Today (Monday, 12) was the day I decided to be better. That’s the funny thing about being sick and recovering; at some point you just have to decide that you’re better, and to Magadan with what slows you down. You could wait forever to be 100% again, so you just have to set out, head held high, and stifle a few coughs through the course of the day.
I’ve got two new co-workers now; Benoit and Sasha from the NetCorps team. When I came to work, I found them cleaning shelves. Cleaning shelves! I haven’t done that since September, I’m ashamed to admit. I know it’s library routine, but I think I’ve grown too complacent, and when I’m not working on group projects I’m either updating this blog or struggling to get through to my e-mail. Anyway, it’s their first day on the job, and… well, they’re working. This totally freaked me out.
Benoit’s a cool guy; he has a Fine Arts degree from the Université du Québec à Montréal. He’d sometimes look at me, as I was trying to answer the group’s questions about our flight times and confirm my own domestic booking, “So, do you usually work with the database?”
At a later point I had to leave to get something printed. I’ll admit straight up that I took my time; I think I might have had my lunch then. I just lunch whenever I get hungry; to be perfectly frank, nobody really cares what I do. It’s sad, but it’s the way things often go on these programs. Benoit and his counterpart came back at lunch at the appropriate time, and he asked me, “So, do you work from 9 to 5? How much time do you take for lunch?”
Ha-ha-ha-ha. Amy had some great hypothetical replies when I shared my experience, starting with “Well, I would, if that’s what I were doing, but as you can see I’ve got all these other important, very important things to do…”
I apologized to Benoit for being such a bad influence and told him that I envied his excitement and energy and wished him the best in maintaining it. And for all my dalliances, I did get a lot done today: I sorted the 100+ e-mails that had accumulated in my Inbox (replies forthcoming! I’m working on it!), and I tried to keep an eye to doing first things first; sure, I didn’t do a bunch of the trivial things I had my heart set on, but I got all the important things done. I also catalogued a pretty good pile of books, and I fixed a few annoyances on Lindsay’s laptop and got her internet working again.
Oh, and I found out that the reason it normally takes longer to fly west than east has nothing whatever to do with the Earth’s rotation, but rather the prevailing winds. Try this: jump up. Did the Earth move under you while you were in the air? I’m guessing no. The trick is that the motion of the Earth was imparted to you before you jumped, and the same goes with the airplane. A full explanation can be found here. Yes, I’m a horrible person, because I wanted to know why our upcoming flight from Munich to Toronto takes more than two hours longer than our flight from Toronto to Frankfurt, and I didn’t think it could all be explained by geography and/or ETOPS regulations. Someone told me over a year ago that it was the rotation of the earth, which came to thoroughly confuse me since the Earth rotates towards the east, so by that logic the flight times should be shortest going east, whereas reality was usually the opposite.
One painful, painful thing I’m noticing is just how gorgeous some of the girls here really are. Of course, the ones I end up meeting tend to have a boyfriend, an insanity, or a dearth of interest (or all of the above), so it’s kind of a moot point, but it’s a true pain to notice just… how… gorg- <SLAP>ouch!</SLAP> Okay. I’m okay. It’s just a hard thing to be thinking about so close to departure, because now it’s too late.
Maybe I noticed the girls so much today because I’ve been sequestered at home for a week and the only comely face I’ve seen is that of Charlotte Brontë’s, on the cover of the finished-and-returned Jane Eyre. And, really, if I have to say that, you know I need to get out more.
I made it back home in one piece, although I ran into Vadim (one of my few really good friends here), and although I was quite pleased to see him, he first walked into my path on the dark sidewalk, and I couldn’t see his face, and I was like, “Yikes, what does this Ukrainian stranger want with me?!?” – his approach galvanized me with terror, but we ended up having a pretty good laugh about it, and I got an invitation to join him for New Year’s Eve if I’m not otherwise occupied. So that takes care of the two major holidays; Lee and I will be spending Christmas with the NetCorps team, also at their invitation.
Tonight I started on Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, but I set that down and I’m reading Frederik Pohl’s Gateway for easy entertainment. I’m going to try to establish a classic, easy, classic, easy (et cetera) pattern in my reading now. It should be a good way to get an education without going insane, and reading a challenging book makes me want to read a more accessible book, and vice versa. This isn’t to say that the modern, plain-English books have less artistic merit. In fact, I don’t even know what I am saying, and I can’t say anything remotely faux-profound without making some monumentally odious generalizations. End paragraph.
I said something to Roman about the game he was playing tonight, and he chuckled, but I couldn’t draw him into conversation. It’s really, really hard to draw people into any sort of conversation that goes beyond who you / they are and what you / they do. I’m really interested in hearing people’s stories and what they have to say! I want to hear more; lots more! But often people don’t seem to feel up to expressing this in English, which is the only form in which I can pretend to understand people at this point in my life. I like games as much as Roma, but we’ve never had a conversation about games – or anything, really. It’s the same with my host sister. It’s a darn shame, and it’s my fault for not trying harder to learn Ukrainian. After I realized how difficult and painful it was going to be to learn Ukrainian with the scant resources we possessed, I lost almost all interest in it. Just like math, but with math I got a second chance. This isn’t one of those things where you get a second chance – not that I want one.
But I told you all that to tell you this: I walked away from the computer and through the zillion doors that lead to the porch. I stood there for a second thinking about how I’d be able to talk with my younger cousin Alex about video games and Star Wars until my ears fall off. Yes, I’m going to Kitchener for a week just after I land, and then I’ll have my time in Toronto; I was on the phone with Uncle Bill Saturday evening. When I thought of this, and his nice, comfortable house with couches, internet, video games, washing machine*, recognizable food, etc.. I danced a jig for thirty seconds. I didn’t even really think, “Oh, this is great, I should dance,” I just started dancing. It was my inner soul, my inner child, my inner happiness, all coming out for simultaneous expression.
If I got out of that awful flu, I can get out of anything. This will be an interesting next couple of weeks!
Tomorrow: What happened at and after our farewell party; I promise engaging yet pleasant, positive reading.
* - Remember that washing machine we got a month ago? Neither does my host father, and he’s the one responsible for getting the (grounded) electrical hook-up. Visualize a glacier. However, the plumbing is ready to go.