Monday, January 12, 2009

Be happy

Be happy I don't have time to write about how I am really feeling. It's not good. Hopefully by the time I write something it will be better, but at the moment I am very close to dropping $1000 and hopping the next flight home.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Again, with the dreams...

So a couple of weeks ago I went museuming with Denise. We started with the Zoological Museum and saw hundreds upon hundreds of stuffed animals. Kinda creepy, but you get over it pretty quickly. I even got to introduce my Aussie friend to a badger and a skunk! I was so proud. The main attraction at this museum is the baby woolly mammoth. That wasn't very exciting, if you ask me, but nobody did. The zoological museum's biggest downfall: NONE of the signs were in anything but Russian. So really, I learned...... nothing. Just looked at stuff. It did make me think a lot more, like... all of these 15 animals look similar to the American grey squirrel that I saw EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE... but I can't tell which is the REAL one. Same with white tail deer, bison, skunks, etc. It's kind of embarrassing to really have to inspect and consider and reconsider if that animal really comes from your backyard. Denise was of no use, since all of her 'home' animals are exotic to me, and vise versa. Luckily, I readily pointed out the badger and the bald eagle, like a good Wisconsinite (the badger being both the state animal and my alma mater's mascot).

After the Zoological museum, we crossed the street (and wandered and wondered at signs) to find the Kunstkamera museum, which seemed to be a museum of cultural items from the past. Most of this museum was also only in Russian, so again, just gaping at stuff. There was one section of the museum, at the top, in the back, that was in both Russian and English. The 'museum of oddities'... I guess Peter the 1st had somewhat of an obsession with researching the human body. Basically, this room was filled with dead babies and dead baby parts. In jars, on shelves. I had lost Denise before we got into this room and as soon as I stepped over the threshold and realized where I was, I thought, 'I can't do this on my own... Where's Denise?!' I found her quickly and began exploring with support (moral, imaginary support, but still). It was enthralling and appalling, equally. They had baby heads, baby insides, deformed babies, 'sensory organs' (like baby lips and eye sockets and ears), conjoined twins of all varieties... In each case, there was also a distraction, usually aquatically themed. Signs 1-10 would say something about each jar, and sign 11 would be 'starfish', or 'miniature alligator from Zimbabwe' or something. The effectiveness of this was lost on me; I felt it actually enhanced the creepiness factor. Baby fingers AND an alligator, in the same case? This whole time, I was also thinking that there is no way that this type of thing would come to fruition in the US, so I should look and see things that are rare. I was starting to fear that I would have nightmares about this room though too, since I have had nightmares about being locked in a museum overnight, and this would be the WORST place to be locked in and forgotten overnight. Finally, we left, because the museum was closing, stopping first in the loo. When I came out, all the lights were off, and Denise and I had to walk through part of the place in the dark to get our coats. *shudder* It was pretty terrible.

We then decided to walk back across the bridge and try out the Korean restaurant on our block. We told stories about home and other places we visited and talked about various other random topics. I believe I complained to her about the meat situation in Russia, because we were about to eat beef, and that's rare. At Carl's Jr here, I haven't had one burger with out 'bits' in it. I am not sure what these bits are, but, they are hard and shouldn't be there, end of story. Denise told me of when she was living in Indonesia and about how hard it was to find quality meat there. She had local friends (and lived with them) who would sometimes cook for her. Once they spent hours and hours making this wonderful sauce for chicken, a traditional sauce that is supposed to be unique to each chef/maker and wonderfully delicious, so of course Denise was looking forward to some tasty local cuisine. After the sauce was made and the chicken boiled, everything was smelling delicious and amazing. Then, after all that, Denise watched in horror as the women chopped up the chicken, right through bones, cartilage and flesh. Everything was chopped into tiny pieces and thrown in with the sauce. Every bite was crunchy and full of grainy, sandy bits. I was pretty traumatized by this picture, but then our food came and I got over it.

I didn't escape nightmares that night though, oh no. After the stuffed animals, dead babies and cut up chicken bones, I knew that I wouldn't have a good night sleep. But what did I dream about, after all that? The chicken. I dreamed that I was living in a place where the only meat you could find had this gravelly texture, and it was horrifying.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

2009! 300 Posts! Interview!

Well, this is an exciting day for my readers! It's New Years, it's my 300th post, AND I am answering some questions from one of my favorite bloggers!

