bloom and grow forever

I'm sure the Baroness will be able to make things fine for you. If not, a year in Russia sure will.

Monday, September 18, 2006

My Birthday and Everything After

Thursday was my birthday, and it was weird. The staff had a sweet party for me, and they gave me flowers and a scarf and an early-afternoon toast to my health and happiness. That was the best part of the day. Then I had two really bad classes. I'm not sure why. Maybe I wasn't fully prepared - though I thought I had some fun activities - but my teenagers were totally out of control and obnoxious. We didn't even make it to the day's grammar point, so I left class angry with them. I was too exhausted to do a good job with my beginners in the evening, not to mention the fact that I was introducing articles - something that is already completely illogical and bizarre to the non-native English speaker, and extremely difficult to explain in Russian. (That's actually something I should work on - I think I speak too much Russian with them. It's just hard to stop once I get going. And yet I am proud of myself for being able to do it...) Anyway, I was sort of miserable by the time I got home. But Irina gave me a copy of Master and Margarita, in Russian, since we'd had a good little debate over its greatness versus Anna Karenina's. And I got a great package from home, so all in all, I guess it could have been worse. Well, actually, it did get worse. I woke up in the middle of the night in a sweat after reliving my terrible classes in my dreams, and I realized I'd (in real life) assigned homework that was totally irrelevant and un-doable.

I decided that I would do my birthday over again on Friday. After classes, the teachers took me out to our favorite restaurant, Shesh Besh, for an amazing meal: red wine, harcho soup, shashlik, khachapuri, and tea. And we snuck in the brownies they'd made, which resembled shrapnel more than desserts. And yet they were fantastic.

Saturday was our long-delayed trip to the dacha. We ate a ton, played football in waste-high grass, learned the game of Kartoshka (Potato), and slept deeply.

Which is what I'm going to do right now.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

We Played Monopoly in Spanish and Met the Mustachioed Lady

Ok. I'm in trouble for not posting. As if you teachers don't know every intimate detail of my life already. Well, since Mushroom Extravaganza 2k6, I've had a fun weekend in Nizhni Novgorod, or Gorkii as it's often still called, staying with Joanna's friend Joanna (yeah), who has the sweet job of being an R.A.-and-crisis-management-person for a study abroad program. Embarrassingly, we went to McDonald's twice in 36 hours there. But it was so, so good. The city was gorgeous; the Kremlin overlooks the confluence (strelka?) of the Volga and Oka rivers (kak Oka? shiroko! nasha reka!) and it's a beautiful place to walk around. It brought back memories of Gorkii's miserable childhood, or at least the reading of it, although I didn't make it to his house. On the rainy Sunday we stopped into the so-trendy-it-hurts cafe Bezukhov for a solid cup of coffee. Nizhni: Ten Points!

This past week I've been coming home to the U.S. Open (I'm lucky to get the Eurosport channel.) It's been somehow wonderfully conforting to get home - often before Irina does - make a cup of tea with lemon and sugar, maybe heat up some cabbage soup, and lie there on the couch just watching tennis. I passively absorb the Russian commentary, my heart starts to pound during the tiebreakers just as it once did back when I was a sportsmenka, and for once I feel no culture shock at all.