ПОКА SaloLand!

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I have left SaloLand. I know, I know. You knew this was coming. So did I. I was mentally preparing myself for this move for ages. Though I love the land of salo and cheap vodka, in the past few months, I began to realize that it was necessary for me be at home in the states, because even though I love saloland, I hate both salo and vodka and except for the thirty-six farewell party I had in Ukraine, I have avoided these two “Ukrainian” traditions for most of the year.

During my final few days in SaloLand, I got to hang out in Kyiv. While I was there, I stayed with some awesome friends, the Chapmans. Here they are.

Alyssa and I went to NNU together. When I was traveling back to Ukraine in December 2010, I stayed with them and met the two boy Chapmans. Since then, little Zoya was added to the family. Because of the massive amount of paperwork I had to do while I was getting ready, my time with the Chapmans was limited to morning and evening times, but once again, it was awesome. I’m lucky to have such rad friends.

Here’s a random Baba statue I found on the way to the metro.

And here’s my favorite find in Kyiv this May. There is a STARDUCKS. Can you believe it? I always knew that Ukrainians are great at stealing other people’s ideas but to steal it and keep it so close to the original is just weird. Still, I’m an Oregon grad so I appreciate the duck a bit.

My flight back to the states was nice. I went through Paris, then Salt Lake and greeted my family at PDX at about 4 PM. They were a bit impatient as I fiddle-farted around the airport, buying a new t-shirt, fishing my phone out of my backpack, and putting on deodorant before I met up with them. I was alright with that though. They were happy to see me and then they went with me to Red Robin for some food which I thought was pretty awesome.

So anyway, I hate to say goodbye to you all, but that’s what this is, a dear John sort of blog post. I’ve left SaloLand, but don’t worry. I’m still blogging, but instead of blogging here, I’ll blog here or here.

Thank you all for reading. It’s been a blast. And who knows, if I ever visit SaloLand again, I’ll return with more posts.

Tata, ya’ll!

Rece

Top Five Things I did in Kyiv Today, May 30th:

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1. I got squished in the Metro. We were already jam-packed but one Ukrainian lady decided to push us all together so our butts, legs, arms, and the rest of our bodies were touching.
2. I ate a business lunch at Кофе Хаус, which was both tasty and incredibly filling.
3. I went to Lviv Handmade Chocolate soaking wet and had a cup of Lvivski Hot Chocolate with mini Lvivski Pechivo. I was soaking wet because I got caught in a downpour on my way to the chocolate shop.
4. I searched for the lady statue and failed so I sat in a park and wrote in my purple journal.
5. I checked off more things from my COS check-off list. I’ll be done and basically ready to head out by 1:30 PM tomorrow! WOOHOO!

Tears in T-town

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I cried. That’s what I did at about 7 AM this morning. I finally arrived to Kyiv and then I took a taxi to my friends’ house but the taxi driver totally ripped me off. He charged me 250 UAH (that’s $31.25) for a trip that at max should cost 100 UAH ($12.50). When I arrived at their apartment and realized that I only have 51 UAH for three days in my wallet, I started bawling. I texted my mom. She called me and she tried to help me feel better. Her real response was, “it’s a tough time.” It’s true. I left Ternopil last night at 10:31 and had to wave goodbye to all of my friends. I didn’t cry them. Some of them looked sad and I know that at least one of them cried. I cried today. I’ll be home in three days and I’m anxious for it. I don’t like the sadness that confuses me or the frustration that I feel when I try to complete Peace Corps things so I can leave this country. I wish I were in the Land of Oz and that I could just click my heels together and I could be home.

This was the crew of friends that bid me farewell.

The Shower Tally

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Today I took the last cold shower I’ll ever take in my dorm room. That’s right. I’m out of here in about twelve and a half hours which means I have to pack up, clean up, and take down the tally chart.

Here’s the tally chart from my bathroom.

Since September 19th, 2011, (Note: I moved into this dorm room on August 19th but started the tally one month later.) I haven a bunch of uncomfortable showers…

My cold showers (and I’m talking about FREEZING COLD, lukewarm showers were not tallied) added up to 53!

I took a total of 70 bucket showers.

There were four days when I didn’t have water.

And when my mom visited me, she had to take four bucket showers.

