Sunday, October 28, 2007

And she's off.

Getting on a plane to Tanzania today, and don't imagine I'll be much in contact for the next 2 weeks. Everyone have a nice November, and send Eric good thoughts for his marathon Sunday!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

What happened while I was not in Kiev.

I just got back to Kiev from Kolomyia in western Ukraine. I didn't get as much meat sight-seeing done as I might have hoped but I had a fantastic time. The B&B where I stayed, On the Corner, was wonderful. Most especially wonderful was the food, courtesy of the owner Vitaly's mother, Ira. Oh. My. God. She is an absolute master. Her cooking is fantastic, but watching her is almost as amazing. I love watching a home cook who is just an absolute paragon of efficiency and skill. It was funny, I speak nary a word of Ukrainian, and she speaks very little English, but we managed to converse fairly well about food. I'm nowhere the cook she is, but at least I know enough to ask the right questions, and she knew enough about the right questions to ask that she understood me. I have determined that I must go back and learn everything she knows.

I met two sausage makers, neither of whom I will talk of at great length because I'm saving it for the book, save to say that they were great characters. Especially Misha with his taxidermy and animal-loving and Yulia Timoschenko obsession... But I've said too much.

And Hurrah for my interpreter Oksana! We must all pray that she gets into the Wagner School at NYU, because she deserves it and because I want to hang out with her more.

Now, though, I'm going to go find an expat bar and hang out. I need a cocktail and Ameri-speech. Call me weak, I can take it.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Feeling better, in an obscurely melancholic, Eastern European way

Ate goulash. Saw big statues and lovely autumnal parks. Watched the ballet. Feeling much more on top of things, though Cyrillic continues on mysterious. And tonight I ride on a sleeper train to western Ukraine. All in all, much better. I'm getting ready to meet my guide for the day, a fill in for Oksana, who is taking her TOEFL today. He sounds awfully hearty and American, and I'd really rather hole up somewhere with a small vodka and a large tome of Babel. But one must soldier tourist-ly on. Besides, I've got no hotel anymore.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Kiev, Day the Second

So my first impression of Kiev wasn't so good. The receptionist at my hotel was spectacularly rude, the city is, while at times lovely, at other times really crappy, and navigating a town in which I am ignorant not only of the language but of the ALPHABET is waay harder than I had anticipated. I thought I was going to have to eat at McDonald's.

Instead, I got sausage from a woman by the side of the road and bread from a little bakery and a beer. None of it was fantastic - well, maybe the beer - but it was a damned sight better than McDonald's, and the kids in the bakery were very impressed that I was from New York, and then I took a sleeping pill and went to sleep (and if you nag me about drinking one beer and then taking a sleeping pill I WILL punch you), and today I'm feeling much better. The fact that I'm going to have a guide doesn't hurt even a little bit.

Off to take in the Soviet architecture now.....

Thursday, October 18, 2007

This is it.

I am off. Into the wilds of Carpathia, Tanzania, Hokkaido. Ready to eat all manner of creepy foodstuffs.

And I'm not bringing my computer.

This is, I know, somewhat akin to me not bringing, you know, my skin. But that's sort of the point. To move skinless through the world for a bit.

If I am able to I will post now and then. Maybe even pictures, though those might have to wait for my return.

I hope you all have very very happy months, and that I return slimmer from a slight case of dysentery and, well, alive.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Movie Madness

Okay, so I don't know if I can express this cogently, but I'm going to try because its funny.

So. The production designer for the movie that just might really be getting made of my book called me up and asked if we could get into our old apartment to take a look. I said I thought maybe not, because the "For Sale" sign that had been up in the cracked picture window for a year had just gone down and I thought my old landlady probably couldn't get us in anymore. So he decided he'd like to just wander around the area, take a look from the outside. I gave him a (it turns out wrong) address.

I get a call from him a few hours later, which I miss. He leaves a message saying the address doesn't seem to exist, wondering if I can help. I call him up a few minutes later, realizing my mistake, with the new address.

But he was standing in front of it. Not only that, but he'd several days previous come out on an LIC jaunt to make a preliminary photo tour, and he'd taken a picture of our buliding, not as a "this is where they lived" pic, but as a "wouldn't it be awesome if this is where they lived" pic.

Our lives really were just as picturesquely grotty as I wrote. Awesome.

PS In my favorite movie no one else likes, "Joe Vs the Volcano." Joe works in LIC. And though it's a stage set, the skyline makes clear that it's totally true to life.