Early nights have made us all responsible

Bucharest. The same yet always changing. The irony is that so many of us wear Converse shoes these days. Almost nobody had them when I left in 2003. We read lousy pop culture magazines that are a study in name dropping and out of context music and movie criticism. We watch the latest movies with their titles translated into Romanian (“Failure to Launch” was “How to kick out of the house a 30-year bachelor”). We read the latest books and we translate those in Romanian with a tinge of vague desperation to get it on the shelf rather fast than get it done right.

We have also become responsible and return home before 3 AM.

My friends are doing well. They are working in (or even coordinating) local branches of international organizations, working for foreign media, running Romanian media, making money staying at home, starting and selling companies, having babies, playing Counter Strike on government payroll–more or less having the sweet Romanian life of 2006.

They have asked me numerous times what I plan to do with myself. “Something with journalism” is always my reply, but it’s too vague and, for some, unsatisfying. I briefly ran into someone I went to college with last night. We chatted for a couple minutes and then she asked me: “Are you still an idealist?”

“Is that an insult?” I replied.

“No,” she said.

“Somewhat,” I said, but felt I couldn’t leave myself open to a strike–paranoia sometimes takes over. “But I painted with some capitalist brush strokes over it.”

Who am I kidding? The journalism I sometimes talk about is idealistic.

I remember this story a great journalist I worked with over the past year used to tell the journalists he trained. A father and his little boy were in the living room. The father was dutifully reading the newspaper but the little boy was getting antsy. He tugged at his dad’s pants, started circling the room, becoming more and more impatient as the minutes went by.

The father wanted to finish reading the paper before turning to play with the boy, so he had an idea. He grabbed a magazine from the table and ripped out a page that had the map of the world on it. He then ripped that page into smaller pieces and handed them all to the boy. “Here is a puzzle,” the father said. “Try to solve it while I read the newspaper.”

The boy went to work and the father resumed his reading. Barely a couple minutes passed and the boy exclaimed: “Done.” The father was stunned–the boy was too little to know enough geography to be able to piece the world together so fast. “How did you do it?” he asked his young son. “You don’t know the world map yet.”

The kid confirmed with a nod, but then said: “There was the picture of a man on the other side. I put the man back together and the world came out alright.”

3 Responses to “Early nights have made us all responsible”

  1. Heh. Cute parable.

  2. The essence of life.

  3. What would he say after this story? I’m intrigued.

Leave a Reply