Archive | January, 2010

“everybody comes around ’cause you don’t really need much”

14 Jan

Things I love about my new home #1;

Perfect place to read in the summer, complete with reading materials in both Ukrainian and English, an antique atmosphere that I’m very drawn to, and a calming view of the street outside my house.  Though I can only stand about thirty minutes out on the porch currently, the blinding light from the snow and old book smell keep drawing me out, where I stand in the doorway, lean on the frame, and soak in the sun and the smell.

Music: “Wait Till You See My Smile” -Alicia Keys


“I think I miss my metro, or maybe I just miss you”

11 Jan

“He said, ‘Take it all at once, it will be better for your health,’” Yulia translated, matter-of-factly.  I looked dubiously at the squat Russian man sitting across from me, read his Simpson’s “Never Too Old To Rock” shirt for what was perhaps the fortieth time, looked around circumspectly to make sure this wasn’t one big practical joke and obediently drained my plastic cup…of самагон.

For those of you unfamiliar with this term, allow me to laconically translate – moonshine.

My throat burns not unpleasantly after standing so long in the snowstorm overwhelming Kyiv.  I have no doubt the drink is in fact чисто (pure, or natural), as our semi-host claims, the strongest alcohol I have tasted in my life, and a great source of pride for this man.

Less than twelve hours before this I had sworn-in as an offical Peace Corps Volunteer.  Roughly seven hours before my dorm room was wrecked as I tried, determined and increasingly frustrated, to make my packing efforts more compact and effective while Kari and I rapped along with Atmosphere and retro LL Cool J.  We got a call saying four groups of volunteers had missed their trains due to the slick roads and a standstill caused by an accident five hours before, and I missed when they shoved Kari’s group out the door into the bus for the train station four hours and fifteen minutes before.  Forthy minutes before this at the train station Matt and Jillian had stayed behind while (another) Matt and I met up with a Peace Corps rep to get our heaters, fire extinguishers, and smoke detectors – when we got back to the waiting area, they had already left for their train.

Rumbling toward the west, Matt and I sat with our newly acquired Russian friend, Volodya, and his wife as well as our Ukrainian work counterparts.  Simultaneously thinking of the next two years and checking how much Russian I can understand against the trainslations my counterparts give me became harder as our new friend made us participate in toast after toast – to new friends, his and our health, to women.  Though I was served less than a finger each time, our host’s generosity with his drinks increased as our conversation progressed.  Clearly worried about the poor overwhelmed American girl, Matt’s counterpart gave me an encouraging nod when our friend’s wife handed me an apple.  One of my counterparts hands me a banana as I set down my apple rind, and while our compartment mates make small finger sandwiches to offer, she slips my cup out of my hand and in a granceful motion denoting experience, throws the liquid into the hall outside our coupe.

«Don’t worry, they’re clean, I washed them» Volodya tells me as I take slices of apple from his hand.  My laugh becomes painful when, after a pause he adds, «Yesterday.»

Music: “The Metro Song” -The Wombats