Tim in Georgia

This is a blog to chronicle my experiences in the Republic of Georgia as a Peace Corps TEFL volunteer. *The views expressed herein are mine and are not necessarily those of the Peace Corps or the US Government.*

04 March 2010

Moving On...

As usual, I have struggled to find the time to keep this blog updated. Therefore, I will bring it to a close with this post.

First, the name of the blog is no longer apropos. I am no longer in Georgia, although I would love to return. It was the most interesting time of my life, full of fantastic times and stories and even better friends.

It's been a tough year and a half for Georgia since I left, and this fills me with sadness. Not only for the people there whom I miss, but also for the country, which deserves better, and its future, which shines less brightly now. But more than that, I feel sadness for the changes that have taken place in the global attitude. The invasion forced a change in perspective in viewing the post-Soviet space, and for this the world (and not just the world allied with the USA/EU) is worse off.

I remember leaving Georgia in the morning and taking the long bus ride to Istanbul. I arrived there a day later and my friend Cuttino met me for a meal. He mentioned the war and I was dumbfounded. Had it not been for the detail he provided, I wouldn't have believed him. I was just there, 24 hours ago, and there had been peace. And my first instinct was to get back on a bus and go back to help. Not to fight, obviously, but to try and assist those who were losing everything during that horrid time. I still think about my decision not to go back, but that's another topic for another time.

The next few days I was glued to the news, like I never had been before. As the disparity in forces became evident, and Georgia's fate sealed, I was dumbstruck. I would sit there, staring at the words but not reading them, wondering if it was really real. How could the images on tv, of the place I had just left, be true?

I always smile to myself when I look at someone else's photos of Georgia because I can usually recognize from the photo the exact spot where they were standing. I guess it's like being able to walk around your house in the dark – it's just so familiar. And I knew where the cameras were perched, too, as they captured the tanks going by and the bombs blasting. The tanks were rolling past the countryside that I had rolled past so often, gazing out the window of the marshutka at the land that Georgians say god had reserved for himself. To know something that well, and then see it invaded...

- - -

The other reason I mention moving on is because I'm starting a new adventure soon. Next week I will (finally!) begin work for the State Dept., at the Consulate in Monterrey, Mexico. To be sure, Georgia has set a high standard, but I still think I will enjoy myself. I've been itching to get abroad again, and the opportunity has finally arrived.

Despite numerous requests, I haven't decided yet whether or not I will keep a blog for my time in Monterrey. I realize the advantages, but there are also many differences between Monterrey and Gonio. The most obvious is that, as a State Dept. employee, I am more in the public eye than a Peace Corps volunteer. This is both good and bad, of course. But, on balance, it's a disincentive for blogging. On the other hand, though, getting to know a country from the level of its citizens, like I did in the Peace Corps, is one of the fundamental reasons that I joined the State Department. And blogging allows me to really pursue that side of living abroad with more curiosity and vigor. Getting caught up in the diplo-bubble is something I fear, as I know it's not the lifestyle I would find most enjoyable.

- - -

To bring this back to where I started – don't all stories seem to end that way? – I know I'll never really be able to move on from Georgia. Some cynical people say that you never forget and will always think highly of your first second-home – the first place you live abroad – just because it was the first. There might be a little bit to this, but I will dismiss it anyway and hope it's something more. Not because I really loved it there the majority of the time or because I chose to put on the rose-colored glasses when I loved it a bit less (although both of those are true), but because adopting cynicism displaces you from the moment – and what is our memory but for a collection of moments? Having pleasant and vivid memories is not something that should make you want to move on, but rather want to move again. And, with fortune, I'm moving again.

10 August 2008


Like Cuttino, I have apparently been too busy to update my blog. But, I am no longer a Peace Corps Volunteer, and I left Georgia the night that the fightıng began. There, now you are caught up.

But, before I left Georgia, I went to the remote and mountainous region of Svaneti. Here are some photos.

The church is aflame during a festival ceremony.

One of the ubiquitous Svan towers.

Our mode of transport to Ushguli.

A view from our trip on mountain bikes.

Ushguli, the highest continuously inhabited place ıin Europe.

An old man celebrates at a festival in Ushguli.

The festival in Ushguli.

More from the festival.

