Friday, January 30, 2009

Look at What Russia Has Turned Me Into!!!

Take a look at the picture on the right. Yes that's a bayan I'm PLAYING. Yes that's a telnyashka. Yes that's a godddamn Belomorkanal hanging out of my mouth. How the hell did this happen? I don't know. The bayan was an impromptu gift from my mother. The shirt is for warmth. And the Belomorkanal is because I'm broke and they cost 6 rubles a pack. Russia is contagious ya'll. Don't come here if you don't want to go native. It's impossible not to. You'll get Russianified.

Ok, I'm done musing regarding my transformation.

So I had a brain test done yesterday. An EEG. It was actually way more pleasant than I thought it would be, based on my previous experience with this particular test. But the entire time that I was in there, I was kicking myself for not having brought my camera. You guys should have seen this place. It was something straight out of DeSade's secret torture room. The room was a square. The walls were upholstered with dark brown leather that was held together by gold studs. I was told to sit in what looked suspiciously like an electric chair. Once I was strapped in, the doctor put this contraption on my head (not like in the U.S. where they just attach the wires directly to your head with some sort of sticky goo), and proceeded to attach the wires to the contraption. The thing held my chin in place, so I was only able to moo at the doctor. By the time she got around to rubbing my wrists with alcohol-soaked gauze and then wrapping them in brown leather belts, I began to feel like I'd been tricked, and am actually here for electric shock therapy. I asked the doctor why the hell she was binding my wrists with belts and did she expect me to make a getaway or something. Her response was "Oh, it's for the thing." Very reassuring. Is the thing by any chance the running of a certain amount of voltage through my body without my permission? They do shit like that here you know. This is Russia after all. But then, she just flashed what amounted to a really weak camera flash in my face, and the test was over. I still wish I had had my camera with me. Seriously.

Instead I had my camera with me for this bullshit. It's a statue that's mounted on the wall right outside of my building. I don't know who this bitch is, or what she's looking at, or why she's so depressed, but I figured I'd snap a shot for posterity's sake.

Alright, that's all I've got for today. The fiasco with doctors and pills and freakouts is finally over and I can get on with living in this still frozen hell.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Medication Fiasco Dealt With Done and Over

Ok, dear friends,
I'm done dealing with the whole medication fiasco. I don't want to talk or think about it anymore. I'm in Russia after all, and there are more interesting things to be had and seen in this country. Only addition might be that I'm going for a bit of a test at a hospital this afternoon, and if it ends up being interesting or weird, I'll be sure to describe it here after wards. But I wanted to thank everyone for their concern for my well being and health and all that.
It's important to have good friends who will offer to mail you your medication from another country, even though it's totally illegal to do so. So thanks! Friends!
Check back here for a return to normalcy in the coming days.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

More Abuse from Russia (Or How Russia Deals with Medical Problems)

Dear Friends,
Plusha has been fucked in the ass by Mother Russia. Again.

As some of you may or may not know, your humble friend and writer has been taking a certain medicine for certain issues that may or may not be connected with high blood pressure, for close to two years now.

Anyway, with eyes wide open, and fully knowing that I have this need for a certain medication and the "high blood pressure" problem, I decided to go ahead and move to this dysfunctional mecca of barbaric berserkers anyway. For some reason that I can't quite remember now, I thought it might actually help. Holy shit did it ever not!

But being here, did present me with a whole new problem. How to get my hands on the precious functionality inducing medication? Yeah, try coming from the States where you have medical insurance and nice doctors that always give you your medication, to a country where first they insult you by calling your medication "weak" and telling you to just go and drink some chamomile tea if you're going to be taking such weak doses of such a pussy medicine, then suggesting that you instead get to know a little thing called "valium", and on top of this, completely making it impossible, through a number of different devices that seem to have been invented specifically for the torture of people with "hypertension", to actually get your hands on your medication.

But when I first got here, after many trials and tribulations, we did manage to score me about a month and a half's worth supply of the good stuff. (I love you American medicine. Sniffle sniffle).

