Interviewed June, 1998
What was going on in my community and my world at the time of my birth? I really don’t know how to answer that. I was just born, right? Let’s see, I’ll think back, ’69. Isn’t that the year that they put the first satellite in space? Yep, so worldwide this is what happened in Romania at the time I think that the President was just changed. It used to be Gheorghe Dej, and then Ceauseascu came in power. In the community at the time I was born, my family was in crisis pretty much. My father… I don’t think my mother was getting along with my father so my mother went to stay at her mother’s and have me there because things were not going very well and of course I wasn’t the first baby. They were my brother and my sister. My brother who at the time was four and my sister was one year four months old. So what happened, what happened, I was, I think I was there for a couple of months, I’m not sure. My mother stayed with me and then my father came over to get her to come back to Constanta which is actually the place where I was brought up and so she decided to go back. The Romania culture is that the woman should always follow the man which is actually stupid or even a problem when you consider my father. He is not at all an easy man to get along with. What was my father doing at the time I was born, let me think. I don’t think he was a seaman. I think that he was working in the harbor as a technician or something and then he finally managed to become a seaman, a merchant marine. He started working on the small boats in the harbor and then he started fishing on the fishing boats, the bigger ones that go around the coast of Africa and other places. He would be away for nine months at a time or sometimes even more than that. Which was probably kind of good because every time he came back we were like happy for two days till we finished our cookies and then we would be terrified again. Actually my mother used to, she used to scare us. She would say, ‘Well, when your father comes back I’m going to tell your father what you did so you better behave”. Even though we knew it was way, way in advance before he would come back, we were scared so we would think about it. We would think about stopping whatever it was we were doing bad. My father was the type of a person that people would have a hard time getting along with. He was brought up by a family; I don’t think his family was very well put together. His mother was a maid or a servant or something for one of those big guys like those who lived in the feudal age, is this how you say it. You know, when you have all these land owners and all the people who work for them. You got to have the social status of the Romanians at the time to understand these things. So anyway, his mother was working for one of these big landowners and I think the guy (became my father’s father) so actually my father has some noble blood in him and I could say this of myself. So he was born and I think he was adopted after a couple of years and he moved back and forth a lot between his real family and his adopted family. He was sick most of the time. He had problems with his legs. After he grew up, he was always a very intelligent guy. He would be very insensitive about other people’s feeling because nobody ever cared about his feelings, I guess. He never cared about what other people thought. He had this feeling that he had to be in charge and he is probably too afraid to let anyone else be in control. My father, I can’t say I feared my father all the time for this was not the truth, but my father was a tough man. He never really attached to me sentimentally too much. I was to keep my feelings away from him, and I would rather talk to my mother or my brother or my sister rather than to my father. He was never one to go to with some personal thing to solve. My father used to take me a lot of places, fishing, showing me the infrastructure of the harbor and all that and showing me this is this and this is that and this is how they work and this ship goes to America and this one to Iran bringing products from here to there so I guess he bought me some meaning to all the industrial and technological stuff that happens around us. I don’t know if I was just like him or I was gifted with this but it turned out that I am technically inclined but I am not like him and I hope that I am not like him soul wise. Maybe because sometimes people think that I am like him. My mother was a very kind woman. She has always been a very kind woman, and she has always been a kind woman and she will always be even though she is no longer with us. She was trying to keep everybody happy. She was trying to make sure that the entire family kept strong and united even though at times things were not going really good at all. My mother wasn’t a very educated woman. If she would have been, she would never have stayed with my father. She had to endure a lot, she endured a lot from him, a lot of abuse, but thank God she had him away for most of the time with the Merchant Marines. She was pretty much by herself, and she took care of us pretty good. I can’t complain. I can’t say anything bad about the way she brought us up. She would always be nice and kind and understanding, and she would spank us if we wouldn’t do our homework. It is too bad, I miss her. It is too bad she is not here anymore. In a way she would have been proud of me, having a baby and getting a house right now. My mother will always be a good example of life, always try to compromise, never try to anger anybody, compromise and forgive. She would forgive everything. She would forgive things I think she should never forgive, things my father told her, unspeakable things.
My brother died in an accident. That was too bad. It happened about a year before I came
here. It was in 1988, it happened in 1988. It was a stupid accident. Anyway he didn’t die right away so when I found out about the accident I had to go the hospital and I asked how is he and
they said “He is not good, and it does not look very good, and it does not look like he is going to live.” So I went in and I talked to him. I didn’t actually talk to him the same day. I talked to him the next day because he was in a comma. He was pretty badly burned. He had burns over 70%
of his body and I think that he probably had some nerve damage and some brain damage. After I saw him and the shape he was in, I don’t know if this is good or bad but I didn’t wish that he lived. There are still times that I think about this, my father being here and me being the only man in the house (in Romania). It was very tough because I had to keep my mother sane and my sister and I were not functioning right either. I really would say that the proper treatment could have saved him. About three days later we had the funeral. I remember we called my father and told him about the accident and he said, ‘Why the fuck did you do that, why did you guys do that?” It was us that did that to him, never thinking about how we might be feeling. Well, maybe he was entitled, I may be wrong. So, he died. It was very close to my sister’s birthday. He died on May third and was buried on May 5, on my sister’s birthday. So I’m sure that nobody’s going to ever forget this, especially my sister. My brother was a nice guy really. We fought once in a while and I got some scars from him. We were just kids at the time. He was coming on to girls at the time and I was kidding him about that so he would beat me up sometimes. I think, though, we did get along well.
