Sunday, December 28, 2008

War with Snezhok Continues!!! (Also, a picture of my father)

Dear fellow human beings,
I call on you all to boycott the Feline menace. And also to be afraid.

This past weekend, I had another one of those "visit my father once every three weeks" visits, where I have to sleep over at his crib and deal with the cat. Remember this spiteful bastard from the last visit?

Yeah, so during the last visit, I kind of kicked him because, no Snezhok, I don't enjoy waking up to someone eating my fucking feet. So during this visit, I closed the door to my room really tightly, and wrapped my feet in the blankets so that they constituted a soft but impenetrable fortress for my feet.

Did this help? Hell no! In the morning I had this dream that my mother was biting my ankles. At some point I realize that crazy as she is, this just doesn't sound like something that she would do, and immediately figure out that in fact, the damned Snezhok must have broken through all of my defenses and gotten to my feet somehow. It's like in that movie "Ravenous", where this guy says "he was licking me!" in this really small voice. Yeah, that's how it felt to realize that my precious feet had become an entertaining supper for this bitch, yet again.

But I refused to be a victim. I bundled my feet in the blankets so tightly that Snezhok couldn't reach them. It was like the Fort Knox of feet in there. So you know what this bastard son of a bitch does? He proceeds to meow very loudly until I have no choice but to get up. It was 8 a.m.! On a Saturday! Bitch!

Anyway, I figure since I'm up already, I might as well make an omelet for my father and his wife. So I turn on the stove, ONE of the burners, to the LOWEST setting and leave the kitchen to get some additional ingredients for the omelet from the pantry. When I return, the albino son of a syphilitic whore is standing by the stove. The minute he sees me, he tears out of there like all hell has just broken loose. I come up to the stove. It's one of those electric stoves, that don't actually have fire. Here's what I see: The burner that I had my frying pan on is turned up to the HIGHEST setting, and there's ANOTHER burner on, also on the highest setting. What??? I just kind of stare at it for a while in disbelief.

Snezhok knows how to use the stove. I almost shit myself, seriously.
I mean it's creepy enough that he can open door handles and stuff, but the stove?

And not only has he figured out how to use the stove, but I just know that the bastard did it on purpose. He was totally trying to set the kitchen on fire and frame me for it! It's no joke people, this cat is completely horror-movie-scary-satanic.

I was afraid to leave the kitchen from this point on. When my father's wife woke up, I told her about this and she totally didn't believe me and said that I must have turned the second burner on and turned my burner up accidentally. What am I, retarded? How would I have done that accidentally? No, it was the cat.

My father fully believed me thankfully, because according to him, he's actually observed Snezhok get on the toilet, perch on the edge, take a dump inside, and then flush the damn thing.

Anycat, if Snezhok pulls any shit with my on my next visit, he's going to find a pound of fish bones in his cat food next time. I mean it. I'm going to poison that son of a bitch. See, I can't really get rid of him in any obvious kind of way because the kids would never forgive me. They like him for some reason. But one way or another, if he keeps fucking with me, he's going down.

Oh, here's a picture of me and my father. It's not a very flattering shot of me, but I'm not so vain as to not post it.

Beware of cats!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Pictures from Frozen Hell

Yep. Took some pictures today y'all. It was hard because, and I can't stress this enough, the devil camera won't charge all the way and keeps taunting me by turning on for 3 second at a time, and then crapping out and taking a five minute smoke break. Also, I hate taking pictures with flash. Everything looks even colder and grayer than it already is. I'd rather the picture have the blurry, but warm quality to it. It's cold enough here as it is. So without further ado, here are a few pics from a day in the life of Plusha:

Alright, now the one above is a photo of the escalator leading out of the Metro here. For those of you not in the know, this lovely city was built on a freaking swamp back in the day (which explains the massive amounts of mosquitoes here during the summer). As a result of the swamp, when it came time to modernize and build them some subway stations, they had to dig real deep to get underneath the swamps. So the subways here are way further down underground than they are in NYC. And consequently, the escalators are frighteningly long and fast. I swear, when I have to ride that thing in the morning, it feels like I'm heading down to some level of Dante's inferno, only mechanized.

The weather conditions today were great. I believe the word for it here is Metel. That's like snow wind that blows in your eyes and your face and is everywhere and you feel like you're getting your ass kicked by little pieces of white Satan the whole way to work. But by the time I got out of work, this is what I saw:

And this:
I'm not sure if this comes across through the pictures, but it totally made me think of nuclear winter.

Later, I saw a little bit of pretty on a large street. Someone had lit up some trees with colorful lights:

Naturally, I had to take the escalator again, so here it is just in case you didn't get a good enough impression of it from the first picture. Only difference is that in this one I'm actually going down. Hey, if I have to deal with this shit twice a day, then you do as well, if you love me:
This is me after I bought some pine tree branches (that's going to be our "Christmas tree" this year), and was trying to get home through the throngs of people and freeze:

And then finally, at home, thawed out, with my new "Christmas tree" I'm just grateful that I can feel my hands again:

Happy Hanukkah everybody!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

In my Previous Life I was a Russian in America (Or, Shit I Miss About America)

Dear Friends,

after spending two weekends in a row hanging out with foreigners and being called a "bloody Yank" every five minutes, I've come to realize that while in the States, I was a Russian living in America, here, I'm an American living in Russia. Or "Yank". (Whatever British Tim, New Zealand Joe, and fucking Irish Dunna!).

It's really an odd sensation to become so painfully aware of how foreign you are in the land that birthed you. Thankfully, due to my lack of accent in Russian, most people, when first meeting me, have no idea that I've spent the last twenty years of my life living abroad.

But anyway, seeing as how I've been all gushy about how wonderful life is over here throughout the bulk of this blog, I figured that it's high time to go ahead and list a few things that I miss about my past life.

1) Jew Reminders
Because it's Hanukkah tonight, I miss being reminded of all the Jew Days. Seriously, in New York, you can't miss it because there are giant gaudy Menorahs gracing every square and corner of the city. I'm not celebrating it or anything, but still, I miss the sense of legitimacy.Here it's all "Christmas this, and Jesus that, and vodka this."

2) T.V.
Fuck, I know it's evil and everything, but I haven't watched TV in a month and a half and I miss that bitch. I even miss the anti-depressants and erectile dysfunction ads. I miss laying on my ass and watching some brainless plot-less bullshit filled with explosions and bad jokes. I'm glad that I don't have access to it, and I've finished going through withdrawal, but still, on a stay-in kind of Sunday, I miss it.

3) Being a Russian Immigrant
Yeah, I miss being a Russian immigrant. I was all exotic and shit and always had a great excuse for not knowing certain bits of information about the U.S. It's not all that much fun being an American expat and having to spend an entire evening being schooled on European geography by some U.K. bastards. (At least I finally got them on not knowing what the capital of New York state was. They were all like "New York!" and I was all like "Wrong motherfuckers!")

4) Daylight
And sunshine. This is an obvious one. No further explanation needed.

