Natalie from Ukraine

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Subtle Things

Apr 14, 2022

Over the past 40+ days, Ukrainians had to make a lot of little changes to our daily life, I am talking about those who stay in relative safety. I decided to make a list of some of them. I'll leave out some obvious things like getting used to being controlled by air raid alarms and adjusting your eating habits somewhat, getting used to sleeping on the floor or in bomb shelters, sleeping in the same clothes you wear during the day so you're ready to jump and run very quickly if need be and in general creating a routine of getting to safety within a minimum amount of time (in my family, for example, it's a rehearsed "dance" of who grabs which bag, who turns off the gas, who turns off the power, who walks first and carries the flashlight for others, etc. We're efficient as heck, we can be out of our beds and down in the basement within 4 minutes). No, I'm talking about small silly things.

First, let's look at the list of sounds that startled me over this time period:

  • obviously the actual explosions, gunshots, and antiaircraft defense warfare, but also:

  • door closing

  • cars passing by (especially at night)

  • pigeons tapping their feet on the metal roof of my balcony

  • strong wind

  • tree branches hitting the wall

  • rainstorm

  • me myself dropping a jar of olives that I was aware of

  • the doorbell

  • car alarms

  • vacuum cleaner

  • washing machine

  • music with sounds that remind air raid alarms

  • music with sounds that remind explosions or gunshots

  • my dad sneezing

  • my parrot sneezing

  • dog barking

  • footsteps in the hallway while I slept on the floor next to the entrance to my apartment

  • phone notifications of all kinds

  • bonus: still waiting to see if the sound of fireworks will actually make me cry (I hope they'll be banned in Ukraine forever and ever)

Some other random things:

  • Being afraid to turn on the lights when it's dark. It's called "light masking": we turn off our lights during the night to make it harder for Russians to choose targets based on lights. It's being debated if it works at all, but lots of us are still scared to turn on the lights when it's dark.

  • Having your phone plugged into the charger at all times when you're home because you want to keep the charge at 100% because you never know when your house is hit by a bomb and you have to wait under the rubble for someone to come save you.

  • Taking showers on a strict schedule because the bath is full of water in case your city is bombed to the point when you have no water and have to drink water from radiators like people in Mariupol.

  • Having a special little chair in the kitchen so you can stand on it to reach the gas valve that you close every time you're done cooking so that the pipe doesn't explode and lead to a fire in case your house is hit by a bomb.

  • Googling and trying to memorize the map of bomb shelters on your route if you go out somewhere.

So this is how my life has been so far. And now I have to go prepare different solutions to use for personal safety in case of possible chemical weapons because my country is neighboring with a terrorist state that's desperate to get a victory before the day they celebrate victory over the Nazis. And no, they don't see the irony.

Fun Fact of the day: Russian warship fucked itself.

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