Saturday, September 25, 2010

Charlie Bear

Because I'm sick.

Because the bronchial infection may kill me at any moment.

Because I may go throw myself under a bus if it doesn't kill me, just so I can stop hacking, coughing, and generally wondering how much liquid can drain from a person's nose, eyes, throat, and chest before said person shrivels up like a prune.

I am going to reveal a deep, dark secret.

Are you ready?

Yes, that's right. I still sleep with a stuffed bear.

His name is Charlie.

He traveled to Australia as part of my carry-on luggage because I was afraid to check him. He's been covered in tears and snot and probably a little blood in his time. He used to let me dress him up like a girl (Sorry, Charlie.) He's survived the washing machine.

My mother once washed him and then hung him outside by his neck to dry. When I saw, I had a minor meltdown.

And he's never ever ever never ever never never never allowed to fall apart.



Thursday, September 23, 2010

Some Truths About Anxiety

I'm tired.

It seems to be my automatic response these days.

"How are you?"
"Fine. Tired."

It's simply the best answer I can give. I'm not getting a ton of sleep. I mean, I am here blogging when I have to be awake in five hours and fifty-four minutes.

But it's not just that.


Whenever I blog about my anxiety, I feel guilty. I shouldn't, because it's not as if I'm forcing anyone to sit down and read. I'm not even convinced that anyone really does. But there's something about putting my weaknesses down for the world to see that makes me feel like I shouldn't do it.

Unless I can make it funny. Like the fully-clothed shower I took during the Great Flea Wars of 2010. That was funny, and so I wrote about it.

I'm not feeling particularly funny right now, though. Mostly... just tired.


It's just been one of those weeks. My world got rocked a little when I found myself sitting in the middle of my Russian class - my FAVORITE class with my favorite professor - suddenly overcome with this feeling of dread. I knew what it was, of course. The dizziness, the nausea, the sudden onset rapid heartbeat. The overwhelming urge to get up and run screaming from the room combined with the fear that if I stood up, my knees wouldn't hold me. I know panic attacks. And I know how they work. They tend to come without warning. They're really very politically correct things... completely non-discriminate. Any time, any place, with or without some kind of trigger. They don't care. Despite knowing this, I think I felt that Russian was some kind of safe zone.

After all, I usually spend the class period walking on clouds.

And I ALWAYS pay attention to Dr Garza. Just ask any of my friends, who tease me relentlessly over my knowledge-crush.

But honestly, I couldn't tell you the first thing about what he said on Tuesday afternoon. Frustrating not only because we are now doing prepositional plural possessive pronouns (say that five times fast) and the work is getting increasingly difficult, but also because I've lost that feeling of "nothing can go wrong here."

And for the life of me, I can't figure out why.

And I know that there is no why.

And that drives me a little crazy.


I want to go to Moscow next summer. The program is amazing. Five and a half weeks of being taught Russian in Moscow. Exploring the city. Experiencing the culture.

Staying in a dorm. With a roommate. Eating strange food. Experiencing a communication barrier on a massive scale.

It's a little terrifying too, on a personal level and on an anxiety disorder level.

I started thinking about things that could happen. What if it's dirty? What about the fact that I hate to shake hands? Isn't that a big deal in Moscow? What if there are no academic accommodations and I fail all of my courses because I have to use Scantron sheets to take the exams and I can't do them fast enough? Do they even know what OCD is? Do I know how to explain it do them? What if I have a bad panic attack and end up in a Russian hospital because someone assumes that I'm in need of medical attention and I don't know how to explain to them that I'll be fine?

Something tells me that would not me an all together pleasant experience.

Don't know why I think that.

Really. Can't IMAGINE why.

Of course, I could just be obsessing. I am prone to worry.


So I e-mailed my professor to ask about mental health in Russia. It was a legitimate thing to do. Crazy as some of my what-if scenarios are, I do need to have some general idea of what to expect. It's just good sense to plan for the contingencies.

Not that they'd keep me from going either way, mind you. That's not what I'm about. But I do like to be prepared.

It helps me know how much Xanax to pack.

