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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  

Life has been kind of uneventful these past few weeks, hence the lack of blogging. I have been working a lot and shopping for boots in my spare time. The latter takes a lot more time than you would think. Finding tall black boots that don’t have stilletto heels, absurdly long pointed toes, ten million buckles, sequins, chains and god knows what else in St. Petersburg is pretty challenging. I need my footwear to be comfortable and tasteful, but I don’t want granny boots either. Then there are my chubby calves, which further limits the tall boot selection. I did see some promising boots last Friday… I just didn’t have enough money on me at the time.

Right, so you can see how exciting it’s been lately. But I’m not complaining.

At the moment Kostia is waiting most impatiently for a letter from our university in Sweden with his official job offer so he can go to the Swedish Consulate and get his work permit before next Monday, when the classes he’s supposed to teach are starting. He’s already been teaching two distance courses on the internet and they want him to teach several more in person in November and December. Since we don’t know whether there’s a longer-term job there for him in the future, I’m staying in St. Petersburg for now to keep working – I wouldn’t want to quit the language school and dump all my students only to find that we’re back here in January – and I’ll just visit for two weeks or so. Though I’m not looking forward to this six-week separation, I’m also not worrying too much about it yet, since bureaucracy and the Russian postal service may keep it from happening anyway.

So here’s a bit of a cultural-linguistic curiosity for you Russophiles. First, some background: Yevroset is one of several mobile phone retailers in Russia. As I think I’ve mentioned before, here subscription plans for mobile phones are rare; nearly everyone has pre-paid service. You can add money to your phone account at places like Yevroset and they get a commission for it. There are also automated machines where you can do this, which I think are becoming more popular than actually going into one of these outlets.

Anyway, Kostia wanted to buy Zemfira‘s new album, licensed copies of which are being sold only at Yevroset in what I think is some kind of crass marketing conspiracy, so we went to a Yevroset outlet, where I noticed they were offering some very amusing stickers as a gimmick for people adding money to their phones. My phone had plenty of money on it, but when I started fawning over the stickers, the guy behind the counter was kind enough to give them to me for free.


click to enlarge

The stickers say “I’m a hare”, “I’m a hedgehog”, I’m a snake”, etc, but here Yevroset is trying to be hip and cool by intentionally misspelling things in the manner of the internet writing style “Albanian” or “Preved“. Furthermore, the one on the bottom left is borderline vulgar – it says “I’m a fat arctic fox” but this phrase sounds like another common but very vulgar phrase that means something like “a FUBAR situation”. Kostia tells me it isn’t the first time that Yevroset has alluded to mat in its advertising – they once had a slogan which roughly translates to “Our prices will blow your f**king mind” (complete with asterisks – they couldn’t actually write out the equivalent in a public ad campaign). Apparently the company owner is a bit of a character.

Online translators used to suck really really really bad. Now they only suck really bad. There’s a good free Russian-English translator which does a decent job of getting the basic idea across, but it still comes up with some pretty hilarious stuff.

This is the publisher guy’s LJ post promoting my LJ:
Это дневник Меган Кейс, подруги Кости Смелого. На русском.
Она недавно начала его, но, думаю, он будет интересен взглядом на нас с заинтересованной другой стороны.
Стороны дружеской, но все же другой.

This would be my translation:
This is the diary of Megan Case, girlfriend of Kostia the Brave [Kostia’s pseudonym]. In Russian. She started it only recently, but I think it will be interesting as a view of us from another perspective. The perspective is friendly, but still, different.

This is the online translation:
It is diary Megan the Case, girlfriends of the Bone Courageous. In Russian. It recently has begun it, but, I think, it will be interesting by a sight at us from interested other party. The parties friendly, but nevertheless another.

I think the thing I like about it the most is its random use of the definite article.

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 2020