Friday, July 25, 2008

OH Sweet Hell, Batman!
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps, of which I am a proud volunteer.

I saw The Dark Knight last night. I felt a little bad that it such a dark movie and I was cackling obnoxiously through a lot of it. It is funnier than I expected, and let me just say the Joker has some lines that completely satisfy! At one point I gave a dirty look to some other Americans in the audience that were talking out loud in English during the movie - but I didn't really have a leg to stand on with my burst of maniacal laughter (let me say in my own defense though, in this movie, maniacal laughter is not out out of place.)

I heard an American girl say during one seen "couldn't they have found a better Alfred?" which made me consider leaping out of my seat and grabbing her by the throat. I wouldn't have had very far to go because she was sitting in the middle of the aisle (apparently you can do that) but I decided against it because I wanted to see the rest of the movie.

Heath Ledger's Joker is hands down my favorite character and my favorite performance. Knowing me, and my sense of humor you know that if Ledger's Joker wasn't so sharp there could have been a moment during his scene with Maggie Gyllenhaal where I would have thought "HA HA! He totally made out with her brother!" but as it was that didn't occur to me till the ending credits.

I love the Joker's voice, which I read was Ledger's biggest challenge with the role. The whole performance is just incredible. If you put this movie next to anything else the Brother's Grimm, Brokeback Mountain, A Knight's Tale, - I'd never guess it was the same actor if I didn't already know!

I was SO SAD it's the last movie I'll ever see him. I wanted to cry during every seen he wasn't in. I wore all black to the movie theatre. If I were in the states I would have worn The Joker makeup too - but I can't do that here because A) I don't have my Ben Nye kit and B) People would talk - "I saw an American at the cinema wearing The Joker make up. That's because they're all homicidal maniacs, Americans." And they'd only be half right. (shh! I didn't say that.)

Even with all Ledger's amazingness Gary Oldman also stole the show for me. Could be that he's got a bit more screen time than the Joker, but also the subdued Jim Gordon, stands out next to the energetic performances of Ledger, Christain Bale, and Aaron Eckhart. It made me love Commissioner Gordon even more than I did after the first Christopher Nolan Batman movie.

Funny thing is on the train on the way to Bucuresti (for the fourth out of five anti-rabies shots) I had a dream about Adam West and the Batman tv show that I watched in the second grade. After walking out of the theatre last night the following occurred to me: Batman-still cool. Nolan really packs the punches when it comes to questioning the goodness of human nature, heroism, and the struggle against evil internally and externally. This is not Adam West's Batman.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nature Girl
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps, of which I am a proud volunteer.

Hope isn't easily killed. I have tried to kill her many times, never really believing I'd succeeded, and still she refuses to die. That's a good thing, for the most part. But Hope has a dangerous twin sister Expectation.

In the life of every woman (and I expect also, every man) there comes a time when you look to the future and ask yourself what you want. At this point you separate what you were told you wanted and what you actually want. You also examine the horizon and make note of the difference between how you were told your life would be and how it is. For most of us I believe involves hearing a lot of "When you grow up and get married and have kids" and then looking around going "huh?" or "when?" and "Whaaa?"

For me I don't have a lot actual guides to reference when I think about ideas like "relationship" "happiness" and "forever" so I look to The Movies to be my guides. It occurs to me lately that several movies involve people reminiscing about happiness from their youth which is over. Happiness the character expected would continue to the end of the storyline and are now looking back on with fondness and regret.

Then there are the enormous multitude of movies that end when the couples get together and we presume they live "happily ever after." I have often commented that movies like this build false expectations - most of our stories end when a couple get together at the end of a film and we never see the complicated trials, or the work of maintaining a relationship.

But which is it? Should we expect that happiness will just come and that one day after some amusing pitfalls, some crying and a big comedic moment (Julia Roberts stealing a truck and proposing to her best friend) it will all fall into place and happiness will just arrive?

Or are we constantly wary, avoiding false expectations, eschewing disappointment and pain...and wrestling with hope?

There are things that I was told all my life - and I never believed them. I turned a cold eye to all romantic comedies which build dangerous expectations. The ones I don't admit to watching - and have done so only under duress. I told myself happiness can't be found in another person. Love should never be calculated in terms of what you "deserve" or think you deserve, and any time I ever heard someone say that I forced my interior monologue to shout "SHUT UP, SHUT UP" because people don't always get what they deserve. I think, rarely, they do. I repeated Eponine's lines in One Day More "Not for me, Not for me," until they became true for me and still I tried not to dream, tried to have no expectations. I tried to kill hope.

