Привет, Katya’s Back

Привет, sup homeys, salut les potes – it’s me, Katya, comin’ atcha live from Moscow, the bizarre, magical world that I’ve been lucky enough to call my home for the past three months.  Now, I realize that I have severely, sickeningly neglected this blog to the point that, when I attempted to log on to my WordPress account, I was hurled obscenities and threatened with various forms of retribution, including banishment to Azkaban, public ridicule in the pillory, no ice cream for a decade, etc etc – BUT I must point out that I haven’t written not because I’ve had nothing to say, but, quite the contrary, because I’ve had too much to say; I’ve been completely, entirely distracted by the strange, glorious adventures and odd, hilarious experiences of everyday life here, and haven’t gotten a chance to catch mah golly forsaken breath to write it all down.  For that, I am deeply sorry. So here is a redemption post, which documents this past weekend spent in Saint Petersburg, and maybe now all will be forgiven and I can keep eating ice cream far from the chilly presence of pesky dementors and the stockade?? Я остаюсь с надеждой.

***

I should start off by explaining that, despite a maddening knee injury and an upset, wrathful IT Band, my track team and best Russian homey Masha and I decided to hit up Petersburg last weekend with the goal of running a half marathon.  Upon mentioning our plan offhandedly to my track coaches a few days before taking off, they were neither amused nor in favor of this tomfoolery (can’t imagine why) and forbid me from running (again, cannot imagine why), so I planned to simply walk/limp it, Crippled Katya style.

Anywhooo Masha and my weekend started off rather unconventionally – that’s to say, with a mildly panicked, slightly clandestine 2:09 am train ride up north to St Pete’s.  The “mild panic” was the result of the train officials almost refusing to allow me onto the train, some hullaballoo about my passport identification not being legitimate…

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I simply cannot comprehend how they could deem this crumpled ghost face as an unacceptable form of i.d. Mind blowing.

So, after explaining that the international registration office has kidnapped and been holding my passport hostage for the past six weeks, and that I’m just a poor, knee-gimped gal trying to defy all odds and run a half marathon and, above all else, with the help of Masha and her boyfriend (at one desperate point, all of us, including the tiny train attendant lady sprinted as best we could with our bags and my busted knee the entire length of the train, which was unfortunately around 20007 kilometers long, to consult with the Bossman “Начальник” of the train, as the sweet little attendant shrieked all the way, “БЫСТРЕЕ БЫСТРЕЕ!!!! [faster faster!!]” at us), we ultimately persuaded the train staff and captain (I don’t think this is what you call a train’s leader??), himself, to let me on board, but only as a despicable illicit clandestine – they literally swore Masha and me to secrecy, never to tell a soul of these merciful acts.  They also warned me that I would probably never be allowed to return to Moscow with my wrinkled, phantom passport copy.  So, it was an all in all promising start.

At least things started looking up when we arrived to Saint P-burg, and it immediately started snowing on our sleepy faces, and my shoulders broke in half as I carried my duffel bag, realizing that 275 pounds of clothing is perhaps unnecessary for a weekend trip, and Masha discovered that she’d left her official race documentation in Moscow.  Oh wait…………….. But it’s cool, y’all, because anything and everything is possible in Russia, and all of our problems were soon resolved: after that silly joke with the snow, the sun popped out for the rest of the weekend, I simply grew new shoulders, and we found a copy center willing to print Masha a photoshopped race “справка” document (after we were rejected at the first couple of nerdy, “play by the rules” centers).  So, after averting a few casual catastrophes, we spent the rest of the day feasting and walking hundreds of kilometers around the beautiful city that is Santo Pedrosburg.  Of our discoveries, my personal fave is the Petersburg “Chocolate Museum,” which took us decades to locate, probably because it was literally a single tiny stand manned by one employee, offering a small array of truffles and some strange large chocolate squirrels and motorcycles…I’m not sure…I don’t….there are no words…… Sadly, I failed to take a photo of this jaw-dropping display.

