Thursday, September 25, 2008
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.
I guess they call it "Depression" for a reason.
This ain't fun!
Monday, September 22, 2008
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
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.
It’s part of the whole immigration … odyssey, and it’s very, very hard to explain.
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
Friday, September 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
There are some places I visit that I can’t quite bring myself to define. I go and I am not sure what my expectations are. I am not even sure I can explain this, but … they’re a mish-mash of a bunch of things. It’s not that they don’t have personality – far be that from true, but … they offer it all and none of one specific thing at the same time …
Thursday, September 04, 2008
My friends all know that I love to take pictures of signs. I think I'll put a site together for all the ones I have collected over the years. They inspire me and they give me an insight on how people's minds work, sometimes. And sometimes how they don't. Work, that is...My favorite signs were definitely in New Orleans. That place is wicked full of originality and weirdness though, so that was an easy pick.
The last two trips I took though, I could not take pictures of the signs that "made me go: hmmm...", for various reasons: either I saw them while in a speeding car, or I was on a military base, and my company felt too scared (intimidated?!) to let me shoot. So... I can only talk about them. And I wanted to mention the three that caught my eye, as I find them ... unique.
Only approaching a place like Charlotte, NC, you can see a billboard that reads: "It's not rude! It's racing!". Trust me: I am NOT particularly proud that my new nephew shares his birthday with Dale Earnhardt.
Another sign was on the Fort Story Military Base in Virginia. I thought it was cleverly put, albeit bossy, but hey, we were in Army territory. Growing up with an Army mom, I can understand sternness! It was a speed limit sign, but instead of a boring "25 MPH Speed Limit", it read: "26 MPH is breaking the law". Yes, Sir! I hear ya loud and clear! Now, that is ONE speed limit sign even I will obey!
My friend didn't allow me to shoot that one, although we were stopped, and searched for nefarious objects in our truck. I want one of those signs in my house: I think it's brilliant!
My favorite sign of this year belonged to a ... carwash. But hey, with a dirty mind like mine, take it out of context and you have a good (and easy in more ways than one) joke. It read: "Soft touch, touchless or both!". Yes, with the exclamation point, too. Well, heLLo, there, and how YOU doin'?!
Tuesday, September 02, 2008
I have been on the road a lot this year, it seems.
Atlanta ... Norfolk ... Arlington... DC ... Blowing Rock .... Raleigh ... Montreal ... Norfolk again ... And I am planning at least four more trips till the year closes ...
One question allows itself to peek its ugly head and interrupt me: what am I looking for?!
My dad used to (still does) leave us for a day ... a couple of days ... a week ... one time even a month ... when things got "ugly" at home. You know: just too much to handle. I always wondered what was he going out there for? Why was he not just talking it out, and resolving whatever it was that bugged him... Why did he have to leave us?!
And that was my most horrifying feeling: what if dad, the most sturdy pillar of the home, will not come back? What if he will be distracted out there, in the world, and never come back? So many nights I have lost (used?) praying God to bring him back. And God always listened.
I feel like now, I grew up to be my dad, ironically... when things get "ugly" here, I wander ...
Are the loneliness, and emptiness, and pain that I have felt this year sending me out on the road so much? And I am looking for some kind of answer from the world? I feel like that's a double "yes".
I wish I could call dad and ask him what he found in all those wanderings. But we're not supposed to talk about the wanderings. Those are his alone. I am sure, though, he found some kind of strength to keep going. Or did he find it "there" ...?!
I am not sure what I found if anything. Higher gas prices and lots and lots of accumulated tiredness for sure. Lots of miles on my car. Seeing friends, and bonding, shooting some beautiful corners of the world, sure ....
But is the pain gone? The loneliness? The emptiness?
Not that sure ...
I cooked dinner tonight. And Fero was standing in front of my oven sniffing the garlic and rosemary flavor seeping through the oven door. Gypsy was asleep, upside down, on the dining room chair, and Little Kitty was passed out on a shelf, listening to "An American Prayer"...
And for the first time this year, I felt like the puzzle pieces have come together ...Finally. For the first time, in eight months, I was not only home. I felt home.
Not sure why, but the smell in the oven, and my house, full with cats and me, and my thoughts has felt fuller than it has in years ...
I guess I needed to go out to rediscover the in. What's new, right?!
Whatever the reason: I am grateful God listened once more. And that I am back.