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Monday, January 28, 2013

Christmas in Gremi

This post is way overdue, but seems like there was always tons of stuff to write about and our Gremi charity event always got pushed behind.
Anyway, if you still care for the Christmas spirit and all that, here's a nice story.
Once upon a time three psychologists spent some time in the Gremi community, preaching bases of inclusive education, as evidenced by this post. It was then and there that they decided to contribute something material and hence, a month later, I started a Candy and Cleaning drive. Basically, we asked the kind people of Tbilisi to bring desserts or detergents, etc. for the Gremi. God bless the FB!
Initially, I planned a low-key, not-too-much-fuss event. Wanted to exploit my hubby, ask him to drive us to Gremi, store several packages of candy in my apartment. But man, the news exploded and candy was raining upon our exaltated heads (I know that's not a word...but that's the feeling). For one week, people kept coming and coming, bringing all sorts of things, I barely had time to run back and forth, locking donations in our office's storage room, involving every co-worker, making it an official work activity. We sat down and actually counted how many Barambos, Milky Ways and Barnies we collected. Fairies, Bertas and Domestos     were fully accounted for too. We smelled like Alpine freshness extra white meets dark chocolate with whole hazelnuts...and people kept coming and coming. The list grew quite large.
On the 25th, our office driver took me to Gremi, the goods were distributed, accounted lists signed by both parties and love exchanged (getting sappy).
The Gremi inhabitants had a little Christmas concert prepared and we watched participants sing, dance and recite poems. We felt so happy. As we watched them, we realized that all of that candy, that multitude of sweetness was now locked in the storage and we did not actually have anything to give the kids right now! So, one of us obtained a miser portion of the desserts and distributed it. Planning ahead would be useful. Sigh.
Anyway, I know it is super late, but I would like to thank everyone who donated those things and everyone who collected and transported them and everyone who thought this was a good idea. Of course, it was just one time and did not make a lasting impact and did not change the world or even Gremi's life for more than several months, but we have to start with little things, maybe we could make it a regular activity, donate to some other place next year?
And so, the kids received lost of laundry detergent and kilos of candy for clean clothing and positive reinforcement. And we felt like we did a good deed.  The End.
P.S. Candy we gave out during the concert.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Activism in the City

We’re marching like lonely soldiers, with our posters up, our heads even higher; we march against violation of privacy and we demand respect and we feel oh, so righteous, and so full of wisdom and then we look around and there’s ten of us and we realize that this country is full of shit.
I’ll make things clear. Last government used to blackmail folks by filming them having sex with men, because they used to use humans as means,then this government aired the footage, hiding the faces but homo-sex-having folks and their co-habitants still got recognized, because, goshdarnit, how could  have anyone guessed that airing human figures, no voice alteration, just faces blurred, will cause anyone discomfort in such a tight, closed society as Tbilisi?

So, a bunch of activists planned a march to the president’s residency and then to the prosecutor’s office—the filming and the airing party, respectively. That morning, I woke up around two in the afternoon and could not get my head off the pillow. The night before I consumed a whole bottle of sparkling wine and here I was, unable to cope with the effects.
I don’t drink. I don’t know what to do when I drink. I don’t know what to do the morning after I drink. I just wanted to lay still and pretend I didn't exist. Or pretend that I were a unicorn…it is always cool to think of yourself being innocent and with long eyelashes and pooping rainbows in the sky…
And then, I thought of the last night, how we all gathered to watch a film and we discussed it with much fervor, and decided that we had to make a stand and  put our foot down and yell--enough!enough!enough! Though I still preferred to be a unicorn, I finally got up, found my pants on the floor and dragged my ass to the president’s residency. I wanted to show my support to some of my friends. I believe this is what my activism comes down to. I want to show friends that I care for them. Every time I argue about human rights, I try to think of the humans whose rights I am defending. Sounds stupid, but so often, we get caught up in the rhetoric and forget that real people suffer. Every day. What is argument for me, is life as usual for them.
Thus we stood, ten or fifteen of us, outnumbered by the journalists around us,giving interviews or just holding posters. Then we went over to prosecutor’s office, stood some more, pranced around for the cameras, packed our belongings and went to eat khinkali.  
We lamented a bit about lazy-ass people who would rather spend their Saturday otherwise, but honestly, if it just about making a stand, who cares how many of us where there? Popularity is for mainstream, man, the less we are, the cooler we feel, man. We’re like hipster activists. We’re proud and lonely.
But hey, we were on all the news, so I guess the goal is achieved.
 Here’s to bright future and citizens who can live in dignity. Here’s to life without blackmail. Here’s to life without headaches and here’s to unicorns and rainbows. Here’s to our country being a country and not prison…dreamers of Tbilisi unite.
p.s. the pic--the activists in front of the cameras. that poster actually shows a person being squeezed between two governments.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Rocking Around the Christmas Tree

As I steer my hot chocolate with a fork (there are no clean spoons left), I am looking at the remnants of the party and making mental notes: need to unstick damp potato chips from the floor, need to sort out clean and used glasses, or better just wash them all anyway, need to fish the cigarette butts out of the salad. The dishwasher is working on max capacity and the vacuum refused to work on New Year’s Day – I guess everybody needs a holiday…
My house look like a Christmas explosion, I have way too much stuff hanging on every wall of every room, and the sophisticated interior decorator (ahem) in me screams “it’s too much, it’s too much”, but hey, friends, when you have to endure three speeches minutes before the clock hits the twelve (two boring and one spiteful), when They do not let you forget about your worries and your strife, overdecorate and overindulge and party like animals.
Which we did.
Let’s see, last New Year’s Eve I was standing in the Museum Square in Amsterdam, high as a kite, the year before that, my friends and I got infused with Batumi cold rain down to our underwear, the year before that penniless hubby and I waited for the freakin ball in Times square to freakin fall for 8 hours, and the year before that we party hopped around Tbilisi. This was the first time we were going to celebrate New Year’s Eve in our apartment.
Which we did.
Several education-seeking friends from abroad graced us with their presence and brought stories from Stanford, Holland, Germany…beware our “foreign” friends, we will visit and trash your respectable places. One friend is leaving for Finland for three months (in the winter! In Finland! She will die!) and declared that she wanted to get fucked up drunk before she left our sunny country. My new co-workers showed up. Hubby’s co-workers showed up. Also, my girls. And the team. Well, I already wrote a love ode to the team, so I won’t go into more details now.
So we sang karaoke and drank and danced and went out in the freezing night to shoot the fireworks and it was fun and we forgot about all the bullshit around us.
We did.
This is a new year now. Last year I did cliff's notes of my annual existence and here’s the 2012 version:
  • I quit the Ministry. No, I QUIT THE MINISTRY!!!!
  • Got a new job at a disability NGO.
  • Visited Baku and Yerevan and Colorado and New Orleans and Netherlands and Belgium.
  • Co-organized a huge-ass conference on inclusive education.
  • Got stabbed and poked with hormones and received other procedures. If I don’t visit gynecologist three times a month now, I feel like something’s missing in my life. Gotta procreate.
  • Had a minor surgery.
  • Learned my family member had a cancer.
  • Organized a candy-gathering fundraiser (more on that later).
  • Gained two freakin permanent kilos.
  • Met cool new people.

  I guess that’s it. The year is over.
Funny, I hate cleaning after supras, but I’m fne with the after-party chaos. It reminds me of the last night.
The pic: the best Christmas tree in the world:-)