto his stomach), kneading his calves and shins, massaging his arms and his back, blowing air into his ear, whispering, and calling out his name in a low voice. No reaction whatsoever. A change of tactics—reducing the comfort. I’m shaking him gently, asking him to wake up. I’m uncovering him. B. is anything but pleased. He’s yawning and rubbing his eyes. He opens them briefly (they look fatigued), then closes them again. Step two—making some noise: opening and closing the drawers, drumming my fingers on the window sill (rat-a-tat), moving the closet door and rustling the laundry basket. I’m tapping on the window, touching the big dry leaves hanging along the bamboo roll up blinds, making a soft crackling sound. Ring, ring, ring. Honeybun (slightly raising my voice), it’s for you! Didn’t you hear the phone? Pick it up. Mom wants to talk to you.

Still nothing?! Next step—removing the key from the keyhole, putting the key in the keyhole, turning the key. Shake, rattle and bang. Rise and shine, baby! Mmmmmm. He’s pissed off. I see him move his limbs and stretch out. Mmmmmm. More sleep distractions?! Singing. Love me, love me, love me, say you do…Singing on a high tone. Let me fly away with you. He’s on his back. I’m rubbing my nose against his and touching his face with my hair. It tickles him. Love me, love me, love me…He’s smiling, his eyes closed. Still yawning. I’m removing the blanket. May I have your attention please? (talking though my nose) Will the real Slim Shady please stand up? I repeat, will the real Slim Shady please stand up? We’re going to have a problem here.

He’s looking at me and blinking. I stand up, turning my back as if to leave. Several seconds later, B. is up and about. What a remarkable turnaround. He’s staring at the world through a conveniently low window, smiling at the birds, and the trees, pointing at the passersby, mommies and daddies taking their kids to kindergarten, cyclists, postmen doing their rounds on yellow bicycles, cars being parked, cars driving past. While he’s busy watching in amazement, I’m putting on his sleepers and sweatshirt.

B. slips off my lap nervously, heads for the door and dashes into the kitchen. There’s nobody there. He’s used to having his daddy wait for him with the bottle. He’s looking for him everywhere, in the living room, the bathroom, the bedroom. But, daddy’s not there. He throws himself on the floor with a sob of despair. I kneel down, take him in my arms and hold him tight. Daddy’s gone to work, but look what he made us (I’m shaking his bottle). The smoothie is impatiently waiting to be drunk and in a split second, B. forgets about all the sorrows of the world, living joyfully in the moment.

Without further ado, he leaves the kitchen once he’s done and heads for the living room. I turn on the radio: A new cyclone is approaching northwestern Europe; it will cause gale to storm force winds in parts of Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium over the next 24 hours. After looking around for a few seconds, B. notices the balcony door is ajar. He pulls the door toward himself, and steps out. It smells of rain. He immediately spots his Mickey Mouse pinwheel, a gift from my mom, stuck in a flower pot. He knows it spins when blown by the wind or when you move the wheel so he wants me to lift him so that he can touch the curls, that is bang them. He gets a kick out of it. What he seems to have forgotten is that Mickey is hurt. The wind came and took the pin away, so he can’t move his hands now.

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B. wants to come closer. He sees something is not right. He’s confusedly staring at me, expecting me to fix it. I’m holding him tight, saying Mickey got a bit tired of spinning in the wind, and thought he might chill out for a change. I let him take him, making sure he doesn’t grab the stick to which the curls are attached. I slowly put him down. Normally, he’d continue his pursuit for a solution (read: my pursuit for his solution) but not this time. With Mickey in one hand, he walks around, touching the tiles, the flower pots, the mat, my flip-flops, the parasol, the drain, the wall, the table and the chairs.

B. inside again. I step in too and close the door behind me. He’s not thrilled but doesn’t object much. He’s rubbing his eyes. How come? It’s not nap time yet. He grabs my hand and drags me to the kitchen, pointing at his pot. I warm up some milk. We enter the bedroom holding hands. I sit down, putting him in my arms. He drinks it up in the blink of an eye and next thing you know he’s fast asleep. I lay him in his bed and listen to him breathe for a few seconds. I go back to the living room, plop into the armchair, and take a deep breath as I close my eyes. The wind pushes the balcony door open. I get up to shut it for real this time. It’s pouring with rain.

