Friday, August 31, 2012

Two Crazy Goals

It's 18 minutes past 12am, but the novel is finished at 60,126 words. And I finished reading The Manhattan Project at 11:17pm.

The novel has been verified as being over 50,000 words, so I've won another Camp NaNoWriMo— my 9th win of 9 participations in OLL events.

With the end of the novel and the end of The Manhattan Project marks the end of the time I spend working beyond 'lights out.'

I can't wait for tomorrow night. The light is going to shut off and I am going to  sleep without worrying about whether or not I'm letting myself down.

But now there is a question. Why would I spend so much time on something that has no tangible reward? On writing a book that didn't have to be finished today (once you hit the 50,000 words, you don't have to worry about whether or not the novel is finished, according to the OLL guidelines), or on reading a book whose criteria for selection was 'an orange cover.'

The reason for reading the book is a 'Rainbow Challenge' issued by my reading group. The 'orange' book must be read in August. Not completing the orange book means that you've lost the Rainbow Challenge, which ends on December 31st. I couldn't let that happen.

But as in the beginning of the month I was working every spare moment at the camp presentation, and secondly, the NaNoWriMo novel, I wasn't interested in reading. Not at camp, not on the plane… it was when I reached London that I realized I needed to get to work.

As for the novel, I had 41,051 words when I reached London. I needed 8,949 words to win Aug NaNo '12. But in order to finish the story, I realized that I needed 60,000 words.

From past experience, I've noted that if I don't finish a novel within the contest time limits, it's exponentially harder to continue it afterward. That incredible drive to finish before the deadline no longer exists, especially in November. So I pushed myself to reach 'The End' tonight.

It meant writing 18,949 words in three days. It meant reading a 448 page book in three days. It meant squeezing in at least 6 hours of work and 7 hours of reading into three days of incredibly busy sightseeing.

In the past three days, we've seen the British Library, Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, Buckingham Palace, and various bus and underground stations. Sightseeing has taken up every 'daylight hour' of the past three days. Is it any wonder I've had to stay up late in order to complete the goals I set for myself on August 1st?

Yes, it's crazy. There is no earthly reason why I should spend precious sleep hours reading about the creation of the atomic bomb, or writing a convoluted story about messed up people who don't exist anywhere but in my head.

But I like to think that beyond being crazy, this is real-world practice. This is an exercise in self-discipline, one of the hardest things a human being can master.

By pushing myself to finish two goals that are inconsequential to the rest of the world, two goals which in the past three days I've been questioning the sanity of, I'm going to be training myself for the real-world problems that will arise in anything I choose to do. Whenever I feel like giving up, this is the dialogue that will play in my head: "I really wanted this some time ago. Now, when the going is hard, I don't seem to want it so much. But I know that if I give up now, I will not be able to live the disappointment of giving up on myself."

That is why I have persisted in finishing Incense and The Manhattan Project. That is why I haven't gone to bed before midnight for the past three days. That is why I've been ignoring the obvious signs that my entire family thinks I'm nuts.

Because at some point in my life, all this determination to complete the goal is going to pay off.

Note: I realize that this world is about 190 words longer than it should be. As none of it is filler, I feel it is alright.

2nd Note: The book is The Manhattan Project: The Birth of the Atomic Bomb in the Words of Its Creators, Eyewitnesses, and Historians, edited by Cynthia C. Kelly, President of the Atomic Heritage Foundation

Thursday, August 30, 2012


I woke up at noon… but don't think that that's particularly late, because I went to bed at 2am.

Anyway… ten hours of sleep is actually pretty good. We'll see what time I fall asleept tonight… I stayed up, exactly as I said I would, until I reached 55,000 words in Incense.

The awesome thing is that I managed to write more than 1000 words in 15 minutes on more than one occasion (five, to be exact).

It feels so nice. I actually wrote the entire 10k in nine sprints of 15 minutes each (except for the last one, which was only 13 minutes). In between sprints, I'd catch up to the next 100 words to make for the greatest ease of writing. The first sprint was only 644 words. The next was 888, and then I was in the 930s before hitting 1024, 1051, 1032… etc.

It's so awesome to think that if tomorrow I do the same thing tomorrow, (it took me less than 3 hours to write 10000 words… there was a bathroom break) I should finish in about an hour and a half (at 12:30 I had 4,449 words).

I've been using Vitamin R to keep track of this, setting 15 minute sprints to try and hit 1k. When one sprint's finished, I type slightly more slowly until I hit a x000 mark on the counter and then set a sprinter again (unless I'm right at the beginning of that thousand, in which case I work up only to the 100s place). And so it happens that I have a ridiculous plot twist to solve (and possibly cut out in editing) in only 5000 words.

