The path of least resistance, or much ado about something

Who is this woman?

Sometimes I look at my life and ask myself this question.

Today, I spent the morning talking with a glass tradesman, via my neighbor who found me the person and did the translation, about having a replacement for the notorious shower door, which my hysterical landlords said was irreplaceable and that therefore I had to buy them an entirely brand-new shower, custom-made.

Then my landlords texted me to say we had to go buy the new shower cabin today and that the wallpaper people would come on Monday.  I had to explain that I was getting the door replaced and that I was under no obligation to have the wallpaper done on Monday, that I had until January 4th.  Upon hearing that the door would be replaced, there was another demand for me to replace the missing cap on the existing shower stall, which of course I have never seen and know nothing about.  I had to reply that unless they had a picture dated the day I moved in of said cap in place that I was not going to replace it.   Miracles upon miracles, I got no hysterical textual reply threatening to go to the Embassy, if I did not comply.  Of course, tomorrow is another day.  Plenty of time to get fired up about something else.    I feel like I am trying to keep a herd of wild cats from scratching my eyes out, a metaphor which I am sure they would greatly resent.  But, if nothing else, their pettiness has achieved great heights of cattiness .

Then, my neighbor called again to say he’d  found me another apartment option in my current neighborhood and so we proceeded to go look at that one.    I took the fact that he was still looking to mean that he didn’t trust that the first option they had found was actually going to work out, or else that he really wanted me to stay closer to home.   Either way, he and his wife are my only allies in what has turned out to be a black forest with goblins behind every tree, so I am not going to disagree with anything he suggests.

It turned out that there were two other apartment options in this neighborhood, one in the same building, and one in a building across from the park which is currently being renovated.   The one that is being renovated comes with an actual fenced-in garden area for pets (!!!) but it is unclear when the renovations will be done although they say they will accept the pets.   There was much to do back-and-forth in Tajik, much in the same way that there was much ado arranging the first option, which is still up in the air because a departure date for the current tenants has yet to be decided, and in the same way that there has been much ado about how to get me out of the current apartment.  I concluded that the “much ado about something” may in fact be a cultural phenomenon which my colleague in Bokhatar subsequently confirmed in a phone call.  Apparently, if something doesn’t happen as it usually does in Tajikistan, which invariably is going to be true when dealing with a foreigner, all existing systems fall apart and much ado about nothing results.

We left the meeting with the second landlord feeling that things were quite promising and I raced off to go out to the farm to walk the four dogs that I have out there and whom I walk daily and check on because the conditions in that kennel are not great, but it is the only refuge for dogs in the entire country so one must make do.  There were two brand new tiny puppies curled up and sleeping by the door, making the little grunting and nuzzling sounds they make and, like the rescue addict that I have become, all I wanted to do was scoop them up and take them home.  And, quite frankly, if I were living in an apartment that allowed pets, and wasn’t leaving for the states in two weeks, I probably would have taken them home.   Someone please save me from myself.

Before leaving the kennel, my neighbor called again, the second landlord wanted to see us again, this time with his brother.  And, upon returning to town, the much-do-about-something phenomenon began anew, beginning first with his brother’s concern about the pets, progressing to their concern about having me stay in the finished apartment while the renovations on the other one were being completed because there was a safe in it (which I would never have seen had they not showed it to me) and they didn’t have the key but there were valuables in it so maybe I couldn’t stay there.   Why not?   Difficult to say, but it must be because they thought I would be able to break into a safe into which they could not open themselves.   Perhaps foreigners have super human qualities?

We then made our way back to the apartments being rented and they were stopped dead in their tracks when I said that I could not rent it if there was going to be new paint. Could they just leave the walls the way they were and paint when I moved out?   Well, that of course, stymied them, they had already hired the contractors to do the job, how could they not do it now?   Much-ado-about-something transpired, this time including the five or six workmen standing around to watch the show.   Finally my neighbor uncharacteristically terminated the ado (thus far he had appeared ready and willing to engage it it) said we should leave and talk about it and let them know.  Not a good sign, but I followed his lead.

There is something shifty going on here.  He says.

Really?  I would have never guessed.  I thought somewhat sarcastically to myself.  But having now been through the much-ado-about-something phenomenon, which in-and-of-itself seems shifty to me, not once but several  times in the last week, I was beginning to understand that this was part of the process, irregardless of whether there was any shiftiness involved and, as far as I could tell, the cross-culturally-driven much-ado-about-something by definition involves some degree of shifting of personal and cultural expectations on the part of all parties involved.

But we liked the animal garden, so we decided to demand a contract and, if we got it, to proceed.   So now we wait.

In the meantime, I called my friend in Bokhtar who, upon hearing my cat-in-the-house-come-clean story has decided to pay one more month’s rent and then come clean about his cat with his landlord so he can get his situation out in the open one way or another, and confirmed that, if we are still homeless on January 4, he will take the four cats at his house, as well as all my stuff to be stored because I cannot leave anything in the postage stamp-sized apartment in which my neighbors live, and bring two back to fly to the states with me on the 9th and then keep the remaining two until I get back.  Of course, since he was with me when I was offered the fourth ailing kitten and said what’s one more cat after all?  he was, as they say, in for a pound the minute the death-defying words left his mouth.  Of course, he would have helped out anyway, bless his heart.  Midst all the shenanigans, he and my neighbors remain refreshing beacons of sanity in what is otherwise unwinding as a mire of confusion and much-ado-about-something.  I am trying not to think about what he is going to do with three cats if he gets evicted when he comes clean with his landlord while I am away.

I’ll think about it tomorrow.  Scarlett always did have a practical approach to crisis.

