Yeah, I'm going to complain a little. But man, oh, man, it was TOUGH out there today.
Oh, it was deceptively pretty outside because the temperatures were, once again, rather mild. Only -7C, which, in the sun (of which there was plenty), was right nice. As long as the wind wasn't blowing. Which, unfortunately, it was.
This, combined with the Zamboni-ed quality of our city sidewalks . . . well, to quote a favorite blogger of mine, JESUS FISHSTICK CHRIST! Somewhere, and I swear it was this week, I read that Russia or maybe just Moscow is having the worst winder since, oh, say the Siege of Leningrad, but now, try as I might, I cannot find it. (I did stumble on this, however: "The big freeze of ’63: People fell ‘like skittles’" is a little too close for comfort.)
Long story short I had to TAKE CHILDREN TO SCHOOL this morning, which wasn't too horribly awful,except for the first part of the walk, right outside our building, which is also slightly downhill.
Then I had to GO TO THE AMERICAN EMBASSY (long, boring story involving FS-240 forms, the elusive DS-1350, and one notarized copy for $30; yes, thank you, my tax dollars hard at work), but my appointment was for 9:00 (earliest available) and, as we learned when we went on Monday, one will inevitably arrive at 8:30 and there's precious little to do in the neighborhood except to stroll around, and this is what I attempted to do (I did identify and then stand in front of the Chekhov House which I knew was nearby because Blogging Friend Dina mentioned it this week), but the wind was so strong and the sidewalks so slippery (and I had, foolishly, not worn my Yak Trax), that I was white-knuckled and drenched in sweat by the time 9:00 rolled around.
After I WENT HOME, but stopped to buy The Spouse nuts at the perehod between Mayakovskaya and our place. It was on THE WALK HOME FROM NUT SHOPPING, that I noticed, with a certain irony, that the parking lot/sidewalk in front of the GAI/Traffic Police Building was not only CLEAN and DRY, but had been SALTED.
Not even the sidewalk in front of the US Embassy is SALTED! What is up with that anyhow? I have it on good authority that every stick of furniture in the embassy comes directly from the US of A and that the ambassador himself eats his breakfast off of a FIESTAWARE plate, for God's sake, that rests on a COLONIAL STYLE table. Well, the American ambassador in Bratislava did anyhow. As do I. The Fiestaware, I mean. Not the Colonial style furniture. But the point is: wasn't there any room for a little Morton's in the old diplomatic pouch? Can't anyone help a fellow American who is down on her luck?
But I digress.
I went home and barely sat down when The Spouse called and asked would I please GO BACK TO THE SCHOOL TO COLLECT SOME DOCUMENTS. Which I did.
Interesting thing happened here: I had exited the Metro and paused to put on my Yak Trax (I am a slow-learner, but I do eventually catch on), when a woman came up to me and begged me (in Russian) to PLEASE, PLEASE TELL HER WHERE I GOT THESE THINGS BECAUSE, HAVE YOU NOTICED? IT'S LIKE DEATH OUT HERE! When I told her I bought them v Amerike, she wept.
Then, before she even turned away, ANOTHER woman came up to me and started telling me that I needed a massage and that she was a professional and a doctor and her name is Galina and here is her number and lots of other details that I did not get because she was speaking in Russian. The funny thing here, other than the fact that I am almost completely sure that I fell asleep on the Metro twice today, was that seconds before I was accosted by the weeping woman, I was on the Metro escalator reminding myself to BREATHE and draw ENERGY from the Universe and all that other good granola stuff they tell you in yoga class. And I was even thinking, "I could use a spa when this move is over. Or at least a yoga class." And I tried not to fall asleep again on the escalator, but to BREATHE or at least remember to KEGEL and BAM! Whaddya know: the Universe does, indeed, provide. In the form of Dr. Galina, Massage Therapist. Who, other than the fact she was offering massages to total strangers on the street, seemed normal and even comforting, sort of like Sada Thompson in Family or Dianne Wiest in Law & Order.
I did escape and completed my errand at the school and then CONTINUED ON TO THE SPOUSE'S OFFICE where I delivered the documents I had collected that morning from both the embassy and the French school and even stayed to have a little lunch with him in one of the restaurants in the basement of his building.
[Note: We ran into The Spouse's Tall, Handsome, and Humorless German Former Big Boss today, and while the three of us were discussing what it is like to suddenly work for a company that isn't American and doesn't provide life insurance as a benefit and how you have to buy your own but you can keep the existing policy for a little while after leaving the American employer but only with coverage up to $125,000 which is better than a sharp stick in the eye but won't keep me and the girls forever without me heading back to the workplace after 11+ years away, I decided to blurt out that, "No, but it will keep me going long enough to find another husband . . . maybe get a little work done first," and Tall, Handsome, Humorless German Former Big Boss just looked appalled. I blame the icy sidewalks for my inability to self-censor.]
After that I WENT HOME and realized I needed to RUN TO THE GROCERY STORE before GOING BACK TO THE SCHOOL AT 5:00 TO COLLECT THE GIRLS.
Ah, sweet liquor eases the pain.
In other, totally unrelated news: There is a kid at the girls' school, let's call her "Heather," who has the dubious reputation for being the school's Self-Appointed Fashion Police. Famous in song and legend, I finally caught a glimpse of her as I walked the girls to school this morning. "Heather's" signature line this year is "You have to take action!" She also likes to make click-y noises while pointing with a finger-gun.
Today, she approached Baboo in the lunchline and said, in French of course, "Psst. C'mere." When Baboo responded, Heather pointed at Baboo's shirt and said, "Stripes are SO last year." Pointing then to another kid (who Baboo reports had "pants on the ground") she told Baboo, "Ça, c'est bien!"
Baboo responded by raising an eyebrow.
The playground, or in this case the lunch room . . . it is a cruel place.