Saturday, January 28, 2012

Finally, A Look That Fits Me!

I have three different pairs of glasses to alternate wearing when I want to convey a different kind of teacher. I have sleek glasses for the serious, sophisticatedly sarcastic teacher. I go with the lavender glasses for the caring, soft, motherly look. My giant framed beasts are reserved for the fun creative teacher with just the right amount of quirk. Observe:

Another look I have been sporting is chalk all up on my body. What? It’s a fashion statement. And I like making it. Every day. Some teachers ask me if I still like teaching after some of the more rowdy classes and I always answer yes. Even when my all-black attire has multiple ill-placed chalk prints. I’ve got students pointing to different parts of my body all day long. “Miss Kerry, you have chalk on your—” I usually cut them off and say, “Yes, I know.” “I’m used to it.” “It’s OK.” “I’ll live!” Also, they don’t realize this, but I’m trying for the Yeti look, which is fitting because it’s so cold! 5 degrees Fahrenheit today.

My earlier classes were canceled due to “frostiness.” I have to go in for my fifth form class this afternoon. I think I’ll sport the fun creative teacher look today…mainly because I’m hoping my trusty frames will shield me from the wind which has the potential to freeze my face off. I’m not sure if I should go for the intimidating, Freddy Krueger burn face look, but hey, maybe I could make that work, too…

Friday, January 27, 2012

Pickpockets, Three-Legged Dogs, and the Po Po

Living in a small town in a foreign country has robbed me of a few things: My anonymity, my comfort zone (which was once so kushy!), and my wallet. Yep, got my wallet sliced out of my bag at the bazaar the other day. Ironically, I was shopping for wallets when it happened. (My life is such a storybook!) I felt a slight tug on my bag so I pulled it closer to me. It wasn’t until I went to pay for something at a different store that I realized my wallet was gone and my bag had a huge slash down the side of it. Goodbye passport, bank cards, and money. Hello realization that being so far from home is even harder than I thought.

I am partially glad I had this experience, though. One, I have never been robbed before. Now I know how it feels! Two, I got to see how the Ukrainian police do business. Three, I got to admire the three-legged dog at the police station. Two+ hours “downtown” was very enlightening and if you want to hear more about this experience, it will have to be behind the veil of e-mail or on the phone, not on the blogosphere (do people still call it that?).

My amazing counterpart helped me at the police station and I even got reimbursed for the money that was stolen, which I thought was very interesting. Another positive note: two days later, a man found my wallet—without the money and Ukrainian bank card, of course—but he returned my passport!  So, everything is A-OK. Yes, there is one naughty pickpocket out there greedily slicing up purses, but there are also so many good people willing to do the right thing. So, I consider myself the luckiest unlucky person and still very happy to be here in Ukraine where I am surrounded by so many friendly and caring people!

Evangelistic, On Accident

My counterpart called me up on a Sunday, 2 January, and asked if I would be interested in going to a Melitopol church that was founded by American citizens. Of course I agreed, because I never decline an invitation, especially in this new town of mine. We were picked up by a future student of mine’s mother and driven southeast slightly outside of the city to the middle of nowhere and factories and a giant church complex. There was a pyramid fountain and palm trees encased in glass or plastic to shield them from the cold. This is Ukraine, afterall. We have to keep our palm trees warm...

I knew that going to the church would be weird, but I figured it would be a learning experience. Plus, we weren’t supposed to actually go to a church service. However, by the time I was walked into the service hall with its’ giant flat screen TVs and ushered into a seat, it was too late.  No big deal. New church, new people, new experience. An hour of life is not a lot to give, right?

One hour turned into three and a half hours. Three and a half very interesting, long, and confusing hours. The service hall was huge, with two floors and two giant flat screen TVs. Cameras circulated above all the churchgoers and over the stage which held a full band—two guitar players, a drummer behind a glass case, a bassist, a cellist, violinist, rockgroupish singers, and a chorus of young women all dressed in black with pink belts. The music was very pop rocky and melodious. Some people were jumping up and down in the crowd and holding their hands upwards. Some were whispering under their breath. A lot of people were overcome and crying. One woman moaned and sobbed. All while the camera circled above over their prey. I made sure to look down to the floor every time the camera swooped over my head.

I guess I can say that I am glad I had this experience, but I will never do it again. I respect everyone’s right to practice their religion and in the end, this experience made me think of mine—which is not really a religion at all, but a positive mindset.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


Happy New Year, readers! I hope the dragon treats you well and brings you exciting adventures in 2012. I should add that I hope these exciting new adventures do not include the end of the world. The dragon doesn't make promises, though. I can promise you that the new year will bring me fireworks. All. Year. Long. Sparklers out the windows of apartment buildings. M80s exploding in the streets. Tiny sparkles of crackling lights falling from beneath the heavens. The angels will sing all year long because Ukraine loves fireworks!

In the States, the Fourth of July is probably the biggest holiday for fireworks. I remember spreading a blanket on the grass in Otisville awaiting a very strategically planned sensory attack of fire and light. Summer is the season for night lights like that. Even in Brooklyn, from the building tops, you would hear the echo of an occasional firework—which could have also occasionally been a gunshot, but we won't go there (too late). Anyway…

Last night, in the town square in my small city of Melitopol, there were fireworks everywhere to welcome the New Year. There was a main display, but (this is my favorite part) there were also renegades setting up their own smaller displays trying to compete. Fireworks were everywhere, moving and whistling in each and every way. It was also a misty night which gave the sky an eerie glow. Walking home, I could hear explosions in the distance and see only a faint glow, like heat lightning over the mountains on a summer night.

I shouldn't say summer if I have not yet been through Winter in Ukraine, but I can't wait for summer…and to report on the firework status then. And the cherries! Oh, the cherries.

Have a Happy! Here are some Happy New Year Pics:
This Santa looked at me and said, "Oh baby!" and then he looked at Logan and said, "Oh bobby!"

Tree in the mist at the town square!

Smoke and sparklers everywhere!