Somewhere in Northern Spain, May 20, 2013 -- Holy Mierda! How time flies!
The last column I wrote was Feb. 25 – almost three months ago -- when I talked about writing my last will and testament!!!!
Despite some concerns on the part of some of you who might have assumed that the reason I haven’t written is because my last will and testament has actually been put to use, I’m still around saving money to pay for my cremation. I almost have the $ 2,000 I’d need :-)
And I have to repeat what Mark Twain reportedly said when the New York Journal erroneously published his obituary in the 1890s: “Reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.”
My friend Derek Juhl in Seattle wrote to tell me that there were some typographical errors in my last column. If they were favorable, consider that I intended them; if they weren’t, consider them a horrible mistake :-)
Since my last column, Vanya has paid a short visit from Moscow – and returned my 400 euros; and I’ve been in contact with Marco and Sydny. Dave G and his husband Cary – who tied the knot the first night that same-sex marriages became legal in Oregon in 2004 -- have joined our merry band.
So it will be a great get-together in Morocco when – and if – the five of us connect. It’s the biggest airport in Africa, and the languages are only French and Arabic – neither of which can you find in the literary faits accomplis of any of the five of us; so finding each other is going to be something of an adventure. I’ll let you know how it all comes out.
As for the current legality of Dave and Cary’s marriage, Wikipedia says it’s not legal, that the holier-than-thou “Christians” in Oregon voted later that year to make marriage something that only a man and a woman can enter into and to cancel any gay marriages that had already taken place.
Dave and Cary can explain it all on our adventure. In the meantime, Christ save us from the Christians.
I’ve heard from my hapless, hopeless Moldavian buddy Joe #^$&*(@! Tragically, things have gone from bad to worse for Igor. On March 10, I had an e-mail from him:
Hello, my dear Dane!
Thank you very much for helping me, Dane! It helped me very, very much, Dane! Thank you! I am very bad now; it is hard ☹ I’m still in the hospital, I don’t have Internet; a guy with a computer is being treated. Now I am alone…it’s bad….boring, I wish you were here with me ☹ now there’s no money for the telephone, I left the Internet!
How are you, Dane, what’s new?
I want very much to live together with you! Like before….Will you take me to you? Here there is no work ☹ I am going out of my mind…There is work but my wife took all my diplomas ☹ Now I have no profession…I think in the future I will have a profession and you will be with me…I think we will live together…! I love you, miss you, kiss you, ‘bye. I await an answer!
It was obviously a desperate, stressed-out letter from a guy in the depths of depression. I did my best to cheer him up without giving him unrealistic hopes for the future:
My dear Igor,
I am very glad to receive your letter. I was very, very worried because I didn’t hear from you. I’m glad you’re still alive :-))))
That’s terrible that your wife has all your diplomas. Can she send them to you? Probably not :-(((((
How long will you be in the hospital? How are you feeling, better? How kind of the guy to let you use his computer.
I have to go to Morocco next month. I need time – 5 days – and money – about 300 euros ☹
Well, honey, get better!
I love you, miss you, kiss you,
A few days later, I had an update:
Hello my dear Dane!
Thank you for helping me, I just was discharged from the hospital, I am deep in debt and there’s no medicine, and no possibility of buying it…Unfortunately, there is not even enough for the telephone so I can’t communicate with you by SMS
I am in hell, Dane….life has become depressing :-( I am still ill, I can’t work….Acquaintances have promised to take me to St. Peterburg to work, but I need to heal a little more….
There are a lot of debts….I don’t know what to do… Could you help me, as much as you can, if you can. Forgive the question
But I am now in such poor condition….there aren’t even groceries ☹ You couldn’t take me to you, Dane? I am on the edge….I hope you love me as I love you….:-) I miss you very much, Dane….I hope that I can very soon get on Skype, we will talk….I want very much to see you!
How is your health? What have you decided regarding me? Excuse me again for everything, Dane. I love you very much! I miss you, kiss you. ‘bye. I await an answer
Oh, God, this is depressing. I can’t help him because I need the money myself. I wrote:
Hello, my dear Igor, how glad I am that you’re not still in the hospital. I’m sorry that you have so many debts and that you are still ill. I understand that for you life is simply hell :-((((
My situation with money is very bad right now. Maybe after the first of April I can send you $ 50.
Honey, I can’t bring you to Spain now. I don’t have the money, and won’t have until summer, and even in the summer I don’t know if I can. It depends on my health and other things.
