Saturday, December 09, 2006

The pizza-less pizza place

When I finally got out of bed this morning, I had a craving for some pizza. Deciding to take care of this before anything else this morning, I headed out to find some. Now, I think I've been going to Domino (local 24 student hangout/pizza place) far too often these last few weeks, so I decided to go somewhere else - a little place called Pinoccio's down the street from the university. Everything was going well until I got to the counter to place my order. THEY HAD NO PIZZA! How can a pizza place advertizing all over town stay open when they are unable to make pizza because of a broken oven?! I don't get it. Not only that, but they didn't have any soda because of a broken fountain machine, and they didn't have my favorite kind of blini. I just don't get it.
So I went back to Domino instead. Sigh.
Now that I've checked my email and paid my credit card bill, time to leave this place and go watch some HOCKEY!

The stream-of-consciousness blog entry

I have a lot of things that I've been wanting to write about this week, but haven't been able to make it down to the internet cafe to get them posted. So I'm just gonna start typing all the random thoughts into one big entry, and see where that takes me...
Let's start with the weather. It's been one strange week. No wind + lots of sunshine = warm temperature. I'm talking very close to zero. I think right now it's about -2C out there. Not too bad for Siberia. It's been very nice walking around and enjoying my last two weeks in the city. I even managed to find a good pair of pants in the Chinese market (which is open air, even in winter) thanks to the heat wave we're having. Of course, next week is probably gonna suck as far as the weather is concerned - apparently it's supposed to get down to -30 sometime in the next few days. Crap.
Speaking of things getting worse, I'm really starting to get stressed about the academic part of the end of my stay here. I can't seem to get in touch with anyone in the Office of International Education, to find out some stuff I need for my transcript. I have no idea what's going one or what I have to do. And I somehow have to pass these exams. I think I might be more screwed than I thought. But hey - at least I'm not cold anymore.
I saw something kind of random today that made me think of a few people back home. Well, sort of back home - what it really made me think of was my trip to St. Louis last December. I was in a cafe today waiting in line when I saw a sign that said, "New menu item - fried ravioli." Mmmm - tasty. The only other place I've ever seen this was in St. Louis. When Chris and I arrived at his parents house, we were treated to some pizza and fried ravioli. Oh man. I miss my friends.
Holiday shopping on a Saturday in Irkutsk is just as maddening as in the US. I almost just want to start screaming at all the pushy people running around looking for presents for others. This is one of this things I hate about Christmas (or as is the case here, New Years). Will things always be so commercial this time of year?
But that's not all I'm up to today. Yesterday I went back to the high school to talk to the English students again, and was invited by a bunch of the girls to go ice skating tonight. At an outdoor skating rink. This is either going to be really fun (if the weather doesn't change on me) or completely miserable. Either way, it's something that I haven't done yet. Cross one more item off the list of things I need to do before I leave Siberia.
Another item on that same list - go to a hockey game. I'm taking care of that one too this weekend. There's a big tournament in town this weekend, and a bunch of us got tickets to the Russia-Sweden game for Sunday. The only downside - it too is outdoors. I think I'm going to have to resort to the Russian method to keep warm this time - large quantities of vodka.
I still want to try to go to Baikal one more time before I leave. I want to see it at least partially covered with ice. I just don't know when I'm going to be able to - I've so much to do now to wrap things up. It's almost like being back at home - something to do every hour of every day.
Sigh. I guess that just means that I'm gonna have to come back sometime soon...
Oh, and a little comment about the news. I should have become an astronaut instead of a bookworm. I REALLY want to go hang out on the moon colony - if it ever really does get built. Exciting times.
Anyway, I think that's enough jibberjabber for now. Lots of things to do and see today...

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

It's all relative...

I actually found myself saying that it was warm today. And the day’s high? -10˚C. That’s right. I think I’m actually getting used to the cold.

It really is beautiful though. Whenever we have “warm” days like this something kind of cool happens. Instead of dew on the trees in the morning, there is a snow like substance coating them – so that everything in sight is white. It’s just plain awesome to look out the window in the morning and see everything absolutely quiet and white. As much as I’m looking forward to going home, I’m definitely going to miss this picture. The city is getting ready for New Year’s already. All the “yolkas” (Christmas trees) are going up, along with copious quantities of tinsel and strings of lights. And of course – ICE CASTLES!!! Another plus side of living in a city that doesn’t see temperatures above freezing for several months in a row. The main one is going up in front of the stadium – it’s only about half done, but I think it’s going to be about the size of a Waterview apartment building when it’s complete. There are a couple of little ones already up in various parts of the city. I guess the workmen need something to do to keep their skills up to par in the winter months (of course, construction sites and the outdoor markets are still open even when it’s -20 or more).

Even with all this, I’m getting excited about being back in Texas. I’ve been having a recurring dream lately. It’s very simple – just me sitting in the Starlight Theatre Bar and Grill in Terlingua, Texas, eating enchiladas and drinking a margarita. That’s it. Aaaaah. What a life. T-minus 24 days until that becomes a reality…