Monday, May 28, 2007

Happy Birthday St. Petersburg

Okay, so my computer has said that I have 40 minutes left for a long time now. If it all of a sudden cuts out on me and you never read this, I will be very dissappointed.

News of note: Last Monday was a sort of family home evening that the elders put on. Who should be greeting the entrance that Elder Eustice. Of course, he didn't recognize me until I told him my name. Anyway, I've seen him twice since, and will see him again tonight at family home evening. Don't worry though, I'm not stocking the missionaries.

Also at family home evening there was a sister missionary who asked if I recognized her. I replied no, because I am honestly not very good with faces. She replied that I had told her about Pushkin. Here's the story. I was volunteering in Russian at the LRC. I was with the most advanced Russians there and I had no idea what to talk about. They told me talk about anything because they needed practice listening to the language. I had just done a presentation about Pushkin, so I told them all about Pushkin. And now I ran into her here in Russia. Cool huh. Welp, now I can't even see how much time I have left, so maybe I have forever.

Yesterday, Sunday the 27th, was the City's birthday of sorts. On Saturday they had a parade that I went to. We were guaranteed good weather. They said they had airplanes ready to put someting like iodine and silver into the sky to disperse any clouds should they form. Welp, so much for guarantees. It still rained and poured on us. At first the people in the parade were running, but once it started pouring they went back to a slow pace.

On Friday Sergei made some changes in the classroom arrangements. I'm excited because today will be my first day in the easier class. I hope it really is easier. Everyone I talk to says it's hard. However, I am quite confident that I won't have to worry about dialogues between the teachers and a fellow student that I won't understand. Everyone I'll be with will be around my same level. This should be good.

Yes yes, my clock came back and it still says I have 40 minutes. However, I do have to go to school some time today, so I'll let it go at this.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Russian Randomness

Okay, this is just going to be a blurb about Russian randomness. I know there's a way to put it in bullets, but I'm not going to waste my time trying to figure out the Russian for it.

On the Metro, you always stay on the right going down the escalator because people randomly rush by you on the left.

Going up it doesn't matter where you stand because no one is foolish enough to attempt to walk all the way up.

You always stay as close as you can to the person if fron of you in a line. Otherwise, someone will cut you off. This applies to the getting on and off the metro as well as crossing the street.

Military officers do not like foreignors.

You wear a jacket no matter how hot it is outside. No, I don't even attempt to follow this one. If it's hot, I go around it short sleeves...and sweat in short sleaves. I'm not quite sure how the Russians survive.

For breakfast you eat a bowl of porridge and than a meal on top of that. For dinner you get a bowl of soup and then another meal on top of that. My landlady feeds me a lot. At first I wasn't able to finish it all. When I did for the first time, she responded by saying how she likes it when we finish all our food. If we don't eat it all, she flushes it down the toilet; so I kind of feel obligated to eat it all. I'm actually getting used to it though.

Kefir: the first time I had Kefir was in the Salt Lake. Not important. I warned my roommate about it. When my landlady came out with Kefir, I was ready. My roommate was afraid. It wasn't that great. I couldn't even really pretend to like it; but I'm pretty sure I ate it all. Afterwards our landlady said she tried it and it was more sour than usual for herself and apologized.

Hmm, I don't think she trusts me anymore. She once asked us if we wanted cold or hot water. I asked for warm water because I thought...well, okay so I don't think. I thought it was hot already and I didn't want her to put in too muc effort to cool it down. Well, it was cold water and she reached to put it in the microwave. I told her she didn't need to, and now she calls me a little liar.

Anyway, last night she gave us something that tasted a lot like Kefir. She didn't call it Kefir and it didn't say Kefir on the container, but I'm willing to bet it's something similar. Anyway, we had a cupfull each. She asked if we would eat it and I propmtly responded that yes, we would. She then asked if she could fill the cup more full, at which time I immediately resisted. Hee hee. My roommate couldn't stand it. However, when I was done with the meal (you're supposed to eat whatever it was at the end of the meal) I picked up my cup and started spoon feeding myself. well, it wasn't horrible, but it wasn't your everyday yogurt either. Yes, I finished it all.