There's still a bit of reading to go, and my laptop's battery is almost gone, but I'm going to actually finish all the stuff I set forth for myself.

Tomorrow I'm waking up early to charge the laptop a bit before we leave… I'll probably go back to sleep once I have it charging in Mom and Dad's room… or maybe I'll sleep in the metro.

At any rate, tomorrow is the last day of August… we'll see how things go!

In other, more general and important news… the grandparents arrived in London today at I-don't-know-what-hour. Mom, Dad, and I met them at the airport, took them to their hotel, and then Dad set off to get the other kids.

We stayed and watched the video (their expressions moved from a slightly frightful expression to laughing so hard they almost slipped off the bed), then realized that we were late for Westminster Abbey.

Took the bus and tried to figure out which countries the flags belonged to on the way… found that we mostly have no idea.

Saw Westminster not only during the day but also during the night, showed the guides there where Edward the Confessor's window is… (they hadn't known). Took the metro home… tomorrow we see Buckingham Palace.

My glasses are driving me nuts.

That's all.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Reaching London, End of August


The first order of business was actually waking up… I slept about four hours in the plane (yippy!), and I was actually surprised at how well the I slept.

We landed, I think, earlier than we were supposed to, but I'm not complaining. Mom, Dad, and Ioan, were the only people waiting right at the beginning… they filmed us as we came through.

With the whole experience sort of behind me— honestly travel really isn't thath stressful. It's just the getting the tickets and filling out the USA information that freaks me out. Otherwise, I'm all good.

We handed our bags over to Mom and Dad , who carried them through the subway (I mean, tube) and then walked to our hostel, which is a Generator Hostel and is basically… huge. We reached our room, Ileana ranted about Gabriel and the various experiences at camp (I wanted to write, but it's impossible when you're hearing about all the stuff you heard about while you were actually at camp… for once I feel well-informed about all the drama that went on this year!).

After Ileana finished, we talked a bit more… and by then it was 12:30 and Mom and Dad wanted Ileana and me to sleep. Okay. I wasn't planning on actually doing it, just 'hanging out' for half an hour, but the next thing I know I'm being poked in the back by my brother. And it was about a half hour before they actually got me out of bed… but right now it's 12:47am, I reached 45k on Incense (made a bet with Bouchra before going to bed… I just hope I won it… since the loser has a lot of stuff to do).

We went to the British Library and saw the collection of really important books/maps… mostly uninteresting, though the Beatles showcase was nice and there's a The Ring and the Book by Robert Browning which I want to read. And possbily Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad… but then I didn't like The Heart of Darkness so I'll think about it. 

We came back to the hotel, ate pizza (delicious!), and then basically stayed online. I'd already typed up two of my worlds (at one point I transitioned from iPod to paper to note-taking… I'll finish typing everything up by the end of August), fixing all the typos. 

The rest of August is going to be really busy.

- Grandparents are coming. Awesome.
- Have to see London. Great. Skipping the London Eye, Madame Tussauds, just St. Paul, Westminster, Tower of London, probably a few museums… 
- Must finish The Manhattan Project (a book for a challenge, which if it's not finished in August will immediately wreck my chances for ever finishing this challenge. Not completing the challenge is not an option).
- Must finish Incense (Only 15k left in the story, but I've never lost an OLL event yet, and I'm not starting this year).
- Worlds. Have to type them all up.

Lots of stuff, including talking over Perfume edits, responding to French emails…

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Leaving the USA

A very quiet wake-up today. Having set all the clothes to wash last night, today I went down and checked that they were all dry (we hung them up in the boiler room), then informed Ileana that she was to take a shower to dry off the rest of them.

While that may sound counter-intuitive, the heated water for the shower also heats the boiler room, which means that our clothes dry off a bit more.

Because I took a shower yesterday, just before Emma came, I don't bother, instead making the bags for things we're leaving here and things we're taking with us. I put the harddrives into the bag into all my clothes (hopefully I won't forget about them as I have so many times before).

We eat breakfast (mashed potatoes!), finish cleaning up everything, check the rooms, and then, we're ready to go. Driving to the airport takes only about 20 minutes.

We try to figure out where to check in (we took the tickets with Iberia, but Iberia doesn't exist, nor does British Airways).

We head to United, then to American something, then to American Eagle, where our British Frequent Flyer miles are missing a number, so we have to call Mom and Dad (who are now in London), to find out what the real number is.

When we find that, we receive our tickets, hurry into Security (I'm now eager to get to London), get through with absolutely no problem, and then sit down at the gate for a long time just talking.

I think, honestly, that anyone who listens to Ileana and me talk about one of our subjects (like would we ever want to sit in first class, ever), must be laughing into their sleeves, because honestly, we come up with the craziest things to talk about.

