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The wife of our late friend Mark Halaway, Ira, – I just can’t bring myself to call her “widow” – came to Kiev with their 3-month-old son Iggy, and yesterday a little get-together party was thrown on the occasion.  I was looking forward to meeting Mark’s little boy and dreading it at the same time: for some reason I expected some uncanny resemblance in this unaware tiny new human being.  It didn’t happen: Iggy appeared to be his own person.  He came across as a very calm, very relaxed and rather happy baby.  Actually he’s been soothing everyone around him – until that bored him and he serenely snoozed off among cacophony of the festivities.


Opposite from me across the table sat an elegant lady whom I hadn’t met before.  I didn’t know her name, yet it took me but a moment to recognize her.  For striking, otherworldly likeness it was indeed.  The woman had Mark’s face – so surreal, yet so familiar.  I was studying her and seeing him…


She was wearing tasteful yet elaborate make up in shades of pearl and brown; a large but subdued black-and-brown necklace; her open-toed black patent leather mules displayed well-groomed feet with bronze-lacquered nails…  She had an air of elderly Princess Diana about her: graceful and polished, but approachable.  I was admiring her and marveling at her ability to keep up the looks, to go on with living her life – after losing one of her children.  There was no way to imagine what it cost her – to sit at this table, looking lovely and well kept, and partake in small talk.  But I couldn’t help noticing that every time the conversation halted, unthinkable sadness surfaced in her beautiful hazel eyes…


An hour or so later we were officially introduced to each other.  I confessed that I knew who she was the second I saw her – it was impossible to mistaken.  She soon placed me too: after I brought up sharing an office with Mark during my first months at Radioaktive, a smile of recognition beamed on her face… And about broke my heart: the way she nodded – swiftly shaking back her hair, her eyelids sealed, a faint, kind grin stretching her lips – was the exact copy of a gesture I’d seen a hundred of times!


There is undoubtedly no greater pain on this little blue-and-green planet of ours than that of a mother losing her child.  Yet there is nothing – not even such a shrieking pain – that a mother would not overcome to fulfill her dying child’s will.  Mark left her somebody to care for – and so she does.  It is little Iggy Mark Halaway she now lives for.  Selflessly.  Motherly.

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My cat is sick.  It’s quite serious.  My mom is fighting to save his life and there is an alright chance that he’ll make it.  But it struck me for the first time that he won’t stick around for very long.


My cat is 10 years old – that’s a lot of time even in human years.  He has been with me through more shit than any other living being – outside of my immediate family. 


My cat and me go back to the day before I got married to that maniac-depressive con artist – the ex-husband of mine.  My cat was around when the gross total of my lovers amounted to 3.  He was in my life before Radioaktive, before I’ve ever been to France, Spain, or Germany.  My cat already lived with me 3 hired apartments ago. 


He’s been there to witness some of the darkest days of my life: my husband’s blackmail-out-of-divorce suicide attempt; my short-term make over as a street vendor (for couple of days I was selling my numerous books in front of the local farmers market in a futile effort to pay off my wacko ex’s debts); my first heartbreak...


Two years after I joined Radioaktive, I became the company’s only new business producer.  My department partner, Lera, has eventually traded the joys of bidding for the joys of production managering – and there I was, face to face with our average of 16 tenders per week.  It was the time – remember? – when showreels were recorded to VHS tapes directly off Beta SP – digitizing took too much time and hard drive space.  It was a time when only one computer in our office could burn CD’s.  It was a time of – ouch! – early inkjet (as in pre-laser) printers that at their top speed produced couple-three pages per MINUTE…  In short, being the one and only bidder at that time meant… no, not even “no life” – it meant “no living”!   It was beyond hard on me – it was even worse on my cat.


He’s the kind of cat who identifies with people and not with his fellow domesticated felines.  Basically – I’m pretty sure – he thinks he’s a human.  He loves company and conversations – and he partakes in them, i.e. he produces sounds whenever there is a pause.  Not meowing or purring sounds, not crying for food or sex sounds – he rather opens his mouth and utters long low-pitch noises, sort of like you do when a doctor examines your throat (“Now, say ‘Ahhhh’, darling!”).  He interrupts the air-flow at various intervals – apparently to make his point.  So it can be “Aaahh-ah-ah! Ahh?” or “Ah-ah-ah, aaaaah!”  Ridiculous as it sounds – it makes a distinct impression of communication attempt.  And it never fails to make those present laugh.


