Friday, April 29, 2005

Well, how do I get into this today…

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Visas and potatoes.

I have six fingers left now. Yea, that is an exaggeration because I still actually have all of my fingers, but I have managed to damage two more of them up at the dacha. My friend Bruce told me that farming creates more injuries than any other work. Now, I had been for a while a New York City bike messenger of course and would have sworn that that was the more disaster-prone occupation. However, now that I have torn yet another finger nail (trying to up-root and over-shaded apple tree) and burned my index finger trying to move a log in my wood stove, I am now hard pressed to disagree with him. I mean, both of my index fingers fucked up. I can’t even scratch my goddamned ears.

But of course it was worth it because in case you haven’t noticed I do love it up there at the Big Apple farm. I love the air and the smell of the land. And probably more than anything I like sound of the place. I think I wrote about this before, but there is group of muscles in your shoulders which I think bunch up in an attempt to protect people from unwanted noise. After a while this group of muscles becomes permanently hunched if you never get away from whatever noises they had been defending you from. It takes me at a least a night away before I feel I can let them go. It is a hard decision to relax, you know? And then, after I do, I rue having to return to civilization where they are just going to have to be put into use again.

But aside form any zen like meditation, my practical reason for being up there was to finish putting in the potatoes (done), the carrots (Done) and the onions, of which I did half. I did finish what we had of them but apparently we didn’t buy enough seeds. So I planted the three kilos of what we had and will pick up another three kilos tomorrow morning and throw them in the ground before I go.

And you know, planting is hard work. I have my own style because I tend to favor my back as much as possible. So I guess I end up taking a little longer to do things than the lifers who are all around me, and they love to tell me their opinions about my style, but then again who cares? Am I wasting my time doing it my way? Maybe, but it is my time to waste, isn’t it? And really, what is so wrong about what I do? So, I use a dry line so that my rows are straight and I bury the potatoes in three passes instead of one so I don’t have to do so much bending over. Don’t like my style, do it your own way. I am just fine thanks and my potatoes are too. Wanna gab some more? See you in October. I’ll let my spuds do the talking.

So I did that and then in the end I pulled up three apple trees that had sprouted up under their mother. They had nice blossoms and all and I probably pulled them up at the wrong time, autumn being the accepted time for tree transplanting, but I am sort of under the gun these days to make everything in order. So I pulled up these three trees and while tryinjg to pull free the roots I suffered the loss of another fingernail. Was it worth it? Again, who gives a shit? The field looks good and the apples from that original tree are tasty so now we have four of them ( if they live) out and growing in the sun. Or they do... or somebody will. I mean, will I be here?

And whether or not I get to stay is really what it is all about right now. This new visa they are talking about, the one that comes from being Anya’s papa is a really good deal but making the right choice is difficult. The problem is that I would have to stay without regular work for another 5 months or so until this thing is squared away. This of course would not be anything unusual in that I have done this for two years now, but still, it is a significant thing.

The other side of this coin is that If I go back to try my luck in the states at this moment, though I might be able to secure a decent job (might being the big word there), I would not be making any progress on this new visa. The catch with that visa being that I must first be here (and with a legitimate visa in order to register my daughter as my daughter. After this she has to be registered as a citizen of Belrus and a passport for her must be secured. Only after all of this is accomplished I can apply for a stamp that would allow me to stay here with her, and to work etc, etc. You see how that works?

So if I do go for this deal, I would have to commit to the full ride. Going would mean that nothing happens until I come back and go through all that hoop jumping at another time. And that to me is a very big deal, especially when we would be talking about years before any potential return. And of course I would be doing all of this without access to my daughter.

So what am I supposed to do? My plan was to hang out at the farm and do what all needed to be done over the weekend and to come back to town and try and find what my best options would be around here. And so this is what I started doing today.

Today I went back over to the economic university to try and find a staff job teaching business or conversational English. This was the same place i went to fist two years ago. If you read the book, you know what that was all about. If you didn’t, well, I am just going to have to put that bit in the next book. Anyway, Leonid Fioderovich absolutely remembered me, but that absolutely nothing because as of next September, the whole of the university- scratch that, the whole of BOTH THE BANK COLLEGE AND THE ECONOMIC UNIVERSITY have been amalgamated into one single entity that is going to be known as Polesky State U. And, along with the changes in academic prestige, the total amount of teaching jobs in general is being reduced by 40%. And the number of students being accepted is also being dropped from more than 200 to 60. Less students, less teaching jobs and there you go.

I blamed Lukeshenko but when I did Fioderovich pointed to the president’s picture up on the wall and warned me that he might be listening. I didn’t doubt that this was true.

So again: What to do? My answer to this question is NOT to go straight back to the dacha. I am sure you were thinking that. No, my plan is to talk to a few more schools tomorrow including the boss of the bike school and see what they have to say about taking me on for real after September. My friend Jhanna, who was with me today for my meeting with Fioderovich suggested that I talk to her father who is the principal at one of the primary schools as well. And so I will. She also asked me to talk to her class possibly one last time on Friday, and so I will do that too. The topic will be starting an independent business in Belarus. Right…

After this, I will see if there is anything more from the states in terms of something concrete to look forward too. I had actually found a job several months ago with a bike firm. The guy told me that he would have used me as a warehouse manager or some sort of internet pitch man. It was a good deal and at the time, I was really into it. However, I lost that deal when I had the nerve to ask for plane fare out to business. I never have figured out why the guy soured so quick. I mean, was he planning on my working for him for free? I mean, if he didn’t trust me he could have always just had the ticket there for me…

Acche, why go into this? I didn’t get that job and therefore I did not go back to the states six months back . I stayed on, spent the winter getting fatter and now we are here where we are now. Such is life.

But Anya is way cool. She is personable now that it is frightening. Kinda conversational in her own way and that way is way charming if you ask me. I know I am supposed to be thinking of nothing but money and all, but really, how am I supposed to leave her? I mean, explain this tio me: How am I supposed to just walk way from a smile like that? Like this?

So that’s the news. I have till Sunday to do something. But before I pull any triggers I would like to know all of my options. And that would include American and well as Belarussian options. And all of that needs to be done by the end of the week. Well, I mean I could do a little heel dragging in Lithuenia but that would simply be spending money I don’t have. And even if I did do this, I would only be allowing for a few more days. My thinking is that I can get all of this square away by the weekend one way or another.

A couple more interviews tomorrow. A little more internet time today and tomorrow. A couple of days of shoulder unhunching to get the beans and peas into the ground and then it is go time.

Probably more tomorrow…


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