Wednesday, December 26, 2007

so i was thinking...

1. A few days ago I was watching people remove snow from the streets and sidewalks. Zhenya told me that in Ukraine they don’t really have a snow removal system, salt, or even shovels to remove snow. Like in the states, as soon as the snow starts to stick the trucks are out plowing and you can get fined for not clearing your sidewalks. Not so in Ukraine. The snow/ice that was being swept and scooped up was about a week old. It was totally compacted so it was icy and brown. I wondered why they’d waited so long to do anything about it. If they’d done this the day it fell it would have been a lot easier. They do have these cool trucks that get the snow off the roads. But still, by the time the trucks come out the snow is a week old. I think I’m gonna move here and become a shovel saleswomen.

2. We went to TGI Friday’s a few days ago. Probably one of my least favorite restaurants in the states, but here it was great. Why is that?? Zhenya ordered this fruit drink and I ordered Diet Coke, well, Cola Light (not the same) His came full of crushed ice. I didn’t think this country had crushed ice! He saw me eyeing his drink so he let me eat some ice. Then he had the waitress bring me a cup full of it. It was fantastic. The fajitas were good too, but I woulda been happy with just ice. We’ll probably have to go back there a few times.

3. At church last week in Sunday school (I go to an English speaking International branch) the teacher asked us to think of bad things that are currently happening in the world and she was going to list them on the board. People immediately said things like, the war, fires, global warming, the big oil spill in Russia…the first thing that came to my mind was, the writer’s strike. I’m pretty up to date with world events and I don’t know why that popped into my head but I thought it was pretty funny. I didn’t say it out loud though, sometimes the filter between my brain to my mouth actually works and I don’t always say what I’m thinking. “Let there be peace on earth, and writers get back to work!” (Are they back yet?? I’m outta the loop.)

4. Christmas is over now, for most of the world. Here are some pictures of the eve and the day in Ukraine. On Christmas eve during the day Zhenya and I went sight seeing, shopping and then had lunch and this cute little restaurant. (I think I was colder this day than I’ve ever been in my whole life.) That night Bogdan took me to and ice skating show and then to dinner at TGI Friday’s. (Bogdan is Zhenya’s best friend, he’s rad.) I think I already talked about this stuff now that I think about it, but here are a couple pictures of lunch at Big Belly and the Brownie ingredients.

Ok, I'm done thinking.
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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

Well, I have one more week in Ukraine and I'm kinda sad to come home. Maybe I'll be ready in a week, but for now, mostly sad.

I have so much to talk about and alot I've been thinking about today. It's Christmas, but not really. In Ukraine Christmas is January 7th. So I missed it in the states and I'll miss it in Christmas this year. But it's ok. It was a good day. I've had a really good few days actually. I'll catch up on those and post some cool pictures in a couple days.

Today, I went shopping. A little for myself, and alot for my family. Ukraine has cool stuff. Then my roommate and I had lunch at "Big Belly." That's what Americans call it. In Ukraine its called "Пузата Хата"After that we went shopping to buy stuff for American Brownies...that was interesting. $20.00 later I had a cart full of stuff that kind of looked like something one might use to try and cook with.

The brownies are done, my roommates like em, personally I think Pillsbury does a much better job with the package mix and Icoulda saved about $18.00. Oh well, it was fun. Then I got to talk to my parents and my brothers and Nene.
I love them so much.

I'm going to bed now. My not Christmas Christmas is over. Merry Christmas Everyone! And thank you to everyone who sent me Christmas texts. You're all worth the 15 cents each it costs me to receive them!

Life is good.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sight seeing in Kiev

The days go by so fast. I’ll be home 2 weeks from tomorrow, crazy. It’s not really feeling like Christmas to me this year. Probably because Christmas in Ukraine is on January 7th and New Year’s is a lot bigger of a celebration than Christmas. Also, it’s usually around this time each year that I decide I should make chocolate caramel pretzels, popcorn balls and sugar cookies and take them to my friends and neighbors. I would also probably be spending a lot of time shopping. But, I don’t really have many friends or neighbors in Ukraine and even if I did I’m sure I’d buy the wrong ingredients. I’ll probably find some time in the next few days to do some shopping.

I went sight seeing yesterday with Zhenya. It was a lot of fun. I’d seen a couple of the places before but not with someone who spoke English and could explain everything to me. (Mom, in picture 2 on the collage I know what that big rock is now.) I have a picture of that rock that I took in the summer and my mom asked me what it was and I had no idea. Now I know.

