25 November 2014


1. Get togethers with friends. Appreciating the time we all have left together. 
2. My friend Nick and I finished one of those impossible puzzles... with the help of YouTube (but in our defense, we have been working on that puzzle for months).
3. Ben and Sergey. Sergey was my first friend here. He's promised he's going to come to our wedding and I can't wait to show him America like he showed me Moscow. 
4. iPad-in
5. Bathroom selfie
6. Good-looking breakfast. 

Not Pictured
1. We've been going through our closets and drawers, deciding what should stay and what should go. I am in contact with a Filipino women's group and we're going to be donating a good chunk of our clothing, children's books (which we used for teaching), and odds and ends. I'm glad I'll be able to help out other expats who come to Russia looking for work.
2. L-O-T-S of excitement. Lots of nerves. I feel like we are constantly flipping between "yes, we're doing it! We're going home!" to "Oh my god, we have nothing prepared, what's going to happen?!" But it's good. A lot of good energy flowing through our house. 
3. Christmas! It's been a lot of fun to sit together on the couch, seeing what the other picked out for each other's family. I'm also super grateful that we are going to spend Christmas morning with my family and Ben is going to be able to meet some more of my relatives. I'm also looking forward to then jumping on a plane and heading out to New Hampshire. 
4. Planning a Thanksgiving dinner! We collected money from our friends and assigned duties to everyone--Ben and I are taking on the bulk of it because we love to cook, but I can't wait to see it all come together. 


5. And SERIAL. I loved reading all your comments. I knew you were my people!

Okay, but my theory has changed a lot with the latest episode. I'd say when I posted I was pretty much thinking that Adnan was a total psychopath and that SK was just being charmed by someone who couldn't admit what he had done. 
But here's my new theory: I think Jay did it and I think he did it with Jen, or maybe Jen knows, but definitely something is going on with Jen. I think he was cheating on Stephanie. I think Hae knew about it and was going to tell Stephanie (this was briefly mentioned when Adnan's lawyer was questioning Jay, but I think SK is going to delve into it a bit more later on). I think that gives Jay way more of a motive to kill Hae then Adnan being upset over a break-up weeks after they were finished. 

We know this was a two-person crime because of the car details and what not, but I think it was Jen who helped Jay and that's what she's refusing to talk about it, why her story changed in the beginning, why she came to the police station with a lawyer. She had something to hide from the beginning. He either told her, or she was there... I'm not sure about all that. 

So anyway, that's my current theory. What did you think about the latest episode? You flip-floppin too? Let me know. 

Also... I've been listening to Slate's podcast about Serial which I highly recommend. The AV Club has one too, but I don't like it as much and disagree with a lot of their theories. But here are the links if you're interested. 

23 November 2014

Leaving Moscow


This is sort of a strange entry to write. I feel like for so long, I have been digging my feet further and further into the ground, growing out roots, feeling secure in where I was.
Not liking it, but feeling at least secure about it. Everything is about to change and it is going to change fast.

I have not liked Moscow for a long time. I felt bad about sharing that here because I know people come to my blog because they're interested in Moscow or Russia or expat life and I feel like by admitting I don't see very much good in here anymore, I've left something or someone down.

But I do not belong in Moscow any longer. I feel angry and resentful towards this city... towards it's people. It's a lot to explain (and I will write a post later on explaining more in depth about my decision), and I really want to move on from it, but I can't help the way I feel. I want out.

Ben and I were planning on leaving around the springtime. As we stood in the immigration line coming back from Moscow, he leaned onto me hard and whispered, "I hope our visas get rejected."
I pushed him off of me and stared at him.
"Don't say that! Why would you say that?"
He sighed and looked up at the ceiling.
"I just fucking can't go back."
Though I heard myself giving words of encouragement, I knew exactly how he felt. By the time we got home, we both confessed to the other how wrong Moscow was and how desperately we wanted to go home.

But we need to make money. The money to move back to Boston and start the next chapter of our lives.

We sat with our schedules, our calculators and our calendars and mapped out precisely how long it would take to make the proper amount of money we would need to start our new lives. It was a lot of money, but it wasn't impossible. We made great money! Four or five months tops.

And then the ruble crashed.

That great money we were making? Practically cut in half. Our landlords called and said they wanted to increase our rent. Our students started canceling lessons. We were hardly saving anything.

