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Friday Music: “Let’s Blow this Popsicle Stand”

3 Jun

Now that I’m close to leaving, all of my emotions are coming to the surface. Sentimentality is rearing it’s nasty head, and despite my best efforts to ignore it, I am starting to feel a little bit sad. Let’s investigate my mood…with music!

I kept singing this song while I was Moscow earlier this week. Good description about my strange two-sided relationship with Russia right now.

This too.

Also.

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Progression of My Daily Mood Through Music

26 May

In the morning, when I’m not fully awake yet.

Post-breakfast high.

Mid-afternoon, ‘isn’t everything great?’ mood

Dinner DANCE PARTY!

Late-night slump/depressive moment

The ‘I Miss Home’ moment

When I realize that I have less than a week and a half left here in Russia

Bonus round: Insomnia edition (so much slow head shaking!)

Happy Friday!

18 Mar

 

/obligatory

In Which I Celebrate Me, A Lady

8 Mar

Today is the official end of my four-day weekend (sad), oh and also International We Love the Ladies Day or something.  In honor of this important day, let’s explore gender issues and feminism in the modern world.  Not controversial topics at all!

For all you Americans who apparently hate women (hi Republican controlled House that voted to defund Planned Parenthood!) International Women’s Day is when the rest of the world celebrates their ladies with gifts of flowers, candies, and other treats.  And what about the rest of the year?  Ha.  What are you some kind of lady-loving feminist?  Women only need/get one day!

So how did I celebrate my Women’s Day?  Pretty much like every other day: I hung around the apartment, did a few chores, and went for a walk around the city (but I listened to some Bikini Kill on my iPod while I was walking, so I guess that counts for something).  Also, I got a surprise flower.

This actually happened yesterday, when I was on a different impromptu walk.  On my way home, I randomly ran into one of my students who was carrying a huge bouquet of flowers.  He had 10 flowers in total (a big no-no in Russia, even-numbered flowers are considered bad luck) so he decided to give me his extra flower.  It was completely unexpected and kind of sweet–even though I was really just doing him a favor by helping him not violate Russian cultural superstitions.

my unexpected flower

While it’s nice to see all these women walking around with flowers (and to get a flower of my own!), the cynical side of me can’t help but see the hypocrisy.  Russia doesn’t have the best relationship with women–not like America is much better–and one day isn’t going to erase years of inequality and sexism.  Still there are encouraging signs of progress.

The vast majority of my students are women, and most of their future goals focus around building a successful career.  Sure a lot of them want to get married, but not until they can support themselves.  Women are also starting to play a larger role in Russian society; many of the leaders of popular activists groups are women. I think all this says something positive about the future of gender relations in this country.  Despite all my Irish cynicism, I’ll allow myself just a little optimism.

To end my Lady Day celebration, I think I’ll head over to the local grocery store and buy some 50 ruble (that’s 2 dollars!!!) boxed-wine and watch Sex and the City: The Movie on Russian TV.  Oh, and I’ll be wearing sweatpants.  If I’m going to be a stereotype, I’m not going to half-ass it.

The Russian Wedding

26 Feb

One of the ways in which I consistently embarrass myself when speaking Russian, is messing up time and dates.  Time is especially hard for me, what with all the minus 20 to twos that get thrown around (my fellow learners-of-Russian will understand what I’m talking about).  I often double or even triple-check times, just to make sure that I don’t show up an hour early or worse, an hour late.

When I started the new semester, one of the other teachers in the Foreign Language department told me I wouldn’t see the 4th year English students until March.  She even pointed at the first day on the calendar when I’d have class with them.  March 3rd.  There was no way to misinterpret that.  So of course, it was wrong.  I was actually supposed to start teaching the 4th years this past Thursday, a fact I did not realize until I was already 20 minutes late for our first class.  And I was unprepared.  No lesson plans, no funny videos to watch, nothing.  After we shared our vacation stories, there was still 40 minutes left in the class period and I had no idea what to do.  I asked the students–three quiet, nice girls–what they wanted to talk about.  There was a pause as they all looked at each other, and then the bravest of the three said: “American weddings.” Continue reading

I can change, I can change

16 Feb

Now, I don’t mean to harp on the weather.  I realize I’m in Russia, a country known for defeating some of the world’s strongest militaries with its winter, but things are starting to get ridiculous.  It’s been so cold this week that my Russian tutor has had to cancel all of our scheduled lessons.  When Russians think it’s too cold to work, you know you’re in for trouble.  Years of living in humid Virginia have really weakened my cold tolerance.  I guess I have to abandon my dream of ever dog-sledding in Alaska (a dream that I have seriously had since I saw the cartoon movie “Balto.” Do you guys remember that movie?  It had cute little Husky dogs that could talk and they save a little girl by bringing her medicine during a blizzard.  Adorable).

But let’s move away from the snow/cartoon dogs and talk about what’s been going on in my classes.  On Tuesday, my second year students were supposed to prepare speeches about famous African-Americans in honor of Black History Month.  To my surprise/delight, they all actually completed their assignments and gave really interesting presentations.  To reward them for their hard work, I showed them a trailer for the AMC show “The Walking Dead.”  It uses music and imagery really well to convey strong emotions, and I also just really like that show, because duh, zombies.

With another group of students I talked about trends in American families, which led to great questions like: is your mother a housewife? When are you and your boyfriend getting married?  What are you going to do for work in America?  I also showed them pictures of my family, which caused a lot of them to comment that my mother looks a lot younger than her actual age (congrats Mom!).  That class is awesome.

Perhaps the best thing that happened this week was my realization that one of my students is a genuine hipster!  He started talking to me about Arcade Fire winning a Grammy and listing a whole bunch of indie bands that he likes to listen to.  He even mentioned going to Pitchfork to look at their album reviews (although he admitted that sometimes he finds the Pitchfork rankings strange, which come on, who doesn’t).  I’m amazed that hipsters even exist in this country, since the sub-culture du jour is more goth/emo kids, so I was pretty happy to find a like-minded person.  Which leads me to this non-Russian segue…did you guys see this on the Colbert Report:

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
LCD Soundsystem – I Can Change
www.colbertnation.com
http://media.mtvnservices.com/mgid:cms:item:comedycentral.com:374293
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog Video Archive

Love this band–in case you couldn’t tell from the title of this post–and I really wish I could go to NYC for their last concert.

That’s all for now, but look for more updates, possibly with pictures of baked goods!