Tuesday, February 24, 2009

This is Russia (In February) Some more Pictures

Here are some more photos that I've taken around my block today.
It's just winter in Russia.

This first one is my hallway. One time I came home at night and I had the music from "Halloween" playing on my Ipod, and then some elderly neighbor came shambling down the hall, and I swear to god I shit my pants a little bit. But obviously, it's a bit less creepy in the daylight.

I like to call this one below "The Good Earth."

This is just my courtyard. It's been snowing all day.

Ah, yes, the Russian park, with it's inescapable empty bottles of beer. Also, the infamous drain pipe with the frozen dirty ice pouring out of it. Frozen in time like some sort of monument to this city's inefficiency at water drainage and the ability to deal with it's own climate.

These last four are just details. This city is all about details when it comes to the pretty. And the Erotic shop is right across the street from my building. Very classy. Go St. Petersburg!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Horrible Pictures with My Horrible Camera

Ok, I'm sorry you guys because I'm completely too drained to actually write anything. I just spent the entire weekend in bed with a man who is seven years my junior and I'm tuckered out. So while I'm learning the intricacies of Russian dating, here are some pictures for your entertainment. They are as usual of completely suckass quality, but I think that everyone should be used to that by now. So anyway, enjoy.
These are just to prove that I do go places and see stuff and know people and shit. I'm not just sitting at home watching the L Word non stop.

Also, about how these pics look, is approximately what my life here feels like. Blurry and confusing and full of warm red. But I think that's life in Russia in general. Some of these people are friends, some are relations, some are acquaintances. And I did see some art. So there is some level of intellectual enlightenment going on somewhere in between all the bar-hopping and work.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Mum's Birthday

Today is our mum's birthday and we're all scattered all over the world. Me and Yulia are here in St. Petersburg. Liz is in Mexico. Dad's in New York. Mum's somewhere else. Things do fall apart when the center disappears. Not necessarily in a bad way, but still. So, in honor of mum, here's one of my favorite poems. And also,
С днем рождения!
Lá breithe mhaith agat!
Joyeux Anniversaire!
יום הולדת סמח
Buon Compleanno!
Χρόνια πολλά!
Feliz Cumpleaños!
هبّي بيرثدي
Aniversário Feliz!

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality.

We slowly drove, he knew no haste,

And I had put away
My labor, and my leisure too,
For his civility.

We passed the school, where children strove
At recess, in the ring;
We passed the fields of gazing grain,
We passed the setting sun.

Or rather, he passed us;
The dews grew quivering and chill,
For only gossamer my gown,
My tippet only tulle.

We paused before a house that seemed
A swelling of the ground;
The roof was scarcely visible,
The cornice but a mound.

Since then 'tis centuries, and yet each
Feels shorter than the day
I first surmised the horses' heads
Were toward eternity.

Happy Birthday Mum!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Unfired and a Typical Anecdote from the Mother Land

Dear friends, I know I've been absent from class for a while, but it's only because nothing much has happened here. What can I say, it's February in Russia. In other words, it's purgatory.
But just recently, quite a few things have happened. So here they are in order of importance:

First of all, I got unfired ya'll! Yeah, apparently they do that here. See, the company that I work for could no longer to pay me my salary. I was like chocolate cake that in a time of crisis they simply couldn't allow themselves to eat. So as some of you may or may not recall, they gave me my two months and fired my ass. I was all looking for a job and shit and fixed up my resume. But then uberboss intervened on my behalf. He absolutely insists that I remain with the company. For some undetermined reason the man wants to keep me. "Keep me." I feel like a household pet. So he's going to pay my salary out of his own pocket. As a friend of ours suggested, I should get a business card that says the following:

Plusha B.
Minigarch's Pet with Skills

So that's what's been going on on the job front for me. Russia is still cold, and still has an economic crisis going on, but the Ruble has stopped falling in value, we're getting this very nice polar white light now in the city, and I don't need to look for a new job just yet, so at least that much is good with the world.

