peacetraveler22: (Default)

Today is the same as most recent years on LJ. Some Russian speaking blogger publishes a post about the 9/11 attacks, and everyone jumps in the comments to discuss conspiracy theories or the evil U.S. government, paying absolutely no attention to all the selfless rescue workers, fire fighters and ordinary citizens who sacrificed their lives to save others on that day. It is really what I, as an American, remember most about 9/11. On this point, I read a very disgusting comment by one person - "Я испытала очень смешанные чувства, когда прочитала, как четверо пожарных погибли, спасая по лестнице ожиревшую неходячую гражданку. По мне так не стОило это их жизней."

Last year, I wrote a post about my recollections of this moment in American history, and I publish it again below for those who have not yet read. I don't know how I would have responded if I was on the scene that day. Would I have been selfless enough to sacrifice my life to save another? I don't know, but like to think so...

Originally posted by [ profile] peacetraveler22 at Нью-Йорк, 9/11

On this day, there's always a very somber mood in the USA. Absolutely everyone from my generation remembers where they were when they first heard the news of the planes crashing into the World Trade Center. Life in the USA was never the same again, even to this day. On the news this morning, I was reminded of how many years have passed - 14. It seems almost unimaginable that there's now a whole generation of kids who have no memories from that day. They were not even born, or were only small toddlers when the graphic images of the towers collapsing appeared on TV screens. Some of my readers who are in their early 20's probably only have vague recollections of this historic event also. But for others, including myself, there's no escaping these images or the fateful tragedies of so many lives that day.Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)

For the first time, I watched someone die right before my eyes. Take her last breath, and fade from existence. The past few months for me have been very difficult and draining, a whirlwind of complex emotions that I couldn't process so easily. You will recall that I once wrote a post about how I felt guilty for being apathetic toward the terminally ill relative staying in our home in a hospice bed.

Over the past month, her condition deteriorated rapidly, and it became necessary to be a caretaker for her while I worked from home. I'm not a trained doctor or nurse, and my role was simply to change diapers, help her drink and eat through a straw, and simply provide some level of companionship and human warmth. During this time, my attitude completely changed and I began to feel such grief and sadness for her suffering. She died last Saturday, with her son holding her hand, and all of us gathered around her.

It becomes necessary in such times to seek places of refuge - it can be people you gravitate toward, or a place. For me, it was a tulip farm I discovered only a few minutes from my house. I spent many evenings there simply roaming the gardens and taking photos. So today, I'll just share some pictures to brighten the mood. I call these tulips "lollipops for the soul" - yes, they are delicious, fragrant and sweet. :)Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)

I often take pride in the fact I'm an independent woman, capable of caring for myself in most aspects of life, but there are many exceptions when it becomes necessary to rely on others. I'm human after all. :)

Driving to work a few weeks ago, there was a sudden shake, slight loss of control in steering, and immediately I knew the problem. A flat tire, making the journey onward to work impossible. In such cases, I immediately try to call my father to come rescue me. Secretly, I believe he wished for sons, but instead he was blessed with two lovely daughters. This didn't deter him from teaching us all kinds of useful things growing up. Many lessons in his garage about basic car maintenance - how to change the oil, drive a manual, and even get on the ground, use the jack and change our own tires. But thirty years later, I didn't feel like pulling out the instruction manual in my Audi, crawling on the wet, rocky ground and changing the flat myself. Perhaps I would not even remember how to do it honestly, because any time there's an issue with my car, my dad is equipped to fix the problem. In this way, I'm spoiled - a father who is a jack of all trades and can solve almost any problem or puzzle from plumbing, electrical to mechanics. Such men are very useful in life, but I think they are a dying breed.

