The architect and writer Gabriela Stanciu Păsărin answers our questions

Years ago I met a complete woman: Gabriela Stanciu Păsărin. Architect, mother, girlfriend, friend, woman. Yes, woman in the true sense of the word. Beautiful, attractive, strong.

She had a certain je ne sais quoi. She had that nonconformism rarely encountered in the period from 1975 to 1980, especially in the fairer sex. If you were a woman, you would have liked to look like her; if you were a man, you secretly admired her.

I admired her taste and the way she dressed, the way she coordinated her outfits. She had a pleasant, confident voice; it gave you a sense of belonging. She had initiative. She combined the useful with the pleasant in a very special way.

She was a gentle but firm mother when her son got in to the troubles that are inevitable for an eight- to nine-year-old kid.

Gabriela and her son Matei

Years have passed. Our roads have intersected in a few situations. She continued to be just as pleasant, despite the passage of time.

Being also Facebook friends, I admired her pictures and activities. I noticed that she became passionate about writing. Her first volume fell into my hands, I read it breathlessly. It described a woman I had never met, she was a young student, with pure emotions and feelings, specific to our generation (60+ now).

Gabriela’s books

She described such a beautiful age. With butterflies in your stomach, with innocent flirtations, with the touch of your hand or with invitations like “would you like for cake”? What could be more beautiful?

Sometimes it hurts me that today’s young people can no longer enjoy the purity of yesteryear. In the century of speed, there is really no time for romance or platonic love, pure love.

I decided to unravel her, with the idea of seeing how a mature woman without the preoccupations of a grandmother thinks. The kind of woman I adore.

Please tell me, do you regret that the years have gone by?

My dear, I do not regret that they have passed, but that they could have passed more slowly… I only regret that physically we are not as beautiful as we were then nor as capable of moving mountains, albeit keeping the mind of the present.

What would you be like if you were 20 years old today? Can you imagine that?

Yes, I’m fine with my imagination. Thank God it works, but in this context it’s not the case because I haven’t changed my spirit! Except for the “outer shell”, if I were 20 years old, I wouldn’t be much different. I think I was somehow mentally confined at that time, and the spirit of that age (from 20 to 30 years old) I still have it and I often express myself as then, although to many of my generation, it seems inappropriate. Of course I don’t wear a miniskirt anymore, but I still dress in a rock-casual style. What if I were 20 years old now? I certainly wouldn’t attach all sorts of bells where you don’t expect them to be, but maybe I’d get a little symbolic and discreet tattoo – a bird in flight on my right shoulder. ;). I wouldn’t shave my head! Fortunately, I experimented with this as well – it’s horrible! I believe that hair is an ornament that must be speculated aesthetically. I certainly wouldn’t take drugs or drink to get drunk, no matter the situation, because I’m horrified to be out of my mind and out of control of myself. Otherwise, I would do all the other crazy things that happen at the age of 20, but of course, without violating my principles, which have remained the same until today.

With her architect colleagues in 1973

What made you put ideas down on paper? Did you feel like you had a lot to say?

I am an extroverted person, I have always felt the need to express myself, to express my opinion, to show myself as I am, how I feel and how I think. For this reason, at the age of 14 I started writing in a personal diary, and this lasted, intermittently, until two years ago, when I decided to write about several things that I think and I imagine them in some books that others can read.

Do you write about your own life experiences in your books or do you tell stories about people that you have met and have been fascinated by?

My books are like a kaleidoscope of the events that both myself and people I have I met throughout my life who have inspired me have lived; and I mixed these events with a little imagination and these have became topics for the novels that I write. I could say of my books that they are a kind of  “reality fiction.”

Did you have the impulse to write since your youth or do you now think that you have accumulated the necessary maturity?

For me, I think that writing was a psychological necessity from the beginning because it relaxed me, freeing me from my thoughts and problems.

Do you regret not having done it before?

As I was telling you, I have been writing for a long time. At the age of 16 I started my first novel and finished it. Unfortunately, to publish it now, it would be outdated even for today’s 16-year-olds. I regret that I did not publish earlier, because surely this would have stimulated me and I would have written more than I wrote in the drawer, and today maybe I would have been “the well-known writer Gabriela Stanciu.” But maybe that was the way it needed to be to make me the architect and a writer I am today. 😉

What would you change in your life if you could? Let’s imagine that it is possible.

I wouldn’t change anything. Without everything I experienced, good and bad, I would not have become who I am now, and I feel good about myself; I am a reliable friend to myself in whom I have total confidence. Although, with my head in the clouds as I always have been, I still make all kinds of “shenanigans”, which even surprise me! But this is the spice of my life! It’s hard to live with me every day! My poor family had to “train” to keep up with me. But maybe they were also chosen, because not everyone can withstand life at 240 volts.

