Monday, November 17, 2014

That time I got evicted. (Part II)

Enough is enough, decided our knight errant, and so Rudi arrived on the scene on Thursday to "liquidate the entirety" of the apartment according to Lola's petulant wishes. There was a whole list of demands awaiting us when we arrived at the pink apartment, including:

1. Paint the walls (because you ruined them)
2. Put the couch covers in the washing machine (because they're so dirty)
3. Buy a new doorknob (omg enough with the goddam doorknob)
4. Fix everything you damaged (uh, what?)
5. etc., etc., and so forth with illogical and unreasonable sweeping statements of nonsense.

In an almighty furor, Rudi wrote a venomous note back to Lola and got into a fight with Lola's messenger, the hair stylist downstairs. (Because obviously Lola wasn't on hand to actually talk with the Peace Corps rep face to face, which would be just too logical.) And Lena came with her son and took everything left in the apartment, including the stuff Mary just couldn't care less about like a dented ladle and empty peanut butter jars from America and three burned-out candles. They worked shpejt shpejt (quickly quickly) because again, Lola claimed to be returning in a few hours and they all wanted to get the hell out of that situation. But Rudi held onto the key, which Mary would return as soon as Lola returned her rent for half the month of November.

(Might I remind you all that it is now THURSDAY and still Lola hasn't moved her "terminally ill" husband to Lushnje. She gave me FIVE HOURS to get out, and a full EIGHTY-THREE hours later she still hasn't brought him back. I'm sure he's sick, and I really want to feel compassion for her - I do - but honestly, at this point I'm pretty sure she's either majorly exaggerating or TOTALLY MAKING THIS UP for her own convenience.)

Friday was World Diabetes Day, so Mary went back to work for some semblance of normalcy and took part in an activity with the office providing free diabetes blood sugar testing and blood pressure taking in the park. Also, she had an adventure with her washing machine, who is a little persnickety and took a bit to warm up to her. Friday also provided a slight hiatus from the evil (former) landlady, hallelujah praise the Lord.

Six calls from Lola. Six calls from Lola ignored by the fed-up Peace Corps volunteer. One hilarious text message from Lola:

"E lexova letren.Me ty
nuk me lidhi bujaria dhe
ligjesia,por bashkveprimi
reciprok.Laj dritat,ujin,
demet materiale qe me
ke shkaketuar.Marrja e
celesit eshte qesharake.
Ne dhjetor vjen vllai nga
Amerika qe esht i zoti
shtepis.Ai eshte qytetar
amerikan i nderuar.Cdo
gje e ka bler me djersen
e ballit .5vjet qe ka sjell
fondacioni ka dhene
parat qe i takonin vellajt
tim. Ai me tha do
ballafaqohem un me
Merin dhe me Rudin.

Which I understand to mean, basically:

"I read your note. Our agreement was not out of generosity nor was it legally mandated, but out of a simple agreement. Fix the energy and water bills and the materials you damaged. Taking the key is foolish. In December, my brother is coming from America. He owns the apartment. He is an honored American citizen. Everything which you bought with the sweat of your brow over the past half year (five years?) was money that belongs to my brother. He said we will face Mary and Rudi. Lola"

LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL. I paid the water and energy bills up through October. It is literally not possible to pay the first ten days of November separately at this time. The energy and water places wouldn't let me, so I basically did all I could there. Also, I didn't damage a single thing. Also, what is an "honored American citizen" and is that supposed to be a threat? Because if so that's hilarious. Also I just switched from third to first person, sorry. Also my brain hurts.

And here is where our story concludes for the time being. It has been a week of inexplicable insanity, stress, confusion, and exhaustion. Moral of the story: stay away from crazy people. They have a funny way of trying to ruin your life.

Albania. Always interesting.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

That time I got evicted. (Part I)

My brain, all this week.

