Мамо, це не сон!


September 25, 2022 :: 9:57 PM

as seen at St. Mike’s

A photo of Lviv popped up in my Facebook memories today and I abruptly started to cry.

Fuck me. This war needs to end.

 

- - - - - - - - - -

Since someone asked, and it wasn’t really a Facebook post, here is - in a nutshell - my journey. (aka: WHY THE FUCK DO YOU POST THIS UKRAINIAN SHIT ALL THE TIME? Also: fuck you, former friend.)

My grandparents were from a village in Poland, which would become a part of Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine.

They were captured by the Germans and were forced labor in northern Germany, which is where my mother was born.

When she was 3, they came to the US.

She rebelled hardcore against the old school Ukrainians.

There’s a story that I’ve heard a dozen times, that when my mother first brought my father home to meet the family, it didn’t go particularly well. For him.

Supposedly, my grandmother chased him down Pine Lane, waving a broom, and shouting ‘я тебе дам!’ (which translates to “I’m going to give it to you.”)

I think we all understand what exactly it was that my grandmother was going to give him and it certainly wasn’t going to be a bowl of her borscht.

Oh God, to hear about the reactions… you would have thought the world was going to end because my mother married AN AMERICAN.

Anyhoo… they got married in ‘69 and I came along in ‘75.

She tried to get me to go to Ukie School, but I was painfully shy back then and remember being miserable. I can’t remember why I stopped going, but I stopped. With that, my formal Ukrainian language studies ended, and I was left to pick up as much as I could by osmosis.

(It wasn’t very much, as Future Wendell would come to learn.)

So.

1992. Mom died. I became isolated from the Ukrainian community in Hartford, for a bunch of reasons, but that was pretty much the last straw. Then, I got cut off from the woman who practically raised me.

2014? I can’t remember for sure if I decided before or after Russia invaded Crimea, but I was done feeling like something was missing.

I started Ukrainian lessons. I was terrible at sticking to it - and now, *cough* years later, I still struggle with it.

But.

I went to the Ukrainian Festival at Suzy-Q.

I went to the Ukrainian Festival in Toronto.

I hired a company to do my genealogical research and had them arrange a trip to Ukraine.

Then, we went to Lviv and Medvedivtsi.

It was all over for me after that.

Something clicked. It literally felt like a switch flipped. Something in my DNA woke up and it felt like coming home.

Seriously.

I’m in this village where I barely speak the language, standing on a dirt road, and feeling like twelve different types of asshole tourist, but damn, it felt good to be there.

It felt right.

And then I came home, stopped studying Ukrainian, moved to Florida, got fired for being bipolar, and had to deal with all that bullshit.

A few months ago, I decided to pick the language back up. I’m spending more time trying to read Ukrainian and watching Ukrainian videos… and I have been finding all kinds of new music, too.

So. There you go.

Я - українська.

Not at all what I wanted to write, but it’s what you’re getting.

Привіт! Мене звати Wendell. Як вас звати?


September 11, 2022 :: 5:02 PM

insert witty comment here

Today’s 5K was a horrendous waste of time.

I was told that the course - up and down the Hollywood Beach boardwalk - was beautiful and shady and quick.

I’ll agree that it was beautiful before the sun came up and there was a nice breeze. I’ll disagree with the shady and quick. As far as I’m concerned, that wonderful shady stretch just meant that the humidity was trapped by the trees that bestowed their shade upon the sweltering masses who decided that running in South Florida is a Good Thing. And, of course, running through soup doesn’t necessarily equate to speed.

It’s the “Fire Hero 5K” - a double whammy because it was held on September 11th - and there were firefighters in full gear running the fucking thing. 3 miles in 20+ pounds of gear. Nope. I wanted to pass out just looking at them.

I’ve been thinking about a lot of things, most of them not good.

But let’s start with a good one.

My husband and I are firm believers in the fact that a guide book with only take you so far. At some point, you need to put the book down and explore. We spent almost the entire week in Lviv just walking around, just my bad Ukrainian and a city map to make sure we didn’t get too lost… and we had some of the best experiences that way.

Same during this last trip to London. We took the train out to a friend’s so we could meet up and do the Harry Potter Studio Tour together. While we were waiting at the “station” for our ride, we popped into a little cafe right there on the platform. The guy saw our Arsenal caps and… we got an education on Gunner history and lore. AMAZING. (But, he ended up being outshone by the fan seated next to me at Emirates Stadium. I learned… things.)

