Sunday, December 21, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
As of Tuesday, he has been in the Vladimir Regional Children's Hospital for exams and observation. They are checking his kidney and health. He underwent major kidney surgery this past May. I was with him when he checked in on Tuesday and have been able to see him everyday. Sadly, visiting hours are only in the evening so I am only able to stay for an hour in between my classes.
The condition of the hospital is sad and scary but his spirits are good. He is quite brave and has a strong character. He is healthy and doing fine. His doctors say he is in good health, doesn't need any more surgery (presently) and can go home on Sunday. Selfishly, I am sad because seeing him everyday is literally the highlight of my day. But I know he will be better off with his foster family. Life with his foster family is leaps and bounds ABOVE what he has at the hospital, where it's a known fact that the food is terrible. But I enjoy cooking and bringing him food and snacks. Shopping for kids is so much more fun!!!! I will be very sad to not see him anymore =( Hopefully I will get permission to visit the orphanage SOON! If anything, at least by 2009!
Here is a photo of him wearing the wax vampire fangs that my friend Stephanie sent. THANKS STEPH! These were so fun =)
Thursday, November 20, 2008
What else is new? Hmmm.... my apartment quest continues. It's not fun like it would be stateside- well, it wasn't fun in CT either so I will rephrase. It's not like looking for an apartment in Dallas, that would be fun!
I FINALLY brought a pair of winter boots JUST IN TIME!!!! It started sneg-ing on Tuesday. It stopped briefly for a few hours that night hasn't let up. It's not the pounding we normally got in CT but it definitely is a steady stream of tiny flakes that is quickly building up. Back to my new word sneg-ing. One of the American teachers, SashAlex made it up. Sneg is Russian for snow and ing is the gerund ending. So pretty funny. We all died laughing when she said it too. SashAlex is part homage to Beyonce's new ridiculous name "Sasha Fierce". Sasha's real name is Alexandra but all the Russians call her Sasha and she started hating it about the same time she started hating Russia and teaching. We try to call her Alex, which is her usual name, but then we heard about Beyonce's ridiculous name and viola! We are a hilarious bunch! I am so serious. I haven't had this many laughs at work before in ages! If we had a live webstream of video from our teacher's office, MTV or CBS or Comedy Central would TOTALLY pick us up as a new reality show!!! We'd be funny, rich AND famous =)
Update on permission for visiting Kameshkovo orphanage... I am now waiting for Tatiana, the orphanage director, to contact the Ministry of Education via phone or letter and express her approval of my visiting. Then the ME will decide whether or not to grant me permission. Well Tatiana is on vacation until NEXT Friday. So at the earliest, she could call the ME would be December 1st. UGH! I was doing fine with waiting and just dealing with the run around of all the bureaucracy. But the last few days, it's been very difficult.
What else? OH!!!! How could I forget??? I got tickets to see Yevgeny Onegin- my absolute FAVORITE Russian story. Four of us are going Sunday night and we got front row seats! I love the theatre! Plus, here it's only $7!!!!
On Saturday we are having a Thanksgiving Dinner here at the school for the staff and our host families. Ugh, I am not really looking forward to this. I wish that I could say that I was but that wouldn't be true. I am just really, really tired. And I feel like I am always here at the school and I need a break. The other teachers feel the same but somehow we all feel like we got "guilted" into preparing this dinner. One more weird thing, they don't sell whole turkey birds here, we are buying it in hunks. HAHAAH! At least it will cook faster.
I will post photos of my snowland, new boots and the Thanksgiving Dinner over the weekend!
Friday, November 7, 2008
Here we are at Starbucks on Old Arbat Street. I paid $9.89 for a tall white chocolate mocha that was so not tasty. Fortunately, the $4 that I spent on a white chocolate-cranberry cookie partially redeemed the mocha. UNTIL! I found out that I got cheated out of my free drink that I was supposed to get after buying a coffee mug. BOO STARBUCKS IN RUSSIA!!!! I will not go to Starbucks again until I am stateside =)
Before hitting the Bucks, we hit Ismailovo Market and froze to death. But we did feast on tasty lamb shaslik. Here I am trying to warm up by wearing the Soviet fur hat that Reece purchased.
On Tuesday, I met up with Amanda and we hit Globus. We brought all the ingredients to make pizza. It was a fantastic meal!!!!! Of course, it was gigantic and pan-style. One piece was like eating 2.5 slices. No matter, it was delicious!!!!!! Behold...
Olya & I.
Tatiana & I. She is on the CHC staff at the ministry center. She speaks great English and often, actually each time I visit, translates for me =) She's great!