FROM AMERICA & EUROPE WITH LOVE ~ BOJANA STOJCIC

The peace talks, prompted partly by the Račak massacre and attempting to get Serb and Albanian delegations to sign up to an agreement giving Kosovo substantial self-government, were held at the ancient Chateau of Rambouillet near Paris in Feb 1999. The Rambouillet agreement of the NATO powers looked like a game show with no multiple-choice questions, only one contestant and limited time to answer them. Furthermore, there were no ‘Ask the Audience’ or ‘Phone a Friend’ options, and the idea of the autonomy for Serbia’s southern province of Kosovo, along with an international military presence not only in Kosovo but also in other parts of Serbia, did not really sound appealing to the Serbian negotiators. Interestingly, additional demands were introduced in the final moments of the peace talks after Serbia had already agreed to the main proposals, which practically guaranteed the negative outcome. Now the other side wanted ‘free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout the FRY (Federal Republic of Yugoslavia) including associated airspace and territorial waters, without limits or obligations or concern for the laws of the country or the jurisdiction of its authorities, who are, however, required to follow NATO orders on a priority basis and with all appropriate means’ (source: Kosovo Peace Accord, Noam Chomsky). The idea of ‘complete military occupation and political control of Kosovo by NATO, and effective NATO military occupation of the rest of Yugoslavia at NATO’s will’ that the Rambouillet Agreement called for was unacceptable for the Serbian officials. We can’t really blame them, can we?

President Milošević reluctantly went back to school. With his digressive questions, he was clearly trying the professors’ patience, who (kindly) asked that all questions be asked at end of the lecture. Moreover, the U.S. and NATO were offended and humiliated in front of the whole class by his contemptuous refusal to play by the book. However, they didn’t wallow in their distress long, and decided to plan for the future. If they walked away after having their mind set on making use of those bombs…eh…bringing us democracy, it would be embarrassing, right? Of course, Kosovo cannot be viewed separately from the Yugoslav wars. The behavior of the Serbian state in Croatia and Bosnia, when the JNA (Yugoslav People’s Army) under the control of the authorities in Belgrade had the upper hand, resulted in crimes against humanity and destruction of cities. It was obviously payback time. Be that as it may, violence is Washington’s strong card, and guaranteeing the credibility of NATO a must, especially at the time of celebrating the golden wedding anniversary. What better way to do so than making others scared of ‘the Global Minotaur?’ Very scared. To avoid their credibility becoming incredible, the Bogeymen in charge said loud and clear there was NO alternative to bombing, closing the chapter and inventing the new rules. Being the usual suspect is no fun though, hands down, we were nothing but collateral damage. We came in handy, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was nothing personal. It was all about a fit at the given moment, which we didn’t. If it hadn’t been us, it would have been someone else. Anyhow, we were persuaded it was all for our own good, the ‘intervention/operation’ being lovingly called ‘humanitarian’ or, to be more precise, ‘Noble Anvil.’

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Every anniversary is a milestone. Long-time couples often find great romance in seeking the most memorable ways of reaffirming their love for each other. Our couple, Washington and Brussels, first went on a picnic, popping open a bottle of champagne, and viewing the incredible sunrise hand in hand, which seemed more like a sunset to us. Then, they brought back the memories when they were young and used to spend a lot of time making out. Later that day, they lit some candles, gave each other a sensual massage, and spiced things up by trying new sexual positions. The evening culminated in renewing their wedding vows, promising love till the end of times (or at least the world) and exchanging gifts. Wedding anniversary presents are often themed to the year. Sexy lingerie, chocolate, flowers and jewelry are so out. This is when they thought of us (oh my God, we are golden!), and went shooting to blow off some steam. Charming, isn’t it? Happy Anniversary! We wish you many happy returns, your love getting stronger and stronger with time by making others weaker and weaker.

After 11 hours in the torture chamber, the peace talks failed, as Milošević refused to sign the generous proposal of the States and NATO. Clinton administration thought ‘NATO should be able to act independently of the United Nations.’ According to Chomsky, the bombing of the FRY, made of Serbia and Montenegro, in March ‘99, ‘threatened to undermine a growing democratic movement in Serbia, jeopardizing the lives of 10 million people,’ but, who was thinking about democracy when there were lives to save. There would undoubtedly be many fatalities along the way, not to mention a huge refugee flow that would follow the bombing, but that’s the price of peace, n’est-ce pas?

I was an English Language and Literature student, and had been living in the city of Niš  in the south of Serbia for a few years. I recall mom’s trembling voice crackling over the receiver sometime in March. Something has gone horribly wrong. There will be bombing. Take the first train home right away. Mom, what happened? You’re overreacting. Calm down. Right away, I said! For a few seconds, I was deprived of physical sensation and responsiveness. I was frozen to the point that I didn’t know what to tell my sister. We laughed when I finally did, concluding mom was blowing it out of proportions, as ever. She had been watching too many whodunits again. The thing is, she had a bad feeling, apart from listening to the news 24/7 and thought we’d be safer in a smaller town. Besides, she wanted us to be together. Eventually, we joined our parents because we knew they’d be worried sick if we hadn’t, hoping to shortly pick our lives up right where we’d left off.

