Thursday, May 17, 2012

It's the Final Countdown?

I haven’t blogged in some time.  Too much stuff has happened since my last blog.  I made some really good friends via a panel I did back in April.  I’ve officially done 5 of them so far! I think I deserve some kind of sash!  TLG has been on my back lately about extending my contract until December—which includes finding an apartment if I wish to stay.  Temptations all around me.
(Sarah, I and Jordan in Gelati) 
My grade 1s are graduating today, it so amazing to see how much they have grown and developed these past few months.  I think I’ve learned more than they have! I’ve grown so much as a person and teacher thanks to them.  I’ve discovered that songs and movement really help the learning process with younger kids.  I’ve learned that I have a lot more patience then I ever expected.  I learned that just about the same time you are ready to give up or lose your mind—one of them do something that put the wind back in your sails and the glimmer back in your eyes.  It is insane how much of an influence these kiddos had on my life! I thought them so many songs, most of which they sang at their graduation.  It was hard fighting back the tears.  What an incredible feeling. Indescribable really.

I have just a little under a month still left at school.  My lord how time flies. I can’t believe it is almost June already. It is so exciting thinking – wow girl, you did it. But now the fear of where you going next kicks in.  I’ve started to apply to places here and there with no response yet.  I know what my heart of hearts wants to do so I might just figure following that? We will see how it goes.  I have my flight back to Toronto booked for August 9th.  How long I’m actually going to stay in Canada until I move on again is going to be rather short. How short? Only time will tell. But I’m keeping up head up, my heart strong and my opinions open.

I really want to thank all the people back home that have been there for me this past year.  Thank you for the support, kind words and encouragement for chasing my dream around this crazy world of ours.  I’ve really learned to live with no regrets and change what I don’t like.  If one door closes, there are millions more that will open. View yourself with kindsight. Stop beating yourself up for things in the past. Instead of slapping your forehead and asking “What was I thinking?” breathe and ask: “What was I learning?”

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Last weekend we ended up at Ethnic Bar.  I haven't been there since mid February and  I really think that my first few weeks back were really bad because I kept going there.  That place is so drab.  It’s the same thing every freakin’ time.  Overcrowding, no real dancing space coupled with meh music.  I really can’t explain how much better it is in this country when the cold weather isn’t molesting you everywhere you are.  With the weather getting nicer, I’ll be able to escape the wrath that is Ethnic Bar and go off and do my own thing in the club district while I diva it up *finger snap* The only good thing that came out of going to the “tomb of doom” was getting one of the best laughs I’d had in a while.  So imagine this, you are in a semi-crowded bar, people more or less everywhere and there is a smaller rectangular room off to the side that houses a big long thick wooden table.  On the side furthest in you see a couple very heavily making out and on the other side of the table closest to the door, they are beautifully framed by 2 others in a hard-core game of chess. *crickets* I’d never seen anything like that in my life and I’m from Romania folks—I’ve seen a lot of weird stuff in my time.  My real question is… WHO PLAYS CHESS IN A BAR ON A SATURDAY NIGHT?! Imagine how LAME a bar has to be that it is 2 in the morning and you are playing chess. 

On a more interesting note, one of my girlfriends is teaching the police in Rustavi.  Wednesday night around 7 is our usual date night time but due to some very random circumstances we ended up meeting at 8 last night—in the mean time she ran into one of her “students” and he ended up taking us out.  It was a surprisingly entertaining night seeing as there was a massive language barrier in play but everything that needed understanding was understood as it always is.  It also turns out that he is cousins with one of my beloved co-teachers.  What a small world! Teaching police also sounds like damn fun minus the fact that it isn’t as rewarding as teaching children. Today in my favourite grade 3 class-- aka Goga's class-- I got to teach them Mr. Sun-- my favourite song of all!! There seems to be a sunshine theme in my life seeing as I also am a big fan of 'You are My Sunshine'.  Not only did I have them singing but I also had them learn the choreography to it too.  Yes there is a "dance" and I will be happy to show anyone that is interested what it looks like.  I also had some grade 1s reading today—stuff like that makes my day.  I’m in a really big mood to find some Dr. Seuss books or activities and bring that sunshine into their minds.  Granted, my co-teacher would have to translate but we haven’t had story time ever in the class.  I FREAKIN’ LOVED STORY TIME when I was their age.  Actually let me not even lie though, I was obsessed with The Cat in the Hat even as a high school-er.  I’d like to thank my mom for putting up with my craziness seeing I was 17 years old and had a Cat in the Hat bed spread, night lamp, drapes, wallet, backpack and the list legit goes on!

