Thursday, April 30, 2015


     As they say in Russia: "Things go on, the office is working..." In preparation to going to Hanah's graduation, I decided to freshen up my hair-do. By that I mean, I wanted to re-dye my hair in some different hue as soon, as I did it in January! One more visit to the Beauty Spa salon, and: voila!
     Instead of the orange clown hair, I now have brown-orange-purple-hued mess on my head!

Ah, the heck with it, as long as we have our health... yea...

     Sonny's beard lately began to resemble that of Ivan the Terrible. On one side of his chin, for some reason, the hair stuck out.

Last night, in the spirit of making changes in our appearances, he shaved the beard, but tried to experiment with mustaches.

Not bad, but he looks to be about thirty years old!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT BALTIMORE - a comment on a post in Margaret and Helen blog.

     Sometimes I follow a blog called Margaret and Helen, and a last post in it attracted my attention. I carefully read it and wrote a comment. In it I didn't include all of my thoughts on the events that recently happen in the United States. I wish, I understood them better. Still, I have a personal opinion on them.

Here is a post in a blog:

A Message to Whiteyby Helen Philpot

Margaret - I had assumed if I wrote again, it would mostly likely be about Hillary. But watching all this violence in Baltimore unfolding on the television moves me to write this instead. Normally I would tell you that when it comes to racial issues, an old white woman from Georgia probably should keep her mouth shut and her opinion to herself. In fact, that's probably a good idea for white people everywhere because we really probably will just say a whole lot of stupid if we open our mouths right now. But you know me, I have never known when to just shut up...


About 60 years ago my husband and I scraped together every penny we had to buy a small but lovely home in a safe neighborhood with good schools. Our children had a lovely childhood. They got a good education and always knew that going to college was an achievable goal. The worst thing that ever happened in our neighborhood was a bad divorce or a scandalous affair. Murders and robberies happened across town. And when that happened we spoke of it in hushed tones as we smoked fancy cigarettes and drank iced tea on the back porch. Our children all graduated from college, married and had families of their own. Our grandchildren are repeating the cycle and we even have some great-grandchildren who will continue to do well long after I am dead and gone.


About 60 years ago my husband and I would have tried to scrape together enough money to buy a small but lovely home in a safe neighborhood with good schools. Unfortunately the banks would not give us funding and the neighborhood we wanted was restricted anyway. Our children would never truly feel the American dream was about them. The schools they attended would be poorly funded and under-achieving in every way. As hard as I tried to hide it from them, they would know that a life of crime, drugs and violence was a real possibility and it probably would pay better than any job they could get. Fearing authority would come more easily than trusting it. Some of them might overcome the odds but more than likely they w0uld repeat a life of near poverty and almost but not quites... College would be possible but nearly twice as many of their white friends would see that happen rather than their black friends. They would have been called the n-word in various forms many times in their life and they would know that 1 in every 15 African American men are incarcerated in comparison to 1 in every 106 white men. When my family eventually celebrated the election of the first black President... we would have done so knowing he might be the last for many years to come. My grandchildren and great-grandchildren might fare slightly better, but only slightly and only if they were very lucky.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, one in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
Students of color face harsher punishments in school than their white peers, leading to a higher number of youth of color incarcerated.
The war on drugs has been waged primarily in communities of color where people of color are more likely to receive higher offenses.
Once convicted, black offenders receive longer sentences compared to white offenders.
Voter laws that prohibit people with felony convictions to vote disproportionately impact men of color.
Studies have shown that people of color face disparities in wage trajectoryfollowing release from prison

Having written this, I know I should probably erase and just turn off this computer. But you know me...

This Whitey really doesn't fully understand what is happening in Baltimore. What I have written here is not meant as an excuse for the violence, but it certainly is a reason to look beyond the violence and try to see the truths behind it. I know there is no excuse for violence and that it won't solve the problem. I know that you don't put out the fire in your kitchen by starting one in your living room. But I also know I have never known and might never know someone in a gang. And I personally will probably never know anyone who has been shot at or killed by a bullet outside of a war zone. My life is very sheltered and my opinion is, therefore, very narrow. The images I see on television don't even remotely relate to my reality.

Yes. I really should have just kept my opinion to myself. Unfortunately, a 24-hour never-ending news cycle made that very, very hard to do. I mean it... Really.

