Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Really? No, no...I mean REALLY!?

Do you ever shock yourself with your dorkiness? Be honest (please, I am trying to console myself here; I need some friendly commiseration).

Here's what happened:

A co-worker came by my desk to high-five me for something. I returned the high-five...or rather, almost returned it. Somewhere between my desk (where my hand was resting) and his hand (which I was supposed to high five), my hand encountered an obstacle. My face. That's right, I somehow smacked myself in the face (and almost poked out my right eye). Kinda hard too... The look on my co-worker's face was priceless...roughly translated it was probably something like "who ARE you?". I vacillated between mortification over my own dorkiness and hysterical laughter for a split second...the hysterical laughter won out.

Really? Who DOES that!? I mean, seriously, how does one lose track of the distance between her face and her hand? I think I should be studied.

Oh yeah and to top it off...I got back from a run this evening and made a nice big salad with broccoli and zucchini, all healthy and stuff, and I went to pour dressing on it and guess what? The dressing bottle top was different than all our other dressing bottles and it was the completely open type. Yeah...I dumped almost an entire bottle of Italian dressing on my salad....while Claire stood there cracking up at me. I still ate most of the salad...and left about an inch and a half of dressing in the bottom of the bowl.

I think this day should be over now...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Blog facelift

So everyone seems to be giving their blog a facelift...so I caved to the trend and updated mine as well. What do you think?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sporty Goals

So, as promised, I said that would blog about my athletic goals for this year. Now that the leg is healed, I feel like I can finally start actively pursuing these- there are really only two big goals, and a LOT of training that will need to happen in between!

1. Compete in the Clear Lake International Triathlon-Olympic distance (swim 1500m, bike 24.9 miles, run 6.2 miles)
2. Run in the San Antonio Rock and Roll Half-Marathon in November (13.1 miles)- (Lisa and I are both gunning for this one, since we missed out on the Houston Half)

I'm doing a sprint tri in May, I am hoping to find a short course (a distance between a sprint and Olympic- although I've only found one in Texas...I may have to hold my own practice short course tri if that's that case!) and the CL tri is towards the end of August. I'll probably thrown in another sprint tri or two before then as well...we'll see...

Anyways, there are my goals. Bring it on! :)

Friday, March 27, 2009


Ah, home sweet home.

I ate Blue Bell ice cream for breakfast :D. I love America.

Interesting flight back...we hit bad weather coming into Houston and were put into a holding pattern...for about 1.5hrs...lots o' people felt quite sick- thank God I took my Dramamine...we ended up running out of fuel and landing in New Orleans to get some more (my first time to the Big Easy...the airport tarmac is quite lovely). I made it home about 3.5hrs after I had planned to...but yay to a super great roomie who had Mexican food from Gringo's waiting! Yummm, enchiladas (I've heard of one Mexican food restaurant in Moscow called Pancho Villas...and I have heard that it is awful :) )

Oh yeah and the Moscow Book List? I got through 5 of them! Yay for reducing the stack.

Laundry time.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Last Day

Before my last shift, I headed over to the Fisher's for one last visit. Jude was in school, but Amy and Angus were ready to go with their HUGE imaginations! I spent a couple of hours being the servant who had to clean the entire palace and the mean step-mother...and then I got to be a fisherman who was pulling in my catch (Amy and Angus lying on a blanket in the dining room and me dragging them around (they were whales and dolphins...oh and a mermaid at one point...). In between the crazy make-believe, Emily and I had a chance to chat. A great start to my last day in Moscow!

Angus deep in though after showing me pictures of the Dolphinarium they went to

Amy, post ballerina costume, now a mermaid

Angus as Batman (who later became Prince Batman)

Me and Amy (who was being distract by Angus, but she still managed to put a winning smiling on her face :) )

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Faster than a speeding bullet...

