Monday, November 14, 2011


 Today was a bit of an oddity (which is a bit of a  redundant expression here in Moldova).  I spent this morning with a fellow Peace Corps Volunteer's girlfriend.  Her name is Irina and she has become a bit of a staple in our group of friends.  Jobless and with no prospects of meaningful work in the near future, Irina began looking for inspiration from her environment and she found it.
I met Irina yesterday to make some connections and plan for today.  Although she kept saying she needed my help... all she really needed was reassurance.  She had not only created a plan but also came up with the idea all by herself.
We met on Sunday at the Peace Corps Office, made some copies of a list of questions (mainly just for reference) and we set off to the "Unauthorized or Illegal Market" (often referred to as the Soviet Piata near the train station).  Her brother borrowed a video camera from a friend and the interviewing, explaining, sharing, storytelling began. 

Irina wanted to document the stories of the retirees or pensioners that sell their housewares daily at this market in order to just make ends meet.  The women we had spoken to the day before had their faces all done up, dressed in their finest winter ware they were ready to chat with us.  With her brother behind the lens, Irina took to asking questions like a professional.  Smiling, encouraging our old lady friends to share some of their most intimate opinions, fears and financial information with us.
Irina has this way about her.  She finds art and beauty in things that most people consider to be eye sores.  Standing there watching them (Irina and her brother) work together to document the stories of these poor people was truly amazing.
After we all parted ways at the end of a days worth of filming, I began to think about how all of us humans.  We are all consumers.  We facilitate and create the cycle that is capitalism.  We demand products, quality products and when we are done with these things where do they go?  The system is always making more products, more things for us to consume.  We are always buying new... but where does all the old stuff go?  At what point will our production reach saturation.  When we all are satisfied with the "stuff" we have accumulated? 
As I walked around that market, I kept thinking to myself that one person's trash is another person's treasure but at what point does that idiom stop being true?  Used goods and markets like these make me think of accumulating wealth and economies of scale (I know, I'm not as artistic as Irina) and I began to dream of a world where a complete redistribution of wealth, accumulated material items and everything occurs.  How would our socioeconomic lives be different if that occurred?  I am not talking about communism or socialism because in both of these cases the government "has more" whether it be power or control and the people "have less."  What I am talking about is a sort of utopia.

Anyway, I also started thinking about types of products.  How food is the one product that is consumed and can't be sold "second hand."  It is either eaten, stored for winter or breaks down into organic material and nourishes the crops for next year.  It seems that the only industry with a need for endless supply and efficiency is food and crop production.  Just some thoughts from a day with a friend.
I hope that my friend Irina keeps inspiring people to tell their stories.  She reminds me of Edie Sedgwick (minus the tragic story and drug problems), the way she looks at the world as such a gloriously fun place to be and seeks joy and beauty even in the saddest of situations.  I encourage all of you to watch the movie Factory Girl... if you haven't already.

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