5) Large bathrooms and drivers scared shitless of pedestrians
previously mentioned so also no further explanation required.

6) Period Discussion Acceptability
Ok, I know that this is a totally retarded thing to miss, but apparently here discussing a lady's time of the month is about as unacceptable as discussing a lady's farting/shitting. This kind of attitude pisses me off a little just because those things aren't the same damn it. I mean, I don't need to walk around and discuss bloodflow every five minutes, but still, here you can't actually speak of it out loud. It's like this dirty disgusting secret thing that women have to keep to themselves. Whereas in the States, we can do jumping jacks and go skiing, and sure as fuck discuss it, all thanks to Tampax and the incredibly powers of advertisement.

You know what? I think that's it. I'm kind of amazed to be perfectly honest. I thought there would be more. Obviously, since I still don't have my own place (keeping my fingers crossed for an apartment on Millionnaya street), I miss privacy and being left alone, as well as being able to listen to music out loud (Crazy doesn't really listen to music much). But that's about it.

Last one:

7) Tea with Friends in Your own Kitchen
I miss this most of all. But I think that with the acquisition of an apartment, this can be obtained as well. I miss hanging out with friends at home. All this party/bar hopping with new acquaintances until 6 a.m. is fun, but it's not really my thing. I miss quiet time with friends where you get into long discussions about whatever into the wee hours of the morning. I haven't written about this before because this blog is pretending to be funny, and not here to depress anyone, but I guess I miss friends.

Now you all go home, and think about how lucky you are, and go get one of your friends and give them a hug or a titsqueeze or something.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

My Birthday, or How I Spent the Night with Some Foreigners and A Batshit Crazy Russian Bitch - PART II

And now, the continuation... (By the way, everyone is getting hammered at my office again. This isn't anything new, but still, these people do this everytime they release a book. They are a PUBLISHING company, so do the math. Rampant fucking alcoholism is all I'm saying).

So Katya, (my friend, not Joe's girlfriend) and I went to Joe's birthday party together.

Now I think that it's important to note here that after the intial attack from me, and invite from Joe, all communication regarding the party was done through British Tim via text messaging. I just figured that it was done this way for propriety's sake because Joe's a taken man and Tim must be available.

We get to the party, and it's Tim, Joe, and an assload of Russian girls. So naturally I speak with the Russian girls in Russian. One of them introduces herself as Irra and then says something along the lines of "I live here. With Tim." "Ok" I think, "so this must be Tim's girlfriend. No problem." Since Tim is also taken, and I didn't want to step on any toes, I proceeded to devote the same amount of conversational attention to Joe and Tim. Later a few more men showed up, also foreign, and I talked to them approximately the same amount. Katya seemed to do the same thing. The other ladies at the party, for the most part were all Irra's friends.

At some point, while talking to Tim about what the hell exactly was up with Wales (i.e. is it a country? Is it part of England? What's up with that place?), Tim goes to show it to me on the map, when I hear his girlfriend's bitchy voice yell out "So, you're going to bed this chick tonight?" Tim responds with something along the lines of "stop it Irrina, be quiet." What the fuck???!!! First of all, how is this normal? This bitch just basically implied that I'm some sort of whore, but more than that, how insecure is she in her position as his girlfriend? And furthermore, what the hell kind of relationship do these two people have, and why am I suddenly involved in it? Let this be a lesson to all the girls out there. This is apparently very common for Russian women. They have absolutely no problem with insulting other women while in the process of sorting their feelings out with dudes.

But, I decided to let that go since I was a guest there and all. I figured that it was an isolated incident. Later, there was pizza (I only mention this because I promised to in the previous post) and an assload of drinking done by all. At some point, this Spaniard showed up, and Tim's cunt girlfriend took off with him and her coven of equally bitchy friends to some club. Me, Katya, Joe's Katya, Tim, and Joe, took off later to go out on the town. Katya later told me about other incidents of bitchery from that whole crew that I didn't even get to witness.

At some point while we were out, Tim mentioned something about Irra, his ex-girlfriend. Wait a minute now. What? Ex-girlfriend? Things slowly began to make sense. I told Tim that his so-called ex led me to believe that she was quite current. This sent the poor Brit on a, and I shit you not, 45 minute tirade about how she's a batshit crazy bitch and tells any woman that he goes anywhere near that they are together and have a daughter named Charlotte. I thought that was rather clever of her. She gave their imaginary lovechild a British name. The revelation that Irra has scared off another potential lay with her crazy, put Tim in a foul mood for the rest of the evening, and he proceeded to drink himself blind. (By the way, I should explain here that Tim owns a Hostel, and that half of the crew, including Irra, live there in seperate rooms).

Later that night, we ended up in another bar (we went to about 10 of them I think altogether), and Batshit Crazy was there. And drunk. And crying. And trying to get British Tim to take her home. He flat out refused, and after she left, tried to pick a fight with two Russian dudes by attempting to sit on one of their laps. "Dude's gone native" is all I could think. I somehow managed to talk them in to letting him sit down for a few minutes, instead of breaking his nose.

Eventually, it was just down to me, Katya, and Tim. Tim by the way was sort of blindly firing game in any direction that he thought was worth it. Meaning, he tried to warm up to me, Katya, and another chick all at the same time. I really don't blame him, given Batshit Crazy's magic cockblocking abilities. Anyway, Tim suggested that we all go back to his place for a nightcap. I agreed purely out of interest regarding Irra. I just kind of wanted to see what would happen if I went there. It was already 5:30 a.m.

When we showed up, Irra was trying to beat the crap out of one of her own bitchy friends. Joe had to get between them and break it up. "This may not end well" thought I while trying to figure out if I could take her. She was meaner, but I was more sober. After everything quieted down, Katya and I were sitting in the kitchen drinking tea (Tim was leaning against something and trying not to fall down) and I hear another golden nugget from Irra's camp. "So Tim, you've brought these two broads home, and I guess now you just need to see which one will do you, and take her to bed with you." Wow. Just, wow. She just implied that I'm a whore, again! And she did it in this hit and run sort of way where she said it on her way to a room with a lock on the door. So I didn't even get the chance to respond to that shit. Katya and I just sort of gave each other this "what the fuck?" look.

Later, this very same Irra comes out, and while I'm engaged in a very lively conversation with JOE (not Tim), politely asks us to leave because it's late and everyone is going to sleep. Mind you, there were at least three roommates from that place that were still up and involved in drinking and conversation. At this point, I took my Alphaest stance, looked her straight in the eyes, and very politely said "Naturally I understand. It is late, and we've got to get going anyway. I'm just going to finish my tea, have a smoke, and then we'll get going." I then proceeded to stay for another hour without another peep out of this bitch. So there. And that's how the evening ended.

I just wanted everyone to be aware that these kind of women exist here in troves. We've even all met one or two of them back in New York. They'll basically claw, chew, and bite their way through an army of women to get to a foreigner's cock. Irra's what one might call provincial peasant trash. Which is why she wasn't even really worth a proper response. It would have been equivalent to getting into a fight with a ghetto bitch that's pissed because you looked at her baby daddy.

