Confession: I wrote this post for my other blog, Scribble Babble, but I think it counts as a Foreign Service post, so I'm reposting it here. Plus I'm too tired to write another one. You'll see why in just a moment.

This post doesn't have one of my usual peppy alliterative titles because frankly, I don't even know what day it is anymore. I feel like I haven't been in one place for more than a week or two ever since 2013 started, probably because I haven't. I feel like all the spunk has been beaten out of me. In other words, I feel like the wolf. The bear is my life.

Life: Take THAT! Me: Okay
Actually, we're in Moscow. This statue is somewhere near Red Square and depicts some fairy tale or other. I don't even know. We arrived Sunday afternoon with Kim and Sarah in tow, and while the two of them still seem enamored with Russia in winter ("I could live here," Sarah says cheerfully. "Me too!" Kim agrees chipperly), I've had enough. ENOUGH I say. Yesterday we wanted to take Jack to the zoo in the afternoon. A simple thing, really. So we slogged through the snow to what any normal human would think was the zoo entrance (big wide gates, animal statuary, etc.) only to discover a sign saying "vhod niet"- no entry. And just to rub salt in my wounds, the difference between the words exit and entrance is a teeny tiny sound that doesn't exist in English: выход (exit) vs вход (entrance).

So we decided to go around to the other gate. Just a block or two, we thought. But Moscow, being a mega-city, doesn't have normal blocks. It has mega-blocks, if you will. Every now and then you'll encounter an alley that seems to take you on a shortcut to where you want to go. But no, it's a dead end, which means you have now added even more time to your walk. Finally, an hour and a half later, we found the other entrance. (In between we found a random open gate and went through it, only to have the guard yelling at us in Russian and crossing his arms like an X, the universal sign for "get the f*ck out.") When we got to the main entrance of the zoo, it also appeared closed. But then we saw a woman, a child, and a dog walk in, so we decided to follow suit. A moment later, another guard appeared, and Kim was rather rudely removed from the zoo premises, along with the dog. We all stood looking mournfully at the zoo for a moment before going our separate ways.

After carrying a 35-pound sack of whiny potatoes (did I mention we didn't have a stroller?) for nearly two hours, we collapsed in a heap inside our apartment on the Embassy compound. I managed to find enough strength in my wobbly arms to flip through our little Moscow handbook. And there it was. "Zoo: closed on Mondays."

I feel like Russia has been telling me "niet" for about seven months now. I try to speak in Russian and I get blank stares. I go into a department store and I get followed like I'm a common criminal. I try to win people over with my charming American smile, but I get nothing in return. It's utterly exhausting. Which is why we've been traveling so much, but that takes its toll too. Life, they say, is a bitch. And this one wears a babushka and has an affinity for pickled fish.


  1. Sorry Russia has been a long cold winter for you. Are you still planning to come to Piter? Sounds like you could use a girls' night out and a local who knows which days which things are open :-)


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