NATION & DECORATION (Part 3): Basilike Pappa & Bojana Stojcic

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Do you have a feeling your life is too hectic and out of control? Do you sometimes wish you could get off the rollercoaster and slow things down? Do you crave a refuge where you can have alone time and unwind whenever you please?

Our prominent designers will be more than happy to assist you with suggestions on a full house reno, including advice on how to create your own private retreat in your home. Your only task is to trust our choices, plan hours of pure enjoyment, turn on the music (nothing noisy and distracting) and let your hair down. Vogue is capricious, like weather, but style lasts forever. We will do our best to help you find a signature one because once you have it, it is there to stay so it better be good.

Battleship Potemkin (we’re going down down down)

Remodeling basements might be a daunting task. Untidy, gloomy and uninhabitable, they frequently convince homeowners to shift their focus elsewhere. However, the basement has come a long way from being merely a dank storage space that rarely sees the light. The modern one balances between aesthetics and functionality so it has to not only look and feel right but also be suitable for a variety of purposes. Here are some ideas that will help transform it into a sanctuary and a valuable asset to your property.

Learn from the worst, as Hitler and Goebbels, and turn interior design into propaganda and your home into a public-relations campaign. A well-decorated basement will enable you to sell yourself better, erasing all the bad connotations and building the myth of a man of culture and taste people can trust.  Let it serve as a friendly façade to disguise your political objectives and strategic goals, hide your hostility, and fool the general public. To accomplish this, convert it into a home theater room that meets requirements for sound, lighting and comfort. Remember to be generous to movie people if you want to be the leading actor in a blockbuster hit about a just society fighting outside international oppression, vicious and murderous. A cellarette for storing bottles of alcoholic beverages, obtainable in various shapes and designs, is something kids will love. (Make sure you introduce them to the bar on time so that they can respect you more when the time comes. Mind you, young age is no excuse for sobriety). What could be more fun and educational than observational learning which requires a social model such as a parent, a teacher and/or the nation’s paterfamilias inclined to vice and stereotypes, apart from justifying date rape, glorifying bullying and mobbing and boosting jingoism?

You may also wish to make an office space out of your basement by furnishing it with filing cabinets, an L-shaped desk, an office chair, a phone unit, and a laptop, convenient for watching child porn or talking dirty with busty blondes. A game room with multiple computers and different-sized speakers is another popular option, particularly when the man of the house needs a man cave to call his own. Just imagine inviting your buddies over for an all-night Bolsomito 2K18 marathon and fighting the evil of communism and corruption by attacking women, minorities and LGBTQ people. Oh bliss!

Our acclaimed experts propose saving some room for a storage area as well to avoid your home appearing disorderly. A good organization is half the job done so why not make a list:
•    Items to store behind closed doors: fears, repressed desires, insecurity, self-pity, shame, aggression, jealousy, an inferiority complex and a small penis
•    Items to store on open shelves: hatred toward people who hold different political or religious views, generalizations, discrimination, manipulation, opportunism, primitivism, snobbery, cognitive and confirmation biases

Cling tight to convictions that give your life meaning, such as picture-perfect faith and allegiance to nation, by settling on black and white color schemes. Applying the same color to walls, moldings and ceilings while painting them with a very broad prejudice brush, will result in a false consensus and convey the impression that the barriers that are walls seemingly disappear. Such a choice is prevalent in houses where one thinks the collective opinion of their own group matches that of the larger population. Be that as it may, this is your home so the rest can shove it.  A neocolonial revival works miracles with the redecorating too, our fave trend being wall-to-wall carpeting for an extra sense of uniformity as the finishing touch.

Last but not least, don’t forget to make room for law and order, that is the laundry corner suited for washing your dirty linen, because cleanliness is next to godliness. In case of basement moisture, which encourages mold and damages floors and walls, threatening to destroy the foundation of the house, clear gutters and fix footing drains. After you have successfully drained the swamp, your home will emerge as centralizing Babylon and you a liberator-messiah leader who may go back to chants of the self-proclaimed righteous, worldly prosperity and godly providence (for in god we trust).

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Triumph of the Will (we’re going up up up)

When the spirits are low, the discrepancy between your actual and ideal self, along with the consequences of Paris Agreement withdrawal, health plans and playing god, can lead to anxiety and emotional pain, feeling vulnerable, incompetent, and even stupid. When all hell breaks loose, consider the attic where you might shut yourself off, ignoring appeals for help, and find your way back to your old self – immoral, vain, über-confident, offensive, ignorant, faithless-blaming, and power- and blood-thirsty. That being said, the loft has the potential to become a spot under a shady tree, your favorite hideaway from too much reality where you can regularly stimulate your genitals to vent and get your shit together.

Many of us go for years without setting foot in the attic that is more often than not either empty or full of clutter, dust and mold on our boxes, treasure chests, emotions, thoughts and personality. Unless we make a habit of decluttering it, the mess could lead to poor energy efficiency, pest and memory infestations, and overall damage to insulation and psyche. Given that mold may give rise to mood swings, increased verbal fighting, poor empathy, insight and boundary awareness, you should start the cleaning adventure ASAP by taking a few steps our designers propose.

First, put on gloves to protect your hands as they have a tendency to get dirty when committing filthy and immoral actions. Second, mold, like other people’s suffering, is disgusting and unnecessary to look at. Since it is probably contagious, you need to take measures to prevent the spread of disease and guilty conscience. Put on a face mask for the sake of sadism revisited, preservation of personal pureness and your country’s continued existence at the expense of someone else’s misery. Finally, beware of roof and news leaks. Information embarrassing political opponents is always welcome as opposed to the one causing harm to both your reputation and national security. Make certain you fix the roof and check for stains on the ceiling to avoid a potential disaster to the whole house. You also ought to attempt to illuminate the place by using soothing orange or light green, ideal for a neat and clean-cut appearance and a fresh new start. Furthermore, our professionals recommend installing drop-down stairs, rather than adding a fixed stairway, and putting a ‘Please go away, I don’t care’ sign on the attic door, subtly letting intruders know you are disturbed already.

