Saturday June 15, 1996 2:00 PM our time, 10:00 am Moscow time
Well, I've been here 14 hours and it took only 6 to fall and sprain my ankle, a typical Cathy. I sprained it BAD too, maybe even a little break.
When I landed here, it was amazing. I felt so happy for one thing to get the fuck off the plane, but I also felt like it was home. Very strange to say the least. Very comforting for the most part. I'm living with Lena and her babushka. Today was Lena's birthday. I met her friend's Olga & Nikoli and they are wonderful. Nikoli wanted me to teach him how to drive his BMW, which I can do, but it will be hard. They have a 13 year old son who is going to England and he has red hair.
The food is amazing. I have a salmon salad with eggs and onions and hopefully I can make it again. The salmon filets looked so good, but I wasn't expecting they to be so salty so that was a surprise. They like the Kentucky vodka, I was amazed that it wasn't gross to them. (looking back there are some really nasty vodkas that taste like thinner or someone has tampered with the bottles and put thinner in it's place.~2000). She had Vodka in this beautiful bottle and at first I thought she bought it like that, but now I think she put it in that bottle. I will try to find out (she did).
Tomorrow I am going to take Ba to vote, I'm excited unless it's far away. This apartment is nice, I think, cute. I'm going to try to sleep now, hopefully I can and I'll do more later.
Sunday June 16, 1996 9:00 PM Moscow time.
I drove my first BMW today! It was exciting and strange... I tried to avoid pot hole and Nikoli said it was normal and I shouldn't worry about it. With the few directions I knew, Left, Right, and Straight, I managed not to have a wreck and I forgot that pedestrians are not points. I also went with Lena and Babushka to the school for the elections. It used to be a medical school... No it used to be an elementary school and now it's a medical school. That's where Olga and Lena went to school as children. I now understand how Lena can eat and eat and eat.
We (Nanette, Steve, Shawn & I went to Red Square but first Steve and I went to MGU. I took my first metro ride. It took us maybe an hour and a half to get to MGU and just 15 minutes to walk up there. The building is colossal. I saw the circus from a distance. Then we went on to Red Square. It was amazing! I don't think any photos can do it justice, but I'll work on it.
Then on to GUM, the main department store. They have fixed it up so there are many shops. Nanette bought a $53 dollar coffee machine. I thought it was ridiculous. I bought a coke from a girl with magenta hair. I paid 500 rubles to pee, and there was no toilet seat so I accidentally peed on the floor. I started taking too much toilet paper and the woman hit the desk to tell me I was taking too much.
I saw an icon for $28. Maybe I can buy it. I came home and chatted with Eric (the director of the program), took off my ace bandage and lo and behold, the most disgusting bruise I have ever seen on my body. Ba asked me not to tell my family, maybe one day I will figure out why. She put some stuff on it and then mixed up some leafy green & vodka and now it's on my foot. She also told me not to carry much money and don't use the ATMs, but I figure if Steve goes with me, it will be OK.
I washed my clothes by hand. I called home earlier today and it made me sad because I missed mom and Andy. When Andy called I was in a good mood and he told me that kitty was looking for me and he had a headache. That made me sad. But it was good to hear his voice. When I went to hang up I said I love you I love you I love you I love you and he started to cry. That's when I wanted to jump back on the plane to come home. I figure if I keep busy, the time will fly by.
Well, I'm going to bed. I have the beginning of a sinus infection but I think I caught it early enough to prevent it. Oh, the light flickers a lot and it seems they will go out easily. When I got home Ba made some black (brown)kasha & chicken and I told her I didn't eat much but she tried to stuff my face. I ate 1/3 of it with bread and cheese. The cheese is good. Dima (the cat) loves it too. When Dima was a kitten he fell out of the window and broke his chin so he can't chew and looks like he is biting his tongue permanently. He's really fat. He eats table scraps. Ba couldn't understand why I was so big sine I don't eat. I guess since I drive everywhere that's why. Food preparation for riding my bike this fall. I'll have buns of steel by the end of summer. Ba was worried that if I woke up too early, I don't understand. I set my alarm for 6:30 so I could wake up & take a bath and look over my book and Ba was worried for some reason. Oh well.