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Since I don’t have a pic of chocolate squirrelies n motorbikes, here is an equally spectacular photo of one of the sites seen in this snazzy city (reminds me of Notre Dame’s dome)

Race day = an early morning and a delicious breakfast of home-brewed Kasha à la Masha aka MMMMMMM.  After our power feast, we headed off to the race, which I planned to walk like a hobbling, gloopy slug and Masha planned to dash like redbull-infused lightning.  We both fulfilled these goals.  Although, my performance ended a tad prematurely, and somewhat shamefully, as, after around six or seven kilometers, what I presumed to be a stalker bike man began to tail me closely and eventually explained to me that I was in last place and that it might be a good idea to vacate the premises immediately since apparently slow pedestrian injured gals are not welcome at such events ;(  I protested at first, but then it just got too embarrassing, and I quickly shuffled away into the shadowy horizon, never to be seen or heard from again.  Imagine a single tear… rolling down down down my cheek….hehehe but NAH mane, it was no big dealio.  I don’t know the meaning of shame, so I just hung ten for awhile, found some free redbull, did some dignity-rebuilding lunges and waited for Masha to finish (which she did in approximately 2.75 seconds :D).  The one good thing about being forcibly escorted off of the race track was that everyone seeing me walk around with my race number thought that I’d finished the race SUUUUUUPER quickly, and they were all like, “AAAAHHH WOW молодец, well done, number one female runner!!!!!!!!”  My 15 minutes of fake fame.  Glorious.

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Post-race galzz (МОЛОДЕЦ ЕЩЕ РАЗ, МАША))))) )

The rest of the dizzay was spent exploring the city and walking 2073 more kilometers around town, sipping hot wine like fancy ladies, exploring secret art parks, crossing sunset-lit bridges of magic and gold, and, of course, hitting up a (literally) hAwT bar where they, for some reason, enjoyed setting the bar on fire every hour or so.  I never figured out the logistical mechanics of this stunt, but I think we can rule out gasoline-dousing as a technique due to the lack of fumes.  Some mysteries go forever unsolved.  Что делать.

It goes without saying that we spent the entire night out painting the town, spending the first few drinks and delectable dessert-feasting with Pasha, our track team homey, and his wife, and then cabbing over to that pyromania bar I’ve already mentioned for some fiery festivities (heh).  Because we are insomniac warriors who require no sleep, we decided it would be a good idea to buy 5:30 am train tickets home to Москва, so we proceeded directly and seamlessly from party mode to coffee/morning/train mode.  Below is proof of our graceful, seamless transition:

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WE ARE BOTH JUST BLINKING – THE CAMERA FLASHED AT THE WRONG MOMENT OK? it’s nbd

And now, I must bid you all “до свидания!” as I hear some angry babushkas rapidly approaching (I think I’m sitting at an off limits table – THERE WILL BE SEVERE CONSEQUENCES IF I DON’T FLEE).  Don’t be alarmed.  But fo real, I’ve got to run, so until next time, which I very much hope will be in the near future.  Пока пока))

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Katya in Moscow (Part I)

Privyet from Mother Russia, where, I’ve recently discovered, there is a wizarding school by the name of Koldovstoretz, not to be confused with Durmstrang (which is actually located in Bulgaria and not Russia?!?!) Like Hogwarts, this esteemed Koldovstoretz Institution has apparently lost my gah damn letter of invitation in the mail, so I haven’t had the chance to become a wizard yet.  I’ll become a Russian in the meantime.

Anywhoo, I severely (SEVERUSly**) digress.  It’s come to my attention that I haven’t written a single blasted blog post since I arrived to Moscow three weeks ago, and this needs to be remedied.  Life here is pretty much infinitely bizarre and riddled with hilarious, nonstop idiosyncrasy, so I think I’ve been too occupied by da entertaining adventures and angry babushkas to sit down and write about it all.

Unfortunately, I’m unwilling to sit here for the next 27 hours recounting all that’s gone down so far (my fingers would get so pissed YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW omgah), but here are some of the highlights:

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This is the palace where I live.  Apparently, I’m a pretty big deal here, and they’ve named me Tsaritsa Katya of Moscow State University – it’s mainly a symbolic role, kind of a “Queen of England” gig, but I can’t say I’m not flattered.