Church: Nope, didn't understand a thing. Well, I understood a little. Then we had a return missionary in our group who translated to Chelita and I caught enough words to understand. There was a girl who came in and said she had lost her phone. Everyone immediately started saying to give them her phone number. It wasn't like America where you'll have one or two responses. Everyone responded! Of course, it was really just an object lesson (I think) and their good intentions were unnecessary.

We also ran into some ILP students who had been here for six months, I think, and were getting ready to go home. It was weird because I would turn around and here people speaking in English.

Museum Day was on Friday. That meant all the museums were free to the public. So, a group of us went to the Hermitage. We're going again this Thursday, but I now have a little idea of what I'll see.

I think everyone knows I'm experiencing white nights, but I thought I'd write about it anyway. I've found there's two types of being tired for me. There's a "it's time for bed" tired and a "it's really hot right here and I'm not doing anything." Surprisingly, it's the latter that usually is stronger in forcing me to go sleep. In other words, riding on a bus gets me more tired than staying up until 11 o'clock. Weird. Normally, that probably wouldn't be the case. However, when you look outside your window and it's really bright, you don't realize that it's already 10 o'clock and you should start to get ready for bed.

Welp, that's all I'm going to say for now.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Frustrated Beyond Belief

First day of school= an hour late.

Okay, today we decided to try to get to school a little differently than we tried on Wednesday. We wanted to switch lines from the Uprising Square and go to Nevsky Prospect (Sorry, I don't know the translation). Well, when tranfering, I couldn't find Nevsky Prospect. I found Nevskovo and decided that must be it. (If you know Russian, you know that the ovo ending is simply the genetive ending for an adjective, so highly plausible). We ended up on the other side of the city. When backtracking I found my mistake. I couldn't find Nevsky because it was under a different name. Still, not good for the first day of real class.

Class: Can I say hard? Which is worse: being the best of the worste or the worste of the best? The test we took on Wednesday was largely based on vocabulary. On paper, vocabulary is my friend. In speaking, it is my worst enemy. So, what do you know, they put me with all the smart people and the return missionaries. I hate to say that my friends are in the other class because that would imply I'm not friends with the people in my class; but I'm afraid it probably is more accurate.

I don't talk in class. I absorb. Today I had to talk in class. And I continually made a fool of myself. By favorite subject, grammar, was taught by a woman named Anastacia or Nastya if you will. I suppose that means there's no way of me getting away with calling myself that. She spoke quickly, but I understood (except for when she put the spotlight on me, at which time everything flew out the window). Oh, and she read us a story and expects us to rewrite it as homework. I understood nothing. She then, asks me specifically if I understood. No! She repeated it slowly, and I understood more, but not a lot. There's no way I'm going to rewrite it at home because everything I picked up I've already forgotten.

At the end, one of the guys in our class came up to me. At first I thought he was going to help. He asked if I wanted to stay in that group. Well, NO! I don't. However, I knew what he was insinuating. His...girlfriend...but not girlfriend is in the other. She's had more experience in Russian than me and talks better anyway. I bet you anything he's hoping we can switch places. I don't know anymore. I know I'll do much better in the other class with people I feel are more of my peers; but there's something about giving up that makes my stomache churn. Stephanie deserves to be in my spot with her friends; but...

Well, so here's a problem. I like to complain; but if I complain at all about the class, I might be forced to the other class. Anwyay, that's why I'm complaing here. Thanks for listening/reading. There's nothing wrong with the other class! Why can't I get that through my head?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

I am in Russia!!

Wow! This is crazy! So much to say, but I have lost all my time trying to figure out how to get here onto blogger. So, I'm going to write as much as I can and then go home. The plane trip was long. On my trip to Vienna I sat next to an Austrian guy. At first I didn't realize he was Austrian because he spoke English very well. Then I noticed he was reading a newspaper in German. That was a clue. Next, he was laughing at the pilot before the pilot translated his words into English. That was another clue. I really wanted to talke with hime in German, but the only thing in German I actually said to him was, "Ich habe viele vergesssen." Plus, I don't think he really wanted to speak in German when we can communicate much better in English.

