Monday, July 28, 2008

Dealing With People

So I've been home a couple of weeks now. Sometimes it's just...strange. I'm completely and utterly sick of people asking me how Russia was. My typical answer is different. How do you really answer that? Because you can't just say "good." I mean, some parts of it weren't really that good. I usually answer "Different" though Sometimes I just feel like being rude and I want to say "Do you really care or are you just asking to be polite?" The other question I'm sick of is "Have you re-acclimated yet?" My usual answer to this is something along the lines of "Somewhat" or "eh.." But I seriously think that the next person who asks me that is going to get an earful of Russian.

I miss speaking Russian tons by the way. The other night I came home from somewhere and I just started speaking Russian to my mom. Naturally, she didn't understand it. So I started trying to tell her what different words meant but without telling her in English, just explaining it in Russian. Bless her heart, she was very patient with me just sitting there babbling on for like twenty minutes before she was like "Abigail, I'm sorry, I'm just too tired." Even though it's pointless to speak Russian to people here, I find myself doing it anyway. It's good practice for me anyway. When we got done, I followed mom upstairs to my parents' room where I promptly started to cry.

I've had that happen a couple of times. Just burst out crying. The first time was actullay the day I made my last blog post. The day before my party. I had stumbled upon a website that listed "the worst roads in the world." Number two were the roads in Yakutsk. A picture of a truck half stuck in mud was accompanied by a little blurb. I read said blurb which was basically not nice about Yakutsk. The last line was something like "Maybe Yakutsk isn't worth visiting after all." I promptly burst out crying. A lot. I felt so hurt and insulted because I lived in Yakutsk. Ten and a half months of my life were dedicated to that city and I know very well that even though it's remote and freezing in the winter, it is a good place to visit.

I'm weird about Russia too. Woe to anyone who makes some comment about Communism. They will quickly be set on the straight and narrow. Russia is not a communist country and has not been so for like 17 years. Woe as well to anyone who makes fun of Russia and/or Yakutsk. I spoke in my bible class today about life in Russia. I passed around a book with pictures of Yakutsk. One girl was flipping pages and came to a picture of a woman in Yakutian National Dress. She laughed loudly and asked if it was one of my host moms. I just shot her this evil glare.

Which is odd actually. Because I have no problem making fun of Russia myself. I mean, I don't feel bad about making comments about Vodka, or Russia, or Communists, or I'll make jokes about this country and the Capitalism. That's okay. Yet when other people do it, it irritates me. I felt rather hypocritical about it until someone said it perfectly. They said it's like having a little brother or sister. You can pick on them all you want, but are quick to jump to their defense when someone else does. And that, I think, is exactly what it is. I've lived in Russia. I know well, if not intimately, The language, the culture and the people. So I can kind of pick on the faults of the motherland. Yet it bothers me when people who don't know anything make fun because, well, they're just ignorant about it. Because they don't know about Russia, their jokes are coming straight from stereotypes. It irritates me. Usually, when a comment based on a stereotype comes out as just someone not knowing. Perhaps they ask it as a question. I assume that they just don't know and that they'd like to know so I'm usually pretty polite; however, I had some guys today that were just making fun and I...uh...wasn't nearly as polite to them :) Duratskii amerikantsii. But such is my life right now. I have my good and bad days. Just like when I was in Russia.

Some days are basically good with only a few thoughts on Russia. Most days though I think about it a lot. Or at least, the russian speaking part of it. In some ways, I try not to think about it. It's my defense tactic.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Being Back

It was a long trip. Last Friday was the longest day of my life. Seriously. I got up at 3am moscow time and went to sleep in my own bed at 3am Eastern Time. 12 hours right? no problem. You have to remember that between those times, I had a 4 hour flight, an 8 hour flight and a two hour flight. Plus layovers in various airports. I had many adventures, like almost getting on a flight to Detriot, but the upshot is that I started crying when, at 9pm eastern time, my airplane landed in Cleveland. All I could think was "Oh my goodness, I'm in Cleveland. I'm home, I'm home."