2008 was a banner year, I'd say. Highlights include
  • Shoveling until the end of time
  • Skiing in Northern WI
  • Snowshoeing
  • Finding Trinity
  • Not freezing as much
  • Watching lake Mendota rise almost 2 feet
  • Hatching the 'teaching English plan'
  • Becoming majorly involved with a great group of people at Trinity
  • Singing in a choir again
  • Visiting friends in Seattle!
  • Static Monkey's wedding! Friends! Fun!
  • Getting my TEFL at Midwest Teacher Training Program
  • Not working
  • Concerts on the Square
  • Farmer's Markets
  • First trip to Chicago
  • Moving in with a stranger and her dog
  • Visiting my family in Georgia
  • Camping in Door County with Hoofers
  • Applying to jobs worldwide
  • Trip to Kansas City
  • Having an interview at 2am in my previous place of employment
  • Being hired via email
  • Moving out of the stranger's house
  • Going away parties
  • Moving to Russia to teach English as a Foreign Language
It's winter again, but most of it will be in 2009, so we'll wait on those highlights. My life looks completely different now than it did in January 2008, its much more demanding and challenging, which is totally what I was looking for a year ago, I was bored then.

Did you look back on your year? Has much changed for you?

NOW! On to the Interview!!! The Maven at Stay At Home Mayhem posted an interview on her blog and offered to interview anyone who asked (as long as they do the same, including posting rules and all that jazz), so I emailed, I asked and I received! So, without further ado...

1. If you could change one thing about life in Russia, what would it be?
  • Um, gulp. One thing? There are so many though! Ok ok, I guess I would have to pick The Food. Every single thing here is different from what I am used to - I guess except the pasta, dried pasta is dried pasta everywhere. But, what I would give for a hamburger without unidentifiable 'bits' in it from Carl's Jr, real lettuce - not cabbage disguised as lettuce, following from that a SALAD. An honest to goodness salad with dressing (which they don't have at all, salad dressing). Doritos, Oreos, Diet Coke (not coke light... it has a really different flavor), hummus, cream cheese, fresh vegetables that arent half rotten when you buy them, the list goes on and on.
  • A close second would be not having a clothes dryer. Drip drying your clothes pretty much sucks.

2. Is Wisconsin famous for anything other than That 70's Show and cheese?
  • Not really. We are the country's #1 producer of cranberries though. I believe we drink more brandy than any other place in the country, maybe more alcohol in general. It gets awfully cold? Other tv shows were set in WI though, like Happy Days. Apparently we are known to have quite the midwestern accent, but I say that Minnesotans are worse, unless you go up by the UP of Michigan... then, it's debatable.

3. Have you ever used your knitting powers for good (like maybe hats for orphans, or something pretty for The Maven), or purely for evil/selfish endeavors?
  • Well, I guess I've never donated my creations to non profits or anything, but I have also never kept anything I have ever made. I have made scarves for presents, blankets, and I attempted a hat once. (ok, fine, I kept the hat, but mostly cause it was way too big for me and I have the biggest head out of everyone I know. Ok?) I am a quite slow knitter, so the list of actually completed projects is pretty short.
4. Name three songs that remind you most of the 90's, then tell us why they do.

Ah, the 90's. I was 6-16years old in the 90's. In that time, My dad went to war for a year, my parents were divorced, middle school happened (shudder) and I moved at least 3 times. It was quite tumultuous.
  1. Cotton Eye Joe would have to be on the list. Many a Middle School dance was not complete until this song was played and I had hooked arms with friends and SWUNG in circles. Good times.
  2. Man on the Moon by REM. This was part of a permanent soundtrack to playing in our 4ft deep, above-ground pool in the summer. There are a set of probably 10 songs that, when they come on, I immediately am back in our pool, clinging horizontally to the ladder, pretending to be caught in a tornado.
  3. UR by Alanis Morissette. Actually, anything by Alanis Morissette from the 90's could be on here. This song, in particular reminds me of that time because because it was probably my favorite song for years, I even had a shirt from her website that said 'precious UR', thanks to Artichokes. I wore it unabashedly.
5. You're a teacher now, but what would your inner child have wanted you to pursue as a career?
  • I wanted to do something with medicine when I was little. For the longest time I wanted to be a veterinarian, but what country girl doesn't at some point? I spent whole days memorizing dog breeds from a book I checked out from the library at least a dozen times. I surprise myself now when I see a dog and I'm like 'That's a King Charles Spaniel' or 'Look, a German Wirehaired Pointer!' I'm sure I wanted to be a writer, an actress, and a singer at some point. I was not really interested in planning my future career in earnest... this is why I am still confused about what I want to be, and thus, ran away to Russia to avoid making decisions. It's worked so far. :)

So, that's that!

Here are the rules if you want to participate in 5 Questions.

  1. Request an interview in the comments of this post, leaving me your email if I don't already have it.
  2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
  3. You can then answer the questions on your blog.
  4. You should also post these rules along with an offer to interview anyone else who emails you wanting to be interviewed.
  5. Anyone who asks to be interviewed should be sent 5 questions to answer on their blog. I would be nice if the questions were individualized for each blogger.