We got to Russia (obviously considering my title). At first we were told that we were waiting for Alyona. Then I was told that me and my roommate were leaving the group and taking a taxi with Kariel. (Karyel? Koriyel? I'm not even sure I'm pronouncing it right). My host family consists of Natalya and Oleg. The only things I have said to Oleg were "Nice to meet you," and "Good morning." (Although, it was in Russian). Natlya is actually and English teacher, so she provides we with plenty of opportunity to speak English. Probably too much. It's okay though because she starts out in Russian and then speaks in English when we don't understand.

Natalya is such a sweet lady. However, she, like so many other people, seems to think me more capable than I really am. She started out by saying how if you throw a cat or a small child who doesn't know how to swim, it will start dog paddling. She then said that's what she was going to do with Rianna and me. Yesterday she took us to where we were supposed to have class today and left us there. We decided to walk to the metro station because Rianna wanted to sight see and I just didn't want to spend money. There's a little kink in Nevsky Prospect, and we ended up on the wrong street. We asked directions. The police officer told us the way to a trolley pick up place. Not wanting to take the trolleybus, we decidedd to follow it's line. Well, we went in the wrong direction. Finally we saw a street sign and located it on a map and realized we were far far far away from Nevsky Prospect. I am out of time. Hmm. Well, we continued asking directions and following the map and we made it home. Good bye for now. I'll update more later.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Mother's Day

The first thought I had when I woke up this morning was that when dad isn’t here we don’t have to wake up early. I wondered what time it was and if anyone was awake. Somewhere in there I thought I wanted to go back to sleep; and then I thought about Russia. Russia! I can’t sleep. Mingled in there was also an awareness that today was Mother’s Day. Well…obviously it’s not Mother’s Day for the rest of the world. My family, like BYU itself, has a habit of changing around days to fit our needs.

The realization didn’t dawn on me until I came home two weeks ago. People were asking me over and over again, “So what day do you leave.” For emphasis I went over to the calendar to declare the date, “May 13th.” Glancing at the calendar I noticed that it did not mention me leaving; but instead it said, “Mother’s Day.” Whoops. Welp, there you go mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

It’s the eve of my departure and of course I’m not fully packed yet. The last minute belongs to me completely. Anyhow, this is my last post from the US before I go to Russia. Words can not express the fear that is clenching at my heart. Well, okay, so maybe I’m not as terrified now as I will be in little less than eleven hours. There’s no going back.

Today was good. My sister from Reno came down to celebrate my brother’s birthday. We surprised her this morning by informing her that today happened to be Mother’s Day. She didn’t object. Not everyone was here, but it was good. I love my family so much.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

New Glasses and

Today I got new glasses. Ha ha, I wonder how many people know I even have glasses. The only time I ever wear them is to show off that I do in fact have them. Every once in a while I’ll have my glasses with me when I decide that I’m not seeing very well. That just might be rarer than my showing off the glasses. Anyhow, I have new glasses now. Hooray. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the old ones (except for maybe the prescription) but I’ve gotten tired of hearing that my insurance will pay for a new pair. I think they’ve told me at least two or three times already and if you figure that I skipped a year in there without seeing the eye doctor – it’s about time I take the insurance up on its offer. I thought it was funny that they scheduled an appointment for me to pick them up. I was absolutely baffled at the idea that I even had to wait in the office. I wasn’t even seeing the doctor! I did that last week.

Today was Day of the Teachers Picnic for my mom. I always think its funny how my mom insists on us bringing both chairs and a blanket. I’m tired of bringing a chair and not using it. When I realized she was dead set on the blanket, I refused to bring a chair. It was pretty much me all alone on the blanket. My dad ate with me on it for a bit; but he had to skedaddle off to his own Back to School Night. Meh, it was nice because I got to lie down and sleep. Hmm, I’m trying to think of a point to all this but I’m coming up with a blank. Happy Teacher Appreciation Day?

Monday, May 07, 2007

Preparing For Russia

Ha! You all thought I was actually preparing myself to go to Russia! That’s a laugh. Since when have I ever done something that wasn’t at the last minute? Last week I only told myself that I was going to clean my room and pack. Instead I found myself doing the dishes or cleaning the washing machine (of all things). Oh, and I did a lot of sleeping. No, not a questionable amount, just more than was productive. Anyhow, I have less than a week now and boy am I scared. I think I’ll spend more time panicking than actually preparing myself though. However I did talk to a Ukrainian today. She told me I had a perfect accent which made me feel really good inside. Of course, I only said like four words to her. (Hee hee, that’s an example of me being a Californian and saying “like” with absolutely no desire of going back and erasing it :)

Okay, one thing my mom stressed was getting me in to see all of my doctors. Last week belonged to the eye doctor and the dentist. For some reason that was enough for me and I had to wait until today to see my regular doctor. I knew when I was going in that I was getting shots (plural meaning two). However, I did not expect for my doctor to insist upon my doubling the shots (i.e. I get four shots).