Like gut feelings and the fact that we are probably the only teenage girls in the world who know and love the song "Oh What a Night!" by Frankie Valli.

But then, we always knew we were special.

After that, we reach Chicago. And we're starving. So we buy a Baker's Dozen worth of bagels, which I decided on because compared to the $2.50 + tax of one cream cheese bagel, 13 bagels for $8.89 + tax seemed to me a much better deal.

[Later note: And it was, since that was our breakfast for the next few days in London.]


What else? We went to a bookstore and hung out there for an hour and a half, reading Happy by Lonely Planet. It's quite cool. I want that book in my own book shelf some day.

I also managed to read the first part of Fahrenheit 451, which is actually an amazing book. Despite the fact that I can't really understand what his wife's 'family' is. But that I'll probably reread later, when I actually have time to savor it.

The plane toward London is coming!

Monday, August 27, 2012


The phone woke me up. I'm in Rochester, on Monday, and I'm alone in the house. Flavia has gone to work, since 6:30. In the end, the number flashing on the telephone is not the one I know, so I ignore it, try to start breathing normally, and decide to eat donut for breakfast.

I turn on the TV (there's nothing else to do…), watch whatever's on, flip channels… and then give up and start re-reading a romance during most of the TV programs.

I'm booored. 

There is a peanut bagel/wrap whatever it is here that is basically bagel with peanuts stuck on it.

It takes me at least 90 minutes to eat it. Why? Because it is so sweet! I can't eat sweet things for log, which should probably be a good thing, since I don't eat chocolate in large quantities because of it.

Which means I probably will never have a problem with keeping down on sweet intake. 

I call everyone I know. First Ileana to double-check that Emma is, in fact, going to get her from her friend's and bring her to Rochester. Ileana confirms taht she has, in fact, spoken to Emma. I tell her to call me once Emma meets her, and not to be left alone for even a millisecond without a phone. Which she doesn't understand. But I explain it to her, she says 'okay,' and so on.

When Ileana calls, I have the address for her, double-check that she brought everything with her (she left her long-sleeved shirt at camp, and I brought it with me instead).

Funnily enough, despite the fact that I am very good at checking up on everyone else, I myself forgot the following things at camp:

- The ostrich egg
- The South African animals booklet
- My glasses.

I remembered about my glasses a half hour away from the camp, but the ostrich egg and booklet only once we were in Rochester.

Oh, how sad! Hopefully Mom will stil have an ostrich egg by the end of all of this. If not… at least the egg had an adventure!

When Emma and Ileana arrive, it's a very long bout of hugging (Emma and me, I mean. Ileana already had her turn).

Flavia has to find some clothes for her family, and I have to get a new bra for various reasons, so the three of us go to the mall. On the way back, we buy KFC, and the four of us eat while talking about a variety of subjects which I won't mention here from reasons of length.

It's so lovely to see Emma, but it's so sad to say 'goodybe' to her at the same time! In a way, I wish we could move back home. Especially when I was at camp. I think this was the first year I almost cried about leaving camp.

From so many people we know… back to the same four people!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Leaving Camp

This morning we girls slept in till 9am, despite the fact that there was Divine Liturgy. But, no one came to wake us up, so we slept.

This was in part because of the extraordinary amount of work we had to do this week, but also because of the fact that last night, we went to bed at about 2:15am. First Roxy and I talked (I put her to sleep no less than five times. Alexandra's mom said that I have a very… 'therapeutic' voice). Then Alex came up to the cabin (she'd been having a talk with the priest) and we talked with the mothers in the bathroom, then in front of the cabin… before all migrating to the bathroom again because we'd talked so long we had to go. Again.

Then a bit longer in front of the cabin… and then we tied one of the windows shut with floss, because the mosquito frame for that particular shutter is one of the worst frames in existance. It wrenches open so hard you think the cabin's going to come apart, and pushing it back in you're certain you'll get splinters. So we flossed it shut and then played one-string guitar on it.

So it's no wonder we were too exhausted to wake up at 8am.

We packed slowly, not really wanting to go, and talked.

As we reached the mess hall and ate breakfast (alone, without the screaming of kids), we talked a bit more. Piled their belongings in the car.

After they left, I hung around a bit. Dimi and Grigorie left too. 

There were about three girls all playing Cat's Cradle in the pavillion, so I went over and taught them to do Jacob's Ladder. I also braided one of the girl's hair, in a sort of crown braid that didn't reach all the way around because her hair isn't long enough.

But she loved it anyway.

