20 September 2005

small joys and victories

There is no better place to be on your birthday than in a primary school classroom.

Because my birthday presents from my family arrived at school, my students knew that my birthday was coming. They eagerly counted down the days with me. They looked forward with joy to the day's approach. They even were excited about the spelling test we'd have because it would be a birthday spelling test! (I admit, I foster this joy. We do everything with happy hearts, with glee and delight, in second grade.)

When the day arrived, I received songs and dances, birthday hugs, handmade cards, a special shell and sparkly rocks, a necklace made of pretty straws, and flowers of all sorts--real, tissue paper, drawn, cut out and glued together. I even had a birthday hat made by a student that proudly proclaimed, "Happy Birthday, Miss Christian! 36 years old" I brought in brownies and we ate with abandon! The grown-ups at school even provided a card and a cake. It was a really nice day.

On Saturday I celebrated many small victories. All by myself I followed directions to a part of town I hadn't visited and found an electronics shop. (This meant reading signs in Russian even though the directions were in English.) I bought a dvd player (for the price I wanted) and had them change it to a multisystem player even though no one in the shop spoke English. On the way home I stopped at a kiosk and bought a ham and cheese blini (think crepe) without the ham (Sally Albright takes St. Petersburg). When I got home, I was able to watch my birthday dvd's.

I was quite chuffed with myself.

Let me know about your small joys and victories so we can celebrate them together.


14 September 2005

Advice I've Been Given

Don't drink the water.
Beware of gyspies.
Stay away from the mosque on Fridays--too many gypsies.
If a gypsy throws a baby at you, don't catch it.
It is a scam that allows gypsy children to surround you and pick your pockets.
Don't pick up money you find on the ground. It's another scam.
When in doubt about your reception as a foreigner (ie when you want to buy something and think your lack of Russian and dreadful accent will up the price considerably) pretend you have been "selected mute".
Pay the bribes.
You'll be happy to know that most of this advice falls in the category of other survival advice I've received in my lifetime--run uphill if chased by a bear because their front legs are shorter, hit a shark firmly on the nose with your fist to discourage it, etc. I haven't had any babies thrown at me, haven't been stopped by the police, and haven't had to play mute.
I don't, however, drink the water.
Enjoy your day!!