So far, went I come to the office, I am either alone, or there is one more person there. People are asking me “how is the office,” and I am saying I like being back. It’s not like I less productive at home, but when I am coming to the office, it helps me to separate work and non-work, so that it won’t be one endless workday.
Also, when I am in the city, I can meet Igor for lunch, and I can walk the streets of Chicago, which I missed a lot during these months!
I was going to write a blog post about our travel to Poland in 1995, but when I started to look for the photos, I found two more, which I forgot to scan. One is from Vlad’s and Anna’s daycare from 1993 (it was taken at the same time as this picture). I hope everybody can recognize Anna and Vlad in the first row. A boy sitting between them, Dima Golyak, was from a “socially unstable family,” and I remember the teachers were constantly worrying about him. If I remember correctly, both teachers were Tanias. They were great with kids, kind, caring, and usually added a lot of common sense to rediculous rules. A girl in the red dress in the first row is a daughter of Tania, which is on the right 🙂
For the benefit of my older granddaughter, I am skipping right to the summer of 1995, so that I could show some pictures. The first two where taken in June 1995.
My friend Olga had a daughter Ania, who was just several months younger than Vlad and Anna. We lived in the same building and knew each other since our children were babies. When they grew a little bit older, we started to plan our adventures together. On that day, we took subway (Metro) to the city center to the Summer Gardens, the oldest park in Saint Petersburg
The next picture was taken later the same summer, when we were staying in the University boarding house. Here we are visiting the Peterhoff park with the fountains. We met Inna and her daughter Kira when staying in the boarding house a year earlier, and once again, now the kids were old enough to take longer trips.
My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.
Previously, I posted some pictures which Igor took in the city on the lockdown. Back then, people were saying that the empty city looks creepy. I think, it was even more so during these days of curfew, public transportation halted and bridges up.
Since I am writing my historical posts in random order, not following the chronological sequence of events, I didn’t write anything about Igor’s childhood. Not trying to squeeze in one paragraph all his first seven-year of life, I will mention here that when Vlad and Anna were born, he was about to turn six and was attending a kindergarten. I already mentioned that the Soviet and later Russian educational system was very different from the American. At Igor’s time, children would start school when they were seven or were going to turn seven in September (some exceptions were allowed). The school would go from the first to the tenth grade, and all educational establishments for children younger than seven were called Kindergartens. In the Soviet Union and during the early years of Russia, there was no private daycare, and all kindergartens were parts of the state educational system. Inside a kindergarten, groups for children under three were called “nursery groups,” three-year olds were attending “junior groups,” four-year-olds – “middle groups,” five-year-olds – ” senior groups,” and six-year-olds – “preparatory groups.” The latter would be an equivalent of the US kindergarten.
Igor had a vision disability, and inclusion was unheard of in the Soviet Union. Starting from the age of two, he attended a specialized kindergarten for children with visual disabilities. I had no choice there, and I was fortunate that one of those kindergartens was situated just seven minutes walk away from our home. We were even luckier that this kindergarten had two groups for children with severe vision disabilities, and when Igor was four, he started to attend one of those groups. That was a real blessing – since there was no inclusion nobody would address his specific needs otherwise. Next year, he had to start school. Once again, since there was no inclusion, he had to go to one of two boarding schools for children with visual disabilities. Luckily for us, that school was undergoing some repairs- remodeling, and the dorms were closed. That meant that for the time being, all students had to go home for the night.
I was telling about the University boarding house here, and for the next four summers, we would follow the same routine – staying there for two three-week sessions. It was all the same no hot water and tons of cockroaches situation, but since my living conditions in the city did not improve, it still worked great for me.
After I was fired from Urbansoft, I never had a stable source of income. The University paid close to nothing, and all the gigs were just gigs, but I was always ready for some extra work – more work meant more money. Thereby, even though I had four weeks of paid vacation in the University (and in any case attendance was optional), I had to take extra work whenever an opportunity would present itself.
The gigs tend to appear at a most inconvenient time, such as when I was about to go to the University boarding house, or when I just moved there. It would mean I have no time to relax, and that I have to craft a way to work without any equipment.
Fortunately for me, half a dozen teenage girls who stayed in the same boarding house loved Vlad and Anna and didn’t mind being a collective babysitter. Most of the gigs I had at that time involved technical writing. I had decent English, good enough to write User Guides, Helps, and How-to manuals. At one point, Boris was contracting for an Italian entrepreneur Dr. Conrad (I have no idea what kind of a Doctor he was). They were developing an HTML-editing tool called HighDoc, and I wrote all documentation for it.
There was a verbal-agreed pay for each portion of that work, and Dr. Conrad would bring payments in cash (in US dollars) when he came to Russia. He always tried to delay payments as long as possible, and I had these cinema-featured Italian arguments with him, yelling and pleading. And not just me, all people who worked for him did the same. The last project I did with him was so interesting that it requires a separate blog post. But now we were in summer 1994, and Vlad and Anna were two months shy of being three, and Igor was almost nine.
I still didn’t own a camera and didn’t take any pictures. Only when Boris came with his camera, we would get some. So all the pictures below show one day when we went for a long “hike” to the Old Peterhoff park.
I am not coming to Chicago anymore, and it will be a while until I will be able to come. I never took Chicago for granted, and used to be overjoyed each and single time I step out of the train station into the city…
I know it is safer to live in the suburbs these days. And I know that these days a city is not what it used to be. Igor took some pictures of Chicago on quarantine, and I am going to paste some of them below (and I have no idea how to make them bigger!)
On Friday, after I called my eye doctor, then next thought which occurred to me was thought about Igor’s moving to the new place. At the end of February, Igor received a note that the lease on his apartment id not going to be renewed. For historical accuracy, I have to mention that the level of hoarding was unacceptable by his landlord standards. We all had a couple of weeks of worries, mostly because we were wondering whether his current landlord will give him a bad reference. I offered to co-sign, and he secured one place in Rogers Park. A couple of days later, it turned out that another place approved him as well, but he already signed with this Rogers Park place.
I gave him a hard time about signing the new lease starting from March 15, because it meant paying for an extra two weeks. He was not ready to move on the 15th anyway, and Vlad told him he would help him to move on the 22nd.
I liked the article (and hopefully you will like it, too) but what is more interesting – somebody else enjoyed it as well!
Igor and his editor received an email from the Metrarail representative, who said:
Igor’s article about our fare issues was the most accurate and thorough job of any reporter who wrote about this. We appreciate Streetsblog spending the time and devoting the space to putting everything in context and explaining the pros and cons.