When it comes to selecting furniture, our team would choose simplicity: a bed, a nightstand, a blow-up doll you will want to put a ring on and a loveseat, great for tucking under a knee wall, and meditating on the holy trinity of your Achievements, Ambitions and Aspirations, as well as making taxes anything but simple, transparent, flatter, and fair. In addition, putting the bed under a skylight will create an impression that you sleep under the stars while contemplating poverty, starvation, wars, school shootings, peaceful resolutions and violence prevention…or, on second thought, excessive food, drug and alcohol consumption with lots of booty shaking, backroom hookups and no drama. As you are thinking of the ways to earn more money, win the public to your side and use media to win elections, one thing is certain – the attic room will undoubtedly make you feel closer to god.


 

I hope you have started reading Basilike Pappa’s Silent Hour. Now do me a favor and read this and this. I must have read them 10 times already and just can’t get enough. I told you she’s addictive.

Photography: Seph Lawless

NATION & DECORATION (Part 1): Basilike Pappa & Bojana Stojcic

Tips on interior design oftentimes seduce but seldom rattle. You are not sure what is fashionable these days and what went out of fashion? Our international team of experienced designers will give you useful ideas for your home and make valuable suggestions on how to keep up with the Joneses while staying original and true to yourself, as well as offer you a broad range of domestic animals to chose from our 24/7 animal farms.

As you might have noticed, vintage interior design trends are hot new trends which, truth be told, we can never get tired of. At one point, while lying on their deathbed, they confessed their crimes and misdemeanors, but have, luckily, recovered and taken a new shape and turn for the better, that is rightward and outward.

Fashion constantly reinvents itself, which is why trends come back over and over. What is funny and outmoded today, like old pictures of your dad’s hairstyle, may become cool again. Just because a trend, such as armchairs covered in velvet or people wired for prejudice, is dated doesn’t mean it’s bad. With the proper advice from our renowned experts, you will once again find it chic, smooth, comforting and mandatory if you want to be trendy nowadays. Louis XIV lived in the 17th century and we still go crazy over his favorite furnishings, brutal selfishness, love of war and passion for personal glory.

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Here an oink, there an oink

They are making a huge comeback this year: male chauvinists of the first order as chandeliers. Combining modern elements with old-fashioned attitudes, they stand the test of time and will not become discolored, pitted or rusty. You can find exactly the look, style and quality you want. Hang them from the ceiling and enjoy the unique atmosphere created by their dim lighting. Should you, however, find them too harsh and want to prevent your (especially female) guests from using the f-word or showing the middle finger, you could conceal unpleasant truths by calling them male chauvinistic piglets.

E-i-e-i-o

Old-style nationalists are also at your disposal as towering candelabras with cascading candle cups. We believe that gushing antagonism toward thy colored, crippled, fundie faggot neighbor, durable if properly polished, will appear elegant next to the soft glow of your blind patriotism. In addition, if you introduce black walls or prints, you will reach the point of no return in your movement away from generic and boring home décor and moderate criticism toward an authoritarian centralized property and a full-time fanatical Bonapartist of impeccable taste. Although so much black might seem somewhat intimidating, rest assured you can never go wrong with it, as well as the feeling of national superiority. One of the most common misconceptions about using dark colors indoors is they make your house appear smaller, primarily in the eyes of nosy and envious neighbors. That’s why our prestigious designers are here to make it great again, and you proud for residing in a gold tower with your name on it. They propose pairing the black background of your living room, trade wars, recklessness, populism and reluctance to negotiate with brightly-colored furniture pieces as the contrast that will make your coffee table, charisma, TV stand, anti-elitist rhetoric, fireplace, anti-abortion policy, sofas, protectionism, Chinese vases, peace plan, gun cabinets, carpets and conservatism pop, highlighting the majestic grandeur of the space.

Everywhere a chick-chick

The sexist master bedroom is another must-have this season. Are you looking for a hand-crafted brass and iron bed, sized to fit the spirit of the times? Do you need a bed whose lustrous curves complement those of the modern day woman? You’ll find it here: a practically indestructible bed for you and your beautiful piece of ass that can survive ages of use (and abuse). We recommend glamorous satin sheets, pillowcases and bed canopies for a truly authentic sexist look.

Oddly enough, despite its appealing aesthetic and popularity, satin has been accused of chilling misogyny and neglected for years. The alpha male can breathe a sigh of relief again because the world reminded women how it loves to see them and how they love to be seen: ladies in the living room and whores in the bedroom. This proves that, fortunately, some things never go out of style, like shiny satin, skinny jeans, yachts, offshore accounts, bondage, flirting with a TV reporter during a diplomatic phone call, and praising the physique of a First Lady, other than your own. Moreover, locker room banter will have no influence whatsoever on your ability to run for office because, let’s face it, women throw themselves at men, flipping their tops and their panties, they love being called a dog, slob, bimbo, gold digger and disgusting animal by Mad Men, and dropping to their knee outside their bedrooms.

