Guy in a Park

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AFTER THE SWAT TEAM class, the officers took us to the shooting range again. They put together unique shoot/no shoot scenarios for each of us to practice. I was given a pistol with 7 rounds, the bullets that hit but don’t hurt badly. The officer took me behind a wall and said, “You are a police officer and first to respond a 911 call where there is a guy in a park acting weird. Keep in mind you shoot if he puts you or others in danger.”
I was ready. No shaking. Focused.
As I walk to go behind another wall, I hear a guy yelling and cursing. I turn the corner and I see a man wearing a camouflage heavy long coat, army helmet and a mask shouting bad words and walking up and down. He carries a big shovel, with the metal up, like a weapon.
“Police!” I yell to cover the noise. “Drop that!”
The guy doesn’t even look at me, but approaches a man who was minding his own business. “Drop down!” I yell again as loud as I could.
The guy doesn’t care and lifts up the shovel above his head ready to strike the man. Then everything went on in a split of a second.
I shoot up in the air to get the guy’s attention, and yell “Stop!” The guy doesn’t listen. I hold my breath and shoot him in his arm. Nothing happens. Shovel still above his head. I yell, “Drop it!” He steps ahead to get the man. Then I go again for four times, until the man drops down. Arm, shoulder, leg. I had a very limited reach, only a couple of steps on a side, and I couldn’t get behind him.
I tell you, there are only a few seconds that make the difference between life and death. Idealistic, you want to shoot in the legs and preserve that life, but when the other party holds a weapon, a leg wound would not stop him/her from shooting you.
The officer patted my back. “Good job! You didn’t let him get you or that man. I have only one question. Why did you shoot up in the air? That bullet coming down may hurt someone.”
“I wanted that guy to know I was not kidding.” The officer looks proud of me.
I should have stopped there. But no, I had to continue, “This is what John Wayne does in his movies.”
The man looked at me to see if I was kidding. When he understood I wasn’t, he patted my back again. “Right.”

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Ride

2adf21221b88b589b4360a66c4795157--trucksIt was early in the 60’s and I remember my first ride in a car: it was a military truck, dark green, covered with a grey canopy. I was four or five years old and Uncle Paul was taking me from my house in the town for a short vacation in their village. The driver was one of his friends who happened to have some business in the countryside area.

The smell of cheap cigarettes the two men were smoking inside the car didn’t bother me. I was eating a candy bar. That was when I thought I could be a truck driver and drive a truck like that.

A woman on the side of the road waved at us to stop, and Uncle Paul held me on his knees to make room for the new traveller.

She handed the bundle in her arms to my Uncle and pulled to the handrail to get in the car. When the bundle moved, my Uncle’s arms trembled: there was a baby crying under the cover.

The new comer was taking the baby at her house after her adult daughter was caught listening a forbidden radio station and was put in prison.

I didn’t know what was that about, but I knew my dad and my mom locked the door and pulled the shades every night when they listened the radio. I knew I was supposed to keep that as a family secret. And when my parents were sitting down on the floor with their ear close to the machine, I played on the carpet with my cubes, but listening.

“Ta-ta-taaa! This is The Voice of America.”

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Las Vegas

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I didn’t know what to do. I prayed after reading the news, but even prayer, which is sweet to my heart, didn’t seem to soothe the pain. When Americans suffer, the whole America suffers. I went and took a long walk on the island. I thought I would pray more, but my soul was too hurt to say words before the Father. Then , as I was passing by the yards full of flowers, I stopped and smelled a rose. The splendor wrapped me in its arms. It was something I could cling to in this world of madness. I stood there on the deserted sidewalk and thought to dedicate this picture to those who suffer today.

Taking Charge of a Situation on the Plane

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I shared this with my friends, but I think people who travel need to know. I didn’t take pictures of what happened. I had to make a quick decision and take charge of a strange situation.

I was boarding my first flight leg from Budapest to Paris a few days ago. It was my first time on an Air France airline and was fascinated listening to people speaking that beautiful language. It was early in the morning after a full night of no sleep when the van to the airport almost caught on fire, miraculously avoided hitting a car twice, crawled on a freeway where two trucks were in a horrible accident and I almost gave up on catching my plane, while praying for quite a few hours.

Got on the plane victoriously and couldn’t wait to find my seat and try on dozing off.
I had bought a seat by the isle and I was placing my carryon in the luggage compartment when, Bang! The young lady standing next to me stomped her feet and yelled, “Everybody with this airline company is a thief!”

I looked at her and, with no comment, I sat down. The guy next to me raised his shoulders and lifted his eyebrows at the scene. Then, zvrrrr! A huge backpack flew an inch almost getting my head, banged into my neighbor’s shoulder and landed on the open seat next to him, by the window.

“I’m sorry, but you can’t act like this on a plane. Do you need help?” I asked, making room for her to squeeze to her spot. I was looking for a flight attendant. Nobody was there. By this time, the people around us were shaking their heads and whispering to each other.
“They stole my bag,” the angry lady yelled.
“Did you talk to the company?” I continued, genuinely trying to help her.
“They stole it.” When she said the word “stole” she banged with her foot on the chair in front of her, startling the passenger. That person looked back between the seats, but didn’t say anything.

Then I felt I had to take charge of the situation, if we wanted to be safe there.
I bent over to see the angry woman and I caught her eye.
“I’m sorry for your bag, but you can’t scare people on a plane. Tell me how can I help you?” I said out loud.
She waved her hand in the air. “It’s OK. I had only a bag of chips in that bag.”

