30 May 2013

Good People

When I started this blog, I thought it's main purpose would be a photo journal my parents could look at, and a way to keep all my memories in one place while Ben and I goofed around in New Hampshire. And for a long time, it really was just that. I didn't have any followers, I didn't know how to get them or what I would do if I had them, and that was all okay. 

Fast forward quite a few months to my move to Moscow. I was contacted by a couple of ex-pat websites to be featured and write a little bit about my experience. I did so only with the intention of showing the good side to Russia because I felt that everything I had read online prior to coming here felt bitter and annoyed. There were definite downsides to Russia, but I really just wasn't having that kind of experience and I thought it was important to throw my two-cents into the interweb. So interview I did and I'm really grateful I did (which you can read here if you like).

As soon as my interview went up on the websites, I started receiving emails from all over the world from people who were living abroad and echoing feelings and thoughts I had been writing on my blog. At first I was caught off guard; I felt like I needed to be giving advice, good advice, and I wasn't sure if I could. But then I realized that they weren't writing because they wanted advice: they just wanted to reach out to someone else in the world and really, it was quite a beautiful, universal thing. We were separated by continents, oceans, forests, mountains, languages in some cases, but here we were, all exploring the world as bravely as we could. I wrote back, they wrote back, I heard some great stories, and "met" some fabulous characters from all over. 

Through all these emails, one poked it's head up a couple weeks ago that was quite different. From a girl (or woman? I never know what to write) who was currently living and teaching in Moscow and had found my blog awhile back. She said she was on her way out of the country, but... 

"I'm a big believer in reaching out to other people who share a similar lifestyle and find that even brief encounters can be important if not just simply nice in the moment. 
We create our own experiences after all."

I think normally I might have felt a little apprehensive, but when you're living abroad I think you're kind of in a "yes" mode constantly, so I wrote back right away and said I would be delighted to. 

And I'm so glad I did. Amy is a wonderful and inspiring person and her lust for life and travel is contagious. We spent her second to last weekend in Moscow (before she moves to Burma!) gallivanting around, sharing our Russian experiences, and discussing life and travel and love and everything in between. I'm incredibly sad she is leaving, but I'm grateful I got to know her and I know we'll always stay in touch. 

I think this blog has brought me a lot of unexpected joy and now it's brought a new friend and someone who will always inspire me. Blogging is a vulnerable thing, I'll admit, but the payoff is worth it. Your putting yourself, your words, your story, out into the world and when people respond to it, well, that is a cool, cool thing. 

So here are some photos from our Sunday dinner which turned into quite the night of balcony wine drinking.

Cheers to Amy and her wonderful, generous spirit and everyone else who has reached out to me. 
Keep it coming : )






Check out that view! It was dizzying.




Amy gifted Ben some Sriracha and he has worked it into every meal he has had since. She also gave us her cast iron pot to make bread in, so expect some posts about our Breadventurers. 

I do have to add this small side-note that Amy praised mine and Ben's relationship in it's maturity and genuineness. I think we've worked very hard to be as close as we are, and living in Russia has changed us as a couple a lot for the better. I was so pleased that my writing was able to accurately describe our love. 
Aaaaaand it's always nice to hear that you're a cute couple ; )

28 May 2013

Warm weather, long days

Holy cow, where have the days gone? Just when I felt like I had gotten into a groove with work, summer is coming, my schedule is changing, and everything is different. But it's been good. Hot as hell, but good.



We had to get a fan. Had to get a fan. Ben wouldn't splurge for the 1,000 ruble one, so we settled on the 500 ruble one and it's been... well, a cheap fan. When will we ever learn?



Fresh veggie lunches (and cmetana!)




This ridiculously alcoholic beer I love. I drank one of Ben's a couple months ago and felt quite tipsy by the time he got home. When he told me the alcohol level, it explained quite a bit. Now I'm obsessed. I drink one and I'm goooooood.


Our little makeshift television. Game of Thrones, Hannibal, Arrested Development.

