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Sleepless on World Sleep Day: Planting Trees, a Protest and Wandering Around

The plan was to continue from where the previous personal post left off, writing about running a half marathon distance on March 5 and then going back for the odds and ends between the two runs that came before that one, but after planting trees, attending a protest and wandering around yesterday on absolutely no sleep, and therefore also “celebrating” World Sleep Day in that manner, writing about all of this seems like the better idea. And I’ll start from the evening of March 18, when I spent over two hours in bed but only slept around one, which was all the sleep I was going to get until this morning. But I was really breaking down that evening, really crashing after I got up, having pushed myself too hard for too long… But I somehow managed to push myself yet again, so I guess that’s a matter for another time and now I should just get back to the rest of that evening, when I mostly wasted time on the toilet, only getting the tiniest bit out, and also just failed to stick to the new schedule for dinner, only starting right at 3 AM and finishing at 3:45 AM, but at least I managed to almost get ready to leave, putting almost everything I wanted to take in the backpack and jacket and deciding what I was going to wear.

Some minutes after 5 AM, I did get in bed for a little while, to mark the separation between the days, setting an alarm for 5:30 AM, in case I’ll end up falling asleep. But there was no risk of that and I got up again at 5:25 AM, then wasted some more time I didn’t have on the toilet, despite feeling that I had to go, realized that I had forgotten to clip my nails and did that, then ate an apple, yogurt and cereals, and a sweet pastry. Going in the clothes I was wearing inside meant that there was no need to change, but it was going to be cold and windy, so I added a hoodie and another shirt. Then I cleaned the litter box, brushed my teeth, finished getting ready, peed and rushed out a little after 6:45 AM.
Just like back in November, I had to use the metro and had dad’s metro card, but I had to be at the Opera Square at 7:30 AM, so I had calculated that I had to leave at 6:45 AM at the latest, being a couple of minutes late making me jog to Dristor, getting there at 7 AM. Seeing as I ended up reaching Opera Square at 7:20 AM, I guess I didn’t have to jog, but I couldn’t be sure of that, and plenty of the volunteers were already there by then anyway. So I also took a seat in one of the buses, nobody ending up sitting next to me, and we left at 7:45 AM. A few had been late, arriving after 7:30 AM, but one guy was just getting there as the two buses drove away, so he ran across the road and just reached the door of the one I was also in when it left the Square, the driver stopping for a moment to let him in as well.
It was almost 9:10 AM when we reached the location, in Giurgiu, almost at the border… And it was definitely cold and windy. The temperature should have been around freezing at that point and the day’s high was supposed to be around 5°C, but we were on a riverbank and completely in the open, so the fact that it was quite sunny made it manageable, but definitely still unpleasant, and when the wind was really picking up I was freezing even while working, with all those clothes on me and the thick apron we were given over the jacket, and the cap I grabbed from there over my hat and the hoodie’s hood also pulled up over both, plus that thing around my neck and pulled up over the mask.
But I mentioned that apron, which was the first thing we were given, though bottles of water were there, so the first thing I took was one of those, putting it in my backpack. Back to the apron, there were different ones for volunteers and employees of the sponsor, with the employees also receiving a cap. But other volunteers were also talking about taking a cap and some did, and at that point, seeing as the caps were placed after the aprons and I had stepped out of the line to put the apron on right after receiving it, not realizing that the line continued for the next “steps” as well, I didn’t know that I wasn’t supposed to and just grabbed one and put it on after getting back there, and I may well end up using it regularly. Then I also took gloves and a sandwich, which was small, just in a bun, but tasty, and waited for the water to be heated in order to have a tea as well. And it was only as I was waiting that I realized that thing about the line and that, by stepping out of it after the apron, then just reaching in to grab a cap and gloves, and then moving to stand in the separate line forming for the sandwiches, which was sort of merging with the first one in that spot, I had missed the spot where participants were supposed to sign the list and be given the wristbands with the color of the plot they were assigned to, so I finally did that as well… Or at least that’s how I remember it now, though there’s also a chance that I actually did that before standing in the line for the sandwiches, not that it makes much of a difference, since I eventually did everything I was supposed to… And received, or more exactly took, even more…
After a talk that was shortened as much as possible, the organizers standing in the shade and therefore freezing even more than the rest of us, a little after 10:05 AM we started working. And forming teams was only suggested, in fact even being specified that those who want to work alone can do so, and that was exactly what I did, never trying to find a teammate and nobody trying to join me, or even to help temporarily for that matter. But the ground was easy to dig, so even considering my lack of strength and weight, I did quite fine. I was getting worried when it did seem to get worse after the first few holes, as I was moving away from the river, needing to first get through the layer of grass and occasionally also deal with some roots, but it wasn’t bad even then, and later, after lunch, when I mostly worked at the other end, close to the top, it again went well.