So I sent this e-mail.

And I haven't gotten a response.

I know there is a legitimate reason for this. Paper grading, hundreds of other e-mails, being generally busy with life. The season premier of Glee, which my professor apparently watches.

I don't. But that's another blog topic.

Point is, I know that it's irrational to want a response immediately.

But I kind of do.

Because while I'm waiting, I find myself feeling guilty - because I talked about my mental health issues. And then feeling terribly afraid that perhaps I shouldn't have said anything. And then wondering if maybe I'm being judged. And wondering if what I wrote will make my professor like me less. (God, needy much? It's not just him though - it's any time I write about anxiety. In fact, I'm sure I'll feel all of these things as soon as I post this thread.)

And then I think, if he doesn't respond, I'll lose a little respect for him. And that would be sad.

And then I think that I'm an idiot for even worrying about this, because, for God's sake, it's not as if I've written to reveal I'm secretly a serial killer and would like to know if he could recommend some new victims.

It's a vicious, irrational cycle.

But I'm still checking my e-mail inbox every twenty minutes.


Whenever I admit that I feel guilty about talking about anxiety, I also immediately feel hypocritical. I am, after all, the poster child for being "out" about anxiety disorders.

Admittedly, that's a lot easier when you're not in the middle of it.

I'm having some issues with washing right now. My hands aren't bad yet, but they're starting to show a little wear and tear. I caught myself hiding them earlier today, right after washing, because they were red.

Then I felt guilty and hypocritical.

I'm coming to realize that for me, being out doesn't mean that I'm not still just as insecure as the next person.

I still worry about what people will think. Sometimes, I'm still embarrassed. Sometimes, I just don't don't want to talk about it.

I'm simply not ashamed of it anymore. And sometimes, I look at all the things I've accomplished in spite of it, and I actually feel pretty darn good about myself.


Tonight in the improv class that I was signed up to take, I had to pull aside our instructor and tell him that I couldn't deal with everybody trying to touch me. All the high-five-y, huggy, touchy-feely, playing games that required me to be boxed in on all sides by people in a very small room.

I hate being boxed in.

He dealt with it. The class became immediately less terrifying.

But it was still kind of awkward and uncomfortable. It was still improv. Just not improv in which I felt the urge to run out screaming and wash my hands.


I do a ton of work for OCD. I facilitate the local group. I'm working on a campus group. I sit as the Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Texas IOCDF affiliate.

Sometimes I feel like my whole life is OCD. And that's BEFORE I remember that I actually have the disorder.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to not spend all of my spare time immersing myself in the disorder that I'm told I'll have for the rest of my life. Sometimes I think that all of the work I do is just a way to make myself feel better about being stuck with OCD.

Most of the time though, I'm pretty excited about everything we're doing. I'm proud. I can't wait to see where we're going and really, I love the work. It's something that I'm good at. It's something that I'm supposed to be doing.

But when my own OCD flares, and I start having weeks like this one, I feel a bit tired.


It's really just one of those weeks. Don't get me wrong. Soon I'll be posting about all the progress we're making at OCD TEXAS. I'll write to talk about our big meeting. I'll write to say that I never feel more competent than after I've facilitated a group meeting.

Tonight, though, that's not where I am.

Tonight, I'm tired. And anxious. And tired of being anxious. And tired of being tired. 


I desperately need to go to bed. But the guilt of writing about this is already setting in.

Of course, I only have seven readers. *grin* And most of you already know me.

Ultimately though, as I was reminded of in a post over at Twinsanity, I have to write what speaks to me. So love it or leave it, this is what I've got.

Tomorrow, we'll tackle foreign aid policy and my views on the environment.

Or, you know. I'll go back to being more or less entertaining. After all, with prepositional possessive plural pronouns, who knows what embarrassing language blunders I'll make this week!


** Photos done by Kelly at Dances With Chaos. Ain't she swell?

Monday, September 20, 2010

She Can't Be One

She can't be one. 

My niece. My little Munchkin. The little banshee. My little Mariposa - my little butterfly girl. Miniature creator of Chaos, the girl who cries if you sing off-key. The one who shares my birthday number.

