Guys, it's been a while. I've been busy. Here's what I've been doing:
Last Friday, when I arrived, I took the requisite forms down to the registration office. I already had a signature from the guy whose apartment I'm staying in, because I asked him to leave a signed form on the table before he left. I also went to an insurance company here in Berlin, so that they could write me a letter certifying that my US insurance is valid in Germany. Then on Monday at 7 am, I went to the Ausländerbehörde (Furriners Office) to obtain my German visa, which I did without problems. I was then able to go to a tourist agency to obtain a Russian visa. It turns out, however, that I need hotel reservations in Russia in order to get a tourist visa. So I hunted around for, essentially, sham hotel reservations (I'll be staying with people, you understand). Having found them, I returned to the tourist agency. I will have my Russian visa just in time for my 30 August flight to Moscow.
Except not really. This is a fantasy scenario I made up inside my brain. This is what the past week would have had to look like, in order for me to get my Russian visa in time to use my tickets. As things stand, I have no hope. It's really disappointing. I have to call the airline today and try to change my tickets around. Except I don't have any idea when I can change them to. Today is therefore Dustin-hangs-out-with-his-calendar Day.
Does anyone want to hear the real-actual scenario, the one that the world made up outside my brain? Well anyway you can.
Remember the signature that I had to get? Well, it arrived yesterday at 11.00. So I rushed to the registration office, waited an hour, and then got registered. Then I came back home to make copies of a bunch of documents. I should have done this beforehand, but I didn't. For some reason, I had become convinced that I could not accomplish anything productive before I got the signature for the registration form. Such folly!
The Furriners Office is located in an obscure part of Berlin which takes an hour to get to, at best. You know what, never mind, I don't want to tell about the office. It's boring and painful. The point is that by the time I arrived, the machine that gave out little tickets with numbers on them had already been turned off. It was 14.45. The office closes at 18.00. That is to say: you must arrive more than three hours before closing time; otherwise, you will likely be turned away empty-handed. But I waited anyway.
In order to keep busy, I appointed myself steward of the take-a-number machine. Whenever anyone would come and vainly press the button, I would tell them that no more numbers were available. In this way I became more-or-less acquainted with a Russian girl with whom I then had a waiting-room conversation. You know this type of conversation. It starts with some remark about how waiting is probably not the best thing in life, and continues in this vein, until one of the participants is called away. It never really goes much deeper, because both people are secretly yearning for it to end. Not because it's unpleasant, but because they really want to obtain their respective visas. Anyway, this conversation was interminable: small talk, five minutes of complete silence, more small talk, ten minutes of silence, and so on. For over two hours. I'm sure were both interesting people; in fact, this girl legitimately did seem interesting. But neither of us were able to translate this into any type of interesting conversation. I personally don't think I've ever been boringer.
Anyway, when I finally managed to talk to a human being, I was turned away immediately. I did not have the proper proof that my insurance was valid in Germany. So I could not get my visa. The office is closed on Fridays. Hopefully I'll be able to get the visa on Monday.
In order to clear up the mysteries of my life, I then called a tourist agency. The conversation:
"Hello, how long does it take to get a Russian visa?"
"Two to two-and-a-half weeks."
"Can the process be expedited? I have already bought tickets." (for 30. August)
"Yes, of course. When do you need the visa?"
"Oh, no, sorry, never mind. American applications cannot be expedited."
So. The trip to Russia is postponed indefinitely. I'm looking into Bulgaria.