Tomorrow I am going to be watching a Georgian play rendition of A Clockwork Orange.  In all fairness, I tried watching the movie a few months back; 20 minutes in I’m like I don’t get it so I downloaded subtitles and continued watching the English version of the movie with ENGLISH subtitles and still had zero clue what was going on so I gave up and took a nap.  So the play should be interested, I think I’ll just go in enjoying the movement on stage rather than the story being told—I have no clue if that even made any sense.  I like to try new things now and then.  Since there is only so much I can sleep or entertain myself on the internet a day, I’ve started to make dream catchers in my free time.  Yup.  Dream catchers.  I am totally digging doing it but I am having a very hard time finding circles.  There are only so many hoop earrings and bracelets a girl can find in Georgia and I want to make bigger ones!  I made one out of a hose/pipe tightener last week but it wasn’t as pretty as I’d wished.  Sorry Kiyoshi for the ugly birthday present. Then again, they don't call me Herta "MacGyver" Bolgar for anything.  Really Herta? MacGyver? Who calls you MacGyver?!
(I totally see the resemblance) 

I did another panel last week *shines nails on shirt* Not that I’m keeping tally or anything but that is my 3rd one in a row *shines nails to an even shiner gleam*.  It was a group of 8.  YEAH. 8.  It was so weird seeing as the last one was massive. Earlier this week, my regional representative texted me to let me know that I am doing a wonderful job at school.  Let me back pedal here a bit for some clarification.  Every month I am required to fill out a report about the school and my co-teachers.  It basically about how things are going, what needs improvement, what we are doing, how we are doing it etc and my principle also fills out a monthly report about me.  Turns out I’m doing such a good job that it needed to be mentioned to me which makes me soooo happy.  I was over the moon when I got that text message.  I don’t do what I do to be recognized, I do it because I care and because I am passionate about the kids but it is always feels good to have your efforts to be acknowledged by a third party.  

I am so excited, next week at this time I will legit be in Hungary with one of my beloved cousins.  12 days of pure bliss.  I seriously can’t wait because every time I think about it, I get butterflies.  I’ve really been limiting the amount of time I spend thinking about seeing him.  I can’t believe it is almost April.  WOW. How the hell did that happen?  Next time I blink, it’s gonna be my birthday and when I unblink from that school will be over and I’m going to get to see my number 1 papa bear in the Ro-of-mania.  Life is good.  Correction.  Life is incredible and I hate that I lost sight of that when I hit a low earlier this year.  “But I know somehow, that only when it is dark enough, can you see the stars.”

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Everything's Comin' Up Milhouse!

Life has only gotten better and better these past few weeks.  The weather over here is getting much warmer which means I am slowly but surely regaining some of my sanity.  Over Easter break I am going to go to Hungary/Romania and surprise my grandmother with a heart attack (and possibly a red decorative egg).  I’m really looking forward to seeing some family.

The social situation is getting much better as well.  I’ve made some new friends as well as had some old ones regrow on me. It was a friends birthday this past Saturday. Super duper awesome party :) It's about time we shook something all night long. (I hope someone gets the 80s reference).  I got to do another panel 2 weeks ago to 88 people.  (And I thought I had a big group!)  I was over the moon when Tamara called and asked if I wanted to do another one seeing as the one I last did had such positive reviews.  There were too many people to make the kind of impact I think I made on the last group but you can’t win ‘em all.