And here is my comment to it (you are welcome to air your own opinions, of course):

  1. I agree with you on every point, except, what are we going to do about it? Excuse the violence in hushed tones and get back to out white lives? In my life I’ve known persecution and danger. I might not understand, what black mothers and fathers go through, but I am open to hear them. I just don’t understand, how looting and violence help the cause of equal rights. In my country of the Soviet Union I also studied the way some underground or covert movement can exploit difficulties in society for its own agenda. And that agenda would be to undermine the said society and create, what is called, “a revolutionary situation”, when desperation and confusion will push people to follow the path to a totalitarian regime. Nice white people in this country might not see or understand this and ignore the unacceptable behavior, because of our white liberal guilt. We need to push for positive, common sense reforms in our law enforcement, but always be vigilant.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


My passionate daughter's old drawings:

What do you make of them? What was she going through, but couldn't tell me? It's so strange: first everything our children do and think comes from the parents - us! I was the one, who gave her first crayons and pencils and nourished Hanah's desire to draw. And then, they move away, separate and autonomous, and we have no idea, what motivates them in their decisions and creation. 

Monday, April 20, 2015


Chef's Experience Chinese Bistro in Hayward

First we went to the church picnic at Lake Chabot Regional Park. We ate hamburgers and chatted with a lot of people. In the evening my family declared, they didn't want me to have to cook, so we went out to a restaurant again!
Can you tell, we were very hungry?


     It was nice. 
After we came home, Sonny went out and came back with a pie for me!

images (259×194)

The whole family signed a card:

It plays music and a puppy barks Happy Birthday song.

Saturday, April 18, 2015


     Pre-birthday restaurant outing. Taka drove, so, sorry to say, if he reads this blog, by the time we got to the Sushi Boat, I was car sick. To my protests on the road he asked: "Do you want to drive? I said: "I should have!"
      I didn't let the heaving stomach stop me, of course, and we had our customary Japanese fair: Sashimi and Sushi selection, 
Ramen for Taka, Sashimi for me, Salmon Teriyaki for Roberta and Saba Shioyaki for Sonny.   

 We drank Green tea, talked and laughed.



All's peaceful. The TV in Roberta's room is informing us of the perfect way to perm one's hair. Chickie, finally, gave up the quest for more people's food and more attention. He ran away to the garden, and Sonny chased him down, holding Sylvie at him, like a rifle. Sonny then proceeded to lug both cats back in his arms at the same time, which they didn't enjoy, especially, Chickie, who knows Sylvie's temper and is afraid to be in close proximity to her. 
     I will be fifty seven tomorrow. Wow, could it really be true? I don't feel like a fifty seven year old! Not on the inside, anyway! 
Life is offering me so much right now. And I don't mean the external gifts. Internally I am more at peace than I ever was. 
In the Unification Church I was happy for a long time. I felt, I had a purpose, and my life meant something. But after a few years I began to catch myself being more smug than righteous and more wound up than genuinely enjoying the moment. I didn't want to do anything anymore, but still spouted at everyone the same ideas and encouragements.
     Thank you, In Jin Moon, for helping me make up my mind to look somewhere else for spiritual growth and enlightenment! For many years we sat in a church, watching you on the screen (the normal Sunday sermons, given by a local pastor, were suspended). There was something wrong with the whole picture, but I couldn't put my finger on it. Was it that, we had nothing in common with a young Korean woman - you - preaching at us? We listened to you speak with a put-upon British accent of the loyalty to the True Parents (your parents) and their teachings, which you were already cheerfully betraying in your own life; we knew, we should be inspired, but fell asleep anyway. Perhaps we (I, at least) felt that, you were as false as that British accent of yours!
images (192×160)     Ooph, I slipped right back into the resentment mode! No, this is over. I won't give them another  ounce of my time or energy. I am grateful and happy to be out and starting my new life.
     If only there was more years of life left for me to start! Today I read a little poster with Buddha's saying: "The trouble is, you think, you have enough time!" He knew, what he was talking about: life is so fragile and uncertain, who knows, when the rug will be pulled from under our feet, and we'll go to meet our Maker?
     When I go, I'd like it to be... What a strange thought to have on the eve of one's birthday! Well, wait until you are fifty seven, you'll be thinking these things too! 
     But, seriously, did you ever think, how it will happen? What would be the last words you speak, the last touch of your hand, the last deed? Dear God, please, empty my heart of all bitterness, so that on my last minutes on this Earth I can offer something of lasting value to the people around me. Dear God!

