Tuesday, August 30, 2011

En route!

Yeah! I'm here in the Anchorage airport, waiting for my flight to Switzerland....then on to Kiev! It feels totally unreal...I've been waiting for this for so long, and then all of the sudden...bam! It's time to go! D and I managed to pack everything of mine- one suitcase was 20 kilos (clothes and boots) while the other suitcase just scraped by with 1 kilo to spare (an inordinate amount of cosmetics + books + teaching supplies + gifts).

D, I hope your packing / move-out / clean up goes well. Sorry I left you with so much to do!
Steve, thanks for the ride!
L & J, thanks for the great afternoon yesterday!

It's time to go!! I'll arrive in Kiev tomorrow at 3:45 PM, after 12 hours in the air (not bad) and a 2 hour layover in Zurich.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tech updates, Part II

D and I have put down our bows and arrows, come out from the cave, logged on to Amazon.com and finally joined the 21st century.
Hello, future. We have arrived.
What do you think? I'm still adjusting....this netbook screen is so freakin tiny, I have to squint at it like an old lady trying to read the newspaper. On the other hand, there will never be a repeat of me lugging a 10 pound laptop and 7,000 other bags across Moscow to catch a flight. Yeah for that! And the Kindle really seems like a godsend...so many books for free (as long as you're happy reading the classics) and it weighs as little as a magazine. I read that e-readers are already very common on the metro in Russia; perhaps they've made it to Ukraine too? D is thrilled with his Android tablet. He's made eye contact with me only about 5 times this week- the rest of the time he's been staring at the screen!

Meanwhile, the packing / moving-out continues....and continues.....and continues.

Days until departure: 3

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The river of time...

Река времен в своем стремленьи
Уносит все дела людей
И топит в пропасти забвенья
Народы, царства и царей.
А если что и остается
ерез звуки лиры и трубы,
То вечности жерлом пожрется
И общей не уйдет судьбы.

- Гаврила Романович Державин (1743 - 1816)

The river of time in its currents bears away all the affairs of men, and drowns nations, kingdoms, and kings in the abyss of oblivion. And if, through the sounds of the lyre and the trumpet, anything shall remain, it shall be devoured in the jaws of eternity and shall not escape the common fate.
- Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin (1743 - 1816)

I can't get much of a feel for this poem in the original Russian, but the English translation is beautiful!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Love one another

Work always becomes mundane. No matter how glamorous or exciting it may sound at first, no matter how passionate you feel about a cause, eventually it become routine and the petty annoyances obscure your enjoyment. But then sometimes you have a breakthrough, and see the beauty again.

Yesterday afternoon I heard a moment of pure beauty.... in the audience of a meeting being conducted in English, Burmese, Somali, Arabic, Russian and Bhutanese... all in one room. I was there for work purposes, a quarterly meeting for resettled refugees. It was breathtaking to see so many people getting along and even laughing together! This is seriously the coolest job ever. I'm really going to miss it.

Packing, Part II

Have you ever seen Hoarders? I'm not saying I'm that bad.....but I have accumulated a lot of stuff. I've always traveled heavy. When I went 'backpacking' in Central America in 2002, my backpack was the largest back-country model available; I set it on a card table at the airport while going thru Mexican customs- it broke the table. You could seriously fit a 5 year-old kid in there. There was all the usual stuff: clothes, sleeping bag, first aid kit. In addition, I hauled $200 worth of Guatemalan fabrics south thru Nicaragua and Costa Rica. And I kept a rolled-up posted from Honduras and large wall maps of South America in there . And I fit hammered metal wall art and a round tortilla basket from Oaxaca in the bottom. On my freakin' back, people! When I went to study abroad in Russia I took the usual 2 suitcases and 2 carry-ons, plus an extra duffel bag of shoes. High-heels for the club. For what turned out to be a 4 month stay. During winter. And then, I had to carry them back. All the way across Russia. On the train. In a small compartment with 3 other luggage-heavy people.
I think this is the extra ticket I had to buy in Moscow to fly all that luggage to Yakutsk.... eek!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Men Who Don't Fit In - Robert Service

How true...

There's a race of men that don't fit in,
 A race that can't stay still;
So they break the hearts of kith and kin,
 And they roam the world at will.
They range the field and they rove the flood,
 And they climb the mountain's crest;
Theirs is the curse of the gypsy blood,
 And they don't know how to rest.

