Showing posts from 2013

All roads lead to Balkans

Last year at Thanksgiving I was in New Jersey. I was invited by Sophia and Spyros, a couple of psychoanalysts and close friends, to share their Thanksgiving dinner. Sophia is one of the child survivors of the holocaust and Spyros a child of Greek immigrants, who came to America in the 1930s. Sophia and Spyros met in Manhattan in the 70’. Sophia was finishing her PhD in psychoanalysis and would often have lunch at a Greek diner, run by Spyros’s family and where he was working as a waiter. This was the beginning of a romance that ended in their marrying after a few months. Spyros decided to quit his job at the Greek diner and dedicate himself to psychoanalysis. He told me how his parents couldn’t understand what “psychoanalysis” was about. They were hoping for him to become an engineer, so that he could go back one day to their birthplace, in the tiny island of Erikusa near Corfu, and build roads there. Spyros remained in Manhattan and became a renowned psychoanalyst. Last year th

Ducks are lucky…

Next to where I live, walking yesterday under zero and toward the NoWhere, lost in my thoughts, I met these unidentified ducks. To tell the truth, when I suddenly saw them in my way, my thoughts went to Alfred Hitchcock and his film "The Birds". Then, looking at how the ducks reacted to my presence completely duckly, that is peacefully and above all with absolute indifference, I started thinking t hat ducks are lucky; when they want to take a drink all they do is duck their bill. Doesn't matter if they spill. When they want to take a swim, all they do is dive right in; and they never seem to sink. Ducks are lucky, don't you think? After a bit, I realized that all I said about ducks is from a poem I had read some weeks ago (Mary Ann Hoberman, an American writer of children’s books, is the author). Realizing that I took other's verses for my own I felt a little bit like a foolish duck, with a bit of luck.  Generally I like ducks. When I was a child my parent

Autumn Leaves…

The trees in front of my house lost their beautiful leaves overnight. The autumn leaves lie now on the sidewalk, like the lost hairs of a beautiful blond head. I didn't hear any complaints though: trees don't blame anyone, they don't play the victim. They surrender to their winter fate while and their naked branches tell me to stay warm, because winter came to town. My second Bostonian winter; the beautiful and wild winter of the North. It made me realize, once more, that I like people and personal freedom more than trees and roots; It made me discover, for the first time, that "I don't like climate, I like weather"…

Immigration & Loneliness

“Do you feel alone here?” – this is a question I hear some times, from some Americans I meet by chance, once they learn I am a new immigrant in Boston (even though I belong to the "privileged immigrants" this time around). I instinctively sense the “nature” of the question. A new immigrant, usually, suffers loneliness.    “Not really” - is my answer. My interlocutors look puzzled and stare at me as though I were some bizarre species. “I guess I have made some wonderful new friends here” I add. Then, they nod: as a sign of encouragement or disbelief. The truth is that “immigration” and “loneliness” are like communicated vessels. The “literature of immigration” is full of characters who crave to escape from the crushing burden of loneliness in the new and unknown land. The foreign language, the prejudices against the newcomer, the lack of time and lots of anxiety about the unknown don’t allow the immigrant to make new friends easily. Moreover, here in the new land,

Two Yellow Finches

I saw them hanging there, yellow sneakers on black power lines, without the foot that used to wear them and with the half-blue-half-cloudy autumnal bostonian sky as background. I saw them in my neighborhood that is full of students and adolescents; actually, every now and then, while I'm walking on the streets of my neighborhood, my eyes fall upon sneakers hovering over my head, hanging on telephone wires, power lines and even trees; usually during the weekends, when students have a lot of alcohol, dancing and sex. There is already a term in America for this phenomenon: “ shoe tossing”; the guy who does the shoe tossing is called “shoe thrower”. There are a bunch of urban legends on why young Americans want to show their old sneakers to the entire new world. It is believed that this is a sort of rite of passage for adolescents; teenage boys who've just "scored" for the first time — i.e., lost their virginity — are wont to heave an old pair of sneakers over a po

Smoking Shelters

I am sitting on one of the blue shuttle buses going toward Boston airport. I am searching the pages of Europe, travels through the twentieth century, the book of Geert Mak, looking for a precise quote I intend to use in an essay I am writing currently. I find it, finally: “Blood is stronger than any passport” – one of the slogans of the Nazis in the 30s. I take my eyes off the book and start staring out of the bus window. I see a Smoking Shelter across the street, next to the airport. This is the first time I see something similar. It looks like a glass-cage; there is someone smoking there, but he stands out of the cage, out of the smoking shelter. Repeating silently the words “Smoking Shelter”, the words "Fallout Shelter" follow suit in my brain, like an association of ideas. Who knows, one day, smokers would have to buy or rent fallout shelters, in order to be allowed to smoke. - “Excuse me, are you American?”. A female voice, in her forties, sitting next to me,