Wednesday, December 31, 2008

10 Things on New Year's

"This was the world - a poor thing, but my own ..." (A. Huxley - The Doors of Perception)

I don't think I have ever lived through a year that's been more like Life as 2008 has been. All the ups and downs of life, the losses and the gains, the tears of absolute bliss and the ones of utter despair have passed over me and have seasoned and reshaped me like no other year has. It's been a long and also a short year, and in truthfulness, it's been as long as (almost) any other year's been. As always, I am grateful for all of it, and just like I said in the beginning of this year : as the willow stands in the field: I bend, but am not down yet!

Keeping in mind that life is made of bitter and sweet, and we can't have one without the other, here are ten things I'll remember about 2008 - the order is completely aleatory:

Five things I could not have done without:

1.0 My health, as much as I have it - as long as I have 4 members that work, a curious mind, a set of eyes, and ears, the ability to move about and work, a heart to feel with and a brain to process, everything else is just a task. Thank God for this one! Big time!!
2.0 My family and friends, far and near - their love, patience and time for me is priceless, year, after year, after year. Thank you all for being there, and for allowing me to give myself to you, in whatever shape, form, or quantity I can. It's an honor!
3.0 The whole Patrick experience: holding him in my arms for the first time, hearing him breathe in my ear, keeping him asleep for hours on my chest; seeing my sister being a mommy, seeing my mom's face light up with laughter when she sees him; having him in my house, full of curiosity and life - all of it. I live through him and for him; through his big smiles and his love of life!

Montreal - July 2008

4.0 Taking my aunt around the US - as much as I could. Just showing her around, and successfully finding our way through The Blueridge Parkway and Washington, DC and VA, and ... The bond, and the memories we built, the lessons we've learned about each other, our heritage. Thank you, Rodi!
5.0 Seeing America maturing politically. Finally! I am glad they reached this stage in my lifetime. And grateful.

Five things I could have done without:

1.0 So many, too many friends, close and not so much, that have lost their livelihood; their worry and even despair about what to put on the table tomorrow and how to pay for the roof over their head. Too many people, too close to "home" have experienced that this year. My heart goes out to them.
2.0 Giving mom and dad the news that my sister's in labor, more then 2 months before the due date. The wait, and the nervousness about Patrick's hospital stay, while he was in NICU.
3.0 Saying good bye to friends who have moved far and away, because job and economy situations intervened. I'll miss you dearly!
4.0 All the bad health news about family members, close friends, or pets: my sister's early labor, my mom's (unsuccessful) leg surgery, my friend's third hernia surgery, my dad's multiple injuries, and heart issues, my friends who lost parents, or best friends, or pets to sickness, and everyone out there that I know who have to deal with pain, every day. My prayers are out to you, prayers for strength and much health in the new year! If there is no health, there is no room for any other joy!
5.0 Losing my best friend, Jeff , to cancer. He has left a void so huge I have not yet found ways to fill it. I miss him every day, every hour, and I am still wishing him strength and happiness, and freedom, wherever he finds himself nowadays! I did not want to watch The Phillies win The Series without him! That one - I could have done without! But I can only hope that was one last irony he's given me - in his inimitable style of self-mockery that he loved!

Alexandria, VA - Thanks, Walter!

And as I am sitting down to have my last quiet and lonely supper of 2008, I leave you with a thought from Huxley that rang true to me. May each of us be strong, and healthy, and happy in the new year, and thus help the world be a better place. But it starts with each one of us.

" We live together, we act on, and react to, one another; but always and in all circumstances we are by ourselves. The martyrs go hand in hand into the arena; they are crucified alone. Embraced, the lovers desperately try to fuse their insulated ecstasies into a single self-transcendence; in vain. By its very nature, every embodied spirit is doomed to suffer and enjoy in solitude. Sensations, feelings, insights, fancies - all these are private and, except through symbols and at second hand, incommunicable. We can pool information about experiences, but never the experiences themselves. From family to nation, every human group is a society of island universes. "

Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

When “Dad” Moved Out

Some people are lucky enough to grow up with a full set of parents. Some of us happen to be double blessed, and find another set of adoptive parents along the way of life. Like I found a second “dad”. Almost. Let me explain.

My former boss and I met over eight years ago when he gave me my first job at The Paper, as a sales assistant. Before the interview and until I got my job, he would call me at odd times, and the interviews were a bit out of the ordinary. He was an original, for sure, even before knowing me that well. There was a familiarity there that I didn’t quite grasp, but it became evident over time. We both have felt like “family” from the beginning, in a way. We both shared an honesty and openness that I have yet to find in most people.

After the first six months on my first job, he learned pretty fast that I learn faster than most, and I get bored easily. So, just like my real dad who threw me and my sister in a slew of extra-school activities to keep us busy and out of trouble, my boss had a mission to find me “stuff to do” so I won’t get bored, or God forbid leave! He constantly gave me one or two or several channels for my learning and my curiosity to go to. I am sure he was doing most of this for the benefit of the company as well, as I was (and still am) very cheap labor, and I would never say “no” to any task!

But pushed me he did. He drove me into marketing, he sent me to be a “leveraging conflict” trainer, he dragged me kicking and screaming into the IT world, and into the Project Management one, and he dropped me like a bag of potatoes into the United Way Campaign, to be not just a team member, but the chair. One thing he never convinced me to do was sales. Just like dad never sold me on the “medical school” idea, either.

Every time he did this, I was just like a kid: “No! No way I’ll do this!”. And he was just like my dad: “No way. You’ll do it. Now! Faster! Stop whining and get it DONE!”. Just like I do with my real dad, I hated him for pushing me, I ground the teeth and made faces behind his back, I lost sleep over how I am going to disappoint him, and I did it anyway to the best of my abilities. In the end, I thanked him when I realized he saw in me what I could not, and he made me a success by pushing me and ignoring my fight-backs.

The older I get, the more I don’t mind hearing the “I told you so”’s, either … And I am so grateful he’s dragged me through this winding career that I’ve had for eight years now.

Just like I would rather be caught killing puppies than upset or disappoint my dad, I did what my boss wanted me to because I would have been mortified if I ever disappointed him! I went to bed happy, and I thought I looked better in the mirror every time I’d do something and I’d get a “You’re the best!” from him!

Just like I seldom tell my dad that he’s one of my best friends, and I love him, I never told my boss these. But somehow I know he knows it. I feel like he’s helped me grow old and up in these 8 years. You’ve learned above what I have been through, professionally, thanks to him: from the sales assistant of a 3 sales people team in the Online Department to Jack-of-all-trades-known-to-all-in-the-company in IT, it’s been a long, painful, and also rewarding journey.

But our closeness and his caring and paternal interest in me has not stopped at the professional level, and now, that he’s retired, I am going to miss him more because he’s been my personal “double dad”, too: he’s helped me grow up and old, and gray through my separation and divorce, through home selling and home buying, through deaths, and births of my loved ones, through car sales, and car rentals, through the good years of dating and the hell years of dating; he’s listened to more of my blabbing about the un-necessary-ness of men, and about my frustration with my family, my friends, my co-workers, and life in general than my own mother has!

I’ve asked his opinion on everything, from where I should buy my plane tickets to Europe, to how far in advance I should buy ham for Christmas, or where you can get really good discounts on wine. Just like I do with dad for the ‘Romanian side’ of my life, I have learned to check with my boss before I make any major decisions here, in The States.

He’s always given me his best answer and his honest opinion. I knew exactly how he felt about my boyfriends, and my family, about my cats, and about the way I clean my house before I go on vacation. We disagreed on things, just like parents and kids do: anything from “don’t date that loser”, as I am stubbornly holding on to a failed relationship, to “God is a Woman”, as he stubbornly tells me over and over. I hated some of his decisions and he knew it, I hated him for not liking some of my personal choices, too. But in the end, what was great between us prevailed – the honesty and truthfulness of our bond - and that was what kept me going back! I knew he cared enough to give me a real answer, not some bogus “make me feel better” piece of BS just to get rid of me. And with this trust, the bonding grew! One can only be so lucky to find in their jobs what I found in this one person.

I called them “life questions”, as I was closing the door of his office for our “private chats”: “Hey, you know a good mechanic?” – he was replying: “You got a life question? Here’s the answer: get one!”- before I even opened my mouth.

