Monday, October 27, 2014

Mystery city

I took a trip!

And then when I got back and looked through the pictures, I realized how much certain buildings and views resembled those of Kharkiv.

View from our apartment in Kharkiv:

View from the mystery city hotel room:

What do you think- does it look like Ukraine at all? And can you guess what city this is?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Army guns + Voting booths

These photos shocked me.

This is not the festive Freedom Square of New Years Eve. This is no longer the place where it's possible to see someone casually walking their bear on a leash. Gone are the days of Verka Serduchka and Boney M singing to a tipsy and cheering audience of thousands.

Instead, this is the new reality. This is life during war.

These photos showed up in my inbox a few days ago, along with a short message from the same friend who contributed to the previous post. His text follows in different font.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Lenin's final hours

If you live in Kharkiv or follow the news, then you know that Freedom Square's Lenin has been gone for about 3 weeks. 

These photographs were taken by a good friend of mine, a Ukrainian man who's become my eyes and ears in Kharkiv. He was downtown on Sunday, September 28th, just a few hours before the 50-year-old statue was pulled down in front of the crowds.

Massive Sumskaya street pro-Ukraine rally. More photos here.

He writes: While I was in the square, someone was shouting on the megaphone: "Don't leave! We will topple Lenin!", "Now we'll find a crane!", "Is anyone familiar with cranes?" I didn't take this seriously. I've heard these phrases many times before, going all the way back to rallies in the early 90s. Each time it proved to be just talk.

Lenin has about 4 hours left in these pictures.

This time the procession was massive and in a peaceful mood (except for the people wishing unpleasant fates upon Putin). When we arrived at the square it seemed like the rally had ended. I assumed the talk about bringing down the statue was simply to delay people from leaving. As it turned out, I was wrong.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The "Ever After"

You probably guessed this already- we're living, working, renting, and getting by in Portland, Oregon.

This is a city that both of us are familiar with. It was where D landed waaaay back in the day, his very first American city. He's got great memories of the place- hiking in the forest, taking English classes at the community college, getting his own aquarium, learning to drive, visiting the coast, ordering 50 hamburgers at a time from the McDonalds drive thru-  and is already planning to call up some of the old Russian-speaking crowd. It's also a city I spent a huge portion of my life in and then left for almost 15 years.

You could say our roles are reversed: in 2011 I dragged D (back) to Ukraine. "Pleeeease! It won't be so bad! And you speak the language and everything, you fit right in!" Now it's 2014 and funnily enough, those same arguments are being used again... only in the opposite direction.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Summer 2014

This summer saw us through a long list of cities. Most of the stories were shared earlier on the blog (June, July, August), but here are a few photos that slipped through the cracks. Can you guess where they were taken?  

Hint: there are 8 locations.

Friday, October 10, 2014

New stomping grounds

Good news- we got an apartment!!

It took a lot of Craigslist browsing, phone calls, and sitting around in leasing offices, but the paperwork is finally all done and the place is ours!

We went on a lot of viewings. There was the fancy apartment with all hardwood floors and a haunted house next door. The tiny apartment with no closets behind the train station. The two-story townhouse forty minutes away on the other side of the river. The cheap apartment in the suburbs we saw on a rainy afternoon. The studio with a breathtaking city vista and a price to match. The place with a 15-month wait list. And a few more. It's all starting to blur together already but I do remember how we ended up here; after being stood up by the leasing agent, I called the office and the girl on the other end of the phone sweet talked me into coming out to another property the following morning. "Oh, you'll love this place for sure! It'll be just what you're looking for!" Oddly enough, she was right.

Goodwill, my lifelong provider of colorful plates.
This being our 4th autumn in a new apartment, we're getting pretty used to the make-a-list-and-then-see-how-many-of-those-things-can-be-found-in-one-place process.

Balcony? Check.

Pet friendly? Check.

Bathtub and washing machine? Check. Even a dishwasher! That I didn't remember how to use after all this time.

Walking distance to public transportation? Check.

Interesting view? Check.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Keep your chin up... literally ; )

A pleasant thing in this city- the towers of glass, concrete, and brick that draw everyone's attention skyward. Looking up to blue skies and sunshine, not seeing autumn's brittle fall leaves layering the sidewalks, it feels like summer all over again. Like today, for example: 76F as we enter the second week of October.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

2 months, 1 week, 2 days

Instead of expanding, over the past 3 years our lives shrank. While some people took advantage of nearby Turkey, Egypt, Dubai, and Poland, we kept our trips closer to home: Simferopol to see relatives, or Yevpatoria to walk along the concrete steps that front the sea. Earlier this year we met a French man determined to share Ukraine's national parks with the world (his blog) who invited D and I along for the ride, but by then, the threat of soldiers and checkpoints confined us to Kharkiv.