The decision to bomb Serbia and Montenegro was ultimately made without Security Council authorization. U.S.-led NATO forces launched cruise missiles at targets in Yugoslavia, ‘plunging America into a military conflict that President Clinton said was necessary to stop ethnic cleansing (in Kosovo) and bring stability to Eastern Europe’ (source: Crisis in the Balkans, Chomsky). In a televised address, he explained that by bombing Yugoslavia, ‘we are upholding our values, protecting our interests, and advancing the cause of peace.’ Values, interests and peace. Wow, right?

“As President Bill Clinton and his coterie of ‘experts’ and media cheerleaders rejoiced in the first US ‘humanitarian’ bombs on Yugoslavia, Rep. Ron Paul was singing a different tune. ‘This cannot be a proud moment for America. Serbia has not invaded another country, but is involved in a nasty civil war with both sides contributing to the violence…Meddling in the internal affairs of a nation involved in a civil war is illegal and dangerous,’ he said on the US House Floor on March 24” (source: Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity). But, the missiles kept falling like rain. Needless to say, there’s more to this. The responsibility of the West at the time when the conflicts could have and should been prevented by supporting peace instead of military initiatives is indisputable. Let’s not forget that Milošević was once seen as ‘a factor of peace and stability in the Balkans.’

Once the party began, people started regularly sharing their most terrifying and funniest experiences under the bombs. The world went on spinning without us. I was 22, single and hopeless about life. Every evening when I’d turn in, I’d put on the headphones to muffle the sound of the planes. I made up my mind from the get-go that Bowie was ideal to die to.


 

* You can read more of Bojana’s work at Blogging with Bojana

JOURNAL OF A MOM – RESTLESS HEARTED ~ BOJANA STOJCIC

In my previous post about my son B, I talked about our bad sides: having a short fuse, chronic impatience, stubbornness and ways of dealing with frustration. Now comes the good part. Maybe. You be the judge.

There are things the two of us absolutely adore and habitually put into practice, whenever.

We love puppies and often play with them. Though we don’t have one of our own, we’ll always find a victim in the street or parks we go to. Dogs over cats, of course! (Sorry cat lovers), whether they lick us, bark, howl, snarl or wag their fluffy tails.

We find Chopin soothing. There’s no better music to lull you to sleep, except in the evening when ‘Goodnight to you, goodnight to me’ will just do.

We are crazy about sand, and water. Leave us there and get lost. Don’t come back.

Our favorite pastime in the playground, besides playing in the sandpit, is the slide, and the swing (swinging at least 40 min till we fall asleep). While there, we might steal other kids’ toys (especially dumping cars, balls or sand toys) and flee the scene of a crime without being noticed and/or getting caught.

We have a soft spot for clocks and every time we see one, we’ll make sure everyone sees it by pointing it out and saying ‘clo…’ (k’s are so outdated anyway). Yes, we love pointing. Sue us! This includes planes and choppers, screaming aka aka, as well as trains. We’re completely nuts about trains (and elevators, riding up and down and pressing call buttons,…and cranes…and buses…and trucks, especially garbage ones. We’ve even been offered a position in solid waste management). FTR, we know all subway stations in the neighborhood and can unmistakably go to the nearest one from home (willingly) and back (reluctantly).

Our favorite places in the apartment are kitchen (foodies is right) and bathroom (loooove bubble baths, both alone or with mom or dad).

We love the sound of the rain on our bedroom window and could watch and listen to it for hours on end while mom sings: ‘Rain rain, go away.’

We enjoy brushing teeth together, swaying and singing: ‘Brush your teeth up and down,’ as well as toy theater with mom as the only/best actress.

When it comes to more abstract things, we’d say we value independence and unconventionality.

We go with the flow of life and are comfortable with ourselves.

We don’t profess to be free-spirited. We ARE free-spirited (and fun-loving, however impulsive).

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We like things our way and are fiercely unapologetic, as people often describe us.

We are not restricted by other people’s opinions and always have one of our own.

We’re allergic to bullshit. We have to speak our mind, one way or the other. It’s not that we don’t want to, we are simply not able to hold our tongue if we find something unappealing, untrue, stupid or boring (read: not in accordance with our standards). So we say directly what we think, that is, mommy does, while I (until I begin to say it loud and clear) will slap your face, pull your hair, take your toys, slam the doors, cry, scream at the top of my lungs, run around, run away, roll on the floor/ground, make a scene, stomp my feet, throw things around or break them down.

