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.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

civic pride

First, sunny, idyllic Yaroslavl. We spent an excellent 21 hours there, each of which you can read about on Joanna's blog. It looked awfully like home, and there were bumper cars.

Second, a feast of epic proportions. Nestled there between Nicole's and my potato soup, rice, and cabbage salad - if you squint - you can catch a glimpse of our meat and cheese ration.

And last: graffiti that warms you heart and soul. Photographed the week of a) finding a place to play pool; b) finding a cozy karaoke bar; c) meeting Vlad the Vin Diesel-like bouncer of Cafe Pesnya (our new best friend); d) worrying that all my students will fail the midterm since it's the first assignment they'll ever have to do without cheating.

Friday, October 06, 2006

the concept of need with passive infinitives and gerunds

I realize that I haven't written much about teaching, probably because I finish, exhausted, at nine at night. But since I'm starting to feel like there's nothing I can't handle (if I can use both Russian and English), I've been able to think more clearly about what I'm doing in the classroom and to slow down and enjoy my students' company. They really are extremely cool, and I've been finishing class very satisfied. Time management is working well, and all but a very few students passed my most recent quiz. Grading is getting more efficient, probably because it is my least favorite activity. (Aside from, perhaps, using the painfully-squeaky guillotine-style paper cutter.) Yesterday was Teachers' Day, so I got this awesome bouquet and some chocolate. What a great holiday.

Recently I've given three presentations to various local audiences about college in America, and the nostalgia has hit me hard. I was thinking about our trip to New Orleans (and all our experiences at the post-apocalyptic commune for social justice) when we met a guy named Vassili who'd come to Vladimir to perform his fire show in Pushkin Park. I felt like I was back there with all y'all again, except this time I was the one beating out a rhythm on the water jug.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wednesday: without you, we'd hate this job

I can't beat Tomio and Leah for quaintly-mangled-English t-shirts, but in terms of inappropriate English, I went to the market this morning and found a real winner embroidered on a sweater:

Three cardinal markers of the pathogenesis of a migraine.

Also, Amanada and Bob, thanks for the most delicious cheeseburgers ever made in Russia.

Sunday, October 01, 2006


Last weekend, Irina and I took the train to her village, Sergeitsevo. It's a place with two streets and maybe a hundred homes. It was meant to be a weekend of relaxation, but sometimes a weekend in a place as foreign to me as this ends up being more stressful. Her family was very friendly and Vera Fyodorovna cooked me some amazing cyrniki with fresh smetana (from the cow next door.) The eggs and potatoes were delicious and the weather was perfect.
But still I did not really understand the pace or priorities of this place. Life there seemed both poor and abundant. We had TV, and an outhouse. In the garage, there was a motorcycle, and also sacks and sacks of potatoes and onions, jars of pickles, and bottles of homemade berry wine. Once the neighbors heard there was an American around, they came over to bring cabbage pies and to grill me about Arabs and Palestinians. One older man said he hoped that my Russian would soon become "Pavlovian," such that I could respond instantly to any question, without having to pause and think of the words I needed. He came back later to have me read the labels on various American medicines he'd been given, but they turned out to be just dietary supplements. He persisted: "Which sickness? Which sickness?" and I could only say, "Not for sickness. Nothing is written here about sickness. Just take it, but not for sickness."
The train back home to Vladimir was packed. Everyone was coming back to the city, looking a little grubby, with arms full of fresh vegetables, ready to face the week ahead.