That’s an optimistic title, right?  Good, thought so.  This post is mainly about me trying to fill my weekend with…. nothing.  But this nothing should feel like something!  Yesterday I woke up feeling sick, which is the best way to wake up, really.  Then I went grocery shopping at the usual place 1.5 miles away explored new routes of nutrient gathering and discovered avacados!  Then I met up with Elen and we walked  (how do I make walk sound more exciting?!) to the Peter and Paul Fortress where we sat on some rocks bathed in sunlight while resting on the bank of the Neva.  After this, we were nearly hit by a railcarbus thing, then I tried tounge, which really really made me queasy.  It was sliced really thin, but the edge was a little bit harder and chewier, and…you could discern where there was a black spot ON THE TOUNGE OF A COW.  I can’t think about it any more.

Today I walked back to the fortress to start souvineer shopping!  The fortress has a printing press where they make limited editions of different scenes of the city that are relatively cheap, so I bought three today, and I am really happy about what I got.  What do you people want upon my return?!  Deciding what to get everyone will be most challenging.  I walked home, hot, weak from illness and headachey.  Bought some cherries, bananas, a soda, butter and other random things.  Made lunch, talked to Dad – he is on his way BACK to Iraq again – and took a nap.  When I woke up and saw that it was 7pm, I was thoroughly convinced that I had slept from 2am – 7pm.  Alas, I hadn’t.  But I was pretty out of it.  

Only two more weekends in St. Pete.  Next weekend I hope to go to Pushkin… because I must get out there sometime before I leave, it’s just rediculous not to.   There will be other things to do, I just need to think about it.  If only I could pull myself away from the distractions in my apartment.  The radio is just engrossing.


So, my last two or so posts weren’t overly optimistic.  Let’s face it, I was struggling to sound even remotely sane, much less bubbly.  In my exhausted, frustrated and emotionally confused state I somehow forgot to tell you about how freaking AWESOME my new apartment is.

Picture this (you’d better, cause you aren’t getting real pictures anytime soon): A spacious bedroom.  Nearly one whole wall is windows (currently covered in aluminum foil to keep out the midnight sun, but still, windows).  There’s a small wooden table in the corner, where I can eat breakfast and study Russian and for the GRE (that’s right, who wants to go back to school?!).  In the opposite corner is my bed, double or full, a perfect size.  I’ve got a dresser (haven’t had one of those for 8 months) and a off-white antique wardrobe with a huge mirror on the front (novelty!).  At the foot of my bed sits a  small fridge that rattles only a little in the night.  Above my bed, near the ceiling are a handful of rectangular windows that overlook the kitchen and bathroom.  They’re high enough that you can’t see anything in the bordering rooms but they add such a cute touch to the room and allow some of the rediculous sunlight to filter into the interior rooms.

The kitchen is about as small as you can imagine.  I can take about one full step forward  and travel the entire length of the room.  There’s an ancient, possibly cast iron stove that needs to be lit using a match after you turn the gas on, a little sink to do dishes (and all the other uses you can think of for a sink, as it’s the only one), the smallest washing machine known to man, a little radio and a microwave in the kitchen.  Crossing the kitchen, you enter the ‘shower room’.  The shower is about a foot off the ground, and probably 2.5ft x 2.5ft.  Read: tiny.  The curtain is the wrap around kind that makes me think of old cartoon showers and full of…. dolphins, I think?  Anyway.  To get to the ‘toilet room’ you have to climb through the shower (yes, really).  The door to the room opens into the shower, so a good sized notch has been cut out of it to allow for more swinging room.  Well, that’s harder to explain than I thought it would be.  But, maybe you can picture it.  I tried.

In any case, I love my cute little apartment.  I think I love it cause it’s mine.  Sigh.  OH!  I have a little tv and VCR too.  It didn’t have the right cords before today, but Jen is SO going to watch her a little Johnny Depp as a pirate tonight!  First English entertainment in a month!  Woo Hoo!

