05 Mar THE TRUTH ABOUT MY RELATIONSHIP WITH THE F.B.I.
Sorry folks, but this is not going to be as exciting as the title; however, here’s a story.
Every time I’m finally done writing memoires, something happens to shake up my life, again and again and again. It’s like I’m a walking earthquake with the tectonic plates rarely resting.
I’ve just had a brutal workout supposedly meant to ‘keep me in shape’, but more like reminding me of the ‘good old days’ of growing up during Ceausescu’s communist regime in Romania!
I’m done and I only wash my face as I’m in a hurry to review something I’ve written about communism. As I think one day I’ll make millions from writing, I obviously protect my future billion-dollar-making writing with sophisticated computer passwords. Passwords I can’t freakin’ remember.
I’m sore and mentally drained trying to get in in my better-protected-than Fort-Knox communist document. Frustrated, I remind myself I’m on my way to living the AMERICAN DREAM. It will only happen the day I make my own big money…although it might take a few additional lives to get there.
Then I think of how only two of my biggest American dreams have come true in the past 13 years in America:
- I made American girlfriends. Born and raised in the U.S.A. women, to be exact!
- I was called on jury duty for a double murder case trial! NOTHING will ever be as big as that day. Not the day I was born, the day I was sworn in as a communist at the age of 8, or the day I was sworn-in as an American citizen. (No. I wasn’t accepted in the jury, but that is another heart wrenching story.)
My third dream was to live in a town full of LAPD. IT took me five years to find out why LAPD didn’t exist in Washington, D.C., but hey, I can be patient.
My fourth dream is to talk to American police officers in person. To this point, I’ve never had the guts to approach an American police officer by myself. NEVER. I talked to Presidents, aristocrats, politicians, scientists, peasants, homeless, billionaires but I’m dead shy, intimidated, turn red and lose my cool when I see an AMERICAN police officer.
My fifth dream is to be interviewed at my home by the FBI.
Yes, I love law enforcement! And Yes, I was raised to respect the law and obey it. And to this day, I have people in my life I love dearly, who still ask me to respect the law, the facts, keep track of documents, be sure everything is legal, etc. I have a constant guilty-till-proven-innocent look on my face. Maybe since I was five and I was aware my family had received a death and kidnapping threat…this time directed to me. I won’t go into the details of that in this writing but it certainly had a profound impact.
Dream number six: act and model in the U.S.
Dream number 7: make so much money through my own work that I’d gift all the amazing people in my life everything they need. (Note to dream number 7: I’m running out of time and meeting too many new and amazing people!)
Well…Dream Number Five came true! Today!
A few months ago, I was attending the yet another country’s National Day (their version of America’s Independence Day). I was in a familiar location, as many events take place there. It was like most buildings in Washington.
It’s noon on a Wednesday and I’m dressed in a very conservatively super-tight body-fitted black dress, hair pulled back, a ton of natural looking make-up, black shoes, handbag and a dead-serious face. I don’t feel like myself. It’s just another day in my communist-like American freedom. It’s life as a housewife/wanna-be rock star middle aged woman in Washington, D.C.
But who am I to take the glamour out of this town?
Standing like an idiot in the wrong line, I’m trying to be my sweet self and make people feel welcomed. Many introduce themselves to me, even though its none of my business, not my event, but I am still part of the deal.
Everybody looks like everybody. Dark clothes, funeral faces, or I’m trying to impress you with my numbingly serious manners. Unimpressed as a dead body in front of a burlesque show, I hope for some miracle.
“FBI, nice meeting you,” came a voice out of the blue.
I literally stopped breathing.
“FBI??? REALLY? NO WAY. Hey, wait, what are you doing here?”
The two people, who blend in like wall paper, answer very sweetly, “we’re hungry. We need lunch.”
They disappeared before I had time to catch my breath.
I turn around and this very odd male and female couple says, “FBI, Happy National Day.”
“Wait!” I literally hold on to them and ask, “Are you the real FBI or just kidding, because I had two others telling me they were FBI too, just a minute ago.”
“Yes, they are our colleagues. We’re trying to catch up with them to make sure they leave some lunch for us too.”
Now, if you are born and raised in Washington, you think I’m a bore.
But if you…you who are secretly reading this…you fellow American, aged 40 to 50…you born in a communist country…especially you growing up during Dictatorship…you are dying with excitement reading this FBI stuff.
YES! They were the FBI, just like in the coolest American movies we were illegally watching during Communism. Watching at the risk of losing our…losing our…
Let me think…what did we have in communism that we could lose? Freedom? No. Food? No. Right to vote? No. Right to believe in God? NOOOO. Right to pursue our dreams? NO. Right to …..hey, NOTHING to lose! Oh, wait…we could lose our lives! Yeah, that was bad.
We had such amazing lives, full of laughter and freedom and fun and glitter and…oh…so you mean my family and I would receive death threats that could involve more reasons than one? No, we were not afraid of losing our lives. We were afraid of losing our families and some were afraid of torture. But those were the weak people. Physical torture is just that after all. Some irrelevant pain that cannot possibly kill one’s spirit nor bends one’s will. It just flesh and blood, it’s not your dreams, your voice, your personality, the inner you.
