Saturday, October 07, 2006


I saw a sign in front of the theatre today as I was walking to the internet cafe - the Harlem Gospel Choir will be in Irkutsk on November 12. Tempting. Very tempting. I hope they pack some warm clothes - I hear siberia is cold in November.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Snow, part 2

For the last two weeks, the city of Irkutsk has been preparing for winter. The fountains have all been drained, the cars fixed (well, semi-fixed) and most of the people have begun purchasing their winter garments (myself included). Well, we're finally below the zero mark (that's 0C, not 0F), and we got our first really dusting of snow. I've decided that that little snowfall in early September was just a fluke. While this was no blizzard we had yesterday, the snow did stick around until around noon (when the sun came out for a few hours). I think I like the snow here. When it does get cold enough to "snow" in Texas, it's usually lots of ice and sleet, not the dry fluffy stuff. I didn't see any ice yesterday, except the one little patch outside the door of the dorm, which I slipped on while leaving. It's not supposed to snow again until Thursday (30% of scattered snow showers in the AM, according to the internet), but the temperature is supposed to stay low. :-(
I think what is making it so cold right now is the wind - we've had high wind advisories all week. I'm find when I'm inside - they've finally turned the radiators on and it's nice and toasty (even a little too toasty on sunny days). But that walk to the bus stop is aweful. I need a hat, before my ears fall off.
I did brave the cold last night to go to the movies with some friends of mine. That's right - the movie theatre. I haven't been to one of those since early April. We saw "The Devil Wears Prada" - dubbed into Russian of course. Why is it that movies are just more fun in Russian? At least this one had more than one person doing the voices for the entire movie.
The theatre was actually really nice - plush seats and a good bar. And it was only 70 rubles (about $2.50) - just a hair cheaper than buying a DVD here. :-D That's right, I'm still addicted to the damn DVD shops. And now, I'm been finding a lot of good mp3 CDs too. I need to stay away from there. It's sad that I spend more on entertainment than on food each week. Heck, I spend more on the internet each week than on food. Sigh. The downsides of our modern society.
I also managed to do something completely awesome last night. I went to the market, bought half a kilo of ground beef and a bunch of spices and veggies, and made taco meat from scratch, for a shell-less taco salad. OH MY GOD!!! It was soooooo good. And spicy. I think I may have gone overboard with the red peppers, but it was so good. The chinese neighbors liked it too. I'm so happy - got a little bit of a Mexican food fix. Now if I could just find some refried beans...

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The roommate from hell, part 2

You know, I didn't think things could get worse than they were with Katya in St. Petersburg. But they did. Lies is just as bad, if not worse, though in a different way. Everything I do is criticized, no matter how good or bad. I don't say anything to her about her apparent lack of personal hygiene or her borrowing my books and DVDs without telling me. Yet the first thing she said to me when she came home yesterday and heard me listening to Nickel Creek (not even at a loud volumn, but just so I could here it) was, "Why do you listen to such shitty music?" I know not everybody likes the same music as me, but still - isn't that a bit harsh? And there have been a million other similar incidences, all of which are equally absurd.
What am I supposed to do about this? I can't beat her at her own game, because I just don't have it in me to be as rude as she is. I can't tell her, "Why don't you make your bed for once?" or "When was the last time you took a shower?" I'm far too passive-aggressive. There's no way out. I'm stuck with her. Crap. I miss Lindsay.
Maybe I'll just start sleeping on Aaron's floor. It's not like my bed's that comfortable anyway.
With the exception of the horrible roommate and the chronically disorganized university, I'm having the best time. Every day is different, whether for good or bad. I love this part of Russia, so much more than St. Petersburg. The people are nicer, the air less polluted, and the Lake is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. Even as the days get shorter (and colder), I'm glad I'm here. We all need a change every now and then. While my has maybe been a bit extreme, it's working they way I intend - changing the way I see things here and home. And though the bureaucracy at IGLU has been nothing but troublesome, I do feel like I'm learning a lot in my classes. Which are all entirely in Russian now, by the way.
Oh, and one more bit of news. I bought a copy of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban yesterday - in Russian. I figured I'd read something I know to help build my vocabulary. Now I can say lots of fun words - quill, parchment, wand, muggle, etc.
I also stumbled upon the Russian word for "wench" the other day. It made me smile and think of Erica.

