Faith, Hope, and Love Remain

Alei's adventures in Ukraine

Fool Me Twice, Strike Three March 18, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — aleicook @ 6:11 pm

While making breakfast this morning I glanced out the window & had to pause for a moment to figure out what was wrong with the picture.  The months of winter have apparently made me grow accustomed to the blanket of grimy snow as its reappearance today didn’t even seem like an obvious change.  Realizing that the past week of spring-like weather was just a cruel joke stung on many levels, one of which being the reminder that I never ever guess right here.  After 18 months of unpredictability I still managed to believe wholeheartedly that I’d seen the last of winter & took it a little personally when today’s flurry seemed to say “Ha- fooled you again”.  Actually I think it probably tacked on a “…you stupid idiot” because I view this particular storm’s personality like its presence, rude & uncalled for.

As a Chicagoan I’m no stranger to snow (even in late March) & am usually quite fond of it, but I’d let spring fever get the best of me & spent a sizable portion of my week cleaning all of my winter boots & then dealing with the four inches of dirty water left behind when my bathtub drain was unprepared to handle the job.  Let’s just say someone else’s plunger (eeeew) was involved.  Shoe hygiene is an interesting peculiarity here.  Having dirty shoes is said to speak volumes about a person & none of it positive.  Keeping shoes clean however, is a physical impossibility as the majority of our roads are made of dirt & our pointy high heels sink right into the murk & mire with every step.  Sometimes I think it’s an interesting cultural commentary, trying to hold to the Western standards so readily shown on TV without the coinciding Western infrastructure that makes it all possible.  Other times I just find it obnoxious.   I’ve yet to adopt the common practice of carrying a shoe brush in my purse like most everyone else (partially because I’m lazy & partially because I know how much of our dirt is probably comprised of animal waste) so I walk around defying footwear norms & was happy to be done with the accompanying guilt.  Between that & the joy of no longer needing to wear my coat inside suffice it to say, I was done with Ukrainian winter.  The flipside of never being in the know however, is that it could very well be 85 degrees & sunny tomorrow & I’d hardly be surprised.  And regardless it doesn’t really matter because as of two hours ago I am officially on Spring Break.  Wahoo!

Sadly Spring Break doesn’t include the stereotypical beach destination.  That will have to wait until May when we book it to Turkey for a few days.  Not sadly, it will include lots of time with friends to relax & gear up for the last 8 weeks of school.

I’ve been browsing through job sites this week eager to plot out my next step, but I have to say that being down to two months of teaching this semester sounds just crazy to me.  It’s hard to think about school without our current 11th graders & if I’m already attached I can’t imagine how the other teachers who have seen them grow up must feel.  Class sizes here are super small &they have the same teachers every year in every subject so really the dynamic between both the students & teachers is like a close knit family.  Even looking from a high school romance perspective the dating pool pretty much excludes their own school because the alternative would be like dating your brother.  It’s pretty cute.  Except this means that they think nothing of changing for gym class in the same room with the door open which elicits all sorts of awkward when the foreign English teacher wanders in for the lesson & is instantly mortified.  I was clearly startled but a good five steps into the room before I realized what was going on, so at that point I had to either make things even weirder by abruptly evacuating or walk to my desk & become very, very interested in my notes avoiding all eye-contact for a good 5 minutes.  Things no information packet can prepare you for.

My kiddos also got to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day this week which basically translated to a brief illustration of the importance of clovers & dying everything green & then a cathartic trip around the room pinching everyone who wasn’t wearing green.  Apparently no one wears green here.  I think in all of my classes there were a total of two students lucky enough to join me in the pinching. But what they lacked in number they made for in enthusiasm & ran through the halls attacking unsuspecting unfestive students during the breaks.  I can only imagine how they explained their behavior to rightfully concerned teachers other than “The American said so”, & yes I did.  The other factor keeping this week fun was a stowaway in last week’s care package bliss- a gigantic book of Mad Libs.  I’m sure they can’t understand all of the stories they create but my goodness does it crack them up.

And finally after a long & occasionally painful process I have officially gotten both of my grants approved & funded so hopefully we’ll have the new student run & printed newspaper & multimedia room up & running before school’s out for the summer 🙂  Also today is the 8 month marker until Home (capitalization both intentional & necessary).  What a lovely start to the weekend.  I love & miss you all (especially those who recognized the title of this as a Michael Scottism).

Ooh, & on that note those of you who were with me for Office marathons & all other junior year fun will appreciate the fact that when I walked into my 11th grade class today they’d arranged the desks into a ping pong table (literally considered a sport here, cough*Borat*cough) which provided an opportunity too good to pass by- an explanation of “Juice Pong”.  Once I got to explaining the NBA Jam rules I realized that was probably as passionate as they’d ever seen me.  I think they humored me, but I’m not really sure if they got it so I’m using a demonstration as a reward to hold over their heads & will happily bring the cups, juice, & my video camera on that fateful day.  Пока!

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