Sunday, November 29, 2009

Thanksgiving Weekend

Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, was a half-day at the preschool, closing at 12 noon. On my break, I was able to call my mom and Lyosha to make last minute travel plans. The original idea was to go to my parents house WITH Lyosha, but, unfortunately, he still had a bad fever and my dad is still on doctor's orders to avoid any contact with any sort of sickness, since he is still very prone to infection in his current condition. After discussing the situation with both parties, I finally decided the only option was to visit my parents' without the boy.

My family and I had a lovely Thanksgiving. On Wednesday we went to a local Cloverdale Mexican restaurant for dinner in order to give both my mom and I a break from cooking before the "big day". Thursday greeted us with warm morning sun which did not set a very good appetite for the typical cold-weather food cooked on Thanksgiving. Despite the heat, the warmth and smells from the oven still had a familiar calming effect on my anxious mind during the morning hours as my mom and I frantically prepared for the afternoon meal. Our company was small (our only guest was my uncle from Monterey) because my sister's entire family has been sick for several months and are not allowed to be around my dad. As silly as it sounds, last year we had the exact same attending party, only in San Luis Obispo. My uncle was delighted to visit the new house and spend the first Thanksgiving with us, and we were happy to have him.

After we filled our bellies as much as we could with our turkey feast, we only had 2 hours to rest before heading to Stryker winery, where several of my dad's cousins had gathered for dessert and wine tasting. My cousin's husband is the winemaker there, so they were able to open the tasting room and the cellar for our private family event. Very classy!

(I didn't take these pictures, but they give some idea of what the tasting room looks like)

Friday morning, after saying my goodbyes and packing all the leftovers I could fit into an ice chest, I drove down to Santa Clara to take care of my sick boyfriend. When I arrived at his condo, he was barely awake and I could tell he was still on the verge of death (not literally!). After a shower, he seemed a little better, so Leva brought over 2 of his friends from Seattle and we all had some cake and tea. The cake was delicious, might I add! They invited us to go to Mir Woods with them on Saturday morning, but Lyosha was still unsure of his health, so we declined to confirm the invitation until we knew more.

On Saturday morning we were so tired that we slept almost until noon, so we did not go to Mir Woods. Lyosha was still feeling less than perfect, so we had to think of something to do that was indoors and required little energy. I had been begging Lyosha to take me to see the King Tut display at the De Young museum since I first heard about it last summer, so we decided that it would be a great opportunity to see the exhibit, then meet up with Leva and his friends afterward for dinner.

The Tut exhibit was a little disappointing, only in the fact that I actually expected King Tut's sarcophagus to be part of the display, which it wasn't! The exhibit consisted of some artifacts found in his tomb, and the sarcophagus of a woman who was believed to be related to King Tut in some way. Yes, the artifacts were very cool and they did a good job with everything they had, but I am upset that we paid over $30 for each ticket and I learned that I still have to travel across the world to see the boy king! If you haven't seen the exhibit, I have to recommend it because it is a pretty awesome part of history, but if your only concern is to see King Tut you still have to go to Egypt, so save your $30 and take a pretty girl out to dinner instead.

After a couple of hours in the Tut exhibit, we couldn't look at any of the other art because the museum was closing. At 6:30, we called Leva to coordinate a meeting spot for dinner and conversation. They were on Chestnut, but Lyosha and I decided we wanted Italian food, so we went to North Beach instead. After we found a great parking spot, we walked up and down the streets until we happened upon a little restaurant, which seemed to have a nice menu with decent prices, so we took a seat. I ordered a glass of wine (which was great) and we got 2 cups of soup before our entree's.

The complimentary bread was excellent. The soup was good. The entrees were bland (mine was horrible).

Once again, the soup beats the entree! I thought this idea only stuck in Russia, but after the clam chowder dinner and this, I am fairly convinced that it remains true even in California.

After dinner we were both very tired, especially Alexey with his cold/flu, so we decided to drive back to Santa Clara after stopping at a small coffee shop near the restaurant. At home we enjoyed a quiet night with hot tea, as we watched "Inglourious Basterds" then passed out around 2am. As for movie reviews, I highly recommend that film if you have not already seen it!

Although our plans were changed from a romantic weekend in San Luis Obispo to a weekend in Santa Clara, I was still able to enjoy myself and I am grateful for the time that Lyosha and I were able to spend together. Now the holiday is over and it is back to the work routine until Christmas!

Monday, November 9, 2009

"The soup is always best"

Last Saturday was one of the most romantic evenings we have had in a while. After a long, lazy morning, Lyosha and I headed over to Leva's place to pick him up and head to San Francisco for the night. Alyosha told me that the city was something that he missed most about California, and since I had not been to SF for a few months, I also wanted to visit the foggy city. Leva was unable to join us as he had prior engagements to see a movie with Oleg and Anya, so Lyosh and I ventured on alone.

As the sun was setting, we approached the city and decided that the first thing we should do is visit Twin Peaks. I had only been to this vista once before, but the view was so dense with fog that I could barely see 10 feet in front of me. This time it was clear and perfect, as though God knew we were coming.

