Due to a nasssty sickness-methinks it’s a combo of two things: the evil Azeri cousin of the common sinus headache/migraine, and some awful disease picked up from crawling through a ventilation shaft (the grossest since the Pigeon Belly Crawl) while in the UK, that has lain dormant until now and has emerged with the express purpose of rendering me under the impression that my brain/face/nose is likely to explode at any minute- I’ve been at my flat for almost 3 days.  This is remarkable, since the longest time I usually spend here is when I’m sleeping-and come to think of it, 6 hours a night is not nearly enough sleepy time. 

                The up side to all this is that yesterday, the Azeri girls (Lili, Titi, J) and I were able to watch a Zombie movie (they insisted since they’d never seen one before!) at 3pm in the afternoon.  There is nothing like the luxurious indulgence of drinking hot chocolate and watching a Zombie flick (FYI George A. Romero’s ‘Diary of the Dead’) in the middle of the workday to make you feel better-after all, it could be worse, you could be a Zombie with an appetite only for brains, nappy hair and a vocabulary reduced to ‘Uhhhhhgg’ and ‘Ahhhhhgggggh’.  At several of the gory parts, I checked to see if the girls were scared; far be it, they were transfixed, only occosinally muttering ‘Ay Allah!!!’  The movie was a hit, and most of the rest of the afternoon was spent in discussing the merits/benefits of having a Zombie Cat that could attack the boys that harass L and T.  It seems that Pandora’s Box has been opened, as I was giving strict instructions to acquire all possible Zombie movies that exist in the AZ.  While, I don’t want to encourage a taste for violent gore, it is promising that the girls have moved beyond ‘Titanic’.  Next week (if I can travel) ‘Shawn of the Dead’ will be in my grubby paws; exposing them to the dry British humor of Simon Pegg whacking postal clerk Zombies over the head with fence posts seems like a decent cultural exchange. 

           The downside?  Not begin able to run/accomplish anything has caused my brain to kick into overdrive; every failure/mistake/awkwardness/bad life choice is brought back to life and attacks with frightening precision.  Who knew that lame thoughts could turn into abstract Zombies?  Spawned by sickness, loneliness and fatigue, past mistakes feed on current discouragement, making me question my ability to do anything correctly or well in the future.  This type of Zombie is insidious; created, sustained and fed by insecurities and self –doubt it gnaws through logic, determination and strength.  Ridiculous self pity makes for messy remains that I don’t even have the motivation to clean up.  I can’t even tell if its funny when frustration/discouragement eats up half my brain leaving the mucus filled other half to make decisions and I find myself watching-sober and Irish on St. Patrick’s Day-some bloody awful kung-fu movie with Jet Lee and Morgan Freeman involved.  I hope the meds from Baku arrive soon.


March 12, 2009

It may seem from the previous posts that my neighbors and I are perhaps not on the best terms.  I would like in the interest of fairness to point out that on occasions, such as the following, they have shown remarkable kindness and asskickery that I, with all my cultural/social/language failings and sarcasm hardly deserve or expect.


Right before it snowed, there was a particularly infuriating group of dudes who spent most of their time (and still do) holding up the wall on the street corner of my block. Each morning as I walked out my door, the usually routine was: pull hat down low as possible (without obstructing ability to navigate,) Atmosphere on LOUD, hunch shoulders and try (for the love of God) not to flip the middle finger as they made crude gestures/kissing noises at me as I passed.  Not sure how long I made it with out flipping them off, but, suffice to say, my temper clearly needs some control.  And so it went for several weeks, they made kissing noises, and I almost face planted a tree and stepped on a small child because my hat was pulled too low.  Then one night I came home, it was dark (not late) and there the dudes where, huddled around my stairwell, laughing like prepubescent school girls at their first dance, smoking, and blocking the entrance.  They played chicken, moving aside at the last minute with sneers, and blowing smoke in my face as I passed.  To say that I was pissed would be an understatement; the run of stellar cussing in both Azeri/English that I unleashed was only thrown at my back in a mocking high pitched tone.  I could hear them yelling the whole 3 flights to my landing; opening the flat door, I had gone from pissed to infuriated and scared.  Fear is one emotion I don’t experience very often, and certainly not fear induced by faux leather skintight pant, pointy shoe, Steven Seagal for Men wearing uneducated scum with bad hair and wonky faces, who, given every other circumstance are more laughter inducing in their patheticness than intimidating.  Eventually I calmed down,(double checking my locked door) and spent a solid 15 min wondering how the dudes got their voices so unimaginably high; my conclusion was that they must kick each other in the lower frontal regions to break up the monotony of a day spent holding up a wall with their back side.


The next day, I returned home with my Azeri friend L. The dudes saw us approaching and ducked into the stairwell; the whole smoke blowing/kissing/giggling/rude noise act was repeated; however this time, when we reached the landing L and I went directly to my neighbor Xanim.  L explained the problem, with me giving a condensed representation of the noises made, and asked if Xanim would be so kind as to tell the dudes to stop.  The three of us marched down the stairs, and walking out into the yard, I pointed out the dudes, who had resumed their standard wall holding up position. The following was directly translated by L: (and while Xanim did ‘stretch’ the truth a bit, (ok, a lot), she does honestly understand what Peace Corps is and why I’m here.)


Xamin: (Yelling at the dudes) Get over here CHILDREN, NOW!! (hand gesture)


Group of 5 dudes shuffles over, and stands, looking at the ground.


