26 April 2008

digressions from the theme (long)

**Warning: As I was writing, I realized this post meaders the way my speech does. But, it's staying as-is. My friend Suzanne says of me often, "Segues are for children". (Hey, I should add that to the quote rotation.) when I mentally leap without warning. They don't seem like leaps to me...

May the force be with you as you read. (That's another one for up top.)

What a loooong week. It was good, just long. (Note: This turned in to a looooong post. Feel free to read in installments. Do not attempt to cook while reading as you're likely to burn your food if you're at all like me.)(And like Anne of Green Gables.)

On Monday, I sliced my index finger and fingernail (it's a sharp knife) while I was slicing some ciabatta (it was a little stale) for lunch (turkey breast--roasted in rosemary--and homemade honey mustard...which is honey and mustard). It hurt then and still does. And, typing with a band-aid (part of my d2b stockpile, but I didn't think she'd mind) is both difficult and frustrating. So I did as little of it as possible.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, second grade hosted a living museum about the culture of children around the world. They researched, wrote their own monologues, painted backgrounds and gathered a costume. I was really proud of them! It was great. But, I have some students who have great difficulty with any changes to our usual classroom practices. I was a happy, but tired teacher.

On Thursday (Here's where it gets long.) I went to pick up the paperwork my former agency (Still am hesitant to name them.) had. The rep here has been hard to get ahold of to schedule a meeting time (or to ask her to just post it) so I finally sent a message that said, basically, I'll be there Thursday after school. See you then! A Russian friend of mine called the office to confirm. This was a good thing becuase they've moved their office!

New address in hand, (Prospekt Stachek 47) I left school Thursday afternoon. I had to stop and get gasoline. My gas tank has a leak in it, and it can only be half-full. (We had a funny situation the day the torch came through. I had filled the car up, thinking I'd be going to see the girls. But, as already mentioned, the roads were closed. So, my car dripped. The fire department was called! They were there, keeping a steam of water washing the benzine away. They got ahold of me through the consulate and we moved the car so that it dripped into soil instead of on pavement...where a stray cigarette spark could do damage. It was, of course, much more involved than that. But, I digress.) (And, yes, a repair is in the works. It's just taking awhile to arrange.) I had enough fuel to get to the closest gas station and then I'd be fine. That gas station was closed. It's hard to gas stations in the city centre, but I knew of one more that was on my way. I made it, praying all the while. God is very good to never let me run out of gas...especially in Russia! (Have I shared with you my mental picture of the angels all sitting around a waiting room, all light-and-cloud-filled, playing cards? Then, the invention of the car occurs and all the angels scramble out of the room. They have had much more to do since then.) The gauge was below the thick, empty line. I really wish it had a light. A light is so much more helpful. In my last car, the light meant one gallon left. I could hit the counter and know just how far I had left. Yes, I know it's better to keep the tank half full. That way, if you get some bad gas it will do less damage. But, somehow, it doesn't work out for me to apply that knowledge...

I still had plenty of time to get to the office. And, after taking stock of the building numbers (This is no mean feat as they're about six inches square in most places and very difficult to read whilst driving. That's part of my ever-evolving post "open letter to the minister of transportation".) I was pleased to discover that the new office *should* be closer to me than the old one.

I was very pleased when I saw 41-47 on a building. I needed 47, so I parked at the end of the block (these are long blocks in this part of the city) and got out. (Did you catch that I actually found a parking space where I wanted? I'll let you wallow in amazement for a minute. I did.) I couldn't see 47. I walked back up the block and confirmed 41-47. Yep. I walked back. I went in to a random shop and said, "Hello. I only speak a little Russian. (apologetic, imploring and winning smile) I need to find Stachek 47. Do you know where? Is it there?" [Much like Inigo Montoya in The Princess Bride (Our kiddos could choose that for yesterday's movie night--more on that later)(I love parentheses within brackets!)(But, I don't like having to go back and change the initial parenthsis to a bracket--because I don't often know that I will parenthsize further when I beging parenthesizing {It should be a word.}. Shouldn't that happen automatically? It should def be an auto correct option.) I would repeat this phrase several times. You can join in, if you like. (I should insert the audio of me saying this in Russian so you can learn this useful phrase. Nah.)

(I'll try to keep the paragraphs shorter so you can follow along more easily.)

The first man told me to go further.

The second man (when I'd walked another block and thought surely I *must* be there...even though it said 45 outside), who was in the second shop (It was actually the second to last shop from the direction I came.) (The first/last was a militsia station--no thanks. And, the second shop in the second block is much more lyrical.) told me to go futher, past the bridge.

The third person in the third block (who was a woman) told me, after a long conversation, that there was a business center in the *next* block. It was past a bank and then there was another bank. (I don't know what this place was, but it was *high* security and she was dressed in camos.)

