Thursday, December 28, 2006

I am here, don’t fret …

I have missed writing, and I have missed talking with all of you. I got caught up in the whirlwind of Christmas and Holidays in general, and I have had little time to sit down and share myself. A small personal crisis and a silly (sickness) bug didn’t make things easier, either. But ‘nuff excuses!
I hope ( I really do!!!) everyone felt less alone this Christmas, and less threatened. I hope all of you have had the comfort of a home, a warm hand, a warm plate of food and a divine sip of a favorite drink to make you smile. And I really hope that you smiled a lot. I hope you had at least one beautiful surprise in the whole scheme of things, one that made you think that life is not so shitty after all!
My Christmas, despite the fact that at first glance was an “alone” one (and boy, does that word spell grimness?!), was also a peaceful and bountiful one. “Gift”-wise, it was probably the poorest in years, but emotion-wise and immaterially speaking, it was a plentiful one. And I am so grateful for that.
I have learned that plans that were in the works for months can fall through in a day, and dreams that were never imagined can come true on Christmas Eve. It depends on how open you leave yourself to miracles and to the unpredictable! I have also moved some labels around of who my friends truly are, and who my friends really are not, or should not be.
I have also learned a new meaning of “alone”: it sometimes can mean just a welcome peace that you must have at the end of this Season when we all overdo so much! As my aunt used to tell me: “never feel bad about being alone, you can nap whenever you want”. It is freedom to do … whatever at the end of a day when all you did was please someone else other than yourself.
I have learned also this Christmas that people can say a lot with few words, or even without words at all. It’s the actions that count, and sometimes just the gestures. “Just the thoughts”, as they say! It’s true. I have learned that when someone so much as think of you, you’re not alone.
My Christmas was fun, loud, full of gifts I probably didn’t need, and food my hips definitely didn’t need! It was peaceful, and quiet, and full of hope, and light. It was like nothing I expected and definitely like nothing I had planned. But it was memorable, with lessons well learned and mysteries discovered.
I hope we all can find that, in this Christmas, or the next, or in every day, for that matter!
Happy Holidays, still, everyone!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Christmas fever: yes, it IS so about the buying, and stop denying it!