What do you love about your current life?

I love everything, because I am very possessive and I love everything that belongs to my life, with good and less good! And I wouldn’t change it with anyone’s life! Of course it could be “even better”, but Someone up there knew very well what I deserve and was very good to me, and I didn’t ask for more than He gave me, because I felt that they are part of his “sympathies” and he will never let me down.

Costinești with the shipwreck and with Puppy

Did I see that you are in love with Costinești? Why? Now it is no longer what it meant to our young soul. Does it arouse your nostalgia or do you simply stubbornly live in that place you love to try to save something from our wonderful corner of heaven between 1975 and 1980?

From the place where I appeared one day on this Earth, before anything else, I chose to love the Sea, where I find myself totally! That’s how I feel, like her! I love Costinești because there, at the age of 20, as a student in the student camp, I met myself, free, sincere, uncensored, among my special colleagues, listening non-stop to that music of the 70s, which remained emblematic over the years, mixed with the voice of the Sea and the seagulls, mixed with Love and the most beautiful Sunset of my life, which I watched daily, across the lake, fascinated. That’s how it happened, that I woke up there for the first time alone, face to face with me, to look at my soul and to feel happy that I was in that place, with my Sea, with my music, among my friends and with the beach next to the Evanghelia, my shipwreck. All this put together, I’ve never found them anywhere, ever! That’s why, for 50 years, for half a century (!) Without ceasing, every autumn I get there, on the beach of My Shipwreck, where I go now as then, whenever I have I want to meet myself! To me, a sea is not the Sea, unless it’s there! And then, you know what it’s like with your first Love.

Costinești, Romania

Tell us about your books! Do you write them from the bottom of your heart or do you contemplate the subject for a long time?

Yes, so far, I have written my books “from the bottom of my heart” as you say. The topics simply came to me – they had probably been waiting a long time somewhere in an interior drawer for them to come to light. Then, the action flowed like life itself and I left it like that, mixed with memories, imagination, events and characters inspired or invented, leading the subject discreetly, towards an end, always with a meaning, which leaves room for readers’ conclusions.

Gabriela’s books exhibited at a Book Sale event

Can you reread your own work? Are you critical of yourself?

Yes, I still leaf through them sometimes when I arrange the shelves of the library and every time, I have the feeling that I didn’t write them myself, discovering passages that surprise me and that I seem to read for the first time. I can’t say that I’m demanding writing them “freely” like that. I am rather a perfectionist before preparing the “good print” book, because I want it to be written correctly, to look good and to be necessarily graphically expressive, in the hands of the reader, which is why I make my own graphics for my book covers.

What other talents do you have? Painting? Drawing?

I’m full of talent! Kidding. I don’t know, I can’t show any talent yet. I’m waiting for others to talk about my talents. However, I think that I can do in principle anything related to art, because it is clear that I was given an artistic “fabric”. But, rather than doing something just to demonstrate my inclinations, which I would then call “talent,” I only do it better when I feel 100% and let others say it. I repeat, I am a perfectionist! Yes, I draw from the same age I write from, which is why I ended up doing Architecture, where, at that time, you couldn’t even imagine that you could enter without having the drawing in your blood. Today it’s simpler, technology has solved that too! Honestly, I wanted to study Sculpture for which I felt, as soon as I got my hands on clay, an indescribable attraction and fascination for moulding. What is certain is that my father took me away from this passion so “unprofitable” and unsuitable for a girl, so I became an architect. However, in the first year I failed the drawing test at Architecture (although I had entered without knowing – I wrote about it in “Nora din Suflet”) – I withdrew my documents and to quell my anger, I signed up to Fine Arts in Sculpture, to know “what if…” Obviously I failed, but immediately below the only four open places that were then in the competition, with an average of 7.50 – an unexpectedly high grade for that exam, there! In moulding I had some knowledge from the School of Fine Arts that I had attended for several years in parallel with high school. Anyway, I was happy then, and the fact that I was appreciated so well, has not extinguished my desire to do that even today. I would probably have become a talent because I liked it and I felt that I had an extraordinary, almost magical connection with clay. But, it wasn’t meant to be! And because I was saying that Someone up there loves me, Matei, my son, completely unexpected, wanted to make the study Sculpture, although as a student of “Tonitza”, I was trying to make him an architect for the same reasons as my father. But he was stronger and said bluntly, “That’s what I want and that’s what I’m going to do!” I allowed him with great emotions because even then there were only 8 openings, and if he had failed mandatory army service was waiting for him. Fortunately, he succeeded. After winning several awards as a student and graduating with 9.60, in the years that followed, he managed to do only a few public monumental works, which are spread across the country and a few in Bulgaria, but only honorarily. But, because nothing is accidental, through a happy contest of circumstances, for 5 years he was employed as a sculptor of the University of Architecture, where he restored for the Faculty Museum, all the works destroyed in 1990 during the Mineriad protests, and made the busts of four former rectors and teachers of the School of Architecture for the same museum. In parallel, he teaches “the study of form” to students in Bucharest, but also the “restoration technique” at the Restoration Department in Sibiu of the University of Architecture. The culmination is that, during this time, he finished 3 years of Doctoral School and is going to defend his Doctoral Thesis in Architecture! In conclusion, my talent was passed on to him, which means that I had it strongly imprinted in my DNA. What is certain is that now that he has finally started his 0wn workshop, I promised myself to start working there with him, so I still have time to perfect this old passion to prove my talent. It’s never too late!

