Here’s the thing.
Romanians say that if you have the hiccups, it means someone is talking or thinking about you. I hope yours were endless, because I thought about you a lot.
You missed some awesome days here in Bucharest. I don’t know if you heard anything about our country, but you must keep in mind that a small team of great journalists are printing a narrative magazine each three months, called Decât o Revistă.
Yesterday we ended the second edition of The Power of Storytelling conference. I’m still amased by the great people I had the chance to meet. The kind and wonderful Jacqui Banaszynski (she was here last year too) told us „stories will survive as long as human race does”. Flip-flop Chris Jones says: “imagine you’re a cop, in the rain and there are tigers in the trees. That can’t be a bad story.” Then he has “story bonners”. Do you think that Jones’ article was better than GQ’s? I sure do. Great Walt Harrington, who is like a Santa Claus of journalism. Always has a big bag full of great words and advices. I loved this one the most: “if your mother says she loves you, check that out.” Mike Sager always carries around a backpack. What do you thing it’s inside? Reporter’s gear? Books? Something else? I’ll ask him tomorrow and get back to you. Whatever it is, we’re sure that he “doesn’t make shit up, he just reports it”. Starlee Kine turns her personal experiences into great audio for This American Life. I was also thinking to write more about my personal experiences, even if I’m only 23. Pat Walters produces for RadioLab great stories and endings that make me wonder.The last one was about this guy that lies about writing books, keeps a mysterious life and doesn’t always answer his phonecalls. He was found dead. You should listen to that episode – or maybe you already did. Alex Tizon loved it here so much last year at the conference that he decided to come this year too. Tuesday he’s leaving with Jacqui to visit Transylvania. You would love it there, and all the villages and the mountains! Evan Ratliff, although humble, knows a lot about how the futue media should look like and Travis Fox makes good documentaries. And he speaks Romanian, because he studied at Sibiu, a lovely city of ours. How cool is that?
Don’t tell me this line-up isn’t great.
They were all in our little newsroom, which is actually an apartment at the 6th floor of an old building, with two balconies, two bathrooms, a kitchen were we actualy cook (well..not me) and a little cosy room with six desks. And a floor that creeks. We have posters of our previous covers and ideas written on our whiteboard or on flipchart pages taped on our meeting room walls (yes, we have that too).
All nine of them were sitting on the balcony last Thursday, drinking wine and talking about life, about narrative surviving or not in our country, about the moon having a diferent colour here (Starlee). They ate slănină and drank burning pălincă, a romanian treat that we’ll serve you too when you come here. They were all amased (Jones the most) that we actually read their stuff. Well, we grow like reporters and editors through your stories. Because people don’t realy understand yet what we’re trying to do here and why narrative journalism is awesome. And we don’t have a lot of stories like the ones you guys do. So yeah, we read you and we’ll continue doing that, so stop being surprised 🙂 I dream of being like you, with my voice, of course, but writing about mountains? That’s the dream.
One by one, we were sitting inside and looking at them, speechless, making lots of pictures, as if they were a bunch of noisy weirdos. They’re not weirdos, it’s just that we know we won’t see them again so soon. At least not all of them.
And I was a part of this story and nobody can change that. But you were there too, in my head. You were sitting an a corner, taking notes on everyone, checking out the magazines with your frowing face and your grey hair and beard. You were wearing a Mountain Hardwear jacket because you didn’t knew Romania was so hot in October.
I would have loved to come near you and ask you hundred of questions. I would have asked you about Three cups of deceit. About how you took off Mortenson’s mask, step by step, from the beginning. How do you do that when a certain friendship is in the middle. I guess reporting always comes first. How was it for you to write about Chris McCandless, getting back on his trail. How many interviews did you do for cetain details. How is Sean Penn like? I would have asked you about the times you worked as a carpenter and as a fisherman to afford climbing. How do your first drafts look like? Do you fight a lot with your editor? Are you stubborn? – because you sure look that way. When do you write, where, what do you hate most? I would listen to you two days in a row talking about mormons, even though there aren’t any mountains involved. Do you feel old and tired? What keeps you alive in journalism? The people, the drama, the writing, the endless traveling? What else do you know doing, besides writing great books. What are your fears?
But I settled down and I just drank a glass of wine for you, smiling. Do you like red or white? Or you don’t like it at all? I think there are more chances for you to visit Romania than for me the US for now. So, if you get to read these words, please note that you have a big fan in Bucharest, Romania, that can’t wait to walk with you on mountains and share food with you. If somehow, through the super-powers of my favourite people from Decât o Revistă, this line-up was possible, now I have the hope that we could meet someday.
These guys talked a lot about luck and how luck can change everything. But I think for luck to find you, you have to work too. Soo..I am going to work. I will stalk you with annoying emails full of dumb questions, after I find out your personal address – until you understand that you must come to Romania.
So cheers and long live narrative stories.
With deep admiration,
Anca from Romania
Foto de Gabriela Maria Puscasiu