If they just went straight they might go far;
 They are strong and brave and true;
But they're always tired of the things that are,
 And they want the strange and new.
They say: "Could I find my proper groove,
 What a deep mark I would make!"
So they chop and change, and each fresh move
 Is only a fresh mistake.

And each forgets, as he strips and runs
 With a brilliant, fitful pace,
It's the steady, quiet, plodding ones
 Who win in the lifelong race.
And each forgets that his youth has fled,
 Forgets that his prime is past,
Till he stands one day, with a hope that's dead,
 In the glare of the truth at last.

He has failed, he has failed; he has missed his chance;
 He has just done things by half.
Life's been a jolly good joke on him,
 And now is the time to laugh.
Ha, ha!  He is one of the Legion Lost;
 He was never meant to win;
He's a rolling stone, and it's bred in the bone;
 He's a man who won't fit in.

Monday, August 8, 2011


Is it bad if I've been drinking a lot of wine lately.....and calling it preparation?

Technology updates

[Dilbert is at work, sitting in front of his desktop computer.]
Coworker: Are you getting a lot done on the grandpa box?
Dilbert: The what?
[Coworker pulls out his ipad.]
Coworker: The people in my generation do our work on our phones and tablets.
Dilbert, angrily: I also have a laptop.
Coworker: I'll text the nineties and let them know.

That is so us. We don't even have cell phones. Most of the time that seemed to work in our favor, until the car accident and its painful and awkward aftermath, and since then we've been more aware of our cave-dweller status. I'm getting a cell phone in Ukraine of course, but we jumped the gun a little and just ordered a Kindle and a pad (not ipad though). Yeah, 21st century!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I’m not sure what you do with food in your country, but here in Ukraine it’s customary to eat it.

A cool Peace Corps Volunteer was kind enough to post this on her blog- it's a fictional letter from a Ukrainian host family to a new Peace Corps Volunteer.
(Side note: there are a lot of Peace Corps Volunteers in Ukraine, and when they first arrive they live briefly with a host family to acclimate and learn the language.) (Other side note: I'm not involved with the Peace Corps in any way....but it seems like a cool organization.)

I was LOL when I was reading this letter....  so true! I've heard these exact sentences so many times from D's parents!

Here are my top 5 favorites:

#1) Please take better care of your reproductive organs. You exercise vigorously and sit on cold surfaces with abandon, and then have the audacity to believe your ovaries will function a decade from now, when you say you might finally be ready to have a baby.

#2) Please have special doctors measure your stomach. YOU DO NOT EAT ENOUGH. “Oh, I can’t eat another bite,” you say. “My stomach is telling me to stop, it’s bothering me, it’s upset.” Your stomach has more emotions than a pubescent teenager. Tell me, what is your stomach upset about? I think it’s upset because you don’t give it enough food. Of course it will be mad at you if you only eat soup, potatoes, and a little piece of meat for dinner. Listen to your stomach and eat more food.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Summer of the Ugly Shoe

This has been the summer of the ugly shoe.

Things started out like this:

Exhibit #1
Then, a job in retail with long hours forced me to something I thought would be more comfy:
Exhibit #2
To be honest, comparing the average day in these to the one day I tried to wear the shoe in exhibit #1....well, they probably are more comfortable. But at work one afternoon we were discussing that eternal question- shoes: comfort vs. style, and a coworker noted "See, you're smart. You've got those practical shoes on. Look over there at Caity- she showed up in sexy boots!" So, yeah.

As it turned out, the retail job was to be a brief experience, because then I ditched the shoe above and slipped into this beauty:
Exhibit #3
And that's where I'm at now. Ironically, six months ago I decided it would be a good idea to only have pants that have to be worn with heels (aka long hems), because then I'd wear heels 24/7 and look taller. I got rid of anything that fit my natural height.  Ha ha ha.

Days until departure: 24.
I sure hope I'm out of shoe number 3 by then!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Reality TV, русский style!

I've been trying to brush up on my Russian this week (after a summer of studying, um, Spanish and Latin) and came across this-
 hat's right, ХОЛОСТЯК!
Aka, 'The Bachelor' Ukrainian-style. (Which, honestly, is so far pretty much the same as American-style. Girls, drama, and a simple man who is just looking for love in the all in wrong places.)
click here for first episode on YouTube