Saturday, September 26, 2009

Disgruntled: A Day Full of Hatred

Note: for the weak hearted: no, “hatred” is not too strong of a word!

I am not quite sure what will take for airlines to get they crap together? For someone to miss a really important world summit where they’re voting against blowing up the whole world because of their delays? Or for someone to miss a surgery that could save their lives? Or … for what??

Can we sue these people for emotional distress, if they cause us to miss our parents’ funerals? Our siblings weddings and christenings?! Can we?? ‘ Cause, boy, am I ready!

I am hardly one of those people who wants to sue somebody left and right, but I swear to you: airlines should learn a thing or two about customer service from Third World countries they’re so bad! And I come from such a country! To make people wait for a flight for a whole day or more should be illegal. Sure, you can redirect them! But did they ever think about the fact that sometimes people pick a certain connection for a reason? Or a certain amount of layover? Or a direct flight?! A certain reason which is personal and cannot be toyed with!

If I go to David’s Bridal Shop and I want a white wedding gown, they cannot possibly force me to buy a pink one, just because they don’t have white ones on stock. They will order me a white one! You can order a custom car. A custom house. A custom dinner. Not so with a flight! At the flight, you beg at the Almighty Gate of the Airlines!

Maybe someone hates a certain airport, because of the poor layout and organization which has caused them to miss several flights before (like I am with IAD, which, in Romanian spells HELL), or maybe someone has a baby, and a stroller to go with the baby, and a carry-on, and wants a direct flight because they don’t feel like running through airports with a 20 minute layover with all that baggage! Maybe … Just a thought!

But to think of people’s needs would actually mean that you’re thinking of people – which I am convinced airlines are not in the business of! They are in the business of moving bodies (at best) while making the most money with the least resources (I know: the tune of the times). All that at the cost of the consumer’s respect, nerves, and patience. Sometimes, even health! Because, as a buddy of mine would say “they’ve got us by the b^lls”! We will travel. We will use them. This country is so darn big that we have no choice! So, they don’t care.

Things are different in other places. I know, I have seen it on my own, and my family has experienced it plenty! All my relatives live abroad, in various countries, but they all dread dealing with any American airlines! They don’t mind anyone else in the world, but any American airline you pick has left a bitter taste in their mouths at some point in time! They all dread coming to visit because they loathe what they have to put up with: crowded airports and planes, delays over delays, cancellations, poor service, poor or no food or drinks, crappy connections, and the list goes on.

It is really sad when you think we teach others what civilization is all about in this world! We should, as always, start in our own back yard, don’t you think??? Back in school, “Transportation” was a chapter in the study of the geography of a country. It was the chapter that showed how advanced that country was: if you had roadways, train tracks, how many airports, etc – it showed how advanced you were. And if you built your airports, the customer service was sort of implied. But the slow functioning of American airports, and most often the non functioning leaves me wondering: how advanced we really are?!

And just on a personally bitchy note. Or maybe two. When a plane has a “technical problem” because of which it cannot take off, please cancel the darn thing and rebook the people! Do not post it as delayed for a whole entire day, or even half of a day for that matter! If it takes you that long to fix it, you think it’s a good thing to fly it?! And for the life of me why you cannot find another aircraft for that flight, if you are truly trying to delay it and not cancel it, violates, again, all the logics rules in my book!

And secondly, you, flight status websites out there trying to post the correct information on every flight in the world – I thank you for the intention, but honestly, if it goes past an hour, a delay should be posted in hours not minutes! You risk someone who’s already PO’ed because they’re not seeing their family to hate you, because now, they have to do math too! Seriously people: 765 minutes???? This is a flight. Not the Thanksgiving turkey!

I know: who’s listening, right?!?

The "only minutes away" delay at a certain website ...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Walk in the Park

Not many words today.

It's a quiet, and cool Sunday, one of those days where you smell fall in the air, from far, far away, but it's not quite here ... It's still being shy. One of those lazy Sundays, where most people are not on the roads, nor on the trails, but judging by the 10 cars in front of every house, they're probably in watching a game, drowning into a Keg and eating chicken wings... Hhmm ... chicken wings ...

One of those days...

