Sold Out of the Service

Have you ever heard the Polish national anthem? No? Me neither; it doesn’t tend to come up in casual conversation for me. Alexander, however, is a man of culture and brought it up today (amongst many, many other topics). One of the lines is “Poland has not perished yet”, something he found particularly morbid yet entertaining. He compared it to the view of Russian optimism quoted yesterday, and as someone who loves Poland I thought it was too good to pass on this fun fact. Moving forward.

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Following lunch today was a soviet movie ‘night’ with our Russian buddies, aka a cinematic afternoon in our classroom with some sweet snacks. We watched a 2009 film titled Стиляги (Stilyagi, or Hipsters), which was a strong commentary on conformist lifestyles of the Soviet Era and the way that the hipster and ‘average’ lifestyles conflicted at the state level. Would recommend watching, even if you lack any interest/background in Russia, the USSR, or hipsters. The movie was actually a musical with a bangin’ soundtrack, so I’m sure you can pick out something you’d like and just watch it.

Below are some of our snacks, including cabbage piroshki, sweet cookie things and a bundle of drinks. Also pictured is Kate, lovely Kate, who refused to move her legs for quite a while and instead draped herself across my lap. What a bonding experience.

Once classes finished we headed to the hostel, where our floor had no electricity. Luckily for us we were headed back to the Church on Spilled Blood, only this time we intended to go in it. And some of us did make it; 2 of 5 total, specifically. We sauntered through the snowy park to get there by 5:30, which is when they stopped admitting people. When I finally found my cash Agnes had already paid, so the two of us got our tickets and were set. Until we weren’t, because the ticket booth woman just shut down for anyone behind us, which were Lyric and Marisa and Julia. I thought alright, they’re just consolidating lines for efficiency and whatever – NO. They consolidated the lines slightly but 30 seconds later the second booth shut down, this time separating an even bigger group than our 5-man band. It was really strange, and I felt bad, but Agnes and I ended up just going in because it was a great experience and super beautiful inside.

A fun fact about timing in there; the church closes at 6. Getting there at 5:30 meant we had a half hour tops, which is something I was prepared for. I wanted to get in, get some icons, admire the church and leave. But alas, the church with no services (which is what literally everyone told us) had one today and Agnes and I were in deep, there for the long run. A run which ended up being another 2 hours – people literally were concerned that we may have been kidnapped or assaulted or something. Have no fear, readers – I’m obviously alive and well posting this, and the apartment since it’s my mothers, It was just a looong time of being holy and all.

I have a lot to say about Orthodox vs Catholic traditions, but again the sleepiness hits and I’ll just update this tomorrow. Enjoy pics.

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When at long last we were free of the service, the gate to the park we came through was close. Instead of a leisurely, quiet stroll we went down some of the busier streets to get near Nevsky Prospekt. Before that we found Art’s Square, where you can pose with a statue of Pushkin. To-do list status – another one bites the dust.

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Dinner tonight was some more pasta, this time with broccoli, mushrooms and tomatoes. I would like it noted that I started the water boiling and finely buttered many slices of toast, despite not being much of an overall help in the kitchen. My best contribution is probably some of these group dance-y photos, so browse ’em and see what you think.

Here’s Lydia creeping on Kathryn late at night. It’s honestly a common sight in the room by now but their relationship still cracks me up, so I stole a picture of them at their finest. Ahhh, I’ll miss Russian hostel life.

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