16 February 2008

Totally Tom Schreiber

Some other people with too much time on their hands are writing posts about Tom Schreiber, one of our colleagues in Peace Corps Georgia. To aid in your Tom Schreiber education, you can view Jen's article about Tom Schreiber and Ryan's article about Tom Schreiber. But I am above doing that. Sure, I appreciate Tom Schreiber as much as everyone else, probably just slightly more than everyone else...with the possible exception of the wife of Tom Schreiber. But, some people have taken their adoration too far. For example, if you type "Tom Schreiber" into google, you come up with other people's blog entries about Tom Schreiber before you come to Tom Schreiber's blog about Tom Schreiber. I am not into that kind of frivolous thing. Instead, I just want to say that Tom Schreiber's blog about Tom Schreiber should be read at every opportunity. But no more often than mine. Tom Schreiber and I can both track this - the internet is more powerful than you think!

So, enough about Tom Schreiber. And not enough about...not Tom Schreiber!

I've been meaning to write for a while now about how thrilled I am that you can buy nearly anything in Georgia singularly. Now, this might seem to be something very trivial, but few people are more frugal than Peace Corps Volunteers. I reached the pinaccle of purchasing twice - both this month and last. My shoes are...well-worn. Finally, as you might expect, a shoelace broke. I cringed when it happened. I definately did not want to buy two shoelaces. Selling shoelaces only in pairs is one of the sillier things about America, if you ask me (and many people do). So, I proceeded to the bazaar, wearing one shoe with half of a shoelace, grinning hopefully. This day was unusual because - as it turned out - I wasn't just grinning stupidly for no reason. For on this day I found the object of my affection - a solitary shoelace. I found the shoelace seller and plucked a single lace from his line. It was even a better color than the original shoelace. I was in capitalist heaven.

In America, my purchase would have produced waste. I did not need two shoelaces. I've never met anyone who broke two shoelaces at the same time. And, in Georgia, the shoelace sellers realize this!

The next month, my other shoelace (at long last) broke as well. So, I proceeded to the exact same man and, smiling knowingly, purchased another single shoelace to complete the pair. The perfect solution! Yes, this could have been accomplished by purchasing both shoelaces at the same time, but who was I to say that my other shoelace would also break!? And maybe some people will stare at me questioningly regarding how happy I was to purchase two identical solitary shoelaces. But really, your life is less rich if you can't take pleasure in buying your shoelaces individually, and in appreciating the country that makes this small feat possible. America has many nice features, but it doesn't have this! And it should.

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12 January 2008

What's on Tap?

I have decided to start a contest…you have two weeks to submit questions (about Georgia, the Peace Corps, my time here, etc.) to my email (link at left) and I will answer the most interesting one here, on my blog. In addition to being mentioned by name and hometown (unless you instruct me otherwise) on my blog, which is read by at least 3 people – you and my parents – the winner receives an inconceivably interesting photo gallery of Georgia delivered expressly to their email inbox. So think long and hard and creatively! Fame and immortality await…

As many of you may know, I have campaigned passive-aggressively against bottled water for years. And, I am pleased to learn, my efforts have finally paid off! To celebrate the new year, my hometown of Chicago has imposed a new 5 cent tax on all bottles of bottled water to discourage their use. The main rationale isn’t that bottled water is silly (although it is – Chicago’s tap water is exceedingly healthy), but rather that it causes much environmental and economic waste. The bottles are often left on the ground, not reused, or discarded in the garbage despite being recyclable. Like the London tax on driving in the city center, this new legislation should be publicized at every opportunity. However, unlike the London initiative, I doubt that Chicago’s effort will be successful. It is already silly to pay a dollar or more to purchase something that you can get elsewhere (like your tap or the water fountain) for free or nearly free. Adding a meager 5 cents to the cost is unlikely to do anything to curb consumption. But, this is an important first step. Chicago: Bravo!

The newest sin tax.

Exchange rate notes: When I arrived in Georgia in June 2006, 1.82 Georgian lari were required to obtain 1.00 American dollars. Now, in January 2008, you can buy 1.00 American dollars for the low low price of 1.58 lari. In terms of US dollars, I get paid more and more every day, which is quite nice. Additionally, due mainly to my absence from the economy, the Canadian dollar surged ahead of the U.S. dollar. I find this mildly amusing. Are people in America at all concerned about this?