There was one major obstacle on this day - I leave for work around 5 a.m., and it's difficult to reach other humans at this hour, as most are still nestled in their cozy beds, lost in dreamland. Here's how I solved the problem, and perhaps the post will give you some useful advice if you decide to visit the USA, and find yourself in a similar situation where roadside assistance is needed.Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)

In politics, life and history, people have always made valiant efforts to convert the masses to their ideologies, with religion as one of the core objectives. I already told you about The River Walk in San Antonio, but visitors to the region will also be encouraged to see the San Antonio Missions. The outposts were established by various religious orders, mostly Catholics, to spread Christianity among the local Natives. They also formed part of the colonization system that stretched across the Spanish Southwest in the 17th - 19th centuries. I've seen so many churches in Russia and all of my travels that they are of little interest to me now, but I took the time to visit one of the Missions during my business trip, and met some interesting locals in the process. These human encounters make any expedition worthwhile.Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)
FullSizeRender (11)

The pride of San Antonio, Texas is the "River Walk," a charming area filled with a lot of restaurants, cafes and shops. When I first arrived in the city, I kept searching for the "river," and was really confused. Being native to the Washington, DC area, I'm accustomed to huge rivers like the Potomac, which cover larger areas and can be seen from multiple vantage points.

The River Walk is more of a canal, Venetian style, or at least how I imagine Venice to be. I've never been there, or anywhere in Italy. You can float on a boat down the strip of waterway and look at a lot of interesting architecture, quaint bridges, and many diverse people walking along the corridors. People watching - it's a fun way to spend the afternoon in most places, so let's take a look.Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)

I've been on many journeys, but I can't say I've ever gone on an acid trip, or done LSD. In my early 20's, I was a rocker chick, ran with a crowd of musicians, and spent most free nights in clubs and concert halls listening to live music. I was always surrounded by drugs, but absolutely none of them intrigued me, with the exception of pot and ecstasy. The former I smoked for many years, and the latter I tried a few times. So, I can't say I know what it's like to have a mind-altering trip on LSD, but I imagine the visual distortions and altered states of consciousness closely resemble the decor of a Mexican restaurant I visited in San Antonio, Texas. Here, you can have deep conversations with statues of Jesus or the Virgin Mary, fly on the wings of doves, or simply become transfixed by all the twinkling Christmas lights, swirling garland, and butterflies with multi-colored general, it's very easy to mentally and visually transform into another realm. And absolutely no drugs are needed. :)Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)
FullSizeRender (2)

I'm sorry I've been disconnected recently, but I have no motivation or creative inspiration for the blog the past few weeks. I don't know what's causing this extreme dry spell, or general sense of apathy. Such a dreary, moody disposition is rare for me, and hopefully it will soon pass. In the meantime, here's an example of just one of the beautiful street art scenes I saw in San Antonio, Texas last week. I've always admired birds. I guess it's because they see things from a unique angle, and have the ability to escape at a moment's notice, drifting away to a different landscape or latitude in an instant. I imagine their life as complete freedom, and I'm envious. Because the feeling of being trapped or staying in the same place for eternity is terrifying to me. Or maybe it's because birds dare to break the shell, pushing through until they finally see the light, spread their wings and begin their journey. It seems like a simple formula for success - you dream, you dare, you fly...

The artist signed this painting with the simple hashtag #WhatLiftsYou, so I ask you the same. What lifts you in life? Unfortunately, as humans, we don't have wings. Or, maybe some of you do...:)
peacetraveler22: (Default)
FullSizeRender (26)

We often create illusions about others, mentally molding them into the person we wish them to be, rather than letting actual words and actions be the guide. In human relations, this can be a dangerous game. I was quite susceptible to it in youth, but now I simply take people at face value. I still get tricked on occasion, and snakes temporarily slither into my realm, if only for a brief moment in time. Soon these slimy creatures are sent back to the dark hole or forest from which they crawled, because people always reveal their true character in small ways, if you're perceptive enough to notice. Too many people prefer to hold on to the mirage, for it's far more beautiful than reality. This is the reason why we have all echoed the words "love is blind" to ourselves, or others. Right? :)

In travels, this game of illusions can be fun. You meet people, often for a fleeting moment. A short smile, a quick exchange of words, a passing glance...however, you know almost nothing about their lives. Sometimes only their name, or a brief fact about their existence. During all trips, I take the time to sit in a local cafe or market and simply watch people go by, snapping photos in the process. These are the results of the experiment in San Antonio, Texas, where I traveled last week for business.