I didn't get to do anyone else's hair, though, because then we were called to eat. And then there was a series of 'no time now to braid hair!' and then I had to leave, so Stephanie and Elena didn't have their hair braided. I was repeating DUTCH CROWN BRAID incessantly because there was no paper to write it down on.

When it was time to leave, the kids were all dancing. Since I hadn't yet said goodbye to Domnul John, the dance instructor, I went up and said goodbye to Georgia, his assistant, first (since she was closer).

Domnul John saw, broke the circle, came in through the middle, and we said goodbye as well. (The Romanian way of greeting is to kiss once on each cheeks). Once Domnul John stepped away, every kid in the circle came toward me. The Cat's Cradle girls first, then Vlad (Dacia's brother), then every other kid in the circle, until I felt like I was falling down.

"Okay, guys, I have to go. Let me go, everyone…"

No one was listening.

So I started pretending to faint.

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Today everyone is leaving, except for Alexandra, Daniel, Gabriel, Iustin, Roxy, Marin, and me. And Ingrid. But Ingrid is one of the quiet kids, and you can't really tell that she's there. She was also a bit sick this afternoon, so we didn't see her much. 

We danced a bit more this morning, but mostly kids made their bags. Those of us who weren't leaving didn't bother. We danced the 'sârbă' (Sr-BUH), which is very fast and quite tiring after a while, especially since all your muscles clog up and then you're dancing and messing up everyone in the entire circle.

Always fun. But we'll skip over that.

The little kids (most of them) came this afternoon. I didn't get to say 'hello' to many of them, but I did get to boss them all around at the pool.

Roxy, who was our week's lifeguard, was worried about managing 40+ kids at the pool (only 20 were actually at the pool), so I put on my bathing suit, borrowed a whistle, and said, "Roxy, what are the signals?"

"Yeah, we should make some up." One blast for attention, three blasts for her to jump in the pool and save someone.

We get to the pool. And have to wait for the doctor. When she arrives, I say to Roxy, "Okay, go ahead and tell them the rules."

"Nah, you do it."

(Later I find out that Roxy doesn't actually know how to tell people the pool rules.)

So, I start.

"The first and most important rules are that you listen to us. Always. We tell you to get in the pool, you get in the pool. We tell you to get out of the pool, you get out of the pool. We tell you to jump… you don't jump. Because that's dangerous."

There's a bit of laughter.

"Okay. What other rules are there at the pool?"

The kids then recite, and we repeat for the rest of them, then say, "Alright. No one in the deep end until we know whether or not you can all swim properly."

One of them, about twelve, said from inside the pool, "But I go in the deep end all the time!"

I looked straight at him and said, "Well, you can go in the deep end and sit out of the pool for the rest of today, or you can play in the shallow end. Your choice."

He shut up.

After about ten minutes, one of the Alex's says, "There's a dead frog in the pool!"

Roxy and I peer down into the depths. Something does look black.

We blast the whistle three times. "EVERYONE OUT OF THE POOL!"

Discussions and comments from the kids. "OUT!" 

Iustin stays in the pool. We gave up on him, but got out the net and took the frog out.

Then we looked at each other and Roxy threw it over the fence.

We patrolled the area, twice, then said, "EVERYONE BACK IN THE POOL!"

Friday, August 24, 2012

Closing Ceremony

We had the closing ceremony at camp today.

Right before the ceremony (and right after lunch), Father Daniel says, "Maria, you're coming with me."

Um… I wasn't sure what to expect. We go to the pavilion. The priest hands me a piece of paper and a pencil and says, "Sit down and write."

(Now here is the part that probably should have been kept secret.)

He dictated to me the entire little speech I was supposed to say, as I was writing madly. "How do you spell that?" I'd ask every once in a while,

"It doesn't matter! Write so you will understand!" he exclaimed.

And I, who understand just about everything I write, but actually want to learn how to write Romanian properly (which I do anyway, but don't have complete authority on like in English), would sigh and write it phonetically— which, thankfully, in Romanian, is the way all words are written. There is no such word as 'spelling' in Romanian vocabulary. (A nice word to remove, I suppose).

So I wrote the entire speech out in pencil (ack, pencil! How dim you are when I try to read you!), ran up to the cabin to put some pants on (I was wearing a skirt for the entire week, as you may recall), and then ran to the Millenium to get into costume (the pants were supposed to be part of my costume) and onto the stage.

Except I put the costume on after the speech. And then we started the play, and because I was a storyteller in the first play, I didn't put on my costume.

Anyway, in the second play I was all costumized like a saint/ altar boy (because that was what I was wearing), and it all went off without a hitch. Except that, for the first time, they gave me a cross to hold. 


