27 August 2007

Not a post, just a link...

I already emailed this to the various pilots in my family (a surprisingly large group, random as that sounds), but I thought it was so funny that I just had to post it here. It probably won't be active for much longer - I think they archive their articles and make you pay for them, so click fast!

Businessman Asks To Buy US Bomber

The best part is what the businessman reportedly said.

(Leaving Moscow tomorrow! Holy Moly! And pictures from our Rostov trip are coming soon!)

23 August 2007

You say it's your birthday - it's my birthday, too!

There's not much to report, but I thought I'd write a post anyway since it's been a few days. The title is, I suppose, pretty self-explanatory - I turn 23 today! It's my brother's birthday, too, which is why I chose that particular quote. (We're not twins, although it feels like it on our birthday!) Happy birthday, TJ! I wish you were here!

This is my second birthday spent in Moscow, and hopefully this evening's "Babylonian" restaurant (supposedly a fusion of Turkish, Israeli, Syrian, Lebanese, and Iraqi food) will be as tasty as last year's Indian restaurant was! Currently I'm delighting in the wireless internet at Moscow's version of Starbucks, Kofe Haus. A girl could get used to this, but I probably shouldn't, because who knows what there'll be in Taganrog. (Not Kofe Haus, I think.)

My history of having strange things happen at Novodevichy Convent (you know, the nun story) continued yesterday - Amara and I tried to go to the cemetery there, where many famous Russians are buried, but it had closed half an hour before we got there. However, the guards were willing to let us in if we bribed them 50 rubles. (Surprisingly, that's the first time I've been asked for a bribe in Russia.) We didn't, although we half-regretted it afterward. They were flirting with us enough that we think maybe if we had tried acting cute for a few more minutes they would have caved. Oh well.

And tomorrow, off to Rostov Velikii, a not-so-velikii (velikii means 'great,' and Rostov is quite small) city to the north of Moscow! Just a few days of rest and relaxation there (because we've been doing sooo much work in Moscow *cough*), then on to Taganrog next Wednesday on the train "Tikhii Don" ("The Quiet Don," translated to English as "And Quiet Flows the Don") with a stop in Ryazan' on Tuesday. I'm so excited to see my new home!!

18 August 2007

The Eagle has landed!

Things of note that have happened since my arrival in Moscow:

-An accidental (sort of) two-hour nap in the middle of the afternoon. Jet lag - HO!
-A small plastic bag floating and twirling on the air currents in our Metro car, causing the middle-aged woman sitting across from me to giggle and try to stomp on it.

Things of note that have not happened since my arrival in Moscow:
-Food. I could eat a horse.

It's weird to be back. I feel completely comfortable being in Russia, but at the same time, I still feel separation anxiety about a lot of things I left behind in the U.S. (i.e. my extremely comfortable American life). That'll go away soon, though. Just get some blini with tvorog in me and I'll be a-ok with Russia again.

On top of that, being back in Moscow brings back so many memories of last August's orientation here. I can remember exactly how I felt about myself and Russia and myself in Russia - "abject terror" seems the best way to describe it - and it's so completely unlike the way I feel now. So I'm doing exactly the same thing I did last year, but starting from (and going to) a different place, and it's all very cognitive dissonance-y. I'm not sure that's the right application of that term, not to mention its grammatical sketchiness, but it seems apt.

16 August 2007

Chapter 2, Verse 1

Hello, dear reader! Welcome to the second chapter of my life in Russia. I tried my best to make this look convincingly like a second chapter of the blog (by changing the color scheme and the title), but Blogger was not very accommodating of my desire to separate the chapters by archiving all the old Vladivostok posts and retaining the old formatting for them. Oh well; that's what I get for not being computer savvy.

Right, so I'm going to go finish packing (uuuuuugh). I'll try to post from Russia soon!

All in the fullness of time...

With Lisa's publicly heckling me (as well she should) coming on the heels of my recent discovery that you can post pictures right in Blogger (I feel so dumb for not realizing that before), I decided I would post some Ulan Ude pictures like I promised.

I wanted to write a "let's wittily, concisely and insightfully wrap up this past year and what it meant to me" post. But since concise is definitely not my style and my wit is hit-or-miss, plus insight requires actual work, I could see how well that was going to work after about the first sentence. So here's a weak effort: I am not the same person I was a year ago, and that is because I went to Russia. I'm not going the same place I thought I was going, either short term or long term, and I don't look at the world the same way I used to. Also, I learned to eat fish. All of this is good.

Right, so here are some pictures!
This is the head of Lenin that is so famous in Ulan Ude.

And now I remember why I stopped writing the last time I started. Because all of these pictures are on Facebook already. But, not all of my readers are Facebook users, so I'll post at least a few more.

This is a Buryat orchestra! I never did figure out what the story is with the violins being held like cellos. This was on Russia Day, June 11. The best part about Russia Day was when the folk performances were replaced by rappers. Their rap consisted of saying, "Добро пожаловать в Улан Удэ! Добро пожаловать в Улан Удэ!" (Welcome to Ulan Ude! Welcome to Ulan Ude!) over and over with a synthetic drumbeat in the background. They also had a pretty decent female backup dancer. In short, awesome.

One more picture (because I'm tired) - Ulan Ude's triumphal arch, looking down the lovely ulitsa Lenina (Lenin street), which becomes a pedestrian street as it approaches the river.

Ok, just two more things - first, I leave for Taganrog (well, Moscow) on Friday. I can't believe how soon that is! And second, I entered some of my datsan pictures as a photo collection in the county fair photography contest, and it won Best in Show! Those Buddhist monasteries sure are photogenic, eh?

05 August 2007

A thousand pardons...

Oh no! I just realized how delinquent I've been about finishing up my posts from Vladivostok/Ulan Ude/Irkutsk. I've been home for four weeks already, and I'm leaving again in less than two weeks! I'll do my best to wrap it all up as soon as I can. Please check back for new posts and heckle me if I don't put them up!

I've decided to continue my blog for the next year, and to keep the same web address - partly because it feels like a waste to abandon this address and get a new one (cyber-litter?), and partly because it will be easier that way for anyone who's bookmarked the page. (I am not willing to part with a single reader, can you tell?)

So for the sake of organization, I've decided I'll just divide the blog into sections by year. Hopefully I can figure out a way to archive all the Vladivostok posts and get them off the main page when I start the Taganrog section. Anyway, I guess the way it will go is that I will wrap up The Eastern Bell, Part I: Восточный колокол and begin The Eastern Bell, Part II: Азовская русалка. (Yes, that means the title of year one will translate as "The Eastern Bell, Part I: The Eastern Bell," but I'm trying not to let that bother my perfectionist side.) Азовская русалка/Azovskaya Rusalka, by the way, means "The Azov Mermaid." It's the best name I've come up with so far along the bent of "geographic adjective + fanciful noun," but feel free to tell me if you think it's a lame name. I also thought of "The Azov Birch," but that seems just a little too stereotypical, plus it makes it sound like a birch tree that's growing out of the ocean.

Also coming soon: links to friends' journals! My good friends Nana and Justin are in Korea now, and I'm super-excited about their blog. I join them in wishing wholeheartedly that it will be "as interesting as [mine], but with fewer car accidents."