November 28, 2008

2 beds, yes, lovely since I'd been sleeping on my camping pad since...July

2 beds, yes, lovely since I

…I’d been sleeping on my camping pad since July when my bed/bedding suddenly grew legs and ran off to join the azeri linen circus…

Cuddling hotwater bottles.

Cuddling hotwater bottles.

Still un-named kitten got a cold when my gas went off for 3 weeks…he sneezed all over my underarmour shirt.  Gross.  (he made it into a crane climbing dream…how does that happen?)

Toy Hair (the 'Italian' Style)

Toy Hair (the

The salon, grin is due to the trippy feeling caused by hair spray…



By this time the hair had been beaten into submission and safely pined into a knot.

Eeleet Cr@sherz reprezent!

November 27, 2008

    It started at 11am in the morning… after 5 hours of hair spray, several gallons of mousse, 4 bottles of nail polish, spray on glitter, 2 pounds of foundation, 2 tubes of hair glue, a million bobby pins, 3 heads of teased hair, half a dozen pictures and various other atrocities committed against hair, skin and nails, at last it was finished. 

In summary, I looked like a cross between a cheap 80’s hooker and a confused 40 year old who though she was an Animie character (with a hair style the girl assured me was called ‘Italian’) and sitemate looked like she had spent 1 week in a wind tunnel teasing her hair.  The application of bright blue eyeliner only added to the tacky awesomeness and toped off our toy (wedding) costumes with a flourish.

With such a grand way of starting the day, I, the sitemate and the rather confused (tho very chill) noobs should have expected an eventful evening.  With 5 of us piled in the car, en-route to toy fun, the conversation commenced as follows.


Me: What toy palace are we going to? Nur?

Sitemate (SM): I forgot the invite, I think its Golustan

Me: Are you sure? I think it was Nur. I lost my invite during one if my 3 house moves, dammit.

SM: No, I’m sure its Golustan (gives driver directions to Golustan)

Me: Ok there is a toy here, maybe this is it…


We enter the building, 5 Americans pausing as we walk through the door:

SM: I don’t have my glasses, who is the bride?

Me:  (squinting across a room of 200 people to a bride and groom seated at a table piled with cake, drinks, food and a hideous fake flower arrangement) I can see the bride I think its Vuslia…Hair looks the same. *shrug* Must be her.

     (Note that toy fashions go in massive waves, when a hair style/dress/lime green eye shadow is IN, its  IN baby and you wouldn’t even think of wearing something different-a fact I, with my varied and vast toy experience, should have know, but due to hair spray fumes and slamming an entire bottle of fermented grape juice, entirely forgot)


At this point, the room has fallen silent, 200 pairs of eyes are looking at 5 very conspicuous Americas (Poofy hair/electric blue dress combo is rather hard to miss) huddled at the front of the room. The groom’s father pauses mid toast, the video camera turns towards us with frightening precision…


Me: Move just find a table and sit, we’re fucked we just interrupted the groom’s father’s toast.


With the grace of a stampede of pregnant cows rushing to feed, we found the nearest table, and slid into chairs, hoping that music would save us from further notice…and then…upon closer look at the not so happy couple…


Me: Oh.  Fuck.

SM: Oh no, oh noooo…that’s not Vuslia’s goom…

Me: We’re at the wrong toy, oh fuck this is awesome! We have to leave NOW!

SM: What do we do? We have to leave.

Me: We just toy crashed! Hell yea!! *ahem* Abort! Leave now, don’t make eye contact and pray the video camera doesn’t zoom.

SM: Ok, lets all get up at the same time…

Me: 123…45678 GO!!!


Less than 2 min after silencing the entire room with a grand entrance, us 5 Americans, walked down the center of the room,

chins tucked,

200 people watched silently,

grooms father froze mid way to mouth with a vodka shot,

music stopped,

the only noise our pathetic attempts to stifle laughter/cusses as an unforgiving video camera zoomed in and recorded for posterity our walk of shame and bumbling exit.

… oh, and that story about the BatBoy, totally ligit.

November 21, 2008

The views, ideas, and positions contained herein are solely those of the author(s), and do not in any way reflect the positions of nor carry approval from the United States Government, the U.S. Peace Corps, or their members or leadership.

Once in a Lifetime.

November 21, 2008

         In a gallant effort to win over my neighbors, I threw a Halloween party at my new flat, complete with spider/skull/ghost/bat decorations, apple crisp, candy and mask making.  About an hour into the festivities there was a knock at the door; there stood Unknown Xanim, who along with announcing she had arrived for the express purpose of checking out me and the apartment, also blew a cloud of vodka heavy breath into my face.  Not wasting time on ceremony she pushed past me into the flat and plunked herself down in the middle of my living room, grabbing a tea cup and mumbling garbled greetings to the group of 16yr old girls.  For the next 30 odd min or so Random Xanim talked to no one in particular about various things that none of us could really understand but may have involved something about a daughter and a near by village (??) Eventually Unknown Xanim decided it was time to leave and promptly headed in the wrong direction towards my bedroom, we corralled her the best we could, pointed her in the direction of the door; and to many vodka laced kisses and yelled pleasantries, she swerved several times around the various piles of rubbish strewn about my stairwell (showcasing an incredible grasp of elite ninja moves) and made it down the steps without harm and in one piece.

