a big beautiful mess

“No one speaks English and everything’s broken.”

Love, true love, is more enduring than a summer fling. Love demands that you confront all the good and bad of the one you love and accept the whole for what it is. Love takes time and commitment and forgiveness. After living in Russia for almost eight months, I can say that I love this country.

But love does not exclude bafflement and complaint. And there are some things that just baffle me about Russia.

Exhibit A: I’ve been informed by the hotel staff that the hot water will be turned off sometime in the next week, probably. Nobody quite knows exactly when it’ll be turned off, but the whole city loses its hot water for a week or so at one time. Then, later, each neighborhood in turn will be without hot water for a second time. They have to repair pipes in preparation for next winter. Obviously. This happens all across Russia, and I knew that before I came. I’m prepared to deal with it, but, like, seriously?

Exhibit B: Our university building is undergoing remont. Remont is a wonderful Russian word for pretty much any kind of repair or maintenance or reconstruction or remodeling. You can remont your purse or your tires or your apartment or the roads. The first and second floors of our building have slowly been remonted over the last few months, and it’s been noisy and dusty, but we’ve all put up with it because it’s necessary. Except now it comes to the third floor, where it directly affects the people I work with. The English department has moved to a much smaller room across the hall, and all the other department offices have moved as well, who knows where to. Fine. But today, come to find out that remont will be going on on the fourth floor at the same time! When teachers ask the main office where they can hold their classes, the wonderfully competent girls there say, “We don’t know. There are no rooms.” Drama! Excitement!

Exhibit C: On Monday, I went to plug in my cell phone to recharge it, only to find that my charger cord had been torn in half and the end with the plug into the phone was missing altogether. Who could be the culprit? A rodent of some sort? Vigorous vacuuming? Careless installment of surveillance equipment to keep tabs on us foreigners? Who knows. Fortunately, buying a new cord only cost around $5 and was accomplished without any of the relevant vocabulary on my part.

That’s the kind of week I’m having.

The title of this post is taken from the song “Tom Traubert´s Blues (Four Sheets To The Wind In Copenhagen)” by Tom Waits.


  1. Mackenzie Mackenzie
    23 May 2012    

    Ruth, you’re great.

  2. Lauren Lauren
    24 May 2012    

    Haha, that sounds like the things that happen to me more often than not.

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