I started writing this post back in January thinking that “things are getting weird now that I’ve traversed the hump that is the midpoint of my grant.” I intended to write something about what it’s like being halfway done and how fast time flies. I started writing as the mid-term seminar was drifting farther and farther away into the distance. And then suddenly January fell away to February, which succumbed to early spring like weather and then toppled into an indecisive March, oscillating endlessly between sun and snow. April probably happened, May definitely happened and now it’s June and I’m down to my last few hours in Volgograd. I guess that along proves the point I was originally trying to make. The second half of the grant flies by.
This frees me up to funnel the post into whatever channels I want. Seeing as I just chased a pigeon out of my apartment and wandered around the city, it seems fitting that these channels are decidedly harebrained. I suppose that there’s no better time than now to finish up this blog with a few more random lists. These will include the things I’ve missed while I’ve been here, the things I know I’ll miss when I get home, and the things I plan to do when I get back.
Things I miss about the US:
Mexican food, reliable showers with nozzles that I don’t have to lift above my head, my bed and sheets, Mexican food, potable tap water, good quality cheese, not having to shake hands whenever you say hello to someone, living in my native culture, family and pets, Mexican food.
Things I’ll miss about Russia:
The pealing bells, being called Captain America when I walk into the closest Magnit store (maybe I won’t miss that too much), the variety of cheap and available mushrooms, being told I make the clouds go away, Russian mustard, wondrously random occurrences, Russian mayonnaise, Belorussian* cheese (Groitser), being asked if I’ve found a bride, being offered brides when I enter the closest Magnit store, being pleasantly greeted by multiple people whenever I walk to the university or around the embankment, the quality and taste of vegetables, the architecture and general city planning, being able to walk everywhere I need to go, kefir and tvorog, conveniently frozen vareniki, being forced to come up with creative solutions to problems, teaching, living in a city that feels immensely historical and static while also being incredibly alive, my colleagues, friends, students, and teachers who made this year amazing.
*When the sanctions were first introduced, many banned products made their way into Russia via Belarus. Apparently Belorussian seafood was all the rage even though the country borders no seas. I may never know where my beloved Groitser actually comes from, but it has touched my life in beautiful ways.
Over the course of the year, I also took note of some of my plans for when I return home. These aren’t concrete plans, but more like a bucket list of things to do in America:
Corn maize road trip, train trip across America, build a banya, make a carved stone sink for a micro-house, build a micro-house, learn to fiddle in Appalachia, plant a garden, Alaska, learn to sew, build a balalaika, learn woodworking, head stands, bonsai trees, learn blacksmithing, hike the Pacific Crest Trail, go backpacking, make a suit of armor.
I’ll be impressed if I do even one of these things, but it gives me a great starting place for if I ever get bored. It’s been an incredible year, and I apologize to all of those back home who will have to endure another few months of me starting every sentence with “In Russia…”