Monday, March 30, 2009

Plusha Loses her Shit Russian Style Thanks to her No-Good Expat Friends

Dear friends,

I know it's been a while since I've last written. I have no excuse other than that I went native for a little while there, and was still sick, and well, needed time to recuperate and let the blood flow back to my brain.

All I can say is that this country is the ultimate perverter. It's very difficult to live here and maintain ones equilibrium. Last Saturday would be a perfect example. I swear to god, I think Russia is Satan right now.
I went to do my laundry at this New Zealander's hostel, which is conveniently right up the street from my building. Sounds pretty innocent, no? NO!

It started with the yet again completely innocent question of whether I'd like to have a beer. I thought "why the fuck not?" Hell, one won't kill me.
People, before you start judging my alcoholic ass, it's impossible, I repeat, impossible, not to drink here at all. It's too cold and nasty and gross and honestly, I don't need to make excuses here. It's not like I was forced into quitting drinking by an intervention. It was my choice to stop, and it was my choice to start again. A little. A little light drinking. So anyway, then this ridiculousness sprang up around me:

You've all seen these pics on Facebook already, but I figured I'd post them again just so that you can all see what I'm surrounded by, and imagine trying not to drink around this. Again, I just went there to do my goddamn laundry. Long story short, or as they used to say on Seinfeld, "yada yada yada" I didn't leave that place until about 3 p.m. the next day. There was insane debauchery perpetrated by all and tons of alcohol imbibed. I needed a week to reflect on how my ass managed to fall off the wagon so hard and bruise said ass on every bottle of beer on the way down. (I never even drank beer before because that slush is fattening. But since I lost all this mad weight here, I figured, why not beer?)

So I guess I'm going for round 2 of sobriety. A week sober everybody. I can only hope that it lasts as long as it did the last time I made the resolution to stop drinking. Worst part is, it's probably the most fun I've had in this country since I got here. Shit!!!
I realize that this isn't really a funny post. It's more of a confession and a record for posterity's sake. Oh, and to drive the point home that I really need to slow my roll with the drinking again, I immediately got sick again. Straight away I got hit with some bronchitis.
Shit, at least I got all of my laundry done...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cleaned Up!!!

Alright, just for those of you that are concerned that Satan might be living inside of me, here are some pics of me cleaned up. I went to great lengths to go from this:

To this:

So yeah, I guess at least on the outside I'm "better". Still, the trauma, the trauma...
Managed to fix my hair sort of. And yes, I realize that being all "oh my god my hair" is totally bullshit in the grand scheme of things, but what can I say, I'm a girl. I want to be pretty, so whatever.

All Better (But not Reeeeaaaalllyyyy)

Wow. Just wow.
Being sick in Russia has got to be a singularly suckass experience. Alright, I realize that I've been harping on this a bit, but folks, I'm all better. Yeah, the horrible infection that I had went away with the help of the antibiotics. But am I really all better?

NO. Because when you're sick in Russia, while the disease may have been cured, it leaves you with some lasting gifts. (And by the way, what the fuck was I even sick with? I know it was bacterial, but what the fuck kind of infection was it? Did it have a name? Is it just some random evil that Russia managed to spew out on me? I'll never know). Here they are in order of annoyingness:

1. Allergic reaction to the antibiotics has caused several parts of my body to painfully itch, burn, and swell up. I finished the course of antibiotics yesterday, but of course my hands and face are still swollen and itchy.

2. cold sore. Nuff said. This shit is irritating and uglifying. So I can't show my face in public until it goes away.

3. Painfully chapped lips. Friends, this is just not going away no matter how much Vaseline I slather on there. And the Vaseline is not helping the cold sore.

4. Fucked up hair. Yes, something about being sick has made my hair super soft and fluffy and it looks retarded. I guess I can try washing it again. But washing your hair is serious business in a country where you absolutely can not go outside with even slightly damp hair for fear of catching cold and dying. So it's not so simple to fix.

So now I look like the bitch pictured above, and I kind of hate this place again. Even though I'm finally all better.

Oh, happy belated St. Patrick's Day everybody.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Damn Epidemic!!! or (Any Day Now I Expect to Reanimate as a Zombie)

Dear friends,
there will be no cute pictures this week. There is a Flu epidemic happening in the city and your humble friend and writer has gotten it. Well, technically, they don't know if it's the Flu. They don't know if the nature of the infection is viral or bacterial. Point is that it's reached the epidemic threshold here in Saint Petersburg. And I can tell you from personal experience that it's the mother of all infections. It sucks so bad, oh my god. The first week of it is like a mild fluffy prelude because you just feel weak and tired and have a temperature and think that it's going to go away. So you keep going to work like an idiot, and eating garlic and gargling with salt water. Because that's what they do here when they're sick. They eat garlic like the disease is fucking Dracula or something. "Oh no!" screams the virus or bacteria "Not garlic! Anything but that! My skin is burning because I'm a vampire. Also, I'm afraid of sunlight." Fuck you garlic! You're fucking useless!

