Saturday, October 17, 2009

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!

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