I can't hold it behind my back, because my hands are tied. Roman soldiers aren't going to be nice to a cross, so I can't be holding it when they come to tie my hands. And no one had any idea what to do. I was looking to Klara and mouthing that she had to take the cross from me before the Roman soldiers (Roxy and Dacia) came to get me.

I'm sure I looked like a very brave person, meeting death so stoically. And hopefully all that silent talking to Klara doesn't show up on the film. Because there will be a film, naturally.

OH well.

Anyway. After the play was singing. We didn't have much time to practice that. And afterward… dancing! Best part… except Daniel forgot the steps. But we only practiced three hours late at night and early in the morning. What can anyone expect?

Afterwards, awards.

I got an "I Love to Read" award. For reading throughout the year.

1. I haven't read in two months.
2. How is this relevant to my camp performance?

Thursday, August 23, 2012


Today the dance instructor, Domnul John, is supposed to come. Tomorrow is the Divine Liturgy (which means we wake up at the same time but don't eat until three hours later than usual). Which means confessions for everyone in camp. But I'll get to that later.

Because I stubbed (cut? Shore?) my toe on Tuesday, I wasn't able to go in the pool today. Cristina, who didn't want to go into the pool either, volunteered to play badminton with me. We played around on the grass a bit at first, then I said, "Listen. Let's practice the play at the same time. Whenever one of us gets a point, the other has to repeat her lines. And we keep playing badminton at the same time."

I'd thought it up a bit earlier, owing to the fact that everyone wanted to play badminton with me and I have the most lines (I think) in the play. Klara and Iustin are either equal or above me in the memorization department. Multi-tasking usually isn't a good idea when you're trying to memorize something, but when you already know it well enough to rattle off, I think it's good to also practice with distractions, just so you don't go a bit nuts when you're actually doing the play and a dog runs up onto the stage (That's never happened, in case you were curious.).

Since, unfortunately, I'm better at badminton than Cristina, and have three times more lines to memorize than her, she knew hers more than by heart, and I had yet to practice. Since I'm not about to lose for the benefit of memorization, we changed techniques. Winner of a point has to recite lines. 

It worked.

Father Daniel had told us once during lunch (or was it dinner?) that should we be absolute angels for the next two or three days, the camp owners might actually let us go out on the river (there is a river) with the canoe. In past years, we've been able to wade in to our knees. This canoeing gizmo was the first any camper at All Saints had ever heard of this.  

As you've probably surmised simply by my bringing it up, we did go canoeing today. Which was totally epically awesome, despite the fact that each group of kids (or teenagers) only had five minutes out on the river. And we had to wear life jackets (which are uncomfortable unless you're sleeping on them).

The scenery was absolutely amazing. Beautiful, clear water, lots of smiling… I didn't take pictures. I feel a bit constricted by them. And there's usually all this worry when you're carrying a camera… it makes me fear a bit for any solo trips I may take from now on. What if I don't take any pictures? 

But I'll get to that in future years.

When Domnul John came, we all started dancing. And dancing. And dancing. At one point my feet hurt so much I sat down and watched, with Grigorie in my lap.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I've started writing earlier this morning to get a head start. I have two parts, one in each play. One is a storyteller, the other is the young Pantelimon. He's the main characer and has a lot of speaking parts… I've memorized the storyteller's lines, but I haven't even looked over the young doctor's lines yet… oops!

Hopefully today I'll be able to memorize at least half of those as well. 

We were going to paint more today, but apparently the adults have taken it upon themeelves to actually FINISH most of our pieces. Yay…

It's really weird being at camp without Mom. Not that we talked to her much, or saw her more often than most kids here see the doctor… but this year, there's a different doctor. Which is weird.

SHe's really nice, really helpful, but it's weird. By this time with Mom I think she would have let me take the bandage off, but I'm still wearing it this morning. And my toe is all moist and sweaty.

I find it really really interesting that last year my character died (I also had two parts last year), this year my character dies… I do become a saint this year, though. Last year I was a heretic. (Well, two of them).

Let me expalin more about the play. This year we have two of them, one that's about the life of St. Pantelimon, a doctor that worked 'pro bono,' but that was executed because he was a Chirstian.

We've all gathered in the young big girls cabin to chat and read and socialize… despite the fact that we've been talking all day.

 Alex Huluta showed up last night and it was just this day that we actually talked. She's exactly the same as she's been every year. SHe still knows everything I've ever told her about me. It's amazing that she doesn't memorize her lines for theater in one go, witht her memory. 

I love exerciseing— practicing, I mean, for all this theater stuff. I love it. It's sometimes a chance to goof off for no reason. I can do ridiculous things and just do random things no sane person would do, like dropping to the floor in a dead faint (which is normal when your head's been cut off), or kneeling up straight when my head's been cut off (which is also normal because I'm a saint and believe in God… so despite the fact that I have no head and am not being held up by anything, I'm still kneeling on the cold concrete).

