a big beautiful mess

the first cold day

Some things that happened today:

Łukasz and I spent three hours going to all the shoe stores we could find downtown to compare styles and prices of winter boots. A clarification: I have my heavy duty L.L. Bean winter boots here, but I want a pair that I can perhaps wear indoors in professional situations and that don’t take ten minutes to take off and put on. I was hoping to only spend 3,000 rubles [about $100], but it seems I’m going to have to get used to the idea of spending more like 5 or 6,000. Honestly, though, I have to remind myself that that’s a really good price for genuine leather boots lined with real fur.

On the street, we overheard some people speaking IN ENGLISH! They were a woman and two men. The woman mentioned that she was German and had a definite accent, but I didn’t hear enough from the men to tell if they were native speakers.

While in one of the many shopping centers, we passed by a booth where a woman was outfitting her Chihuahua with… a snowsuit. Took us a good ten minutes to stop laughing at that one.

In shoe store number 18, there was a man who took longer than ten seconds to figure out that we were foreigners– it turned out he was originally from Azerbaijan. He was the only salesperson who managed to pressure me into trying on any of the boots, and he also thought that Łukasz and I were either married or brother and sister.

Later, we were in Lenin square, taking pictures of the monument. We asked a passing man to take a picture of us with the statue, but he said, “No,” curtly and hurried on without looking at us. That was the first time that’s happened to me, and it really weirded me out. I couldn’t help feeling something sinister hovering just behind my ignorance of how people feel about Lenin.

Fortunately, it was a beautiful day and my paranoia was quickly replaced by a joyful contentment at being in a place where it is always the most beautiful time of day, taking pictures of a frozen beach and listening to the ice music of the early winter river with a new friend.



  1. 5 November 2011    

    Great post!

  2. Jefe B Jefe B
    7 November 2011    

    Nice mood for this one.

    As I said to you before you left, don’t pinch pennies when it comes to having good “gear” for the winter weather. Chances are that even if you don’t decide to live in Arkhangelsk, you will return to Russia (at least) in winter time.

    Odd incident with the refusal to photograph. I also wonder what is behind it. That’s the kind of thing you might bring up with students in one of your discussion sections, see how they unpack the incident.

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