I'm reviewing the situation*
Two funny anecdotes from this week about the problems of misperception:
On Tuesday, I was talking with Serhii Danilovitch, the music teacher at school. We were discussing everything from my fast-approaching departure to the European Union. He said to me, "Two years ago, when you came to Balaklia with a lot of luggage [suitcase, duffel, heater, backpack, computer bag, and I don't remember what else], we all thought, 'Oh, she brought all sorts of clothes...the latest in American fashions.' But instead, you had books and a laptop!" I laughed. "Yeah, I brought teaching supplies, because I knew it would be hard to find English books." "Who needs a lot of clothes anyway?" he said. It was funny, because anyone who knows me knows that when it comes to my priorities, books rank much, much higher than clothes...but that's not the stereotype that people here see in American pop culture. So that made me happy, that I've helped break down the idea that all Americans are highly fashion-conscious.
Although I do wonder if some of my girls were actually disappointed that I didn't have all sorts of new fashionable clothes.
The other story goes back to when Brandi was here. I was at school one day, when the secretary came down to the teachers' room and said, "Your landlady's coming by to get the key to your apartment." Land gentry (to use the term that Tif and I coined) in Ukraine can come into your apartment whenever they please...they don't have to give advance notice nor make sure that you're there. The landlady didn't come, and half an hour later, the secretary came back down and said, "You need to go home. The landlady called again and said that there's someone there who won't let her in." Knowing that Brandi was home, I thought that there must have been some sort of communication breakdown, so I headed home. Three-quarters of the way there, I met Brandi coming to school to get me. She had, in fact, told the landlady through gestures and a phrasebook that she and her male companion could come in, but the woman had seemed very upset about something. Brandi had tried to say that I'd be home soon and that she could go get me, but the woman didn't seem to understand anything that she was trying to get across. Brandi thought that perhaps I was getting evicted so that my landlady's son could move into the apartment.
By the time I got to the apartment, the landlady and her companion were gone. The across-the-hall neighbor assured me that I wasn't getting evicted, but I didn't understand what she said about what had actually happened. And therein ended Chapter One.
Yesterday morning, I ran into my friend Natalia at the bazaar. She apparently knows my landlady's family, and said that in fact, it had been my landlady's daughter-in-law who had come to scope out the place because they're moving in at some point after I leave in December. The daughter-in-law had never met me, and therefore assumed that Brandi was me. Apparently she said to Natalia that she was confused, because she thought I knew at least rudimentary Russian/Ukrainian, and she couldn't figure out how on earth I managed to teach the kids at school when I all I could say in Russian was, "I don't understand." I know that Brandi tried to let her know that I was at school, but if she had already made up her mind that Brandi was me, I guess Brandi's talk of school probably confused her all the more.
So there you have it...why you should always make sure of your facts before drawing conclusions!
*Bonus points to whoever knows what musical my post title is from.