29 June 2005


Quick post.

Karen and I learned how to read and write three words in Ukrainian today.

They are (in no particular order):

This/that/these/those (apparently the same word)
Post Office

I'd write them here for you but there's no cyrillic text here.


Time for bed.

28 June 2005

dobryy den

[This post is my first official remote post. No need to log into blogger. We'll see how it goes.]

Karen and I held our first first joint Ukrainian language study session tonight. I sat on the corner of the bed, staring out the window and onto the neighbors. She sat at the computer. We practiced how to pronounce each of the letter in the Ukrainian cyrillic alphabet. Some went better than others. The ones that look like roman script letters make sense. A "T" is a "T," a "i" is an "i," and so on. I can even handle the boxy looking "D" and the theta-looking character.

It's the backwards god damn "N" that gets me. My Lonely Planet Ukrainian phrasebook--thanks Melissa for that gem--says it is pronounced like the "i" in "birch." Now, I don't know about you, but I can't isolate that "i" sound in
"birch." I go right from the "b" to the "r" sound. I don't even think there is a "i" sound in that word. If you can give me a better example about what the backwards "N"--and the backwards "N" wiith the ~ over it--actually sound like, please leave a comment here.

It's driving me--us--crazy.


Whenever I learn anything, I tend to write everything down. Anything new in Spanish, I've have to write it down. Otherwise, I'd lose it. Gone with the wind and all that.

This studying of Ukrainian is a little different. I haven't really sat down and studied--today being the first day. I've been looking at this Let's Go Eastern Europe book (thanks Jan) and reading through the transliterations. From that reading, I've picked up many of the cyrillic letters. I've absorbed them. Tonight, when I really started to look at them, I found I could already read half of them. I think Karen already knows nearly all of them. By the time we go to staging, we'll hopefully have all the letters and sounds down pat. Maybe even a few phrases.

Karen and I learned a few phrases tonight. The one I remember best is the subject of this post.

It means good day.

Dobryy den.

I'm still working on "good night."


I'm back on Ukraine information overload, and I think it's driving Karen nuts. During breakfast, I was on the PC researching.

Ditto for lunch.

At dinner, I printed out Mark Pulver's journal from www.pulverpages.com and read parts of it. She was less than pleased and asked if I could stop reading at the table.

She grew up were people talked at the dinner table.

I grew up with a TV on the dinner table.

You can see our difficulty.


She sleeps now.

I study.

i'm not even mad this time


I received a letter from dental yesterday saying I was cleared, even though my dentist recommended a filling and a crown. As this was extremely strange, I called OMS (Office of Medical Services) and talked to Danielle (dental asst.). She forwarded me to the dentist, who was a hoot. He flavors his language with a lot of the same words I use!

Long story short: I'm on dental hold again. Gotta get those teeth fixed, which is what I assumed in the very first place.

I'm just glad I called now. I'm glad I'm proactive. I'm glad I didn't procrastinate because:

If I didn't call, I would have got to staging and not been allowed to go to Ukraine.

Because they review dental one final time.

Because they would have seen my dental needs.

Because, as the dentist said today, "How the hell did you get cleared?"

Because they would have made me get the crown.

Because you can't get a crown in three days.

So, off to the dentists in two weeks. And then in five weeks.

26 June 2005

11:23 pm

Again, Karen sleeps softly to my left.

Been reading for a few hours on the Peace Corps 2 Yahoo group. I thought we had it bad. Jesus, despite the waiting, we have it good. Just the damn waiting. But, teacher training at DLI plus the other teaching jobs we have will make it go by faster.

We pulled out our date books today and really planned out where we are going to be for the next three months. Lots of family time. Lots of teaching time. A trip to Yosemite too. Probably Disneyland and a trip to see the Padres lose to the Giants before it's all over and we're crying in the airport--men are allowed to cry. We're looking forward to it all.

In the meantime, I'm still here writing crazy stories (in my new one, this girl wears her boyfriend's face as a mask).

I'm still here.

Thinking about my packing situation.

Feeling Ukrainian dirt under my boots.


25 June 2005

a different sort of news

Ukraine 29 has been getting some invitees who were going to Uzbekistan. The official word from PC is that Uzbekistan would not renew visas and such, which I believed. Then I did a little reseach of my own.

From noughsaid.blogs.com (woman who was in Uzbekistan with PC during the situation):

"Peace Corps called earlier in the day to tell me that two Peace Corps staff were on their way to "check up on us." So I waited, read, napped, tried the phones, SMS's those I could, and waited. Finally, a call came through saying that despite the diplomatic plates on the vehicles and diplomatic passports, that they were not allowed to enter the city. Apparently, events had escalated while they were enroute and it was decided that we would be removed from the city as a precaution. Since two Andijon volunteers were already in Tashkent, and the other two lived outside the city limits, I was the only one to be removed from within the city. After getting through three city limits check-points, they could not get passed the last blockade to reach me. They tried other check-points without luck so I suggested that I walk out to the first check-point since it was only about 100 metres from my apartment building. I could sense that something was seriously wrong when we were walking towards each other only 50 meters apart and they still called me on the cell phone asking if I could see them walking towards me. As soon as the Peace Corps staff reached me, they flanked me on both sides until we got near the vehicles. Only then did I become aware that there had been shootings there just 30 minutes before. We then drove to pick up the two other volunteers who were outside of the city limits and drove to Ferghana City where we spent the night."

She's safe at home.

Here's the official word from PC regarding Uzbekistan's program suspension:

"Recently, the visas of 52 Peace Corps volunteers and the Peace Corps country director expired and were not renewed. Because the Peace Corps was unable to ensure proper documentation from the Uzbekistan government, the Peace Corps has determined it necessary to suspend its program."

Correlate much? I think not.