I was probably getting along better with my sister at the time because we were closer in age and having more things in common than I had with my brother. We would go out and do things together like go to the beach. He was actually the man in charge and my mother really trusted him that he would do a good job when she would have to go away he would be in charge to take care of us. We realized that he would be the man in the house when my father was away. He was a very intelligent person. I think he took after my father with that, but he was a much more emotional person. He would try to get into the medical school, I think twice, he failed, not
because he was stupid, but because he did not put in the effort. The funny thing is he failed by
really nothing. Before the system was brought down in ’89, we would have to pass these tough exams to get a chance to go to school. I was always telling him “You are not spending the right amount of time with these things.” Just to fool my mother he would have a Biology book on the
desk, but he would be reading something else, just so my mother would think that he was reading it. When I would get mad with him I would tell my mother, “Hey, he wasn’t reading that!” It was stupid. If he had spent the extra time on that he would have never had to work and probably this thing would never have happened, but that is just a probably thing. I never really got to know
him. As a kid it was a different thing. He was older than me, and I never really got to know him as a man.
My sister and I are closer in age, so we were getting along just fine. I don’t know if it was just because of that because I guess some people are not getting along at all and they are the same
age, but my sister and I are getting along ok. She’s now married and in Rhode Island and I don’t think she is very happy right now because things are not very good since the death of my mother and my nephew, her son. She hasn’t really been ok. I guess she is trying to keep up with it, and
I’m trying hard to talk to her once in a while. I just tried to talk with her the other day, and she is going to help me with my house. I feel really sad that this accident happened. Her son was like my son is so when we lived in Providence, he stayed with us and in Portland I would spend most of the time with him, and we were close together. I really felt like he was my son.
We had a lot of fun as kids (growing up in my neighborhood). This place where I was brought up, Constanta, is a place with roughly 250,000 so it is a major city for the Romanian population. It is the second biggest city in our country. It has got a lot of nice parks and of course, it has got the Black Sea coast where we used to spend a lot of times as kids. We would go there with our parents or sometimes all by ourselves with the older guys that were in charge of taking care of us. We would all look like African kids by the end of the summer, that is how much we were exposed to the sun. I don’t know how good that is now, but it was really good at the time. We really liked that. We really liked it. We used to stay outside. Here you have houses. There we had apartment blocks ten stories high or four stories, and you had all these families with kids the same age because the buildings were built only the young people without a house had access to
that and what happened was kids started to be born at pretty much the same time. We would all have a lot of things in common including the age of the kids. That’s what I think was going on at the time. The government would give you an apartment according to your age. There were blocks with older people. I don’t think that it was discrimination. They just wanted younger people with kids not to bother the older people. This was before the revolution. The government took care of everybody and it was not bad. It was not that we had a lot of space, but it was good enough. We had enough heat and hot water, and it really felt good. I remember in the winter time we used to having all these kids around the block, we used to make ice rinks and ice arenas right around the blocks, right in the driveways and we spent our time playing, building, making snowmen. We had so much fun. As kids we were very affected by everything that was new and exciting so if there was any construction going on, we would go on expeditions with one older guy probably 8 or 9 years old and say, “Yeah, we’re going”, and we would come back with all these scratches and be real proud of ourselves for what we did. The city always had a lot of life, biking, riding, doing things. I don’t think a lot of people think of it this way. They think of just a Communist country where people were tied to a post or just going around it, but this was really untrue. You weren’t allowed to talk about the Communist. You weren’t allowed to leave the county unless you had a certain status, and you were not allowed to have a business or to become a heck of a lot more wealthy than everybody else. Other than that you were really ok, if there is anything left. No, really, I think there is a lot left. As far as safety goes, I think we were a lot safer there. As a kid, I remember walking late at night without any problem. If anybody would stop you, it probably would be the police asking for some sort of ID or asking us where we were going or why we were out so late. I don’t think it was a bad time. They were just trying to keep order and to keep the criminals off the streets. It was very nice in summer. We had sort of these chit chats. Each walk had different entries and these entries would have a bunch of kids. Each entry would have 10 or 15 kids and these kids from all these blocks would get together at one of these entries, and we would just chat until after midnight. The parents would always know where you are. Of course, we were on vacation and approaching the teenage years and we wanted to be the cool guys and stay out late and do that and do that, but our parents would always know where we were at because every once in a while you would hear your parents holler ‘Hey, Titi, it is getting late. Come upstairs and go to bed!’ We would have fun.
