And now, L’viv

I packed yesterday, then cleaned up my kvartyra (apartment), b/c the cleaning woman stood me up for a second time. She’d called on Monday telling me she couldn’t make it Tuesday, so we agreed on Thursday (yesterday), and she didn’t even return my phone call.

No worries. People would kill for my problems. I folded my shirts, packed, and packed, and packed. I loaded the two shipments of books my mother was kind enough to send me, wrapping them in long johns and t-shirts, swept the eco-system of business cards, USB cables, and stray papers which evolved on my table into its own bag for future study, and when it became clear I would have four bags (two little, and two big), and not three, I called my friend and ally Aleks for assistance at the train station in exchange for dinner.

Then I swept, cleaned the fixtures, sinks, counter tops, mopped with a rag and bucket, ensured the windows were closed, dried the interior of the defrosted fridge and, before Aleks arrived for dinner, felt achey and accomplished.

When we went to my place to gather my bags, it occurred to me that I had not encountered my third most valuable possession during my packing — the 500 GB USB drive I had purchased as a backup device after what was likely a virus in September.

Sometimes I kept it in a pocket of my coat hanging in the closet. Other times it was a part of my desktop eco-system. I unpacked partially and failed to find it either in the bag or in the coat where I most commonly packed it. Oh well.

Aleks and I took a cab to the train station. I carried the two big bags, she the two small ones. We were very early and drank a beer and ate icecream while working on a Sudoku puzzle on her iPhone.

Wrestling my luggage up and down stairs and over the crowded platform caused me to sweat.

I crashed into my train cabin with my enormous bags. My asking which was spot number #14, was pretty much the only thing spoken between me and the other three men in the cabin that evening. I pushed one bag under one of the benches, and heaved the other three onto my upper bunk.

I decided to mimic their closed, disinterested demeanors, and tried to look bored as I gazed out the window. I also played Galaxy Balls on my cell phone. Over the course of the last several months, I’ve been inching toward my record of 8826. During the train ride I broke through 7000. I hoped that I appeared to be sending important text messages, instead of trying to sort falling blocks by color.

I followed the ques of my cabin mates, laying out my linens when they did so. I slept very poorly. In the morning one of them chatted with me and was proud of his surprise at my being a foreigner. He said it was wonderful that a foreign born Ukrainian learns his language, when many Ukrainian in the east, or in Russia don’t even bother to do so. He and another one of them asked a little bit about my background.

My third-cousin met me on the platform before fellow passengers even finished passing my bags to me. He helped me carry them to a waiting cab.

My new kvartyra is much bigger and more modern than the one in Kyiv. It feels extravagant, but like I said, people would kill for my problems.

I unpacked. No sign of the 500 GB drive. I’ll call the super next time I’m back in Kyiv. I felt tired, and didn’t bother looking for linens. I unrolled my sleeping back on top of the wool blanket, and took a nap. I woke a few times to answer my phone, then woke, figured out the water heater, and walked through the rain to this coffee shop.

Several relatives called, and I’ll be meeting them soon. Hopefully, I can make a round before my trip to Lithuania for an Austrian Economics conference / seminar.

Once again, I am in a largely strange city, and once again, I anticipate much of time will be consumed by finding small solutions to simple problem — buy an umbrella.

I have three conferences left this November. In general, I want to spend November attending those, and getting settled in L’viv, which includes getting internet in my Kvartyra.

Then, I want to spend December doing a lot of reading and a little writing.

Here’s a tentative todo list:
– umbrella
– buy a pair of jeans
– contact family
– **GET INTERNET** (at the moment, I’m sitting in a coffee shop)
– Read through the fifty or so stories and essays I have saved up. Excerpt the best ones onto my political blog.
– Catch up on emails
– Buy groceries, including potable water
– look at the to-do list in my notebook (which is back in my Kvartyra) and transcribe the remaining items onto my working list.
– Blog about my experiences with the Kyiv Brazilian Jiu Jitsu club.
– Find a gym, since there’s no Brazilian Jiu Jitsu here, and the change in exercise regime will probably be good for me, a chance for accumulated, minor aches and pains to heal.
– Read last several issues of the Ukrainian Weekly
– Find a place to get the Kyiv Post and/or a magazine I like called Ukraine Week.
– Do laundry — in a real laundry machine!
– Iron my shirts, slacks.
– Begin communicating with my contacts in this part of Ukraine.

So there you have it. I’m in L’viv as of seven hours ago.

Despite the distraction of moving, I think the change is good. It’s a chance to reset, reassess and re-evaluate. It forces me to sort through my accumulated papers, find what matters and discard what doesn’t. It’s a chance to re-establish my routine, hopefully one which involves more reading and writing.

Friends and family, please be aware that until I get internet in my place, I’ll be a little more difficult to contact.