And so, now, that he’s retired and no longer in this office, I feel like I have lost not only my boss, but a good and dear friend, and my surrogate “dad” as well. I am not planning to have any kids of my own, but this feels as close to an empty nest feeling as I’ll ever come, I guess. With “dad” moved out, I have the same feeling kids have when they’re dumped in the school bus for the first time, or to college, 5 states away. It’s this hallow, lonely feeling I am not sure how to replace or remedy! Where to turn to? How do I do this or that? I know, I need to stop the self pity and move on, and grow up – which I’ll do, slowly, I am sure. Just right now, it’s a separation and it hurts like all separations do!

Sure, he told me I can call him, but he deserves his rest and his fun! After 100 years of working (sorry, I had to do this!!), he deserves just to play golf! Plus, he never asked for any kids to take care of, so my uncertainty and tribulations should not be his burden! And I need to listen to him one last time, and just “get a life” of my own: just like birds eventually learn how to fly, I need to start using the wings he’s been mending for me for eight years – and continue to make him proud. I hope.

I can only hope I meant to him as a “surrogate daughter” as much as he meant to me as a “surrogate father”, and that time and distance will not sever what we worked so hard to build. Somehow, I just guess (or maybe it’s just hope?!) that he’ll still be there, watchful and critical, as ever, wagging his finger and telling me “ I told you so”, also encouraging and loving, even if our physical time is not there anymore. I cannot wait to continue our relationship, now, in a new setting, hopefully! I know I’ll do my part to keep it going.

And whatever you’ll tell me, “dad”, I still think God is not you, but He is, however, a Man! Thank you, again, for giving me a home, support and a good scolding when I needed it, and see you at lunch, soon! Prepare your preaching, ‘cause I am sure there will be something to preach about. Cannot wait!

Monday, December 29, 2008

The Rollercoaster is Screeching …

… or at least I hope so.

I guess it’s evident to most of you out there that “something” happened to me since the blog has not been updated in over a month. I apologize to all my readers for the apparent neglect. I hope it won’t happen often. The “something” that happened was, of course, just life, and that’s a lame excuse. Because life “happens” every day!

There is no way I can update you on everything that’s been happening, really, bit by bit, but I’ll try to just brief it as much as I can.

In a nutshell …

December is one of the busiest months for The Jaycees, so I was busy at the beginning of the month with The Parade and other charity projects we had. Then, like everyone else, I got busy preparing for The Holidays. Gifts to buy for all relatives and friends spread all over the world, first, because those have to be mailed early to make it there for Santa Claus time. Some of the gifts were made, so that took a while, too.

Then I starting to shop for folks here. This year, I did little shopping online. I figured I had a better chance at a good deal, and a great discount in a brick-and-mortar place. Did I?! Hope so – with no comparison, really, and no time to make one, it’s hard to tell.

Then, the parties started. The Christmas ones, that is. Then, the Jaycee end-of-the-year awards party. I got an award, which is the first of my life; and not too bad, for my first year in the organization. I was so humbled and grateful.

My boss retired, and I was busy putting together his farewell events: a party, a gift from the team, a framed memo page from his former colleagues, from all other departments; busy writing, editing, hunting for pictures and making sure all the fun, embarrassing bits stand out.

Then, Christmas week came. And getting ready for my Christmas party. Clean the house, and cook, and decorate, and feed a crowd, and wrap more presents, and … you get the picture …

Work, and on-call, and the routine life I usually have went on somewhere in there, between the errands, and the parties, and the charities, and the present giving, and the sharing myself with the world.

Every day, I was praying for the rollercoaster to start slowing down, breaking even, so I can come to a halt. Today is the first day, when I had time to just stare at my cats asleep. And feel the peace and ‘relaxiness’ they impart. Today, I could breathe and be aware of the breathing alone. And hence, an update.

But all in all, other than the fact that I’ve neglected you all, I feel like I’ve touched every one of you (or most of you that I have seen or spoken with this month) by just being out there, and connecting in other ways … It’s been one of the busiest Christmases, and not one of the richest for most of us, but I feel fulfilled, and happy. And thankful.

And now that the ride has finally been screeching towards a finish line, I can look back and contemplate the speed, the views from up top, and even the upside-down loops I have been through! It’s been all worth it.

Thanks, all, for being there, and giving me a place to be and reasons to be busy this year and especially this Christmas! Thanks for the rollercoaster! I am dizzy. But refreshed!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Harder to Say “Thanks”

Is it harder to say “thanks” lately, I wonder??!! Virtually every friend I have, virtually everyone I know has had a rough year, in one way or another: either they have been touched, and not in a positive way, by the state of the world, lost a job, someone they know lost a job, a house, definitely lost all sense of security and hope for a better future; or they have lost someone they knew, or they have lost a little bit of their health, or …

Geography is irrelevant here. It’s happened everywhere this year, it seemed.

People tell me all the time not to be sad, and to just “be grateful” that I have a job and a roof over my head still. And I am grateful. In Romania we say the gift will be taken away from the ungrateful. So, I am grateful. But can you honestly be completely, unconditionally grateful when you see those around you in pain, or need, or want?

A couple of months ago I was really, really ticked off by my mail lady. Yes, I have a mail lady, not a mailman. And for a year and a half since I’ve had her services, she’s ticked me off weekly. I finally brought myself to complain about her to the Post Office. It takes a lot to make me file an official complaint. Really. They wanted concrete examples, and proof, blah blah blah.

And then I sat down and reconsidered this whole thing. In the big picture of things … the facts that I get the mail after 6 PM every night, or I miss bills almost every other month and get the neighbor’s (legal) drugs in my box, the fact that I didn’t get a $10 delivery from Amazon (needed, grated!!) was not worth someone (probably with family and bigger problems than I’ll ever have) losing a job. In this world we live in, I didn’t want someone with maybe 5 mouths to feed jobless and looking for a job … Even if she wasn’t going to lose the job just because of one complaint. I didn’t want to risk it. I didn’t want to contribute to the risk. So I did nothing. The mail is still delayed and screwed up. But I feel happy.

So, whether need and want hits home or close to it, you cannot help, as human, not to care, I think. We are designed to be compassionate creatures, and losing that is losing humanity. It’s being handicapped and being un-whole.

Sure, I am grateful. There are healthy children being born in the world, and healthy families out there – some of them really close to me, there are healing wounds on those who’ve had them open this year, and pictures with smiling faces in them that bear the 2008 time stamp. There is forgiveness, and there is hope. There is one phone call you’re still waiting to make and one phone call you’re waiting to receive to tell you about better days. There’s always hope.

There are families that are still whole and others dented, but united by so much love they just discovered they never tapped into.

I am grateful for all that. I worry. For all of those whose pain and need I know and all of those whom I have not met yet. I worry – but somewhere, in my humanity, I am grateful, too, for the good things we all can see, occasionally!

Happy Thanksgiving, all! And let’s be grateful for the turkey we are eating: whether bought or given, let’s just be grateful it’s there.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Fall Thoughts and Wanders

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.” (John Muir)

Who said it doesn’t snow in North Carolina?! It does so. Every fall.

Every fall, millions of billions of leaves float gently on air waves , like wannabe flakes, clothe the ground, multicolored wonder rugs, to pave the way for the swan song of the year.

It’s a magical time. I love when I come home and, like a whisper, the leaves are falling in front of my face, right before I open the door, as if there is yet one more thing they want to tell me before it’s all done, and over. I always greet them with a pause and a smile. I acknowledge each and every one that comes in my path. With patience and utter awareness. Almost respect. I am sure they know I know what they mean!

When I moved to the States, I remember my dad’s first reaction to the news. I was waiting, terrified, with stopped breath, to see if he’s going to kill me, burn my passport, or otherwise keep me in a basement we didn’t have, to sober up from my dreams … His answer was: “Good. You’re moving to the States. At least that’s a beautiful country. You’ll never run out of things to see”. And he shrugged and went about his day.

How can one forget that?!

And he was right. At least, here in North Carolina, there is never penury of things to see. Ocean or mountain views, bare rocks to hardwood forests, lakes and waterfalls to quiet streams; small, quiet towns, and huge cities – we’ve got it all…

All you have to do is fill up the tank, program the GPS or print your map, and head out.

To sum up my fall, I tried to capture some of these wonders and beauties of our land in the following pictures, and may they now speak:

- 1 or

- 2.

