Tag Archives: russia

march madness

i’ve been talking march up for months now. how good the month is going to be, how much i was looking forward to it…

well, march. you didn’t disappoint.

here are some highlights from my month of march.

  • i got to spend the first day of march hanging out with two of the coolest cats that kemin has to offer. jim, frank, and i went and toured around st. petersburg. we went to two cathedrals and had lunch at this really great indian restaurant. (it was also frank/my niece’s birthday!)


  • i got to return to italy. though it wasn’t as great as i had anticipated (i think the rose-colored glasses are coming off for the country for me), it was still an amazing time. and i got to see my favorite sad-eyed scientist, who looks just as good as ever.
  • made it home just in time (literally, just in time, i arrived in dsm at 4:30 on this day) for carl’s karaoke. i stayed up until around 1am in hopes it would cure my jetlag. yeah… that’s why i stayed up that late (anyone else buying this?)
  • my niece/goddaughter turned 5. i was out of the country for her actual birthday, but we had a party for her that weekend. she’s ridiculous, a handful, a whole lotta trouble… and i love her for it all.
  • bonus checks, what what? well, a small part of our bonus checks leftover from 2011, but i’m not going to complain about extra money. i just won’t.
  • double karaoke? how did a girl get so lucky? one of sarah’s coworkers was moving back to england, so they threw him a going away party at our local favorite, carl’s place.
  • speaking of moving away- my good friend meredith, member of the #PartyRockCrew, moved away to san diego. she got another job with the non-profit group invisible children and couldn’t turn it down. we had a great going away party for her too. …at carl’s.
  • evan. evan was great this month. i got back home to find the house clean (which is a feat in itself), new stairs to the basement, an automatic garage door opener installed for my mini, and lots of hugs and kisses. he then taught me how to drive a stick (hehe, if you know what i mean) and volunteered to play my favorite board game… which he got addicted to.
  • st patrick’s day. ’nuff said.

  • two words: MARCH MADNESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. i’m a tar heel born. i’m a tar heel bred. and when i die i’ll be a tar heel dead. rah rah carolina-lina–rah rah rah! and they definitely would’ve been in the finals if white hadn’t broken his wrist. i won’t fight you about it. it’s just a fact.
  • “draw something” app for the iphone. oh gawd. newest great find. i’ll have to make a  post in itself of funny photos sent through draw something.
  • The Hunger Games midnight premiere.
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russia: the bad and the ugly

have you heard?
there’s a rumor in st. petersburg….

(thank you, sarah, for getting that song stuck in my head on repeat)

oh, russia. let’s see what i remember about you.

this post might have to be broken into two segments: the arrival and the worst day of my life in the first post, the best and brightest in the next.

i got to the airport about two hours before my flight took off. the des moines airport got the new sexy machines, i mean, the hot naked, i mean, the tsa full body scanners so we were supposed to get there a little earlier than we normally would. i thought i’d be the first in my group to get there, but surprisingly i went to my gate and found dave and mark already sitting. jen joined us about 10 minutes after that and stephanie another 10 after her.

now tell me how this works out. all five of started in the same airport and were taking the amsterdam flight to st. petersburg, all arriving at 7:00pm. and yet i was the only one on my flight out of des moines. i was going dsm>msp>amsterdam and the others were doing dsm>memphis>amsterdam. not a big deal overall, but c’mon! i should’ve seen that as an indicator on how the trip was going to go.

i managed to sleep a decent amount on the minneapolis to amsterdam flight. i watched a movie, drank a bit of wine, and had some crappy airplane sleep. but by the time i got to amsterdam i was feeling pretty sickly. i had a headache, needed some real food in my stomach, and was not used to the new time. by the time i boarded for st. petersburg, i was miserable. add on top of that the fact that i get motion sickness fairly easily, and you can go ahead and say that the last flight was potentially the worst flight of my life. stephanie and i talked for about an hour and it helped take my mind off of things, but by the second hour my head was spinning and i was having trouble concentrating. when the plane landed and i stood up i was afraid i was going to black out. stephanie and mark both said i was getting paler and paler by the second and suggested once the people started moving to get out of the plane and they would grab my bags.

first off, i’m going to go ahead and fake that from now on to get people to carry my bags off of planes.

secondly, if i fake it i won’t have to make a beeline to the bathroom to throw up. so really, it’s a much better idea.

yep. what’s the first thing i did when i got to st. petersburg, russia? i threw up in the airport bathroom. awesome. top that.

