Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The End

Well, here we are! The last week of classes and my very last post! I feel relieved and sad at the same time. I have enjoyed writing my posts and looked forward every week to see your comments to them. And you HAD no choice but to read and comment to my sick jokes or there would’ve been no grade :-) But with the pressure of 17 hours it has been a bit of a challenge to stay on top of my writing every single week.

I have been in this class with some of you guys since August of 2009! I have read most of your papers. I have cried over some and laughed over the other. I have made 2 pretty good friends here and I hope to be able to take more classes with them in the future. I know for sure that I will have one of them in my summer class and I plan to harass him till he quits it :-)

This class has been one of my favorite classes and it really helped me develop as a writer. I would love to keep writing here but unfortunately with everything that goes on in my life it is just not possible. This summer I am taking two writing intensive classes so all of my energy will be directed towards them! So this is my very last post on this blog.

I want to end this post by saying how much I appreciate all of your kind comments and that it was a privilege to take this class with you! I hope all of you have a wonderful summer and I want to wish you the best of luck in your future classes. You are most welcome to email me any time you want or you can also find me on Facebook.

Fare well! До-побачення!

Thursday, May 6, 2010


This has been one of the most hectic weeks of my life. I have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Losing 5 days last week due to sickness was not much help either. And next week is promising to be just as hectic. But the end is near and my reward for hard work will be a trip with my family to the African island of Zanzibar! Visiting Zanzibar has been my dream for many years now but we have never had enough money to actually go there. This year we finally have enough and so, Zanzibar, here I come!

You guys are probably wondering where in the world is Zanzibar? Well, it is a beautiful island about 30 miles of off the Tanzanian mainland. Zanzibar is where Africa and Middle East meet! The cultures have fused together to create a wonderful and unique flavor. The things I want to see the most are some amazing old carved doors. They are located in the old part of the city, the Stone Town. I have heard so much of them and it will be wonderful to finally see them. Zanzibar is also famous for the vide variety of spices, the most famous of them being cloves. The Stone Town market is full of all sorts of spices and other neat things to buy. My kids are excited about the beaches and being able to see century old turtles. Unfortunately not all of Zanzibar’s history is sweet and colorful. Many years ago it was used as a base for Arab slave traders. Heaven knows how many poor souls have gone through the island on their way into a life of pain and despair.

Another good thing about this trip is that I will get to spend a couple days with my Afrikaner friend Karlien! Karlien used to live in Malawi and we were the best of friends. She is a lot like me only with an Afrikaans accent! We used to get together and plan how we were going to kill off our husbands for insurance purposes. Right now Karlien lives in Dar-es-Salam. I have not seen her in years and it will be absolutely wonderful to see how she is and how her girls, Anna-Mart and Karon, are doing. I’m sure we will not sleep that night, talking long into the night about everything and nothing.

And I should not forget to mention the actual trip itself! Instead of flying we are going to drive all the way from Zomba, Malawi, to Dar-es-Salam! In Malawi we will take the lake shore route and it will be so picturesque! Then I will get to see my second African country! Ah, I just can’t wait :-)

American men v Ukrainian men

I know my paper sounds like Matthew Liberty’s “Old Cow v New Cow.” It’s just lately I have had to deal with Ukrainian men again and I have remembered why I did not want anything to do with them! About a month ago I got a phone call from my step-dad to come to Ukraine and sell my house because he does not want to mess with it anymore. The request came so suddenly that I really did not know how to answer. It’s not like I live in the next town over; I am in the middle of nowhere in Africa! You just do not jump in a car and you are there! On top of everything else, I’m a mother, wife and a full time student. I can’t just drop my life as it is and be on the next plane to Ukraine! But my dad’s favorite saying is “Sluhay syuda!” which means, “You listen to me, you ignorant fool, and get over here!”

So now I am trying to get everything taken care from here so I can just go, sign the papers, get the money, and leave. Since my house is actually one half of a duplex, the most reasonable thing would be to sell it to the guy who lives in the second half. I try to call Sergey, this potential buyer, over and over to see if he wants it. Finally I get through and tell him how much I want for it. His reaction? “Dollars?” No, Soviet rubles! Of course I want US dollars! Only later on, Lena, my sister, told me that it was his way of saying that I want too much for that house. Now his “thinking it over time” is up and I am trying to get a hold of him again to see whether he will take it or if I should go to a real estate agent. Every time his phone rings a couple of times it starts to make busy signal all of a sudden. I started getting this nagging feeling that he is putting me off and does not want to talk. Why? Ukrainian men are very proud and it would kill them to tell a woman that they cannot afford to buy something. Ohhh! I forgot all about that little nuance. So, I’m giving him till Sunday to decide. If he still will not answer his phone, the house is going to the agent! I’m in no mood to play these cross-cultural games!