I'm not sure why, of course, but that doesn't matter.

On the other hand, not everything is rosy. We have so little free time… it feels like instead of having the structure yet free time that we had last year, sports have been crammed in on top of all of the religious stuff this year, which means that instead of being able to relax, we're constantly working.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

A Poolside Injury

Today… I had amazing luck today… scratched my finger while opening a window, and, while at the pool, I cut my toe. Hard to walk, so that's interesting. Great because I have to walk up and down and up and down to get kids and go to church and go eat.

So that's lovely, since I'm hobbling up and down like an old grandmother, because I have to keep my toe up and it's sore, but— I did take a shower in a bathtub because I was dreadfully injured.

Ilinca from the cabin is reading every word I write in the notebook over my shoulder… she wants me to help move her mattress, since she has exchanged beds with Adriana.

I wanted to write my world earlier today, but Klara's momo called me into her room and we had a really weird talk about Klara and parenting and so on and so forth. Then— ILinca is doing her best to distract me, and she's amazed that I'm not distracted at all— but that's normal because I used to practice my piano and flute lessons while Ileana and Ioan were shouting all throughout the house.

Um… everyone in the cabin (including Roxy, who's really really really scary) wants to choke me because I'm not going to bd at the proper hour.

Hopefully I'll be able to finish this all tomorrow.


How did the cut toe happen? It's very simple. We went to the pool. Matei, a 15 year old from Oltenia/Montreal, raced me to the end of the pool and back. I won, since Matei tends to go diagonally instead of straight. It was quite close, though.

The next race was me against Gabriel (Ileana's crush last year… we still haven't heard the end of it!). I got up right to the edge of the pool, but Gabriel said, "No, I want a running start."

Since I don't have anything against a running start, persay, I backed up obligingly about two steps.

"One, two, three… go!" I'm no longer sure who counted this.

A whistle blows. I take a running start and dive in, wondering how it's possible that I could be so ahead. I reach the other end,


Looking around the pool, trying to figure out where Gabriel is, I find he's at the other end. I've raced half a race for nothing. Apparently Roxy blew the whistle, but Gabriel was still waiting for the 'go,' so he stayed talking to Anca (Gabriel's crush this year) instead of diving in.

As I walk back over to the group, I realize my right big toe is twinging. It's bleeding copiously.

I show Gabriel as a sort of 'isn't this interesting?' which prompts everyone to call Dr. Katy, who takes one look and says I need first aid.

I took a shower in the doctor's cabin, put hydrogen peroxide on it and bandaged it up, and as I said before… I've been limping all over camp all day.


Monday, August 20, 2012


So this particular world is being written by hand. I'm really tired of writing on my iPod, so I'm writing by hand. Alright, how do I talk about today?

I got dressed in my punjabi and leggings, went to church (it's really nice because we're actually getting a short sermon about the Holy Trinity and communion and confession and so on and so forth.) Leo and his parents and kids showed up today. Dimitrie was 4 months the first time he came to camp, and 16 months when he last came. His brother, Grigorie was 3 weeks— he stayed for both weeks of camp last year… this year Tatiana, their mother, had to stay and work. But both Dimitrie and Grigorie are here for the first week this year… came specially to see Ileana and me!

Pr. Paisie, Pr. Gabriel, and Pr. Nicolaie also arrived today… we're going to be painting, doing theater, and learning to call people to church. It was a great day today, great food as always, and lots of things to do and talk about. We girls played tether ball a bit, volleyball circles, and the others played a bit of tennis. 

Actually, I've thought of it better, I think I'll spend tomorrow writing on the iPod again. This is a pain…

I'm tired, because we did music and catechism today, and they're both so relaxing that I start to fall asleep, despite the fact that everyone is talking. I fancy I could put that in practice in the cabin.

We had brownies for dinner. Oh, and I may be crazy but I like wearing my skirt, so I'm going to keep donning it for the rest of the week. Yay!

Only 210 words left! Well! It's really nice to be able to go to church again. I have one of the longer prayers at night, I'll be doing theater and painting and hopefully tomorrow it will be warm enough to swim.

I'm gettinga workout everytime I climb up the hill to the cabin, and then more when I lift up the kids. I'm going to have to see what I can do about my theater lines, I've barely looked over them.

This is because Alex, one of the boys, doesn't speak Romanian AT ALL. I sat down with him to give him some help with his 7 lines of verse. He understood it's about praying, can repeat what I say without almost any accent, and can even read it a bit himself. I'm so so so proud of him!

And Dimi walks everywhere, and he talks in Romanian, and he plays and he laughs and he knows the word 'no' very well. He knows what he wants, which Is great.