So, last week I went to see the doctor that had originally given me my medicine here. This man said that he forgot his prescription pad at home and would get me the prescription next week. So that would be this week. Which also, just happens to be the week that my supply runs out. And today, just as I was on my way to get the script from him, I learned that my medicine, the one that I need, IS NOT LEFT ANYWHERE IN THIS CITY. They haven't had any in 3 weeks. They've run out, and they don't know when they'll get more. Welcome back to the U.S.S.R!!! Not one pharmacy in this city has it. So that's that.

My medication, by the way, is a bit harsh, and under no circumstances should a person stop taking it abruptly. The side affects of the withdrawal are quite unpleasant. Thanks Russia. Thanks a lot.

Now, a little about my doctor. He's like a mix between the absent minded professor, and some sort of esoteric pagan witch doctor. Not to mention the fact that he looks like an emaciated Santa Clause. Also, the man was actively avoiding me all of last week because he didn't want to give me a script due to his belief that it would be more fun for everyone if I tried a bunch of different meds because the more the merrier. And I'm the crazy one. Whatever!

So as you can imagine, he was positively giddy when I walked into the reanimation ward this evening and informed him of the fact that things weren't going well for me because this city has run out of my drugs. He thinks it's just fucking great. Because now, he can experiment on me, as if I'm his personal lab bunny, with all the other drugs he's been itching to try out on some dumb anxious bastard. Apparently, he'd also like to run some rather unpleasant tests on me. Now when I say "like to run", I mean he insists on running tests on me that I've already had done back in the U.S and don't ever want to go through again. Fuck! I'm at the mercy of a kindly grandpa type that wants to turn me into a lab rat.

The only prescription that this man was willing to write out for me was for a medication that is not approved in the U.S. Hm, maybe there's a reason for this. Like, oh, I don't know, it's not safe? It's only redeeming quality seems to be that it's not habit forming. Whatever. It also doesn't have any of of the "good" side affects.
On the other hand, apparently it's huge in Japan. I kind of have to believe that if it's good enough for the Japanese, then it's good enough for me. So maybe it won't be so bad.

Tomorrow, I'm going to try this new medication and pray that it works for my "hypertension." I don't exactly have a choice in the matter.

In conclusion, my dear friends, please keep your fingers crossed for me, because I don't think that I can take any more unwarranted anal rape from this country.

Ok, I'm not really crying in this picture. I'm totally faking for dramatic affect. But I should be crying after all the bullshit that this so-called "civilized" country has put me through.
Oh, and that picture on top, is an actual picture that I took of the place where my doctor insists on meeting me for "treatment". It's the unhappiest place in the world. Just read what it says on the door.
And that other picture is of my foot, sporting the retarded plastic shoe covers that they make you wear in the hospitals here. It's not for hygienic purposes. It's so that they can wash their floors less often.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Plusha's No Good, Very Bad, Terrible Day (or How they Roll with Firing People in This Country)


Alright, so I had a "good" run here so far. Russia's been great. I've had all the no heat, no electricity, no internet, no place of my own, no normal-sized bathrooms, corpses on the streets floating among the fjords, batshit crazy foreigners, alcoholic peer-pressure, sinusitis, draft-caused lower back pain, killer-cats, negative temperature fun that is appropriate for a country of this caliber.
But what I haven't had was no job and no money. What I had yet to experience was being fired in Russia. Until a few days ago that is. Ok, to be fair, I haven't been technically fired yet, but I'm very close. After the 30th of December, we had that lovely winter vacation which lasted all the way until the 11th of January. This was awesome. I got to move into my new apartment and get all the relaxation that I had needed. And then came the first day of work. Which by the way fell on a Sunday. Yes, they gave us a vacation, but then they made us come in on a Sunday. This in itself was slightly irritating. So here's how my Sunday at work went:

I get to work slightly pissed off because it's Sunday and everyone else got to sleep in.
I notice that everyone is getting called into bosslady's office one by one for private meetings. I haven't been called yet, so I'm starting to get a little nervous because word around the office is that heads are rolling. I bend over to pick something up and hear that terrifying riiiip sound. My pants have ripped into a giant hole, in the CROTCH area. Nice! But I'm a good humored sort, so I just pull down my sweater and resolve to wear my coat for the rest of the day.