You may wonder, “Why did she name this blog ‘American men v Ukrainian men’?” I know, there are a lot of not overly nice men in America and I have had the displeasure of meeting several of them on occasion. But yet those American men do not hold a candle to the arrogance and “know it all” attitude of men in Ukraine and Russia. Let me present Putin as my example! The guy is your typical embodiment of a Slav male who never smiles and gets drunk just about every single day! Two of my sisters married such “jewels” that get drunk every pay day and then beat them severely if they dare to ask what they will do now that there is no money to buy food! And if they do not feel man enough, they beat their children as well! I know that there are some really nice men in Ukraine as well but somehow they are lost in the shadow of the really bad ones.

I would like to end this rant by letting you ladies cherish your American men because you could have been married to something that crawled from under a rock in Ukraine!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Board meeting

You guys are hearing from the freshly elected chair of Sir Harry Johnston’s Board of Governors. When I told the news to my already famous friend Alex, she said, “What? You did not feel like you had enough to do already?” Ah, the sarcasm! You can’t take that away from my girl :-) The truth of the matter is that I really am not excited about this new post. Due to the circumstances I will have to chair the board, hopefully without too much griping, for a month until the next Annual General Meeting when the new chair will be elected. Only a month! I think I can make it. Our next board meeting is next week and it is something I’m already dreading. Most of our board meetings go in this manner:

I drive to Stephen Christie’s house and we go on together in either his or my car. Stephen is from Scotland and is just as loud and obnoxious as I am. What? Did you guys think I was nice? I will have to burst that bubble! ;-) Anyway, we usually are 5 to 10 minutes early and Stephen starts with the Eastern European jokes and wraps it up with some American ones to make sure that he covered all the bases. Men are like children-- so easily amused! Then the meeting starts! I will spare you all the gory details of it because I will lose you. Let’s just put it this way: since I got internet on my phone I have been able to do an incredible amount of emailing in those meetings. And if I get all caught up and the meeting is still going, I move on to texts. But this time I will have to pay attention to it since I am chairing it and all. I will try to keep everyone down to the minimum words possible and maybe, just maybe, the meeting will be over in just 3 hours instead of our usual 4! In the end after everyone has said enough we go home tired and hungry because the board meeting happens at such an hour that we have not had a chance to have dinner at home and the tea and coffee served just whets our appetites.

So, from the sound of it, would any of you like to come to Malawi and serve under my sturdy leadership? Since a lot of board members are leaving we have several positions open and you guys are welcome to join in! Only remember! Stalin was my close relative! :-)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Malaria Blues

Well, as we say in Russian, this weekend went коту под хвост! On Saturday morning I woke up with my body aching and a mild fever. Since I had those very same symptoms just 4 months before I knew exactly what it was, good old malaria! Oh, how I dread having it! For those of you who have never had it, having malaria is the same feeling as when you survive being put through a meat grinder. The pain is unbelievable! You hurt all over and on the first day you shiver uncontrollably as a 39C (102.2F) degree fever is raging through your body. Next comes the sweats. I mean, buckets of it. I would sit on the sofa watching TV and could feel sweat just pouring down my back. I know, this is gross but it still does not hold a candle to one of my classmate’s rather graphic descriptions of what happens to him after a meal at Chilino’s! ;-) Then there is also the problem of keeping the food down and how do you get better if you can’t eat? Ah, such a pain!

People make a big deal about AIDS in African but hardly anyone mentions malaria. Malaria seems to be making a strong reappearance because it is getting resistant to a lot of the anti-malarial drugs and because of climate change. Nearly 1,000,000 people die from malaria a year. About 3,000 children die from malaria every day in Africa; that is about 1 child every 30 seconds. Pregnant mothers and their unborn children are especially at risk. Because of malaria mothers can suffer from anemia and their children can be born with low birth weight and even die in the womb. The figure of victims of malaria is so much higher than AIDS! These senseless deaths could be averted with just a simple mosquito net. But so many Africans are too poor to be able to buy these nets. There are organizations that try to provide free mosquito nets to Africans. My son’s school several months ago participated in Swim Against Malaria that raised money to help impoverished people buy mosquito nets.

I am happy to tell you that now I am much better due to the modern malaria cure available in Malawi. And now I am struggling to catch up with all my school work. I am leaving you with another song by Scott Gray Productions, Malaria Blues:

Malaria Blues

Woke up one morning with an aching head
I didn’t want to get out of my bed
It felt like a virus could’ve been a flu
Maybe I just drank too much of that brew
Or could it be, I’ve got malaria blues.

