Monthly Archives: December 2010

Taksi

One of the last details of my trip that was giving me a little bit of stress yesterday was calling for the taxi to take me to the train station.  I called, but there was some confusion about my phone number, so I waited vigilantly by the window so I could see when the taxi finally came.  After I turned off the gas and the water in the apartment, and locked up, I came down to meet my very jolly taxi driver.  You can get an idea of our conversation:

Him: So, where are you going?

Me: To the train station.

Him: And then?

Me: To Moscow.

Him: And then?

Me: To California.

Him: Aha!  So you were here, visiting someone?

Me: No, I’m actually living here in Voronezh this year and teaching English.

Him: Wow.  “Nice to meet you” (he said in English), I always like meeting new people. I took some English in school, and it’s ok to understand it, but it’s just hard for me to talk.

Me: It’s the same with me with Russian.

Him: So, do you have a boyfriend there?  A husband? Are you married?

(at this point I notice that he is not wearing a wedding ring.  this is when I first become suspicious of my jolly driver Sergei.)

Me: Haha, no, I just finished university. No.

Him: So what do you do when you’re not working? Do you go to the movies? To cafes?

(my suspicions have grown significantly.  I should mention that he was not very old, probably early 30s.)

Me: Umm.. No…not really..I just work all the time. (blatant lie)

This all goes on for another uncomfortable 5 minutes, when we pull into the parking lot of the train station.  He parks, I pull out my wallet, and he says, “Later, later.”  He proceeds to get out of the car and carries my bag all the way into the train station.  After asking me where I’m going to wait (to which I respond, just right here), I pull out my wallet again.  “No, no,” he insists, “I just like talking to new people.  This is what people do, when you meet interesting people.”

I graciously thank him, and he turns to leave, and then he says, “What’s your name again? What’s your phone number?”

I graciously deprive him of this information, because as pleasant as our 7 minute drive to the vokzal was, I have no desire to continue the friendship when I return in January.  Although he did say that he likes to drive a motorcycle when he’s not working.  He laughs it off too and goes back outside, and I wait to find out what track my train will leave from.

 

You know how I take little signs to mean things though, especially when I’m traveling.  Maybe this is another sign of good travel karma? I can only hope.  I’m already at Sheremetyevo, and the outlook is good.

 

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домой домой домой!

In about an hour I’m headed to the train station. My train arrives in Moscow at 8 in the morning, and then I’ll make my way to the airport. At 3 tomorrow afternoon, if all goes well, I will take off on my amazing-no-layover flight to LA. So. I’ll be back in January ready for Voronezh 2.0. Happy Holidays!

Yesterday’s state of mind

(I wrote this last night and had titled it something like “so much to do somuch to do so so so so so much to do”.  It’s already retrospectively funny.)

 

I have so much to do before I leave.  So much to do, tomorrow.  I didn’t do any of it this weekend.  Whyyyyyyy.

I did buy some very very very small presents for my family today (don’t get your hopes up guys).  Other than that, I did none of the other things I needed to do, like clean the apartment (!!!!!), change my train ticket for coming back to Voronezh (don’t worry Mom I’m doing it tomorrow) or other important things.  I did see some friends today, which is important in its own way, but I was not as productive as I should have been.

Consequently I am currently stressed and tired but too distracted by all the things I haven’t done to go to sleep.  Packing has been haphazard thus far.  I’m probably going to arrive in el lay with five pounds of Russian chocolate and a shirt and some pjs and nothing else.  Great.

летучая мышь

Or, Die Fledermaus.  Or, The Bat (the flying mouse in direct translation ha).  However you like.  My students took me to see it on Friday evening.

I really enjoyed it.  It was the first time I had ever seen it, so I was surprised by how many of the choruses I knew.  Of course, it was all in Russian.  Yes.  There was also a surprising amount of dialogue for an opera.  The plot synopsis of what I saw didn’t really match up with the synopsis on wikipedia or the one on the Met’s website.  Apart from that, the soloists were quite good, one of the sopranos was just amazing.  All in all I really enjoyed it, and as always it was fun to hang out a bit with some of my students outside the classroom, when they’re less stressed.  When we came out of the theater, it was snowing! Perfect.

Friday the 17th

(This is from Friday but I just didn’t post it then)

So, I’ve been really bad about keeping everything updated.  I really thought I’d do better in December, but I haven’t.  There’s been lots of things to do all the time, what with holidays and starting up the English Club (woohoo!) and other stuff.  Anyways, I finished up my last real week of teaching today, and so now I’m in the oh-my-god-how-can-I-do-everything-I-need-to-do-before-leaving mode.  It’s hectic, yo.

