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Back from Moscow (in a nutshell)

This is just a short post before I go to bed, I'm sure I'll post more in depth about Moscow in the near future. I got back to Detroit at 8 pm last night, after five weeks of absolute awesome. The Moscow portion of SLI was probably the best five weeks of my life, it was an absolute blast, and I met a lot of really cool people. I'm going to miss all of them and am making a determined effort to see them again, at least after I get settled in at MSU.

Speaking of which, I'm moving up over the course of this week, I start getting paid soon, and classes start in early September, I'm very excited. I actually got a bunch of kitchen and bath stuff today from Target (as well as new shoes!).

I also went over to Nick's for some BBQ and hanging out today, which allowed me to see him, Erik, Tom, Jon, Steve and Greg, the people outside of my parents that I missed the most while at SLI (because I'm always in a state of missing Jen and am used to it by now). Talking about WoW and 40k and D&D made me realize just how much I miss gaming and how badly I want it back in my life. Gotta see about fixing that when I get settled in.

Well that's it for now, I'm going to bed soon.

Pittsburgh Non-Adventure

You know what I haven't posted about in a long time? Girls.

So anyway, there's only three days of class left in Pittsburgh, and our flight leaves at 9:45 on Saturday. I will miss some people who are staying on in Pittsburgh, but I'm really excited about going to Moscow (of course), and a little intimidated at the same time. Ireland was easy, I speak English (and apparently can pass as Canadian), but my Russian is... well it's weak, I mean come on, I've been speaking Russian since early September. Not even a year yet.

Before I know it August 14th will be here and I'll be flying home. The prospect of getting home is kind of like the end of a good movie. You want the movie to continue because it's so good, but you want it to end because you want to know what happens. I'm going to enjoy my time in Russia for sure, but I'm also excited to get home and move to Lansing.

Classes start at MSU something like September 2nd, and I'm really excited. I always look forward to the start of a new semester, but this is a new school, and whole new program and a whole new life. It's a lot to look forward too. And it's a little intimidating too. But I'm going into this planning to bust my ass and not have a social life, so that when things aren't as hard as I expect them too, it's a wicked relief.

This post is pretty much Steve's fault, we were talking about MSU via Facebook and it got me thinking about the future. Not that I haven't been, mind you, but I also felt like writing while sitting around and listening to Mudvayne.
I was planning on waiting until like Sunday to post about the whole weekend, but I'm stuck staying up until the dryer is done (because I forgot about my wash) so I'm posting anyway.

Party was Thursday night, and it went off without a hitch. I don't know how many people actually came but I'm putting the numbers in the high twenties, over all.

We drained a quarter barrel of Yingling (my new favorite beer) but didn't hit the liquor as hard as I'd have liked, there's a bunch of it left. Maybe we can finish that on Saturday. I got good and drunk though, thank you very much.

We played some flip cup although there's this wicked bevel on our dining room table that made it kind of a bitch. I intended to play beer pong with Helen and or Valya, but that never actually happened. Matt, Sam and I started drinking at like 8, the party started at 9, and by 10:45 I was drunk, but I held onto it for the whole night, which was nice.

I say that I intended to play beer pong but forgot too because I ended up sitting with Angela for like an hour and a half without realizing how long were were just sitting there talking. Yay for bonding!

I also got to actually talk to Ruth, who I hadn't really interacted with yet. Oh, and there was drunken jumping up and down and screaming like a teenage girl with Helen, so really it was a pretty normal night for me. We were very excited about the fact that we're going to Moscow and that we were drunk that that we'll get to get drunk in Moscow.

Only a couple of people got sick, there was no drama, and the mess is overall pretty mild. Floor needs a mopping though, there were some spills and the keg did sort of blow it's wad all over the foyer when Sam was tapping it. Angela committed a party foul rather early on and I had to teach these people how to ticket someone for such a trespass. As I texted to Tom, it's like living with primitives. They call Waterfalls "Kings" and have different rules and they don't ticket on party fouls. Issac thinks that we're the primitive ones, and attributes our South Eastern Michigan party behavior to some bullshit about Manifest Destiny going around Michigan.

You are wrong sir. Michigan does it better. Ask Tim Allen.
I'm kind of bored and listening to Zeromancer and not tired enough to go to bed, so I'm posting this now.