Ah… if anyone wants to know WHY I’m not planning on staying in Ukraine longer, they need only read this post.

The Thirty-Six Party

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This weekend, I had a farewell party with some of my dear Peace Corps friends. I really hate saying goodbye because it makes me feel sad so I fashioned a bucket list/scavenger hunt for the “party.” We were supposed to start at noon but of course, I took too long getting ready so we started at about 12:20. It was great. Why was it a thirty-six party? Because I have lived in Ukraine for thirty-six months total and I am wishing, hoping, and praying that the next time I return (if I return to Ukraine) that I will only be visiting and not staying here. So I made a list of thirty-six random things that I wanted to do and my friends (those who felt like it) came to Ternopil to try to complete the list.

Sounds awesome, right? You have no idea. Here’s the list:

The Thirty-Six Party in T-town!
1. Take a shot of medovyha in a dive bar.
2. Order one piece of сало and a clove of garlic and down it with a shot of vodka.
3. Buy an apple at the bazaar, spit clean it, and eat it.
4. Eat an ice cream treat you’ve never eaten before and rate it out of five with your free hand for the picture.
5. Buy a cup of квас and drink every last drop.
6. Make a daisy chain.
7. Clean up at least 15 pieces of trash from a park.
8. Get four Ukrainian strangers to take a peace sign pix with you after you explain Peace Corps to them.
9. Call a number on an advertisement and ask them about their specials and/or sales.
10. Find someone who will give you directions how to reach 15 Квітня Street. Write down directions from where you are.
11. Go to the train station to say goodbye to train number 116, Truskavets-Kharkiv.
12. Buy a pack of ORBIT. Put as many pieces of gum into your mouth at once as you can and blow a bubble.
13. Drink your beverage of choice on Lover’s Island.
14. Take a picture next to the statue of the first king of Ukraine.
15. Find someone who will sing Ukraine’s national anthem.
16. Spend three UAH or less for an item for the prize bag.
17. Eat “street food” for lunch.
18. Take a picture with a LIFE ad.
19. Get the person in your group with the best Ukrainian to ask:
20. Take a picture with a stranger wearing a vishivanka
21. Find a bookshop that sells Кобзар, find out the price and take a picture with the number in front of the store.
22. Find one of the libraries in town, find out the hours and the address of it and write them down.
23. Down a packet of sugar.
24. Go to the stadium. What are all the colors of the seats? If you can get in, take a picture of yourself sitting in your favorite color of seat. If not, take a pic outside the stadium.
25. Feed the stupid pigeons in the theater square.
26. Touch water in the lake.
27. Go to a pizza joint. Ask to order one piece of pizza. If they say it’s impossible, find out why.
28. Take a picture of yourself holding a statue in the palm of your hand.
29. Meditate on the ground for one minute.
30. Do a Rocky Balboa. Run up a set of steps and when you reach the top, hop up and down.
31. Make up a Ternopil dance that you can show the whole group later on.
32. Find the large aloe plant in the center of Ternopil. Take a picture of yourself next to it.
33. Take a marshrutka ride you’ve never taken before and try to find your way back to your starting point.
34. Find a coin on the ground. Take a picture of one of you picking it up.
35. Find out what kind of cows the baba’s near the train station get the milk they sell from.
36. Find a fat piece of green grass. Use it to whistle.

It’s a bit strange, yes? When Brendan read the list, he said, “We’re going to get kicked out of Ternopil and we can never come back.” This, of course, was not true. But when he joked that we needed to do number two first to have a little courage, we all thought he was serious and that’s what we did.

Have I ever mentioned how much I hate salo and vodka? I do. I don’t usually consume either, but this was the last hoorah and so I sucked it up and participated. The list was long and like my mom told me over Skype, we probably weren’t going to make it through all 36. We got 26 though. That’s not at all bad, my friends.

Well, as you can imagine, when you have a list of 36 things to do and take pictures of, there are a lot of pictures. Here are my top five favorite photos from the day.

#1 – Mo-Ro and I put 10 pieces of gum in our mouths and blew bubbles.

#2 – We tried to blow the bubbles at the same time but as usual, we weren’t quite in sync.

#3 – Brendan and Steven held Taras Shevchenko in their hands.

#4 – This was the crew that started out…

#5 – Whistling with grass… Do I only know how to do this because I grew up on a farm? These two couldn’t get it to work.