I have booked myself a hotel from January 5-9 so, with a place to live for me and, with the cats in Bokhatar and the dogs safely ensconced at the farm, I am free to wait and see what will happen.  The worst would be that I would have nowhere to live when I get back and would just have to rent a place without pets and turn around and fly the last three back to the States in February.  Best case scenario would be I would get to stay in the same neighborhood with my own dog garden and, of course, rescue someone else, maybe more grunting and nuzzling puppies?  Or another stricken kitten?   The last boy has finally found another cat in the house who will let him sleep on top of him.    No heated floors though, in fact, no central heating, although unlimited portable heaters have been promised.  The future remains a blank canvas upon which we will be able to paint much ado about anything.

Needless to say, I stopped worrying about money weeks ago.  Who care about money when you are trying to save a life?  Or two?  Or eight?  Or find a roof for over your own head?

But my day was not over.  Next was to receive an email from my vet in VT saying that my plan to drop the cats with him for a week to be checked out before I picked them up later was not, in his estimation, a good one.  He proposed another which struck me as much-ado-about-nothing, but it’s possible that I just have much-ado-about-nothing stuck on a repeat cycle in my brain much like a needle caught in a crack on a vinyl record spinning on a turn table.  I am having trouble distinguishing fact from fiction at this point.

Further research uncovered the fact that, although Jet Blue would not take two cats in one carrier in the cabin for my flight from Boston to FL, Delta would, and of course I have literally thousands of miles to use to purchase a ticket.  Even more amazing, the hotel at Logan where I already had reservation for the night I arrive into Boston, would let me have two cats.  So all I need to do is buy a ticket on Delta and all three of us can be in Florida together on the 10th.   Another quick call confirmed that my cat sitter in Florida was up for a five-month assignment, if I want to keep the cats.

Why am I thinking about keeping cats I did not rescue with any original intention of keeping?  Well, they are nice cats and the fact is that, at some point, I have to accept the fact that if I am unable to live abroad without collecting starving homeless critters of the world, I probably had best just stay home…in which case, why not keep these sweet reminders of my travels to Tajikistan and all the much-ado-about-something?   They, of course, live a life completely devoid of much-ado-about-something and have adjusted admirably to our new life confined to the bedroom after the recent much-ado-about-something concerned with their presence in the apartment.

The situation in Tajikistan, where I am shunned for what I care about, has given me pause to reconsider my lot in life.

Do I want t continue to fight a battle — animal rescue — I obviously cannot ever win, or even afford to keep fighting?   Regrettably, the answer is probably yes in the long-run, so I am trying not to kid myself in the short-run.

Then, of course, there is the fact that both cats have diarrhea that I haven’t been able to treat successfully here which, if untreatable in the U.S. because of some ultimately fatal origin, would render the two creatures unadoptable anyway.  So, the first item on the agenda to get them to the states where I can get decent medical care.  Second item is to get them treated.  Third item is to decide whether to keep them for the short-term, leaving aside that the long-term future could lead me anywhere as it has certainly done this year.

So now I am taking a new approach to my life – try various options until you find the path of least resistance and then take that one.    Certainly, that is how I got to Tajikistan in the first place.   I got invited, so I came, no questions asked.   I like to think that I control my destiny, but the reality is that I am just wandering around  trying on different lives to see which one suits me and for how long.   And discovering through the process that I can live lives that would have been unimaginable to me just days prior to their onset.

I wasn’t planning to take two cats back until the much-ado-about-something started at the apartment.  Then, trying on various scenarios, it turned out to be remarkably easy to add a second cat to the cabin carrier I had already reserved.  So that’s what I decided to do.  Then, when I thought I couldn’t fly us all to Florida, I tried the send-them-to-VT-with-the-dogs option, but that pushed me to find the take-another-airline-after spending-a-nice-night-at-the-Hilton option.   You just never know where you will end up when you roll the die and make your first moves along the monopoly  board of life.  Go to Jail.  Pass Go.  Take a different airline.  Find another apartment.   Rescue another puppy.   Book another flight.  Miss a turn.   Take an extra turn.  Buy a shower cabin.  Win a shower door (so you don’t have to buy a shower cabin).  Win $100.  Lose $500.  Find a dog  garden.  Lose your apartment.  Buy Park Place.  Land on Boardwalk and lose every penny you have.  Buy a flight home with Sky miles.   The possibilities appear to be limitless.

Tomorrow the agenda includes more vaccinations, monkeying with birth dates and vaccination dates to match airline requirements, arranging dog baths in the event that I won’t be able to do them myself,   packing, finished a job application, working on the curriculum, arranging cat care in Florida, dealing with more demands from my exiting landlords, future negotiations with future landlords, punctuated,  as always, with dog walking, treatment of a canine eye infection, treatment of feline bronchitis and feeding the feline masses now jumping up and down on the bed in the only room where we are now living in the apartment (we’re enjoying the heated floor while we still have it)  — the quintessentially ideal life for a multi-tasker.

Of course, mind you, we still have to actually get on the plane out of Dushanbe before I will accept that this is real.   I fully expect a dog or cat to be turned away at the airport for reasons that I cannot control.  Too big perhaps?    Expect nothing, and you can’t be caught off guard when you have to change directions, is my new motto.

Be prepared, that’s the Girl Scout motto and, after all, once a Girl Scout, always a Girl Scout.

Ah, those were the days, when all I had to worry about was earning my next badge.

Had I only realized then how murakkab (complicated) life could be?

 Writing this, I wonder if the English word “macabre” has any relationship to the Tajik word murrakkab.   Certainly in this instance, the murrakkab  has been bordering on the macabre for some time now….