We had many species to plant, ranging from trees to small shrubs or bushes, those sometimes being so small that it was hard to tell where they had been planted, and even to potted plants, which were the easiest, since we had been told to just dig a hole the size of the pot and drop it in. And the idea was to plant something that’d be close to a natural forest, the species mixing, so each was free to choose what to plant and where, and while some rushed to the potted plants and those quickly ran out, I started with the hardest part, taking some trees with longer roots and managing to plant ten by 11:40 AM, at which point I took a break. After planting 40 back in November, when I had a teammate, my goal for that day, working alone, was 20, and I actually only set my mind on that after seeing how soft the ground was, since at first I was thinking that I’ll be completely content with 15, so ten meant that I was halfway to the best case scenario after what I thought was less than half the time, since the schedule we had received on the bus stated that we were supposed to work until 2 PM, with lunch coming after that, before leaving.
Things didn’t go that way in practice, however. I went to have another tea, seeing something dark in the cup and asking the person who was there whether it was supposed to be like that, but deciding to keep it after she said that traces of coffee were left in the machine heating the water. Then I also asked whether I could take another sandwich, after seeing others doing so, and that resulted in an awkward moment, since when I was asked which kind I felt the need to say that I didn’t know I could take another and asked for whichever kind the person who was there wanted to give me, or whichever kind she still had more of, repeating that a couple of times while she repeated the question. But eventually she asked whether a vegan one was all right, and indeed almost an entire crate of those seemed left, while those with meat seemed down to about a third of one, so I agreed and had one of those… And I must say that, despite the very pleasant past experiences with their vegan or vegetarian food, that was neither filling nor exactly tasty. But it was food, so I finished it, then went to pee… And heard the announcement that lunch was starting, even though it was only a couple of minutes after noon. But what was said was that those who want to stop can come for lunch, so I went back to work for a little while, planting two more trees before nearly everyone else left and I also stopped again, washed and disinfected my hands one more time and also went to have lunch, at almost 12:20 PM. And I’ll also mention here that, after looking around for a free spot, nearly everyone else already being there by then, I ended up sitting across from that same guy who had been my teammate back in November of 2018, who had also arrived at Opera Square at the same time I did, and again was also on the same bus, just like in November of 2019, though now he was with his girlfriend as well.
Either way, lunch was good, and a little after 12:50 PM I went back to work, finding that only those tiny saplings were left, so I took eight and started looking for spots where I could plant them, most of those left being either in the particularly steep area at the top or on the side, next to the speakers, since I was on the first plot, and I had planted a tree there before taking the break and knew all too well why people didn’t want to go there. But I also spotted a few places which seemed to have just been missed, where I didn’t have to deal with such a steep slope or the loud speakers, and either way those tiny saplings meant that I had less to dig, and while in a couple of cases I ended up initially making holes that were too small for the saplings to get fixed in place, so I had to pull them out and try again, I was done sooner than expected… Though apparently just in time.
Plenty had left right after lunch, in fact enough of them having asked to do so for one of the two buses to be filled and drive away, and those who drove there on their own could leave at any time they wanted, so far fewer had been around to begin with, but those also started walking away soon and some of the last ones left were pointing out that workers were coming in, though they had started from the other end of the area, to check our work and finish what was left to do, also using machinery to dig the holes in seconds. But I just focused on what I had to do, only realizing when I was done, at 1:30 PM, that I was pretty much the last one left on that plot. And I was just taking a few last pictures, after climbing back to the top and dropping off the shovel and bucket, when one of the organizers walked past, asked whether I had arrived with the bus and said that we were leaving in at most ten minutes. So I went to pee again, finding no water left in those portable sinks but fortunately two jugs next to one, so using one to wash my hands and then hurrying away. I also grabbed another bottle of water and asked where to drop off the gloves and apron, but while I did leave the gloves there, I was struggling to untie the apron and the organizers wanted to hurry, only a few people not being back at the bus yet, so I was told to leave it on and maybe give it back on the bus if I’ll want to, the fact that I wanted to give it back in the first place seeming to surprise, though I had seen at least a few others doing the same… And I ended up keeping it, realizing that an apron with that large pocket was very different from the useless vests received before, and may prove quite useful.