I'm slowly starting to understand the currency. 5000R.=$1. (It's a little more then that). But it's interesting. Lena still isn't home and it's 9:30 and it's still light outside and even when it's dark, it's not dark all the way. Well, I'm going to go to sleep with Anne's bear. Goodnight.
June 17, 1996 8:50 Moscow time.
Well today we didn't "officially" begin classes. We sat around and talked and had a nice bomb scare. I took photos of all the people outside. Valentina told us it was common for this to happen. If things get bad for the second election, we are supposed to leave. Yeltsin won the election, big shock and we went and hung out in Nanette's room. IT WAS SO SMALL! I didn't like her dorm room. I like the comfort of staying with a family. Tomorrow David Bowie is going to be here. Sunday Deep Purple. It's weird. Well, I'm going to be because I am tired! Good night!
June 18, 1996 11:10.
Today was an adventure. I ran home to make an appointment with a doctor for Nanette. I made the appointment and I think she sat on one end of Mayakoskaya (metro station) while I sat on the other so we missed each other totally. I'm starting to get a cold so I took a nap. Lena thinks I am lazy but she's never been on a plane ride or a plane for that matter. I'm exhausted now so I'm going to bed. Hopefully Nanette and I won't get lost tomorrow. Well at least she found her way home.
PS My bruise is looking worse and better.
PS Nanette was waiting for me outside the metro station.
June 19, 1996 10:20
Well today was an eventful day. I felt like in my conversation class that I accomplished a lot but I was very tired by the end of the lesson, with a bad headache. Then I ate my sandwich Lena made me and my banana so I felt better. Then I had a decent lesson with Ira. The cases are killing me!
So, I went back to Nanette's room and we called the clinic. I tried to call for Jan 5 times and then I understood I needed her department, so I tried to call and get e-mail. The station on the metro is far, far away, so I will wait and see if I can get it from Valentina. I called Andy to get him to e-mail Jan my number and I think he argued with me jut to hear my voice. I told Tasha he was what I loved most in the world. It made me sad because I do love him so much, so it wasn't hard to argue with him.
Then we waited for Steve to take a hot shower. He loved it. (I took a shower tonight and now realize how dirty you get on the metro). Then we took off for the clinic. She'll know what's up later. While she was getting examined I went to cash my traveler's check and ran into the boys (Nanette didn't want them to know she was seeking medical attention). The Am Ex office was closed so we went into the hotel and lo and behold there was James! (I whispered to Steve he was cashing all of his traveler's checks and thought to myself "Probably changing them to rubles too!" but he only cashed his check, dumbass, about $1000. So I told Glen I bet he gets robbed. I went to get Nanette and told the boys I'd be back and they left!
So Nanette and I went to the Patio Pasta. The bill was only $27 for both of us! She paid since I got us to the clinic. She kept saying, "that's not the clinic, it's not the clinic, it's not the clinic" even though there were 100 ambulances around. She doubted me up to the door. We went in and it felt like home. You could smell the bleach all around. Then we took off and I was mistaken for a native which made me feel good! So we had Italian food and Nanette paid. I had butter spicy with spaghetti sauce (it tasted weird not coming out of a can) we had a cute waiter who spoke some English and he gave us coke with ice!
When I got home Ba was worried sick about me. I explained to Lena where I was and she understood. Tomorrow I want to come straight home. I bought some Muslex and I thought 10 cent water but it was $1.60. I was so mad! But I was also thirsty. Well, I need to sleep. I woke up and had a strange dream about a snake eating one of Lesli's students. It was weird. Well, good night.
June 21, 1996 The longest day of the year
OK. Sorry I haven't written for the past two days. Thursday I slept from 3 to 10 and from 12 to 4 and yesterday I went to the supermarket and paid $6 for a 6 pack of toilet paper (I had been using newspaper). It averaged out about $1 a roll. God fucking bless America. I can write all the differences, but one definite difference is milk. It has a 3% fat content which is gross. And they stamp it the day it was made. I thought it was bad. They show T&A on TV with dead bodies showing the flies swarming around their eyes and nose. They showed a program on Marylin Monroe and it was stupid. The guy who did it was ugly, bald, and was sitting on a frumpy red thing. I have to take peptol Bismol every day so I won't get sick and if I forget then my tummy gets upset. Lena thinks everything American is not as good here in Russia, if she only knew. She seems rather ignorant, but she was raised at a time when it was real popular to be propagandized. Hot dogs here taste better, but Steve said that's because they are allowed to put more shit in them & they are more like sausage. Russia has all our really old, bad movies playing on TV, like Brewster's Millions and Dynasty seems to be real popular.
