Tuesday, May 15, 2007

What the Future Holds

Have you ever agonized over a decision? You waited until the very last minute to make it. Then, once you went with what you thought was the best option, you began to feel as though you made a horrible mistake? Let’s be honest. That’s how I currently feel about my decision to stay a third year. Meh.
Angel told me, if I did stay, to make this year my year. I agree, but is that really why I’m here? If it were really my year, I’d get out and see Bulgaria more. I’d go out and see neighboring countries. Um… unfortunately the friends I would travel with are all getting ready to leave. Good one, Apryl. I’ve bailed on trips and opportunities to see new things because of my work here. While I believe I did the right thing in those instances, it didn’t make me happy. I don’t know.
My organization coordinated an educational session with a local doctor this past Thursday. The theme was “Preventing Unwanted Pregnancies,” and they posted fliers all over the mahala. The fliers generated some mild interest, but not one person came. I’ve come to the point where I don’t feel anything anymore when this happens. It takes too much energy to get frustrated. In the meantime, some of my AWOL students showed up again for computers. I excused myself from the doctor and my colleague to teach a class I wasn’t exactly ready for.
I’m still playing baseball with the kids. More have heard and are getting interested, but I can’t get ethnic Bulgarian kids to come up to the mahala. I need to pin down the stadium and get a schedule, but I’m having a hard time getting an opportunity to sit down with Yanko and the vice mayor. It will all work out in the end. In the meantime, my kids are getting better and better. Reneta is scary powerful. I told her that if she wanted to hit like that, she’d have to hit higher. While some kids have gotten dinged pretty hard by the ball, I’ve been lucky that no one’s been seriously injured. Good luck can only hold out so long. Angel showed up, and after nearly striking out, he hit his first ball over the school. He said he felt like he’d returned to his youth in that moment.
I’ve been getting up and going running again recently. I really enjoy it. The mornings and the mountains are beautiful here. Last weekend, I decided it was time to visit the graveyard. Weird, I know, but it’s a part of the town, and I had never been there. What struck me was the elaborate design of some of the headstones. That and the fact that a lot of the people buried under them had died incredibly young. I wandered around and finally made my way to the fresh piles. It’s so sad. Nearly every day, the church bell solemnly laments the death of someone through a plaintive toll. I don’t know why people die here so young, but it seems to be common. I found tombstones of many who were about my age.
I forgot to mention this in my last post, but Brandy and I went to Yanko’s that Sunday for “Georgiev Den.” People here usually get together and eat lamb. It’s the Bulgarian Military holiday. It’s also something like New Year’s for the Roma. It signified the first day of the working year – when the Roma would pack their belongings and go into the forests for extended periods of time to work. Brandy cooked a delicious meal, and Yanko barbecued some pork chops. We drank entirely too much wine and had a bunch of fun laughing and talking to one another. Brandy and I came home later in the evening, and we pretty much passed out. The great thing was that Brandy and Yanko had a really good conversation. On the way home, she told me, “I should work for your organization, and you should have been placed at my school.” I don’t know about that, but it is a good reminder of how fortunate I am.
I have given up one of my classes. My little kids don’t come anymore, and while I love them, I’m glad to be free of them. They’re wonderful, little nuts who were my only reason for going up to the center on Fridays. Now that I have my Fridays free, I’ll have to get out more often.
I was invited to go to Sunny Beach on the Black Sea coast with the graduating class from Brandy’s school. The class teacher is one of my English students, and she invited me to come along. She said that I wouldn’t even have to chaperone or anything. I was invited as a guest, and I could do whatever I wanted. I talked to my organization, and they said I should go. So I’m going. Brandy is going, too. It should be fun. I can’t complain about four days in a four star hotel on the Black Sea.
This weekend, I’ve been doing a lot of project writing. I actually really enjoy project writing. I don’t know if I’m any good at it, but I enjoy formulating ideas and putting them down on paper. My colleagues and I have worked together to develop the project. Now it’s up to me to put it all together in English. I don’t know if we’ll get it, but the process itself is fun. I think I also like it because I very much like writing – as proved by the mere existence (and length!) of this blog.
On Saturday, Brandy and I went to Velingrad to look for an outfit to wear to the Senior Ball. It’s funny. I don’t go to Velingrad that often, and I feel like a lot has changed since the last time I was there. Either that, or I don’t pay attention. You would think I would go to Velingrad all the time, but I hardly get there anymore. It’s a shame.
Things are coming along slowly but surely for a volleyball camp this summer. That’s mostly my fault. I’m not exactly sure how I envision it or even how I’ll run it! I just know I’d like to hang out with some girls and play volleyball over the summer. Nineteen girls signed up. That’s too much for lil’ ole me. I have to find a way to cut back on their numbers. The teacher was signing fifth graders up after I explicitly said I wanted older girls. Oh well. Now I’ll just have to be the one to disappoint them when I say, “Sorry, older girls only.”
I had some interesting insight about God I wanted to share, but it has escaped me. It’s too bad. I guess I’ve just been bumping into Him a lot because I’m reading “The Purpose Driven Life” and I’ve read a few Newsweek articles pertaining to God recently. Plus, I went to the Evangelical church today. I like them ‘cause they’re all nice women who shake your hand and say “Slava na Boga” which basically means “Glory to God.” Plus, they sing lots there. Anyway, I’d really like to sit down with God and get several things straight.
Speaking of Newsweek, the magazine has had a couple things that really make me think about Bulgaria. One is an ad for Shell (who, by the way, funds our organization as it were). It goes like this:
SAY NO TO NO
Isn’t it high time someone got negative about negativity?
Yes it is.
Look around. The world is full of things that, according to nay-sayers, should never have happened.
“Impossible.”
“Impractical.”
“No.”
And yet “yes.”
Yes, continents have been found.
Yes, men have played golf on the moon.
Yes, straw is being turned into biofuel to power cars.
Yes, yes, yes.
What does it take to turn a no into a yes?
Curiosity. An open mind. A willingness to take risks.
And, when the problem seems insoluble, when the challenge is the hardest, when everyone else is shaking their heads, to say: let’s go.
I think Bulgaria could use a healthy dose of some of that. There was also an article with the guy who won the Nobel Prize in Economics last year. He talked about how culture and attitudes can affect socio-economic status. I agree with that. It certainly seems to smack true here. Anyway, I’m sleepy. I’d better go.
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Okay, so now it’s Monday, er Tuesday early morning. I spent all day hashing out the women’s project we’re working on with my colleagues. It was a long day for all of us. I came home with a monster headache and fell asleep for a few hours. Now I’m up again to get some things done before I give the project another go-around. It’s due tomorrow, er later today. I missed two classes today due to this behemoth, and I feel guilty. (sigh)
I just got word that someone I knew passed away. I had a complicated relationship with this person. He was my classmate, at times a friend, at times a bully, at times a horrible nuisance, at times a great source of entertainment, at times a lot of things at once. Most of all, he was young. I haven’t seen him in at least ten years now, probably more, and now he’s gone. The idea in itself is just sad, and I feel badly for his family and friends. Not only Bulgarians die young….

1 comment:

Nelly_t said...

Hi there, I've recently came across your blog and I am impressed by the things you are doing in Bulgaria. I am a reporter in a Bulgarian internet news site and I am writing about foreigners living here. I would really like to have a talk with you some time and maybe write your story for our readers. Of course, if you are willing to...
I didn't see an e-mail address in your blog, but if you'd like to reach me, I am at nellytomova@abv.bg Good luck with your job