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 197 - Kazakhstan Part 19

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. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Our first visit with Nurlan left us tired. His activity level was high, his ability to be interested in something for more than one minute was low, and, frankly, we are not all that amusing. They parked us in a room filled with brightly-colored, breakable objects and one tiny, relentless, pre-verbal cyclone and then probably when out back for a smoke and a laugh at our expense.

Like the conclusion of Pinocchio, our little doll from the photographs had turned into a real live boy, a real live boy who was intent on handling a miniature painted china set on a wobbly table.

Ditching our fabric shoe covers in the box in the front hallway, we zipped out the door, across the mud parking lot and into the friendly confines of Dima's car. Inna strode behind us in her long leather boots, folding her legs to fit into the front seat.

As Dima pulled out of the parking lot, we conferred in the back seat. We had a bag of animal crackers back at the apartment, so we could bring those to catch Nurlan's attention tomorrow. But toys -- we would need some toys. We had some Matchbox cars and trinkets but this didn't seem to be enough to keep Nurlan from launching himself at the china table.

Inna overheard our discussion. "Would you like us to take you to a toy store?"

We had come to understand that there was nothing like a department store in Uralsk. There were little specialty stores everywhere. Each apartment building had at least one tiny grocery store on the main floor in a small space that obviously had been an apartment in the communist days. Now, the enterprising lived in their bedrooms and set up retail shelving in their living rooms.

"A toy store would be great."

Dima drove to the Uralsk version of FAO Schwartz. The store featured shiny wooden floors, elegantly dressed sales people behind a counter and tastefully arranged toys from Russia and Turkey. Many of the toys were wooden or metal. There was a pronounced absence of Chinese colored plastic. This was an expensive store even by American standards. By everyday Kazakh standards, it must have been obscene.

There was only one other customer in the store. Without the sounds of children, the beautiful toy store seemed like a museum.

We bought some blocks with pictures on them and a coloring book with some crayons. What would the baby like? We hadn't been sure about the second child, so we had not brought baby clothes or toys with us except for few books and a teddy bear. We looked at rattles in the elegant display case and finally selected one. Satisfied that we were now equipped to face the next visitation sessions, we stepped out the door of Wonderland and into the gray Uralsk afternoon.

Inna and Dima dropped us at the apartment for lunch with a promise to return at about 3:30 so that we would not be late for our first official visit with Anastasiya. We dragged ourselves up the four flights of stairs, through the two doors, and then straight to the bedroom for a nap.

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