Once upon a time, there lived a Peace Corps Volunteer named Mary in a pink apartment - an apartment which was, admittedly, a little too nice for Peace Corps' purposes - on a dusty street in a little city in Albania. Her landlady was crazy old woman named Lola who had let herself into the apartment when our PCV was out and then locked the door with a secret deadbolt key she had, simply because she found the house "too dirty." What the evil landlady didn't know was that it wasn't dirty, but dusty, because Mary was busy making gingerbread cookies and houses for the holiday season to give to friends and coworkers like a nice human being, and so there was flour everywhere. This fact did not stop her from calling Mary the equivalent of "slut" in front of the entire high school when she went to get the secret key so she could get back in her house.

Did Mary learn her lesson about the evil landlady? Did she immediately seek out new housing to get away from the insanity that was Lola? No, she did not. And that is where our story picks up today.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


Call me melodramatic, but in 2010 when our governor, He Who Must Not Be Named, was elected, I cried. And then I was among the over 100,000 protesters at the Madison capitol for weeks (some would say months) when things went sour. And THEN I voted in the recall election, but he managed to win that, too. I mean, WTF Wisconsin. There's a huge chunk of the population that don't like this guy, so let's vote him out.

Mary Burke ALL THE WAY. Plus she has a cool first name.

Yay for the democratic process!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tumblr-ing in Albanian

I am not the best at sharing actual information on Albania (that is, excluding what pertains to the blogging topic du jour). And I'm a member of the Language & Culture Committee! For shame, Mary.

Thankfully, the LCC just launched a new Tumblr about not only language and culture here in country, but history, religion, food, and music - so I can shift part of the responsibility of edumacating my friends and family onto the committee's capable shoulders! The blog will be updated often, with posts from volunteers all over Albania. I'll be contributing there about once a month (don't worry, they'll be short & sweet), but I'll also link it here (so you can gain ALL the knowledge!). You can also click on the "Albanian Language and Culture" link I have on the upper right hand corner below the blog title.

Since blog posts are super boring without photos, here's a recent one taken in Ardenice after a lovely lunch with Peace Corps staff from in-country and a few visitors here to discuss the future of the health program in Albania.

It totally looks like I chopped a chunk of hair off on my right side and now I'm having flashbacks to 2007 and my awesome mom 'do from Bye Bye Birdie.

Too bad I can't find any good photo evidence of that.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

La Bella Italia

A trip to Italy, punctuated with hoity-toity quotes from Florence's own great son, Dante Alighieri.

Futbol and Drones and Flamethrowers, Oh My!

In what came as a surprise to no one, the Albania-Serbia soccer game, held in Belgrade last night, was discontinued midway through the game due to totally expected insanity. (I tried to find a video to embed from YouTube but literally every video had either "Exterminate the Albanians!" or "Die, Serbian scum!" as the tag line and that's not really my cup of tea. So here's the link to a video at ESPN Go.)

In efforts to prevent violence, Albanians were not allowed to attend the game (risking arrest if they attempted to access the stadium - though why any Albania would want to get past Serbian border control is beyond me), so some enterprising young shqiptar decided that a flag-flying drone would bring some Albanian spirit to the game. For reasons beyond my comprehension, they decided to attach the flag (showing a map of Albania plus the contested Kosovo region - which Serbia still claims to possess, despite its independence being recognized by, like, everyone) to said drone with insanely long string...long enough that a Serbian player was able to grab the flag and pull down the drone.

Off course, the mature response to this is to FIGHT. This immediately incendiary act led to actual incendiaries - as the fight continues, check out the flame thrower action occurring in the upper right hand corner. Fans started throwing garbage onto the field, before breaking past barriers to rush the field. The Albanian team quickly abandoned the fight and ran to the safety of their locker room, but not before a invigorating round of "ubi ubi ubi siptare" chants from the Serbian fans ("Kill kill kill the Albanians!" - charming, no?).

Officials waited over an hour for tempers to cool - because, you know, fifteen years has worked so well to calm ethnic hatred between the two countries since the civil war ended - but eventually declared it hopeless and cancelled the game, upsetting soccer brackets everywhere.

For hours last night, Lushnje was insane with men screaming, whistling, parading down the main street, honking their car horns, singing Kosovar pride songs (Kosovo is largely ethnically Albanian), chanting, running, and wreaking general havoc.

Honestly. Sports.