Either way, the bus drove away at 1:45 PM and dropped us off back at Opera Square just after 3 PM, and once again nobody sat next to me. But I still had a lot to do that day, the clear part of the plan being to attend the protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which was organized by many groups and likely to draw a more notable number of participants. Since it was supposed to start at 4 PM, in Victory Square, and at 6 PM it was supposed to continue with a march to the nearby Russian Embassy, I could have rushed back here to change and then go there, but I saw little point in attending that first part, before moving to the Russian Embassy, and had the metro card, which allowed me to check some locations of Kaufland and Penny I wouldn’t walk to, looking for the things I hadn’t been able to find on Thursday.
As such, I took the metro to Pacii (Peace) station… Which also seems oddly appropriate, now that I think of it, though I didn’t realize it at the time, the reason for going there being that I had seen locations of both stores nearby. I probably wouldn’t have gone there if I’d have checked the Penny catalog again in the morning, since it was listed as one of the two locations where the cornmeal I was looking for wasn’t available, but I only saw that when I grabbed a catalog from there and looked again, after searching for it and then also asking an employee, who told me that if it wasn’t in the cornmeal area, it means it’s not available. Still, I bought some roes, since I had been considering it and wanted to at least get something, since I hadn’t left my stuffed backpack in a cabinet and at least one guard had kept his eyes on me, though they didn’t do any more than that.
At Kaufland I did put the backpack in a cabinet, then peed and washed my hands, having to wait for my turn when I went in but finding the bathroom empty and a cleaner at work, with her cart blocking the door, when I came out of the stall. Then I thoroughly looked for the bio (organic) olive oil that was on sale, finally finding it in a spot that was well away from any area where it should have been. That left the 500 ml bottles of Pepsi Max that were supposed to be 0.03 RON each, in exchange for recycling five things, and I had three such vouchers, after having found two on Thursday. I wouldn’t normally drink something like that, but it was a good opportunity to see just how that campaign worked, and just then I was also thinking that it could help me stay awake, and in the fridge from that area I found two left among the many of each of the other kinds. A woman came next to me as I was searching, asking me to at least show her the bottles I had found, so she’ll know what to look for, but she was obviously unable to find any more… But, if after finding the other spot where those bottles should have been completely empty I was ready to resign myself to just getting two, she also asked an employee, who apparently happened to have just been bringing some more, being yet to place them on the shelf, and when she spotted me still in that area she actually told me about it, so I also went there and could get all the three I wanted. Then, at the self-checkout, I first bought the olive oil separately, then the Pepsi, wanting to be able to just walk away in case the discount won’t apply. But it was actually even higher, the three bottles costing 0.06 RON. That receipt wouldn’t open the gate, however, and an employee told me that it was because the value was so low, and to scan the one for the oil, which did work.

And this is how far I got before midnight. Maybe I’d have managed to add the part about the protest before going to bed in the morning, if I’d have done pretty much nothing else during and after dinner, but I decided to leave it for later, just uploading the pictures from the planting and making some changes to the last paragraph above. But I managed to write the rest on Monday, so Monday evening I edited this to add everything else as well.

