Saturday, July 30, 2005

Ok, so where was I?

Ah, so many things going on these days. Egor is sick in bed with a temperature that keeps going up to some metric standard that ha\s Tatyana climbing the walls. I still don’t know metric. If you told me he had 102, which is something like what I assume 39.5 is, than yea, I guess we should all be worried.

Tatyana was out at the dacha yesterday and therefore I was Mr. Mom for a day. And as I have mentioned I love this day quite a bit. Egor was sick in the morning as well but when I mentioned that I would take him and his wee sister to the beach should he make a good effort at getting well, he was absolutely out of bed and even played for a while on the street before coming home and reminding me that I had promised to take him along. And so I did. The beach is great. A nice breeze at the river, beautiful girls and nice energy. And frankly, all things considered, there is no other place to go around here. Maybe New York is the best at around the \winter holidays and the Mid West at its finest in the fall, but hanging out on the Pena River on a hot late July/early August Pinsk day is right up there with the best of them.

The day was probably the highlight of Anya’s young life. This was her first trip to the water and she languidly posed in what God gave her on my blanket, easily matching any of Pinsk’s finer debutants for allure. Basking seems to come naturally and thank god, she takes after me and not hr mother when it comes to getting wet. Handled her first dip like a champ and even came to the realization that her legs might in fact have some use after all. But the trip didn’t do a damned thing for Egor but put him all the way under whatever this throat bug he has caught. I got a touch of it myself but beat it down with multivitamins and antibiotics before she had a chance to grow. Egor has been in bed and as of this moment- about 7:00 Saturday night, he is still there.

But I had started to talk about our drinking problems. Or better said: Our problem with drunks. I have some thought in my head about going into the cultural significance or about the creeping narcotics issue. But I don’t care to wallow in that trough of crap either. Remember that movie Amadeus? You know can depress yourself too much. God, you know I would so like to be able to write about something nice for a chance. Not a musical or anything like that, but maybe a light comedy or something. But you know, it is so hard to do. The negativity just sits there and won’t go away. There has been so much pressure for so long and now, it has sort of got even worse- if that were to be possible. How far can you fall?

Anyway, here is what happened. Again, I was in a crap mood anyway, and when I saw this creep- I just asked Tatyana and nobody knows his name- when I say him there, I just went over and told him to get up and get out. Sleeping in our corridor drunk is against the code. Fuck off and go. “Blurr blurrr blurr I am waiting blurr blurr blurr for Tolic.” That is what I think he said but you know, my Russian is not always so good and it is worse when the speaker is only using say seven or eight to speak it, so I make no promises of accuracy.
“Wait in the fucking street. No sleeping here. Get up and go.”
“I said” he barked at me, “I am waiting for Tolic. Blurr blurr…””Well, he is not home and the padlock on his door pretty much confirms that fact. So, again, as I do not want any drunken fuck fools sleeping in my corridor, get the fuck out.” I speak pretty good dirty Russian if I have to. Suka.
“Fuck off, I am asleep…” This is what he said, and you know… enough. So, I grabbed his arm and started him in the direction of a standing position. “Don’t touch me, don’t touch me!!!”
“Well you know, I asked you to leave on your own, but you weren’t responding. Just go.”
“Don’t touch me!” this he said with a little ice in it. Now, really, you have to understand that I have no inkling for beating drunks. I take no pride in any of this, I really just wanted him to lay down and die elsewhere. But when he decided to try and show me what a big scary guy he was… well, no, that really didn’t make any difference to me because I didn’t believe a word of it. I just shoved him again in the direction of the stairs.

By this time Tanya had opened the door and started in that she was going to call the cops. Egor was there at the door also smiling like the proverbial cat who had caught the canary. Now this is what I was talking bout. This is role model stuff. And I mean, how are you supposed to comport yourself in such a situation. I mean, it is really not a moment for reason. And I really didn’t feel as though I needed to express my perpetual calm and how ethereally above such mundane things as martial confrontation. But what kind of message I would be sending to Egor was on my mind and so I did abut the best thing that I could think of. I sent them both inside and closed the door.

At Now, I don’t know whether my removing the audience had anything to do with shit head’s next move was. I mean, it might have been paranoia that I was about to do something. Or, it just could have been that the weed was pissed that I had disturbed his siesta…


Excuse the break in the text but I have been having an argument with Tanya for the last few minutes about Egor. I am seeing that the kid is getting better and she is telling me is temperature is still high. But you know, I am thinking that she can’t read a thermometer because I KNOW what a temperature feels like and when I have been hot in the head, I haven been unable or willing to open my eyes. This kid is positively spry.