Enjoy the trails and the leaf snow and the whispers!

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Past Due

I know they say this was not about race. That's what they say. But something tells me we all know differently.

So, f
irst off, I’d like to say that I am proud. I am proud that this nation I am now part of, this nation of which I have dreamed to be part of all of my life, has finally come to the 3rd Millennium, as a true leader should have come. It has finally recognized who they are, and voted like-wise.

We are no longer a nation of “one size fits all”-s! We have never been, in fact, so it’s about time we admitted it. It took since the (“official”) discovery of this great land by the Old World till last night to realize it, it seemed! I believe that on November 4th of this year, we opened the doors wide to the world, instead of letting the world barely sneak in, like it has been doing for centuries. We will finally, hopefully, be not an island in the world, anymore, at least in the ideological sense.

This vote, and this victory, is past due, I think! But better late than never. Better now than 8 more years from now! Or 20, 30, 40 years from now. The fact that is so past due, I believe, makes it even more momentous! If it’s not momentous, then how would you explain the outpour of folks in the streets last night?! All around the country?! We’ve been waiting long and hard to recognize diversity of every kind as the glue that binds us, and we finally came to that realization last night: that diversity is good, and not a hindrance. Not something we need to or we can “fix”. But something we could feed from and grow from.

People of color will tell you just how long and how hard that journey’s been, but it’s finally here. It feels surreal! Last night, the streets of some cities felt like the ones in a suppressed nation that finally got to vote freely! Last night, the freedom we felt was not the one in our songs, and poetry books, the one we get to hear about at baseball games and home comings and President’s weekly addresses. It was not just words. It was real emotion. It was real, and raw, and it felt personal for each of us, and all of us! No Fourth of July celebration I have ever witnessed felt more sincere. More unifying, and more passionate.

I am not sure whether it’s the sad state of the nation at this time and the need to feel happy, or just the rush we all feel at the promise of something different, and something new, and something we can trust, but whatever it is, the true American freedom of choice first off, and of speech and manifestation came through last night. It was breathtaking. I thought, watching the crowds: “So, this is what it feels like, finally, to BE an American!” – I finally, after 10 years of living here, got it.

I was not here when Clinton or other presidents before him were elected, but something tells me it was not like this.

They’re very few and far between the moments I get fired up about politics. I can count them on the fingers from one hand alone. But I feel like this time it’s not just about politics. Not at all. I feel and believe, and not because CNN News tells me, but because it’s true in my heart, that this is about history, more than about politics. It’s about history just as much as the fall of the Berlin Wall was and the fall of Communism, and just as much as freeing Europe after the Wars, or invading Vietnam was. And it’s just an uplifting moment to be part of it, and witness it with your own eyes. I have been so fortunate to live such times.

In the mesh of the blurriness of too much news, and the insecurity of “what will be next”, you feel, and you breathe the wind of change and hope. And you don’t know quite what to do with it, but you drink it thirstily, like you would water from a fire hose after a long and hot, and wet-less day in the desert.

Like my dad always said: “This is not the end of hardships. It’s the beginning of them.” The work is yet to come. But I feel like with the right crew, the ship won’t sink! And I do feel for the first time in years like we’re getting close to at least a wise captain, who will hopefully lead by example and steer forward.

Call me a Dem, or even a Socialist, if you so choose, but I will forever look at the “W” years as the Dark Ages of the beginning of The Third Millennium for this country. In a lot of ways, I personally believe these 8 years should not have been allowed to be the first ones after year 2000 for this country. They’re not worthy of opening a century! … But then, there are such things as wrong choices.

But we should look forward, I think: learn from what we missed the first time, and value and cherish what we have achieved today. And perfect it! I think yesterday’s vote shows that we have learned. For now.

I had a dear friend who once asked me : “In Politics, when all is said and done, don’t you wish you were on the right side?!”. I can only hope we are on the right side, but of course, only time, and history, will prove that! For now, I know this election alone is a milestone in American and modern history, and that alone is the reason of my happiness. What comes next, if good, will just be the cherry on top! But just that we finally made this choice, as a nation, as a majority, shows that we have passed a threshold seen as almost insurmountable before now.

I am so happy to say this is my very first ever election where I had a say. This will be one of the best stories I can tell to my nieces and nephews: about my first vote! I am grateful I was allowed to have a say!

I thank the American people for “waking up", really, for finally maturing and for looking at their neighbor and looking at their kids and voting for them just as much as they vote for their own private beliefs. I congratulate them for finally getting past the shallowness of judging someone by looks and years and faith affiliations and really, really looking at the values they can bring to the country, and at the “content of one’s character”, and for leading their vote with that.

I thank them for finally acknowledging the potential of what they could be, rather than the stubborn belief that they already are and voting with that in mind, as well. Hopefully, from now on there is no turning back, just like there was no turning back to Communism or Nazism , either. It’s only up to us to see to that, and the hardest step, the first, is behind us.

There is so much more I want to say. But for now: thank God that being an American, at least for this one night, is cool once again .

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Another Atypical Vacation – A Family Love Blog

Note: to my friend, Mary, who recently lost her mom and who understands "family" better than anyone I know.

“To the outside world we all grow old. But not to brothers and sisters. We know each other as we always were. We know each other’s hearts. We share private family jokes. We remember family feuds and secrets, family grieves and joys. We live outside the touch of time.”

(Clara Ortega)

I have always wondered how I seem to my parents, now that I am 33. You always hear them say “Honey, you’ll always be my baby, no matter how old you’re going to be”. They still send me and my sister an e-card every Children’s Day, June 1st. But you don’t feel like “a baby”; you don’t feel like you need to be advised every time you go to bed to brush your teeth; you don’t feel like every time you make a boo-boo and overbuy you need to be reminded that life’s hard and your parents had it tough in their times and you should be more careful with money … Or do you?! You know that with their worry, you feel their love, so … don’t you?!

I felt the same thing with my sister these past two weeks I have had her with me. And what a privilege and honor that she could come and share her time, and her family with me! I know for those of you with no siblings out there, this is science fiction talk, but those of you with brothers and sisters, you’ll know what I mean…

My sister is my reality gauge! She’s the one that always holds that crystal clear mirror in front of my eyes and lets me see myself for who I am: selfish at times, generous at others, mouthy and big-headed, a bitch at other times, of course, soft and even childish at others – whatever the mood of the day, if I am too wrapped up in myself, she’s there to define it for me. It’s so refreshing, because it’s an experience I never get to live when she’s not around – and I miss it so! And as someone once said: “she makes sure my head stays the right size” - It’s an approval/ or disapproval vote everyone needs to check with once in a while – and it’s as objective as it’ll ever be, because it’s unbiased: whatever she says, or does, she knows I’ll always love her! No boyfriend or husband I have ever had has given me that. No other kind of love. It’s an unique and loving comfort to just ... be

Also, with her around, I never ever censure myself! You always have to be on your best behavior when around strangers, of course, but not around your sister… Freedom is the key word in that environment! You put too little onion in your grape leaves? You are OCD about having counters clean? About cleaning after your guests even when tired as a dog? You are annoyed by cheesiness? You hate cartoon-and-people movies? Or have no patience for movies at all? You hate chocolate and love bacon? – you can admit that to your sister: she’s known that all her life, and takes it as matter-of-fact as you, without a slight bit of judgment.

We talked about how much we love each other, and how much we know about each other that no one else knows. How much I know about her, as a “problem child” ( I say and she's proud of), how much she hates me for my being the “goody two shoes” that she has to live up to; how much love and approval I know she needs, and no one else seems to notice; how much we see of each other in her newborn.

We wondered again, about our likes and dislikes and how different we are: she – likes chocolate, sweets, dark beer, red wine and 80 degrees on the thermostat; I like vanilla, puke at the thought of anything sweet, I like white, sweet wine and Miller High Life, and get sick to my stomach if the thermostat is beyond 72! She leaves things scattered around the house, sweaters, blankies, empty bottles and dirty glasses, I religiously put everything in place, or else I cannot fall asleep at night. We laughed, and wondered how in the world we ended up so different – growing up in the same house?! We hugged a lot. And we kissed. And we heard each other’s blood, the same and ever so different, flowing through our veins.

