Archive for June, 2010

Cold Snap?

Hey, has anyone read this book, Cold Snap by Cynthia Morrison Phoel? What did you think?

For those of you not in the know, which was me just yesterday, it’s a new book or collection of short stories set in Bulgaria. Apparently it just came out in May and is written by a former Peace Corps volunteer who lived in Bulgaria between the years of 1994 and 1996.

What’s the most interesting is that the book is fiction. She even goes so far as to make up the town the book is set on. It seems like a good read.  I can’t wait to get my hands on it but it’s not a Kindle book (which is a shame!). So, I’ll have to wait until August and add it to my “to-buy” list in the States this summer.

Mostly I am interested in how other people are imagining, re-imaging and narrating stories set in Bulgaria. I mean, it’s not such a big field of literature so it’s also pretty easy for me to keep up.


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I realized last week that I get things wrong a lot.  (Shocker right?)

Still I couldn’t help thinking about it.  Being wrong. But because I am not always right. Yeah, you might be wondering what I am talking about right now. Right? Wrong? I know, I know. This post doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. And why is she admitting to being wrong.

Heck, why does she care about something like wrongness!?

Well, I’d never really thought much about how often I am wrong and in how many different ways I am wrong each day until I read this great interview on Slate with Ira Glass called The Wrong Stuff–On Air and On Error.

The first question in the interview made me think: Oh my gosh. This is why people like my blog. I am narrating wrongness.

Do you consciously think about wrongness as a narrative device?

I don’t go looking for stories with the idea of wrongness in my head, no. But the fact is, a lot of great stories hinge on people being wrong.

It was strange to see myself and what I am doing with this blog reflected in this interview. And it was even stranger to think: Ah-ha. That’s right. It’s wrongness. A huge amount of what I am writing about the moments I am wrong–when I don’t understand something, when I am embarrassed because of something I’ve done or when I feel the crush of living between two cultures. (more…)

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I’ve got a week of school things left and then I am free for the summer. I couldn’t be happier. This has been a great year. it’s been busy with plenty of ups and downs, books and essays, work and travel and lots of laughing students and colleagues. I am looking forward to having a little more time to myself, to doing some serious traveling and to seeing my family.

Summer break will be here before I know it.

Luckily I already know how I’ll be spending my summer. It’s going to be the thing keeping me going this next week. (more…)

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It’s soccer season, football season, soccer, football… I don’t even know. I do know that it’s World Cup season. Can I say that? World Cup season? Who knows.

I certainly don’t.

I am a fair weather fan. I know the rules to most major sports and can follow along on tv but on a whole, I am not a serious fan of any sport. Heck it doesn’t even much matter to me if I refer to this current sport as football or soccer. I don’t care much one way or the other.

So what’s a girl to do when all of Europe seems to have World Cup fever?

Do I brush up on the rules? No. Do I try to figure out what color each team is? Too much work. Do I pay any attention to match times? Not likely.

Heck, I can’t name a single player from a single team playing in the World Cup. And I think that’s just fine. Why should I brush up on football/soccer for the World Cup when I could care less about the sport any other time?

Does this mean that I have been sitting at home alone watching bad made for tv movies on the Hallmark Channel while my friends are out watching the endless stream of games?


I do what I’ve always done when it comes to sporting events. I show up, I drink a beer and I cheer. And I generally try not to annoy any serious fans. That seems only fair. (more…)

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This week, I’ve been working on getting new glasses and contacts.  I’ve been rolling with the same prescription for the last two and a half years and two things things happened. First I didn’t think that I was seeing as well as I used to and second, I am desperate for new contacts for this summer as I am currently wearing my last pair.

So I lined up a friend to come along with me to pick out new frames. Then another friend tagged along as well. All things considered, the whole process was pretty easy for the three of us.  We tried on lots of different frames and giggled, we picked out lens type based on the price and the country they are made in and I had an eye exam.  Pretty standard.

The eye exam was probably the funniest part for me.  You should know that even in the Sates I usually get nervous that something will happen during my eye exam and I wont get the right prescription. It’s usually about the time that I am being asked “is this better?” switch “or is this better?” Um, I am not sure. So I make them switch back to the first one and this process continues for the remainder of the exam. And I begin to worry, what if I make a bad choice? What if I end up with a bad prescription? (more…)

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Bulgarian ID

I’ve been downtown twice in the last two weeks for my Bulgarian ID card.  On a good day the office is crowded but recently they’ve been monitoring flow into the building because it’s been so crowded. Who knew so many people needed to get, update, renew and the like their Bulgarian ID?!

Luckily, the American College has built some–dare I say–connections over the last 15 years.  I guess it’s inevitable. At 9 to 15 new teachers in a given year and the fact that we all work on yearly contracts so that we have to go through the process each year for work permits, permission to stay and the Bulgarian ID, it’s probably not a surprise that our school has built a relationship with this office.

To the best of my knowledge there aren’t any short cuts, our school just makes the applications in bulk. As teacher we show up, sign documents in front of the appropriate person, they take our passports type some numbers into computers (glare at the screen) and thye joke around with our Bulgarian counterparts.

I like to think they are dark jokes about bureaucracy.  But maybe they are laughing at the fact that as Americans we smile in our passport photos. This is a no-no in Bulgaria. No smiling in identification photos. I mean, this is serious. (more…)

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This Saturday (June 26th) at 4:30pm I’ll be at the at Lovers’ Bridge just across the National Palace of Culture in order to show my support for the 3rd Annual Sofia Pride Parade. And I’d encourage you to join me.

So, why I am doing this? Well for a lot of different reasons.  At this point, I guess that many of my American readers are thinking, so what? And Bulgarian readers are thinking thinking something a long the lines of, really?

I guess that some of you may be thinking:  Carolyn, this isn’t is your fight. You’re a single white middle class American who self identifies as straight. Let this one go.

Or you may be thinking: Carolyn, it isn’t safe. Two years ago at the first Pride Parade 60 protesters were arrested after inciting violence.

Then again maybe you’re thinking: Carolyn, what’s the point? One person won’t make a difference.

But that’s the thing, if I allow myself to be silenced, limited and contained before even getting out there those who have lobbied so heavily (and angrily) against homosexuality have won. If they stop me in my tracks before I’ve even left my house, they get exactly what they want.  Theirs is a rhetoric of hate, violence, fear and shame. A rhetoric that I  believe has no place in the 21st century. A rhetoric that I cannot let shape my decisions or my actions.

By not going, by not speaking out, I let hate control me.  So I’ll be at the parade because I refuse to be controlled, manipulated, limited or silenced by this kind of hate. Luckily a parade isn’t just about resisting hate. It’s about much more than this. (more…)

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