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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Vagina Monologues

I stood backstage, a bit nervous, a bit exited, June 26th. I wondered if my hubby made it on time. I watched our amazing group of women put on finishing last touches, some brushing hair, some rehearsing their monologues out loud, some drinking vodka for bravado.
The curtain went up; the light blinded me and I still did not know if hubby was there. I had to take the wrapping paper off our play, so I started talking to the audience, along with other two girls. As I lay on the couch, my long legs bare under the lamps, I felt them shake and tremble, but decided against changing posture – I was too anxious to improvise.
We introduced Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues, dedicated to women, created by women and celebrating women.
After the intro, I ran backstage and put sad make-up on.  I looked so tired, so scared, so helpless. Dark circles under eyes. Wrinkles on forehead. I rocked back and forth in front of the mirror, remembered the films about trafficking and rape.
The girl on stage was finishing her funny monologue of an angry vagina. It was always hard for me to follow her act. I would listen, laugh and fail to perform pain, to perform hurt. This time though, I put my hands over my ears and kept rocking back and forth, back and forth.
My friend introduced my monologue…dedicated to Bosnian women…rape as a systematic weapon of war… thousands women raped in the middle of Europe…bundled up in my scarf, I walked towards the middle of the stage. I took it off and put it on floor. I sat down and counted till 5. Looking around with angry, tired eyes. Chin trembling. And then I heard my voice.
…My vagina was green pastures, clear water, happy and loved, my vagina was sun-baked rocks and it was my village, my flowing, my bountiful village; my vagina used to sing, my vagina used to chat, until they came and put weapons in my vagina, put bottles and brooms and sticks in my vagina, until they forced their stinking sperm in my vagina, for 7 days, non-stop, non-stop. And all the fish died, and I became a river of corpses. My village, my flowing village, my vagina, it was destroyed, it was burnt down.
I don’t touch it anymore. I don’t go there anymore. Now, I live somewhere else and don’t know where that is…
For a moment, the room went silent. I could hear people breathing. I felt wetness on my face. Boundlessly tired, I got up. They clapped. I went backstage and couldn’t stop sobbing. I am not an actress. Nobody taught me how to leave my role on the stage. My vagina hurt and I sat alone, looking at my face in the mirror.  I took off my make-up, put on mascara, red lip gloss, looked more like my own self, started breathing again.
Then, I heard yelling. Now, from the audience. Some asshole kept screaming: “how dare you say such indecent things on this stage! I have to perform here tomorrow! How can I do it, after you’ve defiled it?! Do you know how many great actors have walked here?!”
But I felt safe. I knew that the audience would protect us. They were thrown out. The lightning technician left also. Our director had to climb into his room and regulate lights. The performance went on. Our wonderful girls talked about sexual pleasure, birth, infidelity, life, vaginas; they talked about vaginas.
After it was over, as we were changing, those boys reappeared. They asked if we have the patriarch’s blessing for our play (such a logical question, yes, he said, “aha, the play is about vaginas, let’s bless is multiple times!”).  The performance manager told them it was indecent to rush into the dressing room and they said “oh, like this girls need a dressing room”. My hubby told me later that they kept laughing every time they heard “clitoris”, and remarked how funny it was to watch whores. We got out safely.
The show against the violence towards women ended with the violence towards women emphasizing once more how important it is to talk about our vaginas.
I left part of my vagina there. Somehow, after this experience, I am different.
My vagina. My vagina. Me.

p.s. I rarely post my own full-face pics here, but here I am during my monologue. The pic taken by L.R.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Drinking, Driving and Other Wedding-related Stuff

