Thursday, October 29, 2009

по просьбе Лёхи - пост напрямую из ресторана ;)

in moscow

сижу в москве в кафе. да здравствуют новые технологии - пишу в блог с сотового телефона через wimax. забрал паспорт из пони экспресс. вечером пойду встречаться со своими одногруппниками, которых не видел много лет. потом поеду в шереметьево, проведу там несколько часов и потои полечу в сан франциско через амстердам. говорят, амстердам веселый город. главное, чтоб меня по ошибке не отправили оттуда в ленинград.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

He is coming home :)

Alyosha is finally on his way home! Currently he is in Moscow, but I will be picking him up in SFO at approximately 2:30pm on Friday! Yay! After all of the drama he has been through in Russia, it should be a relief to finally be able to come back to California (and to me :). His visa is ready, so he should be picking it up today, then flying out on Friday morning. Because of the time difference, he will be arriving in SF on the same day that he departs from Moscow...pretty cool!

Right now I am packing and doing all of my last minute stuff to prepare for the long weekend ahead of me, since I won't be coming back to Sonoma County until Sunday night. After I pick Alyosha up from the airport on Friday, I will take him home to Santa Clara where we will spend the night. On Saturday, we will meet my roommates in SF at our hotel, where we can have dinner and get ready for our crazy night! I'm so happy that Lyosha can join us for Halloween, but I am totally bummed that I am still sick :( Every teacher at my school has been sick, so I'm hoping that my immune system is stronger than theirs since I am one of the last teachers to catch this horrible cold. I can't call in sick because so many other teachers have been out this week, so they desperately need me to work in order to keep the classrooms at ratio. Sometimes I wish I had a normal office job, especially during flu season when all of my students have a runny nose or cough! Maybe I just need to teach older kids :)

Sunday, October 25, 2009


Fall is one of my favorite seasons of the year. Not only are the vineyards around me turning into vibrant reds, purples, oranges and yellows, it is also the kick off of the holiday season. Right now all the houses have creepy spider webs, tomb stones, and fat, happy pumpkins in their yards and doorsteps to announce that Halloween is on its way. At school, all my kids can talk about is which princess, superhero, or monster they will be dressing up as on October 31. Although I will not be trick-or-treating like my students, my roommates and I have other plans to dress up and make our own fun, where alcohol will be our candy and bars will be the houses we knock on.

This year, my roommates and I will be dressing up as the Village People. It was a difficult decision to come up with a group costume, which would satisfy all of our needs, but after careful consideration, we finally agreed on this. Kory will be the police officer, Sarah will be our military girl, Melaney will be our cowgirl, Eleanor will be the biker, and I will be the sailor. The only unfortunate thing about this choice is that there are 7 different costumes, and only 5 of us girls. We are still missing a Native American and a construction worker, which are two of the most defined characters in the group! The completion of our group is in the hands of Lyosha and Leva, if they are able to make it to San Francisco this Saturday.

As of tonight, we have booked a cute hotel just minutes away from Ruby Skye in order to avoid having to use a taxi on one of the biggest party nights in America. The hotel is conveniently located close to Union Square and several eateries, which will come in handy on Sunday morning when we are starving and we don't want to move our car out of the paid overnight parking attached to our hotel. It is not a super fancy hotel, but we chose it based on it's proximity to Ruby Skye, our club of choice. I have never been to a real club before, so naturally I am starting to feel giddy in anticipation for our crazy night!

We chose Ruby Skye based on the fact that my roommates have been there before and they have always enjoyed it, plus, this year they are advertising that they spent over $20k on Halloween decorations for their Alice in Wonderland theme! The tickets were not cheap, but once we are in the club we don't plan on spending any additional money because all of our drinking will be done in our hotel room before we head out... a sure-fire method to avoid being drugged by a stranger, or too hungover the next morning :)

Finally, our reservations are set in stone, our costumes are organized, and the countdown to Halloween has begun. All I can do now is wait and hope that it does not rain and that my sickness goes away before Saturday so I am not too cold or miserable in my little blue dress! After all, as the saying goes, "Halloween is the only night of the year when a girl can dress slutty without being judged for it." Amen for that! :)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The death of a laptop...

