Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Some Happenings.

Until a couple weeks ago, my host mom was sick and kept mostly to her room. It's surprising to see her out and about, cleaning and talking and even, sometimes, laughing. The other night I was in the sitting room eating dinner when she and my host sister came into the room, arguing and giggling in Russian. I looked back and forth between them, and my sister finally asked, "Isaac Newton...How do you say his name? We say it several different ways." When I pronounced it for them, my mom and sister laughed and to each other and my mom gave her the "I told you so!" lecture in Russian. The sound of so much laughter from my mom was refreshing, and I felt pretty dang smart knowing so much about science...haha.

I was dreading a haircut, but my hair was gradually turning into a Euromullet. After school one evening, Jill finally convinced me to let her cut my hair. I was nervous. She was nervous. Jill had never cut girl hair before. Lynsie sat in the doorway of the school bathroom and played Sufjan Stevens on the iPod. Jill dressed me in garbage bags and soaked my head in the sink. I was so worried about how it would turn out; I faced the white bathroom wall and refused to look in the mirror until it was over. I sat in a chair and listened to the foreboding snip-snip-snip of the cheap scissors she bought at the market. Partway through the haircut, something gave way and I was able to relax. The three of us sat quietly in the school bathroom listening to the music and the sound of the scissors. I stared at the white wall, and felt drops of water run down my shirt, despite the garbage bag's best efforts. And I was happy.

A couple weeks ago, Camille and I arrived on the metro platform and found that a crowd had gathered. Then we noticed that the train was not pulled all the way up alongside the platform, but was stopped about a fourth of the way into the station. Highly unusual. It had not let it's passengers off yet, and the crowd stood by the front. I walked up to the edge of the platform, and peered down to see what everybody was fussing about. Twenty feet to my left, between the train and the platform, was an old woman. I couldn't figure out how she got down there without being squished like a bug--there's only about a six-inch gap between the platform edge and the train. An old man was lying on his stomach on the platform, reaching down to her. She just cried and crawled around. The station workers were yelling something to her, which, of course, I couldn't understand. Somehow they managed to get her up on the platform, and the police took her away. The crowd remained, so the old man waved his arms and yelled at everybody to go away. The train pulled the rest of the way into the station, and Camille and I walked away. A few minutes later, a woman walked up to us and asked us a question in Russian. We told her that we only speak English, and she switched languages, "Oh that's fine, so do I. Did you see what happened?" We told her all that we saw, and what little we knew. She told us that she was on the train that was stopped. They were still in the tunnel when the train abrubtly stopped and the lights went out. They waited a long time without knowing what was happening. The train was full, and people were pushing and yelling. I can't even imagine the chaos when the driver slammed on his brakes. Even when the train comes to a regular, slow stop, people fall over if they aren't holding on to something. I've had strangers catch my falling body. But to have the driver actually slam on his brakes because a woman was down on the tracks--it must have been like being in a car accident. We think that this is what must have happened: Somehow, the woman fell(?) down onto the tracks while waiting for the train. The driver saw her as he approached and tried to stop as quickly as possible. Even though there's only a six-inch gap between the platform and the train, I guess there's some room underneath the platform where she took refuge. Camille and I asked the woman who was on the train if she had ever seen anything like that before. She, and every other native Kiev-ian we asked, said that they had never seen that happen. That night I dreamed about hiding under the station platform as the train came storming in.

One particularly rainy, cold, trafficky day, we only had two kids show up to school. That's right, TWO. Jill was home sick, so Lynsie and I were teaching by ourselves. Liza showed up on time, and we thought she was going to be the only student, but Igor showed up twenty minutes late. Fortunately, these kids are both in the older class and are quite fluent in English, so we had it easy. Instead of having normal classes, rotating teachers every half hour, Lynsie and I both hung out in the classroom and the four of us just had a party day. During opening exercises, Lynsie and I sat in the student chairs while Liza taught us the school rules, did the weather chart and the calander, and lead us in the alphabet song. I think we are pretty genius, because it was fun for her, fun for the teachers, and she was still practicing English. Part way through opening exercises, Liza ripped the loudest fart and then just giggled. I didn't even know that a little body could produce a sound of such caliber. Igor hadn't shown up yet, so we three girls just laughed till we cried, squeaking out poots in between. For the first class, we frosted cookies and put white chocolate chips on top. Igor showed up part way through, and the four of us ate a week's worth of sugar. Lynsie and I took turns leading the kids in different activities, but we mostly just played. At one point, the four of us were playing Old Maid, so we put some music on. As soon as the music started, Liza threw down her cards and started dancing without any prompting from us. This is Take Two, on camera. Remember that part in Mean Girls with the little sister in front of the TV? Yeah...basically Liza.

In Drama class, we decided to introduce the Ukrainian children to Britney Spears. Seven-year-old Liza was shakin' it like her financial health depended on it, and she required backup dancers, so we promised we would follow along to her moves. Because that's what any good teacher would do, and we are fully invested in her education. We figured that since the music was in English, they were still learning! Camera man: eight-year-old Igor.

This is Liza. And Liza's favorite mode of transportation.

1 comment:

  1. i can't tell you how much i enjoyed those videos. liza can SHAKE it. good control of those hips for a 7 yr old man! i especially liked the part in the first one where she lifted her shirt to expose a belly roll.

    i miss you alena! come back to hawaiiiiiiii


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