Wednesday, January 17, 2007

"Entertainment" and VD

If I have to translate another song or try to explain to my kids what a rapper is saying, I think I’m going to flip out. Okay, not really, but I thought I’d take my time to rail my frustration against the music industry. Why did you immoral people have to come up with such catchy songs with heinously vulgar euphemisms? I did not sign up for this peace mission so I could explain to young, impressionable minds what “promiscuous” means or what the song “Smack That” is really saying. I did not anticipate having to try and understand or interpret the lyrical prowess that is Snoop Dogg or Eminem. I have twelve-year-olds going around; singing songs they don’t understand – songs about blatant sex and rampant immorality. I sit and watch with them videos showing scantily clad women in positions of perceived power. “That’s right girls, your power lies in your sexuality and your ability to shake what God gave you. The only way to hold sway over a male is to enchant him with your body. So, forget about expanding your mind. Forget about being funny, kind, endearing, honest, generous, patient, or all those beautiful myriad of warm personality traits that come together to create a unique and sensational person. Be a painted, hollow shell of a gorgeous person, and attract the most powerful man you can find. And how are men powerful? Did you have any question that it was by having money, cars, houses, and all those other material possessions that paint some grand picture of status?
I am no better than these musical artists and the people who market them, but I don’t want to have to take responsibility for their work. I want them to come and say to these young kids, “Yes that song is talking about violent sex” and “Actually, the song I sing (and you repeat) is using architectural euphemisms to talk about the parts of my body that I barely cover.” We all buy into the machine so easily. I know I’m not immune. I feel so fortunate to have grown a little beyond that, however. I appreciate the men I come in contact with who make a point of showing that this is not the sort of woman they are looking for. Woman could do their part as well by helping men be more secure with who they are. I don’t know if we’ll ever completely get away from the idea that, “Who I am is what I own,” but, for the time-being, I could use some popular songs about daffodils… and honestly about sunny, happy, yellow and white daffodils, people! Don’t use “daffodils” as a word for something else. I see how your minds work….
Okay, I thought I was done, but I’m not. I’m so tired of these songs “featuring” other artists. Yes, they’re catching. Yes, they sell. Yes, they promote both artists. Yes, it’s great that people are collaborating. But what are they collaborating for?” There’s nothing I can’t stand more than a fairly, sweet song that has some rap bridge in the middle that makes absolutely no sense – or takes the song in an edgier, sex-laced direction. We’ve got some girl/guy singing about harmless interest or attraction, and then we’ve got some girl/guy rapping in the middle about harmful interest/attraction. Grrr…. It ruins the whole song.
Okay, now that I’ve expended my breath on that, let’s get to the actual update of events. I mentioned in my last post that Angel had been accepted for a seminar in France. Over the weekend, he decided that he wasn’t going to go. He has good reasons for turning down the opportunity. They’re well thought-out, and it probably is the best decision in the long run. I can’t help but be a little disappointed. I got caught up in the excitement that I had helped him to go somewhere and hopefully have a life-changing experience. But that’s me. I worry a little too much about how I feel about things and how I impacted them. You all know this about me. I like to see tangible results. Ah well, slowly but surely God is teaching me that He’s in charge, and I’m just a little me. I can do a lot, but I can only do so much. I have to accept that.
As many of you know (and yay! for you if you got the day off), Monday was Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. I will never be Dr. King. Events and opportunities helped shape who he was and the work he did. There is evidence to suggest that he wasn’t the most admirable of men in his personal life, but God used him in astounding ways. He, and the people he inspired, did amazing things in our nation. If he were alive today, would he be able to pull the same thing off here? Well, first of all, he wouldn’t be a part of the minority here looking for equal rights and opportunities. Secondly, he wouldn’t understand the culture because he would be an outsider. Would he even find the masses here who wish to work with him? And who shaped him? If he had been here, would he have been shaped to do great things? Do you ever wonder about the people who prepare “great” people? Why am I hypothesizing about such non-possibilities? Because, deep in my heart of hearts, I wish I could make an impact like MLK Jr., Ghandi, Mother Theresa, or any of those amazing few who were able to change courses of history. It’s selfish, and I’m incapable of the love that’s required. That’s what God is for.
