when inflation rates were at their peak, the russian banks ran out of rubles. during these weeks in 1992, i went with other american friends with my dollars in the early hours of the morning, and waited in queues with other customers to try to change money. usually by the time we got to the front of the line, the rubles were gone, and a handwritten sign reading "nyet deneg" hung in the door, announcing that the bank had no money.
in 1992 russia, it wasn't easy to make international phone calls. when i wanted to call home, i had to go to a central telegraph/telephone office to "order" a call three days before the actual event. three days later i would return, and sit in a booth, while a russian operator connected me with my family.
sometimes, after three days of anticipation, the call would fail or my family would be away, and i would go back to my dorm room very lonely.
as a child i was fascinated by secret codes. i read books about them, wrote letters in them and deciphered any message i could get my hands on. i created some codes of my own, then shared them with raleigh so we could use them to communicate in our many forts. i think this was maybe why as a student i was so interested in foreign languages. is there really that much of a difference?
in iowa, we had a small black room in our basement. while it smelled of photographic developing solutions, it was rarely actually used, so raleigh and i set up a great fort in there. at one point, we used some code or another to create a password, which i remember had something to do with the brand of zipper that i had on my jacket. (confused? yes, well so am i but perhaps that's because we're adults now and have lost the unbounded creativity that comes with youth). the resulting password from this jacket and code combination was "s/.t" which i distinctly remember saying over and over "s slant dot t, s slant dot t." it's unfortunate that i no longer remember how it translated.
throughout my childhood, we spent christmas morning opening stockings, taking turns going around the family and pulling out one item at a time until all of our socks were empty. we all had to gather first, which meant everyone had to be up and ready before we could start.
one year we were at grandpa petie's for the holidays, and he slept later than the rest of us. raleigh and i were impatient, so we made up a song and played it loudly on the piano, singing along with clever and loud lyrics: "petie it's time to get up. petie it's time to get up. petie it's time to get up, get up, time to get up in the morning." luckily for grandpa petie, he had a hearing aid which he didn't wear at night, so this probably was less annoying for him than for the rest of the family.
my friends ethan, matthew and i decided we needed to know more about the world, so we started our own geography classes. we met once a week for ten weeks at the bellevue public library, and held our own course. the first week we designed the course, picking the countries we wanted to study and structuring the class. each week after that, we each spent half the time researching the country we were assigned, answering a set of questions we had selected to answer. then we got back together and presented what we had learned.
on one of my mom's visits to seattle, we went on a walk with my friend anoo starting at my house in kirkland. we got lost and didn't figure out where we were until we had walked all the way to downtown bellevue.
for several weeks one summer, raleigh and i made a fort in the evergreen bushes outside of unity church. it seemed like a perfect hideaway until i had some sort of allergic reaction to the sap in the branches and broke out in hives.