Wedding are boring. All around the world.
The traditional Georgian wedding starts with drinking, continues with drinking and ends with drinking. By the time groom gets to the bed, he usually can’t walk, let alone…
The day begins with a bride in a salon, with a stylist putting a bird nest on her head. Variations of ghostly make-up follows. I’ve once been to a wedding where bride’s skin looked greenish. I guess stylists were “Walking Dead” fans.
Meanwhile, the groom’s friends drink at his house. The whole company mounts their cars and bravely goes where no man has gone before – they occupy the bride’s house. Usually, the bride is stuck at the salon and conquistadors hang around impatiently. Bride’s friends join in. Finally, somebody delivers the bride to the groom, well, since girls are objects to be passed from one man (a father) to another (a husband). More drinking ensures, around a table of cakes and fruit. 
The third stop is either church or public service house; girls try to put on scarves without ruining their hair and a bride puts on a modest shawl around her shoulders to hide her d├ęcolletage. The priest mumbles bible passages and lectures the girl on submissiveness to her husband. My maid of honor fainted during the ceremony and I still think it’s funny.
If several couples are getting married that day, the ceremony turns into a conveyor belt. The best man and maid of honor are pestered by priest’s assistants to “donate” some money. The rings are exchanged, next stop – marriage license.
For a particular fee, one can go to a pink-colored marriage palace or hire a lady to come to the restaurant, hear her ridiculous speech and sign the paper. Or, one can simply visit public service house and get the same paper for free.
The final destination is the restaurant; getting there safely is harder than conquering the King’s Landing at the Blackwater battle. Guests engage in a drunk-reckless driving tradition, break all the traffic regulations and generally endanger their lives and lives of mere mortals that share the same street. The other day, this car stormed towards us, in our own lane. When, scared shitless, we yelled at the driver, he replied: “but it’s a wedding!” Thus, it’s better to pretend we still ride horses and have mad races after the wedding, than reason how tragic it would be to cause an accident. Many have crashed and died this way.
Around 6, survivors gather in the restaurant and the newlyweds enter the room accompanied by a traditional song of “visia visia kali lamazi (meaning whose is this beautiful woman)”. Since I am nobody’s woman, but an independent individual, we danced waltz instead.
The feast usually begins with very loud and annoying popular Georgian songs, terminating any attempt to hold a conversation with your friends. You end up yelling most of the time. In between the “songs”, tamada squeezes the traditional toasts, and if he sucks, well, then my friends, you’re doomed for a stressful evening. The food comes in waves. The newlyweds dance  Georgian traditional dance. Mothers cry. Singers… sing.
After an hour and a half, you’re full and unless you’ve consumed limitless quality of alcohol, you’re bored out of your mind. The musicians start playing rhythmic songs and timidly, some very brave girls attempt to dance. Boys stare. Those several guests that actually remember the Georgian dances inflicted upon us, the clumsy people, as an early childhood torture, demonstrate their superiority by performing folk dances. Everyone gets drunker and finally, boys get up to awkwardly swing legs around dance.
And that’s it. The feast continues indefinitely, with no beginning, climax or end, sprinkled here and there with cake cutting, some songs your recognize from marshrutka trips and a bouquet throwing. Around 12, tired bride just wants to get out, and people start leaving, except those 10 annoying drunks who stubbornly refuse to go. Those lucky people actually have fun.
Newlyweds exit to the left only to wake up the next morning and come back for the leftover feast. For the poor traumatized bride, right after enduring unseen perils of sex, has to get up, refresh her hair-and-make-up, put on the second-day fancy dress and come back to the restaurant to play her role of a vase or a painting, while boys gossip about how the groom strained his back last night.
And so the most beautiful day of one’s life ends.
Finally, I’d like to add that if you’re really lucky, you may stumble across nice exceptions. Last week I attended a wonderful wedding. It was held outside. Tables were decorated with flowers. The bride looked amazing. There were no marshutka-style singers. The band played popular and easy-going-songs, followed by a DJ. They had cupcakes and pastries and all kids of food. They had fireworks. They had a string quartet. They had the best photographer in Georgia. And I was very happy for them.
P.S. the nice wedding pic

