469: Hello, Microbes


As a teacher, you learn one fact about changing your job. You are going to get sick. Not of life, or of the job (though sometimes that does happen), no: literally, you will get physically sick. See, here’s how that happens:

When you work in one school for a number of years, your body develops antibodies against all the local germs that the darling kiddies you are working with (regardless of their age) bring to school and share with all and sundry – including you. So, after a few years, you manage to stay reasonably well, because you have already suffered thorough all the local varieties of common cold, influenza, etc., etc., etc., and now you are mostly immune and can stay mostly healthy.

When you change your job, and go to a new school, guess what you are meeting along with all those interesting new people? Yep. All those uninteresting, new, local microbes. You are going to get sick. The fact that you are working with children, and lots and lots of them (nearly 800 in this new school) does not help that situation. Children are still learning to wash their hands and blow their noses, and when to stay home and be sick in private, and when it is OK to be sick and come to school (like, virtually never). So you quite literally shake hands with lots and lots of new (to you) varieties of germs. Now multiply that truth by the interesting complexities of germ adaptation in totally new countries in different parts of the globe.

Yep. *cough*


You got it. No, actually, I got it.



468: Dancing Horizontally


Dancing is courtship in action.

The entire process of selecting your partner, negotiating non-verbally as you fit your bodies together gracefully, holding hands, beginning to move in rhythm, matching pace, catching the personal scent of your partner as you move closer – all of that, and more besides, mirrors the courtship that occurs

when the dancing is not vertical, but horizontal.



467: Hope Flowers


I’m wrapped a little too tight.

You are tugging at my layers, gently

slowly, easing the shields aside

opening up the flower

that I could become

in your hands.

You are bringing forth hidden dreams

and igniting the hope

that this time it won’t

come crashing down into another twisted wad of tangled tears.

You are scaring me

please don’t stop.

466: Processing Me

At any new employment, there occurs the process of processing the new employee. There are papers to sign and forms to fill out, medical checks to complete, introductions to be made, and orientation tours to be taken, among other processing tasks, like training the new person.

I am right in the middle of that process of processing me. Every one else here has been employed since the start of the academic year in August. I am replacing a person who departed mid-year, so I am being processed all by my little old self. This is interesting, since previously, I have always been part of a group of new hires. I have never been THE (one and only) new hire. Hmmmm.

Easier to fade into the crowd. Hard to fade into a crowd of one.

465: Welcome to Kazakhstan

Well. It’s been one whole day in my new country: Kazakhstan! I finally got the work visa approved, and since you must have your visa in hand before you can fly, that took some time and doing. The Kazakhstan Embassy in Washington, D.C. does not accept mail, or other deliveries like Fed Ex or UPS. Because of this, you either have to GO there and take your documents in person and then go back a week later and pick them up (from ATLANTA), or, you have to pay for a courier service to do that for you. Easy decision, that one.

Kazakhstan apartment 002

It was two full days (48 hours plus about 10 more) to get here, what with three flights and two lengthy layovers, one in Amsterdam and one in Almaty. Almaty is in Kazakhstan, and is one of its two largest cities. The other one is Astana. One is the capitol, and the other one is the largest city. I forget which is which, but I am sure I will learn.

Kazakhstan apartment 009

The one funny thing in Almaty’s airport terminal, while I waited over eight hours on my next flight, was that workers came around prising up from the benches (where weary travelers were sitting, waiting on their flights), the CUSHIONS from the bench seats. ???? They did not ask any of us who were seated to move, but they scarfed the cushion right next to me…..? Interesting, I could not help but giggle over it.

Kazakhstan apartment 001

The other thing I will get to learn is some Russian. Seriously. The other language they speak here (could not be just one, huh?) is Kazakh. *sigh* And, like Arabic, this one has another new alphabet, too.

Well. At least the apartment the school furnished is nice. It is pretty bare in the kitchen, which I will have to remedy, but it will certainly do, and it is free – a perk of the job. No complaints, believe me. I can buy a few dishes.

Kazakhstan apartment 008

This morning, a colleague at the school who is named Georgia (! my home state, what a great good omen) came to take me shopping for a few necessities to get through the first week. The stores are only a couple of blocks away – no bus or taxi fares! The school is only about a mile and a half away, too – shared taxi should be reasonable, too.

Kazakhstan apartment 003

My first dinner consisted of one of the new grains in the supermarket – I think wheat berries, plus carrots and potatoes. Root crops are very reasonably priced. Packaging is interesting. More glass jars than cans. Good for reusing. I like it, except for when (not if) I break one getting them home.


Yes, it  is cold (15 degrees Fahrenheit), but the apartment is warm. Tomorrow is the first day at work, so I am excited enough to be uninterested in sleeping, darn it. Clothes laid out, Panama cell phone set to Kazakh time as my alarm clock/watch, since I forgot to pack any watches and the darn cheap thing does not work here in this country, anyway.  Makes a good alarm clock, though, so I’m keeping it. I bought an electrical adapter today, so my laptop, tablet, Kindle reader, cell phone and tablet are all charged. Woo Hoo! New job, new life, here I come!

464: Being Southern and Female

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Southern women are a chaotic blend of practicality and helplessness. Our problems often stem from being successful at both concurrently. Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With The Wind, understood this dichotomy quite well and clearly, baldly described it for the rest of the world (not living or raised in the South) in her character description of Scarlett O’Hara, villainess/heroine (whichever view you take, both are equally valid) of that splendiferous novel.

Scarlett had a helpless streak that she used every time a man was around, because, of course, that was what a southern belle was supposed to do – depend on her man. SHE is too feminine to be subject to distasteful things such as bad language, financial difficulties, boorish manners, or anything else she wants to avoid. She gets a pass, solely based on possessing ovaries. Every southern man knows women are delicate magnolia blossoms that bruise at a firm touch. This view is pervasive in the south even today. You can still be publicly castigated by all and sundry for using foul language in the presence of ladies. Even if no one is willing to speak up and say anything about your public display of boorishness, you’ll get dirty looks for abusing feminine sensibilities. Imagine. This puts a lot of pressure on southern ladies, too. We know we are not supposed to swear, even when the situation warrants it, which occasionally does happen. We are also not supposed to sweat. Hello. The south is not noted for temperate climate. It gets freaking hot, especially in summer. There is an old saying about how horses sweat, men perspire, and ladies “glow.” WTF is “glow?” ??

Scarlett also had a ruthless streak of practicality, when her men were not falling into line with what she had predetermined she wanted them to do. She did it herself, by God, and damn the consequences. I personally like and prefer this aspect of femme fatale Scarlett’s dual personality. I can identify with it more easily than the helpless personna. It requires less acting on my part. It’s also a damn sight less embarrassing, too. And it permits discreet cussing, under the breath.

Works for me.


463: Hallelujah



Life is good. It isn’t perfect, not my any means, but it is good. Why is it not perfect?

Well. There is that whole issue of being alone in a crowd. Going it solo is not exactly the preferred option in living, at least not for most people. There are a few who consciously choose it, but let’s face it, most of those who are doing it did not choose it that way. There is the drive to be paired. Even those who have determined for themselves that they prefer their own gender still have the desire to be paired.

So, where does that leave me? Looking, that’s where.

Pass the communion wafers. I am ready to partake in the blessings.