since most people have been writing me wondering what's going on, i figured i'd post a little update rather than respond individually to fifty thousand emails. sorry if it seems impersonal, i'm just really sick and don't have the energy to sit here for so long.
so, i went with art's mom on friday to the visa/immigration office. i had a pretty high fever, so waiting in a freezing cold little closet of a room full of annoyed looking people wasn't pleasant. it was very confusing if there was a line or not, as different people were waiting to see different officials. art's mom went inside the main area to see what we needed to do, and while she was inside two people came in and cut in front of me. normally i would not have been so annoyed, but the place was only open for one hour and each person was taking a really long time, so with an added two people in front of us it seemed unlikely that we'd get seen in time. i'm afraid i lost my temper a little bit. the man who cut in front of us claimed that as Svetlana was inside asking a question she didn't count as being in line, and the ham-faced woman who kept glaring at me yelled that she didn't care at all if we were upset and that she was going first. i yelled, first in russian then in english. then i left. afterwards i felt pretty silly. oh well.
we actually did make it inside, and after yet another couple of people emphasizing what a complete idiot i am for not knowing my visa's expiration date we filled out the paperwork and art's mom wrote down my "explanation" in russian for me. the most amusing part for me was when the lady we were talking to stated that i didn't make a mistake, i knew when my visa expired, and that i simply "wanted to stay in russia as long as possible." i laughed in her face; i couldn't help it. only a russian official could think up something as deluded as that.
so, she said i would have to appear in court, and bring back the judge's ruling to her (she's holding my passport hostage in the meantime--isn't that fun?) after which she will start the process of getting me an exit visa. of course, the court only operates on thursday, so i have to wait till then to get anything done. i was told by ilya that the american consulate told them an exit visa can take up to 20 days to process. i really hope this is not the case. my heart just dropped to my shoes when i heard that. i already miss my family like crazy, i can't imagine being here for another month.
after our trip to the visa office, we walked through slush and snow to the bus stop a mile away, and i have to say i was pretty numb. my shoes are really thin and by the time we got home i had ice-cold water soaked through my shoes and halfway up my pants. i took a bath to try and warm up but i think that was a mistake with the fever and everything. i passed out when i got out of the bath and art's mom found me sprawled out over the bed when she got home from the store. since then i have become well and truly sick. for three days now i've had an average of 102 fever, and i'm forbidden from taking any fever reducers because "fevers are good." i've got just about every imaginable symptom; in short--i've never been so ill. i'm being fed every disgusting elixir, tea, probiotic kiefirs, and other nasty medicinal substances possible. if svetlana sees a commercial for some new medicine she immediately runs to the pharmacy to get it. i've been thumped, massaged, scratched, poked, had my shirt ripped off despite protests in the name of modesty, and threatened with mustard plasters. i'm repeating to myself the mantra, "she's only trying to help, she's only trying to help..." otherwise i might just go insane.
on a funny note, somehow i ended up with the suitcase with all art's clothes and the kid's underwear, and he's got all mine. i've been wearing his t-shirts and jammies this whole time--i don't want to imagine what he's been wearing. ha.