If you’re a regular reader, you know that my output has dropped considerably as of late. I definitely apologize for that, and I assure you that it’s never as a result of “writer’s block” or lack of ideas. I’ve just been really busy.
First, I picked up a couple of new clients for my day job. Secondly, I’m in the middle of writing a novel for this year’s NanoWriMo, which is part two of a trilogy. I wrote most of part one during last year’s NanoWriMo, but I never finished it. All interesting stuff, but it’ll be a long while before the general public (that’s you!) ever gets to see it.
Nonetheless, I thought I’d share what’s going on and what’s on my plate for the near future.
Caught Behind the Lines
Ever since I wrote my post about overstaying your visa (in Romania), I’ve heard from a LOT of people, at least half a dozen Americans and several other cases involving people from “rich” (non-EU) countries who fell in love with Romania, came to the country, and yet let the clock run out on their “visa.”
All I can say is, it’s not easy being an “illegal” immigrant. In practically every case that I’ve been contacted about, the Romanian immigration department has acted like complete assholes. Mind you, this is not just the Cluj department that I dealt with but from a variety of different branches all across Romania.
I’m talking stuff like harassing older relatives and threatening them with jail, hiding in bushes to do secret video filming, a lot of racist treatment, and physically threatening people with violence.
Since these acts never involve Romanians, it’s never discussed in the media, and it’s pretty clear that almost nobody is aware of just how widespread this problem is.
My heart breaks every time I hear one of these stories, but alas, there’s not much that can be done. Frankly, the entire “visa” process is a UX failure right from the beginning as it’s entirely unclear a) when your invisible visa expires and b) what your options are before it expires if you DO want to stay longer.
Please to Marry Romanian Woman
Probably even more tragic are the steady stream of emails I get from people in Asia who are desperate to come to Romania. A lot of them aren’t very fluent in English, and many of them ask me how to marry/find a woman from Romania in order to secure papers, a visa, or a Romanian passport.
There’s nothing I can do for these people as I don’t run a “mail-order bride” business, and I have no desire to, but life is pretty tough in some parts of the world, and I shudder to think what led these people to be so desperate that they’re trying a Hail Mary option like marrying a foreigner just to get the hell out of their own country.
In my never-ending quest to better understand Romanian history and how it influences modern Romanian culture, I’ve come to realize that 1968 was a watershed moment for the country.
Several things happened that year, some of which were related to external events (the Soviet invasion of Prague) and some were internal, relating to how Ceausescu radically changed the way that he governed the country.
Very interesting stuff, but I need some more time to put it all together for you.
World War 1
Lately, I’ve found a ton of information about World War 1 and Romania that I never knew before.
Here’s a taste:
Yeah, I don’t know about you, but I had no idea that the Soviets (including Lenin) were so deeply involved in helping Romania at the end of the war. That kinda goes against everything I’d ever heard before, and it turns out that it’s part of a much bigger story.
I also found a really cool diary from an American who was there during that period.
Also, my lovely wife bought me a book written by a man named Pantelimon Halippa, a pro-Romanian Moldovan who was present in in Chisinau in 1918 and beyond when the grand unification occurred. He’s got a hell of an interesting story to tell, but I need more time to read through his book (in Romanian only) before I can share it here.
Starting in July of this year, I had the Unsleeping Eye keep special track of all of Romania’s military acquisitions, and it’s extremely startling.
The short summary is that Romania has now committed to spending a shitload of money on weapons. It’s now approaching a significant portion of the budget, which is notable because the country is rapidly running out of money to pay its bills.
Even weirder, Romania is steadily moving up on the rankings of percentage of the budget spent on the military, and is now in the top 10 worldwide. Meanwhile, Moldova, which has a frozen conflict on its own territory and is facing far more legitimate threats, is in the bottom 10 of worldwide spending on the military.
This one will be a lengthy article, but it’ll be worth it to get all the facts and numbers in one place.
