New Beginnings, Fresh Beginnings

As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve come back to Georgia and much has changed.  I’ve passed my two-year anniversary of living in Georgia by several weeks now, and I’ve spent these two years getting to know people who I count among my closest friends.  But now, I soldier on without them and have to face the reality of starting fresh in a constantly changing environment.

Despite the melodrama of that first paragraph, these are all exciting changes–some of which even took place last spring!  In fact, why not start there?  Let’s travel back to Cinco de Mayo, 2012, shall we?

Now that we’re here, let me pull an Inception and take you on a flashback-within-a-flashback!  It was October 2011, and Maki, Lauren, and Kelly were visiting!  We’d tooled around Tbilisi and spent a crazy day picking grapes in the village of Mokhisi.  We woke up on Friday morning to a loud explosion in the kitchen!  Two liters of red wine, courtesy of Dato of Mokhisi, had continued fermenting unbeknownst to us.  The wine couldn’t take the pressure of trying to convert sugar into alcohol and it blew its top.  Well, busted its gut, more like.

The gut-busted two liter bottle.
The site of the explosion and the ill-fated Emma Watson poster.
The wine pooled in the most downhill part of the house, leaking out from under the fridge to settle in front of the window.
It even shot all the way up to the ceiling, staining the gas pipes on its way up!

The wine stained the walls.  The wine stained the ceiling.  The wine stuck to the linoleum.  The wine coated the side and back of the fridge.  The wine soaked the paper towels.  We spent the better part of an hour scrubbing the floor and furniture–the walls were a lost cause as the best we could do would be to scrape the paint off the walls.  That wasn’t going to happen.

I vowed that I would paint the kitchen myself.  It would be my own grown-up project!  I could probably do it cheaper–albeit less professionally–than anyone that our landlady would hire for it.  Angela was pretty skeptical at first, but after Giga helped me buy paint at the open air market, nothing would stop me!  After Christmas Break, Angela and I, having become so depressingly domestic, were ecstatic when we brought back extra clothesline, a dishtowel, a bathmat, and a PAINT TRAY and a PLASTIC TARP!  So, with a mere five additional months’ delay, I started painting!

I wasn’t entirely sure what my adventure would need.  I knew that the first task would be to clear everything out of the kitchen.  Angela had a business trip that weekend, but she had taken care to clear out the cabinets before leaving in the wee hours.  I lifted, hauled, and shuffled everything out of the kitchen and into the living room.  It helped that, at the time, I was sleeping on a mattress on the floor–it took up far less space than my little bed frame!

Here’s an idea of what the living room looks like on a normal day.
Sure, Angela’s bedroom was basically blocked and I couldn’t reach my dresser, but I had the fridge in the same room where I slept! How cool was that weekend??

That first task accomplished, I moved to take care of the kitchen:

The stove was “new” and Nino didn’t want us to ruin it. I also didn’t want to unplug it from the gas main. This led to the inelegant solution of covering it with an old bedsheet and a plastic tarp. I also had a huge roll of painter’s tape that came in handy! What really has me proudest, though, is my ingenuity: You can see in the bottom left that I’m using a wooden spoon to stir the paint but more importantly that I’ve rigged up the PERFECT mechanism for keeping the curtains out of the way! I should’ve been a painter!  But what’s that in the bottom right corner???
This is my refreshment station! I had a nice cold Coca-Cola and a Party Mix of M&Ms! What makes it a party mix, you ask? Well, I mixed Regular M&Ms with Peanut M&Ms!!! I know, I know. I’m pretty reckless.

Tarp laid, snacks prepared, iPod speakers jammin’ in the hall: I was ready to begin.

To give you an idea of what I was working with, let me show you some before-paint pictures of the kitchen.  The wine stains are 7 months old in these photos and not quite as murder-y as in the first set of photos.

Full Disclosure: I could have made this photo much more dramatic looking by brightening it and upping the contrast, but this view captures a much more true-to-life idea of what the wall looked like.
Nino had made it abundantly clear to us that we were not to paint over Jesus. Every wall in the house has a small sticker of Jesus on the cross. The walls have been blessed by a Georgian priest and you can see the oil where he crossed the image. Solution? Painters’ Tape! (This photo also gives you an idea of how the kitchen walls look when brightened and contrasted. More dramatic, isn’t it?)
It was time to begin painting. I present to you, my staging area and equipment!

The painting was fun!  It was awfully slow-going and I wasn’t as well-equipped as I would have liked.  Doctors tell me that I’m average height.  Regardless, I couldn’t paint higher than I could reach.  For that, I would need a pole, a ladder, and a tall friend.  Another five weeks went by before the stars would align, but Jason Brandon and I demolished that ceiling when the time finally came!

Having spent a very bro-tastic day painting, listening to music, eating Party Mix M&Ms, drinking cokes and chatting, we were finished!  8 months after the explosion and you would never know anything untoward had happened!