Last Friday was Slovak happy hour, which I was very excited about because that is my people's food. Well it turns out that my people's food is quite like Polish food (at least what was served there), which isn't too surprising, West Slavs and all.

Anyhoo, after that there was some drinking at the house before Matt (Kewley), Bettina and I went to see Away We Go which was really good. Then we went to Pizzaria Uno and then Bettina dropped us off at home and I went to bed a little before the rest of the housemates got home.

Saturday there was reading (a chapter by Lewis Siegelbaum in a edited volume on Russian history that Lauren bought at random) and I watched a couple more episodes of "Brigada" with Matt Jennings. "Brigada" is this 15 episode Russian TV series about a kid that comes back from Afganastan in 1989 and gets involved in organized crimes (this is a common theme in contemporary Russian film). It jumps from 89 to91 to 95 to 97 to 2000 though, which is pretty cool. We're only four episodes in.

Saturday night, however, I went to Sphinx Cafe and Hookah Lounge with Mary (from my class), Helen and Issac (from Lauren's class), which was pretty sweet. There was a belly dancer, and good smoothies and mango flavored tobacco which we couldn't even smoke all of because wow they give you a lot when you order the large hookah.

Afterwards we walked to Issac's because he wanted to make us gin and tonics, as he is convinced they are they best drink ever, and we all hadn't really had them. I'd had one before and didn't like it, and didn't like it this time either. Tastes like a pine tree man. Eww.

Anyhoo, way later than we should have left, I walked the girls to their dorm and then walked my own bad self home. Took an hour and I got home at 3 AM. Pretty good walk though. I miss walking at night, actually.

Sunday I did homework and read and watched the first episode of "The Prisoner" over on the AMC site, which is pretty cool but I don't think I'll get finished before Moscow.

This is a short week, because we get Friday off on account of the 4th of July on Saturday, so we're having a party that night. It should be... big. I haven't played host to a party in a long time, mostly because my parent's haven't been out of town (because I don't want to keep them up, they don't care so long as we clean up, for clarification) and also it's kind of a pain. But this is pretty much a once in a lifetime chance here, so what the hell. Plus there's a certain sweetness to being able to just crawl into your "own" bed when you get tired, and not have to worry about getting home or sleeping on a couch or some shit. It allows one to go to bed still drunk, which is awesome.

I guess there isn't much else to say except that we're basically inviting the entire Russian and Polish sections of the program, so it should be pretty sweet. Pittsburgh Adventures Vol. 3 will certainly reflect upon this party.

Pittsburgh Adventures Vol. 1

So we did Friday up in style yesterday, so much so that I was the firs one up at 11, and had the house to myself for a couple of hours.

Fridays feature [insert Slavic culture here] Happy Hours, which involve music and lots of food. This past Friday was Bulgarian Happy Hour, and also involved dancing, which was totally spur of the moment. That makes it even more awesome. So after about a solid half hour of Bulgarian folk dancing I missed the bus, didn't feel like waiting around for it, and walked home from campus. This took 45 minutes and turned me into a sweaty disgusting mess. Whoo!

There was a group called Slavic Soul Party that was playing at a Polish dive bar which Matt, Lola, Matt and I were planning on going to. G, who is our new med student roommate was going to go with us too, so we got ourselves some booze, ordered a pizza, and began predrinking at like 7. Played a few drinking games, did a shot of vodka with the Matts (yes there were pickles) and headed out. Except we never did manage to figure out how to get to the bar in question.

Adventure time! Katie will be so proud. We caught a bus towards campus and had some drinks at Hemingway's, which is a pretty cool little bar on campus where Matt, Valya and I couldn't get beers at lunch earlier that day because Tessa is only 19 (addendum: since I'm over 25, I can be responsible for making sure that she doesn't drink, so we can drink at lunch!), and then wandered around the campus area looking for more bars and found nothing! So we met some very helpful nurses at a bus stop and ended up going to South Side, which is where Pittsburgh hides it's bars, and also tattoo parlors. Found three of them in two blocks.

After we tried to get Lola's nose re-pierced (the piercer wasn't in at the time) we went to The Town Tavern, which is expensive, loud and full of posers and douchebags. But, there was this black guy with this awesome white jacket, so there's that. Oh, and "Sexy Back" was playing when we got there, and I haven't heard that song in years.

