Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Пождество


It's Christmas in Canada! No, I'm not talking about the South Park episode. The holiday is here. Much of the world has spent the day consumed with gift wrap and turkey and strings of cheap colored lights. How did I celebrate? I went to work.

In Russia, Christmas is on January 7th, due to the Orthodox calendar. However, it's mostly a church thing. The real celebration is New Year. It has the tree, the presents, even a local version of Santa Claus, but it's on a different date. I think it's a Soviet holdover. Whatever the reason, it means that December 25th is completely ordinary to most Russians. Businesses are open, kids are in school, and everything is status quo.

For someone coming from the North American holiday frenzy, it's downright disorienting. To be cut off from family and friends on top of it all makes it that much worse. I've had a few nostalgic moments today, no doubt about that - and a wonderful Skype conversation with my parents, though it was hard to miss out on Christmas morning with them.

At the same time, a holiday season is a holiday season, no matter where you are. The kids have been keyed-up and babbling about their vacation plans for weeks. Every building has a string of lights thrown on it. New Year trees are being sold on the street corners. We've had pub nights, season-themed lessons, and a staff outing to The Wizard of Oz on ice. So it's a weird combination of Christmas and no Christmas.

Today, however, was perfectly ordinary. In some respects, this was a good thing - working kept my mind off what I was missing. I taught my classes (well, if you call "showing them The Grinch and A Mickey Mouse Christmas Carol" teaching) and put on a brave face. Some of the older students were thoughtful enough to wish me a Merry Christmas - one even brought me a gift! - and one of my classes had several students from South America, so we shared a little OMG IT'S CHRISTMAS moment.

At several points during the day, I stopped and thought to myself, "Today is Christmas Day," like that kid in A Christmas Carol. The world was still going on around me. People rushed around living their daily lives. I missed the complete standstill that happens every year - the moments to reflect and spend time with family and celebrate together. But Russians have their own time for that, and I knew that coming in. With the wonders of the Internet, I even got to communicate with my family. Today, I saw so much goodness in so many people, from Russia and Canada and all over the world. There were so many people willing to make the day just a bit better. That is worth so much more than a holiday - even if I still miss home.

A very merry Christmas to all of you reading this, and may you never be alone. 

Friday, December 6, 2013

Сто дней



On Tuesday of this week, unbeknownst to me, I hit a milestone in my Russian journey - my first 100 days. This is out of roughly 280, as calculated by a random website. So, like Obama (and this is only marginally less important), I will take the time to reflect on my first 100.

For starters, this was my first ever "grown-up" job, and boy, did I pick a doozy. Adjusting to the working world, moving to a new country, and starting in a new industry - I did that all at once. It's been bumpy, and it's a hell of a lot of work, both in terms of time and energy expended. Teaching is difficult and stressful, no matter where you are. And for the rest of this month, it's going to be a long and rugged path, as we get all the marking and paperwork done for the end of term. But I'm getting better. God knows I'm not perfect - I'm not even "good" yet, no teacher is without experience - but my students seem to like me, and my boss is more or less satisfied. Even my more difficult classes are starting to come along. There's a lot of room for improvement, but I'm not terrified every morning, and that is progress.

As far as Russia itself, it was nowhere near as big an adjustment as I feared. There are the usual bureaucratic hoops, but they have been sorted out and I can more or less move about freely. With the Internet's existence and increasing globalization, I don't feel nearly as cut off from home as recently, and a lot of the changes from home are reduced (seeing the brands you like, navigating local sites, etc, etc). There's something both good and bad about that, I think - it's not as easy to have an experience unique to that country, but on the other hand it makes adjustment that much easier. Winter is no problem (much to the disappointment of my students, who love to see their non-Russian teachers recoil in terror at the weather). I'm Canadian. I laugh in the face of winter. HA HA HA!

Due to a crazy schedule, I haven't gotten out as much as I would have liked, but have managed to see some of the city. Red Square is always interesting, and I really enjoyed Gorky Park. The Pushkin and Tolstoy literary museums were excellent, with Tolstoy in particular standing out for its fantastic displays. I've also made a few friends, all other teachers (Russian and non-Russian). They have kindly shown me the city and given me invaluable help over the past few months. In fact, tomorrow I will be off to a most excellent karaoke bar to celebrate someone's birthday. This friend also introduced me to Georgian food, which I expect will be a lifelong favourite!