I know that life was hard at times for all of us but we managed to get over this. I’m talking about surviving the tangled messes. That makes me proud because I see myself as strong. Do you feel the same?

Yes, life has shown me that I am a strong human being. In fact, I’ve always known that if I want to do something, I can do it. It’s all about wanting something very much, with every fiber in me – because I think that’s the secret to success!

Do you have plans for the future? I ask this because we have been put up against the wall in this pandemic, we have been labelled a risk category and we want and can continue to fight. That’s me and I’m sure you too.

Fortunately, for the “creatives”, the pandemic provided them with the perfect context to focus on their creation, which I did. Only the restriction of my freedom to walk freely when I want to has affected me psychologically, I would say. I did not like the regimentation in the category of 65+ in which I do not find myself at all because I am not helpless yet, but on the contrary, I am very active and responsible. This thing was an abuse. Don’t tell me that if we left the house outside of the 2 hours we were given, the outcome would have been different. But I’m already annoyed by remembering and I don’t want to talk about it anymore, or about those absolutely stupid traffic certificates! I have no plans for the future because, look what surprises can appear, which will make them turn to dust! So far, I am one of those happy people who can say that I have done almost everything I set out to do in life. Now everything is “at will”, “seeing and doing” and only if I feel a special calling. Anyway, together with Dan, my husband, we try to fulfill any wish we would enjoy, without restrictions or calculations, because we only want normal things: to go somewhere where we feel good, to buy all kinds of trinkets to rejoice, to occupy our time with things that please us. Thank God that for me, writing has become one of these pleasures.

What other concerns do you have besides writing? Do you love to discover nature? I saw that you have a special connection with flowers and also with animals.

Apart from my writing and my inclination towards all that Literature means – an area in which, entering, I realize that I have not yet sufficiently explored it – I would not say that I have a particular preoccupation. I still work from time to time on a small project, more for pleasure, if my friends ask me. As for Nature – yes, I feel perfect in the middle of it, much better than among people. I like flowers, and I always like to be surrounded by them, so I have balconies full of flowers, but also vases in the house. Dan makes sure I have something to fill them with all the time, because he likes it too. I could say that in our house we buy flowers as we buy bread or coffee, but without this being a concern but rather a necessity. There is more to be said about animals. I love animals and value them even more than humans, but without exaggerating. At one point I had a whole household in the house: a family of cockers, a cat, a family of turtles, a family of Agapornis, a parrot and fish. It was as if I had a house full of children that we took care of to have everything they needed and that we loved, each one. They were simply members of the family, never considered a “decoration” – as many unfortunately do – and this was not at all easy, because it meant time in our lives every day, which we had to dedicate to them. But I did it with love and responsibility. It was a wonderful atmosphere for us, surrounded by so many souls who loved and loved us, and with whom we communicated constantly. In the house, there was love but also discipline. Everyone had their place and their habits, according to personalities and everyone respected them. The dramatic part was when they started to leave us either from old age or from illness, although we did without restraint, everything we could to recover. The last ones to leave us were the puppies. Each of them, they went to another world, after 17 years of living together. They actually broke our souls, because in all these years we were permanently inseparable, for better or for worse. With small exceptions, we were with them wherever we went, on vacations, on trips, on visits, everywhere we could go together, and where we could not, we gave up leaving, without regrets. There is much to be said about these wonderful big eared friends we have had, especially kind, obedient, intelligent and affectionate, who have delighted us and given us their unconditional love and attention, so many years of our lives. I lost the last one of them, the puppy, at the beginning of this summer and I still haven’t gotten used to her absence. To replace them with other puppies, it’s not a consideration. Children you lose, you can’t replace them with others. Instead, in memory of their love, because there are so many animals tormented and tormented by some bastards among us, I just transferred that 3% of the income of the Architecture Office I have, to the Kola-Kariola Association, where some kind-hearted people save all the abandoned, wounded and sick animals that they take care of with a lot of dedication, saving them from the hands of human beasts. I’ve been following them on Facebook for a long time and it’s incredible everything they managed to do for the poor innocent souls. But this occupation, I know it costs a lot, so they need funds! Once, a vet to whom I paid for an ultrasound for my dog, more than I paid for an ultrasound for me, said, “Ma’am, to afford an animal is a luxury, so it costs!” About so much about humans and animals…

What do you consider really important in this life?