All of the above made my birthday interesting and super fun. So thanks Irra, you cunt!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

My Birthday, or How I Spent the Night with Some Foreigners and A Batshit Crazy Russian Bitch - PART I

Dear Friends,

so I had a lovely birthday Saturday night. The celebration actually began on Friday night when I, along with my new awsome little friend Katya, set out on a mission to hunt me down some English speakers. Because damn it, I miss speaking English, and good and native as my Russian is, I get tired of sounding only half smart most of the time (a result of my not being able to completely explain myself in Russian, once we get on complicated topics such as philosophy, psychology, sociology, etc.). So there we were, on the hunt. We went to this once place that my mother swore is full of foreign students. It was. We figured this out right away based on the fact that there was a circle dance of not very attractive girls all clad in flat footwear and hooded sweatshirts. "Ugly" thought Katia. "American!" thought I, happily. Turned out the bitches were German and couldn't really speak English all that well. Then we ran into a couple of Swiss girls who were really nice, but still, I wanted someone that I wouldn't have to dumb down my English for, so the quest continued. By the way, this place was the first place where I encountered Facekontrol. As we were walking up to the place, I heard the bouncer tell a whole trove of Russians that it was a private party and he didn't invite them, so they can't come in. I walked up and asked in English if I could come in. He replied in the affirmative and did this "you're always welcome" hand gesturing. Score!

After a couple of more places that were total crapshoots in terms of native English carriers, we finally gave up and went to Chort Poberi to meet up with some of Katya's friends. When we showed up, they were all drunk and happy, and upon learning about our hunt, giddily informed me that there were definitely some foreigners in the back of the bar and that I could probably find them waiting in line for the bathroom, because that's where they seem to have spent most of the night. I went to look for them but couldn't find them. I gave up yet again. But then, just as I was on my way to the bathroom, I heard English. Beautiful, pure English! I immediately and quite literally jumped on them and screamed "so you're the foreigners!" This was met with honestly frightened faces and a response of "we're THE foreigners? wha?" Anyway, to make a long story short, I explained to them who and what I was, and about the hunt and we exchanged numbers, and they invited me to come along with them to a different bar (which I declined), and also to one of their birthday parties the very next night (which just happened to be on my birthday). Then they left. Here's a brief description of what I met:

1) Handsome tall very aryan British Tim

2) Stocky but attractive dark and scruffy New Zealander Joe

3) Super blonde Joe's Russian girlfriend Katya (obviously educated and from a nice family)

And now, without further ado, onto my actual birthday.

So Katya, (my friend, not Joe's girlfriend) and I went to Joe's birthday party together.

To be continued in the next post... Ha!

(there will be insults, and alcohol, and total Russian bitchery, oh, oh, and pizzza)

Friday, December 12, 2008

New Feature : "Overheard in SPB"

Ok, so I'm going to start a new little feature on my blog here. It's going to be called "Overheard in SPB".

Overheard this morning in the office, from one of my older female co-workers:

"Sergei Leonidovich, don't you know that statistically, only ten percent of the male population likes fat women? The other 90 percent likes REALLY fat women."
(-said during a conversation with male co-worker regarding wheather the above female co-worker needs to lose some more weight or not. )

Also a joke today at the office:

"So there I am, coming out of a restaurant like a decent person, when some swine has the nerve to step on my necktie."

(just in case someone didn't get the joke, because there are no nuances of the voice and shit, in order for someone to have stepped on dude's tie, he had to have been drunk and crawling.)

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Shitty Opera Last Night, Corpse this Morning!

I went to the Opera last night. People, if you are ever offered the chance to hear a mezzo soprano by the name of Angela Gheorghiu, don't take it. And tell the person that's offering it to you to go fuck themselves because this bitch sings about as well as a cat in heat. I couldn't believe how bad she sucked. And she got so much hype that it was doubly disappointing. Her boyfriend sang with her, and apparently everyone at the Opera house made fun of him because supposedly he only got to perform with her because he's banging her, but in reality he actually ended up being a much stronger singer than her. Still, it was nice to go to the Opera and I had a good time anyway, because at least the conductor was amazing.

Also I got to see lots of creatures that I like to call "cheap trophy wives with no class, that go to the opera to get some, because they think that that's how you get it." They basically look like this:

And are wearing this outfit:
And then this morning, I had the hardest time getting up. It was all dark and shit outside, plus Crazy doesn't sleep at night and I end up waking up several times throughout the night because she's scurrying around the apartment. So I'm basically half asleep on my morning commute, listening to the ipod, just walking down Moscovsky Prospect when, wait a minute, what's this? A fucking corpse! Dude's lying there, with a garbage bag over his face in front of a store. Judging by what could be seen of his outfit, he was very homeless. There are a few people (alchies) standing around. I take out one of my earphones and ask the people if he's alive. They eagerly shake their heads back and forth. I put my earphone back in and get on my way to work because I'm running late. There was no ambulance or anything. Just these three "people" standing around (i.e. probably hoping to steal his boots). When I showed up to work, I confirmed with Ksusha the secretary that he really was dead, and was just as dead about an hour ago when she walked past him. So dude's been lying there for at least an hour and no one has called the authorities! Welcome to Russian winter everybody. Apparently homeless drunken deadmen are a fairly common occurence here in the wintertime, so let's all get ready for me seeing some more dead bodies on my way to work, during the next few months. Ah, my very first Russian homeless man corpse. Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy about being here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

No Electricity, No Salary, Welcome Back to the U.S.S.R!

I woke up yesterday feeling good. For the first time in a long time, nothing hurt, there was nothing to cough up or blow out or stretch out. It was aaaallll good. Crazy was sleeping, so I, quiet like a mouse, got on the internets and proceeded to send out various emails and do general internet doings. Then, suddenly, as if struck by god, the laptop beeped a pitiful beep, once, and then died. I went to investigate. Turned out the fridge had suffered a similar fate, and none of the lights would turn on. So there you have it. No electricity. At this point I'm thinking "Oh, the fuses must have blown out." So I briefly wake up Crazy to find out where the fusebox is located and go to check it out. Nope. It's not the fuses. I go back to Crazy and inform her that we must have not paid the electricity bill because the electricity has been turned off. Crazy gets full-on angry and goes to check on the fusebox herself. I follow her and only at this point do I notice that none of the hallway lights are on either. Oh! Duh! This is the Soviet Union, where they just randomly turn off your electricity wheather you've paid your bill or not. Truth be told, it kind of reminded me of my childhood, so it was a bit nostalgic at the same time.

As it turned out, one of the apartments in our building was being renovated, and the Dagistani gentlemen working on the project decided to use enough power tools to literally set the electrical board for the entire building on fire. So technically, no one turned off our electricity. It turned itself off. It also took the heat with it for some reason. It then proceeded to stay off for the rest of the day. Welcome back to the U.S.S.R!

I also had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of this very nice young Russian girl a few days ago, who explained to me that no one gets paid here until they've been at a job for at least a month, and sometimes even then you kind of have to beg your boss to pay you. So no salary yet. Welcome back to the U.S.S.R!