Easter’s always a big thing is Romania. As a kid I remember going outside with the Easter eggs on Sunday morning, and we would have this contest of whose egg is the toughest hitting
each others’ egg to see which (shell) is the strongest. Someone ends up being the one with the strongest egg. Of course, the older guys always tricked us with wooden eggs, but sometimes we would not fall for it. Around Christmas time, we would go to all these blocks and people would give us food or money. Of course, we were not really looking for food like donuts and apples. We were looking for the money because we wanted to go buy things for ourselves. We would actually, if we were to do this for a couple of hours, we would actually get a day’s worth of
wages which is about…two bucks which could buy a lot in those days. The next day we would go and buy toys. I remember that one year my brother tricked me. I didn’t want to buy something and he wanted to buy something, and he made me buy that thing by saying, ‘It is good for you too’. I never ended up using it. He used it, but it was ok. I was just a fool at the time so I would believe anybody. Yeah, these are the only major two holidays.
To my family, religion my mother was a religious woman. She feared God. She wasn’t very well educated and got a lot of this from her mother. My father, on the other hand, he could care less. We were brought up in the kind of school that had no religion. We would go to the church and all that. My mother would tell us to do this and that, but we were not getting a lot of answers as to religion as to if there is a God, why are people starving or why are people dying. So there is no such a thing as God now. It was not like kids in school believed that there was no God. They just put it aside. I don’t care what it is, if there is God, there is God, if it isn’t, it isn’t. They’ll just put it away. I guess I believe, and my Communist schools had a lot to do with this, I believe that there is god in a form in every one of us. Not necessarily the same god that is described in the Bible or whatever people think now days. I definitely think I am bias when it comes to the Bible type God or really believe that everything is by the book. I do think that the stories are a little twisted, and the way I think about it is it doesn’t necessarily have to be everybody’s truth but it is my truth. I kind of like to believe what I believe in. I don’t necessarily believe that there was a God, and God created a world in a week and so many things happened in 25 minutes, and Eve was a rib from Adam. But I believe there is something above our understanding that we cannot comprehend because it is not a part of our understanding spectrum. What we don’t understand we try to put away. This is again my belief. What god is, he could be a lot of things from another civilization. He wouldn’t necessarily need to be from this planet, but from another planet. I mean, look at us, we’re here aren’t we? Why wouldn’t there be forms of life anyway else. I mean, look at all the progress we have made in only a couple thousand years so why wouldn’t this be true for other beings somewhere else in the Universe that have been developing for hundreds of thousands of years being so far ahead of us that we cannot comprehend. Look at us now, how would the people from the Stone Age comprehend what we are doing now with computers or satellites. They wouldn’t believe a damn thing. Why would we believe someone else. Someone could say, ‘There is God’. Why would we believe them? Up to a couple of years ago, people thought there was other life in our solar system. Now they start doubting that. They think that there might be other life on Mars, and they find other planets that resemble the orbit of the Earth around the sun where life would be expected. We aren’t talking about things that are millions of light years away. We are talking about things in our solar system that are around us. We portray God in the Bible as something that is very definite. God is man and he was 5 or 6 feet tall and he did this and that. We know exactly what God did, and what God told to do and not to do. How many days we should fast or not fast before Easter or after Easter which I don’t believe. People made these things (rules), and I don’t go by that. They want everyone to go by that if they think of themselves as religious persons. Do you understand what I am saying? It kind of makes no sense to me, but what does that have to do with it? So this is how I feel about it. I hope this answers your question.
Look at me now. I bought a house thinking I could finish it in no time. It hasn’t exactly happened yet to finish it. I’m happy with it, and I know I will finish it because of my technical background, and because maybe this is one of the things that I got off my father, knowing that I
will eventually finish things up. I will get things done. I am an optimistic person. I am under estimating the time it takes to get things done. My wife thinks that I am over optimistic, and I think she is pessimistic. I think that actual this is a good balance because we always seem to balance out each other.
