Monday, December 27, 2010

Meet Marina

Okay, so everyone, this is Marina.  She is basically Camilla in a Croatian's body.  It is freaky how similar they are with the way they think, the way they act, their humor.  Not only are their personalities identical but their birthdays are only two days apart.  It scares me.  
So needless to say, Marina and I have become very fast and close friends.  I guess the Gods knew this was going to be a tough year, so they sent the only thing that would ensure me coming out of this alive....that being Camilla (is someone else's body).
At least two times a day we frequent the local pub.  First visit usually resulting in about 3 hours worth of latte's and the second, more often then not, results in us closing the place down with a Panna Bianca pizza shared over a couple (dozen) Long Islands and Stellas.  
We have self proclaimed our status as regulars considering we sit at the same table every time (third booth on the left), our latte's and other beverages are ready before we even arrive, the staff changes the channels to either MTV or a volleyball match when we sit down, and they refer to us by our first, middle, and last names.
Yes, I feel special.
But thanks to Marina/Camilla (Marilla/'s like there is some sort of avatar thing going on), I am making it through my first year of living in Russia.

There's No Place Like Moscow

I'm not joking when I say I have no idea where I am.  I got on a train and 14 hours later got off in some little town that isn't quite sure if it's still in colonial times or in the middle of the projects in Compton.  I think they refer to this part of Russia as Rossosh?
We have no running water, our meals consist mostly of bones, each room is decorated with it's own flare ranging in style from my great grandmother's home to my unborn 3 year old daughter's princess room.  The doors like to jam shut leaving us locked outside for as little as 25 minutes and I am pleasantly rocked to sleep by the sound of rats scurrying around the room and chewing on whatever crumbs we left behind during snack time a few hours earlier.  
The only three things that have kept me sane is Wi-Fi.....yes miraculously there is Wi-Fi (at least they have their priorities straight picking internet over running water), drawing mustaches on my fingers and playing different roles whether it be Charlie Chaplin, Hitler, or just a girl with a mustache, and third, the thought of going somewhere for New Years.  
Well at least that was keeping me going until I found out all airports in Moscow are closed because for some reason we got rain and then hit hard by a cold front resulting in layers and layers of ice on the ground.  At least I won't have to walk to practice anymore.  I will just trade in my Ugg boots for some ice skates.  I'm so excited to get back to Moscow just for this reason.  I actually miss the place.

YAY! Isn't this fun?!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Very Merry Christmas?

My mental image of a white Christmas definitely did not look like this.

It's Christmas morning and I can't seem to figure out why my heart is not overwhelmed with joy.  It could be the fact that I woke up by myself and had a rush of memories of running down the stairs in the morning to a colorfully lit tree with mountains of lavishly wrapped gifts in a room warmed by a deep orange fire.  My family would be sitting on the sofa taking in the aroma of Christmas morning breakfast and the cinnamon spice candle on the table.
I can't help but laugh when I write this but today is unlike any Christmas I have every experienced.
Today I woke up and looked outside to the freezing cold, colorless, lifeless world everyone knows as......(take a guess).  I'm not kidding you, I opened my window in hopes of hearing some sort of Christmas music or children laughing but instead I got a huge breeze of icy air in my face which was shortly followed by a black crow landing on the frozen branch outside my window and peering at me while letting out his eery

I feel like I am in some horror film
or Ashton Kutcher is punking me.
Hopefully it's the latter because I could really use some American humor right now.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Thursday, December 2, 2010


I can't believe it's the best month of the year already!!  More importantly I can't believe 2010 is quickly coming to a close and 2011 is right around the corner.

Remember when we thought the world was going to blow up when the clock hit midnight to bring in 2000.

Yeah, we'll we are 11 years past that now and it feels like it has only been maybe 5.

To my friends, I am sorry I have been MIA lately.  I have been going through a pretty rough patch lately and I am so used to spilling my feelings all over my blog, and as much as spilling my guts about this on here would make me feel better, I don't think it is in my best interest.  I promise I will be back soon with some stories about life in Russia and hopefully a promising New Years resolution list.
But for now I am in desperate need of a nap in order to sleep off this nasty hangover.  Oh, to be 18 again and be able to wake up ready to run a marathon after a marathon of drinking the night before.  And by 18 I mean 21, the legal age of alcohol consumption.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Giving Thanks

Lately, I have had a lot of events and situations that have helped me open my eyes and view things in a whole new light.  It has allowed me the ability to question and observe from so many different angles.  I have been blessed with so many great friends and family that have not only supported me through all of my life's journeys but have also had the decency and courage to be honest with me.  I am thankful I have grown enough as a person to accept their criticism and be able to take it with an open mind.  