Valya got out of work shortly thereafter and met us with her buddy Zack from work (which Matt and I were trying to find but couldn't remember the name of) and we went to a much better bar called, I think, Intersection, which had more reasonably priced beer and we hung out and had good conversation about colleges and tattoos and drinking in Russia oh and also hockey.

By 1:30 we realized that the last bus home was 40 minutes prior, so we hung out in the street trying to get a cab. We did not get a cab, but ended up flagging down a limo. He charged us $5 each and drove us to the other side of Pittsburgh to our house. Cheapest and also most random and probably therefore best limo ride I've been in.

After that we sat around drinking water and playing "Kings" which is what Lola and her weird friends from Boston call Waterfalls (also they have some different rules which are inferior to our own, except for their 8 rule). We all trickled of to bed and there you have it.

Saturday I did pretty much nothing but sit around on the internet and read some "Catch 22" and also walked really far to Wendy's, checked out a food co-op where I got this awesome vegan peanut butter cookie, and watched House Hunters and The Soup (which is so good, it's like the Daily Show about stupid TV) and the SNL.

Sunday is for homework and also some grocery shopping, and possibly going to the aviary they have here in Pittsburgh. That might have to wait, we'll see, and also we're gonna take in a Pirates game at some point. Monday is for exam!

In the Bowl of the Gods

This is really just a post for me to collect my thoughts and, I guess, to run things by Erik, if he should happen to read this. Comments are welcome, provided they're on topic.

Inspired by this comic I came up with first a setting and then a story idea. It goes like this:

In the middle of a vast desert is a massive impact crater created millenia ago and which is really the only source of life for a good long distance. An entire forest ecosystem has sprung up in this crater around a lake (and several small streams feeding into it), and upon this lake sits a village. It's not a particularly large village, but it is home to several hundred people and this culture has lived therein for many generations.

The people call their home the Bowl of the Gods, and believe themselves to be alone in the world, as nobody has ever gone more than a day's walk or so into the desert and returned. Their society is stable, albeit simplistic. They are a stone age people with no written language, although they do have art and a rich oral tradition.

Everything is fine until one day a stranger arrives in the crater. Understand that this is a people who don't even have a word for stranger, there has never been a visitor from anywhere else. They were secure in their knowledge that they were the only people in the world.

The stranger spoke a weird language that shared some few similar words with their own, and this formed the basis of communication. At first they took him to be a messenger from their gods, perhaps even a god himself, and they treated him very well and tried very hard to communicate with him. As time went on, and he learned more and more of their language, he began to tell them strange stories about far away lands and different people, peppering his tales with words from his own tongue. The children were especially fond of the stranger and his tales, and this began to worry some people in the village, especially the elders. Soon parents stopped letting their children go see the stranger, and his welcome became overstayed, he was treated rudely, avoided or ignored, but one child in particular kept sneaking off to see him, despite his parent's wishes.

It was this child that overheard the elders planning to lure the stranger into the forest and kill him, deeming him too dangerous to remain in their village. The child ran and told the stranger the secret, and the stranger quickly began to pack with the child's help, preparing for a long and difficult journey to the nearest civilization. And as quickly as the stranger had appeared in the crater, he was gone, and life could return to normal.

At first the elders saw this as a boon, they searched high a low for the stranger, but he was nowhere in the crater, and they figured that their work had been done for them. But in searching for the stranger they realized that a child was missing, and so the elders decided to send several of the village's best hunters after them, instructed to kill the stranger and bring the child back, dead or alive. Just as they could not allow the stranger to corrupt their world, they could not allow news of their existence to reach the outside world, for that would bring certain ruin.

By this time the stranger and the child have a pretty good lead on the hunters, and both parties realize just how close the crater really is to civilization. Once they reach civilization, however, the hunters are at a significant disadvantage, but so devout are they that they continue their search.


That's about all I've got so far. I know that I would like the story to shift viewpoints between the parties involved, allowing the reader to experience this whole new world through the eyes of both an inquisitive child and scared, angry men with a dire mission. I have ideas in mind for characters, the stranger and child, several hunters (I'm thinking three) and a few elders and parents, as well as contacts that the stranger has in civilization. I've recently played a lot of Assassin's Creed, and I've generally been interested in Arabic culture, so I might give civilization a certain Arabic feel, although I also imagine mountains (seen in the distance from the crater), and so perhaps a more Caucasian or Central Asian kind of culture.