Oh, you know the drill: you go to work, and everyone bitches about the crowds, and the traffic, and the horrendous, never ending Christmas shopping, and whines about “why in the hell are we doing this anyways?!”. And then, right as they clock out, and head home, they tell you they’re heading for the mall, or some kind of random store where they have to either “finish Christmas shopping” or “ pick up a few things” or “loose ends” or “wrapping paper” or cards they forgot to send in the first round! But come tomorrow, they will remind you, again, over coffee, that they hate the crowds, and … etc… and “Christmas is not about all this commercialism anyways”… And all you can do not to fall over laughing is to roll your eyes and say “oh, yeah, sure”… and sigh.
Sure, people, tell yourselves THAT and then go out into the big world of traffic and buy some more, add some more to the credit card balance, why don’tcha?!
It is SO about buying the crap! And you know it, and better stop denying it, because it’s becoming old! Unless you want your family to think you’re a Scrooge, or your co-workers to think you’re lame, and don’t want to “participate” in the Office Christmas exchange, and your aunt Millie think you hate her, when she’s already dealing with senility and paranoia in the old people’s home, assisted living nonetheless, and your children to run away from home because they’re the only kids on the block without a tree, and a lighted house, and without any bragging rights the first day in school after Christmas break about “what they got” or “what Santa brought them”, depending on the age! Sure, go ahead! Buy nothing! And see how THAT feels! You think you’re miserable now, huh?! Try buying nothing to no one for Christmas, and see how that feels, then!
Truth is: yes, it is about the buying! For one reason or another, we buy. We show love, or we show off through buying. Whatever our reason, however much conscious or less conscious that reason is, we buy… It’s how we express … love, or care, or … trying to make up for time lost, or just express one-upmanship! “Oh, you think you’ve been good to me all year, Mr. Boss! Wait till Christmas, till I give you a present to make you indebted to ME for the rest of your life, or career, for that matter”.
And so, we’re caught in the rollercoaster, and we’re in traffic, yawning at the end of a busy day, to satisfy the needs, of ours more than theirs, and to buy, to catch up, and to please! Yeah, because see, Christmas is “pleasing everyone” time! We need to see smiles, and happy faces, and in our culture, that’s done by accumulation of “stuff”!
I, for instance, buy because: I live far away from home and I miss (physically) everyone’s birthdays and Easters, and name days (yes, we have name days in my culture!); so I have to compensate at Christmas, when I can say “thanks for being my family and loving me unconditionally, and without restrictions all year round and I am sorry I can’t be there for Christmas either, because here in America, where I live, the employers are stingy with the vacation time”; and “happy birthday and Happy Easter, too”; “and name day” ; I buy because I want to say “thank you” to my friends for just being my friends, and not giving up on me throughout the years; I buy because that’s one time of the year when I do something extra-nice for my pets, like buying them a toy, and an extra snack they’re not allowed to have year-round, for dietary restrictions; I buy because I know just exactly who will buy for me, for whatever reason, and I don’t want to owe anything to anyone! So I have to “match them”(and we ALL do that, don’t freakin’ deny it!!!!!!!!!!!); I buy because it’s what’s expected! If they invite you over for Christmas dinner they “expect” at least a bottle of wine, if not something not completely idiotic they can send as an example to the “completely useless Christmas gifts” column of the local paper the day after Christmas!
So, we buy. And Christmas is so about the buying! Yes, maybe in the old ages, when the money was scarce, and wars plenty, and the people would celebrate Christmas by just having wood for the fire for a change and a meat-full meal, in those times maybe it was not about the buying of totally useless crap; maybe then, it was about the getting together, the warmth in the house, the caroling kids at the window, and about the “white Christmas” outside! But times have changed, and people, too! And, yes, we “evolved” (Gosh, that sounds like an oxymoron!) into these … very shallow creatures that think a gift certificate to “Pier 1” will make a difference, but it’s the price we pay for being the 21st century women and men! We are social creatures, and it’s what’s “expected” of us, socially!
And truth be told: we live, by God, in the most wonderful country in the world, where “returns” rule as kings! You can return pretty much anything and get anything else we can possibly need in any store! If you can’t find anything you DO need at “Barnes and Noble”, “Walmart”, “Sams”, “Linens’n’Things”, “Bed, Bath, and Beyond”, “Bath and Bodyworks”, “Victoria’s Secret” and any other store your friends and relatives shopped for you (but failed to get “exactly” what you needed indeed), then you’re just a picky bastard –it’s ALL I can say!
And c’mon now, you SO needed that cork screw you never would buy for yourself, and that book on gift giving and that blue necklace that surely goes with your jeans, even if you hate blue! You never dreamed of buying these for yourselves, so go ahead and enjoy them now, that you got them from uncle Willy and Grandma Bertha, and they’re free!
And also: you gotta be honest. At the end of the whole Christmas craze, you do SO expect others to remember YOU! You do expect cards in the mail, with baited breath to see just to whom you were important or at least worth mentioning this year! If you don’t expect at least that, than I feel really, really sorry for you: that is truly the sign of a really sad person and existence, excuse my judgment!
Sure, it’s a free country. Do what tickles you, and defy convention and what “society” expects! And I hope you can sleep at night! If not from what your family, friends and co-workers will say, at least from what your kids will cry about. And don’t try to deny it: your conscience will suffer too… Because it’s a different time we live in. Yes, we think of the old times, when commercialism was not the rule of the day, and yes, we regret we weren’t born then, to be able to appreciate “the simple things”! Yes, we realize the shallowness of the now! But we subscribe to it, one religious year after another, while we curse the world, stuck in traffic, or trying to catch a parking spot at Walmart and also at the Mall! Because the times of now are not “so simple” anymore. Trust me, though: it could be worse! You could be living during Communism where it was illegal to celebrate Christmas, and where you could not even allow yourself to think out loud that there was such a Holiday as Christmas at all, for fear of being thrown in jail for the rest of your life, and never seeing your friends and family! So, enjoy the nameless, meaningless gifts and rejoice! Try to find meaning and truthful smiles in everything you give! It’s OK! It’s awaited and appreciated, one way or another!
I hope everyone is having the best time of the year yet! Happy Holidays to all!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Fleeting Thoughts

