Six months and twenty-five days in Lithuania. One week and three days until I leave for St. Petersburg. It seems like time is such a mess right now, I am almost halfway done with my last semester here, and it feels like it has just begun. This is possibly due to the vagaries of my own perception of time, and possibly because I missed the first two weeks of the semester going to Paris and dealing with the bureaucratic aftermath of the international incident referenced in my previous post.
Right now, I am trying to cram as much Russian into my голово (head) as humanly possible, because going to Russia will only help my comprehension if I have a solid base. I feel like right now I have somewhat of a base in the language, but it is nowhere near what I would like to have when I am relying on my Russian to help me get around a strange city. Talking to locals while I am there will also be nice, and it’s something that I would be hesitant to do at my current level. (although Benny the Irish Polyglot would probably tell me to just talk to them already… advice I think I will have to start heeding any day now) I have been speaking to my lovely roommate I., and that has been helping, although mostly it is just illustrating the holes in my comprehension right now.
The weather here has been positively Idaho-esque in the past weeks. It starts out sunny, then you don’t pay attention for an hour or two and you are suddenly in the midst of a blizzard. This happened the other night after class. I decided to take a bus up the hill to the big Rimi because I wanted to pick up a few things and they tend to have better quality produce than the Maxima. I waited for the bus, periodically brushing snow drifts off of my coat and scarf. It took a long time for the bus to come, in hindsight I might have taken this as a warning. Eventually, a 14 Trolleybus arrived, and I got on. Everything was good until we started up the hill. We made the turn, then were creeping, creeping, stopped. We stayed in place for a moment or two, then the doors opened and people began filing off the bus. I was really impressed with the Lithuanians in this instance because they didn’t complain or wait for an announcement from the bus driver, they just recognized that the bus wasn’t going anywhere and got off to start walking. When I got to the top of the hill, I looked down and it was chaos like only Lithuania in the snow could achieve. There were three empty buses crowding the streets, a sanding truck trying like hell to get next of them to sand the streets where they were stuck, and small cars and vans careening around past the unlucky ones trying to get to the top of the hill as quickly as possible. There was even a man standing in the trunk of one of the expensive German sports cars, ostensibly trying to give it enough traction so that they could join the masses of people trying to get up Basanavicius hill. It was fantastic (in the surreal sense).
I walked up to Rimi, bought my groceries, used their space bathroom (blue lights throughout. I think it might be related to germs, but I really have no idea), and was at the checkout when I saw a sight that I could have never imagined in a million years I would see in Lithuania. It was a tall, white (very white. Makes me look like I spend too much time in the sun), chiseled Eastern European man dressed up in full Native American regalia. He had a warrior patch. He had a bone necklace, fringed jacket, and bell-bottom trousers with chevron decorations. He was wearing cowboy boots. The only thing that differentiated this ensemble from the outfit of someone taking it too far down the cultural appropriation road in Idaho was that it was done in black leather instead of buckskin. I really wanted to ask him if I could take his picture, but he was Lithuanian Basketball tall, and that intimidates the hell out of me. It was nighttime, so I couldn’t even sneak a photo without the flash tipping him off. I will look for him again, and I swear, dear readers, I will not make you miss out on a picture the next time, because it was AMAZING.