The one whose ultrasound picture I plastered in my cubicle wall. The one who caused me to sprain my ankle leaping off a short wall when I found out she was a girl.

The one who hid so well that she originally produced a negative pregnancy test in her mother.

The one who caused me to carry around pictures of a pregnant Kelly, as I tried to explain to my professors in my very first semester of college that I might have to rush out at any time, because it was my job to watch the then-two-year-old when Kelly went into labor.

The one who sometimes makes me want to fill my ears with cotton balls and then wrap duct tape around them. The one who frustrates, infuriates, and melts me... sometimes all at once.

That one.

She can't possibly be one year old. 

Even though all of the pictures say she is. Even though she's wearing that hat.

Even though there was cake. Lots and lots of cake.

She was certainly more excited about being covered in cake than her brother was when he turned one. The Monkey Boy was horrified at the sight of his hands covered in chocolate that he couldn't get off.

I can relate.

This one wasn't quite so bothered. She lasted almost ten whole minutes before realizing that she was covered in sticky icing. Then she got annoyed.

But the sugar high kicked in not long after that and all was right with the world again. At least that's how it worked for me.

At least that's how it would have happened, if this had been real. 

But it can't have been real. because she can't be one. She's just a baby. I'm sure of it.

Just yesterday, she looked like this.

And her feet fit in my hand. And they were beautifully wrinkled, and they still smelled like baby.

And she fit on my chest like that.

Now she fits on my chest like this. But I don't believe it's true. Because she can't be one. Even though her birthday was six days ago. Even though her party was this weekend.

Even though there were presents.

Even though she fell in love with the stuffed Lady dog, looking at it like it was the thing that had always been missing from her life.

She can't be one. Because just yesterday, she was my little ghost at Halloween.

She stuck her tongue out at the camera and we wondered if she was really part Labrador.

She was just a little baby. Just yesterday. Really.

She can't be one. But she is. Sometime while I was off learning Russian and trying to save the world, trekking all over UT and generally doing big-people things, my little niece grew up a whole year.

And it breaks my heart, because she just isn't a baby anymore.

But it's exciting too, because the best is yet to come.

She won't stay little forever, but every day she turns a little more into a tiny person, and I can't wait to see who that person turns out to be.

All I can do is sit back and watch, and try to soak in as much of it as I can, because tomorrow she'll be ten, and the day after that, she'll be 16 and learning to drive and babysitting my children for me. 

Next week, she'll be getting married. I'll take pictures at her wedding and cry like a baby, because just yesterday, she'll have been one. That is, if Dave doesn't kill the boy before she marries him.

Then she'll have babies of her own, and I'll snuggle them against my chest and feel really old. That is, if Kelly is willing to share.

She's one, and my life flashes before my eyes, because in half a heart beat, she's changed from a baby into a toddler, and soon she'll be talking and singing and developing interests and thoughts of her own. Some day, tossing her into the air and blowing raspberries won't be enough to make her giggle. Some day, I won't be able to fix all of her problems by feeding her, changing her, and playing Simon and Garfunkel. Some day she'll be all grown up.

And I don't want it to come. But I can't wait.

Happy Birthday Munch! I'm exhausted too. And I love you.


For more birthday excitement, check out Dances With Chaos - where Kelly does her own Chaosy blogging.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


I had a seventeen hour day today. I left my house at seven this morning, and I got back into it at midnight. I have to be awake in five and a half hours. 

And yet I'm here.

Because I'm wired. Awake. Exhausted - but full of energy.

Don't you just hate that?

So my day today? It started in Social Work, then moved to Russian (I got 100 on my first exam!), then into Lit discussion, where we talked about Chinese philosophy. 

Just in case I haven't been clear about this, I'm not a huge fan of philosophy. Particularly this piece we read, which I believe was the ancient forerunner to modern-day double speak. This man would fare well in politics - he used a huge number of words to say that nobody knows anything.

