Tuesday, October 12, 2010

three hail mary's and a liter of wine

Saturday, August 28th, 2010 - Day 15

Dear Journal, 
          Today is St. Marium's Day, and as I sit in the town square observing the townspeople, I'm rather ambivalent about getting the festivities started. So much of Georgian culture is grounded in the Orthodox Tradition that I'm at a loss when it comes to interacting at times. Evidently, Georgians love to party or 'have suphras' as they like to put it. These events usually entail a disgusting amount of food, wine, and vodka. So naturally this would seem appealing to anyone searching for an outlet to relieve some cultural-shock frustration. Coupled by a long day in church, anybody would be killing for a night off from being the foreigner, the town's special guest, and the new American English teacher. Being nice sometimes takes too much energy.
          Then, I went to an Orthodox Church Service for the first time. Being that I am Muslim, I was told to stand outside the back doors during this TWO hour hoe-down. Did I mention that it was hot as hell, and that there was enough incense burning to smoke out a small hotel? I'm almost certain I nearly choked to death! I was so close to calling a taxi to take me back to civilization where I would have taken the best bubble-bath of my life, glass of pinot grigio in hand. 
          Well, after my first Orthodox Service, I was ready to start any festivity that somehow involved drinking.....

........emotional drinking is never a good idea......this really ought to be a traveling tip......

Sunday, August 29th, 2010 - Day 16

[spotted: Durota re-living her freshmen year of college fast asleep on the toilet seat. Waking up naked on the bathroom floor - too priceless for words]

lesson learned: avoid suphras at all cost!!! Will probably die if that happens again!!!

xo xo m

where my money at?

Thursday, August 26th, 2010 - Day 13

Dear Journal, 
          Today was incredibly difficult in my new hometown of Abasha, Georgia, and yet sitting here in the town square, I can't help but feel some sort of relief. For the most part, I enjoy the traditions of Georgian culture. But there are several reservations I have towards acclimating entirely into their society. 
          After living with my host family for nearly four days, I told them I was moving out and into the Educational Director's apartment for having violated by contract by asking for money. As the official story goes, I met my family four days ago and was introduced to my new living conditions. I had a father, a mother, and a pregnant married sister. Soon after showing me my new room, they asked for roughly half of my salary, which of course I was neither obliged to hand over nor determined to do so. This naturally caused some uncomfortableness amongst the Director who was translating and the host family members. Strangely enough, I didn't feel too bad in denying them the extra funds. I wasn't exactly their monthly pay-check, like some foster child they needed for the extra cash flow. Rude. I know. Either way, I left that situation as quickly as possible. The downside, of course, is that both the father and mother work as teachers in the same school as me. Talk about your awkward moments....
          In any case, the people here mix familial ties and professionalism so much so that your vice-directors, teachers, and staff are more than likely somehow related to you. This would never happen in America, which really isn't the problem. The uncomfortable feelings arise when you have to challenge your faculty for not properly fulfilling their duties. I feel as if there are no boundaries or distinctions. This, by no means, creates an efficient and productive school, much less society.
          When I'm not thrown into these odd situations, I find walking to the town square helps to calm my nerves. Sitting on these green, plastic lawn chairs outside the only pub in a 10km radius seems to be my main form of relaxation. It may not be a Starbucks or a Panera or even a fast-food joint, but it's the best part of my week. 
          Sometimes, I wish I could sit in front of this water fountain for hours and just work on my writing. And then it hits me. I'm not here to really teach or even really work on my writing. I'm here to figure out me. As cliche as it might seem, I can't really move forward in my professional life, much less my personal life, without first experiencing a few struggles, some awkward situations, and more than my share of strange, Georgian customs.

looking past the green, plastic lawn chairs, 
xo xo m

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Surviving Georgia pt. 2

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 - Day 5

~ from the desk of m ~

Dila Mshvidobisa Friends! (clearly that's good morning)
          This should be no surprise when I tell you my body is not only rejecting itself due to unaccustomed foods, but also dying slowly from this exhausting training routine. In between said pot-sittings and cafeteria visits, I'm either sitting in intensive Georgian classes, methodology teaching skills class, or some other meeting where we are constantly bombarded with things we need to know to survive with future host family and village.
........pause....that's right. I said village...
I faintly remember saying once, "This 'Teach and Learn with Georgia' program is just like the Peace Corps but without the mud-huts, squatty-potties, and general lack of civilization." Clearly, I didn't read the fine print. fml. 

