NOTICE TO MY READERS AND FOLOWERS

Hello everybody! I’ve decided to migrate my blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org. I don’t know if it’s a good idea, but I did it. I feel more confortable working this way. Now you can reach me at http://lifeisgreat.brajnovic.info  I’ll continue to participate in the challenges like the daily prompt and the weekly photo challenge from there.  My old http.// address will redirect you to my new address. Sorry for the inconveniences.

Spare

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If you have followed my blog you probably would recognised the man in the picture. He is the accordionist who plays every day at the Castle’s square in Pamplona, my city, to collect some spare coins from the passersby and the customers of a busy café. He’s a good street musician. Plays nice melodies. He’s an immigrant, old, and jobless. Barely speaks our language. He told me with broken words and signs that he’s homeless, and he needs 10 euros a day to pay a shelter to sleep . Today was a pretty good day for him. The weather was mild and by noon he had collected already more than 9 euros. But as ever, his gaze was distant, tired and sad. Life is difficult for the street people like him.

Spare

Phase

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This morning I’ve met with a group of old friends to have a coffee and chat a little about whatever was going on in our lives. But they only wanted to gossip about funerals, deceased people, illness and things like that. I tried to talk about other happier subjects, but they always came back to the gloomy topic of the dead and sick. I know I’m growing old. But I refuse to enter in that phase of the life in which the only horizon is the obituaries page of the newspaper and the funeral home. I know my mood is often gloomy because of my depression, and a conversation like the one we had this morning discourages me a lot. But I also know I’m still full of life. I don’t need meetings like today’s. I need seeing my younger friends, with interesting ideas to talk about. Fortunately when I was coming back home, I found my way cut by a cyclist race. I stayed for a while watching at the cyclists. I took some pictures, and my mood lifted.

Phase

(bad) Dream

I’ve worked many years as reporter on courts. I got to know everything about criminals. I remember once I attended a trial against a man who was clearly innocent and was dragged to the courts by the false testimony of an evil  woman and her daughter. She was the head of an organisation of smuggled immigrants. Fortunately his lawyer was able to expose evident inconsistencies between the testimonies of the two women and he was set free. I don’t know why, there were no charges against the two women. I remember I went home deeply impressed by that case, and that night I had a nightmare. In my dream the police arrested me and sent me to jail without telling me why. One, two, three, four, five heavy doors, had closed with a clang behind me. I was stripped of everything I had. Reduced to a number. If only I could be alone! But not. I had been thrown in a cell where another inmate was living. I’m used to live in the inner jail of my depression, I’m not scared of solitude. But being the whole time under the gaze of a stranger, when I was so scared and puzzled, was a torture. I looked up and saw two narrow windows with bars. The view: a concrete wall. I was trapped. The anguish was unbearable. I woke up in tears.

Dream

Jubilant

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I took this picture last year July 6th shortly after noon in Pamplona, Spain. The San Fermin Fiesta had Just began. This young man with the traditional white clothes and the red bandana, comes from the city hall square, jubilant after the proclamation of the beginning of the celebrations that will continue for a week in the city.

Jubilant

Face

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I don’t know his name. I only know that he is poor and he seems extremely tired. He arrives every morning to the main square of my city, chooses an empty bench and begins to play his old accordion hoping to collect some coins from the people passing by, hurrying to get to their jobs or go shopping. There are many beggars playing the accordion in my city. They are terrible. A pain for the ears. But this one is different. This one is a real musician. He plays beautifully a wide repertoire of melodies. And he remains alone and silent in his bench, in a dignified attitude, while his fingers fly over the keys of the instrument, the look lost somewhere far away, maybe trying to remember the horizons of his lost homeland.

Face

Chaos

Yesterday morning, the wind opened violently a window, and the curtain swept everything  that was on the table. A vase with flowers, two photos, a bottle with soda and a glass. Sharp pieces of glass were everywhere,  the pictures ruined by the water, papers soaked, the floor sticky because of the spilling soda… a total chaos.

Later, the fruit rack collapsed and I had quite a situation in the kitchen, with the oranges,  apples, apricots and peaches rolling on the floor.

Finally, when I was transferring  my mom from her bed to her wheelchair, the brakes failed and she fell down to the floor. We were alone. She got between the bed and the wheelchair. I had managed to grab her with all my strength to avoid a hard hit, but she was in an impossible position and I had no strength to lift her up. So I had to go to ask for help to my neighbours. Luckily, I found at home the two sons of my neighbour Julia, who are like two towers. They came immediately, lifted up my mom, and placed her in her wheelchair. Thank God, other than some pain in her legs from being too much time on the floor, she was OK. But… what a day!