On a positive note, I went to get some personal grooming done in the nature of waxing, and to my total surprise discovered that they use a completely different kind of wax here that doesn't rip of ten layers of your skin along with the hair. I was surprised because I generally expect everything here to be like in the U.S. only crappier. And yet here it was. Something like in the U.S. only better. They use some kind of wax from Spain here that's painless and not sticky. Welcome back to Europe!

It's not all bad though. As I've said before, there is always this lovely element of the unexpected in this country. You wake up one morning thinking that you're going to spend your whole Sunday lazily lounging around the apartment with a book, but because your electricity and heat unexpectedly get turned off, instead, you get forced out of the apartment and into a nice Japanese restaurant and then a gazillion photography exhibitions. Life is just nicer and more productive this way, so I'm not really complaining.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Fucking Bathrooms!!!!

Dear Friends,

I had a whole post prepared about how this amazing, beautiful, incredibly talented young musician came over to our place last night, and we had a lovely time and jammed, and even recorded all of it, and how he said that he knows this chic that I should sing with and all was well with the world. But I'm not going to post that shit. Instead, having woken up this morning, sleepily gone to the bathroom, and walked out of there once again seething with rage and hatred, I'm going to do an entire post on how much I hate the bathrooms here. That's right. I hate the fucking bathrooms here.

Now I'm really sorry about this. There are plenty of things that I choose not to write about here, such as the fact that I've been sick with something or other every single day that I've been here, or the occasional bouts of seasonal depression that I get because it gets dark at 4:15 in the fucking afternoon. But this bathroom thing, I just can't hold it in anymore (no pun intended).

Lets start with the toilets. And this is universal here. They are all exactly the same, no matter where you go. They are designed for midgets or something. Seriously, they are fucking tiny. And Slavs are not tiny people. This country isn't exactly populated by petite Asian people. So who the fuck decided that the toilets should be of a size that in order to fit your whole ass on them, you have to sqeeze yourself as if you're trying to birth a diamond out of your ass? Was it Stalin? I can just picture it. It's the late 1940's, there's war raging, mass starvation and death. The great Joseph Stalin wakes up one morning with his full-on schizophrenia and thinks to himself "Let's see, how can I torture the Russian Narod a bit more? What more can I take away from the Proletariat? I already took their water, heat, lives, children, food, and all the other comforts that a person needs in order to be psychologically healthy. Oh, I know, I'll make the toilets tiny and uncomfortable! Also, I'll make it mandatory that all the bathrooms be the size of a matchbox. That way, on top of being generally uncomfortable and unable to perfom their morning doings, they'll also be forced to inhabit a claustrophobic nightmare! Because we are Russians and the great Russian Peoples are strong and don't need comfort! Discomfort will set you free! We will win this war!"

This is exactly how I picture it went down. He then made it law. And anyone who's toilet and bathroom didn't conform to his ridiculous measurements, or complained about them, was immediately taken out back and shot. And somehow, even though Stalin is long dead and communism toppled, the bathroom torture continues...

Also, you think that you're flushing the toilet, but it's just fucking around with you. It's just kidding. It only takes your attempts seriously on the tenth time or so. Thanks shitty water pressure!

I'm just saying. I'm sick of the midget toilets and the matchbox bathrooms!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

How I Spent Another Night with Uber-Boss, and Madame Sex

People, I finally got to meet my very first famous author last night. Actually, that's not entirely true. I've met a few before back when I was in college, but this lady that I met last night is super famous all over Europe, and has some fame in the U.S. Her name is Catherine Millet. Google her ya'll. She's also known as "Madame Sex" because even though she's the editor of a huge art magazine in France called "Art Press" and a respected Art Critic, she wrote this book a few years back called "The Sexual Life of Catherine M", which is supposedly some of the dirties, and yet unerotic/mechanical, hardcore porn ever written by a woman. I haven't read this book yet, but I'm certainly going to now.

Anyway, my day started out uneventfully enough with me having to take a little trip to the Russian Author's Organization to get some paperwork signed or approved. I didn't really understand what was happening, or who I was supposed to see there. The place was filled with millions of doors that all looked the same, and were all filled with what looked like the same woman. I was looking for some woman named Ekaterina. I had to talk to four frumpy, irritated Ekaterinas before I was directed to the one that I actually needed. I came out of that place feeling like I just spent 30 minutes in the movie "Brazil".

Eventually, I made into the office, where I was promptly informed by bosslady that I was to accompany her that evening to Uber-boss's house for dinner with Catherine Millet, in the capacity of translator/conversation filler. I immediately got my ass on the internets and found out everything that I could about Millet. Around 4 p.m. we went to pick up Millet and her husband and drive them to Uber-boss's sweet crib. Uber-boss ended up being about 40 minutes late to a dinner that he was supposed to be hosting. Instead, when we got to his place, we were greeted by a disheveled Russian cook/housekeeper named Lena. When I say disheveled, I mean that someone had stuffed her rather short and wide physique into a ridiculous french maid outfit. Uber-boss sure is classy!

Dinner was made up of four courses (as usual, because this is how Russian people roll with their food), during which I had a very pleasant time conversing with Millet, her husband, and bosslady. Then rolls in Uber-boss. This is when the evening gets a bit dicy for me. Dude immediately sits down, unshaven and clearly not really treating this as a momentous occasion, and begins stuffing himself with food. He also kept his hand on my shoulder for, what I perceived, to be an inappropriately long time. Now, I'm a patient girl, but I'd gone without a cigarette for a very long time at this point, and had to go have a smoke. I tried to discreetly excuse myself from the table because I remembered Uber-boss's sentiments towards smoking. Of course all attempts to go unnoticed failed. As I walked out of the diningroom, Uber-boss was yelling something along the lines of "God damn dilettant!"

When I returned, calmer, but not unaprehensive, upon sitting back down at the table, I was greeted with the following question from Uber-boss (in English so that Millet and husband could understand):
"Polena, why you not tell us, why do you start to smoke?"
Millet, having a sense of humor, promptly suggested that I stand on a chair in the middle of the room in order to answer this questions with the appropriate amount of pomp. I responded with something along the lines of "started smoking at 14 to be cool like my older friends." Next question (in Russian):
"But Polena, do you realize how many men you have missed out on as a result of your smoking?"
I translated this to Millet. Not missing a beat her response was "Ah, I understand, zis man whants to marry you, yes?" I said that no, he doesn't want to marry me, he's just mean. At this point, I fully understand that Uber-boss has picked this very inappropriate moment to hit on me/publicly humiliate me in a ridiculously thinly veiled guise. This is how the conversation actually went:

Uber-boss: "Polena, why you not tell us, why do you start to smoke?"
(Polena, why do you smoke when you know that I hate smokers
and would never take a smoker as a lover?)
Me: "I started smoking at 14 because all my friends smoked and I wanted to be cool like
(I totally don't understand that you're hitting on me)

Uber-boss: "But Polena, do you realize how many men you have missed out on as a result of
your smoking?"
(I am not adding you to my harem until you quit smoking.)
Me: "If a man asked me to quit smoking or else he would leave me, I probably would,
but no man has ever asked me to do this, so I don't think that there's really a
(I understand that you are hitting on me, but I have no intention of quitting
smoking for you)

Uber-boss: "Come on, stop fucking around and answer the question seriously"
(Seriously, quit smoking immediately so that you can be my new concubine)
Me: to Millet's husband " Have you ever left a woman or not been with a woman
just because she was a smoker?"
Millet's H: "No, of course not. I smoke cigars myself."

