Wednesday, April 23, 2008



Last night as we were getting ready for bed we heard a loud "DONG!" and I said "that is the sound of some fool running into the pipe across the road!" We ran to the window and sure enough, there was a Niva smack dab in the middle of the pipe.
But wait, I have gotten ahead of myself. Yesterday morning I got up and looked out onto what could be called "confusion circle" and noticed that they had place a huge steel pipe across the road where the truck used to be. It looked pretty solid, and people did not seem to be trying to drive around it like the truck so I didn't think anything of it. Until last night. After the first dong we snuggled back down to bed, and then a few minutes later there was another even louder "DONG!" this time I didn't even get up. But it turns out that some poor fool in a Lada had hit the pipe and he was not as lucky as to be able to drive away. An ambulance was called, the police came, a crowd formed (all this is after midnight) and the poor driver was taken away. Now you might think, why did these poor souls run into the pipe. Well, here's the thing. The pipe is a dark copper color during the day, and at night is only a slightly darker black than the surrounding night. It is strung across an unlighted stretch of road. The pipe is layin in the road just after a curve in the road, so if you are speeding, the pipe is only visable for a few seconds before impact (to make matters worse, most people do speed up as they come around the curve since it is going uphill, and they want to keep their momentum). There is also no warning that there is a pipe ahead, no construction signs, no police cars, nothing. Even last night after two cars hit the pipe, and the police came to write a report, they still did not post a sign, or a car or anything. I did hear them yelling for a good ten minutes last night, and I asked about it this morning, but they were only trying to get people to move so the ambulance could get through. They didn't stay to warn other cars or perhaps set out some cones, nope, they just went home. *sigh* I need a life, I am finding this way too entertaining.
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Monday, April 21, 2008

trapped in the past

I know I've written a post on this before, but I still think it's fascinating how our image of ourselves as adults is often limited by how others saw us in childhood. I've been watching a little reality television (a show here or there while I wait for Zora to wake up from a longer than normal nap) and I'm always struck by the self image problems that people have that have nothing to do with how they are now. For instance, the fat kid who grew up to be an attractive adult woman still carries around that fat kid persona, she hunches in on herself, won't wear certain clothes because they make her look bigger, etc. Or kids who, for whatever reason, felt like they weren't getting enough attention, as adults they jump all over people to make sure they get heard.
I have it too. I once had a party where only one person showed up (and it really wasn't because people didn't like me, I just waited too long to plan) so I am forever afraid when I invite people over that they won't come, even though that party was almost twenty years ago now. If people are just a little late I start to worry, and make deals with myself. "if one person comes it won't be so bad" or "well if they call it's fine" and I've never had this problem again, people always come, it's just the only black kid in school who can't escape the fact that she is different that I can't grow out of.
Which makes me wonder what it's going to be like for Babes. I would want to protect her from this, but protect her from what? No matter what I do there will be something that doesn't go her way. And she should learn to deal with it. If I smoothed the way for her all the time, when would she learn to handle disappointment, teasing, or unpopularity. It would be nice if I could have grown up popular, beautiful, wonderful, but then I would be a different person. The troubles that I experienced and overcame as a child helped me to be who I am. Even if I am still freaked out by children playing ball because of my ball magnet head.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Gotta love it

Babes and I went out for an impromptu lunch downtown at Cafe Caramel. It was great Babes and I shared lunch since I didn't bring food for her (you know impromptu) and she was actually very good throughout the whole lunch. The other ladies were very impressed with her careful eating skills, and I have to admit Babes put on her best "I'm the cutest" act so, of course, everyone was charmed. On our way out to catch a cab, I got lost (as I always do downtown) while I looked for the perfect place to catch a cab. I usually try to get a cab going in the right direction so I don't have to sit through any death defying car maneuvers but I always get turned around downtown and end up wandering around far longer than necessary. While we were wandering we passed the Aladdin toy store which I always drive by, but parking is a nightmare so I never stop in. It always looks so happy with the bikes and stuffed animals in the window. Well I walked in today and yes the toys are nice (same stuff they have at other toy stores here) but the sales people were watching something questionable on TV. Granted the store was empty, and it was the middle of the day during the week. But I was there and in the three minutes I was in the store I saw a naked woman murdered. Now I understand that working in a store is boring and watching TV helps to pass the time, but naked woman murders? To make matters worse neither person even bothered to look up to find out if I needed anything. It makes me miss the US.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

