Friday, March 7, 2008

I know spring is coming because my back is acting up. Or: A spine-tingling time at the theatre

Friends, would eight or fifteen groups of singing and dancing girls, boys, and old people lie to you? I don't think so. This must mean that spring is upon us, because I have just returned to my office from attending a variety show at the local cinema slash theatre, which was put on to celebrate the onset of spring, as well as Mothers' Day, which was this past Monday (I don't really know how Mothers' Days work; is it like a country by country thing, or is it pretty unified and either America or Georgia is bucking the trend, or...what?). So the town jammed itself into the cinema, with people sitting on the armrests between chairs and packed like sardines into the aisles, to see various singing and dancing acts, separated by the giving of gifts to distinguished mothers of the community, picked apparently at random. Maybe there was a mother raffle.

Now, the last time I attended anything at the cinema, I ended up sitting through a three and a half hour play of which I understood maybe five words. Also, during the play, a man started yelling and lifted a woman up onto a chair (I suppose I should clarify that this happened on stage, not in the audience, which would probably have made just as much sense). So I was hoping this variety show would not take that long. And, it didn't -- it took about an hour and 45 minutes. But it started half an hour late, and we had to get there early to be Seat People and not Sardine People. So I was sitting in there for about two and a half hours. Improvement! Perhaps I can introduce the cultural idea of an intermission. When we got there, they were handing out flowers at the door, as a crush of dozens of people all tried to shove their way through a single door at the same time. I didn't get a flower, but I did get a chance to look around. The stage was decorated with some sort of curtain and the words "Chven gazapkhulze gepatizhebit," which means, as far as I can tell, "We with invitation in the spring _______." I cannot identify a verb, or any indication of WHAT, exactly, we do with invitation in the spring. Perhaps it is meant to be a subtle philosophical postulation that nature, cruel mistress that she is, invites us to do NOTHING, EVER, and that we must TAKE what we want from her, especially when she has just subjected us to four months of torturous weather. ECO Project or no ECO Project -- when I am put upon by nature as much as I have been put upon this winter, I'm going to cut something the f#$% down.

I had no idea what the show was to consist of. It turns out that it consisted of a lot of singing and dancing. As you may have gleaned from other posts of mine, Gurians LOVE to sing and dance. It is endearing and entertaining. Slightly less so after two hours of it, but endearing nonetheless. Old women and old men sang traditional songs. Youngsters danced traditional dances. The ladies who run the local music school sang a couple nice songs (I am probably obligated to point out, in case anyone with a Cho Connection reads this, that the wife of my supervisor was the very best of the trio). An opera singer even brought the house down with some soprano aria or other. All in all, the performances were pretty impressive. And, in between the performances, there were curious presentations of presents to local mothers. A man would stand up, say something that sounded nice that I didn't particularly understand (when Georgians aren't speaking to me specifically, it's much harder to understand them...this is probably too obvious a point to even mention), and then everyone would clap vigorously, and then a coworker of mine would lean over and say something like, "that woman was in the war," which it turns out means World War II. So I suppose that's pretty impressive. There was also a present for a woman who my coworker claims is 102 years old. This woman, after being helped to the stage, took the microphone and said something that sounded to ME like, "I have 47 children!" which was met with a raucous roar from the crowd. She must have meant children AND grandchildren AND great-grandchildren. But the number still seems high, since Georgian families tend to be pretty small. Maybe she was utilizing metaphor.

So, anyway, the other thing that happened this week was that I (drumroll...) utilized the healthcare provided by the American government for the first time! Those of you who hate your health insurance provider, close your eyes and imagine this scenario (if you actually close your eyes, your computer will sense it and begin reading aloud to you): you have what seems to be a severely strained back. You are on (what you hope is) powerful Russian medication. You call your doctor, and she calls you into her office for a followup appointment (your doctor's office is five hours away, which I suppose isn't too farfetched if you have an HMO). At her office, your doctor tells you that she is going to order a "precautionary" MRI, even though you probably have nothing seriously wrong with your back. She also orders an X-ray. You get the MRI, you get the X-ray, and your doctor gives you her diagnosis, which is that there is nothing seriously wrong with your back. This costs you........absolutely nothing! Which is good, because you make about 150 dollars a month. Those of you who have fainted because an MRI in America costs 11 trillion dollars might want to call my doctor. She's awesome. You will have to spend two years here working on a mountain. But it might be worth it.

MRIs and opera singers, friends. The ancient signs of spring. Tonight I am going to attempt to sleep without my long underwear on for the first time in four months. Hopefully Jesus doesn't punish my rashness with fifty-seven feet of snow.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

You've probably either moved on with your life or figured it out by now, but that means "We invite you to spring." Your life is now complete.