Runner-up: Mo-Ro asked the lady inside if she could not buy a whole pizza but just one slice. She was shot down.

The fact that I have to get on a train in 12 hours and 45 minutes is starting to kick in now. I’m getting a little antsy, but of course, when I land in PDX and see my awesome family in a few days, all the nerves and weird feelings will go away.

Tata for now.

Rece

Saying “Poka for Now”

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I have a really hard time saying goodbye. Sometimes, when I have to say goodbye to people, I cry uncontrollably. Other times, I shut down and close myself off so as not to cry. I get more emotional. I try to fill up my last days with things I want to do and see so I don’t miss anything. Whatever I do, I try not to think about the bitter part of reality. These days, I’m trying to be better about reigning in my emotions. Though I have heavy emotions, I don’t like to let them drive me. I deal with parting in weird ways. For example: a few weeks ago, I took down all the posters and papers in my room so now it looks boring and impersonal. It helps me deal. I can’t handle living somewhere boring so at least now that the walls are so dull, I won’t miss my dorm room. Then there’s the packing. I started packing my bags right after my mom left in April. I know. It was a bit early, but like the scouts say, “Always be prepared.” This stuff makes the leaving easier. It’s not the stuff I cry over. I can compartmentalize my emotions when it comes to leaving apartments and packing suitcases. But saying goodbye to dear friends is another story.

The other day, my friends and I went to make some Ukrainian hay dolls. After that evening, I realized how much I adore these friends and how much I didn’t want to say goodbye. So tonight, I had them over to my dorm room to play a game, eat apple pie, and drink wine. They showed up a little after five and told me that they’d also ordered pizza. Yum!

For me, the best part was not the food or the fancy establishment (my apartment rocks, I assure you), but hanging out with my friends. I fashioned a TNPU Loaded Questions board with some questions related directly to Ternopil and some extremely similar to the Loaded Questions game my parents have. It was truly great. My friends enjoyed the game and as always happens with this game, we learned a lot about each other.

Ira was late, but when she arrived, she jumped into the game. Here’s a picture of all of them thinking…

And here’s the board upside down.

Here’s the pie I made for the party. It was good, but I’ve made better apple pies in my time.

And here’s the group drinking the wine I got. We drank the pink stuff because I told them it was Ma Bunn’s favorite.

They gave me a traditional Ukrainian shirt as a gift. THANK YOU KAFEDRA! I’ll write the thank you note immediately.

I’m in the middle in the back with my new shirt. :)

Luda had to take off quickly, but here was the rest of the group.

And then I wanted to be in the photo “Po-Americanski.” I hate my double chin, but I suppose it I want to get rid of it again, I should quit baking apple pie! (hehe)

I had a good night with my friends. I don’t want to think that this is a permanent goodbye. I’m actually quite good at staying in touch. I don’t know how often we’ll write and talk to each other when I return to the states, but I have to believe that we will. These people have made my life better and more interesting. Aren’t such people the best kind of friends? I like to have friends that enrich my life and challenge me to become a better person. These girls did this for me this year and I hope that I was able to do the same for them.

Tata for now.

Rece

Getting Back to Grey’s

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I’ve been busy and also had a lot of time on my hands during the past few days. I know that this doesn’t make sense, but it is true. Moving out of a house and trying to clean up my apartment means that I get to stay at home a bit, but I’m usually multi-tasking and trying to do important things. This home time for the past few days has given me time to do find a new TV show to watch.

Instead of starting with season one of House or True Blood, I decided to go back to an old show I hadn’t watched for a while. I started watching Grey’s Anatomy. I started with the first episode of season six. I watched part of this season when it was on while I was a grad student but as homework and life got busier, I forgot about my show.

This show is awesome. Season six really brings it. Izzie was an annoying character so I’m glad she left the show. I’m still a little sad that George died, but I know that actor drama causes all sorts of problems on set so I’m sure it was for a reason. (I bet I’d get fired from a TV show I would be on for laughing too much or something.)

Anyway, there were at least two times yesterday when I caught myself practically bawling. The stories were just that good. I see why my sister-in-law started watching the show again. Once crazy Izzie the baker was gone, the show returned to its earlier glory. I can’t wait to see what’s next.