[spotted: Durota crying in the corner after discovering her new life for the next year is worst than Section 8 housing.]  

Off to morning classes, 
xo xo m

Surviving Georgia

Monday, August 16th, 2010 - Day 3

~ from the desk of m ~

hello darlings,
          m checking in with the latest news on the happenings/ins & outs of Georgian culture and my ridiculous stumble into half constructed ruins, instant coffee, and speedway driving. Don't worry' that's not even the best part. The past four days have literally been a blur - unfortunately not due to the invisible alcohol consumed or the apparent availability of drugs. If anything, surviving in Geogia simply takes a brilliant amount of naivete, no sense of direction, and a strong stomach. 
          So after traveling on three airplanes, I arrived in bustling Tbilisi, Georgia early evening on Sunday, only to discover that anything that can go wrong....has most definitely gone astray. Evidently, half the entire team of teachers' luggage has been misplaced, leaving me with less than zero chances of impressing my fellow colleagues in latest J-Crew attire, a BO-less body, and a presentable face (mostly due to my anger at still not having said luggage on the third day). Actually, scratch that last part. Who am I kidding?  This face stands out in this crowd. 
          Anyways, so we spend a rather lovely night in the capital city, which includes an exciting tour for those who need to stop at a goodwill because of having no luggage. Aside from the exhaustion of traveling, I quickly learn no one - and I mean no one - follows any sort of driving standards. Stuffed in a mini-van with six others, I grasp on to the seat and fellow colleague in an attempt to avoid having a nervy-b in public (traveling tip # 3, I believe). At one point, our driver, Data (pronounced Daataa) decides he's missed our turn and will reverse in the middle of the road. 

[spotted: Durota cringing in fear, doe-eyed, as incoming vehicles pass a reversing car at high speeds. Will she survive with some sense of dignity? Highly unlikely.]

          Obviously, I survived but not before giggling hysterically from shear fear of being killed as we begin to drive once again in the right direction. Naturally, this would cause some attention. Luckily for me, everyone thought I was enjoying the rush of adventure at nearly loosing my life. Damn I'm good!
          Anyways, so much more to tell, but dinner is calling. Will write soon, promise. 

from georgia to georgia with love, 
xo xo m

Fresh Steps

Monday, August 16th, 2010 - Day 3

Dear Journal,
          As morning classes begin, I sit on the front steps with the others and breath in the city of Kutaisi. A constant breeze uplifts the thick dust, overtaking those who stand in open places. And yet, the air here feels so light - not completely polluted by car fumes and industrial smoke. 
          The people here always stare. They wear the same face wherever we travel as if aged by the throws of being part of such an old country. They seem content. But where is the light in their eyes? No one smiles; no one laughs. I wish I knew about their lives, their stories.
          Surrounded by so many people from all over the world, I've never felt so American, which feels odd never having really claimed this identity. Funny really, I've never heard so many jokes about Americans. I most definitely know nothing about other countries' politics. And like a true American, I still have no interest in learning about them now...

          For the time being, I can't help enjoy myself in this new place, though I could kill for a Starbucks coffee right now. If only I could properly explain this odd setting; this make-shift training center with foam mattresses and rough sheets instead of spring mattresses and soft cotton sheets; this single, raggedy road with empty buildings and a police station marking the end of each lane. I never thought I'd be so glad to get out of the crowded, congested, roads of Macon, Georgia.

But here I am...
xo xo m

Initial Reaction

Saturday, August 14, 2010 - Day 1

Dear Journal, 
      I've only just arrived in Tbilisi, Georgia exhausted from two days of traveling, jet lag, and the general emotional roller-coaster of coming to another country halfway around the world. 
     Deep breath...
     What the hell am I doing here?!? Did I really hate living at home so much?!? This is crazy! I didn't even know Georgia existed, much less know they had their own language. Is this what a panic attack feels like?!?

     Too tired, 
      xo xo m