 giphy.gif (500×275)

Thursday, April 16, 2015


     tumblr_n1o576GrWP1tsu9xao1_400.gif (400×225)      Did I ever tell you, my readers, how much I appreciate your comments? 
     Recently a lady left me a note in a comment section below the text of the post, telling me a little about her situation in reference to what I wrote about Sonny. I can't tell you, how much that moved me: that a person would take time from their busy life not only to read my unworthy scribblings, but to share their opinion with me!
     We are nothing without the reciprocal relationships, which sustain our human need for acknowledgement and, yes, support. Why did God create this Universe? I believe, also for the sake of a reciprocal relationship with His creations. Divine or human, we crave the word, the touch,.. the wink, the look, - that would let us know, there is someone out there, who hears us.  
                                             dino_forest.jpg (1024×768)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015


     It's a good thing, I am not as insecure as I was a couple of years ago!
     Sonny's news that, he missed a deadline to transfer into a 4 year college shook me up. I don't know, how to be a kind of a parent, who wouldn't react to such situation with dismay. The thing that causes me most pain is not whether Sony goes to college or not. I am concerned about the way his character is shaping up to be.
     I heard the alarm bells in my mind, when he would refuse to get up even for the most important of the reasons. Noticing, how he would stuck in his room made me very uneasy, although he and some other people told me, it was usual for the young people these days to spend so much time gaming or watching videos and anime online. 
     But Sonny seemed so determined to go to college right after school and told me so many stories about his classes, teachers and the material he studied (he was very easy going, once he came out of his cave)! I told myself: "See, he is managing! He'll do fine!"
     It's not a tragedy, that he didn't manage to get into college this year. There are other options for his education. I am talking about the fact that, 1. He put entertainment and leisure ahead of his main job - study and 2. He would not acknowledge his mistake in any way, as well as continue (at least outwardly) to lead the same way of life, taking no responsibility to correct the situation.
     He is my son, and I love him. I want him to grow to be a great man, husband and father - a citizen - who can add something to the world. 
     I worked hard these few days to calm down, understanding the need to be objective and not screw up the situation even further. I wrote a few post in this blog, each of them - calmer than another. I continue to take part in the discussions Sonny and Taka have, even though they largely ignore my point of view.
     Mr. P. was very helpful for me to understand Sonny's reality. We talked about it at length at our sessions. I am still working up my nerve to tell Sonny, he has to shape up or find himself another place to live, as Mr. P. suggested. Imagine my surprise, when in reaction to me half-humorously calling Sonny a slacker in one of my posts, Mr. P. wrote a comment, where he strongly warned me off being judgemental toward Sonny or harming him emotionally. I continuously tried to explain myself, pointing out: I wrote the blog with love and humor (the pictures of Sonny in that post are cute, with nothing to suggest me judging him). I even pointed out that, I don't claim to know it all, and Mr. P. could be right, but he kept on insisting that, my blog became "insecure place" and telling me, how I should or shouldn't apologize.
     I learned from Mr. P. how to observe the boundaries. It's my blog, I write it to work out some of my thoughts or problems. I'll gladly take advice, but enough is enough!  


Monday, April 13, 2015

PAIN OR NO PAIN - repost and a commentary

     Here is a repost of my New Year's blog. I worried about Hanah then. Gee, is there no end to this parent's roller-coaster? Still, I am learning some things. Just a little while ago Mr. P. wrote a comment to my latest post,"Life of a slacker". He said, he is uncomfortable with me judging Sonny as a slacker, and I should first "clean my side of the street before talking about my son that way. 
     1. I referred to Sonny as a slacker with love and humor.
     2. In my session with Mr. P. he agreed with me in that assessment and suggested to take some strict measures, to aid the development of Sonny's character.
     3. This blog is not only for the benefit of my readers, it's also  the way for me to voice my concerns, so I don't regret honestly doing just that. 
     4. I did criticize myself, as well as Sonny, for similar behavior in my past life.
     5. I referred to Sonny as a slacker with love and humor.
     6. Mr. P. might be right and I just don't get it, how to deal with a 20 year old young man, who wouldn't give a flying ... for his future.

    So, here we go:

Lame New Year? No way!
I am lame, actually, on both legs. My knee hurts, but not as much as an ankle tendon on the other foot. 
Taka suddenly realized, I was in no condition to provide the family with a New Year's dinner. 
He and Sonny went to a Japanese store and got lots of sushi and other delicacies.

