Stir Stick

Every few minutes, I wiggle toes inside boots and slap hands against thighs. It’s cold — the kind of cold that makes hard work out passivity. I’ve been standing outside for an hour reading signs, and I’m frozen to the marrow. January in Ukraine is serious business, the grey skies flattening landscape and mood, the… Continue reading Stir Stick

Tweaks

I was tired, but not so tired that my only aim was sleep. Rather, I wanted a beer. It was my first night in Belarus, and after having a wander through the neighborhood, I was ready to relax in my hotel room. Fortunately, there was a bar in the reception area, and the young woman… Continue reading Tweaks

From a Kindred Spirit

Below are responses to Allegra’s latest survey questions written by a woman who has become a great friend to me in recent months. She’s supportive, she’s attentive, she’s crackerjack smart, and we just GET each other. Will I ever forget that she drew me vowel charts to help me improve my Russian pronunciation? No, I… Continue reading From a Kindred Spirit

A Slice of Leslie

I met Leslie in July in Washington D.C. at Fulbright orientation, but in the flurry of those quick days, I didn’t get to know much about her beyond my observations that she is intelligent, poised, organized, and professional. It was clear why she’d been selected as an English Teaching Assistant (now living in the city… Continue reading A Slice of Leslie

Bestill: 19

My dad was the person who taught me to be comfortable with silence. We could get in the car and drive for twenty minutes without a word being spoken. While his and my mother’s relationship ultimately cracked under the weight of that silence, for me, the daughter, his quiet felt benign, reassuring, a safe place… Continue reading Bestill: 19

Who, Me?

My friend Helen, a colleague at the university, arranged the whole thing.  Weeks ago, Helen pinned down a date when I’d be free to visit her son Sasha’s gymnasium (an academically advanced K-12 school) — the same gymnasium she, herself, attended — and spend some time talking to the English teachers.  The idea was born… Continue reading Who, Me?