First, loudspeakers. Everywhere. Loudspeakers in the university, loudspeakers in the dorms. Today’s announcement in the dorms informed us of this pleasant autumn evening’s refreshing temperature of -30C. We were specifically instructed to not open the windows or turn off the radiators, thereby dooming us to our infernally hot living spaces to melt and liquify only to be frozen after into a completely new form upon stepping outside. Remember that time in the summer you didn’t finish your Ben and Jerry’s pint in time before it melted, and then, rather than let it go to waste, you put it back in the freezer and it made this disgusting vanilla cream mass of swirling cookie dough bits and chocolate peace signs. That’s how you can describe my consistency at any given time here. Anyway, they don’t make announcements that often, but I’ll be the first to tell you that this was hardly their first experience with the loudspeaker! Also, I’m still looking for our university’s (Yugra State)’s jingle. Yes, oh yes, we have a jingle. It was so catchy and convincing I assumed the university is Now Available in Stores Near Me! The second I get my paws on this golden soundbite I will make it the background music of this blog and soon you will all find yourselves inexplicably yearning to study at Yugra State.
So, I get into the dorm complex, my eyes slowly de-crusting from the thin layer of ice that had grown on them*, and was greeted (“greeted”) by the guardbabushka and two college-age guys, staring at me and muttering, “ahh, yes, that’s the one!” I give them looks of skepticism, returning their shifty eyes with some shifty eyes of my own (luckily these eyes de-thawed in time to do the motion properly) and as I walked to my room, all three followed me. I asked what was going on, and they said “we’re here for your bed.” Then I laughed out loud… “hahahha, what?!!?!?” And they just repeated. And then I thought to myself: wait… could it be…?? HOW could they possibly know that I sleep on the floor because the bed frame is so terribly weak that that my heaviest bits – midsection – sink deep into the bed frame and every morning I have to do some aggressive yoga to pop everything back into place? (Anyone who has, out of curiosity, ever popped a Barbie leg inside-out via the knees knows what kind of aggressive yoga we’re talking about here) Two people know that I sleep on the floor – my Cool Czech Friend Hana and my other friend Natasha. Cool Czech Friend Hana would never interfere with my business by telling a guardbabushka that my bed is the complete opposite of effective, and Natasha, while she’s always got my back, (Russians are crazy good at that, it’s amazing), she also wouldn’t say anything without having mentioned it to me first. Soooo… um… as I furiously picked up all my scattered socks and underthings off the floor, I kept trying to think about how they knew about my bed situation. The gentlemen came in, took off their shoes, and removed my bed frame, which was haphazardly poised on top of the other unused bed. I said thank you a few times.
*This did not actually happen. No eyes have frozen over (…yet.)
But then they continue removing things – the extra mattress, the extra sheets and such. At that point, and absolutely no earlier, I finally realized they needed an extra bed in another room and knew that, since I’m just one person, I of course had an extra. Ahhhh, fewf! No one had been snooping in my room when I’m out for the day!! (We deposit our keys with the guardbabushkas whenever we go anywhere) So, all’s well that ends well – and that episode indeed ended well. But it all seemed so hilarious and absurd before I figured out what was actually going on!
Also, I used this opportunity to get my TV fixed, which has never worked. The guardbabushka aggressively and slightly accusatorially shouted, DID YOU PUT THE ANTENNAE UP??? I told her there was absolutely no sign of an antennae and she comes in and checks. So, as it turns out, an “antennae” is the wire that connects the TV to some outlet that sucks out all the bad American TV shows and news programs about all the economic crises in the West and broadcasts them in front of my by now thoroughly un-frozen eyeballs.
So anyway, I turn on the TV, flip through a few channels, and land on a very artificial / fixed / set up political conference, where Medvedev answers young peoples’ questions. He was talking about blogs and the role the internet is playing in the government. He noted that when it comes to fighting corruption, many blogs out there that make all sorts of nonsense claims, but one should only listen to the official reports for real news. (A move to delegitimize Navalny’s and other similar muck-raking type blogs, I assume??) He showed a screen shot of the new “transparent government” webpage. The issue was very interesting, but unfortunately, either they didn’t spend much time on it, or I had already missed most of what was said. In either case, the next “question” was asked by a conspicuously gorgeous group of young ladies, even more conspicuously wearing cheerleading uniforms. (!!) Their question? First, they explained themselves: The Medvedev Girls. CrAzY fOr MeDvEdEv!!!<3<3<3<3 … Their question: Can we kiss you, Medvedev, pleeeaaaasssseeeee? (The conversation about blogs about corruption in the Russian government was interrupted for THIS?!?! ARRGHH)
Aaaaand that’s about the time when I stopped watching. Could have watched more, of course, but lesson plans were (and still are) calling.