There are trenches through the streets of St. Petersburg. I mean, the logical explanation is that they are preparing to widen the roads in what is a terribly overcrowded city. The other explanation is that they are preparing to wage war from the center of the city. Actually, maybe that’s the logical explanation. Either way, the city is taking little care to keep its residents from meeting at best, a broken leg, at worse death, in these trenches that stretch the length of many of the main streets. The trenches are covered with 2 x 4s. Don’t bother with barricades, just cover these 5 foot deep trenches with some planks of wood. In some places the planks have slid one direction or the other, leaving gaping holes in the earth right where you want to step to start crossing the street. In many places, there are just broken planks. I saw one place where obviously someone had found a bad section of wood and just stepped right through. I don’t imagine they walked away from this. I for one will avoid walking over these death traps as much as possible.
I signed up for an ICQ account today. Yes, living here is like living in a time machine. A broken time machine that needs a new transmission. Because while you can get any movie that is currently in theatres, on DVD at the local convenience store, people are still using ICQ to communicate. Walking on the streets sometimes feels like walking on the set of a Tiffany video, but…I was going to insert an opposing situation that shows the futuristic side of Russia, but maybe the pirated movies is the only step forward.
My bank card is being declined. At the local corner shop and at two ATMs. The ATM say they are decling at the request of my bank. Of course, my bank knows nothing about this.
I see a lot of men with baby strollers. Let me back up. I see very few baby strollers here. I’ve been told Russians aren’t having children. Of course, the immigrant population is making up for this. While there used to be a lot of blonde Russians, there seems to be very few now. Everyone has dark hair, and well of course there are plenty of bottled blondes. You are given some sort of prize from the government if you can manage to tolerate popping out two kids. I’m told a car or an apartment, but I’m getting this information from the insane woman I live with. INSANE. But I don’t want to get into that now. So anyway, there are very few baby strollers. Very few pregnant women. In fact, I’ve only seen pregnant women in the clinic when I got my HIV test. I haven’t seen one on the street. Maybe it’s embarrassing to walk around with the extra pounds? Maybe after 3 months they go ahead and check into the hospital for the duration? But I think really, there are just very few women, in the city at least, having children. Of the baby strollers I’ve seen, I’d have to say that 50% have been guided by men. Not even with their significant other. First, I think, “wow, how progressive.” But then the cynic steps up. Why would there be so many men with baby carriages? Well, my first thought is that after their military tours, they can’t find jobs. But I think the reality is more about laziness. Additionally, perhaps the women are hell-bent on working. In most cafes and stores, I’d say it’s 80% female staff. Continuing in the math vein, I’d say the reason for men pushing strollers is 75% Russian male sloth and 25% Russian female fortitude.
Ok, back to the crazy lady. Why? Because I just walked into the kitchen to put my dishes in the dishwasher (because she told me I need to start cleaning up after myself. Really? I thought I paid you for that. I mean, I pay you to cook, and half the time you don’t, so I figure, if I have to cook for myself, you can wash the bowl. But hey, that’s too much to ask) and she’s topless. Not just, “I just ran from my room to the kitchen to grab a glass of water and didn’t feel like putting a shirt on”. No. She’s sitting at the kitchen table listening to shitty Russian pop music. I’m sure if I’d looked longer than the 1/8th of a millisecond that I did, I would have seen her boobs bouncing to “Poker Face” (worst song ever). I walk in and she kind of half ducks under the table with this sick smile on her face. I mean, how can you look surprised when I’ve walked in on you naked in the ONLY public room in the house at least a dozen times. The other day, I was about to eat the delightful can of cold vegetables she slopped on a plate, but needed a fork. As I’m getting a fork, she walks up to get something next to me and her towel falls off. Great. Full frontal with dinner. Pleasant.
The next day she lectures me on how I should study more. About how I should be learning 30 new words a day, because I only go to school right? I have nothing else to do. If only. You only work 3 hours a day. So quit telling me that you’re tired and asking me to do your grocery shopping. The day after, I come home to drop my school stuff off and I tell her I’m going to read the news. When I come back she gets this “Knowing” smile on her face and says, “Kristina says you just went to the internet.” Well, while Kristina had time to follow me to my destination, maybe she should have done the grocery shopping. This woman clearly has no idea you can find things like “news” on the internet. No clearly, it’s only for meeting men on ICQ…