Hey, friends– Every computer I come in contact with lately has malfunctioned in such a way as to prevent me from blogging. Sometimes that is literally the only thing the computer won’t do. It’s like they want us to not be friends anymore. 

In case you were concerned ,the bebop “lesson plan” was not an actual lesson plan, and I am not a horrible enough teacher to think that it could be one. I just used that format. 

In related news, I went to that concert with Anton, the son of one of the German professors. It was fine other than the obvious pitfall called the music. 

Nathan and I went to the kiosk labelled “Cherepovets Tourist Information Stand” at the train station the other day and asked for a bus map. The employee laughed out loud and said that she doesn’t think one exists. Awesome.

As a result, I’m having to slowly memorize the bus system by asking people. Irina, an English professor, told me the other day that the #7 will take me from home to the university. This was good to know, as I waited a very long time for the 37 in the snow the other day (uphill both ways!), only to discover that the 37 doesn’t stop where I was waiting. It was really hard to play it off to the natives as “Well, I just changed my mind–I don’t want to take the bus anymore. But I totally could if I wanted to.”

It turns out you have to be careful, though, because there are two bus stops at the train station. They are configured thus:

___Bus stop 1__     tourist kiosk   _____Bus stop 2                             my apartment. 

Apparently each little covered area is a different bus stop with different routes (which are only sometimes posted, by the way), no matter how close it is to the next–these “stops” are no more than 30 feet apart. This isn’t such a huge deal, though, right? You can just stand at one and if the bus you want stops at the other stop, you can run to it. HOWEVER, Russia doesn’t make anything that easy. It turns out there are TWO buses called #7 that run completely different routes. Both of them start at the train station, but at different “stops.” I think I’ll just walk to work, thanks.

Continuing the tradition of Russia being hilarious for the cynically entertained– Over a week ago, I asked Tatjana to make me a department key. She didn’t mention anything about it for a couple of days, and then she stopped me in the hall to say that she was still working on it. Apparently it’s not hard to find someone who says they CAN make a key, but it’s hard to find someone who WILL make a key. She went to 5 people before she found someone who said they WOULD. But it turns out that although this guy was WILLING, he was not, in fact, ABLE, so while he was attempting to trace Tatjana’s key, he broke it in two. 

On Wednesday, Irina and I went to a hockey game together. We had been there less than 2 minutes when a fist fight broke out on the ice. It was a while before the refs managed to pull the players apart, and it was getting rather alarming. Irina was embarrassed that my first hockey match was so violent; I assured her that I would have felt like it didn’t count as hockey if there wasn’t blood on the ice. We wound up winning in double overtime, so hooray for Severstal’ Cherepovets. 

Before the game, we went for tea at her house (since we only had 2 hours between our last classes and the start of the game, and it’s across town). She took this opportunity to stuff me with as many pies as she could fit down my half-heartedly protesting throat. Russian pies look like this, and these were filled with sweetened condensed milk, eggs, cheese (and bacon?), or cinnamon. I expect you got increasingly grossed out by that list until you got to “or”–each pie did, in fact, contain only one of these things. Anyway, it was unacceptable to stop eating for any reason, so I had pies and pies and pies for supper. I’m still getting over the guilt.

My birthday was Friday, and we got the first snow of the year! I sat in on the third-year class in the morning because they were presenting short films they had made, and they insisted that I come to them. I was very unhappy about beign roped into working at 8:30 on my day off, but when the Katjas greeted me at 7:00 with balloons and a matrjushka (Russian stacking doll) buried in a bag of candy, I decided that maybe it was ok. Turns out that the film screening was all a ruse to get me to the university  so they could throw me a surprise birthday party. So many cakes, so many balloons, so much tea! 

After that, I went to a lesson with Anya, the director of a local English school, who offered to teach me Russian. Halfway through our lesson, she brought me upstairs “to watch Russian cartoons and talk about vocab”, but actually because she and some of her students had planned ANOTHER SURPRISE PARTY. With balloons. And gifts. And going down to the cafe downstairs for tea. It was lovely, but by the time I got home to finally celebrate with Nathan, I had a fever. So since then I’ve been bumming around the room as the balloons slowly deflate and the pile of dirty dishes grows. 

Tomorrow i’m supposed to lead a three-hour workshop for teachers on teaching American culture. We’ll be talking lots about American Girl. Nathan’s offered to cover for me if I’m still, in his words, “dying of the death.” And now, bed.