Friday, July 04, 2008

It Was Written/Хиляда cosas que contar

I realize it's been a while since I've updated. Of course, there are a thousand and one things that I want to share, but I'm going to forget something. It's inevitable. I've been pretty busy lately. By the time I get home, I just want to, well, go to bed.
This weekend is the town "praznik," meaning it's the official town holiday. I'm not exactly why they've chosen the 7th of July, but they have. There will be chalga! At 2:54 you can see one of my former English students. Some of it isn't so bad. I'll probably listen to it back in the states when I feel nostalgic for Bulgaria. Should be an interesting weekend. It's like a county fair. Can't have the town "praznik" without some chalga.
Last weekend, I took a trek across the country to Sliven to hang out with another volunteer who COS'd (close of service) on Wednesday. We went to the town of Sozopol on the coast for one last hurrah, and we ate Mexican food with other volunteers in Sliven. It was fun. I had always wanted to visit Sozopol, and I love Mexican food.
My English classes have been going well. Of course, I wish everyone could catch on quickly, but some people just don't have a knack for language. We can repeat it 20 times, and they'll still make the same mistakes. Guess we just have to repeat it 21 times. Spanish classes are something else. Maria and Reneta catch on and absorb everything like sponges. It makes me jealous.
Baseball is going all right. I've started taking a frisbee and a football with me when I go. At first, the kids didn't know what to do with it all. They were running from game to game like crazy people. We were having fun. Yesterday, I got frustrated with them and left early. I don't appreciate not being listened to. The number of kids who come is constantly fluxuating. A lot of them are pretty little. We have fun though.
The office is... well, lame. I don't even want to talk about it. The other day, I went with Yanko up to the segregated, Roma school to present a project idea we'd like them to partner with us for. Yanko asked that I present the project. I was nervous because I know that my organization doesn't have the greatest working relationship with the school. While I was reading the project activities that we have in mind, one of the teachers was reading a newspaper. Others were making negative comments. In fact, the director even had to ask some to stop talking. In the end, however, some asked enlightened questions. I figured they hadn't been listening, but it turns out that most of them were paying attention. In the end, they agreed to partner with us on this project, but it was noted that probably not every teacher would be ready to work with us.
I don't know what to say about it all anymore. There are so many grudges and chips-on-shoulders being carried around in this town. I don't know what's right and what's wrong anymore. It's hard to trust someone again whom you feel has let you down in the past. And no one's perfect. There's always going to be someone who lets you down in some way, and it seems like it happens a lot. Angel has described it something like this: The first year is the year of learning. The second year is the year of working. The third year is the year of truth. I think he's right. Is it really true that almost everyone is as miserable as they seem to be? I hope they're just really outstanding actors.
I've been spending a lot of time recently doing the "na ghosti" thing - meaning I go and visit other people. It's nice, but it keeps me out late. The other day, I had three "na ghostis" in one night. I think I overbooked. It was fun, though. What can I say? It's good to get out and spend time with people. Usually, my days are so long, and I just want to get back home and be on my own. I find myself mentally exhausted. I've been tired and haven't been sleeping well lately. Being with people is good for me. It's also good to be fed 'cause I think I'm losing weight again. Meh.
The other day, I ran into Milka, my former landlady. She's started taking English classes with me, and she's catching on well. She scolded me for not coming over to celebrate "Enyovden" (her husband's name day) with them. I had no idea it was Enyovden. She cracked me up. If they really wanted me to come, they should have called. I still can't get used to the culture of dropping in on people here. Meanwhile, they think my habit of "scheduling" is strange, and sometimes hilarious. So, I've told myself I'm going to listen more when people say, "Drop on by - whenever you're free." It's good for the soul.
I'd like to talk to you about the animals in my life. Of course, there's K.C., the yellow lab who lives next door and is my true love. She's getting bigger, fatter, and lazier. She used to come over and jump all over me when I came home. Now she waddles over with some "present" or other in her mouth (usually some plastic wrapper) and she's content with a pat on the head. I think it's hot for her. Plus, I don't know how much she gets out. She escaped today 'cause the storm we had opened the front gate. I found her in the street by our house, and she dutifully came home. I love her. Her only flaw is that she barks at my male guests.
Maria and Reneta's cat recently gave birth to four, cute little kittens. I love watching them play. They're so full of energy. I was watching them greedily nurse from their mother this evening. And it was so cute hearing them all purr in unison. I would be tempted to take one if I didn't have to give it back in five months. That, and it'd probably drive me crazy.
Of course, I already have pets if you count the ants. I think they're starting to take the hint, however, that they're not welcome guests. However, I spray them, they find somewhere else to hang out. I spray them again, same story. I can't figure what they're after in the bathroom, for example. You should see them scurry when the vacuum cleaner comes on. Sucking up ants - what fun!
Of course, it's the fourth of July right now in the dear ol' U.S. of A. I really wish I were in the states to celebrate. I'd rather be there than here for the town "praznik" for no other reason than just, well, it's a holiday that feels like "home." I love the traditions I've kept in the states for this holiday. Of course, I think this is the last major, U.S. holiday - unless you count Labor Day. Anyway, I'm chatting with a friend online. I'd like to share the jist of a snippet of our conversation here:
T: Wussup?
Apryl: Nothing. Updating the blog. Watching a cockroach wander around and get lost on my paisley rug.
T: I love the visual. I wonder if paisley hypnotizes them.
Apryl: He's my entertainment for Friday night/early Saturday morning... fourth of July... this is sad. Uh oh. He's on his back, now. I think this is the second demise of a bug that I'm going to watch today.
I don't know how to describe my state of mind recently. I feel... muted. I feel like my personality has become extremely bland, and I have no opinion about anything anymore. I've lost interest in just about everything, and I don't know what to do with myself. It's strange. It probably sounds like depression. I'm disappointed in myself. I expected better from me. I lost myself somewhere along the way.
This last weekend, one of the national news stations gave a half-hour report about the Peace Corps in Bulgaria. It was pretty interesting, and of course positive. One thing the report said is that we're given enough money to live at about the same level as our Bulgarian counterparts. I'm not so sure about that. I see how little my colleagues make, and I wonder how they survive. It makes me embarrassed about my financial situation. My mother was looking over my tax information a few weeks ago, and she asked, "Really, Apryl? Is that how much you make?" I laughed. On a tax form, I look like I must be dying in more than extreme, abject poverty. In reality, I live comparatively well.
There's a saying in Bulgarian that I've been hearing a lot recently, that basically means "it was written." They say this to mean, "Your destiny is written down, and you can't escape your fate." Anytime something good or bad happens (usually this applies more to the bad than the good), they'll say "it was written" as if it were meant to be. Okay, but I don't like this. You don't know what's "written," and I feel like you have to live as though you were in control of your destiny. I tell people this, and they say, "Yeah, but you still can't escape what's been written for you." Okay, but you don't know what that is - so you might as well live as though what you do matters. Maybe I'm misunderstanding how they mean it. There's just such resignation in their voices when they say it. I don't know.
Krum is back in the picture. Remember Krum? He's been asking me to find a wife for him and reminding me that he thinks he's in love with me. He keeps bringing me roses and asking to borrow money. He's an interesting guy. When he's in a stable state of mind, he's a hardworker, and he's polite. When he isn't, he's whiny and unnerving. He's run after me just to give me roses. One day he came into the office to give me roses and ask for money. My colleagues scolded him for busting into the office. "But you're not even working," he retorted. I had to laugh. He was right. Almost all my colleagues were lounging on the couch, and I was just sitting in another chair. Oh, Krum.
It seems like I've been asked a lot as to why I haven't found a nice, Bulgarian boy to marry and settle down with. I joke with people, "Well, if a boy hasn't been able to snatch me up in the last three years, obviously there just isn't one to snatch me up." This is always met with disagreement. I've been told that I haven't been looking hard enough. My standards must be too high. I must just not want one. It's inconceivable to them that I'm just not Bulgarian marriage material. Nevermind that pretty much all the guys here that are around my age are already married. Some have even suggested that I not let that stop me. Please. Not everyone wants the American girl, okay?