The fourth person, in the second bank, in the fourth block (this is now about a half-mile from where I parked) took me outside and showed me where to go. When I started to pass the door (it was right next door, but I didn't catch that) he called out and set me straight.

The fifth person I asked was a security guard who was not allowed to speak.

The sixth person (whom I hadn't asked instead of the fifth person because she looked busy and he, clearly, was not) quickly changed from being irritated at being interrupted to being irritated with him for not helping. Fun. I could see on her list the office number! But, I didn't know what the firm was called here in Russia. (Can you sense how UNhelpful the contact here was in NOT providing me with any of this information!?!??) I kept repeating the office number to her, telling her I needed papers, adoption papers. She finally said part of the name of my agency's sister agency! I leapt on it (DA!) and completed it. (It was like a test in a fairy tale or a password in a spy novel.) We were both beaming.

She took my passport details (nach), (Rach, I was carrying it in one of your little bags! It's a little big, but easy to find in my bag.) issued me with a security door-swiper, and let me in. Oorah!

I found the office and walked in. It was not the English-speaker I knew, so I stared in Russian (I'm italicized and she is not.) --

Hello. My name is Kate Xxx. Do you have my documents? I need my papers.
Hello. Do you speak Russian?
Only a very little.
But, you speak Russian.
Just a little. I speak a very little Russian.
But, you DO speak Russian?
(in English) A little.
(in English) Actually, I am the translator here. (Must have replaced V.) So, I think we can understand each other well. (!!)

She gave me my papers to look through and left. I was surprised to see only the English paperwork and nothing in Russian. My first $6000 fees, that were paid long ago, were for document preparation and translation. I think I'd have a good case for getting some of that money returned, but just can't face more conflict there. I'd rather just move on and not look back.

I left, found my car, made a wrong turn going back that I've made before (frustrates me no end), and was singing from Secrect Garden, "Getting lost is how you learn." (I had to sing it several times before I could remember from which musical it came.) I wiggled around and was in the right place again. After ages and ages sitting in traffic, I made it home.

At home, I marvelled and fumed at the cleaner's constant inability to pick anything up and clean under it! I know this seems like poor-me... Whoever thought I'd have a cleaner to begin with? She only charges 500r for three hours. And I'm complaining? YES. I am paying her. I have told her. Repeatedly. And she just cleans around things--a piece of paper on my desk means the desk doesn't get dusted, the cd player in the bathroom sitting against the wall has footprints, a book leaning against the tv means a triangle of dust, a cat toy on the carpet means she'll vacuum around it. It's nuts. NUTS. If I take everything off a shelf she'll clean it. Otherwise, it's unlikely. This is an old building in a dirty, polluted city on a busy road, so a cleaner is not only culturally expected but almost necessary. And she doesn't clean!

I then popped 17 bags of popcorn and divided them into smaller portions (Remember the sliced finger? Adding salt tothe wound was not fun.) for student council to sell tomorrow. My microwave's timer doesn't work if you set it for over two minutes (I learned that the hard way. I reccomend wiping all the burnt scum out and then microwaving a lemon cut in half and squeezed several time to get rid of the smell. It works better than baking soda, vinegar, candles or bread.) so I had to stand there while they popped and guess when they were popped.

On Friday, we had our first Lower School Student Council (I'm the faculty advisor.) bake sale to benefit endangered animals. We also had movie night. Students could choose to stay and watch either The Princess Bride or Annie (the old one with Carol Burnett, Ann Reinking and Bernadette Peters). (These movies were chosen by LSSC. The second grade girls had danced to Hard-Knock Life in my dance class, so they were eager to see Annie.)

Last night I caught up on Grey's and today I watched Lost! This afternoon, I have to print out some photos of my flat so that I can fed ex everything [except the psych eval--further instructions from the St. P MOE (even though I won't be in St. P they have to be involved) are needed] on Monday. Or Tuesday. Or as soon as the office can arrange it.

So. Nothing big. Just a lot of littles. (Hope you don't feel cheated if you've actually read all of this and nothing big happened.)

k ;>


Anonymous said...

Gosh - I so need to email you. We have a similar problem with our microwave - I have to listen for the popcorn to stop popping (and stand there) - irritating for just one bag - never mind 17.

I think you should make a stink about the $ - they keep trying to get old parents to recommend them. I just can't do that seeing how they are with you. Especially now if you aren't adopting in St. Petersburg now...after all they have done (or not done!).

Hope all proceeds smoothly now-
hang in there

votemom said...

i did read thru, and it made me laugh.

you are inspiring.

Tami said...

