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    8.24.2004 ||>  

    There have been two times this month where I have been inarticulate with rage. Usually that doesn't happen to me. Like most Irish-Americans, I'm fully content to scream, cry and throw things when I'm angry. Becoming inarticulate is not a common problem, but I suppose when you can't fully express yourself to the other person (because they speak the most difficult language on Earth, apart from Chinese) it's easier. The first was time was the deal with the furniture that you already heard about. The other time was yesterday, which was a mess. But I was good. I did not freak out. I very calmly told the hairdresser that we did not understand each other. I wanted layers. She wanted to give me a mullet. I, in fact, had a mullet (or rather a "femullet" as my old site mate calls them for women) before I figured out what she was up to back there. I did some breathing exercises, thought around the problem as they teach you to do in Aikido, and asked her nicely to cut it off.

    "But it's so beautiful," she said.
    "You know, it's really not my style." I replied.
    "Okay, but I think you're making a mistake."

    So she cut off as much as she could without shaving my head. So now, no more mullet. Instead, I have Hillary Clinton hair. I went in for the rock star look and came out with the shortest hair I've had since I was five years old. I still can't decide if I look five or forty, but it'll grow out. And until then, I have lots of hats.

    Sepra was livin' easy on 3:19:00 PM || Site Feed ||

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    8.22.2004 ||>  

    There are so many thoughts I've had this morning, it's unbelievable. I made peanut butter pancakes, put on Sarah McLachlan's Afterglow and just sort of grooved the morning. As I listened along, my thoughts seemed to change with every song... this album is perhaps the only one of hers that can't make me depressed just listening to it.

    Mornings are only worth it if you can putter. Of course, usually as a student or teacher, this means I can only do this in the summer or on a weekend when there's nothing else to do. I wake up, stretch and lie back down to read a chapter or two of whatever is on my night stand. Then I get up, putter in the kitchen making something too complicated for a work morning like crepes or French toast. I sit down to eat and look out the window, watching the trees breeze outside and listening to the children play in the street. After some contemplation of whatever my mind comes up with, I take a long shower and then get ready for the day.

    Some days I'm a mess, but I also feel blessed.

    Sepra was livin' easy on 10:01:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    8.19.2004 ||>  

    Yesterday, I realized that no matter how detached I can be at times, cooly handling a situation (such as police extortion) that would have the average American reaching for a tire iron, I can still flip out on an almost apocalyptic scale.

    After a bout of Insomnia, I fell asleep, waking to find my landlady calling me, telling me she wants to put furniture in my apartment. She told me about this two months ago, and despite not being happy with more furniture in my already fully-furnished, two-room apartment, I had no choice so I just accepted. Her friend went to Russia, leaving it all to her, what else was she supposed to do? Put it in her apartment? No, no, no! Put it into my apartment, of course! Besides, it was only going to be one or two pieces... right?

    She came with a moving van full of furniture. I almost had a stroke from the stress induced by not killing her.

    Obviously, the situation collapsed from there. The cool thing about Russians is that they don't take yelling badly. In fact, two people can have a perfectly civil conversation, even agree with each other, and to the non-Russian speaker appear ready to come to blows. So, I exercised my culturally-approved right to yell at the madwoman. It went something like:

    Landlady (surprised): It'll be alright!
    Me (tearily): No, it'll be a nightmare! There's already too much. I no longer live in an apartment, but a furniture store! How can I live in a furniture store?!
    L (hedging): We'll take some furniture out tomorrow...
    M (who has heard that one a hundred times): I can't live like this! There won't be any space! Good God!
    L (motioning me to relax): Calm down my good girl, Everything will be fine!
    M (refusing to relax): You don't want to live like this, how could I?!

    And so on. It was quite a scene. I finally had a guy from Peace Corps come and translate for me because It was difficult to communicate and I wasn't understanding everything she was trying to say. I, of course, wasn't getting too much across either but my obvious rage. Today we settled everything. She didn't move nearly the amount of furniture she promised to, just dumped what would make me go over the edge at my neighbors. I'm baking a cake for the neighbors later in gratitude. They know how she steamrolls people.

    In a way, it's a good thing. Right now, I'm looking forward to America, where it's actually illegal for a landlord to do this.

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 11:01:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    8.12.2004 ||>  

    The quarterly volunteer newspaper came out and in it was a rather interesting article about being back in the western world. The author wrote about visiting Italy and simply noticing all the appalling behavior that it took us months to get in the habit of over here. Here, the manners are different, and if we didn't lose a few that Mom taught us, we wouldn't have gotten very far. Back home, it's going to be an uphill battle to remember them. After reading her article, which shows just a few breaches, I could definitely add more to the list, from what I noticed and what Kelly pointed out to me in Prague.

    I her article, Amie noticed her atrocious table manners, which I share. I also hover over my plate now, shoveling it all in with a spoon like there will never be food again. Not to mention that sharing plates not only does not bother me, but I expect to eat from the same plate as others. I am also not as concerned about washing the dishes with soap as I once was. Given a choice, I'll do it, but I don't feel grossed out if someone just uses hot water. However, I will be highly offended if someone sets a drink in front of me instead of handing it to me or flips the bread upside down. Were they raised in a barn?