Approximately a week ago, when I just arrived back to California, my roommates and I decided to make dinner together, partially as a "welcome home" dinner for me, and partially as a "Monday's suck" dinner for the whole house. Melaney, our new housewife, was making eggplant parmigiana as I made the salad, bread, and provided the wine. As we were waiting for the food to bake, I decided to look at shoes online with Sara and Kory to match my Halloween costume.

First of all, it is never a good idea to use your laptop at the dinner table. Second, if you DO choose to sit at the table, never eat or drink next to your computer. Third, if you choose to eat or drink next to your computer, never look at anything that can excite you (like shoes or Halloween costumes) and cause you to move in a quick, hyper movement. Of course I did all three of these things. In one swift movement, my wine glass was shattered on my keyboard, and red liquid was dripping off my laptop, onto the table, the floor, and even the wall! Almost immediately after it happened my computer gave me a warning that it was overheating, and it turned itself off within a few seconds.

After waiting a few minutes, I tried turning my computer back on and everything seemed to be normal, except my mouse pad would not work. I decided to turn it off and let it dry for a day, then try again. A day later, when I pressed the power button, my computer made it's usual cheerful starting sounds, but the monitor was completely black. Of course the mouse pad still did not work, so the only thing I could do was press the power button until it made the horrible cracking noise that it always makes when I shut it down prematurely. My poor computer!

I had been planning on getting a new laptop this winter anyway because I bought my old one almost 5 years ago. I have heard that laptops should usually be replaced every 2 or 3 years, but mine was still going strong! I have reformatted my computer twice in it's lifespan, which may be one reason it has survived as long as it did because I am not exactly easy on my computers. That computer has been hauled to numerous classes at Cal Poly, and survived many powerpoint presentations and house parties as the designated "playlist" computer. I was hoping to use it as my backup computer to keep in case something happened to my new one, or in case someone needed to borrow it. Now it seems as though it has come to a horrible sudden death and it will no longer be able to serve me as my trusted communicator to the outside world.

Currently I am using Kory's old laptop, which was being used by Sara before me. Thank goodness Lyosha was able to revive it before this happened! Originally Kory was hoping to fix this computer so that she could donate it to a child in need, like the good person she is, but little did she know that the "child" would be both Sara and I!

Today I bought a new computer which is almost the exact replica of my old one, except it is newer, obviously, and it is PINK! I have always dreamed of having a pink computer and it just so happened that this one was on sale. It is amazing how cheap computers are now! You can get a good notebook for under $600 now that I would have had to pay $1600 5 years ago (yes, that is how much it cost, and I thought I was getting a good deal back then! Agh!). Isn't that crazy? I have to wait about a week for my new computer to arrive in the mail, but in that week I will be planning a funeral for my old one, and preparing for the new one like a child before Christmas. Hellooooo pink!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thinking about him

Since the news that Lyosha would not be returning home with me to California, I had dreaded my trip home. Not only would I have to survive in the Moscow airport on my own, but I also had to survive without getting to see him for an unknown amount of time. Needless to say, I was very relieved when he told me this week that he would be able to return within the month. Now, the idea of seeing him again seems so surreal.

Since my return to California, I have been able to spend more time with my wonderful roommates and focus more time on my workouts, cleaning, and my job. I have been keeping very busy and I have returned back to my happy self, but now the idea of Russia seems more like a dream to me than reality.

Before visiting Russia, I spent countless hours trying to learn how to speak Russian and researching things about Russian culture to prepare myself for my trip. I grew accustomed to having Lyosha help me with my coat and bags, and trying to look pretty for him when he came home. I loved the way he made me feel like a woman, but now I feel as though I have forgotten everything. It has only been a week since my return to the states, and already I am back to my old habits of doing everything myself, not because I want to, but because I have to. In the airport in San Francisco I was disgusted by the fact that no one offered to help me with my suitcase because they were all so busy talking on their cell phones and paying attention to their own lives. I saw plenty of couples where the boy helped the girl with her bags in the airport, but the difference between Russia and America is that it doesn't matter if you are dating a girl or not, you should always help her and be respectful of her.

As I stood outside, waiting for Leva to pick me up at my gate, I played with the pink stone on my necklace from Alyosha. This stone kept me from crying on my flights because I knew I would be able to see him again. Time seems to be going by very slowly when I think about him, but I am able to counter this by dreaming about all of the fun activities we can do when he arrives back in California. I miss pretending that I am Russian with my man who appreciates everything I do, and speaking in an unnatural tongue. I love being a California girl, but I wouldn't mind having a little Russian in me too :)

Remembering Russia

Before I flew to Russia, I had a perfect picture in my mind of the people I would meet and the sights I would see. I was not entirely disappointed, but my trip did help me realize that I really am a California girl.