Yes, (I think that I was nurtured as a child), by my mother, not by my father. Maybe by my father for about 2 minutes or so or maybe more, but I really didn’t feel much nurturing from my father. A lot of times, he was just feeling proud of being a father, feeling proud (of himself) for us doing something good, his children, but a lot of the time he would just be the cool guy and not show a lot of emotion. I think she (my mother) made up for my father because we A became very emotionally attached to her. We learned to trust her more than my father, a lot more, a heck of a lot more. I don’t mean to sound like my father wasn’t doing his job. He was doing his job, but
not emotionally. He was away for long periods of time, and the type of person he was, he would not agree with a right way to socialize with your kids, and spend time with them, and have family time. I can talk about the times we went to a restaurant with my father and my mother. It happened very seldom, and it was usually very forced because we would have friends coming over from other parts of the country with their kids so we would have to go with them because that would have been very unfair for my father for them to take the kids and him not to. It happened very rarely that we did things. Once in a while he used to take us to the open gardens cinemas. You know, the open cinemas like on 302 (route), the drive‑in. It is not a drive‑in actually because you would have a seat. We had a lot of good things and not such good things. My mother always left us to experience. She would know to make up stop if she felt that we were pushing, but she never really held us back from life like spending time on the beach and
having fun because she knew and trusted us. She trusted us as good kids, and I think we were good kids. We never went and broke things and stole things. Besides, it is the regime itself that, does not allow that. You can get into a lot of trouble as a kid if you do that. So the Communist regime really kept an eye on all that which I think really help the parents. It really helps the work of the parent. Now they trusted the school to do a good job, and I think that the schools in Romania back then; I don’t know how they are now, we would learn a heck of a lot more than they do here. I spent here 14 months in high school and other than English, I don’t think I learned anything, really. I mean as far as math skills or science skills or anything else. Yes, I just
refreshed these things. I was trained much better in Romania. Whereas things they teach you
here in high school, I was taught in eighth grade in Romania. So, that really tells you a lot about instruction. We used to go to school on Saturdays back in Romania. Now I don’t know how American kids would react to that, seven hours a day to school. That, I think is a lot. I think that really helped us. Now they are not going to school on Saturday, and I think that is a bad thing.
As a kid you should have as much school as possible because you because your brain can absorb so much quicker and easier when you are young, when you don’t have to pay bills, when you
don’t have to do anything. When things start changing around, your focus is no longer on school as you get older.
The most significant thing for me before age 12 is when I joined the club, they called it the Pioneers Club. It was like the Boy Scouts, and we would go there, it was like a big, huge park with a lot of structures and nice people, a lot of nice people. You would go there and spend your extra time doing certain activities like you would play tennis or work on solid wedges and have fun with the four wheel carts or work on in gardens and flower shops. This thing was huge. It
was probably 70 to 60 acres of land that had all these facilities. This is for the entire city, so people from all the schools would gather there, not all the children but whoever wanted it world go down there. I joined the electronics club. I think I started around age 9 or IO probably and I was very proud of that because I had my own entry ID with my picture in it so I could enter the laboratory with that thing. Now remember, I was just a kid at the time and this was a big thing for me. I think we learned a lot of things, and that is when I started to learn a lot of things about electronics, the way the currents go and we had a lot of fun. A lot of times we would watch cartoons. Our teachers were very nice, and they wanted us to come back. They knew that sometimes we got bored if they kept talking about electrical circuits or do that and do that so for kids this can be very boring especially if they don’t understand and lose focus for half an hour or so they just lost the entire thing. If you ask anybody who is going through electrical engineering they will tell you it is very hard to understand electrical circuits, even for adults, even if you had a lot of physics background which we didn’t then so we had to start from scratch. We had all sorts of experiments to show how things work and why they happened this way not this way. How would it be if you do this could it get reversed and happen the other way, and to show that it was not happening. It only goes this certain way. When the professor would think that we were getting bored, we would watch a lot of cartoons, American cartoons like Walt Disney type of things. They had this old projection thing, not very old. For that time they were state of the art technology since they were actually the guys in charge of projections when all the kids were brought together to show the cartoon so we had the special treatment because when they wanted to make us a little happier and enjoy ourselves, they would play those things for us. We would
have a lot of fun.
I can’t really say that as a teenager I had a lot of stress. As a teenager if you consider the fact; I did not really consider myself a teenager at the time that my brother died because I was 19 almost. I don’t really remember any pressures, not what you really call pressures because my mother was there for us. Maybe there was a pressure for me financially because I would always want to have more money, and my mother would not have enough money to give me. She would have to give up the money for food and expenses for the whole day. I started doing electronics
from a hobby to a job where I was making money out of it. I remember when I was in eighth grade, I was really making money on electronics with my knowledge. I was fixing reel‑to‑reel tape recorders, cassette players, watches, TVS, stereos. (These were not jobs provided by the government for kids, for those you had to be an adult). I think that was a good thing, because
kids could just have fun. Financially I think there was a problem, but I think I did pretty well. I can’t remember really asking my mother for any money after I was fourteen. I really provided my own finances.
