It's telling to look back and see how my attitudes have changed over the past three years. The day got off to an inauspicious start when NASTY paint fumes made their way into our apartment through the cracks in our main door (we usually just get whiffs of the neighbor's chain smoking). I then spent two hours to get to the bookstore where I was supposed to pick out my students' textbooks for next year--only to find out that the store isn't actually there (don't know why I was given that address...). Thirty minutes of that time had been spent just maneuvering to get a parking spot and the rest I had been stuck in traffic.
The "new-to-Moscow" me would have been really upset by the wrong address (which had been printed on a flyer supposedly from the bookstore). I would have focused on how stressful the traffic had been--and it really was, on what else I could have been doing during that time, and I'd have worried about how I was now going to get those darn books. I'd have also become quite angry with the building guard who refused to help me figure out what had happened to the store--and who wouldn't let me in to ask.
Instead I just shrugged my shoulders and desperately prayed
And when the bank I asked at showed me the way--and it actually had toilet paper (most public bathrooms do NOT)--I literally felt filled with kind feelings towards others. I guess I've gotten so used to things not working out that it's such a joy when even the smallest thing does! It's a little surreal whenever we go back to the USA; I'm dumbfounded by how easy everything is. I also always have in the back of my mind what it was like to live here in 1991; life in Moscow has certainly gotten easier since then!
(I did, in the end, find the bookstore. The staff there was quite helpful and kind and their selection was much better than I'd hoped. They even gave me a discount card despite the fact that I'm a foreigner. It did take me all day long to simply order eight sets of Spanish textbooks--but I'm happy! I know that it could very well have taken much longer!)