For example:

"There is a beginning. There is not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is a not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is a being. There is a non-being. There is a not yet beginning to be nonbeing.There is a not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be a non-being. Suddenly there is a non-being." - From Chang Chou

Now, I realize that this is deep, ancient philosophy and all that. But honestly, when I'm reading it, it brings to mind another great text. One that we all know and love, written by an author who touched millions of lives.

I am, of course, talking about Dr. Seuss.

"When tweetle beetles fight, it’s called a tweetle beetle battle. And when they battle in a puddle, it’s a tweetle beetle puddle battle. And when tweetle beetles battle with paddles in a puddle, they call it a tweetle beetle puddle paddle battle. And when beetles battle beetles in a puddle paddle battle and the beetle battle puddle is a puddle in a bottle…They call this a tweetle beetle bottle puddle paddle battle muddle," - From Fox in Socks

And okay, granted, Dr. Seuss wasn't an ancient philosopher. But the two passages make about equal sense. And when it comes right down to it - I'll take the philosophy of Seuss. At least he comes with colorful pictures.

But, I digress. 

After Lit, I did not go to psych, because I was busy fielding four thousand e-mails for a meeting that I'm running in a month. We're doing bio in psych right now anyway. It's redundant. You KNOW how I feel about learning redundancy.

Then I went to Russian Practice where I was reminded once again of how difficult it is to understand a native speaker.

My neighbors were wonderful enough to take care of The Super Duper Cooper Pooper Puppy for me today, so I stayed on campus and spent more time answering e-mails. Then, at 7, I went to my first Improv class.

I'm not a huge fan of improv as an activity. It's fun to watch, but I'm more of a calculated risk taker than a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. This is great for things like paper writing and business deals, but it makes improv mostly awkward and uncomfortable.

But of course, I was told that I would be taking improv. So improv I will be taking. Perhaps it will get less awkward and uncomfortable over time. That, or I'm going to have to start drinking heavily before class.

They tried to convince me to stay and drink after class, but I turned them down. After all... I needed to come home. And sleep.

And yet, I'm awake. Rambling about Chinese philosophy and lamenting the fact that I'm not fluent in Russian after only three weeks of classes. 

Now - bed. If not sleep, I can lay awake and conjugate verbs. Or contemplate the beginning. Of the nonbeginning of the nonbeginning of the beginning of the beginning of the nonbeginning of the tweedle beetle puddle muddle battle.

That'll keep me busy for hours.


*Edited to add: Seems like the blogger spacing issues are back. I think I know why though. Stay tuned for more appropriately spaced posts.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

And My Aunt Lives in the Kitchen

Most of the time, my translations are solid. 

In two and a half weeks, we've really learned quite a lot of Russian. And most of the time... MOST of the time, I say what I mean to say. In fact, I'm even impressed with what I can say on occasion (She says, the night before her first exam).

Friday, I got a piece of homework back. As I looked over the red pen marks, I noticed an oddly placed ? in the middle of one of my paragraphs. It wasn't marked wrong. It was just a question mark. So I read the paragraph, and when I got to the part that was being questioned, it was all I could do not to burst out laughing in the middle of class.

"My mother works in a store," I wrote. "And my aunt Rena lives in the kitchen."

Now, there's a chance that it was a Freudian slip. It's not so far fetched to say that Renie lived in the kitchen. Lord knows she spent enough time in it.

But honestly? I'm pretty sure it wasn't what I meant to say.

And THIS, folks, is why I don't yet trust myself not to be insulting. After all, there are a lot more offensive things that my aunt Rena could have been doing in the kitchen, had I only had the right verbs for them.

Forgive me, Aunt Renie. Try to think of it as a compliment. Your cooking really made an impression on me.


We'll go with that.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Mumiy Troll (mis)Adventures

I make no promise to be coherent.

I'm running on two and a half hours of sleep. My feet hurt. My back hurts. I still have purple ink on my hands that will require some sort of magic-erasal later tonight. (Spell check tells me that erasal isn't a word. But I like it. So I'm going to use it.) I'm having a hard time forming coherent sentences in my mind, let alone in writing.

Even so, I have to blog.

