Saturday, May 26, 2007

Armenian Superstar!

I used to be a big American Idol fan. I watched the first season pretty much from beginning to end, AND season one winner Kelly Clarkson was my favorite from the get-go. Too bad the music she chose to record after winning was so insipid. Anyway, I was really excited when I walked by this poster on Mashtots Avenue a few weeks ago:

It was an advertisement for a live concert by the stars of Armenian Superstar. Clearly, I had to go. So, I talked a couple of girlfriends into attending with me, and we bought the cheapest seats they had, up in the balcony. (What's sad is that, while you can get front-row tickets to the opera for 3,000 dram - about $8 -- front-row seats for Armenian Superstar cost three times that.) It was worth every penny.

The show was in the Aram Khachaturian concert hall, which is the big concert venue in town.

This guy was my favorite, and he was only in the back-up band.

They started the show with a Mickey Mouse Club-style rendition of the Scorpions' hit "Wind of Change," about the fall of communism. First two people sang, then two more, and by the end, all 11 of them were standing in a semi-circle swaying back and forth and singing.

After that, they each came out one-by-one to sing their own songs, in their own unique costume choices.

Pop tart:

Requisite rocker:

I call her Christina Aguilerian:

Here she is again:

Richard Marxian or Corey Haimian:

I think I'm in love. Sorry, Jeremy:

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Armenian ice cream

I will definitely miss it. After the packers left today (leaving things half-packed and my living room a box-fort heaven for an eight-year-old), I went out for dinner, and decided, after my lasagna al fresco, to indulge in some ice cream. My wedding dress is safely packed away, and I can't possibly gain enough weight by Sunday to preclude the zipping-up of my concert dress. And it wouldn't really matter anyway, except for the fact that Armenian ice-cream, besides being smooth, creamy and delicious, is probably about 92 percent butter fat. Hence the smooth, creamy and delicious. My favorite variety is the Dove bar facsimile - vanilla ice-cream within, crunch chocolate coating without. Only here, instead of costing $4.29 plus tax, you can get one on the street for 150 dram (about 42 cents at today's abysmal exchange rate; it was just 33 cents two years ago!). It's worth it. I can diet in the States. Vis blog!

Packing day

I wish I knew how to say that in Danish. Why Danish? Funny you should ask. My Blogger (the vehicle on which we create this blog) recently decided that I was actually a Dane, and thus all the instructions should be in Danish. It did this a month ago, and no amount of effort (including, yes, thank you, changing the settings on both My Blogger and my computer) has been able to switch it back. So now, instead of viewing a draft, I can "vis eksempel." Instead of moderating comments, I can "moderer kommentarer." I can also deal with "Indstillinger," "Skabelon," and"Betjeningspanel," whatever the heck those are. There is one word I recognize ... "Hjaelp!"

Anyway, the packers are coming in an hour and a half. Despite a freakout last night (Jeremy is getting a good taste of married life from 6,000 miles, I think), it seems most everything is in order. Despite the great shoe organization of Sunday, where I actually willingly put about three-eighths of my collection into storage, I was not able to stomach the thought of doing the same with my clothes. I realize I will regret this when our junk is delivered to our shoebox apartment at the Kabul Arms. But I don't have to worry about it for a good six or seven months. So there. Indlaeg! (Whatever that means.)

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Welcome to Adulthood!!!!

Ah, Graduation!! The moment you stop becoming a child and start becoming an adult. Fireworks, bands play and the clouds part with a shaft of light that reveals all the truths of adulthood. Sorry, was watching Shrek there for a minute.

Anyway, as some of you might have read earlier, this past weekend was a special one for our family: My sister, Jessica’s college graduation from Hamline University in St. Paul. It was a special moment as she is the final one to graduate, so now everyone is off into adulthood. Well, at least she is. She’s been more mature, adult-acting than I probably am now, or at least when I graduated.

Well, sit back, put your feet up and enjoy the pictures.

It's OVER!!!!!

The 'Rents are so happy. No more Loans!!!!

And so are the brothers!

The tugboat we all stayed on for the weekend. So awesome, you have to try it sometime.

The whole family together for a dinner, pre-graduation, at Il Vesca Vino (The Bishop's Wine), where Jessica was a waitress. Amazing dinner and great wine!!!! Maybe a little too good for some people.

Grandpa trying to figure out where the power button is.

Are we finished yet?

And now the party can start!!!

Let's play some Bocce!!

And show off our muscles. Which way to the beach baby!!

Great form Sis!

And we're out!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I really do. I don't know how I got it into my head that it was a good idea to live a lifestyle that involves packing up your life every two years. I've lugged six Hefty bags of clothes and shoes out to donate, and I still have too much crap. I used to think of myself as a person who didn't have a lot of stuff. Clearly I was mistaken. I laid out all my clothes on my bed today, in piles according to type of clothing, and filled up another Hefty bag of everything that I hadn't worn in a year. Barely made a dent. Heretofore, loyal blog readers (all three of you), I vow not to buy anything other than that which I need.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Life in Armenia

Yep, still procrastinating. While going through photos, I found this one.

