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( Aug. 23rd, 2004 01:20 pm)
Today I leave St. Petersburg for a four day cruise. To the arctic circle. It's already fall here and I'm suddenly nostalgic for all the things here that have become familiar that i may never see again. The 24 hour store that always has cherry juice, Nevsky Prospekt, large and touristy though it is, with its seemingly endless supply of side streets with interesting shops. Even the Russian, though I'll be glad to carry out a transaction without having to gesture and make horrible faces to get my point across. I'm doing my last gasp of Petersburg shopping today, with presents for certain friends purchased, money exchanged and soon it's off to the hotel for food and frenzied last minute attempts to shove a few stray items into my bag. In four days I'll be headed to Indiana, and in 13 days I'll be back at Smith or almost there.

Other exciting news:

I talked to my mom last night and she met my advisor at the ASA meeting. Apparently she said quite wonderful things about me, then my mom talked her ear off. I reassured mom that this way, she'd be sure to believe that she was my mother.

The engineer got us tickets to the Pixies show in PA in November. She said the seats were "okay." The seating chart, however, shows them on the side, right behind the pit. Not only that, but she's fixing my futon frame and possibly setting up my bed for me before I get to school. I could say that I'm happy & lucky, but it doesn't even come close.
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( Aug. 16th, 2004 06:38 pm)
Thanks to everyone who commented about Waldo's death. He was a wonderful pet & friend & home's not home without him. He had a stroke and died soon after, so I'm grateful that he didn't suffer nearly as much as he might have. I know I'll never forget him or how much I love him, and I'm glad I shared him with people who will miss him as much as I do so I at least am not mourning alone.
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PSA

( Aug. 15th, 2004 06:05 pm)
I'm flying home in 12 days!

Good bye, bad pop and cheap juice!
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( Aug. 10th, 2004 07:26 pm)
I just got an email telling me that my dog Waldo died this week. Apparently he was suddenly struck ill and lost the use of his legs. When my parents took him to the vet they took care of him and he was doing well, but while he was under anesthesia he passed away.

I'm heartbroken. We had him for 10 years, and he was the best dog ever. He hogged the bed, was moody, neurotic and a picky eater. He was demanding and needy and loud. He hated most of the people I brought home and insisted on being the center of attention. He was my favorite bedmate and always knew when I needed him. Seeing him was one of the things I was most looking forward to when getting home and I can't imagine life without him.

I've only ever loved two pets and they're both gone now.
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( Aug. 8th, 2004 01:57 pm)
For some reason, Russian cafes never have change. If you should owe them 113 rubles, you'd better have those three rubles. And don't think that if you give them 2.6 rubles that that'll cut it, being as you have the money but they don't have the change. Oh no, you'll pay them an extra two rubles for the privilege of not getting change. This holds even if the guy ahead of you in line forked over several single ruble pieces. They still don't have change.

In other news, I'm at the Hermitage. It took me about two hours, but I finally found the elusive second floor and 20th century European art. I flew past the Russian history and culture. Never again do I want to hear about Catherine I (who was Peter the Great's wife. Catherine the Great was later) or the significance of icons or the difference between classical and baroque in Russian palaces. I bought two prints -- Kandinsky's Winter and Picasso's Table in a Cafe. I'm not such a fan of their Picasso collection, but this one caught my eye. The Kandinsky is because I have a deep love for his huge (mildly terrifying) works, but they just don't translate to a small print.

I went to mass this morning at St. Catherine's cathedral, the oldest Catholic church in St. Petersburg. It was lovely, though a big chunk of it was in Latin, including the Our Father. There were some Missionaries of Charity (Mother Theresa's order) in the front row, so I followed the old maxim of do what the nuns do when it turned out that there was a lot more kneeling and genuflecting involved than in most masses i've been to stateside. I'm always amused by the number of people at mass who watch each other out of the corners of their eyes because they can't remember what to do next.

One of the group members came with me to mass, but I've been on my own since about 11am. I'm getting my much-needed alone time and it feels great. I'm not quite ready to go back and face them, but I really should do my work. Fortunately, it'll take about an hour for me to get home anyway. I've enjoyed myself today, but I need to make a mental note not to go to museums on Sundays. I lost count of the number of tour groups taking up entire hallways or blocking exhibits or trying to trample me about 10 minutes in. For all of you who have been embarassed by Americans abroad, you'll be glad to know that people from all over act like huge asses when they're in a tour group. Maybe they're all embittered by not getting the correct change.
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( Aug. 6th, 2004 06:58 pm)
Classes are going well, I can tell my Russian has improved vastly. We've reached the halfway mark, and knowing that I feel so much better about being here. Now that I can count down less than a month till I see the engineer and less than three weeks til I'm on American soil, I'm glad to be in Russia.

Life is good. Which is to say, I've taken a step (okay, 8 time zones) away from my life and I've liked what I've seen. that's a big part of what I came all the way over here for, and I'm happy about it. I'm not entirely sure what happens next, but I hope I'm ready for it.

