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Archive for September, 2008

Yesterday, I was waiting to cross a fairly busy street.  The light had just turned red.  I had been at school and was crossing to go and get a coffee and banitsa to kill 90 minutes until a 4pm meeting.  This is when a little old woman starts talking to me.

She has her hair back in a scarf and maybe comes up to my shoulder–maybe–and I have no idea what she is saying to me.  I tell her in Bulgarian that I only speak a little Bulgarian.  This doesn’t seem to phase her and she continues talking to me.  Unlike other people, she doesn’t slow down or talk louder.  She just keeps talking to me.  I tell her once that I don’t understand.  When she continues talking to me, I wonder if I haven’t said correctly that I don’t understand.

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I never imagined that I would be overwhelmed with options in Bulgaria.  I think that I thought this is for two reasons. First, in the States we seem to have about 15-20 different choices for everything when you go to the store.  This goes for kinds of cheese to shampoo to dish soap to boxes of cereal and even pain killers and sandwich bags.  In other words, I thought no one can have more options than I am faced with on a daily basis in Washington DC.  Second, I think I may have been imagining Bulgaria as a post-communist country still.  A country where I would get to decide between do different brands and ultimately make my decision based on which packaging appealed to me.

Naive. This I now know completely and utterly naive.

Yesterday I went to the Apteka–or pharmacy to buy face lotion. Easy you might think.  I thought so too.  But it’s not.

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Okay, I’ve just been introduced to this great blog called SoSofia and it’s SoGreat.  One of my new friends from FISI studies at Sofia University in the department of English and American Studies with the brother and sister pair who write the blog and she said in passing one night you should check out this blog.  The next morning I couldn’t remember the name of the blog but after a post on Facebook to her wall, I had the name and url to the site.

Here’s why I think it is great:

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Well, I am happy to write that the internet is back on at my place.  The hot water heater is working.  AND, I just got to watch my landlord stock up my coffee machine and had the opportunity to try out my pretty bad Bulgarian on him.  All in all, a pretty good day.  Oh and my 8th graders are the cutest things on earth.

Of course, life can’t always go this smoothly and I’ve been kind of waiting round for the third bad thing to come my way.  First was the water heater, second was the internet and third, well, this happened at some point before lunch.  It was at lunch that I looked down at my shoe and there it was–my right big toe was sticking out of my ballet flats.  Yes, somehow I got got a huge hole in the toe of my shoe.  The leather top seems to have pulled away from the sole revealing my big toe.

Luckily, I have other shoes here in Sofia and there are lots of shoe stores in my neighborhood.  It was just funny to look down and see my toe sticking out of shoe. I am glad that I’m done with trouble for the time being and very glad to have the internet working in my apartment again.

Anyhow more from me later this week on school and my students after the Fulbright orientation in Sofia has been completed.

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I miss you, hot water

Well, I currently don’t have hot water or the internet at my apartment.  I guess when it rains it pours.  Anyhow, I noticed that the hot water heater which is conveniently located in my shower was dripping water the other morning.  I saw my landlord the next day and he had a guy into look at it a day later.  Well.  He took off the bottom of the heater and sure enough it was broken and it wasn’t something the repair guy could just fix–my landlord has to buy a new one.

So yesterday, I sat in my living room listening to all of the water drain slowly but steadily out of the hot water heater for the better part of two hours.  My landlord apologized profusely–as if it was somehow his fault–and I couldn’t come up with any words to explain to him that it wasn’t that big of deal to me.  Really, given the option, I would rather shower in the mornings with a fully functioning hot water heater.  The only thing that made me nervous was that on his way out, he asked me if I had any friends in the city and if I could shower at her house.  I said yes but forgot to add the “ka” on the end of the word–in effect saying that I a male friend whose house I could shower at.  My landlord laughed at me and said really?! Clearly teasing me and I corrected my mistake (but really, why does eveything have a gender here and why I can’t I remember that!?!) It was only then that I began to wonder how long it was going to take to replace the hot water heater.

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I just had my first “Real Conversation” in Bulgarian!! I conjugated verbs and everything.  It was amazing.  My landlord came over to give me the receipts for internet, water, electricity and the like and I was able to communicate to him that water heater seems to be dripping.  Okay it helped that I could show it to him and that he is patient but it was great to know that I can talk to other people in Bulgarian.  I didn’t even have to use that much German with him today.  Wow!

I know that this is a little triumph but it’s enough for me (for today anyhow).  It reminds me that I am actually learning Bulgarian and that I need Bulgarian for more than just ordering coffee in cafes or food in restaurants.  I like talking and it’s hard on me sometimes to find myself surrounded by people who seem to be talking all of the time on the bus, on cell phones, in the grocery store and on the streets and for me not to understand any of what they are saying.

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Today

I thought I was having a no-good, ugly-rotten day today.  I had a hard time getting out of bed this morning even with my alarm clock beeping and beeping.  My faucet in the bathroom drips and drips and after brushing my teeth I couldn’t get it to stop.  Then I went to make coffee and I didn’t have .20 Leva for the coffee machine in my kitchen and it requires exact change… of course.

I called the Fulbright lawyer about my visa extension application and she asked if we could meet tomorrow at 9:30 because the next step will take much more time and I’ll have to wait for at least an hour while they have my passport.  Sure, I’ll be there.  But what I wanted to add was: I hope.

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