Stuck, So.

So I bring poor Heloise in for a change of oil and to fix her radio–body work to follow when we have the money for the deductible–and am told they’ll have her ready by 5. It is now 8 am. Looks like the day of accomplishing things like picking up my dogs’ medicine, packages at the post office, and writing a short story is right out. Also, I haven’t slept since sometime yesterday. And there is no way to get anything to eat. This is what comes of having no local friends to pick one up. Can I get a hearty “god dammit”?

But it does give me time to fill you in on my New Year. Unsurprisingly, I went to Cleveland. I know! Wonders never cease! Sam had duty for the second year in a row, and funny thing about actually being in contact with humans is that it sort of lowers one’s tolerance for being left alone over and over. I just couldn’t bear to sit on my couch by myself and stare at the fuzzy picture on my one TV channel, especially as my New Years have gotten steadily more depressing as the post-collegiate years stream by. So I jumped in the car and drove and drove until I couldn’t drive no more, and spent the weekend with , , and ‘s Big Fat Russian Family, who were all lovely and tolerant of my clear barbarity. So there was a very late dinner at an aunt’s (I think) house, along with the usual “yay, I’m in Cleveland” festivities.

First of all, chicken jello. WTF, mate? Solid lump of fat and congealed bone with bits of meat suspended within. Mmm. Or not. I thought it was soup until   tipped the bowl at an unnatural angle and nothing came out. I’m a pretty open-minded girl when it comes to food–witness my living in Japan, where Eyeball is one of the food groups–but I had to decline. Now, if you combine Russian and American jello, you might have the world’s most evil food. All that thing needed to acheive sentience was some pineapple chunks and mini-marshmallows floating in it.

Second, Russian TV. I guess there is some kind of Russian channel on satellite TV, because ‘s entire family seems to get it. Needless to say, Russian pop entertainment is alarming, to say the least. The usual compliment of stupidly-attired girls bounced around the New Year special, introduced by a large, overly-surgeried blonde woman swathed in a pink muumuu, her hair teased to epic proportions. I wondered how old she was under the silicone. And then the camera panned down.

Look, with the incredible number of makeover shows currently on the air, there is no reason for a 58-year old woman–or a 28-year-old one, for that matter–to ever appear in public in a mini-skirted muumuu and silver go-go boots. I am informed, however, that this particular 58-year-old woman is the Russian Madonna, and everyone worships her. Appropriate, considering her name is…well, hopefully it’s spelled differently when not typed by an American girl who’s never heard of her, but her name is Allah. Which actually means she trumps Madonna for blasphemous names, and certainly for blasphemous clothes. She does, however, have a lovely voice, which is more than I can say for some blasphemers. Hat’s off to you, chica. You give hope to those who have none.

So, terrifying jello and strange women. Also, the world’s fattest yet sweetest dog, Roxy, who howled along with the Russian Spice Girls and the Russian Michael Jackson, as well as the world’s most timid, and skinniest dog, Oscar, who let me scratch his belly when I stumbled out some broken Russian for him. And there was champagne and caviar, so despite the jello, it was probably the classiest menu I’ve partaken of on New Year’s Eve. We also learned that after the Revolution, Lenin stole Christmas, just like the Grinch, and no Rus in Rusville got their Rus-pudding or their roast beast. Later, Stalin saved Christmas, just like a plucky, mustachioed elf. There’s a fabulous Christmas special in that somewhere.

And at midnight, there was no ball, and no Dick Clark, and no Shakira shaking her ass to a techno remix of Auld Lang Syne. There were these beautiful, still shots of the moonless night over the Kremlin and St. Basil’s and other landmarks I didn’t know. No music, no voiceover. A great clock chimed, and we drank our champagne after the twelfth stroke. At which point, the Soviet anthem played, which caused raised eyebrows from us young’uns. It was explained that all the references to the Communist regime had been taken out and replaced with the old God-and-Tsar stuff, as the Tsar is currently all the rage in the old country. As someone who was once violently obsessed with all thing Romanov, allow me to simply say: awesome.

The whole proceeding was so quiet and solemn and beautiful, so different than the madcap “fun” televised from Times Square every year. I was actually very moved.

And I got to spend New Year with two people who have, out of the blue, become a very important part of my life, which was unexpected, but wonderful, and something of a balm for all the holidays the Navy regularly grinches away from me.

The next day I drove all the way back, as   and   were off on a family trip to Wisconsin, and promptly collapsed in a heap on the leaf-strewn stoop of 2006.

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