28 November 2013

Thankful

On the bus ride home from work, I sat looking out the window and thinking about what I was thankful for. I just kept coming back to love. I am so thankful for all the love I have in my life. My love for Ben, for my parents who always have my back, for my sweet brother who always surprises me with his thoughtfulness and maturity. I am thankful for the friends I have made here in Russia that I know will last me forever, and the friends that have continued to stay in my life--no matter how far, no matter how poorly pixilated on Skype, I'm so grateful for time with giggly girlfriends across the world. I am thankful for Ben's parents and our Sunday conversations. I am thankful for all the lessons I have learned this past year--no matter how difficult they were or how much they hurt to learn them. I am thankful for nights in and nights out. I am thankful for long talks and long walks.

For love. Even on my worst days, I just have so much love in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving :)

25 November 2013

Crickets


Hello Internet. 

This feels a bit awkward to be honest. I feel like I've been avoiding a friend or a commitment for some time now, but life felt too much to be writing about since Halloween. But things have calmed down a tad and I want to update this space about things that have been happening in my life. 

Well, well. Where to start. I guess most of my absence from this blog has to do with my job. Both Ben and I have felt very drained by our jobs and what used to excite and challenge us has become what stresses and worries us. My classes especially have been quite challenging. Last year my largest class was like... I don't know, five kids? They were very small classes and I was very close with all my students. But this year our school is packed. And I don't like it. I feel like I spend the majority of my time yelling at students and, with the exception of my adult Advanced class, feel like I don't ever get to sit back and enjoy my students company. It's just... exhausting.

For a couple weeks I felt very trapped in our work. Trapped in Russia. I couldn't just quit when my boss was rude to me and my students challenged me--I was stuck. Because this is real life now and you can't just quit your job and hide at your parents house until something new pops up. I'm across the world and everything I own, a portion of my future, is tied up into this work. It's a really frustrating feeling. 

Ben was as wonderful as a partner as can be--he reassured me that I wasn't stuck and we would find ways to make our days better. And we have. There are still many sticks in the fire, but I have certainly come to terms with the realities of my job and let go a lot of the stressors that were weighing me down. I'm sorry to be vague, but since nothing is set in stone, it'd be kind of silly to write about it. Ben and I are just saving our money (we finished saving for Amsterdam and are half way finished with our savings for Italy in the spring!) and looking forward to the Christmas holiday. 

And speaking of CHRISTMAS! It's so close! I wouldn't say I'm a total "Christmas" girl or anything (as in I don't drink Starbucks whatevers and watch ABC Family Christmas movies), but I do love buying presents for people and decorating and baking and watching the ground turn white and everyone get into a good mood...

but I'm not sure how it'll be in Russia. I know that America is like, king of overdoing everything, but when you grow up there you just can't help it! I want everything everywhere to be decked out. Ben and I were in the center over the weekend and I was so happy to see the beautiful streets covered in small blue lights and the trees outside of the red square wrapped in yellow twinkles. Even if the country of Russia is covered in red and green, I know Ben and I will have a nice Christmas (just the two of us!!! Weird...). We do have to work Dec 24th-25th because Russians don't celebrate Christmas on those days, but that's okay. We'll be going on holiday two days after, and I don't think the actual date matters as much as who you're with and how you celebrate. 

Yesterday Ben and I went to the mall and I went to IKEA to grab some candles (because god forbid any store besides IKEA sold candles???) and I ended up buying some things to make decorations for our apartment. Ben and I also did a bit of Christmas shopping (and he bought stuff for my birthday which is in about two weeks) which was also really fun. But I'm so bad at keeping secrets and not giving presents early! Ugh, but I'm going to try. I did see a beautiful leather messenger bag and bought it for Ben early because he's been in desperate need for one. He insisted it was an early Christmas gift, but I got it for him because I'd been in a bummer mood since things turned sour at work and I wanted to say thank you for being so wonderful and kind. He was really excited about it. 

Well, I guess that's it for now. I feel like I have sufficiently updated this blog and hopefully I won't let two weeks (er, three?) slip by again. I do like this space and I want to post some of the recipes Ben and I will be playing with for Christmas. 

But I'll leave you with some links to make up for the distance. I hope all my American readers have an awesome Thanksgiving and to everyone else I hope you're staying warm and enjoying the changing seasons! Cheers!

  • I've got this smell-bomb in my hair right now... LUSH Jasmine and Henna Fluff Ease. If you can handle the pungent smell you'll have some soft, soft hair. 
  • How amazing is Ja'mie: Private School Girl? Did anyone watch Summer Heights High on HBO? Well if you didn't, you must and revel in Chris Lilley's amazing characters. And Ja'mie! Oh my goodness. You will never be able to stop quoting her. 
  • I "liked" this page on Facebook recently and it's been a very positive thing for my news feed. It's nice to see Russia in the news for some positive stuff as well (not that the negatives should be ignored, but it's important to remember the good things too)
  • Ben and I blew an insane amount of money on peanut butter at the import store yesterday and made Over Fried Peanut Butter Panko Chicken and Coconut Noodles last night. SO GOOD.
  • And I made this simple, but tasty, little dish the other day for lunch: Penne with Marinated Tomatoes & Mozzarella 
  • Ben and I have been drooling over this list of the 13 Coolest Tattoo Artists (look before you freak, Mom!). I don't know if I'd ever get a sleeve or anything, I like my tiny tattoos, but who knows. So many of these are just art. Ben keeps telling me he wants a sleeve, but we'll see about that. 
  • And it turns out this place is in desperate need for English teachers... we've been googling and scheming... 

04 November 2013

Halloween in Russia

Happy Halloween, all!

Oh my goodness, Halloween week took  f o r e v e r, but it was so worth it. Because each class meets twice a week (and Friday is all the tiny ones so they only meet once a week), Halloween began on Wednesday and went all the way through Friday afternoon. Jeez. But everyone was so into it! I was kind of worried my excitement over the best holiday ever had not transfered over but it did! Everyone dressed up (except my teens... not that I was expecting much out of their angsty faces) and lots of kids brought treats and essays and stories. 

I had so much fun showing them movies and taking pictures and having our first little party of the year. 

I was really grateful for Halloween. I'd been feeling kind of like a teacher-failure for the first few months because some of my classes just weren't getting it. When Ben and I came last year, we were taking over classes in the middle of the year and I just got lucky by having really bright students who were, for the most part, very well-behaved. 

But this year... ugh. Some of the kids just make me want to go nuts. I don't even like being anything but fun and sweet, so I really resent them for forcing me into this disciplinarian role. But it's gotten better. So when Halloween rolled around and all the kids were so excited and happy, it made me feel like I was doing something right. So I feel good about school again, but I did lose my mind when our administrator told me Monday was Russian Independence Day (because they were dependent on...?) so NO SCHOOL!

Ben and I had our sweet friends Grigor and Granush over for dinner and Granush and I made pasta carbonara (I had promised Grigor I'd make it for him because it's his favorite dish), but I still feel like I can't nail this recipe. I don't know what it is! If any of you have a good recipe, please send it along, because I love this dish so much but I just can't replicate the way it tastes when I order it in a restaurant. So frustrating. 

Also, I forgot to mention in my last post that I finished reading/listening to Gone Girl and I HIGHLY recommend it! It was such a juicy read and kept me loads of company while Ben was back in the states.   Since Ben was abroad while I was reading it, every time we would skype I would fill him in on what was going on. For the first half of the book, I really thought one thing and then BAM! SIR-TWIST-A-LOT! Just really exciting and unpredictable and though I wasn't extraordinarily pleased with the ending (I thought it felt a tad rushed), overall I had a really great time reading it.

I was telling Ben's mom on Skype the other day that I've felt kind of lost in the world of books since I graduated from college--which is odd because what I primarily studied was literature. But because for the last four years I've read so many great things and so many collections (classes and semester devoted to just Hawthorne and Poe and Joyce and Didion and the transcendentalists and the women writers and the Steinbecks and the Eggers and blalallaahahahha) and while studying literature in such a deep way was so profoundly rewarding and excellent, I also stopped reading for like... fun. And I'd always read for fun. But college just gets to you at the end and when I graduated I just didn't know what to do with myself.

So I guess I'm in this new stage of reading--I can read whatever I want. I can read the books from the New York Times Bestsellers list. I can read the books that Cosmo recommends. Or my mom. Or Ben's mom. I guess this doesn't sound all that revolutionary now that I'm typing it out, but it felt revolutionary for me.

Anyway, so I'm going to end this entry now with some pics from school and I hope all of you had an awesome Halloween. Cheers!





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