Also, during this last trip to London, as I so loudly put as we were walking down the road towards Buckingham Palace, WE SAW THE FUCKING QUEEN.

Fun fact - if the Queen (or I guess King, now) is in residence, the Royal Standard flies above the palace. Do not ask me where I learned that. I cannot tell you… it’s like it’s always just been in my head, waiting to be useful. Anyway, the Royal Standard was flying over Buckingham during that trip. We were going to - I think - be tourists and watch the Changing of the Guard again. (I will always try to do the touristy things, but I will not revolve a trip around them unless I absolutely have to.) As we were walking, we were just chit chatting and trying not to run over the stupid American tourists in front of us who were walking stupid slow and buried so deep in their books and maps that they didn’t realise a car was coming towards us. A car that had a flag on it. A flag that just happened to the the Royal Fucking Standard. THE QUEEN WAS IN THE CAR. AND I SAW HER.

I also let anyone within hearing distance know that, “OH MY GOD, THAT’S THE MOTHERFUCKING QUEEN.”

(Shush. Let me have my random moment of being an obnoxious American tourist.)

So yeah… kind of surreal to think that Queen Elizabeth is dead. She seemed… indestructible.

I don’t know. The other stuff that’s been weighing on my mind… I thought I was ready to talk about it, but I’m still not. Two people know about the panic attack at the gas station and the google search that destroyed my Friday night and most of Saturday. Just two… any more and the thought of sharing that kicks up another flight or fight reaction.

I’m not ready to talk about Phoenix Day, or my Ukrainian lessons… none of it.

So, this post was pretty pointless.

I guess most of them are, but this one is even more so than usual.

pssst…. we saw the Queen

 

двадцять neuf


September 03, 2022 :: 2:55 PM

During my Ukrainian lessons: think in Ukrainian, speak in French.

My running coach is on vacation, so I decided to load up on local 5Ks to make sure I get some outdoor miles.

I’m very disappointed and mostly confused about today’s 5K.

I ran intervals a bit - started out way too fast and burned out, so I walked for about a little more than a mile, and then I went back to intervals. According to my Garmin, my first few runs were at a 9/10 minute pace and my walks at 17. That was pretty decent, but my runs really should have been at a 12/13 mm. I watched my Garmin the entire second half to keep my pace in the slower range. And… surprise! I felt better. It just goes to show that - IN THIS CASE - I should not listen to my body. Apparently, my body thinks a 9mm is my speed. It’d be nice if it were sustainable, but I can’t even do a 30 second run interval at that speed without wheezing and seriously questioning my sanity.

But, then I finished the course and looked at my Garmin.

In “feels like 90” with 86% humidity, I ran 3.35 miles at a 15:15 pace. I WAS THRILLED..

And then I looked at my chip time.

It didn’t matter what I did in the end. My chip time was 16:30.

ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH!

I walk a fucking 16:30. Without intervals.

And I RAN this time. That should have helped…

I know my pace is thrown off because my distance was off and it makes me question a lot of things. Like I started my watch late and yet still hit mile markers a full quarter mile after the watch registered a mile.

It might be the foot pod. I forgot to take it off my shoe when I got dressed this morning and it’s calibrated to the treadmill. (I used three different data sources to make sure the foot pod was recording a similar speed. I mean, if it matches Nike Run Club, Strava, and the treadmill, then it’s calibrated correctly as far as I’m concerned.) I’m guessing that if it’s overriding the GPS, it’s clocking a quicker speed because I did an offset. I don’t know. But, at the same time, I’m scared to take it off because I had to basically reprogram my Garmin so it would read correctly. I used to have a really nice Garmin foot pod but it died and Garmin doesn’t sell that model any more. I couldn’t even get a refurbed one from them. I ended up with a Stryd pod, based on a lot of research, but I hate it. (I had to change my watch face to add one of Stryd’s data fields and now I don’t get the information I want / am used to. First world problems, I guess.)

In other news, I’m building absolutely ridiculous excel spreadsheets again.

At my new job, we’ve been hoarding paper. You know it’s bad when the printing companies can’t get their hands on a C1S 80 pound cover, or whatever.

SO. Our Production Manager doesn’t understand how to manage inventory and it’s being complicated by the fact that our inventory is spread over four warehouses and some other issues. She has this excel spreadsheet which is basically an out of control data dump. She can’t even assign dollar values so that I can properly value our inventory at month-end… and we’re sitting on about a million dollars worth of paper.

