I really have nothing interesting to add today, but true to my promise, I will blog every day till I leave, aka, stop getting email notifications if you do. Zoia got in yesterday, and proceeded to sleep for 7 hours, I had forgotten about jet lag, so we didn’t get to plant flowers at her Dacha. When I finally went over to her house, her daughter was sick with a couch, it was amazing to see the feisty eyes unable to get her body to behave, she was slumping over, coughing and sleeping, very cute. She was better this morning and I walked her to school on my shoulders, a bright start to the day. Then I got to class, and my students had for the most part not done their homework, to write about their dreams. So much for that topic, fine, so i tried a game designed for 6 year old, “Don’t Say it” That was a fail too, not a single student understood the rules. So we digressed into playing hangman. Reeeeaaaly making strides as a teacher here. They all said they wanted to be translators, but none of them speak English, nor do they want to put in the hard work at home, nor really in the classroom. Its like they haven’t grown up from being children, I wonder when reality will hit them, unfortunately, probably when it is too late. Looking forward this evening to going out in the park with Z and Camilla, her daughter. Its supposed to be 76 degrees today, shorts and flip flops! if I didn’t have to stay in to learn Russian. Hope I don’t get in a fight with my totor today. We usually quarrel about her methods and my laziness, but Friday, she all but walked out, saying on her way out the door, see you on Monday. Wow, Russians are intense. 95 days.
I picked Zoia up from the Airport. It was nice to see, that even in an often dreary place, if you want to see smile, watch people being reunited at the arrivals area of an airport. Getting to hear her laugh, see her smile and feel her inner warmth warm my recent coldness, which is only a result of two people who feel connected and close together back together in the comfort of each others presence, has for at least a day made me feel like I will for once write something truly positive, and not just bullshit positive, That combined with talking with LS last night, and having her remind me that there is hope, even if I return hope jobless, to eventually find something fulfilling, and Liz reminding me that its not the job title I should be so concerned with but more the work of which there are many types and I should focus more on that rather than the title, I am more confident, anything is better than where i was before and will probably return to tomorrow, that even if I do temporarily return to the service industry, it will not stay that way and I hope to have something lined up eventually and shouldn’t focus on the fear of toiling in obscurity in a non-self fulfilling position for perpetuity. That combined with the weather in the 70′s, birds are chirping, sun is out, flowers are appearing, ice has melted, no “teaching” (its Sunday), mountains are not obscured by smog from my apartment window, why not just let myself be happy for a day even if in 96 days I will be jobless and no closer to Russian fluency… Today is one for the good column, I have my best friend and brightest light in KGZ back and I’m gonna let the shitty shit slide, worry bout that shit again tomorrow.
I know its gonna get annoying, 97 more posts to go. Yesterday (when I should have posted) was dull, though I did find a “good” sushi place, seemed pretty legit, and they scream hello to you in Japanese when you walk in, quite entertaining, and decent food after walking across Bishkek twice in order to find it so my friend could have a vegetarian meal cause its Friday during lent, he found the place on google with high reviews. We first went to the wrong side of the city looking for it, after visiting a Peace Corps complex, what they call an office, seems like over bureaucratic if you ask me, opposite of Fulbright. After finally calling and getting directions, we found it, hidden among the common sheet metal roof houses, more like huts, and it was not bad. Ran into a former PCA there, seems like a magnet for those who are looking for a form of good food here, KGZ isn’t know for its culinary uniqueness, despite having been on the “ancient silk road” spices in food are hard to come by. Anyone who says come here for the delicious food is lying. The PCV suggested I help officiate a future football game. Got in such a big argument with my Russian tutor today, I’m tired of her getting angry with my lack of progress, telling me I don’t try, when I have never once cancelled a single two hour daily session with her. Possibly learning introductory Russian from someone who cannot explain the rukles or translate in English was a bad idea. I cling to the idea that I will never find a good teacher, its up to me, cause that at least gives me hope that Im not a lost cause at least, I just need to try harder. I bed for alternate methods other than memorization, but she just insists to memorize all rules, words, and then expects me to be able to use them, including getting mad at me when I have forgotten ones from months before. I’m at my wits end with Russian, starting to rethink my ability to learn foreign languages, and as unfortunate at it may be, may need to give up all hope of pursuing the career type I would like. I’m tempted to fade into a normal 9-5, just show up, go home and fuck off to whatever new HBO show is on or cheap bar with a 1 and 1 special. Sick of failing and being called names I feel I am not, lazy, unmotivated, undisciplined, rude, nervous, least in the restaurant industry and the military, I had opportunities to show how dedicated, reliable and hard working I am. I’m considering just asking Matchbox if I can have a managerial position with them, for least a semblance of pride. I’m not sure if its the isolation, self pressure, or an actual lack of talent or ability, but I feel like I am not succeeding at anything here or previously in my past employment, career wise or otherwise. I also am feeling more and more every day that I wasted my opportunity to get serious about academia. In need of some validation, or just to get to go home already, the good days are getting fewer and further in between, even on beautiful days like today was, I would prefer to sit on my couch and watch BS on my computer. Hope this lackadaisical-ness knocks off when I get home, but I fear it wont. Inaction breeds more inaction, the less important I feel, the less I do, and downward I spiral.