But we both have the same memories, always true, about growing up, and about what we remember about dad and mom, and Maia, and how close and lovingly we grew up. There is that thread there, which is timeless and bloody, that will always remind us of who we are, and where we come from, and we both share it, just like Siamese twins a common organ without which they cannot live!

A lot of people think having relatives in town for more than 2 days is draining. I had her, her husband and her new baby for two weeks and it seemed like too short of a weekend, and I am already missing them … I hope they enjoyed my moody self half as much as I enjoyed them!

My sister and I were enclosed in this timeless bubble where we relived everything from our very early childhoods where nannies would abuse us or treat us to movies and grannies would spoil us to our first alcohol abuse and defiance of dad. "The Man". It was a short lived and emotionally packed time. And you know what they say about time when you’re having fun …

To me, who has no family close by, this was, in a selfish way, the best spent time of the year! I reminded myself of who I am, one thing that I often forget to check into, as we all do, being too busy with “life” (we call it), I rested (thank GOD for not logging into work every day), I looked my future in the eye, through my wonderful brand new nephew , and I felt more love that I have felt in a whole year. All in two weeks. In love with life, and love itself, and what’s important in the world: family, good, healthy relationships, and truth, always truth. I cannot ask for more. Oh, but yes, I might: I might ask for them to come back and meet me soon!

We had our chats, and our laughs, and our happy and sad tears, too … but through it all, I’ll have to say, this is the best spent vacation in a while. She said we should “see something new next time, like a new state, or go shop in NYC or something” (she loves shopping, I hate it with a passion!!), but I said: “whatever, I just want to see you – and that’s present and new enough” … We’ll see where “next time” will find us …. But for now, I agree with Dr. Joyce Brothers, wherever she may be now, that said: “when you look at your life, the greatest happinesses are family happinesses.” And I thank The Spheres for my recent two weeks of that kind of happiness!

I don’t care how many pots of food I need to slave over, or however many milk bottles we need to wash for the babies, I don’t care how much she tells me not to put her sweater on a hanger at the end of the day , or however many times she frowns at me telling her she eats too damn much … or how much her empty bottles are in my way on the counter . I don't care how much she tells me I am too stuck-up and too conservative, or that I need to let go of being too anal. I know there is not ill intention it any of it. I want to feel that love, that common organ pulsating between us, as often and for as long as I can – always … every chance I get!

And more than anything, the world seems clearer around her. I have made some decisions about my life that I would have never made without her showing me who I am really am, and what I really want in life. I need the crystal clear mirror and the objectiveness. To say that's "priceless" would be the understatement of the year!

Thank you for coming, sister – love! And no matter where we live, physically, emotionally we’re always just a sigh away…

For the pics from my "sis adventures", visit this album - and thank you to my brother in law, for letting me share her, and the baby and for contributing to the pictures with his talent:

Friday, October 10, 2008

Don't Blame It on the Bloggers!

I happen to be amongst those who believe that there is some good stuff, even some great writing, in blogs. The old school reporters and writers stuck on the paper trail that refuse to believe they're lost, who believe that there is no such thing as good journalism in blogging are very foreign to me.
To me, the written word, no matter what media, has value, if it's good. And as always, regardless of the media, "good" is in the eye of the reader.

Don't get me wrong, I am not saying that blogs are necessarily art. Nor that they are the new version of quality journalism. I am just saying that not all are trash. And not all are a fad. Some folks are really good writers out there, and just because they choose a non-traditional media doesn't make them junky!
Some folks, non-journalists, maybe have had no other outlet, or know-how, and are willing to share with their world their opinions, beliefs, themselves. Don't shoot them, OK?!

I also believe that private blogs paint a vivid and colorful, never boring, always surprising landscape of any society. You go through them, and you meet anyone from the lonely introverted computer geek who cannot get a date, to the soccer mom overwhelmed by chores, to the angry Republican voter who just lost a big ticket!

They also offer arenas for the new debates. They are the new scene for exchanging ideas amongst regular folks, if they allow comments ...

Just to prove my point, and just because I found this hysterical for a Friday, here follows a blog from The Washington Post and its subsequent comments.
I am not going to reproduce the whole article, although it's not big, because I am not sure of all the copy rights involved. I hope the link will stay valid for a while, though, so you can read it:

And if not, the article is, in essence, talking about the new release of the a new MacBook, next week, on October 14.
What I found formidably entertaining were the comments. I have always believed that the comments to a piece of writing are, of course, comments about that piece of writing. Well, you'll see below, they tell us MORE about the people who make the comments than they tell us about their opinions on the blog. In fact, the point of the article is seldom acknowledged by the commentators.

What the comments did provide for me (outside of the intrinsic humor) was a picture of our dear America as we know it. The paranoid, conspiracy theory freaks, right along with the child molester, and the computer geniuses, the Republicans, as well as the Democrats, the soccer moms, and the overworked soccer dads of our country, the war vets and the Depression babies; the potheads and the schizos - everyone has a piece of virtual soapbox to climb upon in this one.
My God, what a masterpiece!

As if I needed further approval that all this was true, please read what 'English Guy' posted - as I think he does a great job of summarizing this blog and its comments for all of us.

I have not modified any of the comments. These are honest to God posts on The Washington Post's site.
Enjoy, and please allow me to make some of my own comments (in blue), to the ones that the readers have made. I just can't help myself sometimes - I am THAT opinionated! My comments follow (not precede!!) the post of one person.

And feel free to post yours, as well.
Happy weekend, all!


i can't wait for these (he means the MacBooks) to come out.
i'm only 13 but i plan to get one as a joint birthday and christmas present.

nobody can understand how excited i am!

Posted by: adam codrington | October 10, 2008 11:30 AM

Recognize the type?! Sure you do: our computer enslaved teens being misunderstood - come on, this is an easy one!! Now, the fact that this is the first comment is karmic and cosmic at the same time: this is the one faucet that releases the torrent to come.

Kudos to the poster, because he's amongst the very few here who refers how the topic affected him personally (which is what personal comments most times should be, I think) and almost the only one who gives his whole name.

Thank God for kids, some days. Because it's a Zoo in the adult world. But let's not divulge, shall we?!

Um, son, your not getting this laptop, we cant afford it cause your dad lost his job due to the economy crashing and we must now sell you for slave labor, sorry.

Posted by: YOUR MOM | October 10, 2008 11:38 AM

How sad, that the family is in need! And how sad the mom cannot spell, either. I am sorry, Adam! We all wished for more forward thinking parents.

Misleading headline - bad journalism

Posted by: Poster | October 10, 2008 11:38 AM

who needs a labtop a thirteen???

Posted by: aa | October 10, 2008 11:40 AM

Evidently, "aa" should have had a computer at age 13 ... maybe it would have helped with the spell check. I think.

I'm a PC.

Posted by: Kenya | October 10, 2008 11:41 AM
These are my favorite: just disconnected, disjointed comments, just because one's bored and would like to share their opinion "online". They say we're paranoid about our identities being stolen online. That's BS! Americans are identity whores. We love to share it, and flaunt it. Most of us have several "personal sites". Sometimes I think the only thing we're really afraid of is that we're not interesting enough to have our identity stolen! Now, who cares who is a PC, I ask you, in this context or otherwise?! This shows only one thing: you watch too much TV and you know the commercials! Not a very laudable characteristic, in an evolved human's book, and plus, no ONE is a "PC", because no ONE is a "thing". Or, are you?!?

Love my iMac, Macbook Pro, iPod and iPod Touch.

Keep innovating Apple!

The days of infected Microsoft software are over for me.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 10, 2008 11:42 AM
Wow!!! How can one keep track of ALL those!!! Pretty soon, (s)he'll turn into a robot themselves ...


Posted by: Arun | October 10, 2008 11:42 AM

One of my favorites ... :-)


but I'm a PC.

Posted by: Bill | October 10, 2008 11:42 AM
Hhmmm... Again: who cares?! And: really?? Are you?! Where's the start button, and how do you reboot??

one word bill gates

Posted by: mj38 | October 10, 2008 11:45 AM

Hhmm... that would be two words! But thanks for sharing.

if your 13 you should be worried about getting a bike you greedy punk you dont need a $3000 computer

Posted by: BigDick Johnson | October 10, 2008 11:45 AM

I guess this poster's name speaks for him itself !!

I'm a PC, but I use a Mac.