Anonymous said...

Oh April! How I sympathize with your blog on Sliven!
I sold the company last year to my son, shipped the Mercedes and Lexus to Varna, bought the condo for my beautiful young mixed-race (black n white) Bulgarian bride who I met in an office here in Lexington (Ky.), and thought I would live there a substantial part of each year.
At this moment, she is living with her new boyfriend in the condo which, when I got there last June, I found out was not in our names (as she told me) but in her name. They have started a couple of new pawn-shops in the gypsy village and on the main street (part of an internet cafe, as well).
There are many other stories I could tell you but I haven't the time right now. Suffice to say that I agree with your pointed remarks about the poeple of BG in general and the poor souls racing with the devil in slimy Sliven. Nikki's whole scheme with me was partnered with her Mother and step-father who sucked me in like the gullible neophyte I was.
Ten trips to Bg in 3 years taught me not to trust anyone there. Toward that end, I stole back the k CLK 430 Mercedes sports car with the "NIKKI" front license plate and its now on the boat heading to Savannah!!
I wish you well there, sweetheart! I hope your time there is more productive than mine. It certainly should be since mine was all negative. Broke my wrist, 1st DUI, the Luxus burned up in Oct and wound up giving it to the Gov't in order to get out of the country and other stories...
BTW, I got your blog from Google when you mentioned Sliven.
Good luck and God bless!
P.S. Nikki and Toni live at 16 Hristo Botev, Apt 3. Stop by and give them a good old-fashioned America raspberry for me, will yuh!!
Ciao, ciao

Anonymous said...


Чалгата която си сложила е абсолютно отвратителна. Убеден съм, че е крайно време да се махаш от това циганско гето и да се заемеш с живота си защото самочувствието ти не е на млада, силна и хубава американка а на объркан тинейджър. just move on!

Anonymous said...

ok, seriously anonymous at 2:33 am, do you think she really needs that kind of "encouragement." I could just as easily use the words you used to describe the current mental state of Bulgaria. To that end, consider that "самочувствието ти не е на млада, силна и хубава американка а на объркан тинейджър" is not a reflection of her per say, rather it is the culture in which she is immersed reflecting from her.

Yours truly,

Equally Cowardly In Anonymity

Lyrpa said...

Wow. People actually read this blog. Awesome. I worry about offending people with it, but I guess I'd have to just stop writing entirely in order to save myself and stop people from disagreeing with me. And why "циганско гето?" Говорим тук за празника на града, а не на махалата. Какво общо има? Но май си прав - време е да си събира крушите.