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 232 - Kazakhstan Part 23

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

In Uralsk, people work and go to school on Monday through Saturday and many have Sunday as their only day off. Saturday night seemed to be a universal night to cut loose. At least that's what it sounded like through our apartment walls. When considering the penchant for the Kazakhs to 'party hearty' please note that the walls are literally more than one foot of solid concrete thick.

People went up and down the staircase until late at night. The couple in the apartment next to ours seemed to become unhappy with each other at about two in the morning. It's funny how you can understand the essence of a dispute in another language. A woman's voice launched into a lengthy diatribe that got progressively louder. The man answered in a brief guttural sound. Whatever he'd been doing, his wife thought he'd either been doing too much of it or not enough and he was not impressed with her input. The conversation continued in this fashion for several interchanges.

We pulled our thin, lumpy pillows over our heads. Every place we stayed overseas had thin, square pillows. I learned to stuff clothing into the pillow cases to get a sufficiently "huggable" pillow.

The morning was gray. Most mornings in Uralsk at that time of the year are gray, though I've heard from other travelers that summers are brighter. The sun hits the earth at such a shallow angle that dawn seems to take a very long time. The shallow porch in the bedroom was a wonderful place from which to take the pulse of the neighborhood. It was too narrow and the ledge too high to drag a chair out there comfortably, so I sat on the ledge close to the windows and surveyed the surroundings.

An early morning walker was probably on his way to one of the little stores shoehorned into the first floors of the apartment and commercial buildings. This is a rare photo where the wild dogs and cats are not visible, though they are probably just outside the shot.

When we first arrived, we were dismissive of the rutted mud trails that took the place of proper streets and the mud that covered nearly everything. Parallels with Scott Adam's Elbonia from the Dilbert comic were inevitable. In time, the ubiquitous mud receded in our consciousness and we began to appreciate the spirit of the people who could work long hours all week, party all Saturday night and still get up in the gray dawn to walk in the courtyard.

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