Opt for sexism, available now in a wide spectrum of patterns and colors, from benevolent pink to blatant red, to jazz things up. Combine your luxury satin bed linen with candle lighting for a helplessly romantic effect. For a cooler masculine impact, simply toss minimalist mansplaining rugs on the hardwood floor. If you feel pigeonholed by the square footage of your master bedroom, our creative team proposes hanging a distorted perception mirror on a wall, thus making control easier while creating the illusion of space. Make sure to choose a patronizing frame, ranging from too-upset-to-be-taken-seriously-blue to don’t-worry-honey-beige for a touch of gracefulness.

Satin is also perfect for rooms where you are expected to be seen rather than heard. Whether hosting a casual or formal dinner party, a sexist satin tablecloth will be the focal point of the dining room, pleasantly contrasting with traditional tableware and male dominance served. What’s more, you will kill two birds with one stone if you hang satin drapes, taking your rooms and life from dull to utterly depressing and suicidal. We would avoid satin in the kitchen though since holding the kitchen accountable for promoting gender inequality has been an absolute no-no lately. Take our word for it, the outside world does not want to think you too may have fallen victim to stylistic crime.


 

Basilike Pappa is a deep dark soul poetry and prose writer, creative and elegant in expression. Please check out her Silent Hour for a touch of genius.

Photography: Seph Lawless

 

JOURNAL OF A MOM – UNBIASED LAWLESSNESS

Outdoor play areas for kids, when large and well designed, are pretty cool places when you think of it because children can jump and hide, shout and make a mess there without being prevented or criticized, because they are unbound and can unrestrictedly learn and flourish. But, there’s more to this than meets the eye.

Watching my son play in the playground made me realize his miniature world is nothing but a society as we know it, with its group of small people though sharing common territory, interacting and identifying with one another. In the world of adults, economic hardship creates feelings of powerlessness that more often than not draw people toward dominant and decisive (however morally questionable) leaders, instead of respected and knowledgeable ones. Although some parents fail to see or hate to admit it, our and their worlds are alike, both populated by a wide variety of individuals: superior and inferior, generous and selfish, shy, modest, undemanding and sharing, creative and original, self-proclaimed gods, populist, egotistic, authoritarian leaders, common people, followers, servants (obeying only those of the upper echelon), those who play by the book or by ear, those who enjoy being in the spotlight, those who like to keep up with the Joneses or tend to keep a low profile.

Furthermore, the family with children is a form of government in which all power is vested in a single ruler, or two sovereigns, depending on whether it consists of two bad cops or a good and a bad one. Be that as it may, their authority is supreme and unquestionable so there’s no point in wondering if we are absolutists (with little patience for shades of grey), always telling our kids what to do and what not to, who to listen to, what and how to eat, when to talk, what to say, where to go and where to poo. I know the answer already.

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On the other hand, it’s hard to be too giving and forgiving for many reasons. I like that my kid is bold, decisive, strong-willed and determined. B. generally likes company and it doesn’t mean that when he shows up, all present better disappear. However, his über-confident, overdramatic behavior and forceful personality can at times be quite embarrassing. He can be pretty assertive and assaultive on the swings or the seesaw or the slide for that matter where (I thought) rules of democracy abide. One thing I’ve learned in the meantime is there’s no government by the people where kids play. Consequently, just as we teach our little ones to take turns in conversation, we also need to show them how to share and how the whole turn-taking thing in the playground works. Sadly, some don’t since they obviously don’t believe in a fairer, more egalitarian society and, as someone has to, it’ll often be you if you want pushing down the slide, pulling hair, biting, and kicking to stop, whether it’s done to or by your kid. It’s not always easy to reach a truce, let alone a genuine one, but let’s say I’m more or less satisfied when it becomes bearable for all concerned or the ceasefire holds at least a few minutes…or seconds, to be more precise.

Luckily for small kids, they don’t know yet that language barriers can separate societies. By contrast, this microcosm of society is not restricted by them, among other things, because of how understanding, perceptive and compassionate children may be. They communicate on a whole different level than adults, verbalizing their displeasure both when it comes to them and their playmates, regardless of whether they know each other or have just met. Not only do they express deep awareness of the suffering of another but they also wish to relieve it, wiping their tears, hugging them or asking them or their parents what’s wrong.

Another good thing I’ve noticed spending plenty of time in the sandpit with toddles is the presence and acceptance of all the colors of the rainbow, that is an utter and complete absence of racism and xenophobia in their world. While there’s possessiveness and envy of another kid’s bigger and shinier toy, there’s no discrimination based on ethnicity, nationality, religion, appearance or disability. The society has yet to teach them hatred and prejudice, giving rise to inequality and aggression. Once they know how to properly inflict harm on each other, social integration, oftentimes achieved without a dialogue or the will to maintain peaceful social relations, will be complete. As opposed to sport and play areas, foul play is not always sanctioned in real life. Not that I blame the players. When the referee doesn’t send you off with a red card (preferably in the first half), you go on playing, with or without rules.

PUTTING OUT THE FIRE WITH GASOLINE (OR DID YOU CALL MOI A DIPSHIT?)

The Balkans is often referred to as a barrel of gunpowder because of its constant tensions and turbulence, which is something you inherit from your parents, like high cholesterol, and something you leave behind when you kick the bucket. Unless you learn to swim in its tempestuous waters, you stand a higher chance of drowning. If you are from down there, rest assured you’ll live in times of disorder, commotion and unrest, no matter what generation you belong to.

We were sitting in a jet, cruising at some 30,000 ft (9,145 m) somewhere above the coastal mountains of a better tomorrow when we began to shake, rattle and roll again. For a brief moment, it smelled of hope. It seemed as if someone had turned off the engine and let us glide down gently onto the runway. However, a short period of peace and quiet after the 1996-1997 protests was the calm before the storm since the whole place would soon turn into a mad house again.