Below is a small video tour of my regal inner dwellings:

I tried to tell them, like, “Look guys, I’m just a normal person like everyone else – I don’t need all this special treatment; I’m a simple girl with simple tastes,” but they just wouldn’t have it and insist on treating me like a Tsar, so I mean, whatever, who am I to complain amirite?! ehehe

Also, I have my own personal bank, which is pretty snazzy:

 

All in all, life is Russia is quite good.  Castles and royalty aside, I’m loving it here – the food on campus has defied vastly my expectations (in a good way, aside from the surprise cow tongue I once found in my salad), the people are quite nice (even the patrolling babushkas who like to invade my room while I’m showering, hoping to lecture me about the dangers of fire, replacing refrigerators with chairs, offering me chocolates – it keeps me on my toes, and I never have any way of knowing what’s coming next…I can’t help but visualize a babushka breaking down my door with an axe, screaming “Heeeeeere’s Johnny”/”Воооот Жонни”….Omgahsuchnightmarezbutthey’reactuallyreallysweetladiesISWEAR)

(Above is visual documentation of the subtle refrigerator swap that went down about a week ago)

Another magical element of Moscow Life has been the track team that I joined a couple of weeks ago.  I run in a place called the “Moscow Sport Palace” (fittingly continuing the theme of regality and further persuading me that I may be of long lost, noble Romanov descent) and am both meeting some of the fittest, friendliest Russians around town while simultaneously sculpting myself into an Olympic, gold medalist runner named Svetlana (gon’ make dis dream a reality – just you wait til May, homeys ;D).

Here’s a pic after ice skating/running a 5k one fine Saturday morning on an ice-rink-I-mean-running-path along the river:

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(I’m in the center dressed in black, wif my good homedawg/speed demon Masha in white, beside me)

HOKAY, so I am being summoned to dinnalin and must leave this update as it is.  More will soon come – I am by no means finished spinning peculiar tales of my Moskva days.

Poka for now.

The Slicer Knifer Commercial(s)

Two takes, one commercial (for the latest and greatest cutlery invention: THE SLICER KNIFER).  We haven’t yet decided whether an American or a Russian accent will sell our product more effectively – or if there’s really even a perceptible difference between the two takes!  Please let us know your thoughts, and call us at 1-800-SLICE-YO-KNIFE if you’re interested in one of our superb butter blades.

Awkward things that have happened in the past 48 hours

Though life in France is most always magical and glorious, it has recently dawned on me that I witness (perform) extremely awkward things pretty much every day (moment), and, as proof, here is a list of some of the aWkKk events to have taken place in the last 48 hours:

1. While I was sprinting around in my magical backyard forest, suddenly an impertinent airborne insect  had the sickening nerve to fly directly into my mouth.  My reaction was reasonable enough: violent spitting and swearing, of course.  This would have been acceptable had it not been for the stunned elderly couple observing nearby in horror from an embarrassingly proximate bench.  I explained to them (probably with specks of spit and bits of broken fly on my face), “C’était une mouche dans la bouche” (It was a fly in the mouth).  They smiled queasily in response to my awkward poem, and I ran away into the sheltering shrubbery, hoping to never never again encounter them for the rest of my days.

2.

I stumbled upon this children's drawing on my way to the supermarket - this sunflower's screams of agony whilst being poisoned to death my that angry little man will likely haunt me for the rest of my days.

I stumbled upon this children’s drawing on my way to the supermarket – the sunflower’s screams of agony whilst being poisoned to death my that angry little man will likely haunt me for the rest of my days.

3.

This has gotta be at least a 30 degree angle.  Come on, France, get yo geometry right.  Nothing more awkward than inaccurate angle depictions amirite?

A sign that I saw on the way home from schoolio…this has gotta be AT LEAST a 30 degree angle. Come on, France, get yo geometry right. Nothing more awkward than inaccurate angle depictions amirite?

4.  Yesterday, my “host grandma” asked me why I never wear a coat and how I manage not to die of the shiver-me-timbers (she may have phrased it differently). I attempted to explain, in French, that it must be my Russian soul (“mon âme russe”) that keeps me warm, but I accidentally said that it was my Russian man (“mon homme russe”) who keeps me toasty.  I became conscious of the error a few moments too late into the convo and decided to allow her to interpret my strange remarks as she would, without further explanation (most of what I say en français is rather strange and eccentric–whether intentionally so or not–so she probably wasn’t particularly appalled anyways).

