Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Sequel

Sometimes life feels like a continuation. One year more or less flows into the next. You're a little older, your style changes slowly, your music tastes change over time, but it all feels like one story.

But that's not what my life feels like now. No, as I start my second stay in Novosibirsk, it feels much more like not only a new chapter, but a sequel to an old book whose story is forever closed. I was only gone for 1 month, but it feels like I was gone for years.

The only girl I more or less "dated" here is gone for the UK with her British boyfriend, one of my students is now living with my ex-pat friend, I'm living in a new place, I'm not working at the university, and everything just feels different...

In a way it makes sense. I'm far removed from who I was last September, and going back to America helped me get my head in order. Long story short, I'm excited about this "sequel," and everything has started out well this time around. I'm glad it all feels different.

I'm renting my own apartment for the first time in my life, which comes with both excitement and the dread of having to make a $550 payment every month. This is what growing up is about, right?

Anyways, hit the JACKPOT today on my run. Of course I can live here for a year and no one ever tells me there are at least 20 miles of trails on the north end of the city. But I have to be careful about the ticks if I run on any of the smaller trails. Still, I ran for about 20 minutes out and 20 minutes back on a dirt road and it was wonderful.

So my building is brand new. But apparently it's also known as the building that has been under construction forever. It's still under construction. I'm the only person on my floor who actually lives there, and I guess there are people on other floors. Although there might not be too many residents, the elevator is already thoroughly tagged with penis graffiti.

My studio apartment is a bit of a greenhouse - the sun just bakes it, which I hope will make it liveable in the winter, but right now it's dang hot (no air conditioning). So I went out and bought a fan, which I thought would be a simple process. Another insight to Russian culture - they don't really do the whole "fan" thing.

One of my fondest memories as a kid was hanging around on summer days with a fan blowing on me. On those hot summer days (and nights) in July in New Hampshire it was the only way to fall asleep. We had fans everywhere in our house to keep air circulating. My dad would use it in the window to make a draft - I like to have it blow directly on me.

But in Russia it is known that a cold wind causes you to get sick. And while Russians are all about opening the windows when the room gets "dushna" (Stuffy/hot), they don't really use fans.

When I was in St. Petersburg I would turn on the fan so I could sleep, and then in the morning I would find it unplugged and coiled up on the window sill. I guess my host mom would come in in the early morning and turn the fan off. Whether she was doing it for my health or to save energy costs, I'll never know, but it was a little disconcerting.

Now I was able to find one fan in the entire shopping mall by my apartment. It came in a slightly destroyed box, but even so I was surprised when the check out lady robotically (how is this not a word according to this spell check?) directed me to the "scotch" (tape) after I had paid. Was it an order? Was it a recommendation? Whatever the case, it is apparently normal to pack your purchase after you buy something from this home-goods store. They don't have much patience for foreigners in this situation, but eventually I realized what was going on and dutifully secured the box to my cheap, $15 fan.

I took it home and figured assembly would be easy. It was, in that the instructions came in English (shows you who actually buys these fans) except, of course, there seemed to be missing pieces. In the instructions it mentioned a "spring" to be placed in the base of the stand, a spring which I sure as heck did not have in my box. In my frustration, and my apartment covered in my belongings, I worked through the heat to unpack the rest of my belongings in the hope that this "spring" would appear. In that process, I lost the instructions.

With a lost spring and lost instructions, I figured to just forget about them both and put the fan together using my all-to-impressive intellect. I managed to put it together, and it now cools my room as a good fan should, but it stands in the corner a little drunk.

And last night I heard a grinding in my dream. A discomforting, worrying grinding, like a monster preparing to eat me or someone drilling a hole through my front door. I stumbled around my room to find that the head of the fan had tilted forward in its drunkenness and every time it crossed the front of the stand it was rattling against it. An altogether unfrightening problem, but all the same woke me in terror. The last two nights I've been a little paranoid about intruders for whatever reason. Something about living by myself for the first time I suppose...

A note about construction in Russia. 1) There is always someone with a drill drilling something somewhere... at all times. 2) It's always just one or two guys (the most I've ever seen together is three). Like, I can see 100,000 square meters of building space from my window (counting all the floors) and I see 3-6 workers hanging out in the unfinished concrete hulks of buildings, and one guy is welding something. No wonder they've been building my 17 story apartment building for 7 years. But I remember at the university there would be drilling through the walls once or twice a week, and this morning in my apartment there was drilling in the room below me, and in a language school I visited today there was steady drilling through the wall for 2 hours. Construction season?

So I've been here a little less than a week and I've already made my first ever visit to an IKEA, I gave an interview on the radio station Komsomol'skaya pravda, I've fully moved into my apartment and I've run 5 out of 6 days - the last of which was the first run in my new GPS watch (I finally gave in and bought a GPS watch. I had been fighting it for 5 years. But I needed the heart-rate monitor so you might as well get the whole package, right?)

With that, I bid you adieu. Hopefully I will write more often this year. Hope hope hope hope....

1 comment:

  1. Bahhhhh McG a GPS watch!? It's crazy it's been 2 years since we had to deal with those freshman and those watches beeping every quater mile! GL on the sequel