Having a vacation makes all the difference. Even in the past few days since I booked the Israel trip, I've been much happier. It's a break from routine, a time to do nothing but sightsee, bask in the sun and enjoy being me. It's going to be awesome. And tonight, I get to do something I've been looking forward to for months - I'm going to see Elton John in concert! Yes, I've seen him before, but this particular location at this particular time should prove to be extremely dramatic.

So here I am, more than a third of the way through the school year and feeling pretty good. There have been good days and bad, but I've had some fantastic experiences and hold the promise of several more. The first one hundred days of Russia have been the experience of my life, in ways both good and bad. As I head into the last one hundred and eighty, I think it's going to get better and better.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Каникулы


So...can anyone guess where I'm going for the New Year Holiday?




Anyone?


ANYONE?!


Friday, November 29, 2013

Красная плошадь, еще





With the first snow of the year, I thought I'd head back to Red Square and catch some of Russia's winter magic. The lights are up in all the stores, and Ded Moroz is everywhere. It's the holiday season.







Perhaps it wasn't the best day to go - there was no snow on the ground, and the famous skating rink is still being set up. Apart from the beautiful Northern European mist settling in, it was bleak and grey as always. Still, there was a light snow falling, and an air of first-winter excitement. Everyone was happily strolling by and taking pictures of the skating-rink-in-progress.





The grounds in front of the Kremlin were open (there was some sort of military parade when I was there in September), so I looked around and checked out some of the memorials. The flat blocks commemorate famous battles in the Great Patriotic War (also known as WWII) - can you guess what this one is?







I was also lucky enough to have my first unobstructed view of St. Basil's, blocked by a children's festival last time. It's just as beautiful as they say. I couldn't stop staring, and when the church bells rang on the hour, it seemed absolutely perfect. The light snow, the beautiful domes, the ringing throughout the square. I was in Russia, and for the first time in a while, it felt right.





Today I gave Lenin's tomb a pass - once was enough, and it's closed today anyway - but I did get a few pictures of the exterior. Those blocks in the back are tombs of other Soviet leaders. One of them is Stalin, I think the one furthest left.









I wasn't there when that guy nailed his delicate bits to the cobblestones a few weeks back (though that must have been a sight to see), but I did manage to catch the Louis Vuitton monstrosity. Yes, it's as hideous as they say. And yes, I'm with the authorities on this one. It should be taken down. Thankfully, that is exactly what they are doing.




There were news crews everywhere, which I found most interesting - with all the strange and unfortunate events going on in the world, you pick an ugly statue? Somehow, though, it seems fitting. This is an example of the changing nature of Russia. Twenty-five years ago, a giant ugly Louis Vuitton suitcase in Red Square would have been unimaginable. Now, all the brands and fashions of the world have landed in Moscow, and for the most part they've embraced it. Sometimes it's an awkward, overly conspicuous fit, as we see today.

It makes me wonder which direction Russia will go in. It's becoming more and more clear that this moment is something of a turning point. Russia could start on one path, or on another. Maybe several at once. Getting to know Russian youth through my job, I've seen a lot of potential in the next generation. Whatever happens - I think that this decade will be one of crucial changes. For better or for worse.



Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Снег идет




Well, it's finally happened. We had a few scattered flakes here and there, but winter always seemed just around the corner. Today, however, the skies opened and the uncharacteristically warm autumn finally gave up the ghost. The grass and cars are covered in white. Russian winter is here.

This year it came a little late. My friends tell me that Moscow is usually snowed in by mid-October, and yet here we are, close to December and barely into winter. We actually talked about this on Sunday, which is presumably what finally brought the snow this week. Even so, it's lovely.

I grew up in a part of Canada with mild winters and little snow. We were lucky to get a few scattered drifts in late December and early January. Unlike the rest of the country, which is pretty much like Moscow, we never had to deal with months and months of endless slush and cold. When I moved to Toronto, I finally experienced a real Canadian winter. Sure, it was not without complaints - but in general I had a much higher tolerance for it than the people who'd lived there for years. To me, it was magic.

And so it was tonight. I know we're at the beginning of a long, hard Russian winter. It will last well into what most people consider "spring", without any let-up. Grey, relentless, dull. Even my six-year-olds were confused when I happily told them it was snowing. But those first few flakes are always a touchstone for me. Here, at home, anywhere. It doesn't matter. Snow is something to celebrate.

