I am making plans. I am making budgets. I am vowing that this time I will get organized. What does this all mean? It’s the start of a new semester here in Vilnius!
I am taking two Russian courses, one Lithuanian, Islam in Europe (probably) and Lithuanian Literature. I feel like I should take another class, so I will see what I can fit in (and afford) when the schedule is a little more complete. If I can fit in the ultra Russian class that is worth 9 credits, I will do that, but I think I will have to email people about that one, so it’s waiting until Monday.
I am trying to do two big trips and a few little ones before I fly to the far-off wilds of Idaho once more. I want to go to France and Germany in February, then St. Petersburg in March/April, and I would like to do a trip to Warsaw, one to Kraków, one to Riga, and maybe Vienna if I can make it happen. I have been looking up tickets online, and even flying it is going to be super cheap to do all of the travel. I think my tickets to France will be around $200 and to Petersburg will be $300 (with the visa!), and trains into Poland are really cheap, as are the busses and trains to Latvia.
Oh! Speaking of Latvia, I met up with two Israeli people who were stranded in Lithuania because they lost their money and the nearest embassy is in Riga. (I am aware that I might have been ripped off, but I prefer to think of myself as goodhearted, not gullible) I was walking home from Rimi with a sandwich and a “salad” when someone ran up behind me asking breathlessly if I speak Russian. I said no, but I speak English and I thought that he was going to hug me! He talked at me for a while about his predicament, and I gave his girlfriend 15 Litas. Then I invited them home to the apartment (I know, not the safest idea) so that they could warm up and get something to eat. They seemed really intent on continuing to try and make bus fare so that they could get home, so I gave them my sandwich, salad, and phone number. The dude was really surprised when I asked him if they kept kosher, especially because I am not Jewish, which made me think that even if they were ripping me off, at least they were maybe really from Israel?
Pretty much I am an easy mark for anyone that wants money. Need to get a beer? Have a sad story about your life/small sister? Just walk up to the gullible American and get your Litas! I feel really guilty when I don’t give them money, though, so giving in is actually selfish on my part because I do it to prevent myself from feeling like a really bad person for the next few hours. I am getting better about not just giving money to everyone. I can’t resist old people, though, or people with a sad story. I have read that giving to beggars on the street really isn’t helping anyone, but I can’t really get behind that kind of logic. Yeah, maybe it would be better to be able to help in a more concrete way, donating to shelters or something, but how can I walk by people who are obviously so poor in my fancy coat and my $100 shoes and not give them a Lita or two (80 cents)? How can I justify that to myself? I just can’t. So I have struck a bargain with myself. I will give money to all of the poor old ladies and the people with sad stories, and the ones that can’t look me in the eye, but I won’t give it to everyone, and then I will give a small donation to a charity every month so that I know that the money is being spent responsibly on people who need it. (this month was Doctors Without Borders because Haiti is in such a bad place and they need doctors like crazy and loveharder.org because a woman asked only for prayers and a bunch of super awesome people decided that prayers weren’t enough and decided to raise money for a cure too. Pretty cool stuff!)
I am really bummed about the Massachusetts vote and its implications for the health care bill. I wish that more people could see that, in a country as rich as the U.S. health care should be a right and not a privilege. I still have enough Idaho in me to think that there is a chance that health care reform could end up just screwing us all in the end (like most government operations) but I also think that it is worth a try. A Grand Experiment, if you will. (although I feel a little silly calling something an experiment that is currently practiced by every economically developed nation in the world except us and most of the developing nations) One that could really help a whole lot of people who could really use the help.
Here is where someone should pipe up and tell me I am too liberal. I know. I can’t help it, I was just drawn that way. I also believe that there is no reason people should learn English just because they live in the United States, that mothers and fathers should be paid for childcare leave, that the Mexico wall and the Israel-Palestine wall should just come down already, that funds would be better spent on education (and health care!) rather than throwing billions of dollars into the bottomless coffers of the war ministry…
Oh man, I am making myself all weepy barfy with all this talk about helping people and saving the world.
I will end with one of my favorite quotes about life by Vonnegut:
“Hello, babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies—God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”