In another side note, when I checked my gmail account today, the ad that appeared at the top of the screen advised me to immigrate to Canada. This might seem simply accidental and strange, until you consider that google has some of the most advanced and specific ad-placing software around. They likely know things about me (and you!) that they have no business knowing. So why are they suggesting that I move to Canada? I for one have no idea. I receive many emails from official .gov addresses – which google should realize, since it handles my email – so it should be obvious that, at the very least, I am well-connected with my current government. Additionally, google recently partnered with blogger, the site where I publish my blog entries, and so I’m sure that google is also aware of my blog chronicling my Peace Corps experience. Perhaps google is making value judgments here – it can likely surmise that I was previously living in America, am currently living in Georgia, and is proposing Canada as a sort of middle ground.

I often wonder if the internet is becoming too smart for us – or at least too smart for me. I think that there comes a point in each person’s life when they reach their technological threshold. At some point, nearly everyone becomes so overwhelmed by new technologies that they simply do not understand new technologies anymore. They either do not use these new, magical technologies, or they use them very reluctantly and with low levels of competency.

A strange thing to note is that technological prowess seems not to decline over time. If I know how to program my VCR, I will likely always know how to program that same VCR, barring severe senility or other mental disease. People are less able to perform physical functions as they age – sportsmen slow and retire, bending over is more painful and time-consuming than it used to be, some people require the aid of a cane to maneuver bipedally – but the technological portion of the mind does not seem to slow down in such a visible manner. It does seem to have a maximum capacity, however.

This phenomenon has a long history. It began as fear of new technology. For example, when railroad technology was advancing rapidly in the 19th century and railroads became more and more accessible to the public, many were afraid to ride them. They feared that traveling at such speeds (faster than a man on horseback) would cause damage to the internal organs. It was mainly the young that began using railroads, and eventually fears about them diminished. The young, who had not reached their capacity to welcome new technologies, embraced railroads and the old, who had reached their capacity, were afraid and reluctant.

A contemporary example exists here in Georgia. Cell phones are all the rage – nearly everyone has one. Yet people use these phones in different ways. The young use their phones for a plethora of activities – playing music and games, sending messages to friends, taking photos, transferring files, and even talking on them. The middle-aged, who were acquainted with land-line phones, use them nearly exclusively for talking, and the old generally do not use them. The old are aware of cell phones and, when handed a phone that has been dialed, can speak to the person on the other end. But, they are generally unwilling or unable to initiate this action without help – even though they can do exactly the same thing on a land-line phone independently.

So why do I bring this up? I fear that I am reaching my technological threshold. I fear that, when I return to America, there will be several new technologies – too many new technologies – for me to absorb. Blackberries and podcasts existed before I left, but as a poor college student without an ipod, I never absorbed these technologies. Couple that with all the new things that have appeared since I left – iphones and whatever else – and I may be overwhelmed and incapable of adapting to all of them. By not needing or really even wanting any of these technologies while in Georgia, I fear that I may have lowered my threshold. At least, though, I will only become technologically dumber in relative terms, and not in absolute terms.

One note about Georgian cell phones – they are ridiculously fancy. My Nokia 1100 scrapes the bottom of the barrel. Perhaps my growing fear of new technology is one of the reasons that I love it so. But, for all their technological modernity, Georgian cell phones universally lack voicemail. While I have no idea why this is so, it may explain why a few of my not-so-favorite students find it prudent to answer their phones during my class.

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03 January 2008

School Holiday Celebrations

My school recently executed its first English-language Christmas party. My students sang songs, recited poems, told jokes, and described Christmas traditions in both America and Georgia. I think everyone had a good time. Here are some photos of the event.

Vazha dons the ugliest Santa mask I have ever seen (let alone purchased).

We even teach shapes and colors!

The singers.

The students wish all of you a happy holiday season.

The author - looking festive, as always.
Even more excitingly (at least for me), was meeting with several intrepid students on the first day of winter vacation. They gathered with me in my classroom to make Christmas cards, take some Christmas candies, and receive free of charge the most sought-after gift of this holiday season - the Happy Holidays Verb Packet!

My intrepid students and me.

My students browse our English library (thanks to all of you who have sent books) for some holiday reading.

