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 225 - Kazakhstan Part 22

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 arrived back at the apartment at dusk on Saturday evening. We gathered our bags and stepped out of the car. Inna gave us a quick wave and a reminder that they would pick us up the next day for sightseeing. The dark car sped into the approaching night and we were standing in front of the building.

A group of teenage boys and young men were gathered outside the door. Walking through the midst of them to get to the door felt distinctly uncomfortable. In the back of my mind was a concern that we would be robbed or worse. We stared fixedly at the door and made a point of not looking at the blue spraypainted 'F*ck George Bush' written on the wall next to the door. In 2005, this phrase may have been the world's most popular graffiti since we saw it frequently.

We went through the door started the long walk up four flights of stairs. Two of the young men walked behind us. We quickened our pace. They two guys unlocked the apartment on the second floor and we were left to wonder if we were victims only of our nerves.

We dragged ourselves up the next flights until we stood in front of our two-deep door. We were getting used to all the keys by now. In fact, the little apartment was starting to feel like home.

Terry was always more comfortable walking around Uralsk alone than I was. Perhaps it was because he was the tallest person in the city or at least seemed to be. The adoption agency had warned us to avoid going out at night. There was a presidential election occurring in the beginning of December and something about that made this not the greatest time to be wandering around looking like a foreigner. I understood the connection more thoroughly later.

In Uralsk, it always seemed to take a long time to go from starting to get dark to being really dark outside. It was another warm day and even warmer in the steam-heated apartment. I opened the windows in the living room and watered "the lady's" plants. We had started to call the owner of the apartment "the lady" or "the old lady" because we never knew more about her than that. Through the windows and over the plants, the muezzin's haunting call to worship at the mosque floated on the air. It was an exotic sound to our ears and yet it seemed perfectly right in this place.

Terry took advantage of the dwindling sunlight and went for a little walk to one of the neighborhood stores. We often forgot our shopping bag when we went out, particularly in the beginning, and it was comical to have to carry an unwrapped loaf of bread or stuff packages into pockets. Terry had discovered the variety of Kazakh chocolate bars. That, and vodka, were available at most of the tiny grocery stores. Sometimes it was difficult to tell what was in the packaging of other items but a chocolate bar seems to look like a chocolate bar around the world.

I pulled back the lace curtains in the living room to get a clearer view. One by one, the lights went on in the windows in the distance building. This was the back side of our building. Instead of the muddy road and central courtyard in front of our building, the back had a muddy road and the rear of this business with the blocks. Sometimes vehicles would move the blocks around but I almost never saw a person out there. Maybe they worked while we were visiting the kids.
After a long and eventful week, I flopped back on the couch and watched the apartments light up as the sky grew darker. It was a good place to be.

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