Sunday, June 3, 2018

Movie theater triggers


Yum!

Summer always has a special feeling in the air. In St. Petersburg, of course, it stays light until close to midnight nowadays.

David's workshops are over, so he is on "vacation," resting from all his hard work. ;)

Andrei's workload fluctuates. Lately we've been having guests several times a week, so it feels busy even though Andrei is working fewer days. And the summer will probably fly by!

Since Saturdays are free now, Andrei and David (almost 6) went to the movies this weekend. And they let ME come, too! My in-laws stayed home with Sophia (almost 2). We don't often do this type of configuration because David is so attached to his grandparents. But he was okay with leaving with us as long as he knew he could play with them afterwards.

It was my first time in a movie theater since The Fire at Kemerovo a few months ago. I wouldn't really say I was nervous, just more aware. Probably the way Americans might have felt after the Aurora shooting. I looked around for emergency exits-no padlocks or other safety violations to be seen. Regular emergency exits that have the bar you press to get out.

Still, though. My MIL doesn't even want to set foot past the first floor in the shopping malls. We haven't said it out loud, but I don't think we would linger in any of the kids' (enclosed) play areas anymore.

I stood in the foyer of the movie theater and had to struggle not to cry thinking of the schoolchildren who perished. When we took our seats, I let my mind wander a little bit to the unthinkable. Not because I was scared for myself, but because I had to mourn for them a little bit and put myself in their parents' place.

Other than that, it was quite a nice time, just like a trip to the movies should be. It was probably my first time being at the movies with David (he usually goes with Andrei), and it's fun to experience the joy of it through a child's eyes. The movie theater and special snacks are still something special. I loved his little rules, like not sipping our milkshakes until the movie started (except for a little tiny bit just to try it).

Andrei and I both dozed off multiple times throughout the film and agreed it was probably the worst we'd "seen." But David was content and even said he'd love to see it again. :)

Sunday, May 6, 2018

A story of escape

"...our house didn't have a bathtub. Nobody's house did. In 1960. In paradise on earth." 

To celebrate World Book Day on April 23, Amazon was making available some free Kindle books from international authors. I downloaded a selection of them and read the first one earlier this week. It's called A River in Darkness: One Man's Escape from North Korea, by Masaji Ishikawa. This book is an autobiography.

There has been more attention to North Korea in the news recently. Honestly, I did not know many details about the Korean War even though I live in a post-Soviet country and my home country was involved as well. I guess I have been focused more on Russian history.

Even though I'd heard rumors of starvation in North Korea, this book, written by a survivor, erases any doubts. As I was reading it, I kept thinking about periods of starvation in Russian history, such as Collectivization under Stalin (with estimates of anywhere from 7-20 million casualties), or the Siege of Leningrad (over 1 million dead in one city, from starvation and other related causes). It is hard enough to believe that such mass starvation happened within the last century, in countries that were not undeveloped/Third World at that time.

But the shocking thing about reading this story was that it happened in my lifetime and is still happening now. Ishikawa was born in 1947 and his kids are (were) my age. His kids grew up at the same time as me and never had enough to eat in their lives. Ishikawa's experience was complicated by the fact that he was a so-called "returnee" who was actually born in Japan and brought over to Korea by his Korean father. He was one of those who had perhaps the worst treatment possible, going from a simple (if challenging at times) life in rural Japan to famine/prison-like conditions in Korea with no way to make a case for better living conditions. In addition to having the lowest social status possible, I would think that the shock of the transition would make it even more challenging. As a discussion point, I wonder who would have more of a will to live: someone who has never known anything but poverty, or someone who has already tasted a glimpse of the "outside." On another level, we observe how Ishikawa's own father's character changes, as he escapes from racial discrimination as a Korean in Japan, only to plunge his Japanese wife into isolation and culture-shock as they relocate.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

What's wrong with staring at your cell phone?


Something has been bugging me and it's hard to put into words. I'm a millennial, also sometimes known as the "xennial" generation, characterized by having an "analog childhood and digital adulthood." I was 17 when I got a computer and started using email, instant messenger, Google, etc.

Wi-Fi childhood...


Meanwhile, Facebook wasn't really around until after my college years, nor did I have a cell phone until after college.

How about you?

I've been wondering lately what factors combine to form someone's attitude towards the internet and social media. Is it an age thing? Socio-economic? Personality?

Aside from that, there's a meme (image being passed around) with a few variations that shows a large number of people staring down at their cellphones. This is clearly presented as a bad thing, but no one comes out and says why it's bad. So I'm asking here, what do you think?

For example, one variation compares cell phone users to zombies, walking around without noticing the world around them. Again, let's define the actual problem...

A few things that come to mind:

-craning your neck
-not noticing oncoming traffic (hopefully not as pedestrian OR driver)
-harmful to your brain? Not sure what current research says...

Those are kind of the practical issues, but I have also seen people allude to the "decline" of society. This is where I get a bit confused.

Monday, April 30, 2018

April Survey/Selfie


Styled by Sophia...




What I've been...


