August 2009


Today has been a long long day so far.  Started at 5.  Went off with only one, minor, tiny, insignificant hitch, which will later be described in it’s own, long post.

Leaving was really quite hard, mostly because I was emotional about that microscopic problem mentioned earlier and because Elen saw us off… I will miss her SO much.  I am almost convinced I wouldn’t have survived if it weren’t for her.  I hope we can stay in touch.

Ok, I should go to bed.  It’s only 8pm, but we are dead on our feet and we want to be awake to see the city tomorrow.  We only have about 24 hours in Helsinki, and it looks pretty amazing.

Hope to keep you updated!

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Tomorrow Jane and I will get up at the crack of dawn, haul our butts to the train station (where we will be met by the wonderful Elen) and point ourselves away from Russia.  Strange.

Currently teaching my last class.  LAST LAST CLASS.  Why am I sad?!  If you’re lucky, you’ll see me in a week.  A WEEK!!!! I thought I would never make it here. 🙂

Sunday was muggy and quite warm, it had rained twice already but Steph and I were hoping for the best when we met on Nevsky at 6pm.  At the end of the street we were funneled between two malitsia  trucks and ‘searched’.  I put searched in quotes because, in fact, I was missed.  Apparently I don’t look very susupicious.   After entering palace square and not being missed in the search process, we began looking for the best standing place.  Now… I learned in this process that the WORST place to be is directly in the middle (distance from the stage). As you back up, the stage gets shorter, right?  Well, where we were was the perfect distance for the tall people’s heads to be directly at stage level.  We didn’t recognise this at first, for some reason, so most of the time in the square was spent at the front of the cheaper back section (i.e. directly in the middle).

Anyway, the square started to get a little crowded, then a little more crowded, and then, finally, it required caps: CROWDED.  As crowded as I have ever been on the metro…. and let me tell you, that’s a lot of  people in a small space.   Like, I think I was touching six separate people without trying.   Sardines come to mind, disappointingly. During the opening number, Steph tried desperately to dance, but none of our neighbors are having any of it.  So it was challenging, like dancing in jello, or molassas.   Then, as we are all getting friendly and catalogueing each other’s breath scent, it begins to rain.  A little.  And people open their umbrellas.  How they even GOT to their umbrellas to open them is beyond me, but they managed.  And I knew it, I predicted it openly to a number of people.  Umbrellas in this situation just don’t work.  When the corner of someone else’s umbrella is under yours, and you are under that corner… you will get wet dispite your planning ahead skills.  They are pointless.  This is why I wore a water proof jacket.  Thank you, thank you.  You don’t have to mention the word ‘genious’.  🙂  Regardless,  the umbrellas remained open and as far as I know, nobody lost an eye, in spite of many close calls.   So it’s raining, then… it begins to pour.  I find this somewhat amusing because, at least 3/5ths of my body is still dry.  It rained for about 15 min and quit, then started again, then quit for good.  We waited in this scrunched space for an hour and a half between the opening act and Madonna.  It wasn’t pleasant.  There was a rousing game of ‘I spy with my little eye’ though.  It wasn’t entirely challenging because of the lack of objects our limited vision and immobility provided.

When Madonna came on and began singing ‘Vouge’ and I realized that no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t see, I began to panic.  I know this seems a little dramatic, but really, that’s what it was.  I couldn’t see the stage, Madonna in person (albeit small) or either of the two screens to the sides of the stage because of these large white tents that were set up between the two zones of ticket prices.  Looking back on it now, it would have totally been worth it to pay the extra 1500 Rubles ($50) to be so much closer and generally more appreciated.  Soon, Steph and I wised up and moved back about 20 yards and then!  Then we could see Madonna!  She was…. THAT speck, that one right there!!!  I saw her, ohmygod!

It was a good performance, I think.  Steph enjoyed herself after finding more breathing room in the back AND two random girls who wanted to dance too!  When I finally layed down to go to sleep, it felt like I was still in that sardine can, leaning side to side, being pushed around.  It reminded me of when you get home from spending the day in a wave pool at a water park, you get the feeling that you are still going over and over the waves.

Today’s the day, folks!  MADONNA.  Of course, you won’t really get any photos from me unless I attempt to put them online from work… but this would mean braving the ‘Russian Roulette’ that is the USB ports in our extremely crap computer.  If you choose the wrong port…. time is up for your flash drive.  We’ll see.  For now, I have to get out of this cafe and into a sushi place for a presuperstar concert lunch!  I will give you the scoop tomorrow – promise!