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Saturday, August 25, 2012

Late Afternoon: Simply Dressed

Late Afternoon: Simply Dressed: (dress- Dolce and Gabbana via The Fine Art of Design , shoes- Sam Edelman, bag- Zara, earrings- J. Crew)

Chic Alert: Memorial Day Weekend Sales - 2012

Chic Alert: Memorial Day Weekend Sales - 2012: Memorial Day is almost here and we all know that as well as marking the official kick-off to summer, the warmer weather, the BBQ, the swims...

Spray On A Shirt Today, A Skirt Tomorow

Spray On A Shirt Today, A Skirt Tomorow

Sunday, August 19, 2012

In March 2005, I tried something I had never done before: to look for a woman over the Internet. I signed-up for a dating site called Within a week or so, I was contacted by what seemed to be a beautiful girl by the name Nadezhda Mayorova, who claimed to live in Cheboksary, Russia. I fell in love within two days. And so did she, according to her emails…

I had not fallen in love for 3 years. And I had not composed any music in 3 years. I used to write a waltz every time I fell in love. Two days after my first correspondence with “Nadezhda”; inspiration struck me like a heart attack, while I was driving my car between Bloomington and Indianapolis. Mostly while driving, singing her name over and over; on my steering wheel, I wrote one of the most lyrical pieces I’ve ever written. A waltz called “Nadezhda”. I was scheduled to make the same drive back and forth the next day. It was raining. I got inspired to write more while driving, and thus I finished the initial draft of the piece. I scored it for accordion, instead of piano. Because this piece is full of sustained, lyrical, “singing” melodies. It requires an instrument capable of sustaining and vibrating the sound. The only such instrument I can play is the accordion. I considered scoring it for violin and piano, but I gave up that idea, since I wanted to play it to her all by myself. A very personal expression of love, straight from one heart to another. A musical motive, or rather “germ” appears in over 200 places throughout the music, based on the contour of her name: a short note followed by a higher pitched longer note, followed by a lower pitched short note.

Over the next few weeks, as “Nadezhda” and I kept on sending many love letters (emails) and photos to each other, I worked diligently on my waltz. I added many details, wrote it out neatly with the computer notation program “Finale”, and I practiced it on the accordion daily. For the piece was well beyond my level as an accordionist, and I wanted to be able to play it perfectly to her. Even though she said she listens to Madonna, and has no musical knowledge/culture/skills. Dissatisfied with my ability to play the piece on the accordion; I spent many more days and weeks creating a more elaborate and expressive arrangement of it for piano, violin and cello. My good friends Danny and Lucio generously gave their time, rehearsed and recorded the trio version with me. In the mean time, with all the practicing, I became twice the accordionist I was a couple months earlier! So I also recorded the accordion version. The recording and scores of both versions were to be sent to “Nadezhda” as a surprise present. She didn’t know about it yet… During this time, I halted some other musical projects, because my head was full of this waltz. It became a top priority.

I spent days, weeks, long hours writing to Nadezhda. All about my past and present life, my mistakes, my failed marriage, other relationships, hopes, desires, kinks, hobbies, dreams… and so did she. She didn’t write quite as long as I did, but she also sent many long, sweet, romantic messages with amazingly beautiful photos. She said she was 25 years old, a nurse, working in the hospital, that she was from a village near-by, that she had been living in the town of Cheboksary for the last 6 years, in an apartment with her grandmother. She even sent me some poetry, and phoned me a few times. She said she was calling from a post office, and always kept it short. She said she was too poor to have a phone line at home. She said she was looking for her future husband. She said I was the right man for her, the man of her dreams, her “prince”, the one she wants to spend the rest of her life with.

I believed her. I was so in love! I printed out her photos in black and white, and colored them with crayons. Night after night. I hung her pictures on my bedroom wall, next to my bed. I looked at them every night and every morning, sometimes for hours, daydreaming. Writing her name on my notebook in many different colors, shapes, fonts that I invented; I began a new hobby of playing around with fonts and letters both in Cyrillic and Latin alphabets, so that I could produce “ambigrams” (words that can be read from more than one angle) which spell out her name in Cyrillic when read straight, and my name when turned upside down. I was in a constant state of inspiration, wanting to create every night, every chance I get, glorifying her name. On paper, and in music.

She said she wanted to come visit me in the States, in June, during her annual vacation; and claimed she didn’t have the money for it. She had very modest and charming ways of asking for the money. She said there was a travel agency in her town that would get her a visa within a week or two, if she purchased her plane ticket through them. The total amount needed was $1550. I first tried to pay this “travel agency” in Russia directly by credit card. But they wouldn’t accept a credit card payment. I was told that it would only work if I sent money to her, and she’d pay them. Upon that, I proceeded to send cash through an international service called “Western Union”. In case you haven’t heard of Western Union, here’s how it works: they have Western Union agents all over the world. They don’t necessarily have their own offices everywhere. They work through other businesses they contract with. For example, the one I went through in Bloomington was the Marsh Supermarket. You go to one of their locations, give them cash, and a fee for sending the money, you fill out a from; then your money is transferred instantly to the other side of the world! -I was charged $103 on top of the $1550, for sending it- Then the receiver has to go to a Western Union agent in their town, show an ID, and collect the money… I went ahead and sent all that money to Cheboksary Russia, got out of the supermarket, into my car, and was about to drive away; when it occurred to me to ask for the Western Union branch in Cheboksary, so that I could tell Nadezhda where to go to collect the money. So I went back into Marsh to ask. They had to call the Western Union headquarters for this information. A very nice lady named Esther got on the phone from Western Union. When she noticed the Russian female name, she wanted to talk to me. So the supermarket worker handed me the phone. That’s when everything began to turn upside down…