Ukraine is really beautiful. It’s ridiculously cold and it gets dark around 4:00PM, but it’s beautiful. I really like it here. I’m a lucky duck.
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Christmas questions everyone must blog about.

(This is my little Ukrainian Christmas tree. I couldn't get a bigger one because it wouldn't fit in my apartment.)

Wrapping paper of gift bags? Paper when I’m doing great at shopping early and organizing lists…so mostly bags. This year my families were all wrapped in paper and under the tree by Dec. 3rd.
Real tree or artificial? Real as a kid, fake as a grown up. I think I’ll eventually go back to real when I buy a truck.
When do you put up the tree? The day or 2 after Thanksgiving
When do you take the tree down? Late on Jan. 1st or early Jan. 2nd.
Do you like eggnog? Nope.
Favorite gift received as a child? Probably my day bed or karaoke machine.
Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, a few. My mom collects them and I love seeing then all every year. I think I’m kinda starting to collect them too.
Hardest person to buy for? My Dad
Easiest person to buy for? My Mom
Worst Christmas gift ever received? I have a hard time remembering gifts. My parents gave me tools one year, at first I thought it was mislabeled and was suppose to be for one of my brothers. I tried to act happy, but I thought it was kinda weird. But now, I use those tools all the time!
Favorite Christmas movie? Love Actually -I’m watching it right now, and I’ll probably watch it a couple more times this year. Also, Fred Clause was surprisingly good, and I’m a fan of Elf. But for me Love Actually will be an all time favorite. I never miss watching Christmas Vacation every year either, but I forgot to bring it to Ukraine. Sad…
When do you start shopping for Christmas? Black Friday, EARLY! This year it started at 11:00PM on Thanksgiving when Zhenya and I headed to Park City for mid-night madness. I swore I wouldn’t do it this year, but I can’t help it.
Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? I don’t think so.
Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? Caramel popcorn balls. (Mom, will you bring me one when you pick me up at the airport?)
Clear lights or colored on the tree? Always clear, its so peaceful and beautiful.
Favorite Christmas song? Christmas Shoes, anything on Celine Dion’s These are Special Times CD, or any Trans Siberian Orchestra.
Travel at Christmas or stay home? I like being at home, but its fun to travel if you’re with people you love. This year I’ll be further from my family than I’ve ever been. But I’ll be with good people.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

When life hands you lemons, just shut up and eat your lemons.

Last night I felt like I was getting a cold so one of my roommates Anya made something to help me feel better.

Here's the recipe...

-About 25 cracked and crushed walnuts
-One WHOLE lemon (not peeled) chopped into tiny pieces
-4-6 Tablespoons honey
--Mix well, Enjoy!!

...I'd rather have a tasted like the Zoo.
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Dying seems less sad than having lived too little. -Gloria Steinem

I was on the plane from New York to Kiev, before we took off we just sat there for about an hour and a half waiting for the trucks to come defrost us. After about 20 minutes of boring, a guy across the isle from me asked what time we were suppose to leave. (Nice conversation starter.) Little did I know, that was the start of a 10 hour conversation. My plan was to sleep the whole time, but that changed. After about an hour and a half of talking across the isle we asked the babushka next to me to trade him places. She did, and we didn’t stop talking til we were in Kiev. Has anyone seen Before Sunrise and Before Sunset? Total dialog movies of just completely fascinating conversation between 2 people who randomly meet on a train in Europe. That’s kinda how I felt. I like to think of myself as a people person and a good conversationalist, and I feel like decent and/or interesting conversation with strangers happen to me more than the average person. But this one was different than any of those. We had an immediate connection with each other, on a really different level. We established early on that he has someone in NYC and while I’m single, there is someone who…is kinda occupying my time and attention right now.

