Wednesday, December 21, 2011


It has become the time to assess the year in terms of what things are annoying, and to what degree they are annoying. As I have said, for the most part, everything has been fine, and anything that I would really significantly complain about is really nobody's fault, not even Russia's.

I've always been into list-making, so here I will make three lists (and start from the negative so we can end positively) of things that are annoying, sort of annoying, or not annoying at all.

*Winter, and the clothing associated with it. Today is technically the first day of winter and I feel like it's been winter for months already. I am tired of wearing heavy winter clothes all the time and miss wearing dresses and sandals.
*The fact that my rent increased by a LOT.
*Things getting canceled (see earlier posts from November)
* Stuttering when I speak Russian. Everyone who knows me knows that I can speak Russian reasonably well, but if I go all day speaking English, or not speaking to anyone at all and suddenly I need to say something, I stumble over my words. Half the people who first hear me speak think I'm Latvian, the other half think I have a speech disorder...and sometimes I may as well be a Latvian with a speech disorder.
*People getting sick all the time. At least it isn't me (knock on wood)
*The fact that on the first trip to Ekaterinburg I bought a beautiful pair of earrings, and on the second trip to Ekaterinburg I lost half of said pair of earrings.
*The question "Why are you here?", or the assumption that I must really miss all things American and would of course, go home for all of break.
*Babushkas. Yes, I am a horrible person for saying this. There ARE most certainly exceptions, but for the most part, Russian Babushkas are not sweet old ladies that tell you stories and make you tea. Or maybe they are, but that's not the side I see. The Babushki I see are either really depressing (such as the Babushka that sits outside the grocery store-where they sell reasonably fresh vegetables- selling rotten vegetables and worn-out looking mittens...for any last ruble or kopek she might scrape up), intimidating (you NEVER argue with a Babushka), or just downright annoying. I will not question the wisdom that comes with age, but...and maybe this is an American or Western point of view... an individual knows his or her own body and behaviors.
An open letter to Russian Babushki who might know English (haha): NO, for the hundredth time, I am NOT COLD. If I was cold, I would dress warmer so I would not be cold. I am not cold in my running clothes outside because I am running and therefore my body temperature goes up about 20 degrees. And running will not make me get meningitis or infertility or whateveryouclaimimightget. In fact, it is probably part of the reason why I still haven't gotten sick. NO, I am not cold wearing this short-sleeved shirt indoors, BECAUSE IT IS ROOM TEMPERATURE (OR EVEN WARMER) INDOORS. My feet are perfectly fine in these "autumn" boots and I do not need to buy myself "winter" boots... if I were cold, I'd put on thicker socks, and when I am walking my feet warm up anyway. I have a pair of winter boots, but they are too warm to wear inside. And NO, I do not need to wear stockings underneath my pants, at least until it gets to be -30. It is not -30, so why must I dress like it is just because it is by calender winter and at some point at this time of year it has been -30?
And furthermore, dear Babushkas.... No, I am not going to steal your stupid pel'meni (long story). I am perfectly fine walking home from work when it's cold outside, I will not get sick from being outside (it's the opposite, I'd get sick from germs on the marshrutkas), I will not become infertile from doing yoga on the floor (plus, I use a towel, for crying out loud!) An empty wine bottle inside does not mean I will lose all my money, and I will not get bridenapped when I go to the Caucasus.
Get it?!

Ok, enough.