Simmering tensions between Serbs and Albanians in Serbia’s (ex-) southern province of Kosovo kept getting worse, occasionally erupting into major violence. By Feb 1998, the attacks of the guerrilla Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) against Serbian police stations triggered massive Serbian retaliation against the local population. 1998 cease-fire enabled the deployment of 2,000 European monitors. Nonetheless, the ‘breakdown of U.S.-Milošević negotiations led to renewed fighting which increased with the threat of NATO bombing and the withdrawal of the monitors’ (source: Yugoslavia – Peace, War, and Dissolution, Noam Chomsky). Voices of reason ‘warned that bombing would endanger the lives of tens of thousands of refugees believed to be hiding in the woods,’ predicting tragic consequences if NATO made it impossible for monitors to be present (source: Crisis in the Balkans, Chomsky). The crisis culminated in the Kosovo War of 1998 and 1999, during and after which Yugoslavia was once again sanctioned by the UN, EU and United States.

During the 14-month war, we were watching an old black-and-white film in which atrocities on a massive scale were perpetuated solely by THEM. The reality is impartial though, with massacres of civilians by both the separatist KLA and Serbian military, paramilitary and police forces: 34 individuals of Serb, Roma and Albanian ethnicity discovered by a Serbian forensic team near a lake, 45 Albanian farmers massacred, 80 Serbs found in mass graves, 48 Albanian civilians found dead, over 100 Serbian and Roma civilians kidnapped and placed in concentration camps, 47 of whom were killed, 19 Albanian civilians killed (including women, children and the elderly), 14 Serbian farmers murdered, 93 Albanians murdered, 22 Serb civilians murdered, their bodies cremated, 29 identified corpses of Albanian civilians discovered in a mass grave, 15 Serbs murdered, 18 corpses of Albanian civilians found, 20 Serbs murdered, their corpses thrown down wells, 25 male Serb civilians killed, 300 Albanian people killed, over 300 Serb civilians taken across the border into Albania and killed in a so-called ‘Yellow House,’ their organs removed and sold on the black market. Missing, presumed to have been killed, missing… Estimates ranging from 50 to more than 200 ethnic Albanians killed, more than 70 Albanian prisoners killed by prison guards, 100 Kosovo refugees murdered. Missing, murdered…missing… 5 Albanian leaders killed for collaboration by their own people, 23 Serbs and moderate Albanians tortured and killed in a concentration camp, 62 known fatalities , 47 people forced into a room and gunned down. Missing. Missing.…What did we miss?! Endless violations of international humanitarian and human rights law: use of excessive force, resulting in terror, rapes, arsons and severe maltreatments, looting of and forced expulsions from homes, destruction of villages, schools, healthcare facilities, monuments and religious sites (both churches and mosques), detention, persecution, kidnappings, deportations, well-poisoning, executions, killings by gunmen and grenade attacks on cafés and shops, concentration camps, mass graves, and cover-ups.

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Then came the Račak massacre, the mass killing of 45 Kosovo Albanians, taking place in the Albanian-inhabited village of Račak in central Kosovo in Jan 1999, which made a world of difference, or so it seemed. William Walker, the head of the Kosovo Verification Mission, condemned what he labeled ‘an unspeakable atrocity’ and ‘a crime very much against humanity.’

Our flight had been shaking vigorously for quite some time. Repeated bomb threats to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY) led to the so-called elevator effect, with the stomach drop feeling during turbulence. All passengers were having heart-in-mouth experience, and although quite a few were complaining of an upset tummy, rarely taking their head out of a sick bag, Médecins Sans Frontières never showed up. Once again, we were left to our own devices. The world thought we hadn’t learned from our past mistakes and needed to study harder if we wanted to pass our human rights exam that semester, blabbing: Repetitio est mater studiorum. Repetitio est mater studiorum. Repetitio.

Our Pilot in command racked his brain all afternoon but couldn’t remember where he had put the book. He could have asked, of course, or borrowed it from the library. ‘How will I ever get a passing grade without the book and time to revise?’ he thought to himself. I could always resort to cheating. I’m bloody brilliant at it. However, the rules made by the Air Traffic Controller were clear: knuckle down and bow to the King of the world. Not like that. Lower your head. He knew he’d feel dizzy while bending over, so he decided to pass…People often turn to one another at times of crisis and we were no exception. We were not prone to despair when going through a hard patch. Despair comes later, when there’s peace and apparently nothing and nobody to fight. So, even though we were slammed against the cabin ceiling during turbulence, you’d rarely hear people screaming. Our Pilot and the cabin crew knew there would be casualties, they knew lots of passengers would suffer horrific injuries if they suddenly hurtled out of their seats, as they knew we’d be tossed across the plane no matter what we did or failed to do. Still, they were reassuring us everything would be alright provided we listened to the instructions in case of emergency and went on to play a movie, a new release. The Cinema of Europe isn’t particularly good at making bloody blockbusters or films with happy endings. Frankly, who needs Natural Born Killers, Martyrs and Rambos with so many violent thrillers, actions and horrors in real life, so gory, they’ll make your eyes water.