All the photos were taken at the Mexican market, or a local cafe by the Majestic Theatre, where there was a stage production of Cinderella playing during my visit. This appeared to be the biggest event in the city, with princesses of all ages dressed in sparkly heels and fancy dresses, still clinging to the fairy tale dream of a prince and magic kingdom. There's no text with the photos that follow. I didn't speak to any of these people, except the man pictured here - Gilberto. He runs a small stall with hats and boots at the Mexican market. Charming, dashing and distinguished gentleman. :) Usually I'm the one telling you stories, but let's put your imagination to work. Certainly some of my readers must be creative enough to weave imaginary tales about the humans in these photos? So go on, tell me a story...Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)

You know, I used to be a waitress during university days. I worked at both Olive Garden and Ruby Tuesday's. If you live in, or have visited the USA, you will recognize them because they are chain restaurants, located in most States. Back then, I embraced my feminine charms on an entirely different level. This meant getting dressed up as a doll almost every shift, wearing cleavage exposing tops, and other things that I don't do now. The reason? Of course, it led to better tips. :)

In the U.S., we have a service focused culture. We expect good, friendly and efficient service, and it's most often received. But last night I became enraged when I went with my friend to a local joint for dinner. It was early, and we were the only customers in the dining room. The waitress came to our table with a shitty attitude, brought menus, took our order, and then immediately delivered drinks and free bread. Then, we never saw her again!?! Another person brought our food to the table, our drink glasses remained empty, and meanwhile the waitress stood chatting on the phone for at least 45 minutes in some type of argument with her boyfriend or husband. I could hear the whole conversation and all the drama.

So, how do you react in such situations? Or, you just accept bad service with no complaints?my method and a brief English lesson from Shannon :) )
peacetraveler22: (Default)
FullSizeRender (13)

В течение шести лет я жила в высотном доме в Арлингтоне, Вирджиния, где-то в пяти минутах от Вашингтона. Люди часто меня просят побольше рассказать об обычной американской жизни, поэтому сегодня я покажу вам квартиру, где я прожила больше всего времени на четвертом десятке и расскажу про ее стоимость для одинокой работающей женщины, живущей в очень дорогом районе Северной Вирджинии. Мы можем начать отсюда, с гостиной в квартире, где я проводила многие вечера, отдыхая и расслабляясь. Вся мебель и украшения в квартире – мои собственные. В большинстве русских квартир, где я останавливалась, нет отдельной гостиной, и люди используют кухню как место сбора. Потому я не уверена, обычны ли такие места сбора в России, но вы можете сказать мне. Давайте посмотрим на остальную часть моей берлоги холостячки. :)
Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)
FullSizeRender (6)

There's nothing to write or say about these pictures. If I felt inspired, I would sit and create some poetic or dreamy lyrics to accompany them, but lately it seems almost no one reads such texts. And I'm lazy today, so I will just publish the photos to show you more of the scenic landscapes from Montana. This State is rarely visited by foreign tourists, as they are all gathered in New York City, Washington, DC, Miami, Las Vegas or San Francisco. These cities consistently rank as the most visited by foreign guests in the USA. It's a pity because I think there are so many more interesting, unique and beautiful places in America, including Montana. I hope you enjoy!Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)

I grew up a small town girl, and it's in such places where I feel most comfortable. While I can find common ground and carry a conversation with almost any person, I'm an introvert by nature and don't crave constant social interactions or encounters with other persons. This is why I've always felt uncomfortable in concrete jungles, or cities over-flooded with humanity at almost every corner. The constant chatter from the mouths of strangers and clicking sounds of feet pounding on pavement are somehow exhausting to me. I receive no rush of energy or pleasure from these crowds, only a sense of suffocation and irritation. When I first arrived in Montana, it became clear this State is unique. Perhaps like none other I've visited, with the exception of Wyoming.Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)