I really can’t wait for it to be Spring already—to see everything in bloom, green and alive again—it makes me giddy just thinking about it.  I’m in the processes of looking for a bike; possibly one with training wheels seeing as the only image I have of myself near a bicycle goes back to when I was 8 and my parents got me one for my birthday.  Let me just say that the first wall I saw, was also the last thing I saw, seeing as rode straight into.

There have been some funny one liners coming my way which I want to share really only so I remember them when I’m old, grey and keep forgetting my teeth in the dishwasher.  We were at a restaurant and had a group of Georgian “men” send us over a round of beers.  We thanked them but as per usual the relentlessness of a Georgian man never stops there.  So one of them comes over and offers to show us around Rustavi—it then turns out that he just MOVED there 4 days ago *crickets* I’ve been here for about 6 months.  There is not much you can show me that I already haven’t seen or don’t already know about.  Luckily, one of the guys who claimed to  be Jay-Z *crickets* sensed our desperation to get rid of our uninvited guest (aka his friend) and offered to switch positions with him. "Jay-Z come join us!” “One minute, this toast is for our wives”. Another great one liner from him was when his buddy was going on and on about how he is going to show us around to which I point blank said “The men over here are so relentless. You never take no for an answer” *cue Jay-Z that heard none of this conversation aside from my mentioning men* he looks up from the next table and goes* “Georgian men are the best, yes?”

Last Saturday was spent with Kiyoshi walking aimless around Tbilisi.  It was a grand ol’ time as a found a charger for my camera but then realized that my battery was the problem and not really the charger. *le sigh* I’ll figure it out at some point.  We found a place that serves sandwiches.  I really miss sandwiches—a lot more then I could ever articulate.  I also miss Sushi. When I get home, I’m going to have non-stop sushi sandwiches to make up for all the lost time I had with my 2 long lost loves.

Monday, February 27, 2012

A is for Apple

I know I haven’t written in a while—it’s because I want everyone to wait in anticipation for my posts.  That’s so not true. It’s just been a bland few weeks and nothing interesting has happened but with that being said,  I will recount some of the more interesting events.

2 weekends ago I was in Tbilisi where I got to meet some new TLGers who seem like decent human beings—of course I’m comparing them to the gargoyles I’m typically around.  But that meeting was short lived as I once again ended up at Ethnic Bar stone cold sober and realizing that I have really outgrown the whole drinking for no reason thing. There was tension in the air from the second I got there which just made me edgy the whole night. Every 30 minutes there would be some kind of Foreigner  vs. Georgian argument.  Whether it was about beer pong, racial slurs, or “peacocking” there was reason for me to be there. Not to say that I stand for any discrimination put forth by either group but it’s the level of immaturity that I do not want to be a part of. I made a consciousness effort this weekend to not be involved in anything of that sort.  I hate complaining about the same things over and over so I figure it’s up to me and only me to be the maker of my own happiness and sanity.  

Speaking of SANITY—I witnessed a lunatic in a restaurant.  After we left Ethnic Bar, we went to a 24 hour restaurant nearby called Khinkali house aka Denny’s according to Duncan and I.  When we got there the place was more or less deserted.  By the time we were finished around 4:30 the place was PACKED.  I noticed a couple come in maybe in their mid-30s but then again you never know in Georgia as people do not age well. They could have been 20 for all I know.  So, they come in, sit down and all of a sudden the man slams his fists on the table and starts screaming in Georgian.   I was like, oh no, a lovers quarrel.  In the meantime, the man in the table next to us comes over and starts talking IN ROMANIAN about how he wishes us success and health in life.  Long story short, gypsies are everywhere.  We ask for the bill and are in the process of paying when shit hit the fan.  The table slamming Georgian man now gets up and starts screaming at the top of his lungs.  You could have heard a pin-drop.  He then goes into the middle of the restaurant—center stage—and continues screaming AT EVERYONE.  This is one of the only times I wish I understood this language.  I had ZERO clue what on earth he was saying or what he was soooo upset about.  So after a good long minute of this crazy screaming, a man from one of the other tables gets up and says “Ra ginda bitcho?!” – "What do you want boy?!".  THANK GOD I UNDERSTOOD THAT MUCH!  They then get into each other’s face and continue the screaming.  Then a man from another table gets up and enters the lion’s den.  All of a sudden, the police are there and the crazy dude is being DRAGGED down the stairs… then up another set of stairs.  Good times at 5 in the morning! 