I did this because it was easier than maintaining that fragile faith. My faith in this area is almost gone. But then...

Where's the line between hoping and creating false expectations? What is tempting fate, setting yourself up for failure? And what is sitting on the bench, staying out of the game? When is it true that if you don't expect to find happiness you won't find it? What amount of hope, or expectation of happiness is reasonable?

I joined Peace Corps because I've always wanted to serve. But also for a bit of adventure, and maybe also to "find myself." And instead, maybe I'm finding something else. Something all those innocent - I believed naive grandmothers and well meaning Old Ladies said I would find, and I didn't believe them. Something I didn't know existed. Didn't think could exist. Still don't know if it does....
but maybe it does.
I hope.

No one but you.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Twice Bitten
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps, of which I am a proud volunteer.

And not by mosquitoes although I have plenty of those bites to go around. Yes those are my two-year pale calves up there with the bruises that hardly show up when photographed. Yesterday they looked worse, today better. The big bruise on my right leg is already yellow in the middle so healing well.

Here's what happened: Last Wednesday at 6:45 in the morning, I was on my way to the bus that would take me to the train station that would take me to camp in the village, when I turned a corner near my apartment and surprised a pack of wild dogs some guy was feeding from his doorway. I didn't know they were there, but one on the outskirts of the pack was apparently surprised and threatened by my sudden appearance. I'm sure with my big backpack and the big tent in a bag I was carrying I seemed like a large threatening human coming up behind him when he wasn't too sure he wanted to get closer to the human in front of him with the food.

He never growled. But barked threateningly and charged. I had time to back away, tell myself not to run or he would chase me, and realize even if I didn't run he was still coming for me. He bit
twice. Once on each leg. And ran away. I screamed, fell down, was going to cry - decided not to cry - realized I couldn't bet back on my feet with my big backpack on and the guy feeding the dogs had to come and help me. Among my thoughts were - Did he bite me? I never thought a dog would bite me. If I'm bleeding I have to go to Bucharest for the rabies shots.

I was bleeding, but not a lot. My first thought was "It's just a scratch. I've had worse falling off my bike." I think it was the dogs equivalent I think to shoving someone out of the way so you can run down the stairs and out of the house before the cops show up. It wasn't until I was on the bus to the train station, trying not to bleed on the car, that I realized my legs actually hurt. Later the bruises started to swell and show up but and once I got a band-aid one of the punctures bleed for about half a day. I count myself lucky, though. If the dog had been angry he certainly could have done more damage.

Rabies shots - for those of you afraid of needles, injections, and long grueling amounts of time spent on trains you should probably not read on.

I ended up getting on the bus to the train station, buying tickets then dumping my water bottle on the wounds before getting on the train to camp. On the way one of our high school student leaders insisted on cleaning the wounds again with my bottle of hand-sanitizer. Peace Corps doctors insisted I come to Bucharest for the anti-rabies shots so rather than going out to the camp ground with everyone else I had lunch in Baru Mare and got back on the train. Nine hours later I arrived in Romania's capital where thankfully I met a friend and went out to dinner rather than dragging my sorry self to the hotel and finding food alone.

Thursday morning at 8:15 I saw our Peace Corps doctor and received four shots. One in the arm, one in the butt and one in each bite (yeah, and I got bit twice!) And a schedule telling me I had to come back four more times for the rest of the anti-rabies treatments. Took an afternoon train home for seven hours spent the night at home at my apartment and early Friday morning set out for camp - made it there by Friday afternoon.

Saturday night, we ended camp around three, was back on a train at nine. Midnight took the overnight train to Bucharest, got to the office at 7:00, 7:30 had a shot, 9:45 was on a train back to Deva - arrived in Deva at 7pm.

The thing about the anti-rabies shots is I'm glad they have them and that Peace Corps makes us get them if we're bit by an animal. However, I don't have any reason to suspect that the dog had rabies and when I think about it not having rabies, I just get upset at all the time I have to spend traveling for these shots. In other PC countries you can get three shots when you show up in country so you don't get rabies in the event that you are bitten (like the vaccines you give your pet dog so they DON'T get rabies.) I'm not sure why we don't do that here because three shots is ultimately less than six (or in my case nine) but then again I only know of three other volunteers who have actually been bitten by dogs.

Getting bit by a dog is surely going to make me hate trains. I have to go back to Bucharest again overnight train Wednesday night spend three hours in Bucharest and come back Thursday night. And again next week, and then again in two weeks. At least hopefully by August 7th The Dark Knight may be playing in Bucharest and if that's the case I won't be in such a hurry to get back to site.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Babies are Gone!
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps, of which I am a proud volunteer.

Christina came to pick up the kittens an hour ago and now it's just me and Bella again. So another project over, and again not the way I anticipated, but accomplished nonetheless. I feel bad about their missing "escapee" brother and sisters, but I'm very happy that at least Chuckles and Hugs will be going to a good home. I tried to give Christina some advice about socializing them but she said her mother has cats and knows how to take of them. And I'm sure she does.

I hope the little girls will be happy and will continue to make progress. Today we went to the vet because of Chuckles puffy firm stomach, made me expect stomach worms. Later, I had them both in my arms and they were playing with each other and then they both fell asleep. They purr when I held them, but disliked being picked up - so I had to chase them because they'd never come to me. Still hissy and spitty, but hopefully on the way to long happy domestic lives.

I hope your new guardian will give you the vaccines you need to be healthy and hopefully will have you sterilized. I hope you'll be happy with a yard to play in and when you're tempted to go exploring this big crazy dangerous world you'll remember not to stray too far from the food bowl. Good luck guys! I miss you already.

Now I'm getting ready to leave for camp for four days and Bella goes from Big Sister to ruling the house all alone. I hope she doesn't get too lonely!

Monday, July 07, 2008

On Failure
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps, of which I am a proud volunteer.

People are uncomfortable with failure. Americans in particular do not accept it. In Romania there is a cultural stigma against failure that says its better not to try than to try and fail. Someone described it as Americans will start out saying "yes" and Romanians will start out saying "no." I think that's accurate.

I think one of the most valuable things we have to teach as Romanians in America is that you can fail - the only redeeming point about America's attitude toward failure is that we have an underbelly of "at least you tried" which doesn't exist here. As a postcard I found in my apartment left by the previous Peace Corps volunteer says "Even if you fail, at least you are trying to succeed. You could do nothing." I think if we can impart that value to Romania, we will have accomplished a lot.

I have had a couple of experiences in my life where I've completely failed at something - and when I say "failed" I don't mean "blew it off" or "didn't do what I could have." What I mean by Failure in this instance is that I gave 100% of everything I had - there was absolutely nothing more I could do - and still I failed. Many people if they find themselves close to failing, find the resources (either within themselves or in friends and family) to pull themselves out at the last minute.
Therefore I don't know many people who claim to have this experience of Failure and very few people I have met in life can relate to Failure. It is like hitting a wall.

Therefore, when I relate my experience starting out in a "this is what happened to me" style, I quickly become assertive. Because it has been my experience the other person needs some convincing that I did in fact Fail - that there was nothing I could have done to try harder. Maybe it's because of my assertions, but the other person almost always argues with me my experience was not actual Failure (capital F) but just failure on my part to do something more.

Example:"I'm sure if you went to therapy and overcame math anxiety you could do math."
No. I have math anxiety and a learning disability. While Math anxiety may be treatable, a learning disability is not something that can be cured. I'm sorry you don't believe me but it's not a matter of not having tried. It's not a matter of not wanting to learn.

This treatment of my experience - making it invalid - is incredibly frustrating on top of the experience of Failing. I do realize that tat it's not my failure that they disbelieve, it's the idea that people can fail that they don't want to believe. Because if it happened to me it could happen to them and they don't want to think about what it's like to have that incredibly frustrating experience like beating your head against an immovable object.

But I don't have to think about it what that's like. I know.

So when you encounter someone sharing an experience with you from their life, and incredibly frustrating experience of Failure, don't try to convince them that there's more they could have done. They are probably more than anything else just looking for someone to acknowledge and validate their experience. They are looking for someone to say "I understand that it was very difficult." They don't want to hear, "I'm sure there was something else you could have done."

And in the meantime chances are when someone is telling you about the worst period in their life - the story is going to be negative. I bet the story of the worst thing that ever happened to you isn't a positive story. So don't assume the situation was a negative one because of this attitude. Attitudes are shaped by circumstances and someone who starts out with a good attitude in a situation can change their attitude over time. When the good attitude receives no nourishment, it bears no fruit and it dies.

