Tuesday, October 23

I'm back

And as the plane was landing in Moscow, it felt like I was returning home, which was really nice. I seem to be having a much better time with my jet lag on this side of the pond, which has always been the case for me. However, each time I return to the states it takes me 2-3 days to recover.

My classroom was in the same state I left it in, however, my teach timer which Ram (former department head) gave me as a going away gift has gone missing :( I'm hoping it'll show up. But as William reminded me, "The room wasn't destroyed, you weren't left a jar of pussy juice on your desk - you should be throwing pizza parties!" Once again, I'm reminded of how different it is teaching here. My expectations are so high that I'm giving all my classes pop quizzes on what was covered with the sub and they're doing quite well on them.

Alright, time for Russian lessons.

Wednesday, October 17

Love You More

I'm not quite sure what to title this post or how it will go. On Sunday afternoon while Tyler and I were baking cookies I got a phone call from my mom telling me my paternal grandmother had passed away. I knew this was coming, as I've mentioned she was old and very ill for the last several years.

I come from a very big family, we're all spread out over the US, well world now with me living in Moscow, but we're close. I knew right away that I wanted, needed, to be at the funeral. So two hours later (in which Tyler finished the cookies all on his own!), I had a ticket on BMI to London Heathrow and then a United flight (I knew all those miles would come in handy) to Cleveland via Chicago. It took me 26 hours of travel, but I made it to Ohio at midnight the night before the funeral.

I slept 6 hours and spent the morning chatting with my mom and maternal grandma. We all left for the funeral home at 9. It's so interesting how they can make the dead still look so alive. My grandmother looked really nice and peaceful.

I don't know how long my grandfather will last without her. They were married 61 years and together for 8 before that. He was comforted by having all 5 of his children with their spouses, all 15 of his grandchildren there, 4 with their spouses and 2 of those couples with their children. Then there was all the other family members. The church was packed. All the grandchildren played a part in the funeral, 4 of us doing readings (I had all the requests for prayers), 3 bringing the offerings (body and blood of chr!st), and then all of the older male cousins acted as pall bearers. I can't believe how tall my cousins are - all well above 6 feet. We're all growing up. And have gotten really good at being adults, comforting each other showing our love, just as grandma raised us to. My cousin Donavan gave a great eulogy talking about how much our grandmother encouraged us to go out see the world, get an education, raise a family, communicate, be in love. Without fail, conversations would end with us saying, "I love you grandma," and her saying "love you more." I'll miss her, but I'm so glad I got to have her for 28 years.

Sunday, October 14


It's snowing. Full on, big fluffy white flakes. I've discovered it's very hard to take pictures of snow in the air. It's not sticking to the ground yet, but it sure is beautiful from inside the warmth of my apartment.

Better yet, with the cold windy air, I was able to sleep with my window open without the air being stinky!

Saturday, October 13

You say ball, I say gala

Well, I've now been to my second ball in as many months. I love getting dressed up and going to these events, thus far, for free! Last night's ball was a fundraiser for ARC (Action for Russia's Children) which is a foundation that supports 7 organizations which in turn support disadvantaged and disabled children in Russia.

Here is how the two ball's I've been to thus far work:

You show up at 7 for champagne and passed appetizers (though at the PTO ball, it was Kir Royal's, wine or any mixed drink you may have wanted). At 8 everyone heads into the ball room and finds your assigned table. Both times, I've been at the freebie teacher table, which works just fine for me. Then dinner - 3 courses where the meal starts with the salad already on the table at your seat.

PTO Gala: Burrata (delicious, fresh mozerella but even fancier type cheese) with dried tomatoes and tapanade, fillet mignon with risotto and asparagus, trio of chocolate desserts.

ARC Ball: Smoked Sturgeon with caeser (yumm-o!), duck breast with roasted potatoes and red wine poached pear (eh) and a dessert that resembled disassembled Twix.

Obviously, I favored the PTO food.

