I'm a crier. There was a 10 year period of my life when I was too cool to cry, but now anything could set me off. A sad animal commercial, the frustration of not being able to open a pickle jar, or really happy news can spark the waters. It just so happens that this week was a particularly tough week in Moscow. As I was relaying some of the events of my day to Chase on the subway, I started to get a little emotional. I put my head on his shoulder and was sniffling my heart out when suddenly an elderly Russian woman came over and held out a super-size Twix bar. I politely declined her offer in garbled Russian and tears, but she just laid it on my bag and said, "So you never get sad." Of course, I immediately burst into tears again because I have the emotional control of a baby. It was just such a sweet gesture from a complete stranger. It's a perfect analogy for this city- just when you think that life's tough and you don't have anything figured out, someone bright spot comes along that reminds you of everything good. Russian people have struggled through hard times in the 90's, and it has made them skeptical and tough. Yes Russian people are also kind, welcoming, and willing to share what they have, no matter how big or little. That woman was my Moscow Angel that day.
Victoria Secret just opened its FIRST branch in Moscow, Russia this month. There has been a lot of anticipation, a lot of excitement, and a lot of bra pining, but the store is finally here. The store openend up in the Kievskaya shopping center, and in case you're trying to find it there are huge Victoria Secret advertisements strewn all over the mall. The store is two stories- massive, beautifully designed, and wonderfully set up. I would compare this location to the gigantic VS on 34th street in Manhattan.
I'm surprised that the company chose to open the store now, what with the economic climate. A lot of other international companies are considering pulling out or selling assets because of the state of the ruble.... The store seems to be doing well, though. The store was bustling and the check-out line was long. Women had armfuls of lingerie, night-gowns, and beauty items. Great, I thought, these already beauitful Russian women are going to look that much sexier. Then my jealous brain was overloaded by beautiful lingerie and the thought quickly faded.
Yesterday I finally saw my first Russian ballet. +3 Culture Points, yay! I don't remember the last time I went to see a ballet, period, so I was super excited when my friend presented me with two tickets to the Russian ballet for my birthday. I've heard only great things about Russia and ballet, and the show did not disappoint. The ballet companies here have incredible skill. The show we got to see was called Snow Princess. The actual story of the show was a little strange. There was a lot of switching of partners and scorned love. At one point the female dancers were waving around little, petite wreaths of flowers which the boys were trying to snatch away- a pretty obvious metaphor. At the end the snow princess melted. Sorry to spoil the plot, for anyone who was planning to go.
People have said before that Russians get really dressed up to go to the ballet or the theater. This was true- lots of fur coats for the women and fluffy dresses for the little girls. One young girl was putting on (not hiking up) her tights in the lobby, which was also a pretty characteristic "Russia" moment. We were at the Kremlin palace, not the Bolshoi Theater. It was a beautiful space- see picture below.
My dream of becoming a princess has become as real as it ever will. This week I got the message that I had been scouted for an audio-book project. Sweet, I thought. When I show up at the time and address given to me, I found out that the project was a movie, not a book. And I was casted to play three parts- the main princess and two younger children. The bulk of the recording time was spent on the princess's role, as hers was the main one. "Just use your natural voice, you're perfect" they said. I delivered my lines in the soundbooth while the movie played in front of me. In the recording studio, the animator, producer, and sound technician all gave me direction, sometimes simultaneously. When I did things well, I got six thumbs up from across the glass. Voice acting has got to be my favorite kind of acting job because you get to be someone else entirely. Putting on costumes and make-up is one thing. But to be eternalized as a cartoon princess in a Russian movie is my dream come true.
The writer of Not Home Syndrome can be seen wandering around Moscow, searching for pour-over coffee