As much as I wish for that normal life and to be able to foresee my future, I am so thankful and grateful for the unpredictability and uniqueness of the life I get to live.  It is so fascinating and exciting not being able to see what places I will go and people I will meet and what kind of drastic changes will occur.  However scary this may be at times, I am so thankful to be part of a selected few who not only get to live through these adventures but I also get to open my heart up to whatever it is may be coming and experience life/mind/spirit changing events.  

I am thankful for who I am as a person and my desire to grow. I am thankful that I really do LOVE me for me.  This is one of the most valuable things I have recently learned.  It really doesn't matter who I surround myself with.  If I do not enjoy my own company and love and embrace who I am, I will never be happy.  I am thankful for this year of lessons and growth.  As I reflect on the year 2010 as it is quickly coming to an end, this was a year where I took leaps and bounds as a person and this makes me so excited.

I am thankful that I am content and really happy with where I am and I am ready for 2011 with an open mind and an open heart.

Happy Thanksgiving From Russia


Russia Threadz

And it's not even that cold yet in Moscow.

The Only Way To Be In Russia

I have been obsessed, consumed, infatuated, captivated, overpowered, plagued and dependent upon coffee.  Never once in my life have I been so in LOVE with something so silly.  It is my alarm clock, it is my afternoon snack, it is my bedtime ritual to drink my coffee.  It's like the only constant thing in my life that I can count on being just as warm, delicious, and blissful as the previous cup I had.  I can count on it to make me happy and give me energy.  I can count on it to make my home smell cozy and rich.  And I can count on myself drinking it in overwhelming amounts.
The way I curl my toes and clutch my cup in the mornings as I stare out my frosty window into the snowy world of Russia, makes me feel like I should be in some sort of Folgers commercial.

Yes, this may be incredibly unhealthy but considering I am in Europe, let's all just be happy that I have turned to coffee and not cigarettes.

Until then I will be happy with my instant coffee with milk and two sugars.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Trains, Planes, and Automobiles

Russia has been getting better and better as the days and weeks pass.  I think the amount of traveling we are doing, however unhealthy or mentally and emotionally draining it may be, really helps the time fly by.  This past week we flew four hours over to Omsk which is in Siberia.  We had an amazing hotel and we all got our own rooms.  For those of you who know Europe, know that showers are itty bitty.  Almost to the extent where I have trouble closing the door because someone of my size has hips that are much wider than most Europeans.  But to walk into my room in Omsk and see a shower that will allow me the luxury of being able to bend over to shave my legs made me tickled skinny.
I think I either need to shave or wash my new sweatpants
Our game against Omsk didn't really go as we wanted (we got killed) but we quickly forgot as we embarked on our next adventure to Chelyabinsk by a 14 hour train ride only to arrive at a hotel with maybe a one star rating (on a good day) and a bed that looks like it game from the story book Goldie Locks and the Three Bears.  I have been on many walks looking for some sort of an escape like a cafe or lounge to be able to spend most of my time in while we are here in Chelyabinsk but I have been incredibly unsuccessful and the -14 degree weather was fun at first but now I dread the thought of venturing out into that arctic cold with the reminder that I will spend the following 15 minutes trying to defrost my face.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

I'm sure everyone remembers their first trip to Disneyland.  It was the happiest place on earth at age 5 where you could spend the entire day with all of your cuddly best friends that you usually only shared your typical mornings with on the Disney Channel.  My favorite part of the whole experience was the colorful, character filled book that came with the sparkly pen used to get the autographs of Cinderella or Mickey Mouse.  The more autographs I got, the happier I was.

Now at 23 years of age, nothing has changed except for my character covered autograph book.  I think the big kid version is something we grownups call a passport.
When I find out I will be traveling to a new land, I am not excited (at first) about the history or what gorgeous architecture I might be able to see.  I am excited for my new stamp or visa that I get to put into my passport.  I think of what it might look like and what colors it could be.  I even try to imagine what picture will be on the stamp or if there will even be a picture at all.
Just to further help you imagine my love for my passport and the journey of filling up all it's spaces, I spent the two hour plane flight home from Krasnodar looking through my little book of travels, counting the number of spaces I had left to fill, how many places I had traveled to and in what amount of time.  I think I am officially qualified to be a passport nerd.