I do have more to write about from this past week, but all my energy has been drained, so this is all I've got for right now. I want to give my next post a little more thought, so I'm skimping a bit on today's. Ben spent the morning making my classes chocolate chip cookies and bagels for their last day which was so sweet of him, but I have every dish we own, dirty, and on the counter happily waiting for me. 

Sweet joy. 

17 May 2013

links

How to be alone... a lovely and touching poem by Tanya Davis

Been talking to Ben a lot about this article on Millennial's... I even bought a TIME subscription so I could read it!

Listening to this playlist this week.

Wanting to see To the Wonder very badly. The trailer always makes me tear up. I know it came out a minute ago, but it's hard to see films when you live in Russsssia.

I stumbled on my first post on this blog and it filled me with nostalgia. Ben and I had just graduated college and we just packed up my tiny red car and drove nonstop to the East Coast. I remember how excited and free we felt and I'm so glad I took pictures of it all to remember. We stayed up the entire way, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, and talking so fiercely, we didn't even notice when we crossed state lines. It really felt like the first time in my life when I was free of school and commitments and I could really explore the world as an adult.

These words.

Love this funky wedding website, especially the love stories.


Ben and I found a little wooded path on our way home.


We stopped at the local flea market and met the kindest honey makers. They had us try all different kinds of honey (including a white honey that tasted like wildflowers and was supposedly made from Queen Bees) and we finally went with this homeopathic green honey that tastes terrific. They practiced out some of their English phrases on me and I practiced some of my Russian on them.

As we were about to leave, they asked Ben how he had learned to speak English so well. 
I just love how warm Russians can be.


14 May 2013

Candy

First, and foremost, I just had to share this perfect little gem from the inspirations of my life, Wes Anderson and Roman Coppola. It is so witty and simple and delightful-and in a way, reminds me of my life in Russia. Little cafes, strange words, "how do you say _______ Rooskie?", running off on bizarre little adventures with friends, etc. If only I were so chic. Sigh.
So here is Candy for Prada:



I went to the grocery store today and again was surprised when I was able to buy my tomatoes and eggs and milk without a single problem. I guess I'm always expecting the cashier to swipe my card, say something angrily at me in Russian, and I'd have to run out of the store, my cheeks red and confused. I am deaf and dumb in this country and it is the most humbling experience of my life. I pray silently every time I approach that the cashier never strays from the conversation I've memorized, or asks me a question that will require words I do not know. 

But with more and more lessons, words are beginning to open up to me, like small envelopes that have been floating quietly in the air around my head since I stepped off the plane all those months ago. 

It's like I'm beginning to hear again. 

Not big words, not big things. But small words that clue me in. They flutter through the conversations I pass by and my ears turn golden with the welcoming of familiarity. 
What? Who? Where? There. Him. Her. Good. Excellent. 
My vocabulary has expanded to perhaps include, 50-70 words, mostly useless, but there nonetheless. 
My brain is changing and adapting. I'm reading everything now, still lost in much of the meanings, but overcome with happiness when I am not. This place that was once filled with so much dull buzzing is now softening. Slowly, but surely. I must be patient and sit on my bed at night, reading my Russian books and repeating, writing, working. 

I look to Ben and his unbelievable ease. He dips between languages as if they are just changes in the pitch of his voice. He does not blink, never wavers. To say his workings with language are impressive would be an understatement, and for now it gives me something to lean on. But my patience grows thin, and my desire to learn and speak for myself has only climbed uphill. 

But until next Saturday, my ability will remain. 

13 May 2013

lately...












1. Breakfast
2. Roses
3. Slippers
4. Table
5. Dishes
6. Candles
7. Laundry
8. Rain
9. Selfie
10. Danishes

Not Pictured
1. Happy Mother's Day moments with my mother.
2. A great talk about life and it's beyonds with my father and Ben.
3. I've been reading a book recommended by Ben called A Short History of Nearly Everything (by Bill Bryson) and I've been loving it. As he writes in the intro, "This is a book about how it happened." The book covers every topic under the big, yellow sun, from cosmology, paleontology, geology, chemistry, physics--everything! It's incredibly fascinating and definitely chewable for those of us who are not science-brained. I highly recommend it.
4. This book (Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L. Weiss) keeps presenting itself in my life and I think I'll read it next. When our friend came to visit us a month or two ago, he spoke very highly of it and sparked my interest. Than the other day I was skyping with my girlfriend in South Korea and she showed me a tattoo she had recently gotten, inspired by the book. I've always been interested in reincarnation, but have never done much research into it's possible existence, but I think I'd like to after I finish my current read.
5. Aaaaaand... missing American food pretty badly. Well, mostly American junk food. I just want a bag of salt and vinegar chips. Just one, tiny bag. 