I just love parenthesis within parenthesis...except I always get confused as to whether I should be using parenthesis or brackets. After working as a journalist for the last 15 years you think I would have it down by now! :)
Kudos to you for working so hard to get that paperwork back. I was getting frustrated just reading about all that you had ot go thorugh to get it! I'm with ktates...I think you should make a stink about the money. I know you aren't up for more of a fight right now, but with the extra money maybe you could hire a cleaner that is more motived. ;>) How's that for meandering?

Annie said...

Read it all and loved it! It was a super break from all the work I'm doing. And I'm grateful i am doing all my work without a sliced finger, because I can imagine exactly how that feels. What I do is put scotch tape around it (or masking tape) to hold it all together and keep the skin from trying to separate. Works much better than a bandaid. And I looked at your house photos again. They are amazing.

Anonymous said...

wow. that's a lot of popcorn.
and "parenthize" should definitely be a word!

can't believe your old agency did JACK as far as translation and doc prep... you should definitely try to get your money back...

Melissa said...

how long does the new agency say it should take?

Rachael said...

Well, I had to come back twice, but I did, in fact read it all through. (Glad you're making good use of the little bag. See, I did read!)

I have a friend from college who tells stories like you do. We all used to tease her about her multiple segues. Whenever we had a good story to tell we'd say: "How much time have you got: would you like the quick-and-dirty, the normal, or the Lyn version?"

Punctuation is my nemesis: I'm a stickler for grammar and spelling, but I like to liberally abuse the punctuation in my writing. I often punctuate like I would talk (with lots of dashes and parentheses and probably WAY too many commas), but I'm always conflicted about breaking the "rules" by doing so! ;)

Oh, and I think you should try to make a case for getting your money back too!

Annie said...

I don't need parentheses inside parentheses too often because I make liberal use of the dash - I do love a dash!

Tina in CT said...

I would not let the first agency get away with taking that $6,000 but then I'm like a bull dog and have to get right in there and go at it. $6,000 would be better off in your pocket is my feeling.

What a week you had. The frustration of trying to locate that office would have had me fuming.

Anonymous said...

Glad to hear your week was productive, even if loooong and somewhat frustrating! I've been wondering how the paper chasing was going.

I ran out of gas once in Germany, returning home from Belgium. Within about 3 minutes, a German man who spoke very good English pulled over to help. He knew where there was a gas station, where you could pay a deposit on a gas can to get enough gas to get back to the station and fill up. Took me there, then back to my car, and saw me safely on my way. Yes, the angels have been much busier since cars were invented!

I burned chicken for stir-fry about 2 weeks ago (reading on the computer too long, lol) (chicken was frozen to start with, so I thought I could leave it for a bit), and haven't gotten rid of the smell yet. I'll have to try the lemon thing, though mine's not just the microwave. Even the fridge has a burnt smell--ugh!

You almost lost me with all your parenthesizing (yes, it should be a word), but not quite!

Good thing the translator established that you can speak Russian, huh?

Recent elephant sightings:
- At a Hallmark store, several figurines. My favorite was a series of 5-6 progressively smaller elephants, each holding the tail of the one in front in its trunk.
- A votive holder in a house where I attended a putluck dinner.
- A mother and baby elephant garden sculpture
www dot improvementscatalog dot com
(search for item #700109)
(TOO cute!)
- An elephant-motif planter set (same catalog, item #339945)

(OK, have I proved I can use parentheses profusely?)

Your elephant pregnancy is getting closer to being over!

Thanks for the laugh! And BTW, my vote is you get your $6K back, then name the agency.

(Now, if I can just figure out the word verification. I've never seen one so garbled.)

(Ooh! I just learned how to use tinyurl!)

(OK, and the tinyurl contains "illegal characters." The real thing was too long, and got truncated. Hence, the catalog website and item #s. Let's hope this works--you should really see the mama and baby elephants!)

(OK, still "illegal characters." What the heck am I doing wrong?)

(Hmm...maybe if I make it so it's not a URL at all.... Fingers crossed--my comment's going to be as long as your original post before much longer!)

kate said...

Allison, very cute garden sculpture.

Last week I went to a former student's birthday party. (Not something I make a habit of, but this family has become very close.) One of her gifts was a photo album with a mother and baby elephant!

The giver and receiver were both in my first class here--who knew about the beginnin of my adoption and were SO excited. I told them how elephants had become a symbol of this adoption. They loved it!

Anonymous said...

OMG, I'd be drinking, lots! I'm tired anyway ~ and more so after reading your trek!

Holly said...

Love the Star Wars quote (favorite movie when I was a kid. Hey look, parenthesis) and the Secret Garden reference. Wow, what a post!

I definitely hope things are going to start moving for you soon. I saw an elephant the other day at a gift shop, well not a live elephant obviously, and thought of you.