Friday, December 31, 2004

So we finally put the tree up. Somehow the assembly instructions and bolts didn't quite do it for me, but at least we've got something holiday-ish up in the apartment. i've been wearing a flashing santa hat to meals to cheer things up.

Monday, December 27, 2004

i can't stop taking pictures of him.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

happy birthday jesus!

so this is christmas.

things are pretty quiet here since the russian orthodox church hasn't gotten around to accepting that they're 14 days off. the americans have pretty much all scattered for home/europe/etc and larisa is at work today so i'm going over to a friend's for dinner. my neighbor came over to show me her decorations since our apartment is looking pretty bleak. the good news is that it's been pretty cold, and the snow & wind seem appropriate. a lot of new years decorations are already up around the city, so things seem sort of holiday-ish.

we have new years, then christmas and then old new years coming up. people in russia celebrate old new years, too. and catholic christmas. because hey, why not? by the way, our (not-orthodox) christmas is called "catholic-christmas" in russia, as if the rest of the god loving world celebrates christmas in january. the most annoying thing is, that makes me a de facto catholic even though i was raised as a protestant and don't consider myself particularly religious.

last night (christmas eve) i went to the yaroslavl city jazz center, which was having a christmas eve party hosted by one of the local english teaching centers. the jazz club was obviously well funded and well organized, but not too authentic. the lights were on most of the night and the votive candles (allegedly) set off the fire alarm for about 15 minutes.

i can't really say that i've been to a lot of jazz clubs, but i feel like bright lights and prohibiting smoking aren't really a good start. there was a little sauna like closet downstairs where you could smoke. it was so uncomfortable in the smoking room that most people started to smoke their cigarettes outside, and then got too cold, put them out, and finished them in the smoking room. and then went back outside to get the smell of smoke and sweat out of their clothes.


the band was all right - they played cheesy standards mostly, but they had a pretty good pianist. the music and ventilation system in the room made it feel like a really crowded elevator. i guess the band isn't from yaroslavl. no one really wanted to stay because we all turned out to be really underdressed and not terribly into the music. the director of the english center kept coming up to us and telling us to dance with all the nice girls because of all the really great jazz and all. and then she yelled at us for leaving early and not asking all the nice girls to dance. but yeah, we'll be back for your fortune telling party in january. sounds super. yep, we promise. the christmas eve party at the basement was considerably more entertaining, if less directly-christmas-related.

so this was supposed to be the cheery post, m. sorry. check back after new years - i'm already looking forward to it. dacha somewhere north of the city. it'll take a few hours for us to get the stove lit and the house warmed up. i like that.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

nearing the end...

so the semester is winding down and all of my middlebury classes have ended. on monday we're taking a walking tour of yaroslavl and individually talking about different churches to our architecture professor. i have to read about Церковь Николы Мокрого. Nicholas the wet? I guess it was built on a swamp. I still don't really know much about it yet, but that's coming. that's on the way.

Then tuesday we have our final exam after class, which will be an oral test of our knowledge of general russian architecture and then specific buildings. this should be really great. thanks to ashley we all have photocopies of a middle-schoolish architecture book with lots of pictures. it's a start anyway, since our notes from class are entirely incoherent.

and so that's the bad news. the good news is that after tuesday afternoon i am going to be enjoying yaroslavl' and russia and free free time. how are things back home? middlebury's probably just finishing up their exams this week right?

Sunday, December 12, 2004

never a dull moment

walking along ulitza kirova, evening, light snow & considering that tomorrow's a holiday for everyone but me, the people are out. a familiar scene. i had walked all of 5 steps past a group of 5 or 6 guys when one of them fired a damn handgun at the ground. i don't really know why. the good news is that i won't have to worry about nodding off anytime in the next few weeks.

currently holed up in netzone where the violence is almost exclusively animated. a few pictures from friday night's гулянка at the hole. and yeah. i have to start and finish a paper and hopefully find an hour or so to help zhenya celebrate his birthday before my grammar final at 9 am.



Wednesday, December 08, 2004

substance abuse culture

3:30ish am local time, and i'm mad dashing a paper on the lyrics of afanasy fet for 11 am (earlier if i want to do my grammar homework and get to class). needless to say, i'm looking for a buzz. that's right. caffeine. vitamin c. oh that's right, i went there. i had to wake up the girl behind the bar to get a cup of instant coffee, and i decided to order two (i think sobe - sobe is with the two lizards right?) of those little looks-like-red-bull energy drinks. the girl looked at me in complete amazement and said that that's impossible, impossible! you can't drink two of those at once!!!

i almost laughed at her, and at the huge amount of alcohol behind her that I could have been purchasing without a doubt in her mind at any hour of the day or night, and at the fact that the sugar can industry has done so well marketing their basically placebo effect juice in russia. anyway, staying awake i am.

now i actually am laughing at how much more work i have to do, and how i'm writing a blog entry and even thinking about answering an email....

Спросила дочка Толстого Фету, "что лучше: любить или быть любимой?" Ответил он, "Одно без другого плохо."

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

every morning people shovel the snow off lenin and the big square around him and dump it in the road. they really do that.

end of the semester...

so this is my conspicuous end-of-the-semester absence. i am alive and doing things in yaroslavl. some of them have been interesting. in about two weeks i'm going to be free of basically all obligations, and i am looking forward to that time. in the immediate (looming) future i have to start and finish a paper on the lyrics of afanasy fet. and then over the weekend a paper on the role of chess in russian culture. none of this would have been terribly hard, even in russian, if there were normal libraries in yaroslavl, but i still haven't gotten my two photographs taken so that i can plead for a 'reader's card' at the local library. that's not actually a library card, mind you - it's a card that lets you into the library so that you can find relevant books in a card catalog (remember? in america the cards are in little boxes next to the computers, with those stubby pencils so you can take notes). then you get to ask the librarian to find the books for you and you get to read them in an allegedly-not-even-that-comfortable reading room. if anyone remembers how i described buying groceries, you'll notice the pattern here.

so like a good sport, i didn't even bother to go to the library and i'm going to various other ends of yaroslavl to try and get around it. everyone else said it's an awful experience, even with help/direction from teachers. relying on the good old internet. all of my would-be sources for the fet paper are freely distributed 10th grade 'доклады.' but insightful ones, really, almost without exception. since student formulated surveys distributed to 9 host moms apparently count as valid research for the culture paper, i'm going to be a doing a little first hand investigating, too, in lieu of first hand reading books!

Thursday, December 02, 2004

a few things

first and foremost - a few new pictures. and a few small changes around the site... i killed a few old links and the banner for kerry/edwards. sorry kerry/edwards. i was never so much for you as i am against bush. i'm in the market for a good anti bush banner/button though, so leave some suggestions. or create your own! (?)

a few is 2, right?

well it's about 32 degrees farenheit here today, which is a treat from the 5 degrees yesterday. that means a layer of slush, but enough ice left to still slip and fall in the slush. so you'll get wet. on the various red thermometer clocks in yaroslavl that would look like 0 degrees and -15. that's the ol' celsius. the clock nearest my appartment is always about 3 degrees warmer than the other clocks around, which is lousy when it's really cold and i'm looking for some affirmation that it is, in fact -15 and not, say, -12. he's a big fat phooooooony. i guess it will probably get colder here in the next month or so. we'll see.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004


just go read the onion. a few new photos should be up tomorrow.