10 May 2013

May 9th and Thoughts on Graduating College

Oh my gosh, so many things to cover. First of all, I received quite a few very sweet emails and comments from people in regards to my homesick post and I just want to say thank you to everyone who reached out. I'm so glad to hear from other people who have gone through similar feelings and everyone was so encouraging and comforting. I even received an email from a German/Swiss woman who is currently living in Vienna and feeling very similar about her home country-how amazing to be able to connect to someone out in the world like that?! So grateful. 

Anyway, I've cheered up a lot since my last post. Spring has  S P R U N G  to say the least! Moscow is filled with sunshine (until 10:00 p.m.!) and flowers and happy bodies flooding the streets. It's been a great time to have a vacation and enjoy the happy energy this city is providing. 

Ben and I went down to the Red Square yesterday to celebrate with our people May 9th/Victory Day, which is the day that remembers the capitulation of Nazi Germany. People brought flowers and wore their parents/grandparents medals and pins, all honoring those who died in the war. I really enjoyed seeing the Russian pride and felt very happy to be able to witness such love and respect. 




Our block-how lovely is this? I regret not taking a picture of it when it was crystalized in snow when we first arrived to compare it, but I'll definitely snap some shots of the snow this upcoming winter. 


As I was taking this picture, a woman asked Ben what was so interesting in the tree. He told her I was just photographing the flowers and she was confused. So Russian. 




So this arrived. This little stand serves cups of beer for very cheap, so I expect that some nights Ben and I will be grabbing a cup on our way home from work. ; ) 



The gates to the Red Square--can you see St. Basil's in the background?!


People were placing flowers at this statue.






Saying I love St. Basil's is an understatement. I LOVE St. Basil's. My heart leaps every time I see it.






I'm not sure, but I assume Putin or someone important was going to come later on and speak.




Such a nice day. I'm so grateful we got a chance to get out of the apartment and run around. 

On another note, how crazy is it that Ben and I graduated college a year ago today? I know we went back for another semester (me, because I transfered as a sophomore and lost a semester, Ben because he completed an Honor's Term), but graduation day was still incredibly significant. There was so much celebration and proud feelings. I loved Beloit, and I feel like everything I had set out to do, was accomplished. I joined clubs, I explored interests, I worried about big things, I wrote about small things, I asked questions, I gave answers, I worked hard, I created constantly, and in the end, I got a degree I'm really proud of (one I haven't even held yet! It came a month or so after I arrived in Russia).

I even miss things I didn't know I would miss: I miss the structure of classes and the excuse to explore odd topics.

And the conversations! I miss the arguing! The debates! I learned so much from everyone around me-I really think that's where most of the growth comes from. I miss people too. I miss the people I learned with. I miss the people I spent weekends with, everyone wild and excited and so unique, not a single party went by where I didn't feel inspired by someone. I miss the people I ate dinner at Commons with (and talked at length about how horrible the food was). I really miss my creative writing friends and the Honor's Thesis group I worked with so much my senior year. I miss our weekly dinners in the basement of Maurer and the way we helped each others writing morph into new maturity. The way we supported and encouraged each other through the difficult process, and how proud we all were to attend each other's readings and hear the final product.

It was good. It was a really special time on my life and I look back on it so fondly.

**Sorry if it seems like I'm bumming out again... my Facebook News Feed is filled with graduation pictures and statuses, so it's hard not to be nostalgic!**



And I really like that one sunny afternoon during the first week of my Senior year, I burst in late to a floor meeting and met this guy. That might have just been the best part.
 : )

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