It’s been a while since I posted – almost four months! Apologies for the long absence, dear readers. Luckily I have been able to see some of you in person, in Amsterdam, the UK or in my nook of Europe. Anyhow, here is an online update. Sit back, relax and listen to some Balkan beats from Bulgaria.
This post is a mix of the personal and the professional, but in a perhaps futile effort to separate the two I will also go back to writing more personal posts on Verisimiles and keep this one for professional stuff. Same goes for social media such as Insta: WenLan for work, projects and tea, Veravdn for travel, cats, friends and life in general.
A friend who I know from Dali expressed his fairly recent move from China to the Caucasus:
As lovely as our new country is, it kinda feels like that rebound relationship. All the bits are in the right place, but lacks that spark.
I can relate, to an extent. The quoted friend had to leave China quite suddenly, and everyone I’ve met who had to leave this way is still processing the shock of having lost their home and their rhythm. I had months to mentally prepare so I’m less traumatized. I do miss China – most of all my friends, my neighbours, my house, the Dali lifestyle, the beautiful views of Cangshan and Erhai. As far as breakups go, the one with China was a healthy one. But am I emotionally ready to fall in love with a new country? Probably not.
Still, Plovdiv is absolutely the right choice for me. It offers a good mix of cultural familiarity and excitement of the new. It is gorgeous, it is affordable, I’m slowly making new friends. I’m loving the summer heat right now.
I’m really enjoying learning the language with my teacher Boris who is strict on grammar but fast and loose with his irreverent humour and social commentary. There is plenty to criticize too but as an outsider with little regional, cultural and historical insight (yet) I will not go there. Over time, my relationship with Bulgaria will grow and hopefully blossom.
I worry about the war in Ukraine – not so much for myself but I fear for the future of Europe and for all the innocent people caught up in this ugly conflict.
Limonov is a book by Emmanule Carrère that reads like a fictional rock and roll biography but is sadly all too real – it provides some really good insights on how we got to where we are now with Russia invading Ukraine. It was recenlty announced that Kirill Serebrennikov will turn it into a film. TL;DR – there are essentially no good guys in Russia. Many Europeans would do well to read up a bit on what is happening and why and most of all move beyond the simplistic Russia/bad vs Ukraine/good narrative because that is just naive.
Even if I am settled in a Plovdiv home, at the same time I’m still somewhat adrift. I’m travelling a lot and searching for new rhythms in work, mental and physical health, relationships with friends, lovers and family. My heart hasn’t found a regular Balkan beat just yet. Even if this is at times exhausting this is not a bad thing. Transitions take time and so does growth.
Finding a rhythm is a project – it will be the foundation for the rest of my life and will create space for creative work, relationships and general wellbeing. Many practices are in place already – starting with my daily morning practice of diary writing and tea ceremony. It also involves trying to maintain healthy habits such as not drinking, exercising, eating and sleeping well – this is not easy when you are on the move a lot but I’m getting the hang of it. The bassline of my rhythm is having enough time on my own – offline and online: putting away my phone from evening until late morning. I’m devoting a good bit of my time to reading (art, geopolitics, philosophy, sex and relationships, feminism and ageing) and study: Bulgarian, Chinese, writing and drawing. Altogether it is a complex, rich and steady rhythm that is getting stronger every day.
This Project Rhythm started long before I moved to Bulgaria. It started when I walked out of my last dysfunctional job and finally became a freelancer. Started when I moved to a renovated traditional home in a village. When I finally fully seized the freedom that has always been at the core of me. All I’m doing now is continuing to design my life around the personal discoveries I made in Dali. It might be a bit unusual but it is 100% my own.
This is a life that I love, but it needs to paid for. I’m still extremely grateful for my online job. It allowed me to jump from China to Bulgaria and still provides a steady bassline income. Having an apartment to rent out in Amsterdam also helps with feeling financially secure. But, the travel is an additional expense. I cannot continue to travel around Northern Europe on an Eastern European income.
I’m working hard on growing more as a freelance writer and will hopefully soon land more paid gigs. I’m also open to spend more time in Amsterdam, or anywhere else in Europe really. For instance for festival production or (remote) communication jobs. If you know of something that would blend with my Balkan Beats, send it my way please!