In these little foil cups are little salads. Until I took some of the stuff in my mouth and asked Taka, what that was, I didn't know that, they were made with the things like, sea snails, veges, crab meat, and tiny flying fish roe.
Roberta, probably expected a more traditional American dinner, but she had to make do with the Japanese delicacies.
Everyone went to bed right after we celebrated the arrival of the New Year. 
violet-crawley-dowager-countess-of-grantham-gif-downton-abbey.gif (500×200)I stayed up because I thought, last night would air a new episode of the Downton Abbey. I watched it with delight, but it was the beginning for the last season. I can't wait until the new season's episodes would air, although I keep reminding myself of, how ridiculous it is to worry about the trials of the family, living in a mansion with a huge staff of servants. Still...
buttercup-the-duck-with-a-3d-printed-foot-92.gif (356×200)RpCC4.gif (450×221)All night after that I tried to find a way to place my screaming foot so it wouldn't hurt. I, probably, shouldn't have eaten so much of kimchi, because my stomach kept sending me alarming signals. I tell you, getting to the bathroom on two lame feet wasn't fun at all!
I got up late, made breakfast for Roberta. We started talking about Hanah. I poured out my worries and feelings to Roberta, who didn't have anything encouraging to say, except a warning that, I had no control over Hanah's life, and, if I tried to push her, I would push her away and right into trouble.
When I got up from the table, my foot didn't hurt as much anymore! It happened right after a conversation with Roberta. Could it be, my unspoken worries are the ones, that make me sick, and letting them out will make me pain free?! 

Friday, April 10, 2015


I erased the original text, because, as it was pointed out to me, it can be hurtful to my son. I didn't mean it that way and I apologize!


You might think: "There she goes again! Always so chatty and excited in the beginning of some undertaking and then depressed and whining at the end.." You might be right!
     Although I am a slave to my addiction, and it makes me feel guilty and hopeless, I  am also a child of God, whose Will it is for me to live a healthy, happy, fulfilled life. 
" Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he [she] is a new creation.[a] The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 
(II Cor. 5:17)

"“This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws on their hearts, and write them on their minds, then he adds, “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more"." 

     God loves us unconditionally. Whether we are heroes or saints or the devil incarnate, God loves us. Long ago I understood the fundamental difference between God and Satan: even if you do evil, Satan still wants to destroy you. On the other hand, even if you go against God, He still wants to save you. When we pray to do God's will, He will always make it happen. 
     I accepted Jesus into my life, although for many years I allowed myself be destructed by a false ideology.  It moves me to tears to think of being a "new creation", free from the failures of the past and the "feculent" (Mr. P.'s expression) influence of negative people. 
     "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." 
(I John 1:9)
     So, that's the plan then! I will gather my strength and "gird my loins" (oh, dear God, not that picture in my mind!). I will repent to Heavenly Father of being weak and rebellious and receive His Grace of forgiveness and cleansing "from all unrighteousness". I will start over.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015


     Past the fresh salmon and crab in convenient, neat packages, pass the wines and the electronics; The bright colored ladies' and men's shirts and jackets didn't tempt us enough to deter us from a chosen goal: beef jerky!
     Costco, as I suspected, sapped my energy, like Sahara's sand seeps water. Nothing that I liked had an affordable price tag, and a lot of things that I WANTED, but shouldn't buy, winked at me from every shelf and aisle. 
     Taka gave me a $125 card for Costco and warned: it was to be for our two weeks' groceries. The trouble is, I can't make myself buy $12.00 worth of ham there, if I can purchase it for one third of that price at a neighborhood store! 
     We did get beef jerky. Taka would've burst into tears if we didn't. I also acquired some deserts, even though my conscience is beating its wings and pecks on my brain. 
     Sonny helped. For about a week he silently endures my decision: no rides for him! I can't muster enough courage and ruthlessness to throw him out of the house each morning, as I proposed, after the revelation that, he missed a deadline transferring into 4 year colleges. I believe, he needs to grow up. He needs to find a job, make his own way in life. But today, as Roberta and I sat in a restaurant near Sonny's college, my hands moved by themselves, and traitorous fingers texted him: "Where are you?" He called me in half an hour. He finished his test and needed a ride. 
Sonny - with an appropriately sad expression on his face,
wearing Japanese clothes.
     We met Sonny at our car in a restaurant's parking lot. I saw a lot of relief on his face. It turned out, he didn't have enough money to take  BART to get to community college. He had to walk for 3 miles and after school, he thought, he'd have to repeat the same thing! That was before I contacted him. Mommy to the rescue! Bad mommy, bad! 
     We drove around, lagging poor Roberta with us on different errands. Costco was one of them. As we got back home, Roberta just fell into bed and now is sleeping. 
     She's been having a lot of trouble lately with her stomach. Every breakfast ends with her doubled over, saying: "It hurts so bad!" Every day became a torture for her. Today I took her to doctor, who would've been satisfied to tell her to eat rice and bananas to stop diarrhea, if I didn't push a little for her to get some study for the abdominal problems. 
     Now everyone is at home. I checked e-mails and found a letter from Hanah about her upcoming graduation in May. She studies in Arcata, 7 hours' drive by car away from us. "Do you want to come" - she asked, and signed her e-mail: 'Your only daughter"
     So many decisions! Do I keep a stiff upper lip or keep on rescueing Sonny at every step, despite my instinct telling me to let him make his mistakes and grow up? Do I give in to my fear of the daughter's resentment and guilt over not visiting her, despite knowing, I can't drive that far, and Taka always being against it? 
     Pray more, Dina, read more, meditate. The answers are not easy to find or accept, but, if they come from a place of wisdom, it's worth it to endure some growing pains!
Blurry Sonny and Chickie in a messy house.S 

