Monday, July 31, 2006

Far Too Long, Far Far Too Long

Among the many other signs that I've been in this place too long:

I saw a former student from a few years ago the other day; I asked her what she was doing now and she said, "I'm living in Paris now."

I thought, "Jesus Christ, who the fuck would want to live in Paris, would you could be living here?"

Here -- grimy provincial Russia. As opposed to a world capital of culture and history like Paris.

But I stand by the thought. Might be fun to sit on the roof and watch the African and Arab rioters burn stuff, but other than that, I'm sure it's boring as hell in Paris these days.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

White Tongue, Mullets, and The Smell of Ham

My tongue turns fuzzy white when I drink alcohol. I guess everyone's tongue gets a bit gooey when they drink, but mine looks like it's covered with paste.

I was worried about this for a while. Then a friend told me it's just a way the body rids itself of toxins, like ear wax and sweat, and nothing to particularly worry about.

I remain uncomforted. Meanwhile I kiss girls with a white tongue oozing toxins.

We went to the nightclub last night. Mullets have become extremely popular in Russia, probably due to mulleted popstar Dima Vilan taking third place in the Eurovision song contest. His rather conservative Mick Jagger-esqe mullet has only proved to be a starting point for some of the more ambitious men about town -- we have some real Billy Ray Cyrus/professional wrestler mullets around here now, man. Some mid-south circa 1983 mullets.

Really takes me back. It's a fucking nightmare.

I talked to a lot of different girls, but they all smelled like ham.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Morning Big Mac and Brewskis

So we came out of the nightclub at like 7:00am, like we often do on Saturday mornings, and there were some drunk bimbos outside. It ended up we invited them -- or they invited us -- to go down to the beach.

Already bright at sunny at that time, I was rather surprised how many people there were around at that time of the morning. And some of them had actually gotten up early, rather than staying up all night.

None of the cafes were open down there, but fortunately a security guard who had a trunk full of Baltika 7's sold us some. We sat on the beach with the girls until their Gremlinish chattering and giggling grew too much to bear, and we fled to McDonalds.

Anyway, my point: we went to McDonald's when it opened at 9:00am. But they didn't have any breakfast food. Just the usual menu. (I've run across this a time or two in other countries, too.)

Is there really such a market for Big Macs and fries at 9:00am? Suppose so. There were a few other people in there, anyway.

Certainly cut my hangover in half, I'll say that.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Uterus Colds

In Russia there are several weird health beliefs, the primary one being a terrible fear of drafts. I futilely try to explain that viruses and bacteria cause illness, but no, students even on warm days are rather frightened of open windows.

Another involves sitting on cold rocks. This is supposed to give women something they refer to as a "Uterus Cold." The similar condition in man affects the prostate.

When I doubt the veracity of this -- and I've had trained medical professionals assure me it happens -- and ask why this does not occur in other countries, they claim either that it does, but is not recognized as such, or that other countries simply aren't cold enough.

Russians also believe that spices of any sort (other than salt) are very bad for the health. (I suppose that's just Communist era propoganda, to explain why spices were unavailable.)

Then there's the belief that cold drinks are bad for the throat. Especially for children. Many is the time I have had to teach to students wishing to travel abroad the phrase "I would like the juice to be room temperature, please." (I suppose in areas where there are a lot of Russian tourists, the intelligent restauranteur would be wise to keep a few warm drinks lying around.)

More palatably, warm beer is considered to be good for sore throats, and vodka with salt and pepper in it is considered a sure-fire flu remedy. Maybe, maybe not, but it at least makes it more enjoyable to be ill.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

I Survive Another Russian Wedding

Another one of my colleagues got hauled to the hitching post last weekend; again, he knew her a bit less than a year. (But at least this one isn't pregnant.)

Ah, the pure, energetic idiocy of a Russian wedding. The bride's mother was dressed in a dress that looked like some sort of weird disco ball and had her tits pushed up under her chin. There were middle-aged women diancing around to Russian disco music from the 70's, men doing traditional folk dances, a few young slatterns shaking their ta-tas, and of course me, English Teacher A and English Teacher P, drunk as motherfuckers.

ETP invited some band he knew to play at the wedding -- a group called Shannon, two Russian guys who dress like Scotsmen but play traditional Irish music. As it turned out, he didn't have money to pay them, having mistakenly assumed they'd do it as a favor. So the bride and groom had to break into their wedding cash to do so. (It was like $600 or something, but ETP claims he'll pay them back.) ETA, his face glowing like a beacon from all the vodka (and cognac and beer and champagne and absinthe) he'd drunk, responded by charging onto the stage and telling them their kilts were all wrong.

Afterwards we for some reason went to the nightclub until 6:30am -- I think we just wanted to show off our ties -- and then the next day, at 11:30 there was a day-long boat trip up the Volga with the bride and groom and thirty of their friends.

In the three hours I was asleep, I somehow managed to get up and pee on the rug in the living room, and destroy the remote control for my DVD player in the process.

The boat trip was nice though, sadly I have no pictures of this, I sometimes forget how scenic the region around here really is. I banged one of the bridesmaids in the ships storage area, after a day of idiocy on the beach including being Shanghaid into participating in a beachside drag show dressed in a Marilyn Monroe mask and plastic boobies. Scary.

I bought a T-Shirt today that says on the front "Better to have loved and lost. . ."
and on the back ". . . than to be stuck with a psycho for the rest of your life."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Weekend Decompression

I posted a new case study on the website. Go to the website -- and you can access it from the first page.

Fortunately it was grey and rainy today, giving me a perfect excuse to stay home and watch DVDs and drink beer. Decompressing from my weekends is a serious and tricky business -- one needs to gently taper off with the beer on Sunday to avoid too massive a hangover on Monday or nightsweats and sleeplessness.

Thanks, by the way, to the people who left the kind (or at least interested) comments in the previous post. Believe me, I'm starting to feel plenty embarrassed about keeping a website and blog, in this era in which everyone seems ecstatic to meander on about every tedious detail of their lives. . .

Fuel-Injected Suicide Machine

Our new Colombian buddy left yesterday. That's kind of the thing about English teaching -- you have more "Hello"s than most people, but you also have a lot more "Goodbye"s.

Saw a cop pepper-spray a drunk beligerent guy out near one of the markets this afternoon. They were remarkably calm about the whole business -- my comprehension of Russian is far from perfect but it seemed as if he said something very much like, "Ow, hey, shit, man, what did you do that for? That hurts!" and the cop said something like, "Hey, I told you to stop shouting."

Both realizing he might well have just shot him in the face or something.