Tomorrow is the first day of my semester winter vacation that lasts 1 week, 1 day.
This has been a commiserating-with-colleagues week about how many days we have left until the vacation.
I will still come to school next week, but not until late morning at the earliest. And my colleagues and I will sit around and shoot the breeze...and if it snows I will go sledding and if it doesn't snow I will read The Grass is Singing and watch Desperate Housewives and Miami Ink on Discovery.ro and whatever other sundry shows end up on Romanian television.
And I will go to a winter festival and drink hot, spiced wine .
And I might even try to figure out how to strum the guitar I recently acquired.
So ready



When I moved to my village this summer, there was talk of me moving into my host families main house during the winter because then I wouldn't need to use my soba.
"No." I said. "I prefer the independence of living a little separate. I need it."
They just looked at each other and smiled. She has no clue what she's getting into, I'm sure they though.
Well, the winter is just what I would have expected of a normal wisconsin winter and since I've lived through those, I've lived through this one fine.
My plumbing, however has not.
The third time the pipes to my bathroom froze, I realized I had to come to terms with my need for independence. So during the coldest part of the winter (so far) I ended up using my gazda's bathroom for a week and taking bottles of water up to my bathroom to brush my teeth and wash my face.
As it started warming up and the bathroom water unfroze, my gazda graciously offered for me to continue using their shower instead of taking a shower in my barely-above-freezing bathroom.
So I said, "The h with independence" and now take luxuriously warm showers in piping hot water.
Sometimes independence is overrated.


The one with all the layers

During Christmas vacation it was around -15 degrees celsius every night and sometimes in the daytime...that's pretty close to 0 degree Fahrenheit.
The most difficult part of the vacation ending was that I would have to exchange my cozy soba-warmed room for my class-room-where-my-students-can-see-their-breath and I spend the hours leaning against the soba.
In preparation for this daily experience, I start my morning with a pair of tights, over which comes smartwool socks and sometimes the cold even merits another under-layer of underarmor pants before I pull up the final layer of pants...
On top, I start out with a tanktop, then a light sweater over which comes a button-up shirt, just in case I take off other layers and want to look professional. Then comes a a bulky sweater and scarf...
I have not not worn a scarf since October.
Finally the top layer is a coat and hat.
This week has been as warm as 5 degrees Celsius. But by habit I still put on the layers every morning. All this to say that I have been .HOT. this week. And it is amazing.


gynecology tree

My host families 5th grader, who I teach english to, was working on his english homework the other day.
He told his mom that Rachel had told him to make an arboreale genecologic...(gynecology tree)
"What?" Gabi asked him.
"A gynecology tree. You know, where you put your grandparents on the top and you are at the bottom of the tree."
"Oh. You mean arboreale geneologic" (family tree).

So now my three fifth grade classes think that family trees are called gynecology trees.


I bought some tweezers

and I read this on the back of the package:

"Aimier Makeup appliance is keeping the trace of the world front technology of the beauty appliances, persist ently being exquisite to aim at the regional age, which has developed serial of hi-quality produce to offer perfect service for the makeup of the global women."

Manufacturer: Hong Kong

So is there a world of english out there, written by people who don't speak english and received by people who don't speak english?


my default is laughter

My room is cold when I come home from school and takes a couple hours to warm up after I've started a fire. So I hang out with my host family for a couple hours every afternoon, chatting about nothing and eating leftover christmas cookies.
So Gabi and I were having some warm mint tea in the kitchen a couple days ago.
She said a word I didn't know, so I asked her what it meant, and then I tried to pronounce it a couple times. para-blah-blah-blah. is what I ended up with.
"When I can't pronounce the word," I told Gabi," I try to slur it so it sounds like I'm kind of pronouncing it."
Gabi laughed.
"When you don't understand what we're saying, you laugh." she told me.
"Yeah. I always know when you don't know what's going on because you'll laugh at everything."
And now I'm noticing it. Gabi's right. I do laugh when I don't understand. So much for trying to play off my ignorance.


my gingerbread village.

I sledded from this hill.
It was terrifying.
That's my village in the background.

weeks of partying

In Romania, every holiday lasts more than a day.
Christmas day 1, Christmas day 2 and Christmas day 3.
New Years has two all-night parties, on the 31st and the 1st.
People charol from christmas eve until the 5th of January because today, the baptism of Jesus, is the last day of the holiday season.
How do they do it?