There have been 4 birthdays in the past 2 weeks which makes me believe that love is in the air in spring FOR SURE.  February 11th and 12th were Murman and Natia’s birthdays—my awesome host brother and sister-in-law who both turned 24.  We ended up going to a restaurant on the Sunday to celebrate and stayed until 1 in the morning Georgian dancing and supra-ing.  It was a really great time minus the fact that I had school the next day.  They even asked the DJ to play Celine Dion and dedicated it to me.  I am so blessed to have such a wonderful host family that I mesh with so well.  My host mom’s birthday was this past Thursday—she has been having a rough couple of weeks due to some drama so I made sure to let her know how much I love and appreciate all she does via a letter I wrote IN Georgian.  It took me forever but she really enjoyed it.

Duncan turned 27 on Wednesday and we celebrated his birth by finding a cute new restaurant on Marjanishvili – NO MORE RUSTAVELI FOR US! We had some food and wine and talked about science and god.  Afterward we went to Chardin and got some shisha at my personal favourite hooka bar in all of Tbilisi.  The place with the stick man tattoo waiter.  He totally recognized me even though I haven’t been there in November.  I told you guys he loved me.  It was a shame Duncan had school the next day and there were wasn’t anything dance-y happening otherwise we would have tore up a rug somewhere. So far it’s been one of my favourite nights here back in Georgia. 

(cinnamon swirling)

The weather is getting nicer.   It was mild this weekend so I got to do a little bit of walking around alone which made me very giddy and smiley. Today I officially felt like a teacher.  I don’t even know how to explain what I mean when I say that.  You never really think about how you are perceived by others—I mean I don’t think about it.  But the more I do this and the more they call me “mas” the more the title of teacher is cemented in my own mind. A few weeks back I was teaching the days of the week to a grade 2 class and halfway through teaching one of my many songs, I look over and I see this super cute kid named Lasha (one of my all-time favourite names) just coloring away not giving a damn about anything going on around him.  I figure that I just let him continue as I’d much rather kids do their own thing, in their own little worlds then be disruptive.  After class he comes over to me and gives me what he was coloring—a smiley blue cloud!  And here I was thinking he was wasting time; he was totally working on a present for me.  Today, in the same class, I come in, set my bag down and we start working on our reading.  This grade 2 class really is such a pleasure to be a part of.   They are such amazing kids—Nika (aka you are my sunshine) is in this class too—they are all such little miracles.  I think I am too emotional at times but it is surreal knowing they can read when a few months back they didn’t even know the alphabet.  So Lasha comes up to my desk and hands me an apple.  My first apple.  What a feeling that was.  It was one of the first REAL times it occurred to me.  I really hope I never forget that moment. These kids see me as a teacher and not as Herta.  

At the end of training week in September, there was a panel of other TLGers that came into the hotel and talk to us about their experiences in Georgia. We got to ask them questions and they candidly answered them.  I honestly hated my panel, they were so negative and cynical.  From the second I realized that this type of panel existed, I wanted to be a part of it no matter what.  I wanted to give people the positivity that I never got. I mean, it always good to prepare people for what is coming their way but at the same time, that week long training is filled with so many unknowns and is such an emotional roller coaster that all you really want to know is that yes, although you will face some hardships, you will be fine as long as you have a super positive attitude. So I totally got to be on a panel last weekend!!  I was so happy when Tamara, the orientation organizer, called me and asked if I was interesting in doing it.  The energy in that room felt exactly like it did when I was in their shoes.  All the new people had the same concerns we did back in September-- fear about host families, safety, hygiene and school relations.  It was really nice meeting people with a fresh outlook to this experience.  I think I needed to experience that panel, those questions and that energy to remind me "where I came from" and how much I have grown since I was in their shoes. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Aloysius (and sanity) Out

I really find I have ZERO purpose in Georgia when I am not in school.  This past week we had a 3 day snow day that was effective throughout the whole country—so it would be exciting to have a 5 day weekend except for the fact that its cold and there is nothing really to do if I leave my host family other then sit around at someone else’s place trying to stay warm. 

