Thursday, August 21, 2008

Пари нeма - действайте!

I saw a kitten die today. I turned the corner of the street, and there it was - lying in the road, blood pooling out of its ear. It was twitching, and there were vermin crawling on it. Its mouth was open in pain, but its eyes were blank. It was a horrendous scene. Otherwise, it was just a sweet, little kitten. I cried out when I saw it. I covered my mouth - which remained open in a silent scream. I didn't know what to do. It continued to twitch, and I just prayed it would die 'cause I knew that I would never be able to bring myself to put it out of its misery. Once it stopped moving, I ended up picking it up and putting its lifeless body on the side of the road.
I just told my counterpart about it, and he said, "Gibson, people are dying today." It's so true. In fact, a bunch of people around the world have died today, and I can only imagine that there are others standing with their hands over their mouths in silent screams. Still, I felt belittled and stupid. I'm not going to be able to get that scene out of my mind soon, but it could be worse, I suppose.
Is it wrong to need a certain reaction from someone and then be upset with them when they fail to deliver? This is a question I've pondered quite a bit over the past few years. When you open yourself up or share something with someone and they respond with less sympathy than you had expected, do you have the right to be upset?
Anyway, we sent our project to Hungary. It's an awesome project. It won't get funded. When the guy with the money insists he's looking to fund a beautiful, stained-glass building, you're not going to win him over by expounding the glories of steel and concrete as architectural materials - no matter how wrong/right you are. The guy with the money makes the rules. Your only hope is that you got the right mix, and there's enough glass in the plans for him. Anyway, it's not going to get funded. I've stopped being optomistic about the projects I write. I think I was cursed by a former APCD (Associate Peace Corps Director) when she said I was a good project writer, and I'd be getting a lot of funding for my organization. Whatever.
The past few days have been rather quiet. Another two of my colleagues have taken time off, so now it's just Yanko and me in the office. We get stuff done, but it's not enough to fill up the whole day. I like the peace, though. No fights in the office. No arguments. No gossip. I'm honestly going to be sorry to see my colleagues come back to work in a little over a week just because of the chaos factor. I have always liked working alone.
I mentioned in my last post that a couple girls in town were at a Peace Corps workshop recently and are inspired to do an HIV/AIDS initiative here in Rakitovo. We had our first meeting on Tuesday. Three people showed up (including me), and we brainstormed on how to get more people to come. I mean, the topic should be interesting enough. It's just a matter of getting people there. They still did a fabulous job that day. It's just... Rakitovo. Angel and I were talking about it last night. Young people here talk about how boring the town is - as though all there is to do here is go to a cafe. In the end, it turns out, people act as though that's all they really want to do. It's frustrating, and it drags you down. There's hope. You just wonder how long it will last. Youth are so powerful. It's just that you wish they'd use their power for something other than smoking, drinking, flirting, etc. It makes me wonder when I turned so old? Somewhere during my time here, I turned from a kid myself into some crotchety old woman who shakes her fist and says, "Damn kids!" There are still some that give me hope. It's a powerful generation. They need to learn, however, that only in making others' lives better will their own circumstances improve. It's another one of those invaluable lessons that I've learned here. I live like a queen in Rakitovo, but something's missing 'cause I'm unable to find others who feel like royalty here. Does this make sense? Basically, I'm not doing well 'cause those around me aren't doing well - or at least they don't think they are. You want to get out of the mud? First try and help the person next to you to get out of the mud. At least then you'll (hopefully) have someone in a better position to turn around and help you. The worst is when that person goes off and leaves you in the mud. Ummm... am I getting too philosophical and preachy tonight? I think so. Yes.
So yesterday, I was walking around trying to find kids to come to another meeting. It was sweltering out, and every living thing was hiding from the heat on the streets. I ended up at a friend's house by chance. Her mom gave me tea and sweets. She had seen me from the window, and she knew it was me from the way I was walking. Good gravy. My gait gives away the fact that I'm not from around here. The meeting was cancelled, and I learned about it after I had already convinced this girl to come with me. When her mother learned that the meeting was about AIDS/HIV, she offered to give me literature expounding the sins of homosexuality. I just responded that the discussion would be focused more on the illness itself as opposed to such relationships. If people think that AIDS is a "gay disease," and it could never happen to them, then they are exactly the people that need to attend such an informational session.
