Weather.com is ridiculous.

I can’t believe it has taken me this long to stop using weather.com.

Have you seen that site lately? I don’t know how long it’s been this way, but it’s practically The National Inquirer with a little bit of weather. The page is filled with sensational headlines, most of which are tragic: 8th-grader impaled and killed during recess, photo taken just as newlyweds met their demise, puppy found after eight months of horrific–

Bleh. I shudder. I think you get the point.

I’m using accuweather.com from now on.

Just Like a Russian

My Russian professors keep trying to make me talk about very deep and personal topics in class.

I don’t mind, but… The thing is, I don’t have the vocabulary for it. Lots of these questions are cultural, things like “Why did Americans tend to adopt sick Russian kids instead of healthy ones?” and “Is it true that American children dump their parents into old-people homes?”

When I’m asked these things, the pressure is on. I’ve got three objectives:

1) Speak clearly and intelligently.
2) Don’t offend your professors, even accidentally!
3) Be a positive representative of your nation.

All of these are equally difficult for me right now.

You know… Reading Russian literature (in English) gives me the idea that, in general, these people are quick to philosophize and dive into the deep and the personal. ha, I might not be wrong. :)

Love, capricecake

Bitchy Tram Employee

Дамы и господа, ladies and gentlemen, I have some unsettling news.

According to a statement by the bitchy woman who works in the Ploshad’ Lenina tram station, I, Sasha, am not a student. This shocking realization is the result of my attempt this past Tuesday to obtain a student tram pass.

Sources say that Russians are nice in the street but turn into hateful, two-dimensional versions of themselves when they are clocked into their menial day-jobs.

All this time I thought my student-ID and my university entrance card were proof of my status as a student. I’ve been attending classes, doing homework, and even buying school-lunches in the uni’s cafeteria. Who would have thought that all this time, it was a lie?

I tried to explain to the tram worker that I am a student, but something seems to have been lost in translation. When asked what I could do to rectify the situation, the woman threw up her hands, shouting and glaring at me with incredulous rage. Her coworker, attracted as a dog by the sound of a scuffle, mirrored her in gestures, tone, and beaming hatred.

I suppose that this working-class hero’s discovery means that my Russian visa is invalid and that I shall soon be deported, but, hey, at least I know I would have gotten an A, had my hours in class actually counted for anything…

 

(This has been a very sarcastic news broadcast by Sasha, aka capricecake.)

10 Things I Dislike about Volgograd

As a follow up to the list I just made of 10 things I love about this historic city, here are ten things I really don’t like oh god make them stop.

1. Adjustments. Flyaway emotions and slight weight gain. No, this needs to be done now.

2. Home university screwing up major paperwork. No, this needed to be done months ago.

3. No hot water for four days out of every week. (Apparently we’ll have hot water every day “in the fall.” Not sure when that will actually start?)

4. Being a vegetarian in a culture that still generally doesn’t get it. ha.

5. City danger. At sundown, the drunks come out, and the girls lock themselves inside their homes.

6. Paying for everything myself, like the adult I so wanted to be. I’m used to buying my own food, but buying kitchenware and toilet paper is new. :( Then there are monthly transport and Internet fees…

7. Tied to number six: not being about to work. I’m here on a student visa, but I’d need a work visa for a job. That’s right: I’ve got negative income this year.

8. Missing one person in particular whom I love very much.

9. Having empty conversations with my peers because I lack the vocabulary to talk about anything of substance.

10. Anticipating coming home. I think that’s one of the hardest things about leaving home for a while. Readjustment will be hard, things will have changed without me, and I’ll have changed, too. Nothing will fit right, at least at first.

But, most of these things are not so bad. It took three weeks, but I’m comfortable here. And what’s three weeks, anyway? Moreover, some of these things (like $7 and #10) are thoughts I don’t need to have right now. They’re unchangeable and belong to a time other than the present! So I will carry on.

I hope this isn’t a bummer. I think it provides a nice balance to my gushing “ten things I love” post. ;)

Love, capricecake

10 Things I Love about Volgograd

I’ve been in Volgograd, Russia for just over three weeks now. I try to take pictures of special things I see, but sometimes it would be tasteless for me to whip out my iPhone and start snapping away (like when I see cute old ladies or toddlers). Some things are better remembered and related in a list.

Here is that list.