Since by then it was too late to still get back here before going to the protest, before walking away from Kaufland I took my time to try to stuff everything in the backpack and jacket, to keep my hands free, and on the way to the metro station I also drank one of the bottles of Pepsi, which did seem to make a noticeable difference in terms of helping me stay awake. My neck was really hurting, on the other hand, and the pretty heavy backpack digging into my shoulders, since it just has those ropes as straps, definitely didn’t help, and I was also worried about that bottle of olive oil, in case I’ll somehow hit something with it or if the backpack would tear, since it wasn’t sturdy to begin with and it’s old and I “tortured” it a lot over the past decade, so tears are starting to appear.
There wasn’t much I could do about it at the time, however, so I just got back to the metro and kept going, reaching Victory Square at 5:35 PM. Since the march was supposed to start at 6 PM, I used the exit that’s on the other side of the square, thinking I’ll be able to get to that central area a little easier… Only to find it completely empty, not a single person still being there. As I made my way around, I saw some news crews still in the area, but the protesters had clearly started the march earlier, because I could see the flashing lights of police cars in the distance, at the Russian Embassy.
So I rushed there as well, reaching the Embassy at 5:45 PM and mostly just taking pictures, even when that meant squeezing past reporters and probably ending up in front of cameras quite a number of times. There were a few chants in English, and I joined in some of them, and there were also a couple of attempts to shout something in Romanian, though for obvious reasons those had little success, most of what was chanted or even spoken being in Ukrainian, and most participants, or at least most of the active ones, seeming to be Ukrainian. And the Ukrainians gathered in front of the Embassy’s entrance seemed to be quite organized, judging by the smoothness of the chanting and the way in which the one with the loudspeaker said something and the rest responded, the problem being that those who weren’t Ukrainian couldn’t understand what was being said, much less join in.
I heard of estimates of 500 participants, but I’m not sure there were that many at the peak, though the total might have been around that number, since it wasn’t long before some started leaving, yet small numbers continued to occasionally arrive. The Greenpeace members, whose signs and banners tying fossil fuels to the war and green energy to peace had been very visible until then, were among the first to walk away, and I heard Petruta say that she had heard that they had gotten scared for some reason. And since I mentioned Petruta I’ll also say that, while I recognized a few other participants, she was the only one of the “old guard” that I saw, and she also mentioned that few people from her “bubble” were present, even if said “bubble” was obviously much larger than the one I was thinking of, since the few she was greeting were completely new to me. She left quite quickly, but at least she was there, despite having been among the organizers of another planting event that day and also volunteering to help the refugees whenever she can. But, of course, attending such an event is among the least things one can do, so I’m the one doing far too little, many of the others helping in more direct ways.