FUBAR revisited

This morning my hubby says "hey there's a huge pileup of cars waiting to drive on the sidewalk out here!" So I had to go check it out, and then I was stuck at the window for the next hour watching the clusterf*&k unravel. I know I get way too much pleasure out of this, but I couldn't help myself this morning. I just had to stand at the window with my camera and take some pictures. It was great! Ok, so you know how they are fixing the pipe up the road and the north bound lanes of our street are blocked off by a giant flatbed. Well I guess this morning they forgot to post a sign or block off the entrance to the north bound lanes from the gas station so the drivers, in their infinite wisdom, seeing the traffic in the south bound lanes (which both north and south bound traffic are sharing) thought to themselves, well I'll just go over here on this street which is all empty and has to be loads faster! Then they get to the truck. Well most people just hopped the curb, and drove through the narrow gap to get to where they could drive again. This worked pretty well, except that only one car can get through at a time so by the time 9:15 rolled about there were cars piled up four across ten deep down the street, each vying for their shot at the one car passageway over the sidewalk. Then, some guy going to the military complex across the street from us parks his car on the sidewalk in front of the one car passageway (I didn't see how this happened, and how he didn't notice the steady flow of cars trying to get through, but whatever) and a minibus gets stuck, can't go forward because of the parked car, can't go back because of the traffic jam of cars four across ten deep, and now everyone is stuck. Some guys in the middle of the line kept trying to get people to back up, but Azeris have an awesome sense of entitlement "why should I move for you, I've got every right to be here." Plus, cars kept piling up in the back.
Finally, someone gets the bright idea to move the truck. So about 15-20 Azeri guys get out of their cars, suits, pointed shoes and all, break into the truck, and start to push it out the way. Well they don't get to far, so they come back with boards and sticks to shove under the wheels and this time they finally get it moved about a foot so the minibus can make its way through and traffic can flow again. By the way, during all this I saw at least five or six cops standing around watching the mess, not getting involved because it's not their jurisdiction, I've also got a picture of a police mobile going through the one car passageway over the sidewalk. HA! Anyway, I took a bunch of photos, and I have to say that these are definitely worth more than my descriptions by far.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Ok, so it's not a real FUBAR situation (if you don't know what FUBAR is ask around), but it is totally hilarious! Most of the time I hate living on one of the main streets of Baku. The honking horns and revving engines all times of the night is enough to drive anyone bonkers. BUT when it snows, or on days like today when they do something odd to the traffic patterns, the window onto the street is like a microcosm of the society as a whole.
Let me explain. I guess there is some pipe somewhere further up the road that is not doing so well, so they have ripped up the road to repair it. In order to do this they had to shut down one whole side of the street. Earlier today they came with a flatbed truck and placed it across the affected lanes and had some police guys blocking the way. Now in case you haven't lived in the developing world just because there's an obstacle and people are telling you you can't go this way doesn't mean that it necessarily applies to you. In fact, despite the HUGE truck blocking the way, and the sign and the rest of the traffic going the other way, about one car in ten tries to come down the street anyway. They drive up, drive past the sign, get to the huge truck and then have to turn around. The other drivers are either not paying attention or don't really care because there are often two or three cars trying to turn around at the same time.
Since this street is a major artery, they can't just close it off completely, so they have both directions of traffic going on the same side of the street. Which means on a four lane road you have three lanes going north and three lanes going south. (I'll wait while you think about that) Add to that one lane blocked off both ways for stopping mini-buses and parked cars and you have a street that is FUBAR.

