Monday, July 7, 2014

Snapshots of Ukrainian Life, Part 20

After lots of phone calls and flight checking, it's official: we've got tickets. Two bittersweet weeks left before packing Kit into his new cat carry-on and getting on a plane. As another blogger put it- "When you move across the ocean, you leave in steps - and each one stings a little."

Now come the goodbyes. All the things that used to be mundane (grocery shopping, going to the park, refilling a metro card) are becoming a series of "the last ....".

For a while I was really bummed out, searching for something that could take Ukraine's place in my heart and finding nothing. Finally I understood that there doesn't need to be a replacement. Sometimes you just find a place that can't be replaced. I know that lots of you who read this blog feel the same way.

So now I'm trying to find things to look forward to, like seatbelts, Thai food, and smiles on the street. Now D gets to relax and it's my turn to call up relatives. This actually brought a huge surprise- thanks to the kindness of my aunt, we'll be able to spend a few days in New York City!! D has his heart set on visiting the Hayden Planetarium where his hero, Neil deGrasse Tyson, is Director. I don't know the city, but hopefully my aunt will be in town too and we'll get to hang out together.

Beyond New York, there will be a long-postponed Visiting of Family on the West Coast. After that, the calender is blank. It is kind of unnerving, but doesn't life always happen like that? Moments when you just can't see around the bend?

As for Ukraine, here are a few bits and pieces that have stood out recently-

"Crimea, Yalta! 7 nights, 150m from the central beach, 2 meals a day = 1470 uah"
[the equivalent of $125 USD].
This cat found the perfect nap spot at a local market.
My friend and I went to a small store to buy drinks during a picnic. "You again!", the cashier exclaimed upon seeing my friend for the second time that day. "I knew you'd be back for another bottle. Vodka is just like a matryoshka (Russian nesting doll)."

Speaking of cashiers and customer service:

"Think faster!" said an airline official to D during a long and detail-filled phone call about traveling with a pet.

At the pet store, buying a travel bag for Kit:
                Cashier: How long are you traveling for?
                D: About 10 hours.
                Cashier: Oh, that's a long time on the train.
                D: On a plane, actually.
                Cashier, sadly: Oh. Everyone's leaving Ukraine these days.

New Ukraine? These wet wipes were manufactured in Dnipropetrovsk.
Meanwhile, this toilet paper was made with SECRET TECHNOLOGY. Note the UFO.
"The most dangerous form of violence is poverty. - Mahatma Gandhi"
Ad for the Bezludivski meat factory.
Canned fruit in a friend's cellar.
A rally yesterday at Constitution Plaza.
"Handsome prince seeks beautiful princess."
Masha, the neighborhood's calico cat, stands guard.

Thanks for reading and, wherever you find yourself, I hope there's something to look forward to! : )


  1. Since February I've been secretly stalking your blog. I started to read it because Ukraine is (oddly enough) the root of many things that are special to me. Such as my neighbor being first generation born in the US. His family escaped Ukraine shortly after the end of world war two. Even my best friend, Katia, was adopted from the beautiful country and brought here in the early 2000’s. Several other things, like my German teacher, a few favored documentaries and artworks all were made in The Ukraine.
    As you can imagine, your blog has really widened my eyes. In my life, my dream is to travel the world and write about the different cultures I encounter. (It’s a weird dream, I know :P.) I am still in school so this dream is years away, and even then, I still need to come up with a scheme of some sort to execute this (I.e. I need money -.-). In a way, I see my dream in your blog. I’m an impatient person when it comes to the future (again, I’m stuck in school) so this had made waiting a little more bearable.
    Now that your departure date is final, I had to say something to you. Your writing is phenomenal and I think you should really continue blogging. I've tried to get into other blogs (about living abroad) but nothing made me as happy as yours. I just wanted to say thank you and wish you luck on your adventure home and forward from there.
    - Alice ☺♥

    1. Thank you for your beautiful message, Alice : ) I think your dream is wonderful and I remember feeling the exact same way in school. It seemed like the end would never come, that distant shores were calling and I was stuck in a classroom.... high school, college... and then finally I couldn't hear anything except the calling of the world and left college to roam. It took almost a decade to balance travel, work, and getting a degree but the traveling has been inspiring and absolutely unregrettable.