It was a shock on the flight from Moscow. I flew Swiss Air from Moscow to Zurich. Why was it a shock? Because Swiss Air speaks German and Swiss Air speaks English. They do a little French too. So it was a bit of a shock to be on this airplane and have the in-flight magazines not be in Russian, and to have people automatically address me in English. I was freaking out and had to mentally tell myself that "I need to be doing English."

I've been here almost a week and the novelty is starting to fade. I mean, yeah, I'm still happy to be hanging with my parents. To be able to see my family and friends. But in some ways, I no longer feel connected to them. My feelings are as changing as the wind. Mostly I don't want to be here. But my problem is that I'm not sure that I'd want to be back in Russia either. I don't know where I want to be.

I feel bad that I haven't updated more. Mom said people had started asking her why I wasn't updating. The truth is that I've been really busy. I feel like I've been going almost non-stop since I got back last week. What have I been doing? Well, aside from a family dinner and a party tomorrow, I've been doing what I've always done. I run errands with my parents, I go to church, I occasionally meet with friends. Yet somehow now, it seems like too much. Probably because I've gotten used to having entirely too much free time.

I haven't gotten back in to watching American TV yet. Just haven't felt like it. Don't really play a lot of Wii either aside from Wii fit and occasional guitar hero. I've been reading a lot. Working on Pride and Prejudice right now. I sleep a lot too. I tell you what, it hits 8 or 9 pm and I just crash. But I don't dare go to bed until at least ten. The one night, I went to bed at 8:45. Bad idea because as I result, I found myself nice and awake at about 4:30 in the morning. Fun.

What else has been happening? Well, I've got myself a cold, On the way home from the airport I forgot the English word for smetana (It's sour cream by the way) and I occasionally find myself asking questions with Russian intonation rather than English. Oh and I've gotten rather sick of people asking me "how was your trip?" I mean normally, it wouldn't be a problem but after ten and a half months of ups and downs in a foreign country, how do you answer that. I mean saying the standard "good" is just so inappropriate. Mostly I just say "different" and leave it at that though I'm seriously thinking about just giving a good russian answer, "normalnye"

Sometimes I do things that are really rude without thinking, and then I'm like "Oh, man, I'm really really sorry about that." Sometimes I find myself reaching for the button on the back of the toilet to flush it, before realizing it's not there, or I'll reach for the little triangularly folded paper napkins on the table and then remember you have to ask for them.

I've been enjoying American food, but every time I eat it, I can't help thinking about all the Russian food that I can no longer eat. What do I miss most? Caviar, Salo and Ice cream.

I was at a wedding yesterday. Watching the Bride and Groom the just seemed so young. Although actually, the couple is a year or so older than me. I told mom when I got home last night that some days I watch people and I feel positively Ancient.

She says it'll pass and I know she's right, but you can't come out of Russia, or exchange for that matter, without being changed in some inexplicable way. My friends tell me I'll get used to life here again, that I'll get "Back to normal." That makes me want to scream. I don't have some disease that I'm overcoming and can then return to society. There's nothing broken about me.

Well, I guess that's all. At least for right now. But stay tuned for more drama and excitment from the land of Capitalism and Free Trade. (And yes, I've been thinking that rather sarcastically lately though I have no reason to.) Oh, by the way, if you know me and haven't heard, My welcome back party's tomorrow. It's at the church from 2-4 so feel free to drop in and have all your burning questions answered. I should really go finish my power point for that too.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Конец Мира

Ну вот и все. So I'm leaving tomorrow. It's nuts. It doesn't feel real but at the same time it feels entirely too real. Ten and a half months ago do you know what I was doing? I was hanging out with my friends for the last time. And now it's the opposite. Just over ten and a half months ago my parents were taking me to the airport, and my mom was saying "If anything, we'll meet right back here in Ten and a half months." While we were at the baggage claim. That's something that's stuck with me over the last ten months. The fact that at the end of it, we'd meet right back where we started.