Okay, well maybe not a speeding bullet...but guess what (enter drumroll)... I just ran 3.2 miles! Yep, 5k distance. Wahoo!!!! I have not done that distance since my tibia decided to stress fracture back in October. I had planned to do the Lonestar Sprint Triathlon at the beginning of April, but after two brick workouts (bike then run), my leg was definitely protesting. So I decided April wasn't realistic and took it easy for a few more weeks. I still haven't done another brick workout since then....but the leg is feeling good after the 5k, so, I am aiming for the Silverlake Sprint Tri in May. Yay for triathloning...and I am looking forward to being able to run again with my running buddy Lisa! I do have some other pretty major athletic goals for this year, but that's better left for another post :).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Promoting Foreign Relations

Well, as the title says, yesterday Nik and I promoted foreign relations for NASA...which means getting to attend a small party held by our counterparts to celebrate the mission. Now, we still had three days left of the mission, but its hard to get everyone together. As always, they provide a huge spread of yummy goodies and selection of tea.

Twix and Milky Ways, compliments of the Americans
Alexander actually played his guitar for us over the weekend, but he did pull it out once or twice yesterday as well (not the greatest shot...he caught me taking a picture)

Alexander and his guitar
There was a new musical aspect to our party...they brought in a flute for me. Oh yeah (Molly I hope you are reading this). Back in the fall when our counterparts were in town, Molly and I got together and played a flute/piano duet for them (since they are always gracing us with a concert when we visit). Well...I got over here and the first question I was asked was: did you bring your flute.? I had completely forgotten...like honest-to-goodness forgotten. So they said they woudld track one down, despite my protesting that I had no music to read (I don't do improv). Thank goodness I took Moose and Erin's advice and printed some music off the internet, because we walked into their office...and out came the flute. Yay for free downloadable sheet music. I don't have any pictures, but there were several cameras out and I am sure (sarcastic face) I will be seeing those videos for years to come...just like the one of us singing "Yesterday" at the BBQ 4 years ago...
Nik is quite the artist and he was showing them some of his work

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Good stuff

So for the past several months, I have been studying in the book of Isaiah. I'm up to chapter 45 and this was just so good that I had to share:
"Woe to him who strives with him who formed him, a pot among earthen pots! Does the clay say to him who forms it, 'What are you making?' or 'Your work has no handles'? Woe to him who says to a father, 'What are you begetting'" or to a woman, 'With what are you in labor'"? (ESV, Isaiah 45:9-10).

This actually made me laugh! Because this is what I visualized when I read this...think about a time when you were making something, cooking something, doing SOMETHING where you KNEW what you were doing, but someone was standing there at your elbow (who has never done what you are doing) and watching you and giving you "helpful" advice. What was your reaction? Hehe, I can tell you that mine wasn't very nice...probably something along the lines of "leave me alone, I know what I am doing"...followed with an exasperated sigh and possibly an eye roll...

Think of that time, when someone was telling you what to do, even though they didn't know what the outcome was supposed to look like, and compare that to when we try and tell God when things are supposed to happen...interesting huh? We can't see the big picture, God can. We don't know how things are supposed to unfold, God does. So, how presumptuous is it that we try and tell God what to do and when to do it (and believe me, I do this A LOT)? And what a gracious God we have that He doesn't say "Oh my GOSH would you just shut up already!?"...instead He patiently teaches us to wait on Him, through lessons (easy and hard, sweet and painful). He may let us have our own way for awhile, until we see what a mess that is and come running back to Him or we may get a big fat, no-bones-about it "NO". It's a daily decision we believers have to make each day- giving God the control, yielding to His wisdom, letting Him take the reins we so desperately want to hold. Next time you find yourself aruging with God about His timing, think of yourself as a little clay pot saying "um, hello!? Where are my handles?" If that doesn't make you grin and take a step back from your presumptuousness...well let me know and I will pray for you ;-).