But now, here's a rather lengthy and ridiculous anecdote from my life here that hopefully I can avoid in the future:

I made this little expat friend here a while back that I thought was rather charming and attractive and thought it might just be nice to be friends with him. For the purposes of protecting his privacy, let's say that he's from Alabama (although, really he's from the U.K. region, but let's pretend like his privacy matters anyway). And just to make it easier for everyone, let's call him "Alabama." I will say this though. Alabama is a short little man. Alabama also has the tendency to get drunk and get robbed on his way home. This has happened to him several times already in this country because the dumbass doesn't speak any Russian and can't remember anything in the morning. Alabama has been jacked for two coats in this manner, to date. Which is really sad because it's fucking cold here and a good coat is worth it's weight in gold.

So anyway, one night, little Plusha was sitting there all bored and decided to make a mixed CD for her new friend Alabama. Ok, I know it's very highschool crush and all, but whatever. So I text him to find out if he's got any Kino already, because if he doesn't, then I would include some on his CD. That's right, I'm a conciencious mix CD maker. Alabama texts me back that he's at this local haunt of ours and that I should come on down.

When I get there, he's on a date. A D-A-T-E! Ok, that's fine, I'm not his girlfriend, but why the fuck would you invite me out while you're on a date with another woman. I mean, is he confused about my gender? Does he think that I'm a dude? Ok, I'm letting that one go. After I show up, naturally, the date bounces the fuck out of there lightning fast. She's a Russian woman and was probably completely confused by this action on his part.

Then, over the course of several hours, Alabama proceeds to get shitfaced drunk and it gets to the point where the other patrons ask me to get him to leave because he's annoying them. At some point, Alabama forgot who he was, where he was, and began telling people that I'm his girlfriend. I was not amused.
At the continued insistent requests of the other bar residents, I decided that it might be time to take Alabama home, especially seeing as how he could barely stand at this point. See, I could have just left his ass there, so that he can get robbed again on his way home, or even freeze to death because he couldn't remember where he lived at this point, but I decided to take pity on him, and put him in a car, and once again, because he couldn't remember his address, was forced to take him to my crib.

Here's where shit got not funny. After we got out of the car things went south. Apparently, Alabama likes to kick things when he's drunk. And by things, I mean other people's cars. And by other people, I mean very angry large Russian men that he was doing it right in front of. And whenever they would tell him to stop his response was always "Fuck ya mother!" In English. So I had to wrestle this drunken "Alabaman" towards the walls and away from the cars. My muscles all hurt the next day. I swear that shit is like gator wrestling.

But things really got not funny when we got to the yard of my building. I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but the only people that live in my building are rich criminals and corrupt militsia. Also, there is 24 hour security. And these guys are huge and scary. And here we come, me and tiny Alabama, kicking every car on his way to my door with his tiny Alabama feet. Naturally, a few of the criminals and guards see this and come out and are just like "What the fuck do you think you're doing???" And I see them ball their giant manhands into fists. Did I shit myself at this point, understanding that little drunken Alabama wouldn't stand a chance, and I'd have to fight these fuckers and get my nose busted? No I did not. I pretended to be Alabama's wife, Russian-style by yelling at him "Come on you fucking Alchash! Get your ass indoors!" This was done in Russian. Alabama gave us away by telling me to go fuck myself in English. Then we had to run. Well, it was more me running and dragging little Alabama behind me on the ground. Suddenly, I decided that I like kicking too, and proceeded to kick the shit out of him a little bit along the way to my apartment. So we got chased for a bit, but then made it into my actual building.

The saga of the destructive drunk Alabama does not end there. Once we got to my apartment, I removed his shoes, money, belt, and telephone, and put him to bed. He passed out immediately after repeating several times "just don't hit me anymore." I tried to sleep in a chair because I didn't want to be anywhere near that freakshow. Because the chair was really uncomfortable, I ended up climbing into bed next to him, but made very sure that we were both bundled into two seperate blankets.

About 20 minutes later, Alabama decided that it might be great for him to get completely undressed and crawl under my blanket with me. Now Alabama is not a drunk rapist or anything. What he is is a chronic, drunk self-molester. So he kept trying to put my hands and mouth in places where they don't want to go. More fucking gator wrestling!