Monday, June 10, 2013

Tbilisi Open Air: the Deep Purple Edition

Yes, the sound sucked. Yes, they started to let us in an hour later. Yes, Deep Purple is 10000 years old; but it was worth it.
Tbilisi Open Air this year was supposed to be a big deal. The moment hubby and I heard that Deep Purple is coming, we started screaming and dancing and listening to “Jesus Christ Superstar” in our car. We bought tickets online way before the concert. There was so much fuss about it, so many ads, so many people wanting to go. However, in the end, the stadium was empty.
I arrived at 4:30 and waited patiently till the doors opened, of course later than promised. The girls at the gates tried to give me a different-colored bracelet, but I proudly claimed my pink one and went inside to meet my friends. Food stands did not sell drinks in bottles, I guess to prevent fans from bombarding the singers. Dirty-haired teenagers, curious Tbilisi crowd and several older fans mingled in front of the stadium. It was my first time here, since I hate sports. All in all, the festival was way more organized than the previous ones.
One of the benefits of my current job is having friends among co-workers, friends that actually share the same interests and ventured into this Open Air with me. My perpetually-working hubby was going to be late.
Our section was pretty empty, which gave us plenty of sitting, standing and jumping space. I met an Iranian from Detroit, who flew to Georgia especially to listen to his favorite band the Infected Mushrooms. It’s psychedelic electronic music. He drunkenly offered me some Lemon Haze to puff, but I am too much of a chicken to engage in illegal activities in places packed with police. He found some other partners and they danced the night happily away.
The bands took the stage and I danced and danced. And then, the  climax of the night, the legendary band with dinosaur performers; alas, I had to remind myself, that’s him, that’s him, because the guy looked and sounded nothing like Ian Gillan, but oh well, he is 67 years old. The guitar performed really well, and so did the drums. In the end, I was not surprised, my initial expectations were pretty low. They're still legends and I was still happy to see them.
I wanted to leave afterwards but hubby forced me to stay and I am glad he did. The laser show went up, the crowd tinned out and the Infected Mushrooms performed. My dance plug went off, I started dancing and couldn’t stop. Such continues rhythmic motion results in surge of Serotonin in the brain and numbs your limbs and body to pain. Unfortunately, overtaxing your otherwise physically inapt body leads to sore body parts on the next morning. But I don’t complain. It’s been a while since I’ve completely let loose.
We left after that, my head still moving up and down. Others stayed to listen to Tricky, who, reportedly, sucked.

The night was finished off with a McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries. Tbilisi Open Air 2013 is over. Till the next year, my rocker (ish) friends.
p.s. me at the empty stadium

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bitings, Travel, Weed, and the Children: the Mix of My Recent Events

Life is back to normal, at least for me, person who nobody knows and hence, nobody pursues.
Several priests are being investigated; we’ll see how that goes. Some violent anti-gay activists got fined 100 Lari each, cause apparently, that’s punishment enough to keep homophobes from beating innocent citizens in future.
Following the failed IDAHO rally, youth with long hair and “different” appearance got beat up, hair burned, hands bitten and chased off the bus. So, they’re biting now. What is this, “Walking Dead”?!
I spent last week recuperating and travelling with my brother and his GF. Our walks around Tbilisi were seasoned with my lamenting about old Tbilisi getting destroyed, day after day, even as we speak and looking for older buildings still untouched by the barbarian remodelers. We also visited Kakheti, Uplistikhe, Kintsvisi, Borjomi, Vardzia and other places. We managed to do that all in around a week, that with me working, plus different family members throwing constant supras  and my guests being tired and jet lagged. I was sad to see them go. Though, they are in a better land of bruise-less IDAHOEs and free pot for all. Well, not free, but very accessible. Go Colorado!
Speaking of, today bunch of people rallied for decriminalization of weed. I was looking forward to this rally for a month; I believe the more people show up, the better chance to change the legislature. But, I forgot, I simply forgot (that’s what happens when you register for the event a month early) and spent that time on getting groceries instead. How middle-class, housewify of me! I am so mad at myself!
Anyway, people gathered and demanded to smoke MJ without getting into jail for 10 years, good luck to them and to us all and I hope this issue will stop being another way to blackmail people (like the cases of  “we hate you so someone will send pot to you in mail and then we will investigate you for it”).  We all would benefit from calm, peaceful, stress-free life under protection of the green god. That may prevent us from chasing each other with the furniture and ensure better future for our children.
Children are the last point of my potpourri post today. June 1st was international children’s day; my co-worker and I came up with a charity event idea for this date. Basically, we asked people to donate paints and candies, we bought some flower pots, rose bushes and a cake, we visited a Bolnisi day center and painted flower pots with the children. Afterwards, we planted the roses, gave kids candy and gardening sets, explained to the caregivers that it is essential for these children to take care of their own plants, ate the cake and had fun.  I have to note that one fun part of our charity event was unplanned: a group of school students (20 of them, to be precise), contacted me through FB and asked to participate. They helped with the rose planting and prepared several songs and dances for the kids. They were fun and young and energetic and I felt like an old, dried-up, boring and controlling person next to them. I wish I were 10 years younger. Please. Why is that impossible?
Thus, last two weeks, I returned to my former self (though the last thin thread that connected my soul to Georgian Church was irreversibly cut and shredded), I spent a lot of time with my family, I organized and successfully implemented a charity event (thank you all, thank you so much for all of your donations!!!!), I missed an important rally and generally, went back to my old and boring self.
Live long and prosper, my friends and thanx for reading my shit.  My last post was viewed and shared a lot.

p.s.  me in Borjomi, away from the problems.