Because that’s always the question: how can we be not us? How can I be not me?
Thus abroad, thus de Tocqueville.
What’s been up? I’ve been moved from the beginner Russian class to the intermediate one. Then immediately to the next one after that (for intermediate intermediates, I think). The class that is much farther ahead than I’ve ever been in Russian, and I’ve been doing my best to keep up. I might be the dumbest kid in the class, but I am also the one who is learning the most. The trade off?—dignity, of course. Always with the dignity.
Completely out of the blue, I was offered a job. Every Monday from here on out I’ll get two groups of advanced English students, and I’ll lead conversation sessions with them. I was given a list of things to talk about with them, such as “art, politics, utopias, environment, religion, vacation, foreign countries, stereotypes, food, etc”.
I had my first classes, and all my students were confused about there being any book for the course, and generally had no idea what we were supposed to be doing. So I just started a conversation about Russian Orthodoxy (for my first class) and peanut butter (for my second class) and let them take the conversation from there.
Peanut butter, interestingly enough, does not exist in Russia. Not proper peanut butter.
Yes, I get paid to talk with Russians about whatever strikes me as interesting at that moment. And the best part? I’m supposed to teach them how to debate and argue. That’s right: I get to teach them how to argue about whatever I want to argue about. I have found a way to get paid to argue = my calling in life.
What’s my pay? 300 rubles an hour, two classes, two hours each, so 1200 roubles a week (which comes out to a little less than 10$/hr, or, 10 cokes an hour, or more than enough money to feed a Russian family of 3 for a week—however you want to look at it.)
Speaking of arguments, I keep getting sick here and I’ve been trying to convince Tatyana that wearing a hat or not wearing a hat in cold weather has no effect on whether one gets a cold.
She argues: “I saw you yesterday. You went out in the cold without a hat, and now you have a cold!”
No! To “catch a cold” is a figure of speech. Multiple studies have proven that the reason people “catch colds” is because they are exposed to the cold virus; whether or not they are chilly at the moment of exposure makes no difference.
“Well, twice I’ve watched you go out without a hat, and twice you’ve gotten a cold now. I don’t care what any doctor says, I’ve seen proof otherwise!”
At least she’s not trying to bleed me to balance my humors.
Heck, maybe I need to be bled. Too much yellow bile, get the leaches! More like, too much phlegm. In my nose.
What do I miss when I get homesick? Driving, I always miss driving a lot. I remember back when I had my convertible, and I’d cruise home from school every day taking the coast from La Jolla to Del Mar – fantastic.
I remember driving around in my old red Corvair which only had AM radio; I got to the point where I started to rock out to country music like Juice Newton (“Playing with the Queen of Hearts / Knowin’ that it ain’t very smart / The Devil ain’t the only fool / Who will do anything for you”, John Michael Montgomery (“Life’s a dance, you learn as you go / sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow”), Conway Twitty (“Lord have mercy, Baby’s got her blue jeans on!”) and the Kendalls (“Heaven’s just a sin away / I can’t wait another day / I think I’m giving in”) all on AM 600 KOGO – “THE ZOO” followed by intermittent sessions with Dr. Laura, Rush Limbaugh, and occasional Jesus programming; god I loved late night with Art Bell, who has made me a real junkie for alien sightings and 2012.
Or eating a California burrito or having a beer and kicking it with the Del Mar Crew up on the ridge. Yeah, it’s always the people you miss. They’ll be back soon enough.
I guess I don’t get homesick all that much. Not consciously at least. Usually when I’m anywhere that I’m not used to my dreams go crazy, but my dreams are always crazy.
But anyway, I go places so I can get perspective on where I come from. That’s the whole point of traveling abroad. And you set out expecting revelations, and ultimately, there you are. Here I am.
Luff! luff, you may!—steady!—port! World ho!—here I am!
Update, 8/19/2015:I am qutie certain I was never paid for my tutoring work.