Man, Peace Corps blogs are interesting.

Interesting indeed.

24 June 2005

ever the (poor) student

...Technology. Instead of staying up by candle-light, lamp-light, or electric-light, my eyes remain teased open by the glow of the computer screen...

I'm back researching, learning, and learning. I've got a few more cyrillic characters down--when navigating the bbc.co.uk/ukrainian site, I recognised the word Ukraine and the word Radio. I'm back in bed with the laptop going after Karen's fell asleep. I'm back talking about Peace Corps again. After a long, long hiatus.

I called the Office of Medical Services about nine times today. No one picked up the phone in the dental office, and no one returned my calls. Le sigh. I have no idea what my account status means. Can they really not require me to have any more work done. That outcome seems pretty impossible. But they wouldn't clear me unless I had required work done. There must be some sort of mistake. (There I go witth he negativity again).

There's a lot of activity in our Yahoo group now, as people are starting to find out they are going to Ukraine. Apparently, the program in Uzbekistan has been suspended, so invitees who were going there are now going to Ukraine. We might meet up with a few of the invitees before we head to our staging city--wherever that will be.

Hope all is well in the not-obessessed-with-Ukraine-again world.

otra vez

I've no dental hold on my account.

I have no idea what that means, but I don't have a hold anymore.

20 June 2005

chasing pocket aces

Lately, I won a fiction writing contest. I won over a bill. Other than a nice bottle of Morgan 12 clone Pinot Noir I promised Karen we'd get if I were to succeed at my text-based endeavour, I splurged on a little online Texas Hold 'Em. Now, I'm not rich; I never bet more than I can afford to lose. So I haven't lost my head (or my ass). I've won a few and lost a few. Still riding my sum after five days of gaming with friends. The quickest way I've found to winning the money is patience--something Karen will say I lack, something I seemed to have gained in the PC process (and a lil TH'E). The quickest way to lose your electronic dollars is, in my humble opinion, to chase pocket aces.

QBD (quick break down): Two cards in TH'E are dealt to each player. Those two cards are called your pocket. Aces are the highest card. So, pocket aces are seen as a really good pocket set of cards. You probably know all of this from TV, however.

Anyway, everytime I chase those GDMFCS--here, I spare you the profanity--pocket aces, I lose. In a $5 buy-in single table tourney, you are given $1500 in chips in which to beat the table. Usually, to win, you want to hold onto those chips deep into the round, after all the newbs have lost their junk. And I usually fold.

But those pocket aces.


So I chase. I push in stacks of hundreds. I get two pair. Aces. Kings. The sweat's rollin'. The ticker's ticking skyward of 210 bpm. It's here that I meet the gambling addict, this blood-pumping, this nail-biting. If I didn't have self-control and a love of keeping my money....

Anyway, back to the dos A and the dos K. Good hand, as far as pairs go. But I'll be bronzed and put on display in the Country Music Hall of Fame if I don't get smoked by a runner on the turn or the river. Every GDMF time.

The feeling, the line right between knowing you have the victory in your hands and realizing you've lost almost all chance of winning your face back, well it sucks. The pit of your stomach, rotting and writhing. Your eyeballs squinting, unbelieving. Your GD junk ready to rip off your body and prance away.

That moment of breath and death has been my time with PC. Some days more breath. Some days more death. Always the proverbial razorblade, rusty and dripping with blood from those across the globey globe feelin' what I feel. Ready for the realization of dreams or the downfall of destiny.

Now, with my 2nd dental update off to PC (the doc saying nothing more than a crown needed), I'm ready to chase my destiny. I'm ready to take hold of the thing I've wanted since I was nine, watching those damn ads on the television, thinking, "How can you love a tough job?"

No more pessimism. Nor negativity. Nor ill will. Nor nasty emails. Nor thought to how many times I've been burned in this GDMFCS process. Nor cussing.



Ain't no one, ain't no cards, ain't no MFGD thing gonna stop me.

If they try, I'm walking to Washington.

07 June 2005


Two of our classmates are off to their staging city. Kelvin is in Arlington, VA getting ready to go to Armenia. He said PC gave him a $320 debit card for his 3 days of staging and for en route to Armenia. Wow. He ate lobster. We'll probably not do that.

Leigh is in Philadelphia, headed to Moldova. We'll be neighbors.

It's exciting that some of our classmates are already well on their way. They've already packed and said their goodbyes. I'm envious and not; finding myself more and more thankful for the extra time before departure.

Another classmate, Celeste (who grew up in a neighboring city in SD), just found out this week she's going to Ukraine on Sept 29th, WITH US! I'm very excited to have another MIIS person in our group, and I think she'll be a great friend and resource in country.

Check out our MIIS PCMI site, it has some pre-departure and academic-oriented thoughts.

In case you're wondering about Larry's quitting status, he's not. He won't let himself. He's slowly starting to admit to himself that we're going to go. Soon we'll be in Kelvin and Leigh's shoes. Packed and having said our goodbyes.

02 June 2005


I don't mean quit quit.

I mean, "I'm tired of being tired of this process."

By the time we go, we'll be pros at all this.

So, I'm not really quitting. Karen won't let me. She is decidedly more optomistic than I.

And I don't need financial aide...except by wandering philanthropic persons not related to me.



I have a hold on my Peace Corps account. Because of my--for once--lack of procrastination, I let Peace Corps know that my dental records would be over one year old (by eight days) by the time Karen and I finally left for Ukraine.

They said thanks, put a hold on my account, and sent me the paperwork to have a second dental exam.

So I've been on the lookout for insurance to help me pay for it--as Peace Corps will pay up to $20. I just applied for some today, so I hope it works out.

If, for some reason, Peace Corps delays us again, past September, I fucking quit.

You heard it here first.