Reading: Mr. Popper's Penguins, Little House in the Big Woods, Habits: The Mother's Secret to Success (Charlotte Mason), The Unhurried Homeschooler (Durenda Wilson-check out her blog)

Watching: Tumble Leaf (with David). Still had several seasons of WCTH to catch up on, but they just killed off one of the main characters, so I don't think I'll keep watching. :/

Cooking/Eating: Homemade chebureki, homemade bagels, hummus with fresh veggies, yogurt muffins

Listening to: Russian kids' songs on YouTube

Striving towards: Eating healthier and core rehab

Looking forward to: Spring projects

What David is up to: Reciting verses for his class, learning more and more letters of the alphabet, collecting toy frogs.

What Sophia is up to: Jumping and climbing, learning new words, taking care of dollies, "reading" out loud, babbling, getting all her clothes out to go for a walk, running around in her birthday suit at home. :)




Your turn!


Monday, April 2, 2018

Don't wanna


5 years ago, I had just applied for Permanent Resident status in St. Petersburg. It is the most permanent status you can get without going for citizenship. I started to read about Green Cards in the U.S. to do a comparison, but I don't really have time to do a full comparison, so I just jotted down a few points. I'm not sure if someone with a Green Card in the U.S. would need to prove their residency very often unless they were traveling abroad a lot. But I could be wrong.


Green Card

-valid for 10 years
-can stay out of the U.S. for up to 1 year...however, you can be investigated if you are gone for certain lengths of time
-don't need to demonstrate English proficiency until applying for citizenship?


Russian Permanent Residency

-valid for 5 years
-can stay out of Russia for up to 6 months out of the year
-must confirm residency by checking in once per calendar year
-must pass exam in Russian language, history, and law in order to apply


Since 5 years have passed, I now have to renew my residency permit. That last point (the exam) is what I have accomplished so far, along with getting a new translation of my passport. The exam was challenging and maybe I will write about it in a separate post. I still need to fill out the form and pay the govt fee at the bank and probably get a bank statement for proof of funds, and figure out the line system. I'm assuming we will have to wait in line overnight? I need to find someone's brain to pick who did it recently.

I'm definitely procrastinating. I don't want to fill out more forms and get more stamps (hopefully) and be scrutinized. I just don't want to do it. I wish there was another way. But....paperwork will always be there, no matter where you live. I'm sure some out there are dragging their feet about taxes this time of year. I'm grateful I have relatives helping me on the U.S. side.



Saturday, March 31, 2018

March Survey/Selfie


Made it through March! I'm sure there will be more snow off and on, but seems like the ground is thawing.
Sketchy night kitchen pose. Posting at 11:30 pm, fit it in before the month changed! :)



What I've been...


Reading: Decluttering at the Speed of Life (Dana K. White), more in Love Thy Body (Nancy Pearcey), Mary Poppins and Boxcar Children with David

Watching: When Calls the Heart (I'm only on season 2 or 3), Ultimate Beastmaster with Andrei, Matilda with David

Cooking/Eating: Artisan bread, pancakes, salsa, getting take-out from the authentic Mexican place down the road, trying to learn how to use cast iron

Listening to: Worship playlists, "Listener kids" worship music for kids, Easter hymns

Striving towards: Trying to knock some dreaded adult tasks off the to-do list (as usual). Passed my exam to keep my permanent residency, and will need to get my application in next (this) month.

Looking forward to: See above...moving on with other projects once the dreaded paperwork is complete. Also looking forward to Holy Week, which starts tomorrow for us.

What David is up to: Getting over a virus, more food aversions than ever, still really into watching the Wild Kratts and acting out all the different "creature features" every day! Being a great big brother.

What Sophia is up to: Just learned how to say "No!" Climbing and jumping. Playing dress-ups. Copying everyone! Discovering how fun it is to jump in puddles (along with her brother, of course).



Your turn!


Friday, March 30, 2018

Death and dying (heavy)


Trying to write down some deep heavy thoughts with constant commentary about creatures in my ear.

I was thinking a lot about this topic yesterday and planned to write about it today if I could recall my thoughts, with it not even registering initially that today is Good Friday in the west (1 week later for us). So, these are everyday thoughts, but also tie in to the Crucifixion.


Death as a taboo?

As I mentioned previously, our church sermon last Sunday was about taboo topics, one of them being death. But after thinking about it, I realized that there are a few different conditions here. When a tragic event happened earlier this week, I didn't have words to express my sadness. But was it because it was a "taboo" and I was embarrassed to talk about it? I did try to bring it up in a few contexts, but ultimately I decided that some things can't always be expressed in words. And since it wasn't my loss (I didn't know any of the victims), it wasn't necessary to the healing process for me to talk about it or reach out to the relatives. I think it would be different if it were my own loss and I needed to process it, or if my friend lost someone and I needed to initiate the conversation to help that person heal.

So if it's okay to mourn with or without words, what makes it a taboo topic? I think the two hard parts are: 1) how they died and 2) what happens next.

And it is actually pretty hard to write about!