Sunday, May 29, 2011

Just because it looked good on Thursday doesn't mean that you should still be wearing it on Saturday.

This sentence inexplicably confused many people connected to my facebook profile. Frankly, I'm not entirely sure where they're all getting lost. It's simple, really.

Let's say that you buy a great dress, or a fantastic shirt, or some really excellent pants. You put it on Thursday morning and think to yourself: Damn, I look good! And maybe you do. Then, Friday rolls around, and you think to yourself: Damn, I looked good yesterday! I should totally wear that outfit again! Like, on another day, when it`s clean and stuff!

The reason that I'm getting all confused over here is that the last part of that second thought, the whole bit about maybe not being rather stank and wearing the same thing two days in a row, doesn't seem to really be a concern in Moscow. It seems to be totally normal and not gross at all to just wear the same outfit for two or three days on end. Now, I suppose that it's possible that the many, many Russians who do this, are doing laundry every night when they get home, and not in fact wearing a dirty outfit. More than likely though, they just don't think it's dirty to wear the same outfit for two or three days in a row. And maybe it's not. I guess that I'll never know; I can't muster up the courage to try it out for fear of being able to smell myself. This is rational.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Over the Culture Shock Thing

For now.

I'm too busy with work at the moment to really worry about anything else. I'll probably post more about that another time, but at the moment it's nearing 3am and I should probably sleep. I must wake up early tomorrow so that I can cut squares of paper! It's very important that they're all the same size.

("Early" means before noon.) 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Pangs of Culture Shock

I moved around so much last year that I wasn't really in one place long enough to get past the lovely honeymoon period of culture shock. Though I was well over Korea by the time 2010 rolled around, knowing that I got to leave in two months meant 8 weeks of goodbye parties rather than bitchy sentiment. After that, I spent a few weeks in Canada before going to Budapest for CELTA. Budapest seemed shiny and new, in spite of not actually being either of those things. I was only there for a month, so my memories of it are almost entirely fond. The summer following that was spent slaving away at a miserable job in my hometown, but knowing that the end was start up cash for my fall job in Japan made the time fly. Then there was Japan, which was 3 months of fall glory. No, I didn't have to experience the less pleasant phases of culture shock last year at all. To be honest, I was starting to think that I was such a seasoned expat that I had become immune to the whole process. Foolish, wasn't I?

I don't really count my first couple of months in Russia as a real experience, since I spent much of them just waiting to move to a more centrally located apartment. I more or less put my social life on hold until that happened, and just assumed that everything would fall into place and be amazing after moving. I wasn't totally off base. It has been amazing, I've made more friends, had more fun, and am probably healthier for it. Yet, in spite of all the good that has come my way as of late, I still came home feeling like a wad of crap last night.

It took a few minutes of analysis to realize that I was probably beginning what is possibly now going to be a Bad Russia Week. I find it incredibly odd that I didn't feel like this my entire first two months, when everything actually did sort of  blow, but only finally felt the pangs of culture shock after a day filled with great people, amazing food, and some glorious Victory Celebrations.

On the bright side, while I may not be immune to culture shock after all (duh), I know from experience that things will shortly be pretty fantastic again.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Finding a Corpse on the Streets of Moscow - an Expat's Rite of Passage?

Last week, I was walking out of the subway station near where I teach private lessons from time to time, when I noticed a man lying on the ground just to the left of the door. He was very still, and not in the "aw, he's passed out in an Armani suit" sort of way that I got used to seeing all over the place in Korea. Across the way, to the right, there were some police officers interviewing who I can only assume were the least white looking people they could find (I assume this, because, so far as I can tell, there are a large number of officers here who's primary duty is to ID the least white looking people that they can find. I do wish I were kidding on that).

Racial profiling aside, there was another officer checking out the scene who walked back to take a good look at the man on the ground. He made no effort to wake him up. He merely took a look, shrugged, then began questioning anybody who stopped to examine the man on the ground. As I neither wanted to be questioned by the police, nor did I really want to confirm if the eerily still man was in fact dead, I opted to not go any closer and just continued on my way. Nobody else really seemed all that bothered by it all, so I figured that I may as well not be either.

I passed this story by a few of my coworkers here, and everyone of them said the same thing: It happens. I've seen corpses on the street here, too. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Another Birthday Passed.

I celebrated my birthday in the new apartment last night with some coworkers and a few others that we know from here and there. I've rarely held parties, and this afternoon when I awoke to the faint smell of half empty beer cans and feet, I was reminded why it is I don't do this more often.

Our rubbish shoot is clogged with something or other, as has apparently been the case for months now, so the apartment now smells of empty beer cans with nowhere to go. On the bright side, I moved all of the empties to the kitchen and closed the door, so only a corner of the apartment smells like yesterday. The issue with the rubbish bin ought to be resolved some time in the next couple of weeks. The current solution, of walking all of our garbage down the street and dumping it in a trash bin behind a sketchy park, is really not okay at all. Until the day comes that I actually am, I refuse to live like a homeless person.

On the table beside me is a large vase overflowing with some lovely flowers that I received from one of my coworkers. When a couple of the girls at work heard that it was my birthday yesterday, they wanted to come visit me at my new apartment on their lunch hour. Of course, I had no idea what my address was, so we decided that it would make more sense for me to just visit them. This being Russia, and Saturday being my birthday, I could not just go to work empty handed, so I brought in a cake and we celebrated together in the staff room on their lunch hour. I'm not really sure why it is that you have to buy your own cake on your birthday in Russia, but that's how it goes so I played along.

Overall, I give this birthday an A-. It wasn't quite the experience that waiting for the sun to come up over the Danube in Budapest with my CELTA buddies was, but it was quite nice for what it was.