Sorry and Glad Together

I have an interesting life. And any time I mention that, some wag always chimes in with, “Well you must want it that way!” Indeed.

Like oil and water, my life is composed of various levels which rarely mix. At the bottom is my childhood and the earliest parts of my life, which almost no one knows about. On top of that is my job and my work history, which due to a combination of factors, is something very few people know about either.

Every time I say that, people conjure up all kinds of romantic scenarios (working for the CIA being the perennial favorite) but mostly it’s secret because it’s a topic that nobody but the most depraved individuals ever want to hear about. It’s like a dead body on the highway – everyone wants to take a quick look so they can tell their friends about it later but nobody wants to go and scrape up the last pulpy remains of a fellow human being. If that analogy seems a bit macabre, my apologies, but my job deals with far worse things so we’ll just leave it at that.

And then the next layer up is the one you see here, the “Sam Cel Roman” layer, where I live a quasi-public life here in the People’s Republic of Romania. I write about, I film it, I talk about it and it’s a lot of fun for me. For a lot of people though it’s a “one trick pony” though, wherein an American *shocker* actually likes living here and bothered to learn the language.

I once knew a stand-up comedian who was pretty good, getting a lot of laughs when he was on stage. And I remember discussing with him how bizarrely surreal it is that for the audience the jokes are fresh, are spontaneous, causing riotous gales of laughter but for him they are endless repetitions, often word-for-word, of the same things night after night. The crowd loves him, the pay is all right, but slowly he was going insane as he transformed into a kind of sophisticated parrot. And the worst part about it was that impromptu comedy, jokes that hadn’t been rehearsed and repeated a thousand times, always came off worse with the audience, seemed less fresh, less spontaneous. So it goes.

I am, in my own way, turning into that comedian. I don’t tell jokes on stage but to me it feels like I am repeating the same lines over and over again. Yes, I like Romania. Yes, I’m American. Yes, I learned the language. Yes, I’ve danced the hora. Yes, I eat telemea and ceapa verde for breakfast (sometimes). Yes, I’ve tasted tuica. Yes, I agree, Romanian women are beautiful. Yes, I have a Transylvanian accent. Yes, yes, yes. I know.

I certainly am not blaming the audience (which includes you, Dear Reader). To you these are fresh jokes, a novel act. But it’s getting to the point where I could just prop up a dummy on stage and do my entire routine on “playback” as Europeans say. Artistically speaking, this is the kiss of death and if I don’t watch out I’ll be doing a tour of Japan soon and wondering where my life went. No, it’s time to try something new.

So this means, Dear Reader, that we have come to the end. Not the end of the line but to the end of this particular chapter. It’s time to take a break, relax, refresh myself and “reboot” (as hipster Americans like to say). It’s summer time and I haven’t gone swimming yet once. I haven’t left Cluj in months and I’d really like to sit on the porch and sip some whiskey and think a while.

What will come next? I don’t know. As Bruce Willis once said, “Sunt cam greu de ucis” so don’t worry about me. But I won’t know where we’re going to go until I step back and drift off for a bit.

In the meantime, thanks to each and everyone one of you for all your support. I’ll leave you with a picture of Mr. Zig, who reminds me every single day that being yourself and enjoying your life is of paramount importance.

9 thoughts on “Sorry and Glad Together

  1. This is sad to read now, as I was just getting into your blog. What you write here is good, necessary stuff. But do what you need to keep yourself a happy cat :) We’ll be here when/if you decide to come back.


  2. Taking it to the next level, whatever that may mean?

    You don’t have to prove anything, what you have here is a record that you are at least enough Romanian and the right kind to boot.


  3. You don’t have to repeat everything all over, people can read the FAQ section if they want to know about you. I understand you being tired of explaining the same things, as an old reader of your blog I am tired to hear the same stories too.

    So go ahead and enjoy summer, we’ll be waiting for you.


  4. Sam,

    I understand burnout. My cure for it has been reading your blog every day. Now, what am I going to do?



  5. You are so awesome.

    Oh by the way, not to give you ideas, but I don’t wonder why someone who can live wherever he pleases would come to Romania… I wonder why such a person would be anywhere else on this planet than FRANCE!


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