first of all, let me apologize for any spelling mistakes. the spellchecker on this computer is rebelling, and i don't have the mental energy to re-check everything manually.
the other day me and art took the kids to visit his dad. he had never met the kids before and was really excited to have us over. the experience was interesting. i have never been to a place so dirty. but i expected it to be bad--art had told me stories to warn me about it, so at least i wasn't surprised by the squalor. normally when i go to someone's house that is messy or dirty, i get the overwhelming urge to clean it for them. but that urge saw art's dad's place and just shorted out. i told art that and he laughed.
i don't mean to be mean or rude; his dad is extremely nice, and he made a whole feast for us--salads, bread with caviar (which i opted aganst--i don't eat bait), cookies, apples, cheese, sausage, roast chicken, etc. most of it was good, so long as i didn't look around the room and actually think about WHERE the food was prepared. the most interesting part was hiking through mud and dodging tree branches to get to the outhouse. his dad doesn't have indoor plumbing, so you get to go outside in the cold and pee in a hole in the ground. awesome!! art seemed amused by the whole experience of bringing us there. maybe he expected me to freak out, but it's not like i've never been to russia before. true, i'd never actually been in a place like that but i'd seen them from afar, and i am unfortunately familiar with the plethora of yucky smells that live in this country.
the kids, oddly enough, were entirely unfazed by the whole thing. in fact, ilya started crying when we were leaving and said he didn't want to leave his russian grandpa. he kept asking if we were taking him with us, and when we were going to come back. ha. kids are weird.
the day before yesterday art and i went into st. pete to go to church. it's about an hour by bus to get into town, then another half hour on the metro to get to the final destination. it was weird to go, because i don't know anyone there anymore, and because it's bizarre that a calvary chapel meets in a lutheran church with a baptistry and catholic looking paintings and everything. the service was pretty boring, but that could have been because i didn't sleep all night and it was really warm in there. the only thing that kept me awake was the ridiculously uncomfortable wooden pew we were sitting on. our friend ilya came as well, and after the service we went out to eat and walked around a bit. it was good for me to get out--since we arrived here i've felt very out of sorts. lomonosov (where art's mom lives) is nothing like st. pete, and the familiarity that i'd hoped would buoy me was totally lacking. but going into town, walking down nevsky prospekt again...it was like a balm to my depressed little soul. and miracle of miracles--the sun actually deigned to come out for awhile! i'd forgotten how the sight of the sun peeking out from behind the dismal omnipresent curtain of clouds could be so uplifting. ilya left to go back to his mom's house and his son, and art and i walked down to the palace square to check out the ice skating rink we'd heard was there.
there's something pretty disturbing about seeing the magnificence of the hermitage and square marred by a garishly lit up skating rink. the sound of generators grinding away was pretty ugly, but still. i would skate there if i had the chance, ugly or no.
after that we walked back up nevsky, and peeked into gostiny dvor. gostiny dvor is like a giant department store, and it used to be like the only place you could go in st. pete to find fairly nice clothes and such. now it's way nicer, and WAY more expensive. i needed a hat but the cheapest one i saw was about a hundred bucks. unless that hat is capable of giving me a head massage and cooking my dinner there's no way it's worth even half that. but anyway.
after that we went home, a trip which seemed overly long but again, i was pretty exhausted from not sleeping. there was a cat on the bus that meowed with annoying regularity, like a clock chiming, and i had the overwhelming urge to snatch it out of its owner's arms and chuck it out the window. but i was a good girl and did my best to ignore it.
yesterday i went with art's mom and the kids to try and find a jacket that doesn't make me stick out like a sore thumb. all i have is a giant down parka made for polar expeditions, and between that and the fact that art says i look ridiculously american no matter what i do i have been feeling pretty self-conscious. we had no luck finding anything that isn't prohibitively expensive, but at least we got the kids out of the house for awhile.
today we were going to go into st. pete to take the kids to the zoological museum (my favorite!) but alas, the weather is rainy and crappy and i think it's better if we loaf around here today.