A Spring Of Transitions

Spring is a time for changes. A time for rebirth and other tired metaphors. A time for cleaning.

I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been working on other projects. I started a blog against militarism. I started a tumblr called First World Problems in Third World Countries. I often have these spurts of creativity in which I start a bunch of new projects; generally, at least three quarters of these sort of evaporate as I lose interest and gain focus: the breadth of my interests and the extent of my focus exist in a sort of ebb and flow relationship, feeding off and back into each other.

And then, last night, I finally started my book. I’ve been tossing around the idea of writing a book about my experience in Georgia for over a year now, and finally, last night, I started putting together some chapter headings, a timeline, and some ideas for where I want to go with the book and how. I definitely don’t want it to be just another travel guide, or a plain narrative, or a collection of excerpts from my blog – if I’m going to write a book, I’m going to write a book worth reading. Which is hard. Anyway, last summer, I was going to work on this project, but then Buckswood ate my life and I got no work done at all. This summer, I should have an easier schedule.

Which brings me to my summer plans.

Next weekend – June 16th or 17th – I am moving to Kutaisi. I have already spoken to TLG about moving after my contract ended (which it does at the end of this school year) and my move and contract extension were both approved. Next year I will be teaching in Kutaisi. I don’t have my school yet but I’m hoping it will be very close to where I’ll be living. In any case, the move happens next week. Once in Kutaisi I should have plenty of time for putting a book together.

I am also planning to work at a summer camp this summer. The camp would start in July and go until mid-September, and I’d be living in a small village on the Black Sea coast. In theory the workload would be much less than Buckswood, and in theory there will be air conditioning. I am excited about this, but as with everything in Georgia, I’ll believe it when I see it. One thing I’ve learned in this country is never to count on anything to go exactly as expected.

Anyway, I’m definitely not flying back to NYC this summer. My family has known this for quite some time, but it might be news to some of my friends.

So what I’m looking forward to, and hoping for, is a relaxing summer, with time to recharge, to go to the beach, to work on my book, to contemplate what needs contemplating, and to get ready for next year.

Living and teaching in Kutaisi presents an interesting challenge. From what I gather, most TLGVs in Kutaisi like it, and are more connected to Georgian culture and language than those in Tbilisi, and spend a lot less money than people who live in Tbilisi. I won’t have to take on extra private students just to cover rent and bills. I’ll have more time to relax, drink some ludi and play some nardi, and get to know my neighbors. I expect I’ll have a great time there.

And yet, I have to admit to a little anxiety about not having running water 24/7, about not having access to a Goodwill, about potentially having to go to McDonald’s to use the internet, about teaching in a regional school that potentially has far fewer resources available than my current school. About not having access to the Tatishvili Clinic in Tbilisi, where TLG insurance sends me when I’m sick.

(I have a sinus infection right now – Georgians call it “ფრონტიტი” (prontiti), which comes from the Russian word for frontal sinusitis – ФРОНТИТ (frontit) – which apparently comes from the Latin for forehead – “front” – which marks the first time I’ve encountered a Latin-based word in Georgian that is not also in English (it would be “frontitis”, and indeed this word does appear in translations of Russian medical literature, but apparently nowhere else.) Anyway, TLG insurance sent me to Tatishvili in Vake, where I got a head x-ray and talked to a specialist who gave me a prescription of four different medicines and told me to go see another specialist at Tatishvili in Saburtalo for a nasal irrigation. In Saburtalo they told me they would not irrigate, and they gave me a new prescription – a different set of four different medications – to take instead, and told me to come back on Monday for a follow-up. Apparently they take sinus infections very seriously here in Georgia (apparently because of the risk of meningitis) although the only thing all four doctors I saw agreed on was that I should not go outside with wet hair. Anyway, all of this was covered by insurance, and my medications were half covered, so two days of running around from doctor to doctor, doped up on advil and tylenol and looking for a cure, only cost me 15 lari total, and today, after just a few doses of Georgian medicine, I can already feel a marked improvement in my symptoms. So I have generally favorable reviews of my medical care in Tbilisi, despite the occasional shenanigans.)

So overall, I am looking forward to the changes this year will bring. It’s bittersweet because I’ve already said goodbye to some of the best friends I’ve made this year, but it stings a little less than it did last year – I guess I was prepared a little better. Next week, when my head clears up, I’ll have to say my goodbyes at my school. For my friends in Tbilisi, I’ll still be around – Kutaisi’s not that far – and of course I expect to come to the TLG offices at least once a month for meetings about the Official Blog, and I’ll probably use those trips as an excuse to devote a weekend here and there to catching up with friends. I’ll miss Tbilisi – especially the restaurants and imports and Entree bread and supermarkets, I think – but I think a summer on the sea coast and a school year in Kutaisi will do wonders for me.

I’m sure some of you are wondering why I’m moving to Kutaisi… I suppose I’ll write about that someday soon.

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2 Responses to A Spring Of Transitions

  1. Joe Vasicek says:

    Kutaisi is great! I really love it out here. It’s got all of the amenities of a city while being closer to nature and the rhythm of the land. Some of the expats think it’s boring, but there’s plenty to do if you’re resourceful and a little creative.

    I’m the admin for the TLG KUTAISI Facebook page, so that’s a good place to find people and see what’s going on. A lot of the old timers are leaving this June, but a few of us are sticking around. I’ll be here until the end of June, and I’ll come back in September, probably to the same school (though I don’t know for sure–who does!).


  2. pasumonok says:

    I would die if I had to move to Kutaisi. It is depressing. In the end, despite all of my complains, I would probably not be able to live anywhere else but Tbilisi.
    Anyway, it is sad that you are leaving. Good luck with many new projects, including ones not listed here.
    We need to plan a party or something.


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