Anyway, He’s 29 years old, born in Jerusalem, raised in Israel. He’s an Orthodox Jew studying to be a doctor at the Albert Einstein School of Medicine in New York. We talked about everything- our childhoods, families, travels, school, careers, bad habits, good qualities we feel we possess, struggles, relationships, fears, religion, dreams, goals, our cultures, really just about everything. It was really cool to be totally open with someone I’d just met and felt completely comfortable doing it, and also knowing that he was feeling the same way. I’ve been pretty reserved lately and there’s a lot on my mind that I didn’t feel really comfortable talking about with anyone, maybe I needed him to talk to just so I could hear myself say things out loud instead of just working them over in my head and feeling more frustrated. Whatever it was, it was rad and the time flew by. (pun)

We got off the plane and went through passport control together, then he helped me with my luggage and we went through customs. He asked me, “So what now? You don’t just meet someone like you, have an amazing conversation on a plane and then say good-bye.” I said, “Maybe you do.” I had someone waiting for me to take me to my apartment. He was there because his friend had 2 free flights so they went to Ukraine for the weekend. No plans, no hotel reservations, oh, and his friend missed the flight. Anyway, we did exchange numbers and said good-bye.

A couple hours later I got a message from him. (Oh yeah, during our conversation we saw a minute of one of the in flight movies and made a bet about an actress. I lost the bet.) But in his message he said, I know I won the bet but can I take you to dinner anyway? I rode the metro to the city center a couple hours later and we had dinner. The first restaurant we saw was called King David. It was Kosher, how convenient. We spent about 6 more hours together, then, had to say good-bye, again. He wanted to meet the next morning for breakfast, but I declined. I felt like maybe after our dinner conversation he…I don’t know…he wanted to spend more time with me and I was ready to say good-bye. I guess I didn’t necessarily want to, but I didn’t want anything more than the level that we initially connected on. So that was it. Ironically as he was walking me to the metro we passed a Jewish Synagogue and an LDS Church that are right across the street from each other. To make the good-bye a little more light hearted I said, pointing to each of the buildings, “Now you know everything about them, and I know everything about them and neither of us are converting.” He just smiled and gave me a big hug and I was on my way.

Why do we meet people like that? Is it just to keep life interesting? Is there something that both parties should learn and take from each other? Or is it just total randomness that means nothing and doesn’t need to mean anything?
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K.R.A.K. House memories...

I was going to post this on my last night at the KRAK house (Kristin, Randi, Andrea, Kilene) but I never did...

Kristin said it best when asked by a visitor at the KRAK house full of random people, "So who actually lives here?" Her response- "No one ever moves out, they just stop paying rent."

Things I'm going to miss...

-Golden Girls Nights (Someone is depressed and Kristin buys a cake or pie and makes everyone sit and eat out of the pan until we all feel better.)
-Humpty Dumpty painting by Kilene. Which I bought for 20 dollars but I'm letting them borrow it til I return.
-Fires in the fireplace (and on the couch..oopsie...)
-Chinese take-out.
-Sitting on the counter tops in the kitchen talking to all hours of the night.
-The view from the front windows.
-The couch museum
-Kilene's "mom talks" about cleaning and eating healthy.
-Kilene and Randi talking Fargo. 
-Living so close to Braden, Robb and roomies, Carlie, My Steve and Alex.
-The Office marathons.
-KAPS HQ meetings with Kristin and Braden. (Kristin and Andrea's Paranormal Society)
-Listening to the ghosts talk.
- Sitting in the Hammocks on the back porch.
-Mouse hunts
-Cuddling with Russ on the popasan.
-Perfecting the art of curry cooking with Braden.
-catching up on DVR-ed TV.
-My greenhouse window in the kitchen. (Someone water my plants!)
-Sleeping on the angel bed when Kristin worked graves.

I never thought I was the roommate type, but these 3 girls were the sisters I never you girls!
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Saturday, December 8, 2007

Things I've learned and done in Ukraine the first couple days...

Preface: I have alot to blog about and some pictures that'll come soon, but for the next few weeks I'm going to be random and a bit out of order at times.

1. It’s so cold here. -1 Degrees C. But it feels colder because it’s been windy and it’s humid…maybe that doesn’t matter, but it feels wet outside, freezing cold wet.

2. I was walking to the metro last night about the time that most people were coming home from work and I passed 6 or 7 men who were carrying flowers, and then when I got to the metro station there were a bunch more men buying flowers from street vendors. Come on American men, we ladies love that.

3. I met a Jewish med student on the flight from New York. We met in the city for dinner that first night. Of course it was a kosher restaurant. Interesting guy…another blog for another day…

4. When you ask a Ukrainian if they speak English they either say, “little bit” or “yes” even if all they know how to say is “little bit” or “yes”. But they are so helpful and try so hard to communicate. Great people.

