2+ months of not blogging? Well, I'm sure that's not actually a record for me. If you're wondering what happened, my only guess is that life happened. This is actually a good sign! Usually I quit blogging because I get caught up in what I'm doing locally and either don't have the energy to write or I no longer think that anything is interesting enough to write about. Or I just don't feel like it, which is the most likely.

Anyway, I know that some of you out there have been wondering what I've been up to lately, so I'll tell you.

REVIEW PART I (Nov. 9 - Dec. 26th):

First of all, the "master" came and fixed my shower, so it doesn't leak any more. Actually, the truth is that he fixed it, it didn't leak for a month, and now it's starting to again. I had bigger issues for a while though -- primarily that the water was not leaving the tub in a satisfactory manner. Now, I already knew that it was perfectly skilled at leaving the shower via small gaps in the grout along the wall, but I was more concerned with its exit through the drain. When I first moved in everything worked fine, but then slowly but surely the water started to drain slower and slower. At first I didn't notice, and then I ignored it once it got to be toe-depth. Once it reached my ankles I attacked it with toxic bathroom chemicals (which eased the problem for about 2 weeks). After 2 months in my apartment the water was several inches above my ankles, and I had determined to just take fast showers and have my landlady call the plumber while I was out of the country (because it's awkward when other people are here when I am). I took a shower today, and it seems to be working at the moment, so I appreciated that.

A lot of people asked me about Thanksgiving, and I think that I mostly avoided the topic because I didn't feel like answering a lot of questions. Here is a breakdown of how I spent my first Russian Thanksgiving:

The People: Me, Nichole (another American. Works as a teacher, but not with me. Does not live close to me. Already knew her from studying abroad in St. Petersburg 4 years ago), Sasha and Misha (friends from the dorm), Julia (student), and Anna (Nichole's friend/co-worker).

The Location: Nichole's apartment. It's exponentially larger than mine and has more dishes.

The Food (basically everything that Nichole and I could make): Chicken cooked in some spice mix that we found at the store, leafy salad with RANCH DRESSING, fruit salad, garlic bread, olives, juice, tea, alcohol (for those inclined), and APPLE PIE! No there was not turkey, because it's hard to find in Russia and seemed scary to make. Our Russian friends seemed skeptical of the salads and apple pie, but enjoyed the ranch dressing and chicken quite a bit. They didn't seem to touch the fruit salad very much, but that's ok because I ate half of it and then took it home and ate the rest.

The Entertainment: preliminary mood music, dinner conversation, toasts, everyone saying what they were thankful for, a sing-along lead by Misha (although there wasn't much singing from Nichole or I because they were Russian songs that we didn't know), and several rounds of "Crocodile," which is the Russian version of charades. The only difference from the American version is that we didn't have spiffy cards, so the last person to go just thought up a word for the person who guessed. We also didn't seem to keep score, but that could have been because it was getting late and some of the guests might have been doing too much toasting.H

Problems: We didn't have enough silverware and the pie crust was too small.
Solutions: Have really thin pie crust and send Sasha and Misha to beg silverware from the neighbors.

Overall it was a success.

Other than that nothing really happened for a month. Honest. At least, nothing that I can really remember. I went to work, I came home, I ate stuff, I went ice skating sometimes. I started getting really excited about going home and bought Christmas presents and avoided packing because I hate packing.

Christmas day turned out to be really enjoyable. A couple of weeks before I had started to befriend a pretty awesome girl from one of my classes, and she and her family adopted me for a day and made sure that I both had a good time and got rid of a vicious cold that had decided to overpower me.

To start the day off I stayed up pretty late talking to people from home and feeling pretty weird about the fact that it was Christmas. Then I felt sorry for myself because I was probably going to be sick while I was home, which was a completely sucky idea. Then I slept until about noon (luckily this family isn't very into the whole "morning" idea either). The major event of the day was going sledding. While there was only one hill and the majority of the sledders hadn't reached double digits yet, it was still an enjoyable afternoon. The temperature was hovering right around freezing, so we managed to stay pretty comfortable. After that we headed to the grocery store so that we could stock up on food and medicine. I wasn't really sure what the plan was for the day outside of sledding, but I decided to just stay in the car until we either reached my apartment or did something else. The "something else" evolved into a Christmas feast at their house which lasted until well into the night. Being sick and a guest, I of course had to start out with a bowl of soup and a shot of vodka. I was forced to eat way too much as usual, but the company was very cheerful, and I was told that a certain Santa Claus had even stopped by for me (New Year's is the major holiday in Russia. December 25th usually isn't really celebrated).

After that we watched a movie, talked, I took every medicine offered to me (I really wanted to get rid of that cold!), and had a good time. This family is seriously one of the nicest I've ever met. I even got a backrub!

While Christmas wasn't the same being away from my real family, it was still so much better than what I had anticipated or hoped for.


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Good news: no more required disclaimer!
Bad news: I'm really lazy about posting when I'm not in Russia