Naturally, staying all alone – with nobody to “talk” to – for an average of eighteen hours in a row, month after month, was a torture for my cat.  So I made a call to ship him off to my parents’ – where he lives at this point, being the pride and joy and marvel of the family.  No shortage of people around him there.  Once a month or so I come to visit – and for the duration of my stay he betrays his “new owner”, my mom, and comes to sleep in my room.


It’s commonly believed that there are “dog” people and “cat” people.  Well, I’m neither.  I’m a “no pet” person.  I have never had an animal live in my house before.  And I had never had a preference of what would it rather be if I was given a chance to get one.  My cat was my husband’s fancy – I just went with it.  Yet my cat immediately made it clear to everyone that he was MY cat.  So I went with that too. 


Somehow there has been no single long-term relationship in my life.  No one – my semi-crazy semi-criminal ex-spouse aside – has outlasted a year.  My cat though – he’s been there all the time.  He picked me and stayed with me.  Even after I relocated his furry ass.  For some weird reason he decided to commit.


And now he is sick.  So I’m just hanging in here and hoping for the best.  While learning to accept the fact that pet owners tend to outlive their pets…

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So we have the winner – the best party (for the time being in the very least) goes to Massive/Lift “No Party” of last night.  It was… well, massive.  No question about that.  The rumor has it there were something like 2,500 people there and I have no difficulty believing that.  The music was great, the Dutch hosts were tall (and some particularly curly), the crowd was in a great mood.  It was definitely a place to be, so everybody who could get in, did so.  And by everybody I mean them all.


Ok, I’ve been clearly avoiding the subject far too long.  Last year I was a renowned drama queen – I managed to get my heart nearly broken.  In Cannes.  Twice. It was a mess.  The mess went under the code name of Johnny Banana(s) as you might recall.  And last night was the mess’s 40th birthday.  I had no intention to send my greetings or in any other way to encourage further mind fucking, but after running into the guy on the Massive dance floor, I couldn’t help being a little stung.  By the fact that I have allowed any of this to hurt me.  By the fact that I have allowed myself to be so delusional.  The person I cared for existed in my imagination only.  I have realized with piercing clarity that the man in front of me was a stranger, the one who never intended to get involved with me and whose motives were inexplicable.  But what surprised me most was the feeling of loss.  It’s not easy to comprehend that a few months ago you have been vacating your heart for a ghost.


But moving on!  Letting go of a phantom is one thing.  Letting go of a true friend is a much bigger deal…  A long-term pal whom I shortly dated – but who always was a friend first and foremost – crossed me out of his life.  He deleted me off his Facebook via his iPhone while hiding in the restroom from his jealous girlfriend.  He wiped me off Skype, got rid off all my phone numbers…  We have been looking forward to seeing each other in Cannes more than I can possibly tell.  This is one and only guy out there who might not agree with me, argue with me, criticize me on all levels, yet he never stops caring for me.  He is one of those friends who will remain friends even if we never talk again.  He knows that if he ever asks me for help, there is no road I wouldn’t go down for him.  I know I can count on him in exactly the same way.  He is cutting me out of his life not because HE does not want to know me, but because he is being haunted, followed, tortured and daily terrified by his bitch of a girlfriend.  And if she is one of the people who is reading this – I stand by my title for her. And I’m not apologetic about it.  If you are deliberately, intentionally, repeatedly hurting the person you claim to love – you do not deserve another name in my book. 


My friend – let’s call him Tristan – was a lovely, charming, a bit sensitive and hyper, brilliant and bright guy with many Isoldas.  He wasn’t hooking up with girls for a good lay, but rather for a full-blown shot at romance.  Which usually lasted a week.  Or two.  The wind shifted and so would his interest. 


I have to admit I was mocking him for this.  I was saying he should make up his mind and either fuck around and enjoy the constant flow of beautiful girls that he had never a problem of attracting and stop expecting to find big love, or slow down and not break up with yet another lady of the heart after ten days of mind-blowing sex have worn the passion off.  He seemed to listen to me there.  He followed my latter advice.  And I feel terrible about it.


Tristan, my dear!  My heart is breaking to see your sad, pale face.  You’re in Cannes – that you greatly love – and yet there is not a sparkle in your eyes.  There’s misery and fear and pain instead.  I couldn’t help tears after that first encounter of ours at Martinez.


Tristan, my friend!  You’re a lovely, talented, eccentric human being with a heart that could embrace the world.  You reach out to people, you love life, you love music, you adore Massive parties – and yet after seeing me at the door that slave owner of a girlfriend made you leave after only five minutes.  This mess, Tristan, is not something that I can force myself to get over.  This isn’t something I will ever forget or let go off.  I’m hurt for you.  This is a full-scale case of Stockholm syndrome, my dear!