Because we’re still using Excel 2010, I really had to go back to basics, which was miserable.

I ended up taking her spreadsheet and working through the messy transactions, cleaning it up and making sense of it. I got about 25 lines in before I wanted to throw things. At that point, it was better to move on to the formulas and figure out how to get it to export some real data.

I love pivot tables, so that was kind of the endgame. It took so much trial and error to carry the dollar values, to calculate the inventory without double counting it..  but in the end, I got there.

Three pivot tables:

1) Inventory location showing stock size, type, brand, and quantity

2) Stock value by stock type

3) Number of sheets allocated or used by a job

It’s clumsy as fuck and it’s a little convoluted to get the data actually in, but now that it’s set up, it shouldn’t be that hard to maintain.

It’s honestly the stuff of nightmares.

And with that said, I’m off to find some food, play some Sims and do some Ukrainian homework.

I know. My life is SUPER exciting.

Життя починаеться знов


August 20, 2022 :: 11:57 AM

see you later, alligator

This weekend is the hubby’s birthday and then on the 24th is the most important day of my life: Ukraine’s Independence Day. (And it might be our wedding anniversary, too, but priorities…)

(I’m trying not think too hard about what Putin may do to ‘celebrate’, but it’s not far from my thoughts.)

To celebrate, we went to the Everglades National Park - Shark Valley. All he’s wanted to do since we moved here is see an alligator in the wild and this place practically guarantees sightings. Of course, it’s “wet” season, which means the gators like to hide out in the water. During the dry season, they’re more likely to be out on the ground. Amazingly enough, there are no boundaries anywhere. People are expected to respect the wildlife, and in turn, the wildlife ignores them. According to our guide, there’s only been one serious event, it was an accident, and the kid survived. (The moral of the story is don’t fall off your bike onto an alligator.)

It’s a 15 mile loop, and in August, it’s a stupid idea to walk it. I wanted to, but we decided to take the tram out and back. (I know how to hydrate - not diedrate - and when you’re training for a marathon in South Florida, 15 miles is nothing! Unfortunately, the husband disagreed with me, so we’ll go back when it’s cooler. Maybe then he won’t care that it’s 15 miles.)

Our tour guide was excellent and the driver deserves a reward for not killing anyone. Every time the driver saw something of note, she’d slam on the brakes and make sure we saw it. She missed a turtle, but caught two alligators. Since that was the only objective, we left poor, but happy. (I can’t believe how expensive it was: $30 / car or $15 / person to get into the park, and another $30-ish / person to take the tram tour. But… alligators!)

In other news, life begins again. I’m feeling the best I’ve felt in a while (well, since I got fired in 2018) and it’s starting to show. I’ve pretty much decided to jump into the things that matter with both feet and dedicate myself to getting stronger. Whether it’s becoming fluent in Ukrainian or training for a marathon, it’s all or nothing. I’m finally rediscovering… me. I lost who I was for such a long time.

I ended up dumping my Ukrainian teacher and trying another one. I’m on my third. She seems to understand what I want out of this and is actually using a pretty obscure textbook that I already own. (It’s only offered by one program and it’s the textbook for their classes. Their program was OK, but pricey. The textbook however is amazing.)

I feel like I’m making a little progress with remembering vocab. I’m back on the Duolingo bandwagon because it’s a quick refresher every day and that helps, too. I’m also revisiting the Ukrainian Lessons podcast. I’m jumping in with both feet and it feels good.

Also part of my all or nothing mindset is running.

Yeah. Running.

I hired a running coach.

Read that again.

I. Hired. A. Running. Coach.

It’s like I want to become a serious runner or something…

I’m ridiculously fixated on my speed. Which, I suppose is understandable considering I didn’t finish two half marathons within the time limit. It was pure luck I didn’t get swept during Wine and Dine, and while I finished right behind the balloon ladies during Marathon Weekend (and knocked 13 minutes off my W&D time), I’m not happy with it. I want to finish these races with time to spare, to not be stressed out by an ill-timed bathroom break, to not hurt myself by trying to keep an unobtainable pace.

So. Yeah. I hired a running coach and every Saturday, we meet at the track and he tries to kill me. (Have I ever fully described South Florida in August? It fucking sucks.) I do speed drills. A lot of drills.

