Highs and Lows

Was supposed to go to Tbilisi this weekend for a Rave, and then visit a supposedly awesome monastery near there with a friend. But there was a payment glitch (the main bank caught fire) that delayed our direct payment. So I couldn’t go. I was more bummed than I realized about that.

Plan B was to go meet some friends in Batumi for the long weekend, but I caught a stomach virus. So I couldn’t go. That only put me in a further funk, which makes me very introspective.

Staying here this weekend, gave me A LOT of time to think about my decision to come here and my long-term goals. I am still 100 percent vested and know that I am doing what I should be doing, although I still can’t fully see the endgame. And I’m Ok with that.

People ask me what I miss most about the States. And it’s not anything material. It’s my friends and people. Unfortunately, some of them have mistaken my joy at speaking to them as a lack of longing to BE with them back home, implying that NOT speaking is how best to remedy that situation, short of my returning.  And that perhaps I’m emotionally calloused.

I need my friends and people. They are my stability while I’m in a place where I have yet to find my bearings. I know if I am connected to them, I can bear and do anything.

I think I’m starting to ramble now, but what I’m trying to get at is…

I love hearing from you guys. Update me consistently and often on your lives and what’s going on via email or whatever. No piece of information is too small.

Hearing from you put’s me in the best mood. And fuel to get through the lows.

 

 

“…there I just said it
I’m scared you’ll forget about me.”

Edge of Desire, John Mayer

Tis The Season

For lunch today, we sat at the dining room table because grandma was canning some kind of fruit or vegetable and was using the kitchen table.  Everyone sat at the table this time, except for the kids, which was different. Levon, the host dad, immediately moved seats so he could watch the rest of Transformers on television. (He is so funny. He has the soul of a kid, which is great for me.) And Hagar, his wife sat next to him. She usually has a tired worn out look about her. Which is understandable, she has had a sick kid for almost as long as I’ve been here, and work, night classes AND is very active politically. She is of Russian descent, which might be stereotypical of me to say, but she can get VERY loud and aggressive. I wouldn’t want to cross her. She was in a particularly good mood at lunch however, and was telling everyone the latest in the world of elections. Elections are tomorrow.  At one point, she had everyone crying with laughter and she asked Levon to translate to me. He tells me, “Hagar says tomorrow is Election Day… and it’s going to be a hot mess (she didn’t really say, ‘hot mess’, but that’s what I got out of the translation).”  So they want me to witness this debacle first hand. Which I’m sure all will be fine.

Hagar is VERY involved in the political scene. I don’t know if she has political aspirations, but she is definitely a community activist. She is fielding cell phone calls, home phone calls, people walking in and driving up to coordinate with her. Today seemed like Grand Central station around here. And what’s funny is the rest of the family goes on with their normal routine. Grandma is canning and drying vegetables and fruit. Grandpa was prepping the wine-making vessel. The kids and Levon were answering phones and taking messages for Hagar in between watching Transformers II.

Tonight there not only was a movie on television about how the election process will work tomorrow, but EVERY commercial was a campaign advertisement. There are parades and rallies all over the country. Just last week there was a physical altercation between the two leading campaign’s supporters. This is a serious election with serious ramifications. Some people are even throwing the ‘revolution’ word around.

And if you know me, I LOVE elections!

In watching the movie, I got more of a high school student council (which was my pride and joy for the last decade) feel in the way things were set up and organized. Like one guy checking Identification another in charge of ballot dispensation and spraying the thumb to prohibit multiple votes. The booth, an envelope to put it in, and then the secure glass box to shove it in. But I’ll be sure to go to the polls tomorrow for a first hand look.

 

 

“She works hard for the money
So hard for it, honey
She works hard for the money
So you better treat her right

Already knows, she’s seen her bad times
Already knows, these are the good times
She’ll never sell out, she never will
Not for a dollar bill
She works haaaaard”

She Works Hard For The Money, Donna Summer

Back To The Future

I have take a lot of things in life for granted even though a lot of inventions and discoveries came about as recently as during my lifetime. I remember the night my family walked over to my uncle’s house to observe his new toy. It not only could record the television programs, it could also play prerecorded movies and old shows. The first movie I saw on that VCR was a Bruce Lee film, ‘Enter the Dragon’. I remember the earliest cell phones. And I remember our first bulky microwave oven. What I don’t remember very well is life before those things.

With  no cell phone, maybe it was similar to my time in Armenia. When we visited that country, none of our cellphones worked because we were out of the service area. So we had to pre-arrange meeting destinations and back up meeting destinations to make sure we didn’t run in circles around each other. Although I’m sure there was some missed rendezvous, we did fairly well.

I can’t remember life before the microwave oven. But I’m getting a flashback by living here. As said before, my grandma does well by me in the food department. I know there are practices that are taking place in that kitchen that would probably make me gag and not eat ever again if I were to see… so I don’t look. The grandma seems to have a keen thumb on the pulse of what’s appealing to me. For example, there is a delicious dish she makes that resembles a hamburger patty. They make enough if any dish to serve it for multiple days. She always serves it to me warm, which means reheating it. But if the mother or father puts the same dish out, it’s always cold, but thankfully it’s been refrigerated. Can’t say that’s true for the pizza. (Refrigerators. I can’t begin to wrap my mind around the beauty of THAT invention). I don’t even need to tell you that burgers are much better warm than cold.

Which takes me back to the microwave. What a great invention. It can cook popcorn, reheat food… well, you know. It’s simply wonderful. But not to have one is just plain inconvenient.

So people who don’t have a microwave as a major appliance in their homes are basically magicians to me.

Youth

Lado is a young person bursting with ideas. He has an idea to start a company with his cousin selling guns and ammunition. He has an idea to open a café in Tbilisi. He has the floor plan and everything. Then, upgrade to a bar, then a restaurant and ending with a hotel.

One day he jumps up and beckons me to follow him. We go off into the bowels of his grandfather’s garage. He pulls out a metal bar and tells me of his plan to make a pull up bar. After a couple of hours of sanding down the bar and trying to find a place to hang it, we were temporarily defeated by the need to erect a pole with cement. Okay.

His next idea was to make a punching bag for boxing. He woke me up out of a great nap to hear out his plan. He already had a preliminary core to the apparatus. He had a mattress wrapped around a log. He needed me to think of how to hang it and weigh it down. So we brain stormed for a bit, and came up with two alternatives. All the while, grandma and his siblings looked on with serious skepticism. I left him to it.

Lado preparing the Punching Bag

A couple of days later, lo and behold, he made it! It’s very “homemade”, but never say never when youth, time and a will to do something intersect.

This kid is going to do big things.

We also got the pull up bar functioning.

Pull up bar (Punching Bag in the background)

P.S. One day at breakfast he asks me, “So you want to be a business man, right.” When I responded that I didn’t. That I want to be an educator, He replied, “…why? Do you not like money?” I said, “It isn’t important to me.”  Lado then, shook his head in disbelief. And after a thoughtful pause said, “It’s fine, you will know me. And you will be okay.”

God Bless America!

I must preface this post with the fact that I am… for lack of a better word, lit.

This house and inhabitants, although well intentioned and I love them to pieces, are germ infested. Counter to a common belief that we as a species figured out that spit from sneezing carries germs, my host family consistently does not cover their mouths. And that’s just an example of the unsanitary health practices that are employed here. So it is of no surprise that I not only had the sniffles at school today, I have since increasingly shown signs of a cold (hopefully that’s all it is).

The first sign that alerted my host grandma that something was askew, was I did not come down to eat my first second lunch. I didn’t think this would rat me out, but, I’m obviously still learning Georgian culture and customs. When I did finally come down from my room, grandma was all over me with concern. But since she doesn’t speak English, it was easy to deflect her. And a cold isn’t really THAT serious.

Fast forward to tonight….

Not eating second lunch, I was fairly hungry by dinner. As I mentioned before, my host grandma can cook her ass off. The main dish was a meat and rice stuffed green pepper. Yum! She told the host dad (who had just got home from work) that I didn’t eat second lunch. He was truly concerned. I told him I just have the sniffles and he understood.  Then as a second thought, he got up and went to the cabinet…

As I mentioned before, my family aren’t heavy drinkers. When we host supras, the only alcohol we serve is wine. They have yet to pull out the cha-cha, homemade wine. Making me believe that they family was ‘above’ such primitive brews.

I have heard that shots of cha-cha is also served when a person is sick. But I have observed my family to pull out respirators, pills and syringes. I don’t know if they use them correctly, but you gotta give points for heading in the right direction.

The host dad goes to the cabinet and pulls out what I thought was a mineral water bottle. But when he blew into the two shot glasses, I knew what was coming and pulled up my big boy pants. He poured two drinks and explained that this will help clear up what ailed me. “Sinuses? GONE!”

Now the funny thing about this developing action is the reaction of the rest of the family. Starting with Nika, 12 year old brother. His eyes went wide and temporarily speechless. Nika is an aspiringto  drinker and LOVES  take part in any and all toasts. More than anything he was curious of my reaction to the vodka of his homeland and secretly wanted a shot of his own.

Nino, 4 year old sister, although young, knew EXACTLY what was going down and made silent gestures of protest, as to say, “Oh Jesus, What is getting ready to happen. Somebody warn the nice foreign man and stop this from happening!”

The grandfather, who was also seated at the table, and mind you usually doesn’t acknowledge my presence except to yell at me, made silent gestures as to say, “Hell yeah, shit’s about to get real!”

And lastly, the grandma, my guardian angel of the house. She reprimanded her son openly and loudly protecting me from the liquid hell that was about to be unleashed upon me. But to no avail.  I was a willingly participant in my own demise. But before I drank, we made eye contact, so as to tell her, I was fully aware of what I was doing.

To Georgia and America! Bottoms up!

For lack of more poetic words… it burned… all the way down.

After the third shot, Grandma was very concerned, because as told by the host dad, she made it herself and knows how potent it is.

After the fourth shot, Nino couldn’t take it anymore. She took matters into her own hands and took the bottle and put it back into the cabinet.

May God bless this family that has taken me in. May God bless my friends and family back in the States. May God Bless the beautiful country of Georgia, and may God bless the United States of America!!

“Shots shots shots shots shots shots
Shots shots shots shots shots
Shots shots shots shots shots”

Shots, LMFAO

1st Grade…Revisted

Today I only had one class… the 1st grade. I kind of dreaded going in there, but it was the only class of the day and I can do anything for 45 minutes. Well, today was a totally different experience than the last time. The one kid who cried the whole time the last time — didn’t. He just looked at me funny the whole time. Like I was shady and he didn’t quite trust me. And nobody else cried or abruptly left class to find their mommies. They were all attentive and interested in the lesson!

Win!

 

Grandma sheepishly asked (through a Lado translation) if I liked her cooking. My heart couldn’t contain the cuteness and humility she was throwing my way. What’s Georgian for, “Hell Yeah!!!!”