Saturday, November 27, 2004

Gobble Gobble! Part II

I did it!!! See???? I told you I'd beat that oversized chicken!!

Thanksgiving Dinner was a huge hit with the students. Much feasting, much wine, much talking... all good stuff.

Not feeling like writing much tonight... half sick, and a lot homesick. Holidays in strange places will do that to you. I'm drowing my sorrows in a movie fest on my newly purchased DVD player. A complete waste of time, but it's almost as good as comfort food on a day like today. Hmmm, speaking of comfort food, I think I'm going to go warm up some leftover stuffing...

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Gobble Gobble!

Happy Thanksgiving!! I have invited 6 students to my house for Thanksgiving dinner tonight. I managed to find a turkey that wasn't still alive and gobbling, and amidst the electricity cuts, I'm attempting to roast the thing. It really looks more like a large chicken, as Butterball 20 lb. turkeys really don't exist here, but it ought to be enough to feed us all. This is my first turkey(Yes, Mom, I remembered to take the giblet package out of the middle.), and I have spent the morning wrestling with the naked bird in the sink trying to get the legs out from under that little falp of tail skin so I could stuff it. If I'd had a bigger sink, it would have gone flying onto the floor at some point, I'm sure. Getting the legs out wasn't nearly as difficult as the little dance I had to do to get the legs back UNDER that little flap of skin without losing all the stuffing inside the bird. The bird had a slight edge over me for a minute, but I prevailed and it's now in the oven.

On another note, I have a very large, grapefruit sized black bruise directly to the left of my tailbone right now. I'm pretty sure I may have cracked it, as sitting is not the most comfortable of things today. Back up to last night... I'm makng an apple pie and suddenly realize all the baking spices I thought I had with me (cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc...) have mysteriously disappeared. I decided to go on a mission. I got two steps outside my building to the small flight of stairs that leads to the plaza. Most of the ice and snow is gone and it's been relatively safe to walk around... so I thought. Say hello to a little concept called "Black Ice." It's either so thin that you can't see it, or it's absorbed as much dirt as the ground around it so it looks like there's no ice there. I set one careless little foot on the stairs, did the "I'm an ungraceful skater" arm-waving, foot running Flintstone thing for about 3 seconds, then bounced down the stairs on my posterior.. BAM... BAM.... BAM!!! Two girls that were coming from the other way saw me start to go, shouted something in Albanian, then as I hit my finally resting point gave a loud, cringing "Dohhhhhh!" I couldn't get up. I sat there wallowing in self pity and fighting back the stinging tears of shame for a while until the throbbing died down a little. To make matters worse, on the way down I must have jabbed my elbow into my thight muscle because it's been cramped up with a big knot in it ever since. Anyway, once I peeled myself off the ground (it required an extra large spatula), I made it to the store. Not only did I score the needed spices, the lady gave me a chart with all the major spice names in Albanian, English and Serbian. It was completely worth the ass-bruising just for that!!

So battered and sore, I tackled the turkey battle this morning. And won.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Ay ay ay...

Working on hour 16 with no power. I have to tell ya, if it continues like this, this winter is gonna BLOW! Yesterday was pretty bad - 4 hours on, 2 hours off. Then about 10pm it came back and I was expecting to be warm through the night. Then inexplicably just before midnight, kablooie, pitched into darkness yet again. So far, it's still not back on and it's 3:15 in the afternoon. I got an update from a friend that works for the power commission that said something major blew in the two power stations last night - the first one at 10, the second just before midnight, but that things should be up again by noon. Guess they were a little off in that estimate.

Let me remind you that all heat here is electricity based. There are no gas lines in Kosovo, so unless you want a volitile cannister of propane in your living room, you make do. My heater, while it is full of bricks that store up heat for power outtages, has not had any sort of stimulation for nearly a day now. It takes it a full two days to get up to speed to begin with, so now that it's been off for 16 hours, it's a little freakin' cold around here. Hey hey, Hazel just called and her power's back on... I guess I'm going to head to her place for some hot tea and bacon sandwiches and ... HEAT! Wish me warm thoughts.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Side note...

Just in case you were wondering... Ultimate Frisbee rocks! Enough said.

It snowed.. for real this time...

It snowed like crazy last night. I sat in my bed with the curtains open watching huge flakes swirl around and around in the streetlight outside my window. This morning I woke up to a white blanketed world. Although it is sunny today, and a bit warmer, I think the white stuff is here to stay from now until March. It's really beautiful...

