apathetic youth, take note.

Blue MiniVans For Lyfe!!

April 13, 2009

5 Months!!!!!


 Get ready, the long promised’08’s Year’s Best, Youth Photography Exhibit, My Bling and Jesus takes on Sheki are waiting in the wings ready for release this weekend, courtesy of AZ6’s IST and Travelers Café-the little slice of normal in Baku that rolls Wireless, Espresso and B&W photography-and no I wasn’t paid for that, when you live in a Café during a snowstorm (ahem) one has a tendency to get attached-if only Travelers Café could boast good looking arty type males with a taste for the underground…


Over Novruz holiday, in spite of nassssssssty sickness, I increased my marriageable points by at least 30 by learning the details of baking Baklava, Sheklebura, Qoqual and Dolma-I’ve been approved by no less that 2 AZ Moms and 1 store keeper who nearly died in astonishment when I announced, un provoked, in-between buying Puffed Wheat and Bleach that I had basically mastered the Holy-Grail of AZ Housewife Cooking. Form a line boys, this generous stint of domesticity is guaranteed a short life span.


Rolled into Sheki acting like a bi-polar nut case due to slamming a Coke and taking sinus meds-apparently Emily thought it was amusing, but had no trouble convincing me that an afternoon of watching Brit Comedy was a good life choice considering:

A. My total lack of motor skillz

B. Ability to speak English

C. Increased tendency to trip miserably over my own feet.

I partly blame the Brit Comedy for giving me convincing arguments as to WHY Action Figure Jesus had to be taken all over Sheki. (upcoming post)  Met Jane’s parents-they are wonderful, perhaps second only to my real parents-I had the urge to hug them while simultaneously asking for a care package-funny what this country does to you.  As with the arrival of AZ6, meeting Jane’s family reminded me just how strong Jane, Emily and I are and how much we’ve accomplished in a few short (almost) 27 months.  And since I know Jane’s mom reads my blog-visiting you guys in Sheki was definitely a highlight of Novruz-Thank you!!


The Movie Club Project received all its funding-Thank you to the many family and friends who helped out with that-unfortunately I don’t know how to express in a non cheesy way how much it means to the youth and me, and how truly grateful I am for the support of Amerikastan people!


Spent a night watching a chickflick with J and talking about boys while partaking of a luxuriously meal of wine, cheese, olives, chocolate and gummy bears.  Of course I’d forgotten how much fun it was to have girl talk and be silly and laugh about how far superior we ladies are in everyway!!


Not content to spend a summer enjoying some down time before the looming Sept 12th exit/COS-I gave myself an eye tick, migraine, and annoying case of stress while writing a brilliant photography grant with a small budget and big project plan in a stunningly short time-without the editing assistance of Kim and Jessica it was speculated that I would simply pass out and not wake for at least a month.  Thankfully that didn’t happen, and I was able to help out Marina with moving to her new flat-by navigating the bazaar with her and introducing her to the nice merchants-too bad I was no help at sorting her water situation and fell back to Colleen/Azer/English/Handgesture (this need to be pantened) Her new apartment is great and huge by AZ/ISM standards-given my precarious living situation, its nice knowing that if another boot from the flat happens, there will be a place to sleep.  It seems that I was more tired that even I would admit as evidenced by my mad fail at contributing anything worth while to Tim’s moving-other then identifying and commenting on all the stuffed animals and plastic baby dolls suffocating in sealed plastic bags tacked to the wall-apparently my commentary was appreciated, he took pity on me, or simply wanted me to shut up-but I was allowed his couch and wine and spent the better part of the weekend doing a whole lot of relaxing and talking about things other than the ‘Baijan-when I returned to my flat I realized that it had been 8 months since I’d been able to relax that much.


There are several topics that get maximum play in my daily conversations with the people of ISM; they are in no particular order of importance:

*That I do not eat any meat, YES, that includes chicken (Oh, the horrors!!)

*My proclivity for running at 6am in ‘sport costume’

*The apparent deafness of my left ear due to industrial piercing

*The occupation, salary of Bob/Dan/Jon/ the economist/programmer/photographer in UK/Belgium/South Korea (a.k.a ‘The Faïence’ a.k.a ‘Faux Dude’) and why he is not with me presently or whatever.

