Sunday, July 11, 2010

Why I'm Sleeping on a Chair

This is a picture of my bedroom here in Vladimir, Russia. I know what you're thinking. That's not a bedroom, it's a living room, isn't it? Wait, is one of those chairs folded out to make a bed? Doesn't that feel oddly like sleeping in a very tight coffin so that in the middle of the night you wake up screaming because for a split second you think you've been put in a coffin?

The answer to all of those question is: yes. Yes, I am sleeping in someone's living room. Yes, that is a fold out arm chair. And yes it does feel like I'm sleeping in a coffin which I've now named Coffin-A-Go-Go (I started calling it Baby Coffin, but that's too morbid even for me).

So this is the story of how I learned that they even make fold out arm chairs:

A week or so ago my contact at the American House in Vladimir, Russia emailed me a questionnaire about what type of host mom I would like to have. The questions were pretty standard.

1. Did I have a smoking preference? Yes, I'd prefer a non smoker since smoking is vile.
2. Did I have any allergies? Mangoes (although they're hardly part of the standard Russian cuisine) and preservatives as in MSG (preservatif in Russian means condoms. Had to clarify because it would otherwise lead to an uncomfortable conversation about why Americans cook with condoms*).
3. Did I have any preferences as to what type of host mom I'd like? No, I'm pretty easy going on host moms. My last host mom in St. Petersburg was a prostitute. So long as she doesn't pimp me out, I'm pretty easy going about who I live with (My St. Petes host mom thankfully did not pimp me out, and even told one of her gentleman callers to leave me alone when he asked what the girl in the next room did. Infinitely grateful for that.)

A few days later my contact in Vladimir sent me an email saying she had the perfect host mom for me, but would I mind it if there was another American girl staying there too? I responded that no I didn't mind so long as we each had our own room. My contact wrote back that we'd each have our own room. No problem.

Do you see the mistake I made in my question?

Yeah, I asked if I'd have my own room. I didn't say bedroom. Oops.

So you can imagine my surprise as my host mom deposited me in the living room and showed me how to work Coffin-A-Go-Go. I was sleep deprived and I think I may have squawked a little bit. It seemed squawk worthy at the time. Once I had a shower, I realized there was pretty much nothing I could do about the situation at that time, so I'd have to give sleeping like the Crypt Keeper a shot for the time being.

To my surprise, Coffin-A-Go-Go is pretty comfortable considering that like a coffin it is made of a pine box, and a cushion (definitely no mattresses here). I can sleep pretty well on it if you discount the once a night crippling panic attack when I wake up staring at the side of the chair & think I've been buried alive. Plus, I've learned from my American roommate that our host mom was paralyzed last year, and still paying off massive medical bills from that time. So at least the money from hosting me is going to someone who really needs it. And as you can see from the picture, I pretty much have my own little forest going on by the window. That's kind of cool too.

Plus, this is one of my roommates.

He love sleeping on my computer, which is pretty much where I find him every day when I come home. He's one of her two cats, and they're both very sweet. This one has crazy eyes because he has glaucoma. When I sit across from him to do homework, I like to swing my pen in his face and let him try to catch it with his paws. I call it Kitty Physical Therapy since in my mind I'm helping him improve his eyesight, but really I just like poking the cat with my pen.

*This is also grounds for a really awesome joke to play on someone in Russia who is uptight and just learning Russian. Ask them to go to the store for you to buy jam. Tell them the word for jam is preservatif, like in preserves. Watch the hilarity.

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