but enough about that. we got to the hotel, got checked in, and i went to my room real quick to start feeling a bit more human. the plan was to have supper in the bar and then call it a night. i even made a pact with someone (who shall remain nameless) that we would not go out to the bars afterwards because we were tired, we were dehydrated, and it was simply not a good idea.

all our best laid plans, huh? 🙂

i stumbled back to my hotel around 1:30am. i know/can confirm it was this time because i skyped with tina when i got back and iMessaged jessica about my adventures. the night is a bit hazy, but these are the things i DO remember:

  • “Na zdorovje” means “to your health” in Russian. It is not normally used as a drinking cheers- but it has become more popular with tourists who know it’s very important to say something before you slam a shot. I just learned how to spell it a few minutes ago, but I could definitely pronounce it correctly (with lots and lots of practice). 😉
  • russian standard is the best vodka i’ve sampled- it is extremely smooth. too smooth. i was struck by a smooth criminal. i was not okay.
  • apparently i have very strong back muscles. i was told this after i was able to dip a 6’+ male without falling over.
  • there was a grey horse on the sidewalk and no one would believe me until the second to last night when mark confirmed that he saw it too, when he was escorting me back to the hotel. apparently i had wandered off with some russian women who “looked like they were going to have their way with me.” i’d like to think he meant that in the fun way and not that i was going to get Taken (with a capital T, Liam Neeson style)

so, i got back to the hotel, talked to some people and passed out.

i woke up at around 7:15am, very alarmed. where a nightstand once was, now sat a very large television set that was not there when i went to sleep. i was very concerned- was i in the correct room? yes. did someone bring a television to my room while i was out? was the television there before i went to bed? no. did someone deliver me a television while i was sleeping? that is extremely creepy. i would’ve thought i’d wake up to that. it’s kind of the opposite of robbing someone.

i thought about going back to sleep and probably would have, except my body was now paying me back for what i put it through the night before. i won’t go into too much detail, but let’s just say it was the worst i have ever been. i couldn’t keep anything down- after 6+ hours of continuous puking, i was afraid i was going to die of dehydration. around 3:00pm i finally started feeling a bit better and ate some of my room service sprite and crackers (i think i scared the poor bus boy who didn’t speak english and had to decipher my grunts of where to set the tray). i fell asleep immediately after and woke up again around 5 and started getting ready for the opening reception.

once i got down to the reception i exchanged knowing looks with a few that had been out the night before as well. i don’t know if i felt the worst, but i definitely was a contender. people at my table gave me sympathetic smirks while i ordered a sprite instead of enjoying the provided wine or beer. a woman at my table pushed food around on her plate to make it look like she was eating– eventually, after dinner and mingling, she went up to her room. i stuck it out and got to feeling better and better. i didn’t drink anything that night (or the next). and i definitely learned my lesson. i wasted my whole free day in which i had planned on sight-seeing st. petersburg. i was angry with myself. but it really was a night to remember (or not remember and be reminded of).

oh, and it turns out the television was INSIDE the end table. there’s a switch (that i obviously must’ve hit while trying to turn off the light) that raises and lowers the television. …oh.

…Na zdorovje.

russia [[rough agenda]]

friday, february 24
– arrive at des moines airport at 2:00PM (they just got full body scanners so apparently international flights must be ready 3 hours in advance)
-board plane at 5:00PM
-arrive in minneapolis at 6:15PM
-find amsterdam gate. (no panic this round, traveling with co-workers)
-depart for amsterdam: 7:10PM
-sleep, eat, read, pass time on a plane

saturday, february 25
– arrive in amsterdam: 10:50AM
-find st. petersburg gate. try not to act annoyed or grumpy.
-eat, then probably feel less annoyed/grumpy.
-arrive in st. petersburg: 7:00PM
-get ride to 5-star hotel (i’ve never stayed in a 5-star hotel before). check into said hotel. [grand hotel europe]
-start to look presentable
-find a nice place for dinner [potentially teplo]
-discover night scene. [metro or taleon club]
-stumble back to hotel. i mean… no, it’s okay. stumble back to hotel.