People here dress real nice. Versace jeans, wrangler seems to be popular. It's like they hate us but they lover our things... I haven't quite figured it out yet.
Right now, I miss Andy a lot. I know he is the only man I can ever be with. He's not sexist or anything, and he doesn't hold me back. (Watching Elton John's One doesn't help much). The guys I am with, for the most part are OK, but to me their sexism is repulsive.
Sean wants to go backpacking but he doesn't want to take his girlfriend, he wants to protect her. That's one definite plus for Andy, he doesn't try to protect me. They kick you off the phone if you talk too long, which really pisses me off.
I've let my nails get long, at least most of them. I walk about an hour each day. 15 minutes to the metro and 15 minutes to the building 2X a day. I think I have already lost 10 pounds, which feels kind of weird. The water here is dirty. I took a bath one day & I thought I was the one that was dirty until I washed a white dress and it is really gross. I'm almost done with my period. I stained one of my dresses, but I got it out.
Andy, I think, might get an A in his class, which makes me happy. I've learned a lot this week. But then again I have learned nothing. I'm glad I have a Ba here. She's real sweet. I need to leave and do something. It's hard to study and I am getting homesick. I also need to wash my towel. Yesterday I bought spaghetti sauce. It even has green peppers in it. I ate it anyway. I think I will go shopping. I forgot my little black skirt.
I was feeling sad earlier, but Lena took me to the Kremlin. I bought a sailor shirt for $3 (IT'S REALLY TIGHT!) and a cool hat for $16. I bought a lot of cool postcards. I went to McDonald's and it tastes the same here only there were about a million people there. I ate a Russian strawberry ice cream, which was very yummy.
YUCK! I'm eating cherries and a bug just crawled out. I'm eating McDonald's from now on! GROSS!!! I think it was a maggot. We bought them at the open market. YUCK YUCK YUCK!
Lena has a serious bug up her ass. She is so serious all the time, OK maybe 1/2 the time. I think she may still believe some of the things she was taught, but not all. I think she believes whenever I talk in English I may be talking bad about her, but I'm not. I speak of the things that bother me. OK. I 'll be fair right now. She's maybe too serious in her thinking about many things, I think she maybe a little obsessed with her looks, like dad is and wanting to look right, but I think many Russians (let alone people) are like that.
She is great in many ways, like taking me out, but I guess she is jut not patient. I find her best friend Olga to be much more patient. Maybe it's because she is a mother. Maybe Lena has many traits I do that I am not crazy about and because I can notice them in her, it aggravates me even more.
So I haven't written since Saturday. Sunday I sat around , painted my nails, thought I did OK on my homework but today I learned and felt like a big dumbass. I'm not going to school tomorrow. My reading teacher wants me to read&read&read& do homework all the time & I am going crazy because I want to have fun too.
Monday I went to school and got mixed up on how my classes were to alternate so I hadn't done my work for Ira. So I spoke with her about how hard it was living here & we sat in the grass in front of MGU comparing notes since she had just come back from Carlton. She hates our milk (I hate it here). She doesn't like our smooshy bread and here it's hard and sold out in the middle of the street. The e-mail system here is so ridiculous if not atrocious. There is one account for everyone so anyone can read your mail.
I kind of enjoy the metro the only thing I don't like is it's expensive as hell here on some things but other things are normal. Coke is about the same. Alcohol is about $5 for vodka. I bought Kool-Aid. I've began to see out everything American here. It makes life more tolerable. It was made in NY.
The mosquitos have eaten me alive. I have at least 8 whelps on my face alone, some on my fingertips & my hands are really bad. I had to buy a mosquito plug in it's driving me so crazy. I would be sleeping and all of a sudden I would awaken to the sound of a mosquito buzzing in my ear. I slept much better last night
I tried to buy a skirt at GYM Monday and the sales lady who has no idea of customer service. She asked why such a fat girl like me wanted to try on such a small skirt. She didn't grasp the concept of lycra or sales. My eyes got as wide as saucers because I couldn't believe what I was hearing and I put the fucking $32 skirt back on the rack (that was half off). It was white and really dirty so I have now given up the great skirt hunt. I thought I needed one, but I will be fine.
