Wednesday, May 26, 2004

a bit about the family...

Sometimes I wonder why my family, instead of other families, left Romania, or in many cases, such as ours, God helped them out. My dad was not the only one to flee. He locked himself in a crate on a freight train to Germany in 1979 with one of my uncles, Traian or Tarfin--I'm not sure right now which. At present four out of seven of my mom's brothers are here (one has passed away recently), while the other three either chose to remain or were unsuccessful in their attempts to leave both legally and illegally.

Gheorghe, (the one who passed away), came with his family: his wife, Mariana, and the three kids, Carla, Flavius, and Roli. They are all grown up now, but I have not seen them--that is a different story for later on. Traian came over and went back to find a wife in the 90s after the Revolution of 1989. Victor did the same. These three ended up living in California. Tarfin came over and also went back to get a wife after the revolution. He lives in Texas. Victor's wife, Daniela, a beautiful woman, left him after about a year here. He was quite depressed and I believe still is to this point, though none of us can tell as he doesn't really want to talk to us.

On my father's side, he is the only one to have remained here permanently, though two of his four brothers go back and forth all the time as their families live in Romania. Gica, (short for George), has, at last count, twelve children! They all live in Dorohoi, or the area, at last count. I forgot the name of the other uncle on my dad's side. I have not spoken to any of them, on my dad's side since August 1995. Our family ain't the most functional in the world. My mom divorced my dad in 1987. More on that later...

In short though, about half of my grandparents' children left Romania for America. Some stayed in Germany for brief periods, but America was the final destination. That may have been typical of protestant families in Romania during Ceaucescu's reign of terror. Romania is about 78% Orthodox, about 12% Catholic, with the remaining 10% Gypsies, who do not have a defined religion of their own, and various Protestant religions, chiefly Baptists, Pentecostals, and Evangelists. Mormons did start proselytizing in Romania in 1899, but with the Iron Guard in the 30s and the Communists from the 40s on, they were not allowed in the country until 1990, and not officially until...well I think officially they still are not recognized, though they are "invited" by the Liahona Association, which is basically the same thing. Anyways, today there are probably 1500-2000 members in the country. Back to the story though...

While nearly 80% of the country was Orthodox, my entire happened to not be Orthodox. I cannot think of anybody in my family who is. Members of my family are Pentecostal, Baptist, Evangelist, even Jehovah's Witness! My grandmother on my mom's side quit religion all together after bad experiences. She is dead now, along with all three other grands. My mom seems to be following in her footsteps religion-wise, as she too has quit on organized religion. Both still believe strongly in Jesus, but both have been hurt by believers in the various organizations they went to. It is especially hurtful to me that my mom has given up on Mormonism as I strongly and firmly believe it to be true, even though, I too, have experienced a great deal of unneeded suffering at the hands of some members. More on that later though...

So anyway, my family is not the typical Romanian family.

My mom was born in Medias, as I was, though only because the hospital was there. She was raised on my grandparents' farm in Sfantu Gheorghe, a small village just outside of Iernut to the north of Medias. My grandmother hails from the Baia Mare, Satu Mare region, which is to the northwest, close to the border of Hungary. My great-grandfather's home is in a village called Barsau de Jos close to Satu Mare. That has been his home since he was born back in 1902. He saw both world wars as both had battles take place in Romania. My mother's side of the family tend to be small people, in height. They are also more softspoken, preferring a long conversation.

My dad was born in Dorohoi, which is in the northeastern part of the country, close to Suceava and the Ukrainian border in the Moldovan region. (Not the country of Moldova. Because history is how it is, there is a region called Moldova which does include the current country of Moldova. The reason the country split from the Ukraine and did not want to reunite with Romania is because about half of them speak Russian and consider themselves non-Romanians). He has four brothers--interestingly my mom has seven brothers; she had two sisters who died early. My dad's family is completely different from my mom's. They tend to be taller, and larger in stature, plus have louder voices, more boisterous. They tend to be more confrontational.

These two people met...I was going to say, fell in love, but that is a controversial statement as my mom has definitely been reconsidering that. So I won't get into that. Anyways, they got married. Two years later, I was born--in 1974. Apparently I was a pain in know....on the way out. My sister was born fifteen months later. My mom needed surgery to have her, and that stopped her having anymore kids. Plus, after the pain of the first two, why would she want to go through anymore? Plus there really wasn't any kind of sexual satisfaction from her husband, who treated her, in bed, more like an animal, according to her (not sure about accuracy as her feelings against him are strong, but it was a candid revelation that I think was somewhat clear of strong emotion. In any case, the relationship lasted 15 years, but maybe it should not have even gone that long.

