I decided not to move in with my landnobility (landlord+landlady...I know, lame joke), on the grounds that not being able to eat what I want, sleep when I want, play my balalaika when I want, etc. would drive me nuts. Instead I've launched total war against my leaky windows; so far, that looks something like this:
I know it's ugly. I know it's not a triumph of engineering. But the Draft Dodger (I named it myself!) is a triumph of resourcefulness - I think I could make Eagle Scout with this thing. You can't see all of it, but so far it uses my extra bath towel, plastic sheeting, bubble wrap, a lot of masking tape, the hideous wall hanging (just a big piece of furry fabric) that used to hang in my living room, both of my 70's-era leopard-print armchair covers, the cut-off bottoms of my too-long yoga pants (I knew I kept those for a reason), a hand towel, a whole bunch of furniture foam, two postal boxes, and the remnants of my blue vinyl cabinet liner material. The room is still drafty, but a quick test shows that it is indeed significantly colder between the Draft Dodger and the window than in the room, so progress is being made. I tentatively declare victory.
As for losing some, I went to the movies with my advisor, Nastya, today. As I approached our appointed meeting place and waved to Nastya, she gave me the most horrified look I have ever seen on the face of a fellow human being. This look seriously stopped me dead in my tracks, and I knew before she even opened her mouth what it was about - I promised her back in November that I would get a Russian winter coat, and I haven't yet. And in fact, I didn't actually intend to (I was hoping she'd forget about it, or magically become more reasonable). I wanted this to be a Point of Principle, an instance in which I was not going to give an inch to the Russian fear of cold. But ultimately I think keeping the peace is more important than asserting my will; plus I thought Nastya was actually going to start crying right there on the street if I didn't give in. So we went to the shopping center together and I got a down coat, which is thankfully both much cheaper and significantly less heinous than last year's Russian winter coat, of which I do not speak anymore.