I look at the state of the world (first from my local level here and then from an international level on, and I beg God to come soon and put an end to it all. And I honestly think, (which astounds me, believe me) “God, even if you don’t take me with you, even if I perish and am lost forever, please come and put an end to this façade. This place is little but pain and ridiculousness. Yes, life is still beautiful and worth living, but it’s taken away too quickly and filled with hollow joys that last but a minute. Come and put an end to it all. Swap it out for a life of eternal joy that’s free and fair for everyone.” And I think these things, and I tell myself I have no fear of death, but I know I will dread my end when it comes.
All right, so here I am on a philosophical tangent… yet AGAIN! Let’s get back to the events at hand, shall we? That is, if you’re still reading. Oh yeah, I mentioned Martin L. King, Jr. because I had grand visions last year of doing some kind of tolerance-building activity in my town – based on his work. That didn’t happen. Ah well, I don’t need a special day to do that. Will I be able to do it at all?
So, I couldn’t have my computer class on Friday. I found one of the students who was supposed to come, but she refused because the center wasn’t heated. We’ve been having some pretty gorgeous days here. No snow. No rain. Brilliant, cool, sun. It is, however, still pretty cold in the center since the heater doesn’t work. So, I came back down before my other classes and told my colleagues that it was high-time to fix the radiator system – even if I had to pay for it myself. It was fixed over the weekend. Today will be the first day back in the center and trying to use the system. It appears that one of the heating slats had busted when some water possibly got stuck inside and froze. So, in the long run, it wasn’t the fault of the guy who installed it. I apologize on my blog that the previous rant about it included him, but I’m still frustrated with the general lack of quality, follow-up work. That doesn’t excuse him for lying that he was in Greece. Who knows how much this is going to cost us now? Hopefully, it won’t be much. That heating system is really fragile and is not constructed in the best, possible way. I’m afraid it won’t be long until something happens again.
My English classes have been going well. It’s a matter of getting the kids back in the habit of coming. This week has been good. The parents are a little more wishy-washy. I don’t know what the solution is. I have a few new students, which is tough because they haven’t learned the sentences we have the whole time. I can’t turn down people who want to learn, however. My younger kids have a show for some pensioners on Friday. Over the weekend, there will be a holiday called “Baben Den.” It’s basically for grandmas. If a new grandchild is born over the past year, the mother comes to the grandmother with some special water for her to wash her face in. Then, the child gets some water on him/her as well. The grandparent gets the child a gift, and the mother gets the grandparent a gift. Then, they say some nice things to each other and go to the municipality for a dedication ceremony. So, to show their appreciation for the elderly, my kids are going to the pensioner’s club to sing “Hello, How Are You?” and “Head and Shoulders.” It’s going to be great. The pensioners will have no idea what they’re singing, but they’ll be so cute! They’d just better show up.
I had an incident on Monday where one of the girls in my class smacked a boy over a game we were playing. He wailed something fierce, and I wasn’t sure how to react. I got all the kids out of the room except for those two. Then, I tried to get them to talk to each other. The girl asked for forgiveness, but the boy ignored her. Finally, I asked her to leave, and then I played an English game with him. He seemed to warm up after that. Man, am I not ready for children. I don’t know how to react when these things happen. I can barely deal with them properly when they just run around like banshees. I can’t take violence.
Yesterday, as I was going through the activities of my English class, I randomly had one of my girls throw her arms around me and say, “I love you so much, Apryl. I don’t want you to leave in a year.” Awwww…. That made me melt, and I suddenly felt like a weight had been lifted off me. I hadn’t gone to work in the morning ‘cause I just needed a half-day to hang out in my pajamas, relax, and get my wits together. I didn’t know what was up with me, but I felt a weight I couldn’t explain. Yesterday was a great day for my English classes. I felt like my kids were understanding stuff, but it’s more amazing when they feel that way. It’s like a light goes on in their head, and they think, “Oh, wait. I actually can do this. I can understand this.” I wish I could bottle that feeling.