I have learned to appreciate my failures. For one thing they taught me to identify and understand what other people in unjust circumstances are going through. It can be very helpful to know that failure is possible - even when you are trying your hardest, and I find it useful to be able to identify with what people in other situations are going through.

But for now,
I have to figure out how, when I get this response of someone trying to invalidate my life experience, how not to let it take me right back to that darkest time in my life when the Failure was actually happening. If anyone has any advice on that, I'll happily take it.

I can't mull this over in my head anymore, so I had to write about. Now I'm going to go take a shower and stop feeling this way.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Two Sisters
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps, of which I am a proud volunteer.

This is Hugs (the hissy and spitty one)

This is Chuckles (the one with the eye problem)

Two kittens found after an interesting night-long adventure which involved lifting up the bed and also crawling around the living room with the flashlight on my phone at 3:30 in the morning while my friends who were crashing over slept, unawares.

They now wait in the no-places-to-hide kitchen for my work colleague Cristina to call and say when she's picking them up to take to their new home outside of Deva with her mother.

Their sister, Precious, who is white with gray tabby-striped spots seems to have disappeared, and by the uneaten food left about in bowls sequestered in various rooms at different times I have concluded she is no longer in the apartment. How or when she left I have no idea. I believe it was probably sometime after I lost Tiger on Thursday night, but actually Thursday night was the last time I saw her (maybe it was her, maybe it was Hugs) and it could be that Tiger followed her out the window. I didn't hear another jumper - but I can't be certain. As my friends pointed out, if Hugs could sneak into the living room without us knowing it - Precious could have sneaked out the window or the front door. I feel bad for having lost her.

My worst fear is that she's dead somewhere in the apartment. (Poor Precious!)

More on last night's adventure: We caught Chuckles here, and confined her to the cat carrier in the bedroom and put out a bowl of fresh food to tempt her sisters out. My friends crashing for the night went to bed on the couches, and I took the fold out chair-bed so as not to sleep in the bedroom and disturb the kitten(s). Chuckles started crying and I was hearing responding cries. They sounded like they were coming from under the couch I was sleeping next to, but sometimes I have a hard time telling where sounds are really coming from. Then I moved somehow and heard a hiss and I knew I she was in the living room. So I sat up and picked Bella up from where she was sleeping by my feet and told her to go get the kitten under the couch. When I acquired my flashlight I didn't see her under the couch anywhere, but heard Bella growling across the room and realized she was under the TV. But with all the large backpacking packs around the room and shopping bags, what a great place for a kitten to hide. Twice I saw Hugs under the TV and twice she proved very disappear-y until we (Bella and I) finally cornered her and imprisoned her with Chuckles in the carrier.

Bella proved very embarrassed by her lack of ability to hunt other cats in her own territory and decided to stay up for the rest of the night and prove herself by getting into the spices my friends brought over from other exotic locals, and knocking the chocolate sprinkles all over the floor. However, Bella has been very gracious about giving up her kitchen so I could move the kittens, bowls and litter box into that space and close the door.

This experience has also taught me to appreciate Bella's even temperment. All that I know of Bella's origins is that my second host mother found her crying in the rain with two other kittens, caught her, brought her to Deva from the country house where her garden is and gave her to me covered in fleas, yet Bella had a friendly disposition from the beginning after being socialized for all of a few hours by my host mother. I suppose it's completely possible she was already at that time someone else's cat who got away in the rain. But if that was the case someone else wasn't looking after her with eye drops and flea medication. Yet Bella first purred for me the first time I gave her rice boiled in milk (because I didn't yet have any cat food) and on the second day she was more inclined to climb up my pant leg than to run into the corner. She never hissed or spat at me.

Anyway, this experience has taught me that no matter how good our intentions are, sometimes we can't help the kittens that don't want to be helped (hence the two that ran away.) I'm very lucky to have so quickly found a home for the two that remain, but whether they will stay there or run away to live out their lives in the wild I have my doubts - and also no control. I have to console myself knowing I did only the best I could for them, and even though I held them both today and stroked each one of them until they stopped shaking and started to purr - they probably still hate me and hate people. I broke up their family. And the knowledge that their family was going to break up soon naturally anyway doesn't comfort me much. It does make me feel good to think that maybe I could help these two beauties have better, longer, healthier lives, but I'm also worried because until Christina picks them up I know I'm not off the hook.