Monday, April 6, 2015


     Amid the frantic search by Taka for Sonny's online institution of higher learning (my opinion that, Sonny should think for himself and go to work instead of wasting more time on something he doesn't seem to want to do, as usually, was left unheard), Roberta and I didn't make it to an Easter Sunday
Service. She woke up late, with a cold and miserable. We decided to go to an evening service, despite Mr. P.'s attempts to get us out of the house and into the church in the morning. 
     Since the evening service was to start at 5 pm, I realized, we won't be able to have an Easter dinner with a honey baked ham, bought by Roberta especially for that purpose. No worries: we can have an Easter lunch!
     I began to prepare for it early. Peeled and cooked potatoes. put ham in the oven to warm it up and even managed to dye some eggs for the ambience! A couple of days before we had a small Passover meal, almost as prescribed by a Jewish custom. There are still two boxes of matzo on the shelf! I resisted the call of ham in the refrigerator until yesterday, trying to give some small due to my ancestors' heritage. 
Holy Days in a mixed heritage home.
Matzo and wine (juice) for the Passover and
colored eggs for Easter
Green egg and ham?
     Just as it was time to put lunch on the table, I ran out of steam! The table was still dirty and cluttered, the potatoes needed to be mashed. I yelled for Sonny. 
     He knew, he was in the doghouse, so he came without even a murmur. Together we set the table. It was nice to be able to also attend to the Easter traditions!
     It was time to get dressed for the service, but, guess what? Neither I nor Roberta had energy to do it! We took it easy on ourselves and stayed home. 
     An evening at home was just what the doctor ordered. 

                                        They are fuzzy,
but, watch out!
Sylvie is on guard, protecting her home from an outside invader.

