Monthly Archives: November 2010

Whether the weather be cold..

So, I think that winter has finally arrived (about a month late according to most people).  After Saturday’s snow, it kept on getting colder, and then today it started snowing in the afternoon and it’s still snowing now.

And don’t I feel proud of myself that I found some boots just this afternoon!  I really didn’t feel like trudging around trying to find a pair, because there are so many other things that I needed to do, but when I thought about it and I thought about the weather forecast I realized it was unavoidable.  So after the success of finding a decent pair, imagine how self-satisfied I felt when I woke up from a nap and saw that it was snowing!

Looking at the forecast for the week, it’s looking like it’s going to be snowing and precipitating all the time, and, unfortunately for me, it’s going to get down to -25 degrees Celsius on Thursday.  That’s -13 Fahrenheit.  Just in case you weren’t sure whether that was cold or not.  It looks like I’m going to be spending more free time this week trudging around buying warm clothes.  Fantastic.

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Snow.

This is what I woke up to on Saturday – it had snowed and it was snowing!  Of course the first thing I thought of was the song “Snow” from the Christmas classic “White Christmas” (it’s currently my favorite Christmas movie).  If you haven’t heard the song, it’s amazing and completely ridiculous, with lines like “I want to wash my face, my hands, my hair in snow” and “I want to make a great big man entirely made of snow”.  Now that it’s after Thanksgiving I can listen to the “XMAS” playlist on my computer guilt-free.

Of course, the snow made me realize that while I am prepared for cold weather I am not prepared for wintery precipitation.  I need to buy boots, like, tomorrow, because there is more snow on the way, and boots are the only way.  They don’t salt the sidewalks here, so it’s quite a sport to get from one place to another.  It’s going to be a looong winter full of near-slips-and-falls for klutzy me.

When shall we three meet again..

So I mentioned that this was week was particular of fun events.  After Wednesday’s activities, and going out for a nice dinner with the other Americans and some friends on Thursday for a mini-Thanksgiving celebration, on Friday I went with some friends to the ballet, to see “Macbeth.”

I didn’t really know anything about this particular ballet at all going into it, so it was a bit of a surprise.  I’ve since googled it and I will tell you that it was originally choreographed in 1980 by Vladimir Vasiliev to the score (can you say that about a ballet?) by Kirill Molchanov (who was also the composer of the music for the Soviet film “The Dawns Here are Quiet”).  I always enjoy ballet, probably because of the 15 years or so that I danced, but this one was a little off for me – not classical, but not quite modern.  The choreography was a bit repetitive, but what bothered me more was how far the story in the ballet strayed from Shakespeare’s version…especially the portrayal of Lady Macbeth.  Whereas in Shakespeare she’s a conniving but very confused lady, in the ballet she’s presented as some sort of bloodthirsty seductress.  In the ballet, she starts out as the Queen, married to Duncan, and somehow entices Macbeth into an affair and then convinces him to kill Duncan.  She danced more with a knife than anyone else.

Apart from that, the other huge change in the plot was that the weird sisters somehow convinced Macbeth to commit suicide!  None of the forest-coming-to-the-castle or man-not-of-woman-born stuff, just bam! The ending came as a bit of a shock to me.  It really makes you think about the what-ifs in Shakespeare, though, and I guess a reinterpretation is not always a bad thing.  Maybe it’s better if Macbeth is more remorseful and confused and puts himself out of his misery.

The one part of the production that I absolutely loved was the weird sisters/witches/whatever you want to call them.  Their choreography was the most interesting, the three dancers were really together and in sync, and their costumes were visually just great.  They all had really heavy skull makeup on, so it looked like they were wearing masks, but they were also wearing skull-masks on the back of their heads, which led to some really interesting moments in the choreography.

Anyways I’m really glad I got to go, because it was different than what I had expected and of course interesting.  Maybe I should try something a little more standard next time, or be more prepared.  There will be a next time though.

Cathedral

Twice a week, when I am on my way to my Russian lessons, I walk through the courtyard of the cathedral in Voronezh.