I cry for you, but at the moment, I can’t help you :-(((((
I love you, I miss you. Write when you are able to. I love you,
Again around St. Patrick’s Day, I had another e-mail from him:
Hello my dear Dane! Thank you for helping me! Things are very difficult for me, I can’t work and there is no money…:-( I am suffering….I want very much to live with you as before….Help me, Dane, to go to you….I want to very much. I have Skype at my aunt’s which is always open…She uses it…I don’t have Internet now or money on the telephone ☹ I love you and miss you. I want to see you! Write, I await an answer. I kiss you, love you, miss you ‘bye.
Tues. night, March 21, I got a text message that he was on Skype. Immediately, I got on Skype with him, He told me he was going to St. Peterburg the next day to work and asked me to send $ 50 in April to his mother, Katya.
Again, on Western Easter Sunday, March 31, he sent me another text message that he was again on Skype. He told me he was living in St. Peterburg with his 25-year-old cousin and his cousin’s girlfriend. He said he was working in construction and sounded reasonably happy.
So it was a real shock to get the following e-mail from him May 5. Things have gone from bad to unbearable!!!
Hello, my dear Dane!
Excuse me for not writing. I couldn’t, I’ve been shut in, you’re right. They showed themselves to be false….and they shut me in and supplied a fine, now I have to find work and pay the fine, there will still be a suit….Now they have supplied a signed statement about that I didn’t train, it’s forbidden to leave Russia for at least 3 months and I have to pay a fine….I am living in a basement, it’s warm there, but I sleep on the floor. That’s the way it is for now. Dane…can you take me to you? I miss you very much. Write if you can take me to you. I miss you very much, Dane. I love you, kiss you, await an answer.
But I can’t offer him any hope. I wrote:
My Dear Igor,
How terrible! I don’t understand all this. But unfortunately, I don’t have the money to bring you here :-(((((
I am very worried about you.
I haven’t heard from him since, which is good for me, but terrible for him. I don’t know – and I think I don’t want to – what’s going to happen to him. But for better or for worse, I think he’s finally out of my life. I still feel very sad for him.
My new “syntax and morphology” student, Noemy, is no longer my student. I’m very much relieved, though I could have well used the extra money she was providing. After three lessons, she called to say she wouldn’t need any more.
I can’t express my feelings about this hopelessly fucked up Spanish Dept. of Education method of teaching English. I haven’t met an “English” teacher yet who could speak the language. But they waste time and money on all this extraneous shit that not even American English majors know and think they’ve learned something. I don’t know any other country that is so incredibly bad!
Even my African students in Russia could speak the language – though perhaps badly. But at least they could speak it; and my Russian students of English could speak it rather well – depending on the level they had reached.
Is Sasha coming or not? I wish I knew the answer to that question.
On the last day of February, because I hadn’t heard from him for a while, I sent him the following e-mail:
My darling Sasha,
In four months, you’ll be here. I can’t wait.
How are you? How’s the weather? Tomorrow is spring in Russia, I think. Here it is still “cold” – from 3 to 12 degrees C (38 to 56 F).
Write. I love hearing from you.
I love you very much and miss you,
Your loving Dane
I got an answer from him on March 8, International Women’s Day:
My beloved Dane,
I’m so glad to get your e-mail. Excuse me for not writing for a long time. Right now I have a lot of work. I even work on Saturday. I want to earn enough money to bring you a present and to live with you without problems. I have already saved 1000 euros. What would you like from Russia?
We’re still having cold weather, -5 Celsius (20 degrees F) and a lot of snow. I want very much to live with you in Spain. We will be warm there, even if it is cold outside, because we will be together in bed….Right?
I kiss you, hug you, miss you.
Of course, I answered that the only thing I wanted from Russia was him, and the quicker the better. On March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, I also sent him the following e-mail:
Hello, my darling Sasha,
How are you, how’s the weather?
Listen, if you haven’t bought your ticket yet, I think 29 June will be a better date to come, because I will be in Morocco June 22-26 with an American friend, and I want to be in Spain when you come. So I think that June 29 or 30 or even July 1 will be better.
Is that okay, my darling?
In the meantime, I’m eagerly awaiting you.
I love you and miss you very much.
I had an immediate response from him:
You’re the best guy in the world! I love you very much.
How incredibly sweet :-)
On March 29 I wrote him again:
My darling Sasha,
In three months you’ll be here :-))))) I can’t wait.
I love you and miss you very much.
