Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sun Sun Sun SUN

Being back in Florida was a little anticlimactic at first...  I had been really looking forward to the rain and thunderstorms that come with a Florida summer, but this was a little ridiculous. 

A typical Florida summer day is supposed to go as follows...

Beautiful sunny morning.
Hot sunny noontime, with maybe a hint of clouds.
Sudden tropical downpour, with really badass thunder and lightning, the kind of clouds that look awesome and fierce as the sun sets, all pink and raging with flickering talons of enraged electric terror clawing across the face of the sky....The kind of storm that looks so wicked and apocalyptic as you drive down the highway towards it, you feel like you should be playing ACDC and hanging out the windows screaming.
Then the storm disappears, the sky clears as though nothing so energetic and raw had ever happened. The only hint is the steaming and humid earth as the sun sets, for a clear hot summer night.

And so the cycle repeats itself...

But for the first 10days that I was back in Florida, this normal pattern was not so.  Instead it was day after day of rain.  Just steady, continuous, grey sky rain.  Sometimes it rained hard. Sometimes it rained soft (that annoyingly soft rain...where it's not light enough that you can go outside and DO anything -the weather sucks just enough to trap you inside, but at the same time the sheer WEAKNESS of the rain annoys you and you'd prefer that the clouds would just grow a pair and really pour).  It was like there was a cyclone/hurricane sitting over Florida, but it wasn't.  V.strange.  I'm not really complaining...Florida needed a good rain, and I like the sound of rain, so no biggie...

But anyway, finally, there has been some nice sunny Florida days.  I'm even slowly getting some colour back to my complexion...(not too much at a time though -after 4months in Russia I need to wean my melanin back onto vitamin D slowly.  I'm pretty sure that too much direct exposure to sunlight would send my body into shock and kill me)...  In fact I intend to return to the beach tomorrow.  Huzzah!  Or, as they say in Russia, "Ooo-rrrah!"

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sensory Overload

This will be short, I'm at a weird kiosk in Heathrow, difficult to type. Only 12 hours left here, wooh! Anyway.... It's weird already. I can read all the signs...I understand every announcement...I can't help but eavesdrop on people, because I understand every word.... SO MUCH going on... And communication takes so little effort. I can already feel a part of my brain dying off, the part that took me 4months to beat into the equivalent of running the 100m in 25seconds..... I'll elaborate on my first impressions of reverse culture shock later, when I don't have to punch every key. I'm off to listen to russian music, and read Garri Pohter.....

Monday, May 11, 2009

Tulips, Ice Hockey, and Leaving...

It's my last night! :(  So very sad.  Although it is going to be MARVELOUS to get back to the states, and then Australia, I really don't want to leave.  The tulips are springing up all over the city, fountains are popping up in places I didn't know had fountains, the leaves on the trees are beautifully bright green (I realised that I hadn't seen leaves for almost 4 months -strange thought), and where there was once mud and ice there is the most ridiculously bright green grass.  In short, St Petersburg is becoming absolutely beautiful, and I'm leaving in almost 15 hours.

Oh well, I'll just have to return.

Last night we stayed out all night to see the bridges go up and celebrate my last weekend in St Pete.  We chose a good night -Russia was playing Canada in the ice hockey somethingorother final, and they won.  There was partying and honking and flag waving and screaming all throughout the streets... Russians are a lot of fun when they're happy.

I have a ton of footage of the evening, but I'll have to upload later.  I'm packing, trying to make sure I have everything I need, and not be over the baggage weight.  I hate packing.

If I don't get another chance to blog from Russia, I'll catch up when I'm in the states, or on my stopover in London.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Another Bim?

Moscow has something St Pete ain't got.... Starbucks.  And although it's fairly lame to give in and buy something so ridiculously american while visiting another country, after a looooooong day of walking around Moscow after a 9 hour train ride, it was nice to have a cup "saboy" (to go...literally, "to you").

But here's what was interesting... We sat down at a table outside to rest a moment, and on the table was an old and empty cup, left by a previous customer (funny thing in Russia, noone is expected to clean off their own trays or tables in fast food restaurants.  Many a time I have gone to do so, and been intercepted on the way by a woman in an apron, as though she thought I was going to walk out the door with it).

I had to get a photo...