As soon as I stepped on to the plane from Washington DC to San Francisco, I felt a huge sense of relief as I was greeted by smiling flight attendants and a cabin full of laughing, cheerful people. We were going to California.

Don't get me wrong, Russia was great, but I could never live there. Not only are the temperatures way too extreme for my sensitive thermostat, I also could not handle the female competition. Sure, I love wearing heels, sexy dresses, and seductive makeup when I go out, but it would be way too exhausting to do it every day. In America, if you dress like this all the time, men will consider you too high maintenance and other girls will just think you are trying too hard.

On my second day back in California, I visited my parents so that I could tell them all about my trip and escape into the nature that surrounds their home. I wore a summer dress because it was very warm, but my entire family made a comment about how I was too dressed up! I am used to this because as a teenager my family always teased me about being too high maintenance, but my dad always told me I could be the president some day and that the most beautiful part of any woman is her mind. I believed my daddy, which is why I focused my entire teenage life on school so that I could get into a prestigious university straight after high school. At this time I didn't pay any attention to boys, except for my horse, which helped me concentrate on my schoolwork even more. Yes, I was a total nerd (minus the glasses and band practice.....I played piano and sang in choir!), but I was happy. It wasn't until I got accepted into Cal Poly that I started to pay more attention to the way I dressed because I realized that being a good girl is not necessarily what attracts men in the first place, but it is what keeps them.

Now, as a working girl, I realize there is a necessary balance between practicality and being sexy. Especially as a teacher, practicality is extremely important, so most of my sexy clothes have gone out the door. In Russia, however, I wished that I had them back! Who could have guessed that I would be asking my boyfriend about fashion advice for pantyhose and shoes!? Once I got more confident about shopping in Russia, I was able to open up and I decided I really love the way girls dress, but I still need my comfy flats and jeans every once in a while. Of course I want to always look nice for my man, but the fact that when we met I was wearing flip flops, a sweatshirt and jeans says that he is less superficial than the average Russian man, which works for me... Or maybe he was just drunk :P

Moving on...

Another reason I have undoubtedly decided that I belong in California is the food. The first thing I ate when I arrived back in Rohnert Park was a giant carne asada burrito from my favorite taqueria. Yum! I love my Mexican food :) We went to one Mexican restaurant in Akadem ("Amigo") , which was one of the worst eating experiences of my life. Not only was everyone smoking in this place, but the food was terrible too. I ordered a burrito and I could not stomach more than one bite. As I looked around me, there were white people everywhere...even in the kitchen! If there is one thing I have learned about Mexican food it is that there MUST be a Mexican chef in the kitchen for things to taste half decent.

One of the best restaurants in Akadem was a little Chinese place near Lyosha's home. The reason why it was so good? They actually had a Chinese chef! *gasp* I almost began taking California's demographics for granted before I went to Russia, but I will start to appreciate our diversity a lot more after my return home. In California, if you go to a French restaurant, most likely there will be a French chef in the kitchen. The same goes for Italian, Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Indian, Japanese and any other delicious cuisine found in the city. Maybe this is why Americans are so fat! :)

Smoke was something that I was dreading about my trip to Russia, and all of my expectations were filled. As I said before, everyone seemed to be smoking in the Mexican restaurant, but this was not an uncommon occurrence by any means. When I was visiting Russia, Lyosha and I often felt that our activities were limited because of the fact that people smoke in all of the buildings. On one of my last nights in Russia we decided to take our chances by going to a local billiards hall to play pool, but after approximately 1 or 2 hours of clean air we had to leave because we literally felt as though we were getting smoked out by the group of people playing next to us. Personally, I think it is rude and inconsiderate of people to smoke around others, especially when they are clearly non-smokers. It is one thing to make a decision to kill yourself, but you shouldn't have the right to kill others with you. Just a thought :)

Cooling down my tea with all of my silverware in order to get away from the smoky restaurant ASAP! Alyosha gave me this genius idea and it worked! :)

I apologize if this post sounds very negative, but I should remind everyone that I truly did love visiting Russia. It is certainly a pretty country, but every country has it's good parts as well as it's flaws. Perhaps if I spent more time in Russia I would grow to appreciate things more, but after only 3 weeks of visiting I could not wait to return to crazy California, where the sun shines and everyone seems to be smiling!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Let's go home, baby

