Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Ms. Tennessee and Wonderpants opted for a 2 week vacation in December and went home to America to spend Christmas with family. Ms. Australia went to England to spend Christmas with Gem, and Mr. Irish, Quagmire and I were stuck covering all their classes in addition to our own. For the past two weeks we've been working our butts off, teaching English to groups of students we don't know. Of course, a lot of that teaching was Christmas-related, which means watching movies and cutting snowflakes out of printer paper. Nevertheless, my workdays increased from an average of 6 hours per day to over 10 hours per day.
The traditional Eastern Orthodox Christmas is January 6th but it's not as big a deal, thanks to the Soviets, as Christmas is in the west. New Years Eve is the big day in Russia, so it should be interesting to see.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Ms. Tennessee went home to the U.S. to visit family over Christmas, and the small adorable kitten she acquired last month was sent to Quagmire to watch over for the next month. His landlord, however, was coming over to inspect the place on Sunday so he and Wonderpants asked me and Mr. Irish if we could take the cat just for the afternoon.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Thursday, December 10, 2009
- high maintenance
- overweight and don't care about their natural feminine beauty
- likely to cheat and then blame it on their partner
- nag constantly
- hate men
- believe family is evil and care only for themselves
- can't cook
- sleep with lots of guys but are incapable of loving just one" - Atlanta Journal article "Why Men Marry Foreign Women", 2008
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
Sasha and I bought her flowers at a little flower shop and went to her place. Sasha's giflriend, Gal, was already there and the two girls were busy preparing a feast. They were slicing and dicing and seasoning and boiling and baking. Sasha and I were shooed out of the kitchen so we watched YouTube clips on Katerina's laptop.
Then her parents came home, and got to meet them. Her mother speaks no English and I could tell the moment we met that she didn't like her daughter dating a foreigner. Her mother is a silent type, and after the obligatory "Zastroot-vye" (formal "hello") she didn't say anything to me or use anybody to interpret for her.
Her father was a lively guy. He handed his daughter a birthday card filled with roubles and poured everyone a glass of champagne and then led us in toast after toast after toast. When the champagne was gone he grabbed a bottle of Martini and did the same.
He was curious about me, and liked that I was from Canada. Although he had limited English he used Katerina and Sasha as translators. "I have family in Canada." he told me. I asked him "Are you Ukrainian?" to which he replied "Of course I'm Ukrainian! I am NOT Russian!" and with the word "Russian" he made a spitting motion, as if the word tasted bad. "Here, try some Amaretto!"
Dinner pretty much followed this pattern, with Gal and Sasha yapping at me in English, Katerina's mother doing everything to ignore me and her father doing everything to get everyone completely drunk, Russian style (or should I say Ukrainian style?). He even gave me one of his 'Ukrainian' cigarettes to try.
With Katerina translating I learned that the Soviet authorities had taken him from his home in the Ukraine when he was 17 and put him through engineering school, although he just wanted to be a farmer. After University he was drafted into the military as a Red Army engineer, and spent 10 years building army bases along the Russian-Chinese border. He met Katerina's mother, a Don Cossack from Volgograd (formerly Stalingrad) and they married and he's lived in Moscow ever since. Learning that Katerina was half Cossack helped to explain her incredibly stubborn demeanour when she gets an idea in her head.
After dinner we were all slightly drunk and us "youngsters" made our way to the Shyolkova bowling alley, which was lit in black lighting and blaring trance music. We ordered drinks and pizza and an ashtray and proceeded to bowl for the next few hours.
I was doing horribly until I caught sight of one lonely blue 10-pound ball sitting on a rack behind our table. For some reason it called out to me. I stuck my fingers in the holes and they fit perfectly. Like Arthur drawing Excalibur from the stone, I hoisted the ball into the air and then flung it down the lane. Strike! After that my lucky ball scored well for me, and I ended up coming in second after Katerina.
When it was time to go, around 3 am, we walked through the snow that had fallen that day, over a little bridge above a river, and to a park that was lit in soft lights reflecting off the snow-covered ground. Then we proceeded to horse around, sufficiently intoxicated so as not to feel the cold. My Russian friends made the mistake of picking a snowball fight with me, and I taught them a thing or two about fastball pitching and leading a moving target, so that the snowball and the victim meet the same point of space at the same time. Katerina wasn't happy when my snowball got her in the face as she was running, but I was impressed!