Me: "So, I think that this should answer your question. I smoke, and I prefer men
that smoke because then there's no problem. And I wouldn't want to be with a
man that doesn't want me just because I'm a smoker"
(Fuck you Uber-boss!)

The conversation ended on this note. Fuck! Now I'm probably going to get fired, but all in all the evening was really fun.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Minime and the Other One (PICS)

So I spent another wonderful day at my father's place with the half siblings. My father was conspicuously absent for most of the visit. He had to "work". I get the feeling that he spends much more time doing that, than actually spending time with his family. He doesn't seem to understand that this is not the way a good father behaves, but whatever, if he wants to crap out his second chance at fatherhood, it's not for me to judge. (Although, it is a little bit). So anywho, here are pictures of the kids that I took, and three that I pilfered from my father's computer while I was there. It's them on September first of this year. Their very first day of 1st grade.

So here's little Masha looking really happy to be in school:

Here's her being a good student and paying stern attention to what the teacher is saying. Outside of the window...:

Haha, look at my hair. It's ridiculous.

Here's Pasha. I have strong suspicions about his being actually related to us. Look at this kid! He's freaking blond with green eyes. His name should be Ivan for god's sakes. And these two are supposedly fraternal twins. I smell a rat:

Ok, the rest of the pictures were shot by me yesterday. Now in my defense, I had tonsillitis, and the camera barely worked, and 7 year-olds are really shitty models. They just won't stand still.

This is Minime with her mum Natasha. Natasha was checking their homework. Masha doesn't like the level of mistrust in the family. Natasha doesn't like the fact that Minime lied about having all of her homework done:

Pasha had all his homework done, so he's just sort of chillin:

By the way, Pasha used to want to marry Masha. His parents had to explain to him that he can't marry his twin because they'll have two-headed babies. Now he's proclaimed his undying love for me and plans on marrying me as soon as possible. When reminded of the two-headed baby consequence, Pasha's incredulous response was "But we've got different mothers!" Pasha needs a solid lesson in genetics and how incest plays into that whole mess.

This is a picture of the kitchen/child chaos in that apartment:

Ok, this is a side by side comparison of me at 7 and Minime. I just want everyone to see why I keep referring to her as that:

The eyes are the only difference really.

And last, but by far not least, is the hated Sneszhok (who's name apparently changes on a weekly basis. Now her name is Katya):

I tried to barricade the door when I slept over Friday night, but this bastard not only got the door handle open, but also squeezed through the stuffed animal barricade and proceeded to try to claw through my socks while I was sleeping. I'm not a hundred percent sure, but I think I kicked it at some point. Sneszhok avoided me the next day and kept throwing me dirty looks. Like the one captured in the above photo.

That's it for today. I think everyone is already in the know about the tonsillitis, so I won't complain about it here.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

What is With the Weather Here???

First the streets are frozen solid, so that even if you're wearing boots manufactured specifically for the purpose of crossing the Alps (and I am), you still have to waddle around like a goddamn penguin so as not to fall down. Then it goes up 1 degree, and you're mired in ice puddles. I swear, there are like fjords and shit just floating around the city streets. I honestly don't know how to dress for this weather...
I'm going into full-on arctic exploration-wear mode.

Happy Thansgiving Everybody!
(I won't be eating turkey tonight...)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Insane day at Work

Today, a writer came to the office. This guy's book came out last week. Jesus Christ, starting at 2 p.m., there was vodka for everyone. Because boss lady has left for the Moscow non-fiction book fair, this place has completely disintegrated into a house of bedlam and chaos. It's like Soddom and Ghemorrah over here. So the entire staff (with the exception of the accountant, who is a very handsome clean cut young man and doesn't seem to enjoy hanging out with the literary types) has been hanging out in the kitchen getting soused. The head editor is so drunk right now that he can't stand or talk really. He just keeps mumbling shit, and I've got the feeling that any minute now he's going to throw up all the smoked salmon and salami sandwiches that were laid out on the table at the beginning of the festivities.

Oh and as if that's not enough, there are people hanging out in the kitchen that don't even work here. Random writers came by to congradulate the aforementioned guy, and stuck around to get in on the vodka action. It's been going on like this for 4 hours already. It's time to go home, and they're still sitting there. A few general rules were thrown out the window. Like the no smoking in the actual office rules. I don't mind this one, but it just feels surreal. Like I've stepped back into the 60's, when smoking was allowed everywhere. Also, at first some people said no to the vodka because they were driving. The last guy to walk in, when questioned as to whether he was driving or not, replied "so what?" and promptly sat down to throw back a few. I myself got literally trapped at the table for about an hour by a very insistent young editor. He wouldn't let me out. I had to wait until he went to the bathroom to make my escape.

A few general observations:

--Russian old people have really fucked up teeth and don't seem to know about dentures. (Note to self: brush teeth more often, and maybe start flossing or something)

--Whenever a person in this country is really interested in whether someone is a jew or not, chances are that they are either a jew, or a closeted (or not so closeted) antisemite. There's just no other reason for this interest to exist. And I don't remember anyone in the states ever wanting to know whether someone I brought to their house was a jew or not. Therefore, publisher Kuritzin is an antisemite (cause he sure as hell ain't a jew)

--Deodorant is purely optional here. I don't think that this is news to anyone, but what might be news is that it's a bit difficult to locate in the drugstores. I.e. I tried to buy some yesterday, and after visiting 3 different stores, was only able to find said product for men. Perhaps they believe that ladies naturally smell pretty.

That's all for today.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Yesterday was Gray, Today is Gray, and Tomorrow Will Also be Gray

But that's alright. I'm getting more into the swing of things here. I still don't understand exactly what it is that my job entails. I spend most of the day at work just sort of staring at my computer screen and taking cigarette/tea breaks once an hour. From what I can tell, my job will require me to show up at uber-boss's house next week in order to translate between him and a French writer, while they're having breakfast. Unexpected. Also, there's the 10 pages of translation that I'll be doing in some vague future, and the attempts to make contact with American publishing companies. Everyone at work is preparing for a book fair in Moscow (that I won't be going to this time, but will be going to next time). And no one seems to give a crap about what Polena is doing. Ah, just like being home at my old job.

I went to do my laundry yesterday. I don't think that any of the German dryers in this country actually work. I paid money for them, naively trusting that they'll do their jobs and actually dry shit, but after waiting for exactly 3 hours for my clothes to dry, I ended up taking it home, quite warm, but still basically wet. I had to hang it up in the rafters to dry.

