she lives

Before I get to business, look what I got for my birthday:

Yes, I do indeed consider those bright, little weeds early summer’s gift to me, but really though, check out my feet in new Chacos!  Mom and Dad, you are wonderful to me!

Now, the business.  If you read my last post, you have probably sat biting your nails, probably tossed and turned all night, wondering, hoping against hope that the wicked warlock/me has not thrown the poor defenseless Spring Chicken to the bottom of the town ravine.

Well, as many of my friend’s predicted, the sun came out, and my mood swung with it.   I decided not to toss her.  If someone had decided to toss me into the ravine after the millionth time I metaphorically smeared poop on them, well, I wouldn’t be writing this.  So, here she is, still-alive, poop-smearing, finger-biting, lap-napping, Popok-Chutik-Havik-Shash-Spring Chicken-Jan:

I did finally figure out that I love her and so does everyone else in my office and even people at home.  My parents sent her a cutesy, pink-camo leash, which I probably won’t get away with using here in my small town (surely it fits the Chicken, but I’m not so much a pink-camo guy, and neither are all the akhbers/teen-street-mongers who would accost me for using it).  They sent her tiny dog sized tennis balls which apparently were the key to unlocking Chicken’s fetching abilities (!).  And they sent a toy moose, which besides being hilarious to all my coworkers, has become the new love of my little pooch.  See; the poor ungulate (thanks GRE vocab cards!) never stood a chance:

And remember how I told you she was quite the model.  I seriously walked her over to a patch of dandelions, and she walked around a bit and just plopped down.

And, well, you just don’t throw that kind of adorable into a ravine.

In other news, I recently went to a co-worker’s birthday party.  I haven’t been to an Armenian party in a few months.  I walked into the room and was flooded with joy.  What before would have been a wildly cross-cultural experience of toasts and strange foods and flying conversation in a bizarre language has now become an experience something like being at home.  There were bottles of wine, vodka and juice.  The table was covered in plates of salads, horovats/barbeque, cheeses, fruits, candies, lavash and bread.  We toasted to Tigo’s birthday, to his parents, to his new baby.  And I was surrounded by my people.  That’s right; I have “people” in Stepanavan.

I know that “feeling at home” sounds simple, but I have spent so many months here feeling like an outsider, so many parties sitting in my own mental space, daydreaming while everyone talked and laughed around me about things I couldn’t understand.  At last weeks party, I had MY PEOPLE.  I was as much a part of the laughter and joy as everyone else.  Consider this picture:

For you this may just be two people having a good laugh.  For me this is myself without language insecurities or cultural dissonace.  This is the clooker, a woman two generations and an entire culture removed from me.  And here we are, laughing not from humor but from a joy that we share.

We share.


  1. I’m so glad you have your people there now. I remember what that feels like – being on the outside and FINALLY being on the inside. And that little pup is just too cute.

  2. Talene

    Just kinda echoing the post before, but yeah I am sooooooo happy that you are feeling a part of the community. Also I like the little “shash” addition to the dog name haha. I used to have a shash uncle. Luckily we were able to get rid of him.

    I’m looking forward to coming for a visit. I will be in Armenia June 2nd!


  3. Aw man, I want a peace corps pet! Do we get to keep ’em?

    1. This little Chutik is mine and WILL be traveling home with me. :)

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