Sunday, June 22, 2008

Wild Strawberries

Do you ever get the feeling you're going to have a bad day? Like, you just know it's going to be a stinker. And then it turns out to be an absolutely fantastic day? It seems like almost every day this week was like that. Things in the office are lame. Seems like there's still a lot of bickering. Plus, one of our projects have been stalled because of the uncertain political environment here. There are rumors that a few schools will be closed. Also, we heard back that we weren't approved for one of our projects. I don't know how we'll take on more projects with the staff that we have, but it's still disappointing when a project you've worked on hasn't been approved. And that's the problem: there are so few resources to intelligently do the things needed in town, let alone in our organization. It's difficult to find competent people who are suited for the job. I think that's a huge source of stress for my colleagues.
My English classes are going well. My students are advancing, and we're having fun. I'm proud of them all, but I have a few gems that I'm particularly proud of: those who didn't know any English before they started learning with me. However, I think the ability to learn a language and learn it well has more to do with inherent capability than anything else, but it still makes a teacher proud to see her students catching on. Plus, I've learned more about the nuances of English as well. We'll see what happens for the summer. I'm trying to stress to my students that, if they don't work during the summer, they can basically stop here and now. Our time left together is short.
Baseball is going well now that the weather has stopped being strange. It's going well in the sense that we're having fun. It's by no means organized, and I wish I had been better about that. I wish there were opportunities to play against other teams, but we're just running around and getting fresh air. On Tuesday, I brought a frisbee up to the stadium, and there were people playing soccer. There was so much activity going on all around us, that the kids couldn't figure out what to do. Should we play baseball? Should we try out this frisbee thing? Should we go play soccer? They would divide their time between the three - which was a little confusing and slightly frustrating, but I laughed it off 'cause we were having fun regardless.
On Thursday, I showed up at the stadium to find that it had been taken over by club football players from the Black Sea Coast. The guy who takes care of the field told us that "our time was over," but then he said that it wouldn't be long before the paying footballers took off, and then we could play. I can't figure him out. It seems like one minute he doesn't care for us, and then the next he regards us with mild amusement. He told us we could take to the field before the footballers were done, but I felt uncomfortable stepping in while paying athletes were still using the field. Some of the younger kids and I played frisbee during that time, and we looked around for other places to play. Once the football team cleared the field, we spent some solid time playing baseball.
Spending time with these kids reminds me why I enjoy being a Youth Development worker. The days when I have baseball are the longest days. I leave my house at 8:30 a.m. and return at 8:30 p.m. It's not like I'm actually doing 12 hours of straight work, but my time is occupied with something or another. And it's not like I look forward to it all, 'cause I can feel that it's going to be a long day. Once it's over though, I look back and realize how much fun I had. What would I be doing otherwise? Sitting at home?
Anyway, the kids are cute. They always want to tell me something. They always want my attention. My name gets said more in the space of an hour and a half than it does all week. One of the kids asked me if I'd come to Bulgaria to play with them. Another asked me if I'm a trainer in the states. "No," I said, "I just really like to play." "So, you train us here." I just smiled. It makes me wish that I had gotten into it more. I wish I had found other teams for us to play against, that I had found more equipment, that we had uniforms, and (if I dream superbig) that I had found a way to put in a baseball diamond. A friend of mine sent me the book "Shoeless Joe," which is better known as the film adaptation "Field of Dreams." I've had the whole, "If you build it, [they] will come" fantasy in my mind. Of course, I realize that I can only do so much. It's enough that I get together with some kids and run around in the fresh air.
Yesterday, I went on a hike with Reneta and Ani into the woods. We had a good time walking along and enjoying the fresh air. I live in the most fantastic place - surrounded by trees, and I don't get out enough to walk amongst them. We saw lots of wild flowers and some giant ant-hills. We gathered pine cones for burning in the winter, and we ate tiny, wild strawberries. I love wild strawberries. They're like bite-sized candies.
Today I took a walk on a path I'd never seen before with one of my English students - also named Ani. We were having a lovely time, eating more wild strawberries again, until we saw a snake. Ani became pretty uncomfortable and insisted we turn back. She was right as we were just wearing sandals. I would have continued on because I've never been to that part of the forest before, but now I know I'll have to go back another time.
I have to get out more and explore, but I find myself in kind of a paradox. I don't like going out alone. It's more fun to share the experience with someone. However, as soon as I'm with someone, I find myself wishing I were alone again. It doesn't make any sense to me. When I'm alone, I find myself wishing I were with people. When I'm with people, I find myself wishing I were alone. It's so strange. I don't get it. It's not a strong feeling, just a strange sensation. There's only one exception to this, and I wonder if something is wrong with me. I feel as though I'm just kind of floating along in this life, and I'm confused by its lack of impact on me as well as my lack of impact on it. I'm probably not making myself clear, but I guess lately I've been feeling as though every day is more or less the same, and I'm devoid of feeling. This boggles me. I think I'm ready for something new. I just want to be jubilantly excited about something. I just want to have fun with people I love.
I have ants. I hate ants. I've had them for a while. First, they found the Junior Mints that my mom sent me, and that made me mad. Recently, however, I can't figure them out. They seem to just like to roam the area. They like to congregate on the counter in the kitchen after I've just wiped it down, and I think they're looking to get hydrated. My strategy: vacuuming them up. It's quick and effective for the short-term. For the longest time, they were just straggling around, then they laid a trail. Sometimes I'll only see a few. Today I came back from my walk to find that a bunch of them were having a party. Apparently they found something in the trashcan - although I still don't know what. I broke down and borrowed some Raid from the neighbors. I hate sprays, but I hate ants more. Fortunately, the Raid doesn't smell, and I know where they're coming from, so I just sprayed that part. I hope they stay out.

1 comment:

Bobby said...

hey, April! I've been reading your blog, and I find some of yr experiences pretty interesting. I am a Bulgarian living in New York, and I can feel the exact opposite of what you're talking about. I'd love to share some funny moments of my clashes with the American reality, as well as get to know you better. Please write to me at ;)