One year ago yesterday I got off an airplane and started my Russian adventure. I didn't even realize that's what yesterday was until I was sitting in my dorm room journaling at ten o'clock last night. I wrote something about 9/11 and thought "wow, that's this month" then I realized that it was September first and I got really weirded out. A call to my parents, who had just dropped me off ensued.
Me:"Mom, do you realize that at this time last september I arrived in Russia?"
Mom:"Yes, are you sad?"
Me:"No, just really weirded out."
We then proceeded to talk about many things including the Russia/Georgia conflict. I mentioned how hard it is when people ask me what I think of that, but then they get disturbed when I defend Russia. It's like "then why do you ask me if you're going to imply that I'm crazy and don't know what I'm talking about." I think the reason people ask me is because they know I've lived their and they want confirmation for their own stereotypes. I seriously think sometimes that they want me to just be like "Well, I've lived there and you are absolutely right. Russia is evil and power hungry." Honestly, I think it disturbs people at some deep level when I say something like "well, Georgia did start it." I'm probably going to get some nasty comments now for writing that too. I'm currently trying to work out a way to explain how I feel about this whole thing. A way to explain to all of you why it bothers me to hear you say the things you do about Russia.
While we're on the subject of things that bother me, here's a few more. The first one dealt with one of my textbooks. As you may know, One class I'm taking this semester is called "Comparing Politics" Well, I went and bought the textbook for this class only to show up on the first day of class and have the Prof. tell me that we were, in fact, using a different book. But that's really not the point of my story. See, before I realized this, I'd been looking at the textbook since we are comparing various governments I was hoping that there would be a section about Russia. There was. It was put under the section heading "Communist and Post-Communist Governments" along with China. Yeah, you could say that bothered me. You know it's funny though because sometimes the bothering is on a subconscious level and I won't realize how bothered I am by it until later. Why does it bother me? I think because every time we mention Russia in this country it's usually in conjunction with Communism. Like I found it really offensive that Russia has not technically been a communist country for what? seventeen years? And yet in modern editions of this particular textbook it was still being associated with communism. Oh and please don't even start with the whole "Well, even though it's not 'communist' we all know what Putin's doing." Because that will just make me angrier. And yes, people have said that to me. But that's a topic for another post.
Finally, the last thing that's bothered me over the last couple of days. It really has nothing at all to do with Stereotypes or the political situation. I was sitting in church on Sunday, next to a couple with a little girl. She was playing with a magnet set and I was mentally thinking of the words in Russian in case she asked. (We were playing this sort of thing with a sticker book a few weeks before. I'd tell her the words in Russian.) So she's got all the magnets piled up on the chair and I'm refreshing my memory and then I see that one magnet is a pineapple and I just stop. Because for the life of me I cannot remember how to say the word "pineapple" in Russian. I know it may not sound like a big deal. I mean it is only the word pineapple after all. It's not like a hugely important word. But I was seriously really disturbed because I couldn't remember it. I knew if I heard or read it, I would recognize it immediately, but I couldn't remember how to say it. Every time I tried to think of it, I drew a blank. Seriously disturbing. In fact, I couldn't remember this word all day Sunday, and all day yesterday. (I thought maybe if I stopped thinking about it and returned to it later, I would get a memory jog. No such luck) In fact I continued to draw a complete blank with this word until I just now found an online Russian dictionary and looked it up. It's Ananas by the way. In case you care. Ананас would be how it's spelled. I know, it doesn't sound like a big deal, but this was an almost terrifying moment. I'm afraid that I'm already forgetting.