Monday, September 29, 2014

GOD BLESS: ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE.


This is a photo of Taka and Sonny, on a side of the freeway, in a small forest in Nagano, Japan. The grave is Taka's Grandmother's. We went to Japan in 1997 to celebrate the anniversary of her passing away and the moving of that grave to a new site. 
I wrote a detailed account of that trip in the series of stories called, The Cities, and re-posted the part about us being in Nagano just recently under a name: The Memories of Nagano
I found this picture five minutes ago. Although its nice to remember the beautiful trip, the wonder of Japan and the generosity of Taka's family, this particular moment was not a happy one. 
Things have greatly improved since 1997. At first, it was because we got used to each other's bad sides and learned to stay out of each other's way. Then I began to try and jump-start a new me, by seeing a counselor and writing this blog. 
I realized that, what I took for improvement was, in fact, a cop out! Since then I began to behave differently, even though not always succeeding to keep "apples in my cheeks" (Mr. P.'s name for a smile) while insisting on keeping dignity in dealing with Taka. 
Our 25th Anniversary.
Yes, things changed for the better for real now. Because of that, I am not going to tell you the story, why this picture makes me sad. I'll focus on the positive side of things and bless the Grandmother's name for bringing up Taka and her whole family! 


Sunday, September 28, 2014

SOMEWHERE ELSE


A Community of Faith Breakfast at my church. I went because, I had to meet a lady - Mary Kaye representative - there. She sold me a couple of lipsticks.


Does it sound funny that, I went to such a meeting just for a business transaction? The thing is, I was not interested anymore in hearing the praises to Rev. and Mrs. Moon! That's what it turned into: Dr. Durst, a former church President and a teacher at the church school for the last thirty years or so, made a speech.
He talked at some length of Rev. Moon's accomplishments and of the church community working tirelessly to uphold every member's spiritual life, as well as dignity and value. 
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Here is Dr. Durst as a much younger man, talking about the Unification Church, what else!
One of the biggest problems I have with the church is that, I didn't feel all that "upheld" and nurtured! My own accomplishments and victories came as a result of hard work and sacrifice. When I needed guidance, I rarely got it. 
Dr. Durst talked about the value of each family. "Peaceful families", "beautiful families!" - he sang. Yes, sounds very appealing, doesn't it? 
We, people of different countries, cultures and worldviews, were matched by Rev. Moon. How hard it is even for the couples from a similar background to understand and love each other, when mutual attraction is their bases of the relationship in the first place! We chose to be together, according to Rev. Moon's suggestion. Most of the time we never met each other before that, but that's not the worst thing: after all, we had a desire to make a family together, which would bring restoration to our cultures and lineages. 
The worst is that, we had no help dealing with the realities of life with a total stranger! There was no guidance, even when we urgently asked for it. Perhaps, you might say, ours was a new movement, and things needed time to be arranged? 
Twenty years after Taka and I were married, (and not for the first time) I asked to meet with our local pastor, to talk about the grievous lack of connection and understanding with my husband. I would be still waiting for that meeting, if I didn't, like they say in Russia, "spit on it", finally, and looked elsewhere for help! 

But I started talking about "each member's spiritual life and character being upheld". 
I have so many of the same hang ups and character flaws thirty years after joining that movement! Except, to a small extent, helping me to understand, what religious life should be, no one ever showed any interest in helping me to grow, as a person, which, of course, also brought a lot of difficulties in my "peaceful and beautiful" family.
I like Dr. Durst, actually! He has the Jewish sense of humor and isn't a bad person, but today he lied through his teeth! 

Roberta is enjoying spotlight
 in a group of pastors and members.
Another question arises: what about these pastors and lay people, who come to the Unification Church meetings and meals? Are they aware of the church's leadership being as flaky as we found out lately? Are they aware that, the members, who serve and smile and clap so eagerly, - some of these same members - feel tremendous betrayal because of the actions of the Moon clan? Or is it a free meal that brings them along?
What would my "brothers and sisters" in the movement say, if they read this blog (which, by the way, none of them is interested to do, despite my requests)? No, I can not count on their interest or understanding. My path has to lie somewhere else.




Thursday, September 25, 2014

GO AHEAD, SHOOT! HEALTHIER ME.


Do you remember me writing about my friend from Russia? We met in the first grade and continued on being friends through the school years and after, - all the way until I immigrated from Russia. Recently we could write to each other again.
I mentioned in my e-mail to her that, I write this blog. She said, even though her English is very limited, she would try to read it.
I expected her to enjoy it or, at least, to be polite about it, but she shocked me by writing: "I read your blog for September. I am sorry, I didn't like it!"
A year ago I would've been crushed. I wasn't exactly overjoyed to hear such a thing now, but my, somewhat, recovered psyche allowed me to quickly digest her response and allow her to have her opinion without going to pieces about it.
I should not say that, actually. My psyche never was whole to begin with, so I can state instead that, for the first time in my life, I have enough self confidence to be secure, even in the face of rejection!
     The irony of the situation is: writing blog is one of the 
reasons, why my attitude is so different now! I think, I was always meant to become a writer; I love doing it and derive most pleasure from it!  
Changing my environment and allowing myself to absorb other truths, than the one that I've become enmeshed in, also helped. 
My friend is dear to me, although we both realize that, 
we know next to nothing about each other and have very little in common. She just came out and said that too! 
Should I love her less for it? She is one of the brightest spots in my life!
So, instead of taking offence, I replied to her: "Wow, you shoot from the hip! OK, if you didn't like it, you didn't like it!" And that was it! I hope, she will write to me again: she sounds like a very truthful and real person and seems to accept me for myself - just what I am missing in my life!


