Archive for the ‘karma’ Category

I nearly wet the bed

16 April, 2009

This happened last night and includes this unfortunate title.

Bulgaria is a land of loud noises and things that will scare the living piss out of you. For instance, and I believe I can speak on behalf of every volunteer, past and present, have cursed the night sky when throwing out the trash and having a stray cat jump out. It always happens when you least expect it and it triples your heart rate vidnaga. These loud noises include cars backfiring. I had never heard a car backfire until I moved to the BG. Also firecrackers and gunfire. This story is about the latter.

I went to bed last night around midnight. And headed quickly to slumberland. Have you ever fallen asleep but your mind is still aware. You know what’s going on around you but your body doesn’t react. No? Perhaps I have a self-depreciating superpower. Anywho, I was like that for about an hour; my body was completely relaxed and my mind starting to slip into sweet sweet semi-consciousness and then… BAM BAM BAM BAM. HOOOOOOOOLY SHIT! What WAS that!? I couldn’t have been a car, too many of them; nor firecrackers. Who the hell sets off fireworks at 1am on a school night? Had to be a gun…and right under my window. Ok, back to sleep….

Wait, I left my grill gate unlocked and my door won’t put up much of a fight (hence the grill gate). This is when my body had fallen back into an unresponsive heap in bed. My mind was frantic.. WAKE UP WAKE UP! No? OK….zzzzzzzz. Two hours later BAM BAM BAM BAM! HOLY SHIT! I need to lock that grill gate. But my body refused to sense the urgency of my mind. And then out of now where…my bed room door popped open. HOLY SHIT SOMEONE IS IN MY APARTMENT AND IS GOING TO MURDER ME WHILE I LOOK LIKE I’M ASLEEP! BODY, WAKE THE FUCK UP! (Note: my door popped open because the door is too big for the frame. It wasn’t built like this, it’s just that everything in my bloc is, well, Soviet. In fact, the whole bloc is slowly sinking…)

My body stirred and I gasped for air (not why I didn’t that, perhaps my body was wondering why my heart rate was so fast). I sneak through my living room, fumble for the keys and lock my grill gate. Whew! I crawl back into bed, satisfied I wasn’t going to be murdered. I started to fall asleep. WAIT! You didn’t check the kitch……

And this is why I feel so tired today.



24 December, 2008

I come home and turn on the light in my foyer. Blam! The light goes out. It’s 33F outside and it’s 11pm. No light in any room. Yet my water heater is still on, I can turn on the tv and use the internet. Methinks I’m going to have a mystery to solve (or a repairman to call) when I get home after Chirstmas…

(More) Infrastructure Problems

17 December, 2008

I have had several infrastructure problems in the past, a year later should be no different. The past week, I’ve been confronted with a tsunami of problems. Thankfully, they have all be resolved now.

The city has been repairing the water pipes. To do this, they periodically have to shut down the water to parts of the city. They, of course, don’t notify the part of the city affected. Thus, I wake up every so often without water for 24+ hours. Not really they way you want to start your day.

Last week, I also lost power (shortly after getting my water back, getting more bang for my buck). I woke up to the sound of my heater shutting off. I thought that it had overheated and a safety mechanism had kicked in. Not so. Thinking it was like my water problem (and would return shortly), I toughed it out. The next day, I was still without power. I let my colleagues know. It turns out that the woman in the municipality had left two weeks prior and had been replaced with a new lady…who forgot to pay my power bill. My colleague apologized profusely (I kept saying it was no problem), my power was back by the time I returned home.

Another problem was my kitchen sink. I had used my washing machine and the faucet in the sink started to leak. I tried turning the knobs to shut the water off. Nothing worked. I wound up having to shut the water off to my entire apartment. This problem mysteriously solved itself.

As troublesome as these problems have been, none of them, separately or together, match my fridge.


This is Bulgaria…

8 October, 2008

This is a reponse I get a lot to a lot of things. It’s mostly used as answer to something I question something about this country. This ranging from talking about corruption to why water leaks from my kitchen ceicling when it rains. “Jimmy…this is Bulgaria and we think it’s normal…”. They may not agree with it but they have lived with these situations for most of thier life and usually can’t imgaine it any different. For the most part (with the exception of my kitchen) these have been pretty abstract. That is, until yesterday afternoon and the inspiration for this entry.

Regular readers know my backpack was lost/stolen in June. The bus company and driver were clearly at fault but couldn’t afford to replace my things. It wasn’t a problem since most of them were insured and the insurance company paid for them. I decided not to take the company to court since they couldn’t repay me and I felt fortunate enough to have been able to have owned them in the first place. The bus company was told I wouldn’t be filing a claim against them and were grateful. I considered the incident over, and moved on. But this being Bulgaria, the strangest things can happen.



10 July, 2008

As you’ve read in a past post, my backpack was stolen. Here’s the story:

On the return trip from my site mate’s wedding, we took an early morning microbus. I put my backpack in the baggage compartment under the bus. I don’t usually do this, but for some reason that day, I did. We drove along through several villages picking up more people and dropping some off. We stopped in a tiny village and two guys got on. They put their stuff under the bus and closed the baggage door. The bus driver is responsible for doing this but didn’t. About 3-400 meters later, a car pulled us over and told the driver a backpack fell out (I later learned that this was my sitemate’s new husband’s cousin. He didn’t pick up the bag because he was afraid of being accused of stealing it). One of the guy’s who got on the bus ran up the road to find in. In the mean time, we stood around and asked passing cars if they had seen the bag. At this point, I was unaware it was mine. I eventually got off the bus to take a look and discovered it was mine. My bag was the only one to have fallen out. At first, I thought it was pretty funny. Of course it was my bag! I thought. However, when the guy came back empty handed, I got worried. After lots of bickering and inaction, I left to take a look for myself. I went with a Bulgarian friend a PCV brought with her to the wedding. He called the police in Gotse Delchiv on my behalf to talk about my options. He told me that the police would be expecting us when we got to town.