I want to make this a real blog, not the usual bland, i am so amazing look at me type, but need to find a balance between ranting angrily and depressing everyone, versus the insinsere positivity most people oblige their readers of in oredr to garner more attention or whatever, I don’t have that in me right now. On a side note, found an amazing book about KGZ, read it in two days it was so clear and concise about questions I have asked myself about this place for a while, should be required reading for anyone who thinks they are qualified to talk about this region of the country, Restless Valley by Philip Shishkin. As much as any other reason, this quote pretty much sums up my frustration with my time here:
“I thought of Kyrgyzsatn as a bizarre case of direct democracy taken to its most absurd extreme in a society where institutions and laws are weak or nonexistent, where clans are strong, and where poverty makes people edgy, easily manipulated, and ready to attempt risky things.”
This is, among many other wonderful one liners that succinctly sum up this place, found in this book, along with an incredible understanding of behind the scenes events and culture, and no fear or bias in telling things the way they really happen here. I finally found answers to some glaring questions, especially surrounding their politics, xenophobic culture and crumbling public and private systems. I was sick of hearing US policy about what this place was, juxtaposed with the government and “local media” bias, or getting stories form off the reservation ex-pats or brainwashed locals. Such a relief to know I wasn’t the only one who didn’t buy those lines of thought, and an amazing and interesting read for anyone interested in the developing world, post cold war battles, corruption or regional central Asian studies.
Springtime again has peeked its head from behind the cold mountains, hopefully this time to stay. The temperatures are great, the roads and sidewalks are no longer covered in ice and the muddy cold puddles are evaporating. This leaves behind a city which seems worthy of maintenance, apparently. People now sweep their stoops and sidewalks, rake the leaves and clear away the trash a debris that accumulated during the winter. As this town is coming to life, I have renewed hope that these last 98 days will not be as much of a struggle as I feared. I need to stop taking the despicable level of education occurring at my school, and the students apathy towards their plight, personally. I hope to enjoy my final days here. Hows that for a positive post. Looking forward to my last weekend sans Zoia and then she gets back Sunday, when we will plant flowers at her Dacha, like a summer village with a garden. This hasn’t been the harshest of cold Kyrgyz winters, but the effect has still been rough and Im looking forward to chirping birds, happy people and warm breezes even if my “work” continues to be a free for all jumblefuck with no real purpose.
No news is good news, I guess. It hit me, I have been here for 200 days, whats another 100. Life is as usual, tried to teach my talking club about plagiarism and test strategies, went kinda right over their heads. Tried to teach my “University” class about editing a paper, or even editing one sentence, of the 5, 2 did jigsaw puzzles and ignored me, one got cross and stopped responding to me, one who speaks decent English had no idea how to write or edit and the other “left her hw at home”, a common affliction here, as my other class where I collected written stories, I had about a 50% rate of “left at homes”, 20 %, no reason for not doing it, 20% who wrote a two sentence paragraph, thanks for the big effort, and maybe one student who I am hopeful for her work. Ugh, the joy the joy. So frustrating I am supposed to like my situation here. Visited the embassy to get money today, got the obligatory hellos from a couple of the staff, but even they seem like they would prefer to be in another country. If I was just doing something meaningful I think I might enjoy my time more, but alas. My friend who I have had for a month, a friend of a crazy friend back home named Vlad, is leaving today. Gonna have dinner with him, after self made trivia night, at the one place in town I actually kinda enjoy, sometimes. Positivism report, out till tomorrow. I will try and think of some more positive things to say then.
In honor of this, I want to reaffirm my desire to write a blog post every day until I leave, which I failed at miserably before but now have a chance to revive. For today’s blog, I really don’t have much to write, except check out my awesome pictures and the captions which go along with them on Facebook about the Nooruz holiday, Kyrgyzstan’s most important. I still haven’t figured out how to use this damn site. In summary of my time not blogging, most of it has been spent just trying to get through this “elite fellowship” and not to explode when I ask for advise about what to do next. If one more person says, well, what do you want to do, I will freak out, that is like telling a person who lost something, where did you see it last. If I knew, would I be asking you if you know about opportunities or advise. Looks like I’m doing all this so I can return to the restaurant industry, so much for changing my life. I will try not to fill my final 100 days of blogs with negative shit. I passed the FSOT and submitted my personal narrative questions, now I wait till May to find out if I passed this step and move on to the hardest portion, the live interview. My girlfriend has been in France for the past week and will be there one more. When she gets back we go on a really exciting trip to the restless and “dangerous” south of KGZ. I was hoping her being gone would be a chance to explore, see what life would be without her, and how much more productive I would become. It turns out to be that much more dull. Who would have though a overly jealous and unstable woman with a 5 year old daughter who uses me as a jungle gym and screaming post, well, that applies to both of them, would be missed, but alas, they are. Grass is always greener, you don’t know what you are missing till its gone, and all the other cheesy catch all phrases. 99 posts till home.
Sometimes I seriously feel like I am in a Mel Brooks play. I have to sit back, relax, and just laugh sometimes. The weather is getting nicer, and I am remembering how beautiful this country is in non Arctic temperatures. The birds sing, the ice melts and evaporates, and it isn’t overbearingly hot. I also think I have a much better mind set and approach to teaching this semester. More patience, understanding, happiness, freedom and acceptance. Less frustration, confusion, anger, rigidity and demands. Short blog today, just happy to be.