5.

These deformed knob trees I found in a town called Smarves, which is basically just "Smurfs" with a French accent

These deformed knob trees I found in a town called Smarves, which is basically just “Smurfs” with a French accent

6.

This peculiar empty, broken shell of a building, tattooed with graffiti - I asked the garçons what it was used for these days and they told me that it was full of "homeless people, criminals, and poison."  Both awkward and horrifying. Cool beans, France.

This peculiar empty, broken shell of a building, tattooed with graffiti – I asked the garçons what it was used for these days, and they told me that it was full of “homeless people, criminals, and poison.” This, I find both awkward and horrifying. Cool beans, France.

7.

This limbo pole I found in da park.  1.9 meters aka 6.2 feet - THAT'S WAY TOO TALL, FRANCE.  Only giants would enjoy this how god damn dare you

This limbo pole I found in da park. 1.9 meters aka 6.2 feet – THAT’S WAY TOO TALL, FRANCE. Only giants would enjoy this game.. how god damn dare you

8.

A street sign which reads,  "Aimez nos enfants" (Love our children); something about pairing the love of our children with the image of this terrified child's violent and impending doom seems deeply wrong.  And awkward. Awkward to my damn core.

A street sign which reads, “Aimez nos enfants” (Love our children); something about pairing the notion of loving our children with the image of this terrified child’s violent and impending doom seems very wrong. And awkward. Awkward to my damn core.

9. I will leave you with the most awkward of images – I encountered this nightmare dweller at the aquarium (admittedly, this was not filmed within the last 48 hours but it’s just so damn awkward that I had to include it/her/him as the grand finale):

Hey so um bye!!

Entertaining Effects of Severe Jetlag

After spending Santa Claus break in the Ohio motherland, I made my return trip to France on Tuesday.  It was one of those 24 hours straight of travel, no sleep, high doses of caffeine and soda pop kinda days, and, at my most sleep deprived/depraved state towards the very end of the ordeal while I was waiting on my train to Poitiers for a good four hours in the unheated Charles de Gaulle train station, I thought it’d be funny to write a journal entry so that I could look back later and laugh at what would most likely be scribblings of raving lunacy.  Below is the typed up entry – proof of the curious, sometimes alarming, effects of jetlag on the human mind:

“Hollerrrr – it’s me, Kass Normandus.  Just another unsettling day in the life abroad, wanderlust Wanda-ing around town.  This just in: I’m sitting in the gawd DAMN cold CDG [Charles de Gaulle] train waiting hell, breathing/sobbing so hard that I can see my breath bursting out, fogging up my freaky, bloodshot eyes, before freezing into tiny lil specks of pissicles and cracking on the dirty, dirty trodden train floor.  I’m sitting on a bench that might as well either be an awkward slab of ice or a Siberian madness-inducing torture tool.  In an attempt to “warm up” (<<euphemism for “avoid dying of hypothermia”), with great hope, I bought a large hazelnut coffee – a magical hot elixir that would obviously solve all of my problems.  However, I forgot to consider how difficult it might be to carry three bags, along with a coffee clutched with my numb, frostbitten fingers, and very quickly, my fine caffeine salvation found itself splattered all over the stupid floor.  Luckily, large coffees in France are served in tiny cardboard shot glasses so there wasn’t an embarrassing mess to feel too ashamed of; unluckily, each of these thimble cups suitable only for ants costs around $507, so there was no going back for seconds.   Anywhoooo, I’m semi-delirious in the first place because I chose to watch disturbing airplane movies and read my French book like a rebel da whole flight rather than catch a little peep eye.  And OH MY GAH the man sitting beside me right now on this ice block is humming in the most faint, high-pitched whisper of a sound that gives me the most awkward, FURIOUS, shiver me timbers chills – just keep your CREEPY CREEPY NIGHTMARE whisperhums to yourself, amirite?!  And the whiny lil devil children whose number one hobby appears to be shrieking seem to get a kick in flocking toward my general vicinity like bloodthirsty, demon-possessed mosquitos.  These rabid animals I mean children have made a very powerful enemy today and their barbaric crimes committed against me and my lingering shred of my sanity shall remain forever documented in the renowned historical document that is my journal. Whether this four-hour waiting game in Parisian Antarctica ends in tears, brass knuckles, or a spotting of the Loch Ness monster, I cannot say.  At this point, reality and illusion are blurring together quite nicely, and who’s to say that this isn’t one big, freezing, demented dream français?  Let’s just hope that things become un petit peu clearer by the time I reach my host fam in Poitiers.  If not, I may very well be rapidly deported back to Amurrica quicker than you can say ‘Accio my marbles.'”

