Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Visiting Relatives and Seeing Jen Off

So, I had the option of three of five Russian language classes, and I picked the ones on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. Wednesday I'll have lexical difficulties and writing; Thursday is literature and film; and Friday is conversation. I think those are the best topics to help me with getting better at Russian.

But what that means is that today I did not have Russian class, so I woke up at 8-ish when Chloe's alarm rang and made sure she had my folder with all of the passports and photos that I'd collected. I also called Gabby and Victoria to make sure that they brought theirs and then went back to sleep, but not before texting Kirill to let him know that I'll be happy to help with anything at all.

I got up about an hour later, showered, dressed, continued writing my journal about yesterday, then got a band-aid from Regina for my blister from yesterday's shoes. On the way up to get the blister I was not watching my step and cracked my big toenail, which meant I needed not one, but two band-aids when I got up there. I then helped Danielle put money on her card and then went back upstairs to call the Yevreisons (my relatives on my dad's side) to get directions to their house.

I tried to contact Brandon for Kirill, before realising that he has an American phone and I just wasted 210 roubles trying to phone him. Then I went downstairs to sign my housing registration thingummy and get my passport back from Kirill. Regina did the same. Then I bid them both farewell and got on the bus to go to the train to Prospect Veteranov (Veterans Avenue).

I arrived at Veteranov Station at about 12:30pm. I had to call the Yevreisons twice more to find the apartment building. First I could not find the underground passage across Prospect Veteranov and then when I found it and had gone across I turned left instead of right. And of course I did not realise my mistake until quite late because the buildings do not have clearly marked numbers. Blech.

Anyway, eventualy I got to the right building (13) and entered the right apartment number (24) and I was welcomed inside.

I took off my boots and was given slippers. They asked if the boots were not too warm for me, which I'd anticipated, but I was wearing quite a short dress and without the boots I would feel positively indecent. Then, we went into the kitchen where they had cold borsch and shot glasses of, I think, cognac waiting. We drank to first meetings and then had the borsch. I am not usually a fan of cold soups, but as a guest I felt that I could not refuse and also it was hot enough that I felt like a cold borsch was exactly what the doctor ordered.

It actually turned out to be delicious, and extremely filling. But, of course, it was not the end of the meal, but only the beginning. Once the borsch was done it was time for the second course, which was lamb and potatoes. That was extremely tasty as well, but altogether too filling after the very filling soup I'd just had and I just could not finish it. During the meal we talked about all sorts of things--updates on family well-being, housing, jobs, marriages, etc. We also talked genealogies and mutual friends and so on. It was awesomely bizarre to find out that they knew of Stony Brook, because as it turns out, Sonya Girschman (Yuriy Yevreison's wife) is friends with the mother of Stas Altshuller, who is my brother-in-law's best friend. How small the world is!

After the second course, which I was unable to finish, we had some compote and then Yuriy and I retired to the living room to chat. With us went a bowl of grapes and nectarines. I was feeling completely stuffed by then, but I managed some grapes throughout the conversation. It started storming pretty intensely while we were in the room and Sonya went around closing windows.

After that, we migrated to the computer room, so Yura could show me photos of his kids and grandkids. Mercifully, the food did not accompany us there. His collection of Malamud photos is woefully incomplete, which we should remedy. I told my father as much when I spoke to him this past evening. Yura's son and daughter-in-law went to the Arab Emirates pretty recently, so there were tons of cool photos from there.

After photos, it was time for tea. I consented to one pastry called "Bouche", but then he offered me some suhariki (very dry sweetened toast). I agreed to have one and ended up with three. When I stood my ground and refused a second Bouche, Yura asked me if I was on a diet. Really?! I'd like to see the kind of diets around here if refusing to continue to eat after you are stuffed is reason for someone to think you are on one. When I told my mother this story later, she said I should have said yes to save myself the trouble. I hadn't thought of that...

After tea, we took photos together for our respective records and then I left. During my stay, I was texting back and forth with Jen and others about Jen's going-away-shindig-thing, and worrying about making it back to Vasilevsky Island in time for that, what with the storm and all. I left at 16:30 during a break in the storm.

While I headed back I tried to get in touch with people, but hardly anyone was responding until I got back to Vasilevsky Island and even then there was all sorts of confusion about who was going and what was happening and etc.

I hung out briefly in Ben, Oleg, and Tom's room while waiting for news from Jen. Victoria, Stephen, and I all decided to go to the thing, and then finally Jen called. Steve left his bag in my room and then Tim, Jen's roomie and host, gave us directions to the place. We were informed that it was walking distance, but our aching bodies let us know that that sort of thing was not okay.

We made it to the corner of Gavanskaya St. and Shkiperskiy Protok, and then there were two places. One was a restaurant and bar called Ugly Duckling and the other was a place called Magazin-Bar. We did not see Jen and co. in Ugly Duckling and Magazin-Bar seemed super sketchy, so we just phoned Jen about a bllion times, but she kept not picking up. Eventually she did, though, and it turned out that Magazin Bar was indeed th eplace.

It actually turned out to not be sketchy at all. It's like a nice little bar, with beer on tap and food and also games such as chess, backgammon, and dominoes. Jen, Tim, a bunch of journalism students, and Julia Vorobyeva (the other ACLI coordinator besides Tim) were there hanging out and talking and all in all having a good time. I definitely want to go back there to hang out at some point.

Victoria later left with the journalism students to check out their dorms (which are apparently nicer than ours), but Steve and I stayed to hang out with Jen, Tim, and Julia. Unfortunately, Steve and I had to leave pretty soon after that because Steve needed to get his bag from my room before catching the last bus back to his home.

We took a bus back to the dorms this time because we were super tired and the walking distance thing is only true for not tired people. I was aching all over by the time we got back and also had a headache. I'd taken two Excedrin before going to the thing at Magazin Bar, which helped for that time, but I felt like I needed another one by the time I got back to my dorm.

I tried to sleep using Chloe's blindfold, also, since the sun was still bright, even though it was nearly midnight. The blindfold-sleep-idea didn't really work 'cause I kept texting tons of people, including Kirill about life and Gabby to try to get a massage.

When Chloe got back, she made a phone call home, which reminded me that I had not done that yet, so I phoned dad, mom, Ella, Sophia, grandpa, and grandma. I did not reach grandpa, so I will have to do that tomorrow. By the time I finished chatting with Sonya, my painkillers must have kicked in because my head was feeling fine, which allowed me to sleep.

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