Big news for The Squeaky Robot!
I’ve just been given the green light to study in St. Petersburg,
Florida Russia this fall! I’m so excited I sometimes forget to breathe. Literally breathe. Someone had to tell me my lips were blue.
Anyway, this has many implications for me and this blog, some of which I will highlight below:
1) I will most definitely have repetitive and comically undignified run-ins with my greatest and most fearsome foe: old Russian women. Despite all the drunks, Russia’s backbone is brass-bound simply because these women prop it up with a collective force that could rival that of Iran’s entire nuclear artillery, and also their canes. They really don’t take shit from anybody; the problem arises when you see what they perceive as ‘shit’. Last time around, I was scrutinized and critiqued and verbally abused in their presence, from everything to my posture to my untied shoes to not knowing the comprehensive etiquette of a Russian railway car. “Where’s your husband?”, “why are you traveling with two men?”, “where are your children?”, “why are you eating that?”, they would inquire constantly and annoyingly, like a gnat that was forever lodged in my ear canal. “Let me alone, you old hags!”, I wanted to say every time, followed by an impromptu rendezvous with my nearest and quickest exit point. Indeed, Russia’s invasive culture envelops you like a giant whirlpool, and those of weak constitution surely drown. And in this whirlpool lies a Kraken that is made up of old Russian women, the nastiest beasts of them all.
2) I think early summer in Petersburg and Russia is one of the loveliest things a human can experience. For a short time, the living, breathing metropolis of Petersburg is never greeted by a blanket of darkness, only left with white nights that blur our already hazy distinction between dreams and reality (read: Dostoevsky’s White Nights). Then there’s a Moscow spring, a city overtaken with floating birch pollen, bits of weightless summer snowflakes that prance through the streets and playfully escape your grasp should you try to capture them.
None of these pleasures are for me this time around; it’ll be mostly dark, after all. The sun will rise at 10 and set at 5 pm. It will be so cold, the rabbit fur on my shapka will likely freeze. I will run to and from class in a discombobulated manner, slipping and sliding on ice three meters thick, hoping that my ass won’t meet the ground too often. What I just signed myself up for is a Russian winter, and we all know how those go (see: Napoleon’s biggest fail). There is a prescription to this, however, that every Russian knows well: a shot of vodka so strong, it could rival a shot of jet fuel. So I won’t have summer, but winter offers its own pleasures.
3) My russian is good, but not good enough to completely avoid awkward/humorous mishaps and exchanges. This could very well assist my grievances stated in bullet point 1. I am very happy about this mostly because the most notable reason I’m even going is to improve my russian, and this will also provide me with content for my random scrawlings and stories.
The weather will be insanely uncomfortable, the people will be mean, and I’m walking into the open clutches of my life’s most marauding nemeses: nothing gives me more trouble than slavic seniors, except maybe car rental companies, and I could find myself engulfed by their controlling habits at any given moment. In summation, Russia will be a mother of a challenge, but it’s one I welcome with open arms and a side serving(s) of Russian Standard.