Wednesday, September 24, 2014

THE CHALLENGER



     For three days and nights Sylvie sits on this new scratcher pad. She comes and goes, of course, but, inexplicably, she would park herself for long periods of time on that rough, dusty, pad, as if it was the most comfortable place in the house.
     I noticed it before: the cats choose to lie down their fluffiness on some astonishingly uncomfortable, at least, from a human point of view, perch. That includes lying on plastic bags (right next to a soft, natural fiber blanket), on a bunch of wires, resting their heads on the extension plugs. Cardboard boxes and paper bags are like thrones to the felines: they'd refuse to leave them for whole days at a time.
     What does that remind me? Are they learning to be so possessive and territorial from us, or we never un-learned it from he days when we ran around the jungle, striving to achieve dominance over other animals? 
     Sonny and I often spend hours, debating some issue. In a way, I come from a very conservative background, and Sonny, well, I taught him to challenge accepted norms and concepts (otherwise, how could he understand, why our lifestyle was so different from much of the world?). 
     Even so, I find myself fighting for my every word, because my young son-person tends to accompany his point of view by phrases like: "Wh-y-y do you believe that? I read that..." or "In my Social Psychology class I heard..."
     As the result, a lot of my, seemingly, immovable concepts tend to spatter and fiz away, leaving a place in my mind now ready to be filled with more modern ideas. 
     What prompted me to go into all this? I guess, we are different from animals, who are afraid to leave their perch in the world, because we can be flexible in our opinions; that's why, we survived, while having no sharp claws and and teeth and beaks. Humans adapt and change, ensuring the survival of our species.

     
 My young son-person, I am grateful to you for making me relevant to our times! Thank you and - keep on challenging the authoritative attitudes, making the world a little bit more suitable for my grandchildren!

Monday, September 22, 2014

CAT TROUBLES

My poor Chickie is not doing extremely well. O, he still constantly begs for food, especially, if its not the stuff that, we usually feed him and Sylvie. Everytime before I fed Goldie, I would make sure to give a few morsels of her food to my cats, otherwise they try to get out on the porch to grab the food from her. Now that bag is finished! The cat-angels intervened, though, and sent Goldie some more sustenance. An acquaintance just lost her cat, Tigger, to sickness, and she brought all of his remaining cans of Friskies, as well as a scratcher pad and some other things, to me. So, since we want to keep giving our cats the food which wouldn't make them sick, as the supermarket bought products used to do, Goldie-the--stray gets to eat Friskies!
The effect on Chickie is devastating! I don't want to start doling out canned mush to all three cats, but that's what he wants! Both, he and Sylvie, await the moment when I open the refrigerator (an opened can of Friskies is there), and start milling around my legs, crying and complaining miserably about the unfairness that they suffer.
Most of the other time, when he is not teasing Sylvie, Chickie lies down with a pained, tired expression on his face. 
                   Remember how we took him to the vet about a month ago to get a piece of chicken bone out of his jaw? That was when we first found out that, he has a heart murmur.                                                               
Here he was, hiding behind my back, mournfully hugging my purse in fright!
The doctor told us to bring him for a an x-ray, to determine the cause of the problem. That visit cost us almost $300, and I was hesitating to spend the same amount on x-ray. Is it too cold-blooded, do you think, to treat our beloved pet that way? I don't know. I do feel bad about it, but money is really short right now!
Because that question was weighing heavily on my conscience, today I decided to bring Chikie for that procedure. We loaded him into a pet carrier (he escaped from it once and galloped away in panic). Sonny caught him, and off we went, listening to Chickie's familiar protests. Its amazing, how long that little throat of his can keep on meowing! Those  meows tore at our hearts with every desperate note! People, who stopped next to us at the street light, looked at me accusingly, like: "Is someone torturing that cat?!"

The clinic told us to just leave Chickie with them, until they finish taking pictures of him and call us. It took more than three hours for them to, finally, get to him. We all (Sonny, Roberta, and myself) got in the car again and drove to the clinic. Chickie was glad to see us. His meows in the car sounded completely different! Now, in very piteous tones, he was telling us of his ordeal. Sonny let him out of the pet carrier, and Chickie made himself comfortable in Sonny's arms, until he decided to go back to his apartment - the pet carrier again.