*Kefir. Not "annoying" because no one has force-fed me this stuff or anything, but how the heck to people drink this stuff? It's gross!
*The assumption that everyone wants cream added to their food.
*The bus driver on the 06:30 bus to Ekaterinburg who played Russian techno music the whole way. I had intended to sleep on this bus. Only "sort of annoying" because at least the music was Russian and not American pop, if I had to listen to Rihanna at 6:30 in the morning or something of the like, I would have jumped out the window and walked to Ekaterinburg. I also figured, that maybe the bus driver played this music so he wouldn't fall asleep at the wheel himself. Understandable.
*Ice skating, and it's popularity. Don't get me wrong... ice skating of course can be fun! I personally prefer to go slowly, or at my own pace, and not in huge crowds of people... and even so, only once in a while, it's not really my thing. In Russia, though, at least in Chelyabinsk, EVERYBODY ice skates. All the time. It's considered strange if you DON'T go ice skating every weekend. Why is this annoying? Because of unpredictable little kids darting around and causing a tripping-over-them hazard, and 13-year-old hockey players sharing the rink with you. So you have to watch out for little kids, hockey pucks, and the occasional hockey stick... not exactly what I call a fun afternoon.
*Pukhoviki. A pukhovik is a kind of Russian winter coat. It is not fur except for the collar, it is just a coat with a texture that looks something like the Michelin tire guy... except it doesn't make you look fat. They are usually long and slender shaped with a belt in the middle, so that even in warm winter clothes, Russian young women still show off their slim figures. People also wear pukhoviki when they go ice skating. I like my dublyonka, it is real fur and very warm and not as bulky looking as the American winter coats, but it does lack the sleekness of the pukhoviki, you cannot distinguish what kind of figure is underneath. I thought from before that wearing a dublyonka and high-heeled boots would make me indistinguishable from other Russians my age, but no... most people my age wear pukhoviki, plus "winter" high-heeled boots, and a hat on top. (Why, if the pukhovik has a fur hood, do you also need a hat?)
*Russian dates. A typical date with a Russian is a movie and a walk in the park... or sometimes, more ice skating. Somebody else correct me if I'm wrong. This kind of date is perfectly fine, I like movies (usually), and I like to go for walks, but for especially a first or second date when you are still getting to know someone, this isn't really what I have in mind. There are some things I like about this difference from American dates where people go to restaurants or something... they cost less money, they don't involve calories and/or being judged on what you do or do not get to eat... but when I want to go on a date with someone and get to know that person, I really need to sit down across from him and make eye contact and have a good conversation. You can't do this in a movie theater, and on a walk...while walking is great... there are too many other distractions, like other people, buildings, cars, cold, and what good a look do you get at someone when they are all bundled up in winter clothing? My ideal kind of date is to go and have a drink (just a glass of wine is enough) at a place where there is music, maybe live music (but not until after meaningful conversation) and dancing. Maybe this is too expensive?

*The actual temperature. Maybe because it's been a "mild" -15C on average, but the Russian Winter is more invigorating and strength-building than annoying. Once I am dressed right, I feel empowered after having gone running when it is -24 (that's the lowest temperature I have run through so far... about -12F)
*Kyrgyz bureaucrats. They get a 7.5/10 rating for me. I got the visa without any problem, they were quick with doing it and I never had to wait long. Maybe because there was not much going on there. The only issue was, I am pretty sure I am the ONLY female American they have ever in their lives seen come to their consulate in Ekaterinburg for a Kyrgyz tourist visa. I seemed to have blown their minds.
*Speaking Russian. Obviously. I LIKE to speak Russian. And if I get to do so for most of the time outside of English class, even better.
*Class periods/"pary". I used to think that 90 minute classes were long... but they seem to fly by actually.
*Trains. Call me crazy, but I actually like to travel by train. Yes, it's often long. We'll see if this changes after my 52-hour Chelyabinsk-Krasnodar mega-train-ride. But I usually meet interesting people and have an excuse to nap all day or read or do nothing at all.
*Running around a track. Even though it is much more boring than running on a road with hills, it has it's meditative points, and I am just so thankful for this Soviet track that it doesn't matter how boring it is, I'm just glad to have a place to run.
*Culture in general. As I have mentioned many times already, I've adjusted pretty easily. Well..until a Babushka comes around.


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Well Helen, it is pathetic.In the good way. I might be crazy enough, but I have read all your complaints(annoying part+sort of annoying) and could say that it is makes sense. I could agree with some of the point from the list, most of them to be honest. That fact makes me laugh. It is obvious that annoying things are stressful, especially when they are persistent. So it is intrinsic that people usually try to get rid of it. Are you? What strategy do you use... Please tell me so I can help myself.
    From that point, if I you would let me to reconstruct that list, I would do it like this:

    Things that could be
    1)Changed by you(alternatively: self related) 2)Changed by certain circumstances( environmental relation)
    3)Cannot be changed(no self or environment relation has been found)

    I think that most of the point from you list cold go to first to units. Apparently for the firs glance it looks like just one thing goes to the N3 position, which is "winter..." so it can not be changed.

    Anyway. Thanks for sharing experience. For me it's a good chance to practise English aswell.