View from my balcony last night

It hasn't sunk in yet that Jessica left. Did I mention that yet? Jessica, my sista, my friend, my little Kosovo soulmate, went home on Wednesday. I've been really busy, so I haven't had time to notice the little things, but I'm starting to feel it a bit. No one has come to my door in a panic, or just because, in days. I don't have a partner in crime, and even worse, I don't have that person that completely understands how lonely it can be here, even when you're surrounded by people you know. She e-mailed me from San Fran today. Lucky dog, I'm so jealous.

Greece Part II

Well, I got over being homesick and took full advantage of the opportunity of havng ocean around me. Saturday night we all went to the only disco in town, which was creatively named DISCO, and took over the place. Literally. We were taking pictures of random people's birthday parties, having drinks with the owner, doorman, bartender, locals... whatever... having a blast. Suddenly at 2:30 there was a mass exodus to the door, and we were left standing there, just the four of us and the staff. We asked the DJ to play a Donna Summer song for us, for who can go to a place called DISCO without hearing "Last Dance" as you're ushered out the door? They didn't play just one song... oh no... we got a full set and had a 4 man dance competition to see who had the cheesiest moves. Take a look at the pics, and you can be the judge. :D When we finally left the club, the rain had stopped, the wind was calm, and it seemed warm enough for a little moonlight skinny dip. HEAVEN. Phil was a bit chicken, and stayed behind to guard our clothes as Jess, Travis and I made straight for the water. It felt so good to swim in the ocean! I'm not quite sure what the hotel owners thought of us all trapsing in at 3:30 in the morning dripping wet. They did give us their private number to call when we were coming back, so we must not have made that bad of an impression. Anyway, there's no pics of that event, sorry kids.

The next morning we got up and headed out to a new destination. While we were shopping for souvenirs in Paralia we saw this postcard of a place called Meteora, with clifftop monasteries. It turned out it was less than 2 hours away, so we packed up and headed out. We made the decision to stop in Dion along the way to see some ancient Greek ruins. But alas our plans were thwarted. We made it to Dion, but as I stepped out of the car, I managed to plop my flip-flop clad feet into a huge patch of stinging nettle, and my feet were instantly covered in blisters and felt like I had stuck them into a pile of burning coals. We made for the nearest cafe to beg for help for my poor little toesies. After much gesturing and groaning someone finally figured out what was going on and scurried off to find help. I took two steps in the same direction, and learned that rain, marble steps and flip-flops don't mix. My feet went out from under me and I fell on my ass down the stairs and into a puddle. The day was not going well. However, within a couple of minutes, the man who had scurried off came back with a cotton ball with some magic poition on it, swabbed my feet, and they instantly stopped burning. Thank god! I wanted to die up until that moment. After that, we asked how far it was to the ruins - 500 meters, and we couldn't drive there. We gave up on Dion, and carried on, ruins be damned.

It was soooooo worth it. It rained the whole way to Meteora, but just as we were getting close, the clouds broke for a moment, and the most amazing rainbow I've ever seen appeared. It was full spectrum, and we could see it from end to end, it looked like it was touching the ground right next to us. Incredible. My picture doesn't do it justice, I couldn't even get a 1/4 of it in the shot. As we were driving up to Meteora, the landscape just got prettier and prettier. Out of the plains sprang giant cliffs, and unbelievable rock formations (made me wish I had my climbing shoes wit me). The postcards just didn't deliver half of what we saw. I was stunned by this place. On the tops of these giant rocks 14-15th century monasteries were perched. We drove up to the top and hike up to one, but it was closed for the day. We spent some time driving around to the different monasteries, determining whihch one's we would come back to the next morning, then headed down the mountain about halfway to a little bed and breakfast. The view from this place was stunning - see sunrise pics from my balcony... This place was family owned and run, and dinner was prepared by the owners mother. If you ever had a picture inyour head of what an old Greek woman would look like, she would be it! The owner himself, who we nicknamed "Zorba", was a nutcase. Very kind to us, but also very opinionated. He made us promise about 50 times to write to Let's Go and Lonely Planet to tell them about his hotel. Of course we will!! We got up early the next morning, picked three monasteries (I would attempt to describe it, but there's just no way.. see the photos), did our little tour, and then made the drive from hell back to Prishtina. Definitely one of the best weekends I've ever had in my entire life. I am so lucky to be doing all of this.

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Beach Woes

I should be the happiest girl on the planet right now, but instead I feel melancholy and sad. I am in Paralia, Greece, a sleepy little beach town on the Agean, staying in a hotel right on the beach with a balcony that overlooks the ocean. I am so homesick for LA and my friends right now, I could just cry. The smell of the salt air, the sand under my feet, the sound of the waves crashing on the beach.... all heavenly, and tugging at my heartstrings all at once. I didn't realize I was so attached to the ocean until today. I love it. I need it. I misssssss it.

