Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Day 6

So Monday is a day of work, and after Tatyana made some remark to me on Sunday as to how lazy I seemed (a cold, a hangover, and about a years worth of psychological abuse coming out of me, but this translates in my being lazy… tough people these Belarussians!) I was up and out into the world trying to put together some kind of a plan. I was in the Internet for too long, but I made an edited and definitive Russian print version of Pod Kablukom (cost $4) for the theatre. There are a few small changes that we have made. Nothing big just a few words here and there. Papa should actually be ten years older then mama, and when mama says to him “who will pay for the potatoes, in the Russian version, we don’t say “kartoshka,” the normal Russian word for potato, but “buleboy” which is both the Belarussian word for potatoes as well as the moniker back during the war for the Belarussian soldiers and people (the French are frogs, the Germans krauts, etc…), so it makes the reference and the analogy much clearer.

But the theatre is working on Chekov’s “Uncle Vanya” as well, and so they are complaining about the work and about how long my text is. The meeting went Ok, I guess, but really, I feel like I have to do so much more work just to prove myself with them. I really wish things had simply gone ahead and worked out from the beginning. The hold up I guess from the first production came from two angles. You see, there is a local play-write by the name of Pavel Morozov who had written a play called “Mamaklava”. This play is a comedy about a husband and wife who have this old grandfather clock that, each time it chimes, brings to life the image of what someone is thinking of. So the husband, because he has fantasies about other woman in his life, brings to life his secretary from work (this is a popular play you know because she is dressed only in her underwear and dances on the table for the audience) as well as an old woman who used to sell milk (Mama Klava) from the milk wagon. At any rate, Pavel I guess was feeling a little pressure from my play and he made some noise about accepting a play from an American etc, etc… and so the theatre tried to find some plan that would make everyone happy. But of course, I was not able to be here to defend myself, the Polish courts so relentlessly being interested only in my torture and dismantlement of my life and not in any way interested in my work as a play-write or any life I may have had pre-Zareba. So, what the theatre decided that they wanted from me was all of $100 for advertising, which they felt would be sufficient to sell the play locally. So, this is not such a big deal, or shouldn’t have been at any rate. But, at the time, I was living off of my $300 a month income as a teacher in Poland, and after both paying for her train and visa and giving a hundred dollars for Tatyana’s family, well, I simply didn’t have the hundred dollars to give to the theatre. Now, I told the theatre that the money would be there when needed, and indeed I would have found a way (or tried at least) to get them this money after the month or two when they would need it (all ideas of vanity productions being suppressed), but in a land where the people are making about $75 a month anyway, they simply do not play around about issues of money, and so the play, not aided, faded, and so it goes and so it goes.

But now I am here, and as I am really here, and I am in Russian as well, so I am trying to get this thing revved up and playing, and I am telling them that I will tape record Robert’s part and do my best to explain that a guy from Phoenix is indeed not white (Belarus means “White Russia” and yes, these folks are in fact, very white) but tan and would be in probably a white golf shirt (Golf?) and slacks, which he would consider to be casual summer attire. Tatyana’s reaction to this costuming suggestion was simple revulsion. “Odom,” she says to me; she says my name like that when she wants me feel her love, “It is not beautiful. Our men simply do not dress in this way.” True enough. But a business consultant from Phoenix is not going to dress like a KGB agent in a black leather jacket with a blue tie over a black shirt. I mean, those people over there are vegetarians for Christ’s sake! But the theatre is simply not feeling me. The guy who would have been Robert simply does not have sufficient English to accept such a role, and so the job of fining a reasonable attractive (not me) guy of about 27 (Not me!) who can at least try and figure out some American English now falls upon me.

However, all clouds have as they say, a silver lining, and the job of finding a knock dead beautiful, tall and elegant 20-year-old bilingual perfect Pinchanka also falls on my shoulders. And so this, and making the advertising are my jobs and I am on it. “Excuse me,” I might say, “You are attractive: Have you ever though of a career in the theatre?” what is the Russian word for “KABAM!” or the sound of Tatayana bring my guitar down on top of my head. Ah love, Ah poverty…

So, I am out of the theatre and on the way to the town Gazette to make an ad for bilingual wannabe actors. And I did have some profound stroke of luck that would defy and Las Vegas odds-maker types. When I walked a few blocks from the theatre, and I was still several kilometers from where the gazette was, I asked these two girls (“Excuse me, you are attractive…”) who didn’t speak any English if they knew where the gazette actually was. They agreed to take m over there, and after some walking a good bus ride we finally arrived at the office of the town advertiser. Well, listen, I am thinking that they are just being gracious, but just when we come through the doors, this girl takes from her pocket the add that she herself was going to be putting into the paper. So I ask you: At a distance of five or so kilometers, in a town of 150,000 or so, what are the odds of finding someone on the way to exactly the same place to do exactly the same thing? And in one try! Big deal? No big deal? Who cares, right? Anyway, the add starts on Thursday, cost: about $2.

After this, I took the bus back to the family flat, and ran into California Eddy, one of my friends from last year. When first I came to Pinsk, I was in the habit of making friends with all of the English speakers I could find to make friends with. I still do this, but of course with Tatyana holding the neck of my guitar so firmly, there is less enthusiasm for the hunt. At any rate, Eddy was an American wannabe who got booted for some nefarious dealings in the car business. His dad has got a pretty good auto body business in the states, (Sacramento) but Eddy tried a fast one, and the States, rather than wasting their precious court time, simply deported Eddy back to Belarus. There have been appeals, of course, but it is looking like a good solid ten-year sentence. Eddy last year didn’t have much going for him, and was simply hanging on trying to come to grips with the local lifestyle. This year though, he seems to have got his priorities strait. He’s got an uncle her who has got some real money (He owns some trucks outright as well as some small businesses) and he has put together a little trim and siding business with a friend, working out of a garage on a saw they bought themselves, and they are doing ok. He has also got his eyes on some possibilities for some hot food business in the future, and he is seeing Pinsk for what it could be, rather then what it is. So we talked for a few hours about things, and it was good. I guess the truth of the matter is that regardless of the ideas that I am writing about, and the sociological problems that come with a perpetual life of fight brought to a land that once upon a time tried to build a great society based upon living together well, my man does in fact have his capitalist attitudes put together, and for this, I am happy for him. I mean, who am I in the end but a bike wrencher looking for a few good flat tires to mend? And of course, everybody needs an uncle.

So finally we are home, we have some soup and I agree to take the malchic to see Peter Pan and the theatre on Wednesday. I have a copy of the Gazette with me and we check out the local real estate market for apartments and such. And eventually, we must put down the guitar, turn back the sheets, stifle a yawn and put out the lights. Today I am making some signs and writing to the embassies. And as they say, all is good. Need to get some milk and some bread from the market later, and a milder tea and maybe some honey (cost: about $2) and this is all. Why not?