Some passengers acknowledged and praised our Boss’ will, if not means, to fight back, especially upon seeing he was held in scorn by his rival pilots who wanted him out of the game, which helped him win additional points with his fellow travelers. To be honest, he did check everyone for seat belts before turbulence (unexpectedly) hit but then went about his business shooting at NATO with his toy guns, thinking we were capable of standing up to the big shots. Despite the panic of flight attendants being thrown around, our Pilot decided to remain composed and not tell a soul he was regularly shitting his pants. Alas, ‘a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.’ It turned out the Pilot was indisposed. I don’t have it all together today, he said to the Tower. I have no intention of landing the plane yet. Try me again later when I have it all together. Little did he know that Big Daddy didn’t get a kick out of being called a fool before the whole world besides being ‘hypomanic’ who desperately needed another fuck so that everyone could forget about his petite interne once and for all. One thing you don’t do to Buddy, the Real Estate King, is ignore him. ‘He’s the sun; he’s the center of the universe. He needs to shine’ (source: Putting Bill Clinton On the Couch). What the King didn’t know (that is, pretended not to) was that this Pilot wouldn’t give up easily and would take immediate revenge by redoubling his attacks in Kosovo, which NATO, busy setting fire to yet another detached house, had no intention of stopping. Our Pilot didn’t however have the magnetic compass for navigation, nor was he planning to touch base with the world. He simply switched on the no smoking sign and the autopilot while we waited for the inevitable.

 

MORALITY PARK

The Balkans is often referred to as a barrel of gunpowder because of its constant tensions and turbulence, which is something you inherit from your parents, like high cholesterol, and something you leave behind when you kick the bucket. Unless you learn to swim in its tempestuous waters, you stand a higher chance of drowning. If you are from down there, rest assured you’ll live in times of disorder, commotion and unrest, no matter what generation you belong to.

We were sitting in a jet, cruising at some 30,000 ft (9,145 m) somewhere above the coastal mountains of a better tomorrow when we began to shake, rattle and roll again. For a brief moment, it smelled of hope. It seemed as if someone had turned off the engine and let us glide down gently onto the runway. However, a short period of peace and quiet after the 1996-1997 protests was…

View original post 1,261 more words

SLEEPWALKING THE MINEFIELD

I bet you liked the seesaw when you were a kid. Remember the pleasure of riding up and down, up and down, but only enjoying it if your friend on the other side was of similar size and weight? Well, the seesaw in relationships between Albanian and Serb communities has never been much fun because one party always had the upper hand at one time or another. Pent-up emotions and inter-ethnic tensions have been a reality in Serbia’s (ex-) southern province of Kosovo for as long as I can remember.

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Fast backward. The late 1960s witnessed first protests by the Albanians who felt downtrodden as Islam had been repressed and the government, security forces, and industrial employment largely dominated by Serbs and Montenegrins. After a demand that Kosovo be made a republic, it gained major autonomy by the mid 70s, that is ‘its own administration, assembly, and judiciary, along with the membership in the collective presidency and the Yugoslav parliament’ and recognition of a Muslim Yugoslav nationality in Yugoslavia. As a result, ‘there was a massive overhaul of Kosovo’s nomenclature and police that shifted from being Serb-dominated to ethnic Albanian-dominated,’ which now meant harassing and firing Serbs big time. Our parents slept tight, sleepwalking without waking up.

The turning point in the relationship between Serbs and Albanians in Kosovo occurred in March 1981 when Albanian students organized protests seeking that Kosovo become a republic within Yugoslavia. The University of Priština, in Kosovo’s capital of Priština, was the starting point of the protests. Kosovo’s cultural isolation within Yugoslavia and its endemic poverty resulted in the province having the highest ratio of illiterates in the country. What’s more, university education was no guarantee of getting a job and the prospects of a promising future remained bleak. Unemployment grew and so did nationalist sentiment. The demands of the Albanian students were both nationalist and egalitarianist. They wanted a different kind of socialism than the Yugoslav one, marked by semi-confederalism and workers’ self-management. However, the unrest was brutally suppressed by the police and army, with many protesters arrested and killed, which was followed by a period of political repression. As many as 226 people were put on trial, including students, convicted of ‘separatism’ and sentenced to up to 15 years in prison. Many Albanians, including deans, were fired, our parents stuck between illusion and denial. Politically speaking, the demand that Kosovo become the seventh republic of Yugoslavia was unacceptable to Serbia and Macedonia that saw a ‘Greater Albania’ in the making, encompassing parts of Montenegro, Macedonia and Kosovo itself.

Repression was present on both sides in 1981. Some 4,000 Serbs were reported to have moved from the province to central Serbia after the riots that resulted in several Serb deaths and the desecration of Serbian Orthodox architecture and graveyards. In short, the demonstrations in Kosovo were the beginning of a deep crisis in Yugoslavia that led to its dissolution a decade later. The government’s response to the protests sure changed the political discourse in the country in a way that significantly impaired its ability to sustain itself in the future. By the 1980s, the Kosovo Albanians constituted a majority in Kosovo and ethnic tensions continued with frequent violent outbreaks against Yugoslav state authorities. During the 1970s and 1980s, thousands of Serbs and Montenegrins left Kosovo, largely due to unfavorable economic conditions, and ethnic discrimination by the Kosovo Albanian government and population. ’57,000 Serbs have left Kosovo in the last decade,’ wrote the New York Times in 1982. According to Noam Chomsky (source: A Review of NATO’s War over Kosovo), “after the death of Tito, nationalist forces undertook to create an ‘ethnically clean Albanian republic,’ taking over Serb lands, attacking churches, and engaging in ‘protracted violence’ to attain the goal of an ‘ethnically pure’ Albanian region, with ‘almost weekly incidents of rape, arson, pillage and industrial sabotage, most seemingly designed to drive Kosovo’s remaining indigenous Slavs out of the province.” At the same time, an atmosphere that Serbs were the only jeopardized ones was being created in the rest of Serbia. We were panned out, snoring.

