Tuesday, January 22

Discovery Week

In March, we'll take the 9th, 10th and 11th graders off on a "Discovery Week." There are a variety of different trips, led by many teachers. For example: golfing in Spain, Spanish immersion (you guessed it) also in Spain, college tour in the UK, trekking through Turkey, exploring Istanbul, a musical tour of Vienna, study/community service in Thailand, adventure in Croatia, etc. Teachers who were not leading trips had to rank their choices of places they'd like to chaperon just like the students had to rank their choices as well. However, the students have to pay, teachers don't. Well, my choices were 1. Thailand, 2. Croatia, 3. Turkey (the trekking one). I found out today I got my first choice! Durian here I come! Woo hoo!

And I'll get an idea of the weather in Thailand in March. In my head I'd like to move to Thailand because I love the food so much, but could I really handle the weather???

Sunday, January 20

Getting out in the Snow

I woke up to the first snow of 2008, well since I've been back anyway. And I went out anyway. Another 2 teachers and I walked for an hour and a half to the Pushkin Art Museum, stopping by way of a lovely French bakery. And to be silly:
Enjoying Winter
That's me on the left all bundled up...

Across from the Pushkin is Christ the Savior Cathedral, so we stopped in there first where they were having mass. It was amazing. The inside is incredibly painted, every wall is covered with saints and angles and such and then sine it was mass, there was singing as well, which just resonated so beautifully. Sigh.

Christ the Savior

Christ the Savior

We then went into the Pushkin side gallery and saw many great impressionist works up through a few modern pieces. Quite an impressive collection of French artists. We finished with a great, as always, lunch at Daikon, my favorite Asian restaurant here and took the metro home. Now I'm going to enjoy sitting on my couch watching the snow from inside the apartment!

Oh, and just for Mickey I also uploaded a bunch of my recent knitting photos. Actually, only the fingerless glove was made recently, the rest are old, I just finally got around to photographing them:
Fingerless GlovesAsherton HatEeyore

Tuesday, January 15

Ah, routine!

It's very nice to be back into a routine. After work yesterday, I headed over to another teacher's for yummy shared dinner (leftover spicy pork curry and dal from my freezer, basmati rice and mung beans from their kitchen) and then craft night. I sewed in all the ends on the fingerless gloves I made, picture coming as soon as I decided to sit down in front of my home computer again, and worked on another set. And then I came home and slept straight through the night from 9:30 until 5:45. Ah, sleep, I love you.

So now, I'm feeling less anxious about being in Moscow, in case you were worried. And I'm excited to hear where all the other teachers are headed after they went to the job fair in Thailand over the break, thus far: Johannesburg, South Africa; Tunisia; Kobe, Japan; Myanmar (former Burma) and Shanghai! Makes me excited for my opportunity to head off and explore other possibilities. However, professionally it's a really good idea for me to stay here 3 years, so as always, stay tuned as I change my mind another 50,000 times.

Monday, January 14

Moscow: Love and Hate

Last night was rough. I was up from 12:30 until 4:30 contemplating what I'm doing in this city. Listening to the construction/traffic noise, smelling the air because I was too hot to sleep and therefore had the window open. Feeling very unsettled, needlessly and foolishly, because I am very settled here.

And then I came back to work this morning. I worked out and headed to the locker room to shower. On the way I was stopped by two of my students, both wishing me happy new year. Post shower, three more. And then a student came by my room. She is from Kenya and didn't get to go home as anticipated over break due to the political unrest there. She stayed in Moscow with -20 temperatures and said that she only really went out on Sundays to go to church. And she had come to apologize for not being able to get me an ink stamp from Kenya. The students here are so amazing. I'm constantly blown away and reminded that I love my job.

Now to figure out what I'm teaching today...

Sunday, January 13

In the twists of my mind

As always, my mind continues to flip flop. Never shutting up. I'm so torn between wanting to share my life with someone (is there such thing as a marriage clock that ticks away in people like the biological clock?) and wanting to continue to travel. And wondering if I'll be able to combine those two things or if at some point I'll have to give one up.

Post turning 18, I've never lived in the same city for more than 3 years, unless you count college, and well, even if you do count college, those 3 or 4 year spans have been dotted with long periods of travel.

And now being part of international schools, I can continue the life style, traveling at will, moving every 2 or 3 years and being well compensated for it. But I really want someone to share it with. I miss having an intimate connection to someone. And I see many single women at my school my age or older and I don't want that. I don't want to continue on this path solo. But is there any point even worrying about this right now? Of course not - I'll be in Moscow until June of 2009 at least. Why won't my head just turn off and let things happen rather than constantly trying to envision the future, visions which are always wrong anyway.

In Houston, I had the feeling that I could settle right back into life there. But how long could I happily stay there - especially when the heat and humidity returns? At times, I think of how nice it would be to finally have the vegetable/herb garden I long for, but would I really stick around in the summers to tend to it, or would I be off somewhere?

That's what's got me up at 4:30 in the morning since I've returned to Moscow. That and stupid jet lag.

Sunday, January 6

Howdy, y'all Part 3

People either love or hate Houston. Personally, I love it, well, except for the weather. Although the weather in winter time is right near perfect. Yesterday, I went on a walk with my aunt. I was wearing shorts and a tank top. About halfway into our walk it started raining on us and it was still enjoyable to be walking in the rain. I had stayed over night at my aunt and uncles, was awaked at 8 by the patter of little feet in front of the door and the sound of whispers asking each other if I was awake yet.