In the morning, a telephone repairman showed up to put in a new telephone line in my apartment. Alabama was confused as to where he was and what had happened to his car. I thought he might be a bit schitzophrenic for a minute there because he ain't got no car. He also kept asking who the large man in the apartment was. I told him that it was the telephone man and was met with the blankest look ever. Alabama's last two actions at my apartment consisted of him clumsily sitting down on a chair and accidentally ripping one of my curtains down, and then in the process of trying to fix it while standing on a wobbly ladder, falling with said ladder into the bathroom door, thereby putting a sizeable dent in the door. At this point I told Alabama to just get the fuck out of my apartment. I didn't mince words there either. The whole experience pissed me off so much that I couldn't look poor little Alabama in the face. He phoned me an apology later, but it's kind of empty given the fact that this kind of shit probably happens to him a lot.

So to recap, Alabama almost got my ass kicked and irreperably damaged several items in my RENTED apartment, as well as being sort of molestly. I'm officially looking for new friends in this country. And that's the end of the drunk little Alabama saga.

Tomorrow, I'll post some pictures that I've taken around town. Thanks for listening folks. Just had to get that off my chest.

Monday, February 2, 2009

A Bit of Shame on Account of My National Ignorance.

Dear friends,
remember this lady? The one I referred to as a "depressed bitch" in my previous post? It has been brought to my attention that this was very very wrong on my part. Apparently, she's a city hero. She was in the Leningrad blockade. On top of this, she was a friend of my great- grandfather's. It seems that it's time to do a bit of penance for the name-calling and general ignorance, so I'm going to go ahead and do an entire post on her.

Her name was Olga Berggolts. She had a pretty fucked-up life. First, two of her daughters died. Then, her husband was arrested and killed as part of the "Great Purge." She herself was arrested on account of her husband having been falsely accused of something, and spent 7 months getting her ass beaten in prison, where they actually managed to beat her into having a miscarriage. (fucking soviet bastards!). For some reason that I don't understand, she then joined the communist party in 1940.

Then came the Leningrad blockade. This woman spent all 900 days of it in the city. She got on the radio, and encouraged and inspired the beaten, starving citizenry of the city to persevere by daily giving speeches and reading her poetry. Because first and foremost, she was a poet. She later became a recipient of several communist high honer medals, and has even had a small planet named after her. Basically, this lady really was a hero. And she was also beautiful. So here's one of her poems about the blockade, and a picture. So now, we all know who the depressed bitch on the wall is.

А город был в дремучий убран иней.
Уездные сугробы, тишина.
   Не отыскать в снегах трамвайных линий,
одних полозьев жалоба слышна.

Скрипят, скрипят по Невскому полозья:

на детских сапках, узеньких, смешных,
в кастрюльках воду голубую возят,
дрова и скарб, умерших и больных.

Так с декабря кочуют горожане, --
за много верст, в густой туманной мгле,
в глуши слепых обледеневших зданий
отыскивая угол потеплей.

Вот женщина ведет куда-то мужа:

седая полумаска на лице,

в руках бидончик -- это суп на ужин...-
Свистят снаряды, свирепеет стужа.
Товарищи, мы в огненном кольце!

А девушка с лицом заиндевелым,
упрямо стиснув почерневший рот,
завернутое в одеяло тело
на Охтенское кладбище везет.

Везет, качаясь, -- к вечеру добраться б...
Глаза бесстрастно смотрят в темноту.
Скинь шапку, гражданин.
Провозят ленинградца.

погибшего на боевом посту.

Скрипят полозья в городе, скрипят...
Как многих нам уже не досчитаться!
Но мы не плачем: правду говорят,
что слезы вымерзли у ленинградцев.

Нет, мы не плачем. Слез для сердца мало.
Нам ненависть заплакать не дает.

Нам ненависть залогом жизни стала:
объединяет, греет и веде

О том, чтоб не прощала, не щадила,
чтоб мстила, мстила, мстила, как могу,
ко мне взывает братская могила
на охтенском, на правом берегу.

See? I'm not just here to be funny. I'm also here to shit on our national heroes. Oh, and to inform. Always to inform.