Jesus weathered the ordeal quite nicely! This is the same area of wall pictured above. Note the distinct lack of giant winesplosion stains.
Here’s a view of the whole kitchen, sans vin. Not bad, right?
Hey! I even put the furniture back!
Here’s a blemish-free pipe where once stood a terribly stained pipe and ceiling!
The spot above the door, and even the “slopes” got painted!

Nino loved it.  When she first saw it, the kitchen was half-finished.  That is to say, the walls were painted as high as I could reach.  She came back when Jason and I had finished it and boy was she pleased!  It really set the stage for the summer, actually!

This summer, I was in America!  It was super!  Angela stuck around about a month after I had gone, poor girl!  She sent me an email one day letting me know that, unfortunately, the spreading water damage to our living room wall was indeed because of faulty piping in our bathroom.  The problem was discovered by Angela one day and buy a construction company another day.  Apparently some restaurant or casino is going in downstairs and they noticed some leaking from our apartment.  Nino had to act.

That said, Angela and I were both a bit skeptical that she would act.  Allegedly, she was going to spend ten days of her vacation chilling in the apartment while men redid the bathroom pipes, walls, and floor.  She and I had briefly spoken of getting a new douche-cabin installed, but given the circumstances it seemed futile to mention it.

When I arrived back in Georgia, I half-expected to find a giant hole where the bathroom used to be.  Our old bathroom was far and away the shittiest part of the apartment, but it worked well enough!  Okay, I guess it didn’t, which is why it needed to be redone.  Still, I remained skeptical.

Here’s the old bathroom in all its terrible glory. It really was not a very pleasant place. It had this weird mildewy smell, too. We just covered that up with air fresheners.

When I arrived home, I used the new key that Angela had given me in DC (and which fit into a fabulous, not falling-apart-and-locking-us-in new lock!) and discovered, to my great pleasure, that Nino had come through!  The bathroom was brand-new and beautiful!

Now, unfortunately this photo is terrible. The tiles are not a blinding shade of orange (like our furniture) but are, in fact, a lovely rosy pink! There’s also usually a little drain cover in that drain, but more on that in a moment!

Then rent came due and I saw Nino for the first time since coming back.  Her first question: “Did you want that douche-cabin?  Because I threw out the old tub.”

Now, for those of you scratching your head, a დუშ-კაბინა (Dush-kabina) is a shower.  Like a stand-up hands-free shower, and boy did I want to have one!  It would make the apartment!  I got some help from Anuka and negotiated a deal with Nino to get a douche cabin installed.  Lo, and behold!  I came home Friday night to find Nino chilling in the apartment with a fat, hairy Georgian man and his son installing a douche cabin!

Despite some initial confusion on my part, the installation went swimmingly!  Sure, it took 4 hours instead of 1.5, but it got done.  Nino also took the opportunity to point out the other fixes she’d made over the summer: reattaching a loose tile in the kitchen, a replastered section of water-damaged living room wall, a new set of clotheslines, a new mount for the TV’s aerial, and a fixed gutter pipe.  That’s right Angela!  The drain pipe no longer spews rainwater all over the balcony!  It is perfect now!!!

The men finished up their work and told me that I couldn’t use the shower until the grout had dried–2-3 days.  “You can shower Sunday morning,” he told me, in Georgian.  “Sunday morning??” I gaped.  “Mmm, it’s better to wait until afternoon.”  Okay, sure, fine.

At any rate, the shower is here and I cannot wait to use it!

And it is glorious.

As I approach 2000 words, there’s just one more change that I simply must touch on.  Sadly, Angela has moved on in life to bigger and more exciting things in the capital of the free world, which to many Georgians’ surprise isn’t Tbilisi.  In her stead I need to find a new flatmate.  Obviously no one can take her place and I’ll probably still think of that bedroom as “Angela’s Room,” a statement bolstered by the fact that I haven’t even considered moving in there in her absence.

Well, wonder no longer!  On Friday I met up with a girl who’s new to town for a meet-and-greet lunch at the new Entree at Marjanishvili (Tbilisi is just getting better and better all the time!).  We got along quite well and she asked to come by to scope out the apartment this weekend.  Luckily, she came by on Saturday, a full 12 hours after the shower was installed!  Sneaky, right?

Long story short, she’s moving in on Monday!  Sadly, she’ll never get to know the apartment as it was.  Three of the most important women to the apartment have left it behind: Angela, Emma Watson, and Snow White.  But happily, she couldn’t be arriving at a better, more modern time in the apartment’s history!  And yes, I highly recommend clicking those links so I don’t sound like a creep.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s Sunday night, the grout has dried, and there’s a brand new shower calling my name!

Did that just undermine my efforts to not sound creepy?

As a reward for making it this far, I’d like to introduce you to something that Jason introduced me and Angela to and which gave us great joy in our last shared days in the apartment.  I give you: Guy on a Buffalo.

3 thoughts on “New Beginnings, Fresh Beginnings

  1. Hi Raughley!

    I think your blog is the superlative balance of entertainment and information. I was scheduled to arrive in October. I would so very much appreciate it if you would send me a brief email; I have two brief questions.

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