I think to learn my lines I'll be carrying them with me and writing them down. I'm the story teller in one of the plays, and the main character in the other.

Tomorrow we wake up early, so I'll stop now.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Presenting the Presentation

Second day at camp! We presented the presentation today, the kids laughed at the parts we meant to be serious and stayed unmoving at the funny parts, but all in all it was a great experience. They asked normal questions like 'how much did it cost?' and questions like, 'who cuts your grass?'

Ileana was rather sick today, possiby because she's exhausted. She woke up at two am to set the tables and write on the mirrors in the bathrooms along with Ingrid, one of the girls who's been coming for five years as well.

We also had the Divine Liturgy today. It's really weird to fast when your mind tells you it's seven AM and your body tels you it's one AM. Really weird. But somehow I survived without too much trouble and I'm still alive.

The kids this year are mostly people that have been here in years past. There are two new girls, Cristina and Ilinca, both really nice. As for the boys, lots and lots of new ones, all of them mostly young. Matei, Marin, Tudor, Patrick, Eric, Vlad. They're all really nice boys. Honestly, I think that it's the kids who make or break the camp experience for me.

Speaking of kids, Dimitrie and Grigorie should show up any hour now, and I'm ignoring the fact that they should have showed up this afternoon.

Dimi and Grig are the music teacher's kids. Dimi has been here at four months and a year and four months. Girgiorie was three weeks old when he came to camp last year. Of course, Tatiana, their mother, came too. I can't wait. It's something to do when everyone is playing soccer. I don't understand sports that involve a ball. They seem pointless to me, unfortunately, and the ball never seems to go where I kick it. Give me hand to hand combat any day!

It's really hard to type on my iPod. There are so many mistakes and typos atht are getting fixed as I type, but not all of them get caught. And I type sloer with my thumbs than I do with all ten fingers, so 15, 20 minutes after the light closes I'm still typing. Madly. I'd love to be sleeping right now. Impossible. What gave me the idea to do this, anyway?

Let's think. What else can fit? I can't wait till I'm a counselor. I get to do what I'v been trying to do  since my first year at camp, when I was thirteen: tell people to go to bed!

Of course this year, I'm really, really lucky. Only nice, quiet, respectful people from 'good families,' as the Asians say. So it's really quiet except for the sound of Roxy chewing rusks. Which, you know, is also a nice sound.

Anyway, tomorrow the real work begins, since we have to choose a play and probably figure out the camp Olympics' teams for this year!

Goodnight, goodnight!

Saturday, August 18, 2012


We're at camp! We managed to hop on the JFK flight with no problem at all, and spent 13 hours sleeping, trying to sleep, or watching movies.

I watched a Hindi film featuring Kareena Kapoor then went to bed. After sleeping four hours, I woke up slowly and then had a minor panic attack for no reason. I figured out it was because of the traveling on my own jitters and tried to fall asleep again but couldn't, so I watched MONSTERS INC. Until I couldn't stand it any more and started watching THE RESCUERS. I tried to sleep again but couldn't, after an hour, so I watched THIS MEANS WAR.

We got through customs so easily it was amazing. I only had to scan four fingers of my right hand— apparently they had one good set of my fingerprints and didn't need any more. No one looked at our paper bag with the ostrich egg in it, no one asked about any food… it was weird.

And one more really weird thing. We saw three security guards jogging. For fun. I think they were racing.

We managed to connect to the internet in JFK, so I sent a message to Mom and Dad, then stumbled and checked FB and such. Finally, we boarded the plane. In an hour we were in Pittsburgh.

And we waited an hour for our ride. Unfortunately the original driver didn't even reach camp in time… we asked four different women to lend us their cellphones.

1 Handbag Lady. She searched for two minutes in her bag, turned on the phone… and then Ileana shouted. It wasn't our ride— it was a guy who waved at her.

2 Lady Group. Very nice. We called the priest and left a message. They wanted to know which language I was speaking.

3 Dragon Lady. I asked her nicely. She looked me me up and down like I was begging for change and slowly took out her phone. "What's the number?" she asked. I told her "What's your ride's name?" "Father Daniel." "What's YOUR name?" "Maria," I said with the Romanian pronunciation. She repeated my name a few times, then hit Call. A while passes. "No signal." She said. "Thanks anyway." I said, and made a VERY quick exit.

4 Nice lady. We called Dad, established the fact that our ride was on its way, and we were waiting for a callback from Dad when HER ride showed up. They hugged for a few minutes and then I looked up and there's this slightly bearded guy coming toward me and somewhere in my mind I must've recognized him, because we kissed cheeks before I realized what I was doing. I thanked the nice lady, got our bags from Ileana, and we drove towards camp.