Nino and Vazha, my favorite 8th graders.

If your monitor has extraordinary resolution capabilities, you can even see part of "happy new year" written on the board, as well as our classroom rules. Although you might claim to be uninterested, I can see you squinting!

Happy Holidays!


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26 December 2007

Photographic Evidence

As I now have a camera cord, I can more easily post pictures for your viewing. Enjoy.
It had been a while since I'd seen a one-horse open sleigh.
Taken only 4 days ago! It's like yesterday!

David sleds uphill with assistance from the rope-pull.

Primed to cascade down the hill dangerously.

Evidence that I did, at least, put on ski boots in the vicinity of other skiers.

A Georgian wedding. (from August)

How I don't get around.

A Georgian man decanting his homemade wine into the Fanta bottle for my purchase in his cellar.

A garage full of mandarins in my village.

The crates the mandarins would eventually fill.

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15 December 2007

The Devil's Wheel!

A friend and I recently spent far too long on a bus and got to talking about McDonalds and Ferris wheels. After exhaustive research that challenged my counting skills, we concluded that Georgia has 4 Ferris wheels and 2 McDonaldses. We expended considerable mental energy again before arriving at the postulate that, of all the countries that contain at least one Ferris wheel and at least one McDonalds, Georgia is the only country to contain more Ferris wheels than McDonaldses. I strongly believe this to be true, and will go around asserting it as fact until it is proven otherwise. McDonalds, however, is not pleased. There are rumors that they are building a third franchise in Georgia. Mr Ferris and his descendants seem unfazed, and are holding steady at 4. Finally, I want to point out that Ferris wheel translates to "devil's wheel" in Georgian. God only knows why.

I have moved into a separate living space. Generally this is called an apartment, but in my case this is not actually true. I now live on the second floor of a house. The second floor of this house is located above the first floor, a 4 minute walk from my school, and a similar walk to the village's ancient Roman fortress. It is nice to avoid walking up and down the mountain daily, as the newer, more central location allows for increased interaction with my students. the place has a bathroom with shower (shower used loosely but affectionately, there is a showerhead but nowhere to affix it to on the wall, so you must hold it above your head yourself) and occasional hot water (when the electricity isn't out and when you think enough ahead to turn the water heater on), a bedroom, and a kitchen with washing machine. The part that I'm most excited about and scared of is the kitchen.

As you might know, if you have had the unpleasant experience of watching me "cook," I am not talented with the frying pan (or most other kitchen implements, for that matter...I can, however, do mean bar-tricks with a blender, owing to my days working at the ice cream shop). To me, cooking consists of two parts - theory and practice. In practice, I cannot cook well. I couldn't quite execute the right concentrated-tomato-sauce to water ratio the other day, despite reading on the jar that it should be 1:1 . I also recently discovered that, in theory, I cannot cook well. For example, the same day, I surmised that garlic bread would go well with my spaghetti. I went to the store, bought garlic and bread, and put them together. But garlic + bread ≠ garlic bread. The problem here wasn't my execution (although maybe that was poor, too), but it was my theory. This needs to improve.

I realize that I haven't written much recently about my work. There are a few reasons for this. First, as you all know, I am saving the world. This has been somewhat successful, but it's not finished yet. When compared to this rather ambitious goal, the rest of my smaller projects seem somewhat...less important by comparison. Second, and perhaps I am wrong about this, I feel that my work-related successes and/or failures here don't particularly translate well to an internet audience because you (the audience) can't really know the starting point. For that matter, I have a tough time determining the starting point myself. It is sometimes hard to tell where or when my influence began and where or when it stops. And finally, when I talk about my work, I like to go into a lot of detail, much of which is quite boring. But I do talk about it with some of you via email or other means. That said, I feel that it is about time that I provide an update about what I've actually been doing here as part of my job.

The textbook I am co-writing is nearly finished, it is in the translating phase now. Additionally, several Volunteers from the newer group (arrived June 2007) have expressed interest in working on this project, so the chances of it becoming sustainable have increased.

Actually, I think this is getting boring already. But anyway, I shall press on. I am teaching at the Constitutional Court, which is really cool. I get to walk up a carpeted staircase in the Court building whenever I teach, which makes me feel more important than I am.