Posted by: PC | October 10, 2008 11:48 AM

So ... Schizo? Maybe?!

I'm a PC too

Posted by: Vzx | October 10, 2008 11:49 AM

I felt after a while that someone will say " My name is a PC and I am a Macoholic". Geez!! I loved these ones, just because their repetitions sounded rhythmical after a while. Kind of like a chorus in a song.

Bad journalism?

Not hardly!

The headline is followed by an asterisk. Follow to the next asterisk and it says "until the 14th."

This is very clever. It is NOT misleading and it got everyone to not only notice... but to read what it was about.

I missed the "until the 14th" part... but knew the asterisk was there. I read the entire article waiting for them to tell me not to buy it and why.

Then I realized I missed the by-line. MY FAULT! Had I seen it... I most likely wouldn't have read the article.

This was clever, and I was fooled. Kudos to this writer.

I agree... a laptop is not a toy and a 13 year-old shouldn't be given one. Most adults can't even handle one.

I have no problem with kids having them... but let them work for, save and spend their own money on them so that they will take care of them a little more responsibly.

Posted by: Boo Mac | October 10, 2008 11:51 AM

That was the PhD for you: he explains everything. Nothing ever goes by him, and he has a reason and a rhyme for it all. It all makes perfect sense. Now, don't get him started on the aliens vs no aliens one! He'll never finish!! He is the "Friends"'s Ross for all of us!! On top of the PhD, he is also a loner. And a tad OCD. He's covering ALL his grounds... Don't you agree?!
I don't like any MAC without cheese - this article will do

Posted by: Frank | October 10, 2008 11:52 AM

One of my favorites as well. :-)

I'm a penguin. I hope you like your lap top.
There were no lap tops when I was thirteen. We had to play footbaLL and stuff like that. We also did a lot of shooting down at the river.

Posted by: Mr. Ubuntu | October 10, 2008 11:54 AM

Aaaawww ... here come the ones with the memories ... and the remembrances: "in MY time, things were different". And again: Linux is an operating system: what's the machine, you elitist freak?!?

I'm a PC in a Mac's body...

Posted by: Confused | October 10, 2008 11:54 AM

That's the one who's a closeted gay, right?!

Oh my goodness, the headline clearly has an asterisk AND a subtitle that immediately clarifies. No halfway intelligent person would just read the headline and not think there wasn't more to it (much less actually obey it...!).

Bad journalism, huh? And this accusation comes from what background? Don't open your mouth unless you actually know what you're talking about.

Posted by: cbr | October 10, 2008 11:56 AM
But how do you KNOW that you DON'T KNOW what you're talking about , so you can keep quiet ?! Hhhmm...

Dear young 13, what will you do with your new MAC? Text and surf you-tube? When I was 13 I was locked in the basement with only a candle and some roaches to play with. I tied threads from my pajamas to their legs and watched them run and run when the hot wax dropped on their little bodies. It was fun but not as much as a new MAC laptop will be.

Posted by: Weenie | October 10, 2008 12:00 PM
I thought you TYPE on a laptop. You TEXT on a phone. No? I'm STILL behind, eh?!? And someone, please call 911 and also trace this IP, if you would !! I think we've just found out who killed Jon Benet!!

Hey, I'm a Acer Aspire One Netbook with bout that!

Posted by: Fallout330 | October 10, 2008 12:05 PM

Oh, man, this one is soooo cool, ain't he?!? Why does everyone want to be a "thing" though, is beyond me!!

I'm a mac.

I like the present plastic MacBooks because the wireless reception is much better than the aluminum or Ti ones.

For all you mac along with all the intel macs can run windows in BootCamp without emulation. Nice. Best thing would be to never, ever access the web/internet, email, etc. while in PC mode...then you'll be safe from PC viruses.

Posted by: macface | October 10, 2008 12:08 PM

I am an IT professional, of sorts. Someone please translate this one for me!

Yeah.. and wait till christmas comes around and everyone gets presents and he doesnt...

Im sure he will whine like the little turd he is

Posted by: Franky | October 10, 2008 12:13 PM

Someone please neuter THIS one! I mean, if he's straight and having sex with a woman, I would not want him to have his own "turd" one day!!! I'd feel sorry for "the turd" !!

I bought MY first mac with cash that I saved. I saved by not wasting money on other things. 3 years later, I'm still using it and still loving it.

Posted by: solvent | October 10, 2008 12:13 PM
WHAT WAS THIS ALL ABOUT???? Saving? Wanting a medal for saving? Being poor? Being poor and cocky?! What in the hell?!? Glad that credit counseling worked for you, there, "solvent".

I want that 13 year old boy and his new macbook for MY birthday... mmmmmm

Posted by: Krunch | October 10, 2008 12:13 PM

OK. Another 911 call, please!! Jesus, people! I cannot believe this is The Post, still!

Don't buy a 'Mac' ANYTHING. It's a bunch of overpriced proprietary garbage, for people who have more money than brains...

Posted by: John Galt | October 10, 2008 12:14 PM

You know... I have always thought that, but I cannot speak, as I have never used a Mac. Hhmm...

The Mac is also a PC.

Posted by: Javier | October 10, 2008 12:18 PM
Amen, broher, is ALL I am saying!! I never understood why a Mac is NOT a PC anymore!!! What? A Windows machine belongs to you (it's "personal"), but a Mac is a lease?! Makes no sense to me!

I can't believe with the economy so bad this article was published.

No one should be buying a new anything from Apple. (Unless of course you are using bailout money to do so. ;) AIG)

Also does the memory of the readers fail to remember the Apple 5400 Laptop and it's great

Give Apple time to stew in the laptop for a year then race out to get one when the economy forces it to be ...let's say ....affordable!

Posted by: Jason K. | October 10, 2008 12:19 PM
Love the economy rant. I mean, can we please see PAST the 'today'?! Think of something else other than the headlines of any junk paper in town?! Evidently, some cannot !! And if they can't, why to they clog up the virtual waves?! Just so we all know they're bothered by the economy? Who isn't?!

I love my Mac.. it quit working 6 months after I bought it, but the monitor still is bright enough to use as a night light.. It's great!! Wouldn't trade it for anything, I've always had macs so I'll stay with them F O R E V E R. I have to use regular PC's at work and everywhere else though. But, I still have my trusty nite light at home. Soon I'll give it to my 13 year old son as a xmas present. :)

Posted by: Loyal2dacore | October 10, 2008 12:23 PM
I was CONFUSED about this one! Man, the loneliness in some folks' lives is truly ... touching! NOT! It's sick!! I did get 'some' ideas about home decorating ... *eye roll*.

I will bet $5.2 Trillion in mortgage derivatives that this '13 year old' is a 28 year old marketing guy sitting in a cube in Cupertino monitoring press coverage and writing under 'Adam' in WaPo and 'Jenny' in WaTimes...

If I am right you can have Fannie Mae's bad loans, if I'm wrong you can have Freddie Mac's bad loans. (hey at least I didnt give you Wachovia's bad loans from Golden West!)

Posted by: Mike | October 10, 2008 12:26 PM

And there goes the conspiracy theory man! Well done!

When I was 13-years old, I got an abacus.

Posted by: Old Dude | October 10, 2008 12:30 PM

... and the Depression grandpa... How endearing!

This is brilliant, you are all re-enforcing every American stereotype available! Cheers for the buggering up the economy, when you get a passport come visit me in the rest of the world. And are you really, seriously gonna let that Alaskan bird with learning difficulties run your country? ha ha ha!!!

Posted by: English Guy | October 10, 2008 12:56 PM
It's fun to see how truly we are and look like when the Brits (or the rest of the world) are holding the mirror in front of us, and point. And laugh. Quite nice! If this doesn't make you shake your head and wonder how we got here, I am not sure what does ... All I can say is: I have an escape: I am a DUAL citizen!! And 50% of the time, I can be the one holding that mirror. That makes me sleep at night!

Gah, it's taking all I have not to burst out into hysterics in my pink cubicle...

Posted by: LoriMar | October 10, 2008 1:03 PM

That was Jessica Simpson for you!

This isn't bad journalism, because it isn't journalism... it's an editorial blog entry. It expresses an opinon. And he isn't a journalist, he's a tech blogger. He's not reporting anything, since once again he's expressing opinion.

Essentially, the only difference between this and any blog entry is that it's on the post's website.