My generation was growing up and didn’t know or understand much of what was going on there in the 80s. We were sleepwalking through the Kosovo crisis, at least those who didn’t know anybody affected by it. We were busy putting out fires at home, looking for four-leaf clovers, and chasing the rainbow, busy blowing out candles on birthday cakes, busy being footloose, busy jumping rope, playing with marbles, building a house of cards and sandcastles, throwing snowballs at each other and eggs and sticky coal tar pitch on passers-by from the terrace, busy flying kites, riding bikes, roller skating, discovering and exploring caves, busy climbing cherry trees, writing to pen pals, sledding, organizing tennis tournaments, putting stars on top of Christmas trees, collecting napkins, badges, shells and memories. The whole country was busy leading its life, sleeping like a baby and dreaming. Nobody heard or wanted to hear the nightmares of those deprived of sleep.

With his visits to Kosovo, Serbian President Milošević will ‘upset the delicate balance that Tito so carefully sought.’ The incapacity to control Albanian separatist unrest in the province will prove detrimental in the long run, ending in a massacre on both sides, and the mass desertion of Kosovo. Under Tito, Kosovars had had a considerable measure of self-rule until 1989 when Milošević, who gained political power by pledging to discontinue the repression, responded brutally by abolishing Kosovo’s autonomy and establishing direct Serbian rule. ‘With his rise to power, the Albanians started boycotting state institutions and ignoring the laws of the Republic of Serbia, culminating in the creation of the Republic of Kosova, a self-declared proto-state in 1992, which received diplomatic recognition from neighboring Albania. Kosovo Albanians organized a separatist movement, creating what Chomsky calls ‘a parallel civil society,’ that is a number of parallel structures in education, medical care, and taxation (source: Crisis in the Balkans). Needless to say, they had all the encouragement from Western governments they needed. The ultimate goal of such civil disobedience was achieving the independence of Kosovo. It’s as if we had been sleeping all along and suddenly woken to find ourselves among a jaw-dropping horror film.

Like Serbia, I had always been a sound sleeper and used to fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow. Sleepless nights and restlessness set in when I moved away from my parents and swallowing sleeping pills became customary when reality knocked on the door. I used to be a sleepwalker and the memories of this phase, which lasted throughout my childhood and ended at some point in high school, are pretty vivid. When it comes to sleep talking, my recollections are mostly non-existent. Those who had a chance to peek at the workings of my brain in the middle of the night reacted differently. My mom had an awful time with me sleepwalking, often glancing into my sister’s and my room to check everything was alright. She used to picture me falling down the stairs, unknowingly hurting myself or leaving the house, though not always through the front door. Although I had the habit of saying I was going for a walk, luckily for everybody, I didn’t hallucinate of being Batman and kicking ass. I never did anything terribly wrong while walking in my sleep, but, now that I think of it, it might have been a solid defense if I had. Anyway, my mom was worried shitless, my dad mostly slept through the night and sis got a kick out of chatting with me and asking me questions. Interestingly, when I mumbled something nonsensically, I wouldn’t remember anything the following day. When you talk gibberish like that, rarely anyone in your proximity is able to make out what you’re saying so there’s no worry about accidentally revealing any dark secret while you snooze. But then, on and off, I’d talk in coherent sentences, answering questions, and actually having a dialogue. Most of the time, I’d just sit up, babble for a few seconds and then go back to sleep when told to. Sometimes, I’d wander around the house for a bit, open and close doors and closets or rearrange things before being walked back to bed. I recall waking everyone up in a hotel room in Slovenia, after colliding with the closet. I was scared, confused and disoriented as I couldn’t find the door, thinking we were at home. No wonder everything seemed uncomfortably unfamiliar.

Serbia, in union with Montenegro as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as of 1992, was groping in the dark, trying to maintain its political control over the province. With the formation of the separatist Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), ‘an ethnic Albanian paramilitary organization,’ receiving large funds from Albanian Diaspora, and including many foreign volunteers from West Europe and ethnic Albanians from the U.S., a great number of the Kosovo Albanians became radicalized. Needless to say, the States informally backed the guerrilla KLA in order to destabilize Milošević. In 1997, the organization acquired a large amount of arms through weapons smuggling from Albania, following a rebellion which saw large numbers of weapons looted from the country’s police and army posts.’ The Serbian police and Yugoslav army response was brutal. In ‘97, international sanctions were once again imposed on FR Yugoslavia, this time because of the persecution of Kosovo’s Albanians by Yugoslav security forces. The whole nation had been sleepless and restless after years of crisis.

I was 20, and my sleep had been broken by my ‘night shifts,’ that is burning the midnight oil before exams. My favorite sleep talking story occurred around this time. My sister namely woke me up in the middle of the night during one of my monologues and I began to scream since I thought she was a wolf. Go figure. When I realized she wasn’t, I flopped back down and returned to sleep as if nothing had happened. I must have dreamed of being chased by wolves. In case you’re wondering, I sleep-pissed in bed once only while at university (you heard me right!) apparently while dreaming of taking a leak. They said my eyes were commonly open, or half open, whether I was sleepwalking or sleep talking, and my glassy ‘look right through you’ appearance must have seemed as if I had been haunted by a spooky ghost. Had my family made a video with a shaky cam (with me as the actress in a leading role) and added some special effects, post-production modifications and creepy music to it, we might have had a decent trailer for a genuinely disturbing horror film. No advancement in technology and quality though could have helped make a scarier movie than the one we were about to watch.

MORALITY PARK

I bet you liked the seesaw when you were a kid. Remember the pleasure of riding up and down, up and down, but only enjoying it if your friend on the other side was of similar size and weight? Well, the seesaw in relationships between Albanian and Serb communities has never been much fun because one party always had the upper hand at one time or another. Pent-up emotions and inter-ethnic tensions have been a reality in Serbia’s (ex-) southern province of Kosovo for as long as I can remember.