Some other observations about this town... it reminds me a lot of Hermosa before they tore up Pier Avenue and turned it into the hotspot promenade that it is now. Small, quaint, not a lot to do but eat and hang out at the beach. However, the main difference between Hermosa and here is the never ending row after row of shops selling nothing but fur coats. There's at least 100 of them. It's insane. The street looks like this.... fur shop, fur shop fur shop, restaurant, fur shop fur shop fur shop fur shop, fruit stand, fur shop fur shop fur shop fur shop, hotel, fur shop fur shop.... Seriously. Who need all this fur? You can walk from one end of town to another in 10 minutes. It's only about 12 square blocks.... Nuts.

Well, Travis, Phil, Jessica and I are about to go eat dinner and maybe if we put the boys to bed early, do a little moonlight skinny dipping in the Agean. It's gotta be done. You can't come to a place like this and leave without a skinny dip. I think there's a law somewhere, there's gotta be!

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Ahhhhh.. to see the ocean

We are going to Greece. Tomorrow. YEAH!!!!! I get to see the ocean, and weather permitting take a little dip. I can't wait - salt air, sand between my toes... *sigh* what beauty! I'm getting a pedicure tomorrow morning in celebration. :D

In other news, I met with my department chair at the university tonight and he said that the students really like my classes. Whew! That's good news since I basically am winging it right now. It's actually going pretty good, I'm learning new ways of weaving things together and making it all make sense in the end. It's a learning experience for everyone. I feel a little sorry for my students, being my first guinnea pigs and all, but I'm sure they'll come out without too much damage in the end.

Other than that, it's business as usual. I'll post pics of Greece next week, promise! I just found a new wireless internet cafe... 20 feet from my front door. THANK YOU!!! It also boasts the best hot chocolate in town. mmmm Spanish style, thick and rich and yummy! No churros to go with it, but they do give you a little tin of chocolate shortbread cookies that are to die for. Concessions and adaptations, I say. So anyway, love you all, miss you more!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Changes with the seasons... new hair, new husband...

I got really brave and got my hair cut and colored today. I gotta tell ya... these people have an entirely different idea of what "appointment" means. I had a 1 pm appointment. I didn't eat lunch beforehand, thinking I would be out of there by 2:30 tops. By 2:45, I still was waiting, and getting a little antsy. (BIGThanks to my dearest Jessica for keeping me company while waiting.) Everytime I asked if he was almost done, "oh yes... just 5 more minutes". Since when does 5 minutes mean 2 hours??? Anyway, I finally got in the chair at 2:45 and didn't get out of there until after 5 pm. Needless to say I was ready to eat a horse, but at least I'd look good doing it! I went for a new color scheme this time, lightened things up a bit, and am now a light brown with copper and blonde highlights. Love it! It was time for a change - gotta go with the seasons, dontcha know.

On another note, got asked out by a very odd German fellow tonight. He's in my salsa group, and has been struggling to even keep the beat, much less actually dance. I guess I'd done or said something last week that lightened his mood when he was really having a bad day, so today he brings me a book of Victorian poetry and asked me to dinner. Hmmm.... I managed to tell him I was married (aparently to a handsome fella in Indonesia, to borrow someone else's little white lie) and wiggled out of there early before he had a chance to push the issue. Evidently that wasn't a very smart move either since most people here are working away from their families, telling someone you're married doesn't mean squat - it's almost more of an invitiation (shows what I know). The worst part... I don't even know his name.... does that make me a horrible person? I so don't want to hurt his feelings, but I don't want to go out of pity either. Arg! Help!

Sunday, November 07, 2004

First Snow

It snowed today, or so I hear. I missed it completely. It's now a very nasty cold and rainy night, but at some point today there were flakes. Real flakes! I know I sound silly, but for a girl from Texas who maybe saw snow once a year for a few hours, that then spent 8 years on the beach in LA, I'm a little excited about seeing some white stuff on the ground. I will probably be changing my tune in a few weeks, when I'm sick of the shit, but for now... I wanna make a snowman!

Saturday, November 06, 2004

Amendment to earlier posting...

Just found out that the hairball wasn't actually hair. It was this stuff that plumbers use to seal the pipes. He evidently left a year's supply behind on my sink. I am actually a little comforted by this knowledge. I really didn't like thinking that some amazon woman had shed virtually all the hair on her head into my drain. The thought just gives me the heebie jeebies.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Just had to share

I've been having problems with water seeping out from under my bathtub lately, so I called my landlord who promptly sent a plumber over while I was at work. When I returned, this is what was sitting on my sink... evidently there was an incredibly hairy blond living here before me. Is that disgusting, or what? And WHY did the plumber leave it on the sink for me to deal with?? Ugh!