I am in no way a Dan Savage.  I have no right to give advice.  But I can’t help myself.  You’re being held hostage.  DMTFA!

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Happiness is not the word that could possibly describe it.  It’s a bliss.  Tired, if not to say exhausted, sleep deprived and madly overworked, dazed with new faces and remembering no new names whatsoever, drunk or at least a bit tipsy at any given moment… always looking gorgeous though, always smiling, always enjoying the food, the conversations, the sun, the sea, the fun…  It’s Cannes.  We’re back!


I have so much to tell, I have met so many amazing people, yet I’m so short of time, that the only way to share it with you people is to squeeze it into a few short sentence and post it as fast as possible with all the pictures.  So you too can partake a bit in our fun.  So here we go.


I’ve landed in France 2 days ago… and the fun has started right away.  A sweet Dutch producer Ralph has been taken hostage by the slow luggage delivery of the relaxed Nice airport workers along with me and another hundred passengers, so after waiting for 40 minutes for our bags we’ve started chatting and shared a cab to Cannes; few hours later yours truly, my girl Dasha and her boy Paolo trotted to Cannes’s most fabulous fish restaurant (OH MY GOD!  Now I know that shellfish is one of the things that makes this life worth living!!!); after an exquisite meal we headed to Martinez where we met… well, everybody!  Tuesday morning after waking with no hangover – shocker! – we returned to our lovely base camp of three years – Plage Royale, and oh they were happy to see us there!  We had a day of lovely meetings with lovely people – please check out the pictures – and a swim in the sea down the road, we attempted to break into a boat party in the Marina.  Well, we came a bit late – as the doorman informed us the boat was about to sink and no extra weight – not even in form of particularly good looking rather skinny girls – could be possibly taken on board.   In the evening of the same day we’ve smoked some of the sweetest, most tender, most delicious hash I’ve ever tried on the Cannes’ city beach and – guess what! – went to Martinez where we met everybody again.  Among everybody our old German friend Andy with his 18th trip to Cannes and our new German friend Martin particularly stood out.  Andy with his sparkling alcohol-proof sense of humor and Martin with his unique resume of porn films composer.  It is people of this sort – well, besides the shellfish certainly – that make this life worth living!


Other then that – follow my Cannes Fashion Picks photo uploads!  There are some crazy outfits here, guys! 

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Annnnnd.... we're back!

What: unlimited drinks!
Where: Cannes, Croisette, Plage Royale
Why: because we can!

Details - click on the picture below.

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I'm on a train to Crimea, traveling to location, switching projects.  I've lived through a portion of stress and hard work recently, but I have also met some really great people.   Another "also" - there has been somebody who occupied a lot of my thoughts and who filled my days with joyful anticipation.  A bit sadder "also" - a great, even if a bit strange, person, a friend, has lost somebody he loved, while somebody else he loves turned a corner of success.  "Also number four" - I'm getting my braces taken off next week, so no more teen look, folks!  There has been a flock of other little trifles - distracting, entertaining, annoying: my gym membership expired and I have to urgently update; I had my wisdom teeth pulled out and suffered long hours of dreadful pain; I've survived parental invasion of my apartment; lost two kilos; read couple of cool books; developed an odd like for white wine mixed with water; wished my brother happy twentieth birthday... 


All these things have happened in last 42 days.  I've been living a pretty eventful life.  Living... Life...


It has been 42 days since Mark Halaway's life ended.  Only 42 days...  One thousand hours...
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 A short sketch of everyday film production madness:  we are casting freaks today.  We’ve been casting freaks yesterday as well, so today is freak-casting part two.  That’s basically the brief – freaks of both genders, the freakier the better; make Kusturica jealous so to say... 


So for a second day now we are blessed with a company of dozens of exquisitely ugly and/or bizarre-looking people.  The people, however, seem content.  They merrily chat the time away, waiting for the call to perform their freak parts in front of our casting studio camera.  We walk past them fighting guilty smiles.  We wonder if they get it – our casting specs – by merely looking at each other.


At one point I go to the restroom and there is a number of freaks there too, crowded in front of the mirror.  There are three women and one man. They have small plastic bags full of accessories with them.  Their colorful beads, cheap make up and hair spray bottles are all over the place.  The man is getting a necktie out of his pocket and wets down his hair comb. The sight is disturbingly captivating: the freaks are making themselves pretty…


Minutes later I walk past two men talking.  They obviously have known each other for quite some time.  One says to the other: “So, Petrov, haven’t drunk yourself to death yet, huh?” And I’m thinking to myself – wow, I love my job!

