30 October 2005

voda or vodu

In about six days or so we head towards the capital to discover where our permanent site will be. We will stay with our future host family for a week and then come back for some technical sessions. I am hoping beyond hope to go to a place in Ukraine whee I can make full use of the Ukrainian language. You can read into that how you will.
In other news, it is nice to receive letters from friends and family back home. I haven't heard from my family yet, but I am hoping their words are on the way. We've heard from some friends of ours from school; it is so nice to keep in contact with what is going on back in the States.
The language here is picking up. When I first got here, I walked into a shop hoping for a pencil and some tissue. I walked out with a pen and some beer. There days, I more or less get what I want if the shop attendant can understand my jumbled words. Yesterday I bought some slipper and journals. One journal was an adventure as the shop keeper dug through her pile until she could find the right one for me. I stuck it in my bag and didn't look at it really close until I got home. There I found that I had an American Chopper journal, replete with Paul Sr. My uncle would be so proud.  In case you don't know, there is only one self serve shop where I live.  Everywhere else, you have to ask for what you want. It turns each trip for bread or toilet paper into a life or death task. It was really hard when I had zero/nul/NONE of the language, but it was a great way to practice the language.  I didn't realize how badly I could fuck up asking for water in a second language, but with all the cases in Ukrainian, one sentence can vary about 70 different ways. Voda or vodu or whatever ever else it can be.
That as it is, the days of death are fewer these days.
Wishing you love from Ukraine.

23 October 2005

blood in ukraine

They tell us that Ukraine will seem the same, but you'll eventually find the differences. It's like a picture puzzle in the newspaper, sectioned off near the jumble and the crossword puzzle, where you have to find the five differences between the two pictures. Between the US and Ukraine. Yesterday, I began to find the differences.
On the train from I to P, three fisherman boarded. They sat down next to this girl who asked them, I think, to leave. They did not. They were sitting directly across the aisle from me. They began to attack her with questions. Then, eventually, to make a long, long story short, the men started to fight with each other. By the end, the one nearest the window wound up with a bloody nose.
The first difference: no one stood up to break it up; no one really noticed.

19 October 2005


When I was a Freshman, a Sophomore in college, I studied. Don't get me wrong. I read a lot. I also, however, played a little game called Counter-Strike. After many months of long nights eliminating the terrorist scum, I gave up my drug and studied more earnestly. As a result, my grades went up.

Every now and again, home in FOrtuna, I play CS with my cousin. He still plays, now that he's a freshman in college. Once I boarded the plane for Ukraine, I knew that part of my life was behind me.


Every internet cafe I go into, regardless of time of day, there are little boys playing CS. I see the drug working its magic. I see the addiction.

I also see that these kids have some 1337 skills. R0}{oR and all that.

It's strange for me to see. Ukraine is in such a transition. Counterstrike along side of babucyas selling sunflower seeds on the street. Old brick buildings falling down on the main street while new, modern buildings get put up on secluded side streets.

It is an experience I find hard to depict.

18 October 2005

poor kids

When we first arrived, our host mother introduced us to babusya T and she said "poor kids."

So far I disagree. This place is really growing on me.

Went to church with our host family on Sunday. Stood in a line while people lit candles and the main guy sang and swung an incense ball. Then went to a huge bazaar that reminded me of a super-crowded swap meet. Met our host father's sister and her husband. When he heard we were from CA, he asked what we grow there. I'll have to learn that in Ukrainian.

We're studying food now, so I can finally say, NO REALLY, I'M FULL! Every time I serve myself, they say "Malo!" which to me means bad (Spanish), but they're saying I'm not serving myself enough. They worry every time I sneeze, but I try to convince them for me it's normal.

My body feels especially healthy here, and my spirits are high.

We look forward to hearing from you.

15 October 2005

Week 2

So we've begun to get a routine, but are still adjusting to our new life.

This morning we woke up around 7 and ate breakfast with our host mother L. We had oats and a Kix-like cereal covered in yogurt. Tasty. We've finally convinced them that we don't need greasy, meaty heaps in the morning. We dressed and met the fellow married couple volunteers (who live across the street) to walk to our language instructor's home together. We stopped at the bazaar to buy some snacks, and I got some peppermint tea.

We spend about 5-6 hrs per day studied language, and it's coming slowly. Larry is nearly putting together correctly-conjugated sentences but I'm still pointing and naming words. It will be a long process, but we're determined. We remind ourselves it's only been a week.

The food continues to be tasty, and our host family so kind. We wash our shoes in the bathroom sink when we get home because they are muddy. I am perpetually asked if I am cold, while Larry is scoffed at if he wears a hat.

More soon. We love hearing from you.


10 October 2005


Met with the mayor of P-town today. He is a very nice man....
Observing my first class tomorrow. Karen is too. Then we start teaching soon.

Very soon.

08 October 2005

alive in Ukraine