I’ve just finished my Catherine the Great book, and spent about 45 minutes looking at maps. I was angry at Russian maps for a lot of years. My final class to complete my minor in Russian was a course called Soviet and Eastern European Studies. One of the things we had to do was memorize the geography and be able to create a map of the USSR. A week before the exam, all hell broke loose in the USSR and it seemed like every other day, another republic had broken apart and declared independence, changing a) its name, and b) the shape of the map. I quit trying, frankly. I figured I’d wait it out, until the country decided what it looked like, then I’d bother with it. By the time things settled down, my class had ended and I was waist deep in Classics. Who cared?
Also, that class was the realization of a stress nightmare. You know the dream you have where you have a final and you forget about it, or you show up to your class on the wrong day? Yeah. I did that. I had a final presentation that was 50% of my final grade (the economy of Russian Georgia, about which I had also thrown up my hands) and I completely missed my slot. Since I never bothered to go to class unless I had something due, I wasn’t aware that my presentation date had changed. I showed up on the date I thought I was slated to present, and found the classroom empty.
After running around like a headless chicken trying to find my class, I discovered that the class had moved entirely–2 weeks prior. Nightmare.
Long story short, the professor knew me pretty well, having had me for four other classes, and he allowed me to present later. I was crap, and have done my best to block out the looks of disbelief on the faces of my classmates as I bs’d my way through. Ended up with a C for the semester, and could only muster up relief at not having failed.
All that said, I haven’t looked at a map of Russia since, fearing hyperventilation and hives. CtheG sufficiently reignited my interest, and I enjoyed reacquainting myself with the past and present geography of that massive nation.
Funnily, the woman who did my spa treatment yesterday was telling me about her Russian grandmother, whose family came from the Ural mountains. She couldn’t remember the name, but as soon as she told me there was coal mining, I piped up with it. Then, I probably bored her to death talking about serfs and the Pugachev Rebellion. At least, she seemed much more at ease when I changed the subject back to perfumes, and how bad Youth Dew smelled.
Youth Dew smells really bad.