1. Food. Although I do miss peanut butter, I’m not going hungry here. (; I have to prepare all of my own meals, and I’ve been trying something new every couple of days. I’m wild about the dairy products here: sour cream, cottage cheese, kefir, milk, cirok, yogurt… It’s all so rich!

2. Older Russian ladies. There are a lot of grandmas here with hands like roots of a tree, knotty and strong. I admire them from afar… since, you know, I don’t actually have a reason to bother them with stammered, broken Russian.

3. On the flip side: Russian toddlers. One day, I wound up in a waiting room with a tiny Russian lad. He had a scab on his nose.
Helloo! I said, and he mimicked me: Hell-ooo! So cute. I wonder if he knows “hello” in English, or if he’s just a really good mimic
I asked him about the scab on his nose. He touched it as if he’d forgotten it was there; then he told me an incoherent story in his adorable baby-drawl. To be honest, I’m not very good with kids, but I love trying to talk to them here in Russia. (Probably because  they speak only a little bit better than me.)

4. Public transport. None of that ‘more than $100/month’ nonsense that is car ownership.

5. People selling produce they grew at their dachas, their summer cottages. It feels good dealing directly with the people who grew the food I’m buying! And they’re much more patient and kind than store clerks.

6. Healthy regionalism. Volgograd just celebrated its 425th birthday! Everyone I’ve met has expressed love for their city without any ethnocentrism.

7. Russian women. They’re just gorgeous. I love to see their beautiful clothes and hair styles, and being surrounded by a million perfect figures is (hopefully) helping me keep my own figure in check. Peer pressure can be positive.

8. Exploring. I love walking, and there are enough streets and paths here for me to pick a new route whenever I want.

9. Learning the language. Immersion is the way to go!

And finally, the big one:

10. Mama Russia. There is a statue called “The Motherland Calls,” and it is right across the street from my dorm. It is colossal and it is glorious. I’ve been dreaming about visiting this monument for a long time, and to be able to see her standing tall on the other side of the street– just, wow. It’s better than I’d dreamed. FOR THE GLORY OF RUSSIA!

I’ve Been Welcomed to Night Vale

I’m going to just go ahead and assume you are familiar with the bizarre podcast that is Welcome to Night Vale.

Night Vale was new when I started college, and now it’s more than 50 episodes into its bimonthly series. I’ve been wanting to dive into a series for a while now– probably since I started college!– but I haven’t had the time. I was really jonesing for the time when I had a story to follow… House MD and the anime Fullmetal Alchemist are my all-time favorites, as well as some of the only series I’ve ever actually gotten into. ^_~

Well, now I have the time to invest in such a story. I’m locked in my apartment at sundown to avoid the dangers of a foreign city, and I need to have something to do throughout the 6-8 hours from when I come home to when I actually go to sleep.

Mostly, reading and writing fills that space. (And oh am I pleased with that.) But I need something fun to do, too. And so I listen to Welcome to Night Vale.

The best way to listen to this podcast is to pretend you are a citizen of Night Vale, nodding your head at references to characters you pretend to actually know, visualizing scenes as if they’re as familiar as your hometown… Night Vale is weird. It’s a stretch of the imagination. And I love it.

Fanmail! (From Russia with Love)

I was restless last night, so to burn some energy, I poured my heart into fanmail for the frontman of one of my favorite bands. Put more accurately, I poured my heart into a draft, then reworked the draft into something more tongue-in-cheek, hoping my wit and cynical charm will impress him. Or something.

Fanmail is embarrassing and awkward. It’s different from writing adoring comments for my favorite Web-poets, just as an example. They probably read the comments and at least smile at them, if not glow inwardly at the connection they’ve made to another person (as is my typical reaction to comments.) But this guy is a celebrity with fans who are much more devoted than me, and who probably has to deal with silly people romanticizing his life and begging for him to sign their undies. Or something.

I do have high hopes for this letter, though! You see, I have an edge. I’m going to send him this letter from Russia, and hopefully he (or whoever sorts his mail) will ask, in a tone of pleasant surprise, “what the f**k?” and then my mail will receive priority! At least, it might specifically not be ignored, which is just as good.

That’s my plan. I’m excited. I’ll check out the cost of postage and send it out as soon as possible! And, if the process isn’t too expensive or annoying, maybe I’ll take advantage of my somewhat-interesting location and send out some more letters to more celebrities I admire. Kimya Dawson, Regina Spektor! Oh, the possibilities! Next time you see me, I’ll have famous pen-pals. ;)