Saturday, April 4, 2015


     A lot of drama in the Toyoda household! 
     Sonny attended Berkeley City College for three years in preparation for the transferral to  four year university. His dad hoped, it would be Berkeley U, since Sonny could then stay at home, while studying there. It should've been a two year preparation, but at the last moment last year my kid realized, he didn't have enough credits for the transferral. OK, we took it in stride, although Taka yelled a little and badgered Sonny a lot. What we couldn't understand was, why Sonny didn't get a two year degree out of all that studying! 
     So, at the end of three years, (right now) and with a lot of nudging and checking, he still managed to miss a deadline for the transferral application! I wondered, how it is possible to apply to college in April: wouldn't the students need more time between then and August, when the classes start, to arrange everything? No matter, how many times I asked Sonny about it or suggested for him to work with a college counsellor, he brushed me off
     I can't imagine, what kind of fool he thinks, he is now! It must be killing him, to fail again because of such a simple thing as checking, when the deadline for the application was!
Still, I am asking myself (and him) a question: might failing twice to transfer mean, he doesn't really want to go to college at this point of his life?
     My questions, as usual, go brushed aside and unanswered.
I spoke to Mr. P. yesterday and called Taka after that to suggest, we talk together and make a unified plan, how to deal with Sonny. He agreed, but when I came home, he was already talking with our son. I still tried to arrange a conversation with Taka, but instead he took Sonny out and preached to him over a burger meal, while I was preparing a Passover celebration at home. 
     Don't you think, the kids can pick up on their dad totally disregarding mother's opinion and even presence? 
     At least, I thought, he wasn't berating Sonny in his usual way. This morning I woke up to the sound of Taka's voice droning in Sonny's room. As is his fashion, he talks for a long time without letting the boy say anything or cutting him off, and then goes back to his office, only to run back into Sonny's room in just a few minutes to spend half an hour more, talking at him.
     Well, at my insistence, Taka dragged reticent Sonny to the living room. He then proceeded to tell me, he was not scolding our son, but was offering him to apply for some online classes. Judging from the way he kept interspersing his suggestions with incriminations at Sonny's character and my interference in the process of them choosing classes, it wasn't anything different from a million times before.
     As I fought for a chance to finish at least one sentence (Taka interrupted me at every opportunity), Sonny sat with an indifferent expression on his face, not contributing to a conversation. He said one or two things sometimes, but at my direct question, whether he understood, he made a mistake by being too focused on his gaming and online video watching, he was completely silent
     I don't want to be a drama queen, but that kind of denial of personal responsibility alarms me. What kind of a future does he have, when he can't admit a mistake? What kind of a man will he become?
     I said, I would not support Sonny going to college. He needs to work, to strengthen his character and, hopefully, grow a conscience. 
     At that point Taka, saying, he was fine with that, went on to his computer to send Sonny a dozen more links for college application.
I was able to, finally, express myself, but was I heard? 

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

LEAVING - repost

"Ooh-hooh, leaving!"
Stroke, stroke,

     The street was endless. It seemed like it's been hours since we boarded a Paratransit taxi in front of the hospital in San Francisco, where my mom, finally, heard her diagnosis. 

     We suspected the worst all along, although I didn't stop dragging her from one doctor to another: "This last test was not 100% reliable. We want you to do something else!.." Couldn't they just let mom have their most revealing exam right from the beginning?! Instead, it took three months to hear the words.
     A small group of would be passengers gathered at the curb . When the taxi arrived, it was a sedan, and all four of us had to get in. Wizened, mean looking old woman pushed her way into a wide front passenger seat. A tall lady in an African dress, my mother and I stuffed ourselves in the back. Cancer and the chemotherapy did not melt away most of mom's weight yet. She and I were of similar generous proportions. The black lady was tall and not skinny either. Even though I let her sit at the door and took the uncomfortable middle for myself, she kept squirming in pain and rhythmically stroking her knee. Mother kept throwing resentful looks at her and the old lady, and I knew, soon some very politically-incorrect pronouncements, reinforced by thick Russian accent, will make everyone even more uncomfortable!
     The driver was a huge Latino man. He dwarfed his seat and the taxi. All we could see of him was the back of his head and neck, with dark-pink rolls of fat covered in short stubble. 
     Paratransit costs almost nothing, but it was a shared ride, and the driver had to drop everyone off at different locations. We fought through the midday traffic jam to get onto the Bay Bridge, crawled amid other cars, desperate to get out of the City and, almost as soon as we were across the Bay, had to exit the freeway. 
     That's when the song came on the radio. All of us were uncomfortable. The black lady kept trying to move away from my sweaty side, but there was nowhere to go. Stroke-stroke: her fingers knew no rest, touching stubborn aching knee in a constant, pleading motion. My own legs were cramping from being twisted on the bump of the cars' floor.
     "Mmmm, L.A. proved to be too much..." - Gladys Knight's voice was a balm to my nerves. I never paid much attention to that song before, but now it was the only escape from my thoughts and our excruciating ride. 
     A long boulevard stretched before us.  Speed bumps (bump-bump) crossed it every few yards, making the journey even more unbearable. But soon the music, the emotion and the rhythm of the song had us all in their grasp. 
     I saw my mom glancing at me in surprise and realized, I was saying the words out loud. I could see the mean old lady's face in the side mirror. She sat with her eyes closed and soundlessly mouthed the words too. The black lady was silent, but fingers on her knee accepted the new tempo, and her face relaxed. 
     "Ooh-hooh..." -  the pink folds on drivers neck quivered and sang too. It was ridiculous, really, to hear this big man's tiny, soft tenor coming from behind this bulk. It was also oddly comforting.
     The doctor's voice was still fresh in my head: "She has about a year and a half to live with chemotherapy and - about nine months - without it." Before this, I kept telling my mother, people can live with cancer for years. I guess, it was not to be so! All of us were in pain. 
     I wished myself numb, but the song had a different idea. It replaced my heartache with a beautiful longing:
      "Leaving!.." "I'll be on that train (we know, you will)!" 
     Gladys and the Pips knew what they were doing! Other people's pain was easier to digest, and the promise of love in the story soothed our hearts. 
     "Ooh-hooh, aah-aah!.. I'd rather be in his world, than live without him in mine!" - if only we could keep on driving on that long, wide highway! If only the song could carry us for always! We did not feel resentment for the mean old lady anymore. Mom, the black lady and I meshed, dampened in our common sweat, and wrinkled together, as we swayed in the same motion.
     Stroke-stroke, bump-bump...
     Driver tenderly helped the old lady to her door, and she disappeared forever behind some raging rose bushes. I can't recall, if the black lady or we were next to be dropped off. I remember, how she smiled at us broadly, as we parted our ways.