Last week I decided that not having a computer wasn’t all that bad, it actually felt a little liberating.  Two minutes later, someone was offering to fix it.  Did I jump at the suggestion? Of course.  Unfortunately, I became optimistic  *shudder* and thought I would have a working computer in no time.  No such luck.  Apparently windows just completely died, but that is easily fixable.  BUT, I guess my computer is heating up way too much, so the tech said I should get it fixed at a sony service center.  First, I should buy a hard drive or use someone else’s to save all of my stuff, and give my computer BACK to mr. tech man.  It’s starting to sound like too much work.  We’ll see how crazy I am after a week of little to no entertainment.  I know I have a plan, and I know it’s only 25 days until Jane gets her butt here, but…

I found my Madonna ticket!  Palace Square, August 2nd!

I seem to have lost a lot of things between moving three times.  Like, a frying pan and peanut butter.  How does that happen?  I have my own paranoid suspions.

Experienced a Russian movie theater today, to watch ‘Ice Age 3’.  It didn’t matter that I barely speak Russian or that I hadn’t seen the two movies that come before this one, I understood the film and it was good.  It might have had something to do with my current lack of entertainment when I laughed harder than the kids in the theater.

Time surely doesn’t seem to be passing quickly.  I blame everyone who told me it would, and myself for believing them.  Oh well.  Concentrate on the future, so on.  Hopefully I will be online again soon!

Phew.  What a weekend.  I have to keep telling myself I should feel lucky that I didn’t spend the majority of it sitting in my room, staring at the wall, litterally twittling my thumbs.

Friday was pretty difficult.  I ended up having a ‘row’ with our DOS about her treating us like 7 year olds and ‘punishing’ us for ‘not keeping our room clean’.  Basically she took a handful of our resource books up to her office so that we couldn’t use them because we ‘left them laying around’.  So, now, we can’t effectively give homework or supplement our classes.  I confronted her about it, and, when I got an extremely condescending explanation accompanied by a smile, I had to take it to the director.  If you want to make me mad, be condescending.  I don’t deserve it, and I won’t take it.  Sorry.

Saturday I went with some other teachers to a beach north of the city.  The weather and atomosphere in general were absolutely awesome up there.  We just sat by the water, swam, cooked shish kababs (we call them shashleek) and relaxed.  The downside was spending 2 hours standing on a crowded, 90 degree bus there and two more similar hours coming back.  Not only am I sunburnt, my muscles are actually sore from hanging on to the poles on the bus.  I won’t go into detail about the bus, just know that that was the worst transportation experience I have ever had.  I hope to wipe it from my memory.

When I got off the metro at midnight I was right by a big 24 hour supermarket, so I decided to pop in and pick up some necessities – milk, primarily, so that I could have coffee (I am addicted now, I think), but some other things too, cereal, bananas, etc.  There’s nothing like waking up and knowing you have something good and refreshing to eat.  Anyway, I got my stuff, went though the checkout and the freaking cashier wouldn’t let me buy my milk.  I can’t imagine why.  So, because that’s all I really came in for, I put my food in a locker and went back through the store, just to buy milk. When I got to the checkout again, they said something about shutting down all the registers for 10 minutes.  .  .  Ugh.  So there I stood.  Silent.  Staring.  Sunburnt.  Slightly Sandy.  Eventually I aquired breakfast and made it home.

Today I met my friend Elen for a little morning shopping, it was great.  I think we always have a pretty good time when we are together.  I found some clothes that I would like to buy, but I couldn’t today.  After that, I went directly to a Zenit football (soccar) game with the same people.  For some reason I expected it to be inside(?!).  Alas, I wore the exact same cut of shirt that I wore to the beach and just intensified my sunburn.  Oh well, this Wisconsinite needed some color. 

I wish I could give you some pictures from this weekend and the month 8 picture (EIGHT!), but, I can’t for now. You’ll just have to imagine.

