Okay, I know that’s not a breaking news alert. This probably would have been more exciting on Jan. 1, when I entered the New Year six hours ahead of everyone on the east coast.
Back to the point: It’s the start of my first (and only) full year in Macedonia. I’m also getting closer to the four month in country mark, which is hard to believe.
I like to set goals, but I’m not really one to make resolutions, in the “new year, new me” sense. I hadn’t made any resolutions this year before my NYE celebration, but I’ve decided on one: I will be nicer to street cat.
The street cat named Julie, it turns out, is not a street cat at all.
When I arrived in my village, I assumed she was just another stray. She hung around the house and it seemed like my host mom liked her, but I never had any indication that she was a pet.
Wrong again. (I’m wrong a lot here.)
My host mom bought street cat, okay, sorry, Џули/Julie in Bulgaria as a kitten. She paid 200 euros for the fluffy, white Persian cat. (This came up while we were baking recently. She drew the 200 in flour on the counter to make sure I understood the number.)
I’m certainly not a cat person, but now that I know she’s officially a pet, I feel like I need to make more of an effort.
I also feel like it would help improve my karma of late.
Let me explain.
New Year’s Eve is a huge deal in Macedonia. It’s the primary holiday of the season. Christmas trees go up for the New Year and Santa (I KNOW HIM!) comes on New Year’s Eve. My coworkers asked me for two weeks beforehand what my plans were. (Planning ahead isn’t a big thing here, so that told me something.)
I asked around a little and hitched my wagon to a group of friends heading to Skopje for the evening. Much like in the U.S., cover prices for bars increased and there were different deals for spending the evening counting down somewhere in the capital.
The only place we went NYE was to the grocery store.
We rented a house through AirBnB, which is awesome by the way. (I’ve had great experiences with it in the states too.) We had a wonderful night in, cooking together, laughing together and sharing a delicious meal. (We made tacos and pizza with ajvar as the sauce, after stealing the idea from Andreya and Jarred. Thanks guys! It was awesome!)
The only problem was that one of the kitchen chairs was a little wobbly. I volunteered to brave it. (I’m very focused when I eat.)
It was about halfway through the meal and mid-bite when the chair suddenly collapsed beneath me into a pile of legs, splinters and the fork I dropped.
It was hilarious.
It didn’t deter me from my meal for long. The rest of the night was less eventful. We drank champagne. We played cards. We turned on the TV just before midnight for the countdown (in Macedonian) and then enjoyed some of the performers afterward.
We are officially obsessed with this song:
By about 1 a.m., we were looking at each other, waiting for the first person to suggest heading to bed. We’re all babas, and we’re all very okay with that.
The next morning we rang in the New Year with a huge brunch of pancakes (including a few shaped like Mickey), eggs, some sort of bacon-ish thing for the meat eaters, and apples and bananas sautéed with brown sugar.
My bus ride home didn’t take 11 hours and I thought I was off to a good start in 2015.
Then yesterday happened.
We have a little time off from school and I was enjoying catching up on Grey’s Anatomy. (No matter how whacky it gets and what ridiculous storyline they come up with, I can’t stop watching.) It was a nice cozy, rainy day. I had just decided to wrap up my marathon and go build a fire, but when I climbed out of bed, the floor splashed.
The pipes had frozen in all the cold weather recently and the snow and ice that had piled on the roof above me decided to melt. There was a curtain of dripping water across the length of my ceiling and a small lake was slowly taking over my floor.
I threw down a few towels and on my way to grab a few more I was hit with another stream of water: the hallway had leaks too. They were coming through the light fixtures.
I ran around looking for buckets and bowls to catch the leaks and throwing towels where the water was pooling. It was very cartoonish.
I also called our safety and security officer because I call him whenever I’m worried about anything. (Our Peace Corps staff is the best.) He told me not to electrocute myself, told me to make sure anything that might get ruined by the leaks was safely stored and then taught me the phrase for, “the ceiling is leaking” so I could call my host mom.
A few hours of sweeping water into a dustpan later, the leaks slowed and eventually stopped. We shut the water off until someone could come and make the necessary repairs today.
Naturally, I suspect street cat had a paw in the mayhem, so in order to stay dry for the rest of the winter and build up a little good karma, I’m going to be nicer to her.
Just for the record, I’m not a cat person, but I don’t hate all cats. My friend Kat has a fuzzy, beautiful, brat named Lily Cat, who I think is the cat’s pajamas. (See what I did there?)
Happy New Year!