From “горе-долу” to “много добре”

6 June, 2008

From “so-so” to “very well!”

I’ve been kinda gloomy recently about my work and purpose here. It hasn’t helped reading the 2006 Audit of Peace Corps Bulgaria, especially when it recommends that my program, Community and Organizational Development (COD), be shut down. However, I’ve soldiered on and been making my own work. This has boosted my morale. I discover more often how high the highs are and how low the lows are. It’s not called “The Toughest Job You’ll Ever Love” for nothing.

Heaven help me

21 May, 2008

I’m Chirpan’s newest kindergarten teacher. I start September 15th.

Yesterday and part of today

11 April, 2008

I have several up dates. Where to begin?

As I noted in my last post, I’ve had more problems with my leaky ceiling in my kitchen. Namely, it leaks. I had a conversation with my colleague who has been talking with the PC about it. She hinted that if it can’t get fixed or too expensive to fix, the PC may force me to move. I do not what this to happen! I love my apartment and its location! I live close to the train station, above a restaurant (run by the husband of a teacher I work with) and across from a very generous baba and diayado. My land lady came to check it out and yesterday the municipal electrician came to check the electrical sockets in the wall. He’s a very nice man and talked about his love of the Beatles and American rock. He told me all about his son who is studying at the University of Sofia as he tested the sockets. He declared one socket unsafe to use but fixed another one. However, when I use the toaster or washer, it still turns on my kitchen light. As he prepared to leave, the conversation followed a familiar path; the stagnate wages and inflating prices of necessities. He told me he hoped to retire in the next two years, but wasn’t sure. I bid him fare well, took care of some business around my apartment and then set out to teach computer class.


New Roommate and other updates

7 April, 2008

Yep, I’m no longer living alone. Last Tuesday, I bought a television. It’s a very nice one and it cost me a half month stipend which I had be saving up. It’s a Bulgarian brand, “Elite” but the sales dude told me it was made with Philips components. It also has a three month warranty. Not too shabby. I paid for it entirely in cash, and 10 leva notes at that. I felt a bit shady throwing town that much paper. My tutor helped me with asking for the specifics. She called her son, who was returning home from Plovdiv, and he agreed to help me move it back to my apartment. The timing couldn’t have been better; as soon as I sat down on the curb, he pulled up. He dropped off at my bloc. I plugged it in and turn it on, just to see if I had cable. Nishto. The next day, I went to the cable provider and entered a contract. I bought the TV to help me with my Bulgarian (and for the Summer Games. I’m hopelessly addicted to the Olympics) but as soon as I paid for two months of cable, I felt like I had betrayed myself. That I had, in a flash, lost my sanctuary. I had gone eight months with very little TV exposure. (sidenote: I feel so much healthier without the 24/7 media in the US bombarding me with trivial political “coverage”).


Fixing the apartment

19 December, 2007

For those of you (all four of you) who have been reading my blog know that I’ve had a few problems with my apartment. A summary reads like this:

The common theme with these problems is water. Typically (especially with the first one) where it shouldn’t be. Now these problems are problems I may be currently enduring or have been fixed. I now have hot water and the washing machine is no longer a big nuisance. The kitchen sink is hit or miss seeing that whenever it gets repaired the solution involves a little more tape than last time. However, “broken window in bedroom” can now be replaced with “gaping hole in bedroom wall”.

I was informed that repairmen would come to my apartment after 1:30 to fix the window. When they arrived, I showed them the damage. They were a bit surprised (much to my chagrin). I was told it would cost me 30 leva to fix. I protested since this problem was here long before moved in. They saw my point and I won’t be charged. An old man came in with a tool kit and proceeded to scare the living daylights out of me. He yanked and pulled on the window until it opened. That window, by the way, is incredibly old. Part of the wood used to make the fixture still had a branch. He continues to tinker with my window, chiseling away at the frame with all sorts of tools (including a knife from my kitchen). He then stands up on the window ledge. I start to freak out-it looks like he’s honestly going to fall to his death out my window. After a prolonged increase in my blood pressure, he finally gets the whole window removed (I didn’t realize this was the goal. I thought he was trying to make opening the window more fluid). The repairmen take the window out of my apartment…and that was the last I saw of them. They left about two and a half hours ago and I have no idea when they’ll be back. I hope it’s really soon because the sun is already setting. The worst part about this whole ordeal is I’ve had to miss the Christmas play my students were putting on this afternoon.

A few other comments

The political situation hasn’t changed much. From what I understand, both candidates have claimed they won legitimately. No one knows who the mayor is and people at work joke they have two mayors. I don’t think it’s going to be resolved soon or easily. And to make matters more interesting, I was caught on camera leaving the mayor’s office. I had to fax some paperwork to the Peace Corps headquarters in Sofia. When I left the office, there were news crews shooting footage of the office door (as filler footage I assume). But the Peace Corps Volunteer is now caught on camera leaving the office of the mayor in dispute. I hope they don’t air that part. One of the bedrock Peace Corps policy is not to get involved in local politics. Otherwise, it’s a ticket home.

Updated 17:54
The repairmen came back with a window. However, it doesn’t fit. So tonight I have to sleep on the couch. I was told to spend tomorrow at home to wait for more repairmen (the sink still isn’t fixed) but I have to teach class. They also want to find someone to clean my apartment. I’ve told them about the class and I’m perfectly capable of cleaning my own apartment. I’m starting to get frustrated with all of this.