I must apologize for the lack of updates I have given you lately… the internet connection here has gotten progressively slower. So, if any of you have tried to reach me recently and gotten no response please attribute it to this poor connection (unless you’re Brooke Hickerson, whom I have no desire to attempt to communicate with anymore anyways). I have found that when it comes to helping someone else, Russians are not going to jump out of their seats… much less scooch over for you. Although, I must say, I am very impressed with their etiquette on busses because when you pay you just hand your money up to the person in front of you and they pass it up to the money taker… then if you need change the money taker exchanges your money and then passes back the change, the correct change always gets back to you some how! (sidetracking again… sorry!) Anyways, that means that I don’t think this internet thing will improve any time soon. Regardless, I will try to give you the updates of the last couple days.
We have our first game on Monday in Moscow, so this week we have been preparing! But this doesn’t mean we play or talk about tactics… instead we work on dribbling by zig-zagging through randomly placed obstacles and we do some strengthening exercises that improve our ability to use medieval torture devices by running down the field whilst swinging a heavy ball and chain (like the one that “The Trenchable” uses in Matilda) in circles. Although strange, I will be able to beat Rossiyanka player in a hand-to-hand combat come Monday (Rossiyanka is the team at the top of the Russian league right now). Bring it woman!!!!
This leads me to a bigger update I have for you… I have had two epiphanies about the Russian culture, which have helped me understand and make the most of my experiences so far.
The first is that they treat every ailment, sickness, injury, abnormal-cy, or symptom with heat. Obviously, they like saunas and they like to dress and especially train in layers… but, what made me understand the amount of importance they place on heat was recently when I was getting treatment for a hamstring issue that I have been battling for a few years now….
This same situation also brought me to the second epiphany of the Russian culture, which is that they are a very resourceful country. They have an innate ability to find uses for any archaic artifact by successfully applying the artifact in an unintended way that may or may not be beneficial. (As explained above in the running drill with the ball and chain)
Here was the situation…
As I said, I was getting treatment on my hamstring. As I laid down to get a massage the massage therapist picked up what looked like another medieval torture device. It looked like a lint-roller with rows and rows of dog collar spikes on the rolley part. My eyes opened wide and I think a large question mark and exclamation point appeared above my head because she looked at me and said “etta normal….”, which means “this is ok” as she rolled it across the palm of her hand. I just buried my face in my hands and prayed that I wasn’t going to fall victim to the same unknown fate that Anastasia did.
She spiked the entire back of my legs with this "deWice" (this is how they pronounce device) until my legs were thoroughly bothered and covered in red bumps. My interpreter told me later that the spikey deWice used to be a meat pulverizer but my coach found that it increased blood flow if you role it on your skin. I thought… Of course it does...what a great idea that is…!?!!
Then she put that down and got some massage oil. It smelled like that icey-hot gel, so I thought, ok, I am not the biggest fan of that stuff but that’s alright. Turns out they forgot the “icey” in the icey-hot because my leg instantly lit on fire. I am not kidding, I felt like the heat seeped right into the holes the spikey deWice had just made all over my leg. We had lunch right after I got this treatment… so the first day I got treatment I was pretty uncomfortable while eating… the second day the heat seemed more intense, I imagined there was a troll sitting under my chair roasting some mallows over his fire… but the third day it was so hot that after the massage was over I had to take a walk outside and cool off my leg. I was tempted to take my one leg out and walk with only one leg in a pant hole. I probably would have if the watchman sitting in his watch box wouldn’t have been staring down at me when I started to unbutton my pants. That made me nervous, so I problem solved by just sitting in the snow. Needless to say, I am doing all I can to stay away from the “non-icey-icey-hot”… its not working. Like I said, they like heat.
On a completely different topic, the Swedish girl (Ximel) and I were able to take a long walk into Voronezh on our most recent day off. We me-oggied (which is a verban dictionary term meaning “to meander”), (also for those of you who are not aware, myself and one of my closest most clever friends have started our own version of the “urban dictionary”. We call it the “verban dictionary” because it only includes fictional verbs with useless and ridiculous meanings) all around Voronezh, stopping to take a walk on the frozen Voronezh Sea, to look at one of the most beautiful Orthodox churches I have ever been in, and also to take pictures in front of the statue at the center of the city of Lenin. It was a bit longer of a walk than anticipated because we took a few wrong turns, but we figured there was no better way to get to know a city then to get lost in it! After a long three hours we finally got to our destination, the main shopping mall in Voronezh. Here we sat with some hot cocoa and rested our legs and tried to regain some energy for shopping. It never came, so we got on the bus and went home. But it was fun nonetheless.
Other than that, the days are flying by!! We leave for Moscow on Sunday and play on Monday… I hope to get another post up before then, but if not you all know why!