Wednesday, January 16, 2013

You're never safe.

I've been making an effort, over the last few months, to try to tweak my appearance a tiny bit. I threw out all the clothes with holes in them, I got some nice skirts and jackets, and my parents (delirious with joy at this turn of events) bought me some very nice heels. Especially since I'm tutoring and helping with classes, I try to present a moderately professional appearance to my students.

On the other hand, I sometimes let things go a little when I don't have to get up in front of a class or anything the next day. Last night, when I was choosing my outfit for today, I decided that this was going to be a nice, low-pressure day with no serious commitments, just working with the same familiar students, who don't particularly care what I wear.

This is why, when I went to meet with my first ever private tutoring student, the first person ever to actually personally hand me money in return for my knowledge, who had called me at work to arrange a meeting with the august, legendary, and ever-professional Russian tutor of song and story, I was wearing...

...laser kittens.

It's okay; they paid me anyway.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Russian Time Machine: January 1-11

In this edition of Russian Time machine, we'll talk about the first two weeks of my January in St. Petersburg.

I already talked about my New Year's celebration with my fabulous host family, in which I introduced them to oatmeal cookies and finally convinced them I was human by getting drunk and mocking the president.

The first couple weeks were pretty boring, mostly me in bed with some hot tea and a giant pile of books to read. There were a few small events, including a new tutor (who was amazing for the rest of the year) and the start of the flood of homework that left me no time for blogging. I also started my internship, which deserves a post all of its own.

The main event was a few days after the new year, when I made American pizza. This was an exciting new adventure for all involved, since Russians love pizza but have no idea what it is like outside of Russia. This is most clearly illustrated by a conversation I had with my host mom:

Host mom: So, what is American pizza, anyway?
Me: Well, you start out with dough.
HM: Regular dough?
Me: Yeah, just like rolls or bread. Then you roll it out flat-
HM: And then you put the mayonnaise on it?
Me: No. Then you put sauce on it. Tomato sauce. Like on pasta.
HM: Then you put the mayonnaise on it?
Me: No, then you put the cheese on it. Usually this italian kind, called "mozzarella", and some other kinds, too.
HM: So you put the mayonnaise on top of the cheese?
Me: No! Then you put on the vegetables and meat and things.
HM: But where's the mayonnaise?
Me: THERE IS NO MAYONNAISE! Crust. Sauce. Cheese. Toppings.
HM: No mayonnaise? At all?
Me. No. No mayonnaise. Mayonnaise does not go on pizza.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So good to be home again

This gloomy weather has me thinking, even more than the lovely summer did, about how wonderful it is to be back home in Portland.

It's not just the contrast with my last January, either; yes, there is the added bonus of not sliding down a street made of ice and trying to keep my blood liquid at -25c, but it goes deeper than that. I walked to the bus in the rain today, and was soaked to the bone by the time I stumbled onboard with my glasses fogging up enough to blind me. Still, I have to say that I felt a little good about the experience, which was pure Oregonian winter. Even now, I'm looking out of the library's window onto a city made of gray sky, gray streets and gray buildings, but it's all overlaid by tree branches coated in the vibrant emerald moss that is my favorite part of winter here. It's so bright and abundant, and you don't find moss like that in other places. The bare trees look lovely in it, even in the rain.

Bare branches are underrated, in my book. They're the reason I love to go to the Chinese Garden in January every year, when all of the leaves have fallen and the trunks and branches of the plants are left behind, and you can appreciate the structure and shaping of the trees without anything in the way. The persimmon trees are just black skeletons with flaming orange fruit suspended in their midst, and some of the less well-known Chinese plants don't show their true nature unless they're lost their leaves.

My dad took this picture of me with my favorite plant at the garden, the Flying Dragon.

It's a thrilling thing to be back with the people I love, and to be loose in the city I know best. Gray skies and rain be damned.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Well heck.

Hidey ho, neighbors!

This blog is going back on a regular posting schedule, MWF.

You may have noticed that I failed to document a few months of my stay in Russia. While I may not have had the time to write posts, I did take lots and lots of pictures. I'll be going over the last few months of my stay in Petersbug now, a year later. At the moment I'm guessing that fridays will be Russia posts, but we'll just have to see what is what.

To be honest, I don't have a theme for this post beyond the PSA. What I do have is a pounding headache and a bad case of coffee breath.

Today was the first day of winter term, and all I had was a two hour class on using statistics software, which is surprisingly fun despite its convolution. I'm taking less than a full credit load this term, working part time, jobhunting, and trying to direct my remaining time to some important projects that need finishing. They largely need finishing because I need more money, and the job hunting is going predictably badly. I just hope that I can find enough work to keep me afloat when I lose my student job this summer after graduation. I had a near miss with a job as a legal assistant/interpreter, but they found someone who spoke Russian AND Romanian, so no dice.

I may end up waiting tables or making lattes, and I'll be grateful for whatever I can get. The job market is so bad that I'm starting to think that I should be passing out golden bridles and advising my unemployed friends and family to subcontract a maiden to sit out in the woods. If they're lucky, a job might come lay its head in her lap and she can nab it for them. Seems like it might be more helpful than craigslist.

So, yeah. School. Jobhunting. And, since a blog post isn't a blog post without some photos, here are some pirozhki I made. Mushroom and potato filling. Mmmmm.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Happy New... August!

Hello, my pretties!

The blog went on a less-than-brief haitus to allow me to grapple with a nearly doubled courseload and an internship, and then continued to slumber while I moved home and got settled.

Do not fear, however! Now that summer term (yes, I took summer classes. I know, I'm nuts.) is winding up and I have more or less permanent residence (in that I'm only moving one more time in the next month), I'll be resuming from where I left off. Despite my lack of posts, I continued to photograph everything in sight. Stay tuned for the rites of spring (including burning Winter at the stake!), a trip to Estonia, a tour of Moscow, and all sorts of other fun.

I don't know what the posting schedule will be yet, but we'll find out soon enough. I look forward to telling all of my stories!

Sneak peek: Tallinn, Estonia at dusk
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