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Rather Be Singin’ in da Rain

A lot of people, including myself, have asked me why exactly it is that I decided to fly the coop and skedaddle off to France for a year.  The father’s voice from “Shoes” is constantly ringing through my mind in that haunting monotone drawl of his: “What are you gonna do with your LIFE?!?” and sometimes I’m not quiiiiite sure of my response.  I don’t have a 5-year-plan; I laugh in the face of routine schmoutine; and as for settling down – SETTLE DOWN FO WHAT?!

But, fo real, in all seriousness, the more I consider my eccentric, haphazard life decisions (aka France, Russia, NYC, trying my hand as a Burger King employee in the glory days, etc.), the more strongly I come to the realization that, when I’m all old and bundled in wrinkles hundreds of years from now (naturally, they’ll have discovered some kind of sorcerer’s stone or fountain of youth to grant me immortality), I will not regret a single one of these experiences.  At the moment (and I have a feeling that this moment will last awhile), serious faces, stiff suits and stressful Susans (relatives of Chatty Kathy and Debby Downer) are simply not my cup of tea. I’m just not feelin’ it.

Why work yourself to the bone, deprive yourself of all creativity and adventure, forget about love and thereby rip your demented soul into seven (OR EIGHT) pieces like Lord Voldy?

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Poor lil dark lord – all pooped out after a hard day of unimaginably evil work

Personally, I’d rather be in France siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiingin’ in the rain with dis boi:

🙂

Une Folle en France

As a number of you may have already known or suspected, I’ve recently hopped the pond and moved on over to France, a fromage-filled, delectable wonderland. My mission and raison d’être here is both to teach English and to upgrade my own level of Français. Before my departure, I’d been feeling fairly confident in my French abilities; I had been reading French Harry Potter on the daily in NYC, and, obviously, mastering Harry Potter in French is the highest mark of impeccable language skeeillz. I was surprised to find that reading Harry Potter and conversing with a family of French natives are, in fact, two entirely different things, and you cannot compare your aptitude for bilingual wizard fiction comprehension with real-life, speedy, colloquialism-ridden French convos. It’s apples and oranges; sorcerers and squibs; Severus and Spongebob.  I’d like to think that it was merely jet lag causing me to stumble through introductions, forget how to say “breakfast,” occasionally mispronounce a word so appallingly that the family thought I was swearing at them (this happened only once and was due in part to trickery of the mastermind pictured below), etc.  It could also simply be that the average French dinnertime conversation does not consist only of Harry Potter vocab.  Who really knows.

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Thibault: Trickster/Mastermind Extraordinaire

It’s been a week now, though, and each day I sound less like a demented buffoon and more like a refined French lady (although, I, of course, realize that the leap from “demented” to “refined” is a large one, and it may take me a sec to work out the kinks and transform into a glorious French butterfly.

However, this week has been all about rest, relaxation and the transition from sleep-deprived lunacy to my natural state of a functional, cheery, semi-maniacal gal. Living with an absolutely wonderful French family at their gorgeous poolside home, while exploring the gigantic, magical forest to be discovered just down the road from the house has helped me immensely with the transition into what appears to be an extraordinary new life and adventure to be had here in Poitiers.

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View of the poolio from ma chambre and Nicholas being tossed around in la piscine 😀

Nevertheless, my fingers remain firmly crossed for Monday because that is the day that the real adventures begin.  I will teach (for the first time !!whoahowahowhoah!!) English to the three boys who live here with me in this magnificent home, aaaand my French university classes begin bright and early that fine journée; maybe I’ll make some new international homeys. Fingers crossed, fingers crossed, doigts croisés!

A bientôt, y’all.