They’re Coming To America

My flights are booked, people.

In the end I needn’t have worried; the affordable round trip tickets I found on LOT did, indeed, change price over the course of the nine days I had to wait to book them, but they didn’t go up – they actually went down, by nearly four dollars.

I would gladly have paid that four dollars to not have to live through the last nine days of stress, but something something value of information something something time machine. Whatever, it’s all over now (baby blue), time to move on to the next thing.

So we’ll be hitting the big city next Wednesday. If anyone has any suggestions on stuff to do in NYC with a baby – he’ll be from 8 to 10 months during our trip – let me know. Ditto if there’s anything someone shouldn’t miss if they’ve never been to New York/The Merica before. I’ve already got the Met, a Broadway show, key lime pie from Red Hook, and my dad’s french toast on my list of things I want Tea to experience (freals, yall – if you haven’t had my dad’s french toast, you is seriously missin out).


I’m really looking forward to coming to America. I feel like Tea will understand me a little better if she lives in my country for a couple of months. Not that I’d consider myself particularly typical, but there are definitely some very particularly American – even New Yorker – habits that I display regularly and I’d sort of just like to have Tea see how those habits fit into the milieu in which they were formed. I’d like to give her an idea of why I make the comparisons that I do – positive and negative – between America and Georgia.

I’m also excited about living with my parents for two months. One of the hardest things about living here, with Tea and the baby and her mom, is that I am the outsider and Tea and her mom have a longer, established relationship. Partly because of the language barrier, and partly because of how Georgian culture is, and I guess partly because of personalities, I haven’t really ever come to feel fully autonomous in this house – I feel like the perpetual guest, always having to tiptoe around someone else’s rules and idiosyncrasies and never really being able to relax. Because of how my parents are, I really don’t think that Tea will end up having a similar experience in New York – I feel like they’re much more laid back about household stuff, and since they both work they’re not around during the day, and so I think that Tea will really feel at home while she’s there.


In July we’re going to Nebraska to attend my sister’s wedding. She lives near Omaha, somewhere in middle America. I’m super excited about getting to see Iowa, which is probably unlikely to actually be that exciting but I just want to know what Dar Williams is singing about. I’m excited about Iowa. Oh, did I mention our plan is to drive from New York to Nebraska? Route 80 all the way. It will be the farthest West I’ve ever been, and I promise that I will write about driveover country with the same scathing pessimism you’ve come to know and love in my assessment of the quirks of life in Georgia. I will find out which ridiculous regionalism they use to refer to lemonade and report back with bemused condescension. It’s only fair.

I don’t know what kind of wedding my sister plans to have – I only just thought of it right now, but I guess I’m assuming it will involve a church in some way. I told Tea I’d take her to a Catholic mass, anyway, so she could see what it was like. I never thought I’d be biased toward the Catholic Church, but honestly I think that the Catholic way – giving religious instruction to children, and reading three Biblical passages in every mass, and generally working to get people informed and thinking about what their religion actually means – is superior to the Eastern way of mysticism and priest-worship. But maybe that’s just a matter of where I was raised, and where I am now – maybe, like, the Greek Orthodox Church isn’t as messed up as the post-Soviet Churches, which suffered persecution and the death of religious knowledge and practice. I’m probably offending everyone I know right now… sorry. Anyway, I haven’t suddenly become religious, but, like it or not, Catholicism is part of my upbringing and culture and I think my wife should at least see what that means.


At the end of August we’ll fly back to Tbilisi. We’ll be living there next year, and I think it’s safe to report, now, that I plan to be working for a particular private school in Tbilisi at a considerable rate increase over what TLG was paying me. I’ll let you know more about that once the ink is dry on the contract. I have mixed feelings about leaving TLG, but in the end, I’ve always known that the program was someone unpredictable, and now that I have a son that’s no longer a suitable arrangement for me. I wish things had gone better this year, but maybe it’s for the best that they didn’t – maybe I needed this to spur me on to bigger and better things.

I have a million posts that I want to write, but I’ve been busy. I have taken a job as a legal marketing copywriter, which pays in the realm of 600 – 1000 USD per month, which is already significantly more than TLG pays me. However, it’s been eating my life and brain – think of what I do as writing an average of seven 2-3 page research papers a week on assorted legal and medical concepts, but with the added constraint of having to include keyword phrases for search engine optimization that are not necessarily written in a natural language friendly way. If someone is injured by a hip implant and wants to file a lawsuit, they might google “hip implant lawyer” – and if they do that enough, that means that I have to figure out how to work “hip implant lawyer” into a sentence, potentially up to ten times, without the copy becoming noticeably awkward. It’s well within my skill set, but keep in mind that most undergraduate university courses would consider seven 2-3 page research papers *per semester* to be a lot of work (at Hunter that would qualify it as a “writing-intensive” course) and I’m churning that out *every week*, in addition to assorted other obligations. Let’s just say I’m glad Game of Thrones and Bill Maher both took off on Memorial day weekend.

