Wednesday, June 25, 2014

White Nights and Jet Lag

My whirlwind tour of America came to a close on Saturday, which means I am back in Russia. During my brief return, I managed to hit Whidbey Island, Seattle (x2), Bellingham, Texas, and DC, and guaranteed that my body never figure out what time zone to align with.

Sushi reunion with Chelsea in Bellingham

Jessie and Toti do Dallas
On the road to Austin

Tea tasting with Alli in Seattle

Meeting my new cousin in Seattle (she loved her new matryoshka rattle)

Putin made a cameo in DC (as did Sasha)

I’m spending my summer near St. Petersburg, and have arrived at the height of the White Nights. Because it is so far north (the 60th parallel crosses North America in the Northwest Territories of Canada), the sun never really sets. Other than a brief twilight between midnight and 3am, it always feels like it’s the middle of the afternoon. Though this has been horrible for getting over my jet lag, I can watch True Blood by myself at night without getting scared of vampires.

My apartment for the summer is spacious, but it is in dire need of a remodel and looks like it was designed by a blind babushka. The kitchen is a confluence of lace, wallpaper, religious icons, and cat photographs. Most of the wallpaper has floral patterns in a rainbow of browns, but one wall of my bedroom is papered with a massive photograph of a birch forest and lake scene.  The wall opposite is covered in carpet, but it's not nearly as ridiculous as the wall carpeting in the entrance way—that one depicts a family of bears at play. The hot water heater is so complicated that I had to have it explained to me a second time before I managed to take a hot shower.  First, I turn on the gas using a wrench, then I light the heater with a match, turn on the kitchen sink, turn on the shower, turn down the flow at the kitchen sink, then run back to the bathroom and pray.

Other than that, I’ve mostly just been settling into small-town Russian life. The city I’m in has the most beautiful park and palace, both of which are utterly charming. I even told a ten-year-old kid how beautiful his city is, but in typical Russian fashion, he was less impressed: “It’s fine. It was prettier before the war.” Yes, that’s WWII he’s referring to.

A rainy Russian day at the palace

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