The second week, just as you think you're about to get all better, this bitch really gets rolling. Your glands swell up, your throat hurts because you have a tonsil infection, and your whole head fills up with "something." Don't know what it is. Safe bet that it's mucus though. You're still visited by the chills and the sweats and incredibly, amazingly, fucking mind-blowingly, eveyone still suggests that you eat lots of garlic and gargle with soda water or chamomile. Chamomile? Really Russian people? The little yellow flower is going to make THIS go away? I swear to god I almost lost all faith in this Narod. Did I mention the cold sore? Yeah, you get one of those too as a nasty little present from this "epidemic." Thanks Russian epidemic!

But then I called my trustly doctor. The same one that experimented on me before. (See post whatever for details). Anyway, he explained about the epidemic and told me to go and buy some antibiotics for this shit because everyone is hoping that it's bacterial and that antibiotics will work, him included. Yeah, my doctor has it too. Ha ha.

And you know what? Here's where my faith in the Russian people was restored. They hand out antibiotics at the pharmacy like it's fucking candy. Without a prescription and it's cheap too. And it's the same good stuff you get in the U.S. I never really got why you need a prescription for antibiotics in the first place. It's not like they get you high or anything.

So I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping that this shit will work. Because if the antibiotics don't cure this plague, I don't know how much longer it's going to last. It's just fucking foul is what it is. Like corpse foul.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gradations of my Poorness as Demonstrated by Cigarettes

Dear friends,

just in case it hasn't become super obvious from past posts, your humble writer is broke. Oh, she broke like a joke. I live in a very cute apartment, in a phantabulous part of town, and as a result, have become the poorest chel in this city. Ok, I am exaggerating of course, but just the same, I thought that it might be fun to monitor my descent into poverty by seeing which cigarettes I smoked when I first got here and had money, and which smokes I'm down to now. So I went through all of the empty cigarette packs in my apartment and photographed them, to present you with this little smoking plunge into squalor.

Ok, so when I first got here, I was smoking these:
These are imported from New York, and cost 120 Rubles a pack. They're all natural tobacco and they were exactly what I smoked in NYC. And they were yummy.
I also smoked the occasional expensive cigarillos. Or little cigars such as these:

These are 400 Rubles a box.

These are something like 100 Rubles a pack and they are cherry flavored. I just smoked them for the lovely smell. Hey, I could afford it.

When I got a bit poorer, I couldn't afford the 120 Ruble a pack deal anymore, so I switched to these:

Perfectly respectable Dunhills. Not entirely natural or organic, but they seemed to be a good fit. These cost 60 Rubles a pack. I was ok with that for a while. I thought I was all fancy and could afford them.

But then, I got even more poor and started experimenting with slightly cheaper alternatives.
Here they are:
These are actually called Diablo Nero, and they are black, and smell like coffee when you smoke them. They are 48 Rubles a pack. Fun!

I don't remember how much the Gitanes cost, but they were somewhere in the middle range too. I just didn't like them very much taste-wise. But they were somewhere in that 40 to 50 Ruble range that I thought I could afford back then, along with the Lucky Strikes.
Shit was I fucking wrong.

So next, I had to move down to the 20 to 30 Ruble range. Here's what you can get for that:

Chesterfields are about 27 Rubles a pack. They're not that bad, but they made me cough a lot, so no, not my cigarettes of choice.
Ok, I think these are like 19 Rubles a pack, and poor people smoke them in America too, so I think that we all know just how disgusting they are. I also tried these whack-ass Pall Malls. They were in my price range back then:
Ok, someone actually brought these to my house, so I'm not sure how much they are, but I guarantee that they were also cheap because the dude that brought them over is also broke. Again, gross. But, of course, this is all before I realized that I didn't know the meaning of the word "gross" yet.

Oh, but these by the way, are 27 Rubles and not all that bad. I mean, they're more smokable than the fucking Pall Malls:
And at least they're made right here in Russia. And they've got the lovely name of "Russian Style". Yeah, because it's really stylish to smoke cigarettes that cost less than a dollar a pack. Still better than Mores.