Because last night, I found myself on 6th street, at midnight, crammed into a cinderblock warehouse with a bunch of drunk people, listening to Mumiy Troll.

No, I am NOT talking about a Halloween costume cross between a Mummy and a Troll. 

Yes, I, did spell it right.

Sort of. 

It's actually spelled Мумий Тролль, but you all get mad at me when I start typing in Cyrillic. That's right. Mumiy Troll is a (THE?) Russian rock band, and last night, I abandoned all my senses and went to see them.

I know what you're thinking. 

What's so special about that? You live in Austin. It's the live music capital of the world. Going to see a concert is no big deal.

And you might be right. For most people, going to see a concert is no big deal. There are certainly a lot of them downtown. But you're talking to me here, and you seem to be forgetting some important things.

1) I don't like crowds
2) I don't like drunk people
3) I don't tolerate sensory overstimulation well
4) I had NEVER been to 6th street at night
5) I have an 8 AM class on Thursdays
6) I don't like crowds

I know, I mentioned that one twice. But I really mean it.

So, knowing all of these things myself, when I first heard that Mumiy Troll was going to be in town, I kind of smiled and nodded and thought, well, I can catch em on the radio. If I had a Russian radio.

But the more I thought about it, the more I was able to rationalize going. I told myself things like,

1) It's only one night
2) You're a 20 year old college student, for God's sake, be NORMAL for a change
3) It'll be good Exposure-Response Prevention - lots of germs, no sinks!
4) How often does a Russian rock band that you know and love come to Austin?

The last one finally won it out. And I started to get excited. I planned my week around going to the concert. I told people about going and tried to convince them to come with me. I listened to as much Troll as possible, trying to pick up any Russian that might be useful to me.

And when last night came, I couldn't wait to go.

And then I panicked.

OHMIGOD! Where am I going to park? And how am I going to get there? And what if I don't know where I am? And what if the people on 6th street are all rapists and muggers and murders? And will I need cash? And what if I don't know anybody? And... and...

What the HECK do you wear to a Russian rock concert?

So I called my friend Eric. He's a great guy. Took a class on Vampires with me. And another one on Drama. And directed a play I was in. He knows me pretty well. So when I said all of these things to him, he laughed.


Suggested that maybe 6th street wasn't too terribly dangerous. And that I could always park and take a bus.

Did he want to come, I asked.


Of course not.

But he did promise to call the police should I go missing or be murdered. Great friend, that Eric is.

After hanging up with him, I did what any sane person does. I went to the next name on my phone list and hit send.

It happened to be Erica. And okay, I didn't randomly call her. I knew she might be helpful.

So I said OHMIGOD! Where am I going to park? And how am I going to get there? And what if I don't know where I am? And what if the people on 6th street are all rapists and muggers and murders? And will I need cash? And what if I don't know anybody? And... and...

What the HECK do you wear to a Russian rock concert?

Then she laughed, and said I haven't seen you all summer and this is why you call me?

Well, no, she didn't. But I was thinking that. Still, it isn't my fault. She went to Croatia this summer. And Croatia is close to Russia. Well, closer than Texas is. So obviously, she was the right person to call.

I asked her how to take the bus. 

I heard her roll her eyes. Don't ask me how, I just did. Kind of like I'm hearing you roll your eyes now. But it was a valid question. The last time I took a bus that wasn't on campus, I was in Australia, and I ended up lost in Adelaide. It was great.

Still, 6th street at midnight didn't seem like a good place to practice getting lost. So I asked. 

Smart people ask for directions, right?


Anyway, Erica rolled her eyes and laughed and wondered how on earth it was that I didn't know how to take a bus or find a bus route, then she got online and found me a bus route. And then she offered to ride down with me to make sure I knew where I was going.

I should mention here that Erica is a year and a half younger than I am, and way more City Savvy than I'll ever be. You just don't get City Savvy growing up in the hills of North Carolina.

You learn to make biscuits from scratch and how to fully appreciate banjo music. Both good things. Neither helpful for attending a Russian rock concert.