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Fast backward. The late 1960s witnessed first protests by the Albanians who felt downtrodden as Islam had been repressed and the government, security forces, and industrial employment largely dominated by Serbs and Montenegrins. After a demand that Kosovo be made a republic, it gained major autonomy by the mid 70s, that is ‘its own administration, assembly, and judiciary, along with…

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THE SOUND AND THE FURY

Anyone who had a chance to first live blissfully in abundance and then touch bottom, experiencing at least some of the shit we went through, will surely remember it for the rest of their life because the formidable hurdles we were facing daily in 90s Serbia bordered surreal. Those who managed to keep their head above water were like skydivers who survived a 12,000ft (3660m) fall without their parachutes.

In order to explain the political climate in Serbia in the mid 90s, I need to go back in time. The late 80s witnessed squabbles between the Serb minority and the ethnic-Albanian majority in Serbia’s (ex-) southern province of Kosovo, considered ‘the Mecca and Medina of the Serb people.’ Many Serbs left never to return, while the remaining ones felt oppressed and abused by the Albanian leadership. The Kosovo issue dominated Serbian politics. Slobodan Milošević, a rising Socialist Party boss (SPS), became an overnight sensation, being ‘the first politician to break official party taboos about embracing nationalism. Jumping on the nationalist bandwagon and making himself the public champion of the beleaguered Serbs of Kosovo’ proved to be his ticket to absolute power. He said: ‘I will defend your rights.’ They cheered and nodded. He said: ‘I will restore prosperity.’ They cheered and nodded. He said: ‘I will protect you and defend Serbdom.’ They cheered and nodded. He said: ‘No one has the right to beat you.’ They cheered and nodded. Soon he was to become a hero of angry Serbs everywhere. Erratic time.

In 1990, Yugoslavia started following the model of political transition from a one-party system to a multi-party democratic one. The opposition openly rejected the communist and socialist regime and was strongly in favor of human rights, democracy and market economy. In June, it called for a street protest against SPS control over national media which ignored opposition altogether while glorifying Milošević’s ‘peace-loving’ initiatives. Over 70,000 peaceful protesters were dispersed. In the fall, mass protests were again organized in Belgrade, demanding a free and fair electoral campaign, the media coverage of opposition activities and the round table. Despite the charismatic leaders who were getting more and more popular and rallies across Serbia, the democratic opposition lost the battle (but not the war). Minimized time for opponents of the regime on TV (being denounced as Western stooges) and the absence of united opposition forces also contributed to the overwhelming victory of SPS in both Parliamentary and presidential elections.

In March ‘91, another street protest against President Milošević and his total control of the national media was organized in downtown Belgrade. Fury followed, the rally turning into a riot featuring vicious clashes between the protesters and the police and military, deployed in the streets to restore order. 100,000 citizens against tanks. Two people died and a few hundred were injured. Several prominent opposition officials were badly beaten and detained by the police and two media outlets considered unfriendly to the government banned. Civil fury grew high and the following day more people were in the streets. The government supporters responded by organizing a counter-protest. The rallies ended a few days later, after the opposition leaders had been released from police custody. Both the state TV director and the Minister of the Interior resigned. One victory at a time. Thanks to his fiery nationalist rhetoric, and total control of the national media, along with the JNA operations in Croatia (Yugoslav People’s Army), the popularity of President Milošević continued to grow. So did the fury of the conscious ‘few.’

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Fast forward to mid 90s. Upon enrolling in the university and spending a wonderful summer with my longtime boyfriend and friends, partying, loitering and dreaming (4 months without school), I moved away from my parents in the fall of ‘95. The war just finished (crime didn’t, though). The sanctions weren’t lifted until the next year, which meant more power outages accompanied by the calming effects of candlelight. The post-war period was no less challenging. It was a time of scarcity and supporting two students financially was not easy. Students who pay for college fees themselves are extremely rare in Serbia. It is your job to study, pass exams and have fun, whereas it’s your parents’ duty to pay your bills. Things get tougher if you’re a big art lover who didn’t want to miss a single movie, festival, exhibition, concert or theater performance. Unfortunately, my sister and I were not among the lucky bastards whose tuition was covered by the state, but were fee-paying ones. Even though the fees were not that high (no loans, no debts), the price of printouts most definitely was. We didn’t have the convenience of the Internet back then, which would surely make things cheaper and our life easier. Books and textbooks, on the other hand, were either way too costly or hard to obtain so we’d spend hours in the library reading dozens of them so as to copy/paste a few useful pages, which required hard manual labor. Once the work was done, we wouldn’t stay there to study as we preferred the comfort of our home. The library atmosphere never grew on us. There’s nothing cozy, agreeable and intimate about it. Watching other people staring at their books, while you can’t concentrate yourself since you’re too busy checking out their backpacks, glasses, their hair and clothes, and being distracted by a fly buzz, is utterly depressing and unproductive in the long run. Our bodies are so not made to be sedentary. Besides, deafening silence for studying was never my thing. I needed noise, I needed the fridge, the kettle, the sounds of the street, our room overlooking a most peculiar neighbor. I needed our saggy cushions and old ugly sofa where I’d assume most unusual positions for studying you can think of (back down, legs up the wall, headphones on). I missed the radio, shared laughter and friends stopping by for a chat, a cup of coffee or our aunt’s hot tomato soup. I craved my common workplace distractions.

