Mrs. Klein- this one’s for you.
I don’t have a whole lot to update you all on, but ’tis the season to be thankful, and with the countdown at a mere 19 until the Big Day I am feeling nothing but gratitude as of late to share. I think my residual good mood from the upcoming reunion makes everything else seem much better which should serve as a reminder for me in later days…attitude is everything. Attitude and a busier schedule I should say. Between school, 5 hours of tutoring, finishing writing my next grant, and knitting Christmas presents like the lankiest elf since Will Farrel, I barely squeeze in time for my daily walk around town. When I do get to take advantage of the still 60 degree weather however, I often catch myself smiling like an idiot with anticipation mid-stroll instead of fighting back (or not) the tears like before.
This year has brought so much to be thankful for in terms of new friends, experiences, lessons, languages (…sort of), and memories. I’ve been given a water heater, to a trip to Greece, a fuzzy stuffed cat figurine, countless jars of pickles, and the joy of seeing kids’ faces light up when they realize I’m walking their way & granting them the coveted opportunity to say ‘Hel-LO’ and then giggle like it was the funniest thing since Sponge Bob (which, yes, they do have here). I’m thankful for the contrast of feeling so completely alone this time last year to now being called ‘Aleychka’ and treated like a daughter by both my host mom and Olha. And of course I’m thankful for the hundreds of daily reminders of what an amazing support group I have waiting for me at home and how incredibly blessed I am. Needless to say, I would have a lot to share were I sitting around a table this Thursday, and I can’t even begin to image what a sappy wreck I’ll be this time next year when I’m celebrating my first Thanksgiving at home. I think a Costo-sized package of Kleenexes will be involved. Which reminds me… this year has also taught me how incredibly thankful I am for Costco in particular and my American lifestyle in general. For sure.
As far as thanks in the day-to-day goes, I think a lot of credit has to be given to the random, hysterical moments that my friends and students so graciously provide. Ridiculousness makes me laugh and laughing makes me stop dwelling on whatever challenge I’ve fixated on long enough to get some perspective and for that I am very grateful. On that note, here are some things that make me laugh:
- This reflector vest that Olha gave me when I told her about the incident with the hole. Because I don’t have enough trouble taking myself seriously already.
- Pronunciation mistakes. Probably evidence of my immaturity I routinely have to fake a yawn while forcing myself to think of sad things to keep from cracking up at my students’ well intended mistakes. The thing is, they’re just so eager to show me that they know the right answer that before long little Vlad is shouting ‘whore’ (his attempt at ‘choir’) repetitively and Miss Alei can’t even compose herself for long enough to indicate that she heard him, not to mention correct him.
- My 9th grade boys. On a bad day I’m convinced they’re the devil, but my gosh are they funny. Highlights from this week alone include telling me that the agricultural products grown in Yampil are ganjacowski and cannabisovivna, listing Pamela Anderson under the ‘Wife’ category when we played MASH as a warm-up (I had to stifle the Borat reference so hard that it hurt), and convincing poor un-English-speaking-Roma that it was a good idea to say ‘I went to the lady’s store and bought skirts for myself’ when I asked about his weekend.
- More slapstick humor. Like when I ran headfirst into the TV in class after turning around too quickly and one of my concerned 8th formers flustered by my laugh-crying summoned enough English to warn ‘You must be attentive!’. Thanks Vanya.
- The fact that I’m now scheduled to teach yoga to 2nd & 3rd graders.
- Spending time tutoring Dasha on English, how to look ‘dignified’ while wearing my glasses, and using Google Translate to find the literal translations for swear word substitutes like ‘darn’ and ‘shiza’
Lots and lots of thanks. I’m showcasing the sources of my laughter in a video I’m trying to put together in time for my trip home. So far I’ve got introductions from all of my little darlings and a condensed tour of my routine walk around town, but I’m opening it up to requests as well. Anything you’ve been dying to see? And finally, in case anyone is worried I am not even feeling a little sad about missing actual Thanksgiving as even in America I tend to see it as the only thing standing between me and the holiday season, and therefore can’t wait for Friday to kick off my 30 some days of Christmas music bliss. Plus if I ever see another mashed potato it will be too soon. I hope you have a wonderful time celebrating though & will see you soon, soon, soon 🙂