One day I got upset with my mother. She wanted me to do so many things, and she was kind of upset. I came back home, and I wasn’t very happy at the time because the food was not ready. It was later in my life that I realized that this was because of the sugar in my system. I would not know why that I got so angry when I was hungry. I would give her a hard time. Now I am sorry about that. She told me that this is not right for me to talk this way and fighting back. I would say ‘You want me to go to school and get good grades, and I come back and there is nothing to eat’. So I said, ‘I’m getting out of here. I don’t want to stay home anymore. I’m going away!’ So I did go away. I walked for like 6 or 7 miles. I was going towards all the way up in the
mountains and become a Shepard and never return home. Of course, after I got hungry, you know after my anger went out and I was really starving, I was really hungry, I started walking back and I realized that I was an idiot. I wasn’t prepared to do that to begin with. Then, I told my mother I was sorry, and then she fed me and then I told her what I did and she said,. ‘I can’t believe that you did that’.
The high school that I went to, there was a merchant marine (course of study). It had only boys, so it was pretty strict military even though it was a civilian school. I almost joined the military here (United States) though. I had all my tests done, and I was just a couple of weeks from getting into it, to the Air Force. We had a lot of fun (at the Marine school that I went to). That is pretty much where I got to meet my best friends. We would do all sorts of things. We would skip school and go to movies. Don’t think of this as happening very often, but once and a while we would do that. They were very good friends, and they still are very good friends, but we are scattered now, and we can’t really communicate with each other. We would do so many things like we would go out for breaks and most of the time we wouldn’t have any money, but if anybody had any money, we would put it all together and buy something, or it happened that there were times when we had to buy bread and tomato juice. This was like a treat for us especially when the bread was hot. So we had bread and tomato juice, and this was pretty close to school, the place where we were buying these things. We had pretty tough instructors there. We used to go to the harbor and take notice of everything that goes on in a ship, kind of engine wise and electric wise and everything Re that. It was very exciting. I really liked the high school years. One winter we went to the mountains. It was the first time that I really got drunk. See that was the thing. We were in the mountains, 7 guys with 30 girls. That was a riot, not sexually, but just an experience. We got there and we were expecting everything to be like a nice cabin and everything else. It was a big huge barn with like a wood stove at the end of it, and there was no split wood or anything like that. There was a bar like a couple hundred yards away from it,
and the dorms were for the girls, so you can imagine the 7 guys are getting there, and we are from this nice big city, and we said, ‘Oh, what the heck is this. We spent so much money, but we don’t have any heat, any hot water, what is this thing’. And they told us this is it guys, this is what you have. This is one of the most beautiful places that you can imagine, up in the mountains, up, all the way up in the mountains and there is nothing. You can probably hear the wolves and the
bears walking around, We had a bar and we are allowed to drink after 18 years of age in
Romania, not that you couldn’t drink anyway as much as you wanted before 18, but legally, nobody would give a damn. What happened was we waiting for like three hours for someone to show up to take care of the fires for us and split the wood for us and like that, but nobody showed up, and it was getting dark so I’m taking the initiative here. I’m not patting myself on the back, but I always taken charge of things when nobody would do anything. So I said, ‘Guys, do you know where the axes are? We have to take care of this problem because we are here and there is no way for us to go back. It took an hour and a half for us to get up there. So imagine, what
were the chances for us to get back or to do something else. Even if you decide to go back, it is not the time right now. Right now we should think about how we are going to split enough wood so it will be warm enough for the night’. So what we did, we starting splitting the wood, and
we are big strong guys. We took turns splitting the wood, and we had enough wood for a week or two. We had no idea how much wood we were going to use anyway. We turned that thing (stove) red that night. And guess what happened? That night there was a time where we began
to become the cool guys, so I had a package of Kent cigarettes that came from one of the things that I fixed and somebody paid me with that. Nobody really smoked at the time, but we were just going to be cool at the time. I kept them, of course, for this time when we would go up in the mountains. We got to take turns taking care of the fire. All the girls came to see our barn. It
was like we had so many beds in that barn it was unbelievable. I think we had like 13 or 14 beds and we had electricity. We were lucky to have electricity. So what I did, we had an amplifier, a stereo, speakers, everything with us, I was in charge of that. We had music going on. It was nice and warm now. The wood stove was red hot, it was red hot. The girls came in and I remember even now the memory is very vivid to me. Everybody got a girl, and we would start talking because we knew each other from the train. It happened that one of my friends, remember we were dealing with 30 girls here, one of my friends and I were looking at the same girl. It was like who is going to get the girl. It ended up being none of us. She couldn’t pick anyone of us. I
don’t think she wanted to upset any one of us so she would chat with my friend for two minutes and then she would chat with me for two minutes. So what we decided to do, I think that was the next night, we decided to go out and (and work this out). You know, we can’t play this game anymore. Either you take her, we’ll flip a coin or something. Who’s taking the girl? We are not interested in sharing her even though she probably knows that this is not right. So we took this bottle of Vodka from the bar‑ oh, by the way, the bartender gave us the keys from the bar. He gave us a slip that we were supposed. to fill out. He already knew what he had in there, so we