Also, in the past ten days or so most of my English-speaking friends have gone back to the US and/or England.  First the cadets, then the Brits.  Of course, they’ll be replaced come February by the next group, but I didn’t realize how much I enjoyed their company until I had to say goodbye.  At the same time, talking to all of them before they left made me realize how glad I am that I get to come back in January.  I feel really lucky to be able to look forward to another 6 or so months in Voronezh.

As always there have been fun things too.  Last week, some of my second year students took me around to some famous places in Voronezh and told me about them.  While by now I already know a bit about these places, it was interesting to hear their descriptions of them.  After going around for a little bit, and visiting a Christmas/New Year exhibit at a local gallery, we stopped at the Voronezh Candy Factory (I know I know) so that some of the students could buy chocolate.  Yes, Voronezh has a candy factory.  As you walk by it, you can feel yourself turning diabetic.  It’s ridiculous.  Even though I know that my students are insanely busy, and maybe didn’t necessarily want to spend a good part of their Saturday showing me around, in the end we all had a really good time.

Then on Monday we had our first meeting of the English Club.  I don’t know exactly what it will be once classes start up in February, but I think everyone had a good time.  I had a good time, at least.  There’s nothing like the shoe game (what’s up ygc) and group scattergories to get people thinking English big time.

My classes were pretty low-key this week, as I decided to show what I deemed “Christmas-y things” in class instead of any discussions or something.  I think I’ve watched the Charlie Brown Christmas special 9 times in the past three days.  Some of my groups chose the Modern Family “Undeck the Halls” episode from last year, which is also actually really good because it brings up the question of mixing different cultures’ traditions during holidays and all that.  Anyways I don’t think I’ll be able to watch Charlie Brown for a while.  Last year I overdid it with “White Christmas,” (3 times in 24 hours) this year it’s Charlie Brown, I wonder what it will be next year.  Oy.

This week has also been a little weird because for some of my groups of students, it was the last time we’ll see each other.  My schedule for next semester isn’t set yet, but I definitely won’t have all the same groups, so it was a little weird to say goodbye.  A few of my groups  gave me some wonderful gifts, including a foot-tall matryoshka (nesting doll) that has 10 different parts and a really cute little figurine of a cartoon that’s set in Voronezh (more on that later).

I also realized about a week ago that it had been a loong time since I had actually seen the sun.  Winter is such that it’s always overcast, and the lightest it gets in the hours between 8 and 4 when the sun is actually out is still not sufficiently bright to be called “daylight”.  While I am thankful for the training that four years in Connecticut gave me, I still feel unprepared.  Two weeks without the sun makes me feel like I’m going a little crazy or like I’m always either waking up or about to go to sleep.  The Shining makes so much more sense now.  Anyways, when the sun came out for a good 10 minutes on my commute back to the main part of the city I was  BEYOND thrilled. Ура.

Anyways. I’m off to go to the opera with some of my students! Should be interesting.

P.S. Happy birthday to my brother! Awesome.

Overheard in Voronezh

Pensioner to his wife, as they exit into the street from the market: “I just don’t like it when it’s this warm in December.”

(For reference, it was somewhere in the teens, Fahrenheit.)

So much to do, so little time…

So, briefly:

1. I continue to forget how to speak in English correctly.  The trickiest thing is probably prepositions.  I’m misusing them all over the place.  And just losing my feel for the English language in general.  Linguistic intuition, where are you?

2. I still can’t believe how cold it was last week.  Luckily I took my mom’s advice (when are moms ever wrong?) (rhetorical question) and went ahead and bought a really fantastically warm coat even after it warmed up a little.  I’m sure it’s going to get cold again, or even colder, but now I’m ready and even looking forward to it a little.

3.  It’s already December?? I’ve been here for 95 days.. or 13 weeks and 4 days if you prefer.  Don’t worry, I used a website counter thing to do that, I didn’t count the days myself.

4.  Christmas is just around the corner – two weeks from tomorrow I’ll be on my way to Moscow and then to CA.  So SO so much to do before then.

At times like this I like to refer to Edna St. V. M.  This seems especially appropriate for how I’m feeling these days (aged, aged, aged):

Grown Up (1920)

Was it for this I uttered prayers/And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs/ That now, domestic as a plate/I should retire at half-past eight?

 

And 1920 makes Edna only 28 years old.. so I guess this how it goes..