I have always thought, in a way, that I have all the answers. That life cannot take me by surprise. After all, it’s what dad taught me when I was three: “every day when you wake up, you already know what the day will bring you and you’re prepared for it! You’re firm and you don’t waver! You’re determined, and if anything, you make up others’ minds, not the other way around!” He forgot to tell me that other dads taught their sons and daughters the same things, and I would meet those folks!
My Romanian teacher used to say that I will die young (so does my doctor, but for a different reason), because I “burn like a candle, for every idea I have: right up and bright”. It does get exhausting, indeed!
I used to think I love the people of the mountains, back home, because they don’t do anything in half-measures! They party hard, and work hard; they love hard and they hate hard. Just like the Spaniards, love, death and life are perfect synonyms to them! They give it all or take it all! I used to think that that’s the only way to go through life! But now I know that life requires half measures and so-and-so-ness! Because nothing is forever! Because leftovers are sweeter!
I have learned to not believe in ever…or forever… But into a very vibrant and full “now”. I give my all to the now, I would say, and I leave for the “next” whatever is left, bruised and scarred! Just like a good fire on the hearth: the ashes are left , and God willing, they’ll turn into something the next day!
I used to think I love winter, because my skin hates the heat! With a lazy liver, you would hate the heat too! I don’t know anymore. Winter is not what it used to be! Now, I hate the wishy-washiness of it! And the laziness I feel in the thick clothes! I need to be free, and move! I need determination, too, even from the weather!
I guess what I have learned the most is nothing that’s human-made or human-related is absolute! It’s bad, because it’s annoying, and it’s good, because it leaves room for surprises! And I love surprises.
Don’t feel puzzled, if you’re confused! You’re supposed to! This is life!

Monday, December 04, 2006


“I stick my fingers into existence – it smells of nothing. “ (Soren Kierkegaard)

Every so often I come across a line, or two that just mirror(s) my life so loyally, it’s scary. Existence smells of nothing lately. Because it’s void of everything, including smell, or taste. I try to find sense, and I try to find focus, and I feel like my senses are dormant, and my life is a dream, therefore I am asleep! I move, I talk, I make statements, I shop, I drive, I … talk again, but I feel no substance behind it. Just pure inertia, with no brain and emotion behind it. I am not sure if this is just a temporary hibernation stage, or just an “je m’en fiche”-ism that will just last for all my adult life (hope not). I feel no real connection to people, I sense my own fake-ness, and no purpose in everything. I feel like the future is only as long as 9.39 PM (it’s 9.38PM right now), and that’s all I have to plan for. All my values are scrambled, if any are left, and all hours of every day are superfluous! I have never felt as light as a feather. Some would call it pure freedom, and be glad they found it. I call it death!
I am praying every night for substance, and I am still waiting (funny, how I am praying “every night” and not “every day”: well, I simply pray at night – the factness of my actual prayer time seems to be one of the few relevant details here). At least, this awareness is hopeful! I KNOW, and I acknowledge this sudden change in my values, and person, and I feel not at ease. The knowing gives me hope. I am not lost yet. My existence might smell and taste like nothing, but it’s not a permanent predicament. There’s hope. And trust me: hope smells good!
I am craving for valuable people, and happenings, and life, in general. I am craving for “good smells” of LIFE with a capital “L”. I am craving good smells.
It’s not “life” that I am living lately. But simple “existence” and simple “surviving”. And it’s becoming pretty damn scary! This is the deadest, maybe, and the shallowest I have felt in a while, and it’s no fun! I can’t swim, but I miss the depths …