Posted by: beep | October 10, 2008 1:21 PM

So, is it journalism? Or blogging? And how are they different? Is it blogging or tech blogging? Is it an editorial, but no journalism?! Thank you, Style Professor, now, we're all happily confused and have one more topic for the next blog. Or Journal Entry. Or ... Editorial blog entry. Wait...! Which was it again?!?

I need some weed

Posted by: "Sad Face" | October 10, 2008 2:11 PM

"Are you a pothead, Focker?!" :-)

I like Obama

Posted by: Aho liquor | October 10, 2008 2:15 PM

Well, good for you. Thanks for sharing! Just sober up before you vote: we need to make sure you don't punch the wrong hole, OK?!?

I have a dog named Rusty...and he's a PC too!

Posted by: Rusty's Mom | October 11, 2008 2:32 AM

:-) - is all I have to say about this one, while laughing ...

Obama blows just like and mac and he's a communist just like steve jobs.

Posted by: Joe | October 10, 2008 3:01 PM

With that spelling and poor grammar Obama would not want you voting for him, I am sure.

Does anyone remember the topic of this blog? Or the first comment?! Then, please relate "Rusty's Mom's" comment to those?!

And if THESE are the readers of
The Post, I wonder who reads Soap Opera Digest anymore ... hhmm ... That's it for one week's bashing of our society.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

A Change of Season Trip

"Out where your troubles can't find you
Out where you leave ‘em all behind
Out where the moon shines sweetly
Won't you meet me down on the county line”

(Sugarland: County Line)

I take a trip every year, as a rite of passage… For the past two years, it’s been to the wine festival at Smith Mountain Lake, in the heart of Franklin County, VA – Moonshine Capital of the World. Before that, it was Villa Appalaccia, a winery also in VA, on the Blueridge Parkway – for an olive and wine festival.

This journey is so welcome: at the end of a busy year, and typically a busy summer, I need something to put the breaks on, and get me ready for the slow pace of winter, where I’ll have no purpose, other than to exist and eat plenty of warm and home made food. And nothing works better than views of mountains, fall coming, leaves turning, mums in the front yards, the taste of new wine, and chilling over a bottle of gossip with dear friends, in the crisp mountain air. The stillness of the mountains, and the closeness to the wine making process, which is patient, and slow, and artful, become intoxicating and transfer into life itself!

Up there, in the mountains, where time stands still, and moonshine is smooth and plenty, and wine is sweet and clear, where people talk slow and hurry for naught, where old houses smell like rotting wood, and kitchens smell like fried thick cut bacon and fresh biscuits in the morning, you get lost. They can ask you your name and you don’t even remember that! And it’s all a good thing!

This year’s wine fest was wanting to be a big wash out: there was rain, rain and more rain in the forecast. But we would not have it. Rain coats, umbrellas, and all, we went to the middle of the pasture, anyway! We sampled wine, with umbrellas in one hand, and cameras in the other! We sampled home made cakes and dips, and the overwhelming mud puddles were not going to put a damper into our day! It’s the company and the attitude that carries you through, and that was the case for us!

Muddy and wet, happy, and buzzed, we went through the day in glee and silliness!

24 hours of that kind of escape feels like a 2 week vacation in the Caribbean! (without the stress over the overpriced umbrella drinks!). You wander about on country roads, and your friends drive recklessly, because they can, and because they’re free, and because the cops are at the wine festival and don’t care. And after all, you’re in the middle of nowhere, so there are no laws! You can be a kid again and let loose. For one day, you’re as free as the clouds wandering on the peaks. As free as the wine pouring into barrels – unbounded!

Your only worry is only “my glass is empty. Someone, please, pay attention!”.

It’s also a time when I reconnect with friends and find out they’re still there for me! Just like the harvest time, when we’re all grateful to the Earth for giving us the food, in the fall, I am also grateful for the friends! After we have all attended to family affairs all year long, and to too much work, we’ve finally slowed down enough to meet and give all of us a break!

I am so grateful for those friends! And for their gift of welcoming me, and making my yearly retreat ever so welcome! Don’t ever change!! Or move …

Thank you!

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Commitment to Love

"People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle." (Thich Nhat Hanh)

I have always thought that God forgot to put a biological clock in me. But maybe it's because I was brought up in a 'love story family', as my dad calls it... Maybe I was raised to believe that kids are the center of the parents' universe, and that they are the fruit of their love.

Maybe because of that, I have always loved kids and I always wanted to be a teacher when I grow up. Or maybe it's because I can never have my own child?! Or maybe it's just because I am a new aunt, and I am head over heels in love with my nephew.
Who knows? Whatever the reason, children's stories move me anymore...

Last Friday I went to visit an orphanage in the area, and bring the kids a pre-holiday gift bag, with a cd player, a t-shirt, a backpack, and a soft toy.

When I was growing up, to enforce discipline, my dad would threaten me and my sister that he'll "send us to the orphanage if we're not good". We always asked "what is that?", and he would say: it's a cold and dark place like a prison, where you get no toys, people are mean to you, and you never see your parents again, until you're 18. It didn't sound much like fun.

And I have always seen, with the rest of the world, the CNN documentaries that made Romanian orphanages famous around the world for the wrong reason. But I have never been to an orphanage before - until this Friday.

It was everything and nothing like I imagined. This one, was not just one dark and cold building, like my dad's description said, but a whole campus of cottages that looked very "homey". Each cottage had a "parent family", which typically is a married couple with kids of their own, that live in that cottage as their home. With them, in the same cottage, several orphans share the space as well. I am not sure what kind of room arrangement they have, as for our visit, we were welcome to the gym, but I imagine it's more like a dorm?! So maybe a couple of kids share a room?! But a small scale dorm, since each cottage has 7-9 orphans living there and the houses don't look huge. Should I say "students"?!

We met some of the teachers, and they all seem like nice, friendly, very well rounded people. Not some drill sergents that my dad was talking about. They have nice families, and some wear even designer shoes, ahve stylish haircuts and lots of make up. They're friendly. They smile.

And then, we met the orphans and my heart just about stopped. They were teens, between 11 and 17, I would say. They had a look on their faces that will chase me for the rest of my life: it betrayed fear, and sadness, but also trouble, and watchfulness. It told about loneliness and hardships. You could tell. Their hands were coarse, with blunt nails that they have been biting, and their facial features hard. Some of them were absolutely model material gorgeous. Just beautiful, gorgeous kids. But their eyes had the same fear, and they looked around like they were waiting for something bad to happen, or careful not to be struck by surprise, by something that to me was not there.

They behaved in the only way, I think, abandoned kids would: to attract attention to themselves: they were loud, spoke very dirty, and they were pushing each other, and hanging off of basketball baskets instead of playing ball. They were kicking the bleachers instead of walking on them. They had rage. Again, against something that was not there for me. Deeply rooted rage. Untamable.

They looked like beautiful lions stuck in cages at the zoo: smart, quick and gorgeous, and having to be good for the man who feeds them, but not happy with it. There was a sneakiness about them.

We were told that not all the kids were there that weekend: that the orphanage encourages those who have a chance to spend the weekend with their families, to re-develop that relationship. That made me wonder: what would be worse: to know you're an orphan, and to know you were given up, and to know your family, but know that they can't take care of you, and at the end of every weekend they send you away? Or not to know them at all, and always wander what they look like, who they are, and why they left you to no one? I think both predicaments are equally heartbreaking!

Our organization brought a group of little girls who danced for them, and did ballet. The little girls in the dancing group were adorable. They were small, and klutzy, and cute as a bug's ear. We all melted, and laughed because they could not find their place, their props, or their beat. The orphans didn't find all that amusing at all. They were serious. Stern and matter of fact. What was funny to all of us, and endearing, stirred almost no reaction/ emotion in them, it seemed. You felt like in their world fun is measured by completely other dimensions than in ours.

It's heartbreaking for me to see that what comes from what generally is accepted as a love act, is so deprived of love. I felt like the orphans have always been missing just the human touch. The hugs, and tuck-ins that all the kids are getting when they grow up. The kisses in the morning when they go to school, the re-arranging of that curl on the forehead, the heart-felt "I love you"-s when they go to bed, or when they go to school in the morning. The approving and re-assuring smiles of the parents when they do something good.