And since I had no plans, my camera asked to be taken out. Ducks are always friendly, somewhere, and so are squirrels, I found.

Just click on the picture and see what you missed at Country Park this afternoon.

Happy new week!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Dog That Always Smiled

Once upon a time, some far, far away time … I used to be terrified of dogs. I am not sure how all that started, because my dad worked with animals all his life and raised us amongst them. We didn’t have pets, but we were around his work animals, and our family’s animals, in the mountains.

And yet, there was something about not being able to relate to dogs, that scared me. Maybe it was that one time in sixth grade when Tarzan, dad’s German shepherd snuck up on me, behind a bush in the darkness that startled me for life?! I don’t know what it was … really. But I could not be left alone with an unleashed dog till about seven years ago, no matter how tame the dog was promised to be, or how small.

Seven years ago, I met two dogs that changed my life. One of them died yesterday. And I wanted to take a moment to be grateful to Ms. Molly, for her generosity and patience with me.

The dogs that changed my life: the stoic Ms. Molly and
the ever inquisitive Dakota, the beagle

After J. became my boyfriend seven years back, it took something like 6 months (I think) until he built up the courage to introduce me to his dog. To say about his dog that he is a rambunctious beagle is to utter the understatement of the year! Knowing my fear of dogs then, J. didn’t trust Dakota to be around me. But he introduced me to his parents’ dog, Molly, first. He kept warning his parents to keep Molly away from me, and he kept telling me she is big and loud but she is a mush. I was dubious! “Big dog” to me, meant trouble. Definitely not “mush”.

I met Molly on a rainy spring afternoon. She was indeed big and absolutely gorgeous! I don’t remember her barking at me. I remember her smile and her whole body wag. Most dogs wag their tails in happiness and content. She shook her whole body and her tail. She was pure white, with dark, beady, black eyes. The corners of her mouth and her eyes looked drawn back, as if she was smiling.

I had brought her treats, and her mother, J.’s mom, assured me that she will forever be my friend, as “the way to Molly’s heart is always through her stomach”. Isn’t that the truth with all dogs?!

Over the years, she was always there, as part of the family, of course. She was just a mere presence. She was never needy nor bothersome, or if she was, she was not when I was around. She was so stoic. Always still and patient, as if she knew a bigger truth than life, but she had no way of sharing it.

Little by little, by watching her, I started understanding her body language and I started trusting her more. She was almost always calm, polite, waiting her turn to speak and to be fed, waiting patiently to go outside. Even not leashed, she never strayed far away from home.

She loved water and was the heart of lake parties, tirelessly bringing back balls her parents would throw in the water for her. She was at our feet when we opened Christmas presents, and under the table, when we ate our barbeque. She was mindful of other pets, even the neurotic, rambunctious Dakota, of her live-in step sister, Annie, the cat, and children. She was the easiest dog to be around. All she needed was a bowl of water, a cookie and some food. She had so much love to give.

Her parents suspected that she might have been mistreated in her previous household, because she was a bit defensive against guys in caps, and when you hid something behind your back from her. A bit untrusting. But her deep, short bark told you she’s not happy. But for the most part, when she was not just seated, in her meditative gaze, her whole body was wagging with joy, and her face always bore a smile.

And thus she taught me that dogs are not indeed killer machines, but just faithful companions of all creatures. I have always thought she made a house into a home: to this day, when I think of a perfect home, I picture a big, white dog just like Ms. Molly snoozing in front of the fire place. Me?! The dog non-lover! Want a dog in a home to make it perfect!

Age related weakness and diseases took her away. But as I always say: pets never die. They’re forever, and when time comes, they just move out. And wait for us, patiently. Somewhere we can’t just visit.

I thank you, Ms. Molly, for teaching me your love and allowing me into your life. You were such a precious gift to me, and to everyone who knew you. I hope you are pain free and smiling somewhere, and your all body wag will never stop.

I miss you, and you’ll always have a place in my heart, in the very corner reserved for doggies only, which appeared within me about seven years ago, when we met.

I could have never given you what you gave me – a new, happy, fuller, joyful life. But I can promise you I will always love you.