"...И снова здравствуйте" (с) анекдот

Закончены мои визовые проверки. Пришло радостное письмо от консула, что хотят дать визу на два года, как я просил. Надо только зайти заплатить к ним завтра в кассу еще $100. А чего б не заплатить... Запросто. Дело-то житейское... Если только вы не живете в Новосибирске и летать "завтра с утреца" в Москву не входило в планы. Послал деньги через Сбербанк, квитанцию - через Pony Express. Через неделю +/- пару дней ожидаю паспорт с визой.

Хочется вернуться в свой дом - не дом... в общем, в свою временную (но вполне даже уютную) берлогу в Санта Кларе, погулять по залитой солнцем Santana Row, посидеть в любимом Grove Cafe в Сан Франциско, потом забраться на Twin Peaks и посидеть в задумчивости, смотря на город внизу.
Потом взять вина, гитару, друзей и поехать на океан буянить и веселиться.
Ибо до пенсии далеко, а развлекаться надо.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


Благодаря посольству США, которое решило проверить "а не хочет ли Леша украсть наши секреты в области разработки полупроводников", довелось мне задержаться в командировке в Новосибирском Академгородке аж больше, чем на месяц. Первую неделю была эйфория... Память ведь обычно стирает плохие воспоминания, оставляет только хорошие. Потом розовые очки куда-то потерялись и начала наступать суровая действительность. Которая казалась тем суровее, чем хуже у меня было настроение.

Отрывочные заметки.

Район "Верхняя Зона" Академгородка так же, как и раньше, выглядит намного приличнее, чем прочие. Этакий крохотный оазис. Хотя и там тоже много где видна грязь, торчат какие-то развалины или то, что Джулия называла "ghetto houses". И это в Академе-то... На улицах (да и в соседнем Ботаническом Саду) часто натыкаешься на выброшенные мешки мусора. Часто мини-свалки прямо рядом с домами. Раньше просто не обращал на это внимание.

Свободной земли в Академгородке много, но он застрял в своем развитии примерно на том же уровне, что и лет 20 назад. Много места занимают уродливые старые постройки и гаражи. Снести бы их и построить что-то нормальное... фиг. Земля контролируется СО РАНом, так что максимум, что удается строить - по паре новых домов в год, причем рядом со старыми развалюхами.
Что делают СО РАНовские институты - большой секрет. В новостях про их достижения не пишут. Хотелось бы надеяться, что это потому, что они работают над сверх-секретными военными заказами. А не потому, что они ни хрена не делают уже много лет, кроме как сдачи в аренду своих площадей мелким аутсорсинговым ИТ-фирмочкам.

Планы постройки технопарка провалились. Частично из-за того, что кончились деньги. Частично из-за того, что мало перспектив (по словам большого чиновника из команды Чубайса, с которым удалось поговорить в Стэнфорде в этом году). Для серьезного технопарка крупных ИТ-компаний мало, подходящих кадров тоже. Многие уехали в Москву или за границу.

Инфраструктура в Академе не развивается. Есть один новый дом, под которым есть подземная автостоянка. Видимо, это центр местной цивилизации. В самом Новосибирске, который находится в 25 км от Академа, ситуация с инфраструктурой и подземными стоянками, конечно, намного лучше. Там за последние 10 лет построили сотни неплохих по местным меркам домов, улучшили много дорог и возвели несколько больших магазинов. Выглядит Новосибирск неплохо, если не отходить от пары центральных улиц.

Ярлык "элитное жилье" вешается на любой новый дом независимо от района. Частично потому, что и нет тут по-настоящему хороших районов. Есть либо плохие, либо очень плохие. "Верхняя зона" Академа выглядит намного чище других районов, но тоже весьма бедно и убого. И нищие, и "средний класс" живут рядом, что не способствует возникновению "хорошего района".

Что такое плохие дороги, я уже отвык. Теперь вспоминаю выражение "после бомбежки". Кстати, многие люди в России не знают, что понятие "хорошая дорога" может (и должно) включать в себя намного больше, чем просто ровное покрытие.
Немного улучшили федеральную трассу (которая от "как оно на самом деле должно быть" все равно отличается как мопед 70го года выпуска от новой японской машины), плюс сделали несколько новых развязок, и все. Разметка - дело второстепенное. Про нее строители, вероятно, слышали, но не очень поняли, что это такое и зачем это надо. Водители, впрочем, тоже... Съезды налево с федеральной трассы прямо с левой крайней полосы, где машины едут под 100 км/ч... У того, кто это проектировал, мозг вообще есть?.. Ладно, про дороги потом отдельно напишу.

