Saturday, February 25, 2006

Valentines Day: Leave Hallmark Out of It!

One thing that still strikes me in America is how little her people know of her history and traditions; how ignorant they are about their own culture and their place in the world, as well. I think it’s my fault for being so nit-picky about this, because I come from a (very small) culture where history is valued and revered and it’s what makes us, as a small country, stand out in the world. I once had a professor (in Romania) say that yes indeed Americans are ignorant, and they don’t know their own geography and presidents, and political organizations, and all, they don’t know the history of America itself, past their photo albums, but when they drive their fast cars which they can afford to change every couple of years, and they live in their mansions on the lakes and oceans, when they have all their needs met at the snap of their fingers, they couldn’t care less who was the first president or the last for that matter; or what continent Romania is on. And he was probably right.
What I don’t like about this whole thing is the vehemence with which they profess their (wrong) knowledge of things; their self-assuredness, and the lack of interest in knowing better and in finding out what the truth really is. God forbid you (who are right) tell them different, you’re head is gone! They’re Americans, by God, biggest power of the world, in every sense of the word, how dare you?! Of course they are right.
The last thing that set me off was how everyone, across the board blames Hallmark for the "cheesiness" of Valentines Day, and calls it, again, across the board, a "Hallmark-invented holiday". Every year, around this time, I hear at least half of a dozen people say the exact same words and it just eats at me!!! And I have good reason why, trust me!
Let me explain:
We don't celebrate Valentines Day in Romania, for the simple fact that Valentine is a Catholic saint, and in Romania probably 90% the population is Eastern Orthodox. So, for 23 years I never celebrated it. The first time I learned about Valentines Day was probably in 6th grade (or maybe 7th?!), but it was NOT from an American, or an American-related occurrence: back then, I was falling in love with Thomas Hardy's novels: I was reading "Far From the Madding Crowd", and in the opening chapters of that book, the female heroine, Bathsheba Everdene, impulsively sends Farmer Boldwood a valentine sealed with the words "Marry Me". And that's when I looked up the word "valentine" and found out about the whole Valentines Day tradition on February 14th of every year. Hardy's book was written around 1874, and Hardy, for those who don't know is an English Victorian writer, who lived between 1840 and 1928. Now, back to America, the Hallmark founder, Joyce Clyde Hall, was born in David City, Nebraska in 1891. That is 17 years AFTER the aforementioned book was already on the shelves of Europe. Now, unless history is wrong, as you can see, he was not able to be of any blame at least regarding the "invention" of this holiday. Want more history? Here 'tis:

- if you want the whole legend (or legends as they are many) of how Valentines Day came about, visit the History Channel online and they will explain to you what you need to know (not what you want to know, which may be two different things); I got the link right here: ; but just to give you an idea : the February the 14th celebration points back to events that occurred during the 3rd century in Rome, more exactly the year 270. That is, as you can see, long before America even dreamed of being discovered.

- Also, according to the History Channel, Catholics started celebrating this feast on the very same date mentioned above, which has been kept to this day, around 498 AD, when Pope Gelasius said it's OK; again, that is LONG before poor ol' Joyce Clyde Hall of David City, Nebraska existed.

- And as I have mentioned, at least Hardy knew about it, in 1874 when he wrote his novel, well before Hallmark as well (Hall started this wholesale postcard business around 1910).

At any rate, after digging into a little bit of history like this, I felt it was right to exonerate the poor Hallmark name at least from this one wrongful accusation. The fact that Valentines Day today remains 'cheesy' is not to be contested however, but coming from the old world, let me tell you: "we the people" made ALL of our holidays cheesy! Look at Christmas! Look at the way we celebrate Easter! Now, tell me, what does the birth of Jesus in a poor, cold and dirty stable, a long, long time ago have to do with the insanity of gift-giving in our country ?? What does Jesus have to do with buying a new vehicle and a new motorcycle and 1000 pairs of socks, and ties and shirts and panties?! Don't give me the "spirit of Christmas" crap, because the spirit is Christmas is not, and should not, be maxing out your credit cards and paying interests to all the creditors known to man until you die and then some! That is NOT the spirit of Christmas. How cheesy is that?!? Are we blaming Hallmark for that too? What about Easter? Now tell me, what does dying on the Cross in horrible torture, and the Resurrection of Christ have to do with hiding plastic pastel colored eggs in the grass?? What do pastel colors (which are unnatural, lab made colors that you can never find in natural state, a fairly modern invention of ours) have to do with something that happened almost 2000 years ago?! Tell me what jelly beans and awful sugary peeps have to do with all that?! Hallmark again?! It's US who have and make a choice, not Hallmark.
I guess what we need to do rather, is reflect upon us, and what our choices are. "We, the people" are keeping these folks in business and altering tradition and passing on mutilated history. We try to embellish it and make it "fun", when the truth of the matter is: we have a moral duty to our future generations to pass on what the truth is, and the truth is not, in my opinion, in flooding your floor with presents on Christmas, and your yard with plastic eggs for Easter, or gaining 4 pounds from boxed chocolates on Valentines Day. I think the truth is much richer and deeper than all that and what the children of tomorrow need is to learn the naked, raw, albeit "un-fun" truth. Not the fads, which are here today, and may be gone tomorrow. And it's OUR responsibility to distinguish between the "cheese" and the history, and to teach them better. And it's ultimately OUR "cheese". So, don't blame Hallmark, or WalMart, or Target! They're here just to scratch OUR itches!

