Archive for January, 2010

Paper Stars

I finally got my act together and made some paper stars (and then two weeks later I finally got my act together to write a blog post about it).  I first posted about my desire to make these lovely stars in December.  For Christmas, I received kite paper (a waxy-stiffer kind of tissue paper) from not one but two different people (thanks!)– so I’ve got lots and lots of paper to make stars with. But after making the stars, it’s pretty clear to me that you could just as easily use tissue paper for these stars.

The most important thing is color.  White tissue paper wouldn’t give you the effect that you’re looking for.  It would be a fair amount of work for not a lot of wow. And I think in craft projects like this you want the ratio of work to wow to be even if not more wow than work.

My kite paper stars in Sofia

These stars are lovely when the sun is streaming through.  The colors bleed and overlap.  I especially like the rainbow start for the bleeding-overlapping-kaleidoscope effect.  I also like the fact that these are easy to make and very satisfying.  I haven’t gotten to see much of the sun streaming through because I’ve been getting up before the sun and coming home in the dark but I am sure that during the day when I am at work and they’re here in my apartment they are lovely.

Maybe I should make some for my classroom at school.  Or maybe I should try to leave work before 6pm.  Heck, maybe I should try to do both.


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I don’t have much time to blog today. I’ve got to grade nearly 40 10th grade English exams. But I did go to dinner with friends last night. Here’s a photo to prove that 1. I have friends. 2. I don’t just spend my whole life teaching or blogging. 3. I still know how to have fun. Even if it’s freezing outside. Happy Saturday Everyone!!

Me and My friends!

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Urban Bears

Urban Bear

It’s been cold and snowy in Sofia all week long. Then I spotted this: an urban bear.  Actually, it’s just a woman in a fur coat. But when I saw her from behind I couldn’t stop laughing to myself. Then I took this pretty bad photo–sorry it so blurry but I think it really helps get the effect of the urban bear across.

The other women I’ve seen have puffy maybe-down filled coats on.  They look like they are wearing sleeping bags with sleeves and a belt. The look may not be that stylish but they seem pretty warm. I’d kind of like a coat like this. Even if it made me look like a marshmallow.

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Аз обичам български народни танци.  всеки втроник и четвътък след училице аз танцувам.  моят учител по български народни танци се казва стоян. Аз мисля, че преподава народни танци от много години.  Знае танци от България, Гърция, Сърбия и Румъния. Знае най-много от България и танзувам най-много от Булгария.

за мен Българските народни танци са трудни.  не зхая музиката.  Обикновено мисля, че краката ми не работя или не ме слушат.  Искам краката ми да правят едно, но те правят друго. Сега мисля, че танцувам горе-долу добре народни танци.  Аз не мога да танцувам добре но аз обичам да танцувам.

Може би ще си купя българска народна хосия.


So, for my only-English language followers. This post is about Bulgarian National Dance. Here’s the summary: I like it but I am not very good at it. I think the highlight is when I try to say in Bulgarian that my feet don’t do what I want because they wont listen to me.  I thought it was pretty funny but it might not really be that great–it’s hard to say.  Then at the end of the post, I make a big move.  I shift from speaking in the present tense to one sentence in the, get this, future tense.  Watch out world here I come.

Oh and thanks to the students I cornered this morning who helped me with my grammar and spelling. Especially to the one who said: Man, is my English this bad? Nope, your English is no where near as bad. And to the other student who said: It’s pretty weird helping a teacher with homework. I know, for the record, it’s also kind of strange asking for help.

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Big news: I’ve just made my magazine début in the Bulgarian fashion magazine Moda. Yes, you read that correctly. I am in a fashion magazine. A Bulgarian one.

Moda, February

I’ve never been in a magazine before (so it’s kind of a big deal for me).  I was asked in November for an interview and in December I gave the interview and the photos were taken.  Now the project is out on newsstands and I am in it. I appear in a collection of stories on foreigners in Bulgaria. And for the record, I do not dispense a single word of fashion advice.  That’s probably for the best.  I am after all a huge fan of layering things, sweatpants and tennis shoes (well, not all at once. not usually).

Me in Moda

However, had I been asked I would have shared this: everything I am wearing in these photos, I found in Bulgaria. The dress and necklace are from Paradise Garage, the ring is handmade by a Bulgarian artist and I came across the jacket at a little shop on lower-Graf Ignativ–near the stadium. I like to shop and buy locally when I can. I like to support up and coming talent and I don’t want too look like everyone else.  But who’s interested in fashion advice from an American? I am just glad that I look pretty pulled together in my photos.

Luckily, I do have a lot to say about life in Bulgaria which was what the interview was really about. This as you know is really the basis of my blog–which coincidentally is how the magazine editor found me.  Given the blog, I am pretty used to saying what I think, getting feedback and then writing some more.  Still there’s something different about knowing that you’re going to be in print. (more…)

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I demand that you watch the Bulgarian movie: The World is Big and Salvation Lurks Just Around the Corner or “Светът е голям и спасение дебне отвсякъде” (Svetat e golyam i spasenie debne otvsyakde). This is a link to my original review of the movie which I wrote in October 2008. I wrote in this post about the “New Bulgaria” that emerges in the film.  I also wrote about the fact that I thought it was a shame that the film wasn’t in wider distribution and that

This is the kind of story that would help more Americans understand what is happening here in Bulgaria now and the way that the communist past has influenced the people, the politics and the economy of Bulgaria.  I also think that the film begins to help explain the deep cynicism that saturates much of daily life here–cynicism which I sense in my students, my fellow teachers and Bulgarian friends.

But it’s a film that’s about more than just Bulgaria. It’s about the choices we make, the things we risk for the ones we love, and distance we travel to recover ourselves.  It’s not a movie about return–the home you’ve left you can never return to; instead, I’d say it’s a movie about who we are when our identity has been shaped by multiple cultures, languages and experiences.

Oh and and it’s just been put on the short list for an Academy Award in the best foreign-language film category–the Oscars.  It’s one of nine movies. Apparently it was narrowed down from 65 foreign language films. According to the Sofia Echo, later this week the films will be narrowed down to the official five Academy Award nominees. (more…)

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I received a comment on my blog last week that perplexed me.  Actually it made the feminist in me a little bit nuts. I read it and just couldn’t believe it. I didn’t know what to think. I had to re-read it.  The comment was this:

The thing that you are missing is that you are a girl and you don`t need/want to have savings (at least not when you are twenty something).

I just kept re-reading and paraphrasing the comment: you’re a girl and you don’t need to save or don’t want to have saving.  The comment just made my mind race. What does this mean? Why wouldn’t I want to have savings? What does it matter what my age is? What is it about being a girl that somehow makes this different? I mean, what’s going on?

Then I began to wonder if something was lost in translation.  Maybe I was misunderstanding the comment. Maybe I didn’t get it.  Or maybe she meant exactly what she said.  But that seemed strange to me.

So today, I asked my tutor about it.  She said, well, she wasn’t sure what to make of the comment.  But she explained that given the low salaries in Bulgaria it’s not easy for people to save.  She also told me that she read an article this week in a Bulgarian newspaper which stated that only 50% of Bulgarians have bank accounts.

Um, what?! How can that be? I just about lost it. Fifty percent of Bulgarians don’t have bank accounts!?! (more…)

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