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Today was the second annual Mitki Olympics. What are the Mitki, you ask? One source defines them this way:

Mitki are the artistic union of mostly St-Petersburg artists, writers,
poets, cool guys which have many common features such as love to
alcoholic beverages and animals, active peacefulness, talking using
quotes from most famous Russian movies and much much more.

The Other St. Petersburg has a nice piece on the Mitki as well.

Basically, the Mitki are bohemians in a rather non-bohemian city. I think in the beginning they were kind of regarded as pathetic losers, but twenty years on they’re sort of a St. Petersburg institution. They kind of reminded me of old hippies in the US, Ann Arborites in particular. I felt very cozy amongst them, and I don’t often feel cozy in groups of Russians.

Right. The Mitki Olympics. The events were:

1. The Stocking Throw. Throw a nylon stocking as far as you can. Tying knots is forbidden, but other sorts of twisting and rolling are OK. The farthest throw: 11 meters 40. Kostia’s brother Igor came in second at 11 meters 20.

2. Bicycle Race. Ride a bicycle as slowly as you can.

3. Arm Wrestling.

4. Checker Flicking. Opponents line up ten checkers and take turns flicking their checkers across the board. The object is to knock the opponent’s checkers off while keeping their own on the board. The first one to have all their checkers go off the board loses.

5. Tug-of-War.

There were actual prizes and things. I participated in events 1, 3, and 5, but didn’t place in any. I sustained an injury in the tug-of-war when I was knocked to the ground and Klaas fell on top of me. I have a lovely scrape on my right hand and probably some other bruises. So cool.

After an entirely lazy June and July, and a busy but fun August, this has been one of the most random and exhausting weeks in recent memory. After getting a new Russian visa and returning from Helsinki, I thought things were pretty much in order for the new school year at the kindergarten. Not so.

First of all, I got a call from the kindergarten saying that I would be teaching in a different class than the one I’d been preparing for — the 3-year-olds rather than the 4-year-olds. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, it’s a good thing, because they did it to honor my request to increase my hours at the kindergarten, and half the kids in the new group are ones I worked with last year and really like. On the other hand, I’d already been preparing for weeks to teach in the other group, I had lessons planned and a really good rapport going with my co-teachers. I like my new co-teacher a lot too, but we only had one day to kind of get our act together and plan for the new year. Our other co-teacher, actually the head teacher, is out sick recovering from an operation for two weeks. So we’re two inexperienced teachers trying to organize a nursery school class ourselves.

Secondly, when I went to the head office of the language school to register my visa on Wednesday, we discovered that I hadn’t gotten a migration card at the border when I returned from Helsinki. They always give you a migration card, and this time they didn’t, and I didn’t think to ask for one. Without this card, you can’t register your visa, and you have to register your visa within three days of arriving in the country. The only way to resolve this problem was to go back to the border immediately and get one, which is a two-hour trip each way. Luckily Aunt Kelly’s assistant was willing to drive me. We went to Vyborg, spent an hour or so persuading the bureaucrats in the train station to give me a migration card, then had to drive one of the guys home, an extra 30 kilometers, because we had caused him to miss his train home.

So much for having a calm evening before the first day of school. I had been looking forward to going out to dinner with Aunt Kelly and our friend Klaas, who’s visiting from Germany. Wednesday evening was shot because of the Vyborg adventure, but we went out on Thursday, after my exhausting first day of school. I have to say the kids are great, though. Only a couple of really naughty ones. Three-year-olds are the best. Old enough to communicate and do lots of things on their own, young enough to be very cuddly and sweet.

Friday was also exhausting, and in the middle of the day the head office of the language school called and said I had to run across town RIGHT THEN to put my signature on a piece of paper for my visa registration. So I had to drop everything and haul ass, then haul it right back.

So I’ve sort of been in this hyper-adrenaline state for the past four days, which makes one feel pretty exhausted. This weekend we are keeping busy because of Klaas, but all I really want to do is vegetate. I feel guilty though. Tonight is the second night in a row that I promised Klaas we’d go out to a club, and I just didn’t have the energy to do it. I’m getting so old.

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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September 2005