Someone taught Nathan the word for adventure, and now he uses it all the time when asked what he thinks of Russia/yesterday’s activities/bureaucracy. Russians think it’s cute.

Friday afternoon, we went to the opening of an exhibit about Russian-American relations, esp. with Cherepovets. Apparently in the age of Miliutin (mayor of Cherepovets from 187something – 1907–he did a lot of good things for the city, such as establishing a university (not mine), building the rail station, and some other stuff you can read about at his statue), a delegate from the US came to visit for 2 months. THey became friends, and when the delegate left, he gave Miliutin an American flag, which they still have.

tl;dr (too long; didn’t read): One time, an American came to Cherepovets. Nothing happened, and now there’s a museum.

Still, it’s a nice idea, intercultural friendship and all that jazz. I had to give 2 interviews to TV stations, as the token American. On camera, I have even less charisma than on stage (-∞<Kate’s stage presence<0), so I was grateful that I didn’t go home and see the interview on TV.


I really hate having to translate for people; you’d think I’d stop taking people to Russia with me that don’t speak Russian. If I decide that I’d rather miss an opportunity than ask a stranger for directions/help, that’s fine. But I can’t let someone else miss an opportunity because of my social incompetence. This particularly bothers me when the other person wants something that I don’t, and I have to go feel like a fool even though I don’t get anything out of it. This is compounded if the other person starts making lots of demands. You’re hungry? Fine, I’ll go order you a sandwich. But don’t start getting choosy about the toppings. You know? Anyway, Nathan and I went to the university cafeteria on Friday for lunch, because we can both eat for like $4 total. And he starts nagging me about looking too long at the menu AS IF IT’S NOT IN RUSSIAN AND I’M NOT DOING THE BEST I CAN. Apparently everyone else just went through the line without reading. But if I don’t read the menu, then (a) I have to just point at things and say “I want that’, which seems rude, and (b) sometimes I think I’m getting a delicious baked cheese thing, and then it turns out to be icky fish (for example). Anyway, he was being a bootybrain, but I had one obvious method of retaliation. Nathan got buckwheat kasha for lunch. That’ll show him. If you don’t believe me, ask Anna Rose–she knows all about buckwheat kasha.

On Saturday, Anna (the professor with whom I communicated over the summer) had me come to the Access classes. These are supplemental English classes for high-schoolers from low-income families. She thought it would be funny to tell the kids that I was German and only spoke a little English and no Russian. I’m not sure what the supposed benefit of this was. Anyway, so she introduces me to the kids as a German with whom they have no common language, and then LEAVES ME ALONE WITH THEM FOR 20 MINUTES. And then one of the other teachers comes in and wants them to ask me questions. And I’m like, do I keep up the charade? Is it over? I decided that the opinions of my colleague be damned, the buck stops here (and other idioms as well). The rest of the day went ok. The access classes seem kind of directionless, and the kids aren’t terribly enthusiastic, but we had a good time nonetheless, and I think it’s a worthwhile program. And we had PBJ. Strangely, the most confusing part for the Russians was the idea of a close-faced sandwich. They put the peanut butter on, and that was fine. They put jam on the other piece of bread, and that was fine. And then they just looked at me, like “how did you get your sandwich to have bread on the outside?”

Yesterday we had plans to meet a local English teacher, Roman, and his girlfriend, Sasha. We found Roman in the Square of the Really Big Gun (I think it’s called Victory Square, but all I know is that there’s a huge gun-cannon-thing in it that would probably still work if we were dumb enough to try it), but Sasha wasn’t with him. When asked about this, he explained, “There are things that a woman must do in the morning to go out, so I left her to do these things.” Apparently her make-up takes forever. Anyway, she met us at the old ice hockey rink, along with 5ish other English teachers, and I slipped and slid and clung to walls and boyfriends while they skated gracefully in circles, chatting with each other as if they weren’t wearing shoes made of KNIVES. I got the hang of it eventually.

Roman came over to our place after taking us to buy a DVD player, and I had the first fish I’ve eaten in like 14 years: vobla, a salted, dried fish traditionally eaten with beer. I had been warned that it smelled like dead people (Sasha’s exact words, in fact–who says you can’t write poetry in a second language?), but it really didn’t smell that bad. And it tasted less unpleasant than fresh fish, I thought. Then Roman taught us how to roast the swim bladder over matches and eat it to prove your manliness (or something). I have a video I’ll upload later. Nathan, ever happy to prove his manliness, then followed his lead. Unfortunately, my camera failed to record that priklyuchenie.

Also, I finally purchased my long-desired Unnecessarily Fluffy Hat. The Russians say it makes me look very Russian; I think it makes me look like a mushroom. Either way, it helped me figure out what to be for  Halloween: I’ll be going as an onion dome.