30 August 2009


two stories on this topic:
1. i was 11, i think, the first time i took an airplane ride.  it was to west virginia. had you asked the 11 year old me how frequent a habit this would become, i would have guessed infrequent at best.  alas, sisters move to california, you decide to find yourself all over south america, the next thing you know you've spent more time on planes than you have in the bank or church or both combined, annually of course.  you forget your life pre-plane.
but here, hardly anyone has been on a plane.  the questions usually go like this: How did you get here?  On a plane.  Is it really scary? It's so high? No, it's not. You can't really see the ground.  Are you really close to the sun?  No. You're not...? 
Are you really close to the sun?  What a statement to knock me back to real-life.  How can you describe being on a plane?  You just really can't.

2. i had a favorite history teacher in high school whose intro to philosophy was positing that the earth was flat.  no one could prove him wrong; no one had proof, until one day i started an argument with him about flight patterns from london to the united states.  he insisted it flies over scotland, i demanded that this was due north and the path should be going west.  he replied, "it has to do with the curvature....of the flat earth..." and quickly changed the subject.

26 August 2009


why do i love you?
as a former roommate recently told me, "I remember you saying sophomore year that you wanted your post-college life to include holding babies".  i don't remember saying this, but i'm sure i did.  i said so many ridiculous things living in that suite.  and not just me.  once in a fit of frustration katherine turned on oprah and started to paddle-ball, then looked directly at me and said "LOOK AT ME! I'M PADDLE-BALLING AND WALKING!" but, i digress.

seriously, since setting this goal about three years ago i've been more successful than i could have guessed (especially since i forgot it was a goal).  here are some highlights:

i held this baby:

i held this baby:

and this baby:
and i held this baby:
and this one:
i held this baby:
and this one:

24 August 2009

i hate foodie blogs and how eating in is the new going out

a lot of peeps have been asking,"anna, what's the food like there?" well, friends, i have two separate answers for you. one is pre-living alone, and one is post. had you asked me during my celo banitsa life i would have remarked on all of the following:
  1. mekitzi: fresh doughnuts, most often found on sunday and most often made by hand by baba herself. if i was lucky enough to barge in on albin's sunday brunch, there were always fresh mekitzi with honey and wine to drink (!).
  2. lamb: the sacrificial meat. for any important occaision, count on a nice helping of freshly slaughtered lamb and several days worth of meals to come featuring every organ you can think of in soups and out of them. one day baba insisted "yash! yash!" (eat, eat!) as she handed me cleaned intestines. they were actually tasty.
  3. shopska salata/tarator: the first is simply tomato, cucumber, sometimes onion, oil, vinegar, salt, and homemade cirene on top. most often enjoyed with some rakia. tarator: cold yogurt soup with cucumber, garlic and dill. summer at its finest.
  4. DUNERS: did partake of the best of these inventions in Byala Slatina. think gyro with french fries INSIDE.
  5. mousaka: meat, potatoes, egg bake on top. only slightly improved my dislike of cassarole dishes. not bad though.
highly recommendable cuisine. but here we come to the part where i am forced out into the cold world alone and must somehow nourish myself. no more lamb, because i don't have lambs, no more mekitzi, because i never woke up early enough to learn how to make them. at first i was discouraged, but as if by divine intervention, babas in my new village started showing up at my
door with bags of produce: tomatoes, cucmbers, peppers, eggs, onions, garlic, watermelons. "zimi-si, yash!" (take it, eat!) harkening back to those years of the benediction during mass: take this, eat, this my body which has been given up for you....

suddenly the question wasn't what am i going to eat, it was what am i going to cook to use all this food? as ideas came to me so did the recipes (by the miracle of epicurious.com and the like), and meal after meal became more and more delicious, and day after day i became more and more proud of my cooking abilities.

YET, i have tried to avoid writing about it until now because i just despise those blogs all about cooking because: 1. you can't actually taste the food. 2. the food looks really good and when you make it it never tastes like the picture. 3. the blog is about all the mistakes the blogger made during baking, which only serves to worry me more about screwing up what i'm baking. 4. i hate to catalog what i've eaten because, if no one knows you ate the cookie then maybe you just really didn't eat it.