But then, she threw the dictionary at me and explained that the medical service which was here last night had told her- and I did not catch this myself, TONSILITUS.

“Tonsillitis? Is that why they were saying go to the hospital? Why didn’t you let him go to the hospital? He needs to have his tonsils out.”
“Because they said that we could treat this at home.”
“What are you going to do? Pull the damned things out yourself with a pair of bike pliers?”
“No, we are giving him medicine and waiting for the temperature to come down.”
“What are you talking about? People do not go to the hospital to have their tonsils out when they are healthy. It is not elective surgery. They have their tonsils taken out when they are inflamed. That’s why they take them out.”
“We do not do this in our country.”
“Why not?”
“I myself had this five or six times.” She actually said this.
“Yea, because you didn’t have them out the first time. Take the kid to the hospital.”
“I am going to wait.”
”Why put the kid in a position to have this happen again and again. Listen, it is no big deal and after it is over, a quick snip, snip, you get to eat a lot of ice cream.”
“No, we would have to buy a lot of medicine and to feed him. They do not feed children anything in those hospitals. It might cost as much as 25,000.”

Now I have to stop this dialogue recap for a moment and explain to those of you who have not yet grasped the complexities of Belarusian medicinal economics. Now, Belarus is a socialized medicine state. Medicine I, for the most part, completely free. Well, if it is not completely free, it is so close to being free that, pardon the pun, the payments aver painless. This amount that Tatyana spoke of is basically $11. Now, while it is also true that $11 is a problem for me right now, we do have this $11 should it be required for Egor’s health care. If he really needs $11 worth of antibiotics and paracetomol, then by god let’s go wild with the old purse and get it for him. And as far as feeding him goes, well, we do that anyway but hers was an overstatement about the polyclinic.

I have had one chance to sample Belarusian health care and having been there and done that, I would like to say that I was in fact made very comfortable. My problem was my life’s first kidney stone (no need to go there, it is bad), and the folk at the hospital offered me a clean bed, appropriate medicines and other than a few too many times taking blood for my taste, they were great for me. I left early and would have left earlier, but they insisted I sleep the night. But you know, the bill to the state insurance was something like $25. Any questions?

I didn’t finish the story again, did I? I will, I will. I am going up to th farm tomorrow. Pickles are coming in and we also have the most delicious new potatoes. Do you understand new potatoes? Normal potatoes are dug in the fall and they have heavier skins and they are great for saving for the winter. And of course this is why I planted those 3000 plants or so, for the winter. But at the moment, they are pretty close to full size and with very little skin and are so creamy and delicious. Had some this morning with some onion, garlic, bean, zucchini, and chili pepper sauce over the top. Damn that was good eating. I love harvest time.

But after I come back, I will do my nest to get to the bottom of, as you will see, what will turn out to be a very Zarembaesque moment.

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More soon…
Ok, I’ll do this.

You gotta forgive me I am in a shit mood. Maybe I am always in shit mood, but if this is the case, I must be setting a new record.

A couple of things happened in the last few days that had me thinking about writing about them. What that statement meant is that sometimes you have to wait a bit to let things work themselves out before you can get a good look at them. Of course the other side of that is that perhaps you should write about what is happening as it I happening, at least as far as keeping notes about the details. But then there is a third option, this I remember speaking about with my teacher at the University: Stopping your life to write about it sort of takes time away from living it.

In any case the biggest thing that happened was a Zaremba-like confrontation that I had starting last Wednesday. Monday night and Tuesday I was at the dacha with Egor, and all of this happened after I came back.

Now, before I get into talking about the fisticuffs and all, I guess it might be worthy to speak about any violent leaning I may have had beforehand. And with full disclosure in mine, I would have to say that I was a little short of temper before any of this happened. This is not to say that I believe I was wrong in my actions. Not advocating violence mind you, it is just that sometimes a man has got to do what a man has to do. But now that I am thinking abut it; those couple of days with Egor at the farm probably had my temper a little short. I know I should be more forgiving that I am but sometimes our ten-year-old can push too may buttons and I do get frustrated. To be specific, I have a hard time dealing with laziness in others. I am not unreasonable, but I like a good effort. And Egor kind of mailed in his performance at the farm and then rode his bike like a pussy even after I begged him to put some ass into his peddling, especially as I had some 25 kilos of farm produce on my back. I told him I wanted to get the ride over with five times, but he still wouldn’t put out. So, like I say, I was in a foul mood when we finally got back.