Happier and healthier times (2005):
Ms. Molly loving the water

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Life Is Good

Grateful for simple things, on a Sunday morning.

I have always dreamed about this. Since living in the communist flats for years, back home, crammed, and airless, sharing in smells of stopped up toilets, burst pipes, stray cat urine and moldy walls from the 100 close neighbors, my whole family dreamed of a time when we can sit outside, and have our coffee in the morning, in the fresh air, and just listen to the breeze, the birds and the city noises, and just recharge, and cleanse our souls.

I remember my parents visiting their friends who owned houses and backyards, and no matter how cold or rainy it was outside, they always wanted to sit on the patio, in the back, to have dinner. We all craved air. Wide, open, fresh, air. We wanted to feel the breeze and see the sky! We hated walls!

My parents own a huge house with a beautiful yard now, and unless it’s pouring outside, they spend about 90% of their home time in their yard and on their patio in the warm seasons. The craving for air never stopped with them. And they’ve worked all their lives to own a yard, more than to own a house, really!

I am saying this with torn happiness and melancholy in my heart, as I am sitting on my very own patio, in the shade, looking at my tomatoes, dill and roses, and sipping my coffee this morning. I hear birds, cicadas, lawn mowers, an occasional car, and planes …

I have privacy, fresh air, and an open space to call my own. It’s a dream come true, in home ownership! I am so fortunate: mom and dad waited till they were in their late 40’s to own a yard. I have had mine, in various incarnations, since I was in my mid 20’s!

And as much as I enjoy working in my yard, and seeing things grow, and eating a fresh fruit or two, that’s never been the reason why I wanted to have a yard! The reason was a yearning for freedom, mostly: to own a place where I can be outside, and listen to nature, and feel peaceful and simply content. A place close to home, where I can be part of something bigger than me, where I can just escape, and slow down, and take in the events of a week, and give myself a pep talk that life is not all that sour after all, where there are blue skies, and hours to kill, and cardinals perched on pickets, and cool, fresh, crisp smells of clean air. A place where time stands still and there is no rushing towards the next chore. A place where nature floods in. A place with no walls.

Life’s good, I tell you! I only wish mom and dad would be here to share this with me. I know, though, that no matter what physicality we’re in, we’re together in our hearts. After all, they have planted the dream of my own back yard deeply into my heart. It’s because of them that I love and understand this simple peace. And when I enjoy this, they’re with me. Forever.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Far Away, So Close. A Weekend Blog

At one time in my life, my idea of happiness was to run away from civilization and buy several acres of bare land in Montana (yes, I was specific about the state), with a run down, fixer up log cabin on it, and just live off of potatoes and corn. If corn makes it up there. If not, woods berries and mushrooms would do!

As I have lived in the middle of booming and Yankee invaded North Carolina for the past 11 years or so, I have learned that no matter how much I love my “me” time, and my mountains, I love human contact, various cuisines, shopping centers, libraries, and the ocean just as much! Variety is the key word!

I say this as I am thinking of a very blissful weekend that just passed. My sweetie and I have explored anything from sushi on Tate Street in the UNCG Campus, to the trails of Stone Mountain, from The Mellow Mushroom pizza, in Downtown Greensboro, to the two immense stories of great Swedish finds at Ikea, and the Swedish meatballs, of course, in Charlotte, from the kitchen stores at Friendly Shopping Center to the delicious fried pickles at The Penguin Drive-in in the Queen City.

The proximity to both larger cities and the mountains from Greensboro, along with the never ending gift that Greensboro itself is, are such conveniences on weekends like these: with many days to fill and no specific plans!

There is always something to do, socially, sure, like standup shows, and plays and bands to see, or a newly open food joint in our hopping downtown, but the independently planned play time is what both me and my guy favor! And we never seem to be lacking ideas on how to comfortably fill our weekends!

I might be too tired to travel and explore new cities and foods and trails on 85 degree hot summer days in 75% humidity, one day. Maybe I will prefer the coolness of Montana or Colorado remoteness from the world, at some point in my life. But not in the near future!

No pictures of Ikea nor of the sushi, but for the rest, visit The Labor Day album, and make plans (hopefully) to visit your neighborhood!