Thursday, December 29, 2011

I'm home

Nothing much changes in this town. The buildings get painted and old signs get replaced. The leaves fall off the trees and in a few months they come back. The people are the same. The bars are the same. There are places I avoid because I know that I will see the same people I've seen for years, doing the same thing they've always been doing, with seemingly no goals or aspirations and endless glasses of beer or whiskey.
Then there's me, and I have no goals or aspirations, either.
I just don't want to be reminded.

So I'll sit at home with my dogs. And cry a little bit when I think of Georgia, and try to remember every little detail of riding the bus down Chavchavadze, because soon I won't remember much at all. I think about saying goodbye. And walking through old town laughing even though it was hard. And watching Lydia walk away from me down the stairs crying. Sitting in the front seat of the cab, watching Tbilisi flash by me for the last time--the television tower glittering and the churches glowing, like they always do. Thanking the cab driver and dragging my luggage into the airport, realizing that was probably the last Georgian I'd speak in a long, long time. And feeling incredibly lonely.

Monday, December 12, 2011

ar vitsi

“Just shut up; I don’t know what you want anymore.”

She shut the door behind herself. She took off her jacket and hung it up, not that it mattered. She unzipped her boots, not that that mattered either. Chunks of mud fell onto the floor as she pulled violently on the heel of her left shoe and nearly fell on the floor. She flung her bag and her scarf onto the bed and rummaged through scraps of paper and candy wrappers in her purse to find the one piece of paper that mattered. Dialing numbers on her phone, she hesitated before pushing send, because what would she say anyway? And after she got the courage, the phone just rang and rang.
It was useless.
So she pushed aside the garbage that had accumulated on the bed and lay on her back staring at the ceiling.
After god-knows how long, and a few mindless wanders to check to see if the fridge was still empty, she walked down the street. People were speaking in languages she couldn’t recognize. People were telling kids to stop running. Old women were lugging bags bigger than themselves. And she had nothing but the cold breath fogging the air in front of her and disappearing. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I keep opening this page with the intention of writing something, but there doesn't seem to be any way I can formulate anything that can possibly compare to what I really mean or how I really feel. When I first came it seemed like everything I was experiencing was novel and unique and I should write it all down because it was funny. And now, I suppose I've become accustomed to most of the things that once seemed strange, because all I can think of is how everything makes me feel and how I want to remember everything but none of it is anything that can be put into words.

It's the way I feel when I wake up and can see the sun rising behind the crack in the curtains; how the Christmas lights looked on Rustaveli tonight when I was riding the bus thinking to myself "I need to remember this" but knowing I really won't be able to within a few months or even a few weeks; how it feels to be spoken to and not understand a word someone is saying, but know what they mean anyway. The way the children look at me between classes and giggle shyly when I ask them a question; the way it feels to have so many people love you undoubtedly for no reason at all.

I want to remember hearing the buses screeching outside of our flat building. I want to remember what it's like to be in a rush in the morning and almost fall down the icy hill. I want to remember the taste of khinkali and khatchapuri and lobio. I want to remember what it feels like to be drunk on chacha and homemade wine.

Today, Papuna told me that in 10 years I will not miss Georgia. I will miss it for a year or two, and then it will just be a memory of a nice time, and it's sad but that is how it is. But I want to miss it. I want to miss all the people I've met and grown to love. I want to remember the smoky bars and clubs and dancing, and getting lost in the nameless streets, and the way the men I tutor laugh at me like I'm crazy.....