So many faces I know from other years, and I was almost crying I was so happy.

It was a bit of a farce trying to get the priest to hold the ostrich egg, though.

Friday, August 17, 2012

On the Plane

 We're in the plane and we start to descend in 5 minutes, so I figured it would be much better to finish all this writing before.

I managed to write 1k for the novel today… but then again I watched a lot of movies. It's quite funny because I look like some sort of strange zombie when I look in the mirror… I guess I know what I'll be doing for the 13 hours of the plane ride to New York!

The reason, by the way, that I look like a zombie is because I only slept 4 hours. I stayed up till 4am to write 15008 words, and I'm very happy about that. I wanted to replicate the experience, but the sad thing is that I can't concentrate on writing when there's a TV screen in front of me and I don't have someone to sprint with. It's just that it's hard to think about all this writing novel stuff when you're on a plane and you have access to movies that only play at set times. If they played whenever, I'd have been able to write as many words as I wanted, and then still been able to watch. But they show at present times, which was annoying.

Ileana and I watched Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya— a Hindi film about a young woman who doesn't want to marry her father's choice, so she forces a rickshaw driver to kidnap her. It's hilarious. I loved it. 

And then the parents and I watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which was hilarious and also deserving of lots of claps and two thumbs up, etc.

We're descending and my ears have started to pop. Lovely.

Just 215 more words! It's a really cool plane ride. Ileana and I have separet tickets, so I have to put my glasses on (which makes me a bit nauseated) and figure out a lot of accents and hand over passports and find out what exactly people mean when they say, "Do you have a visa for the US?"

(They mean, "Greencards are also acceptable.")

Anyway, we're almost landing at Dubai. When we reach it, Ileana and I have to find the JFK flight, and then we hop on board, with only about… a little time… before we take off.

And I'm really, really excited. IT will be so cool!

We had some semi-good food… despite the fact that I was expecting to be able to eat tortellini and they didn't offer that.

Oh well!

(I'm writing this very quickly, at top speed, because I absolutely have to finish this before we get off the plane. I'm not going to worry about it after that.)

48 more words!

Oh! I'm going to have to spend the next 10 days writing all my worlds on my iPod. Hence the reason I'm hurrying so much— it takes me about twice as long to write on my iPod as it does my laptop.

Anyway, bon voyage!

Thursday, August 16, 2012


IT'S DAY 306! We hit the 10 month mark!

We exported the movie and the slideshow we're going to use as we answer questions. We didn't fix up any of the audio because everything was moving so slowly… but since Mom and Dad voluntarily watched it three more times after it was exported, I don't think it matters much.

Anyway, both Ileana and I have declared the very true fact that "IT'S PERFECT," despite what the rest of the world may think. If they disagree, well… that's too bad for them. Really, too bad.


We have all the list of things we need to take with us… though I should cehck if I really have all those soaps with me.

I tried to write today, but really, after finishing with the camp presentation at 1:30pm, I could only write about 4k. Thankfully, I've introduced Jacob to writing sprints, so now I'm getting this world in by typing as fast as possible for the next five minutes.

And replying to FaceBook messages, since I have last-minute things to do.

Anyway… today's going to be somewhat of a late night… I'll be taking a bath, then trying to stick to the internet as long as possible. Our lovely internet is trying to tell us something by staunchly refusing to work when I need it to work… like when I want to Skype with Bouchra or talk to friends. But… c'est la vie, I suppose.

Which reminds me, I need to check my email in the morning.

Yes, I'm sorry, this is word vomit.

Let's think.

They cancelled the boats today for some reason I didn't catch when I asked Dad about it (yay!), so I could write this morning a bit.

We ate purée (mashed potatoes, I mean), and hot dogs (a bit spicy… what is up with that?). Then tonight, while running back and forth to see The Amazing Race and get another bite of food, we ate macaroni with meat and cheese… yum!


We get onto a plane tomorrow. After that, it's up to me and Ileana to get through customs, planes, terminals, whatever.

I'm a bit nervous.

But just a bit. And I'm so un nervous at this point that I can't think of what to write for the next 120 words.

Any suggestions?

No. Hmm…

Well, the internet just gave out on Dad's iPod, which is interesting. And I still need 100 words…

I hit 4k today. I've got 29k on the book left… now at this point I'm wondering if I can write 21k in the next 24 hours… it should be a fascinating study into discipline, and also a great, great tool to make sure I finish Camp NaNo.

If I hit 50k, I've promised myself I can test out a new noveling theory when I reach London. If all goes well, I'll write the 50k in 3 days or so. If not, I'll make it a shorter story. At any rate, I'll be finishing another story in August.