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Addendum to Proof

Note to self: do not try and flush dead cockroaches down a Russian shower drain…the drains are much smaller than those in the states and the cockroach will not go down the drain. He will just sit there in the elbow of the drain with the dead antennae poking out- taunting you with his cockroachy deadness. I may be Smelly Melissa for the rest of this trip.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

St. Patrick's Day

Last night (yes, I realize I am posting this at 4am...I need more sleep!)...I went to the young adult/singles/young married bible study that ICF has. IT is hosted at The Fisher's residence (ha! which I found thanks to google maps). They have three adorable children-for whom I managed to procure some space stuff earlier today at work. They were so cute when they saw it-and kept saying they are going to be astronauts (the oldest is 6). Aww kids and space.

The group usually does a big dinner (potluck style) together and then reads and discusses a passage in the bible. In honor of St. Patrick's Day- Rachel, the resident Irish woman, made stew, and soda bread (with Irish butter) and Irish cookies...and a green cake (not 'Irish'). Then we discussed Phillipians 2:5-11. What an awesome experience to discuss God's Word with peopel from all different countries and situations. (Thanks to Emily for these pictures).

Troi (not sure of the spelling), Reayla (this gal has a REALLY cool story- grew up in a village in the Ural Mountains), Tim, and Anna discussing
Chris, Natalie, Jason, Lauren, Anatoly, and Daniel
(Lauren was leaving to go back to the UK after a rotation-type stint over here as a lawyer).
Oh best comment of the night came from Anatoly: when I told him what I do, he said ::in a wondering tone of voice:: "but... you're a girl". I seriously had to bite my cheek to not bust out laughing. Unfortunately, that sort of humor just doesn't translate well across languages. :)
Group picture of everyone who wore green (let's see how I do with names)
Rachel, Emily, Katya, Joe, Elisabeth, me, no idea how to spell her name, but it means 'Snow Maiden', Tim, Ana, and Doug. Oh yeah- I got people to do the Charlie's Angels pose.


Not everything is bigger in Texas...some of it is the same size in Moscow...like...you guessed it...cockroaches...the one in my shower...which is currently dead under a pile of the powdered Tide detergent that the last room inhabitant left (God bless that person!) and my travel can of hairspray...those were the only chemical agents I could find in this room...(and believe me, the fire extinguisher WAS considered...).


So the ADCO on console today (Todd- see, there's your credit) made the following comment about me: "You should come with a warning".
In context, he was referring to my penchant to gesticulate wildly when I talk (something that several people over my lifetime have brought up). Taken out of context...I find this comment wicked hilarious. Of course, I told him this and in true Melissa fashion, proceeded to point out the other areas this statement could be applied to: my randomness, my dorkiness, my quirkiness (yes, I have learned to embrace all of these). Ha, I'm still giggling about it it..."you should come with a warning".

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ha! It didn't stick.

So my neat freak roommates who have guilted me into becoming a neater more tidier person?Yeah...it SO did not stick. :D...I had to pick up the other day because I was thinking, "wow, I think I would be embarrassed for housekeeping to come in here". Ah....untidiness... (hehe, I can hear many of you groaning right now...aww, she was sooo close!).


It was actually a pretty quiet weekend- I know, I know, disappointing to all you folks who told me to go here or there...but it is cold here and I don't do well with long periods in the cold...
On Friday night a group of us went to this great Indian resturant here...I'm the only woman out here right now from work, so its been an adjustment back to "hanging with the guys". But we had a good time...excellent Indian food.
On Saturday I slept in and then hit Ismalova with my co-worker Nik. He had never been and I had a few things to pick up as well. And then I was coordinating a rendezvous (ha, I almost wrote that "rndz"...you work people will find that funny) spot with a friend of Dustin and Megan's (my caregroup leaders) to go to church with today. Unfortunately both the places he mentioned I couldn't picture in my head, so I trekked out to find them. Plus, I had no feel for how long it would take to get there...but I found the big plastic cow we were supposed to meet at :)
I got to go to church for the first time ever while being in Moscow today. The church is called International Christian Fellowship. I met up with Jason and we headed over there. It is such a cool experience to worship with believers from all over the world. Today was pretty neat because it was Children's Day...so the junior and senior high school aged youth ran the service. They have a bible study that meets on Tuesday nights and I am planning on going to that as well. And Sunday was topped off by dinner with a group of guys at the "Raxat Lukum" Uzbek restaurant that I really really REALLY like. Yummy hachipuri (amazing cheesy bread) and shashlikh (shish-kebab).
Here's to launching tonight! Go Discovery!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Love this

"Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law’s demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone"
From Toplady's "Rock of Ages"

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Russian snow that is...I think that makes it more exotic...(yeah, warning, I'm running on little sleep, so this blog may be excessively quirky)...
Actually, I changed my seats on the flight from ATL to Moscow and got three seats to myself! Can you say "holy lay-down-across-all-three-and-actually-get-some-solid-sleep Batman!"? That was of course, until Russian-guy-who-was-sipping-from-his-duty-free-beverage-bottle got sloshed and proceeded to talk REALLY LOUDLY about politics. Actually, I have no idea if he was talking about politics, I just said that because it sounds very Russian...he was probably telling the babushka sitting next to him that he didn't like her hair color or something... (shrug)...anyways, he got carted away (I am still wondering where they stored him...he didn't surface again until customs)...and I was awake again. But I highly recommend the three seat thing...
There is so much snow here! And it is really cold. My co-worker, Nik, and I headed to Red Square after checking into the hotel (unexpected blessing- I DO have a wired room! Yay for a computer being close by!). Of course, my camera battery died after the first picture (I charged it yesterday, but then I realized that I think this is the battery that I meant to throw away because it wouldn't hold a charge any more)...so I will head back tomorrow to get some more snow pictures...but here's what I got...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Moscow Book List

As most of you know, I am an avid reader. I've been quite the slacker as of late, due to other projects, priorities, etc. I'm hoping to make a decent dent in my "to read" stack of books while in Moscow (helping that fact is that I am in an unwired room- ie no computer, most likely no AFN, coupled with cold weather- makes for a nice recipe for reading). Here's the stack I have compiled (subject to change between now and when I actually get on the plane :) )-

Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron- a travel journalist's take on China
The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch (nope, I haven't watched it either)
Kingfisher by Gerald Seymour- it was on sale and looked interesting-spy/thriller
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro- one of my favorite authors
The Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin- given my background with Mars stuff, I figured I'm a bit overdue for reading this :)
My Grandfather's Son, A Memoir by Clarence Thomas. The Supreme Court Justice's memoir- I've heard good things
Knowing God by JI Packer- I'm about halfway done reading this one...its slow going cause there's so much application on every page!

We'll see how far I get...

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Whomp! Thwack!...Whoa....

That's the sound of a song smacking me upside the head...what? you've never experienced that before? You're sitting in your car and a song comes on and you're like "OH MY GOSH! That is TOTALLY what I've been feeling/thinking/wanting to say but can't find the words etc etc? You have, trust me ;-). The past few weeks have been filled with a plethora of whomp-thwack-whoa moments for me. My friend Megan gave me some lyrics to a song (maybe I will post it someday :) ) that she heard and then thought of me...and I finally looked up the words to another song she had mentioned and yep, you guessed it: whomp, thwack whoa. I think it is amazing that God has gifted people in the area of songwriting- to put words to thought and feelings that we sometimes have trouble clearly expressing, or even putting our finger on. Today in church, we sang this song for the first time and well, I think the word "waterworks" sums it up :). Yay for whomp-thwack-whoa moments.

Abba, Father

Abba, Father, you have loved me
With a love like I have never known
Abba, Father you have saved me
From the depths that I’ll never know

What a great Father you are
What a great Father you are

You have loved me with arms open wide
You have held me through it all
You are faithful to the broken
Lord you hear me when I call

Thank you Lord for all that you’ve done
Thank you Lord for giving your Son
When I was lost you came after me
When I deserved such great penalty

You have loved me with arms open wide
You have held me through it all
You are faithful to the broken
Lord you hear me when I call