I called my mother in a total panic.

What. The. Fuck. Are. We. Going. To. Do.

She comforted me and told me she'd help me if she could. I went home and ran more numbers, sent out more requests for students and stressed.

And then she wrote me an email with a new idea: just come back home. You already have tickets for Christmas time, we have your grandmother's apartment for another few months, and you could find jobs here easily.

I felt a little skeptical. I didn't want to leave, not really. I wasn't ready. We'd worked so hard to get these visas to make this money. We already had jobs and a place to stay. I didn't want to jump.

But Ben came home and he jumped for me.

"Yes. Yes. Yes, we need to do that. Oh my god, yes that is the answer to everything."

And slowly, it all began to sink in. And then all at once I was completely excited.

We are leaving Moscow in 29 days.
I cannot even wait. 

12 November 2014

Listen: Serial

Have you been listening to the podcast 'Serial'?
It's a sister show of This American Life and it is absolutely riveting.

I discovered it on Sunday morning after glancing at an article on facebook and immediately downloaded and listened to the seven episodes (available on iTunes or on the website) that are available so far.

The concept: to tell one nonfiction story week-by-week. Kind of an experiment in the endangered art of oral storytelling.

The premise: A 1999 Baltimore teen murder case.

Who killed Hae Min Lee? 

Hae is the girl in the middle and Adnan is below her.

So, the storyteller of this podcast is the fabulous Sarah Koenig and she gets a call one day from a woman who wants her to look into this murder of a teenage girl from the nineties. The woman is a friend of the alleged killer--the ex-boyfriend of the victim, Adnan Syed. She says that he didn't do it and that there are a lot of discrepancies is the case. 

Intrigued, Sarah starts to follow up on the murder and quickly realizes that yes, there are quite a few details that don't add up. So she begins to fully investigate bringing the listener along with her. 

Here's what I like about the show:

It's a great mystery. Is this a teenage romance gone terribly wrong? Is it a poor kid being framed because of a grudge? Is it just a journalist grasping at straws and being taken by a charming sociopath? Who killed this girl and why?

Adnan Syed

Considering this whole concept is to revive oral storytelling, I'd say that Sarah absolutely nails it. I mean, you feel like you are right there with her, checking on old court documents, making phone calls to Adnan in prison, knocking on people's doors to ask them where they were one snowy afternoon fifteen years ago. There are phone calls, playbacks from interrogations, court room audios. 

You feel like you are right there. It didn't even occur to me before writing this entry to even look up what the people in the story looked like. The storytelling was enough for me.
And she is t-h-o-r-o-u-g-h. I mean, Sarah needs to know who killed Hae Min Lee. Each episode looks at a specific part of the case, every element you can imagine: cell phone records, alibis, people who knew the alibis, maps, letters, car routes, testimonies, letters. Everything.

It's fascinating. I always like to pretend I'm a detective and I have been known to follow real-life crime investigations from my laptop, creating my own theories along the way. If you are anything like that, you need to listen to Serial right now.

I have a couple ideas about what I think happened, so if any of you are listening, tell me below and we can exchange notes. The next episode comes out Thursday and it's about (in my opinion) the most interesting part of the case: Jay, the one and only aspect of the investigation that led to the arrest and imprisonment of Adnan Syed.

Check it out. Seriously. You will be hooked. Once again, you can find listen to it on their website or download it from iTunes and listen on your phone.

Then come back here and tell me what you think.

05 November 2014

Crepe au Fondue de Volaille

Fancy shmancy food bein' made over here. 

Ben has (delightfully) become obsessed with completing Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and I have been happily reaping the benefits. 

Well, maybe not totally happily (he absolutely over-killed it on my favorite breakfast dish-- eggs benedict. Don't get me wrong, I love them and he has now discovered the most killer hollandaise sauce, but jesus, we've had it like 6 times in the past two weeks!).

But really, I love it when Ben gets into cooking sprees. He's so much more daring and creative with food than me (I found a recipe for a cream cheese, parm and pesto sandwich spread and am just going to be doing that until he makes lunch again).

Here's the recipe he used if you're interested:

ever tried your hand at french cooking?
any particular kinds of cooking you particularly enjoy?
let me know, i'm dying of boredom from food.

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