Wednesday night I headed into Tbilisi to visit Duncan at his apartment.  The whole night was ok at best—we ended up going to a bar filled with a bunch of question marks.  From the white Estonian in one corner to the wannabe Georgian Rastas in the other it really wasn’t my scene.  We decided to leave his roommates there and made our way back to the apartment to realize that they had “couch surfers” over and we would have to share a bed the size of a matchbox (no seriously, it wasn't even a big enough for him without me in it) together instead of me sleeping on the couch as per usual. That was legit one of the worst sleeps I’ve had in a very long time. The room had ZERO insulation and more than enough loud snoring to last me a lifetime.  Long story short—never again. I’d much rather sit and die in Rustavi until the weather warms up then gallivant around in this “everywhere cold” country.

(This is what I actually look like right now)

I got to talk to Albart for 3 hours on Skype—that definitely made my Saturday night in awesome! I have never been home on a Saturday night in Georgia before.  I was debating a bath before the impromptu Skype date but I figure I take one tomorrow at some point and  maybe straighten my hair for the coming week, I don’t know.  With all this free time I could maybe count how many hairs on my head there actually are. I’ve been home pretty much ever since Friday morning sitting on my bed just wasting time. I cleaned my closet, my room, did pretty much all my laundry except for what I have ON me, watched a movie and uploaded some old pictures I found on an old hard drive during the break on Facebook. I also (out of sheer boredom) found that if I scrape my house slippers along the carpet really hard over and over, I can clean it and get all the matted hair off of it much better than the vacuum cleaner.  So my area rug has NEVER been/looked cleaner than it does right now!  I had finished all my little self-imposed school projects before this whole lame “snow storm” thing hit so now I’m just playing the waiting game for Monday to roll around so I can be happy again.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"I didn't come here to play cards!"

The weekend was good.  On Friday night I stayed local with a fellow group 24er Nikhil and showed him around Rustavi a little. A very little seeing as it is freezing outside.  Saturday I went into Tbilisi to check out Duncan’s new apartment and got to officially meet his roommates.  I got to meet some new people from TLG —most of whom aren’t worth mentioning except for the only other SANE Canadian I have meet here named Kiyoshi from Vancouver! Nothing too interesting happened except for a game of Kings that resulted in a lap dance I am still trying to forget *UPDATE: a lap dance that I received*. Duncan decided to fall asleep at midnight thus leaving me to rot and die as I went out with the rest of the gang to a "club" named Art Galleria. “This place is the suckiest, suck that ever sucked.” Sunday consisted of a nice Tbilisi family breakfast and talking to loved ones via Skype.
("sideways E, little b with a visor, backwards N")

So I thought I would be smart and take advantage of my free health insurance and get an eye examine here in Georgia.  I figured why the heck not get a free eye exam and possibly free stylish glasses so I decided to call up my insurance provider and see what I had to do to get this big ol’ ball of free rolling.  She ends up making a doctor’s appointment for me the same day I called which I thought was a wonderful idea until it was time for me to leave and I wanted to do everything in my power to reschedule.  But instead I got dressed and figured I would be back in an hour tops.  I got the address to the Rustavi hospital and headed over via taxi.  So I get there and I realize I really should have stayed home.  That hospital was made of childhood nightmares but at least no one was smoking.  AT LEAST. After about 15 minutes of completely useless wondering I call the rep and say I am in the lobby.  She then informs me that the doctor will be right down to get me.  10 minutes pass and still nothing.  The rep calls me and asks where I am—since I have ZERO clue where I am—I pass the phone to a “hospital” personal and it turns out I am not only in the wrong hospital, but also the wrong part of the city.