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Something major has been going on in my life for about a week now.  This something was urging me to grab my laptop and write for hours, sharing the incredible joy and fun and excitement that have been overwhelming me.  This something made me feel happy and peaceful and safe.  This something is beautiful, alluring, dense – and unspeakable…


Anybody who ever read any of my entries would imagine me as a person lacking the very ability to experience embarrassment or shame.  This of course isn’t quite true – there have been plenty of infamous episodes in my life that I’m light years away from being proud of.   Yet even those utterly humiliating moments quite often have potential to become great pieces of writing, useful self-searching tools, and with time – fun anecdotes.  So I willingly uncover them.  Blunt openness and fairly explicit straight-forwardness are much more natural for me than reserve and shyness.  And yet this time I can’t make myself step over “decency”, “respectability” and “normality” – the concepts that I’ve been always claiming to discard as false, pretentious and harmful.  However keeping it down, locked in, unsung is quite unbearable, if not wrong…  So let me attend to the use of a rather ridiculous metaphor.


We all love ice cream.  Some love it more than others, but there are not that many of us who openly hate it.  And we all agree that there just gotta be something wrong with these ice-cream-loathing folks.  Without a doubt, ice cream is universally good.  It’s delicious.  It’s hard to resist.  The more you eat – the more you crave it and so forth.  Most of us can’t imagine any festivities without classics like apple or pumpkin pie – with indispensable vanilla-flavored ice cream on the side.  And we all know that there’s just no way around it – it must be vanilla!  Anything else would be plain wrong!


I agree – vanilla-scented desserts are archetypal and never ever could we do without.  After all the evolution took care that our….emmm… taste buds were developed in a certain way.  We are born to love vanilla.  Which is partially the reason why many of us go through life without checking out any of the myriads of other flavors.  Ok, in the recent years strawberry and chocolate became quite common as well, but not far beyond that…


A little while ago I’ve discovered that ice cream doesn’t even have to be limited to one certain flavor!  I’ve learned that you can take many and mix ‘em and shake ‘em up and add some syrup or filling to the base.  I became aware that though it is socially unacceptable to share your ice-cream (or – god forbid – give it away for temporary… tasting), it can be highly enjoyable, rewarding and exhilarating.  And once you try it, you might realize that we’ve been greedy and possessive about our ice cream, misled by the powerful giant brainwash organizations like… Baskin Robbins!  I’ve learned that talking about different aromas and flavors can be another pleasant addition to the main course – let your imagination unwind and come up with new tastes – unknown, untried, uncommon, raw… 


Though what really bothers me is that vanilla-loving people have very little tolerance for other flavor-devotees!  It is surprising considering that the process is (relatively) the same, regardless of ingredients.  It is this utmost lack of tolerance, the unconcealed aversion and unbending cruelty that make me write this blog entry – this very important, vibrant, happy blog entry – in thoroughly retarded dessert analogies! 


Oh folks, I have a dream – that one day I will be able to sing my song in clear and simple terms, without worrying of drop-kicking anyone in their vanilla guts by my bizarre honesty.  One day I’ll describe indescribable – and what a fascinating story it will be!


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 I’ve been trying to come up with the right name for this piece, but the truth is – there’s only one option.  Today I have learned that Mark Halaway, the sunny guy, the Marko of Marko-and-Darko, the one and only Kiev-based Diaspora expat who has been speaking perfect Ukrainian language, uncontaminated with “Russianisms” or “Americanisms”, the person who has been rarely seen without a smile, who loved to party and loved his life – has died.


I have met Mark on my first day in Radioaktive, almost seven years ago.  He was sweet, outgoing and funny.  He made me feel I can tell him anything – and he will understand.  And won’t judge.  He was a small good-looking skinny guy and he walked through life with his head up and his eyes sparkling.  I remember the beginning of his relationship with his wife Ira – whom he called “Fistashka” – they have always been such a pretty, happy couple!  I’ve been trying to recall if I ever heard Mark yell at anyone – and I couldn’t.  I don’t know maybe it just never happened in front of me, but it is still pretty amazing considering that for several months we’ve been sharing an office…


Those first few months I have been occupying receptionist seat and consequentially performed secretary chores: kept stationary supply, answered calls, cleaned the kitchen.  For my guys and for Mark’s.  Right by reception was our designated smoking area.  Mark was a smoker and we’d often chat.  Frequently he made me laugh, sometimes he made me think, but he never made me angry or upset.  I know – everybody always says only good stuff about dead people, especially those who have died recently – but Mark WAS special.  He was specially kind.