Also, my primary project, teaching in my village, is going much better than it did last year. Homework completion is up by about 30%, the children are learning, and, just as importantly, they are gaining confidence. To some of my students, English is no longer what you speak when someone asks you a question in English - instead it's a living language that can be used to communicate with foreigners, get a good job, study abroad, improve self-esteem, do any number of things. The initiate conversations with strangers/tourists in English. This is the most fulfilling part for me.

The holiday season is in full swing. I nearly forgot about Thanksgiving, not remembering it until around 8pm. I then realized that I had celebrated by eating a hamburger. Close enough. There are many more public Christmas decorations on display in Georgia this year. I don't know what to make of this. I remember remarking on how different it was last year to be away from all the decorations and commercialization and everything. I still don't know if this was good or bad. In either case, this year is not the same.

Happy Holidays.


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18 November 2007


I think there are four kinds of people who visit my blog – people who are interested in Georgia, people who are interested in the Peace Corps/Volunteerism, people who find me to be a particularly fascinating individual, and people who were misdirected here while looking for something else. If you belong any of the first three groups, I should tell you that some very important and captivating things have been happening in Georgia that will have a large impact not only on Georgia but on the rest of the post-Soviet space. And I, of course, was here to witness it all. If you would like to know the impressions and interpretations of someone who is living and working in Georgia (specifically, me) during these most interesting of times – tear gas, riot police, elections, and rumors, oh my! – send me an email (link at left) and I will happily provide them to you. If you are fortunate enough to be on the list of people I irregularly correspond with via my listserv, you will get these thoughts – solicited or otherwise. But, as I currently don’t know anyone in Africa, Argentina, or Australia – and yet these locations appear on my ClustrMap – I think some unknown interlopers have arrived to my blog. If “unknown interloper” describes you, feel free to send me an email requesting my thoughts or commenting about my blog. And finally, a big and heartfelt thanks to you, unknown reader.

Now, back to what I was originally going to write about.

I don’t crave McDonalds. I never have, and hopefully I never will. Of course, when I lived in America, I enjoyed the conveniences that it offered. I possess the cooking skills of a broken toaster, so the thought of someone else broiling my patties always appeals to me. Additionally, I could glean those precious few nutrients from McDonalds at any hour, which fit well with my young-person’s lifestyle. Of course, McDonalds didn’t really stay for long within my digestive tract, which was perfectly fine with me. Garbage in, garbage out – and preferably as soon as possible. But, aside from as a hunger satiation station with low-yet-still-too-high prices, I never thought too deeply about McDonalds. I don’t know why this was. I detested Starbucks and Walmart, although for different reasons, but McDonalds passed through my ideological filters unscathed – or maybe just unnoticed. But recently, McDonalds has been on my mind more and more.

McDonalds is in Georgia. There are two franchises in Tbilisi. And I even have eaten there. It was exactly (exactly!) the same as in America. I know I shouldn’t have been surprised by this – the reason McDonalds is so successful and ubiquitous is because it streamlined and homogenized the process of making a hamburger so that it tastes the same in Chicago and Colorado and China, after all – but I was. How do they do this? I wouldn’t be surprised if they made the burgers and fries in America, froze them, and flew them to Georgia to be reheated. Obviously, though, this isn’t how it works. But you’d think that the beef or the bun or the sauce or something would taste at least marginally different, would remind you that you are not, in fact, at home. But there isn’t. And this wasn’t the only thing that was exactly the same. I could get the funny salads, the weird parfaits (what exactly is a parfait, anyway?), and the happy meal with a toy – and it was just as expensive as in America. This part really threw me. I could understand if prices were much cheaper or much more expensive – either you can find the products locally (much cheaper, as Georgian prices are not American prices) or you have to import them from another place (much more expensive, because if Georgia doesn’t have it, Armenia and Azerbaijan likely don’t have it either) – but I cannot fathom how the prices are almost exactly the same. It was as if someone went to a McDonalds in my hometown, multiplied the price by the lari-dollar exchange rate (1 dollar = ~1.60 lari), and put these prices in the Tbilisi McDonalds. I’m guessing that the Tbilisi McDonalds is operating at a profit margin unheard of at American McDonaldses. And nobody seems to mind this at all.

