What’s up y’all, what’s new, how are you? Good? Great, that’s great. I myself am fine. This is the view out our window at this very moment:
Does this photo make your boogers freeze? WELL IT GODDAMN WELL SHOULD. According to my new favorite website tsag-agaar.mn, there’s a low of -32 C in Erdenet tomorrow. Why, that’s only -25 in Fahrenheit! Which makes me feel much better about the whole thing.*
If I sound kind of off balance, it’s probably due at least in part to Ryan’s absence: He left for Ulaanbaatar on Saturday to attend a weeklong Peace Corps conference thingy with one of his coworkers. I think iTunes can sense my isolation; it keeps suggesting I listen to stuff along these lines:
So mostly these past few days I’ve been
1. Hanging out,
2. Trying to resist the impulse to bring stray puppies into the apartment,
3. Taking unnecessary pictures of myself:
4. Accidentally eating dinner way too early (5:00), and
5. Watching episode upon episode of 30 Rock until there is no more 30 Rock to be watched.
So to keep from going completely Grey Gardens this week, I’m going to give myself an after-work project. A Type Into My Blog All Of The Random Things I’ve Written In Notebooks When Bored And Waiting Around project.
And here we go!
Sitting in the Russian ‘Cabinet,’ not doing much of anything. There are meetings going on; at some point my supervisor and I are supposed to ‘talk about many things.’ In the meantime, I’m sitting at a students’ desk while a Russian teacher lesson plans in front of me. The urge to play Doodle Jump on my iPhone is strong indeed.
I’ve already written down my feeble little ‘ideas’ for my schedule, mostly consisting of questions like ‘speaking club and Olympics prep club — same or different?’ I’ve also already read through, twice, all the Peace Corps paperwork I have floating around in my purse. Now I’m just wondering random things, like:
- What it would be like to go back to Korea and be a teacher trainer for CDI, our old employer
- How easy it is to find a cake pan in this city
- Why I forgot to check the Peace Corps library for TOEFL test prep materials when we were in UB
- Whether I will ever eat lunch today
I guess this has been a lot like Korea so far, and it’s also been easier in a lot of ways because of Korea. I can’t really explain it. Things just seem very routine all of a sudden. We watch things on the laptop. We understand little of the language. We submit to a lot of waiting around. We discuss other people’s baffling behavior. We eat large amounts of kimchi. And I spend a lot of time vaguely wondering how I’ll come to judge my job performance when I’m done here.
A wedding, hooray!
So a physics teacher at the middle school took me to a wedding this weekend. I don’t know this person at all; she just saw me in the teachers’ lounge one day and, sensing that I was starting to doubt that anybody was ever going to show me anything cool, asked if I wanted to go. Of course I was like “YES YES YES PLEASE” and then later I was talking to some of my teachers and I said “GUESS WHAT GUYS I’M GOING TO ERDENEBULGAN’S FAMILY’S WEDDING THIS WEEKEND!” and they were like “Um, do you even know her, that’s kind of weird?” and I was all “whatever I don’t care.”
Turns out I was just invited to the ceremony and not the reception. But that’s cool. Baby steps.
On the morning of the wedding Erdenebulgan and her husband picked me up in their van, and then we drove around the city for a while, fetching various elders. I don’t think my presence had been explained to people ahead of time, as evidenced by this conversation I inserted myself into:
Blah blah who blah blah foreign person?
Blah blah blah English teacher blah American blah.
(pats my knee) That’s very good.
Hee hee hee.
Then we arrived at Erdenet’s wedding palace, which looks like a big, white, concrete ger from outer space. We sat around in the van for a while, waiting for the wedding party to arrive from the countryside. The old people passed the time by offering each other little snuffs from their snuff bottles. Eventually I was made to snort some, too, and oo girl, oo. That stuff is spicy.
The wedding was half Western, half Mongolian. The Western half took place in a small circular chapel with faux stained glass windows. The bride and groom stood in the middle and accepted various framed certificates and photos from the officiant, and the guests stood around and took photo upon photo (I had been worried about the appropriateness of bringing my camera, but as soon as I hefted it out of my purse people started shoving me to the front of the crowd, tapping people on the shoulder and saying “Hey! Move it! The foreigner wants to take pictures”).
The Mongolian half of the wedding was in a side room. The bride and groom stood at the head of a table that was piled with fried dough, candy and aruul. Bowls of fermented mare’s milk were passed around, for people to sip; little flutes of vodka went around, too. An older guy was shredding the horsehead fiddle like nobody’s business, and an older lady was leading the room in song. I didn’t recognize the tune, so I just stood there and sipped my airag and told myself not to tear up.
It was lovely. My only regret is not getting a picture of the bride and groom’s baby daughter, who was wearing a wee little wedding dress.
*As somebody who is not living in a tent, it is probably inappropriate for me to complain about the weather at any time; please excuse me if I gave the impression that I was complaining because I was not complaining. I would never complain. Verily I sing praises unto thee, Toasty Apartment With Vacuum Sealed Windows.