Monday, March 30


I mentioned a few weeks ago that I've been taking ballet lessons. Well, in addition to that I've also been taking yoga and belly dance lessons from a Russian woman in my knitting group. She's also branching out into cosmetology and today she gave me a facial. Well, not a facial, but a face massage. Using olive oil... my olive oil. It felt great, but was a really bizarre experience. The smells of the strong olive (because of course, I only eat very strong, fruity olive oil), the slippery, the fear that my pillow case is now stained with oil... anyone know how to get oil out of laundry???

Saturday, March 28

Discovery Week '09 - Barcelona!

As I mentioned in the previous post, I really loved Barcelona. The students also had a great time with all of our activities, which ranged from cultural tours to hiking. Here are some highlights:

Watching Flamenco dancing. The rhythms are so syncopated (not in time with the music). It was incredible. Here's a 36 second video:

The architecture of Gaudi and others who fell into the modernisma (Art Nouveau) category. Barcelona has really embraced beauty in its buildings!

Inner courtyard of La Pedrera. All the apartments are circular!


The roof - functional art. Those are staircases and chimneys!
Roof of La Pedrera

Sagrada Familia and our group. Begun in 1882. Scheduled completion 2035.
Sagrada Familia

The inner nave is meant to resemble a forest with light filtering through:
Forest of Sagrada Familia

There was a cooking class where we learned to make paella

A tour of FC (football club) Barcelona stadium:
(that was actually my least favorite thing)

And of course the food! I ate tapas every day!

Thursday, March 26

I Heart Barcelona

This city is GORGEOUS. Really spectacular. I've had fun with the group of 28 students and 3 other chaperones. I'll be writing more about our days when I add the pictures to flickr. But in the mean time, we've been enjoying warm weather and sun.

Did anyone else see the news that Moscow got a foot of snow yesterday? I can't find it, so I'm ignoring it...

Friday, March 20


It's March 19th, almost the end of March - well at least more than half way through. So when I wake up to a snow covered ground, I find it a little irritating. Ok, a lot irritating. I'm done with winter. Last year I wanted more, this year, now that I got more, well, I'm done.

On the upside, when I leave the house at 6:15 it's light out :) And since we have one more week until day light savings kicks in that might still be true.

Oh and on Sunday I head to Barcelona for Discovery Week. Our itinerary is great - tours of Gaudi cathedral and the Dali museum. Then we've got a 4 hour bike ride, a 4 hour hike to a medieval village. Yep, my life does not suck. Just the snow.

Saturday, March 14

A little excitement

My posts are pretty boring. I know this. I just don't know how to write them any better... But perhaps this one will be a bit better because it involves romance and characters from the past...

A few weeks ago:

Our heroine (that's me), goes to a progressive "bar" hopping where each apartment had a different themed bar where you stayed for 30-45 minutes partaking in the host's theme. Being several metro stops away from home and wanting to sleep in her own bed, she actually managed to stay relatively sober, largely helped by volunteering to tend bar at the martini bar. At the last bar "Heaven and Hell," she meets a guy - an economist from DC in town for 6 weeks.

3 days later:
Our heroine makes a reservation at a small, local, smoke-free restaurant (with the help of a Russian student) for dinner. She is meeting the economist from the party. She arrives at the restaurant early only to be told her reservation doesn't exist. "Of course not, f*cking Russia." Undaunted and now joined by the economist, they head off to a second, larger branch of the same restaurant. They talk for an hour before they order their meal. "Ah" she thinks "This is what I was missing conversation." Dinner arrives and is delicious. Conversation continues. At the end of the evening the economist is left at the corner with a nice good-bye kiss.

2 days later:
It is the Friday before February break. Several teachers and embassy employees have gathered at a British pub. Both our heroine and the economist are present. More good conversation ensues followed by a long walk back to the heroines apartment for some old fashioned making out. While this is nice, it lacks the passion she has once known. She finds her mind wandering, never a good thing while making out. She sends him home in time to catch the metro. Their phone conversation is a bit strained the next day but normal enough.

The following day our heroine is on a plane bound for Thailand with 10 students to keep her mind fully occupied.

A week later:
Our heroine has returned to the cold; it's minus ten again. On that day the economist calls, but she's still on the bus headed home. She attempts to return his call to no avail. He never calls back and she's not really bothered.

Two weeks later:
It's the end of February now. Winter is still upon us. However, day light is increasing giving the air hope that spring might arrive. Tonight is the Carnival party at the German embassy. She has a passing thought wondering if the economist will be there since embassy people tend to go to other embassy parties, but isn't very concerned one way or the other. She hasn't really bothered to wonder whether Za German will be there; last she heard, he was returning home to Germay at the end of February. Over the past two months she hasn't thought of him much, though she's saved pictures and hasn't ever deleted his number from her phone. Regardless, she has far better things to do - she's busy looking at patterns for masks to attempt to paint onto her face as a costume.

Face painted, corseted up, our heroine, her neighbor and her one Russian friend arrive at the party... And their is Za German, manning the gate. The others don't see him engrossed in their conversation, but she can't see anything else. He smiles, but no words are exchanged. She does notice that he already knows where her name is on the list and tells the person checking ids to let her in.

Inside the party now, there are costumed people everywhere! Yay! She loves these events, loves the creativity, the excitement. Za German has entered the room and while the occasional glance is stolen, they remain on separate sides of the room for 2 hours.

She doesn't quite remember moving towards him or him toward her, but, suddenly, they are together. They are talking. It is like nothing has changed. After having not seen each other for 2 months, they discuss why they haven't. She says, "But you didn't want a relationship, I didn't see the point in trying to continue..." The rest of the room has disappeared and they only see each other. "I missed you," seems to emerge into the air simultaneously.

Hours have passed. Our heroine has turned into a horrible friend, ignoring her neighbor and the Russian, but she can't tear herself away. Such is the delight to be near him again. Somehow, though she knows it's not a good idea, they agree to get together next Wednesday.

And it's all so natural. So easy. They manage to talk, to really talk, finally. She has the chance to say what she wants: "I know we're not good at this part, the talking. And I don't understand why... I don't really think it's the language, there's something else keeping us apart. But I also know this, it's never been like this with anyone else. It's never been so easy, so right, so good, so (very) passionate." And he has a chance as well, "I feel like if I met you a year from now that would be it. But I'm not ready for this yet. But I'm also afraid I'll return to Germany and feel like I made a huge mistake." She reminds him that she's not asking for any promises and is not making any, but she'll be in Moscow for another year and a half. That maybe things will work out and maybe not, but that maybe they should try. And then on Thursday, he's gone, for real this time.

But, she finds herself with plans to travel to Germany, to see what it's like in his native environment. To see if they think there's any point in her returning over the summer. And the saga continues.


Sunday, March 1


Originally uploaded by Traveling Em

Owww, my ovaries hurt.

In all their glory

Originally uploaded by Traveling Em

Here's my group I took to Thailand. They're wearing harnesses in preparation for doing a ropes course.