Saturday, February 18, 2006

The New Addiction

It’s a “brave new world” this MySpace world, I tell you. And BRAVE it is! You can see things, and do things, and ask things, and show things that would otherwise be forever hidden and lost in the deep and dark barrel of the human subconscious. It is a peek through the dark curtain of our daily lives; it is an escape from our boring, no-time-for-anything-fun, overworked, under-vacationed lives and a chance to be risqué and dangerous at the same time, with virtually no consequences.
Sure, there are “decent” things/people on MySpace, like music exchanges and interesting conversations, talks about sports and books, and honest people who want to JUST be your friend or talk about their kids, their parents or pets… Sure there are… Just like any other society, there is always a dignified and honorable minority. There surely is. :-)
But in all its vastness, MySpace is much, so much more colorful than just that!
Where else can you break the ice between two complete strangers with “ hey, hon’, you think I’m bangable?”? (well, at least you try to break it; but if you “hit” the wrong person, then the ice is forever!). Try that as your new pick up line at the bar, see what happens! Where can you just look at pictures of naked bottoms (and I am not talking Victoria’s Secret naked!), see hard-on’s “the size of Florida” (a movie quote) just about around the clock? Where else can you get away with saying to someone “wanna f&^k?” for a conversation starter, after dinner or first thing in the morning, on an empty stomach for that matter?! Try that on your first date at the movies, and see how fast your head will spin! It even teaches us new phrases (or maybe this is just me living a sheltered life for a long time), like “hit me up”, or “got digits?”.
It satisfies the voyeur in all of us, and feeds the pervert. It puts smiles on our faces that we can so see that we are so much better off than others! It gives us the long awaited pat on the back, that we never get from our parents, bosses, spouse, or even LIFE, in general…
When we get depressed about our OK life of making less money than what we are worth, of being loaned out on a car, house, and computer payment, and of having the “being 30 and old” blues or being single, we turn to MySpace to feel better. And we do feel better when we read that some of “our friends” (or potential ones, that BEG us to be their friends daily) live in a low income part of town, with 15 smelly cats and a drunk boyfriend whose idea of productivity is walking up to the corner and buying yet another bag of weed when the bank charges them for $350 for bounced checks and the rent is 2 months past due, and they look like a stripper after a hard day, but they still have the strength (it must be strength!!) to call themselves “Ms. Independent”, or “Ms. Perfect” for the “screen name”! We feel proud reading Coelho and Frank McCourt, and Salinger, when others cannot spell the word “heard” or even “are” and cannot construct the simplest of sentences … Our lives are so much better now! Oh, yes indeed. We, unlike others, are headed somewhere. We might be old, and single, and lonely, but not that far off as most of our peers! We feel special.
And there is no bloody discrimination here, either… No such thing as “the house is full, you’re out”, no “A-list” bull crap, no “this party ain’t for you!” mumbo-jumbo, no American Idol and Survivor gruesome auditions… Not at all!. We ALL get to experience these stories, and pictures and lives of people as diverse as the leaves in a forest! Even if physically we are no richer in friends, nor close acquaintances, have no prospects of friends because we’re too paranoid to meet them, or simply too busy to make the time (and I am seriously starting to doubt if at least ONE person here can make a really good friend indeed out of this mess), we have at least the consolation that we can ALL be part of this Babel Tower, and can see into ALL these lives, we ALL have these enlightening happy moments right from our computer screen. And thus our lives have been changed one more time with a new fad… We sign up and that’s all we need … to have a friend, or 1000, or to be a star for that matter. We get compliments, and pass compliments, we wish happy birthday and happy valentines day and whatever else is going on that day to people we’ve never met, and probably never will…
All of a sudden, our lives get new routines and are changed forever: we’re all addicts for the daily MySpace fix: we get to work, we check “our space”; we leave work, we need some good juicy story to mull over on the ride home, and CNN and the local news site is SO overrated; we’re all hungry for the “real stuff”; we check “our space” before we leave; and we get home 20 minutes later, and we gotta see who else popped up on “our space”, what kind of freak is e-mailing us now, what kind of wacko wants to be our friend again, or what other survey is there to fill out. The blood needs it, and the brain needs it, and we make sure, loyal, pitiful addicts as we are to ourselves always, that we feed that need!
I guess we’re all slaves of our times: if it’s not books, or papers and magazines, it’s the radio or the tv, or the sitcoms, or the reality shows. Now, we’re a step up (wait a minute: maybe a step DOWN??!!) from Reality TV because we ALL can be stars! We all can get hitched here, in some sort of debasing way, we all can talk dirty and have at least cyber sex till the cows come home! We can all be on Oprah and Jerry Springer and the newscast all in one spot here. We are the actors, and the directors, and the spectators all in one. And there is no silly law to protect our oh so young and innocent eyes from a nipple, either! We get the full fledged instant gratification for free. We just can’t win a million dollars … yet! But other than that, Reality TV, move over! MySpace is here!!! And trust me: people dig it!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