Ok, now just watch the following regress of smokes:

"Our Prima"? 9 Rubles
Yeah, these are real. 9 Rubles a pack. The USSR is alive and well, and polluting my lungs.
These, I don't even know what the fuck hole these crawled out from under, or how much they cost, but they were disgusting. Someone brought them to my house. I think they're like 10 Rubles though. Just so everyone understands, 30 Rubles is like a Dollar. So do the math. "Alliance"? What are they the alliance of? Everything that lives in the bog of eternal stench?

And finally, I had to hit rock bottom:
BelamorKanal. 6 Rubles a pack. These are not cigarettes. They're papirosii. I don't know the English word for this, but these bitches have been around forever, I'm pretty sure that the price hasn't changed since 1924, and also that while there may not have been food in Leningrad during the Blockade of '41, they did have these. So I'm basically smoking wartime blockade cigarettes. On the up side, the tobacco is actually pure. On the down side, they're so harsh that it's not unlike smoking exhaust fumes. Here's another picture just so you can see what a papirosa actually looks like:

One third of this thing is tobacco, and the other 2 thirds are not a filter, but rather just some rolled up cardboard to make the ride smoother.

So yesterday, I got fed up with it all and bought these:

That's right. I bought "Rich" cigarettes. Fuck it! They're brown and PINSTRIPED, like a rich man's pants, and taste like apples. They were 39 Rubles, so I can't afford another pack, but after smoking the USSR and Prima and Alliance and some random Canal, I figured I owed it to myself to be rich for a day.
And that ends our tour of just how poor Plusha can get, as can be demonstrated by the cigarettes that she smokes.
Have a good evening folks. Enjoy your fancy expensive dollar-bought cigarettes. Hey, at least I can smoke almost anywhere I want, such as cafes and bars, and my job. So there!

Monday, March 2, 2009


Dear friends,
I hope that everything is going fabulously over there in the civilized world of America. Here, things have taken a rather depressing turn for me.
So yesterday was the first official day of Spring. Yay Spring! I've officially weathered out a full winter in this frozen hellhole. But what does this mean for me? Motherfucking nothing! That's what...
It's still cold and covered in ice. There's still no sunshine.

And last night, there was, once again, no goddamn internet. And why was there no internet you may ask yourself? Because the one lonely dude (rip-off con-artist motherfucker) that provides me with this valuable service, neglected to tell me the last time that I paid him for it, that I also owe him an extra 900 rubles. Now, 900 rubles may not seem like a lot. It's actually nothing when translated into dollars. But you know when it is a lot? When it's the end of the month, you've only got 1,500 rubles to your name because your loving mother decided to borrow 2 grand from you yesterday, and payday ain't for another 2 weeks. That's when 900 rubles is a whole lot of money. I could have lived on that shit for a week. This asshole just took cigarettes and food out of my mouth. And all because he decided to not tell me about this earlier, back when I actually had money. I hate him. And on top of all this, to pay for the internet, I had to go to this special ATM terminal type machine that accepts payments.

Now, these machines are all over the city, but only some of them accept payment for some of the companies. And yes, con-artist was nice enough to let me look at a listing of the ATM terminals that accept payments for my particular internet, online. But I'm not so fucking street savvy here to actually know where terminal 171 on Vladimirsky house # 17 is located. So I keep calling this guy on the phone all morning, while wondering around the frozen tundra, looking for a usable terminal. Finally, we have this conversation:

me: Hello, it's me again. Look, I'm at Vladimirsky house "17, but I don't see this terminal anywhere. Could you be a bit more specific as to where it's located exactly? Is it in a store?

con-artist: Probably...

me: Well, do you know what store it's in?

con-artist: No, just em, just look around for it.

me: Guy, I'm from another country and your list is very complicated. This is very difficult for me. Can't you help me out?

con-artist: Yes, well, it's very difficult for all of us right now.

me: (totally about to loose my shit on this guy) Where are you right now? Why don't I just come over to where you are and pay you in cash?

con-artist: (fully understanding that if I find out where he's located, unlike the terminal, I'm going to come over and punch him in the face) Ah, no no. I only accept payments through the terminal. Don't come over here.


Finally, completely by accident I found the right terminal. I'm still going to find out where this guy's office is and maybe he'll find a burning bag of shit on his doorstep or something. I'm not above that kind of thing after living here for 4 months.

On top of all this, I think that all of the morning wandering around the tundra has made me catch cold. Again, I hate this place and don't recommend that anyone come here without a whole assload of dollars, a doberman, a fur coat, and a fucking gun. (The gun is just to shoot into the air when you get frustrated by all the amenities here).