*Current fatness/skinniness. (For the record, this one makes me livid; my response:  ‘Oh!! [surprised look] I think YOU are fatter as well!!’ [toothy grin]


Depending on the day, I may have to give my standard answers to any or all of those related questions.  It always sends my head for a trip when I’ll be asked on consecutive days the SAME question, by the same person.


While most of the issues are resolvable, the running in ‘sport costume’ is one that continues to snag in conversations.  There is just no way, due to limited language and vast cultural void, that I can express the joy that running brings, and that it will in no way shape or form make me less female.


Anyway, the girls I work with started out horrified at my desire for ‘sport’.  Yes, they were in awe of my boldness, which I can somewhat get away with since I’m ‘American’, but they had generally never considered that they too could enjoy the benefits of running.  Which is why I’d like to champion one of my best friends in AZ; L.  She is in secondary school, (high school), likes punk rock, and Tokyo Hotel, will find any excuse sufficient to decorate her clothing with skull/anarchy sign/PUNK IS NOT DEAD/spider badges, hates boys (finally a 15 year old who isn’t boy crazy) and has made it her mission to do everything different because that’s how she is and popular opinion be dammed.  Needless to say, we have a lot in common, and have been hanging out a lot since I first moved here in ’07. (she is also the friend that was with me the day the XanimThrewDown)


But back to running.   March 5th is Sports Day in ISM (and maybe all of AZ…?) and there is a 1.5mile run held each year that starts in the (NEW) town center and ends at the Martyr Memorial.  Traditionally, meaning back to when Sports Day was first celebrated in ISM (a really long time ago.) it was only the boys that participated, the girls didn’t even watch, the mere viewing of such display considered highly inappropriate.  Fast forward to 2009.  L has, since last September, gone through the usual high school drama, with girls hating her on Mon, loving her by Tues., pledging BFF status by Wed. and then starting the whole cycle again on Friday.  Added to that, the boys-at once appalled and attracted by her bad ass attitude-spreading nasty (and that’s an understatement) rumors; its no surprise that by March L was telling me she hated school and was tired of her classmates ‘not respecting her’.  Weather it was a dare, or some past conversation that encouraged her is not known, but, L decided to run on Sports Day, not only as the first girl, but the first girl running specifically against her boy classmates.  The news, made the top gossip for at least 4 days-opinions varied, some (mostly of the adult category) were not pleased and found her decision to run the perfect time to address the decline of community values, the increase of bread prices and the mediocrity of parents everywhere (except themselves of course)-some, (mostly of the boy category) were simply happy to have another reason to tease her and some (mostly of the girl category) were in awe but questioned her true femininity.


Leading up to the race, L and I had many conversation about the tricky navigation of gossip, opinion, friendship and why doing things different was rough but likely good in the end.  While I take no credit whatsoever for L being a bold and amazing 15 year old, she said something the day before the race that made me happy.  “You are different, and you run and do sports, but you are cool and kind to us, you show us how we can be different and its OK, so I am going to run and be the only girl, why not?’


The morning came, gray, cold and typical March gloom-the runners assembled in front of the new HA museum, and L was there, dressed in white sports costume-the only non black clothing in the whole group of males-who were dressed in fashions that bounced from sport costume and wrestling attire to blue jeans and pointy shoes.   L was nervous, the boys eyed her with suspicion, a small group of girl had gathered near to watch-just close enough to see, but not too close, lest anyone think they were approving of L or even worse horrors checking out the boys.


Due to a work commitment that I was completely unable to cancel, I couldn’t watch the race, but sent L off with my best wishes and a final ‘Kick Ass’ command.


Of course she ran, of course she beat all the boys in her form, of course she made her point and of course she had a lovely 100 Megawatt grin that stayed around for a few days.


We debriefed later on in the day and L explained how she was very tried but didn’t let herself stop because ‘those boys weren’t going to beat me!’-the school ‘gym’ teacher even congratulated her and said (paraphrased) that she was only girl in the school who he thought could run and do well.


So I champion L; her courage, her speed, her boldness-may you have many peaceful moments running and in running and in life may you continue to kick the asses of all those who tease and doubt you!!

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