February 2009

So I got a slip that says that there is a package waiting for me at the post office. I went today and they told me something something something February 19th something something. Right. Then they handed me the slip back, with no package. So something happened on Feb 19th, but I have NO clue what it was. In any case, if you sent me a package about a month ago, it might be on it’s way back to you. Sorry!


New pictures up on Picasa, in ‘Russian Winter’. If you are too busy to have a look, here’s my favorite. 121

A randomized peanut of words organized in such a way that their size indicates how often they are used.  I think. 🙂


Complements to Wordle.com

Here it is, the description of my unusual week schedule.  Ready?  Let’s GO!


1030am: wake up, eat, shower, get to school by 12 or 12:30.  Plan for the day’s two lessons and leave for the metro by 3.  10 minute walk to the metro, about 25 min on the metro, 45 minute ride on bus 103 to Petergof where I usually will eat my lunch, en route.  Plan/prep my mind for teaching until 5pm, teach 13 year old, upper intermediate students until 650pm.  Break/prep until teaching again at 7:40.  Teach intermediate adults until 955pm, commute home with Fiona – ride a bus for about half an hour (traffic is sparse then), 30 min on metro, 15 min walk home.  Usually home by 1130pm, eat dinner, check email.  Maybe correct homework or study Russian, go to bed around 230am.


1030 or so, wake up, eat, get ready, walk to school, stopping at Subway for Tuna Tuesday, arriving by 12.  Plan for class or study Russian.  1-2:30: Russian lesson.  Plan for Tuesday’s and Wednesday’s classes (4 total).  5pm-715: teach Russian State Exam class to 16 year olds.  725-945pm: teach FCE (First Certificate in English) Exam class to adults. Walk 15 min home, eat food, Russian homework, night routine, get to bed around 2:30 or so.


If I worked hard enough on Tuesday, I don’t have to go in to school to plan for Wednesday classes.  Then hang out until having Russian from 1-230.  Then I have a little while before needing to leave for Petergof.  Might plan for Thursday, might do my homework for Russian.  Commute just like Monday.  Teach youngins (8 year olds, pre intermediates) from 6-730pm. Teach same intermediate class as Monday from 740-955.  Same commute home, except Fiona and I have a Sushi tradition on Wednesday night.  It’s delicious. To bed around 2, hopefully.


Exactly the same as Tuesday, except no Russian lessons.


Normal morning, hopefully not having to go in to central school, just walking straight to the metro for the commute by 3.  Walk, Metro, Bus, Lunch.  Teach upper intermediate teens from 5-650.  Break.  Teach advanced adults from 740 to 955.  Commute with Fi, straight to ‘The Other Side” – our local pub.  Drinks, bagels with the only cream cheese in St. Petersburg or other delicious food.  Home around 2 or 3, bed before 4.


Up around 12, lounge around.  Maybe do something cultural, like the Hermitage or go for a walk.  Possibly walk 25 minutes (one way) to Seniya Ploshad to the ‘big’ grocery store.  Bake or cook something yummy, because I can.  Maybe go out, maybe stay in.  Bed around 3?


Wake up around 11.  Clean stuff.  Culture if Saturday was culture free.  Movies, knitting, shopping.  General laziness.  To bed by 2, at least that’s the goal.

That’s it, with little variation.  It’s really not too bad.


Creepy, different colored eyes included free of charge.

Recently I’ve come to realize that I have a tendency to split up time in my mind to really understand how long something takes or to gauge how far off an event is. Often this habit shows itself, embarrassingly, through the semi-obsessive tracking of expiration dates. I have always made a mental note about when each item of food expires in the refrigerator. Spoiled milk is my arch nemesis and I will throw out a perfectly good looking loaf of bread if the ink on the bag tells me to do so. I really like to see important dates of expiration, like holidays or my birthday. When I am looking forward to something and I know that it will be here before my milk curdles I know it is actually going to happen. It sounds crazy, probably because it is.

Besides using spoilage as a unit of time, I also tend to keep track of my progress in terms of fractions. I am half-way/almost half-way/more than half-way through the month, the week, the day, even the lesson if it is going poorly. Half-way means that I can see exactly how far I have to go, because I can remember exactly how long it took me to get here. I like half-way. Of course I am keeping track of the number of months I have been here, but I also know that this 3 month mark means an easy fraction. I am a third of the way through my contract already! I tried to put my finger on a quarter, but… a quarter of 9 months is 2.25, which is 9 weeks, and I guess that was too odd for me to put effort into pinpointing.

Now I know that I will be here twice as long as I have already been here (I’ve been here 3 months, so 3+(3×2)=9 ). Also, this marks the longest that I have ever been away from home, my family, Wisconsin, the US, or even an English speaking country (I’m still on Earth, right?). I will admit it – I am proud of myself for making it this far. If my first week here was any indication of how long I would be here…. Let’s just say I wouldn’t have thought I could make it to week two. It was definitely the worst I have felt in my life. I can see how experiencing a new threshold of pain and fear can really make you a stronger person. When you deal with something you thought you couldn’t, you realize that you can’t really fathom your own limits. I am learning that everyone is much stronger than they know – or would like to admit. If we acknowledge that we are capable of doing more than we are currently doing, it becomes clear that we aren’t living up to our full potential. That’s a tough pill to swallow.