Saturday, February 11, 2012

Winter lingers = time to hibernate

Maybe it's the cold weather, but I've been a bit sluggish recently. I feel like an animal in winter; I need to huddle in my den until temperatures rise back to decency and spring's green shoots start poking through the gloomy February landscape....yeah, whenever that will happen!

Despite this reluctance to socialize or venture out, we did join some students at a local tango-themed tavern, Улица-Танго. Everyone had a good time, mixing English and Russian and downing four bottles of champagne (after all, it was a birthday celebration!), smoking copious cigarettes (*cough, cough*) and finally getting kicked out at closing time.

Today D and I took two new teachers to the Central Market. They decided not to do any shopping, which left them lots of time for standing around and talking loudly together in English. One fruit vendor told us "come back! but don't bring the fascists"....? hmm? Did I lose something in translation? Was he mad that they didn't buy anything? The last time we were at this market (just the two of us) we were part of the crowd around a sausage stand and a passing coffee vendor jokingly yelled out "You guys are buying so many sausages you're putting the Germans to shame!" Apparently Central Market has some kind of WWII vibe. Anyways, on a totally random note, while we were passing the meat market D asked if we knew why rabbit carcasses are sold with unskinned feet. "For luck?" one of my colleagues guessed. "No", replied D. "So that you know you're buying a rabbit and not a cat." I try to not make much eye contact with any of the meat stalls, but today I noticed that they carve meat not on a countertop but on wooden tree stumps that have been painted red. Cool.
Outdoor fruit & veggie section at Central Market, late October. Most of the local vendors sell their stuff here while the sellers of the more exotic stuff tend to set up shop in another (indoor) part of the market.

 Work goes pretty well. Lesson planning is taking significantly less manpower this time around, hooray! It tempts me to consider renewing my contract and spending a couple more terms teaching lessons I've already prepared and taught. There's still a couple months to go but soon it will be time to make this decision- stay or go? Hard to believe so much time has passed already.... D and I started a language club for bilingual computer programmers. He's really excited about it. Me too : )

We went to the post office again yesterday. It's interesting how personal a country Ukraine is. Someone can arbitrarily decide they like your face and give you preferential treatment. Another person can just as easily decide they hate your guts and will go out of their way to make things difficult for you. And a third person will just not care either way. We got in the post office line just as some guy was storming off from an unsuccessful attempt to do something, vividly describing the clerk as a goat (this is an incredible insult in Russian). This time we were lucky: the post office clerk decided she liked us. We had a bundle of cards to send to the US and, perhaps eager for a change of pace, she rudely dismissed the customer she'd already started helping and instead took up our cause. She tasked D with the chore of weighing each envelope and penciling on the weight and then she begin some verrrry unhurried stamp calculations.
And then we went through about 7 minutes of this:
Her: You guys, ground service or air service?
D: Air, please.
Her: How about ground instead?
D: No, I'd prefer air.
Her: Ground is cheaper.
D: It's okay, thank you, I've got enough money for air.
Her: I think you should go ground.
D: We'd like air.
Her: It's going to be more expensive. Too expensive.
D: It's okay.
Her: It will be an extra 2 griven per letter.
D: It's okay. Air is more reliable, isn't it?
After we agreed on air, guess what happened? That's right, since she was affixing the stamps herself, she made a last-minute decision to send them ground, haha. But she agreed to send one card via air, so at least D's parents will get some mail. His theory on this, by the way, was that she liked us because she thought we were poor students. I guess I need to put more thought into what to wear to the post office...but it may not have done any good because D likes to give off this appearance. Probably because it's true. So it was a nice trip overall- she even smiled at us several times before directing us outside to put the letters in outside drop. And no one even had to call anyone a goat :p

I was able to avoid the clutches of a full-blown cold/flu? earlier this week. A medical student and a scientist-turned-businessman noticed that I was getting sick and recommended a medicine that sounds like "Barbie doll" without the "B" (Арбидол). They claimed it's an anti-viral medicine and that it'll work wonders if you take it within the first 48 hours of your illness. I concur! It's a little pricey- 50 grivna, $6- but worth keeping around. And ditto for that little miracle-worker, фармацитрон.

That about sums up my anti-hibernating attempts. It's tough, though. I'd like to just turn off the light and wake up in April!


  1. It's sunny and almost 80F here in AZ, but this last week I've been dragging myself and really wished there was snow and sleet so I would have an excuse to hibernate. I share your desire for hibernation.

  2. Oh my gosh, Vesna, did you know I'm moving to Arizona? Like, right this moment!

    80F in February? Sunlight? Can I come visit, pretty please? I'll even babysit.

    Actually, maybe I told you we've been tossing around the idea of Arizona for a while now. Are there many IT companies there, btw?