On April 1 he answered me:
Yes, my darling Dane, soon we will be together! I too can’t wait and miss you.
How are you now with money; okay? Have you sent Igor money or not?
I answered him immediately:
Thank you for the letter, my darling,
Now I am pretty okay with money. I am going to Morocco and that costs about 300 euros, but still I have enough. No, I haven’t sent Igor any money. He is now working in St. Peterburg.
Do you know yet exactly when you’re coming?
I am very eagerly awaiting you.
I love you very much and miss you.
That “I haven’t sent Igor any money” was a little white lie. I had sent him – or rather his mother -- $ 50 in early April, but it was only 50 bucksi and was the last I will send him.
On April 28 I hadn’t heard from him for a while, and it was time for an update:
Hello, my darling Sasha,
In two months you will be here with me. How I await you.
I haven’t heard from you in a long time. Is everything okay? How are you? How’s your health?
I love you very much, my darling.
Write when you have time.
Then a week later, on May 8, I had an e-mail from Hong Kong Harry, my gay American acquaintance who taught in Hong Kong for many years and is now teaching in Macau. He is a hopelessly meddling old maid but means well, so I put up with his meddling.
How are you doing? I am busy now grading final exams. In two weeks I am going to London to work in the British archive and library, and check on my flat. I will be going to a conference in Xinjiang, China, in early June. I will return to London and Paris in early July. I have my class reunion at LSE on July 12 and 13. Then to the US in mid and late July. Back here in August to teach. Tell me what you are up to. Hope all is OK.
“I’m fine,” I replied.
Next month I’m meeting four American friends in Morocco for a few days. Then, Sasha says he is coming to Spain. I hope so.
Good luck on your trips
Then, on May 6:
It sounds like your June will be very good indeed. I hope your friend can get a Schengen visa, and a Spanish residence visa so he can join you. They are not easy for Russians, especially when Spain has a youth unemployment rate of over 50%. But good luck. What will you do in Morocco. Medically I'm ok. I had an injection of artificial cartilage in the knee. No more limp. And I lost 5 pounds, and am down to 166.
Sasha has said that a visa is no problem for him. I hope he's right.
Mostly our friends and I will travel and get caught up to date.
Glad your limp has disappeared.
I hope he is correct. I know from other Russians it is difficult to get
unless you have a steady well paying job in Russia. Maybe your friend Sasha has good work, or has contacts in a Consulate. In any case, how can he get a residence visa for Spain, a country of such high unemployment? He needs both to stay with you. Enjoy your trip.
I told you he is a meddling old maid :-( I replied that “I’ve heard that it's not a problem if you book a tour.”
“True,” he replied.
But tours are pricey, and you have to stay in the hotel you are booked
on. For example, a one week tour from Moscow to London was 50,000 rubles. I don't think your friend Sasha has that kind of money. Your visa is also only for the length of the tour. Usually one week.
By this time I was getting really exasperated. On May 10 Sasha had written:
My beloved Dave,
How are things with you? How is your health? I so want to give you my big sausage!
I love you, kiss you,
My darling Sasha,
How I wait for you. Do you know yet when exactly you’re coming; and are you coming to Madrid or to my town? Plane or bus?
Yes, I very, very much want to gobble your big sausage. I can’t wait :-)))))
Quickly, my darling.
I love you, miss you, kiss you,
In the meantime, I wrote HKH:
We can only wait and see
But he wouldn’t let it go:
The other problem besides price is that all tours would go to Madrid, Barcelona, and the Spanish coast. You would have to go there for the length of the tour. It would be cheaper and easier if you met him in Moscow.
My god. Shut the fuck up. If he can get a visa, he can get a visa. If he can’t, he can’t and I’ll be very sad, but I’m not fucking going to return to Moscow. So I bridled my temper and replied simply:
Thanks, Mike. We'll see.
But he wouldn’t quit:
Why don't you go to Moscow for a visit?
I patiently replied:
I have no place to stay and it would be too much of a hassle.
Like a dog with a bone, he kept on:
You can't stay with one of your friends like Sasha, Misha, etc? Cheap hotels don't exist but you can book something reasonable online. For you to go there is much less a hassle, than Sasha visiting you. You don't need the pricey tour as he would.
Patience, I counseled myself, patience, and replied once more:
Sasha rents only a room and Misha has moved to Ukraine. Too much hassle.
