Thursday, January 3, 2013

Farewell to 2012

Last year we rang in New Year's Eve in Simferopol, said goodbye to a relative several days later, and visited Sevastopol and Yevpatoria before heading back to Kharkov. This year we stayed much closer to home. Coming back from Odessa on December 23rd, we found ourselves thrown into a week of chaos.
D had the week off but it was a regular work week for me, including 8 long hours on Christmas Day (Dec 25th), split between the AM and the PM. Our bags from Odessa sat unpacked all week long, as I was either lesson planning or teaching pretty much 24/7. It was like trying to go somewhere in a leaking canoe: paddling hard half the time, bailing out the boat the rest of the time. I remember being in a similar state last year, so it must be an end-of-the-year thing. And our apartment building was without water for 3 days, with water finally flowing through the pipes again at the thirteenth hour- Christmas night, 11 PM. You can bet we rejoiced over that one! :p

Not everything was frenzied and last-minute, thankfully.

There was time for a final Scrabble game at the coffee shop and a brief Skype call to family.

Lots of nice gifts found their way to us.

On the weekend we met up with some internet friends for the first time, tried to get in to Paris (restaurant), settled instead for Twenty-Two Pub & Restuarant.
Holiday decor at Paris
Later we met with a group of students + a colleague for a pleasant evening together at SushiYa.

The weather turned drastically warmer. The ugly winter melted away and a welcome blue sky appeared.

On New Year's Eve, we had a triple-date at a local sauna. Two hours was just enough time to relax, snack, play pool, and make about 5 trips from the sauna to the ice-cold mini pool.

L: en route to the sauna
R: taking advantage of the facilities

Our good friends gathered at our apartment that night to await the stroke of midnight.

We had an awesome view of the fireworks from atop a nearby fire escape, somehow consumed several liters of vodka, and finally got down to Freedom Square only to find it was already 5 AM and a massive clean-up operation was in progress.

I'd never seen so many empty champagne bottles in my life!

Now here we are, several days later. Even though it was a lot of fun to see friends and celebrate the holidays together, I still have this sad feeling most of the time. Is it the season? The weather? The beginning of a new year? Petty personal complaints aside, so many tragedies happened last month. First, a man carrying a semi-automatic rifle showed up at a mall near my parents' home and opened fire. Then came the terrible morning at Sandy Hook elementary school. Meanwhile, here in Kharkov, the news covered beheadings, a gas explosion in an apartment building, and a deadly helicopter crash. Then, just after Christmas, a family friend passed away. As much as I want to approach 2013 with enthusiasm and hope, it's awfully hard to find at the moment. But Anne Frank probably said it best- think of all the beauty still left around you and be happy.

I'll leave you with that thought for the new year, dear readers:
no matter what happens, remember the beauty that remains.