Getting shots is not my favorite thing. I don’t think anyone particularly enjoys them. As I was sitting and waiting for the doctor, I gained a few theories about why I was sitting there and waiting. I think the doctors make you wait in the room on purpose. See, you come in and you’re very tense because you know what’s going to happen. The more you wait the more you tense up. Then he comes in and does the usual check up. Everything goes well and you think you’re gonna get your shots; but then he leaves again. This time you’re so tired of waiting that you’re body just shuts down creating absolute relaxation. Ah, but you see, that doesn’t work for me. I came in relaxed. My brain knew what was going to happen, but I hadn’t told my arm quite yet and so I was completely relaxed. All that waiting just forced my brain to slip the information to my arm, which then started to tense up. Have no fear…the other arm gave it comfort (not realizing that it too would get stuck…so maybe I didn’t think it all out in my head).

Okay, so the nurses came in finally to bestow upon the happy torture. Yes, I said nurses. You’re getting the plural trend here I hope. I am such a terrible patient that they needed one to hold me down and one to stick me. Okay not true. Actually, what was happening was that my blessed nurse was in training. Oh just my luck! She actually asked me which shot I wanted first! The nerve! Like I care! Like I wanted to think about it! Anyway, when they both started coming at me, I asked in panic, “Are you both going to stick me at the same time?” They chuckled, decided it would be a good idea, and almost did it. I actually became fond of the idea myself. Seriously, if you don’t know which arm to be feeling sorry for, you have less of a chance of feeling sorry for either of them. Unfortunately the more experienced one said she couldn’t because she had to watch the other. Naturally I wasn’t looking when she bestowed upon me the prick. I’m not quite that mature yet. However, you can understand my alarm as I’m hearing stuff like, “you can take that out now,” “snap it like this,” and other daunting phrases. What actually happened to my arm, I may never know; but who’s to say that there isn’t a needle still in my arm. You might be saying something like, “Oh, you’d know if there was a needle in your arm. You’d be able to feel it.” Well ha! I got a tetanus shot. Those hurt after the shot comes out. That means I’m still feeling pain. That means that in my whacked up brain I can cause myself to still believe whatever I want.

So, as I was rereading this, I realized I never explained about the other two shots. I still haven’t gotten them yet; but I fear there’s no escaping them. I got two from my doctor and I need to go directly to Kaiser to get the other two. Of course, when I phoned Kaiser they had no idea what I was talking about and, unfortunately, neither did I. So, I suppose we’ll see what happens next. Technically I think these other two shots have no relation to my going to Russia anyway; so I’m not going to worry away two years off of my life like I do about other trivial matters.

Umm, yeah, I think this is a long enough post. Goodbye.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I Want Chocolate

The headline of today’s newspaper read Hershey Closing. Do you know how depressing that is? Of course, I have to admit to have been more depressed after September 11 when they announced that they stopped giving tours. Still, not everyone gets to live in range of a Hershey factory. We’ve got 575 full-time jobs and 1,089 total jobs that are estimated to being lost as well as something like $167.4 million. Now figure in the dairy farms that will need to find someone else to sell all their milk to. How many of you are worried about our economy? That’s what I thought. Life will go on. We feel sorry for the poor people who are losing their jobs and then forget about them. (What else can we do? Stand with signs saying, “WE WANT OUR CHOCOLATE HERE!”)

Well, only about a third of the factories are closing. They are opening up plants in Mexico to make up for it. (Well, at least one). I’m just sad that they had to close the one closest to me. Oh, but the above statistics deals with my county; it’s not the total total.

One other thing I thought was funny is that Hershey kisses are stopping first, then syrup, and lastly peanut butter cups. Can you tell which one is the favorite? Hee hee, I like peanut butter cups.