Today I went to the Moscow Zoo with Olga and her son Sasha. The animals had little bitty spaces but it was so much fun. I took practically 125 photos. The birds were amazing. It's so weird seeing buildings, tall buildings around the zoo. I thought how funny it would be if a Monkey hoped from a tree into someone's residence.
Sasha is going to England on Sunday. I hope he comes to see me in America. He's a pretty great kid. I'm glad Lena's my mother if only to have met Olga and her family. Her apartment is so beautiful! She is really pretty and she is so nice and patient with me. She tries to speak English and she was nice to tell me I spoke good Russian.
Oh God, it seems like everything is happening fast but slow. I love it here but there are some things I'm not crazy about. I don't think I can be here in the winter. Well, Good night.
Today I went with Olga and her son to VDNHa. Its used to be like the state fair for all the 15 republics. Now it has been turned into a bunch of kiosks and shops. I was wearing my "fun" shoes without thinking and now I have blisters everywhere on top of my mosquito bites and now I am convinced I have a broken bone in my foot but I'm not going to do anything about it.
Olga told me that Lena's father died at an early age and her mother had cancer so she had to get a job and help raise her younger sister. So now she's real materialistic. She only wants to marry a rich man that's Italian (Which I believe she did in 1999).I couldn't understand the other day why Lena was asking if I would give her some money or if she wanted to buy my groceries. Now I understand why. She wanted me to give her the $50 a week when I KNOW I haven't and can't eat that much food. She wants me to give her money and she really hasn't been feeding me anything and I really don't eat anything since the cherry incident. Fuck that! I'm going to the grocery store tomorrow and buying food I like (what a fucking waste of money). I told Valentina to tell her I don't eat pork and the bitch goes out and buys fucking packaged ham.
Besides I went out and bought my own dam food last week anyway and when she asked me how much I paid I said the equivalent of $3 and she believe ME (God I was so fucking naive). I bought spaghetti and sauce, TP, pudding and milk. I know she hasn't spent that money on me alone, but maybe for all of us. What fucking ever. I'm going to the grocery tomorrow and buying RAGU!
I skipped school today. I can't get into my homework and I am having fun except for my feet. I think I will buy Thomas a mink hat. I saw one for $300. I'm not sure if it's sable or not. I'm going to watch Blazing Saddles now.
Just about everything about this place sucks. I have been shopping for a skirt in about 50 different places. Of coarse many places didn't have my size or if they did the clothes were unbearably ugly. I still haven't gotten over the sales lady incident at GUM.
Most of the stores at VDNHa carried electronics and these really rad shoes but they were 8s. So I missed class today and went to the American-style grocery store. I bought French bleach, so my whites will stay white, cheese, spaghetti, Nutella, more Kool-Aid, melba toast, Fa soap (because Lena's has one smell, BAD!) and Ragu for $6 I think. It's the best damn $6 I've spent. I also found on the top floor of Progress I could try on clothes without people giving me shit or following me (down in the supermarket it was obvious they were following me). Oh I bought some Quick and the milk is 100% more bearable as long as water is also added. I found some 2% made in Germany so I bought it. I don't think Lena understands why I'm not such a nationalist and won't buy Russian mild or only Russian things. Let me repeat that MILK HERE IS GROSS. They let it sit out. I think it's been vacuumed packed. Every meat has pork in it, unless it came from the sea. I'm not eating anymore of it.
So when I left this morning Lena was bitching about me watching TV and how expensive it is to watch. I was at the metro before I realized what she said, then I got really pissed because now she is trying bully tactic and she doesn't think I will say anything, but I told Valentina today and she told me, "Yes you paid for electricity and everything. Let me speak with her..." but Lena wasn't here.
She had left the keys upstairs because Ba had fallen and broken her hip. This stupid bitch instead of f just giving me the keys, had me call and talk to Lena for about 20 minutes of confusion and hysteria, until the bitch told me she had the keys. Lena got this "English speaking expert" on the phone who didn't understand a fucking work I said so that was a bust. To top it off I thought I'd be nice and make Lena dinner but that was a small failure, she didn't know what tomato sauce was for.