Tonight, as I staggered back to my apartment, flakes clumping in my eyelashes and whipping across my face, I was smiling. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Это хорошо




If you don't like reading knock-down, drag-out whinefests, then this is not for you. Whinging zone ahead.

The Internet tends to paint TEFL as the perfect experience. You get paid to travel! You get to live in a new culture! What could be better? Make the most of THE BEST YEAR OF YOUR LIFE, before the bad economy and the crushing realities of life catch up with you!

Unfortunately, when your experience doesn't go as it should, even if it just gets a little bumpy, you tend to feel stranded. Here you are, seeing the world, living the life of an adventurer.  You have a job. You're doing things many people would love to do. You have no right to complain. When you're in a new country, though, when you're far from everyone you love and adjusting to a new job, it's difficult not to get lonely and worn out.

And it's hard to stop feeling guilty about doing what's right for you.

My job tends to control my life, as most jobs do. Make no mistake, teaching is not something you can breeze around with. I work basically all the time. Part of this is not typical to the job - we've had a lot of difficulty with new technology, teachers who left, etc. - but a lot of it is just the humdrum exhaustion of teaching. Until you've experienced it, you can't know how rough it is. My school is go, go, go nonstop, without even a real break at the New Year like the rest of Russia. On top of it, I teach more classes than anyone else at the school, and am picking up the slack after some of the courses were shifted around. So I throw myself into it just to keep afloat. There's no getting rid of the stress, though.

On the weekends (or more accurately, the one day I usually have off), I collapse in a heap. I don't want to go out. I don't want to look around Moscow. I just want to sleep and watch television. But I feel that I have to. I'm here, I don't have family and friends - I need to put myself out there and I need to make the most of my grand adventure. Then I remember the laundry that needs to be done, the pile of marking waiting for me, the nearly empty fridge, and my will just disappears. Get up, microwave something to eat, catch up on some work, maybe work in an episode of Girls if I'm lucky. Social life? Sightseeing? Ha!

I think of all the stuff in Russia I still need to see - Izmailovsky Market, those trips to St. Petersburg and Yasnaya Polyana I should plan but never have the time or energy to do - and it's hard not to feel like a slacker. All my expat friends are clubbing and going to museums. Not me. I need my sleep. I need alone time. Part of this problem is of my own making - I'm a major introvert and pay the price. That's fine. The problem is that I don't feel I can go out, even if I wanted to. The weekend is to rest and recuperate and catch up so that next week isn't pure hell. If I can get out once, it's a victory. But still - I feel weird for not keeping up the pace like everyone else does.

In my spare time, when I have it, I read a lot of books (I've finished more novels in the past three months than in the five years preceding it) and watch a lot of television. Some current shows - I contribute to a TV blog roughly four times a week - and my backlog of "TV that people have recommended for me". Hopefully one of these days I'll try to do some writing, but for now I'm just too exhausted. Which is ridiculous, because if I wait to be in the right space, it will never happen.

And I lean on the familiar. I drink Coca-Cola more than I ever did at home, because it's there and it's the same. I look up CBC articles. I watch endless episodes of The Simpsons, even though I've seen them all. I've followed the Rob Ford controversy more closely than I ever would have in Toronto. I'm seeing Elton John on December 6th even though I've seen him before. I probably keep up with my friends and family on Facebook a little too much. But it's what I need right now, and that's okay.

It's okay. All of it. 

But it's hard to convince yourself when you're caught in the middle. 

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Ноябрь



Yes, I have been a faithless blogger. Feel free to beat me for it. The truth is, teaching is hard and Russia is hard and I've had a ton of bureaucratic crap to deal with over the past few weeks. Fortunately, most of that is settled. And the teaching does get easier. It really does. Even my "worst" classes are starting to fall into place. That includes the kindergarten-age class where half the boys will only answer to Spiderman, and one unique child insists on being addressed as "Table".

It's hard to believe I'm two months into this. We're approaching the New Year's holiday soon, in eight weeks' time, and everyone around me is making plans. Lots of Russians head out of the country to warmer climes - which is not surprising when you consider the number of Canadians who flee to Arizona and Mexico every winter. Canada and Russia, we have more in common than we think.

Anyway, I have a (short) break coming up. Travel is cheaper here, and since I don't have any family to visit, I figure it might be time to have a warm weather New Year's for once. When the clock strikes midnight, should I be in Tel Aviv? Dubrovnik? Casablanca? Send your suggestions this way!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Музей Пушкина






So this weekend I wound up at the other Pushkin museum. The one with the paintings, not the scrawled papers and old copies of Voltaire. It was pretty neat. I didn't take any pictures of the inside because that would be gauche, but here are a bunch of photos from the Kropotkinskaya area.

