Sunday, March 9, 2014

Слава Україні!

Well, it's been nearly a month since I've posted anything here.  I know I said I wouldn't be talking about work on this blog, but sometimes the rest of it just doesn't make any sense unless I do.  So lest you think I've abandoned this blog entirely, here's a little bit about what's been going on in our neck of the woods.

Maidan Nezalezhnosti
If you keep up with the news, you'll know that there's been a good deal of unrest and turmoil in Ukraine lately.  (And if you don't keep up with the news, please Google it - it's worth knowing about!)  The short version is that the people of Ukraine rose up in protest against a regime that had been robbing them blind for years.  The epicenter of these protests was Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Squre, in Kyiv not too far from our apartment.  The protests began peacefully, but escalated to violence before the end, with protesters being kidnapped from their hospital beds and tortured, protesters lobbing bricks and molotov cocktails at lines of riot police sent to clear the Maidan and snipers shooting at protesters from tall buildings not long after we last spoke.  Since then, Russia has invaded Crimea, a region of Ukraine with close historical, ethnic and linguistic ties to Russia.

A line of protesters faces down a line of Berkut riot police, before the worst of the violence

Needless to say, it's been a stressful few weeks (few months, if we're being honest).  We've been working extra shifts at the embassy on nights and weekends supporting our diplomatic efforts, supporting visits of high-level officials from Washington and making sure that American citizens in Ukraine have access to the support they need.  We spent a week living in a hotel room with our cats because our apartment was too close to the flash points.  We've been riding an emotional roller coaster as every time it seems like the situation is headed toward a peaceful resolution - Russia freaking invades the country or something!!!  

Secretary of State John Kerry lays flowers and lights a candle at the Shrine of the Fallen in Kyiv

We're physically and emotionally exhausted, and our apartment is barely functional.  But as rough as it's been for us, it has been an order of magnitude harder on our Ukrainian colleagues.  Our local colleagues are a great bunch.  They are trustworthy, reliable, fun to work with and great at their jobs.  And they held up, and continue to hold up, under tremendous pressure, putting in the extra hours right along side us while their city was literally burning.  When it's YOUR country that all this is happening to...that's something that those of us who were born and raised in the U.S. truly cannot fathom.

The Maidan barricade on Khreshatik

Anyway, all that to say that I haven't given up on the blog - I swear!  Things are back to a sort of normal in Kyiv, at least.  The violence is over, the streets are safe.  Really, although several government buildings were deserted when the Yanukovych administration left, there has been no looting whatsoever, which to me says a lot about the honor and character of the Ukrainian people!

A young boy at the protests with his parents, before the violence escalated
I have no idea what will happen in Crimea or in general in the coming weeks.  But I do know that it's time to get things back to normal.  Time to clean house, time to start cooking meals again, and time to start indulging in my creative outlets - like that knitting pattern I've been working on FOR EV ER, and this blog in general.

I've got a recipe I'll post tomorrow, some printables I'll put up for download, and plenty of other projects and fun things in the works, as the smoke continues to clear.  I hope you'll stick around and enjoy everything that's coming next!

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