Friday, September 19, 2014

SHELTER

jpeg (284×178)

     Led by the shaman, we walked through the parts of the forest, where few men walked before. He told us to leave behind all weapons. We traveled for just a couple of hours, but the woods were dark, like if it was much later in a day. Almost no light penetrated the ancient trees' crowns, but the air was fresh and full of the bird song. 
     That is, until we passed through. Silence followed in our wake, as if the wood and the creatures in it were shocked by our invasion.
images (236×213)     The deeper we went, the more we began to notice that, the forest wasn't just still. The tree branches snagged our clothes and skin. Even though the birds stopped singing, we heard the animals move through the brush. As we turned a corner on the path,  a moose met us and bugled his challenge! Fortunately, something spooked it, and it crushed away through the small bushes and the trees. We soon saw, what scared it: on a hillock, a wolf was watching us pass through hateful eyes.
images (259×195)
images (267×189)      A boar ran across the path, stopped, hoofed the ground and lowered it's head in defiance. We then spotted an owl and a small lynx, sitting on the branches of the same tree. The lynx hissed and yowled, sounding demented. 
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     It looked, like all these creatures were channeling the mood of the wood, and it was anger!
     A white capped mountain was in our left. We trode on, feeling the tension all around us, but still in awe of the sanctity of the forest's heart.
     The shaman stopped before a large copse of cedars. If the shaman didn't point to it, we would've passed right by. Dark mist surrounded it and made it hard to see. 
                                                 images (318×159)

         a large animal's musk surrounded us, so strong, that it was almost tangible, but instead of being unpleasant, it was strangely appealing! 
images (182×277)     We broke through the brush, but before we could orient ourselves, the ground shook, and a huge bear rushed at us!  
     

   

     





To Be Continued

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Thursday, September 18, 2014

20 Years- Jin Yang



That's a song by a young man, a husband of one of my Facebook acquaintances. I love, how romantic it is!

TALENT IN THE FAMILY. DON'T GET CONFUSED!

     I've written about my parents and posted their picture as a young couple. Don't worry, I am not about to do it again...
     Or am I?
     Hanah drew these picture and a comic based on the old photo. She said, it made her a little sad, but was also quite therapeutic
     If you wonder, why my mother's name appears to be Raisa on the gravestone, instead of Rimka, as I called her in the stories, its because Jewish people many times had a few different names!
     Sometimes, if a child got sick, parents gave it another name, to confuse evil spirits, which plagued it.
     To protect boys from being conscripted into tsar's army, they also got names other than their own (to confuse the government, that plagued them). 
     Besides that, people were re-named n order to blend better with non-Jews. 
     My dad, whose passport name was Meyer, thus became Izya (Israel) and, later, to remove the sting of anti-Semitic attacks on his person, - Igor, which is a purely Russian name, - to confuse the chauvinistic b...s, who plagued him. 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

SHELTER

 images (275×183)     The night was very quiet. The only sounds came from the cabin, where Yokoyama, Sawanni and the kids talked. I walked almost to the very door, when a sound stopped me in my tracks.
     A growl. Then, unbelievably - painful yipping!
images (261×193)   I peered into the bush in front of the cabin. I saw Midori hiding there, staring at the window. Her nose wrinkled horribly and she bared her fangs in a growl again. I must've gasped, because she looked at me with a painful expression and began to crawl towards me, yipping. I knocked on the window, before going to the wolf. Sawanni came out first, then Yokoyama. Midori sprung to her paws and nearly knocked him over, her teeth clicking in hatred inches away from his arm. Dular intercepted, grabbed her and rolled with her to the grass. 
     Midori seemed to cool down immediately and licked his face in apology, still making small painful noises, like she was fighting something inside of her.
   The adults stood watching in confusion, while Amur and Dular petted Midori, trying to calm her down. The red streaks under her eyes stopped flashing, like they usually do in her aggressive moments. The crest lay back down on her spine, and she kept licking the boys, still throwing uneasy glances at Yokoyama. 
     When we came out in the morning, we saw that, the grass and trees along the road that yesterday brought Yokoyama's Jeep back to camp turned black, as if scorched. The wind from taiga carried with it acrid smell. It was not the smell of fire, but of hatred. 
   A man was walking to the farm. He avoided the blackened road and cut through the woods. He wore different clothes than the Evenks, but I would recognize a shaman anywhere. 
     He turned out to be a holy man from a local tribe. We greeted each other in a traditional fashion. I invited him to sit down at one of the tables in the yard. Amur and Dular brought some food and drink. We ate, made small talk, for a while not asking our guest the reason for his visit.
     His eyes kept searching all of our faces. Finally, after the initial pleasantries were observed, he drew deeply on his pipe and said: "The wood is awake and its angry. I dreamed of this man here" - he pointed at Yokoyama - "The wood knows, he could be one of those, who can bring the same destruction here as what happened on the other side of Baikal. I dreamed of the great mushroom cloud engulfing all the life and carrying it away to the Other Side."
images (254×199)     The shaman smoked some more in silence. We were too stunned and unsure, what to say, so we said nothing. He continued:
     - "The heart of the wood is angry. I see no evil in your souls, even in this one" - another poke at the General - "but he needs to offer some assurances to the wood. A sacrifice, perhaps."
                                                                                                                                                                  images (259×194)