were just writing down what we were getting. He was trusting that we were not really going any where, and there was not really any place to go anyway. He left us the keys and he went home. There was no reason for him to stay there. By the time we left we had carried about two
wheelbarrows, and I’m not talking about beer. I’m talking about hard liquor. We took this bottle of Vodka and we went out to cool off. It was so cold out there. I’m not kidding. If you were to spit, it would probably freeze before it hit the ground … that is how cold it was. The snow was crunchy. We drank that whole bottle. We probably went for about two miles and it was getting dark so we decided to come back. I think that we were very warmed up by the vodka, and when we opened the door, actually what I did was I tried to open the door handle and because of the condensation the steps became very icy and very slippery, so we kept trying to go up the steps to reach the handle but we couldn’t. So finally I said, I pushed him aside and said, ‘I’m going to
open this door now’. Remember, we were like half drunk already, so I take the handle of the
door, and it was so damn cold, the thing snapped, and of course the door wouldn’t open. It was just the handle that snapped. So we had to go around and knock on the windows, and somebody came and opened the window and then the door from the inside so I managed to get in because I knew that there was no handle, but my friend reached for the handle, and he fell back on the steps. We were both laughing so hard. It was so hot, remember, that room was so hot, that thing was red hot. It just kept going and going and going. If it was too hot, we would just open the windows. We were wearing T‑shirts in there and it was freezing outside. I remember that in ten minutes or not even ten minutes, everything started spinning with me, and I didn’t feel good, so I had to go and throw up. What I did was I went to one of the back windows and opened it up, and I threw up everything. I think that really helped me, but I was still dizzy. I came back and
put myself in bed, and that was really a problem because everything was spinning. It was hard for me. All I remember is that I was holding so hard onto the bars because I thought I was going to flip over and then I probably passed out because I fell asleep. They say that had pictures of me.
They had pictures of me taken. I don’t remember a damn thing. That was the first time that I got drunk. It was quite an experience. (In the morning) I didn’t feet anything, I was fine. It was good vodka, though, Russian.
(When I first started school) it was only for a couple of hours. They sent me back and said I was too young. I was born on the 27th of September and school starts of the 15th, so my mother said, ‘Let’s go to school’. I had my uniform and everything, but I wasn’t very excited about it. I mean, who would be. You hear all these stories from the older guys, ‘School, man, it sucks. You have to do your homework and all that. It is so much better when you play. I wish I was like you.’ So I went there and my mother and she took me home and I stayed home for one more year, but that was my first experience at school. I think that I learned a lot (when I did go to school up through high school). I learned a lot about socializing with people, about dealing with certain problems, conflicts, being able to take charge, or being thoughtful and respectful of other people. I think I respect people a lot more that American kids do because you are not allowed to talk back to your teachers. You can even have physical punishment if you talk back.
In the seventh or eighth grade, and we were also going to the mountains, it was one of those big trips of the school going overnight with girls, boys, everybody going to this mountain vacation province. It was very nice. A lot of people from foreign countries would go there and spend their time and go skiing and all that. There was this girl that really likes me, and I never really knew that she liked me and never knew that she cared about me. I wasn’t really looking at anybody at the time. I was just excited that we were going somewhere. We started talking. My friends were all staying there and girls were coming over to our compartment and moving back and forth and after a couple of hours when it was late because it took about seven or eight hours to get to this place up in the mountains, it was called Sinia. So we went into their compartment and man we were kissing and hugging all over the place. We had fun. We didn’t have sex, but we were just like teenagers feeling where we had never felt before. We liked it I think, we all enjoyed it. I think that I grew up a lot faster than a lot of people did because of my experience with older people. When I talk about this I want to emphasize the fact that since the eighth grade I have pretty much carried my own pocket money and the money had to come from somewhere and it was coming from older people like twenty one and yet they were still socializing with the younger kids. Being able to fix all these things, people would come to me, and of course physically I was very big. I think that I was mature mentally and physically. I would not like to hang around people my age because I thought they were stupid. They were still playing in the dirt. I was looking for something more, I don’t know, maybe I lost that thing, maybe I missed that transition period when you play with a bike and do that or it just happened for me a little earlier. I was fixing things, and I was learning things at that Pioneer Center. I was developing myself, over growing myself somehow. I would spend a lot of time with those guys (older guys). They would come to my place and we would start talking about things like politics and believe it or not, they would take me places with them. They would go to restaurants or places to go dancing because I was so big nobody asked for an ID. I was working on the construction of my house in Romania and I dug a lot on the house which is about 15 x 15 yards and 7 yards deep all by myself and I carried that dirt. That is a lot of dirt, around 150 or 200 cubic meters, it is a lot of dirt that I dug and carried by myself so I was a pretty strong guy. I could say now that I was stronger than I am
now. I could throw a shovel full of dirt a lot farther, four or five hours at a time without stopping so I was big, and that is one of the reasons that nobody would ask me for an ID when we were
going places. That is one of the things that kept me from socializing with the kids my own age because I was doing this, digging or fixing things or going to the Pioneers Club or dating.