Suddenly my temperature started to rise
I could hardly believe my eyes
I looked at my thermometer, it said 45C (113F)
I didn’t think I was going to survive
Could it be, I’ve got malaria blues

Then I started to shiver and shake
All of my joints beginning to ache
My body was burning, my fever was high
I thought I was gonna die
Could it be, I’ve got malaria blues

I went to Doctor Hubbard and said, Help me please!
I think I’ve got the malaria disease
I’m sick as a dog, I don’t feel too well,
Maybe I’m dead and already in hell
Could it be, I’ve got malaria blues

The Doctor said we gonna do the test
To see if you got the malaria pest
Results came back, I’ve got +4 (very serious case of malaria)
That’s when I knew for sure
The Doctor said, You’ve got malaria blues

I said, Doctor help me please
Cause I’m down on my knees
I’ve got malaria disease
I feel like I’m gonna die
Please, don’t let me die

A couple of Fancidar, a jab of Quinine
Other manqualas (meds) that I’ve never seen
Arinate, Mathlequine, pain killers galore (all different brands of malaria medicines)
A course of Doxicycline just to be sure
All because, I’ve got malaria blues

When I got home I went straight to bed
I took my manquala like the Doctor had said
Lying in bed, just tossing and turning
My fever was high and my body was burning
All because, I’ve got malaria blues

I lay there for five full days
Confessing all my sins and my evil ways
It’s a terrible thing to be so ill
So don’t forget to take your malaria pill
Or you will get, malaria blues
It’s a terrible thing, malaria blues.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Internet: good or bad?

I am so sick and tired of all these men primarily from Middle East trying to be my “friends” on Skype and wanting “nothing more than to chat.” Yeah, right! I am getting on average from 2 to 3 Skype invitations a day. Some simply say “Hello. Can you add me to your contacts list?” But some are as brazen as, “Hi honey! How are you?” The last comment got a rather rude reply from me. One evening I got so fed up with it all that I asked one Pakistani guy, “How in the word did you find me?” I think he was so stunned with my blunt rebuttal that he confessed that he picked my name at random because it looked nice!

Please, I don’t want you to think that I think of myself as “all that” and never talk to anyone of the opposite sex. I have several friends like that and we talk on daily basis. Of course those friends did not come out of cyber space; they are people I knew for a long time or I met them from MSSU. One example I will give you is Michael Rea. Yes Mike, it is you ;-) I met Michael last semester in English 101 when I “bled” his first paper. I felt so bad when I had to edit his paper and thought, “Now he will hate me and the sight of my name!” Well, this semester we ended up taking 3 classes together! Being so far away from MSSU it is nice to have someone to gripe about genetics in Biology and Dr. Evil’s tests. We text each other almost every day about classes, kids, and life in general.

But not all internet chats are that innocent! While looking for some information on internet infidelity for this post I stumbled on an article of different signs that one’s spouse cheats. The sad thing about that article is that at the very bottom there’s an ad with a scantily dressed woman looking very seductive and words on top saying, “Life is short. Have an affair.” There is also a link to a site where one can go and look for people who want to have these affairs. Internet affairs are on the rise right now, crossing geographical boundaries and giving a certain anonymity to people and at same time allowing them to say and do things they would never do in person. One statistics site states that “Cybersex” is just as addictive as crack cocaine! It is said that 80% of all marriages will struggle with the temptation of infidelity. No longer do people have to leave home to have an affair; they can just stay in their bedroom or an office to do it.

Internet is not an evil thing. It is a wonderful invention that enables me to go to MSSU all the way from Malawi, Africa. I am able to get the latest news, movies, book, and music. I can talk to my family and friends and have online study dates with my classmates. But like anything else that is good it can be become bad in the wrong hands. It is for every person to decide what to do with it and whether or not to answer the “friendship” invitation. I can just tell you, if you want to chat with me on Skype, make sure you have your name with it or I will block you in a heartbeat! :-)

Cell phones in Africa

Boy, was I mad at 4 am on Friday morning! I mean, you could light a match off of me! As I was taking Dr. Evil’s test, which is a hard thing on its own, my phone started ringing over and over! Why didn’t I turn it off? Well, it was 4 am! Who would expect a phone call at 4 am? After I was done I went to see who was calling. I had 10 missed calls and 3 texts saying, “Please, call such and such a number.” I could not wait for the guy to call me back so I could give him a piece of my mind! So as soon as my phone started ringing again I snatched it up but the guy hung up. Why? Let me tell you something about Malawi, or Africa in general, and cell phones!

You will not believe it, but it seems like everyone in Malawi has a phone! Why? Well, a person can buy a phone for about $10 and, Voila, they are in touch with the world! But are they really? The units, phone minutes, are really expensive here and not everyone can afford them. In fact, I can call the United States and “flap my jaw” with a friend for 10 cents a minute via Global Phone but the cost to call Alex, who is 10 miles away from me, on Zain is 15 cents a minute! So what’s a poor Malawian to do when he wants to make a phone call? Flash! “Flashing” is an African invention that involves calling someone and making their phone ring once. That person then will have your phone number and the idea is that he or she will call you back! This flashing sometimes overloads the network causing it to fail. My husband gets these phone calls every day and he always calls back because those may be work related! But not Era, uh-uh! My philosophy is that once you buy the phone, buy the units! I especially don’t want to be flashed by a wrong number! I have had these people flash me over and over and then realize they have the wrong number. Sometimes when they get a hold of you, they just simply do not believe that you are not the person they want to talk to! There were some funny instances where I got a love letter by mistake :-) Thank goodness my husband is not a jealous type or I would be in trouble! But then he got one too! :-)