I had some dreams ... they were klowns in my koffee.

(With apologies to Carly Simon)

This is my journey through job transition from a toxic environment to a better life. Join me for a few thoughts and a few laughs along the way.
What are "klowns in my koffee"? They are the factors large and small that make you less than you are. A "klown" can be a grossly incompetent boss,
a short-sighted policy or a moronic coworker. They won't kill you, at least not immediately, but they abrade the soul
as you scrape past them to get through the day. Sometimes it's best to dump them out of the cup.


Day 92 - Kazakhstan Part 5

Every Sunday, this blog will describe our life-changing trip to Kazakhstan in 2005 to adopt our two youngest children. While some of our friends and family have seen a few of the pictures, we've never put it all together in an organized format. One of the reasons is that I hesitate to subject others to a 21st century version of the endless slideshow of vacation photos harking to some relative's visit and a lost evening of my childhood. Still, the story must be told before details are lost since this is my children's unique birthright. When we get to the end of the story, I'll edit the posts together into an extended and separate blog page and then have it printed by one of the blog-to-book(let) services for my kids. For people with less interest, these posts will be easy to identify and avoid. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

We got up very early in the morning on October 31, 2005, after having slept an hour or two. We each had two large suitcases stuffed with our clothes, some food items, and forty or fifty gifts for the caregivers and any officials that we might encounter. The gifts are an interesting feature of foreign adoptions and selection was something that we sweated over for weeks. We also packed dozens of little socks and other items for the childrens' home. (I slip sometimes and say 'orphanage' but the more accepted terminology is 'childrens' home' -- dyetski dom in Russian. Many of the children that are surrendered to the state throughout the world are not orphans by the definition that they have no living biological parents but are relinquished because their families of origin are not able to care for them sufficiently for some reason.)

So, the total was four giant suitcases plus two carry-on bags each the size of a muscular dog. One carry-on held a laptop and a variety of books and snacks while the other had the reams of documents that we were required to bring to complete the adoption process. This bag was the precious one and I joked that I should be handcuffed to it like a government courier in a movie. Over the last couple of years, I've heard that cash machines have become much more available in Kazakhstan but at that time the instruction was to bring thousands of dollars in new US currency. We had the money split between us and secured in money belts under our clothing. This sounds strange since most of us are so used to using cards for many transactions, but the rest of the world routinely carries big wads of their local currency. Still, I felt like someone from a spy novel with money taped to my abdomen and inside my bra.

My older daughter had just gotten her driver's license and took us to the airport as one of her first major excursions. The airport was as it always is and I was in a major lather worrying about getting checked in and through security in enough time. I recall that it took forever but have forgotten the details. But we made the plane to Chicago and then to Frankfurt.

International flights were terrific because European airlines had not learned to regard the passengers as an inconvenience as their American counterparts seem to. While the United flight attendant's glare seemed to imply that I was single-handedly responsible for the financial crisis in the travel industry for wanting the whole can of pop, Lufthansa had actual meals and wine and I didn't have to fight someone for one of the twenty pillows available for 300 people. Refreshing.

Terry's statement on flying is that he is terrified of it and this is not hyperbole. As soon as we boarded, he took the flight magazine from the pocket of the seat in front, rolled it into a cylinder and clenched and turned it in his hands for hours until the print was obscured by friction and sweat. I napped off and on while I'm not sure that he ever fell asleep.

It's a long way across the Atlantic and nothing to look at out the window. Approaching land was a relief since there is always that wee little voice reminding you that, in case of a crash, there are no islands in the North Atlantic. As the flight grew longer and longer, we got tired of sitting in the little chairs with our shoulders sucked in.

At last we landed in Germany where we had a plane change and a layover of a couple of hours before boarding the next plane to Almaty, the largest city and former capital of Kazakhstan.

With the change in carrier, we were required to collect all our luggage and check in all over again. Our bags finally appeared on the carousel. With purses and cameras, we had seven or eight different things with handles or straps dragging along behind us. It was nice to be able to get off the plane and move around.

We looked around. Most of the signs were in German or Japanese. I had some idiotic idea that we would get off the plane, show our next set of tickets to someone at a desk at the gate and they would tell us in English where to walk to sit at another gate to wait for the plane. Nope. I thought, "How big could the airport be?" The answer: Really, really big. With multiple levels and terminals and those little trains.

We wheeled our city of luggage toward a sign that seemed to say something about international flights. We went through a window where they spoke German to us and we spoke English to them. They must have been satisfied because someone stamped our passports and waved us through. "Why didn't I learn German?," I thought desperately to myself. This was foreshadowing for a couple of days later when I noticed that I'd also forgotten to learn Russian.

We were in a giant terminal with people running in every direction like ants in a Discovery channel special. There were several lines of a hundred people or more waiting to go through turnstiles, all loudly conversing in multiple languages. We had two hours before the next plane's departure and each of the lines had waiting times of over an hour. Which was the right line? There wasn't time to make a mistake. I was exhausted and this would have been a good time to cry if I were a crying person. All I could do was walk up and down the length of the terminal looking for a sign or someone to give us directions as the giant clock in the ceiling showed that it was later and later.

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