Driving down the road the other day, I read on a personalized tag, “GOD IS 4”. And sitting there, in my little Japanese car, I am trying to figure out what in the world that might mean? Or spell? “God is NOT 4” – I tell myself; I kept learning in church that “God is 3”!!! The Father, the Son and the Holly Spirit, right?! … So, He’s NOT 4!… Then I am telling myself: OK, go back to geography: think where you are: think America, think South, and figure it out, girl! Is He “FOR war”? “FOR life”? “FOR Peace”? “FOR … what the heck”?!? I still have not figured it out and I am still looking. It will bug me forever, and I keep thinking, probably all the people around me know the answer, of course… But to me, it’s one of these “cultural mysteries” that will never be found, maybe… Or if it will, it will be first laughed at… maybe… But it's one of those mysteries that make my life as a foreign transplant so wonderful: there will always have to be a splash of not-knowing and wondering for me to live this life to the fullest in this world. Always a little part of my curiosity ... un-satisfied. And that is quite OK. Just like an utterly divinely delicious food, that will always have ONE last ingredient you cannot guess!

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Drama Queen?!!

I have been called many (oh, Gosh, SO many !!) things in my life, but “drama queen” is not one of them… So, my latest MySpace “friend” (you know, this site debases the meaning of that word so much, it should almost be illegal!) that has been “chatting” with me through e-mails and yahoo chatter thing calls me the ultimate drama queen… Why, I am not sure, but then again, he accuses me, also, of asking too many why?’s… Let’s see why he calls me a drama queen, first:
- about 75% of the conversations he starts are of sexual nature; now, don’t get me wrong, I am not a prude, and not shy when it comes to sex, and have been starving for it for some time now . I’m European, after all, and very open minded, in general, and that happens to be one of my favorite topics, too, … but it’s a bit odd to talk about oral sex, and how much I enjoy it (or not), and the size and the shape of the said “friend”’s penis, with someone who is a complete stranger, still…; if I ask to veer the conversation towards more general topics, like my life, and his life, I am a “drama queen”, because I want him to “know everything about me in one conversation, and not allowing him to discover that little by little”… yeah, go figure;
- he decides to come with me to a movie I have planned to go to alone, and after talking for an hour over the phone, he changes his mind, and he says he’s not sure about the movie, he will get back with me tomorrow, to tell me for sure; when “tomorrow” comes, and I wait to see what happens (although not very hopeful) , he says sorry, can’t come (after self-inviting himself in the first place, and being shocked that I would even consider going to a movie on my own, on a “date night” like Friday!!) to the movie; he says though, he misses my voice, so please call later; I say: well, you call me(and I infer, stupid me, “if YOU miss me, then freaking YOU call!) … when he doesn’t call, and I ask casually why he didn’t call, since he missed MY voice … I am a drama queen! Mind you I did NOT miss HIS voice, and I did NOT invite him to the movie he DID not come to! But when I ask why … I am a drama queen!
- we talk for almost a week and set up this “drink meet” thing ( I refuse to call the first MySpace meets, a “date”!!), and about … hhmm… 4 hours before we’re ready to finally meet face to face, he says sorry, he can’t make it to our “drink meet” thing, because, you see, he has this “obligation” towards his MOTHER that he (conveniently?!) forgot about; when I finally say: screw it, the guy is sooo not serious and wants to play games, and I share that with him, in an effort to remain honest (as I always am) …you guessed it: I am once more “a drama queen”… :-)And...and...get this: when I am doubtful about our "relationship" and seriousness of it, I am accused also of "feeling sorry for myself"...
OK… All I have to say to that, I guess, is: no comment… but at the same time: get a life, boy! If you think I feel sorry for myself because you keep pooping on your own word, you got a lot to learn about a woman: first, that they have way more self esteem than YOU!
I am still amazed at how childish and naïve and immature 30 year olds are in this country! They are out to party, play and be played, not having any “weight” about their lives and time at all … Their word means nothing, most of the time, and they are not only fine with that; they are proud of it, because you see girls are “such drama queens and boys are so simple and easy”! Sure, I’d say: boys wanna screw or cheat or score, or not be serious, of course, they are “simple and easy”… You hardly need a brain for THAT! I believe this culture of "there are other fish in the sea" is part of the problem: why would one "give a fiddler's fart" about their word, since the "sea is full of fish" and we can all start over again with just about anyone who's able and willing?! There is no seriousness about relationships around this place, and that's a fact!
When I tell people I want to meet 40 year olds I am laughed at, but I am least hoping that skipping a generation in my dating preferences can only be a good thing!
The one thing that strikes me to this day abut this culture (America) is … the naivety of all the people, the way they refuse to grow up! I went to class with people over 60 at some point, and only then I felt at home.
So, does that mean I am doomed to be alone till I am 60?! We can only hope not!