Anyway, this Wednesday I’ll be doing the Works in Progress roundtable on Language Purity and Language Policing in Tbilisi – 18:15 – 19:30 at ISET, 16 Zandukeli. Check us out, it’ll be fun!

Video: Simon and Garfunkel, America, in Central Park (bet you thought I’d go with Neil Diamond…too bad that song actually sucks. Sorry Neil.)

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8 Responses to They’re Coming To America

  1. Eka says:

    olalala…. It’s surprising and disappointing from you: a religion superior to another one ?!


    • panoptical says:

      Don’t be simplistic. A religion that practices human sacrifice is inferior to a religion that reveres human life. A religion that persecutes minorities is worse than a religion that tolerates them. A religion that embraces science is superior to a religion that rejects science. A religion that is called “Scientology” is inferior to a religion that is not called “Scientology.”

      There are all kinds of ways for one religion to be better than another religion, and anyone who thinks that all religions are equal just isn’t thinking hard enough.

      And in the case of Catholicism and Orthodoxy, I do believe that a religion that encourages the constant, active study and consideration of its precepts is better, in that regard, than a religion that works by bullying the ignorant into participating in empty rituals.


      • Eka says:

        A religion cannot exist on its own, without people who believe in it. And I BELIEVE that everybody, no matter in which religion he/she believes in, is equal.

        There is no a religion more tolerant than another, but there are secular states which manage (due to economic, political, judicial and social development) to maintain equality between different religions. All of the religions have always practiced and still practice to bully the ignorant !! All of the religions have persecuted the minorities at different eras of history (useless to list them).

        And finally I got impression that you simply lack knowledge in orthodox rituals,.

        P.S. I am not trying to advocate the orthodox religion, I go to church once a year to please my family <– I just hate being considered biased 🙂


        • panoptical says:

          I don’t want to be disrespectful, but your response strikes me as being substantially similar to every criticism my Georgian critics ever give me: that the thing I don’t like about Georgia is in fact no worse than anywhere else in the world, and that also I just don’t understand that thing well enough to judge it.

          You can’t excuse the flaws of the Georgian Orthodox church by just besmirching every other religion in the world and then plaster your accusations over with liberal platitudes to make it seem like you’re enlightened. No, not all religions bully the ignorant. Not all religions are equally intolerant.

          In fact, some religions are markedly more tolerant than others. And, there actually are religions that have never persecuted any minorities. Two examples, just off the top of my head, would be the Unitarian Universalists and the Baha’i. I would guess you could add Wicca and a bunch of the other Western neopagan groups to that list.

          So what is it you think I don’t know about Orthodox rituals? What key piece of information am I missing that explains why your religion is actually really great?


  2. Eka says:

    I’ve never said that “my” religion was great (it’s you who claim the superiority of Catholicism), nor think I you should excuse anything only because it may exist elsewhere in the world.
    I have to admit I am absolutely ignorant about religions you mentioned… Actually I was talking about the “biggest” (in number of practicing) religions. They were invented in order to BULLY the ignorant, control the crowd, in other words to define moral and social rules, etc.
    anyway I am still convinced that your lack of knowledge in orthodox rituals and mine in catholic ones do not allow us to argue on superiority of one of them. well In short the orthodox religion fully allows a practicing person to study, think, ask questions and take decisions. I may agree with you on bad influence of many incompetent orthodox priests.

    This is the last time I comment on your posts. I found your attitude quite disappointing: If you don’t want to be disrespectful, than don’t !!


  3. Sister says:

    M wedding will not be in a church- neither Matt nor I felt any need to be married in a church and so it was a non-issue : ) A great marriage headache to have avoided, yay us!! Our ceremony will take place in the garden area outside of the reception site. Flowers > Stained glass windows.


  4. Joe says:

    This time of year is nice to enjoy the outdoors while in NYC with your family, provided it is not a particularly hot and humid day: Bronx zoo & botanical garden, Central Park zoo and Central Park are good destinations.


  5. Hmmm...... says:

    First poster takes religion too seriously. Relax, lady.

    As for things to see, I don’t know if I-80 runs through PA or not, but if it does Philly is nice and so are parts of Pittsburgh. Go to Chicago if you can – great place.

    If you have time after the wedding, you could swing by Colorado – Boulder is pretty with lots of nature and a hippy-ish atmosphere. Denver’s OK. You could also swing by St. Louis and show her the arch as well as the birthplace of Nelly.


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