Sunday, November 2, 2008
I had been sick for like 9 days, no clue why. I thought it was the greasy food at Nina's or the fact that she doesn't really wash the dishes. She merely rinses them in the water that we aren't supposed to drink and the dries them off with the same towel that the cats sit on when they are in the kitchen. Yeah, disgusting I know. But how the heck am I supposed to tell an 79-year-old Soviet woman that she's not exactly clean. I tried explaining this to my director here at the school who says that I just have a "different definition of clean". For the sake of my faith in humanity, I'd like to think my definition of clean is universal. By the way, my definition of clean is dirt and clutter free.
Marisa (one of the teachers here) and I were talking and she says, "Wow you're still sick. I thought if it was just a bug it would go away by now. But it must be something that you are repeatedly eating." I thought about it and realized that pirozhkis are the only thing I had been repeatedly eating after swearing off my chocolate and beer diet a few days before.
But I had always eaten pirozhkis and never been sick. Hmmm...
Wednesday before our teachers meeting, Marisa and I went winter boot shopping and stopped to pick up a couple pirozhkis for lunch. I order per normal but since we were there early enough in the day, I could choose from several different types of meat pirozhkis. So you're thinking chicken, pork or beef. A likely thought, it was my own thought but I am sad to say that I was terribly mistaken.
I pointed to my new favorite, one shaped like a football. The lady working at the counter asked, "Cheburshk?" I froze in horror. That's the word that all my students (both adults and kids) warned me about- it is cat or dog meat or a blend of both. That's the same pirozhki I had been eating for the last 9 days. I should have known something was highly suspect about my finding a tasty $4 meal.
In case you didn't read between the lines, I'll spell it out for you. I had been eating pirozhkis made of either dog or cat or both for the last week or so. No wonder I've had stomach problems. The next day I double checked with several of my Russian students who all confirmed that my fears were true. However, I was told (and I quote) that "if I had eaten quality cheburshk that I would not be sick". OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't remember exactly how to spell that word but if you come to Russia, don't eat it. I'm not saying it will make you physically ill. I did get ill and somehow felt better as soon as I ceased eating the questionable meat. I will admit it was tasty- so much so that I ate it more than once, heck more than 3 times! But now there is just this disconnect in my mind that I can't fathom eating it again.
Some of my friends have told me that it's an urban legend but I am willing to bet that it's not. Some of my friends and students have also said that if you prepare the said meat yourself, then it's delicious and safe. Ironically, the same folks who told me it was not cat or dog told could not identify from what animal the meat came. Yeah, highly suspect. I shall never again eat that type of pirozhk.
On a happier note, I met two American students at church last Sunday- Reece & Becca. We have become fast friends and are heading to Moscow together tomorrow in celebration of the Russian holiday "National Unity Day". We hope to eat Mexican food at "Hemingway's" and I am dying for a White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks. So hopefully I'll have both and it will cleanse me (literally and mentally) from my previously mentioned dining woes.
Until then, POKA!!!!
AND DON'T FORGET TO VOTE IF YOU HAVE NOT ALREADY DONE SO!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Above: this is the dirt path that leads to my buidling. Mine is the brown one.
Above: this is the street behind my house that leads to church.
Above: this is the street behind my building. I sometimes walk down it at night because it is dark and there are no street lights around my building. This path is easiest because it's paved.
Above: this is the path leaving my building going toward the bus stop.
Above: once I get out of the alley, this is the dirt path to my apartment. I live in the third building which isn't visible from this photo =(
Above: once I walk through the park this is the little alley I pass behind to get to my house.
Saturday I met new Russian friends- well, they are more like employers. Well no, my clients really- Olya and Nikolai. They are such a handsome couple, they are the Russian version of Brangelina! Well saying that doesn't do them justice because I think Brad Pitt looks like a woman. I can't very well call them TomKat because Katie Holmes is not all that. Well just imagine the best looking Russian man married a gorgeous Russian woman. Yeah, that's them.
And now you're thinking- can you imagine their child? Yes, he's a precious doll. His name is Arseniy and he's my new student. He is 5 years old and just super cute. We will start our private lessons on Wednesday.
How I met them is the real story. They are the business partners of a dear friend of mine's friends. Yeah. So we agreed to do a preliminary meeting on Saturday. I was running 5 minutes late. I called Olya to let her know I’d be a few minutes late but her husband was already waiting for me. He called me and told me he was at the store across the street and would come by soon. I thought, gee, sounds like he has a car. I’ve only been fortunate enough to know two Russians with wheels.