After Erica solved my bussing problems, we turned to my other issues. She assured me that they wouldn't kill me on 6th street. She told me that she didn't have a clue what appropriate Russian rock attire was, but that I could send her a picture. 

I told her I loved her and would be her best friend, then we hung up.

Then I called Kelly.


Uh... I don't know. Jeans and a T-shirt?

I grumbled and complained and bemoaned the idea that I was going out for the first time in a long time and my wardrobe options were t-shirts and jeans.

So I called my Mom.


Uh...comfortable shoes. And jeans. And a t-shirt.

But I want to wear the pink dress.

No, you don't. Wear jeans and a t-shirt.

Then I decided that I needed to make some fashion conscious friends. 

And I changed out of the pink dress.

And put on jeans. But not a t-shirt. I couldn't stoop that low. I may not be Carrie Bradshaw, but I do have some fashion standards. I opted for a belly-bearing black tank top.

Because I'm 20, and I can. And because when I'm 30, I won't be able to go around showing off my tummy at will. So if I don't do it now, when am I going to? 

Dressed and in the car on the way to campus, where I would park and then meet Erica to get on the bus, I called Kelly again.

Are you SURE they aren't going to kill me on 6th street? If they do kill me, you'll come get 'em right? 

I think at that point, she may have actually hoped they WOULD kill me, just so I'd shut up about it.

So, I got to campus. Parked in Dobie - the overnight parking garage. Met up with Erica, and promptly got on the bus. She handed me a piece of paper with the directions, and informed me that we would be getting off at 6th street. Which seemed logical enough.

We started talking. She told me about Croatia. I told her about the guy in Russian I have a crush on, and about how I couldn't find him on facebook.

The guy sitting next to us looked over and called me a stalker, and he and Erica exchanged some witty repartee. 

Does it make me a stalker to want to friend someone from my Russian class? I don't think so.

Then I looked up. 

The bus was driving under Cesar Chavez. And even with my limited knowledge of downtown Austin, something said to me, Bobbi, this is not right. And I pointed it out to Erica.

Shouldn't 6th street have been before CesChav? Isn't Cesar Chavez the equivalent of 1st street?

She said everything was fine. So we kept riding. And ten more minutes later, the bus stopped at a place that was CLEARLY not 6th street.

No. We found ourselves at the South Congress Metro Center. It was beautiful, with perfectly manicured grass, and vine covered trellises. And a full sixteen or so stops past 6th street.

So we read the signs, turned around, and hopped on the north-bound bus. And we decided that we'd blame the guy who made the stalker comment, because clearly, it was his fault. He distracted us.

We did eventually make it to the venue, Emo's.

I convinced Erica to come in with me for a little while. She might like Russian rock, after all.

And then, the first thing they did as we walked in the door, was coat the top of our hands in purple ink, signifying that we were under age.

And inside, my stomach twisted into 25 knots.

Ink. INK. On my hands. And I was downtown, with no hand sanitizer, no wipes, and no anxiety meds. And NO WAY was I going to that bathroom.

Then I told myself to deal with it, and we went in.

Sometimes, you just have to do that.

As it turned out, Erica did not like Russian rock, and as such, departed about half an hour after arrival. Which really, was okay. Because well, not everyone does like Russian rock music. 

And honestly? At that point?

I was really questioning my sanity.

It really is pretty much a cinderblock warehouse. With big speakers. And a lot of people. And what's worse, the sign on the door was very clear: No Re-Entry for Under 21. 

I was in, and I couldn't go back out again. And we still had two hours to go before Troll came on stage. First, we had to get through the two openers - Reba and Run Run Run.

Here is a sample of the things that went through my mind, as I stood there listening to these opening bands.