Next thing I know I'm sitting in bosslady's office and listening to something about how given the current economic crisis they can't possibly pay me the agreed upon salary and are GOING TO PAY ME LESS. And they can't tell me yet how much less. I'm interrogated about how much rent I'm paying for my apartment, and bosslady and I both agree that I won't be able to survive on 30,000 rubles a month. The original salary was 42,000. Bosslady makes some sort of suggestion that maybe I can work one less day for them, and get another job on the side because everyone is getting second jobs. Screw this! No! I'm not having two jobs! I've got a better idea. How about I quit your stupid-ass publishing house job and get a whole other job. Not on the side, just in general, another job. On top of all this, she explains to me that since some people are actually getting fired, she's going to need me to pitch in and take over some of their responsibilites. I wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry at this point. This crazy wombat is telling me that she's going to pay me less and wants me to start working more? What? Damn...
This is what they do here instead of firing people. They just start paying them enough money to starve on. But the whole obnoxiousness of the fact that they expect you to start working more on top of the salary cut is just. completely. mind. blowing.
Later on in the day, it turns out that it's old new year. I love Russia. These are the only people in the world that instead of picking one New Years Eve, when the calendars were changed, decided to hold onto both of them and have two. Greedy bastards. And we all know why, right? It's so that they can have yet another reason to drink. At work.
So yes, after all the firings and salary reductions, we all HAD to collect in the kitchen and listen to depressing toasts about hopefully things being better in the new year, and pretend like we're not all shitting our collective pants about the fact that some of us just got fired while others of us have just been demoted. I don't think I can look at these people anymore.

Later yet, I got home, with ripped pants and now a considerably smaller salary, and called my new Irish friend. I thought it might be wise to discuss my dilemma with some expats. When I went to meet him, I finally successfully slipped on a patch of ice (first time in Russia so far folks, I'd say that's pretty good), and fell into an ice cold puddle, soaking my coat and ass. I'm going to let that sink in here for a minute. Picture freezing cold temperature on top of wetness.

Later in the evening when we came out of the bar, it was raining ice. Which funnily enough reminded me that I'd forgotten my hat. The fact that I'm not lying somewhere coughing and sneezing my lungs out is a Christmas miracle. Eventually I made it back home and went to sleep feeling deceived and abused by this country.

So this was my no good, very bad, terrible day.

Worst part of all this is that I'm pretty sure that I'm going to have to get a job at a lawfirm here since they're the most likely to hire me and have an acceptable salary. I love the irony of it.

Friday, January 9, 2009

I Live in a Castle (and How I Spent My Holidays)

You guys see this picture on the top? That's the outside of my building. So yeah, I totally live in a castle, so there, you can keep your fancy mild winters, heating, hot water, and stupid daylight. I live in a castle!

Ok, it just looks that way from the outside. On the inside it looks more like a communalka, and even more on the inside it looks more like a hotel room, but we'll get to that show and tell later. First, let me tell you how my holidays went. I'll try to keep it brief, lest this become a novel of a post.

Christmas Eve:

Completely unexpectedly to me, I felt depressed about our departed mum, got called for an outing by the expats, and ended up hanging out with them at some bar until way to late. It was fun, but I had to get up for work the next morning. According to some Australian homosexual that I met, there's quite a swinging gay scene in this city, but all the men are, and this shouldn't be a big surprise to anyone that's been here, not very attractive. He even made a throw-up face when he was talking about it.


Party at the office. The company invited all of it's writers, sans Yulia. According to management, they were desperately trying to avoid the throwing of food and fistfights. This little tidbit clued me into the fact that I was about to be at a party surrounded by literary enemies of the family. Directly below is the famed secretary Ksusha.

Here is the party table. We've all seen this table before. In every freaking Russian household that we've ever been at.

I wasn't feeling well due to the celebrating from the night before, and tried to leave early. This was categorically not allowed, as apparently it is part of my job to socialize with the writers. At some point during the party, while I was talking to a writer, a fairly well known literary critic approached us and warned the writer that she should watch out because I was Yulia's daughter and might bite her. And that's if she's lucky. Ah, civilized discourse...
I later learned that the last time that she saw him, Yulia promised this very same critic that she would
a) rip out his crusty beard hair by hair the next time that she saw him, and
b) overturn a bowl of salat olivie on his head.
So... I don't know what the hell his problem was.