So we had gotten back at about one or so, and I had my shower and did my chores and such, and I think it was near four when I had to go over to the house of a translator to see if he wouldn’t do the official necessities of getting my criminal record changed into Russian. I need this you see for that bureaucratic function.

It occurs to m also that I have not really spoken about that. And as of this moment, this seems to be a big deal so I suppose I should get around to speaking about this. Yea, I really do because it is looking at the moment as if it is going to end up being the last chapter of the book. Well, that’s another thought…

Look, I am sorry for bouncing around. I have a flu bug or something that I have just caught from Egor to go along with everything, so I guess that this is starting to get a little scattered. Ok, Ok- back to business.

So, I was probably a little on edge from Egor when I popped my head out of our apartment and saw this drunk sleeping in our corridor. Not the corridor of our house, but I guess you call it a landing or the hallway outside out door. The apartment we live in is a two story house and has eight living units. The front door has no lock and occasionally, we have drunks come in and have a sleep. Sometimes, this is arbitrary but more often then not, the drunk is connected to our next door neighbor. Tolik is the current resident, his father having moved away. Tolik is maybe forty; sickly this, curly hair and a mustache and a limp that I would guess has been with him since birth. And of course, the overriding character trait of being an outright drunk and a bum.

We have social apartments here in Belarus. It is a holdover from when the USSR was in business and the state held all property. Apartments are sacred and cheap and forever. So Tolic and his family have been in their flat since, oh, probably since they stopped populating the place as a general communist living space. This would be where whole families are assigned to individual rooms. This was of course during the time just after the war when things were being rebuilt. Tanya’s father was an original here. Most everybody is so I suppose Tolic's father was too.

But Tolic’s father, Ivan Fioderovich was also a drunk and without getting into the story of whether or not he actually did kill his wife, Tolic's mother, the lot of them have been drunks forever.

Ok, so I am drifting again. Ivan Fioderovich is gone and living with his kidney problems in another house and his son Tolik is still living in the family domicile. But, as Tolik doesn’t work and drinks religiously any kopeks he might receive from the states social welfare office, he long ago lost his electricity and would have lost his hot water of our apartments would have such a thing as an individual cutoff.

And so the picture I am trying to make, is that our next door neighbors are fucking bums, and we have problems all the time with their drunken loser friends, and whore wives making problems, leaving garbage in the halls, sleeping occasionally in the attic under the roof, and as I have mentioned, passing out in the stairwell.

We have gone to the police before. And I have invited people to leave myself. And as far as that goes, you know, talking to drunks… I mean, you know you are not going to have a sharp and concise theoretical discourse. The guy you are trying to convince to get up on his feet and leave is in the shape he is in because he couldn’t think of any reason not to completely fuck his nervous system by drinking way too much in the first place, right? I mean: Stand on your feet like a man!” doesn’t work unless the guy has felt anything like a man in the near past. If he doesn’t remember, your are just basically agreeing with him that he was right to attempt to kill himself with vodka or wine. And I am not disagreeing.

But what I am asking is: What are you supposed to do? We have kids here. This is more than role model stuff, I don’t need the kids to see this. Kids will think the damnedest things are ‘cool’.

So anyway, I ask them to leave. And, as this has happened maybe ten or 15 times, I am not really into the discussion any more. I do not care about these people or their problems. I know I am living surrounded my communists and such and that being a drunken fucking lout was the whole of the culture. Fine, fine, fine: I just don’t give a shit anymore. Get up, get up on your feet, get up and get out of our house, I do not want you sleeping here. Go home., Go home now. Get up and go home or we will call the police and you will sleep in the basement tonight. I am nicer than the cops, but you are not coming home with me, you are leaving. Goodbye, fuck off.
So this was basically how I addressed this guy a few days ago. He had been, I suppose, waiting for Tolic to come home. He was out of his head. And passed out on top of one of the storage box which is underneath the ladder that leads to the attic. Get up, get out, etc…

Now I didn’t know at the time that this uh… this…., whatever, this guy was actually kind of tied into the familial situation around our house. I really don’t have the stomach to really get into it, but Tolic…uh… well, he says that he has a wife. I have no reason to even care to not believe him, and this shriveled hag, who by my guess would have to be about 15 to 20 years older than he, has wailed several times in our corridor in a drunken blur over… God I hate writing this stuff.

Alright, so this wastrel was Tolic’s bitch’s son. Ok, I like that. So, this first class son-of-a-bitch was sleeping in our corridor and I invited him to leave.
And that is what started all of it.

And…, and I know you are going to hate me for this, but all of this talk about drunks has made me ill and I am going to stop for the moment. I will finish this story later….