I've been busy the last few days, meeting with friends and my 'family' here. Yesterday, I made a call to my parents working out last minute details on a hotel in Moscow. A 15 hour layover means spending the night.

It's just weird. Now I have to go back. I have to be a grown-up. Go to college, get a job, that kind of thing. I'm not sure I'm ready to be an adult. Not sure I'm ready to go back to life in Ohio where I have responsibilities to people and places and things.

And I can't be a kid, because I don't feel like a kid at all anymore. I don't know when it happened, exactly, but at some point, I realized that I hadn't felt like a teenager in a long time. Hadn't felt like a kid in a long time. So I can't go back. Only forward. I just keep telling myself that going back is going to be the start of another adventure, but after being here, it's hard to think of it that way.

It's strange to think that I can go back to my native language now. That in two days, I'll be speaking only english. Seeing only english, hearing only english. It's depressing. I don't want to stop speaking russian. I like it.

Okay, so maybe this post is rather disoriented. Sorry, that's how I'm feeling at the moment. It's all so weird. I can't believe I'm going back to Ohio.

Even though there's things I hate about this city, I'm always going to have a soft spot for it. It's like the fact that there's things I love and hate about my city back in Ohio. But it's where I was born, where I grew up so I have a soft spot for it. In the same way, I grew up in a sense here. Yakutsk is where I learned about Russia, where I learned about the culture and the language and so in a sense my Russian self grew up here.

Okay, I've talked enough. Consider this my last post from Russia. The next one comes from American soil.

Monday, July 07, 2008


So, Thursday morning I head to the airport for the last time. My bags are mostly packed and I've been half living out of my suitcases the last week or so. These last three days, I'm going to be saying my final goodbyes to the people and places here that I've come to love. I feel like I should tell you about my weekend. Tell you about how I went to the Opening Ceremony of the Children of Asia games. Tell you about the odd Rotary New Year. But why? I mean, I feel like not talking about Russia on here, because well, I'm going to be home in four days and then you can ask me what you want to know, And if I'm not going to see you, then drop me an e-mail. I mean, I just feel like telling you how I feel. And this is it. Almost every day the past week or so I've cried. It'll be random things that set me off. Little things sometimes. The kids playing in the fountain on Ploshad Lenina. The other day, it was watching my Russian family interact with each other, and thinking about how in a week I'd be doing the same thing with my family back home.

It's weird because I think it's finally hit me that I'm leaving. But It's just so weird because I've just been living here, doing my thing. I've finally gotten used to life here. The rhythm of it, and now I'm leaving and let's be honest. I don't know if I'll ever come back. And that hurts.

A part of me could see me coming back. Renting an apartment, teaching english for a couple years (Even though I adamantly told my mother that I never wanted to be a teacher) Visiting Elena Ivanovna once a week, finding myself a Yakutian husband (ha ha) It's like this little thing in my head. But I don't know if that's the direction God has planned out for me. So for now, I'm wrapping up this adventure, and going to meet the next one head on. Life is always interesting. And I live it once. Might as well make the best of it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Homeward Bound-A Folk Song

(No, I didn't write this. It's a folk song. Sort of. sang it for a competition in like 8th grade. Or seventh. Don't remember. But thought it would be appropriate to post)

In the quiet, misty morning
When the moon has gone to bed
When the sparrows stop their singing
And the sky is clear and red
When the Summer's ceased its gleaming
When the corn is past its prime
When Adventure's lost its meaning
I'll be homeward bound in time.

Bind me not to the pasture,
Chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling
And I'll return to you somehow.

If you find it's me you're missing
If you're hoping I'll return
To your thoughts I'll soon be listening
In the road I'll stop and turn.
Then the wind will set me racing
As my journey nears its end
And the path I'll be retracing
When I'm homeward bound again.

Bind me not to the pasture,
Chain me not to the plow.
Set me free to find my calling
And I'll return to you somehow.

One week from tomorrow, I fly out of Yakutsk...