I’m getting faster and it’s hurting me less to run at those speeds. I’m still planning on doing intervals during the races, but I’m not sure what that’s going to look like. He thinks I can do one minute running, when I was aiming for thirty seconds.

The most exciting thing is that my progress is measurable. I’m consistently doing 11 minute miles (in about 40 seconds of running) during our track runs. When paired with my now-plateaued 16:30 walking speed, I’m in pretty good shape.

I had a rough goal of being able to finish in 7 hours with the Galloway 30/30 pacers, but he thinks I can finish in 6 without any problems. It’s not a Boston Qualifier by any means, but it’s more than I thought possible.

I don’t know…

I’m feeling pretty damn good about myself and the way my life is heading and I haven’t been able to say that in a long time.

 

Війнами втомлена та ніким не зломлена


July 09, 2022 :: 7:59 AM

My handwriting has improved!

I’m constantly fascinated by the amount of assholery I see in the world. Although I don’t know why… I mean, I’m the biggest asshole I know.

I mentioned - in passing - that I had a Ukrainian lesson this morning. (The first one in five (FIVE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) years.) And I was told that I shouldn’t be wasting my time on a ‘trendy’ language since nobody speaks it in Florida.

Sure.

There isn’t a Ukrainian community in Miami.

There isn’t one in Orlando, either.

And even more importantly, I don’t have an emotional or a biological connection to Ukraine.

Nope.

Also of note: “Why do you have all this Ukrainian crap all over Facebook?” / “Your bio didn’t say anything about being Ukrainian until the war started.”

Whatever.

I was listening to a YouTube playlist the other day and this popped up. I can’t say it’s my favourite OE song, but I might have repeated it once or twice… or seventy eleven billion times, but who’s counting? What I could understand of the lyrics pulled me in, and then Lyrics Translate filled in the blanks.

 

Which is a nice segue to a recap of my Ukrainian lesson…

I told the teacher that I was basically starting from scratch, but it turns out that’s not exactly true.

I can remember the “first chapter” stuff - greetings, how to read the alphabet - but once we get into the meat of the language, I’ll be totally useless. Then again, I’m getting better at reading. A lot of words stand out and I can put together a simple translation of a paragraph or a headline.

I’m also listening to more music than ever before and trying to translate the lyrics, sometimes with absolutely hysterical results. (Remember AND YOU DON’T EVEN BLOW YOUR MUSTACHE, YOU ARRANGE YOUR LIFE!!!!!!!!! I still giggle every time I hear that line.)  I’ve been on the lookout for new bands for a while now and I found KALUSH prior to this year’s Eurovision competition but I didn’t put two and two together for a while. It wasn’t until they started getting a lot of exposure that I recognised the rapper’s voice. This song has been on repeat for-fucking-ever during my commute. One, because Slava rapping is a kink I didn’t know I had (I don’t know if it’s rapping… more like over enunciating? Don’t know. Doesn’t matter.) and two, what the fuck is the guy in the pink hat saying?

 

I like learning songs that are hard. (ha. I said hard.)  Guns and Ships from Hamilton. It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine) from R.E.M. Диагноз from Бумбокс. The speed of the lyrics. The cadence. Even the way certain words are accented. It’s challenge I love. And one that I’m not all that great at in Ukrainian.

So. KALUSH.

If some of their videos didn’t have the lyrics, I think I would die. He hits certain words weird to make them fit better in his rapid fire style. I maybe understand one or two words each time he goes off because he’s just so fucking fast. Maybe if I was fluent, maybe if I could at least read quicker, if I could speak faster, it wouldn’t be quite so tongue twisty…

Example 1 (a quick teaser of the Eurovision winner because it has the lyrics):

 

Also.. watching him live? Fuck me. How much did he have to practice?!?!?!

(I love this video because it was filmed in Площі Ринок (Market Square) in Lviv. I walked that cobblestone street and I know exactly where it was filmed which makes me happy in ways I can’t explain. Too bad the quality isn’t the greatest.)

Example 2:

(And no. I don’t know what’s up with the “carpet guy”. I should probably google it, but I kind of like not knowing.)

So. Yeah.

I would apologise, because I had a blog set up specifically for my Ukrainian posts, but I don’t like it over there. I’m actually going to shut it down whenever I get to it… I had an idea for a different Ukrainian themed site, but we’ll see where that goes. Probably nowhere right now.

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