Sunday, March 14, 2004


Some things change, some things stay the same. Other things continue on while sometimes things simply come to an end.

I am waxing philosophical today. It’s just a mood I am in. I am seeing pictures I have been seeing for the last year all around town. The pictures change with the change of the seasons, but they are all basically the same. The houses, certain streets, certain faces. I have seen a lot. Perhaps too much.

I have been here basically for a year now. I was released from Poland at the end of March and left about a week later. So it is about three weeks less than a year I have been here. It has been tough.

When they first let me go, I was here a month, at the time, that was the length of the visa I knew how to obtain. That first month I was pretty much at the theatre all the time trying to get my play going. At one moment they had agreed to invite me to work there. That visa would have allowed for me to stay a year. The didn’t do it though, at the end reneging on the bargain when I refused to pay them money for a play they said they wanted to do for free.

That play was Pod Kablukom. I was reading it again last night. The Russian version. And yea, it is still applicable. And it is still a good play.

I went back to Poland for about two weeks to write the appeal for my case and then came back again, buying the same tourist visa. Tatyana and I figured out the “invitation system”, and after this I was allowed to stay for three months at a time. At the time, this was a real big deal because of Poland’s refusal to tell me anything about the case or when things would happen. It had been a year since I had been able to plan anything more than a month in the future.

During this second months stay and for the rest of the next three months, I worked on the book Being Had. I had hopes that the book would make some impact on the situation- both Polish and financial that is. Or even that Poland would agree to pay restitution for what they did to me. But at the end of that three months, though the book was pretty much complete, we were in no better financial shape than we had been. There was still no money for a bike shop, there was still no results from the courts. There was still nothing but poverty and misery.

I was about to go, the tension from the above mentioned situation adding to the tension of the living situation bringing things to the boiling point. There were as many as six of us, grandma, grandpa and even Tatyana’s sister for a while crammed into the two room apartment. But Tatyana told me she believed in me and that she wanted me to stay on a little longer. It was not an easy choice, the money we had was very, very small, but we found a small apartment for a little money and I stayed another three months, this time working on publishing and getting the story out into the public.

There wasn’t much in terms of results for my efforts and towards the end of the term, we ran completely out of money and even lost the apartment. Certainly it was time to leave if for no other reason than I would become a burden on Tatyana’s family. At the time I even found myself begging a rather unsympathetic American Embassy for pass back to the states. This was three months ago.

But then we got a gift, though it came a long with a request that it be the last money granted us from who sent it. We understood. They were not the only people who had “lent” us money. Unfortunately though it was not enough money to start a business or even buy some bikes, though we tried to do a little of that around Christmas time. But there was something and it raised the possibilities of doing something. There was hope.

So we got started on the foundations of two separate enterprises. Three, if you count the building of this blog-group, which I also started at that time. It was our hope that we could parlay this little addition into a least a better living situation for us. And for a while, it seemed as though the hours spent working out the details was going to pay off. We were not expecting a lot mind you- and really you must understand that we are talking about very, very small amounts of money, but it was something and there was some hope.

But we had a reversal a few days ago. I really do not want to go into the specifics, but though you could say it would be possible to start again, the situation insofar as money will be different from what it was. And I have to pay for another visa. So we are at a pretty good point of change right now.

It has been a year, basically that I have been here. I am not sure how many people have read my blog-group, but if the mail I have gotten is any indication, it is quite a few. But what there hasn’t been is any real movement, or any ease to our situation.

I don’t think anyone in his right mind would have come to Belarus naked or in the hopes of a better life. Belarus is simply not a place one goes to find hope. But that was not the situation when I fist came here two years ago. At the time, I thought I could do something to aid the “lack of hope” that was so apparent everywhere here. I wanted to help. But mostly, I simply wanted to try and make life better for a woman I met here. I didn’t see anything impossible or wrong in this. And my idea was to make a small bike shop. This is what I do and what I love. I don’t think I was expecting a million from it, but I thought it was possible and that my being here and doing what I do would possibly make an overall difference. And for a while it did.

People did seem happier for a bit. They got excited by the things I was doing. But none of it happened because we got strangled.

So what have I been doing for the last year? Well, I have fixed some bikes for the bike school and I am still trying to find some money and bike parts for them so they can go on. I have met a lot of people. I have learned a new language and a lot about the culture here. I wrote a book and made a website and learned a lot about doing those sorts of things.

I learned a lot about being poor. And about being very, very unhappy all of the time.

I don’t know why Poland insisted on doing to me what they did. I really don’t. I mean, you can see that they were lying. You can see it. That’s why I made it all public. You can read all of the texts from all of the testimonies. You can read the justification from the judge. You can read my appeal, all my essays and even all of the letters between my attorney and myself. YOU CAN SEE IT. You can see it for yourself.

I had written all of this before and lost it do to computer error. This version is not as interesting as what I had written before.

So anyway, I am in this nostalgic mood right now and I am thinking about all that has happened. There are going to be some changes happening very soon. I never intended for any of this to be this way.

I guess what I would like to really know is why I had to suffer for Tomas Zaremba. I would really like to know what qualities and strengths this guy has that was worth the whole of two years of my life. I am not saying that I am such a great man. I write a good play, I play guitar pretty good, I am a good bike man and I think I have a heart. But someone would have to really spend some time telling me how this guy Tomas Zaremba is somebody other than who I say he is. I mean just have a look at the guy: Where is his social contribution? Where is he helping? Other than generating sympathy for his utter patheticness, where is his spark of greatness, his well-lived life. Where is his heart? This is all I have been asking of anyone for two years.

But I am not casting stones. We are all of us so pathetic. This world is such a mess. And it just occurs to me that we never do anything to make it better any more. And this case is as perfect example of that as anything you will ever see. How could the courts even justify spending the time? Just to cover their asses? Just to prove to me how powerful they were. Ain’t i all just like everything in our lives now? Just sucks all of the life and joy out of everything.

Wanna know what happened, have a look around. They did it because they knew no one would even give a damn. It wasn’t just an insult to me, it was an insult to everyone. It was a sham, and insult to dignity, to intelligence. It was just low. And apparently, no one could tell the difference.

What next? Well, as for me, I let you know. Right now I am just sitting here shaking my head in wonder at the shear audacity of the picture I am looking at. No laughs. Not even a nod to irony. Just…. Shit.

So I guess I got some things to do. You gotta keep moving don’t you know. First rule of bicycling. You gotta keep moving.