They looked human. But afraid and cold, like they did something wrong. They looked guilty - but they didn't know what the guilt was?! Is being born a sin?! Their guardians were nice, and friendly, but no matter how much you try, the nurturing love that comes natural to a loving parent the teachers might not have.

I felt for a moment that I want to adopt them all! I felt such an enormous love, and compassion for all of them. Just some innocent souls that have never asked to be brought on this planet, and have been born, and left to the winds, to find their own ways.

Someone said that weeds are flowers devoid of love, I think... It's easy to see how these children can choose to be weeds, as they intrinsically know that they were not loved to be flowers. They have a stubbornness about them that betrays some kind of revenge towards the world. The world that has allowed this to happen to them. This loveless, cold and dark world.

I don't judge the parents who make that choice. I can't. I would not know where to begin to do that . Some parents really don't make it, if they die and have no one left, the choice is made for them, perhaps. There are as many stories of abandoned children as they are abandoned children, I am sure. It is just a sad, sad reality that's around us, and that has moved me beyond tears.

Some people asked me what "funstuff" I did on a Friday night. I would not have traded this visit for the world! Now, I have a clear and distinct picture of what orphans look like and need and want. This visit opened my veins to love, and protect the kids I know.

Yesterday, I got to read the "thank you" notes they sent to our organization for the gifts we gave them. It again made me cry. They can find in their hearts to give back even if the world has not given to them. The depths of human love and compassion are once again leaving me speechless!! This gesture gave me hope. When I saw them on Friday, I was wondering: will they ever be able to give love in return, since they don't even know what it looks like or feels like to get it?!? But the simple gesture of taking the time to write "thank you for my gifts: I could not wait to get out of school to go to my room and listen to my cd player" made me sleep last night, with the hope that they will be different. I hoped that the kindness of teachers, and the kindness of organizations like ours, the ballet representations, the innocence they get exposed to will, hopefully, in the long run, open their hearts to the beauty and the love that this world indeed has. I hope!

I have been watching videos of my nephew all week, and I cannot wait to hold him in my arms again in a couple of weeks. The amount of love I can give him seems endless right now. The amount of hugs and kisses - the same. Such a fragile, innocent blossom, and we, adults, have such responsibility and accountability towards them!

I want him to grow with his eyes full of love and trust. Not fear. With his smile forever cemented on his face. With his heart big, and his eyes curious. I want him to know he is important enough not to ever want to attract attention upon himself. He can just ... be. I want him to give hugs in return, and be compassionate, and loving. I want him to have everything all the unwanted children of the world cannot have: a hug in the morning, and kiss good night on the forehead at night. And a meaningful "I love you" every day of his life!

And, after Friday, I have added a new line to my prayers. I will now also pray for the abandoned souls of the earth, everywhere. May God and Nature take care of and protect what humans could not.

And just to share, the picture of my love, here's my nephew:

Thursday, September 25, 2008


I remember when being an American was a cool thing. Not long ago, in fact, it was a thing to be desired, and lied for, and proud to snatch! I remember when immigrating to America was the highest of dreams one can achieve .

But is it anymore??!!

People close all sorts of doors to Americans all over the world - more so than they open them in fact. Americans are scorned upon in Europe and in the Middle East. In Asia and Canada. In Latin America, too ... I guess Americans have gotten used to that kind of scorn. Hatred is better than ignorance, right?! At least everyone minds them. Until now!
Until recently, they still had the economic power to not worry too much about a couple of oh just so random little feelings some of the rest of the world out there held towards them.
Until now, I say ...

Nowadays, not many people go to Europe for vacations. For a while now, the middle class (all ranks), and not only them, has not been able to afford it... What's even sadder now: Canada is even more expensive than here, as well! Canada is too overpriced for America now!!! No trips to Canada?! Our "poor sister"?? Depressing...

No matter what their fist-cliched-over-heart patriotism will try to tell you, Americans do not hold their heads up high out there in the world anymore. They still have big patriotic hearts, and big mouths, here, but they cannot do that abroad. And they know it. If they still do, stubbornly, they look ridiculous and they should know it! Americans - humble?! That's a dimension I am still waiting to see ...

It's also depressing to see my Eastern European parents begging me to come back home, because, "honey, let's face it: it's better here! More safe!". I didn't think I'd live the day when the job market would look better in Romania than here!

When I was growing up, during Communism, America was the Heaven on Earth where people had everything they wanted, without rationing, and without standing in lines! Everything was plenty and available around the clock. All you had to do was get a job!

Not anymore... I went to WalMart tonight, and not only were the lines for gas unbelievable, but they had police forces to regulate the traffic in and out of the parking lot. They were also out of two of of three kinds of gas! And the gallon is not all that cheap, there, either, at $3.75 - but much cheaper than my neighborhood, where it's $3.98! Other parts of town display prices over $4.00 even.

America was supposed to have plenty of gas, and we were supposed to use our cars whenever we wanted, to go wherever we wanted, and to always fill up the tank, every time we pull up for gas! Not just get "just enough to make it". Not anymore. Not when there are stations that ration how much you can buy, or even ones that are closed down. Americans have to become mindful of spending, just like the rest of the world, anymore, it seems.

The Land of Plenty has all of a sudden become The Land of Plenty to Worry About!

Also during Communism, Romania's dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, was asked by the starving and freezing people, one winter, to give them more heat in their apartments (heat was centralized by the State, just like everything else). Ceausescu's answer was: "Put on another sweater! And if you have two on already, put a coat on! You'll be warm!".

My dad used to tell me then that I needed to move to America, where heat is plenty and affordable and I'll never be cold again!
Given the past few nights of chilly weather, I am trying really hard not to turn on the heat!! I am not sure I'll go through the winter if I start the heat in September, money-wise!! I am worried about losing my job every day, and I am not sure how I am going to pay my bills if that happens. I am trying to save and not splurge right about now. So, I'll give turning on the heat another thought, and in the meantime, I'll put on another sweater, and another blanket on, too, at night! Natural gas, too, as we all know, is so high as well!

When I was growing up, with the dreams of the Promised Land, I tell you: I have never thought it would look like this.
All around us, we see people saving, afraid for their jobs, laid off, companies shut down, people losing homes. Every morning, another huge corporation goes bust ... I know I am not saying anything new to anyone.

The only point I was trying to make here was that, on a personal level, this hurts! This is a chipped dream, and I don't do well with disappointments. I cannot look my parents in the eye and admit that I have failed in my choices! It's not the natural path of an (over)achiever!

I guess it is true what they say about big empires: they have their rise, and they have their fall. I hope this is just a temporary hiccup for this empire, though. I hope history has taught many lessons and illuminated minds can fix this. It's definitely, I think, important enough to make a spot in the history books.

Sure, America still has her freedom, which will lure millions still, decade after decade. But increased want for basic needs (and I don't even want to go anywhere near healthcare talks here - I'd need a book), total disregard of the Government for those needs , while fighting wars for sport and just to prove an empty principle instead, will make being an American being more and more un-cool!

I am not going back to Romania, but let me tell you: Canada has sounded sweeter and sweeter every time I have looked at it lately.

"Leave us our broken dreams
We'll give them time to mend" ... or break even worse.
How sad?!
I guess they call it "Depression" for a reason.
This ain't fun!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Stopping for a Moment

"A man is rich in proportion to the number of things which he can afford to let alone".
(D. Thoreau)

I close the door in the morning. I am careful to lock it twice behind me. Thieves, you know ...

I put the laptop bag carefully in the crate in my trunk, so it won't get smashed, in case of a sudden brake.

I peel the potatoes the only way I learned how: with a knife, not a peeler. Careful not to cut my finger. I add water and boil them... When they are boiled, I am careful to turn off the burner first, and then pick the pot up, drain them ever so carefully so as not to burn my forearms with the hot steam ... But turn the burner off first - so as not to forget and then set the house on fire ...

I turn off computers and servers ... all day long, for a job ... Careful not to crash them ... "Gracefully" - I think- they call it ...'File-Exit-Shut down...'.

And yet, they make band aids for burns and cut fingers. And they give warranties for broken laptops ... and there is always insurance for burnt houses ... and also broken servers.

And yet, I am careless with words I say to people. And statements I make. And there is not one damn thing, insurance, band aid, or other kind of security that can mend a broken heart, a broken bond ... a tearing eye ... from hurtfulness ...

