That's how I've been feeling these last few weeks - huge mood swings, ranging from "I hate this place!" to "This city is awesome." For the most part it has been the latter, but there have a been a few . . . instances where it was not so awesome.
For example, I am on the verge of physically harming Katya (the Russian roommate). I can't understand how one person can be so inconsiderate for others. Two nights ago, just as I was finally getting to sleep (I had already been laying in bed for an hour), she came stomping in the door, turned on MTV full-volume, and commenced a conversation on her cell phone at 1:30 in the AM. Nevermind that there were two other people in the room trying to get a decent night's rest before an early morning (Lindsey and I both have class at 9.30 every day). This is not the first time this has happened - it's actually a rather common occurance. I understand she's a night owl (all she does all day is sleep - how could she not be?), but it would be nice if I could get some sleep at a regular time every now and again.
Then there was the "UFO" incident. The powers that be decided to shut off the cold water on our floor (how ironic - at one point we had no hot water, now we have nothing but). That means that the toilet is not functioning at the moment. Which in turn means that when one of us needs to relieve ourselves, we have to manual flush (a.k.a. - pour a bucket or two in the commode until everything is gone). This task seems to be beyond Katya's abilities, for I have twice found an "unidentified floating object" in said toilet after she paid it a visit. Now I will do many things for others, but cleaning up another person's feces is not on that list.
Okay, I need to stop this rant. I have vented.
On a more positive note, all these incidents have been outweighed by the outrageously good times that I've been having. Last night for instance, we had a little urban exploration adventure. The maintainance crew working on the water pipes left the gate to the roof open, so a few of us were able to get up there for a spectacular view of the sunset over the bay. Frog enjoyed himself most of all - I think he's missing the water. Don't worry, Grandma, there was no danger of falling - very safe roof. At least it appeared so.
I also had a second adventure in hairdressing. I was badly in need of a haircut (and hair-washing, since our lack of water of a normal temperature has made that difficult), but I was not interested in paying $45 at the place I went last time. So I hunted around in our 'hood for a local salon. It only took me a few minutes to find one, and even less time to decide it was the right place for me - only 200 rubles (about $8)! Their pricing was on a graduated scale - so the "short cut" only cost half what the "long cut" did. Woohoo! Of course, the lady spoke no English whatsoever - but I think I did okay. I said Мне не нравится длинные волосы (which means "I don't like long hair"), and told her Я хочу красивые волосы ("I want beautiful hair"). I think she got the picture, however crude our conversation may have been.
Another positive item - my Russian skills are improving. I actually understood what was going on in class today. That doesn't always happen (well, it almost never happens to tell the truth). I still think I am in too advanced a group, but I only have a week left in class, so it's a little late to change. I'll survive. The real trick will be not to forget all my Russian when I go to Helsinki and Amsterdam later this month.
Okay, I'm off to the ticket office to buy my train ticket to Irkutsk. Oh boy - wish me luck!