Monday, October 02, 2006

Before I begin another rambling entry, I feel I must apologize - especially the more grammatically aware of you. I realize there has been a frightening increase in the number of grammatical (aka - stupid) errors in my blog posts as of late, which I feel require at least an explanation (I'm far too lazy and short on time to go back and fix them all). Studying Russian all day long has crippled my English skills. While I can still speak, I find myself making more and more mistakes that I wouldn't have made before. The other thing hampering my blog-writing skills is that I have to pay for the internet by the minute, so I usually end up skipping the whole proofreading step, thereby missing the mistakes that I would ordinarily fix right away. So there - I'm sorry guys. Now get off my back...
On to real story-telling...
I have yet another thing to add to list of things I miss about everyday life back home – 24-hour pharmacies. I didn’t get any sleep on Sunday night due to a splitting headache, which I was unable to medicate because I ran out of ibuprofen and the local apothecary was closed for the night (it’s not like it would have helped if they had been open – I can’t leave the dorm between 11 and 7, at least not if I want to get back inside). So I lay tossing and turning until it was time to go to class. I decided to leave a little early so that I could stop by the pharmacy near the university on the way to class and get some medicine for what had become a migraine. My hopes were dashed – it too was closed. Nothing opens earlier than 9 here, except for the occasional bar and corner store. While you can always pop into 7-11 for a dose of Tylenol in America, the only place where you can buy drugs here is in the drugstore. Therefore, I sat through four straight classes this morning while my head pounded away.
I finally got some medicine and went to take a nap around 2 in the afternoon. It wasn’t a long nap, but it helped. Natalya Olegovna hooked me up with tickets to the Musical Theatre for Monday night. Apparently the group that was performing was supposed to be really good – the Dance Ensemble of Siberia. They did not disappoint. Imagine a strange combination of ballet, circus, and marching band (minus the instruments), and you’ll come pretty close to what I saw. I still amazed that those dancers could do what they did with their legs. The only downside was the audience. I was sitting next to some of the worst audience members on the planet. One lady’s phone rang during the performance – she answered and proceeded to have a conversation (not at a whisper, but full-volume) while the dancers were performing. But it was awesome, no matter how disappointing my fellow patrons were.
Another piece of good news – I finally found some winter shoes. I was having a bit of trouble in that department. It’s not that there is a lack of warm shoes in Irkutsk (it is the middle of Siberia, after all). The problem was that all the winter shoes I was finding were nice, stylish boots, more befitting a young Russian lady then this little girl from Texas. Not only would said boots look silly with my wardrobe, but I needed something that I can play in – something that can handle hiking and such as well. Otherwise, what’s the point in spending all that money? I ended spending a little bit extra at the sports store rather than the shoe market, but I got a pair of really nice snow boots. They are the warmest shoes I’ve ever owned – my feet were actually sweating this afternoon. And soooo comfortable – well worth the price I paid. Plus, I’ll be able to use them a bit back in the States, next time I visit Colorado or New Mexico, or any of the colder states were snow is not such a strange thing.
I've come to realize lately that my addiction to blini (Russian version of pancakes) has a parallel back home. Whenever I need a snack (or dinner for very little money), I head down to Taco Cabana and buy a dozen of their fresh flour tortillas and a cup of queso. Mmmmmm. I can taste it right now. SOOOOO good. While blini aren't exactly the same, my constant craving for them is on the same level. What should I eat for lunch today? BLINI! What about dinner? BLINI! This better stop soon or I'm going to turn into a pancake.
That's it for now I think.
Sorry it took a little longer, but the pictures from Arshan (and Listvyanka) are now up on flickr. ; Here’s the link again, so the less technologically-inclined of you can find it ---