Sorry for the boring, when i'm not paying for internet time anymore maybe i'll tell you some stories. In brief news, the bugs have discovered my knuckles, toes and ankles.
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( Jul. 28th, 2004 06:27 pm)
Dear Peter the Great,

If you build a city on a marsh, you'll have evil arctic mosquitos. Please take note.

Sincerely,
The giant bug bite.

St. Petersburg is gorgeous. We've seen so many churches in the last two weeks that if someone even mentions the word "icon" everyone goes nuts. There's some weird unwillingness to accept 500 ruble bills, which is annoying when you realize that $20 is roughly 500 rubles, so we're all carrying a bunch of them around.

No one's been hit by a car yet ::knock on wood:: which is some kind of minor miracle when you see the way people drive here. I wasn't so big on Moscow, and although it's harder to ger around here, I love st. petersburg. Our hotel is right on the river neva, and the lights at night are gorgeous. i've watched several sunsets, especially as the sun doesn't go down til 11 or 12, so i'm often home by then. we have a private balcony on our room, from which you can see the river, and the one at the endo f our floor faces west, so we can watch the sun set into the river, and later on we can watch the bridges go up.

We have no internet in the hotel, so i'm at an internet cafe now and am almost out of time. Mea culpa. I hope everyone's summer is going well!
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Tonight we go to St. Petersburg on the night train. I'm so done with Moscow. My Russian is getting better, no thanks to my drinking habits. Apparently I'm quite charming when drunk and gesturing in broken Russian in a market in the middle of the afternoon. I guess that's my saving grace, because I'm certainly not articulate.

The other day we went to the American Embassy and talked to a couple state department employees in the foreign service. One of them was a Smithie, and even lived in Parsons house her first year! She gave me her card and told me to email her if I have any questions. Gotta love that old girls' network. I'm going to email her and ask her more about how to get into foreign service. I wonder how extensive the background check is. I don't have that much to worry about . . . do I? Russia's okay, I wouldn't want to come back and live here, I don't think, but the thought of getting government benefits and living in Berlin is pretty apealling. Nice work if you can get it, I guess.

So the summary is: a lot going on here, foreign service cool, 6 weeks with a bunch of people in close quarters and very few phone calls to my engineer bad. I console myself with the two upcoming semesters, not to mention the insane amount of fun that will be senior year. I'm still feeling the half bottle of wine I had earlier, can you tell?
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( Jul. 16th, 2004 10:26 pm)
I am safe and well and updating from an internet cafe in our hotel in Moscow. We flew from O'Hare in Chicago to Stockholm, where we had a four hour layover, then an hour and a half flight to Moscow. The Stockholm flight was amazing -- little touch-screen tvs in the back of every seat so you could choose your own movie or tv show to watch in-flight. The food was amazing, and it all made it ok that I only really slept for about an hour. The Stockholm airport was like a gigantic IKEA, and we saw a woman wearing two hats -- indicating that she was a member of the Swedish royal family. I managed several times to be the idiot American, something I've continued here. Hopefully I'll start understanding what people are saying to me once I've been here a bit longer and get some sleep. My roommate seems really cool, as do the other people. I miss my friends and my bed and my lady, but once we get going again I'll be okay. It's odd, most of what I miss are things that I wouldn't have even if I was back home (the engineer, for instance), but I do miss my cell phone and my car. I'm such an American. I have rubles and Swedish Kroner now, so I feel like a real international traveller. We're not allowed to drink the tap water, so there's bottled water for drinking as well as brushing our teeth. I hope everyone's doing well, I'll keep you posted on my various trials and tribulations when I'm not so worn out.
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I got into the St. Petersburg program!

I'll be spending four weeks studying in St. Petersburg, then two weeks travelling to various places in Russia. There will also be weekend trips.

This means I get to start planning my trip to Spain etc. now. Also, [livejournal.com profile] jabberwocki is coming home with me for Spring Break. And the baby is going to be okay, thanks to Holly and her mom.

I've decided to do my seminar paper on gender roles and same-sex domestic violence. Was God laughing when I was sitting down to do the reading in Hillyer and looked out the window to see The Creature?

RCFOS was really good yesterday. We talked about Lent and I realized that I've been letting my own frustrations and unhappiness keep me away from the church. My life wasn't how I wanted it to be and it wasn't getting better on my timetable, so I got angry with God and refused to go to church. I'm sure that showed hir. Go me. I went Tuesday when Fr. Dan Berrigan was here and again yesterday for Ash Wednesday. I thought about forgiveness, healing, and the cyclical nature of life. It sounds really trite on here, but the sum is that it put things in perspective for me. Once again I was confronted with how blessed I've been & am. Just because things aren't how I want them to be all the time doesn't mean I get to sit in the corner and refuse to play the game.
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