I emerged and was immediately set upon by my cousins. I must admit, they're terrible cute. I spent the morning with them and the aforementioned walk with my aunt. I wish I could get my parents to start exercising. I sure would enjoy going on walks with them. According to my aunt my mom has never really been into fitness.

I once again got to hear about what a terror I was in my youth. I refused to sleep anywhere but my parents' bed until I was 3 - how my sister was ever conceived remains a mystery to this day. And apparently I loved those canisters of Cheeto Balls. In case you're curious I was finally bribed into my own bed by being told that if I didn't sleep there Santa wouldn't know where to find me. What?! No presents? Sign me up for my own bed.

I had the pleasure of hanging out with many of my college buddies yesterday afternoon/evening. They all own their own houses, all of the houses are beautiful. Well, I'm just assuming Phil's is because he lives in Dallas so I haven't yet seen it, but it must be great. It's always such a pleasure to see them. It's so easy to slip back into the rythym of being friends with them. Actually, I find this to be true with all my friends across the world. I was commenting with RebeccaT last night that I must bring this out in people since it always seems to happen with me. She agreed that it's because I know that even though I live somewhere else, I haven't changed and don't act like my friends must have changed even thoguh I've been gone.

Seeing all of them so nicely settled, makes me yearn a bit to be settled myself. I could easily slip back into life here, but would I end up going crazy? At some point I'll have to figure something out. My California teaching credential will expire in 4 more years and I'll have to get a permanent credential from some state. I also want to get my masters in math, something I don't want to do online. So there you go, a wrap up of the last few days and hint of the rattling in my brain.

Howdy, y'all Part 2

After leaving Biloxi it should have been a quick 6 hour trip to H-town. However, we didn't leave until almost 11. Check out took a while because my mom regailed the front desk girl with the horror story of our dinner in the casino's steak house the night before. "Let me s'plain, no, that will take to long, let me sum up:" We were one of 5 tables in the restaurant, yet we still had to wait 45 minutes for our salads. That was the highlight. However, due to mom's expert storytelling, for our return trip on Monday we were upgraded to suites and given a $50 casino credit.

"Oooh, Antique Village Exit 10!" Mom exclaims. Dad and I give each other a knowing look, this could be trouble. And indeed, it was a "town", term used very loosely, very similar to Waynesville, Ohio, where my parents antique store is located. It was a main street lined with antique stores, my mom's own little paradise. I managed to make it through 4 antique stores and actually managed to pick up 2 skirts and a funky denim jacket. However, really, I was looking for books. I learned in the many roadtrips of my youth that antique stores are the cheapest place for used books. And they tend to range from literature to cookbooks but mostly consist of pulp fiction, perfect for road trips. However, these stores seemed to be more high class, nary a book insight. It wasn't until the 4th store that I found a meager selection of books. However, books found I was able to pick up a few for $1.50 and head to the car to read it). Dad threw in the towel after the second store, he went to the car to nap. Mom made it through all 6 and 2.5 hours later we were on the road again for the 15 minutes it took us to stop for lunch of delicious Lousianna gumbo and raw oysters.

Finally, 9 hours later, at 8 pm we pull into my aunt's drive way. Where the cousins yell out "Aunt Margie, Aunt Margie" my dad walks in to a very cute "Hi, Uncle Joe!" and they sort of look at me. Maybe I need to visit more. However, by the end of our meal (my aunt cooked, it was delicious) my cousins had warmed up to me and vice versa.

Howdy, y'all Part 1

Two days ago I left for Houston via roadtrip from Atlanta with my parents. I bought them Roadfood a great book of road side diners when I was in SF. We tried one out along our way, Martin's Restaurant in Montgomery, Alabama.

Reasons I loved Martin's:
1. We had to wait for a table, but not long enough to be annoyed
2. Each day the menu has only 4 entrees for you to choose from and about 8 side dishes
3. The sides included all my southern favorites - blackeyed peas or lima beans (depending on the day), greens, dressing (stuffing), string beans, cole slaw, etc
4. The crowd was truly diverse, some in suits, some in jeans, some old (we're talking no teeth old), and I'd say it was equally split between black and white folks.
5. It's in a strip mall, but the second you step inside you feel as though you've stumbled into a deep south cafeteria.
6. The coconut cream pie slice was as big as my head.

Our journey for the day continued on to Biloxi, Mississippi. I'd never actually been to Biloxi; most of my five readers have probably never heard of it either. It is a casino town in the little tail of Mississippi that touches the gulf between Alabama and Lousianna.

On my many drives between Houston and Atlanta I never bothered to stop in Biloxi. When I would stop halfway, it would be in New Orleans. See, Biloxi is a casino town and I have absolutely no desire to gamble. However, my parents, well, odds are if you come to my parents house you'll find my dad watching poker tournaments on tv. He really enjoys playing. He rarely wins very much, but (to the best of my knowlege) he doesn't lose very much either. My mom claims to not like casinos or gambling. However, once at a casino, odds are you'll find her at a video poker machine. In fact my sister was able to give me the exact location of where I could find my mom in the Grand Casino based on previous trips with them. Mom tends to win, I'm not sure how she beats the casino odds, but she does.

Biloxi was destroyed, like most of the gulf cities in Hurricane Katrina. However, they seem to be staging quite a come back. To me hurricane damage was most notable in trees that have been obviously torn in half. A few roofs still have blue tarps on top, but mostly both homes and casinos have been rebuilt.

As I said before I don't like to gamble, and unlike my mom, I mean it. However, I'll admit that I enjoy staying in a hotel - the Grand was no exception. They have a great, albeit small, fitness center and a really nice sauna/steam room with hot tubs and a cold plunge. And the chair in my room that I sat and read in was quite nice as well.