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Doesn’t my Jack-o-lantern rule? Here he is eating the famous Soviet animated character Cheburashka.

So we had this Halloween party on Friday night, the idea of which was to gather at our apartment for some food and drinks and then head over to the US Consulate for their party. It’s been awhile since I went to a consulate party, and I had forgotten about the stupid-ass security procedure that allows one person in to the building every five minutes, leaving dozens of people waiting in the cold.

(If any US Consulate staff are reading this, you need to do something about that. Yes, I understand the need for security in these troubled times, but this is just completely fucking ridiculous and I’m never going to attempt to go to a consulate party again.)

Anyway, after about a half hour of waiting (truth be told, I don’t know how long we waited, I was already pretty drunk) we decided to all go back to my house. And that, frankly, was a lot more fun.

This morning when I got off the metro there were snow flurries in the air. Having grown up in upstate New York, snow flurries in October aren’t normal, but not out of the question either. What is out of the question is a full-on snowstorm, the sort which would shut down Washington, DC for, well, a day at least. I thought the snowy season would start kinda gradually, but we’ll be having none of that in St. Petersburg, thank you. It’s a good thing I keep a pair of wellies/galoshes at work (for playing outside with the kids) because otherwise I would have had really sad feet on the way home.

As you may recall, the last snow in St. Petersburg was on April 21. I took a picture of it. Six months and five days later, the snow starts again. So we can assume I have approximately six months of winter ahead of me. I’ll try to learn to love it, I will. I mean, I like snow, but six months of it is rather intimidating.

Friday morning rush hour Kostia and I were getting on the Metro. We squished into the train and, just before the doors closed, another person got on. “He just had to squeeze in here,” said Kostia, in the habit of assuming that those around us don’t speak English. Then I noticed the spark of recognition in the man’s eyes. He turned to Kostia. “Sorry,” he said sheepishly, with a slight Russian accent. Then he gestured at his bag. “My survival kit,” he said.

The guy was about our age, friendly looking, slightly nerdy, the sort of person we’d hang out with. Embarrassed at our bad habit of talking about the people around us, I said “Busted!” to Kostia and proceeded to giggle until the next stop. When we got there, the guy jumped off the train and sprinted away. Then we realized that he probably thought we were tourists laughing at his English. Both Kostia and I felt really bad.

I wish the St. Petersburg Times had an “I Saw You” section like the Washington City Paper does. I’d write “You: nicely-dressed man with stylish glasses and beard getting on the Metro at Chernishevskaya at 8am Friday morning. Us: Rude expat/Russian couple who weren’t laughing at you. Please forgive us and let us buy you a beer and be your friend.”

Kostia and I went to his hometown, Slantsy, for the weekend. Not much goes on in Slantsy, so when you’re there you have an excuse to truly relax. Plus, Kostia’s mom never stops feeding you. So Saturday went like this: get up, eat, go for a walk, eat, have a nap, eat, read, eat, watch a movie, go to bed. I feel very well rested.

With my little hiatus, I neglected to report that I have fulfilled my familial destiny of being a primary school teacher (my mom and paternal grandmother were both schoolteachers). How did I let this happen?

The language school that runs the kindergarten also runs a British School. As I’ve mentioned, St. Petersburg is perpetually short on native-English-speaking teachers, and so I was persuaded to leave the kindergarten early two days a week to teach a class of seven- and eight-year-olds. I can’t say I love it. The kids are basically good kids, but controlling a class of them is a lot harder than working at the kindergarten, where the kids are small and you can just physically move them around if you have to, and your authority seems a lot more absolute. Plus, at the kindergarten the child-adult ratio is much smaller.

Worst of all, those two days a week I have to leave the kindergarten right when the nicest part of the day starts — naptime. I really relish that hour and a half of silence. Plus, that’s my lesson planning time, and now I have even more lessons to plan.

But I’ll stop whining about it now. I know it’s good teaching experience for me. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t do it at all.

I jinxed myself the other day. I was telling my co-worker Luda that I was lucky that I’ve only had one mild cold since Kindergarten started back up in September. I’d had other ailments, but only one teensy head cold, and head colds are just the worst. Well, of course within hours of uttering those words, I started sneezing. Blah.

I’ve decided that this part of the world has six seasons rather than four, but three of them are winter. This sounds like a joke, but it’s also true. It’s like this:

Summer: June 21-August 20 (20 degrees Centigrade on average)
Autumn: August 21-October 20 (10-15 degrees)
Early Winter: October 21-December 20 (0-10 degrees)
Deep Winter: December 21-February 20 (-10-0 degrees)
Late Winter: February 21-April 20 (0-10 degrees)
Spring: April 21-June 20 (10-15 degrees)

For some reason I find thinking about it this way to be comforting, more so than trying to make the seasons here conform to my temperate-zone conception of what the four seasons are supposed to be like. Instead of being sad that spring, summer, and fall are so brief, I’m just going to accept that there are six short seasons, half the year is winter, and early and late winter aren’t too bad.

I’m back to the blog as scheduled; the break was good; I have plenty to say but I don’t have time today. I promise to write tomorrow. Sorry!

I think I’m going to take a break from the blog for awhile. Haven’t been feeling all that well lately, work is sucking up all of my time, and the narcissism that is blogging really isn’t appealing to me all that much right now. Let’s say I’ll take a two-week break.

Just thought I’d let you know, ’cause when the blogs I read don’t get updated for awhile and I keep checking them and checking them, I feel like the rat in the food pellet experiment, and I don’t want to make you feel that way. (Hugh knows what I’m talking about; if he wants to explain in the comments section he’s welcome to. :-)

Edit: I forgot, it’s not rats and food pellets, it’s birds and birdseed. So it’s like this. Birds were in three different groups. For the first group, every time they pecked at a lever, they got a seed. For the second group, every second time they pecked at the lever they got a seed. The third group got seed randomly. So then they stopped giving out seeds. The first two groups eventually figured out that the levers weren’t working anymore and stopped pecking at them. But the third group never stopped pecking. Because they were never sure when their seed would be coming in the first place, they still held out hope that the lever might work sometime. Isn’t that terribly sad?

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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