What can I say? It was gorgeous. Cézannes, Picassos, Goyas, Kandinskys, even a Diego Rivera thrown in. My little avant-garde leaning heart fluttered. There are enough Rodin sculptures to fill a warehouse. I was particularly taken by his busts of Mahler and Hugo - "Yeah, just throw in some art about my buddies, it's all cool." (In my mind, the past is exactly like Midnight in Paris.)  Hell, I'm even getting used to Russian museum etiquette.





The next night was karaoke in Chertanovskaya with some teachers, then back to work. And this, my friends, is the reason why I haven't been updating lately. Between a gruelling schedule and assorted bureaucratic crazy (everyone who has ever lived in Russia is nodding their head vigorously at the moment), I have been a) too busy to do anything interesting and b) too drained to blog about what little I have been doing. I think there's an enormous pressure to SEE and DO while abroad, and you forget that you have to live a normal life at the same time. You still pay your bills, you still take the garbage out. A lot of people I talk to have no earthly idea why I'm not heading off to St Petersburg or Ukraine or Scandinavia every weekend. Expat life is essentially like regular life, just mixing the settings around a bit. And even if I'm in Russia, yeah, I have to take the occasional day to just be me.



However, we did get a sunny day on Friday, so at least the pictures turned out well.





Monday, October 14, 2013

Благодарение





Monday is Thanksgiving in Canada.

Even during my four years in Toronto, it could be a lonely holiday. Kind family and friends generously invited me to their homes, and I was always very happy to spend time with them. However, it was still thousands of miles away from my own family; I still felt very alone. And that was in a country where everyone celebrated. The university shut down, businesses were closed, anyone who could left the city. Today, I went to work, as usual; the students all showed up, because it was just another day; my Thanksgiving dinner consisted of an admittedly delicious frozen pizza. Many of my friends and family were thoughtful enough to send messages via Facebook and other electronic avenues. My cousin and his wife even sent me a short video of their new baby, whom I have not met yet. So it's not been a bad day, all in all.

This has been a trying six weeks, and I'm only about a fifth of the way through the year. I've been pretty negative lately - about work, moving, all that jazz. So here, right now, I'm going to list the things I'm thankful for.


  • That I'm in Russia at all. 
  • That I have a good and interesting job and am earning a steady income. 
  • That my co-workers and boss have gone out of their way to be friendly and helpful.
  • That I am falling into a steadier and more confident pattern with my classes. 
  • That I am healthy and have enough energy to do an 8-hour day in heels. 
  • That my Kobo is full of books, my hard drive is full of television shows, and even at home I will never be bored.
  • That I get to blog and be creative to let off steam. 
  • That one of my Toronto friends came to Moscow at the same time, and is good enough to hang out with me and reminisce. 
  • That the Internet exists, full of resources and support in a new and sometimes overwhelming experience. 
  • That the transition into a new culture has been more or less smooth, and I'm feeling comfortable with my surroundings. 
  • That people back home love me and care about me, and that it will be there when I choose to return. 
  • That I've survived the first six weeks! 

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone, and if you are an expat Canadian like me - an extra special wish. 


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Работа



We've experienced a run of really beautiful autumn days lately. Unfortunately, I've spent most of them in a classroom trying to ignore my students staring out the window like Ferris Bueller's classmates. Hang in there, guys, I can see that blue sky too.



Yeah, remember when I envisioned popping in to teach for a few hours or so, then exploring Russia (and the rest of Europe) in my spare time? HAHAHA. It's not like I mind the job - just that it's way busier and more tiring than I ever imagined. Oh, what the heck. This calls for a Mad Men GIF.



Ladies and gentlemen, teaching in a nutshell. 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Книги Дом




It's been sunny and cool lately, that time in fall when you just have to go outside and explore. The light is flat, the leaves are changing, and you have to take advantage of what precious sun is left to you. Today I got on the Metro and found my way to Arbatskaya. My purpose was already decided. I was going to track down the Moscow House of Books.

Bookstores are something of a dying tradition, as they have committed two sins - carrying a product which is rapidly dying out and occupying physical space when Internet shopping has almost taken over. (As a ten-year-old informed me last week, "Only old people buy books.") However, I do think they will continue, if only as a niche market. There's something so wonderful about being in the midst of a million bookshelves, wandering through all the great things literature has to offer. Can you guess what this book is?