I had meant to at least stay until 7 PM, but the numbers had started to drop even before 6:30 PM, the pain in my neck was worsening and I also started to need to pee again, so I walked away at 6:45 PM. At first I was thinking that, since I just wanted to see what I’ll find in the Obor area on the way back, which included checking that Kaufland for evening discounts, it was so early that I should walk there instead of taking the metro again, but after stopping on a bench to rearrange some things and rub and stretch my neck for a while, I realized that I could also have a look through that Auchan and then check that Penny for that cornmeal as well… Plus that the need to pee was becoming quite pressing.
Still, I didn’t use the toilets at the metro station, and also didn’t look for any in the Obor shopping center, just going straight to that Auchan and getting a few things, including some kefir for dad, even though I hadn’t taken his store card and therefore didn’t get that 5% store credit for it, and he was also apparently sleeping at the time, so he only replied to the SMS I sent when I got there, to ask whether I should get some and how much, some two hours later. That meant that, by the time I retrieved my things from the cabinet I had placed them in, the situation was desperate, so I threw those purchases in a bag and rushed to that Carrefour, just barely managing to put everything in a cabinet and close it without peeing myself. I actually feared that I wasn’t going to make it to the bathroom, but I somehow did, then had a look through Carrefour, didn’t find anything to get, retrieved my things and dropped them off again in a cabinet at Kaufland. I didn’t enter just then, however, instead going back out and to Penny, where I did finally find that cornmeal… Which had apparently just been brought, even though it should have been on sale starting on Wednesday, the area being completely full and none of the packages being opened, and the cashier also saying that the cheap cornmeal finally came in when she saw that I was purchasing some, adding that she was going to get some herself, to see how it was. I said that I also wanted to see how it was, not having bought any before, which seemed to surprise her a little, but then she said that she didn’t remember it being too good, but at that price it was worth it… And then she actually closed her lane and walked away right after checking me out.
After getting back to Kaufland, adding the cornmeal in the cabinet and washing my hands, I checked the bakery area, saw that the evening discounts had applied, but just got a sweet pastry and two buns. Had meant to get another one of those baguettes, but by the time I got a paper bag another customer had grabbed two of the three that were left, and then also took the third just as I meant to reach for it, and the only bread I could consider getting was of a third kind, one which I had considered before but never bought, and after thinking about it for a while I decided against getting any then either, the discounted price being close to the full price I’d pay for others, even if I’d have otherwise been willing to ignore the fact that the ingredients include sugar and dextrose and at least try it once. Either way, I then checked for other evening discounts, but the only thing I bought was some wild garlic, albeit ten bundles of it. And then I wandered around, grabbing a bread for dad and two expiring things and wanting to see whether there’d be any new or increased discounts at 9:30 PM or 9:45 PM. There were none, however, so I eventually made my way to the self-checkout, the machine again telling me to scan the product first after placing the wild garlic on the scales but charging me correctly and allowing me to continue after I just picked it back up and set it aside, so there was no need to call an employee. And then, despite taking some more time to arrange everything in the backpack and a couple of bags, I ended up putting all the heavier items in the one sturdy bag I had, so even though the just over 15 kg I found after getting back that I had on me shouldn’t have been that much of a problem, having more than half of that weight in that one bag meant that I rather struggled on the way back to the metro station.

I did consider moving some things around, but the metro came almost as soon as I reached the station and I decided to just push through, getting here at 10:35 PM… And being surprised to find that dad hadn’t yet left. Once he did, I rushed again to the toilet, the situation again being rather desperate by that point, then put the purchases in their place, had the banana that was left, since he hadn’t taken it, and that sweet pastry, and went to the bathroom and to shower at 11:45 PM. At first the water seemed just warm enough to feel comfortable while it ran on me, but not warm enough to dare to stand and continue with the rest of my body after washing my head, and since I was so exhausted and needed a hot shower, I ended up letting it run on me for a long time… And just as I finally managed to get myself to stand and continue washing, it suddenly became noticeably hotter, and I therefore ended up staying there even longer, only finally coming out a few minutes before 1 AM. However, I then spent some time on the computer, only actually getting back to the kitchen at 1:20 AM, and I still had to wash most of what dad had left and do a few other things as well, and when it was clear that I won’t start eating dinner before 3 AM I decided to add something to what I meant to eat, ending up starting at 3:15 AM. But, in spite of that and of the rather “hot” salad, one small tomato being the only different ingredient, the others being a large regular onion and a small red one, some garlic and some wild garlic, I still managed to finish at 3:45 AM, so only five minutes later than I now mean to.

Later edit: I seem to have forgotten it at the time, but two weeks later I realized that this is most likely when the self-checkout machine at Kaufland refused to take any of my money and asked for an employee, so I did have to call one after all, and she seemed rather suspicious after I explained what had happened, but after logging on, doing something to let me try again and seeing that I could pay on that second attempt, she walked away. And the reason why I’m quite certain that this is when that happened is that I recall thinking that the reason had likely been that the bills had been so badly bent because of what I had kept them in while planting trees, and that I seem to remember it happening at the Kaufland from Obor, and this is the only time I went there after planting trees during these weeks.


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