Category Archives: World

I Want

Yesterday was the sort of day that didn’t give a damn.

A thick layer of clouds sat on us, the sky just above the treetops. Leaves fluttered carelessly, temperatures kept dropping, while we moaned about the chill in the air. The chill seeping through any wall cracks.

No sun to speak of above the layer of mist, a ray breaking through just to immediately hide from us.

Watching it all, I pulled my sweatshirt tighter and grumbled. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee pacified me with its warmth – just barely – a poor substitute for the sun. Another cup, another rant.

I want…

The sun, but not exhausting heat. I want the bright energy without the overwhelming hundred-degree pain.

I want...

The positive force of light and energy, while having had enough of punishing temperatures.

There is no substitute for the sun, its warmth, radiant glow at once inviting and diminishing us with its power.

I want...

The vibrant sun that brings me unqualified joy.

But yesterday, the outside did not care about what I wanted. Every time I glanced out the window, the day stared back indifferent to my misery.

All I had to do was wait. Give patience a fighting chance.

Slowly, somewhat mockingly, the clouds began to break. Today, the clouds are gone, cool temperatures forgotten. Today, I want less wind, less warmth.  Less smoke in the air from yet another wind-and-heat-induced fire.

Today, I want...

A little shade, and clouds, and rain. And cooler temperatures. And no more smoke in the air.

There is no alleviating want, is there?

Photo: scvgov.

The Real Power


I’ve been glued to the Internet for the past few days, reading everything available on the unrest in Romania. Amazed by what can be accomplished when people come together in large numbers, peacefully marching, unified behind a tragedy, demanding answers, demanding transparency. Demanding an end to corruption.

The tragedy in question was a nightclub fire on October 30th responsible for 32 deaths and counting, and hundreds in critical condition. A tragic event, but was it enough to bring tens of thousands of people in the street.

No, not on its own, of course.

inside the club

inside the club

This was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. The club was not up to code (one exit, no alarms, no fire sprinkles, flammable soundproofing materials in a place not designed for pyrotechnics) because that’s how things are done when money is paid under the table.

Add to this a slow emergency response and hospitals unable to accommodate patients, add to this a prime minister who has been indicted on charges of tax evasion and money laundering, among other things (and who didn’t survive a no-confidence vote), and there is a huge problem.

So, Romanians took to the streets in every major city.

As a result the prime minister resigned — a good first step, but is it enough? My heart says no, but I’ve been gone for so long. I don’t really know how real reform would look like in Romania. However, I do remember the 1989  revolution when the Romanian people toppled a dictator.

So, people do have the power. The real power. They just forget how to use it until an unfortunate event brings them together.

Images courtesy:, jamaicaobserver,

Fads and Languages ~ 5 Photos 5 Day Challenge

conversation, foreign languages

Speaking a foreign language is not only trendy in Southern California, but it’s necessary. Still, we are a state of fads, and at the moment learning Chinese (or perhaps Mandarin) is all the craze, with China’s growing influence in the world as large as it is.

I think speaking a second language is wonderful, reason or not. For the writer in me, this opens up the world, so to speak, helps describe characters through an outside-our-borders narrative, helps give them universal ambitions. I am very curious about the world at large, and language is vital in that regard.

 foreign languages, Romanian

I speak two languages (English and Romanian), and if necessary I can almost pull off a third (Italian). And although I hail from afar, my name couldn’t be more Southern Californian. Silvia Villalobos.

When I introduce myself to folks, many engage me in Spanish. I can’t blame them. Luckily, I can speak enough Spanish to get a mini-conversation going, but soon I reveal myself as a non-native speaker, and the Where are you from question pops up.

When I say Romania, many people are at a loss. I would be, too.

Armenia, they ask? No, but you’re close. I try again. Some know enough to remember Nadia Comaneci, the dictator, and Dracula. We share a good laugh.

But back to languages, there are hundreds spoken here in Southern California. Next to New York City, California is probably the place with most bilingual, trilingual, etc. speakers in the world. I find that universality attractive.

The chart below is old — at least 10 years — and only a snapshot, but it’s the best I could find to give it all some perspective.

Language       Number          %

Spanish           8,105,505          25.8

Chinese             815,386             2.6

Tagalog             626,399             2.0

Vietnamese         407,119             1.3

Korean               298,076             0.9

Armenian           155,237             0.5

Persian              154,321             0.5

Yes, we are a very international bunch here, fads and all, regardless of the tribe we personally identify with. Maybe the best way to understand and tolerate one another is to live in close proximity and embrace each other for what we all are — just another kid from somewhere in the world.


I nominate Sammy at Bemuzin to carry on the challenge.  No obligation, of course, only if possible, and here are the rules:

1) post a photo (photos) each day for 5 consecutive days; 2) attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, a paragraph – all entirely up to you; 3) nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation! More importantly, have fun.

Two more nominees coming tomorrow and Fri!


Road Rage ~ 5 Photos 5 Day Challenge

Continuing the Challenge: Southern Californian’s Quirks – Day 2


Learning to stay calm in any situation is an art form. Particularly when it involves staying calm while stuck in traffic.

In Southern California, where the term road rage was invented, staying calm in traffic is … well … easier said than done. We drive A LOT. We don’t really have a public transportation system, and the distances are long, so we’re left with little choice outside our abused cars.

I’ve long made peace with the fact that I have to drive all over the place: office, home, chauffeur my son to the one million places he must get to for various activities.

Here is how I stay calm when nothing moves on the roads, or try to.

1.  I’ve decided that since I have almost no time to get my news at home, in front of my TV, I catch up on all the news events while driving, so my radio dial is firmly set on NPR.


In fact, I look forward to my time alone in my car with my lovely NPR.

Yesterday, for example, I learned all about Google’s Internet balloons. (They are apparently flying balloons with wifi connection in the stratosphere in order to connect remote areas. Sri Lanka will be one of the first countries to benefit.)


Yup, I’m totally informed now, after listening to the whole shebang on NPR yesterday. Ask me anything you want. I’m ready.

2.   Remember, Southern California is a beautiful place. We have hills, mountains, the ocean, climbing rocks, you name it. So, between catching up on the news and admiring the scenery outside my window, I’m set.

 2013-01-31 08.39.18

Take that, traffic.

2013-01-30 17.42.35

I know I am to nominate someone for the challenge, but there are so many names coming to me right now, I can’t choose only one anymore.

I leave the photo challenge open to all of you, my dear blogging friends.  So, jump in, if you’d like, and run with it. Just let me know.

Here are the rules, however flexible:  1) post a photo (photos) each day for 5 consecutive days;  2) attach a story to the photo. It can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, a paragraph – all entirely up to you;  3) nominate another blogger to carry on the challenge. Your nominee is free to accept or decline the invitation! More importantly, have fun!

And if you’d like to share anything about traffic where you are, I’d love to read it in the comments.

Now, I’m off to visit your blogs, sorry I’m a bit behind. Blame it on TRAFFIC :)