While outwardly appearing the same, however, there are distinct differences between the McDonalds experience in America and the McDonalds experience in Georgia. They are differences that only an American or someone who has been to America would notice, I think. Like movies and music, McDonalds is an insight into American culture. And, just like music and movies, it provides a view that isn’t exactly wrong, but isn’t exactly right, either. And it is in this respect that I think the experiences differ. To most of the rest of the world, McDonalds is, more than anything else, a symbol of wealth, speed, and efficiency – qualities more associated with America than with anywhere else. And, of course, McDonalds is a distinctly American creation. But the cultural impact and symbolism of McDonalds in the USA now is much different. It’s not a highly desired dining option. It is convenient and unhealthy, of course, but that does not make it one's first choice for a meal prepared by a professional food preparer.

That is not really true in Georgia. McDonalds is not just a place to dine, it is a means of expressing yourself socially and politically. It is not the McDonalds we know in the USA, even though it has the same taste and the same prices. It is a desired destination for food and a place to see and be seen. Georgian hipsters regularly hang out around the McDonalds at night.

In the end I think this is a good thing. I think it improves America's image abroad and lets us know that we still have friends and admirers. But, when a country is inundated with McDonalds, this appeal will fade. The view abroad will begin to converge with the view in America. Of course, eventually, Georgia will obtain a third McDonalds, and then a fourth, and so on. Who knows where it will stop. But hopefully it will. I'm glad that Georgia has McDonalds, but I don't think it would be good for Georgia to become Fast Food Nation. The one McDonalds in Tbilisi that I've been to does not have a drive-thru. It currently has a walk-thru express window. Here's hoping it stays that way.

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04 November 2007


I had the great pleasure of talking with some of my (still living in America) friends on my cell phone last week. During the course of our conversation, as we discussed my imminent move to an apartment, my friend said "Why Tim, I thought you had become a minimalist!" Later, after our phone call had finished, my mind returned to his remark. My first thought was "Oooo, a minimalist, how exciting and exotic!" This seemed like the kind of personal change and growth that one expects to receive from the Peace Corps - an entirely new way of viewing life. It is certainly more appealing than increased chest hair.

But am I a minimalist? Was I? Should I be?

I think I can say safely that I am not currently a minimalist. I possess many useless things, such as books I've already read, a flyswatter that I never use, a travel iron (well-intentioned, but disagreeable with my clothing style), and 3 pairs of shoes (plus sandals!). And, while I was extraordinarily careful with money (aka cheap) when I lived in America, I don't think you could call anyone who owned a sports-bag designed specifically for frisbee a minimalist. This leaves only the third question.

[Since too much philosophy at once is a bad thing, I want to digress for a moment. This is almost (really almost) related. It couldn't get more almost-related without actually being related. So anyway, "minimum" is my favorite word to write in cursive script. Go ahead, try it. Now, stare at it for a second. It's all humps or upside-down humps, especially if you, like me, seldom dot your i's. Isn't it great? It looks just like a scribble, or like you were testing the pen to see if it worked. But it's a word, too. I think that's wonderful, especially since everyone says that my writing looks like scribbling anyway. But in reality, I don't scribble, I just write "minimum" over and over and over again.]

So, should I be a minimalist? I suppose that, in the Peace Corps, it couldn't hurt. I already have less money, fewer clothes, and fewer "needs" than I ever had before. But still, despite the stereotype of a Peace Corps Volunteer, I am not living alone in a hut writing in my journal all the time (when I'm not saving the world, of course). Instead, I try to vary my activities, and this requires (for me at least), a bunch of stuff. Invariably, it's stuff that I sometimes don't need or want. Like a romance novel. I don't need a romance novel. I don't even want a romance novel. But, somehow, I have one. Actually, I know exactly how this bizarre scenario came to pass. Sometimes, when somebody offers you a romance novel, the prospect of saying no is too daunting. You need to then explain why. And for me, this is a long ordeal. I really dislike romance novels. Invariably, after I finish my diatribe, I seem like a literary snob. Next, my conversant usually asks that, since I don't like romance novels, what kind of books could I possible like? I mention that I like sociological nonfiction and spy novels. This doesn't help, as spy novels are romance novels for men. Then, I end up looking like a hypocrite. Sometimes I'd rather just say yes, take the romance novel, and be done with it. So now I have a romance novel.

I guess the romance novel example means that I should be a minimalist.