I thought she had calmed down. I put my seatbelt on, ready to close my eyes, when I heard that Bang! again. The woman’s fists hit the chair the same time while her both feet stomped the floor. She yelled, “Thieves!” For a second I looked for somebody from the airline to come and do something, but nobody was in the sight. The guy between me and her leaned with his entire body on me. The passengers in front of us pulled their bodies from their backrest, clinging to the chairs in front of them.

Then I stood up and stretched my right arm towards her with my palm open.
“Stop this! Now!” I said firmly.
She was surprised. I used that moment to press on. “You stop it right now or you are in trouble.”
She turned her head to the window, put her earplugs and stayed like that for the next two hours when we got to Paris. The guy next to me patted my elbow, smirking.

I was content. The Antiterrorism class I took with the Department of Defense a while ago really helped. I know there is a risk when we take the lead, but when nobody else does, the evil prevails.
And I don’t want that.

So Different and So Close

urlSOMETIMES I WATCH out the window the little birds hopping on the fresh watered lawn. There are all kinds. A pair of grey doves are the most sophisticated. They have a special spot where they scratch the ground for seeds. Every single morning.

Then there is this little black one that likes to hang out on the rail by the tomato pots. Yellow beak, with a chubby body, he puffs up his feathers to look bigger. Then we have a crow. Loud, demanding but pretty scared of any loud sound. Finches? There is a couple of them chirping when they find something good. And those mocking birds that spy our grass and plants from the palm trees across the street: when they fly over, everybody else has to go. Otherwise there would be a fight.

But the most numerous kinds are the hummingbirds. Some of them are so curious and daring that they would come to pick on my colorful shirt.
New visitors, the yellow birds and the blue ones, come now and then and hide in the bushes on the side of the driveway. They are so beautiful! Seagulls? They love to be right by the water and don’t fly on top of the hill very often. And when they come it’s early in the morning, and only to take a tour of the neighborhood.

All these creatures are so different, but they make my world beautiful. And yes, they can coexist together.

The Bay

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I WALKED DOWN to the water last evening and, after crossing through one of the restaurants’ parking, I took my way on the paved alley by the bay. There was nobody there, but a lot was happening on the water. I turned around before the bridge to Balboa Peninsula and went back to get to a spot I liked.
Most of the restaurants have a dock in the back of their buildings, and there is where you can sit down on the wooden moving wharf and watch the boats.

The sun was setting and this huge fancy boat was trying to back up and reach the small harbor. I didn’t know why, but then I saw a server holding a trey with food and waiting for them.

I was maybe 5 years old when mom and dad took me on the city’s boat, “The Sparrow.” It was an easy way to float from our city down the river to former Yugoslavia. But we were not allowed to do that. We didn’t have passports under the communists, and the only Romanians who could cross the border to buy stuff were some of the inhabitants of the villages closest to the border.
“The Sparrow” floated quietly about a mile down the river and turned back. I was so happy on that trip. Then my parents took me again and again, almost every Sunday since Sunday was the only day for cruises. The town closed the boat rides one day for good.

Then I remembered the rowing boat one dear friend took me on a lake in the mountains. I was on one of my fencing training camps at “Trei Ape”/ “Three Waters” when this friend came for a day to see me. I talked to my coach and he agreed to give me a couple of hours off. My friend got a rowing boat and he rowed the boat on the water between the evergreen forests while we talked about everything. Then life separated us.

The big boat on the bay reached the server, and a woman picked up the trey of food with a shout of victory.
The water was glittering under the sun caught on fire. A sailboat passed by.
It was peaceful.

Why – Three lumps plus one

“Meanwhile, the three lumps under my arm were still there, and another little mass grew on my abdomen. I kept covering them with Swedish Bitter and cabbage leaves. The mass on my stomach disappeared after 2-3 months, but those under my arm didn’t vanish.

Taking showers and feeling the mass growing was frightening. But I didn’t want to talk about what was going on and I went on with my life the way it was. When I was feeling too tired, my body was just lingering on the bed and waiting to get some rest. After that, I would continue to write. Now when I look back, I see that writing was an engine from the Lord to keep me moving on and give me a sense of purpose.

God’s humor was so unique to call me into a field where I was far from being perfect since English was my second language.

 

When I shared that “the Lord called me to write books in English,” I was told that I should work what other people work and keep the writing as a hobby. That could have been a wise advice for many, but I knew I was called to do more than that.

 

I stumbled over this quote, “Follow your dreams. Or you’ll spend the rest of your life working for someone who did.”(1) What a statement! I knew I was doing what I was called to do.

 

Since I was young I had two passions: writing and teaching. I was an elementary and junior high teacher for many years and had already published a few books. My careers didn’t pay much at that time and that’s why so many can’t afford to follow their passion like this. It involves somebody else’s help, and leaning on God and not on your own performances while you have to pay your rent and bills. It involves wisdom, timing and the assurance that you do what you are called to do. I had no idea why I wasn’t called to fit in a common box, because that would have been easy, instead of standing against the norm, like others said.

 

 

Some considered that trying to make a living as an author was too out of the line, and that was why I had to conform to society’s norm the way everybody else did. That expectation was

pretty confusing for me because, growing up in a communist country, I was punished for using my gifts and talents. That society didn’t even let me finish my education during the regime.

 

Now when I look back, I really believe that when some people tell you that you can’t do something and that you would not make it, they are actually afraid that you would indeed make it.”