She came in and cried about Ba and I was also really upset and I tried to comfort her and we all know you can't comfort a snow queen. I felt like I was crying alligator tears. What really hurt my feelings though was she doesn't want me to go to the hospital with her to see Ba. Ba has been just about the nicest thing about this country. Yesterday she gave me her entire collection of postcards and a book about a famous skater written in English. I almost cried since some of them have stuff written about the Soviet Union on them. It really touched me. She loves my peanut butter and I bought the Nutella stuff for her to eat. I gave her 2 pictures of me and she had me write on the back of them To Lena and B, 26 of July 1996.
I hope I do get to see her again. I asked her about the revolution, since she was born in 1912 and she remembered bits and pieces. She told me her father died young and she was the oldest and more stuff I didn't understand. I wanted my tape recorder, but I had give it to Steve. I just hope I get to ask her more questions.
Lena's being selfish and I don't understand why she won't let me go to the hospital (you have to remember that by this point I had spent most of my teen years at the hospital while my mom was doing treatments)., but I think Ba would want to see me, especially because I think I've been the nicest person to her lately. I don't like how Lena treats her. She yells and I understand she's deaf, but her tone is hateful.
I had a cool dream about Queen, Zack, Suzanne and a sexual dream before that. I couldn't wake up, so I skipped school again.
I just got off the phone with Andy. I feel like I am in love for the first time all over again. Oh MY GOD! They just showed this dude getting his pubs shaved off and had make-up put on it and they showed IT! I'm going to die! Oh it's the John Gaultier show, oh my God, there's another one and he was hung. Oh.. he's a French porno star. I'll never get over that. Now there is this REALLY FAT naked guy on TV. I think this is Euro Trash. How STRANGE!
I have so many feelings right now. I feel better about Andy, I feel closer to him. I don't feel so lonely (it's finally starting to get really dark her now).
I just can't get into this Euro Trash. I can but I can't. I think I am way too conservative (ha ha ha). So Lena has been a real freak the last 2 days. Understandable but today she finally remembered I was human and started being nice to me. She said I can go see Ba on Sunday, I don't think she's on medicine either. I don't think I will ever understand her. Not that I want to, I'm here to learn the language, not unlock the mysteries.
It's fucking cold right now. It's been raining. I went to the American bookstore and the books were pretty cheap. I saw the KY photo book for $29 which is crazy.
Steve, Glen and I went to TSUM today. It's much nicer then GUM. When we came out it was pouring buckets. Steve was a whiney baby. I don't think he realized that the weather is like one of those things you have to go with. I borrowed Ba's old what appeared to be an umbrella, but it really wasn't.
Ira can't meet me tomorrow because her supervisor (I think Tolstoy's great-granddaughter) died today. Everyone here is so impressed with intelligence, it kills me considering this country is filled with many superstitious fools.
OK. So today is one of the worst, yuckiest days of the year. I have been hoping to do something all day, but it's been nice just sitting at home. I spoke with Steve and he told me a little about his former life as an actor, but it embarrasses him a little (and the Pope hates being catholic). I made the comment, "It's strange to see all these old films on TV, you never know what influence they will have on people across the world." He told me Ira had seen him in a production and then it came out that he had been in a few movies. I must ask him about how strange a thing fame is.
Now mom just called to tell me you were going to be born little one! (this being Noah, my nephew). I hope you are a girl but I don't really care what you are as long as you are healthy. Actually I am pretty sure you are a girl already, I've had dreams about you. I also told Nate to tell his mom, "I need a little brother or sister so I won't grow up and be a brat." It was about the same time you were conceived, I'm sorry to have cursed your mother that way, but I really don't think it hurts anything, she wants you!
She told me she would want another child because it's so nice when they are little to hold them. I'm finding myself thinking about all my friend's having babies and I would, not I wouldn't, but I have thought , with Andy getting this job at UPS of us getting married in Hawaii. I know now he's the only man for me. So we will see.
It's such a comfort knowing you are there, my little sweet pea, it makes being here in Russia so much easier and you are something to help me make it through. I'm so excited about you! I hope I dream of you tonight.
The wood near
Riding on the
A statue in a