And yet, when it comes to "holding on to the truth" and "stating an opinion" just to "make a point" ... I seem to be fierce ... And I think most of us do. Once I realize the milk has been spilled, I hate myself - which in itself is not healthy .. but it's too late...

The damage, and the unfixable kind, too, has been done ... And only my prayer in people's goodness and ability to forgive (which may or may not be present) is left ... And relying on others to fix what you've done yourself - is that the way to go?!

Why do we do that?!

Why are we more careful with the amount of water we water our yard with rather than the amount of self righteousness we judge our friends, and family, and next door neighbors with?! Since when and how did things become more important than humans?!

When and how are we ever going to learn that there are no fixes for all the burnt bridges and bruised hearts?!?

What can teach us? Other than just stopping and thinking about it ?! And learning to be mindful ... ?! Learning to be mindful, just so we can be less alone ... ?!

Is it fear? Is it pride that pushes us to judge and state our "truths"? Is it control? Or fear of losing it?! Is it ... power? Over what? Or hunger for it?!

I wish I had answers ...

For now, I just have this passage from a book, that made me wonder about all this, and also made me stop, and think, and ask for an apology: it was due time:

" ... 'pride' is really another word for fear. Marlon Brando delivers this truth magnificently in Apocalypse Now when ... he tells his executioner: 'It is our judgement that defeats us'. We become our own executioners when we sit in judgement of our efforts. Only when we act without judgement we can truly flourish in our lives. " (Meditations from the Mat - Gates & Kenison)

On the same sort of note, I find in the same book a quote from Almost Famous: "The only true currency in this bankrupt world is the truth" ...

But we must all realize that other than the absolute truth of the earth and the sky being real, and the rivers flowing to the sea, the human truth, the one linked to the ever changing human body, spirit, and mind is ever so relative. And ever so changing. We must non - attach ourselves from at least that thought: that we could be, at any point, an absolute judge of the human truth...

As my mom has always said: "if it's human, darling, it's imperfect". But ... none the less beautiful, I'd add ... and I'll try to remember it next time... If I am ever so lucky, to have a "next time"...

I am sorry for all the bleeding hearts ... I wish I could nullify the daggers I sent into the world.
I just pray for soul band aids, generosity and forgiveness ...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Belonging ... - An Identity Blog?!

Let me just begin by saying that I love being where I am from. And I would not trade it for the world! I think the complexity and absolute puzzlement of my personality which I love comes from where I am from, and I will never deny my home country, nor ever forget my roots. My roots are the one true, solid thread that I hold dear and gets me through hardships, every day! I would be literally dead without them!

But even so … this came to be written …

I have tried to write this piece for years, probably for as long as I have lived. And there are no words to describe this experience… Sure, you’ve “heard” me talk about my trips, my friends, my family, my cats, and my peeves in traffic and at WalMart … You know I can write about almost anything out there.

But this one’s tough! This one’s on my tough list. Along with the day when I decided my mom was cooler than dad (what a life change!) and the day I knew I was surely heading for a divorce … It’s a tough one …

But I’ll attempt just the tip of the iceberg here – because I know it’ll take several lifetimes to get to the bottom of it!

It’s about never feeling like I really belong to “Romanians” at all … It is strange to say that the culture you grew up into, the only one you experienced and knew until you were 23 … has never felt like home to you. To admit it is one thing. To explain it – is a whole different matter altogether and entirely …

I am not sure I felt “at home” in any culture. Mom was sad when at 16 I started speaking in my sleep … in English. I was in Romania then, with no sure plan of moving to an English speaking country … but somehow my subconscious decided to speak English instead of Romanian …

I guess that was the first time when I realized, “wait up, world! I don’t feel Romanian”?! Who knows … I was definitely escaping something. Or my innermost self was, for sure.

Nowadays, removed from my home culture for over 10 years, I do not seek it. I don’t miss it. And when I am exposed to it, I cringe! The cheap and fake familiarity, the macho-ism, the continual “I am better than you”-isms drain me … I have nothing to show off for them. Actually: I would not show off! Not give “them” the satisfaction!

I never speak of what I have made, and what I have accomplished, and that’s all my ‘Romanian friends’ want to know: how much money, what kind of car, how long I have been here and how much I have gained, why the American last name. One compatriot even said once: “Oh, you’re that kind that slept around for a visa”. I didn’t deny it. All I said was: “What?! You’re jealous?!”. This kind of cheap familiarity is just not my taste. This kind of "the guy gets away with murder and the woman is killed or worse: shamed" is so far from mu cup of soup!

I don’t miss the pettiness. I don’t miss the small world victim show: “Oh, Americans have all the McDonald’s but we have all the history” – makes me puke! Yeah, and what did you do with all the history- I wanna ask?! You moved to America! “History” alone will not keep you fed, and clad, and free, and happy, will it, now?!

They snarl at the American culture. They bite the hand that’s feeding them, and I cannot stop that low.

I don’t miss the fake melancholy: “Oh, when we were back home, the sausages tasted like real meat, and the wine was sweet, not like these prefab ones. Yuck”. Oh, yeah, I want to say: so, move the hell back!

It’s like you’re shipwrecked on this deserted island and the people on that ship speak the same language as you, and you know them all – so there is a certain familiarity there - but at the same time you can’t trust them: because they want your peril, so they can survive! So, the sameness instead of bonding becomes a weapon you can use against them, to survive. And it all becomes … painful, petty, painful … and just troublesome in night, when you’re alone with your thoughts.

I don’t miss the fake patriotism, either: they bring tricolored balloons (red-yellow-blue) to Romanian gatherings, or flowers, or even the flag. I can’t relate to it. That is a country that has hurt me (and all of us) so! A country whose lack of political wisdom, corruption, breaking all the laws and violating all human rights forced all of us to move far, far away and live with no family, and no real bonds. Amongst strangers. Why crave it? Why wish for it? Why cherish it here?!? Why re-live it?! Just to be martyrs? Or victims? That’s so lame. Shallow. Lame and boring.

I bring with me the Romanian things my family gave me; the personal things I want not to share with anyone but my family: the foods, the Saints’ feasts, the customs, the personal touches in the home; the china and art on the walls; the hand painted eggs, and ceramics; the language.

But I cannot get together and wishfully lust for a land and a culture that has raped me of everything sacred that I had, from my home, my family, myself, as I knew me at 23. A culture that has forced me to pack one suitcase full of clothes and run! And never look behind! A culture that still tortures and demeans my family. My flash and blood.

The Romanian culture for me was more like a dura mater rather than an alma mater

It forced me into an American exile even after my love and marriage had long been dead. There was no way back. Only forward. There are volumes to be written about my American experience and immigration in general. But this was not an easy choice.

So, to get together and celebrate our Romanianism has always just felt a bit masochistic and rude. Rude to our parents left behind. Rude to ourselves and our true feelings.

At least to me. If I cannot have my parents here, the fake love of strangers, I seek note.

It’s part of the whole immigration … odyssey, and it’s very, very hard to explain.

I do not regret my choice. Ever. And I see that some of the things that are Romanian encouraged this culture that pushed me (and us) away: the corruption springs from the jealousy of wanting what the neighbor has and bringing it to the rank of law! Lying, jealousy, and melancholy of the past are basis of Romanian “patriotism”!

Like I have said before: I think of myself as not placed in the world yet, but I love the Romanian in me: the caution, and ingenuity, the ability to not waste as much as my American fellows; the understanding for immigrants and oppression; the respect for everyone around me, and the “small country” frame of mind, of knowing that we’re not alone in the world, and we have to be mindful of all . But I am still uneasy to congregate with my fellow people.

It will be even harder, I know, 20 years from now. A woman without a country you can say I am. I still see myself sitting on the sidewalk in Margate, England, and crying that I don’t want to go back to Romania, because I had found my home. That was 1997. And I guess even earlier than that, at 16, in 1991, I have been looking for home, in my sleep talk.

I guess my roots did get planted firmly in Romanian soil. Forever. But my trunk, and branches, and leaves and blooms chose to belong to other realms. To America? Canada? Europe in general? The world?! They still look bend towards the roots, back towards where they started and to what feeds them, and see the starting point … But just like a graceful willow, they bend towards it, but they’ll never touch it again.

Final note: if this is totally confusing – it’s OK!