Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Flying by the seat of my pants


Have you ever missed a flight? Now I know what that feels like. Read on...

After spending a few weeks with my parents in the U.S, it was time to fly back to Russia. We had arranged with a transport company to be picked up 5 hours before our flight, leaving 3 hours for the 2 hour drive, arriving at least 2 hours before our flight.

It was our standard time to leave, but none of us checked the road conditions or had any idea that a MASSIVE construction project had been underway for the past few weeks. We certainly would have planned to leave earlier if we'd known! And the transport company definitely should have checked, too.

Soon after we got underway, the driver checked his GPS and realized we needed to take a detour. So off we went on the scenic route. I figured our extra hour would help, but the situation was more serious than that! We were creeping along on country roads. When we finally neared the city (Boston), we hit bumper-to-bumper traffic. I was avoiding looking at the GPS, but I saw how it kept recalculating. We were "10 minutes away" for about an hour! It was definitely torture knowing we were that close, yet stuck in traffic. There was absolutely nothing we could do.

Probably the worst part of the whole ordeal was the feeling of suspense as we waited helplessly to see what would unfold. My mom and I were texting the whole time and she had a lot of people praying for us. I knew nothing bad would happen, but I still didn't want to be in this situation. Even if we were going to make our flight, I didn't want to deal with the intensity of rushing. "I don't want to be here! I don't want to deal with this, Lord. I just want it to be over!"

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Breaking up


I've written some about our church conflict, and sometimes an interesting development comes up that would be good to share, but then I run out of time OR it goes downhill again and I can't find the words anymore.

I will share eventually about the "dating" side of this period, but unfortunately right now we are still seeing relationships break down.

We have to say goodbye to being in close fellowship with a lot of long-time friends.

-they were my family for years when I was alone in a foreign country
-they walked with me through numerous trials
-they rooted for us when we were planning to marry
-they organized and witnessed our wedding
-they saw us become parents for the first time

Part of me doesn't even want to look at the wedding photos, or birthday cards from over the years, various gifts in my possession that came from these friends. Breaking up does that to you, right? You just want to erase the memories? I look at our different personalities and wonder what on earth held us together in the first place. Surely our friendships had the wrong foundations if they could disintegrate at the first sign of conflict.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Hosting World Cup 2018 and other news


Haven't had a chance to write in weeks, and the World Cup has been in progress for a few weeks already. It's so cool being a host city! I've never been to the Olympics or any other large-scale sports competitions, so this is kind of a new experience.

World Cup welcome sign...
too crowded to take many photos

Although thousands of tourists hit St. Petersburg at this time of year, the demographic is totally different, of course. Instead of wealthy retirees or others simply on vacation, there are sports fans of all ages... not just from European/northern countries, but lots from the Middle East and Latin America, too. As you can imagine, that shakes up the cultural atmosphere just a little! It's so warm and friendly here. I love Russian culture, and have a cultural post coming up when I have the time. But all the people walking around smiling makes such a difference. Even the locals are admitting that despite the congestion and longer commute, the celebratory mood is contagious. It's hard not to smile when Brazilians and Egyptians are wandering around wrapped in their countries' flags. Hard to explain, but it's different from just the local soccer fans running around on a game night.

The city completed (or at least undertook) lots of various construction projects in preparation for this year's festivities. This year was also St. Petersburg's 315th anniversary. Public transportation is decked out in World Cup decor, there are banners everywhere, certain buildings have been restored, and two new metro stations have opened recently, with close proximity to the soccer stadium.

It's a great time of year to be in St. Petersburg: White Nights, soccer fans, and last Saturday was the annual "Scarlet Sails" celebration to honor high school graduates. Look it up to learn more! I've never attended, but various parts of downtown such as Palace Square are closed off to the public, and those with tickets get to attend a concert and gather on the bank of the Neva to see fireworks and the actual scarlet sails along the river. No alcohol is sold on that night...though I'm sure some people plan ahead!

Of course, there is always a downside to large events.

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!