Oh, the bliss of student life! Socializing, partying, and having fun day in day out, meeting new people all the time, pairing up with the best and the worst, the most generous and the most envious people you will ever meet, the best of the best sharing the same premises with the scum of the earth, daring to be different, finding your tribe, befriending a withdrawn Bosnian girl in the last row who lost her dad in war and had no idea where her mom and brother were, sharing food, dreams, books, passions, ideas, thoughts, showers and beds, dropping the mime, learning to ‘be yourself (everyone else was already taken’), living in a tight-knit community buzzing with life, sleepovers, inducing euphoria with all things available, Bowie’s Earthling 24/7, resetting perspectives, learning from and exchanging views with brilliant professors and assistant professors, putting up with mediocrity and an inferiority complex impossible to treat, student discounts, fare evasion, mom’s parcels with sour cabbage rolls, stuffed red peppers, money, and crepes with honey and walnuts sent regularly by bus, resorting to scratchcards when broke, winning (big enough to cover the costs), losing, taking part in every single radio game show in the city (answering questions about literature and film, being rewarded with the best prize ever: a book or a concert/theater ticket otherwise impossible to afford), mastering negotiation skills and sweet talk: talking our (read: my) way past bouncers every fricking time, cramped trains back home: using bribery, students and railroad officials in the same sentence, early English literature, an introduction into Canadian-Australian studies, Romanticism, American writers, contemporary literature, the (almost) Complete Works of Shakespeare, cooking your own food, having others cook for you, leading a life without a washing machine, giving up on the idea to kill the black mold, continuing to hope it won’t kill you (too soon), placing mouse traps around the house, thinking of the ways to outsmart a smart mouse, being outsmarted, enthusiasm, attending lectures worth attending, missing those worth missing, catching up, lacking motivation, a recommended daily intake of lecithin for focus, attention and concentration improvement, resorting to cleaning the house from top to bottom to let off steam, scrubbing the grout lines in the bathroom with a toothbrush because every nook and cranny needed to be clean (read: finding yet another excuse not to study for exams), workload, duties and obligations, procrastinating, locking ourselves in before exams without leaving the house for days (it was about time!), stress before a midterm, learning to cope with anxiety, meditation: relieving pain by changing your mind, making room for more happiness, reading and writing, listening and turning a deaf ear, passing and failing, facts to remember, facts to learn and forget, making your own decisions, flunking semesters on purpose to have more time for having a good time (infuriating teachers and pleasing yourself), standing by your choices, prioritizing, living your life, temptations, learning the hard way, dealing with emotional memories, being taught not to bottle up emotions (then forgetting), finding people keen for a talk anytime, joining a hiking club, going hiking, going swimming, first job, first salary spent on a ski trip and a bike, biking in and around the city with sis on a daily basis, getting in shape, sharing super sweet dessert combos afterwards to boost our energy levels (fuck getting in shape!), stage diving, lighters held up at concerts like fireflies in the dark (his hand around my sweaty waist), the addictive darkness of freezing movie theaters (a weekly/daily hotshot), a peaceful sense of intimacy, legs touching under the table, pulling the blanket over our heads, enjoying the silence interrupted by grunts, sighs, and groans, the noise of impetuous passion, climaxing, being present and fading to black, sinking into speechless oblivion, sharing an enthusiastic neighbor’s choice of music and boyfriends, investing in good earplugs, coffees and  Turkish delight under a linden tree, staying up all night, sleeping in the following day, a regular knock on our window, pressing the social ‘refresh’ button. Lifelong friends and memories. Feeling adult, feeling appreciated, feeling worthless, feeling like a piece of shit. Rebuilding self-esteem. Morning chats over coffee, late night dinners by the old wood burner, cigarette smoke filling the kitchen, and crackling fire on a cold damp evening. Don’t fall asleep. We need to keep the fire burning.

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It’s the fall of 1996. Days are noticeably shorter, while nights are getting colder and colder. Serbian local elections held in November are followed by allegations of widespread voter fraud. It seems very likely President Milošević will reject the accusations as preposterous. Again. However, students have something important to say this time.

Fury and frustration have been piling up for quite some time, seeking ways of breaking free. The long sound of silence gives the impression of ripeness. We are ready, willing and able to speak up. ‘The sound is the fury’; the fury is a change. ‘The grave hopeless sound of all voiceless misery under the sun’ is about to break away.

A RESPONSE POEM

I’m very sensitive to the injustices in the world and big guys bullying small ones. Some girls find it extra hot, but not this one. She needs to speak her mind although many wouldn’t like what she has to say. Oh well, she couldn’t care less because she has never liked going with the flow.


 

DINNER FOR THREE

best friends dining breakfast leftovers
British black pudding
American baked beans, bacon and fried eggs from
countryside farms
dipping French toast into the yolk
food gets stuck in the back of their throats
a tedious repetition of ménage à trois

spinning the globe with their mouths full of
half-chewed food and cursing
dangerous countries glaring at them
a question rising like a tidal wave
where to eat out (this time)
who to fuck afterwards
somewhere far off, someone exotic
yes, we like exotic
checking out the list of the top global threats
up next
S…S…S…Serbia, no, been there
S…S…Siberia…nope, S… Syria, why the hell not
we’re mad enough

mad about the super modern research center in Damascus
and well-equipped storage facilities west of Homs
researching and storing something
an offensive to retaliate against
the suspected mass production of fog and
begin a sustained effort to make
them stop using everything banned, breathing including

today’s targets are pita bread
sprinkled with sesame seeds, spicy
chickpea salad, garlic
and lemon hummus, falafels
with fresh coriander leaves
kebab served with Aleppo pepper and
cookies filled with dates and pistachios
Big Daddy makes it abundantly clear all must go
we eat first, and discuss later

dinner goes like a bomb
can’t think on a full stomach
the world is looking at the satellite images of before and after
something turned into nothing
who wants to fuck with us now