Then there's an auction. PTO was raising money for the PTO, ARC for the children. Overall people were far more generous at the PTO event which was disappointing. At the PTO event the cheapest thing to go was a custom made dress for $8,000. Last night there was a chair massage for the company that went for $300. A painting that barely got sold for $200. A large house in Tuscany that can sleep up to 16 (but comfortably would sleep more like 6-8) that I even bid on because the price was so low. In fact another teacher ended up taking the bid for $3,200. Even if you put 6 people in there that's only $500 for a weeks lodging in a house in Tuscany! And the fact that teachers felt like they could bid and afford it was a bit embarrassing, IMO.

After the auction comes the live band and dancing. Last night's band was a British cover band, complete with David Bowie impersonator who's main fortee seemed to be clearing the dance floor every time he came on. I stayed until 11:45 - late for me - and ended the night dancing to Beattles covers. It was a lovely evening.

I brought my camera, but then never actually took any pictures. Others did though, so I'll be back with them eventually :)

Friday, October 12

Hot, hot, hot!

They finally turned the heat on in our apartments. Good thing too as it snowed for the first time yesterday! Just a very little bit while I was out playing frisbee - made for very cold frisbee playing.

And it's already getting very dark. Sun is down by about 6:30, doesn't rise until almost 8. But today's sunrise was beautiful, the one thing the air pollution is good for.

Tonight I get to go another (free) ball! Woo hoo! Apparently a teacher knows a parent organizer who had a table back out, so we get to reap the rewards. Hopefully I'll be able to get more photos this time!

Sunday, October 7

I want a normal life

One where I stop questioning every decision I've made, stop trying to plan my future which always ends up different from what I envision anyway.

I accidently went on a date Friday night with one of the security guards from school. I thought we'd be getting together to chat (see my earlier post about making friends and language exchange), but then he brought me flowers. Then William and I talked for almost 2 hours today catching up. We both still miss each other like crazy and both still love each other. It's so hard to determine if breaking up is really the right thing for us. I don't know if we should just stop talking, we only talk once a week as is. I haven't made travel plans for winter break yet. I think my heart still thinks I'll be spending those 3 weeks in Japan. But I need to just make it final, make plans to go somewhere else and get it over with. Part of this is really ironic. I've never had any trouble planning trips before!

Then of course, there is the issue of how do i communicate everything that's going on to Andrei (the accidental date) that I'm sooo not ready to date anyone at all between his limited English and my limited Russian.

Blah. I just want a normal life, whatever the hell that is.

Thursday, October 4

Friends outside the Bubble

So, I'm starting to make Russian friends which I'm really excited about. I knew in coming here that there would be a tendency to only hang out with the other expats and I also knew that wasn't for me. But how do you make friends with people who speak another language? Well, thus far I'd say I have 1.5 non-teacher Russian friends.

The full friend I met at the ball. She is a special friend of one the male teachers. I ended up sitting next to her at the Gala and she is awesome. She's my age and a lawyer here. We went out Tuesday night for hot chocolate that was so thick you have to eat it with a spoon. Her parents live in Sergiev Posad which is a well known town to visit with a monestary. Nat will be visiting her parents this weekend and has offered to show me around. So I'll be heading there Saturday morning.

Then there are the half friends who may be come friends. Right now it's just sort of a start of language exchanges. As I've mentioned, I take the earliest shuttle into school and it's just me and the security guards. So one of the guards speaks some English and after 6 weeks of riding the shuttle together we have begun to have a bit of conversation. We've decided that we'll try doing a language exchange.

Also, there is another guy who runs our copy room. Since I seem to always need my copies at the last minute I see him a lot. Last week we ended up riding the metro together as he was on his way to English classes. So I think eventually he and I will have language exchanges also.

Hopefully, my Russian experience will be even fuller by knowing actual Russians and getting to go out with them. I haven't even had an vodka since I've been here, certainly that will change!