Monday, January 31, 2005

...still kicking around

i've still a week left of vacation here in yaroslavl, and i'm enjoying every moment of it. i've been going to this really soviet-era gym and working out with a couple of my friends lately, which has been great. the gym will merit its own post a little later when i get around to taking some pictures. and i've been rereading things that i struggled through last summer at russian camp, which is a really good feeling.

the superbowl will be starting for my would-be first day of classes, so i think i might take a sick day on the first monday of the new semester. since i missed the first 6 weeks of my "mainstream" university course last semester, i think i should be able to catch up all right. also, i was wandering around with sergei last night looking for a store open at midnight near the second net zone building, when i accidently discovered the church that i gave my architecture presentation on. i'd been looking for it for a while, and then there it was.

i actually missed a lot of good pictures - i've gotten lazy about carrying the camera around with me all the time. picture of the evening would have been sergei & zhenya singing "elechka" at 3 am on top of this giant mushroom looking thing in the playground on ploshchad' yunosti. also an impromptu match of 'tzar of the mountain' on a snowbank near the hole. yes, they actually call it 'tzar of the mountain.' and to think that we had so much in common after all....

Friday, January 21, 2005


rolls on. the best news is that i just got a package from uncle john/ivan with 8 rolls of duct tape, a usb drive and a web cam (and assorted other things - he listed it on the packing slip as 'humanitarian aid') so that was pretty spectacular. i'm thinking about making either a hammock or a fire escape ladder with the duct tape, i haven't really decided yet.

cast your votes.

Friday, January 14, 2005

happy old new years

from my lookout in the highest building of central yaroslavl, i watched as drunk russians set off fireworks in the streets all over the center in celebration of the old new year. and then i said to myself, i forgot to tell everyone about that time i went to moscow a few days ago.

my friends' band was invited to play at a "premier" "famous" "prestigious" "wicked cool" (roughly from the original) rock club in MOSCOW. Moscow, the capital of all Russia, Russians' capital of the whole world. i didn't realize what a big deal this was until later, when i heard them talking about their first performance in moscow and how their name was getting around in MOSCOW etc etc. and sorry guys, if you're reading this - america's getting the straight story.

anyway i was invited along as the manager/roadie/groupie since no one else felt like forking up money to pay for the one day trip. it turned out to be not terribly expensive by american standards for a 4 hour trip each way. about 800 roubles for the whole thing. that turns into bucks when divided by 28 or so. that's there and back, free entrance into this hot spot, this place of all rock places in moscow (my name was on the list. i personally wrote my name onto the list.), a few overpriced beers at the bar and micky d's on the way back. and actually i bought a hamburger and pepsi for the driver too. we had a cool driver.

we rented a little van (6 passengers - 2 in front & 4 in the back) and brought along 5, me and the band. the ride up was pretty calm as the guys in the band were all a little jittery about their first big show in the capital. we got into moscow a few hours before the show and drove around the city for a while, looking for the club. our driver got out at regular intervals as we got closer and closer, asking for directions; after the last stop he turned onto a tram line and drove the wrong way (in his van) up what amounted to low-speed train tracks. well, needless to say a train came along, as they happen to, but there was plenty of room to swerve out of the way and no one was even injured.

the rock club turned out to be a heavy metal club, and (for those of you in yaroslavl) was sort of reminiscent of a really crappy Партизан with way worse music and guys with pony tails. incidentally, the only people at the club were the bartender, a few bouncers, the 'musicians' in the 5 bands that were playing and their girlfriends/younger brothers. everyone assured us that it was a wicked popular club, and everyone was just, uhm, out celebrating...and things. my friends were on the docket as the last show, and after seeing the club they all had a good laugh and felt a lot more relaxed, if not better. and went out looking for a store.

their band, Утопия, had a good show and was wildly applauded by the handful remaining in the club. the music fell somewhere between nirvana and blink 182, thankfully closer to the former. i took a couple pictures.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

new years!

as we're approaching the middle of january already, i felt like i should mention how i spent my new years eve. i guess i should start by explaining 'the holiday season' in russia, for those of you who aren't familiar with it. The big holiday is New Years, which Russia celebrates with the rest of the world. The trick is, that they start celebrating (ie drinking) at our Christmas, December 25, and don't really stop until "Old New Years" on January 13-4. The Russian Orthodox Church still celebrates Christmas by the old calendar, so Russia's Christmas falls on the 7th. "Old New Years" is when New Years was 300 years ago before Peter the Great westernized the calendar, and everyone but the church got their belt buckles on straight. And Russians love telling you about how crazy they are because they still celebrate "old new years." seriously, you won't even have to ask, they'll come up to you and tell you and watch you for some significant reaction. and really it is pretty nuts.

So that's more or less the holiday season. Banks in Yaroslavl were closed on Monday the 3rd because it was a 'holiday.' And actually most of them are still closed. The big bank on my street is closed until the 11th. This year the weekends more or less lined up with the little gaps between the 'holidays' and the nights before and after the holidays so everyone just threw their hands up in the air and headed for liquor stores.

I spent New Years Eve proper at my friend's dacha in Androniki, a little village about 30 minutes north of Yaroslavl. I went out with the first group (about 10 people i think) in a little van we rented, and another 8 or so came in private cars later once we'd gotten the stove heated up. Andrei and I had been planning on trying to get out earlier to heat up the stove in the morning because it wasn't until about 9 or 10 that we couldn't see our breath inside. Fortunately it wasn't that cold and no one froze to death or anything. We brought a lot of food and things with us, so the girls made salads and cooked a chicken in honor of the rooster while the guys, well, sat around and/or started drinking. i helped shovel the driveway with a bucket so the girls coming later wouldn't have to trek in through a foot of snow in the dark. so i guess i did my part.

and so then new years. sitting around the table, eating, drinking, singing and dancing. i'm sure there was probably dancing, but i don't have pictures of that. the company and atmosphere were incredible. new years in the russian countryside is going to be tough to beat. the pictures catch the mood better than i will. zhenya zhdan and i took about 100 pictures each, and between us there were a few good ones. so i don't know, i'm posting them more for people in yaroslavl than for all y'all back home, but take a look if you want to see a real russian dacha and stove. and real russians on their favorite night of the year.

morning, needless to say, was a little more mellow, if not sober. most people woke up at intervals during the late morning and picked at the leftovers on the table and went back to sleep. everyone was tired and sore from falling asleep, well, where ever they happened to be when they fell asleep. heads hurt. everyone was somehow cheery, all the same. the house was mostly in ruins, but it had gotten really warm and cozy. after we cleaned up everything we sat around for about an hour before someone realized that we would actually have to call taxis if they were going to come get us.

probably a hazy outline is the best way to leave it.

on the 2nd (after everyone had a chance to sleep a bit and recover), a second new years party was put together in the hole. that didn't end until around 8 in the morning, and that evening has already moved into legend as "the 2nd." i realize that was only a few days ago, but these have been really long days. and i've spent them all with the same handful of people. anyway flash if you're reading this, everyone was bummed you weren't here to celebrate it with us. send an email sometime if you want the x rated version and/or the photographs that aren't seeing the light of ofoto-day.

then we had a christmas party at the hole on the 6th-7th but that dwindled down pretty quickly when most of the girls left for midnight church services.

and the narod is already whispering about old new years, which is yet to come....

Monday, January 03, 2005

new years

is wild. and here in northern russia, still underway. more soon.