Пешеходы боятся переходить дорогу на пешеходных переходах. Водители на большинстве переходов не останавливаются вообще. На днях сбили человека на переходе по обычной схеме - один водитель остановился его пропустить, а дебилу, едущему по второй полосе дороги, в голову не пришло "чего это там у пешеходного перехода машина внезапно остановилась?". Скорее всего, его даже толком не накажут.

Водители на дорогах - полные идиоты и хамы. Местные "нувориши" на дорогих машинах вполне точно подходят под наблюдение "хамство - это рабское представление о власти".
Не могу придумать оправдание начальникам ГиБДД, которые так и не смогли навести порядок на дорогах за столько лет. Не вижу в этом ничего сложного, если бы была у кого-то железная воля. "Путин - человек слова. Жаль, лучше б был человек дела". Кстати, ему уже сказали, что он больше не президент? Президент теперь другой. "Я был когда-то странной игрушкой безымянной". Ага.

Большую часть моих наличных американских долларов мне менять на рубли отказались - и банки, и даже спекулянты на улицах. Мол, мятые, с пометками, надрывами кое-где. Такое ощущение, что они хотят видеть только что нарисованные купюры. Забавно.

Неприятно идти пешком вдоль дороги. Воздух плохой. Чащядие грузовики и автобусы, старые машины, плохой бензин, пыль и грязь на дорогах - все вместе порождает дикую смесь, от которой хочется закрыть нос, глаза и лицо целиком. Если отойти от дороги, то становится лучше. Хорошо помогают деревья, которых в Академе очень много. Когда в Калифорнии медленно движешься в пробке, я не помню, чтобы был плохой воздух. Либо не обращал внимания, либо правда в Калифорнии воздух чище несмотря на то, что гораздо больше машин.

Курят везде. В кафе, ресторанах, барах, клубах, на лестницах в подъездах и офисных зданиях - везде. Курящим людям в голову не приходит, что это кому-то может мешать. Или скорее просто плевать на окружающих. В двух ресторанах были гордо называемые "зоны для некурящих". Это значит, что вон за теми столиками курить можно, а вот за этими рядом - нет. Причем в зону для некурящих надо пройти через прокуренную часть.

Если когда-нибудь решу жить в Академгородке, то в первую очередь надо будет сменить жилье на новое, "элитное". Ибо в старом месте жить больше не хочется:
Очень неудобная планировка квартиры (панельная хрущевка).
Необходимость идти за машиной в гараж 15-20 минут.
Вода в душе идет то холодная, то горячая. Помыться с утра и не обжечься - искусство.
Мусор выкинуть некуда. Мусорная машина приходит утром часов в 8 и вечером в 5-20. Если кто живет по другому графику - его проблемы.

Очень многие (большинство?) девушки постоянно носят каблуки. Не только на работе или в клубах/барах, а постоянно (даже в аэропортах/самолетах - там-то зачем?! Это мое внимание Джулия обратила, я сам даже не замечал).
Про девушек много говорить не буду. Джулия уже писала в соседней заметке, что она была шокирована - они тут необычно красивые и одеваются как на выставку. В США от этого отвыкаешь, особенно в Силиконовой Долине, где контингент весьма крайне специфичный.

Красивые деревья. Мне повезло, что я застал и зеленые деревья, и желтые, и даже облетевшие. Надеюсь, застать заснеженные мне не придется.
Очень много белок. Ко мне на балкон приходят кормиться несколько штук.

Очень приятно гулять пешком по тропинкам и дорожкам, иногда встречая знакомых. Этого мне в Силиконовке сильно не хватает.

Впечатление Джулианы после 3 недель пребывания: "This place is very beautiful and very nice to visit, but I couldn't live here". С чем я вполне согласен.

Фотографии тут.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Blogging: English or Russian

Some visitors probably noticed that I switched from Russian to English in my blog posts recently. There were several reasons for that. Today I added a new poll to better know my blog visitors. The main question I have is: how many non-Russian speakers are there, who want to read this blog in English?
The poll is on the left side of every page.