Let me just clarify- he doesn’t just have wheels. This dude ROLLS HARD! I saw a killer midnight blue Mercedes pull-up near me. Just then my phone rang and it was Nikolai. He said I am in the blue car in front of you. I said, “The Mercedes?” as in ‘hell yes’. He said yes. Damn! I haven’t been in a car that nice in a hell of a long time. I felt like a bad ass again. And that feeling is not easy to come by for me, especially out here. We literally fly down the street and around the corner. I had to hold onto the OS bar and he laughed and told me not to be scared. I tried to assure him that I wasn’t- God forbid I lose my chance to ride in his fly ride again.
I half expect to pull up alongside an American suburban house or an Uptown high-rise. Nyet- it was a normal apartment building. Then I was certain we’d walk to the penthouse- wrong again. We went up the stairs and right around the corner- one of the first apartments. The inside was glorious- literally. There was lots of light and it was bright and airy. The floor had a tile mosaic in the center, it was beautiful. It was so modern and stylish that it reminded me of Aungy’s place in el D.F. Olya came to meet me and she was Demi Moore gorgeous. I was so surprised by how young and handsome this couple is! I was half expecting an older man and his wife. Nope- they are probably my peers. Sure enough around the corner came the cutest Russian version of the boy from Jerry Maguire. Seriously! The difference is that Arseniy is by far and away more precious!
I enjoyed 3 hours at their house. I had delicious tea and expensive candies. Yum! I definitely overate today- all day, except the nasty breakfast. I compensated for too long, hahaha. Fortunately we didn’t talk about price until nearly the end of my visit. I was worried that they would think it was too high and so I hoped that Nikolai would be gone when that part of the talk came. Ironically, he came home just in time for it. Neither he nor Olya flinched. I told them if they required no lesson plans of me then I would consider a lower price, otherwise I would charge per academic hour which is 45 minutes. Olya then said that she wanted me to come 3 times a week- yikes! That’s a lot! I will be so much closer to owning that killer fur!
I told her I had to go at 3pm because it was friend’s birthday party. They were gracious and let me go. She then said, “Nikolai will drive you wherever you need to go.” Too bad it wasn’t Globus =) I told them that I was going to the AH to get my bags first. They were fine with it.
I can’t lie; it was pretty surreal to be in Russia, with a hot Russian man driving me around in his Benzo. HAHA It was a good afternoon!
Sunday was the Thanksgiving holiday at church. Not Amerian Thanksgiving but a day of giving thanks to God. It was very cool to see all the children perform and adults too =)
I then meet up with Anya and Dasha for lunch. It was a fiasco getting there. I will start from the beginning. After church I walked to the bus stop with Natasha, Dima, Natasha and this lady who always sits with Natasha. Dima left us at the corner and said he was going with his brother in their car. The brother drove up to us and Dima jumped out of the car insisting that we come with them. They were going to drive us. I was like “hell yeah” until I saw that his mother got out of the backseat of the car and said that we should ride with her sons while she took the trolleybus. HELLO! Yeah right, there is no way that I’d bounce the mom from her seat just so I could chat with her hot son. Nope. I said no, in English hoping that they would just realize that we could all three ride in the backseat. That realization never came and I told Natasha to go with them and that I’d be fine on my own. I was kicking myself the whole way to the bus stop and while on the bus because I forgot my iPod. Talk about co-dependency, the way I need that iPod is ridiculous! Thanks again Dad, I love it!!!
Then I got to the grocery store and basically had a mini-meltdown. I put 90 rubles on my phone and it didn’t work. Then I got assaulted by some rude ass woman who literally with all four of her stomachs shoved me out of the way in line. I swear, one day I might just lose it and deck someone. Either in a line or on a bus- I’m telling you folks, pray that I keep my sanity. The colder it gets I get closer to the edge. I am SICK AND TIRED of being shoved around. I am not proud to say that I have shoved back and got some of my space back but it sucks!
Anyway I was pissed about that then some stupid worker took two cases of Red Bull out of my arms and yelled something about only buying one. Damn psycho chick! Don’t ‘F’ with me and my Red Bull- everyone in America knows that. Guess these crazy Russians are going hafta learn soon. There were 4-packs of Red bull on sale!!!!! The fact that they even made it to Vladimir blew my mind I was willing to pay $10 USD for four! Thank God that wasn’t necessary; the four packs were $2 USD. Andrew was going to flip- he and I walked around for an hour looking for them! We’ll use ‘em Tuesday and it’s going be a great day =)
That combined with my phone not working, getting thrashed in line really flipped my switch. Then I crossed the street to Anya’s house. I needed to call her to get into her building, but no- my phone still didn’t work. I hoofed back to the store and added 100 more rubles. Nothing. I was going to lose it. I was saying how I was sick of the mud, no sidewalks, and filth and not having anything convenient and how I missed my damn car. Yeah out loud in English- not yelling but definitely talking to myself. Thank God that just when I rounded the corner, I saw a teenage girl going into Anya’s building. Thank God she let me in. of course I went to the wrong apartment and rang the doorbell but no one answered. I was just going to turn around in a huff and leave when I thought I’d try my phone one more time. Sure enough- success, I got Anya. She even made lunch!!!