Shadow

tree-0330I’d never been so scared in my life. I had been in risk situations many times due to my job as a reporter, even in life threatening situations. But this was very different. For the first time in my life I found myself  with an internment in a psychiatric ward of a hospital to get treatment for a severe depression. I was scared because I’d had the experience of losing control of myself. the shadow of madness was haunting me and I was terrified. The admission had been very traumatic. They searched my belongings and took away many things with which I supposedly could hurt myself. They assumed that I was a danger for myself. I felt like in a prison. My mind was already a prison for me. From that moment I had two jails: an inner one in my brain and an external one in that hostile place. The light  colours in rooms and aisles, the smiling faces of doctors and nurses didn’t help me at all at the beginning. My world was dark. My soul was crying. With my imagination I ran away a thousand times to find a hiding place where nobody would find me. But in real life I had no strength to move an inch of my body without help. I would liked  spend days sitting under the shadow of the garden’s tree, immobile, my mind empty. I was longing for solitude. But with solitude came desperation. Fear of myself. I’d never been so scared in my life.

Shadow

Beach

Ocean Beach, San Francisco, seventeen years ago. That place was then the escape valve of my stress, the confidant of my sorrows and joys, the scenery of my solace.
Yes. Those were wonderful and difficult years at the same time. I was far away from home, trying to heal deep wounds in my health and my soul and build a new life. I had got a job as a stringer for a news agency. I had to build my net of sources because I had had to begin from scratch. Everything was new and exciting. I had my home office and I had to work hard in the morning and the afternoon. But usually at 5 pm I was done.
It was time for my walk on the beach. I let the roar of the waves and the wind enfold me, so I could think calmly about what had happened during the day, or simply empty my mind and enjoy the nature.
I loved to observe the flight of the pelicans. Or the funny behaviour of the beach birds.
I miss those walks so much…
It has been a long time since I left the States, but I’ll never forget those wonderful walks on the Ocean Beach in San Francisco

Beach

Hope

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This morning, I took a walk and I saw the first ducklings swimming on the river this season. Life goes on. Good to know it.
Hope is a difficult subject for a depressive person. One tends to see only the negative part of the life. And there is no room for hope. But I recently started a new blog (in Spanish) about my father. I’m reading his diaries from the time of the WWII, and after, when he and my mom endured really harsh situations (concentration camp, jail, hunger, the killing of his siblings…) He and my mom never gave up. They always kept their hope alive. Their hope was their faith in God and in the love they had. And they succeeded. after twelve years of forced separation they got reunited and resumed their life in common with their love intact. If they did it, I can’t complain and lose my hope because our times are a little difficult and there are many injustices around us. I need that kind of strong hope.

Hope

Admiration

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Here is my mom solving crosswords at her desk. She is 96. She has total paralysis in the left half of her body due to a brain stroke she suffered four years ago and she’s completely dependant, confined in her wheelchair, but his intelligence remains intact. Last Christmas, her present was a kindle. She had been complaining that it was difficult for her to read paper books because with only one hand was almost impossible keep the book open and turn the pages. with the electronic book, she can do it with a single finger. She switched without problems to the digital format and she’s reading mystery novels and other books.
But I admire her because she’s a survivor with a lot of inner strength who never gives up. She survived WWII, a hard Communist Regime, an unjust incarceration, twelve years of forced separation of her husband, exile and now this sickness. And she never have lost her smile. Be optimistic, kind and strong. Never give up. That’s my mom.

Admiration

Newspaper

Since I have memory I remember my dad writing his column for the daily newspaper trying to explain to the readers the main international events. I’d learned at so tender age how stressful was to live with a daily deadline.

But journalism is like a contagious sickness and despite my father’s warnings, I decided years later to follow him in his profession.

Since then, I’ve lived for thirty years day after day, devoted to the newspaper that my readers would be reading the next day. I’ve known joyful days, good days, triumphant days, bad days, tragic days. Almost not boring days. Mostly stressful days, running against the clock to reach the deadline with my story ready for the press. I’ve known many people. From the most remarkable person you can imagine, to the most despicable. I’ve done hundreds of interviews. I’ve investigated cases. I’ve traveled. I’ve searched for the truth about what I was writing. It was a way of life. I was used to see everything from a news point of view. I’ve developed a sixth sense for news that allowed me be the first one on some scenes and get some exclusives.

In this picture you can see a young version of me questioning the former president of Navarre, with my notepad and my tape recorder.