My cup is the one on the left... You'll notice that the cup on the right has the same first 3 letters as my essentially it says "Bim"...or more literally "Beeem".

Now it's far more likely that "Beeem" in Russian  is just Starbucks shorthand for whatever type of drink that guy had had...but still, I felt like I'd made some kind of passing fateful, connection...  I've never met another Bimini (although I know they exist), and I'll be crushed if one of them becomes well known for something before I do.  Having a different name is great, I love my name, but it would suck if one of the other Bimini's winds up on MTV dating Tila Tequila or something...I prefer "Bimini hey? Wow, that's unusual!" to "Bimini? Like that other chick...?"

Meanwhile, people in Russia don't have any trouble spelling my name.  When I go to a Starbucks in the states, it's easier for me to make up a name (I usually go with "Minnie", like "mini" from "Bimini" -which Charley HATES with a passion) simply because it's easier than having to repeat myself, and then spell it out, repeat again, and spell it out again, when there is a queue of angry impatient coffee addicts waiting behind me. But because Russian is so very phonetic (although not entirely, don't be fooled!) spelling isn't really an issue.  

Russians are really into nicknames....almost any name can have an "ochka" or something thrown on the end, and voila! be It comes a cute Russian familial.  In fact, reading Russian stories can be confusing as hell, because one person will have 3 or 4 different names, depending on who is talking to them.  Sadly, I have not been given one.  Even "Bima" hasn't happened, which Dr Denner had guessed might evolve.  If a Russian is confused by my name, sometimes I suggest "Bima", and then they look at me strangely thinking I said "Dima", when it's obvious that my name couldn't possibly be Dmitri.... so I'll alway be Beemeenee I suppose...

On another note... It's Friday, my last day of class :(  I tried to find thank-you cards for my teachers, but was extremely unsuccessful.  Tomorrow is Victory Day, so the stores are filled with VictoryDay cards... and Nevsky Prospect is gorgeous, completely decked out with ribbons and banners etc.  Big parades tomorrow, that I'll go into town to see.  But our teacher warned us that it was probably better to go home in the early evening...tomorrow is the day where the Russians REALLY demonstrate their alcohol-imbibing abilities, and she told us that it's not pretty.  Somehow hearing a Russian woman describe something as "Not pretty" in Russian, (nee krassiva) is hilarious and very cool at the same time.

I'm planning to drop off a travel bug this afternoon... Aside from that, no idea what to do with my last Friday. I'm sure I'll think of something.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

13 years ago....

I was 8 years old....

Rick suggested I put it up.  Thanks to Sue for the photo  <3

Monday, May 4, 2009


Just got back from 3 days in Moscow, had a great time. Moscow obviously deserves a huge post all to itself, and I know I've promised to blog on stuff before and never followed through, but I have to stick an IOU on this one. I have ONE WEEK LEFT officially, and so the blog post will just have to wait.

I'll leave you with this tidbit morsel.... It was not at all what I expected. Moscow felt more like New York city, or Sydney (more so Sydney than New York) to me than it felt like Russia. Very strange. I've heard and I know that St Petersburg is the "western" city, and that Moscow is more "Russian".... But Moscow just felt like a big city, with some Russian churches thrown in. St Pete feels like a different country. I would say that (to me) Moscow felt more 'western' (like, American-western, not Europe) because of all the traffic and skyscrapers and traffic lights and giant light up billboards etc.... St Pete is like Prague or something.

Anyway, thoughts are jumbled, I'll hopefully elaborate later. I liked it a lot though, we did a lot of things, saw a lot of things. I have terrifyingly ugly blisters on my feet, but they'll be ok.

ONE WEEK LEFT!!! ARHHHHHHHH!!! I don't want to leave! :( But it'll be great to get home. It's my birthday tomorrow (well, today I suppose since it's past midnight) but I think that the real celebrations will be next Sunday night since Monday is a public holiday. We'll stay out and watch the bridges go up etc.


Here's me in front of St Basil's.

Red Square Moscow

Just a little video of the morning of our second day in Moscow.

NB: The day before, Red Square had been closed down for a series of parades (national public holiday) followed by some communist protests/rallies/general russian drama... OBVIOUSLY it wasn't Putin's bday or anything I said. I was entertaining myself.