We don’t (can’t) pretend and are not trying to be mysterious. You see how we feel on our faces. Remember Meg Ryan in French Kiss? Happy, smile! Sad, frown! Use the corresponding face with the corresponding emotion!

When we don’t feel like doing something, however much we like it, we don’t do it. It’s ok not to be in the mood. Did we say we’re moody?

When we have nothing smart to say, we don’t say anything. We’ll start talking…one day. Don’t push us. We love doing things at our own pace.

Don’t underestimate us. We can do it and we will. In case we don’t or can’t, you will. Don’t overestimate us. This is stupid anyway. Besides, it’s your job. No objections, please.

OK, OK, we’ll say it. We are dominant and oftentimes order people around. That is, most of the time….OK, all the time. Jesus, didn’t we say not to push us?!

Don’t try to contradict us. We’re right. All. The. Time.

Last but not least, NO means NO. We won’t change our mind. If we ever do, it’ll be on a full stomach. Our demands are nonnegotiable. Period.

LIKE A CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF ~ BOJANA STOJCIC

I wonder why we are all unique in one way or the other. Because of who we are? (Too shallow). It’s because we are throughout our lives shaped by our experiences, people we meet, people we don’t, schools from which we graduated or dropped out of, careers we pursue or stopped pursuing, trains we caught or missed, dreams we thought would never come true and the ones we have yet to fulfill, our fears: the fear of dying, flying, aging, loving, not being loved, being paralyzed, imprisoned, abandoned, rejected, not respected, the fear of mutilation, separation, humiliation and finally shame. According to surveys (source: Wikipedia), some of the most common fears are of demons and ghosts, the existence of evil powers, cockroaches, spiders, snakes, heights, water, enclosed spaces, tunnels, bridges, needles, social rejection, failure, examinations, and public speaking.

We are influenced by births and deaths, jobs we’ve done enthusiastically or half-heartedly, past lovers, loves of our lives, unrequited loves, crying over spilled milk (it’s no use), spilling the beans (once, many times), people we trust, people we don’t, people who betrayed us, people we deceived, people we lied to, people we have been lying to, people we could never lie to, truths yet to be told, our friends, our families, our acquaintances, our neighbors, our parents, in-laws, strangers in the night, our soul mates, people we have nothing in common with, best sex ever, worst sex ever, public sex, private places, words spoken, messages between the lines, messages taken, messages misread, secret glances, memories (good and bad), diaries, photos, galleries, books, songs, funny jokes, lousy jokes (why laugh then?), witty people, boring chores, errands to run, demanding bosses or just bosses, a wish to become a boss but knowing deep down you’ll just go on being bossy without being someone’s boss, perfectionism, a lack or ambition, excuses, secrets and regrets, drunken parties, camping sites, starry nights, starless lives, falling in love, falling out of love (will I ever love again?), falling apart, falling, falling…

We are molded by being polite for no reason or for a good reason, not offending somebody, offending somebody, being offended by somebody, meeting somebody, fancying somebody, dating somebody, getting married, having kids, getting divorced, getting back together, our first kiss (cat got your tongue?), first sex (painful), last sex (don’t remember), sleepovers, confessions on the dance floor, estranged siblings, estranged partners, being born again, food to die for, girls and boys to die for, dirty hospital linen, good doctors, bad doctors, cramped buses and deserted beaches, moments of utter happiness and profound sadness, embarrassments, school trips, day trips, bicycle rides, journeys we took, places we visited, going to visit, about to visit, shall never visit, paying a visit, being visited.

Images take turns before my eyes, images of big beds, empty beds, small beds (who mentioned small beds?), snoring, hiccuping, does somebody out there still think about me sometimes – wishful thinking, wishes coming true, wishes we stopped wishing, cruelty, poetic justice, paradise found, paradise lost, paradise regained (maybe), breathtaking waves, breaking the waves, empty stomachs and full hearts, full stomachs and empty hearts, a carousel: an amusement ride with seats for riders, how amusement stopped being amusing. When did amusing turn into amused (if at all)? I love you’s, don’t forget to take out the trash, why didn’t you take out the trash? I am happy. I am unhappy. (Are you happy?) 2 in 1, a baby bump, 3 in 1 (when are you due?), light, who turned off the light? I can’t see (light at the end of the tunnel).

