Quote of the day

From I’m an Old Commie by Dan Lungu

“Coming home, I took a close look at the block of flats where we live…The block was no longer new like it was when we moved in, deliriously happy. More than 30 years have passed since then and it hadn’t seen so much as a lick of paint in all that time. The walls were peeling, and the corners have been eaten away by the rain. On the wall above a window on the first floor, there was a thick black streak left by smoke. In the winter they’d probably put a wood stove in and stuck the flue out the window. The steps in front of the entrance were chipped and the banisters were bent, rattling to the touch.”

This description took me immediately back to the giant communist era edifices that line Bulevardul Unirii in Bucharest.

It’s a small world, part two

We’re preparing to move from the place that we’ve lived at for over ten years. I received an email from the assistant manager of my current place regarding my lease renewal and made an appointment with her to discuss our move out.

Mihaela Zoltany is her name. I think to myself, “Mihaela is a Romanian name”, but I didn’t know about the surname Zoltany.  I also suspected that “Mihaela” is probably common in other countries as well.

I went to the appointment and met her. The accent was much more obvious this time. I said, “Mihaela. Is that eastern European?”

“I’m from Romania.”

The coincidences are compelling. I need to go back. And I need to get my DNA checked.


It’s a small world after all…

I ride the train to and from work. I don’t usually have much interaction with other passengers. Going to work in the morning I usually sleep. Coming home I usually read or put my earphones and watch something on Netflix.

For a couple weeks now, there has been a new regular passenger that boards the train where I do and rides to Union Station. I’ve seen him every morning, but only occasionally on the ride home. Always friendly, he seemed always to want to chat, which is not usually my “thing”. I have my routine, you know?

After a couple weeks of random good mornings on the platform, yesterday morning we chatted on the platform waiting for our train. I had noticed before that he had an accent of some sort that I couldn’t quite place, so I asked him where the accent came from.

He said….

wait for it….

Oh, you already guessed. “I’m from Romania”, he said ( I hadn’t picked that up at all in his accent)

My jaw dropped open. Figuratively. At least I think it was figuratively.

I told him I had been to Romania twice, and his jaw dropped open. Definitely a metaphor this time…he actually did not seem surprised at all. He asked if I had gone for business or pleasure and I answered that it was neither really ( I was thinking of my first visit which was serendipity more than anything) and told him that I would explain another time when I had more time since our train was pulling in.

Of course, as fate would have it, we found ourselves together on the ride home. We sat at the same table and I told him my story of how I had come to visit his country and he told me some of his story.  How he had grown up in Communist Romania and came to the USA some 35 years ago before the Revolution. How he had been prepared to go back and fight at that time. How he had been involved in church missions to go back and help the street kids in Bucharest for some time. We talked about some of the history of his country, the people, the places, and the food. He seemed genuinely surprised that I liked sarmale and mămăligă and promised that he would bring me some the next time he prepared it (or the holidays, whichever comes first).

Before I knew it, we arrived at our stop, shook hands and wished each other a good weekend. I’m sure we will talk again and I look forward to it.

My new Romanian friend.



Despre Toamnă, partea a cincea (About Autumn, part five)

I feel it coming again. It comes in little bits and pieces this early in the season, but it’s coming. That feeling that I’ve been getting this time of year for the last five years or so. I like, and do not like, this season. I’ve written about it before and if you’re interested, you can find those writings.

I know it’s not Advent yet, but this sums it up:

 “In Advent, we are made aware that the hours of darkness are lengthening. The days grow shorter. Night seems to consume the world. Perhaps we feel the darkness in our own hearts, our own lives, our own prayer: we look for some sign of God and see nothing. Perhaps we are oppressed by the darkness of the world around us: we notice the poor living without shelter on our streets, we hear the cry of the hungry, we are alerted to wars and rumors of war. We yearn to see the day when Christ will come in all his glory to put an end to darkness of every kind. It has been said that in Advent we live in the night with our faces turned toward the unseen dawn. Hosea reminds us of the central conviction of the Advent spirit: ‘as certain as the dawn is his coming.’ Let us pray in hope for the rising of the Sun.”

– from the Magnificat

“…alerted to wars and rumors of wars…”

Even more so this year….