Monday, April 14, 2008

All About Poo

You know, I never realized just how much of your time can be dedicated to poo. No not Winnie the Pooh (that would be cute), but actual poo (the biological kind). Before I owned a dog, I never put much thought into it. I mean for the most part, I would take care of my business and not worry about it. After I got married I only thought about my husband's habits to the point that it interfered with my own plans. When we got the dog though, poo became a fifteen minute conversation. Did she poo, how much did she poo, was it right away, hard, soft, etc. I thought that was gross, but with Babes, large chunks of my day are consumed thinking about poo. Has she pooed, when was the last time, how often, etc. I think what's even more disgusting is that I am also worried about what it looks like. Color, texture, consistency, you name it. And I have to say that it is still gross. But necessary. Poo is such a smelly way of determining whether or not things are working as they should. Poo too hard? Not enough water. Too soft? Maybe some GI issues. She can't talk, so I have to read her poo to determine if there's anything I need to worry about. Instead of tea leaves I look for sins in poo. Ahh mysticism at its dirtiest.

Friday, April 11, 2008


*SIGH* we are trying to buy a carpet. I hate when we are trying to make a major purchase because we can never seem to agree on anything. And if we do agree we can never make the jump into a purchase.... Mainly because of me. I am so fickle that I really want to LOVE something before I buy it. I don't generally like carpets, so I'm terrified that we are going to buy something, take it home, and I'm going to hate it after two days. But I know we need to buckle down because we're running out of time, and if we don't buy a carpet we won't have anything to remind us of Azerbaijan.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

It's all over now!

Ah, Babes has finally taken her first steps! I thought they would have come sooner so I was all psyched up for the ride, only to wait for WEEKS past the time when I thought they would come. Only now that they are here, I'M SCARED! I can already see that walking is going to be MUCH faster than crawling, even though the little crawler was FAST! Which means there's that much more destruction to get into. *SIGH* now that she's taken those steps maybe I should just start carrying her around from now on.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Road Rules

So after living overseas in two different countries I have noticed some things that Americans might not know.
For instance:
1. The proper way to run across the street through traffic is to: lean forward slightly so that your head is in front. Then hold your arms stiffly to your sides but angled out slightly behind you so they look a little like wings. Finally, don't take wide steps, but shuffle quickly.
2. In your car, instead of signaling a lane change, drift slowly into the lane beside you until the car in that lane is either a) forced off the road or b) forced to slam on brakes
3. Signs, general road rules, traffic lights, those are for the other guy, not you.
4. Lanes painted on roads are purely decorative.
5. Do not spend more than 2 seconds parking your car. If it doesn't quite fit on the first try, leave it.
6. It is unnecessary to pull over to stop and let people out of your car or talk to your neighbors.
7. Major traffic maneuvers should be made while talking on the phone.
8. As soon as the light changes you should blow your horn so that the person in front of you knows that it's time to go.
9. As a pedestrian you should wear the darkest colors you own while crossing the street at night.
10. Your horn is a very important piece of car equipment, it should be as loud and obnoxious as possible.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Lost in Translation... again

