I'm working with a company that teaches English on a 10 month contract. I'll be in Volgograd (which used to be Stalingrad) most of the time. Also, Moscow, but mostly Volgograd. The Moscow part, which is a CELTA crash course, comes first. So tomorrow I'm being all transatlantic and flying to Moscow.
Theoretically, since this will be the longest time I've spent living outside of Minnesota without visiting, the packing process should be the most intense packing experience of my life so far. (They say packing for anything longer than two weeks is the same as packing for two weeks, but that's a complete lie.) It has been that intense, but oddly enough, it has also been one of the least stressful. So, in true fecknom fashion, I give you five things that didn't help the process, and five things that did.
- My penchant to take too many books. I bought a nook, which I love, thinking that this would help cut down on the number of printed wordy things that I'm taking. I think the percentage of my luggage that is books still hovers around 10%.
- My experience last Thursday. It should have been the beginning of the end of the packing, but I got far too distracted and lost about a day's worth of focus.
- Wanting to spend time with Amoeba. This is the first time I've had a partner to move away from, and I've been pretty conscious of how much time this process is taking, and that that's less time with her. Never did get to the Half-Price Books in Highland Park...
- My computer, which already had a faulty CD/DVD drive, surprised me when Firefox decided it was never going to open again.
- Gender norms in Russia. This has been occupying a large percentage of my thoughts for quite a while now. I'm not going to be surprised if I'm the only queer person at the intern training, and I know among Russians I'm going to have to be closeted. However, I'm facing ten months of living in a culture where gender norms are much, much more rigid. I was stressed about what clothes I could bring that I'd feel comfortable in that wouldn't alienate me from those around me. I'm worried about how the jewelry and shoes and purses and pretty accoutrements of femininity will feel on my body. I'm also worried that I'm going to pull back too far into the safe space I'm creating for myself (with all them books) and not fully enjoy the experience of living in Russia.
Now to the fun list. Things that have made this packing experience awesome. The last few weeks have been so much fun, I added five more things.
- I started packing and thinking about packing about six weeks ago. I wanted to be fully packed a month out. Which meant I was mostly packed three weeks out, and only have had to think about details for the last two weeks.
- There is an epic list involved in the process that was #1.
- I invested in a luggage scale, which has put my mind to rest about overweight baggage fees.
- Learning that there's a high likelihood that I'll be taking a train (with compartments!) from Moscow to Volgograd. Which means after I land in Moscow, my luggage can get heavier, as long as everything still fits.
- Purchasing the Batmac from Amoeba. (Backstory: she illustrated a children's book that she wrote, and decided it wasn't really feasible on a 13" screen and bought a desktop. Now she has an iPad, too, and doesn't need her laptop for portability reasons, either.) (Other backstory: there was an external hard drive named Robin, and a jump drive named the Batarang.) Computer problems: solved!
- Taking breaks by spending time with the fabulous people I met this year.
- Searching for children's books to bring. It's been a while since I've spent much time reading picture books to myself, and rediscovered many books I enjoyed as a small person.
- I read Dr. Seuss's 'Great Day for Up!' for the first time. It describes my life really well.
- Dancing around to songs from Glee!
- Zines. I bought many zines today, and plan to steep myself in queer stories while in the company of my happenstance airport associates.