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I went to the supermarket early this morning, and on my way out, the security guard said, “Have a nice day, baby!”

Even though I’ve been back and forth between the US and Russia a few times now, until yesterday I’d never done it all in one day. I had always combined it with some trip to western Europe. So yesterday’s 12 hours of flying and a full 8 hours of jet lag is a first for me.

I’d been out of the US for nearly 9 months. The funniest culture re-entry shock moment happened while boarding my connecting flight in Frankfurt. I got on an elevator and an American hippie college girl got on behind me. “Do I smell? Like smoke?” she asked of the five other people in the elevator. “Because I thought, maybe it would bother the person sitting next to me on the flight.” One person quietly assured her that her scent was not noticable. I thought, only an American would ask five strangers if he/she smelled bad, and probably only an American would consider whether the scent of cigarette smoke on clothes would bother someone with whom they were not intimately involved.

Being far too lazy to redesign this blog’s template, I offer new and reorganized sidebar content for your amusement. More Russia/St. Petersburg links will keep Russophiles entertained, since my next 2.5 weeks of blogging will be done from the western hemisphere.

This blog entry was quoted (translated into Russian, without my snarky comment at the end) in the print edition of Afisha magazine (similar to Time Out) in a feature called Foreigners on St. Petersburg. Five blogs were quoted, and my quote is right above David Byrne’s and Moby’s, how fucking cool am I? :-)

I received a belated birthday gift from Kostia’s best friend: a very nice stuffed Cheburashka, complete with plastic orange, that sings a song when squeezed.

Yes, it is a very nice day.

Washington:
– Renew Russian visa
– Stock up on hand sanitizer and peanut butter
– Drink drip coffee and chai (not to be confused with чай)
Avoid Starbucks
– Eat at Astor
– Eat Indian food
– Eat Ethiopian food
– Eat Mexican food
– Ride bicycle (both for fun and to work off all that food)
– Visit former workplaces
– Get all those books and CDs that can’t be found in Russia that I keep thinking I need to have
– Go to Saint-Ex, Tryst
– Try to avoid being persuaded to go to Lauriol Plaza (there is absolutely nothing special about this place, it’s a warehouse full of yuppies, but inevitably some friend will suggest going there and I won’t have the heart to say no)
– Visit All Souls
– Give the presidential limo the finger at least once (vice presidential will do)

Upstate New York:
– Spend quality time with Grandpa
– Steal children’s books for kindergarten from mom
– Drink cheap beer with dad
– Drive around hometown, realize for the millionth time that it isn’t completely horrible, even though I’d never actually want to live there again
– Go through stuff in storage at parents’ houses, wish that I could send it all to Russia, sigh and repack it

In General:
– Overdose on American culture so that I’ll be really glad to get back to Russia
– Study Russian every day, because I promised.

I’m back in St. Petersburg and have three days to do laundry, pack, get all my visa renewal stuff in order, and do a bunch of other errands before heading to the US on Thursday.

Germany was lots of fun but why did it have to be cold and rainy half the week? It’s rainy here too. I keep reminding myself that I’ll be getting a proper dose of unbearable summer heat in Washington. You know, when it’s so horribly sticky you can’t sleep? I actually kind of like that.

Tomorrow Kostia and I are off to Germany. We’ll be in Berlin and Hamburg for three days each.

Went to the last of the Stereoleto concerts last night. Check out Telepopmusic. Also Kim and Buran. The latter played at the concert that was two weeks ago. So fun and sparkly.

We have a lot of July birthdays in my family. Mine’s the 17th, my sister’s is the 10th, and Aunt Kelly’s is today. It’s been awhile since the three of us were in the same place during our birthday week, but the extended family used to gather together and get a cake and sing, “Happy birthday, MeganEmilyKelly, happy birthday to you!” I’m not the least bit nostalgic about my childhood, but that was kind of nice.

Since my early twenties, people have thought that I was a lot younger than I actually was/am. When I was 22, someone mistook me for a 14-year-old. When I was 24, a guy I was dating thought I was 19 at first. When I get carded at bars in the US, doormen always look at me skeptically. In St. Petersburg, when I start teaching a new group of students and reveal my age, they are shocked and often say they thought I was 20.

Frankly, I’ve never really liked this too much. I’ll admit that having a chubby baby face makes me look young, but if after talking to me for a little while you still think I’m a teenager, what does that say about me?

I’ve never really understood the world’s obsession with youth. I’ve always had friends of all ages — my oldest friend is in his 70s! Older people tend to have their shit together. Older people have read more books. Older people have interesting stories to tell. And I truly believe that narrow mainstream notions of beauty are a fictional cultural construct and that women can be lovely at any age, not just 15.

All right. So I have to admit, with my 29th birthday approaching this weekend*, being mistaken for younger is bothering me a little bit less. Partly this is the influence of Russia, where you’re supposed to sow your wild oats and be married and have a kid by the time you’re 25. Of course, I haven’t started to believe this in any way, but if I look younger people ask fewer insulting questions.

So to all you people who said, “Oh, someday you’ll be glad that you look young for your age”: OK, you win. Someday has arrived.

*this is not shameless fishing for birthday wishes, I swear

Judging from the blogs I read, there’s a northern hemisphere heat wave this week. From Helsinki to Montreal to Tel Aviv, everyone’s writing about how hot it is. Only, one person’s hot is another’s pleasant summer weather. Here it’s about 27 degrees celsius, and Petersburgers are wilting. I happen to think it’s quite lovely when compared with Washington’s 35-degree, 100% humidity summers (to which I am going to subject myself in a few short weeks).

About This Blog

I'm an American who started blogging when I moved to Russia in 2004. Eventually I moved to Sweden, where life is pleasant but uneventful, and stopped blogging for lack of interesting things to say. And then I joined Facebook, which further destroyed any motivation for blogging. Maybe someday I'll start blogging again, but for now, this blog is dormant, an archive of The Russia Years: 2004-2008.

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