Then I went to the theater. It wasn't interesting enough to describe here. I'm going to wait until something less mundane happens to post again. The only other thing is that I've managed to get in touch with someone that I used to know many years ago and haven't had any contact with in 10 years. And lo and behold, he's here in Russia, just like me. So that was a very pleasant surprise for me. That's all that's happened in Russia in the last few days.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Day Whatever (Or I Guess it's Time to Stop Counting the Days) PICTURES

Alright, seeing as how I've been here for two weeks and one day, I think it's time to stop counting the days. What am I an alcoholic? Ok, fine, yes, I am, but only when it comes to actual alcohol. I'm not going to continue counting yet another set of days just because I really want another drink of America on a daily basis. Screw that. It's sobriety and Russia all the way from now on (or at least as long as I can keep from falling off the wagon and flying my ass back to the states.)

So, I've finally managed to take some pictures of where I am, but don't expect much. This was a first attempt, on a camera who's battery adamantly refuses to charge all the way due to crappy voltage/adapter, or it's just broken, and will only let me take two pictures before it craps out on me. So yeah, they're not very good, and they're not of very interesting things, but I promise better ones in the future. Shit, all I did today was go to work and then to a shopping mall (I didn't know they had fancy civilized ones here), and then home.

But before the pictures, I just had to share a few things that I read today in a couple of papers here:
From the St. Petersburg Times (these are direct headlines and quotes):
'Couch-Killer' Gets Off With One-Year Suspended Sentence
--A woman who killed her husband by shutting him inside a folding couch has been given a one-year suspended sentence. In response to an insulting comment from her husband... Vera Lukyanova, 55, closed the folding couch her spouse was lying on...Lukyanova was drunk at the time...Her husband was crushed as the couch folded up, and he suffocated after he was unable to free himself... Lukyanova had left her husband for three hours before checking on him and finding him dead.--
I just don't know what to say. This is as DeathPorn as it gets. Even though the article doesn't mention this, if you read between the lines, you can figure out that these are two aging, hardcore alchashi, and chances are that the husband was drunk too, and that this kind of marital "dispute" happens in Russia on a daily basis. I kind of love this place right now...
From the November Edition of Pulse Magazine:

Ok, I'm not going to provide direct quotes from this piece of trash magazine, but I would like to briefly summarize two articles that I read in it today.
Article 1:

This bitch writer mercilessly ridicules all people who read labels on the food that they are buying for shit such as MSG content and chemical content in general, and also maybe prefer the organic food to the assloads of chemical products from China that have flooded the supermarkets here. Jesus fucking Christ! She makes fun of a dude for telling his wife not to buy random canned products from China because they're actually not that big on poison control or contamination checks over there. What decade is this stupid cow living in? The United States government just set up a fucking FDA office smack dab in the middle of China just for this reason. So they can check on all this shit before it hits shelves in America. But Russians should go ahead and be encouraged to eat all the garbage out there? Whatever. This article just pissed me off to no end, because one of the reasons that I moved here was due to the fact that I thought that the food was better.

Article 2:
Ladies, if you're unhappy with your breast size, a great and healthy, and risk-free, bad-consequence free way of fixing this is through breast implants or augmentation! It's perfectly safe, you can't see the scars at all, they feel totally real, and best of all you'll feel much better about yourself. And nothing remotely bad can occur as a result!
THIS WAS NOT WRITTEN BY A PLASTIC SURGEON, AND IS NOT ADVERTISEMENT. This is a real article, written by a woman. What in the name of... Seriously??!!!
Yes. The only explanation that I could come up with at first was that she was bribed. But then, on further reflection, and in conjunction with the first article mentioned, I figured something out. They've got 1975 happening here as far as consumerism is concerned. They haven't figured out that chemical food is bad for you even though it tastes good, and that breast implants, pretty as they might look on TV and in Porno can totally fuck you up and shouldn't be encouraged under any circumstances (with the exception of reconstruction). Wasn't it just like this in the U.S. in the 70's?

Ok, now that I'm done ranting, on to the peaceful pictures of my day:

Yay for me!
This is the street where I work. Looks a bit gray and gloomy, no?
And this is the window in my office, and what can be seen through it:
What I see on my way home from work every day, right near where I live. It's beautiful:

Me, sitting in the hall, smoking in the dark. Not a pretty picture:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Joke Job and Pedestrian Bastards. And Oh My God the Cars...

People, my job is a joke. Would you like to know what I've been doing here for the past two days? I've been reading a book. At work. Just sitting here, reading a book. That's my job right now. I'm getting paid to do this. Because it's a publishing house. Holy shit I've been in the wrong profession this whole time!

Granted the book is tedious at times, but still. I like reading. And I get to use all them skills I learned in college while studying English Lit. Finally! Still, I just can't believe that they're going to give me money in a week. For this.
Also, I've been helping the corrector with some of the idiotic translation mistakes that she's been finding in some of the texts that she's correcting. That's kind of fun actually. I'm the only person here that's a "natural language carrier." That's one of my titles here at work. Tee-hee-hee.

But generally, since I'm being paid under the table (a salary that I'm pretty sure is higher than my position warrants), and straight out of uber-boss's pocket, I think that what I've actually got here is a mafia no-show job. Like when mafia captains show up to the docks and sit on their ass all day for tax purposes. It's like that, except instead of being in the mafia, I happen to be uber-boss's childhood friend's daughter, and he has to justify giving me fifteen hundred bucks a month.

There's not much else to report, other than the fact that everyone here is still taking one-hour long tea brakes several times a day and that yesterday was super pretty. It was just like being inside of a snow globe.

Also, this morning I was listening to "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns & Roses on my way to work, and found it fully appropriate as a soundtrack. Because like Indian people in Jackson Heights, Russian pedestrians think that each one of them is the only one the street, and conduct themselves accordingly. However, unlike peaceful Indian people, who just sort of ramble along, stop short, and generally move slower than fuck, Russian pedestrians take an entirely aggressive stance. They seem to be fully of the opinion that two things CAN exist in the same space at the same time, and try to prove this constantly by attempting to walk straight through each other (and poor little me). Seriously, if you think that NYC is bad as far as pedestrian speed and traffic go, try walking through a sea of angry, frozen Russian people when it's 15 degrees out. They don't fuck around. They're moving in one direction and you're going with them whether you want to or not.

Don't even get me started on the drivers. These assholes like to play chicken with pedestrians while they are crossing the street. And they always win, one way or the other. And by that, I mean, either the pedestrian manages to scurry the fuck out of the way in time, or the pedestrian gets a brand new car driven up his ass. They never, ever slow down. Instead, when they see a "walker", they speed up. I swear, it's as if they've got that point game going in their head, only serious. Like "4 points for the slow-moving babushka with the cart, 6 points for the pimply punk in the leather jacket, 10 points for the yuppie with the designer coat." This place is super fun!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Day 14 (Work and other Observations)

A few observations about my current surroundings:

--Finally saw the legendary and ever-elusive St. Petersburg sun today. It was yellow and warm and circular, just like I've always pictured it. I felt elated and happy for a moment, but then it disappeared behind and ugly brown building. I don't know when we'll be reunited again, or why it's avoiding me. Come back, sun!