I told myself getting into this that we all must make decisions knowing we have to live with what we did or did not do. And I chose to do this. I think maybe its because my parents never let me rescue animals off the street when I was a kid and now that I'm on my own I'll do what I want and no one can stop me. In any case I learned my lesson about feral cats and now I believe people when they say that they don't like people and don't want to be tamed. When Bella and I say goodbye to Chuckles and Hugs I'll know that I've had my "rescuing" experience for Romania and I won't need to do it again. Until I'm back in the U.S. and can work through a rescue organization.

Friday, July 04, 2008

And then there were 3?
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps, of which I am a proud volunteer.

I think this little guy is the one who escaped last night. I never saw which one it was, but this guy is the darkest and his sisters (all calico, therefore I assume female, but they could also be sterile males) have some white on them - which leads me to believe it was the Tiger, here.

Last night the kittens came out - I actually saw three of them - and emptied the bowl of food I put out.Three were all standing in the window crying. I caught the two who needed their eye drops. That's when I took this picture.

I didn't think the kittens could climb up the chair to get into the window because it seems when Bella was their size she had trouble jumping on to the couch, and the chair is higher. But maybe they're more motivated out of fear. I didn't think much of it
at the time. After a while I gave up on the catching the other two to check on them, I settled on administering the eye drops and went to bed.
Then I heard a noise and something made me think "I bet a kitten that could climb up to the window could make it through the kitten-size hole in the screen." So I got up to nail the screen in the two places I saw that it was loose, in the process discovering a much bigger kitten gap than I had seen before. So I decided to go out on the balcony and investigate. What I should have done is gotten the flashlight and scanned the balcony for kittens, because when I stepped outside I heard the crashing sound of a kitten jumping off the second story balcony into the very bushes where I had seen large dog sleeping earlier in the day.

I know the kitten landed on his feet though because I heard him crying on the ground after that. One of his sisters whined a little in response and I felt very bad that he was separated from his siblings.

And bad about the convention of barking dogs that proceeded to take place in the alley below my window. But I think from the sound of it the local pack was turning on one of their own rather than hunting kittens.

Ironically this guy was the one I originally named Lucky. Is he Lucky to have escaped domesticity? I don't know. Free meals, free medical care and someone who cleans up your poop in exchange for sleeping all day. I don't see a downside. At least he gets to remain wild at heart.

I hoped for for him that he would find his way back to his mother. But then I thought she will just get fleas on him again. The medicine I gave him will make him immune to fleas for six weeks but Mother will probably get the flea eggs on him and they will hatch whenever he finds himself not immune anymore. Maybe he will find himself a new home in the six weeks in between.

If not, I hope that he will make it. He was a tough guy.
He was the biggest of the litter. I named him Lucky, but I started calling him Tiger because he was so feisty. He was the brave one. He once ran out from under the bureau sacrificing himself so I wouldn't go after the little sister, and thus he was first to get his medicine. He bit me once, and he was not afraid to hiss and spit but once you got him in your hands you could put him on his back and and he would show the bottoms of his little paws, how pads were black and not pink. He also had a cute little black nose.

Godspeed to you, Tiger. May all of your nine lives be long, healthy and happy. I'm sorry if I made you afraid and miserable. So afraid you were willing to jump off the balcony and chance life on the street. I hope being parasite free and having your eye goop cleared up and a few meals brought you some brief happiness. I will miss you.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Cat Lady
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps, of which I am a proud volunteer.

I'm about to relate a story which I already consider to be a mistake. In fact I was well aware that this was probably a bad idea when I set out to do it - but do you ever have an idea and before you can reason yourself out of it, your mind is "wedded"* to the idea. It's like "too bad-you thought of it. Now you have to do it." *PC term

There were four kittens living down the street in what would be like a man hole, only it didn't have a cover and it was square. I say "were" because I caught them and now they're living in my bedroom. I think. All four of them are MIA at the moment which leads me to think they must have gone under the bed and crawled up into the box spring. Otherwise I have no clue.

I thought I would take in these four adorable babies and sequester them in my room, since I'm sleeping on the couch anyway, and foster them until I can find homes for them. I already bathed, trimmed the claws and flea shampooed all of them, and applied the necessary medicine which prevents them from getting fleas again for 6 weeks. However, I thought they would be a little more social - or easy to socialize. These babies hate me. They are hissy and bitey.

I thought they would be like Bella who when she was that age stayed all night in the cardboard box I put her in - even when she had to stay in the kitchen. These guys take off for the nearest corner as soon as I put them in the box. Two of them need eye drops like Bella did when I first got her but those two were not to be found this morning. And I thought they would take to Bella like a new mom. Bella is curious about them, but they are scared of her.

