Thursday, December 22, 2005

Cold Sparkling White Labyrinths

It’s snowing again. My beautiful town has once more become a perilous place to walk because of a thick white blanket that has smothered it. It has also become a very limited place to walk due to the paths people have had to carve out to get from point A to point B. I haven’t fallen yet, but I’ve slipped more than a few times. I don’t want a reenactment of the scene where my head met the pavement, so I walk around like a crazy rat in a padded maze.
It snowed hard over a couple days this past weekend, and temperatures have dropped dramatically. My room is no longer a haven for heat. It’s warmer than other rooms in my house, but not by much. I’ve had to put on more layers to sleep, and my landlords keep trying to persuade me to sleep downstairs. My boss is also trying to convince me to stay at his house with his family, but I just want to sleep in my own space. Others have suggested I find someone to keep me warm. No offers as of yet, though. I’d like to buy another heater, but I’m already having various electrical problems that I won’t go into right now. I’ll probably break down and buy another one. I’m still sleeping all right though. It hasn’t gotten to the point of desperation, and I have even further measures I can employ if the temperature continues to drop. I just don’t want to have guests over because they’ll take pity on me as they shiver in my home. Hehe. It’s not quite THAT bad. In the meantime, I’m counting the days until March.
On Saturday night, I had a slumber party with Maria and Reneta up at their house in the Mahala. I had an English lesson before that, and Maria was texting me every five minutes on my cell phone to ask me where I was. I know they were excited that I was coming, and were simultaneously worrying that I wouldn’t show up. They’re super cute. They always want me to come over for one reason or another, and Reneta has gone as far as to say that she wishes I lived with them. She can’t figure out why her father, my boss, just didn’t arrange for me to stay at their place for the next two years. She cracks me up.
So anyway, we had a girlie slumber party. We watched “Big Brother” on TV, and then we went up into their room and told scary stories followed by a makeover session. I’ll have to post pictures. I slept in late the next day and woke up to them watching Cartoon Network. They learn so much slang from that channel, and they remember! It’s amazing. “Apryl, what does ‘doofus’ mean? Ani, their mom and my colleague, came in to ask why we were lazing around so late. I fill this really weird role, and I can’t put my finger on it exactly, but it’s kinda awkward for me: I’m a colleague here. I work as an equal in an office with these girls’ parents. At the same time, when I visit their house, it’s like I’m another kid and my colleagues become my surrogate parents. It sorta gives me the heebie-jeebies and makes me giggle.
On Sunday, the girls, Ani, and I went to visit Valia and Janette in the hospital in Velingrad. Poor little Janette has bronchitis. It was so sad just to be there. Janette was sleeping like a little angel, but she was sharing a room with at least two other restless, whimpering children and their mothers who were trying to comfort them. Upon entering the room, I was hit with a horrendous smell, and it felt dirty just being in there. Ani tells me that kids who go there usually end up even sicker, or they’ll come home with other infections like lice or something. It’s better, if one can help it, to just stay home. I wanted to badly to snap my fingers and make the place better. There are many times in Bulgaria when I’ve wanted to do that. If anyone has a magic wand, please send it over via airmail. Janette is home now, but Valia tells me she’s starting to cough more, so they might have to go back. How hard it must be to be the mother of a sick child.
My English class on Monday was great. I teach younger kids and a couple of adults, and the kiddies get into it. They’re so cute! We learned the names of some fruits and vegetables this last time, and they were adorable shouting out words like “mushroom!” “potatoes!” and “strawberry!” They’re really eager to learn, and it makes it fun. It makes up for my Wednesday class with teenagers who don’t even bother to show up, or who have the audacity to walk by and not even come in. I’ve had it with them, and hiking uphill, barefoot, both ways in the snow just to teach a class no one’s going to come to. I enjoyed the wood stove though, and my second Wednesday class (with the truly motivated teenagers) was good times as usual.
I had my weekly Bulgarian lesson on Tuesday, and Katya, my teacher, told me, “Oh, some of my students told me that they have English lessons with you on Fridays.” I responded, “Well, tell them they’re liars ‘cause they haven’t shown up for a lesson yet.” Bleh. I’m bitter. She was funny. Before I entered the house, she gave me a piece of wood to carry up the stairs. “Here. You have to carry this. You’re the first person in our house on this special day (I guess it’s the first day of Virgin Mary’s labor pains or something?), and you’re supposed to bring a gift with you. If you’re a good person, we’ll have good luck all year through. Depending on how the year goes, we’ll find out if you’re good-hearted or not.” I felt badly for not bringing an actual gift, but how am I supposed to know the varying nuances of all these Bulgarian traditions? (sigh) I have a lot to learn.

No comments: