It’s Sunday the 18th of March, sometime between 2 and 3am. I'm standing with Amy at the bar in Cherdak on Kuznetsky Most ordering Mojitos. We pay with a gold credit card that belongs to a none-too-shabby looking Swiss surgeon and return to the dance floor. This is the culmination of an enjoyable, and certainly memorable 8 or so hours of cake, champagne, karaoke and flowers in celebration of my 25th birthday. I should be pretty happy at this point. So why, half an hour later while we're waiting for the next round, when Amy removes my glasses and refuses to give them back because I 'look cuter without them' do I flip-out, snatch them back and storm out of the club into a gypsy cab and home?
Of course a certain amount of alcohol was behind that outburst, but thinking about it there was something not quite right about that situation. Maybe it was the superficial atmosphere in that bar, the small grey tube dress I was wearing that made me feel a little uncomfortable, my growing exasperation at my friends very well-meaning attempts to help me pull, or the fact that I had less than a week to find a new place to live before my landlady kicked me out. Or perhaps it was part of what my Russian friends keep referring to as Winter Depression.
I always assumed that seasonal affective disorder was something that caused problems in places where there is no daylight at all for a few months a year. I had images in my head of groups of chilly Scandinavians huddled around sunlight lamps trying to keep each other from jumping out of windows. Having reached the other side of my first Russian winter however, I realise that this is only one end of a much broader spectrum.
The problem here is not that the weather is unbearable. In fact I like snow, especially when it's deep enough that your friends can bury you in it up to your neck (waterproof clothing is a must if you want to try this at home), and you can see from my previous posts that I've developed a slight obsession with icicles. No, the problem is that five and a half months of freezing temperatures gets a bit annoying after a while. Come March it gets increasingly hard to convince yourself that spring will eventually arrive and you find yourself cross-checking weather forecasts in desperation.
A few weeks ago when it rained for the first time since I think November I was genuinely elated. I love rain anyway; it reminds me of dear old Blighty, but actual rain instead of half-arsed miserable sleet is a big deal, and is what made me realise that there might be something to this SAD theory. I'm not denying that this winter has been pretty stressful, I won't go into detail, though I'm sure that I've remarked on more than one occasion since the new year that I thought Russia was trying to break me.
That, I now realise, was a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe the winter just amplifies problems and makes them seem bigger than they really are. Now that the evenings are getting lighter and I can walk (yep, I said walk. no metro for me anymore) home from work without a coat to my new apartment and sleep with the windows open again I definitely feel more positive and ready to make the most of the summer and maybe I'll just go into hibernation next January.
Some things I have learnt recently
- A fair bit about Hip-hop (long story)
- The genitive case is still intent on ruining my life.
- Russian may be a difficult language, but it could be worse; You could be an amnesiac trying to learn Finnish (which has about 15 cases) like the guy in this book - New Finnish Grammar (It's a novel not a text book)
- Never let yourself get drawn into a political ‘debate’ when drunk. It will not end amicably.
- Getting your friends to bury you up to your neck in the snow will give you a cold. Even if you do wear waterproof clothing.
Oh and the title of this post is this lovely song by Garbage. It seems pretty appropriate.