Tuesday, March 09, 2004

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We left Kiev this morning in groups of 16. That is two clusters with 2 groups of 4 in each cluster. I am located in a town called B (name withheld). That is a transliteration. I don't have the exact spelling. It is a small town about 45 minutes from Kyiv. I live in a house with a mother N, father, V, Babushka (grandmother) K and 4 year old girl A.

Oh, and a dog that smells I suspect like Michael Moore's unbathed crotch. It is just the most god-awful, gross smell I can ever remember from a dog. I mean my dog in the states Bobbie had a fresh bouquet after a skunk encounter compared to this one. So while I was excited to learn they had a dog, I now do my best to keep it's funk off me. But here is something cool, it is the son of a genuine guard dog on the berlin wall. I'm not sure about the background, but evidently they let soldiers take some home after the fall.

Back to the family. We live in a small place off of the main drag by about half a mile. I'm lucky to have connected with somebody with a house as most people end up in apartments. Of course our idea of a house is quite different than theirs. This would be considered a shack by any American standards. It is of a kind of stone-like, masonry resembling material. Probably some kind of nuclear impregnated soviet brick I would guess. Krushchev's ashes are probably littered throughout these walls. The house is 5 rooms including the bathroom. I am in what would be a study. Grandmother and Ana sleep in the living room.

And nothing is square. None of the doors close. They wedge shut. In the bathroom we use what I call the Ukrainian dishrag latch. That is a rag that is draped over the door to provide a tight wedge so that when you are in the bathroom with the door that won't fully close, it won't swing open at some inopportune moment.

But it is solid and warm. And I have warm water for a bath. Both things I was concerned about.

The family is very kind and supportive. They are not the stereotypical hard drinkers that we've been warned about. Last night the mom and dad took me to a disco. They each had one drink and I had 4. Understand we were at this disco until 3 am. It was my first Ukraine disco so it was equally thrilling and frightening for me to be out at a strange bar in a strange city with nobody to actually communicate with. But we did manage to rock our heads to the beat in unison.

The Ukrainian girls are very beautiful. Except for the ugly ones.

They dress like the 80s and dance like the 60s. All the music they played was a variation of euro-russo-disco. It would all be great if I was dropping X. But I wasn't so I stayed off the dance floor until "Lose Yourself" started, only to be horrified when they dropped a fat disco beat over it and completely destroyed my mojo. I did not represent.

I did get to watch those girls though and on my honor, I hope we can come together in harmony and, as some really smart poet once kind of said, beat that sword into a ploughshare with them. Isn't that the dream?

Speaking of women, Monday was national Women's Day. It is quite the holiday. everybody is celebrating and we were encouraged to join in. So I bought N and babushka roses and a doll. One of the properly liberated womyn in our group asked the Ukraine instructor if this day was to celebrate the working woman or women empowerment, yada yada, yada. They looked at her like she was insane. It is simply to celebrate women, they explained. Evidently, they think women are pretty great in all kinds of ways, no need to empower. I can buy that.

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