The Arrow

There are no answers; only choices.

Archive for March, 2010

Because It’s Spring, After All

Posted by thearrow on March 30, 2010

Star-shaped magnolias and regular magnolias.


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Posted by thearrow on March 24, 2010

I’ve developed this fascination with the Metro walls recently. They’re the same in all stations of the Metro system, with slight variations. The same design that probably in the 70s was deemed futuristic and now it just seems gloomy and kind of post-apocalyptic. But I do like the big arcs and patterns. These are a few pics I snapped last night at Metro Center, one of the big metro nodes.

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Posted by thearrow on March 23, 2010

Ah, to stroll at leisure in wonderful weather. Priceless! I stumbled upon this beautiful wrought iron that was freshly painted and gleaming.


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Looking for Senior Village VIP

Posted by thearrow on March 19, 2010

This is what I’ve come across today:

http://www.careerbu JobSeeker/ Jobs/JobDetails. aspx?Job_ DID=J8G0L964XG4W 92FS1ZJ&siteid= cb_jpemail& cbRecursionCnt= 2&cbsid=78c61b01 63724e0599a51ee2 fcbaa796- 322322772- RR-4

I’ve pasted it below to keep it for posterity, even though I know it makes for a long post. In a nutshell, the US military is recruiting Romanians to role play as villagers interacting with American forces as part of a training program. I’ve highlighted my favorite parts. The title of “Senior Village VIP” totally cracked me up. I sent it to an American friend of mine who has worked in Romania and he said, “I have only one response: WTF?”

Genuine efforts to understand how to interact with a local culture aside, I simply cannot imagine that someone who has lived in the US can play a credible Romanian villager. These are two worlds so far apart that only thinking of switching back and forth produces a short-circuit in my brain. For example, “convey the commanding presence expected of a leader” sounds SO American. Sorry to say this, but I don’t think even Romanian national leaders have a commanding presence.

At any rate, the job posting is great fun:

This position is located in 29 Palms, CA.

A Foreign Language Speaking (FLS) Role Player generally plays one of several roles of various indigenous people in a Romanian Village. The theater within which the FLS acts is a realistic Romanian Village erected on a military training site. Roles include various scripted and improvisational roles of members of the village’s general populace as well as roles of village officials, religious leaders. FLS will convincingly recreate the familial, political, religious, cultural, and economic relationships reflected in the applicable community. The FLS provides these services in support of situational training exercises of the U.S. military.
ESSENTIAL DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES include the following. Other duties may be assigned.
Interpret and portray an assigned role; invent a realistic persona for the role based on personal knowledge and experience of village life, language and culture; remain in character for the duration of the training exercises (except during meals, breaks and uninterrupted rest periods)
While in character, apply independent judgment, creativity and improvisation to achieve the highest possible cultural realism in the training environment
Dress in costume appropriate to role
Perform interpretations of emotions, actions appropriate to situations defined using body movements, facial expressions and gestures
May sing and/or dance in appropriate settings (i.e. weddings, funerals)

While in character and within the broad parameters defined by U.S. military personnel, initiate, participate in and react to various scenarios in and around the village, including but not limited to the following:
o Consistently and actively engage U.S. military trainees in the training scenario
o Speak the required language and act in a manner consistent with the assigned role
o Improvise convincingly realistic responses to actions of U.S. military trainees
o Evaluate and respond realistically to actions of other role players
o Improvise convincing reactions to changing and unscripted U.S. military character and trainee movements within the training environment

Some (but not all) jobsites may require one or more specific roles, subject to additional duties and responsibilities as follows.

Senior Village VIP
– A Senior Village VIP plays one of various scripted and improvisational roles of members of the village’s elite populace (i.e., Army Colonel or other highly-placed military official; Governor; Regional Advisor). In addition to the Essential Duties and Responsibilities above, a Senior Village VIP is required to:
– Convincingly perform as a Senior Village VIP would do in an actual village while realistically interacting with other villagers in a dynamic setting (e.g., holding a town hall meeting)
– Convey the commanding presence expected of a leader

Village VIP
– A Village VIP plays one of various scripted and improvisational roles of members of the village’s leadership (i.e., Police Captain, , ??). In addition to the Essential Duties and Responsibilities above, a Village VIP is required to:
– Convincingly perform as a Village VIP while realistically interacting with other villagers in a dynamic setting (e.g., attending a wedding as a dignitary)
– Convey the commanding presence expected of a leader

Education and Experience
Native born in country that is target of training Romanian preferred
Fluent in the language and dialect required for training (i.e., Romanian )
Able to work in the United States
Experience in improvisational or semi-scripted acting preferred
Experience in playing roles for extended periods of time preferred
Able to understand English
Military experience preferred for selected roles

Good physical conditioning and stamina required. Regularly stoop, bend, lift and/or move up to 20 pounds, climb stairs, and walk across broken ground and obstacles. Regularly in character for more than 12 hours during a day; regularly work 4 days straight without leaving the training area. Standing for prolonged periods of time. Near visual acuity to review written documentation; ability to hear and understand speech at normal room levels.
Field conditions prevail. Work locations may be subject to blowing dust and sand, heavy rains or snow, and temperatures ranging from 10(-) degrees F in the winter to 125(+) degrees F in the summer.