But he wouldn’t take no for an answer:
After living in Moscow for 10 years, you must know some people with whom you could stay with. If not, there are some cheap hotels in Moscow, like Izmailovskaya. They are however, not very nice, and located on the outskirts of the city. Still it is much easier and cheaper for you to go there, then for Sasha to visit you in Spain. Tours are VERY pricey, and restrictive.
There are some other options. Your friend can check with agencies, which specialise in getting Schengen visas, for a price, for problem cases. He can locate them on the internet. A second option is to get a Schengen visa from an easier country, and then fly on to Spain. I have heard that Finland and the Baltic States are fairly easy. A third option would be for you to write him a letter of invitation, assuming you have a residence permit in Spain. I wrote invitations to two Russians to the UK, one successfully and one not. In any case it is still easier and cheaper for you to go there. But good luck.
Patiently I replied:
I don't plan to go to Moscow. Hopefully Sasha can come here. If not, so be it.
HKH hasn’t replied. Maybe he got the message. Anyway, I decided that discretion would be the better part of valor, so I again wrote Sasha:
My darling Sasha,
There is a tourist agency “Euro Tour Service” which might be able to help you get a visa to Spain. It used to be at Kropotkinskaya Metro Station, but I think now they are between Barrikadnaya and Mayakovskaya. And maybe there are others who can help you with a visa.
I can’t wait.
I love you and miss you. I kiss you.
He immediately replied:
Thank you, my love. I think everything will be all right.
“My darling,” I replied.
I very much hope so, because I very, very much want to live with you.
I kiss you.
That was May 13 and the last I’ve heard from him or HKH. He still hasn’t written what date he’s coming or how. But I can do nothing now but wait and hope for the best.
I want more than anything else in the world for him to come and live and love with me and prove that “Life Begins at 80.” But it’s out of our hands. Ah, fates, be kind.
Time for the church lady to chide you and your lifestyle and to warn you of things to come.
First of all, the American media aren’t reporting that the melted core at the Fukushima, Japan, cracked the containment vessel and “there really is no containment” at the Fukushima reactors. Bad nuclear news isn’t good for business, after all.
And oil companies are reporting record prices while at the same time boasting about how plentiful oil is becoming. Do you get the idea that something ain’t according to Hoyle here?
And finally, the British thinker and writer Georges Monbiot recently bemoaned the fact that with the world so full of nice people, why is it that our leaders are all mean, nasty bastards – or words to that effect.
We now have the answer, gleaned from the pages of the “oilresources” web site, which quotes “Global Research” in reviewing Psychopathy, Politics, and the New World Order by Colin Todhunter. It seems that this phenomenon of leader cruelty, viciousness and heartlessness isn’t confined to the U.S. It’s shared the world around.
“When attempting to analyse what is happening in the world,” notes the reviewer, “it is important to appreciate past economic, social and political processes that led us to where we are today. Understanding the tectonic plates of history that led certain countries towards fascism, communism or capitalist liberal democracy, for example, is essential.
“At the same time, however, it can become easy for us to push aside the individual as we focus on theoretical perspectives that refer to the ‘underlying logic of capitalism’ or some other notion that draws heavily on theory. It can get to the point where individual motive or intent (agency) is airbrushed from the narrative because human action is deemed to have been shaped by the dead weight of history or forces beyond our control.
“While not wishing to understate the role that such constraints have on human action, I wish to draw attention to researcher Stefan Verstappen who provides valuable insight into how individual agency has shaped and continues to shape society.
“While Machiavellianism has long been associated with politics and public conduct, Verstappen shifts focus somewhat by arguing that people with psychopathic personalities have for thousands of years tended to grasp power and impose their views and deeds on the rest of us. In order to get power, he concludes that people cheat, kill or lie their way to the top. Whether it has been due to the butchery or lies of royalty, religious leaders, politicians or corporate oligarchs, nice guys have tended to finish last.
“What leads him to conclude this?
“Psychopathy is a personality disorder identified by characteristics such as a lack of empathy and remorse, criminality, anti-social behaviour, egocentricity, superficial charm, manipulativeness, irresponsibility, impulsivity and a parasitic lifestyle.
“With that definition in mind, look around: the criminal, parasitic activities by bankers that have plunged millions into poverty; the destruction, war and death brought to countries in order that corporations profit by stealing resources; the dropping of atom bombs on innocent civilians in 1945 or the use of depleted uranium which again impacts innocent civilians; and the many other acts, from the use of death squads to false flag terror, that have brought untold misery to countless others just because powerholders wanted to hold onto power or to gain more power, or the wealthy wanted to hold onto their wealth or gain even more.