I don't know anyone here. I wonder if these people are going to kill me.
Good LORD it's loud.
I can't understand anything they're singing.
I wonder if the purple ink will ever come off my hands...
STOP thinking about the purple ink, you obsessive-compulsive nutcase! (I'm allowed to say these things to myself.)
I wish I could drink.
I wish I could go outside.
I wish the guy from Russian had shown up.
I wonder if my professors will be here?
Good LORD, it's loud. According to last semester's CSD chart, I'm doing permanent damage to my hearing every second I'm here.
Oh oh oh! I understood a word! Спасиба балшой! Thanks a lot! Wow.. maybe my Russian is getting better.
That girl looks like the girl from our Russian Language DVD.
Would it be weird to go to her and ask Вы Таня?
YES, that would be weird.
Good LORD, it's loud.
Wait... this band.. the second one... they're singing in English!
My feet hurt.
The drummer is really cute.
I wonder if I look as stupid as that guy, who is dancing and clearly drunk?
Why didn't I bring any hand sanitizer?
I need to pee.
But not here!
It'd be great to sit down.
Is Troll EVER coming out?
The Run, Run, Run drummer really is cute. He's totally losing himself in the music.
I'm going to be deaf tomorrow.
And sleepy.

Continue, et al. These thoughts more or less cycled in my mind for the next two hours. Don't get me wrong, I was having fun. But it's the kind of fun that you have when you, say... run three miles. It's fun you have to work at having.

Really though, I was surprised at how comfortable I was. Even after the drunk guy spilled beer down my front, I didn't freak out. I didn't panic at the close quarters. I occasionally even got lost in the music.

And then? When Troll came out?

I remembered why I was there.

Because folks, Mumiy Troll is freaking AWESOME. And I mean that in every way possible. They're freaks. They're awesome. They're awesome freaks. They're freakishly awesome. They're awesomely freakish.

And I love them.

The lead singer gets a look on his face that's a cross between Gene Wilder and Johnny Depp - the illegitimate child of Roald Dahl's writing and Tim Burton's movies. It's a look that says, "I'm crazy, I know it, and I like it." A come hither look that might scare small children.

Dr. Garza says he's a really nice guy who is also fluent in Chinese and English.

I'm not sure that any of these pictures truly capture his mood, but they were the best I could do under the circumstances. I had been afraid to take my real camera, and thus took my point and shoot. Which would have been find, had I realized that I had more than a 128mb memory card in it. That last one almost gets it.

But I think you'd have to have been there.

Either way, when Troll started playing, I suddenly understood exactly why I was there. It didn't matter that I didn't understand most of the words - though I understood more than I expected. It didn't matter that I was surrounded by people who were speaking in Russian, by a band singing in Russian, when really, my working Russian right now consists of, "Please, Excuse me, where is the bank/hotel/bathroom/store, thank-you very much," and "Hello, nice to meet you! Is this your purse, or is it mine? My mother is a veterinarian. Is this the bank/hotel/bathroom/store?"

I am, of course, exaggerating. I am amazed every day at how much we are covering in our intensive course. But for all intents and purposes, my ability to understand rapidly spoken native Russian is still only marginally better than my ability to understand Elfish. (Elfin?) (Elflishness?)

The POINT is, that it didn't matter. Because when they play, they go somewhere. That place musicians go. And as a musician, whenever I see that, I can't help but go along.

Before long, I found myself bouncing up and down with all of the Russians.

I did not, however, attempt to sing along.

I don't yet trust myself not to be insulting.

There is just something really amazing about going to a concert where you don't know what they're singing about. About immersing yourself in a foreign language. As a musician, I think it really enabled me to go with them... to appreciate the syllables, the vocal nuances, that would have been lost on me in English.

As a Russian student, it was just really cool to stand there and imagine myself in Moscow next year.

The band finished a bit before 1, and I headed out to attempt to get back home. With some text message guiding from Erica, I made it onto the bus and back to the parking garage. Thinking that I'd managed the hard part, I went to pay. But the machine wouldn't take my ten dollar bill. So I walked to the ATM to get another. But the ATM was broken. So I kicked and screamed.

Then called security and made them let me out.

Then I got a cheeseburger. 

It's nice that there's 24 hour food downtown. We just don't have that in North Austin.

I made it home by 3, then showered, and fell into bed for my two hours of sleep before having to get up and go to class this morning.

Exhausted? Yes. Coherent? Barely. But worth it?

Da. Ochen balshoy Da.