Esther told me that there are many men trying to send money to Russia with the same purpose, and that many of these Russian “girls” are but scammers. In most cases, it’s a man trying to get money out of gullible men like me, using some girls to get photographed and occasionally to make phone calls. Esther had witnessed many men being scammed this way. You send the money, but you don’t get the girl. The money goes to a man in Russia, who is using these girls. Esther had saved some men from being scammed this way, by warning them on time. She suggested that I search for Nadezhda on the Internet. She suggested that I withdraw my money back, so I did. Esther turned-out to be an opera singer! She even sang for me on the phone. I later sent a copy of the waltz to her…

Immediately after getting my money back and thanking Esther, I got on the Internet, and with the help of my friend Emilio, found out that Esther was right. I found pictures of the same girl “Nadezhda”, under several different names, claiming to be writing from various cities, including: Elena Inyutina of Iskitim, Elena Kruchinina of Saratov, Anastasiya Pershotkina of Sumara, Valeria Chekaleva of Cheboksary, Irina Egorova of Kazan, Evgenia of Samara, Natalia Caregorodceva, Irina Galkina of Sokuv, Ludmilla Tarasova, Olga of Vladimir, Natasha…She (or probably he) had written to many men before me -and probably at the same time with me- asking for money for her plane ticket and visa. Here’s the website where I found-out about all this:

From the very beginning, I had considered of this being a scam. From the very beginning, I thought, for all I know, it could be a man sending me these letters. Several friends warned me as well. But I was in love! I needed to be in love. I always gave Nadezhda the benefit of the doubt. Towards the end, I was suspecting the “travel agency” whose phone number and email she had given me. I was going to warn her to be careful with this agency, and make sure to get a receipt. Because getting a visa to the US, for a Russian citizen, in 1-2 WEEKS, didn’t sound very realistic. According to the US embassy in Moscow, It typically takes up to 6 weeks to get a tourist visa from them. But my heart wanted to believe in Nadezhda.

Also, from the very beginning, as I fell in love with this name and image, I made the following analysis, or rather, speculative theory, about what love is, and how it effected me -and I told this to “Nadezhda” in my emails-:

I believe that Love is a pure, eternal substance residing within us all. Every human being has a heart. And in that heart, there is this pure essence. It is the pursuit of Love that makes us do all the things we do. Or perhaps, Love inside one person that is trying to connect with the Love inside another person. All the songs we write, all the wars we fight, all the people we make happy, and all the people we hurt…all in the name of love. I have no doubt, it was Love that made me write that waltz, and it is the pursuit of Love that makes these Russian scammers steal money from people. All they want is Love, deep inside. But they are so sick, so in need of healing, that they believe they need to steal from others in order to be happy. Happiness=Love. God=Love… I believe that everything that makes us human, our flesh, our bones, our minds, and our emotions, all of that is a facade, a costume that covers the Love inside us. If we were stripped of it all, “WE, the entire humanity living on this earth” would embrace each other. We would unite and become one body. Because WE are but bits and pieces of Love; we belong together. We are the pieces of a scattered puzzle. Yet we are only able to see Love in, and communicate Love to certain individuals. We are unable, in our human form, to embrace ALL. Why do I fall in love with a gorgeous looking girl? Why not with a man? Why not with an immensely fat old woman? Because I am just as imperfect as that fat old woman. And just as lovable, and beautiful as her. Or as Mr. Operation Nadezhda.

In the past, when I used to fall in love, it was different: I would glorify one person, one name, raise her above all else. Her approval of my existence, her affection towards me meant everything, it meant happiness. Her rejection meant despair. I’ve suffered a lot with that attitude. Then I stopped falling in love 3 years ago. But when I fell in love with “Nadezhda”, it was different. I gained a new insight, or I invented a new approach rather, to what falling in love is, and how it works. I believe that one falls in love when one is ready to fall in love. When one is in fruition. It has nothing to do with the person you fall in love with! It has everything to do with YOU! The person you fall in love with, is but a random element who happens to be in the right place in the right time, talking to you at the right moment. It could be anybody! Any girl, any man. It doesn’t matter who it is. It doesn’t matter if it’s for real or not! It doesn’t matter that “Nadezhda” turned out to be unreal. I am still in Love! I am in love with Love, I am in love with life, with people, with myself, with you! All of you! Operation “Nadezhda” awakened me, made me write music again. And now I am bursting with Love! Love is everywhere, inside all of us, trying to connect with itself, with its lost pieces, brothers and sisters. Although I concentrated my love on this one name and image for a few weeks; I’ve released it from that image, and redirected it to whatever else, and whomever else I see around me…Well…at least, I am trying to do so as much as I can. It is an impossible mission to accomplish 100%, as long as I am a living, breathing human being. It’s against human nature to love everything and everybody equally. Who is able to love all children like their own? Who is able to love all strangers like their friends, “loved ones”? It’s impossible. It’s against our nature. But the least we can do is to love as many as we can. “Sev chunku sevmek en kolay” (Love, because to love is easiest). To carry hatred in your heart will only make you feel heavy. It will not heal your wounds, nor will it fix the problems/people that hurt you. Love is the single most powerful tool we can use against all others who try to hurt us. Not punishment, not revenge; but forgiveness and Love.

From an article penned by Hakan A. Toker entitled "Nadezhda". She is Nadezhda Mayorova. At the time of the article's publication, March 2005, Nadezhda lived in Cheboksary, Russia.

Romanian model Daria Cocos is a student at Colegiul Natl. "Samuel von Bruken" (Sibiu, Romania). She works at One Models Agency.