Bear t-shirt - Josh's, from one of his many trips to Russia
Jeans - Levi's (style 535)
Leopard print flats - gift from my grandmother (old)
Bowler hat - Charling Charlie
Gradient cat eye glasses - ebay
Red watch - gift from my in-laws
Gold watch - inherited from Mom
Matryoshka ring - ModCloth
Lipstick - MAC Russian Red
If you ask anyone who's traveled outside the country, chances are they have at least one funny story to tell you about their adaptation to a different culture. Mine occurred on a 6-hour train ride to Bryansk, Russia. As a blossoming 19-year-old, newly-wed young woman who had never even seen the continental USA past its southeast region, I was definitely a fish out of water.
Shortly after the train departed, I had the urge that all human beings get at one time or another. My body had been taking a few days to adjust from processed and preservative-filled foods to the fresh, organic foods that our dear friends had been feeding us in their lovely Moscow apartment. Yep. I got the I-need-a-bathroom-pronto urge in wildly large doses in the confines of a Russian, cross-country train. Before I was shown the bathroom, my mother-in-law, Jeanne, shoved as many packs of Clorox wipes and Charmin To-Go toilet paper as I could carry in my arms.
I walked inside what was the most industrial-looking bathroom I'd ever seen, and I examined what was the oddest-looking toilet I'd ever seen. I'm pretty sure that at that point, I turned around to make sure there were no cameras and crew, because I honestly felt like I was in a horror film. Everything in the bathroom was metal -- toilet, walls, sink -- everything. The toilet seat had a large group of protruding, metal, spherical things (sorry, that's the only way I know to describe it) on either side of the toilet seat. Here's my first thought about the toilet seat: "Huh. I guess those round things massage your legs while you sit and do your biz." No joke, and I just don't know why in the world I thought that. Silly American girl.
I proceeded to wipe down the seat with the Clorox wipes while doing my very best not to "go" in my pants, because, darn it, I was going to clean that seat as my mother-in-law had instructed me. Once that task was completed, I threw away the wipes and hurriedly sat down on the cold, metal, massaging toilet seat. Hurriedly, however, was not the way to sit down on that thing. Having been freshly wiped with Clorox wipes, the metal toilet was then very slippery. Add in the rocky motion of the train, and well...you can only imagine what kind of recipe those ingredients produced. There I was, with my pants around my ankles, frantically and desperately trying to find a way to keep myself on the seat and not end up in the floor like a professional drunkard. I'd spent too many years on the balance beam to allow that hot mess. As my dignity flew freely out the window, I regained my balance (thank you, metal walls) and released the breath I'd sucked in when I'd sat down and slipped. I held on to the walls while I did what all living things do and cringed in fright every time we'd hit a bump (which was often).
Once I was done, I happily redressed my bottom half and turned to flush the toilet. Now...where was the handle? My heart jumped into my throat when I couldn't find it after searching all over that contraption. What, does your stuff just magically disappear when you leave the bathroom?! I walked out of the bathroom cautiously and quite panicked, because I didn't want anyone going in there after me thinking I was a disgusting human being who chose not to flush their mess. Thankfully, I ran into Jeanne, who was coming to the bathroom. The living, breathing angel that is my mother-in-law, flushed the toilet for me, which happened by stepping on a -- yep, you guessed it -- metal foot pedal at the base of the toilet. It was camouflaged, guys. I couldn't see it. Don't judge me.
Once we all returned to our bunk, I told the whole story which received wild laughter that leaves one struggling for air from Jeanne, Josh and our friend, Jason, all who have either visited and/or lived in Russia prior to this particular trip. Bless them for putting up with me.
Oh, and those metal round things? Yeah, I had somehow missed the actual toilet seat that was lifted and held to the wall with a hook. I had cleaned and was sitting on the rim. At least there were no bears in that bathroom. That would've taken things to an entirely different level.