Ah the what ifs...I should probably avoid them here until I get to the actual events of 1986. Terrible year it was.

Anyways, I think that's a good overview of my family as the moment comes for leaving Romania to come to the United States. I haven't said much about my sister. I'm reserving that for later.

So long.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Why is finding a girl to love me so hard for me?

I'm going on a date this Saturday with this awesome girl with a great smile who always finds ways to warm up your day. Yet I feel very hesitant about building my hopes up about this date actually working out with the possibilities of future dates and perhaps a romantic relationship. Why should it work now when it has never worked in the past? I know, this is terrible. Here I am a 29 year old who has never had a long term relationship, who had a girlfriend once for three days, ten years ago and whose longest relationship was six months--back in the seventh grade, to a girl who I did not talk to after the first school dance because I was ashamed. She kept writing me letters in class asking me why I did not talk to her. Finally she wrote one that said, in effect, "that's it! You don't care about me, I'm breaking up with you!" I didn't mind much. I met her later on in life and found her to be quite a well-developed woman and I felt bad that I did not do much more in that relationship. But then I was a punk back in the seventh grade. Why would anyone have wanted someone like me. There actually was a girl in the eighth grade who actually came out and told me quite unequivocally that she loved me. I dismissed her. Now, I'm not gay, mind you. I think guys are ugly, plus my relationships with men over the years have not been good, from my dad to one of my bishops to peers. I love women. But something is not right. I am not allowing even them to be close to me.

So why should it somehow work this time? Well, I am a bit different now than a few months ago, before I considered killing myself. I am much more in control of my life. I can see things much better, and much clearer. And I don't bullshit around anymore. As an example, for the past five weeks I've actually been consistently working out, even though I have no desire to. My simple reason for doing it: if I'm going to suffer in this life of mine and I have nothing to do, I might as well suffer working out. It's actually worked, even though that's a very pathetic reason.

I try with all my faculty to make this date a fun one. She likes jazz--we are going to a jazz club. She doesn't dance well, so we probably won't dance much. She doesn't like seafood--she's from Kansas City of all places--so we'll eat Chinese or something. I will present myself as honestly as I can, yet avoid the depressing side of my honesty. Not likely that depression will attract women. I will talk about her more than about me. (I remember the lesson from the Disney cartoon Aladdin). And we'll see what happens.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

About this Nicolae Padigone of Romania

I guess I should explain a bit about me. I've been trying to understand who I really am for a long while, actually since I came back from that mission to Romania for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The hopefulness of youth has faded into the realities of adulthood and with it several dreams of what should have been. But as life trudges onward, without stopping to take an account of the tragedies and nastiness that occurs each day, nothing more can be said except that life continues. It endures.

I was born in Romania during Ceaucescu's nasty dictatorial regime. I left when I was seven years old, and while the time spent in Romania for my parents was pretty harsh--my dad escaped by locking himself with one of my uncles in a crate on a freight train to Germany and my mother was arrested and held by the Securitate (the secret police)--my memories of those days were quite pleasant. Except for the fact that all of my memories of those days did not include my father in them. While he did escape Romania for our benefit, he was not a very good father at the micro-level. I cannot recall what he did to me at a young age, I can only guess from the views my mother has given me. I cannot tell whether her view is skewed or not, after all, he abused her as well, so her feelings are strongly against him, but with his actions towards me once in America, I feel the consensus is that he abused me during those times as well. One thing my mother has been pretty consistent about: when I was about one year old or so, my dad, upset at my constant crying, would pick me up, off the bed, and thrust me back against the bed, throwing me down. I'm so glad I cannot recall that. Unfortunately, there are things I do recall from his abuses that I wish I could not, that I wish somehow disappeared completely from my mind, including from those dark places in my mind that have an effect on the way I view things today, those places in my mind I cannot get to consciously.