Guest Feature – A Dim View of the Hippie Movement ~ Chris Rodriguez

At the dawning of the Age of Aquarius,
Strawberry Alarm Clock awakens a
stream of consciousness,
artificial spirituality laced with LSD.
Transformed Beatniks don beads, become hip in
bell-bottomed hip-huggers encountering
their id at a Human Be-In.
Back to the land communes in Strawberry Fields
support organic humanure-spiked food
free for sexual favors at local markets.
Nature Boys in old timey clothes fertilize
filth-crusted bodies with free love,
In a Gadda da Vida, honey!
Urbanization spurned, freaks still choose
Frisco as their center of (de)light.

Free press rings in news,
Feed My Headlines proclaim –
Dr. Strange and Jefferson Airplane attend an
Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test at a Grateful Dead revival,
the church of drug induced Nirvana.
Liquid Light Shows draw tie-dyed run-away teens,
down the rabbit hole of
wide-eyed, White Rabbit wonder.
At the Height of Haight Happening,
Hare Krishna chants induce superficial
infatuation with Asian etiology.
‘Keeping it Real’ gets Gays
out of the closet (Far out!),
riding a rainbow of psychedelic ribbons
of Pride to The Castro district.
Hirsute Flower Children with lice, but nice
bare-breasted chicks making love
in patchouli-scented crash pads singing
“love the one you’re with,” oblivious
ball and chain toking through hours
and daze hazy nights.
The free-love train is not a smooth ride.
Stick it to The Man – the mantra in a man’s world.
The Bearded Curtain lacks money,
root of all Establishment evil.
Women serve as replacement currency
coerced to entice new males’ members to enter
the communal state of orgiastic bliss.
Babies abused in false belief,
“It’s alright, it’s his bag. All love is beautiful.”
Magical Mystery Tour, Woodstock,

Summer of Love sexual stew of STD’s
spawns a free clinic that treats
Joplin’s botched abortion.
By all means do your own thing,
tune in, drop out, turn on – blow your mind as
Manson’s musical of murderous missions
taunts L.A. Elysian Park love-ins.
Tricky (Sock it to me?) Dick, with a double (under)handed flash of the peace sign,
tries to send Jo-Yo packing back to Nutopia.
The “Death of Hippies Funeral” buries the
counterculture movement, but uptight,
hung-up, assertive feminists
rise like the Phoenix
from the ashes of burned bras,
born of the so-called age of enlightenment
which kept girls prone,
minds closed
legs open
to Masters and Johnson’s post-revolution probe.
Ouch!


Chris Rodriguez has retired from the horrors of conventional life.  She
now lives on the brink of inspiration in a 100-year-old cottage in
Pocatello, Idaho. Her works have appeared in various themed anthologies
including Rhetoric Askew, Kelly Jacobson’s, The Way to My Heart: An
Anthology of Food-Related Romance, Anchala Press’s Flash Fiction for
Flash Memories and several by Horrified Press/Thirteen O’Clock and
coming soon to Left Hand Publisher’s, Mindscapes Unimagined.  You can
find her latest at https://www.chrisrodriguez-onthebrink.com or
https://www.amazon.com/author/chrisrodriguez-onthebrink.

It Never Rains Where I Stand – A.G. Diedericks

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It never rains where I stand.

Cape Town’s water drought is rapidly approaching level zero, the city needs it more than I do. You died and I’m still waiting for that tantalizing storm they warned me about.

Your family wept for you and chose to utilize me as their scapegoat, waiting for me to immolate my emotions with looks that showed why I’m at home with foreigners and a foreigner when I’m at home.

Maybe it’s ’cause I don’t remember the memories; and I’ve foraged… all through our black & white photo albums. All I saw was anger, mirrored in the glass I removed from her hair after you couldn’t find your direction in life. And how my contempt for you was only eclipsed with self-denigration for not doing anything about it when I was still a kid.

You took me to the shop and littered my pockets with Molly candy hearts whilst my hands were tucked underneath gun control; you always knew how to circumvent the blue man group. Days spent dreaming of a dreamless sleep, breathing in asbestos and secondhand crack. Wasting away any potential we had.

I don’t want to denounce you, though. Only a coward would tell this true story and not let you to defend yourself and it’s not all your fault. I made a promise long ago to never turn out like you; I’ve kept that promise, ’cause I’m worse.

I know that I could have made more of an effort, or any effort for that matter to help improve our relationship. I know you’re still looking down on me, thinking, “he’s so full of shit!” and the worst part is, you’re not wrong.

There’s so much more that I need to say, so much more that I could do; I want to pour it out, all over this city where I rummage in desperation for the greyest cloud, waiting for the shudder of your lightning, waiting for some semblance of my elusive humanity, waiting to tell you that I became a writer…

But it won’t rain. It never rains… not where I stand.