Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Today's Battles

Battle #1: When I got to Ukraine, I was told to expect snow by mid-November, at the latest. Mother Nature teased me with a day of flurries, but then she yelled "PSYCHE!" and it's been frost-less ever since. What kind of world do we live in where Ukraine doesn't have snow in December? I've been asking everybody, from our Russian teacher to my host sister, "Do you think it'll snow before I leave?" The official response has been "Probably not." Whadda let down. I move to the other side of the world and I don't even get one lousy sleigh-ride. If willpower controlled weather, Kiev would be covered in snow right now. I've been wishing so hard for snow, encouraging it to get cold by blowing extra-big clouds with my breath every time I walk outside, saying in my head, "Come on, weather! You can do it! Look what you've done with my breath!" I would like to say that I'm kidding, but I'm not. At least my efforts have not been entirely in vain. I woke up in the middle of the night and my peanut-buttery brain managed one thought: It's snowing right now. I swear, I couldn't see anything, but when I woke up in the morning I walked out on the balcony, confident that it would look like this:

And it did. Victory!

Battle #2: This has been a really hard week with the kids. I mean really, really hard. Angry parents railing on the school for their stupid kid who spends all day elbowing the other kids (who finally retaliate by knocking her to the floor. "She had it coming...") and therefore not paying attention in class and therefore not  learning. Pre-language, which is basically pre-school, makes me feel like I got the wind knocked out of me. Let's not even go there. On top of all that, I was sick all weekend and I'm still not 100%, so my battle defenses are not completely intact. (My nose was so runny that I used an entire toll of toilet paper. In one day.) And it's only Wednesday. Defeat.

Battle #3: After school (aka "war") today, Lynsie and Jill and I were so totally defeated that we just sat at the table contemplating how we could possibly survive the last few days of teaching. Imagine three corpses flopped over the table; one occasionally lifts its head to mumble, but only manages to let a little more blood trickle out of its mouth. That was us. So I came up with a genius idea. Two words: Celery. Fight. Jill had thrown away some dying celery sticks, so I broke off three swords and let out a battle cry. I dubbed Lynsie as "The Lion," Jill as "The Jolly Jack-O-Lantern," and Jill called me "The Limp Noodle". I tapped them on each shoulder with a stick of celery, King Arthur style, to make it official. Then we turned off almost all the lights in the school, and when I turned around, they had gone into hiding. I started crawling, but was quickly ambushed by the Lion and the Jolly Jack-O-Lantern. A bloody battle ensued. Soon our swords were down to stumps, hanging by strings, but the wave of fury did not relent. We stabbed, we jabbed, we punched, we kicked, we jumped, we sushi-chef chopped, we wrestled, we doggy-piled, we went for the nostrils. It was very dark, very loud, and very fierce. Lynsie and Jill are very small, but if you ever find yourself opposing them in a war, here's some advice: Run. The front-door into the hall is paper thin, so I really hope everybody walking by enjoyed our battle cries. It was the perfect release after a soul-trampling day. Victory!

Battle #4: I wasn't paying attention on the way home tonight, and I accidentally went one bus-stop too far, to a place I wasn't familiar with. I was out later than I wanted to be, and the side-walk was extremely icy (come on, snow!). So I was on the lookout for ragamuffins and hooligans. What I was not prepared for, however, was a car to zoom around the corner with a Ukrainian guy leaning out the window shooting a gun. I'm pretty sure it was just a cap-gun or something though, because the shots weren't really loud. And because I am still alive. Victory!

Battle #5: This isn't a battle, really, unless you count it as a battle against our public image and our sanity. I have an awesome pair of mittens that just seem to attract people's hands. Whenever I wear them, whoever I'm walking with just ends up holding my hand! Ok, maybe I help a little bit by asking if they want to hold my mittens, but nobody has ever turned me down. So Lynsie, Jill, and I walked to the bus stop by our school, one on each side of me, holding my hand. In this part of the world, girls hold hands all the time, so it's not a big deal. We stood at the bus stop, short-tall-short, holding hands and singing: Doooo you think the bus will coooome? Yeeeees! I think the bus will cooooome! All very badly sung. I hope the other people at the bus stop had ear-plugs handy. While we stood on the curb, waiting for the headlights of our bus to appear, we did the Hokey-Pokey (or the "Pokey-Pokey" as six-year-old Katya would say). It wasn't wimpy or quiet either, we did it full-out, the three of us still holding mittens as we turned ourselves around. Why? Because that's what it's all about.


  1. i also recently had a cold where i was going through a roll a day on my nose giving me painfully raw nostrils which were then left to scab over if you will. anyways... best of luck in conquering each and every battle. (right now i am trying to think of as many "fighting" songs as i can in my head) sounds like you need to make yourself a mix tape.

  2. short-tall-short.

    i like that. :)

  3. remember how hot jude law is?

    i also really appreciated the short-tall-short part. good job alena.

    your biggest blog stalker


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