I think that my marriage is going better than it went when my wife came here. I never expected things were going to be perfect and again I am emphasizing this as I am an optimist. I over estimate things at times. My wife is probably under estimating sometimes. We went out together for a long, long time, since I was in high school. I met her when I was in high school. I was actually just passing a test. Remember when you go to high school you have a test in Romania to go from the eighth grade to the ninth grade to go into the high school that you want to. Then you have another test, and these are tough tests, they are not easy tests. A lot of people fail, and they end up being sent to other places or sent to work or somewhere else because they don’t prove the knowledge to keep going. (I met her) after my second test in eleventh grade when I pretty much knew that I was going to get through high school. That is when I met her and we started dating. We started dating about 6 or 7 months later. It wasn’t like an easy catch or an easy target or anything. I asked her if she wanted to go for a boat ride with me and she said she didn’t think that she had the time, but she tells me now that she thought, ‘Man, this kid has a lot of guts’. I really liked her from the moment I first saw her I think I was in love with her. I think she kind of liked me too, but she didn’t know what to make of me. I was a little younger that her and culturally she would be dating people the same age or older than you. She saw that I was not this immature kid, and she liked the facts that I fixed so many things like electronics and that I could speak of so many things. I was not just a boy who did nothing and knew nothing. We started going. I remember that I fixed a bike for me and another one for her, and she never really had a bike before. I mean she had one, but it was stolen, so she never really learned how to ride a
bike of her own, so I taught her and she was very proud of that because she never thought she would be able to do it. I remember one Sunday we went for a … gee, it is nice to think about these things now. They come back to me so nicely, and I can see the colors, I can see the leaves, I can see her smile, I can see her hair. Gee, she was so beautiful, not that she is not now, but she was so beautiful it was unbelievable. I would want to make love to her every second. After that (bike riding), we became very good friends, very, very good friends. We would do things together, go out, do things with my friends. Actually what happened dating her, and I really gave up on seeing other women, I mean I wasn’t having sex with her or anything. We were just friends, we were best friends and I really loved her. I think that we were looking good together. I liked her and she liked me and there was the atmosphere. I had older friends that we could go out with
together. It wasn’t like we had kids for friends. For her, that was proper. I really think that we went through a lot, both of us due to the atmosphere presented by my father and due to the things that happened to me. I’m pretty sure I’ve done quite a few mistakes, things that I never should have done. There are things she has done, but I think that we are both learning, and I think that
we still have the passion. The passion is still there and it is very strong and it is still there. I mean I still love her, I mean she is my wife and she is going to be my wife.
Victor is my son who is going to be six months old on June 11. He is a very healthy baby. He takes after me of course. He is a very nice little, young boy and he has his mother’s eyes and fair skin and hair, and I think that we are going to get along just wonderful. My wife and I wanted this baby, so we did try for a couple of months and I was so, so excited when we did find out
that she was pregnant. One of the finest things happened after that because she was not eating meat and everyone at work told her, ‘Oh you are having a girl, you are not eating meat, so you
having a girl. I kind of wanted a boy, not to sound discriminating or anything but she wanted a girl and I wanted a boy. I was so convinced from all the input from the other people that we were going to have a girl. ‘Well, that’s it. We’re going to have a girl’. That’s ok. I still loved the idea of having a baby. When she was three months pregnant, we went to have the ultra‑sound and guess what? It was a boy! And my smile was very truly and deeply, and Violeta’s smile was like a little ‘ok’. It was pretty much the other way around now. Now we are very happy. We never really cared about what it was going to be we just cared about the baby being healthy. We were very lucky to have been going through no problems, really, I believe it was an easy delivery also. It was quite an experience because I was in the delivery room. She called at work and one of the guys came, one of the guys who is always joking. Believe it or not, that day I was carrying a beeper and that day the battery ran dead on that beeper. I called my wife and I told her, thinking that it might happen any second. I called her and said, ‘Listen, you are not going to use the
beeper anymore because the battery went dead and I cannot find one around here so call work
and I’m going to be right home’. So she did, and I thought it was a joke because everybody knew that my beeper went dead, because I was looking for the battery for the beeper for half an hour
and I just said forget it. She called and said my water broke I think, and she was very calm. She knew what was going to happen. She had read a lot about it. We went to the hospital and her mother and father had just arrived a couple of days before (from Romania), so everyone was very excited. This was very good news for all of us. We went to the hospital. We did lots of little things like she went in the bath tub. I think it was pretty close to delivery because she was
working pretty hard. I was trying to help do what I could do, but yet I was really doing nothing, just help her, support her, encourage her. She was in too much pain by now to be listening to
anybody I was so exhausted when the baby was born. I was just as exhausted as she was! I was so stressed and so tense that I was very glad when the baby was born. He looked like a little man. They put the baby on her belly and I cut the umbilical cord. That was a very nice experience. It was something that brought us together a lot more than anything else probably then we went though so far. Having Victor changed our relationship. Definitely. Even though times are so much tenser in terms of when things are happening she wants them done so much faster because Victor is involved. If she wants a towel or something, she says don’t run and wake the baby but get it fast. Yet, she is becoming more aware that we are a family and that we have each other and we are both supposed to be there for Victor now. It is no longer only about us, there is somebody else involved also. I think that she kind of realizes that I’m not a bad dad. At least I hope she does.