A friend of ours said today that Mark loved life and people.  I don’t know if I can think of a better description.  He loved life so much that he made a part of him stay with us.  We’ll be honored to meet this part – his little son – in a few months.


This is the latest photo of Mark that I’ve got – Lera Filshina posted it on her Facebook.  It makes me think: there is only one truly important thing in life, and Mark – he had it!  He’s holding it right there in his arms!



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It’s a little passed midnight and a Thursday has just evolved into a Friday.  I barely got home, changed into my winter-style warm-n-fuzzy flannel pj’s and exhaled my unprocessed anger…  I am mad!  I’m pissed!  In the very least – I am disappointed.  And it’s one of those cases when technically I have no reason to be.  Yet I am.


I’m in between shooting days.  One day down, three to go.  And those remaining three managed to crumble into the upcoming 48 hours.  My week is packed.   Naturally, there are lots of people around.  They perform different jobs and they come from different countries, some of them I like, some of them I find adorable – like my Belgium agency lady who is beyond sweet! – some of them irritate me…  And all of them are my clients and I have to be respectful and fair.


As you can very well imagine, some – are men.  And some of the “some” appreciate me for more than my articulate production skills.  It happens to me rather often so I can tell the difference.  When free of their immediate tasks, they tend to wander the set in my direction; they touch me when it’s not exactly required by their professional performance, e.g. push my side with an elbow and wink; they talk to me times more than to any other local crew member and they stand much closer while at it; and they have managed to learn half of my life’s history by asking loads of multiple choice questions…  You know this stuff…


Now, you always know the answer too, right?  It doesn’t take reasoning, it doesn’t take scheming.  It’s a true or false in a matter of seconds.  You don’t choose it – it chooses you.  If you’re attracted to somebody – you know it immediately.  This current case, Colombo, is no exception.  I’ve realized I’m liking one of the two three minutes after I met him.  Was I going to act upon it?  Maybe.  If the situation was favorable.  Why not after all?


A wrap-of-the-shooting-day-meal later the guy seemed enchanted by yours truly non-stoppable yapping on the account of soviet past, post-soviet present and a bulk of madness in between.  He was gazing and chatting and smiling…  He was pretty much cooked.  …I was slightly baked myself, allured by his visible interest.  It was a nearly perfect verbal foreplay…  and then as a part of the conversation, out of the blue, like it had nothing to do with anything he said “my wife”… 


…And ”my wife” bomb exploded in my head!  Instantly I was SO angry…  Any thoughts of perhaps spending this (or some other) night with the guy were done with right then and there.  He was CROSSED OUT.


And I couldn’t figure it out – why?  What’s wrong?  I’ve been craving sex; I’ve been needing somebody to hold me, not to marry me!   Even if he were the most single creature on the planet, I wouldn’t hope as much as to see him again… So what the hell is my problem?  A married guy can’t help being attracted to me, he’s not bullshitting me and when the conversation turns accordingly, he informs me of having a wife…  What reason, what right do I have to be pissed?  Why is it perfectly fine if a bachelor dude seduces me, with nothing but sex on his mind, yet sleeping with a married guy who is drawn to me is for some reason offensive?


I’ve tried my usual deduction method but it’s been no use.  I do realize that we all crave love even when we claim it’s only sex that we need.  And when the love is already reserved for somebody else and there’s no chance to earn it, we feel cheated – how can it be expected of us to share our body, if the heart in question is out of the circulation?  It’s like paying a hooker for a blowjob – the process is relatively the same, but there’s no question about her WANTING to do it…


Now I’m not pretending all extramarital sex is “evil”.  There are a number of cases when I’ll even support the cheater.  Special sexual needs that the partner refuses to fulfill, physical deprivation as a part of twisted mind games, rapid libido decline…  I hold a strong belief that a sexual act with a prostitute can’t be viewed as a betrayal either – it is a professional service, requested and paid for.  The “cheated” party should rather question what unrealized needs brought the lover to the decision to part with a large amount of cash and dignity.


Yet I still don’t understand what repulses me about married men.  I don’t mind all sorts of single men.  I’ve been with a number of “committed” men, which is rather close, right?  So what the hell is out of place here?  Maybe this:  you pretend you can stick around the same person for the rest of your life (or at least for the foreseeable future)… and you’re openly hitting on me?  YOU are hitting on me!  You’re not being seduced or forced, I haven’t drugged you and zipped your fly open!  It was your move… So why the fuck did you marry the poor mary you could have so easily been cheating on while still dating?  What up with all the lying???

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