--Ksusha the firm receptionist has been celebrating her 24th birthday for two solid days now. This consists of her sitting in the kitchen (instead of reception) the whole day with a bottle of vodka and two bottles of wine and a half-eaten Napolean cake. Other staff members (including the boss lady) join her periodically and stay in the kitchen for hours. The unforseen result of this of course is that no one is opening the door when someone rings our bell. Or answering the phones...
Also, everyone seems a bit not sober.
Non of the visitors have been able to get in because you can't hear the doorbell from the kitchen. Our own driver had to wait for 2 hours outside in order to gain entry.
Boss lady doesn't seem to mind.

--Everyone here is working on Russian-people-time. That means that even though the work day starts at 10 and ends at 6, most people come rambling into the office around 11 (holding their heads tightly and mumbling about bereborshil, i.e. overdid it), and end up walking out of here around 3 when they, as I heard one such employee say, "finally give up on having a sense of right and wrong". Apparently Ksusha the receptionist has been keeping careful track of these comings and goings, but the boss lady only jokingly suggested that employees start coming in on time. She doesn't seem to be serious, and no one here is taking her suggestions to heart.

--The guy that's been training me for two days now, proclaimed today that there's not much for me to do and I should just go home and read one of the books that I've been assigned to translate pieces of. It was 2 p.m. when this ocurred. I had to explain to him that I don't feel right collecting a salary while sitting at home and reading a book. (I do however feel perfectly fine collecting a salary while sitting at work and working on my own blog though.) I'm going to work with an american work-standard for at least another week...

Monday, November 17, 2008

How I Spent a Night With my Shady Millionair New Uber-Boss and the GAI (traffic militsia)

...Or what happens when two black jeeps collide. In Russia.

Dear Diary,

no no, I'm just kidding.

Ok, so last night, my mum and I were (forced) invited to have dinner at my new boss's place. Now this is a man that I'd spoken to once on the phone shortly before my trip to London, where I stayed at his fabulous penthouse. And even though he wasn't there, he did manage to tell me on the phone (mind you, without ever actually seeing me) that if I quit smoking, I could have the honor of being his lover for a little while. Ooh. He literally said that to me. I'm not exaggerating folks.
To give you all a better picture of what sort of man this might be, just imagine what it takes to become a millionaire in Russia. There is not a single currently legitimate minigarch or oligarch in this country that got that way without at some point being ass-deep in organized crime. There's just no way for this to have happened via legitimate means. Dude owns a bunch of construction companies, this being the real way his money is made, and this one little itty-bitty publishing company that I was hired to work for. Now some of you may naively be thinking that he's a fan of the written word or something, but really, come on. Obviously I now work for a company that basically launders money for either the mob, or just general criminal activity of some sort, such as tax evasion. I'm ok with this.

Sufficed to say, I didn't really feel like going, and was feeling kind of depressed because I had to fucking get up the next morning for my first day of work at his company, and didn't really feel like having a long dinner with the Sopranos.

What happened instead was really refreshing, and also eye opening. Last night taught me that ya can't really be depressed for longer than about 5 minutes in Russia, because then something unexpected will happen to pull your ass right out of it. It might be a good thing, it might be a bad thing, it might be a bad thing that happens to someone else and you just find incredibly amusing. I.e. what happened last night.

Uber-boss called me on my cell and told me to meet him downstairs in exactly 6 minutes because that's when he'd be pulling up. Actually, it was more of a command than a telling. My mum was already down there. But as I get downstairs, what I see instead of them waiting, is a black jeep being driven by two Azerbaijanis, plow straight into the back of the much larger black jeep being driven by uber-boss. I kind of hoped at that moment that they might shoot at each other a little bit. Not at me though. I want to live.

But instead, after cursing in their respective languages, these folks got their insurance papers out, exchanged them, and got on their cells with their insurance agencies, and of course, the infamous GAI. At this point, my mum, being the trooper that she is, announced that she has to go pee and left me alone in the jeep with uber-boss as he called his friend, who happens to be the head of GAI (fucking rich criminals), who assured uber-boss that a car would be there in minutes. Then I was forced to talk to this dude for a while. He told me some shit about how ten years ago there actually would have totally been shooting, but now they just exchange papers and isn't progress awesome. I asked him if he used to carry a gun. The answer was an enthusiastic "Yes, always in my pocket. Now I don't so much, because I do not need this." Dude is so hooked up, he doesn't need a gun anymore. Ah, progress.

Then, even though he "just came back from Banya with his GAI boss friend", we sit and wait for 3 hours for GAI to show up. In the meantime, two insurance agents, who look like total mobsters, with leather jackets and shaved heads and all, show up with digital cameras and take pictures of the two busted jeeps. The Azerbaijanis looked slightly scared by the way, because their jeep is obviously way cheaper than ours, i.e. we're more dangerous, and also, they are Azerbaijani, and we're at least Jews, i.e more white and less likely to be beaten by anyone in a uniform.

Uber-boss kept calling his friend and getting angrier and angrier about how long it was taking for the militsia to show up, but then we all calmed down (even though I was starving because I was promised dinner and hadn't eaten as a result) because it turned out that all the GAI were at an accident involving four corpses. We all agreed that our little fender-bender could wait.

Finally, they showed up. Actually, it was just this one, pathetic looking, Detina, who took down every body's info, and then made us drive back to the militsia headquarters for more paperwork, where uber-boss had to bribe him with $100 in order to end the now 4 hour ordeal.

So, this is what happens when two black jeeps collide in Russia in 2008. No shooting.

We did end up going to dude's house after all this was over, but just got fed with some tea because it was like 1 a.m. The funny thing is that his son was supposed to be there, and called him while we were still there to tell him that he himself had gotten picked up by the GAI and didn't have $100 to bribe them with, so he wasn't going to make it home in time to meet me.

Overall, the incident cheered me up as if I had eaten a pound of ice-cream. The best part was that uber-boss kept half-apologizing and then stopping himself because he could see that I was doing a piss-poor job of not grinning from ear to ear and giggling giddily. Then I had to apologize a little bit. The guy turned out to be cool, and came into the publishing company just to check up on me. Also, I didn't notice, but according my my mother, he was hitting on me like crazy. But hey, if I don't notice, then I don't have to respond, and it doesn't actually bother me.


