26 January 2010

the day the music died

Today, for some reason, is the day that I am OVER Russia. I'm done. Finished.

Lexi's sick. We have no car. We had rides to and from the doctor kindly provided, but...bleh. We need groceries. I forgot her snowpants so she couldn't go out today. It's bitterly cold. It's dark. I have students absent and had another visiting. I'm tired and probably getting whatever Lexi has. All my sick days are gone.

Kindergarten is stressful. Having my child in a class where I do not agree with the teacher on how children should be taught, disciplined, and treated is incredibly stressful. Having baby steps taken when I want something done is stressful. There is a very easy solution to part of this problem that is not being taken for political reasons. And I think those reasons are ridiculous and entirely without merit.

And the GSO at the consulate called my principal to say that I needed to be taking care of the police report on the car myself.

That, somehow, just did it for me.

Being told, weeks after the fact, that I needed to find a way to the local police station, without a car, with my sick child in tow, to ask for and fill out forms in Russian--which I cannot do--before 1 February when the price will double, just did it.

During my stint here I've gone from Wow! to Interesting. to occasional grumbles to, today, clicking my heels three times. I've been here for 4 1/2 years. When I tell other ex-pats that, their eyes grow big and they either inhale or exhale loudly. It's a long time. I know that there are blog readers who would love to be here that long, or think that they'd love to be here that long. And, I did enjoy the adventure in the beginning. I'm grateful to have been given this opportunity. I've learned so much.

But as of today, I'm finished.

I just have to find a way to be cheerful as I trudge through the time I have left. That's a good way to describe life in Russia. One neither skips nor glides. One doesn't sing and dance along the streets. One trudges. It's just a hard place to live. And, that "hardness" isn't limited to ex-pats. Nothing is easy here. Nothing. I'm just thankful that, although it will be a little while longer, I will be able to leave and come home.

updated 30 January to add: The driver from school didn't make his run to the consulate. Again. Which means all the paperwork that I need to take with me today (colleague from school is very kindly driving and translating) to the militsia to get a piece of paper that says that they haven't/can't do anything about recovering the lost plates so that new ones can be issued is still at the consulate. So, it looks like today is not going to be the day we get things started. And, the prices for new plates "doubles" on 1 February from 3575 r to...they don't know what. It could be 5000r. It could be 7000. It could be more.

It's hard to explain why this is all so taxing. Yes, it's incredibly inconvenient. But, it's the attitude of people around me that is most wearing. There is a sort of general apathy, an expectation that things are and always will be difficult, combined, in some people, with a vague...hostile, jealous resentment. Being the constant target of that, for no reason other than my nationality, is wearing.

And, it's knowing that while a trip to the DMV is never fun, all this would have been easily taken care of in a day in the US. I haven't driven since 21 December.

We need groceries. No car means more frequent trips, higher prices, carrying everything home and poor produce. Making these grocery runs on foot in the snow and ice and slush with my little helper is not fun.

We need medicine. The doctor Rx'd 7 days of @ugmentin for Lexi (shouldn't it be 10-14?) but only gave us 5 days' worth. ???? So I need an apteka within walking-distance-for-a-six-year-old who will give us more.

These two errands--groceries and medicine--will take an entire day.

The school year is half-finished. Only.

And, on top of all this, I've got some big decisions rattling around in my little head. Those will remain personal, but, boy, do they rattle!


Tina in CT said...

I think you have every right to feel as you do. The crazy Russian system for everything seems so screwed up and complicated. Good luck with the Russian DMV and the plates.

I hope your contract ends when school is over in June and that the two of you can head back home.

Hope you aren't sick too. My daughter has been sick and one of the girls still is too.

kate said...

Thanks, Tina. Fortunately am only sick-and-tired and not SICK.

My contract ends after NEXT school year. I know school issues will be resolved next year, but the rest...

Carrie said...

I feel frustrated for you. All I can do is send prayers and good thoughts. :)

votemom said...


little word. big meaning.


Annie said...

So - HOW many reactions have I written and deleted?

I'm sorry; I can hear your frustration.

Dawn said...

Sending an understanding hug (((())))

Maggie Vink said...

I, too, am sorry for your frustration.

june said...

Oh, poor you. Seriously. Sounds like you have hit the wall, and I don't blame you. I have a hard enough time dealing with all the school/sick/work/decisions issues here, where I have a (mostly) functional bureaucracy and a car that works. I hope things get a little easier for you soon. At least the days are starting to get longer... it was still light at 4:30 here yesterday!!

Dee said...

I have spent a lot of time in Russia and it's a fascinating place, but I would NOT want to live there. I don't know how you've done it.

When you become a mom everything changes. Your worldview completely changes. You're only getting started with that, trust me.

I don't know how ironclad your contract is, but nobody would blame you for breaking it if you have a child to consider. If I were you I'd just get my child well, pack up, and come HOME.
There are plenty of teaching jobs here. Come to Atlanta. I have friends that teach and they could help you find a job in no time flat. We have to deal with snow and/or ice maybe one day a year. The rest of the time it's nice.


kim said...

Sending hugs your way. Wow... for some reason, I have not been able to access for a long time... I missed A LOT! It is good to be back in touch and belated congrats on the adoption. If it would be helpful to have medicine or anything else mailed to you, please let me know... I will be glad to do it.

Maura said...

Oh Kate - life shouldn't have to be that hard, should it? I think you so aptly described the apathy/resentment, and that alone would be enough to put anyone over the edge. Add all the rest of the stuff and it's overwhelming.

I hope the big light waiting at the end will make it a bit easier as you deal with trudging through.

Hope your little pixie feels better quickly.

Jim said...

Kate - I just saw this. I think it's easier to deal with the difficulty and non-sensicalness of the place when it's just you. Now that Lexi is in the picture, I think you are feeling a natural resentment for that which is impeding your ability to make her world better. In this case, it's the living conditions around you.

I'll keep praying that you'll be comforted and that things will get better while you wait for the next opportunity to make a break.

Elizabeth said...

I have days like that. I've been here for 5 1/2 years, but I can't imagine doing everything I do PLUS caring for a child! You are amazing.

Right now I am navigating the temporary residency system. Sometimes everything is so ...murky.