I envisioned wonderful nature and big mountains when I planned the trip to Montana, but there's one thing about the landscape of this State that totally surprised me. I had no idea there are so many casinos, so I was immediately shocked when I left the airport and saw the bright, flashy signs light up the night scenery. For a brief moment, I thought I mistakenly landed in Las Vegas! My home base during the trip was the capital city Helena, which has less than 30,000 residents. The sparse population makes Montana unique. The State is massive in size, with less than a million people spread over the land. I began to wonder why such an uninhabited region needs so many casinos around every corner...and I'm still not sure of the answer.Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)

There's a certain childhood rite of passage I never experienced - eating cafeteria lunches. I attended a small, religious school from 5th - 12th grade, surrounded by the same faces until graduation. There were rarely new students who transferred to the school, no new boys to flirt with, or mysterious strangers who suddenly appeared at the desk beside me. In one word, I would describe my school experience as boring. The same can be said of my daily lunches, which my mom diligently packed every morning. Usually, the lunchbox consisted of a peanut butter or ham and cheese sandwich, some type of chips and a piece of fruit. I always envied kids who had the joy of entering the canteen each day to have old ladies with hairnets shovel different food onto their tray, sometimes completely inedible and sometimes a fun game to guess what the mystery meat or slop was. It all seemed very exotic and exciting for someone who was insanely bored being around the same kids and learning environment for so many years.Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)

Over the weekend, my local community experienced horror and shock after three police officers were gunned down when they responded to a domestic violence call. An active Army Sergeant named Ronald Hamilton decided to slap his wife around yet again, with their young son in the home. The boy fled when the violence started, and escaped the bloody scene that followed. As soon as the three police officers arrived at the scene, Sergeant Hamilton began spraying bullets at them. Two remain in the hospital and one was fatally wounded. It's a tragic tale, and every officers worst nightmare. The victim was one of several female officers who had just graduated from the Prince William County Police Academy on Friday. She was killed on her very first night on the job. Only 28 years old. No, this was not a response call to some ghetto area, but to a nice, suburban neighborhood, where the average house costs around $500,000. The wife was already dead on the floor when police officers arrived.Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)

American citizens have a long history of civil protest and disobedience, and one of the most prolific times was at the height of racial segregation. Yes, Americans once lynched blacks and it is a shameful part of our history which few forget, including me. It was shortly over 56 years ago, on 1 February 1960, that four black university students staged a sit-in at a local diner in Greensboro, North Carolina, by taking their seats at a whites-only lunch counter. This sit-in is often regarded as the spark that fueled the civil rights movement in the early 1960's, when ordinary black citizens began to protest unequal treatment and demand change.

The four men were all students at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. They planned the protest from their dorm room, simply because "we'd had was time to wake up and change the situation." Tired of being treated like second class citizens, they walked down the street, sat down and demanded to be served. They promised each other they would repeat the behavior daily until a plate of food was placed in front of them, no matter how long it took. There were reports that a black waitress admonished them, and two old white ladies stood and clapped, encouraging them along. The sit-in grew quickly, and other black students from local universities joined, as well as sympathetic white students who supported their cause. The men encountered resistance from KKK members who showed up and threw burning piles of newspapers under a counter seat. Yet the men were not deterred and the protest remained peaceful for the most part. Because of the swelling crowds and coverage by local media, Woolworth's was forced to close the lunch counter only a week after the four young men first arrived.Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)

It's that time of year again, when American workers get to see how many of their hard-earned dollars were contributed to taxes, social security and Medicare in 2015. You can see my contribution to the system here, in the W-2 Form that was just handed to me by our cute mail room boy.