5. My apartment doesn’t have hot water. Maybe Monday, so they say. So, I boil a pot of water…and, well it’s interesting, but I’m figuring it out. I’m really looking forward to a nice hot shower someday… (it makes the waterfalls at the Anniversary Inn not sound so bad.) ;)

6. I bought a Ukrainian phone and the sales lady thought it was the funniest thing ever that I picked red when the phone I got also came in blue and silver. I didn’t see the humor.

7. Culture shock and jet lag haven’t been too bad this time. When I was here 5 months ago I had a really rough first couple days, but this time everything I learned is kinda coming back to me. But last time I was in Sumy and this time I’m in Kiev. (Kiev is an easier adjustment) Two very different cities. And jet lag- 15 hours of sleep the first night and 2 Tylenol PM’s the second night and I think I’m good.

8. Ukrainians love tea. And even if you say, No thank you, I’m not thirsty, I don’t like tea, I’ll die if you make me drink that. They still make it, and I still drink it. (approved kind) Some of it isn’t too bad.

9. Kiev is SO HUGE. I don’t really know how huge but I’ll find out and let you know. Probably close to a bajillion people, maybe more.

10. And the last thing, I actually already knew this. I’m 9 hours ahead of Utah time. So don’t call me when it’s evening for you. Actually don’t call me at all. I love you and miss you, but come on, no one is worth $3.50 a minute. You can email me, google talk me, or skype me, but stop calling my cell phone. :)

I love it in Ukraine and I’m glad I get the chance to be here again. I’ll try to update more regularly and I’ll have some pics up soon…as soon as I learn Russian. When I upload pictures everything comes up in Russian. I'll figure it out. –Much love.

Monday, December 3, 2007

2 fers

I spent most of today running around getting last minute things taken care of for my trip to Ukraine on Wednesday. I noticed pretty quickly that their seemed to be a lot more cops out than usual. I saw someone pulled over pretty close to my house and a few blocks later there was another one, as I was noticing the second one, a cop two cars ahead of me drove over the center median and went through a red light to pull a truck over that was headed the other direction. I started to think of people I should text and warn to drive careful. As I was driving down 2nd south thinking about it, I saw the flashing lights in my rear view mirror, which makes sense, I'm probably more likely to get pulled over than anyone I would have texted. I got pulled over for following too closely and not wearing a seat belt. I didn't get a ticket, he looked at my license and registration but he didn't even take it to his car. He just told me to buckle up and relax a bit. (whatever that means) I don't have any excuses, I just sometimes don't wear a seatbelt. I don't agree with the Click-it or Ticket campaign, I was rebelling against that for a while so that used to be my excuse, but I got off that high horse. I just don't always wear it.

**Sidenote: In college I did a persuasive speech about how I don't agree with the Click-it or Ticket Campaign. After the speech the class and professor were suppose to give their arguments and I had to defend myself. When I finished, no one had anything to say. That's right. And I got an A on the speech and out of the class. I didn't get crowned Miss Public Speaker in 2nd grade for nothin.

I also saw 3 accidents while out today. All little fender benders on surface streets. What's the deal people? Is their something in the air? My story gets better...

At the 3rd fender bender the guy who got rear ended was standing in the middle of the intersection directing traffic while talking on his cell phone. He almost got hit more than once but for some reason felt it completely necessary to motion to each car to let them know what to do. Dude, we've all merged before. Get out of the road and let us drive.

And finally, I finished everything I needed to do and was heading home. And, I got pulled over again! Twice in one day!! (I wish I could say it's the first time that's ever happened.) This time was pretty legit. I ran a red light. It was at the intersection of 7th East and 13th South. I hate that red arrow! Why can't all turn lights be yield on green. I hate the separate arrows. I have to admit, I've gone through that red light more than I've stopped at it, I should have guessed that today would be the day I'd get caught. The convenient thing is that everything I needed for the cop was sitting on the seat ready to go, and I was wearing my seatbelt. He must have already met his quota for the day, because again, no ticket. And I didn't flirt my way out, (Russ) and I was wearing a modest shirt, (Braden) he did take my information and run it and gave me a warning. The nice thing was that both cops reminded me to register my car this month. I almost slipped with the second one and said, "yeah, the last cop already reminded me." But I caught myself.

Oh, and more good news- the first pullover was when I was on my way to pick up my passport! It made it back in time so I'm really leaving on Wednesday!!