They just finished a long restoration, which is why it looks so amazing.  Wikipedia tells me it’s the third tallest orthodox cathedral in Russia! Fun fact.

Wednesday

So, I’ve been busy (surprise surprise) but some of the stuff I’ve been doing is actually interesting and not the usual.  This week was full of fun cultural-type things for me, but I want to tell about them chronologically, so let me start with Wednesday.

One of the teachers who I work with knows that I’m really interested in music and folklore and folk music and all that, and so on Monday after my class she asked me if I wanted to go to a concert with a Georgian folk-music group on Wednesday.  She had an extra ticket and thought of me!  Of course I said yes, so I got to top off what is usually my longest day of the week with a concert.  Now, I didn’t really know why the concert was happening, but it turns out that there was kind of like a mini film festival featuring Georgian-made films with the slogan “Two Cultures, One Faith!” and the concert was somehow connected with that.

I really enjoyed the first part of the concert, which is when the Georgian group “Tbilisi” sang.  They were four older guys, singing what I guess were traditional Georgian (and some Russian) pieces.  My favorite songs are always going to be the acapella ones, and they had some really great ones (I preferred the acapella songs to the ones with guitar and of course to the ones with the cheesy orchestrations).  The singers were very endearing and sweet, and I think everyone really enjoyed their performance.

After the singing group was finished, the concert continued for another hour or so with different offerings from Voronezh-based singing and dancing groups as well as some short speeches or readings by notable people (I don’t know who they were but they seemed sort of famous).  Although I probably prefer plain singing to anything else (in this case), it was cool to get to see the wide variety of performing groups from Voronezh.  It was a really interesting concert, and I’m glad that I was able to go.

 

After the concert, I was tired, but some of my friends were going to go see Harry Potter sooo I went with them.  I’ve been to more movies in the past three months than I had in the previous year.  Anyways, I kind of loved the movie, but I can see how only people who have read the books and then seen the movies would like it.  It was much darker/scarier/more serious than I expected, which was a good thing.  It’s always funny to me how the names change in Russian: Harry is more like “Gary”, Hermione is “Ger-mee-oh-na”, and Luna is “Palumna”.  Interesting.  Now I feel like I have to 1. re-read all the books and 2. see all the movies before the final part comes out in July.  A nice project for my nonexistent free time.**

 

**It took me about two minutes to come up with the word “nonexistent”. Inexistant, unexisting, unexistent, etc…My English continues to deteriorate. Ugh.

The Don

This is a picture I took way way back in October when one of the teachers I work with took me out into the country for the day.  It’s the Don River.  It’s really pretty.  While I don’t know the name of the place where we were, it’s by a church, and so the steps are leading down to the holy spring and baptismal font/pool.

Briefly

I’ve been finding it harder and harder to get up this week…At first I thought it was just my usual general lethargy, but then I realized that something else was going on.  Now I’m looking at a handy table I found online, and I see that the days are in fact getting shorter and shorter, with sunrise at 7:55 tomorrow and 7:56 the day after that.  Unfortunately (luckily), I’m going to miss out on the darkest darkest days in December when the sun rises at 8:30 (!!!!!) and sets at 4:15.

I remember my first year of college, when I moved to Connecticut and had my first experiences with cold northern weather and climate, all I wanted to do was sleep all the time.  Again, I thought it was just my general lethargy, but my mom actually found an article about how people moving to cold and dark climes usually have some sort of hibernating instinct that kicks in.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I am naturally an excellent napper.  This means that:

me + cold dark winter weather = many, many, many lost afternoons and many moments of general confusion when I wake up and see it is dark outside.

But I’m fighting against it!  Luckily I have so many things to be doing all the time that I feel way too guilty to actually give in and nap a bit.  What with classes, classes, planning for classes, feeding myself, trying to keep everything tidy (hah!) and various other little things I have more than enough to do.  Let’s see how long this lasts!

I’m happily awaiting January 26, when the sun will set at 5:00 in Voronezh, which seems a much more appropriate time for sunset than anything in the 4 o’clocks.