BUT, i cannot deprive you of description any longer. the following are all homemade and were constructed of almost entirely homegrown (free) things (which were given to me). and THEY WERE DELICIOUS.
  1. stuffed peppers: keep for several days, easy peasy, and deliver a great protein/veggie 1-2 punch.
  2. gazpacho/ good-spacho: what else can you make when you have 4 kilos of tomatoes? labor intensive but WORTH IT. with every batch i buy a fresh loaf of bread and eat to my heart's content.
  1. Quiche: for the times your neighbor gives you 14 eggs. homemade crust, the only thing i bought for it was ham (even the cheese was homemade and given to me!!)

20 August 2009

yo soy la hermanita

two stories:
1. when we were little we had a coffee mug with a ceramic frog at the bottom; when you finished drinking it was sitting there like a little surprise. i remember the day that my mom got tired of trying to clean around the frog and threw the mug away. i protested. i'm pretty sure i even said "who cares if it's clean".
2. when i was living in orange county with my sister we went to color me mine in huntington beach and picked out things to paint for each other. not surprisingly, we both picked coffee mugs. i managed to get mine all the way to my village without injury, and now every morning i enjoy the western novelty known as early grey tea as i sip from it. here's the best part:

a portrait of our 44th, barack obama, waits for me at the bottom so that, in bonny's words, i don't forget who the president is.

17 August 2009

the sunday night feature

last night we transformed the chitalishte into our own little movie theatre. by the time the lights went out and the film started to roll (Air Bud 2. is. what. they. picked. ??!) the first several rows were filled with kids and popcorn (in bg, pookankee) was being passed. we laughed, we cried, they chatted through most of the movie, and, i couldn't help but be distracted by the 10 year old boys running around in the balcony. when the credits rolled and the lights came up i noticed several young people i've never met before, even a couple canoodling in the back. this was the most salient sign of success: teenagers making out in a darkened theatre. looks like i am starting to serve a purpose here after all.

but in all seriousness, next time i'm using my executive power on the movie choice.

13 August 2009

and summer, and summer

from the picnic last week

11 August 2009

useful information for your everyday life

i often have little random bursts of blog inspiration but it's never enough to actually make me go to the good old puter and write it down. here i will try to remember these little bursts and compile them in a way that is helpful to you:

...my toilet paper smells like not just paper... it's fruity... my toilet paper smells like peaches

...the internet has enabled me to do three important things today: unlock my phone that i brought from the states, catch the stupid mouse in the kitchen using only a trashcan, a tp roll and some of my precious jif pb, and interpret the lyrics to the decemberists' newest album "hazards of love"

...my landlord looks so much like angelica houston except she has a golden front tooth and is in full baba garb

....the toilet seriously just almost fell off the wall! and now the pipe is cracked and it's leaking! how important is this emergency? i'm going to say not that much. i will, however, type a constructive phrase into google translator and write it down so as to be able to express this event to my boss. instead of trying to say it i'll just hand her the piece of paper saying "my toilet is broken but it's only slowly dripping water"

....altan, why didn't you come to english class yesterday? "i had war". (me, hysterical) you had a war? "no, i had waaaaark"

....i leave the house to go to the chitalishte and here comes the lady from the store. she stops the car, gets out and pretty much herds me into the back of her cargo van-esque vehicle the way an ostrich might have been rounded up. she also summons my student gamze and she drives us to the mosque, where she sits me down and feeds me soup with fresh lamb in it and several glasses of soda. i've never been in a mosque before and i feel pretty unwordly and then pretty amused that my first time happens to be in bg with all the kids in the village eating lamb soup and messing with each other.

....we are in varna for the weekend and we somehow choose the club which has no ceiling and pretty much no dance floor. lucky for us we are the only ones who really want to dance and we promptly take over the dance space, until some burly looking dudes decide they like our idea and edge us out of our dancing spots so they can do weird half poses ala madonna's vogue video.

....making stuffed peppers, my kitchen smells like my grandmother's house...

...one of my banitsa friends calls me for our weekly chat and the conversation deteriorates into him not listening to me and passing around the phone to people i don't really know. at 7:30, he is drunk.


10 August 2009