It's Mr. Toaster's four-cheese pizza. It's actually quarter sections of four one-cheese pizzas. You get two pieces with blue cheese, two pieces with Gouda, two pieces with mozzarella, and I don't know what the other two pieces are. Actually, I have yet to find a restaurant in Armenia that can get the four-cheese pizza right. At another restaurant in town, they serve a pizza called Quattro Formaggio, but the description only lists three types of cheese.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Happy Birthday, Anna!

Today is my aunt Anna's birthday. This is Anna:

Today is also the day that I have to finish my pack-out organization. Unfortunately, it is a beautiful day outside, and I think I am going to find it difficult to get to work. But I have drawers of crap to sort, so I'd better get started ...


Organizing for the packers appears to be a great impetus for blogging. Today my most difficult task was deciding which shoes go where. I have it on good authority that the Embassy compound in Kabul isn't the best place for high heels or suede. But it was much more difficult than I'd anticipated to decide which shoes would spend the next 18-24 months in storage, which would go straight to Afghanistan, which would arrive in the States a couple weeks after me, and which would come on the plane with me. After a good long deliberation, about a dozen pairs went into the giveaway bag, and about half of the remainder went to storage. I think I will still have more than I need in Kabul, but at least Jeremy won't have to give up the whole closet floor to me. Only about 75 percent. After all, I will need cute shoes for our vacations!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Graduation Day

Not mine, obviously. It's actually my future sister-in-law's graduation day, so Jeremy and his family are up in Minnesota to watch Jessica walk and get her diploma. Thinking about it brought back memories for me, mainly, how relieved I was to know that I would never again have to write a 12-15 page paper unless I wanted to. Wait ... actually that's not quite true. Armenia's 2006 human rights report was over 30 pages long. Drat.

Anyway, I'm having a different kind of graduation over here in Yerevan. This post is brought to you by the habit of procrastination. I'm sitting in my apartment surrounded by the detritus of my life, trying to organize it into four neat categories: ship to Kabul, ship to storage, ship to the U.S., and take with me on the plane. That's right ... it's pack-out time! The movers come on Thursday, but I have to get all my stuff in order in the meantime.

I actually somewhat enjoy the drudgery of the pack-out. This is my sixth pack-out since I graduated college in 2000, and I rather enjoy the load-lightening that accompanies each move. There are few pleasures in life greater than the satisfaction I feel in donating bags of clothes, giving crap away, or just tossing it into the dumpster. Though, as I look at the pile of stuff on the spare-room bed, all of which is going to storage, I realize once again that I just have too much stuff. Problem is, I want all of it. One of my soul's eternal dilemmas is the tug-of-war between my desire to be able to fit all that I own into my car, and my desire to own yarn to knit, books to read, DVDs to watch, CDs to listen to, pictures to look at, and a guitar and piano and sheet music to play on them. I think the latter is clearly winning.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

We have a Winner!!!!

So, after much heart wrenching debate, many sleepless nights and several "ugh" moments, we finally have decided on bridesmaid dresses. This "we" notation is because I finally was smart enough to be a team player and keep my mouth shut and leave the country.

While in Armenia, I had the uncanny knack of sticking my foot in my mouth when Masha wanted to discuss dresses. I would always offer my two cents when she asked, knowing all along that I should have just said, "yep, those are the ones baby!" Instead, I tossed out other color options, dress types or fabrics. Apparently, for a woman with a wedding checklist to get through, making suggestions that add work isn't helpful.

The helpful part was when I left Armenia. Now that I'm a team player and nowhere near Masha's computer, she has now selected and ordered the dresses. All I had to do was verify that I got the e-mail with the bridesmaid dresses. After I was so helpful in Armenia, I guess Masha felt that I should have the important task of verification. She's learning.

Another lesson learned. Think that is number 44 since our engagement.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Fun at the fish farm

Last Saturday, the sun came out, which meant it was time to take a party bus to the trout farm. Being land-locked and all, Armenia doesn't exactly have an abundance of fish. You can buy frozen Russian salmon at the grocery store, but it's usually pretty pricey and inexplicably salty. The other option is trout from Armenia's Lake Sevan. I'm a little wary of how it's transported and preserved before getting to market, so I never prepare it myself. The trout farm option, however, is great. They pull the fish out of the ponds they live in, kill them right there, and then barbecue them. It's not ocean fish, which I miss desperately, but it is an OK facsimile. And quite tasty. So, we got on the bus.

And decided it was time for some beer.

Andrew says, "Oh no, not more beer!"

We arrived at the trout farm and chose our private fish feast bungalow.

And then the staff set about catching our trout.

He got one!

Tony picked it up. (This picture was taken before the fish spewed some white substance all over him.)

Back at the bungalow, we were enjoying the first course.

With a lovely view.

Sarah didn't like the vodka so much.

The end.