sunday, february 26
-sleep in. try to get over jetlag
-sightsee, be a tourist.
-buy gifts. take too many photos.
-eat lunch.
-more sightseeing. more photos
-find way back to hotel to get ready for opening reception
-meet with robert regarding sales training videos
-meet with chandru for interview
-opening reception; meet up with product managers and technical service
-final final, in the words of the famous dr. james w. kessler (who will be there, making it officially a final final)
-sleep

monday, february 27
– wake up early
-meet with justin for interview
-quick breakfast
-meeting kickoff from 8-9AM.
-start regular ol’ graphic design workload
-lunch
-interview presenters of poster session a
-meet with monika for interview
-walk to group dinner at terrassa
-walk back to hotel
-final final
-sleep

tuesday, february 28
– wake up early
-meet with betsy for interview
-quick breakfast
-start uploading and editing video
-start regular ol’ graphic design workload
-lunch
-present during poster session b
-attend ‘branding update’ session
-attend ‘personal development’ session
-tour of the hermitage & russian dinner
-final final
-sleep

wednesday, february 29
– wake up early.
-meet with corey for interview
-quick breakfast
-start uploading and editing video
-attend ‘personality types’ session
-start regular ol’ graphic design workload
-lunch
-interview presenters during poster session c
-closing sessions and awards
-catherine’s summer palace tour & dinner
-dog sled ride around alexander’s park
-meet with RC for interview
-eating at mansarda with potentially one of the best small groups available
-final final
-sleep

thursday, march 1
-wake up
-email my niece and wish her a happy 5th birthday
-meet with tom for interview
-quick breakfast
-attend ‘one ag’ session
-start uploading and editing video
-hopefully grab other ag people for interviews, if necessary
-lunch
-hopefully grab other ag people for interviews, if necessary
-pack up
– arrive at st. petersburg, russia airport: 4:30PM
-board plane at 5:30PM
-arrive in paris, france airport: 6:00PM
-find verona, italy gate. have a minor panic as i can’t find verona, italy gate
(i suspect this will happen). have some nice stranger help me.
-depart for italy: 8:35PM
-arrive in verona, italy: 10:10PM
-have another minor panic attack thinking bruno forgets to pick me up at the airport.
-ride with bruno to destination.

{apparently i’m flying out thursday night instead of friday night, threw off my italy agenda}

no need to russian-to-it.

i think i may have mentioned it a time or two (or eight or ten if you are around me often), but i am going to russia in february for work. this “will she, won’t she” game has finally come to an end, and i will be traveling out the last week of february/first week of march.

at first i asked my boss if she was punishing me (because i imagine winters in russia are even worse than winters in iowa), but the more and more i think about it, the more and more excited i become. i will be spending a week in st. petersburg- 4-5 days of video interviews, working on product positioning with product managers and technical service people, etc and then an additional 2 days checking out the city.

plus, it gives me an excuse to wear my awesome hat:

(my mom thinks these hats are super dorky so my sister-in-law and brother got her a similar one for christmas last year. i make her wear it around the house with me sometimes.)


and to make matters even more exciting, an old college friend of mine is thinking about meeting me there for the last portion of the trip. i love seeing people i haven’t seen in a long time, and this man is no exception.

ladies, meet ari. he’s single and ready to mingle: (and finnish. and adorable.)

i met ari my senior year at wartburg college (you-rah-rah-rah!). he was a freshman at the time and under normal circumstances i wouldn’t have even noticed him. for one, he’s blonde (and we all know how i feel about that). and for two, he was a freshman. when would i ever have a class with a freshman?

lucky for both of us, one of my roommates was on orientation staff and she brought him around a time or two. we quickly became friends- i mean, sure, he was blonde and young… but he was FINNISH. He was stylish. He was worldly.

…and his hair was beautiful. 🙂

one of my favorite things about ari is that he always laughs at my last name. my last name is lundberg. it’s swedish (just like me… haha… sort of.)  in most european languages, “berg” means “mountain.” i’m not too upset about that, it’s an easy translation, and i probably could’ve figured it out for myself. another [sad eyed] friend has told me that “lund” in swedish means “grove,” so apparently my roots trace back to the people living off the land between the grove and the mountain.

but in hindi, “lund” is a slang term for male anatomy– most specifically it translates to “dick.” so ari calls me Dickmountain, or DM for short. …he’s a real classy kind of guy. 🙂

after i graduated wartburg at semester i ended up seeing ari a few times [when i visited school for homecoming and also at my fake-prom party], but he soon returned to his homeland and we haven’t really seen each other since. i am STOKED that he is making some time to come and visit- especially in the cold of winter!

neither ari nor myself have every been to russia, however. seeing as i want to soak in as much as possible, i would appreciate any tips or ideas of places to see while i’m in st. petersburg. a small group of work colleagues (the fun ones) are also staying for some extra time, so hopefully someone will have an idea of what to do. don’t get me wrong, i love to travel and explore new things, but one fault of mine is that i’m too laid-back when it comes to itineraries. if i have a rough draft i will follow it, if i don’t, i will play it by ear…

…and my ear usually leads me to a bar. so help a sister out and give me some good ideas! 🙂