when i first moved into my new house the thought of living next to an awning of grape vines sounded like something cleopatra herself would have had. even though they technically aren’t mine, i couldn’t help but picture myself in a chaise lounge, reclining with a bushel of off the vine delight. it sounded luxurious, fancy even, like life in some remote tuscan village.
but really it’s my fancied dreams that have been crushed rather than any grapes. there hasn’t been any chaise lounging or men dressed in loin clothes to bring me grapes, or gleefully gathering them in my apron. instead it’s been much less glamorous and more so to do with fruit flies. and lots of them.
my little hobbit house, as i like to call it, is darling…but seriously drafty. and by drafty i mean that the window frames aren’t nailed in, i have rather a noticeable gap in my door, and there are holes to the outside in a few of my walls (fixed with either duct tape, aluminum foil, or a bunched up towel). all of which makes a rather open invitation for living creatures to come in.
a few days ago the door that separates my living area from my land people’s storage room came open and what did i see? nothing but monster cloud of fruit flies scarier than the smoke monster itself. which, really shouldn’t have surprised me since that’s the room in which my land people store their homemade wine.
yes. there is a huge, tub sized metal vat of wine next to my bedroom. i thought the idea so awesome, much like the grape vines themselves. maybe drill a secret hole and connect a straw…you know…but really i haven’t had much of it to drink. not to the extent of the disney’s fantasia centar amount i had hoped.
one would have thought by taping off my access to the wine room (for the flies…not for me i swear) and by keeping all my windows shut that there’d be a massive fruit fly genocide and their numbers would eventually go down. i’ve done everything i can. set up traps with fruit and wine (i must say they have good taste), put all my edibles in my fridge, and cleaned cleaned everything. but they’re STILL taking over my house. and my sanity.
i’m beginning to think the only reason fruit flies, or flies in general exist is to simply make us look kitten-chasing-the-laser fools. i’m sue who’s ever responsible for creating these petite pests is getting a long good laugh watching us grab at the nothingness of air and have turetts-induced slapping episodes if one should ever land on us.
around this time last year while making my way to istanbul, i spent a few days with an older ukrainian artist man who lived in a basement (which i wasn’t sure i’d come back out of alive but that’s a whole other story…not sure where my usually sound intuition was on that one). he had sort of taken me in as his second daughter, which was fine except for the moments when passing nude paintings of women at a gallery and he’d say that he swore that was me…pretty sure most father-daughter relationships aren’t like that.
weirdness aside he was a very generous host. though unfortunately his generosity was just as bountiful as his apartment fruit fly infestation. he didn’t seem to be bothered by them so i tried to do the same as i ate a bowl of his homemade borscht peppered with floating with fruit fly casualties.
i wish i could be that indifferent to fruit flies. they really don’t make any noise and they certainly don’t bite. but there’s just something about them that drives me nuts. i guess things could be worse. it could always be worse. i could have a rabid mouse infestation…i wonder how those would taste in borscht…
aside from writing ten paragraphs about fruit flies, it feels like i really haven’t done much lately. i spent much of my time a few weeks ago canning applesauce and attempting but failing at grape jelly. i took a break from being super domestic and headed up to kyiv for a healthy lifestyles working group meeting and to run a 5k with some other volunteers. or so i thought.
what i thought were just my allergies turned into what the doctors think was laryngitis. so my weekend turned into a longer stay to figure out what exactly is going on with my body. it was pretty cruel to finally be in the company of good friends and then not feel well enough to do much of anything. but sometimes being in good company is just enough.
since i wasn’t well enough for overnight train travel back to my site the peace corps doctors had me stay in kyiv for some blood work and a night in ‘sick bay’. which sounds much more serious than it really was. it was just a cot set-up in the conference room and a night in the office spent creepily to myself. i imagined it being super cool, something fantastical, and probably the closest thing i would ever get to being locked-in a library. but there was no late night wandering the halls in my pajamas, or finding all the hidden cameras, instead it was rather lonely and rather uncomfortable since the cot kept collapsing.
i headed back to site the following day and within minutes of my train ride i was already wishing i was still in that lonely sick bay for one. i’m fairly sure i could write a book solely based on the travel stories i have from ukraine. whether it’s men blowing their nose in the curtains, babies drinking beer, or this time having to sit across from two young lovers not so secretly having sex under a blanket…3rd class train travel in ukraine is certainly never boring…nor very classy. i thought this was normal for everyone, but megan is pretty sure that it’s just me. we have a theory that i live in the trashy part of the country, the indiana of ukraine, hence why no one else seems to have such a high occurrence of uncultured oddities.
once i arrived back to my village hobbit house, there was a notice of package waiting for me at the post office. my counterpart called to tell me not to bother coming to school since there was testing going on. so no school and package from my mom = a very nice welcome come back.
when i made it to the post office it was crowded with retirees paying their phone bills (there’s only one phone company and it’s operated in junction with the post). i walked in and stood behind the last person in line. which seemed innocent enough but when the next person entered and asked who was last in line, my reply of ‘me’ was apparently incorrect. an older man that had been standing in the door way shouted in his booming russian voice ‘YOU?! how can that be!’
and theeeeeen i remembered just how much i hate the line ‘system’ in ukraine. it’s completely acceptable to tell the person ahead of you, ‘stay here i’ll be back’, and go somewhere else and expect them to save your spot. or if there is ANY space between you and the person ahead of you, if you’re not borderline groping the person, someone will without a doubt cut ahead of you. this happens all the time to me in the store. which i just decide isn’t worth a thought since i’m usually not in a hurry and someone making me wait 5 more minutes to buy my buckwheat is nothing to get in a fight over.
i’m pretty much the biggest line push over here. so for someone to accuse me of cutting was not okay. i calmly told the man ‘excuse me, but how was i to know, you were not standing here’ nor did he say anything when i first got there. he continued to make a scene and yell at me saying things such as ‘what a cultured girl. just LOOK at how cultured she is…’ i decided just to ignore him and thankfully the post office lady gave me my package and had me on my way.
of course he saw that my box was not from ukraine and decided that i was now a very stupid rude uncultured brit. so sorry people of britain, an old man in a village of ukraine now thinks that all british people are dumb line cutters. my apologies.
the whole way home i thought of all the things i wish i could have said to the man. maybe something along the lines of ‘excuse me sir, there is no need to be angry. it was simply a misunderstanding. but really, have you ever considered that there are other countries that function with more logical line systems than yours?’ of course i would have never said any of those things, giving fuel to feed the fire of an angry person never does any good. plus, maybe he too is dealing with a fruit fly problem and just doesn’t know how to direct his anger.
a few days ago marked one and a half years of living in this sometimes rather crazy country called ukraine. on the weekend i spent an evening with fellow volunteers who were celebrating their one year mark and my sitemate’s two years. we congratulated ourselves with beer pong, mini-burgers, mac ‘n cheese, and an all-american apple pie i baked (and promise was bez fruit flies).
as my word document from my time here in ukraine reaches 200 pages of single spaced 10 point helvetica and my blog 78 posts, i look back upon my ‘six month mark’ entry and i realize just how much time and events have passed…either that or i’m simply really boring and wordy and write about things like fruit flies.