Friday, March 7, 2014

An Atypical Week

It’s been a strange week, even by Russian standards. And since I’m disappearing into the Siberian wilderness tomorrow where the WiFi will likely not be as reliable, I should take advantage of this last blogging opportunity before I return. So here’s what has made this week particularly noteworthy:

1) I finished the first draft of my first novel.

It’s unequivocally awful, and I’m scared to go back and read through it, but I wrote a novel (albeit a very rough draft). I really love the last sentence of the twelfth chapter, but everything else I’ve more or less blacked out. I feel like I entered a fugue state and a novel sort of appeared on my hard drive, so I can’t say with absolute certainty the FSB didn’t write it. On the other hand, I know I’ve spent a lot of hours with my internet disabled listening to the same album on repeat for a month straight, so I must have been doing something productive for all that time.

2) I now own faux fur-lined ice skates and have a one-way ticket to Siberia. 

On Wednesday, I get a call from Vanya,* a random errand boy to the billionaire. Vanya directed me to meet him at a metro stop outside the city center to go ice skate shopping, and I headed off hoping this wouldn’t be the way I ended up dying. Outside the metro, I located the car described in Vanya’s text, which was being driven by what the Russians would describe as a “gopnik.” He was dressed in track pants and tennis shoes, a sweatshirt that involved some denim detailing, and a skull cap. Obviously, he spoke no English. I made small talk with him, attempting to ascertain what exactly it is he does. Unfortunately, that is not a phrase that translates literally, and I ended up asking him, "What are you doing?"

Vanya: Right now? Or do you mean in general?
Me: Yes, like work.
Vanya: I'm the guy who buys ice skates.
Me: Right...

He took me to a store that carried all manner of skating and hockey equipment and I was fitted for skates. Vanya and the salesclerk tried to determine if they were too tight or too loose, if I had room for my toes, and if my heel lifted up too much. These questions were all far outside of the realm of my limited Russian, so there was some pretty ludicrous pantomiming going on at this point. I just kept repeating, "It's fine" with my unfailing American accent.

Vanya had also been directed to buy me elbow pads, wrist guards, and knee pads, which makes me think he’s not spiriting me off to Siberia to kill me.  As we walked back to Vanya’s car, he asked if I liked my new skates.

Me: Yes, it’s my first pair of skates. We don't really skate that much in America. 
Vanya: Yes, I noticed by your country's performance at the Olympics.

I laughed uncontrollably, mostly out of excitement at having understood his joke. It turns out Vanya is also part of the Siberian entourage, so this is not the last we'll be seeing of him.

3) The Ukraine Situation

I don’t pretend to be any kind of political expert, so let’s just finish with a great meme.

*Name has been changed. 


  1. Jessie, I love your blog! Have fun in Siberia. (For the record, I don't think I've ever wished anyone that before). :)

  2. Congratulations on finishing the novel! That's amazing!!!

    Please don't die in Siberia. :)