Friday, November 12, 2010

I can't even begin to explain my relationship with Camilla and how fortunate I have been to be able to have someone like her in my life.  There are no secrets, no boundaries, nothing that is left unsaid.  Even though we don't communicate as frequently as we had when I was still living in the United States, our conversations have maintained the quality, humor, life stories, and our deepest darkest secrets that they held for the past 5 years.  

I think my favorite conversations are those where we admit to each other what we struggle to admit to ourselves.  Those thoughts and feelings that bring shame or guilt that make you feel like your world will explode if these words actually rolled off your tongue and into the universe.  
We all have them.  
It could be as simple as wanting to steal a piece of candy from the local supermarket.  But nonetheless, we gain perspective, we let go of those things that haunt us.  Sometimes it's even occurrences from years before we met that we struggled to admit to ourselves.  But once they are out, it's like the cobwebs and skeletons in your closet slowly begin to fade and we sit back, indulge in our odd form of therapy, and watch our friendship continue to grow as more and more boundaries and walls are broken down.

Oh, how I appreciate and absolutely adore this fantastic friendship.  
It keeps me sane.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Sometimes I get nervous that I am passing up so many opportunities by frantically looking for pieces of home here in Russia.  Anything that will remind me of warm summer days, boat rides, family dinners, and sushi (potentially even this Russian pizza which was really tasty) is what I am so eager to find.
But I often wonder what kind of new memories I may be able to create here and every other new place I visit.  I can't help but to feel reluctant to completely indulge and consume myself in the culture, food, and lifestyle.  I guess part of me is just nervous to find something better than what I already love so much or something that may deter me from returning to where my life is or what has been comfortable/the norm for me for two decades.  Maybe I might discover a part of me that wants to travel these far off distant lands and not return home to my family and where I have created so many fond memories.  As stupid as it may sound on paper, it is a truly scary feeling.
I know there is a place inside me that may feel this way and I can sense it emerging.  I usually have no issue of going with the flow (as long as it is my flow) but I finally had my life mapped out.
This is a big deal!
It took a lot of time, stress, and pimples on my T-zone to decide what it was I wanted.
Being recently married, the thing I wanted to do the most was settle down with my husband, start a family, and create a home.  Traveling the world is not what I wanted but what if I look back in 10 years and read this post and feel a burning desire to punch myself in the face?  I look at this incredible opportunity and the chance to be part of the lucky few and to be given something so special, and what is it I want?
To be normal.
Maybe this new opportunity is a sign that the treasure wasn't on the map I had drawn out for myself.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Volley Or Die

Yes, I know this may get annoying but I will probably be including volleyball in most if not all of my posts.  I can see your frustration since I would probably hold the same feeling towards you if you constantly and incessantly continued to blabber on about your profession, but let's all just admit it.....My job is pretty dang cool....sometimes.
But to explain why I am currently feeling this overwhelming joy towards this sport called volleyball is because we won the tournament in Krasnodar AND I played well which makes this finale that much sweeter.  And since I like to bake my cake and eat it too, my leg only hurt a tiny itty bitty bit which is a huge leap in the right direction.
Wait! There is still some more exciting news!
My husband is currently in Poland (which is clearly not the exciting news) so I didn't get to rush home into his warm embrace.  However, I did come home to some white roses sitting on the kitchen table with a note that made me a little teary, wifi throughout my flat, and an unlocked iPhone that is now a fully functioning phone in Russia.

And the award goes to Matthew

How can life get any better at this point?