Cultural Exchange…

November 14, 2008

…As called by Mariko:

        When the lightbulb died in my hamam, I was too cold/tired/sick to deal with a visit into the bazaar to purchase a replacement.  Had to wash my clothes one afternoon (in a stubborn attempt to pretend I wasn’t sick) with the headlamp on…then hung the clothes on the line outside my window, scandalous unmentionables (aka anything less than a granny panty) included.  Thoughtlessly I waved to my neighbor, who was observing me with what I thought was a friendly smile, until I realized that in a combination of sheer un-surpassed stupidity and a bit of sickness, I had waved with an undergarment, while the headlamp, on “Blinding Light From God Mode’ was perched front and center on my forehead.  Yea, that’s how we wash our underoos in Americastan


November 11, 2008

…1o months to COS..

any takers on planning a year long wander before the necessity of a job kicks in? 🙂

                   J (my Azeri sister) and I decided to take on the bazaar in search of stockings for the impending toy I had to attend and her school rules (legs must be covered at all times regardless of weather-itchy and scratchy are words that apply).  Having not braved the bazaar since my quest for thigh rubber last Aug., I was hopeful that a non-descript entrance/exit could be made.  No such luck.  After receiving half a dozen propositions, we stopped in desperation at a stall run by the most ancient Xanim we could find, hoping that purchasing from her would redeem our reputations.  She proudly pulled out a pile of nylons packaged in wretched photo-shopped images of Reese Witherspoon’s head on an Asian woman’s body (confusing, but endlessly funny) along with non descript tin cylinders of older, apparently less titillating leg coverings.  Unfortunately, the sizes she had ranged from overweight to bloated elephant and a crowd of sleazy men and obviously curious women had gathered to watch us shop.  Without hope we opened the last tin of nylons…and there in my hands, all sorts of black stretchy goodness with a bit of lace, was the first pair of crotch-less nylons I have seen since working at Vickie’s over holiday while in college.  J and I stopped, shock stunning us into silence and open mouths. Deciding this was too good to pass up, surrounded by gasps of disapproval, evil looks and kissing noises, I quickly brought the stockings in hopes that at least the Xanim hadn’t looked close enough to notice the lack of material and once and for all seal my doom as a woman on the prowl.  We ran out of the bazaar laughing hysterically at our fortune of having the most rad region bazaar purchase thus far, if ever in the ‘Baijan.  The chances of finding naughty crotch-less black stockings in ISM, in the bazaar, being sold by a Xanim old enough to be my great-great-grandmother are astronomically slim, if even existing. 

      London Mark says that crotch-less nylons are all the rage in London and finally I can call myself fashionable. 


November 6, 2008

So far, so good.

Given my ability to wreck/break things (flash drives, camera equipment, relationships, small animals, laptops, etc) the future looks promising when, the kitten I rescued yesterday is, as of this morning, not dead and in fact very much alive and using my leg as a scratching post.

Considering that the last 2 kittens I tried to rescue died after 3 days and ended up in a shoe box on the rubbish heap, (there were lots of tears involved)  my expectations are rather low on the lifespan of this new kitten.  However, several things, such as new kittens ability to walk, see and eat, (things which the previously semi-rescued kittens lacked) make it seem that maybe, just maybe, it could live long enough to take on the ROUS’s of my Soviet Block Manzill.

Suggestions on names would be appreciated, apparently in-between nassssty sickness, stress, and smashing roaches, the creative ability to find names for tiny flea ridden mangy kittens is missing from my skillz list.

Once again, I was in Baku and in spite of several bad life choices, which included dressing up as an 80’s pop star (there was glitter involved. Everywhere. And pictures *cringe*) and thinking that a jug of lime green beverage needed to be consumed immediately, the weekend turned out shockingly well.

Spent Saturday afternoon with this group: Azboys Urban Movement while they held their Urban Session Breakdance Competition.  Those boys can dance and even more interesting is hearing what they have to say about youth/culture/rebellion.  “We know that in Europe or America this is not new (breakdancing) but we want to show our generation and others that we can be different, we want to change and try a new way of expressing ourselves.”    If things sort out properly, (translator, funds, and film) I could spend next few months interviewing and photographing them.  (The competition was amazing, there were girls with eyebrow piercings and I saw my first attractive Azeri guy(!!!)

Sunday, Azra, Sebs and I tried to crack the Sumqayit Wasteland of Factories.  There are 100’s of acres of rusted/decayed /polluted factories in/around/outside Sumqayit, leftover from the 60’s they just sit, providing a backdrop to a city of dull Soviet block apartments.  The yelling, rather fat, and somewhat confused cop made it clear that taking anymore pictures or being in the general vicinity of any factories would result in a few bad consequences that would not be pleasant (when fat men yell its hard to exactly understand what they are saying, but among other things, I did manage to pick out the phrase, “Stupid People” which still kinda makes me laugh)

Found ourselves on a ‘Srutika, where the driver was so proud of his attractive cargo, he stopped 4 times to yell out the window that he had “4 American Girls!!!”, comic, since I was only American in a group of 2 Greeks and 1 German.  Made it to the Caspian and wandered over to a train car converted into a Chyhanna, sitting in the middle of the beach, run by a old man who gave us a VIP tour of each berth, served us tea and invited us over for vodka shots while offering to send his brother to the market for anything we may happen to desire as food.  We now have a standing invite for as much tea, vodka, corak and fried kartof as we want, whenever we show up, as long as we bring a few prints of the photos we shot.

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