Essentially, it's a story about the shattering of perceptions, alienation, discovery and fanaticism (although personally I find it hard to blame the villagers for fearing and distrusting the stranger, though taking his life is hard t justify).


I'm listening to the Penny Arcade podcast about Lookouts as I write this, and if you haven't read the page, go do so no because you are missing out on something that inexplicable speaks to me (and I assume Erik too?)

Anyhoo, my parent's drove my laptop out to me today so I can use it for the audio stuff for class and not have to rely on my housemate's computers.

Anyway, I've made it through my first week of SLI and so far so good. The people, both in the house and class, are pretty cool. The four Russian students I live with are all going to Russia, our Polish housemate is obviously not.

Homework has been pretty light so far, but class is moving along pretty quickly, more or less done with the first chapter of Golosa book two. Pittsburgh is pretty cool, it's neat that we can take a bus anywhere and then wander around like a real city, with big tall buildings and everything. Pennsylvania has some weird blue laws going on (you can only buy booze in state stores or bars, and stores either sell wine and liquor OR beer, and you can't have more than four women living in a house because that counts as a BROTHEL) but besides that, it's been a pretty sweet experience so far. Weirdly I have only been carded once in the four times I've bought booze at a bar or restaurant.

I don't really know what else to say, so I'm just going to end it here. Maybe I'll have more to say soon.


Alright, well I've signed my lease and got my keys, so aside from a couple of things I need to take care of before I leave for Pittsburgh, everything is set for Operation: Get On With It (My Life, That Is). I leave for Pittsburgh bright and early on Saturday, 6 June, classes start on 8 June. I leave for Moscow 11 July and get back to Detroit on 14 August. I don't know exactly when I'm moving to MSU, but it'll shortly therefter.

I have to get in touch with Dr. Brockey at some point because I'm TAing for him this fall. I'll be taking methods with everybody else, Modern Europe with Siegelbaum, and Europe under Nazi Control with Siegelbaum and Moch. I'm also going to be sitting in on Russian Culture to World War II (in Russian) with Jason Merrill, who is a life saver letting me do that.

All in all I'm pretty excited about getting all of this rolling already. I'm not going to lie, the three weeks since I finished classes/quit my job have been longer than fuck. Not that I don't enjoy watching DVDs and playing video games and drinking with my friends or anything, but those days where I don't hang out with people? Holy crap those days are long.

So there you go, that's where things stand. I'm going to take lots of pictures I'm sure.
So let's see where things are as of today.

I'm officially going to MSU in the fall, they're working out admissions stuff and in the meantime Dr. Siegelbaum has already sent me a reading list, which I would be working on more if I wasn't so busy with homework and that damned infernal job of mine.

Speaking of which, I have slightly less than nine weeks left at Lakeshore (counting this week), which means I have only ten weeks left until I'll be in Pittsburgh, and only fifteen weeks till Moscow! I cannot overstate how excited I am about this program.

Speaking of which, I should have scholarship information from them by Wednesday (if not Tuesday) and I spoke with financial aide today at WSU and will be getting another $5,000 (well, a little less but boo hoo) so I can cover things like housing in Pittsburgh and my bills while I'm not working. And of course some spending money, because I plan on spending me some money in Moscow.

By mid-August I'll be living in Lansing (finally) and all will be right with the world. Not that I won't miss WSU and the Slavic department (and the history department, too, but I know the whole Slavic department and interact with them "daily," it's more like a family than the history department). This has been a great semester so far, and I'm going to miss it and people and both Laura and Anna are teaching classes next semester that I would break a variety of state laws to attend, were I still around Detroit in the fall.

I will, however, be coming down once in a while, of course, and I'll certainly be strong armed into helping Slavic Club, since Monica is already mad at me for leaving, and I don't want to piss her off more. I've made a lot of friends this (and last) semester at WSU. Lot's of Slavic and Slavic related friends.

So that's where my life is right now. I have basically never been this excited about the future in my entire life. And this is a future that's actually in reach!