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formality: No official stuff here! The opinions, facts, and babbles on this page are the product of my wandering mind and have no official connection to the US Peace Corps.
notes from Bulgaria
Friday, 26 May 2006
there's a megapede in my kitchen

(written yesterday, published today for the usual technical reasons)
I'm off from work today and tomorrow (and yesterday, sort of) for alphabet day, which is a fabulous idea for a holiday. More technically known as "Saints Kyril and Metodi Day," for the creators of the Cyrillic alphabet, Cyril and Methodius (allegedly Bulgarians), the day is used to celebrate education. This year was the biggest celebration the town's seen in years. Fourteen schools from Omurtag and the surrounding villages gathered in the morning and marched towards the square. In true Bulgarian fashion, the streets were semi-blocked off, allowing cars to pass, sometimes. Everyone in the town gathered around as one by one the schools marched from the streets around and into the square, waving our flags. When the marching was done, the organized singing and dancing by schoolkids that accompanies every major town holiday commenced. I stayed just long enough to shake all the obligatory hands and then headed home since it was the same exact stuff that I'd been watching for two years and I hadn't eaten breakfast yet.

At noon there was the mayor's banquet, at which the directors and a few teachers from each school were invited to eat, but more teachers than were invited came so of course there wasn't enough food, but of course there was enough drink.

Then I went on a picnic with some friends and we built a bonfire and roasted meat on a stick, which of course I didn't eat, and since apparently a Bulgarian picnic automatically includes a bonfire everyone thought I understood we were cooking. Now that I know these things, I will be sure to bring some veggies to roast at the next picnic, which will probably happen on Saturday since the weather has finally gotten picnicky.

So meanwhile I was home for most of the day today trying to sort out my apartment, putting things in suitcases to take home, garbage bags to give away, garbage bags to throw away. And cleaning my kitchen. In my kitchen there's this ugly rug which I left there because the floor under it is even uglier and because I have nowhere else to put it. Today I decided, for the first time since before the winter, if I remember correctly (give me a break, my kitchen was so cold for 6 or 7 months and there's no room to do anything in it except put things on the stove or in the midget fridge, I most often just used the standalone burner in my bedroom which is where space constraints force me to do all the prep work anyways--either there or balancing the cutting board on the edge of the sink, which unfailingly leads to spillages only when I'm chopping mass quantities of veggies into very small pieces) I decided to clean under the rug.

Well when I picked up the rug to shake it out, I hear something hard clunk to the floor. And there on the speckled brown linolium is a grey, curled up something-apede, about the size of a fist.

Ok yes I tend to exaggerate for effect but the problem is that this THING is too big to fit inside the standard-sized tube of my trusty vacuum cleaner, and even if it weren't, the sound of this cold hard dead for half a year thing clinking up the metal tube of my faithful bug-eater is just too much for me. Plus then I'd have to empty the vacuum bag later. EEEEEEEEEEW. I actually had a several minute long shivering attack, while thinking of ways to get rid of it that do not include touching it, even with a wad of an entire pack of tissues.

I'm about to go out to the cafe with some friends in a little bit and I've decided that the only possible option is to bring someone back with me who will do the dirty deed for me.

Now that that's solved (I keep imagining that this giant beast will disappear before we get back, and daily searching my bed and under my feet for this cold gray monster, eeeeek), we can move on to more pleasant things, so how fabulous is it that one of the most well-respected newspapers in America (NYTimes) can ask several hundred prominent people an admittedly ridiculous question and report not only the results but foster ongoing discussion about the ridiculous nature of the question itself??

What do YOU think is the best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years?

The winner is, not all that surprisingly, Beloved by Toni Morrison. But far more fascinating than that is the discussion surrounding the topic, because what defines "best" and what defines "fiction" and what even defines "published in the last 25 years,"and is this even a good practice--to be selecting one book of millions that, as is the practice of history, might be far overshadowed in the next 50 years by something that has yet to be discovered as great?

And where are the people that actually want to have this conversation with me? This is why I am applying to grad school, and not continuing to live in Omurtag, Bulgaria.

So while I was in Sofia last week for my final official meetings and doctor's appointments, I got to hang out with a few other volunteers, which was fun, but then when I saw that the Theater of Tears and Laughter was putting on Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf one night, I had to go see it. Alone of course, while the others went to see V for Vendetta, and we met after for Indian food. The play was fabulous, except it was very funny when they sang the "Who's afraid of the big bad wolf" song in English of course, and the actress, who clearly did not speak English, kept saying "oolf"--it was very cute. The problem is that you have to know English to get the significance of it in the play, but the performance was still very impressive. I guess I take the ability to do this sort of thing, to go to museums and plays and art galleries, all of which I did (by myself) in Sofia for granted, until I live in Omurtag, and then when I get out I remember a world that I almost forgot existed. And that I want to live in again! Very, very soon.

(Of course I've done all I can to try to bring some of that to Omurtag, and we've got just a week of rehearsals left before our huge play presentation, but unfortunately since they've already performed the play once for the school they don't believe that they need to rehearse anymore, and don't come to rehearsals. Meanwhile the director is telling me every day that the play has to be perfect and I have to remind the students to do this and do that and not do this and not do that and, well, I still think it will be...great.)

**

So I wrote this yesterday but first the internet wasn't working and then the Angelfire webpage wasn't working but now it's all working and the giant dead wormy thing is still in my kitchen because after the cafe we went to watch a movie and I didn't remember the beast that I was coming home to until I walked into the building entrance...and cringed...so after work today (their work, not mine, 3 days of no school to celebrate "education," hahaha) I will be calling someone to rid me of this thing, meanwhile, the kitchen door remains CLOSED.


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