    The second biggie was public transportation. In Uzbekistan, if you don't start pushing old ladies out of your way, you might as well walk because otherwise you'll never get anywhere. People are vicious (especially the old ones) and will use anything it takes to get in a bus, shuttle or metro car first. It took me two and a half months to start pushing people out of my way and unfortunately now, I'm a pro. In Prague, where people tend to wait in line, say please and thank you, etc., I was out of control. I didn't have to worry about being the Ugly American, because I was the Ugly Russian.

    There are some manners that I think are better than the ones in America. Taking off your shoes before entering a house seems much more civilized to me. Since 70% of household dirt is tracked in from outside, it's also a cleaner habit. In addition, Uzbekistan could teach Americans a thing or two about being hospitable. I've never felt more welcome in anyone's house than I have here. Of course, the rub is that no one in America would want to invite me over anyway until I clean up my act a bit in other areas.

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 5:21:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    8.10.2004 ||>  

    I went to this site today where I learned of an article about why French people are slimmer than Americans. The secret? They eat healthier foods and smaller portion sizes. Big surprise.

    I heard from some people who had just come back from America that after a study came out about carbohydrates also making people fat, grocery stores came out with whole aisles of nothing but low-carb foods. When I left, it was whole aisles of low-fat food. For a people that pride themselves so much on honesty, Americans sure like to cheat when they can. They want their 3,000 calories a day and to stay fit too. Whenever I catch students (or teachers I work with) cheating or when I get hit up for bribes, I try to explain that in America, we always try to do the honest thing. Except when it comes to our Snackwells. In that case, we will do anything to keep our junk food.

    Oh, three posts in two days... nice.

    Sepra was livin' easy on 9:13:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    8.09.2004 ||>  

    In the two years I've been here, I've read four real-life adventure books about average people who have done amazing, cool things. These books weren't "I was in a car accident and my dog saved me" type stories because that's not an adventure anyone has a choice in. These people chose to do something outrageous for some time. One woman worked in Antarctica for three months, another worked minimum-wage jobs to test the idea of a "living wage" out. The men hitchiked: one across America without money and one around Ireland with a fridge.

    These stories are very inspiring. Before I came into the Peace Corps, and in the first few weeks I lived in Uzbekistan, I used to think I would be on this great adventure. Now it just seems like the same old thing every day. In the past, I have occasionally felt myself drowning in ennui. I wish that I could do something so exciting and unique. But then, could adventure be in the eye of the beholder? In the middle of their travels, didn't these people also think time and time again, "Why am I doing this?!?" I know I do. In that case, what does this say for people in general? If even adventurers don't feel like what they're doing is compelling while they're doing it, could everyone be on an adventure and just not know it?

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 6:05:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    8.05.2004 ||>  

    So after the bombings, a friend and I decided to get on out of Tashkent and so we took a 12 hour drive to the city of Urgench. Along the way, we were casually molested by sketchy Uzbek men until, waking up to find a hand hovering near my breast, my friend slapped his hand, called him an animal and told him that he should be ashamed of himself. The minibus pulled over, everybody sort of looked at us and when the guy was properly embarassed, we continued on.

    Urgench is a very nice-looking city. Everything looks clean, the roads aren't very bad and the taxis are cheap. We even managed to stay at a decent hotel for a good price. The hotel didn't have a third floor, which we found rather odd, but we aren't picky at this point, so it was just an interesting aside. Urgench doesn't have much to offer it in a cultural sense except that it is a convenient 30 minute drive from the city of Khiva, which was the last famous city on my list of Silk Road cities to see. For a dollar, you can climb a minaret, unless of course, you are afraid of heights like me and chicken out. I did sit on a camel though, so my ego was soothed a little bit.

    The other cool thing about Khiva was that it's not as touristy as Samarkand or Bukhara. People were laid back and seemed to like bargaining with us in Uzbek or even Russian. At the other two cities, sellers can be really awful about insisting on speaking in English even when their English is unintelligable. In Tashkent, if someone starts bargaining in English or prices in dollars, I just walk away. Everything was pretty cheap there too. We ran into these cute pre-adolescent girls who were pushy as hell and hilarious. They kept undercutting each other and giving us pendants as "presents" so we would buy the expensive stuff. I think they should found a car dealership together. They're naturals.

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    Sepra was livin' easy on 6:00:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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    8.01.2004 ||>  

    So, believe it or not, the embassy ruled that the bombings were a one-time thing and they won't happen again. Then, today, they took us off standfast and we are allowed to travel and do what we want within reason. I'm a little surprised actually, at the suddenness with which the embassy has decided we can just troll around. I know they're probably not being flippant, but it's a little disconcerting that they're just yelling an all-clear when I thought they'd be more cautious.

    There are repercussions of course. The first being that three of my friends are leaving the Peace Corps, which is a bit sad. Then there's talk of an evacuation: will it happen? when could it happen? I think if there is one, it will be after I am back in the States. I just don't think it will happen to me. Besides, I still feel safer here than in America. Hell, there are gangs of kids roaming the streets shooting people just so that they can feel like they belong. How is that any safer than here? At least here I'm protected and cared for just because I'm an American. In America, I'm not special enough to be protected like that.


    Sepra was livin' easy on 1:22:00 AM || Site Feed ||

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