They have a pretty good selection, and you can buy lots of different things there - stationery, postcards, things that can be difficult to find anywhere else. They are also pretty well-organized by genre. You have all kinds of arts books, classics, reference guides, you name it. I read a Russian-language guide to Canada and got nostalgic over all the pictures of my hometown. Miss you, Canada! The only disadvantage I could think of was that they were poorly organized within the sections. Nothing resembling alphabetical order (Latin or Cyrillic), so you just kind of had to wander and look. Took me forever to find anything.

The best part, however, is that they have a big section for foreign-language books, the vast majority of which are in English. Oh, I don't buy books anymore because I have a Kobo, but it was a treat to wander through shelves of Stephen King and Agatha Christie and feel totally at home. They even had Alice Munro books out, thanks to her Nobel win this week, I guess. In fact, I think for a second I even got warped back to Canada.



Russians are very literary people - even making sure their kids know the classics...




However, like any society, they have their morons. Yes, E.L. James' literary plague has reached Russia. Oh well, can't win 'em all. 


Monday, October 7, 2013

Зомби Депп




It's Marking Week. Life is crazy busy, and I am not winning any popularity points with my students as I drown them in assessments. That is OK with me. Classes are getting a heck of a lot easier now that I know what's going on. In fact, lately I have turned into something of a Kindergartner Whisperer. Not that they are perfect little angels or anything, but at least I can keep them on task. Guys, preschoolers are a tall order anywhere on the planet. Do not think a class of small children is something you can take lightly.

As you go about your routine every class, inevitably comments emerge that make you want to start a show called "ESL Students Say the Darndest Things". Now, I wouldn't do that because it's not fair to my students - we all make mistakes learning a new language, they need their privacy, and my Russian is about a million times worse anyway - but I share them with other teachers sometimes. However, my teenagers know enough English to explore humour on their own, and sometimes they come up with some doozies. Lately, they have all had a unit on the environment, which is not exactly a topic to motivate most youth. One of the questions: "What is the biggest environmental problem facing youth today?"

EVERY class, without fail, has responded "Zombies!"

I am very proud of them.

With Halloween coming up, I'm definitely planning a few ghoulish lessons along the way. Edgar Allan Poe, Thriller (Michael Jackson is still the King of Pop here), silly costumes. One of my classes, however, has beaten me to it. Combining their love of a popular Hollywood star with their fondness for The Walking Dead and other works of its ilk, they have created a new mascot...

Zombie Depp.

I couldn't make this up if I tried.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Музей




First of all, PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: Russia has Vanilla Coke. I cannot explain how awesome this is, but for Canadians, it is akin to discovering the Holy Grail. They also have these...




...which are not as interesting but very big into the WTF factor. (Yes, like Liz Lemon, I live my life for food.)



I make a deal with myself every year - I won't dress for winter until after my birthday. No matter how cold it gets, the gloves and hat and scarf stay off until after October 2nd. I'm not giving in to Old Man Winter. In Canada, this isn't such a big deal, as the cold doesn't really come in for a couple of weeks after. In Moscow? None too soon. I was shivering like hell today. At the same time, it feels pretty nice. I've always liked the initial chill of fall, though this is more like WINTER IS COMING from that show we all watch. Yup, I'm in for the long haul.

But yeah, my birthday was this week. It went pretty well. Got Facebook posts from all over the world, good wishes from my colleagues, and an impromptu singalong from one of my classes. Had a bit of a birthday gathering the weekend before with some American friends. It's lonely to be far away on your birthday, especially when you just got to a new country, but everyone I know was very kind and friendly. Thanks, buddies from Moscow and around the world.

Work itself is okay. Still busy, still crazy, but my classes have "settled in" - just in time for progress reports. Ooooyyy. I may not be back to the blog for a while. I'm enjoying my students, though, who are inquisitive and full of ideas. So far, unfortunately, all of them seem related to Johnny Depp or Eminem. I was under the impression that these celebrities kind of had their day in North America - yet if you ask the teenagers in Russia, they're still on top of the world. I try to fit in a lot of pop culture, but sometimes we still have to do exam prep and listening practice. Sorry, guys.

