Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Tea. Maybe.

January 4, 2012

6:30 here. Just woke up (well, been up and down the entire night, but I do feel rested). Currently eating an apple (yum), yogurt (too sweet, but I have yet to determine which yogurt isn’t sweetened, so I went with what I recognized), and some bread (white, but with a good crust). Normally, I’d also have a tea. It’s starting to bother me, not having the ability to prepare myself a cup of tea. It’s not the caffeine that I need—I only drink about a cup or two of caffeinated tea. It’s more Freudian than that, I’ve decided. My version of sucking on my thumb, I guess. Self-soothing. When I kept waking up last night, all I wanted was to be able to fix myself a nice, hot cup of some fruit tea. The answer to this is to get an electric kettle, I know, but I’ve been holding off just in case there is one in the potential kitchen (I’ve been trying to figure out how to refer to it. Potential kitchen isn’t quite the effect I’m going for. Sometimes you can pair a noun with an unexpected adjective to create a noun phrase that is unique but also carries meaning beyond the two words. But in this case I haven’t found the right adjective yet. Damn, I really want some tea.) So, not hopeful kitchen, not unexpected kitchen, not expected kitchen. Hoped-for kitchen? Not unique in any way, but perhaps the phrase that best captures the situation. The HFK. (Now that sounds like an acronym for the secret police).

But here are my moments of yea (so far):

- Walking into my room for the first time and discovering that it was warm

- Seeing the washing machine in the hallway & the drying rack in my room

- Finally finding the beans in the supermarket (I had looked in three supermarkets had hadn’t seen any. When I found tahini in one place, though, I figured there had to be beans. Just a matter of not giving up.)

- Big one: seeing a person at the airport with my name on a sign. I had been told that someone would be there, but, I’ll admit, I had my doubts.

Things that intimidate or concern me:

- Not having a stove or sink

- Having to buy meat from someone standing behind a counter. I don’t even do this is the States because I can’t identify the parts of some animal. Now I have to do it in Russian? (See why I was so intent on finding beans?) The yea part of all this is that at least I probably won’t have to learn the words for the parts of a pig (muslim country, you know). On the other hand, there’s that whole mutton thing to deal with.

- Will I get lonely? I spent yesterday by myself, and even that was tough. I’m a loner by nature, but I’ve spent the past couple of years sharing an office with someone and working closely with groups of people. And then there’s the whole living with someone. I was just getting used to that, and I don’t even have a flat mate here.

- No gym and no place to run. This is a big one. I need physical activity for my sanity. For now I’ll just have to slap on the Yak Trax and try to walk quickly through the city. But this one does concern me.

- The older I get, the more spoiled I get about food. Unfortunately, I’ve finally made the link between what I eat and how I feel. This has led to me becoming extremely picky about what I eat. Less salt, less sugar, more whole grains, lean meat, lots of veggies… Yeah, I’m going to have a problem with this one.


The thing about moving to a foreign country, at least for me, is that the highs are higher and the lows are lower. Right now, the ultimate high: I have tea.

My search for tea in various countries could form the basis of a travelogue, if I ever wanted to go in that direction.


I’m trying on-so-hard to not be disappointed. Thinking about the concept of heaven or any type of afterlife, really. It’s easy to bear a great number of difficulties if you fully believe that at any moment, things will improve. I was willing to bear the temporary situation of not having a kitchen or a sink because, in my mind, I had created an imaginary kitchen with not just a sink and a stove, but an oven as well. (And some additional outlets).

Alas, it was not to be. My kitchen, so to speak, is a hot plate in my room. Same outlet that the television, fan, laptop, blow-dryer, and reading lamp will all be using. My sink will remain the tub. So much for the container of baking powder I brought with me. Seven months of stir-frys and a room that will soon smell of cooking oil.

Oh, and the washing machine doesn’t work.

And so I will cope with this the same way I cope with everything. I will feel sorry for myself for about five minutes, and then I will begin the process of adjusting to my new reality. I will go to the store and buy some cooking oil and beans, I will start soaking the beans, and tomorrow for dinner I will have a nice veggie and bean soup. And now, when I wake up in the middle of the night, I will be able to make myself a nice cup of tea.

I had been wondering why this was considered a difficult gig—a hardship gig, almost. Now I see why. For me (of all people!) to not have a working kitchen… well, that’s a bit rough. I will openly and freely admit to having become spoiled on the kitchen front.

BUT – here I am. And I’m starting to think that it doesn’t really matter if I can’t identify the meat I’m buying since it’s all going to go into a pot of soup anyway.

: )


Not to brag or toot my own horn or anything like that, but I must say, I’m quite impressed with my (nearly) indomitable spirit. Nine hours have passed since the hot plate incident and since then I’ve built a functioning kitchen and worked out a routine. First, I moved the television away from the one working outlet and placed the hotplace on the TV stand. I then moved the cabinet with the cooking utensils next to it. I went to the grocery store and picked up soap and a sponge, some oil, some spices (oddly enough, I was totally unable to find salt. Go freakin’ figure), some beans, some tea (Hurray for loose leaf Lipton Yellow Label!), some onions, some leeks, some carrots, some cauliflower, and a couple of plastic containers. The plan: make soup for dinner.

When I got home, I washed all the dishes in the tub and set them on my windowsill to dry. (When I say all the dishes, what I mean is the one plate, the one bowl, the one pot, the one skillet, and the three knives…).

Boiled a couple of eggs and destroyed the pot. Who the hell puts plastic on a container intended for cooking. Ok, I admit, destroyed is putting it a bit strongly. How about “made it very difficult to actually handle the pot when it is hot”? But lunch consisted of bread, cheese, and apple, and a boiled egg. Yummy.

Got my teaching schedule: six straight hours of teaching, four different levels. Prep is going to suck, but I’m kinda looking forward to it. It will be a welcome relief after… well, you know. I get so, so nervous when I have to start teaching, but let’s face it—I like to be in charge. I don’t know what I need to be front and center, all eyes one me. I’d much prefer to play the role of puppeteer. But, in a pinch… well, I’ll take what I can get.

Oh, and I get to write my own tests and come up with my own grading system (based, of course, on speaking, listening, reading, and writing). Should be fun.

Tomorrow’s projects: start prepping my classes, find a place to run, visit a yoga center, meet the director of the school, find salt, find a broom.

Other things I’ve managed to accomplish:

- putting up an extra sheet for use as a shower curtain. Yeah, it gets wet, but it’s so thin that it dried super-quickly. AND it gives me a bathroom “towel” to dry my hands on.

- Determined that there really is nothing worth seeing several blocks East, West, and South of me. But the mountains are South. And as soon as it gets warm enough…

- Bought a power strip that doesn’t work.

- Bought a phone card. Oh, reminds me—I need to charge my phone tonight. Hm, charge the phone or the computer. Toughie.


At 12:05 PM, Blogger Jessica.h said...

Ah, this was entertaining. I can't lie: I'm terribly jealous, hardships and all! And I know what you mean about the teaching. It's such a frightening prospect, but it's great. ~your devoted reader


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