I was wearing a very short dress so it was difficult to retain my smile in my cold misery. Alyosha, of course, planned ahead and brought a very warm jacket to drape over my shoulders as he held me close and walked me to a protected ledge. After we hopped over a stone wall, Lyosh laid down his padded beach mat and we snuggled together while gazing down at the twinkling city lights. Talks of nature's beauty and our affection for one another somehow led to a discussion of....clam chowder! We both decided that as beautiful as the night was, we were both very hungry and cold, so it was time to move on. After several phone calls, we agreed that Fisherman's Warf had the biggest selection of chowder restaurants.

Boudin is a big building on the Warf with a view and sourdough bread popping out of it's ears. We first admired the "art" on the first floor, which consisted of animal figures made out of baked bread, before climbing 2 flights of stairs to get to the restaurant. We were seated immediately (one of the perks of having a party of 2) and our table was no less than shabby, next to a large window overlooking the entire bay. Lyosha ordered a bowl of clam chowder and I ordered the halibut. I usually like halibut, but I must say that this fish tasted as though they drenched it first with water, then served it to me tasteless. The clam chowder was excellent, which is to be expected since the soup seems to always be the best thing we order at any restaurant.

After dinner, we were in no hurry to get back, so we strolled along the bay, admiring the strange inhabitants of San Francisco which we encountered. I am not sure if it was the city or the time of day or some other outside factor, but I felt a compelling sensation that night to be close to Lyosha and let everyone know that I belonged to him. We watched the break dancers on the street, then we walked to the Rainforest Cafe and sympathized with the sick tropical fish. We decided we would go to Grove Cafe for some coffee before heading back home, but after realizing that parking in any close proximity to the cafe was unrealistic, we agreed that a hot cup of tea at home sounded just as appetizing, so we headed back to Santa Clara.

I can't explain why such a simple night keeps running through my memory, but it made a romantic impression on my brain and it is moments like this that I know God exists :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009


When I was in high school, I believed that I was at the top of the world and everything revolved around me. I thought that everything I felt and did was unique, and that no one could ever understand any of my passions because I was so special and different. This egotistical way of thinking is quite common in teenagers, but who could ever predict that some people never grow out of this? Granted, I am much wiser now and I realize that my life is insignificant to the rest of the world, but in some ways I still feel unique.

First of all, I have God in my life. No matter what happens, I never feel alone or lost, because I have a deeper love surrounding me, which no hurtful words or wrong-doings can ever touch. This love is the thing that keeps me smiling, even when I have trouble finding other reasons to be happy. This love, however, is not what keeps me full. God is kind, which is why he has given me a man who can make me not only smile, but glow. He knows that humans need each other to touch, to look at, and to talk to. Alyosha completes this part of my happiness.

When I first told my parents I was going to Russia with a man I had just met 2 months earlier, my mother began to panic and my dad began to scold. They still see me as their little girl, so of course this sort of news creates some amount of chaos in their hearts. They asked me what I was thinking and I told them that although I barely knew this man, I felt as though he had been missing from my life all along. I told them that I trusted him and I was compelled to take a risk to show him how much he could mean to me.

The way we met was like a scene from a movie, perfect in every way. Maybe when he first saw me, he thought I was a playful, dumb, American girl, but when I first saw him I was intrigued. What could possibly happen on a perfect summer night? We talked and laughed. I showed him how to set up a tent, and he showed me how beautiful the stars looked in the clear July sky. He held me close to protect me from mountain lions, then he kissed me to help me forget about my fears. What started as an innocent night blew up to a relationship which I could have never predicted for myself.

As of today, it has been 4 months since we first saw each other. We have learned from each other in more ways than some couples can ever learn in a lifetime. We fight like dogs! We are both incredibly strong-willed, which makes arguing quite exhausting since neither of us ever wants to give in. We tease each other, but in the end I always find myself gazing at him, thanking God for this gift he has given me. How can I be so lucky? As much as Alyosha angers me, he fills me twice as much with happiness. I am a stubborn girl, but I forfeit to him. I want to see where life takes me with him and what he inspires me to do.

As to the question of whether or not I am special or different, I don't believe there is much doubt anymore. Perhaps I am not very special on my own, but when I am as God meant me to be, with my man, I know that what we have is very special and quite different from the ordinary couple.

In high school my ignorance was not in the fact that I thought I was unique, but it was in the fact that I thought I could be so on my own. Passion is what makes humans unique and the strongest form of this feeling comes from love.

Halloween: the Result

So, Halloween did not turn out exactly as planned. After a day of searching for the perfect costume for my Alyosha, we were exhausted and decided to take a nap before heading out to meet my roommates in San Francisco. Around 6 or 7pm, Lyosha took my temperature and after it read that I had a fever, I decided that as much as I wanted to have a fun night, my body was telling me to stay home. Lyosha, after much torment, decided to stay home with me to take care of his sick girl. Going to bed at 10pm is not my idea of a good Halloween, but at least I could not say the night was completely ruined because I was still with my man. Now the only problem is deciding what to do with my sailor costume!