Fun Things

24 Apr

For some time in my childhood, I had a massive collection of lanyards and name tags, most of which came from my dad’s conferences he attended for work.

I had, seriously, so many. And I loved them.

Each cord was emblazoned with some obscure home improvement-themed item, like a solar-panel brand or metal roofing supplier or even just a good old fashioned builder’s association logo. And they were always absurdly bright colors – pinks, lime greens, bright, bright reds. Hanging from the bottom in a nice, solid font was some form of my dad’s name.

So, okay, I was a bit pathetic.  And probably sheltered.  But who’s to say.

I don’t know why, but I always liked that. Here was this great name tag to tell everyone HELLO! THIS IS ME! THIS IS MY NAME! YOU CAN CALL ME BY THIS BECAUSE THAT IS ME AND I WILL ANSWER!

And having that, for whatever reason,was pretty cool. I got to have this very important artifact from a place of learning and adventure I hadn’t seen.

Whenever he’d come home, I’d have to ask : “Did you have fun?”

“I see you attended the ‘Protecting Buildings with Weather Resistant Barriers and Flashing’ seminar,” I’d say. “Was it fun?”

Or perhaps, “Ah, this is from the ‘Maximizing Your Brand with Video Marketing’ breakout session – was it fun?”

I don’t know what I was expecting. Like, why would that be the time of your life? Who could ever say they have a blast listening to the finer points of “Residential Electric Energy Usage and Auditing?”

But, my old man, he always has the best things to say. “Well, I wouldn’t say it was fun, but I did learn a lot!” or “It was great! We talked about…” Sure, this is where I would tune out. But knowing that he had fun – for some reason that was super important to me, and it made me feel much better.

I think this must run in our family, as so many have been asking us if we have been having fun these first few weeks in country. And I’m always debating a bit – there is so much happening and going on, I don’t know that I could call a lot of it fun – though I am learning a lot!

But, I’ve decided, if you can consider “Outsulation: Wrapping and Flashing with Exterior Insulation” to be fun – if you can pull a Pollyanna and be so very glad, I can certainly consider nearly all of what we have seen and done so far as fun, besides just being a totally awesome learning experience.

And though I don’t have an excess of neon lanyards to display my time and activities so far, here I thought I might highlight just a few of the absolutely fun and great things we have done in just these few short weeks:

The Viking

This past Saturday we were fortunate to meet up with a current volunteer as well as some fellow trainees to hit up the little carnival/amusement park by the Caspian. We have been told by many we MUST ride the dragon ride.  It was pouring rain and freezing and wet, but we bought our tickets and climbed aboard and it was awesome.  The handlebars don’t come down, and I felt myself popping up in the air when we hit the peak, but damn. Was that a blast.

Afterwards we walked close to the sea down to the Park Restaurant, which has quickly become a favorite amongst our trainees as it has internet, western toilets, AND menus in English. Win, win, win. Plus its beautiful and has great food. Win.

Matthew and I then played tag-along with the volunteer who lives in our town as she showed us the bazaar and where to find the best fruit and where we can get bread – so many great things!

Afterwards, we came home to a napping host-family, which was the best thing in the world ever. A big walk in the rain, great food, great friends – a nap? Now that is fun.


Dinner Discussions

Honestly, I can say very little in Azerbaijani. And aside from my host sisters, our family does not speak much English. I think they also get sick of speaking very slowly and interpreting, so sometimes they just go all out and laugh and talk and say whatever and we just nod and laugh and follow along as best we can.

One night this week we talked about what we would each do if we found a box with a million dollars inside. Our responses – everything from buy a boat and sail around the world to take the money and run to Canada – were hilarious. I didn’t really understand much, but just the camaraderie and good food and laughter – that was fun.

Language Classes

Language classes are a precarious situation. There are four of us and one teacher in a room for four hours, shoving as much Azerbaijani vocabulary and grammar and culture into our minds as possible. This can be tense. And exasperating. And frustrating. And frightening.

But there are some select moments, when we are all suddenly relaxed and someone has made a good joke when I can’t help but smile and realize what a good time I am having. I mean, sure it is smashed a moment later when we move on to double possessives, but that gladness is always much appreciated for the time I have it. I am so very grateful to my fellow trainees – though I might not always seem like it – and enjoy them immensely.

Personal Hygiene

Navigating bathroom time in a tiny apartment with eight people and a strange bathroom set up can lead to some confusion.

We have slowly found our times to wash and times to get ready in the morning – as well as discovering when we should probably just tidy up in our own room.

I’ve vainly used my curling iron a handful of times to negate the greasy strands and paired with my converter it works quite well. For some reason, though, this last time it was getting quite toasty. I turned it down, and it seemed just fine.

However, when I pulled a section and wrapped it around, it INSTANTLY smoked and BURNED MY WHOLE CHUNK OF HAIR OFF OF MY HEAD! Seriously. It smells so bad. I am nearly bald.  To this day, every time I rinse off the smell sneaks out and I stink like… well like burning hair.

But the discussion with my spouse, the rush to open a window and the laughter to cover up the shock – that, my friends, was fun.

Getting Lost

My dear life partner and I were invited to a friend’s house for dinner. Long story short, though we jumped onto the right bus, we took it in the opposite direction. When it got to the end of the route, we had no idea how to express “Sorry, we went the wrong way, we want to stay on and loop back past the way we came.” Our bus driver thought us idiots and demanded we get off.

Needless to say, tensions were high. I did not want to be in a far off neighborhood with night coming close, and wanted to just be so mad.

But in just a few moments, the buildings turned into familiar landmarks, and though it started to rain insanely hard, we had umbrellas and each other. Suddenly, dashing through puddles in a big city with new sights and sounds – as well as the prospect of a warm house to return to – it was fun. I couldn’t shake the guilt we missed our dinner date, but sometimes, you just have to play the Glad Game.

And for all of this and so much more, I cannot tell you how happy I am.

The efflux of the Soul is happiness – here is happiness; 
I think it pervades the open air, waiting at all times;
Now it flows unto us – we are rightly charged.
– Walt Whitman


3 Responses to “Fun Things”

  1. ruth krueger (@tromtt) April 24, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    wonderful as always!

  2. Amy Hauke April 27, 2013 at 5:12 am #

    Hi Liv & Matthew! I have been reading about your journey since you have gotten to your destination. Love to hear about your experiences! So glad to hear it is going well and you’re having “fun” 🙂 Hope it continues! Love, Aunt Amy

  3. timswhateverworld May 9, 2013 at 10:20 am #

    We need more!

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