Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Guns, heat, and storms

A clear summer night sometime last week
Tonight we sat on the balcony and watched lightning strike the edges of the city. It seems like there are thunderstorms every couple of days and the period between them is filled with insufferable heat and waiting. At home it's not so bad; we've pretty much taken to living 24/7 in the room with the LIFESAVING DEVICE! I mean, air conditioner. At work though, it can be a bit stuffy. I teach in an old elementary school rented out for the evenings, so when I unlock the classroom on these 90+ degree days it feels like the inside of an oven. Opening the windows only lets in all the noise of the traffic- racing motorcycles, city transit. The students have been a bit cranky recently and I suspect it's because of this. The men sit there stoically, sweating. The women fan themselves dramatically. Now I know why the schools here are closed for the summer!

On a brighter note, yesterday I got to teach in a different classroom. It was quieter and slightly cooler and plastered in military propaganda. What's inside a bullet, how to throw a grenade, how to disassemble a machine gun. This is the гражданская оборона (civil defense) classroom. "Service in the armed forces of Ukraine- test yourself and become a real professional!" reads a big banner around the room. It wouldn't be quite so shocking if the students here weren't 8 years old. My students, the adults, told me that they'd received this kind of education too, except that females studied "softer" subjects like caring for the wounded. I talked about this with D at home and he told me the same story: in fact, he fired a Klashnikov 2 years before his first kiss... and he wasn't a late bloomer.

Despite the heat both of us have been running around town for job interviews. D's had many interviews with no offers and now, suddenly, several offers all at once. The no-offer period kind of sucked, as you can imagine, but now the future seems more hopeful. I didn't intend to go on any interviews, but a company he interviewed with called back for me and I went to talk with them. There was a writing job, which I really fancied. Teaching is great but it can be a bit like giving blood; you're doing something good for society but it takes time (and cookies) to recuperate. Some days I love teaching, other days I long to work with paper. Anyways, the writing job didn't work out. The details of the job were a little vague, and by the time I heard back from them the job requirements had changed beyond what I could do. Then there was a possible phone job but it didn't seem like a good fit right now. The thing that really stood out for me about these interviews is how...psychological? they were. The majority of the questions seemed like Psych 101 questions.

Famous last words: Oh, I'm sure we'll be back before it starts to rain!
Let's go back to the weather. Last weekend there was an epic rainstorm. We were out walking when it began and the first heavy rain was kind of fun. We found a relatively dry spot under an overhang and waited it out.
First rain
These boys were having a blast while everyone else cowered under trees and umbrellas.
Afterwards, thinking it was probably over, we ventured back out. Then, a torrent of water dropped. It was like standing in front of an open fire hydrant except it came from the sky. There was nowhere to shelter, the overhang sprang a leak and wind, water, and hailstones whipped around in all directions. We could only sacrifice ourselves up to the elements and try to protect our eyes.

During the next break in the storm there was a rush to get off the streets. Unfortunately this involved crossing a fast-moving river that had sprung up at the bottom of a hill. Most chose to wait and risk another rainfall instead of crossing the street. I mean, some smaller cars couldn't even make it though the water! A woman next to us tried and she got swept off her feet by the current and ended up on her back in the water. Next a man stepped off the curb and attempted to ford the river. He made it, minus one shoe that had been vacuumed off his foot by the force of the water. In frustration, he kicked off his remaining shoe into the river once he made it to the other side.

So that's been August so far. Heat, storms, job interviews, and children's classrooms with pictures of gas masks and tank battle tactics on the walls. Who knows what the rest of the month will bring?


  1. I hope you'll get a writing job soon:)

    1. Is it about "Technical Writing" (release notes, user manuals, marcom articles)?

    2. Roman, it was for a copywriter position. I don't know that much about technical stuff even in English :p