Not Cookie Monster (check the nickname section), but her friend from across the way: How prettily you speak Russian! (Kak krasivo vy govorite po-russky)
Me: Thanks. (Spasibo.)
Cookie Monster’s Friend: Where are you from? (A vy otkuda?)
Me: From America. (Iz Ameriki.)
[She looks at my cookie choice, in a “really? You’re in Russia and choosing that cookie?” way.] I continue: I…er…miss home? (Ia…er…skuchaiu po nej…)
[Cookie Monster and Friend both immediately change their postures and expressions.] No, no! You should not miss it! (Ne nado skuchat’!)
1) still feeling ambiguous about my Russian language skills. I have apparently ditched the American accent; at least, Russians can’t always tell, as is true in this case, that I’m from America, or even a native English speaker. She wasn’t anticipating that I’d answer “From America” to her open-ended question. Then again, she could tell, immediately, that I was a foreigner. As can most people. Except for when I get asked directions. I guess I’m turning into Woland.
2) that conversation continued for a while, and ended up with me giving my email address to CM’s Friend for her to pass on to some people that she knows. My interpretation – the charge of that hypothetical grant I might have received, to make cross-cultural connections…it doesn’t always have to be people with whom I’m going to be the best of friends, or with whom I’m presenting myself in a formal, academic environment; I’m ok with it being those people with whom I’m able to find a common tongue. Even if said people are the vendors in a rynok whose senses of motherly anxiety are awakened to the bedny i bledny amerikanets (poor and pale American) in front of them.
You’ve gotten enough ROD from the translated conversation. From the semiotician, Vygotsky:
Every higher function is divided between two people, is a mutual psychological process.