Monday, May 16, 2011

I can positively say that since the weather changed in Moscow I am like a teen on steroids. Life is fun, busy and full and there is some truth in the change of my chemical balance. I picked up running again and this time there is no saying good bye. I am addicted! It happened so sudden that I did not expect it at all, but now I am hooked and it looks like it's going to be for a long long time. Last Saturday I ran half a marathon! Mind you, two months ago 6K was too much and now 6K is like a warm up. I am addicted to the feeling that running gives me but it certainly helps that that feeling is shared with the other running ladies. When you run and talk, time flies and before you know you are done and left with that amazing feeling of accomplishment. So now, in my typical manner, I am planning races, and places to go and when is the next half marathon, and when should I train for a full marathon and which one should I run and so on and so on.  
I am also doing some fitness training and love the way my belly looks after the P90X AbripperX
Besides running I discovered shopping in Moscow and now feel pretty well stocked with some awesome local designer cloths. I became a huge fan of Kira Plastinina and Oggi who brought joy back into shopping for me, largely thanks to a good friend of mine who is much more informed. Oggi was my own discovery actually, years back when I visited St. Pete with hubby, but I had no idea who Kira Plastinina is and that shopping in Russia can actually be fun. 
Another new thing in the last weeks is using public transport, namely the metro. This is a mixed blessing. 
It is only fun if you think about it as a social experiment. You, the foreign you, is among all the local people who do that every day. It's kind of cool. But once that excitement passes, after using the metro a few times, then is not fun anymore. First of all, it stinks down there. It stinks of old trains, bad hygiene, and sweat. Secondly, people touch you! And I don't mean your nice, good-looking, young and happy friends. I mean some aggressive, nasty, old, smelly, people that you don't want to touch you at all. I know this is part of society and you should be part of it, and stop moaning and btw who do you think you are. But. This is no fun. And let's face it, if you don't want or like something, you should just avoid doing it, because life is to short to spend it in unpleasantries. 
The other encounter I had, are the so-called "gypsy"taxis. Oh man, are they fun or what. Crappy cars, crappy drivers, they make you unlock the safety belt because it's an insult for their driving skills! I am not kidding! But they are cheap and always available. And there is no alternative, as regular taxies make you wait for a good one hour. 
OK, posting this but going to continue later after watching the sunset from the terrace, yeah!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Today I went of of the door, walked down the street, clicked the car open, got in and turned on the key! I did it. I drove In Moscow.  I went to Moscow University, through busy traffic, crazy counter-intuitative intersections and drivers that violate every rule in the book within minutes. I saw with my own eyes a guy that did not stop on red, and didn't stop at a stop sign 2 minutes later. He was driving a Cayenne, so I guess he was allowed. Not!:) Since I am driving a modest Ford minivan and have no suicidal tendencies that involve traffic, I was just mindlessly road rules observant. In fact, I have to admit, to my own surprise, driving in Moscow was not all that bad. Sure people drive like they never drove before, and drivers are inpatient and aggressive, and the roads are not in a great condition at all.
But there is an universal feeling of freedom that the car gives you, same here as anywhere. You are the boss of your own time. You don't depend on making appointment with a driver, or wether or not there is a taxi available, or walking 30 minutes to and back the metro. You can just count on yourself, avoid the worse traffic if possible and enjoy the ride.
I have to say, I became so enchanted of driving myself partially for lack of choice. We couldn't keep our good and experienced driver, which resulted dealing with some mediocre driving and even more poor social and service level skills. In fact this one guy was bluntly measuring my cup size while I was trying to explain in Russian, for his convenience, the plan of the day. Sometime is just too much. For instance when hubby starts driving on the highway in the weekend with two screaming babies on the back and realizes that the driver left the car with no gaz.
I can almost hear some critics saying "What do you complain? You do have a driver." Sounds great and glamorous, but it's not. It was a necessity when we moved in, now since we could not keep our good guy, because we couldn't afford him anymore, it was just inconvenience.
Sure we were driven around, but I did not even feel like going anywhere anymore, knowing that I have to make an appointment, explain myself for good 20 minutes and as we drive, again realize that I know the road better than the driver which in Moscow is a very bad sign. One wrong move and you can wait for another hour in the Wrong traffic jam.
Fact is I love to drive. Engine on, music on, traffic humming. I am positive that driving in Moscow can be just as much fun, as it was in the USA.
Talking about driving, I am seriously working a more traditional transportation means involving my own two feet. Yesterday, I sweated, grunted, pushed, and even put in a 2 minutes sprint, but manage to finish a 15K run in a bit over one and a half hour. It was a perfect running day, not too warm, not too sunny, very few people along the river at Gorki Park. I had no breakfast and I only slept 4 hours due to the grand rehearsal of the twin night choir, But I did it.