Thursday, January 28, 2010

Disappointments, Friendship Deeds, and Ticking Clocks


Today was a long day. Having the internet in our apartment has made my sleep schedule change dramatically. This thing is bad for my health. Anyways, today we finally made it to the U.S. Consulate. I finally got my certified copy of my passport so the next time I get caught by the police they will have a hard time pinning something on me. I am running around the city legal now. We ended up walking around the city for a long time today looking for the consulate and when we finally found it I was a bit disappointed. I guess I was expecting this beautiful building with a big sign that said, “Welcome Americans!” while people that spoke perfect English served me free Starbucks coffee and French fries. But it turns out that the consulate is in some bank and it has really heavy security and is staffed with mostly non-English speaking locals. Bummer. So after we got our certified copies we headed over to AELC (there are two centers here in Almaty. The girls teach at AELC which is on one side of town and Steven and I teach at NewBridge which is on the other side of town) to pick up some materials for Friday Club (I’ll explain Friday club in a second). Anyways at AELC this guy walks in looking for prices and details about the center which is not uncommon, but we happened to leave at the same time as him. Turns out his English was very good. His name was Azamat. It’s funny how people work here in Kazakhstan. You talk with them for a couple minutes, they ask for your cell phone number and business card, and next thing you know you are friends and plan to call each other for lunch sometime in the near future. He actually followed us to NewBridge so we talked the whole way and he paid for our bus ride. It turns out he is getting his MBA here in Almaty and is wanting to open us an English school in his hometown. Before I came here Emily told me that you meet the most random people here. That proved true today. Business cards are like friendship deeds here. If someone is your friend, you give them your business card and you carry around all of your friend’s business cards. It reminds me of the card you get in monopoly when you buy a property, that’s why I call them friendship deeds.

So today concluded another week of teaching. Some people might call me lazy for working 4 hours a day and 4 days a week, but I think it is wonderful. Thursdays are like Fridays because I don’t teach on Fridays. However we do have Friday club. Friday club is an “extra practice” type of thing where we read and watch Narnia and sneak in some spiritual thoughts and ideas. We have a meeting every Friday with our boss and then go over to the center. So it’s like I work 5 days a week, sort of. No, I really do have to work, I promise, because there is the “behind the scenes” stuff like making quizzes, grading papers, crafting up homework assignments, and preparing the lessons. But, I don’t work too much. I think this is the first time since my childhood, save summer vacations, where I don’t feel completely stressed out. I actually feel like I don’t have too much on my plate. I am actually making room for reflection and thinking and reading. Life is delicious right now even though I miss my loved ones and my beloved familiarity. I’m tired, and a bit cranky. I have to clean up this apartment tomorrow and go grocery shopping.

Nobody showed up for my extracurricular “video class” today so I had an hour and a half to do nothing. I had a raging headache which I tried to cure with caffeine. I was sitting at the desk when I laid my head down on my arm. My ear rested just above my watch and I became entranced with the “tick, tick, tick.” Normally the thought of every tick being a reminder of the death of a second of my life, a second that I’ll never be able to get back, scares me. But tonight it was comforting. Like every tick, instead of a reminder of the death of time, was a reminder of the birth of time. Every second was a fresh start, a new beginning, a blank canvas waiting for my brush. I’m here and I’m painting a better picture with all of these new experiences. It feels good. What are you doing with your blank canvases? You better decide quick because they don’t stick around long. “Tick, tick, tick, tick”

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