Archive for October, 2010

It was Bound to Happen (from 22-Oct.-2010)

One of my students quit before he even tried today. It was like his brain told him he couldn’t do anything and so even though he wanted to he didn’t even really try.


As for what inspired the title (something thankfully much more funny and light):

I make a lot of mistakes here. I’ve gotten used to it, developed a thick skin when it comes to messing up and carrying on. You make a note, practice and get it right the next time. I think I do it pretty well, which is important because a primary theme of all of my work is to do things I’ve never done before in a language that’s not my own.

This is good because today the mistake-ening (my tendency to make mistakes, in this case, with language) showed itself in a very big way. I made a big mistake//golyama greshka//голяма грешка.

It turns out that the word for “sentences,” as in, “For homework you need to write 10 sentences using this verb in different forms,” and the word for “feces” are really quite similar.

Go ahead and rearrange that sentence as needed to get the full effect. My class room full of 4th through 6th grade girls lost it.

Good times.

The really funny thing is that I didn’t know the meaning of the word for feces, though I swear I had learned it (and that it meant something else) during training.

Glad to see that’s outta the way. Also, the boys I teach English to are threatening to join me when I go running tomorrow morning (Saturday) at 5:30AM. We’ll see about that.

Oh one other, hilarious thing – someone confused me for the mayor today. Mind you this someone has not met him before. Turns out being the other guy walking with the Secretary of the Mayor’s office makes me a likely enough candidate. Glad to see I’m blending in, though.



Work and Language Lessons

*Full title* Работа//Rabota//Work and Уроци//Urotsi//Lessons (language, in this case)*

I’m translating a project outline document that I typed up with the Mayor. The process is this:

    1.    We talk
    2.    I type
    3.    (later) I translate
    4.    and Make note of the words I don’t already know
    5.    Later these become homework, but now…
    6.    I’m going to record the words and a sentence using them and make a language lesson playlist for…
    7.    when I take a break and go running later on.
    8.    The annoying, corporate and perfectly accurate word here is “synergy”
    9.    Wooo-yeahh!

Good thing this iPod has a voice-memo function.

Some words from today:

Срив//Sr-eev//Collapse or breakdown
Предвид//pred-veed//”in light of,” “in consideration of” or “in view of.”

Lots of fun huh?

The Day-to-Day

I’ve got a request for things that generally fill my days. So here it is!

I usually get up around 7, though if I get to bed early enough I get up around 530 to go running. It’s still dark until 630 or so on our side of the mountain so when that happens it’s usually, well, dark and I need musical motivation. This generally comes in the form of NPR Planet Money or Dimmu Borgir.

The more normal days, when I get up at 7, are basically me doing the regular morning stuff: getting woken up by the scraps of light coming in through my West-facing window on the North side of the mountain peak (I don’t get much direct sunlight). The sun seems to come up here a lot later than it actually does because of orientation.

When I look out my window in the morning, this is my view. I like it.


This is my living room.

Living Room

And this is my bedroom/kitchen/dinning room.


I don’t really have a routine for breakfast worked out yet, but I’m working on it.

Sometimes I get a pastry, mineral water and coffee from one of the local general stores/cafes, it’s not glamorous so don’t get the wrong impression just because mineral water is involved.

The other two choices so far have been making toast at home with some combination of honey, feta, homemade butter or jam along with some Turkish style coffee. Or Yogurt from my neighbors mixed with jam or sugar, and granola.

I generally go with one out of the last two options if I have the supplies. If I have already skipped breakfast and one of my two counterparts here wants to go out for coffee, we do that.

Once I get to work, between 8 and 830, a range of things tends to occur. Sometimes no one is there and no one is going to be there. Sometimes there are loads of people who want to sign up for the labor jobs the mayoralty has for them (cleaning and such) and sometimes it’s in the middle and just the mayor, his secretary and my self are there. When that happens we generally talk about the projects that they want to work on, throw some ideas around and I take notes of the ideas and the words they use that I need to study. They become vocabulary homework.

A shot from the front porch of the mayoralty//кметство, which is about 50 meters from my house.

Ot Kmetstvoto

At 12pm everyone goes home for break and the shops are almost always closed, sometimes one of them at a time is open if I’m lucky. The break lasts until 3pm, not 12:30pm or 1pm like lunch breaks in the States. A break is called a “pochifka”//почивка.

This works out because I have to cook and clean for every meal and because the alone time I get is good for working on those projects we discussed earlier in the day – it is sometimes difficult to get office work done in the office.

Anyway. Depending on what day it is I teach English to the kiddies in the school just up the hill from the rest of the town/mayoralty or I monitor the computer room that the mayor got going in the first floor there.

Sometimes the street the kmetstvo is on looks like this:

Georgi Street+Hay

But only when they are doing work with hay and they need to leave it laying out for a while.

That goes until around 5 or 6 at which time I have a language lesson with Milka//Милка who is also Георги’s (one of my two counterparts here) wife. She’s a very cool lady, incredibly generous and quite the doer I’d say as well. She also has a remarkably warm and calming persona, which played a large role in my choosing her to be my language tutor.

She and I are becoming better and better friends and I took a series of photos of her making mekitsi//мекици, something I’ll go into more detail about later on.

When they happen, we go to the annual festivals of the nearby towns, when we do, these are my boys:


(My two counterparts,  and son)

They’ve got my back. Also, since we’re with the кметство we get VIP treatment whenever we go to these events which means we get the best shopska salads and the rest of the traditional food spread.

Most days I fit some wood-chopping in – it’s good for stress, a tiny bit of exercise and it’s also been cold on some of the recent nights. In other words: fall is practice for winter.

The other day after teaching I noticed some of my more rambunctious students, a 10 and 11 year old who did not come to class, working their way through a huge pile of wood. The three of us split wood for a couple of hours and I amazed them with the fact that I weigh twice as much as they do and so can swing an axe a little faster. They’ve been doing it for years (already) though so they had a couple of clever pointers for me.

At the end of the day I go home. If I need anything I pick it up from one of the general stores//magazini//магазини, which are maybe 20 meters from my house. A 1.5 Iiter bottle of mineral water costs about $.60 and a loaf of white bread, which is all they have here, costs $.50, a kilogram of potatoes costs $.45.

I make dinner and a fire, read or listen to music and try not to do any of that for too long before going to bed. Dinner is usually potatoes and maybe feta//sirene//сирене, tomatoes or onions.

And now it’s time for  a почивка!