My life is filled with it right now, it seems.  I’ve moved twice in as many months, I’ve had 4 friends move away, dad visiting and general work chaos (like heavy duty demolition on our building WHILE we are teaching inside, under the constant threat of death by building colapse) add on the ‘loss’ of my computer – the source of every ounce of entertainment here in this Russian wasteland – and the fact that I got three hours of sleep last night after seeing mylosest friend off at 6am and you get one weepy, tired, stressed out Jen.

Anyway, no update on the computer, still black screen no matter which option I try ‘repair’ or no ‘repair’ on windows.  I might buy a card reader for my camera memory card and go to internet cafes to keep you updated.  Hopefully I haven’t lost all of my pictures that were stored on my laptop’s hard drive.  We’ll see.  At this point my biggest worry is in two weeks when I will be moving to a single apartment, with no computer, no interent, only Russian TV and no one to talk to.  The plan so far: Up the Russian lessons and study for the GRE.  So… 1996, only, without tv.  And living alone.  Ok, how about so…. 1980 mountain hotel closed down for the winter with only a typewriter.  Yeah, let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Hello out there, blog readers!  I just wanted to check in and apologize for not writing lately.  My schedule’s been increased, I’ve moved, Dad was here and we’ve had or are about to have 5 teachers leaving.  That’s a lot of goodbye parties, let me tell you.  Anyway, I am taking a break from my mountains of planning to do to fill you in on a little bit of what I have been up to.

I moved across the courtyard.  This was a generally sucky and sad task because A) I did it by myself, B) It was raining and C) I actually felt sad about leaving that craphole of an apartment because it meant the end of an era.

Dad came and we had a good time walking to the moon and back  around town and seeing the great sights of St. Petersburg.  We saw Swan Lake, went to the Circus (without any bears or tigers though, a bit of a disappointment), saw some amazingly b.b.o. (big beautiful and old) churches, ate some extremely delicious food, strolled through parks and learned some stuff in museums, but only the 1% I could translate.  We also saw two attempted robberies and a near drowning on the Neva.  Hopefully I will be able to post pictures soon, but the stupid internet at my new apartment is even MORE tempermental than at my first.

I haven’t had Russian in 3 weeks, and I believe I have lost some of what I knew, to put it mildly.  I start again tomorrow, so I have some major studying and homework doing to do.  Truthfully, I can’t wait.  Learning this language has been really good for me.

Cassie, Aaron and Elizabeth are all gone now, Fiona and Joel are leaving in a week, so this has been a somewhat challenging period to get through mentally and emotionally.  I prefer things to stay the same, you know, but the last ten days has really put a strain on my denial ability.  I still hear the missing teachers talking in the staff room and I still picture myself going back to the old apartment.  I do see this as part of the progression toward the end.  It’s always been coming but now I can mentally check certain steps off in my head.

I will be moving again in 8 or 9 days, and AGAIN about 10 days after that.  Hopefully I will be done then, settled in for the final push to the end.  Which, by the way, the end will rock my socks off, as far as I can tell.  Jane, Moscow, ferry cruise, Stockholm, Minneapolis (4FFFUM), and home.  Home has it’s own pull, I can’t wait to get back and see everyone and everything and eat again.

Ok.  That’s the update for now, back to the grind.

Dad’s been here for a while now, and man have we been busy doing the tourist thing.  We’ve probably averaged about 6 miles of walking a day and we’ve been rained on at least 3 times.  Today was a very good day though, weather-wise and otherwise.  We went to the Church of the Saviour on the Spilt Blood, spent maybe 30 minutes in there, slack jawed and awe struck.  Then we took a stroll through the Mikhilovsky Garden, which really didn’t offer much for Dad and me, besides the 2 year old boy who ran laps around us while we rested on the steps of the Russian Museum.

The circus wasn’t exactly what I expected, it was a little short on the lions, tigers and bears, but heavy on the clowns and sea mammals.  I did laugh though, it was a good time.  After the circus we went to karovabar, which, translated, means ‘cow bar’.  There, I had the best meal I have had in about 8 months.  I knew it was a nice restaurant when I booked the table, and when I took the first bite of delicious steak, but when I had to get creative to use the bathroom faucet, the competition was over.  It’s how you know.