Monday, January 31, 2011

Better than Cosmo

Microsoft Word has a series of "Checklist" templates available. My husband stumbled across this and sent me this checklist for determining your perfect cat breed:

I wonder if he knows I used the same checklist when deciding to keep him?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I live in Moscow. My husband just used this airport a few months back. Fortunately, neither of us were there yesterday, and no one we know was involved. Given our proximity, it was not surprising to see concerned emails from friends and families making sure we were OK. What was surprising was my mom's response after she found out we were alright:

Mom wrote: "Glad you were not at the airport. Very sad 31 people died.. and 140 injured. Bright side for you is that now it will be easier to get a cab with 171 people out of the way..."

I am just glad she doesn't worry.

Nudity with Coworkers...Not Just for Strippers Anymore

So I did it. I experienced non-sexualized nudity. It really wasn't that big of a deal. It would have been more awkward to have been the only person with clothes on. No one cared. It really was like just wearing a different outfit than I normally do.

We went to this Banya: and it was one of the more authentic experiences I have had. It was a segregated experience. Women on one side, and men on the other. (Not sure how ok I would have been with it otherwise). No one cared you were naked or that they were naked. From the time you walk in, everyone is more concerned about doing their own thing. And really who cares if anyone did look? It was inspiring to see the women of every shape shed their clothes and be completely ok with the vulnerability of public nudity.

So we walked in, changed into...nothing, and then took showers, went into the steam room (that was unbearably hot), covered ourselves in coffee grounds, back to the steam room (still unbearably hot), dropped into an ice pool,  back to the steam room (you guessed it), I got beat with birch branches, got out, covered ourselves in honey, popped into the dry sauna to let said honey melt, and then on to the final shower.

Now to continue with the honest experience, I am going to write that I got a question answered (no idea why I was wondering about this). Russian women (at least the 50 or so that I saw at the Banya), do not groom the down there regions. (!?) For as polished and put together they are in public, this really surprised me (and yes I looked, come on, it can be honest and authentic, but you are still going to LOOK. Not to go in to too much personal detail here, but this is not a belief I subscribe to, and consequently, an old lady grabbed my junk, pointed, and wanted to discuss the state it was in (this is not a service I paid for, and I since I do not speak Russian, this is only my guess based on her pantomime and tone).

Well, it doesn't get any more non-sexualized than that.

Friday, January 21, 2011

It's No Accident They're Called Private Parts

Living in Russia may be stripping me of my repressed American sensitivities. Maybe it isn't Russia. Maybe it is the people I am surrounded with, the constant cloud of Non-Americans. I am not even sure if I am being stripped of these sensitivities as much as I want to be stripped of them. Or do I just think I should be?

I am not modest by American standards. Certainly not by the standards of the Catholic school I attended for 13 years. I've worked in an anything-goes liberal environment for the 6 years prior to moving overseas. I have talked a bawdy talk, but I am not sure if I can walk a bawdy walk. Especially when it isn't considered vulgar.

Non-sexualized nudity. These Europeans love it. They don't love it actually. They don't think about it. Nudity is just another outfit. It isn't noticed or discussed. In America, however, is there such a thing? Does anyone not suppress a giggle even looking at nude art? In a country where the women dress less than modest, why are we so nervous to take off what little clothes we are left wearing? Do we value sexuality so much that we are we trying to preserve it in our nudity?

How does one invitation evoke this much debate in me? I was invited to participate in a real Russian staple. The Russian Banya. This is a widely practiced and enjoyed Russian event. That is not really an event, it is more likely the Russian equivalent of  "hey do you want to go get pedicures together after work?". Except I never had to get naked for a pedicure and I haven't been naked in front of anyone in a non-sexual way since I was a child. I am an American, we don't do that. We are free....but not THAT free, right?