Posted in American culture, Romanian Culture | 3 Comments »

Rough Biking Ahead

Posted by thearrow on March 17, 2010

Full of anticipation and excited that the weather has been really beautiful and we’ve already made the transition to daylight saving, I set out to figure out my bike route to work. We’re now talking a little over 12 miles (almost 20 km), of which, thankfully, about three quarters are on a very nice bike trail. But boy, getting from where I live to where the trail starts (3.5 miles) is a pretty unpleasant ride on sidewalks full of debris and sometimes with overhanging branches that force me to dismount.  Not to mention the heavy traffic on the road, which will have the welcoming effect of rattling my brains and laying a nice coat of dust on me. Ugh.

Also, with more maneuvering to get the bike out of the bike room, and all the traffic lights I’ll have to stop at, it will take two hours. Nooo! I was SO looking forward to biking to work but now I’m not sure I can handle two hours each way. Yes, I’m out of shape and today I biked all the way there and back in one swoop, but I don’t want to get home exhausted and ravenously hungry each time I do this.

So I’m not sure how I’ll deal with it. On the other hand, I’ll probably decide to toughen up and do it because where we live is pretty suburban, you can’t get anywhere without a car, and I’ll go nuts if I’m not on the bike. But it will be rough…

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Cool Send Off

Posted by thearrow on March 9, 2010

Dude, I think I have a lucky hand with the NY Times. At the end of the day, with my last bits of strength, I managed to send the press release I wrote for a book we published. I was even thinking, yeah, right, send a press release at 5:30, sure recipe for success. But, it had to be done and, in the frenzy of tying up loose ends, it just couldn’t happen earlier. What a bummer, I felt, I won’t be here tomorrow to take the random call about it, I can’t make any calls… Ugh.

Five minutes later I get an email from, you guessed, another super duper NY Times reporter asking for a review copy. I almost fell off the chair. I’m not kidding. About him being super duper. I didn’t fall off the chair. Rather, I was floating 🙂 It’s a bitter-sweet victory, though: there’s no point in attaching my business card to the book since I’m not going to be there. But, given how many people like me he probably deals with every day, I prefer to think he wouldn’t have remembered me anyway. Nevertheless, I was thrilled he was interested and I got a nice coda to my long day. I won’t miss the opportunity to send another review copy to my other super duper NY Times buddy, though.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t see much personal merit in all this at all. Rather, I feel star-struck. It’s just the fact that I work for a prestigious organization and reporters know about it. I think the real struggle is to try to get media attention for a less well-known organization or issue. So I am pretty spoiled, which is why I love my job, in spite of the fact that, for the most part, I get bogged down under a ton of otherwise mind-numbing work that many times makes me wonder what I’ve really accomplished at the end of the day.

With this to celebrate, I stopped at the neighborhood grocery store for a bottle of red. I just HAD to have a glass of red wine (I had two). Well, good thing I stopped by today. The cashier took a long look at my driver’s license. Which is expiring at midnight today because that’s when my visa expires, too. I didn’t have the time to renew it. Heck, I barely had time to find and send my damn birth certificate, for that matter. She noticed that it’s valid until today; with a smile. I smiled back and said, yes, but it’s still valid! And my birth date doesn’t expire, I grinned.

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A Blessing in Disguise

Posted by thearrow on March 8, 2010

When I filed my green card application at the end of December, burnt crisp after wedding planning, apartment hunting, and Christmas traveling, I forgot to include my birth certificate. Actually, I was so exhausted that I somehow didn’t see that I had to include it and didn’t have enough functioning neurons left to realize that I should have just put it in. Towards the end of January, I get a letter saying that there’s “missing evidence” from my file and, as a result, my employment authorization cannot be processed until they get it.

I was in the middle of moving, burnt even crisper, and it took me two weeks to find the damn box where all my papers were. Of course, it was at the bottom of some huge pile of stuff. I finally mailed it on the day that The Biggest Snowstorm Ever hit the DC area, so it was probably stuck in the post office for that whole week. Then came the Presidents’ Day, when government (and postal) offices are closed. It was just one thing after another, like the entire past seven months or so, ever since my surrogate parents offered to help us with having a wedding 🙂 So now I’m hoping to get it some time mid-April.

Meanwhile, my work visa expires tomorrow, so I’ll have one month of vacation, whether I want it or not. But, as it turns out, I actually really do. I won’t get paid, which sucks, but let’s face it: when was the last time I had one whole month off? Sixteen years ago when I was in college. The chances this will happen again? Slim. Because in America, my friends, two weeks of vacation at a time is a luxury. And three is something only those socialist Europeans with no work ethic can do. America, the land of the free (to work till they drop dead), will have none of that socialism thank you very much.

The weather’s getting warmer and sunnier, I can’t wait to get on my bike (all tuned up and ready to go), visit museums, read in cafes or parks, sleep in, cuddle with Mr. Jinks, learn more about photography, cook, have some quality time with Steve as opposed to staring at each other in a catatonic state at the end of the day, with fried brains, and generally, recharge my batteries. I’ll catch the cherry blossom, too, so all in all, I can’t wait!

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