Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Now is the winter of *my* discontent. Or: Really? That's how big the office heater is?

Friends, winter has struck with the grace and delicacy of an overweight transvestite prostitute who used to fight the undercard in the UFC and thinks you haven't paid him/her/it enough (do they ever think you've paid them enough?). Two days ago, it was quite summer-y. I was thinking, cheerily, "Boy, I'll never have to use the electric heater or sleeping bag provided to us by the Peace Corps!", which is good, because to use this electric heater requires a lot of electricity for which you must reimburse your host family by either paying them or installing an Extra-Current-Producing Stationary Bicycle (given the electricity problems this country has experienced -- and I would recommend the excellent documentary "Power Trip" as educational viewing on this subject -- I presume that the only reason such stationary bicycles don't actually exist is because nobody here has thought of using one for this purpose).

I was an idiot.

Two nights ago it rained quite heavily, and when I woke up yesterday whoaaaa was it cold. And raining. And generally miserable. Today it has been the same, as you can see from this illuminating photograph of me at my desk:

While this photograph is mildly exaggerated (I am not that cold right now, but I'm certainly not super-warm), it does show two things:

1) I am wearing a sweatshirt, indicating that I lack warmth
2) I am sporting a beard, indicating that I lack common sense and decency towards my fellow man

I have not decided whether I am going to keep this beard past Halloween, since the reason for its existence is super-secret and Halloween-related (a clue: faithful readers of this blog will understand the joke when it is revealed. The archives must be dissected for clues!). It will depend on whether it seems to be keeping me warmer. I don't know whether beards that are not of a Grizzly Adams variety actually affect warmth, since, the only time I've ever had one of any fullness, I lived in Los Angeles. But the problem of staying warm here is grave enough, according to the tales of older volunteers, that I may want to keep it around to protect me from the bitter chill, and pretty girls. We are told that the problem of warmth is manifested most disgustingly in the arena of bathing. See, (most) Georgian homes do not have central heating. People heat one central room in their homes (usually the kitchen) with a small wood stove, called a petchi. This means that the rest of the home is quite cold. Including the bathroom. You know that feeling you get when you step out of a hot shower, and it's either really cold outside or kind of cold, and you feel as if you are freezing for a few moments until you get clothes on and into a more heated part of your home? Imagine that feeling, except that you are literally freezing, because you are covered in water in a room that may or may not be above the freezing temperature of said substance (water). I have heard stories of volunteers who do not bathe for weeks at a time, because of how uncomfortable it is to do so. I heard a story this weekend from a volunteer who was taking a hot shower in February (apparently the coldest month) and was covered in soapy lather when, suddenly, the hot water went out in his house, and he found himself standing in a torrent of icy death. His choices were:

1) finish rinsing his body off in literally freezing water,
2) turn the water off and stand there freezing until he could put clothes on over the soap that still covered his body,
3) murder a Hoth camel and find warmth in its carcass.

This is not something I look forward to. Luckily, it is not this bad yet, and showers will probably be only mildly uncomfortable for a while. The temperature isn't likely to dip too far this soon, and may hopefully go back up for a while. Or it may plummet. I have no idea. I live in fear of the future. All of the G6 volunteers describe this past February as the time in their lives when they were most capable of murdering another human being. But dread of the future is what keeps us so wonderfully alive, isn't it, friends? It's the intoxicating possibility that you will be miserably unhappy quite soon that makes you so happy to be moderately less unhappy today! Always keep that in mind, friends.

My next missive to you shall be from inside the carcass of a Hoth camel. It's not too nerdy to make that reference, is it? Everyone knows that reference. And it's almost assuredly not the actual name of whatever creature that was. Just to be safe, I think I'll go use some power tools, to even myself out. Until next time, friends.

1 comment:

ruth said...

I think you're turning Georgian. You fit in well with the funny backwards looking letters also in the picture. I think it's the beard. And you're growing this beard to protect yourself from pretty girls? It may well help you there. I think it would be warm. Having long hair seems to add warmth. And we're supposed to lose lots of heat from our heads. You should get one of those big russian hats. *I* should get one of those big russian hats. I also fear what winter is going to be like in China. I hope it doesn't ruin things. I at least am decently assured I will have hot water in my shower, though perhaps hot is a relative term here. What felt scalding in the summer has not been lately. But even though I have heat, I still have problems because I had brown water for like an hour the other day. I don't know why. So I fear taking a shower one day that does not get me at all cleaner. I think showering is over-rated. Particularly if you're sort of in the middle of nowhere and it doesn't matter if your hair looks kind of greasy, I say like once a week sounds good. I'm not sure I could bring myself to that, but you have short hair. This is why they developed thick clothes and cologne. Cold showers are so painful it's better for your sanity to go without them.