She had my absolute favorite eggplant with garlic and tomatoes. She makes a tomato sauce that I could drink it’s so delicious. It reminds me of the mild salsa at ChaCho’s. I would kill a small animal for ANYTHING from ChaCho’s!!! What was funnier is when Andrew and I were on the prowl for Red Bull, he said I would kill a person for a Red Bull. It was funny. Highly inappropriate but damn funny. That’s something only he, Tiez and I would laugh at. He and I shared some good laughs on our search and settled for Adrenaline. Anyway- back to lunch, Anya made delicious borscht!!! Then the to-die-for eggplant and her mom made meat pies. Then she also had the most delicious meat, potato and mushroom crock-pot dish. YUM!!! I stayed chatting and playing with Dasha for five hours! Her brother Igor also came by for a visit. He’s on his way to the Russian army. He’ll most likely end up in the Moscow area and be working with rockets. I jokingly told him not to point any toward America. We all laughed.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
This is me, working in the teachers' lounge at the AH. I am either in deep thought or updating my blog or reading an e-mail. But I'm pretty worn out- you can tell. This is a time-consuming gig for sure but it's fun.
This is our teachers' lounge. It's roughly the size of an large walk-in closet in Dallas. HA! At least my closet was huge. Our lounge is comfy and serves it purpose. We do a lot of reusing which is reminiscent of being a poor college student. But then again I have been reduced to a poor college grad. HA! Photos of my classrooms and students to follow =)
Sunday, September 7, 2008
My first day of classes was Thursday, 9/4. It was great!!! The students are all SUPER cute between 13-15 years old. VERY smart and speak English quite well. I have no clue what I could possibly teach them ;-) But our subject was gerunds and infinitives to which they caught on within 10 minutes. It was great. My second class was also great! I had mostly students between 25-50. I have one of the most "influential" citizens of Vladimir in my class. His name is Antoliy. He's very fun and helps the class move along. He's the owner of several car dealerships.
Friday I taught my second set of classes. I was quite distracted this day and had to drink an energy drink before class. I had received news that my grandpa's cancer has spread from his pancreas to his liver and colon. Very sad news, please keep him in your prayers. I did pray over my class and my students seemed to have a good time but it wasn't FUN like the other classes, it was a stretch. Maybe also, my students are more reserved- that could be a factor.
That night we celebrated Marisa's birthday and had dinner at Shesh Besh. I was really looking forward to that- eating meat! YUM!!!! I will have to post photos another time since I accidentally left my camera at home. So another day...
I had been looking forward to Saturday all week! Natasha and I went to Hillsong Moscow, it was awesome! Then we went to Dom Knigi to buy my Russian textbooks for class. We were going to eat Mexican food and walked around for HOURS!!! Up and down Arbat Street to no avail.
We ended up eating at a nice food court in a mall. I had KFC, it never tasted SO GOOD!!!! Then I had delicious gelato for dessert. And then I brought eyeshadows, it was awesome!!!
THE FUNNIEST THING happened while I was ordering at KFC, my friend's dad called me. His name is Viktor and he speaks English. He called to ask me if I could stay with the kids because he needed to leave town. I said okay that's fine except I am in Moscow and won't be back in Vladimir until 8:30p. He said it was fine and I agreed to call him when I got into town.
I thought it was the perfect set-up because they have satellite TV and WIRELESS UNLIMITED internet!!! It's awesome at their house I love it. Plus their kids are like my peers. They speak perfect English and are fun. They're 13 and 15. He told me they had been fighting a lot about the computer- they both want to play online games all day. He told me I would be the pacemaker.
It was funny. But what was even funnier was when I called at 9p to find out how long I'd be staying. I assumed he was going to the village or to his dacha for a few hours. So I asked Tima, "when's your dad getting back?" Tima very calmly said, "Monday". I about fell over. Natasha and I were sitting on the train together when I had this call. We laughed hysterically about it for hours.
Then Natasha said, at least you tried to speak in Russian. I said, "What? No, Viktor and I spoke in English". Of course that made it even more hysterical!!!!
Hahahah. So I got to Skype my family and Doctor Mare (my bff). It was a good weekend. And now it's almost over =( I am loving the internet!!!! And they have hot water and they have American toilet paper!!! It's all-out hog heaven out here =) I think I may offer to "babysit" Tima and Rebekah more often =)