Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hello all.
So it's currently ten minutes to three in the middle of the night where I am. Wanna know why I'm still awake? I'm sure you do. It's because at five fifty five in the morning I'm flying to Milan for my second (much-needed) vacation. I know, I know, I was just on vacation, but I'll tell you, freezing weather and a bunch of grumpy Russians really put you in the mood to head for greener, more pasta-laden pastures. Don't get me wrong, Moscow is a wonder and as extreme as I was hoping for, but it is so extremely exhausting that I can't even explain it in words. The people are constantly scowling, and it's fairly impossible to get anything done in a timely fashion. Additionally, I'm pretty sure that as winter gets more biting, we're all going to be seeing some people frozen to death in the streets. Already the old babushkas that stand asking for money everywhere are getting more and more frail, lost in their folds of scarves and fifty-year old housecoats. The young women here are extraordinarily tall, so I wonder how they get so short later in life. It's a nastoyashii mystery.
I'm sort of just killing time right now and I don't have so much to report, except that it'll probably be snowing when I return from Italy on the 28th of this month. Oh, to go from 70 degrees and sunny to zero degrees and sleet is going to be quite a shock to my little system. All will be fine, though. Now's the time that we start going directly home from school and talking with our babushkas and looking at their ancient household appliances, for the first time actually taking the time to wonder how they work. I've not yet wondered how the people themselves work, though. It's too complicated a question to grapple with. If I think of anything amazing, I'll be sure to let you know. Vnimatel'no.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Moscow: Metro.

Not a real gun

Moscow: at Bilingua.

Schloss Schonbrunn in Vienna

Vienna: Schloss Schönbrunn.

Spot the difference.
Strange that My Moscow Diary is actually beginning with My Vienna Diary, isn't it?

Hey folks. I'll tell you's hard to stay on a computer in Moscow for long enough to download pictures and even "blog", as they say, so instead, I came to Vienna. I came to Vienna for a variety of reasons. 1) It's beautiful. 2) Moscow is exhausting. 3) I've never seen figure skating up close and personal. And of course, 4) I can now write something for you, dear readers, to peruse at your leisure. So where exactly does that leave us? Okay.
I've been in Moscow almost exactly two months. I've surely learned a lot of Russian but it doesn't feel like it because I still constantly struggle to have interactions more complicated than ordering coffee and food and fetching things for my three year old host sister. She's adorable. Her name is Masha. There's also an eleven year old boy called Zhenya, and their parents, Irina and Viktor. And Irina's parents, but I can't totally remember their names and they're still at the dacha anyways. Soon they'll be back with cats two and three and a dachsund. It's a four room apartment, people. Welcome to Moscow! Here are other fun facts about my life:
I am consistently jostled on the metro. No, I am consistently sweating and squished on the metro. The people running to get on the train sort of just run at the crowd as hard as they can and hope the doors don't close on them. That's fun.
A cup of non-instant coffee costs about four dollars. However, a delicious baked potato or khatchapuri costs about ninety cents. Getting into Dostoevsky's boyhood home costs approximately forty cents. Go figure.
I live in a really ritzy neighborhood. All my neighbors have German automobiles.
No one stops for pedestrians.
There are more monasteries here than you can shake a sin at. It's strange because it's one of the more sinful cities in the world, I think. Plus orthodox Russians cross themselves backwards. Like up, down, right shoulder, left shoulder, rather than left then right. It's bizarre. It looks scary, for some reason.
If I never see dill again, it'll be too soon. They are crazy for dill.
On Saturdays, people get married and then drive through the city partying in different places. All the brides get their dresses muddy and sometimes brass bands follow them. It's completely amazing.
The phone system is willfully inefficient. It's controlled by the mobile phone company Megafon. Megafon is apparently owned by Putin. Go figure. He's a smooth talker, that one.
That's about all I got for now. Really there's so much more but I'm not sure how much I can fit into digital expression. You're all just going to have to see my metro face to understand what's going on. It looks like this:

See, that doesn't tell you much, does it?
So tomorrow I return to Moscow from this ideal place, Vienna, where the streets are clean, the people smile, and around every corner is the most beautiful building you've ever seen until you turn the next corner. At the end of the month I'm going to Italy. I vow to be a more faithful blogger from here on out. Keep me to my word, dear readers, by acknowledging this Very First Entry with thoughts, comments, questions, non-sequiters, what have you. Thank you and good night.