Impressions of Romania

Hello from Romania, everyone. KC and I have been traveling for almost a week: last week in Budapest, Hungary, yesterday in Sighisoara, Romania, and now we are in Bucharest until later this week. My computer is being weird right now so I apologize for any errors in this post. Not planning on proofreading this before posting, natch.

Sighisoara is a smallish town in Transylvania, and it is totally lovely. We spent the day there and had a wonderful time despite it being ridiculously cold. The town citadel sits on a hill and is full of medieval churches and towers. It had a very small-town atmosphere to it – everyone was incredibly friendly and helpful (somewhat unlike my previous experiences in eastern Europe). It was a lovely, idyllic day, and I definitely want to go back to the Transylvania region. We are actually considering cutting our time in Bucharest and going to Brasov instead. We spoke to a guy in one of the churches, and when we told him we were headed to Bucharest he said, “why would you go there? Go to Brasov or Sibiu instead. Bucharest is not very nice” (or something to that effect). Anyway, he might have been right. The mountains are gorgeous and I want to go back already.

Freezing! but happy!
In Sighisoara. I’ll post more pictures later.

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2010 Retrospective

"Happy New Year" by *Sally M*
(via *Sally M*)

2010 was an odd year with a wide array of highs and lows. Mostly for my own record-keeping purposes, here is a loist of things that happened (in no particular order):

  • Finished my undergraduate honors thesis, a fifty-something page tome on anarchist terrorism in the U.S. and Europe between 1894-1901. This was one of the coolest and most difficult things I have undertaken.
  • Graduated college. In three years, no less!
  • Moved back home. Living with my parents after college often feels frustrating and infantilizing, but it’s honestly not all that bad. I just complain about it a lot.
  • Started taking my love of creative writing seriously. It doesn’t have to be a secret love forever.
  • Continued the best relationship ever. I am still so madly in love.
  • Helped my dad through a bone marrow transplant. This still isn’t over yet and he has a lot more recovering to do, but he is coming home from the rehab center TODAY. What a good way to end 2010.
  • Reconnected with my younger brother. He is the coolest 16-year-old ever, and hanging out with him is my favorite part of living at home.
  • Spent the first half of the year living with my best friends. Owl Babies, I miss you!
  • Had fun with photography. Learned to develop film, and generally had an awesome time.
  • Applied to eight law schools.
  • And on a related note, tried to figure out what to do with my life. Have not yet been successful with this one.

Like a lot of folks, I think making resolutions every December is not an effective means for self-improvement. Instead, here are my goals for 2011:

  • Focus on my writing. Writing fiction and poetry is the most difficult and wonderful thing I do. Time to make it serious.
  • Work as a freelance writer.
  • Take good care of myself. I’ll be spending a lot of time taking care of my dad, so one of my goals is to remember myself in the process.
  • Travel more! With a bit of luck (and money), Istanbul is in my future.
  • Decide on a grad school trajectory and go for it. Law school apps are done, but I’m not sure if that’s the path I want.

2010 was a pretty good year, but in honesty it will not be missed. On to the next one!

I am a grouchy old man.


Image source.

I suspect that many of you are breathing a sigh of relief now that Christmas and its accompanied merriment are over. Free from cloying Christmas music, wrapping paper, and other December clichés, now we can begin to move on and look toward the coming year. But first, I have a confession to make. I don’t like Christmas. My name is Ebeneezer Scrooge and everyone chastises my curmudgeonly demeanor between October and January. It’s true.

Why do I hate Christmas? Well, apart from growing up Jewish (which may have led to lingering holiday jealousy and resentment), I am not a fan of the way we celebrate the holiday. Christmas is a capitalist orgy, compelling us to want what we do not need and spend more than we can afford. Lisa Wade of Sociological Images reminds us that, “Christmas isn’t just a season or a sentiment, it’s also an imperative to spend and an opportunity to make money.” To most of my modern compatriots, attempting to frame the holiday as anything other than an end of the year sales boost is simply a joke. Here is one place where I agree with the Religious Right: it’s dumb that Christmas is about shopping and not about Jesus.

One good thing about the Holiday Season is that a lot of folks feel more inclined to donate to those less fortunate. After Doing Good at Christmastime, many of us feel like we’ve done our part for the year and slack off. Now that the season is coming to a close, please remember that charitable organizations need help all year ‘round! If you are in the Denver area, consider volunteering at the Denver Rescue Mission, Denver Dumb Friends League, or help out at a public school.  Really, just do something.

What are your thoughts on Christmas? How do you spend the season? What are your favorite nonprofits?