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WHERE ITS AT - repost


     Where are you, my God? Am I not sincere enough? Do you expect something more from me? I am trying to adjust to an idea that, God's Grace alone is going to save me, but then - where does my responsibility come in? Looking at the world and the testimonies of successful people in it, we know: their determination and effort were the deciding factors, although, without some degree of luck or God's Providence playing role, they might've not succeeded. And then there are those, who worked hard  their whole lives and never gave up, but achieved zilch!
     What is it that we really need? Sure, being rich or just comfortable is nice. Being happy is even better! Did you see the film The Pursuit of Happyness? For that man getting a desired job, money and security that came with it was happiness! There is no question: with riches come opportunities not only for oneself but also for the family, and that makes for happier lives.
     I worked in a small theater in Soviet Russia, when I was twenty. We had nothing! At least, I lived with my parents who provided a warm apartment and food. They told me, unless I quit the theater, I could not eat their food. They were only looking out for me: the troupe was not accepted by the government and, therefore, had no steady income or prospects for the future. I came home (when I had to) late at night and, out of pride, ate only some snacks. Sometimes we got paid, when the overseeing agency decided that, they needed to make a gesture of good will toward us. Then we bought bread and butter and made sandwiches for everybody. We drank a lot of tea, talked through the nights and were tremendously happy with our lives.
     Or were we? I was a lowly assistant, who always felt inadequate among the talented actors. I also often felt insecure, since I was expendable, and they weren't! I thought, spending all my time in pursuit of art and in support of it was the highest calling and the greatest pleasure one could have, but I was not happy. In fact, it was just the time in my life, when I played with an idea of suicide...
     So, what was missing? For the longest time I thought, it was God. Yes, I was rescued from my despair by Heavenly Love. It came to me the first time I prayed. God was just there, leading and waiting for me to take a step toward Him. Still, in between amazing experiences with God's Grace, I was miserable. I needed people! A partner would've been very nice too, but I settled for some friends, when they came. 
     This time, for a number of years, I had no feelings of inferiority. I lived oblivious to the reality of life, and, on the other hand, when I looked that reality right in my face in regards to my marriage and some very depressing church events (I was a missionary for the Unification Church), I understood how stupid I was!
     I was not happy. I was miserable with my husband and, to a great degree, with my own childish personality. I am 55 now. Age brought some benefits: wisdom to know, I needed something more to feel satisfied.
     What was that? I thought, I had to be more humble and serving, but couldn't do it. The baggage of my psyche made me lag behind in my own expectations. My husband seemed like a tyrant, but I didn't know, I could do something about it.
     Now my prayers and hopes are to learn to rely on my Higher Power. I didn't cause the roots of my emotional and spiritual sickness, I can't remove them and I can't cure the sickness. God can. Together with me? I think so. Otherwise, what's the point of me going to see Mr. P. and attempting to change the way I look at the world?
     How are you, my readers, doing? I know, how discouraging life is. Like the song says: "We are but a moment's sunlight fading on the grass"... But this is the only life that we have! Happiness is... Happiness is in togetherness! Be it a family or a greater community and your work and connections there - that's where the happiness will reside. We need to find it with the help of our Higher Powers. Amen?

Midnight Train To Georgia - Gladys Knight & The Pips with lyrics

April Fool's Day. Anyone has any good ideas?