Xanim: (With a look that would have made a brain hungry Zombie assume the fetal position in fear.) What are you doing? Why do you act so stupid? Who are you? She is an   American, a guest. Her government has sent her here, they watch out for her.


Dudes:  (collectively) Umm, uhhh, ahhh.  Hmmmm.


Xanim: (cutting off the mumbling) SHUTUP, you are stupid!  Do you know what happens if you mess with her?  Your life will be bad, you will shame your family. Did you hear what happened when someone else messed with an American girl? The police came, that person is gone, GONE!! (hand gesture)  It was very bad for them. (shakes head)  Do not talk not to her, do not look at her, do not think about her!!!(shaking finger at dudes for emphasis)  I will know if you talk to her. (evil glare) Do you understand!? Leave her alone, she will report if you bother her.  That will be very bad!   Do not talk to her, do not look at her!!  Now, you will HAUL WATER!!!


We were standing near the yard pump, and Xanim made those dudes haul water for an HOUR even though, Xanim has a water tank and had already filled (via pump) the tank that day.


Xanim gave L and I a knowing smile as we climbed the stairs, ‘It is good, they will not bother you anymore’ she said with a laugh.


 Postscript: While I cannot testify to, and would rather not know anyway, as to the dudes thoughts, it is perfectly clear that Xanim made her point, dudes have not said a word, dropped a nasty gesture nor air kissed in my general direction since hauling water.  The little saplings and small children on my street are now safe, though, occasionally, I emerge from my hat/ipod just to make sure.

Had a small event at the ISM Children’s Library, with Elaine and Marina speaking and a poet reading poems about roses and spring and violets and other subjects I didn’t understand. 

J my Azeri Sister and I 🙂



L-R: Marina (AZ6-one of my 2 HOTNEW sitemates!), Hatria,(who loves my Englishmovies, we make trips to the salon to get our hair done on frequent occasions), Gunay (my neighbor, we share a love for high black leather boots), Me, Gunel (applying for FLEX, loves rock music and wears a leather wrist cuff with spikes!)


SnowBall Fight

March 2, 2009


When I moved/invaded the manzill (flat) it was an event that captured the attention of not only the entire ugly gray block but also the neighbors on several surrounding streets, which given the size of Ismailli and the certainty that most everyone is related, simply means that damm near the entire town knew the particulars and juicy details (i.e. gross exaggerations) of my 3rd move in the past 7 months.  Needless to say, I ran up and down 3 flights of stairs (with J’s dads help) with an audience of no less that 10 people gawking, but refusing to help.  As mentioned before, I set about attempting to win my neighbors over with tasty food in a top form that would have made any Midwest mom beg me to marry her son.  Alas there are no Midwest moms in AZ, in spite of my best efforts, as far as the neighbors of both sexes over the age of 16 are concerned, I’m still a bad/dirty/strange/filthy rich/lazy/fat/loud/sluty/ugly/ inappropriate/ girl.  Oh.  Darn.  However, the young kids are a different matter, from the start they labeled me stupid/silly/strange (not bad really, I can work with stupid) but endlessly amusing.  Everything I’ve done from running at 6am to how I take my trash out (FYI I bundle it in plastic bags instead of flinging it in a pile near the stone wall) has provoked gasps of amazement.

 Which leads me to a few months back, last December ‘08, and the first decent snow.  Gasp of amazement aside, the kids, have mostly kept their distance; but the first snow, like it does in any country, releases many (mostly, kids, but the occasional serious adult) from behavior restraints.  Which is just a long way of saying that by 10am snowball fights had broken out everywhere, from the school grounds to the street corners; 3 feet of heavy, wet, perfect snow facilitated armies of snot nosed kids to attack, retaliate, and stage counter attacks, using trees, broken benches and water fountains as bases.  Returning from an early meeting, I managed to avoid random missiles of snow; the youth here, have the courtesy to ask ‘Teachers’ (Me) ‘May we throw snow balls at you?’ while launching, giving a teacher in possession of mad ninja skills (ahem) the chance to dodge incoming bullets.  The kids of the block were in the midst of an epic battle, boys against girls, and the future looked grim.  The girls in desperation begged me to help them out; the boys laughed and said I didn’t know how to play.  (Foolish little boys.)  Feeling challenged and put on the spot, as if I had to uphold the honor of PCV’s and women everywhere, I agreed to the challenge.  After all, we kind of invented the Snow Ball Fight in MN; with two brothers I’d grown up whitewashing siblings as a hobby.   Giving the 12 year old girls a quick lesson in the ‘Fake Out Throw’ and ‘Hail Mary’ we attacked the boys, snow balls zinging, noses dripping, scarves flying.  The fight moved into the street, the lawn of the Yeagana Meble Salon (a.k.a  furniture store) and the driveway;  cars slowed down to watch, the Xanims of the Manzill opened their windows to cluck disapprovingly, the store workers cheered the boys, the taxis honked. After face planting 2 boys into snow and shoving a huge snow balls down their jackets, I let the kids knock my hat off and push me down, just to keep it fair (they were after all only around 12 years old).  Having to return to work, I wished the girls happy fighting and waved to the audience of gawking housewives and stunned furniture store workers, glad that we’d given them (and likely half the ISM citizens) something to cackle about for at least the next few hours and knowing that I had irrevocably established myself as silly/stupid/strange/COOL with the under 16 population of my block.

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