Last night I was plagued with guilt about how their poor mother must feel after I stole her four babies! Even though I know I did it because for their own good! I thought a flea bath and regular food would be good for them. I was dead set on finding them homes (before next Wednesday when I leave for the next camp). Now I'm having nightmares about dead kittens being stuck inside my furniture. None of them have eaten any of the food I put out for them yet, and I'm afraid I made a bad experience for them worth with the bathing them, and the twice catching them from their hiding places in the bedroom so I could administer the flea and eye medicines. Now I can 't find a one.

This may have been a mistake. But at least I realized catching their mother so I wouldn't have to separate her from her babies was a worse idea. She too would need a flea bath before she could become a guest in my lovely home and I don't think she would have been as accommodating as the kittens. I think she would have killed me.

Rest assured I have no intention of living with 5 cats, so even if these guys don't find homes and I have to get a sitter while I'm at camp, I'm still looking for a volunteer or a Romanian family to take them in. Unfortunately there's only room on the plane home for one cat, but there's room in my heart for all of them. If I can't find homes for them I have a lead on a Deva animal shelter where they can go.

In the meantime everyone I know in Deva has been mobilized to find a home for these feral kittens. I even have my number up on the bulletin board at my local vet's office. Now let's hope they come out from hiding so I can give them away!

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Inner Rock Star
The contents of this website are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the U.S. government or the Peace Corps, of which I am a proud volunteer.

I've never been someone who listened to music everywhere I went. I was kind surprised by this ear bud phenomenon. I've never been someone who walks around "plugged in." Even when I got my shiny MP3 player for Christmas I often forgot to bring it with me or forgot to put on some tunes if I was with other people. Therefore, sadly my last year in Romania has been mostly music-free. However, I recently took a train trip and realized the appeal of the ear bud culture. Now those ipod commercials with the dancing people finally make sense to me. When I have the ear buds in I don't have to give a care about anything. I don't even have to listen to my own thoughts! It's amazing.

I had forgotten how much energy one can get from music. It's like being plugged in to a battery, constantly recharging my strength and motivation to make through the day - like a strong cup of tea or a good fruit smoothie - and right now my fruit of choice is Queen (pun intended. Freddie forgive.)

I have been a Queen fan for a long time but I couldn't say I've been a big Queen fan. They are one of the bands I always liked but never owned any of their music, with the exception of the Bohemian Rhapsody single one side and Show must go on the other. However, by now I am proud to say that I am very close to accomplishing a goal I've had for my life since I was in high school - which is to learn all the words to Killer Queen.

For various reasons last week I decided it would be a good time to electronically acquire all of Queen's Greatest Hits Platinum Collection disks 1 through 3. And that last Tuesday would be a good day to listen to "Somebody to Love" for 11 hours straight. Then Saturday when I got on the train it was a nonstop jam session. The second train ride was about a half hour long and I couldn't sit still. Well today on the way home it was the same thing. My train was originally 20 minutes late. Not a good because I had an eight minute layover to make a connection. When I finally got on a brand shiny new train, I was told it was direct to Deva. Great! Especially considering I slept all of 3 and half hours the night before. Did I sleep? Not at all. It was a 100% Queen concert in my head. This was a nice train but it was what is call a cattle car. It's all open seating inside, no private compartments. And that was fine. It was happily lip-snyching and fidgeting in my seat until the very delayed train started moving again after an inexplicable 40 minute stop at a small village station, and I realized that I was the only one in my train car. Time to sing. I sang and sang whatever I wanted for about 35 minutes when I got up to walk to the back of the train car and wait for my station. That's when I noticed that the front of the car I was in opened up right to the train conductor. Not the guy who comes and checks the tickets - the guy driving the train, was listening to me the whole time.

Nothing to be too embarrassed about. I went to the back of the train and shut the door so I was in the little private room waiting by the door for the train to stop at my station. Two stations early. And I closed the door so I figured now I was really safe to belt out "Somebody to Love" at the TOP of my lungs. And I was standing in the moving train with the hand rails by which I could hold on to as I danced/prevented myself from falling. Then I noticed that though the door closed, the space above the door was completely open and I was not sealed in my happy little compartment.

"I try and I try and I try! But everybody wants to put me down..."

Maybe I would be more embarrassed if I had actually seen the train driver and made eye contact with him or if I knew that he understood English. It's possible he was driving the train with his own ear buds in.