Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What's new

Annunciation Cathedral after a recent storm
Please accept this heartfelt apology, for the wide-eyed photographer and breathless blogger that you know is currently on hiatus. She's somewhere in the back of my brain, shut up, while a mundane version of me survives June. And what are the mundane parts of life? Why, the necessary evils of housing, education, and work, of course. (Does anyone else ever yearn to be some simple woodland creature like a sparrow or a raccoon? Or at least to have been raised by wolves?)


new apartments considered so far: 4 (2 real, 2 fake)

Goodbye, afternoon writing sessions on the balcony!
The hunt for a new apartment continues. I guess I should back up a bit and give you the backstory. Last month, our ever-so-charming landlady arrived with the announcement that she'd be raising the rent. This was not shocking news in itself and we might have taken on extra work to stay here, but the way she said it... was not promising. Her attitude has gone downhill over time. She asks to be paid in dollars and then examines the bills to make sure they're not counterfeit. She distrusts D's computer calculations regarding the electricity bill. One time D was running late and she insisted on going back downstairs and waiting out on the street instead of coming in. And- a tiny thing but what really gets to me- she never takes off her dirty shoes! Hello, it's Ukraine! No one wears street shoe indoors unless they're at an apartment viewing. It's flat out bad manners. She might as well take my toothbrush out and rub it on the sidewalk.

Maybe all that can be explained away as perfectly normal landlady-tenant relations, but it's an indisputable fact that she hates the cat. In fact, she'd skin him and turn him into a pair of earmuffs if she had her way. So, the logical step is to move out.

The idea of looking for and living in a new place is glamourous and exciting. Will the wallpaper be striped or flowered? Will the shower and toilet be separate compartments? Will the fridge be Soviet model A or B? But no, haha, really- what will the view from the window be like? Will the neighbors be friendly? What kind of new cool things will we find to photograph in the neighborhood? I really do love moving in to a new place, exploring a new environment!

After the scam, we saw a place in this same building that I immediately fell in love with. It was a cute one-room, almost a little hobbit hole, with a tiny balcony table and a cozy nap nook and a likeable landlady. But, ugh, the price was the same as our current rent. Later I saw the apartment advertised online via an agent for a more reasonable price. The landlady contacted us again and for a glorious moment I thought she'd announce the rent drop and things would work out.... but turns out she just wanted an English teacher for her daughter.

D viewed another apartment last night, back in our original neighborhood of Holodna Gora. We had to rule it out because the place (shockingly!) had wall-to-wall carpeting in some light shade.... which I know would all-too-quickly turn to "grey cat" shade. Wow, wall-to-wall carpeting, I've never encountered that here before! Anyways, the good news is this: a realtor friend of a friend is on our team now, so the search widens. The second piece of good news is that it's pipe repair season and the city has turned off hot water until next month and I am seriously offering up daily prayers of thanks for our boiler! Just keep your fingers crossed for me that when we move in July we won't be moving to a boiler-less apartment in the next region scheduled for pipe repairs! :p


2 Russian lessons a week

Does beer improve the ability to speak a foreign language? Or does it merely- in the immortal words of Homer Simpson- "krill bain cells"?
One determined friend has worn down my resistance to learning. Yes, I hate being a student. It's waaaaay more fun to be a teacher! But this friend, Tanya, chipped away at my iceberg of resistance and it's been... almost 2 months now that we've been at it. Is my Russian getting better? I don't know, but it's nice to be working on it. For our last class I memorized Yesenin's short poem "Goodbye, my friend", the one they found scrawled in blood by his corpse. Tanya politely listened to my dramatic recital and then suggested that I memorize this nice poem about a doggie next.

Also, not sure if this is education or not, but I'm on week 4 of this 5-week workout challenge. I now want to make a million dollars just to fly in Jessica Smith as my personal trainer. She. is. amazing!


currently teaching around 13 English classes a week: usually 5 hours/week with groups, 8-10 hours/week with individual private students

"To the student soldiers, 1941-1945"
Most classes nowadays are with private students, all of whom are delightful, delightful people. It's really a great pleasure to get to choose who you work with and not a privilege to be taken lightly! That said, I am considering taking some time off in July and August (for reals this time). Every now and then I get this idea that I hate teaching, that it's a soul-sucking, repetitive, entry-level job in which I'm condemned to repeat first, second, and third conditionals for all eternity. It's not true, I don't hate teaching, but that feeling usually means it's time for a small break. Do I ever take a small break? Not really. Usually getting all worked up about things and quitting one commitment in a grandiose fashion is enough to ensure the safe passage of a few more months. I guess it's the thought that counts.

I've created syllabi for all of my private students and it's so rewarding to have total creative control over the lesson planning. Lesson planning is the dirty reality of teaching and if you're not careful, it can end up taking more time than the actual lesson does. Kind of makes sense when you think about it, as you have to learn something before you can teach it. Nowadays I'm sticking closely to a timer and when that bell goes off I try to stop the planning. Doesn't always happen, but it's a step toward reclaiming hours and hours of time before they get sucked into the infamous lesson-planning-time-distortion-anomaly. You teachers out there know exactly what I mean!

Anyways, it is summer and I hope to have more time for exploration soon. I'll leave you with a quick peek at what's out there these days.
Lenin statue towering above the farmers market in Freedom Square
More Freedom Square. What would Lenin say if he could see all that advertising?
Sovietskaya metro stop (and did you catch the Hangover III poster?)

1 comment:

  1. Минуты чтения уносят
    Туда, где жизнь бурлит рекой.
    Там где нет скуки и сомнений,
    И только в снах живёт покой...