After this, I apologized, explained that I had high blood pressure (this excuse works like magic here) and went home. It was only about an hour and a half into the party, and one writer was already more comfortable on the floor rather than a chair.

New Years Eve was awesome! (I'm being really truly sarcastic here. It was actually the opposite of awesome). My father for some reason insisted that I accompany him and the family to some winter wonderland dacha where I will be lucky enough to get to mountain ski. He obviously doesn't know me at all. When we got there, it was pretty and white all over and -4 degrees Fahrenheit.

We got there sometime in the early afternoon. As more and more people arrived, it became very clear to me that I was like my father's Negro Daughter. People were very "Hi! So you're Polina! Yes, we've heard all about you already. You're Misha's other daughter." And big happy smiles permanently glued to their faces. That in itself made me feel a bit odd. I could just hear how the introductions might have come if my father was making them. "Hello, these are my two beautiful children, and this is my older daughter that none of you have heard of for the past 15 years." But that's not even the point. The point is that it was boring. On top of this, for the next two and a half days (this is how long it took me to escape this new level of ice prison) there was a very large, very loud television turned on at all times. People drank until 6 a.m., and the TV had to be on. You couldn't get away from this thing and it's idiotic sounds. Also, everything in this place, and in the way that these people chose to spend their time screamed bourgeoisie. So yes, as it turns out, my father is super bourgeoisie. As a friend of ours nailed it "these are people seriously traumatized by communism". So naturally, they have to have all the stuff that they see in magazines and on TV. My father just bought a second flat screen TV. For the kitchen. The fucking kitchen! They've already got one in the bedroom. When I questioned him as to why he felt that they needed an $800 television in the kitchen (when they already had a smaller one in there before and there's a goddamn economic crisis going on), his response was that this way you could see it no matter where in the kitchen you were. Ok, moving on.

Since I've escaped from that place, I've basically been doing nothing. That's right, nothing. It's called a vacation people. I don't care if I'm called a lazy degenerate. I've been chillin, sleeping a lot, and nesting. I've got a new apartment and needed to buy things for it and learn to cook and shit.
Oh, I was also supposed to go to Finland and work over the break, but decided not to do this and sleep instead. And I don't care. Stop judging me. I'm still adjusting to being in this country. Anyway, here are some pictures of my new place. See? You only get pictures because I was nesting and made it nice. For the pictures. For all of you. Damn, you guys are so ungrateful.

View when you first walk into the apartment:

That's Katya, my current roommate. She's leaving next month, so this is temporary.
If you walk to that door with the glass on top of it and turn around, you get this:

It's the kitchen/apartment door.

Here's the lovely view of our lovely window:

My bed:

My feet in my bed (it's cold here, so I spend most of my time in this thing):

Ok, here's the passageway to the bathroom, and the cutest thing about this place:

It says "WC" on the bathroom door. I think it's just adorable and makes me feel like I'm in a European hotel room.

And finally, a picture of our little bohemian coffee table. At long last I'm living like a poet. And me, in the kitchen/only place that has a sink, mirror.

I know that there's no winter vacation over there for the workforce, but I had a nice vacation and I hope that you guys all did too, even if you weren't actually on one.

Monday, January 5, 2009

I'm taking a damn vacation people!!!!

Dear friends,

Plusha is on winter vacation. That means vacation from everything, including this blog. Is that asking for too much? I'll be back with lots of exciting posts regarding just exactly how I spent my New Years Eve, and the rest of my vacation, and all about my new apartment (with pictures), just as soon as my vacation is over. On the 10th of January. Please check back then. Seriously you guys, there won't be any new posts until the 10th because my life is all in upheaval what with moving and doing nothing all day. I'm not breaking up with you. I still want you. I just need a little time and space to get my head on straight.
So, I'm going to go into my corner, and you all go into yours, but be sure to check back here on the 10th.
I'll really miss you by then.

Luv ya... :)