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Unfortunately, because of my lack of health I had to retire three years ago after a long career. But I cant help to myself. When I see something that can become news, I call my friends at the newspaper or I go to see by myself what’s going on. For instance, this morning, I was pretty tired, and I decided to go out to take some pictures of flowers at the park to get some air and rest. Suddenly, I heard the sound of trumpets and shouts, and of course, I went to see what was going on. The minister of interior affairs was in town, to preside a ceremony in honor of the national police. I took some pictures.

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This days the newspapers are in crisis because of the digital media. The sales are going down above all among young people. They are trying to find a hybrid formula with the paper edition, and paid premium on-line editions. I personally like to read a trusted local paper and then surf the internet for fresh news, but always among qualified sources.

Misplaced

When I was a student, long time ago, I worked for a year in the reception desk of my dorm and had to handle the incoming phone calls. There were no such things as cell phones, so my job was to search and find the student who had got a call and pass her the right line. Once, my dad phoned me. I automatically put him on hold and I began to look for me in the building! I only realized what I was doing when someone answered to the line of the floor where I had my room, and I began to ask: have you seen Olga…? That was me asking for myself! I had totally misplaced myself. When I finally answered to the call of my dad, he asked me what had happened. Why had he been on hold for so long. I told him the story of my incredible distraction and we had a good laugh

Misplaced

Superstition

When I was small we didn’t have enough money to go out for vacation but one summer, a friend of my father let us his house in the Catalonian Pyrenees. And there we went. The owners only used the house in winter to go skiing. In summer they preferred to go to the beach.

The house was huge and very nice but it was located in a very small village called Urus, where the paved road came to an end. There was no way to go further by car. We didn’t have a car, anyway, so when we arrived and my father’s friend left us alone, we had to survive with what the forty villagers who lived there could offer us.

There was only one phone in Urus. We soon learned that the middle-aged lady who was in charge of the phone, was also the witch of the village. She was often called to ward off the bad spirits when somebody was sick or there were problems with the cattle.

I had never known a witch. I had in my mind the picture of the tales: An old lady toothless, with a big nose and a wart, stirring something in a large steaming cauldron. Nothing to do with the little smiling telephonist with its bright eyes and glasses, who was there knitting and waiting for customers.

Every evening my sister and I used to go to a nearby farm with our pitchers to get fresh milk. One day, the farmer who just had finished to milk his cows, opened the door of the barn and inside I saw the amulet to warn off the bad spirits: A dead owl nailed over some dry plant and a calendar.

I went back home terrified. It was a cruel amulet. But the farmers were sure that it worked.

Superstition

Memory

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I hate crowds. I need to see space around me ,and if not, a clear way to go out. This is why I usually don’t go to the Chupinazo that marks the beginning of San Fermin in Pamplona. But I miss it. I would like to be there to in the city hall square every July 6th at noon when they launch the rocket and everybody shouts Viva San Fermin!
Till that moment, everybody, clothed in white, wait holding up the red bandanas they will wear around their necks as soon as the pyrotechnic rocket explodes as a sign that they are taking part of the fiesta. All the square is white and red. Is really something worth to see.
I used to go with my friends when I was young until one year I felt my breath was failing me because of the crowd squeezed me. So I retreated to the street of Mercaderes and went to the Castillo’s square.
But now is an event for very young people. There is too much people and there is no way to enter the square. Besides now the youngsters have fun throwing each other wine and even flour and eggs, so the place is a mess, and the traditional white clothes with red bandanas finish awfully dirty, all pink from the wine and yellow from the eggs. You can always watch the spectacle comfortably from a balcony, if you’re lucky. Or from home thru TV.
I don’t like that. I prefer the memory of my young days when there was fewer people and it was possible to participate. I made a sketch of that previous moment when everybody is holding their bandana up waiting for the chupinazo chanting: San Fermin! San Fermin!

Faraway

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Faraway, where my memories live, there is a small island with its shores bathed by crystalline waters. My boat seems to fly between the blue bright sky and the green bottom of the sea. He is waiting for me on the beach, smiling. Faraway, where my memories live, there is joy.
Now I’m stuck down here, in a dusty and dirty world filled with anguish, pain and death, trying to survive. But I have hope because I have known happiness and I know it’s possible, no matter what happens, when there is love.
I want to leave behind me joyful memories, like the ones I treasure, to spread hope
But I feel guilty, because when I see what’s happening in the world I get gloomy, and instead hope I convey sadness
Faraway, where my love is waiting for me, there are no tears.
Faraway where my love is waiting for me, there is peace

Faraway