We have thought up a new strategy for attracting people. We're going to pass out fliers that say things like, "Can you get HIV from a mosquito bite? How about a kiss? If you want answers to these questions (and free food), come to the meeting today." We're hoping natural curiosity will get the best of them. If not, there's the free food. Most people will show up to any event for free food. Hopefully, it will work. Otherwise, it will just have to wait until the school year - when they're forced to listen to it in a classroom.
My English classes are going along. They call this time the "dead season," and it's true. Someone is always on vacation. When they come back, someone else leaves. One of my groups wanted to take a break for a while. I talked them out of it by reminding them that I'm only here 'til November, and I advised them to use me while they can. I don't plan on taking vacation at this point. Neither does Yanko, but I think he just does it so he can wear it like a badge. "In ten years, I haven't taken a vacation." I've tried to convey to him that only he's to blame, and it makes him stupid - not cool. There are no martyrs here... says the girl who whines all the time.
Recently, when people realize that I have so little time left here, I get questions like, "What are we going to do without you? What's the foundation going to do without you? What's Rakitovo going to do without you?" I can't say questions like that don't flatter me, but they're kind of strange. Are you trying to flatter me - with empty flattery? I usually just answer, "Um... what you've/they've/it's always done - even before I got here?" This is followed up by a debate about how much I've done of value in Rakitovo - and how much of it is sustainable. Then they say, "Well, we're really going to be sad when you go." I can accept such comments from people I see regularly. It's those that I only talk to casually on the street that I find a little odd. You can say, "I'm going to miss seeing you around - bumping into you every so often," but to express actual sadness? Maybe I'm too much of a cynic. No, I am too much of a cynic. I also need more patience and understanding for the human race. It's when you leave that people realize just how much you mean to them. Chalk it up to human nature.
Today I helped my landlady hand some pieces of heavy wood to a guy who'd brought along a portable saw. There was no one else to help her, and I insisted she let me. We only lasted for about half an hour before she told the guy he needed to get someone else. It was sweltering, and my landlady is in no condition for that kind of work. She insisted he go and find some young, strapping young lad to help him. I could have kept going for a bit longer. Sometimes you need a bit of manual labor in your life to remind you that you are still vigorous. I was kind of glad it ended though. I scared myself when I almost fell into the motor, but there's nothing else to tell there.
My landlady brought me some peppers in a homemade tomato sauce - probably in "compensation." I also had some "kiselo mlyako" (sour yogurt) with some peaches tonight, and something is not agreeing with me. Еven earlier in the night, I wasn't feeling well. I cancelled baseball 'cause I just wasn't up for it tonight. I actually received a phone call, "Are you coming to baseball tonight?" The problem is, when I decide I can't make it to baseball, there's no way to inform those who have already gone to the stadium. This is the first time someone tracked down my number to call and ask what was going on. So strange, and yet cool.
Krum, my perpetual admirer, is back on the scene. He's turned a bit more aggressive recently. He keeps demanding that I give him money. Then he talks to others in front of me about how much he loves me and how I'm going to take him back to the states. To try and get him to leave me alone, Ani tried to tell him that I have a boyfriend in the states who's HUGE and will come beat him up. He's not deterred. After using various methods to try and get him to wander off, he turned on me. The next day, he was in the center saying, "I hate Americans. I hate Apryl." Then he came up to our table at a cafe and said, "Either you take me to America, Apryl, or you die where you stand." Then he wandered off. He came back to the cafe and sat at a table behind us. After a bit, he threw a matchbox at me. Yanko said, "I'm going to beat you. Watch it. Why are you throwing things?" He answered, "Because Apryl's not paying attention to me." Then he grabbed his beer (this was 9 o'clock in the morning) and wandered around the center with it in its glass mug. He then tried to attach himself to another girl. I did my best to ignore him, but I caught him looking at me in smug satisfaction like, "Are you jealous now?" He was just wandering around in circles - kind of like a bird who was looking for ways to dive-bomb our table. I later saw him run up to a kid with a wild look in his eyes. The kid and the mother he was with ran off in very real fear.
The guy is fairly hard-working and stable most of the time. He leaves me alone for the most-part, and I can deal with him when he doesn't. Every once in a while, he loses it. I think it's a combination of a few things and drinking. He goes off his rocker. Krum is rather harmless in general, but he's honestly scary when he's not. I'm glad he no longer knows where I live.
And finally, I'm going to explain the title of this blog post. Well, there's really not much point to it as far as this post is concerned. It says, "Pari nema (nyama) - deystvayte!" which roughly translates to, "There's no money - get to work!" I like it. We say it a lot in the office. It's true of many things in my life here in Bulgaria. So yeah, I've given it a place in my blog. There's also a catchy song, but it's a bit risque for a link.

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