I think that I gave the Romanian community a sense of trust that there was somebody there that could help you if you are in trouble. I am talking about the Romanian Community here in the United States. I try to get along fine with everybody. I’m that type of person who is not
interested in making anybody unhappy. I hate it when people make me unhappy so I’m trying to make everybody happy as much as possible. I love the true friends that I have. I know they feel this thing from me, this sense of security. This is good for everybody in the community to have this feeling that there is security or to have friends that they can rely on when things start falling apart. I have helped them all, and when there is a need and I ask for help, they help me. They haven’t always responded the same way I did, because they have their own problems and things. I think I helped them changed a little bit, even if it was a tiny bit. This has been my contribution to the Romanian community. I think the community is an important thing. What is the point of
having all the goods and the nice things of life if you cannot share them and enjoy them with everybody else. What is the sense in fife of having a nice piece of land or something and not enjoying it with anybody? It makes no sense to me.
I believe in love. I believe in trust, and I believe in goodness. I believe that things could be made better. I know problems do happen. Close to the worst problems have happened to me so I can say that I’ve been there, and it has happened to me, and I know how it feels. I really think life is a precious thing, and we should enjoy it. I really believe that the main thing in one’s life is not about money, but having happiness and sharing things with other people and helping them when they need it, and realizing when they need it. Life goes on. You don’t stop life. It is stupid of anybody to put down life because of the bad things that have happened to you. When I’m sleeping and having dreams, (I sometimes have a spiritual experience). I can talk to my mother or my brother or to my grandparents. I believe that some sort of energy is traveling through the space out there, and if you are open to it, you can receive it. I told you that I am not a very religious person, so I tend to forget this a lot of times. Maybe I’m trying to give an explanation a lot of times to things, and this is not the right way to do it. I’m trying to envision it and this is not fair. It is not the right way to try and explain everything, because you become bias when you do it.
The purpose of life is to give happiness. The purpose of life to me is to keep life in a happy way, a peaceful, happy way. Why would life be any good if you’d only have to deal with tragedy knowing that there is no other way around? So that has got to be the answer, life has got to be good in a peaceful and happy way. I feel that life is very precious. I feel that life is something that we can never, ever buy. Life is something that is there for you, you cannot buy
life. You cannot buy time and life is time. We have time, we have a life, and we should take
good care of it and use it properly and be happy, and help other people be happy. Love, forgive…
I am satisfied with the life that I have now. I would have taken my wife out of the house (father’s house) much earlier seeing the damage that my family has created voluntary and involuntary to my marriage. I’m pretty satisfied with my life choices, though, I can’t say that I am not.
It was very peaceful in Romania before I came here, and it was very peaceful here. We had a lot of good times (in the United States). We went to Washington. I was in high school. I didn’t have a worry in the world. I was provided for by my father. My mother was cooking. She was taking care of the laundry and everything else so all I had to do was to go to school and better myself which I did. I went to high school and polished my English. I went to college. That is another thing that I think I could have done differently. I could have chosen the University. If someone would have told me I could have gone to the University just as well (as SMTC), I would have done that. I wasted a lot of time going first to the college and then the University. I would have had my B.S. a long time ago, and it would have taken me so much further I think. It is ok.
At the time I didn’t think that my English was good enough to get me through the University, but after I went to the University I realized that there were people there, freshmen, that had it a lot worse than I had when I started in college. I think I could have gone through that.
Five years from now I want to see myself with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering or even more than that. We will have the house done, and I can work an extra part‑time job working on things, and have Violeta go to school probably and mostly just enjoy life with my son. We may have another baby, I don’t know. I would love to have another baby.
I would like (when I die) for people to not say ‘He wasted his life, he was a nobody, and that he was a mean person’. I would like to have people say I’ve been a good father, I’ve taken care of my family, my community, and that I was worthy of the life that I had. For someone to get a glimpse of my life, I think I have been able to share a great deal with you. I had a pretty normal childhood with good memories and sad memories, happy and sad stories. I think that I am lucky to have my family, my son, my sister, my friends. I think that I am lucky to have experienced two cultures also in a lifetime. I might experience some other cultures before I die and that is a good thing.