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Boring week long update

The last week was pretty easy. On Tuesday Lydia and Mary went and got pizza but I didn't go. Instead Nick and I got khinkali at the restaurant near my flat and then just hung out. Lydia didn't get home until almost 2am which meant after Nick left around 9 or something I was home alone, at night, for I think the first time ever here. I didn't even know what to do with myself. So I did what I always do: sit around watching random crap on Youtube and Googling whatever stupid thing comes to my mind.
Wednesday was "Giorgoba" so we didn't have school. It's a holiday for St. George. I'm pretty sure it's the feast holiday for him, and in the spring there is another St. George holiday. We did not feast, we did not go to church.
On Thursday, it was Thanksgiving in the US. And I, randomly, happened to have the day off because my co-teacher was missing school all day and our classes were cancelled. In the afternoon, Callie and Cody came over and the four of us made a little Thanksgiving dinner, complete with Tofurky that Meave had mailed to Lydia and I. It was amazing. We also made chocolate chip cookies, which always taste a little different because there's no brown sugar here, or chocolate chips. We substitute in honey and cut up chocolate bars. But they were still amazing and I ate about a million.
Friday was an interesting night. Mary, Callie, Lydia and I went to eat pizza at a place near Marjanishvili. First of all, Marjanishvili has been completely renovated. I was just there about a month ago and it was just construction hell. Then, suddenly, this week there was a ribbon cutting and the whole stretch is completely renovated and beautiful. It doesn't even look like Georgia. So, that was a nice little surprise to see. The pizza we got was amazing. Mine had mayonnaise on it, but it wasn't even disgusting like it normally is when they do that. And it had corn in it. Yum. After pizza, Callie and I grabbed a bottle of vodka and we headed to a restaurant near Cafe Gallery. We ordered sodas, and Mary and Lyd got beers. We also got some snacks (it would be rude not get any food at the restaurant!) and played "Never have I ever" for a ridiculously long time. After nearly finishing our drinks we decided it was time to get to Cafe Gallery. We danced for hours, met some random Marines who were really nice, ran into other friends, etc. Other highlights include: a creeper not leaving Callie and I alone, so I told him we weren't interested, okay more like I told him "No! I don't want you" in Georgian, because that's about the extent of my language Georgian knowledge, and when this didn't work, I slapped him in the face. That also didn't work. Shortly after asking the cute bartender what her name was, she started dancing on the bar and asked me to get up there with her, I hesitated for a second and then someone lifted me up on there and I did it. I think I'm still a little traumatized, but whatever, when in Georgia...?  Then on the cab ride home, I was infuriated by the taxi-driver's bad Georgian. I think he was Russian. He wouldn't listen to anything I was saying (trying to tell him how to get to our apartment) and I was so mad. Then I came home, at approximately 4am, to find that one of my friend had blocked me on Facebook, which was really the icing on the cake of a weird night!
Saturday was kind of a lazy day. We were supposed to have gone to Sighnaghi but we didn't get paid so most people had no money, and Nick was sick, so it would have meant just Callie and I trekking it out there on our own.
On Sunday, it was snowing massively. At least massively in my expert snow opinion, being from California. So I had to cancel my trip to Vardi to visit my old host fam/school. I really don't like taking marshutkas in bad weather. They are scary enough on a nice sunny day. Mix with snow and slippery roads... Terrifying. I feel guilty though because I was looking forward to visiting everyone and now I don't know that I am going to have an opportunity to go again before I leave the country. I don't think they are mad, and they must understand because the weather is shitty, but still. I really do love them and want to see them! But Kakheti's weather is worse than Tbilisi's so I can't even imagine what it would be like!
Yesterday I left school a bit early because I wasn't feeling well. Then I went to tutor the man I haven't seen in over 2 weeks because he was on a business trip. I really love tutoring. The guys I tutor are so nice and funny and interesting, I always leave feeling in a better mood that I went in with. This time, we spent the whole time just talking about whatever, including about politics in Georgia (since that's his job) and other random things.
For the last few days I've been having such a terrible time sleeping. I lay in bed for hours just unable to sleep even though I'm so tired. I guess I'm probably stressed or worrying or something but whatever it is is really lame. And then when I do fall asleep I usually wake up again around 4 and just lay there awake for a long time again. This happened last night again and today when my alarm went off I was like "noooo!!!!!!!!!!!' not to mention, I was feeling kind of nauseous still. So I called in sick, which I almost never do. But I was able to sleep for almost four more hours which was amazing. I also think that the reason I've been feeling sick is because I haven't been drinking enough water. Because I also noticed that I've barely had to pee lately either. So I've been forcing myself to drink a lot of water today. But it sucks, who wants to drink water when it's cold outside? All I want is hot chocolate!!!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

I've been feeling depressed for a couple days.
It's cold and dark and I'm leaving in 20 days.

But today I woke up and everything was covered in snow,
and it's so damn beautiful.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Weeks, Weekends, the Future