Не так давно я по нескольким причинам переключился с русского на английский в моих заметках на блоге. Сегодня добавил опрос, чтобы понять, сколько человек может читать этот блог только по-английски. Если таких будет от силы пара человек, то имеет смысл переключиться обратно на русский. До Пушкина мне, конечно, далеко. Но все-таки мой русский намного богаче, чем мой английский. Так что...
Опрос виден слева на каждой странице.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

My Last Day

Russia. When I first arrived I was like a shy child in a new school. Everything seemed so different and scary and, of course, I didn't know anyone or even understand the big, educated words they used around me. The only friendly, familiar face was my teacher, so I clung to him like glue until I finally felt confident enough to explore the halls on my own and become my own teacher. Of course, my teacher was Lyosha and the "big" words I refer to were any words spoken in Russian, rather than English.

I am sad to say that today is my last day in Russia. After two and a half weeks of confusion, I have finally established a logical sense of direction and a fearless mindset about my lack of vocabulary in the Russian language. Yes, people still look at me like I am an ignorant child when I can't answer their simple questions in restaurants or stores, but after I try to apologize in English, they quickly understand and they smile politely, then move on with their lives. I have finally learned to appreciate the beauty in the world around me, rather than constantly compare differences in my mind.

The trees are the best part of Академгородок. Even in the most dense parts of the forest, the sun seems to smile through the yellow leaves and reflect off the white bark of the tall, thin Birch. I am never alone or afraid in these woods because I feel like I am always surrounded by warmth and happiness, even when I am wrapped up in my gloves, scarves and jackets in the crisp Autumn air. I am in love with this feeling and I understand why the trees were the most common topic of discussion for Lyosha when he was describing his home to me.

Trees and squirrels. Yes, we have squirrels in California too, but not like these squirrels. The squirrels in Академгородок are curious, fluffy and real. They try to pretend that they are afraid of you until you make a kissing noise to get their attention. This lets them know they will be fed soon. Standing on the balcony, with seeds in my hand, all I need to do is kiss or make a clicking noise with my cheek to call the nearest squirrel and she will be there in approximately 30 seconds.

Link to album with squirrels (pics taken in 2009)

I have been to Novosibirsk a few times during my stay and everything is interesting because it is unfamiliar, but I felt like a tourist in the big, bustling city. In Академ I feel like I am more than a tourist because I am home here. My trip has been a very strange one, considering I did not do any of the typical things that tourists do in new countries. My trip has been much more interesting because I learned how to actually live in a new country.

Every day I have a simple routine. After making tea, showering and straightening up the house, I meet Lyosha for lunch. After lunch I have a few hours to finish up laundry and take a brisk walk around the neighborhood before Lyosha gets home. I patiently listen to him talk about work as we get ready to take a walk together in the cool evening air. On this walk, we usually talk playfully and he teaches me how to walk like a Russian girl on the arm of her man. After we find something to eat for dinner, we go to the local grocery store and pick up some bread, cheese, sausage, and dessert before heading back home. Sound romantic? It is. Not only is this something that you could see from a movie, it is reality here. On our walks we pass dozens of other couples doing exactly what we are doing because that is what life is like here. Everyone has time to enjoy life and no one is telling you what to do.

I will miss this strange romantic land, but I will be happy to go back to California. My home is in the sun, where no one judges the way I dress and all the roads are properly designed and labeled. I don't plan on making this my last trip to Russia, however. Next time I hope to speak more Russian and outdress all the women! I will still bring my Ugg boots, though, and my California smile and attitude :)

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Hello, Mantis. Goodbye, America.

I had an interview at the US consulate in Moscow to renew my H1B visa this week. The fact that I was notified about the interview on Wednesday evening and the interview was scheduled the next day (and I was in Novosibirsk!) was just a little inconvenience in comparison to what happened next.
Lucky me:
"Sorry, your company works in semiconductor field, which means there are sensitive materials, so I have to send your documents for a MANTIS check. Sorry, there's nothing I can do about it, this is the law. The waiting period after we get all the required documents is 16 business days."

Soo... Juliana will fly back as planned - the next week. I hope to get back to California in about 3-4 weeks. That is if I'm lucky. :) At least I can work at the local office in Novosibirsk these weeks.

So far almost everything, which could possibly go wrong on this trip, has gone wrong.