So Bush is President again. Wow. I really didn't think he would win, and I definitely didn't think he'd win by such a large margin. Jessica and I stayed up all night watching coverage on CNN - we got the live feed from the US on satellite. It was incredible how careful they were this time about their projections. I only wish it hadn't been in the middle of the night, I would have loved to have used it in class for discussion.

The truly interesting thing to watch was world reaction. The pre-coverage on BBC World and CNN International was basically nothing but a Bush-bashing session, with reporters trying to goad world leaders and their spokespeople into saying negative things about Bush. The most notable was Chirac's statement that "there could be no reconciliation with the U.S. under the Bush administration." Immediately after it became apparent that Bush would be re-elected, his song changed completely and he said that it was necessary to rebuild allegiances with America. Wha??? And they accused Kerry of being wishy washy. Pssha.

I can't say that I'm ok with Bush being re-elected. I think the economy is in the toilet, and will continue to decline. The dollar is at an all-time low against the Euro, which once again is screwing me up financially. (Not anything to worry about, but in the two months I've been here my rent has increased 10%.) The majority of the world still hates Americans, which puts me in a precarious position travelling outside of Kosovo, where we are adored. I'm scared about women's rights, gay and lesbian rights, personal freedoms and who he might appoint to the Supreme Court. There's so much at stake this time around. I only hope that after the next four years, we are still living in an America that we recognize and that protects our freedoms and rights. I guess only time will tell.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Singin' the blues with Janis

I'm sitting here listening to Janis Joplin (I do love her!) after salsa class and two glasses of wine, and wondering what hell tomorrow may bring. The election. I am a little nervous - it's such a close race this time, at least in the polls. We won't really know until tomorrow. I have planned all of my lessons tomorrow around coverage of the event, because it will be an event I am sure. The media won't let this circus go unnoticed. Too bad I'm not in LA for this one... I mean seriously, it sprinkles there and they launch Storm Watch 2004 - and if you think I'm kidding, ask an Angelino. I can't imagine what titile they'll come up with for the elections... Burning Bush 2004, Scary Kerry Vigil, Battle of the Brainless, Showdown at the White House.... who knows. All I know is that Jessica and I are heading to the *new* Mexican food restaurant in town and having a couple of stiff margies, and then gluing ourselves to the TV to await our fate. Another 4 years and we may all give up our passports. It's amazing to me, I don't honestly know one person (outside of a small faction of my family) that is voting for Bush, so who is this mysterious 49% he has in the polls? After much discussion, we've decided that only Democrats pack up and move overseas. Whether that's out of disgust with the administration, or the true goodie-goodie-gotta-help someone-ness of Democrats, is unknown at this time. I'll get back to you after further investigation. I'm not going to tell anyone how to vote, just get out there and do it. Speak your peace, give your opinion, make a difference, feel better about yourself for taking part... VOTE, dammit!

Halloween in Kosovo

Halloween has been imported to Kosovo, except the kids don't really get it. Instead of trick or treating and expecting candy, they come asking for raw eggs. Then they go back out to the streets, which are totally mobbed with kids from 5 - 15, and chuck them at each other. The plaza in front of my apartment building was slimy with egg last night. This group of girls went to Hazel's house, and asked her for eggs. Hazel was a little puzzled by this, since she hadn't been outside yet. She went back inside and got 3 egss, one for each kid. After the first two, the third girl said, "No thanks, I've already got one." and patted her jeans pocket, and promptly squashed the egg. "OH NOOOOO!!" Really funny.

We had our own Halloween festivities at Jessica's house on Saturday night. Evidently the gay population here doesn't really have any place to go and be open about it, so Jess gave them an outlet. The theme was crossdressing, and man, there were some beautiful women(?) at this party. And some not so beautiful - a little scary at best. The whole thing was an absolute blast though. We tossed everyone out at about midnight and went to a couple of clubs from there... in costume, which raised some eyebrows as most of the older kids don't really "do" Halloween. I obviously picked the wrong costume.. I went as a black-eyed pea (that's my standard no-money, no-effort costume). You put a big p on your shirt and black out one eye.... Apparently the domestic violence problem here is a big one, and people didn't get the pun, as they don't know what black eyed peas are, so I just looked like a battered woman with the scarlet letter on her shirt. Oh well. One of the guys with us kept teasing me, telling me I should have listened and that I was lucky the other eye wasn't black. Ha Ha. I'll post pictures soon, hopefully this afternoon.