I'll get to those situations later. First off, my memories of Romania were quite good. I do not know how others experience their childhoods, and how they continue to remember them as they grow to adulthood, but for me, my childhood felt adventurous and exciting, or at least the things my mind has decided to keep in the active memory file have felt that way. From sitting in the backseat of a Volkswagen bug scaling the sheer heights approaching a vast city lit in the night, feeling perhaps the makers of the road put the road to high up a cliff, to running through a large, dark, deadly forest of thorn bushes trying to avoid any brush against those spiky thorns while chasing my sister around. There are memories of joining my grandfather at a village meeting, getting bored of their talk, going out among the fields of corn. And ah, Baia Mare. This town in the north of Romania, set nicely in the mountains. One of my mother's uncles has a home in that area and we'd (my sister and I) stay there, chasing each other around, climbing the hill in the backyard, crossing the creek in front, playing hide and seek in the train graveyard just across the road and creek with my cousins. Or a memory of running on a hilly, grassy, field, devoid of trees towards a house. For the longest time I could not place where that was. Then when I went back on my mission, I knew where it was: Dorohoi, or a little village just out of Dorohoi where my grandparents on my dad's side lived. Another house from my memories I could not quite place: I remember having a party, uh, more of a family reunion of sorts, at this house. For the longest time I could not tell where this was. Then, on my mission, I went back to see my great-grandfather who was 94 years old by this time, and as I approached his home, I knew it! I recognized it immediately. I said to my companion, this is his home. I remember visiting Bucuresti, the capital, of being afraid of the dark when a train would go through a tunnel, of a beautiful field of bright colored flowers in a remote area as the train sped along, but my favorite memories are of Medias, the city I was born in, and Sfantu Gheorghe, a small village outside of Iernut where my grandparents on my mother's side lived.


Ah, I love Medias. It's a lovely little city in the middle of the country. It has no claim to fame, but I like to say, when I tell people where I'm from that I was born in Transylvania, 30 miles from where Dracula lived, and 13 days after Halloween. 30 miles to the east of Medias is the city of Sighisoara where Vlad Tepes, Vlad the Impaler, or better known as Dracula, was born. They are making a theme park in that town, so I've heard (here's a bit from the BBCNews about it But Medias doesn't have much fame to stand by. And that may be good. I like the town the way it is. It's in a pretty location, a river valley between to ranges of small mountains in the middle of the big towns of Transylvania: Brasov to the southeast, Sighisoara to the east, Sibiu to the southwest, Targu Mures to the north and Cluj-Napoca and Alba Iulia to the west. The cool thing, for me about Medias, is that whenever I go back there, I feel like I'm home. I have many memories of the place, none with my father ofcourse. I had enough memories to go by that when I went back to visit it the first time, during the mission, I knew exactly how to get to the apartment we lived in over 20 years ago. I recognized the maroon and green buildings. I knew the marketplace just before the pedestrian bridge crossing the Mures river. I knew the field before the apartments, and I knew which of the similar looking apartments was the one. It was this far from the main street to the east, and this far from the turn the small street the apartment is on takes to the west towards the school I went to for first grade.

My memories include horsing around with a faceless and nameless friend--some other kid from school. I wish I could remember more about him. We would slide down on our school backpacks on a snowy hill. I even remember dreams I had while living in that place of the street we lived on. There was an incident where a man was hit by a car and crushed, apparently his head was crushed by the wheels. I remember that detail because I kept trying to imagine what that meant and what it looked like. I remember the earthquake of 1977 as we rushed out of the building. None of us were hurt. I remember walking around town and eating on many occasions at this restaurant a certain food, which I cannot recall in good detail anymore, except that I know I LOVED it as a kid. I even went back to this exact restaurant to try and figure out what that food was, but without success. I remember when we moved into a temporary home with a family as we were preparing to leave Romania in the spring and early summer of 1982. They had a television, something we did not have at the other place. There was some war movie on and I remember the intense fear I felt as I watched it. Why did they do that to each other?

Something else I remmember from that period was, what I just recently learned, was a TV cartoon about animals trying to get over a great wall. It's amazing how something like that has been on my mind over such a long period of time. For a long while I thought it was a dream I had, but my mother cleared it up for me. I asked her, once, on a whim, if she knew of it, because I was trying to pin it down. Of late, I had felt like those animals, trying to get over a big huge nasty wall with no way of doing so. The giraffe could see over the wall with his long, long neck and could see the beauty of the paradise that awaited them. The cheetah ran and ran all the way around the world until he came right back to the same spot and could not find a way around the wall. The chimpanzee tried and tried to climb the wall, but the slope was too slippery. There were other animals present. I cannot recall the whole thing, but I think the point was that a communal effort was needed if the wall was to be passed. I do not know the end of the story, which was the reason why I asked my mom. Did the animals make it accross or through the wall, or maybe the best word is passed. Because I have felt like those animals, trapped by some stupid, dumb, impenitrable wall from my destination, I needed to know. I still don't. Maybe someone out there knows the end of the story and could tell me.

I will end here for now. If I have the motivation to continue at some other date on this story of the life of Nicolae Padigone, I will continue on with the Move to the United States in the summer of 1982.

For now...


The beginning of it all.

Technology is such a marvel to behold. And to think I was wanting to end my life just a few months back. Even while some take advantage of technology to attain more power over others, things such as this, a free system to state whatever you feel to the entire world, help you believe that there is some good in this world still, and it is worth fighting for, as Samwise told a downfallen and distraught Frodo.

I guess as a quick start, that will do.