To love, to have Faith, and to always be aware that you must leave a beautiful mark, when you go through this life.

What advice do you have for young people?

Which of the young people listens to the advice of some who have long since passed the age of youth? I would tell them to take constant care to build in them that person in whom they can trust all their lives, because trust in yourself helps you to become strong and succeed in everything.

You like to go out with your lifelong friends for coffee. I saw this. Do you love Bucharest and what does it offer? Can you still find its identity? Speaking of which, where do you like the most to enjoy a coffee with the flavour of old Bucharest?

I am a very sociable and extroverted woman, which is why I have many friends with whom I always enjoy being with as often as possible, but at the same time I like to discover other interesting people, of quality and spirit to listen to, with whom to talk, to joke, and near whom I want to be as much as possible, and this requires a place where we can sit quietly together, for a coffee, a tea, a cocktail or a croissant and preferably in a pleasant atmosphere. And because I do this quite often, I can’t say which is my favourite place. Anyway, for me, it has to be somewhere in the Centre, especially in the University area or in the Old Town. Personally, I really like the Cărturești Bookstore Cafe, recently opened on the ground floor of the Faculty of Architecture, which operates right in a patio – an inner courtyard – inside the Faculty, and that’s because the Faculty remained for me, the dearest place in Bucharest. But there are others where I stopped and I felt good: Paul, Capșa, Edgar, Jos Pălăria, Newton Cocktail Bar, Verona, etc. It is important for me to have a cafe somewhere in the Centre that has a relaxing atmosphere and good coffee. Not coincidentally, each of these locations are in special houses and places that still give identity to the city. For me, that area will always have its scent, because I lived there in the first part of my childhood, then I also spent the most beautiful years of my youth there. Yes, I love the Bucharest in which I flourished in this world.

Cărturești bookstore

I saw that you still love your job. Do you have feelings when you go in front of the architecture faculty? I ask you, because when I pass by my medical school, I still see myself in a white robe running from one amphitheater to another and even disappearing into the fog as the years go by. I feel a physical pain.

About the Faculty of Architecture, apart from the fact that it is a Taboo for me, I have nothing more to say. From what I have described so far, this is already clear. I wrote about her in all my novels, I gravitated constantly around her, practically from a young age to the present day. I carry her permanently in my soul, I love her and I have never broken contact with her. I was born right next to her, I looked at her every day in my childhood, I was baptized in the Church under her windows, I studied for six years right in her soul, after 2000, four years I was a nurse there, then Matei is now there, prolonging my presence with her. Not a moment was missing from my soul, I lived permanently with her in myself and I consider that I was a chosen woman that I could have such a beautiful, complex, and refined profession and that I built myself within its walls. I owe her a lot, everything I am today.

Matei, Gabriela’s son

What do you have left to do? What do you really want to happen to you?

There is probably still a lot to do, but at this point I have achieved my goals. We’ll see what else I have to do. With zeal, however, at this moment I only want to be healthy in body, mind and spirit and all my loved ones to be the same. And I wish I could write with pleasure about the many things that are waiting to be told to others. And of course, I want many readers who look forward to reading what I write to them.

Gabriela and Matei

I want for you what I want for myself. To have a quality life, not to get bored, to enjoy every breath of wind or the smell of mowed grass, to admire nature with all that it has, to love and forgive. Do you want all that? Do you have more ambitious plans?

All you want for both of us is already an ambitious plan. For now, I’m just talking about that.

Do you have life stories that you still want to tell? Of course we just won’t stop so fast…

I’m just starting out, how do I stop here? 😉 If I take after my father who left us at the age of 90, I could have 20 more years to live to do all sorts of unexpected things. Maybe I will become a sculptor, as I wanted. The paths of life are unknown, aren’t they?

Gabriela and some other architects

I hope you liked this wonderful woman who lives her life beautifully and completely. You will get to know her better from her books that I recommend.

Thank you dear Gabriela, I wish you to remain charming and to make your loved ones happy with your complex personality!

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