“Based on these terrible deeds, it becomes easy to argue that the people ultimately responsible for them do not adhere to the same values as ordinary people. It may be even easier to conclude that it’s not the cream that rises to the top, but, in many cases, the scum.” (I’d say “the shit” – Dane)
“Now such a scenario might seem awful enough, but the people who tend to control the world, the ones responsible for these acts, try to impose their warped world view and twisted values on everyone else. Hollywood films, commercials and political ideology are all engaged in forwarding the belief that it’s a dog eat dog world, war and violence abroad is necessary, competition and not cooperative (sic) is what counts, aggression and not passivity is the key to ‘success’ and that success equates with amassing huge amounts of personal wealth and lavish displays of conspicuous consumption.
“‘A person with a psychopathic personality, which manifests as amoral and antisocial behavior, lack of ability to love or establish meaningful personal relationships, extreme egocentricity, failure to learn from experience, etc.’ - definition of a psychopath from Dictionary.com
“Again, bearing this definition in mind too, the acts mentioned above are not those of properly functioning social beings that contribute to a sense of communality, altruism, love or morality; quite the opposite in fact.
“Yet this is the type of stuff that is rammed down our throats as constituting normality every day. Whether it’s the ‘Big Brother’ TV show or ‘The Apprentice’ show, these values are promoted day and night. The ‘Big Brother’ winner is the one who can survive and outdo the competition in terms of the duplicity and backstabbing involved along the way. The winner of ‘The Apprentice’ must be more aggressive, more duplicitous, more devious and cunning and more willing to trample over everyone else. And the winner is judged as such by a multi-millionaire who himself was cunning and ruthless enough to have made it to the top of the pile and has amassed millions for his own personal benefit. These are the role models to be admired and emulated!
“These are the measures of success, of sanity, of normality.
“‘It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.’ – Jiddu Krishnamurti
“Apprentice competitors are highly driven individuals: not driven by a need to help humanity, but by egocentricity and greed. And, ultimately, these are the values that many mainstream opinion leaders, senior politicians and their corporate masters hold dear.
“These values of egocentricity, aggression, competitiveness, duplicity and greed are not confined to some TV show. There are part of a much more sinister process. They are inextricably linked to and underpin the actions that resulted in the killing of half a million children in Iraq for geo-political gain and the sending in of military forces into the jungles of India to beat, rape and dispose of a nation’s poorest people because they stand in the way of profit and greed. From Congo and Libya to Syria and beyond, we witness the outcome of a terrifying mindset that is nurtured and encouraged throughout society.
“Too many people have become ‘well adjusted to the values of a profoundly sick society,’ whether residing in middle England, middle America or the gated communities of south Delhi or Mumbai. Humanity is being beaten down to be neurotic, vicious and to regard these traits as constituting normal, acceptable behaviour. Thanks to the media, this becomes engrained from an early age as comprising ‘common sense’, and those who question it are merely sneered at or ridiculed by a system that promotes a mass mindset immune to its own lies.
“Whether this is all due to psychopathy, narcissism or ‘Machiavellian personalities’ is open to debate. Moreover, as implied at the outset, historical and sociological factors often compel usually decent people to act in terrible ways. The debate within academic sociology between structure and human agency is after all a very long one. Whatever the underlying reason, however, as a global community we are being force fed a diet of perverse values and destructive actions, all spuriously justified on the basis that ‘there is no alternative’ and ‘needs must’.
“Corporate capitalism, consumerism, the new world order, a war on terror (or drugs or poverty, take your pick), neo-liberalism – call it what you will, but it’s all based on the filthy lie that those in control have wider humanity’s interests at heart. They don’t. By any means possible – war, murder, torture or propaganda, they seek to convince people otherwise. What price human life? None whatsoever for such people.”
I rest my case. Truer words were never spoken. Feel you’re out of lockstep with your pathological leaders? You are. Consider yourself lucky.
Maybe it’s just as well that society as we know it isn’t going to last another century.
And while we’re at it, we’ll recommend another great little book for your bedtime reading: Immoderate Greatness by William Ophuls who, again quoting a reviewer, “has avoided jargon and biology while explaining how ecological exhaustion, exponential growth, entropy (net energy), complexity, moral decay and practical failure are causing our civilization to collapse.
“Moreover, Ophuls sees no solution to these problems because the root of these problems is human nature.”
Goodnight, my dears, and sweet dreams :-)
Copyright (C) 2005 - 2007 Dane Lowell
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