Romance-Novel-Junkie: "Tim, would you like to read a romance novel? This one is my favorite. It's Danielle Steele."
Tim: "No, not really."
Romance-Novel-Junkie: "Oh, that's too bad. Why not? I think you'd like it."
Tim: "Actually, I'm a minimalist. I'd love to take the book, but I don't want anything extra in my life right now."
Romance-Novel-Junkie: "Oh really, you're a minimalist? That's so cool! Do you want to go out to dinner? My treat..."

Actually, I guess that means I shouldn't be a minimalist. Romance-Novel-Junkies aren't really my type. On the other hand, I think that me dating a minimalist would be a good idea. Think about it...no need to buy gifts, a Big Mac is an extravagent dinner, and for once I'm not the cheap one. It would be wonderful!

By the way, if you are a female minimalist, please contact me.

In other news, I have decided to move to an apartment. Also, Halloween occurred, and I received no candy. My students enjoyed seeing pictures of me in costume, however. As Georgia doesn't have Halloween, the photo of me in 1992 with green hair, a multi-colored painted face, and a large black cape was (and who can blame them for thinking this?) the strangest thing ever for my students. I earned many cool points for that one.

If you dressed in costume this Halloween and have a digital photo, please send it to me. My students would really enjoy it. I'll even send you their comments and guesses as to what you are.


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21 October 2007

Tupac came to the Wedding...

I normally don't attend weddings, mainly because I'm never invited to them. I think I've been to three weddings in my life. And one of them was last month in Sveneti, the village where I had my pre-service training. As you can surmise, I'm not exactly qualified to compare Georgian and American weddings, but since I can, I will compare them. So there's the church ceremony, which I didn't really follow very much. This, I think, is pretty similar to what happens in America.

The party, though, was a bit different. The wedding feast was "small," with only 400 people attending. This meant that about 20% of the village was crowded into one person's front yard under a completely unnecessary tent. There was a live band (accordian, keyboard, and something else) as well as a DJ. The Tamada (toastmaster) wore a pink shirt and a pink tie. Hopefully men wearing pink will be out-of-style again when I return to America. Anyway, at a regular supra the Tamada presides over the table and offers various toasts, which are then expounded upon and then the beverage is consumed. This, as you might guess, is more difficult when professing your love of the bride and groom to 400 people. But never fear, the problem can be solved with microphones! Lots of microphones. When the Tamada made a toast, he stood up, stumbled towards the bank of seven microphones, and delivered the toast. To my silly American mind, it appeared that he was giving a press conference.

Pink-shirted man at microphones: "May you create a delicious family! Your marriage is among the best examples of the triumph of love in Georgian society. (Three more minutes on the same theme...) Cheers to a potent man and his wife!"

Between toasts, the band played. It was really pleasant. I was unaware that an accordian and an electronic keyboard could jive so well. Luckily, this misconception was quickly and profoundly corrected. After the toasts were finished, the DJ took over and dancing ensued. This is where my night turned bizarre. For reasons unknown, 15 year old Georgian girls find me to be a desirable dance partner. This alone isn't too bad; I can fake my way through a Georgian traditional dance while only looking mildly retarded. This is what I expected to take place when a giggling teenager led me to the dance floor. And oh how I would have preferred it! Instead, Tupac (he of never-ending Georgian popularity) graced the painfully loud (of course) speakers. And what do you with a 15 year old girl when Tupac comes on? Yes, that's right. You slow dance with her. I guess this wasn't the worst thing that could have happened. We could've been grinding or perhaps she could've expected me to sing along with her (she, of course, knew all the words) while doing so. Those might have been marginally worse. But slow dancing to Tupac isn't exactly something I was ready for. It was awkward. We danced 6th grade style, with as much distance between us as possible while still touching, which only made it worse. She kept looking at me and "singing" along. I tried to make it seem like this was completely normal, like I slow danced to Tupac with a 15 year old girl all the time. I lip-synched and, when I realized that Ashlee Simpson was better at that than I was, decided to just smile at her instead, while looking behind her to see the entire wedding watching us. I hadn't felt that awkward in quite some time. But, looking back, I'm glad I did it. If you can slow dance to Tupac, you can do anything.

In other news, I am still extraordinarily busy. The end.


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