I will leave you with these pictures from my adventures in Krasnodar.
I'm not quite sure why they call it the Black Sea...looks pretty blue to me.
I don't think we're in Kansas anymore

Monday, November 8, 2010

So This Is What They Call Internet

I feel connected to the world again.  
We are currently in Krasnodar which is right on the black sea.  We have the most incredible view and I can't help but leave the door open constantly just to have that sweet smell of salty air sweep through my room.  It reminds me of home and gives me the warm fuzzies.  The air is warm but breezy.  The lands are covered with willows which sway with the wind and the sky is covered with what I remember to be stars.  I feel at peace being in such similar surroundings even though I am still thousands of miles from home.
I got to play in my first match last night against Kazan.  I played two sets since I have encountered a minor little set back with my pulled quad.  But to stay on a positive note, this is exactly what happened last year in Cyprus at the beginning of my season and it was a fantastic year.  
I'm hoping it's a sign.
But if it is, this is the beginning to a long but beautiful year.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


See all of these pretty pictures?  They were taken by my adorable husband on his journey to Russia and around Israel.
And you know what this means if I have all of his pictures?

Time for snuggling, stealing kisses, dinner dates, winter nights, home cooking, and holding hands.

I am such a happy kid right now.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Hope everyone has a scary and spooky Halloween!!
Be safe and eat candy.
And try not to fall absolutely in love with my niece Stella.
I just want to squeeze that little ball of wool.

Magic Really Does Exist

Yesterday I got to experience something I had never experienced before.
The first snow of the season.
I felt like I just so happened to wake up in some movie scene.

After rising from bed with a big stretch, I looked outside the window and saw a single white fluff delicately floating down from the sky.
I thought it was a feather.  My mind wandered off into how that single feather could have gotten there...

....probably fell off a bird while it was flying...
....maybe that bird was getting chased by a big, black, scary crow....
....maybe that crow pecked the feather off as it was chasing this innocent white dove....
....maybe the bird was flying away from a plane...
....maybe the bird got hit by the plane and the feathers went flying everywhere!....

Yes, this is actually how my mind works.

I continued to peer out the window as my mind was running in circles and slowly I began to see more soft, white fluffs coming down.

As I thought to myself,
"Clearly the bird was hit by the plane with this many feathers coming down"
I realized it was snow.
Being the Southern California girl that I am, clearly my first conclusion was not, "Oh! Snow!" regardless of all the tell tale signs of freezing temperatures, snow jackets, and lots of hot coco.
When my blonde moment finally lapsed and my brilliant Berkeley brain realized that it was actually snow, I couldn't resist jumping up and down on the bed and squealing like a little girl.
Then a massive lightbulb switched on
"You idiot, GO OUTSIDE!"
So on with my stockings, leggings, and snow pants. I bundled myself up to go experience something new.  With my camera in hand I ran as fast as I could down the 10 flights of stairs and went screaming out the front door.  
Unfortunately, I didn't get to go diving into mounds of snow and make snow angels.  Instead, I sat on a little bench.  I sat and reveled in this white soft powder that is snow.  With my face up at the sky, little soft kisses landed on my nose.
It was magic.

Welcome To Russian Cribs

I moved into my apartment yesterday, otherwise referred to as a flat in every country other than the USA, and I am so excited to be out of that hotel and into my own space.

So I want to take you on a little tour of mi casa but I warn you, I basically live in a vault and your eyes might start hurting after seeing the amount of yellow in my digs.  You might assume they would choose warmer colors like rich browns or deep reds to try to counteract the arctic weather outside but instead, this previous owner opted for a pale sunshine yellow.
But in a way, I guess it's good because maybe I can just do it all my way and shnaz this place up a bit.

Anyways, as we step off the elevator we come to this door.  It requires a single key that unlocks two locks.
Make a quick left and we come to the vault.  This door requires three keys to unlock seven locks.

Voila....My Russian Crib
Standing at the entrance, from left to right
My bedroom
The second bedroom
TV room with surround sound BOOOYAH!
From the entrance, turn left and take the hallway to the kitchen.  On the way, we will make two quick stops.
First stop on the left down the hallway- Shower room and laundry room
Second stop on the left is the toilet.  
Exciting stuff.  I know.
Last stop- Kitchen.
Notice there is no dishwasher.  Matt is going to love this :)
I would show you the inside of my fridge but there is literally NOTHING in it.

Back to the entrance so we can check out the themed decor.
Now for where the magic happens!
That's how they introduce the bedroom on Cribs right?
My cozy bedroom
The View!  Doesn't really compare to my old view in Newport but it's a great perch for people watching.
The second bedroom with a killer futon.  Anyone interested in coming to visit?
The TV room with surround sound.  The flat screen is being delivered today!  Highlight of the evening most likely.
Hope you enjoyed the tour.
Now get outta my house!