- Salary: $114,107.40 - this is $30,000 less than prior years because I now work a reduced schedule to have more time to pursue hobbies and passions, and mostly for mental balance. I don't want to waste my life away at the computer or desk, and need other forms of intellectual stimulation besides legal work to stay sane.
- Federal Income Tax Withheld: $22,137.33!!
- Virginia State Tax Withheld: $6,077.78
- Social Security Withheld: $7,074.66
- Medicare: $1,654.56

The last two are contributions to the Federal government's pension and medical insurance plans for retirees. I will see none of this money until at least age 62, when you can begin to collect a pension, and it will not be enough for survival. As a result, I have a separate investment plan on my own and through my work, where a certain percentage of my salary is invested in stocks and bonds. I've had this since I first started working at age 16. My parents always made me aware that it's necessary to first be able to support and provide for yourself, and for this I'm very grateful. Perhaps it helps you better understand why I have absolutely no relation to females who rely on men solely for financial support and basic living needs. I get few tax breaks because I have no children, and can't claim them as dependents or receive tax credits. I get a larger portion than necessary deducted so I usually get a refund of about $1,000 - $2,000 each year. I use these funds for my annual birthday trip each February. The only relief I can claim is through interest paid on my doctorate loans and real estate property I own.

So, which do you think is better? A flat tax system like Russia, or being taxed based on income and earning brackets as in the U.S.? The more you earn, the more you pay....seems fair to me.

peacetraveler22: (Default)

All the predictions came true, and the East Coast of the USA was hit by a major blizzard over the weekend. The snowfall totals were epic and historical. In my suburb in Virginia, we had over 80 centimeters and, with the high winds, snow drifts that towered over me and became quite dangerous for children. Because the snow was dry and light rather than wet, there was a probability of huge piles collapsing and burying children underneath. This happened momentarily with my nephew and it scared him to the point that he wanted to come inside and rest instead of continuing to play outside. Of course, I dream of such winter wonderlands and they are rare for my area. It's relaxing to sit for two days and watch the accumulations build, but then the hard work comes when it's time to dig yourself out and resume normal life again. So, let's take a look at how it all began...let it snow! )
peacetraveler22: (Default)

We have some strange behaviors in the USA, and today I'll tell you about one of them. Anytime there's a possibility of snow, everyone runs to the grocery store and ransacks the shelves. It's as if they're preparing for the apocalypse. :) I can hardly imagine that each time it snows in Russia, people hurry to the store to buy food. This human behavior is a mystery to me, because the maximum amount of time you will ever be stuck in your home after a massive snow storm is probably three days, unless you live in some remote mountain region. Yet all Americans prepare for eternal starvation, and an ordinary visit to the grocery store turns into a trip to the zoo, with wild crowds and people all searching for one item - bread! I think it was Jesus who once said "man cannot live on bread alone," but apparently humanity didn't take this saying seriously. It doesn't matter if the prediction is only for a few snow flakes, or a massive blizzard, people will always buy bread first and if you go to the store in the evening, the bread shelves will be empty. Why? How many sandwiches can you really eat during a blizzard? :) What about meat?

When I posted this photo yesterday on Facebook, one of my Russian readers informed me that if you cut a loaf of bread into little pieces and dry them in the oven, you'll get a delicious snack which can be stored and eaten forever. Apparently some Russians do this when they feel hard times are coming:
сушат сухари. Besides bread, what else do you think Americans buy to prepare for a massive snowstorm?Read more... )
peacetraveler22: (Default)
FullSizeRender (2)

I'm always so excited to hop on a plane and journey to some far off, exotic place that I fail to remember all the beauty and diversity in my own country. This year for my annual birthday trip I've decided to travel to Montana. I've long wanted to visit this State and my cousin now plays in an amateur hockey league there. My home base will be Helena, but I plan on visiting Bozeman, Missoula, and possibly taking a train trip to Whitefish. This is a real cowboy State, filled with ranchers and amazing mountainous landscapes. The main objective is to take a winter excursion to the famed Yellowstone National Park. Such adventures are only possible in winter via snowmobile or snow coaches, but what awaits are endless snowy landscapes, bison, wolves and plenty of frozen wonders. It's also possible I'll be able to visit an authentic Native American reservation, as the family who hosts my cousin during his hockey season are members of a tribe.

Do I have any readers in Montana? Suggestions on what to see? Tentative travel dates are 18 February - 24 February. I will be pleased to meet any readers who live in the area!


peacetraveler22: (Default)

June 2017

1112 1314151617


RSS Atom

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 24th, 2017 05:00 am
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios