Take The Good With The Bad

I became aware of something that I didn’t notice last year.  My school has three levels- stories. (THAT i was aware of.) The youngest kids are on the first floor and the oldest are on the third floor.

The kids stay with their same teacher until they change floors. So you would have the same teacher from 1st to 4th grade, another teacher from 5th to 8th then yet another from 9th to 12th. My host mom, Natia just flipped back to the 1st graders this year.

I don’t know how I feel about this system. As a teacher, I don’t think I would like it, because you could potentially be ‘stuck’ with an annoying kid for years. But as a kid, I think it would be comforting to have the same kids and teacher around. Maybe I envision a pseudo family type situation. But what if the dynamic of those classmates drive you crazy? They would drive you crazy for years.

P.S. The other day, a class I taught last year (now 5th graders) was headed out the door of the school together to go celebrate something or another. They undoubtedly were going to a restaurant were their would be traditional toasts and a high chance of wine. THAT never happened in the States!

***

Started from the bottom now we’re here
Started from the bottom now my whole team  here
Started from the bottom now we’re here
Started from the bottom now the whole team here,
Started from the bottom now we’re here
Started from the bottom now my whole team here,
Started from the bottom now we’re here
Started from the bottom now the whole team  here

Started From The Bottom, Drake

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Say Cheese

So I’m mildly lactose intolerant. Not enough to where I can’t eat dairy products at all, but enough to where I can’t gorge on them or have large quantities over a short time.  I actually at times forget about it. That’s how infrequent the effects occur.

My current host family has their own cows. Not many; just three. But my host mom makes her own diary products. She makes her own cheese, yogurt and a cheese spread stuff that’s delicious. She said she used to make butter, but it was too…. something. I don’t know if she said hard or time consuming.

A national favorite and cultural staple is Katchapuri. It’s sort of like cheesy bread but heavy on the cheese. She made one for dinner the other day and it was delicious. And we had leftovers the following morning, too.  Well, by the time school was over, my stomach started to feel as if it were tied in knots and it proceeded to get worse as the day went on.

Explaining that you are sick to a Georgian family that can’t REALLY understand English is a stressful conversation to have. They know something is wrong with you and they are extremely concerned no matter what or how bad.  They try to troubleshoot and get you to do things you know for a fact will make it worse.  And compounded with that, they don’t seem to understand the concept of ‘loss of appetite’.  “What do you mean you aren’t going to eat AT ALL?” “Maybe you don’t understand, I said do you want to eat… food.”

Eventually I got to the point where all I could do was lay in bed and not move. In the wee hours of the morning, it hit me. THE CHEESE!!!!!  In preparation for my trip to Georgia, I packed pills of all kinds. And one of them was a lactose pill. But the instructions read to only take immediately BEFORE FIRST BITE of dairy.  …okay.

The next morning fortunately I felt better. I went downstairs to eagerly show my host family that I could eat their food again. And what was on the table that they especially prepared for me? A grilled cheese sandwich.

***

Lactose Intolerant Statistics
Total percentage of people who are lactose intolerant 33%
Total percentage of adults that have a decrease in lactase activity 75%
Total percentage of people who maintain ability to digest lactose after childhood 40%
Total number of Americans who are lactose intolerant 40 million
Total percent of all African-American, Jewish, Mexican-American, and Native American Adults who are lactose intolerant 75%
Total percent of Asian-Americans that are lactose intolerant 90%
Average amount of time it takes for side effects of lactose intolerance to occur after intake 30 min

The Difference A Year Makes

1st graders are the cutest things ever. I don’t know their age comparison to our kindergarteners or 1st graders in the States. (They must be comparable because they graduate at the same ages.) But although they share they cuteness and tininess, they still have their own personalities and dispositions with dealing with the world. Some are bold as a giant, outspoken and unabashed. Others are dumbstruck by the overwhelming sights and sounds of this foreign new environment. And still others are so intimidated, they cry at the drop of a hat.

As I mentioned in another post, the students stay together pretty much throughout their entire education. So the students I had last year in 1st grade are now together again in the 2nd grade.

Last year, there was this one little boy in the 1st grade that immediately captured my attention. His sister was in the same class, but she looked older than he did. I think that his mom wanted him to stay with his sister, so he started school a year early. This kid for the entire first part of the school year cried if he was even looked at, much less spoken to. The second part of the school year he was a little more comfortable but mischievous. He would play around his desk, but when disciplined he would shrink in a corner and decidedly not want to be touched.

But by the end of the school year, he would smile at me in the halls and yell my name in chorus with the other children.

It’s amazing what a year does. This year, Luka is a whole other kid. He sits in the front now. He is the first in his class to see me when I am coming and runs to me to shake my hand and say hello. He not only writes all of his English vocabulary in his notebook, he is the first to do so. And best of all, he answers my questions, asks for me when he needs help and reads out loud!

Luka in action

Luka in action

It’s amazing the difference a year makes.

***

“I just can’t wait til my 10 year reunion
I’m gonna bust down the double doors
And when I stand on these tables before you
You will know what all this time was for”

No Such Thing, John Mayer

Placebo

Mosquitoes get really bad here in the summer. As there is no central air or air condition units, we keep all windows and doors open all day long. Therefore there is no way to hide from them.  So they buzz in my ears while watching television and trying to take a nap. They bite me all day long.

In the last house, I suggested that I go to the store and by some bug spray to ward off the bloodsuckers. But they instead gave me a little gadget that plugged into the wall. They said that it would ward off the mosquitoes. Now, I had never seen such a gadget, but okay. So for the rest of the summer I religiously plugged it in.

On coming to my new house at the end of summer, the same plague of mosquitoes has descended upon the town of Oz. They are enough to drive me insane- literally insane.  But they said they would get me a gadget that would ward off the mosquitoes.  Okay.

The next day, they gave me the device, but this time it had a small capsule of liquid attached to the bottom. It reminded me of one of those smelly good things you plug into the walls.

DSCN4434

Then I realized it…

The other family had duped me. They knowingly gave me this gadget knowing it would not ward off any thing. What else did they fool me with?

***

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” – Folk Saying

Walk A Mile In My Shoes

I now have a 20 minute walk to school.

Since it’s fall, the mornings are crisp enough to have to wear a light jacket. The sun is still low in the sky and the birds are happy and excited for the day. It’s a leisurely walk through the house-lined streets. Very few other people are out at this time of the morning. And those that should be have already gone to school or have taken their kids to school. So it’s just me and the random cow or chicken or the random old dude picking weeds out of his garden. Although the houses are constructed with the same pattern, they still are very distinct from one another. It’s quiet out. The possibilities for the day are fresh and untainted.

But it’s a 20 minute walk to school, and I am NOT a ‘walker’, therefore….. it sucks!

***

Now I’m walking on sunshine, whoa
I’m walking on sunshine, whoa
I’m walking on sunshine, whoa
And don’t it feel good

Walking On Sunshine, Katrina and the Waves

Waxing Quixotic #3

What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they and we are the same is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must also remember that at every meeting we are meeting a stranger. ― T.S. Eliot

My Co-teachers Party Harder Than Yours Teach

At 5 o’clock in front of the school, there was a marshrutka waiting for us. When I peered in the window, it already looked sorta full. So I went ahead and got in. There were eventually enough teachers to fill the bus to the overcapacity. Off we went.

Natia had already told me that we were going to Chakvi, which was between Kobuleti and Batumi. We made several stops along the way. the first was to the school director’s house in his village. He came out with an urn of wine… an URN.  Shit was about to get serious.

We also made other stops to get fruit, sodas and food. Which made me think we were going to cook ourselves. But we eventually pulled up at a roadside restaurant near the sea. (I was a little bummed that we came all this way and didn’t have a view of the sea.) But oh well. It was a cute little rustic place nestled in the woods. Our table was already set in the traditional supra fashion. Food was stacked on the table with place settings for multiple beverages. The food was hustled to the back and the men returned with the wine now in pitchers and the cha-cha in a decanter. The feast began.

I always forget that there will be an avalanche of food at these things. Midway through the meal, I was stuffed and they hadn’t even brought out the Mtswadi yet! We toasted to teachers, students, and a great school year.

…and then we danced.

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I guess I haven’t had a previous time to see my co teachers in a festive atmosphere where they could relax and enjoy each others’ company. I do recall now that Elene said no spouses or significant others were allowed. My people know how to party and have a great time! EVERYBODY was dancing and having the ball. The only evidence of reserved Georgian behavior I still noticed was some of the women kept sneaking outside. I later realized they were going to go sneak a cigarette.

We danced and drank and danced and drank.

Then it was suggested that we go to Batumi.   …Okay.

I was spent by this time, but sensed an adventure on the horizon. Batumi is in the opposite direction of our town of Oz. And it was already 9 pm. The energy of the group was accelerating whether than decreasing. Given the average age on the bus, I thought they would be spent, too, or would have had to get back home to take care of the kids and husband. Before I knew it, they had parked the bus and flung themselves out like seniors on spring break.

Batumi is a town that slows down, but never sleeps. It is currently on the tail end of the summer crowd. There were still a lot of people out. The seaside boulevard looks a lot different now. They say a storm destroyed the pier. It has since been redone. But the club and cabanas didn’t make the cut. In their place are more upscale restaurants.

Some of us walked to the end of the pier. In jest, Dato took off his t-shirt and played as if he were going to jump in. Eerily reminded me of my very first weekend in Batumi- BATUMI2012!!!! Out of the shadows came a security guard. We settled down and thought that was that. After taking some pictures, the security guard returned with two others and grabbed my friend as if to escort him of the pier. Well, he didn’t take to kindly to that. I don’t know enough Georgian to understand the exact words that were said between the officers and my friend, but I know that dance by heart. Well enough to intervene on behalf of my friend and push him away thus saving a trip to the jailhouse.

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Hours later, everyone finally had their fill of Batumi. Natia and I was greeted back in Oz by Bingo the dog at 1 in the morning.

A fitting end to the summer, before we all plunged back into another year with the kiddies.

***

I’m saying my chick bad
My chick hood
My chick do stuff that your chick wish she could
My chick bad, badder than yours
My chick do stuff that I can’t even put in words
Her swagger don’t stop
Her body won’t quit
So fool pipe down you ain’t talkin bout shit
My chick bad, tell me if you seen her
She always bring the racket like Venus and Serena
No time for games, she’s full grown
My chick bad, tell your chick to go home

My Chick Bad, Ludacris