      It's really nice to hear from someone with the same passion. Keep your dream alive, for the world always needs new travelers and new eyes to interpret old things! I hope your future will be filled with trips to unusual places and encounters with extraordinary people. Are you studying any foreign languages to prepare? Will you keep a blog? : )

    2. That is exactly how I feel! Time is my enemy it seems sometimes, yet I know if I keep studying and focus on doing well in school, travel will be inevitable.
      Recently, I've just dropped French and taken up German lessons. I studied so hard for French and yet, for some reason, I just could not pick it up. I was never truly interested in the culture so I have a feeling that was the reason why I just never was good at speaking it. With German, I find it much more interesting and I don't even have to study as hard to get a better grade in the class! I find German culture is so much more interesting to me and I plan to take another language in the future if I can master German ;) Have you ever felt that way about a language?
      I’ve been wanting to keep a blog for a very long time. It’s just that I can’t bring myself to write about the mundane. Once I get out on my own and travel, I think I will be regularly keeping a blog. It seems so cool to reread what you wrote about your travels and look back. I want to remember my travels and I think blogging would not only satisfy that need but possibly inspire others to travel one day too.
      - Alice

    3. You should definitely check out this post, Alice- The woman who wrote it will soon be moving to Germany and I bet she'll have a lot of funny things to say about the language and culture :P And the Lady of the Cakes is also shares a lot of German-language related stuff, maybe you've already discovered her blog?

      Yep, had that same thing happen with language-learning. An interest in the culture translates into a huge drive for learning the language. Without it, eh, my studies have crashed and burned. Even now, some of my neighbors are Vietnamese and solely because of that, I've been learning a few words and started following some Vietnam blogs. Before meeting them, that language didn't even register on my map. Sadly, my interest will probably return to that state once we move.

      If you decide to start a blog, be it of travel or mundanity or language stuff, please drop me a line! I love reading new blogs : )

  2. I'm very sad to see your Ukraine blogging coming to an end, but I can't wait to read about your new adventures!

    1. Thanks, Chelsea! I'm impressed with how you've continued to blog since leaving Ukraine. Sounds like Germany has been a lot of fun for you!

  3. Wow, only two weeks?! The countdown really is on.

    The details you've collected here seem painfully poignant, like the conversation from the pet store. I've loved your blog for the everyday details you manage to elevate and highlight--I hope you keep on writing/documenting/blogging wherever this journey takes you.

    1. It sure is, talk about motivation! :p

      Writing/documenting/blogging is a MASSIVE priority for me. It's the filter through which I see the world and so I'm brainstorming ways to continue. Thank you for all the nice comments you've left here, Cassandra. You're definitely one of the big Spain bloggers and it's really cool to see your interest in a place as far away as Ukraine!

  4. I'm definitely sad to see you leave Ukraine - it's hard and something that weighs on me more and more each time I think of life in Russia. I wish you the best in only looking forward to what's in front of you. Best of luck!

    1. Spasibo bolshoe, Polly. I'm looking forward to living vicariously through your summer adventures abroad!!

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  6. so sad you are leaving : ( :) Ryan Wagner

    1. hope your future with you and D are happy and healthy :) Ryan Wagner

    2. Thanks, Ryan :) The same to you, health and happiness!

  7. There are not many bloggers able to say, in later years, "I was there, in Ukraine, when the corrupt President fled the country", and you continued to report on the normal every-day life, unlike the sensationalists.

    You have done an outstanding public service for Ukraine and restored my faith in the credibility of Yanks! ;-)

    1. Haha, most of us Yanks aren't really that bad (I hope!) :p

      It's fortunate that Kharkiv has so far maintained "normal every-day life" for most of its residents. Wish the same could be said for other cities in this area : (