Oh god, it's my first day of work, and already I'm suffering. What the hell??!!! Why can't I get a break? Well? God? What's up? You wanna fight? What's up?
Seriously though, it's my very first day of work. This job is going to be fairly easy I think, if you don't count the ten pages of translation that they'd like me to get started on sometime in the near future. Other than that, for now, it's just compiling lists of publishers. But non of this matters right now, because I've been poisoned.
Ok, so apparently, here in Russia, non of the older employees wanted to go outside for lunch and blow a ton of their hard-earned cash on lunches bought from over-priced salad bars or sushi restaurants. So they came up with an ingeneous system where they hire somebody's gradma to cook for the entire office. She cooks a 5 motherfucking course meal for 60 RUBLES a day per person. Ok, that's two dollars a day and there's compote and dessert included. This is great. Except that it would appear that our particular Babushka has decided that it aint right that I got my job via the family connection (many people here, judging by their reaction to me, seem to feel the same way), and so has taken it upon herself to avenge the entire office by poisoning my poor weak-stomached ass on my very first day of work.
I swear to god, I'm sitting here right now, hunched over and sweating in pain, unable to do anymore work, barely able to keep from barfing up the beet salad, buckwheat with beef, potato soup with crackers, black currant compote, and apple pancakes all over the place.
I guess it's possible I may have just eaten too much...

It is colder than a witch's tit here in the office, and whenever I voice my complaints about it, I am joyfully told "Don't worry. You'll get used to it." What? Screw you people. I'm putting on my fur coat!

P.P.S. more to come later on how I spent my evening with my shady millionaire uber-boss and the GAI (traffic police)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

4 Days in London, back in April (way nicer than where I'm at now)

I finally got the card reader up and running, but unfortunately haven't taken any pictures here in Russia yet. But I did find a few pics on the camera that I took when I was in London back in April. I know, I know. Everyone wants pictures of Russia. Well you'll get them, you damn vultures! For now, enjoy pretty London. It's civilized.
This is me on my first night in London. I stayed at an awesome penthouse.

This is me at the London Bookfair (my reason for being in London in the first place). I didn't take these pics, my new boss here in Russia, at the publishing company, did.

This is an awesome poster of a robot that they had there, that was sort of a robot itself because it kind of moved, flashed lights, and interacted a bit.

And by "a bit", I mean that when I tried to take this picture in front of it, as you can see, it's eyes lit up red and it mumbled something about assimilation and resistance.

This is what I'd like to call "British pluck". There's something so upbeat about the words written on this monolith, that I just had to take a picture.

Ah, this was the Saudi Arabian table at the book fair. Homeboys brought a scale model of their kingdom with them. It was amazingly done. Or maybe those are just the imperial palaces...

And last but not least, I had to take a picture of the river Thames. Just had too. Read so much about it during my four years of English Lit.

So this is England everybody. I enjoyed it.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 10 (Or the day that Polina got her dance on Ya'll)

"Your freckled face is out of this fucking world when surrounded in that beautiful lace made of dark hair". The one thing that I have to give to Russian men is that no matter how drunk, or ugly, or even busted-eyed they may be (fights happen a lot here), they still whip out the prettiest, most poetic pick lines that I've ever heard. That's right folks. Polina finally went out. And as you'll soon see it was completely unintentional.
The day started out as uneventful as usual. My mother and I prepared to treck out ("to catch some (invisible) sun" as my mother once again insisted), and get some simple tasks done, such as file and paint my nails (motherfucking finally!) and buy a few items such as a digital card reader (pictures coming soon at last.) Naturally, my mother told me to get ready and put my coat on incessantly for about 15 minutes until I finally gave in and did it. After this she proceeded to run around the apartment for, I swear a solid hour more, and in the end said that she wasn't feeling well and had to lie down and that I should just go wait for her outside. Shit, I was already sitting out in the hall smoking fevourishly and trying to stop all the bad thoughts about killing her from flooding my imagination. But anyway, eventually we managed to make it out the door.

We went to Gostinii Dvor (this is a nightmarish shopping mall that has a very special smell because they're mixing like a thousand different things because they've got the perfume store right next to the cheese shop, which is right next to the sporting goods store which is right next to the shoe polish store). Thankfully, we were only in there for a minute. But then I got to experience that which I can finally call Bladerunner. Yay for me! We walked in this really busted alleyway that went on forever, and by busted I mean there were filed down stone steps and wooden planks (under construuuction everybody) and every few steps, both the lighting and the music/soundeffects changed because every few meters was crammed with another shop selling another pile of crap, and it was both futuristic and totally Caucasion ghetto at the same time. In other words, Bladerunner. Oh, and obviously it was filled to the brim with chels.

Ok, I'm going to try to speed it up here because this isn't a fucking diary and I know all about people's attention spans and blogs.
After we bought all of our crap, my mother took me to this place that used to be called "The Starbar" and is now called "Chort Poberi" which means "Damn it". This place was special. It was Rockabilly. I hadn't encountered this phenomenon in the U.S., but I know that it exists there. Everyone was dressed very 50's. Some people were wearing straight up cowboy outfits. And in between all of these, there were waves of anarchist punks and Antifa (for those not in the know, these are youth antifashists). Over all, a really cute atmosphere with mostly Johnny Cash, Elvis, and random country music playing in the background. I mean NYC hipsters have nothing on these people. They've ventured so far beyond the realm of ironic, that they can't remember what it looks like.
Then a boring interlude when I went to get my nails did around the corner from this place. People, Russians suck at doing nails. I'm sorry, but I miss my little Chinese Lily who gave me backrubs while my nails dried. Also, she wasn't a bitch like Yulia, who did my nails here. But to be fair, Yulia was prettier to look at and had immaculate nails herself. Which also confirmed for me that she sucks at doing nails. Anyone that has ever had a manicure knows what I'm talking about.
After I came back to Damn It, my mother grabbed me while screaming some incoherent shit about being on a list for LaMiNore and we cabbed it to some other place where a very very large man refused to let us in. Also, he was scary. Also, he was the security, obviously. Eventually, these bastards got their shit together long enough to actually find the list that we were supposed to be on, and as a complete surprise to me (we'd been standing in the rain for about 20 minutes at this point) we were on the list and the doors magically opened for us. This place wasn't as cool, but it was filled with beautiful friendly people, free coat check amazing food upstairs, and a great band venue. And when the band went on, the band called LaMiNore, I forgot for a minute where I was and thought that I was back at Mehanata during a live show. Of course, then I noticed that there were no dark skinned people anywhere, dancing or otherwise, and the illusion was broken. Still, it was an awesome band, all of whom are my mum's friends. (See people, crazy mothers are still good for some shit, such as partying and meeting cool people who think that her very obvious insanity is actually quaint eccentricity). So I met a bunch of great musicians, listened and danced to some awesome music, and had a good time in general. Finally, gawd damn it.

Oh, one last thing. I witnessed this one dude, who got so drunk that he started grabbing all the people around him. I thought that he was trying to fight them or something, but strangely, he seemed to want a hug. This was a giant gopnik with short cropped hair and no neck. Just try to imagine how comical this looked. Of course, eventually he decided that he needed a hug from a female, and both she and her boyfriend objected. So at some point, she ended up in a very angry sandwich between the life-loving, hug-seeking gopnik, and her totally angry punk boyfriend. That shit was also comical.
Also, a man asked me why he had the bad luck of being in a lesbian bar after I declined his sweaty offer to dance. So I'll end this post the approximately as I started it. You gotta love Russian men.