30 July 2005

45 rpm, slow speed

First, I can't believe it's still July. Jesus, this has to be the longest month of the year. Someone once wrote to me and said that, in Ukraine, I'll understand what, "The days seem like months and the months seem like days," means. I think I've begun my understanding of that phrase. Work has made the weeks fly by, but each day seems like an eon. I haven't figured out if it's the wait for Peace Corps that has made this month crawl or if it's really just God dragging his finger along the July 2005 vinyl, eking out a few extras tones on his stereo.

Bah. In one month, I'll be saying, "Jesus, I can't believe August is already over!" Just you wait.

In other news, Karen and I met with a fellow from Ukraine 28 (back in the states for a few months because of some needed hearing aids) at the Mucky Duck--Karen hates that place, but you sure as hell can't beat the Happy Hour there. We met for a snack and some drinks. I purchased two Sierras right off the bat, one for each of the following reasons: (1) we knew it'd be a long talk and (2) Happy Hour ended at seven pm and we had arrived at 6:45pm.

So we talked [...] almost the entire time, which was fine with me considering I was excited to hear anything about Ukraine. Karen, I believe, tuned out. There was sports (and this really great sports show) on the tele.

This fellow did tell us that we wouldn't see Kyiv--except for the bits from the plane and in the airport--for about three weeks. So, we must find a phone card and call home from somewhere other than the capitol.

Next, we learned that fish and radishes are high on the Ukrainian food ladder. I hate radishes. Karen hates fish. Guess we'll be getting over that.

We also learned that it was a good idea to buy a cell phone once we got to Kyiv. Never thought I'd have a cell phone in Peace Corps. Outgoing calls to the US are ridiculously priced, he said, but incoming is free...for us. Also, if we have one with text messaging, we could text around Ukraine and to the US. The phones, he says, have English and Ukrainian characters. Once we get there, we'll see if this cell phone business is really necessary.


Next day (yesterday), we met with our PC advisor at MIIS. She laid out our class schedule for when we return from PC. If we start as soon as we can, we'll begin classes about three weeks after PC ends. I don't like that idea, but we may be ready to get it over with by then. If so, Karen's got a large load the first semester--if she decides to stick with the LPA biz. We shall see.

In other news, I want to take the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR) some time while I am in Eastern Europe. I'd take it from Moscow and ride it all the way to Beijing. Lofty, maybe. Exciting, yes. Right now, though, that's my big plan. Want to read about it? http://www.hostels.ru/

That's all for now. Just getting a little more involved with PC again. Finishing my dental in 21 days. By then, August will be halfway over.

By then, it'll seem like today was only yesterday.

[...] [At the behest of my wife, I've edited some comments].

26 July 2005


Time is flying. I've still been checking our Yahoo groups and reading the pre-service training CD that Peace Corps sent, but I devote much less time each day to thinking and learning about Ukraine. We are so busy teaching, and it's hard to believe it's already almost August.


The countdown ticker seems to have sped up. I imagine soon I'll get the urge to slam on the brakes. September used to seem so far off. We've filled up our time left in the States, scheduled our weekends nearly full. The best advice I've read from current or past volunteers is to spend time with your friends and family, eat your favorite foods, and relax. No matter how much of this difficult language I learn, I will feel lost at first. No matter how much macaroni and cheese I eat, I will miss it. No matter how many emails or postcards I send, my family and friends will be far.

So I try to enjoy each day and not think about how quickly the countdown is moving. It will soon be time to pack and say goodbye. And I will.

20 July 2005

so true

From Peace Corps 2:

illipse <> wrote:
"this is a dumb question, but when you arrive in country, does the PC
have anything arranged so you can call your family and let them know
you arrived safely? Do they let you use their phones? Or do you have
to hunt down a phone card and some free time and do it on your own?"


Free time, do it on you your own and on your own dime.

Remember, they certainly would let you family know if you DIDN'T arrive safely!"

If we don't arrive, Peace Corps will be calling you. If you do not hear from us or from Peace Corps, please rest assured that everything is probably fine. My mom doesn't read this, but other important people do. So keep this in mind. I'll be repeating as the days tick away!

No call, no worry.

Call (and it isn't me), worry.

17 July 2005


Hope you didn't take the bet, cause Larry was right (like usual).

We're going to arrive in Chicago on September 30th, to begin staging. Unfortunately both the Cubs and White Sox will be on the road. But we probably wouldn't have had much time, between shots and paperwork, to catch a game anyway.

Approaching the 2 months left mark....

14 July 2005

rediculously shameless

I took first place in a pretty cool fiction contest. They also pub'd two of my poems.

The issue goes live manana.

Check 'em out if you can deal with vulgar language, crude sexual situations, and thoughts you'd (not) expect to come from my mind (if you know me).


P.S. If you're my mother-in-law, I hearby take leave of my (Karen's?) senses and invite you to read. I'd like to share this part of my life with you. I sincerely apologize in advance.

13 July 2005

a lull

The roller coaster analogy could not be any more perfect for how Larry and I have been feeling toward Peace Corps for the past month or so. It definitely applied during the application process, with the frustration and waiting and excitement and the unknown all mushed together.

The days when he was staying up late reading every line of new information he could find about Ukraine have slowed, or perhaps I should say, completelly disappeared for now.

I feel pretty positive about the fact that we WILL go, and that they WON'T find some random, illogical reason that we shouldn't end up there.

Peace Corps has sent language practice materials to other volunteers in our group, so perhaps in a few days we'll know if we're learning Russian or Ukrainian. I assume we'll learn both eventually, but we will know which to focus on more intently at first.

We take turns feeling excited and pessimistic. We take turns not really wanting to think about it. We take turns asking each other what we can't live without when we go, and what we'll miss.

For now, our teaching consumes us. I am learning valuable knowledge every day that you cannot learn from books or even from being told. I'm learning through doing, through messing up. I'm learning to teach young people who may not be too different from my students in Ukraine.

And we continue to ride the ride, get off and wait in line, and ride it again. Right now I'm on the ride and Larry's in line watching. Soon, I know, we'll be on it together.

06 July 2005

much to do

So many classes to plan for.

So little hours in the day.

Little time to think of Ukraine at present.




03 July 2005


I bet you $1 I know where we're going to staging.

From last year's PC send-off list for all countries:

Eastern Europe


Departure Season:




Departure Month:

Staging City:

Leave a comment taking my bet. If I'm wrong, I'll send you $1.

If I'm right, you owe me. :D

01 July 2005

ukrainian blood cells

Andrew Wilson (note new sidebar: Currently reading) notes that an eleventh century text from somewhere on Earth refers to descendants of Ukrainians, "as a people 'feasted to fulfillment on the sweetness of books'."

As a bibliophile--one who is currently selling/giving away/donating his stock in preparation for a big move to the other side of the world--and an avid, avid, avid reader, I find that I must have some Ukrainian in me.

It's just so obvious.