Time goes by so quickly it's unbelievable. The weeks feel like they are going by so slowly because in the mornings our apartment is cold and the bed is so warm; the schools heating leaves something to be desired (though it's a million times warmer than the village school was!); the children are screaming and not responding to discipline. But then suddenly, it's 3pm and you don't really know where the day went and all you can remember is how fucking adorable the 2nd graders were and how genius your 4th graders are and what little turds the 5th graders were being--but how creative their bullying each other is--seriously, one kid ground up a piece of chalk and folded it up in a piece of paper like a note and handed it to a girl, so when she opened it chalk dust got everywhere. So sad, but also... creative.
And then there are the weekends. Friday comes and goes in a wine/vodka/beer haze. Saturday morning is either slept away or sometimes you're so thirsty you wake up at 7am and can't sleep anymore, so you lay in bed and stare at the wall or at someone else or text your friends to ask what else happened after you went home. Normally, we get lunch around 12, for the past two weeks we've gone to Elvis, which is a restaurant (Elvis themed) with all different types of food: Thai, Italian, sushi, American, German, desserts. Then we wander slowly around the city some more stopping here and there for snacks or drinks or anything else we can think to do.
For the past few Sundays, I've been busy visiting with different Georgians. Four weeks ago, I went to the house of a little 12 year old girl named Natali, who is the niece of my former co-teacher (in Vardisubani) Nona. I had met her a couple months ago when in Kakheti visiting Nona, and she has been texting me every so often since, asking when I could see her. Nona and her husband came to Tbilisi (Natali lives here) and Natali's family had me over for dinner with them. Three weeks ago I went to Mtskheta, a nearby town, with my co-teacher Lali and her family. Mtskheta has some of the oldest and most famous churches in Georgian. It was a really beautiful place, and it was the first time I had gone, so it was nice that Lali could tell me the history of each place we went to. Afterwards, they took me to eat khinkali, naturally. Last Sunday I went to Vardisubani to visit my old host family. It was a nicer visit than I ever could have imagined. I had some problems living there last semester, but I couldn't justify being in the same country and not even going to see them-- especially Tiko, the little girl who loved me so much. They were all so happy to see me, and had cooked my favorite Georgian foods and bought cake. They gave me kisses, and the little boy was so much bigger (after only 4 months) I couldn't even believe it. I missed them a lot, despite any issues we had, sometimes people just aren't good to live with. And then yesterday, I met up with my co-teacher Nana and another English teacher at the school (who I don't go to classes with) named Manana. They took me to a restaurant so we could eat khinkali. They ordered me 10, which I told them I was incapable of eating (my normal amount is like 4), but... they kept pressuring me, and I found that it is in fact possible for me to eat 8 khinkalis without dropping dead. Even though afterwards I did want to drop dead.
Today I woke up and out of the window I could see the hill was covered in snow. And it was still snowing. All day. It's not really sticking during the day, but I'm still impressed. It's much nicer to have snow than to have rain, though it's freakin' cold. I'm wearing three pairs of socks and it still doesn't seem to cut it.

In unrelated news, I'm getting a little anxious trying to think of what the heck I should do when I get home. Part of me just doesn't want to think about it at all, and to just enjoy what's left of my time here without any pressure. But I really DO need to think about it. And as time progresses, I consider going to South Korea to teach even more. I have been on the fence about it for a while, but it's a good and reasonable option. I get nervous because it's a longer commitment and I really don't know if I'd like it there! But then again, I came to Georgia having no idea what to expect and it's been amazing.  I also feel like I should do things like this while I'm young and don't have an "real" responsibilities. The money is good. When I was at home for summer my step-dad was really encouraging about the option, saying he thinks I should do it, which helps, but also I don't know if I like the idea of being away from my family for a year, especially since my brother's baby is going to get so big in that amount of time. I don't know. Any advice is welcome!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

foreign birthday

Thursday was my 23rd birthday, and the first time I've ever been away from home on my birthday. I went to school in the morning and my co-teacher, Lali gave me a flower pin as a gift. My other co-teacher, Nana, gave me a headband with a bow on it. Three of my classes sang to me in garbled English and it was adorable. After school I went home and vegged out for a bit until Lydia came home and Nick came over. We went to my favorite asian food place with a couple other friends and allowed myself to get fried ice cream afterwards. Then we went to a restaurant and had some wine. I came home and talked to my dad and then to my mom on the phone. It was a more laid-back birthday than I usually have because everyone had to work the next morning. I, however, took the day off because at home Veteran's Day is the day after my birthday and I've never had to work the day after my b-day because of it, so why start now?
So yesterday I slept in and relaxed and had a nice day by myself. I went to tutor Irakli and then got ready for my "party." We went to a hostel where some friends were staying and got ready and drank some homemade wine Lali had given me. We then drank vodka. Then went to a restaurant and ate and drank more. I elected Callie to be tamada so she made some ridiculous toasts as usual and it was amazing. We went to Cafe Gallery where they brought me out a little cake with glow in the dark candles on it. We took some crazy photos. Then we found out it was tango night so we left and everyone ended up in different places. Lydia had a bit too much to drink and had to leave early. I ended up leaving not-so-late and went to eat shawarma with Nick on some steps outside of a random pet store.
It was a nice birthday.