With that, I leave the hospital, find a taxi, get in it and make the driver talk to the rep, who then tells me to take the number 15 marshutka and it will take me where I need to go.  So I start walking, and walking, and walking and realize I have ZERO clue where I am.  During the walk, all I could think about was A. why did I decide to wear a leather jacket and vest and not my winter jacket B. why didn’t I just stay home C. where the devil am i? and D. why am I so damn cheap?! So I finally figure out where I am, hop on a marsh and get myself to the medical building.  I call the rep and tell her I have arrived. *sigh* Another 15 minutes of waiting results with the phone ringing in the lobby, the building personal picking it up, looking at me, saying something in Georgian and then gesturing for me to talk to the person on the phone.  I legit felt like I was in one of those “go to this location, wait for the phone to ring in the phone booth and I will tell you the rest of the instructions then” movies.  It was the doctor I was supposed to meet—she was again NOT in the building I was in but at least I was getting closer.

So I march myself up a steep hill and finally find the Rustavi Clinic. *cue heavenly choir* I go in and I tell them I want an eye exam—they then keep asking me what is wrong with my eyes. I tell them I don’t know but one seems to be weaker than the other one.  I then get an “exam”, am told there is nothing wrong with my eyes but I should rest them if I am tired. Did you hear that everyone?! A doctor told me to sleep if I want!! Long story short, this whole DEB-acle resulted in me getting prescribed eye drops.  Totally worth the hypothermia and searching for the clinic of Narnia. 

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


I don’t know what is up with all these blog posts but I say ENJOY EM while they last. Yesterday I decided that I couldn’t live another day without house slippers so I got bundled up and took a marsh to the big market in new Rustavi.  Well, let me tell you that not only did I find super awesome red “leather” slippers with super thick soles but I also found *drum roll please* HANGERS. I was very excited so I bought 10.  Then I went into another store to pick up some shampoo and I found more hangers there so I bought another 6.  It literally felt like Christmas I was so damn happy!  I also happened to find a random tanning bed in the basement of a beauty shop.  I don’t know what the big deal with Tbilisi is anyway; Rustavi just kicked its ass two-fold in a matter of minutes.  I then proceeded to skip home filled with glee! 
This morning I got hug/kiss assaulted by a group of kids right as I walked in the school door as their mothers said hello and laughed as I struggled to get past the ever growing ring of children that have now formed a human hoola hoop around me.  This continued in the halls during “recess” and in each of my classes. Oh my little bacteria machines how much I have missed your little arms around me. My first class today was grade 2 which has 'HI' in it -- a little boy I have mentally named that.  Here is a picture of him I took before I went on break.
(He looks so scared in this picture)

Here’s a little background on Denis—I learned his name today.  *pause* ok so before I tell the story I want to explain why it is pretty much February and I just learned his name today.  I teach 13 different classes with anywhere from 15 to 32 students in each class.  It is almost impossible for me to learn that many names especially if some of them I only see once a week. So back to my little lovable Russian—I also found that out today… well not found out more so confirmed because he looks Russian compared to all the kids around him with dark hair and eyes. At the beginning of the year, there were some issues with my schedule as I wasn’t in every class.  There would be this one little kid who I didn’t teach that would always run up and say hi to me.  I didn’t even know if he went to the school because he would always say hi to me outside or near the buildings by the bus stop.  As I would be getting to school, he would run up to me and yell hi then run away. Other times, I would be waiting for the bus, he would run up and scream hi and then run away.  Then run halfway back, say hi then run away again. This would continue 3 or 4 times everytime I saw him. There was one time I saw him with his grandma coming out of the store; he let go of her hand, ran over to me, screamed hi and ran back to his grandmother.  Initially, I was like what is going on? Who is this kid? but after a while I would crack up laughing every time he did it and found it so endearing. This went on for a couple of weeks until one day I get my new schedule and go to this grade 2 class and there he is in all his 'HI' glory. So today when I walked into the class, his head could have EXPLODED he was so excited to see me.  Up he jumped from his desk, screamed hi as he ran over and leapt onto me.  We get the class settled and I put down my bag on the teacher’s desk then look up to see him looking at me, as he is doing this little "seductive" hi wave with a half smile.  I couldn’t contain myself and burst out laughing.  It was honestly the best way I could have started my day.