Yah, yah, I know most people don’t want to hear more about the place, but I’ve learned a LOT over the past month, including the fact that the majority of the people in positions of power in Tiraspol were not born in that country, and why this is so.
There’s also been some movement on the diplomatic front to maybe, possibly, potentially resolve the issue once and for all, and that’s GOOD NEWS. Moldova’s secretive and widely hated prime minister just made his first visit to the place in order to inaugurate the opening of a bridge between RM and MNR. That’s good news well worth discussing.
Also, I’ve tracked down some interviews given to the Romanian news from teachers at the (Latin alphabet) Romanian schools inside MNR and what’s actually going on over there.
Oh, boy, this story popped up during the summer but since faded off the radar even though it’s still going on.
Long story short, measles (Ro: rujeola) outbreaks have been happening all across Romania and yet resolving this problem has caused two different sections of society to clash.
On one hand, the government has a duty to protect the health of its citizens. But on the other hand, intervening in family life is something anathema to Romanian culture. Add in a steady mix of propaganda, superstition, and conspiracy theories, and it’s quite an interesting story!
The Dacian Wolf
This little symbol, innocently created by a Romanian teenager as part of a nationwide contest, has caused a lot of trouble.
It’s also opened up what I consider to be one of the strangest sources of ignorance in Romania, which is exactly who and what the Dacians actually were.
You hear the name everywhere you go in Romania (even the country’s sole passenger car manufacturer uses the name) but there are a lot of myths and mistruths about the Dacians, including what that “wolf” was actually all about.
Upwards and Onwards
As for the blog itself, this very site that you are reading right now, I really want to give it an update. Not so much in terms of the way it looks (although it could use some tweaking) but to really change the way that I think about it.
I started this blog in 2010, which sometimes feels like it was just yesterday, but we’re now seven years and counting and over 1,650 articles (written by me – there are also a dozen or so from part-time contributors), which I’ve conservatively calculated to be 20 books’ worth of information.
Some ideas that I’ve been kicking around are:
- Finding ways to “monetize” the blog. I hate that word, but I am sitting on a ton of intellectual content that nets me around just $10 a month. If that joker Zoso can live like a king from his stupid blogging, it seems like I could do a lot better myself.
- Be true to myself – Considering how much I love this blog, it seems like I’m defrauding myself to be taking unrelated jobs for money when I’d rather be “here.”
- Podcast – I did one, and I had a lot of trouble editing it due to the antiquity of my computer (since upgraded), so I dropped it. But I really would love to get a regular podcast going, if only in order to reach different audiences beyond people who love reading insanely long articles :P
- Videos – It’s been a long while since I’ve done any videos. I don’t really relish sitting in front of my computers and talking to the camera, but I would love to get out there and film some cool stuff and share that with all of you.
- Do some travel reporting – Except for the occasional, once a year (or less?) jaunt to neighboring cities, I haven’t been anywhere outside of Chisinau in a long time. I’d REALLY love to travel around Romania next summer and see what’s what, and then write/film/talk about it.
- Speaking of which, I’d LOVE to “check off” my complete checklist of the wider Romanian world and go investigate those strange, isolated places where Romanians live such as certain neighborhoods of Odessa, Transnistria, the Hertza region of Ukraine, and the Timočka Krajina area of Serbia. I just KNOW there are some cool stories there waiting to be uncovered.
- Translate some of the really interesting stuff I’ve found that’s written in Romanian with the Cyrillic alphabet. As far as I know, I may be the only native English speaker in the world who is fluent in the language and can also read Cyrillic Romanian.
- Do some more research on the ancient history of Romania, including the forgotten role that the Pechenegs played in the history of Transylvania.
- Put together a book based on some of the stuff I’ve written here on the blog.
See? As I said, lots of ideas, but right now I’m pressed for time. I wish I could say I had something cool that was ready to unveil for this year’s December 1 celebrations, but alas, I don’t think it’s going to happen *sad face*
One millions thanks to all of you for your patronage, support, messages, comments, and emails.