On Wednesday I was taking a cab to dinner when the cab driver started talking to me. It actually makes me a little proud that I was able to follow this conversation at all. In the past I would have just looked at him blankly...
Anyway, I'm going to try my hand at a dialog so here it goes:
"where are you from... cuba?"
"no, I'm from America"
"oh...something something Americ(some kind of ending) beautiful" Here I thought he was hitting on me so I made some non-committal noise.
"what America is not a beautiful country."
"OH!" I thought to myself!
"Yes" I answered. "America is very beautiful."
"Baku too?"
"yes, Baku is also very beautiful." Like I'm going to say No Baku is ugly.
"Ah this is very good!"
Silence for awhile, we drive through some traffic, and a few idiots do stupid things.
"I once had a friend who was Cuban."
"Yes, very pretty. She was also Black." The word for black in Russian sounds very similar to the N word in English, I almost said "What did you say about my Mama? But then I remembered a conversation I had with my language teacher about what to call black people, so I relaxed. He continued....
"Her name was (I immediately forgot the name."
"oh that is a pretty name." meanwhile I'm thinking to myself why are you telling me this.
"She loved me."
"She returned home to Cuba, and I couldn't go because something something Mama."
"Oh." What should I say to that, especially since i didn't understand all of it. I then asked to get out early and gave him an extra dollar because of the story. BUT, I then told this story to my language teacher, who got very excited about Cubans (she claims he was complimenting me by asking if I was from Cuba since all Cubans are beautiful).
She said that while she was a student, they had tons of Cubans in Baku studying. Apparently at the college she went to, the first two floors of the building were classrooms and the upper floors were dorms. So every day at the beginning of class the professors would send a student upstairs knocking on the dorm doors to tell people to come to class. One day my teacher was selected for the door knocking duty and she was knocking on doors, then she came to the door of one of the Cubans and she knocked. Suddenly the door was open and standing there in the doorway was a naked Cuban boy... one hand on the door the other covering his privates. She said she was speechless. Then from behind him in the room up popped two women (I cannot say whether or not they were also Cuban, once again my language skills have failed me) also naked. And they said "HI, X, come join us!" She was astounded (and I think she is still astounded to this day!) and she fled. She got back to class, and the teacher asked her if she had woken everyone up, and she said yes they would be down shortly. Before too long had passed, he came into class as if nothing was amiss.
I really do think she was slightly enamored of this Cuban. Even after all this time she still has that look when she describes him. She said he was tall, slim, with a good male figure. Long straight legs, and a cute little butt! (all this was in Russian, can you believe it!)
This is why learning languages can be so much fun!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008


I've been reading "The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down" by Anne Fadiman for my book club and I'm so depressed. I reached a point today where I just couldn't read any more. I hate it when authors of fiction or non fiction put horrific things in their book just to get a reaction. This book has some prime examples of gratuitous heart string pulling. The book is about a Hmong (small ethnic group that lived in Laos) refugee family in California that have an epileptic daughter and the gap in the culture between the family and the doctors. The author alternates between the medical story of the child and the larger backdrop of the conflict in Laos/Vietnam that ultimately led to the family claiming asylum in the US.
War is horrible. I understand that. I also understand that people do horrible things to each other during wars. And yes, personal accounts always make things more real, so I understand that a few stories are necessary. So I was fine during accounts of kids getting sick and not having medicine. Of having to leave sick and elderly parents along the road while you try to flee, or eating clothes when there is no other food. I was even ok with the story of the mom whose child starved to death in her arms because she didn't have any milk for him. But she went one further, and I'm not even going to type it because then I'd just be putting that horrible image in other people's minds, if you want to know what it was read the book.
Anyway, the whole chapter just reminded me what I sometimes forget every now and then. Kids don't really need all the extra crap that we get for them. Really they just need 1. food 2. shelter (and clothing) 3. love. All the rest is just bonus. I generally try to be reasonable, and I'm not trying to make Babes' childhood the best ever, I just want her to be well loved, healthy and reasonably stimulated. When she gets older I want her to be able to provide for herself, be well loved, and enjoy what she does. But I occasionally do freak out that she is eating from cups that have some random possibly bad for you ingredient in the plastic, or ponder for hours whether or not she should start drinking cows milk because of the hormones.... And then I read something that really makes me thankful that I even have these choices. I am so thankful that I have always been able to give Babes enough milk or food or whatever, and that I have not had to make a choice between her or me. I do not have to try to hide her, or worry about bad people finding her. I can spend all of my energy just giving her love. How wonderful is that?