Saturday, March 2, 2013

My brain is like porridge, hehe.

Again I let two weeks slip by without writing a blog. For a short month February certainly was busy.

To begin with I want to share that two weeks ago we were at Daria's cousin's new apartment. I felt excited as I listened to them talk that I could understand quite a bit. Obviously not everything, and I didn't really participate, but I did understand quite a bit. Well, for the first couple hours. Then my brain turned to mush and words that I normally recognize were incomprehensible. In simple Russian, I can say мой мозг не работает, or rather мой мозг не работал. moi mozg nye rabotayet/rabotal. (My brain doesn't work/didn't work). I wonder if I can say мой мозг как каша (my brain is like porridge).

I will say the same also happened after yesterday's lesson which made it quite difficult to plan my lesson afterward. Fortunately it wasn't that hard of a lesson to teach.

I wanted to offer a little more insight into my thinking about "community" from the last post. Perhaps part of the reason that things feel more communal is that it's built into the language. I don't know, and could be wrong with all my speculations, but they are what I perceive. For example in English I say, "I met with Greg." However, in Russian I would say, "Мы встретились с Грегом," which translates to "We met with Greg," even though I really just mean "I met with Greg." There are other instances where I want to say things that I do with another person, but I use the plural "we."

On Mondays and Wednesdays I teach in a company and then take the metro to the school to teach an evening class. As I transfer from one line to another I wait in a station that has a variety of red hues from what appear to be shards of red pottery, although they glisten as though they're glass or marble. Sometimes when I stand waiting for my train, I think the walls are like fire especially because I usually stand next to where the name Маяковская (Mayakovskaya) is embedded with the same stones/shards in 3D. When you stand next to the letters and cannot see the whole word the jagged shape of the letters looks like flames frozen into the wall.

One of my biggest dislikes about the way things work here in Russia is the overabundance of plastic; and the bad kind. There are enormous quantities of thin plastic bags that really cannot be reused, or if they can, are only reusable for a short time before the rip. Sometimes the bags are necessary, but more often than not I don't need a bag for my bananas, or my 3 grapefruit, or maybe my croissant if I dare to buy one, but for example today when we were buying some milk our milk was placed into one of these thin plastic bags. Why? What makes matters worse is the amount of trash that is left on the street. Uncountable amounts of bags, plastic milk bottles, cigarette butts, beer bottles/cans, litter the streets and there are many that can be found frozen in the ice of the canals and the river. My thoughts immediately turn to all the fish in the sea that will find the thin plastic bags. However, while the US may not have nearly as much litter (although it does have quite a bit in certain places), I do not think we have any right to tell others how to be environmentally conscious considering our own shortcomings. I have also been pondering the amount of "out of sight, out of mind" aspect to our own wasteful consumerism. NYC sends its waste to Virginia by barge and to Pennsylvania by truck, but from my time with Citizens Campaign for the Environment, I know that more of that trash pollutes our waterways than we want to admit. I cannot say that Russia pollutes the environment more than the US (although there certainly is more litter here), but it is more in your face and therefore more on my mind. It makes me that much more conscious of wanting to change the entire system. However, can we change it considering how much of our "progress in industry" comes from destruction? Also, we need to remember: Reduce comes first; then Reuse; lastly, Recycle. Which reminds me, we buy way too much water here b/c it's bad to drink from the tap. In the house, we filter, then boil, then consume as tea. Or we buy bottled water to drink. Is the technological solution of better city-wide filtration the answer, or should we socially get over ourselves and be comfortable with boiling and reserving water on the side to cool or consume it while hot like in tea?

I wanted to share that sunlight here is crazy. As in each week there is an extra 40-45 minutes of sunlight. That's right. From one Sunday to the next we have an extra 40-45 minutes of light. This is of course what makes things like really dark Decembers to the White Nights in June/July possible considering that 26 weeks pass and so much light change happens. However, it's quite crazy to observe how much more light we have from one work week to the next and even without Daylight Savings Time (which drives me crazy), the body clock is hard to set.

Favorite new word: the verb "to giggle" is хихикать (hihikat). I like it because it sounds like heehee. Very onomatopoeic.

Additionally, I'm going to add some photos with no particular connection to this post or necessarily any other, although there might me some.

Daria cross-country skiing in ЦПКиО

The Georgian Church on our street corner (we live off to the right). You won't find any Russians attending this church though. Also if you look on the right side of the roof of the middle beige building you'll see some workers clearing the snow off.

Along the Alley of Sister Cities 

You might think this is a snow covered field into the horizon, but this is just the vast frozen Gulf of Finland.
The refreezing of someone's fishing hole that we saw on the Gulf. Don't know how thick it is. It's where I stood taking the above picture facing the western horizon.

Party tent near the gulf. There is a restaurant nearby that would have served as a nicer picture (historic stone and whatnot), but I was too lazy to walk all the way back around. The Restaurant and party tent are "Karl and Friedrich." You figure it out.

Snow Angel in the playground/courtyard of the Georgian Church above. We were walking home late on a snowy night a few weeks ago (camera says Feb. 9th) and I really liked what some neighborhood person had done. When I took Karma on her evening walk I brought the camera with me.

Daria in front of the Museum of Anna Akhmatova.

This shelf no longer looks like this, although the picture was taken fairly recently we did some recycling. From the left: A bottle of Balvenie 12 year (thanks to my brother Erik as a Christmas gift given through Daria picking it up in Duty Free on her way back here) - truly a delicious single-malt and a family favorite; a bottle of Dewar's 12 year blend (thanks to Daria's dad for my birthday last summer) - normally I'm not a blend guy, but I won't complain about this delicious mix (especially considering it costs more than I pay for many single malts although Duty Free may change some of that cost); a Macallan 15 year (curtesy of some students of mine who played me like a fiddle - I thought they were interested in me, but they were doing research on what to buy me for my New Year's gift); Aberlour 12 year also brought by Daria upon her return as a gift to myself (hey Scotch is ridiculously expensive here and some of those bottles aren't as full as the boxes look). The local Paulaner BrewHouse (German beer, but brewed locally for that particular pub) had a special during Oktoberfest and our scratch out card awarded us two bottles of their fine Hefe-weiss (other prizes included t-shirts, free food, or a free liter in the pub). Finally we have come to 3 various bottles of Medovarus mead: Classic style in a beautiful winter bottle; wild honey/style; and classic style in a regular bottle.

1 comment:

  1. So for those of you who haven't read it yet, I wanted to say that in the courtyard of the Georgian Church, there is a playground. Sometimes we take Karma there at night and tease her by riding one of the toys and she chases it and tries to bite it as it spins around.

    Tonight she was slightly interested in it, but moreover for some strange reason she liked snow/ice balls. We threw one, she chased and then chewed/tore it up. She did that with a few others or just ate her own off the ground. What a crazy dog.