I have been getting home late for one reason or another as of late. I get home late, and then I stay up too late, and then I’m tired for the next day. It’s a vicious cycle. People see me out and about at night, and they think I’m working so hard. Well, let them think that. I don’t see any reason to change their perceptions. Haha.
I’m actually in the center right now. Ani, Tsetska, and I came to fill the heating installation with water and light the stove. Now, I’ve been left here alone to make sure that the fire doesn’t go out. I hear the water running through the radiators, and the pump was making some noises earlier. I’m having flashbacks of the day it practically blew up on me. It’s probably because I’m here alone and have no one to comfort me and say, “It’s okay, Apryl. This is normal. It’s doing its job.” At least the radiators are getting warm to the touch, and the really weird noises have stopped for now. Yanko assures me there won’t be a repeat of what happened to me several weeks ago. I wish I could be so sure.
So the weekend was pretty great. Enyo and Milka’s son and live-in girlfriend-in-law were back at the house, and I found out when I returned late Friday night. I wasn’t too happy about that, but I consoled myself with the thought that at least I’d be leaving early the next day. I went to meet a friend, and we hung out together on Saturday. Then, Sunday we got up and went to Sofia for a “hash.” A “hash” is basically a run. A bunch of ex-pats get together and run a specific route that one of the “hashers” has laid out. It’s all very involved to explain, so I won’t explain everything. Basically a big group of walkers and runners got together at the Boyana Film Studio in Sofia. The runners follow a particular trail shown with flour. Certain symbols mean different things, and if you reach what’s called a checkpoint, you have to pick up the correct trail again. There are other markings meant to distract you. It was a fun run, however, with lots of stopping and checking things out.
So, like I said, we ran through a film studio. We entered a sort of Arabian world, and there were also all these shops that were supposed to be saloons, restaurants, goods stores, etc. Signs decorated the landscape, and I knew I should have brought my trusty camera when I saw a sign that said “Gibson.” Soon after that, I shouted out, “Look! Venereal Diseases!” There was actually a sign that said that in huge letters. Above it in smaller letters, it said, “Fight the Enemy at Home.” Oh yeah. I really wish I had a picture of that.
After completing our run and ending in the “coliseum,” we had a short “hash” ceremony and then went to eat at a pizza place. I ended up sitting next to a very nice German who works at the German Embassy in Bulgaria. It’s amazing who you meet and what you find out about them at these kinds of events… these ex-pats, these perpetual wanderers if you will. Some of them were about to move to other countries for work. I look at them, and I wonder if I’m seeing my own future.
That night, we stayed with some ex-pats in their lovely apartment. I mentioned their place in a previous post. They’re the ones that had us over for Irish breakfast on New Year’s Eve. Anyway, we stayed in a very comfortable room, and the bathroom floor was even heated! I didn’t want to leave the bathroom! It’s a far cry from the way I live in Rakitovo.
Oops, Yanko just came into the center and found another place that leaks. It looks like it’s really due to the installation work this time and not the radiator itself. We’ve found a reason to be upset with that guy again…. Man, I just want this to be over and the heaters to work the way they should. (sigh) And the boiler is making those boiling noises again. Yanko tells me it’s okay. (double sigh) At least he’s here, too….
And it just did it again…. The water is boiling, and the plastic tubing next to the boiler popped out and dumped water all over the wall and sink. It wasn’t as dramatic as the last time that happened, but at least I wasn’t scared. Yanko was here, and he shoved it back in. He did a few things to get it to calm down, he told me not to put anymore coal on the stove, and then he left. Now I’m here with it, watching so it doesn’t pop out again, waiting for the fire to go out, wondering how I’ll hold my classes and keep an eye on this at the same time, and feeling surprisingly calm, considering…. Like how I give you all a play-by-play?

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I totally understand about the songs! I remember once in Bolivia, during a rare occassion of watching TV, the Bolivian version of the Micky Mouse Club (children!) was dancing to "Head down, a*% up, that's the way I like to f#$k, uh huh." And I thought to myself, wow, we have a long way to go.