Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A Small Victory (or Merry Christmas to Me)

Tonight I am celebrating my own personal victory over the rigors of teaching English in a foreign country. After an extremely hectic 3 1/2 months I have finally reached the winter holidays! For the next 12 days, until January 11th 2010, I am going to enjoy the fruits of my labours.

Mr. Irish, Quagmire and I are the only 3 teachers who stayed behind in Mytischi for the break so we've been conspiring to enjoy ourselves in a more traditional Russian sense. In the new year we will be going to a dacha, which is a country home not unlike a cottage where Russians go to get away from the stresses of city life. I'm also going to visit Suzdal, a medieval Russian town made of wood west of Moscow. On Thursday we're celebrating the New Year at our Russian friend's home, Russian style. Tomorrow Mr. Irish and I are going to the Moscow Conservatory to see a piano and cello concerto. Tonight I'm breaking my "never drink alone" rule and I'm enjoying vodka and Pall Mall cigarettes after a second consecutive 11 hour work day.

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.

Christmas Eve and Christmas Day were spent teaching English. I found a 4' plastic Christmas tree under a bunch of junk on my enclosed balcony and, together with Katerina, went to Ashan, a Wal-Mart style superstore in Moscow, and bought decor for it. I also bought myself a 250 GB external hard drive to store my growing collection of downloaded movies and a dark blue acoustic guitar and traveling case. Santa was kind.

With a decorated tree and some new toys, Mr. Irish and I kicked off Boxing Day by waking up to Bailey's and coffee. By mid-afternoon we were feeling pretty good and as I cleaned the place Mr. Irish cooked up a roast beef feast. In the evening Katerina, Quagmire and Sasha came over and we drank Irish whiskey and beer and wine and vodka and listened to Christmas carols. I had put stockings stuffed with little gifts out for everyone "from Santa" and Katerina brought over gift bags. I received a nice tie with a silver tie clip and cuff links. Her expectations of me are misplaced.

By 11 pm Katerina was very drunk and passed out in my bed. I think I passed out shortly after. It was a good Boxing Day/Christmas.

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.

In hindsight, this has been a dynamic year for me. A year ago I had just left Port Hardy and was planning on coming to Russia. When that didn't pan out I tried to make a go of it in Ottawa but that's a difficult city to live in. Job prospects aren't hot if you're not fluently bilingual and housing is expensive. Then I had a crazy summer in Owen Sound and Kitchener, and then I came to Russia and have spent the past months settling in. I am definitely not the same person I was nearly 2 years ago when my ex and I broke up, and I have since reconnected with family and old friends, made some incredibly good new friends and have seen some of the sights that have been on the top of my "Must-See-Before-I-Die" list.

Tonight I am celebrating a small victory in my life. Tonight, I feel I have earned the right to drink vodka on my own! Plus, the demon kitty is back at Quagmire's!

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