City Day Weekend

This was a business weekend. July 31st is City Day for Vladimir so there was a ton of stuff going on that I had to go see.

I guess I’ll start with Friday night. On Friday night there was a birthday party for the son of the host family hosting an American House student. My roommate and I were invited to the party, which was in a section of Vladimir that we’d never been to before. It was on the outskirts of town in a newer section. We ventured there to experience twenty or so Russians celebrating in an air conditioning free apartment.

First, I should say that any type of social gathering pretty much turns me into a spazz. Loads of people that I don’t know either asking me questions or ignoring me is not my favorite thing. I’m a hermit at heart. Add to that the fact that everyone there would be speaking Russian and already knew each other, and it’s a perfect storm of Things that Will Push Jill Over the Edge To Becoming a Recluse. Still, I spackled and sparkled myself, and headed over.

It was pretty intimidating-walking into a stranger’s place and being surrounded by the constant hum of a language that is not my own. After about a half hour of hating my life at the moment, I decided to get over myself and talk to a girl that had a fabulous complicated braid circling her head. I prepared my question in Russian, and asked her how she did it. She pointed to another girl, and said that she was the one that did it for her. I sought the braider out, and asked how she did it because I always wanted to learn how to braid hair. With a huge grin, she grabbed my hand and dragged me away.

That’s how I found myself spending a half hour with Sveta, a car accident lawyer who would really prefer to be a hair dresser. I watched in the mirror as she whipped my hair up into the most complicated braid design I’ve ever seen. We chatted about everything from her job to her love of old school American rap.

My snazzy new Russian hairdo.

It’s even snazzier from the back.

After that it became easier to chat with other people at the party, and truthfully everyone was more than welcoming. Once again, fashion saves the day.

Saturday was a different beast–City Day. The entire center of Vladimir was shut down for the entire day to celebrate Vladimir in all its glory. I’ve already made it pretty clear that I have a gigantic love of any kind of fest so I was practically bouncing off the walls to get there.

It was awesome. There were thousands of people, heaps of tacky souvenirs, carnival rides, food vendors, and free things to put on my head. I was in festival heaven.
I drank beer, ate popsicles, potato chips, chocolate and all kinds of wonderful goodies. I bought a flag, wore a pair of cow horns, listened to Russian pop music, and fell in love with this town all over again.

When we were exhausted and hungry it was time to head home. I came into the apartment chock full of sugar, wearing my cow horns and waving my newly acquired flags. I accosted my host mom with stories of my day, which came out in one long sugar-high induced sentence, “And I ate candy, and I drank a beer, and I ate ice cream but it fell on the ground after one bite, and it was the worst thing that happened to me today because I love ice cream and I got free cow horns, aren’t they fun and what’s for dinner?”

As if sensing that the night would be a very long night if I stayed on my sugar high all evening, Zinaida put me to work mixing honey into her homemade lemonade. In case you’ve never mixed honey into cold water before, I can tell you it requires a lot of manic stirring.

My final picture is me attempting to mix them together. I think my cracked out expression shows exactly what stage of the sugar high I was in. I was going to photoshop shiny sweaty face, but then I thought that it would be better to show my constant state of sweat since living here. I have been this sweaty and shiny since I arrived here. I think I’m going to change my name to something that both expression my love of Russian and constant state of being overheated- Sweatlana.

What we did on Sunday will be a whole different post tomorrow.