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That’s what it was like, this movie Rusalka (Mermaid) that I saw today. If you’ve seen both Amelie and Lilia 4-ever, you’ll find it hard to believe that the two could go together, but this film really is a whimsical post-Soviet tragedy. It was really good, sometimes funny, sometimes heartwarming, but not cheerful. Recommenduyu.

1. The woman whose job it is to hand out the Metro free paper who was carrying away the last stack at 10.25 a.m. and totally ignored me when I asked for one, presumably because her shift ends at 10.30. Anyway, aren’t they supposed to leave the extras in the boxes that say “Metro” on them?

2. The guy drinking a beer on the metro this evening who just put the empty bottle on the floor when he was finished. Not an unusual occurrence, but still. At the top of the escalator, he took a United Russia bulletin (from out of the Metro newspaper box, which of course did not contain any Metro newspapers, only United Russia bulletins). Double loser. 

3. The guy who was openly peeing on the corner near our bus stop. This is a residential neighborhood on the edge of the city; if you’re here at 11.30 on a Friday night, it’s because you live here. Go home and use the toilet!

4. The horrible woman who got on the marshrutka (minibus) just ahead of me and slammed the door in my face, and then refused to pass my money to the driver (unheard of) because “it’s inconvenient for me, I’m sitting on the edge”. It’s moments like those that I wish I was a native Russian speaker so I could unleash a torrent of abuse that wouldn’t sound merely amusing at best. 

Admittedly I’m a bit sleep-deprived today, which makes me irritable. Time to go to bed.

I am thankful that Kostia didn’t kill me this morning for accidentally taking both sets of keys with me, leaving him stuck at home because he wouldn’t have been able to lock the apartment behind him. Fortunately Thursday is a day when I don’t have anything scheduled after my early morning lesson, so I was able to get home before noon without cancelling anything. But poor Kostia had to cancel one lesson and postpone another. I suck.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Perhaps I’ll write a proper reflective Thanksgiving post later, but not at 7:30 a.m. on a workday. Which is what it is here in the Russia.

… I’m addicted to Facebook.

Last weekend I realized I had become a teensy bit more Russified. Kostia and I went to a shopping mall to get some clothes and go to the movies, and I found myself wishing for a coat check (garderob). When I first came to Russia the ubiquitous and often compulsory garderob freaked me out. In a place known for its petty theft, why would I willingly let one of my belongings out of my control? Why couldn’t I just hang my coat on my chair at a restaurant or sit on it at the theater like I did at home? But now I realize that when it’s winter for half the year, you get pretty sick of dragging your coat around with you. Let’s hope that all large shopping malls will soon be equipped with garderobs.

All right, I held out for a long time, thinking that having profiles on Friendster, LinkedIn, and Vkontakte was enough. But everyone is always talking about Facebook, Facebook, Facebook, and so, dammit, I finally joined. I have to admit that it is a much better social networking application than any of the others, though.

So if you’re on there, friend me already. But don’t “poke” me, ’cause I don’t know what that means yet, but it sounds inappropriate. 

Today I met up with some former co-workers from the kindergarten. We went to an English pub called Dickens. When we got there, nearly all the tables were empty, but had “reserved” signs on them. “Football starts at 2:00”, said the waitress. Clueless non-sports fans that we are, we didn’t realize it was the Russian national league championship game, and St. Petersburg’s team was playing. Still, we squeezed into a table that wasn’t reserved because it wasn’t in view of one of the TVs. If I leaned back, I could see the TV screen, and I was lucky enough to lean back at the right moment to see the single goal of the game, which made Zenit the Russian champions. After the game, the city went wild – it felt a bit like New Year on the streets. This is the first time in more than 20 years that Zenit has won. I couldn’t care less about who wins sports games, but I’m glad the city’s in a good mood tonight.

It’s been winter for the past week. The view out our window has been looking like this lately:


Winter notwithstanding, we carved a pumpkin last weekend. I tried to find one before Halloween, with no success. But when I saw a babushka selling this nice plump orange one the weekend after Halloween, I had to buy it:


I’ve been doing a bit of clothes shopping recently. I got a new hat which is ideal because it isn’t too bulky but it is warm and has ear flaps. I also got this totally awesome sweatshirt (which also has an ear flap) at Savage, which is Ksenia Sobchak‘s clothing brand, who is the Russian Paris Hilton. Even though she apparently has lots of money for self-promotion, she doesn’t have enough money to have someone who speaks fluent English work for her clothing company (really, take a look at their web site – my students write better than this! I mean, there’s nothing wrong with not speaking English per se, but if you’re promoting yourself in English and writing English on your clothes, hire a professional for god’s sake). On the back of the sweatshirt and on the sleeve, it says, “I’m feel good!!” In comic sans, no less. There’s also a dachshund on this sweatshirt. You can’t really tell from the picture, but he stretches all the way around the side to the middle of the back. This sweatshirt was such a piece of work that I just had to buy it. I’m going to wear it every day that I don’t have to dress professionally.

sweatshirt-and-hat.jpg im-feel-good.jpg  

A few posts back I mentioned that Kostia was supposed to be going to Sweden for November and December to teach some courses at our university there. Well, it turns out that the Swedish consulate/migration board can’t turn around a work visa application in 4 days (more like 4 weeks) so he’s here, and now he’s teaching even more internet distance courses for Högskolan Dalarna. But they still want him to come teach in person, so supposedly another work invitation is on its way for next semester. If that happens as planned, we’ll both head back to Falun in January for at least a semester. This would be much nicer for us than him going there for six weeks and leaving me in St. Petersburg all alone. We’ll see how things actually turn out. I’m not holding my breath yet.

Today’s a holiday. In Soviet times it was Revolution Day, but in the fine new Russian tradition of going back to old Soviet traditions to make middle-aged and elderly sovoks happy (i.e. restoring the Soviet national anthem with new words) they just keep the holiday on the same day and rename it something meaningless. Meaningless, but not innocuous. Because all the People’s Unity Day banners remind me of the ads for United Russia that have been springing up everywhere.

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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November 2007