Anyway, I took advantage of a not-really-chilly afternoon to explore a couple of famous sites. Two literary museums, one for Pushkin and one for Tolstoy, sit right across from each other near Kropotkinskaya station. No, this is not the Pushkin Arts Museum. Nor is the Tolstoy museum the estate everyone hears about - that's way out of town. These are smaller museums entirely devoted to literature. No pics, sorry - that is very much forbidden.

Let me tell you, there is nothing like a small museum with exhibits in your third language to make you feel like an outsider. The Pushkin Literary Museum is very much like this. Everyone's surly, the signs are inadequate and no one points you in the right direction. I spent a lot of time wandering around. I was also disappointed that there wasn't all that much Pushkin. Sure, there are tons of paintings and some pretty cool stuff - including Pushkin's personal library, dog-eared Voltaire and all! - but the museum read more like "The Era Pushkin Lived In Museum". A lot of stuff about Tsars and clothing. Pushkin's death mask was pretty neat. However, I was most transfixed by his handwritten notes. I think a lot of people get the same effect, but when you see something written in someone's own hand, full of corrections, it brings you that much closer to them. Another note - I think every school child in Moscow was on a field trip that day.

However (don't hate me Russians), I've never been all that interested in Pushkin. When my Russian is good enough to read the original, I'll probably like it a lot more, but I've never had the cultural connection that Russians are so focused on. My number one writer has always been Tolstoy. Not only was he a great writer, but a great thinker as well, who had a large impact on contemporary history - and bizarrely, my home province back in Canada, but that's another story. War and Peace (still my favourite novel) was my first real introduction to Russian literature, and it was from there that this whole adventure started. In a way, experiencing Tolstoy was like coming home. What can I say except that it was amazing?

First of all, the staffing and layout are much, much better. There are nine rooms, and they seem to be more about Tolstoy and his work than the era, as opposed to the Pushkin museum. There is a room each for Anna Karenina and War and Peace, as well as one for his later works and one for his earliest stuff. We are also shown a room specifically for his family life. I found myself staring at Sofia Tolstoy's opera glasses. She wore these! To the opera! On her face! I'm fangirling something fierce here.

The "novel rooms" also mention the cultural impact of each book. There's a sort of Wall of Fanart, where I observed that every artist depicts Pierre Bezukhov as a clueless twit. A handwritten copy of Prokofiev's "War and Peace" score! I'm dying. There were also plenty of handwritten notes, and a lot of Tolstoy's stuff - daguerreotypes and clothes and various knicknacks. Some war medals from his time in the military. There's also an entire room dedicated to photos of the Old Man, which is a little creepy when you get down to it. However, the vast majority of the personal stuff is out at Yasnaya Polyana (my #1 to-do in Russia this year). The museum was founded in 1911, basically right after Tolstoy's death, and has been operating continuously since then - it claims to be the oldest literary museum still open. When you consider all the upheaval Russia's gone through since 1911, that's pretty darn impressive.

Anyway, Izmailovsky Market will probably be tomorrow's adventure, depending on how late I wake up. I kind of have to force myself to leave the house most of the time, as I would probably lie in bed watching TV all day, but this is my time abroad. I need to use it. And today was totally worth getting out of bed for! 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Центральный парк культуры и отдыха имени Горького



What can I say except that work has been running me ragged. Kindergarteners who won’t be quiet, teens who try to put dirty words in their homework. Yawn. I’ve survived the first month, and things are definitely getting a whole lot easier. My other job (I recap television shows for a blog) has started up with the new TV season, and honestly? It’s a great stress-buster. Hooray for pop culture, you have saved me again.




Moscow is starting to chill off for serious. I almost broke out the gloves today, but I’m still hoping not to give in until after my birthday. See, once the gloves go on, you’re officially in for the long haul, so you must put it off as long as possible. Can’t wait for snow. Which I assume I will promptly get sick of.




I made a promise to myself when I got here not to waste my days off. Sure, there’s cleaning and errands to be done and some days you just kind of have to sit around and watch TV the whole time, but as an introvert by nature, I know I have to make myself get out and do things. So I’ve made a list. Today’s destination – Gorky Park. 

What can I say? It's a little slice of peace in the middle of one of the busiest cities on earth. For decades Russians have come here to relax. On a sunny Friday afternoon, it was very empty but everyone there was enjoying themselves. 


I love autumn when the sun is out and people still feel they can have fun. Rollerblading seems to be a big thing here. I just sat around with my coffee and took pictures. 

I'm glad I went.