As I was saying, we were studying English, hanging on every word you were hearing. Secretly hoping for the American invasion and dreaming to see orange juice in real life. Never thinking you would one day drink it too. That would have been spoiled and bratty. Not even seeing it. Just being given the orange juice container to hold…or having the chance to hold torn Christmas wrapping paper from American children’s gifts. Or just to have more bread, or any kind of food, enough water to both drink and wash all the time. Ok…Just water. Running water. Sometimes. Ideally every Sunday. That’s all. That’s all you wanted back then. The water running all day on Sunday. Cold. No one expected anyone to heat it for you. But I digress.
My Dad and I, just the two of us, watched all the bad guy movies. My Father, The Judge, always encouraged my sense of justice. But I didn’t want simple justice. I just wanted to see bad people to get caught and get killed. And that’s what the FBI was doing. But only on TV. And only in our biggest enemy country, U.S.A.
“Daddy, are we enemies of America? Or is it just our country?”
I never got an answer. Not from him. Not a yes, or no…nothing.
Well, 30 years later I see the FBI in real life in the same space with me and I’m thinking of calling my Dad. He’s the only one who’d understand the entire picture and my Mother who’d understand everything.
I see the odd FBI couple and go straight to them. The male doesn’t look like the FBI I saw in the movies, so I’m not sure what to believe. The woman looks completely different than anyone I can think of in the movies. I comment on how she is dressed while asking – like a communist 14-year-old – “are you really working for the FBI? Do you catch the bad guys?”
“I’m in training,” she says.
“Please tell me about it,” I respond. “Tell me everything.”
“And you, you sir,” I continued, “can you, like, you know…shoot guns and beat bad guys and stuff?”
I realized my teen excitement contradicts my current age and status, but I can barely control my emotions… I am, after all, just a housewife and one with a lot of big dreams.
He responds so nicely and politely and I want to follow them and ask questions and so I ask for his card. And I gave him mine.
“Ioana Lee,” he says, “wait a minute,” his demeanor slightly changed, “Lee is not a Romanian name; you said you were Romanian.”
“I am American,” but and before I know it someone interups and distracts me (on purpose) and the next thing I know…the FBI agents had disappeared and all my dreams are shattered. My FBI dream is gone.
The event ends and I get into my red Mercedes and called my Dad and tell him.
“You mean you disturbed Law Enforcement during work hours,” he said? I got my lecture, ‘curbed my enthusiasm’ and was embarrassed by my behavior.
I later told my American born husband I had met real life FBI.
“Cool,” he said, “I told you there was no way you could hide being a Commie!” He laughs so hard and so freely and is completely un-phased.
I loved growing up in Communism. It was as a teen that it got harder. But I loved Communism. (Again, I’ll save this story for another day.)
My husband’s words have hurt me.
“I know baby. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you or sound inconsiderate. But you are SO AMERICAN, so very American, I often forget you have a slight accent and come from somewhere else.”
“And I know you love LAW Enforcement. Everybody does here too. But for them it’s work. It’s not movies. Maybe they were on an assignment. Don’t worry my little commie, I’ll tell them you are a proud American.” We both laugh this time.
As I continue my writing about all these seriously exciting matters, I’m still angry I can’t remember my passwords and think, as a joke, maybe I should call my new FBI friends to help retrieve my password.
As I finish my thought, my monolingual housekeeper is telling me there’s police at the front door and they want to talk to me.
This was March 1st, 2018.
After nearly 14 years in this country, you know hearing “police at your door” is never a good thing.
I go to the door and two very young ladies with very large, friendly American smiles show me their LAW ENFORCEMT I.D.
As I’m ready to feint, I ask “is it my husband? Or my sister?”
“Nooo, no, no…NOT YOUR HUSBAND. NO, YOU ARE FINE,” they respond obviously seeing the fear and dread on my face.
I ask them to come in while I’m literally shaking and still waiting to hear the worst news possible. As I have panic attacks on a regular basis, I’m used to one being triggered by incidents like this. The beautiful ladies reassure me and I manage to calm down.
I stare at their I.D.s and then I look at them. So young. So innocent looking. So American. So Free. So simply dressed. So NON-D.C. All smiles and friendliness and natural beauty.
They explained that they were conducting a background check on someone I might have met, so they ask me questions about the person.
I, of course, want to help law enforcement. I’m also very happy that I’ve filled up the house with video cameras knowing I’d have proof the FBI did come to my house! The need for massive surveillance is an old communist thing.
The questioning starts but they are so gentle and so obviously non-threatening.
I’m sure I told them more than they were asking; I was upset I didn’t have the answers to many of their questions. One of their questions, which seemed to follow certain bureaucratic rules was: “Do you know if the person in question has any involvement with any foreign-born nationals and if I knew whether the person was involved in any form of communism or any contact with such ideology”.
I answer honestly.
“No. I don’t think they do. Apart from me, of course. You see I was a proud member of the communist party from the age of 5. Then Communism fell and now I am an American citizen, but I am foreign born and used to be communist, but I swear I am no longer communist and I am not involved in foreign activity. But my family, which I once renounced when I became an American citizen, I still see sometimes and they are not against the United States, but they think Americans are not very smart, but my dad does justice and they are good people, but I would not let them interfere with the American Constitution because I already swore to defend it and bear arms if I had to…”
Perhaps I said too much.
They leave. I’m shaking. I fully understand the funny side of the whole thing. Including my husband’s conclusion: “Ioana, if the United Stated ends up needing you to bear arms to defend us, it means we’ve already lost the war!”
Thus ends my Life with the FBI! (I hope the person I supposedly know still gets their security clearance.)