Thursday, December 14, 2006

Hello I'm Home

Hello all! I've returned to the balmy Bay Area. I'm not sure how I feel about being home again quite yet. I think that I may go insane in just a little while; what's the opposite of seasickness? That's how I feel. Too stationary.
No, not really. But I do think that I was expecting home to be a bit more exciting than it's turned out to be. So what do I do now? I go through the pictures I took during my travels, realize that there are not very many of them, and decide which of them I will put up here to try to indicate to you, dear readers, what it is that I miss and don't miss about Moscow and the other spots in Russia that I visited.

Here are some things that I do miss:

vladimir again

The ghostly nature of the provinces really gets under one's skin. This picture was taken in Vladimir, once upon a time the capital of Rus' and now a fairly deserted, snow-covered wonderland. There's not a lot of places I can go in the Sacramento area that rival the austerity of this.


This was taken in Novgorod, also an old capital. It was every bit as spooky as it looks in the photo. Tilden is spooky sometimes, but not in this way. My imagination is the spookiest part of Tilden; i can't say that about Novgorod.


This is Masha! She's the three-year-old I lived with, along with her brother and parents and the grandparents who were usually absent and their three cats. Masha spoke much better Russian than I do.

I really really miss being able to walk across the Moscow River and go to Red Square whenever I want to.

Here are some things I don't miss:

the view

Cookie-cutter Soviet style apartment buildings look like good places to waste away in, silently waiting for death. They're just as awful on the inside.

no ice cream

What do you mean I can't take my ice cream in there? But it's so creamy and delicious!

As you can see, there are more things that I miss than things that I don't. If I had some pictures of myself commuting through hellish Kievskaya station every morning, that would be under the "things I don't miss" column. However, give me a little time, and I may even be missing that.

Stay tuned for more pictures from more places. I'm still getting caught up. Glad to be home. I think.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Hello once more

Prague is quite beautiful but certain circumstances are preventing me from enjoying it to it's fullest. First, the cold. Second, it is sort of awkward to take pictures of one's self gazing out at lovely panoramas. Third, tonight I will sit at the Prague Ruzyne airport all night waiting for an early morning flight. I do not trust either myself, cab companies, or customs to make sure I am on time for takeoff. Therefore, I will be reading a James Ellroy novel that I paid a few too many dollars for while I sit and sit. And then, I am coming home.
My trip to Moscow was safe and almost completely without violence or theft. I feel alright saying that now that I am out of the city; I was a bit too superstitious to make that bold claim before my outbound plane was safely out of Russian airspace. It's hard for me to believe that I no longer have the choice to walk, on a whim, to the Moscow River or Red Square. I've been somewhat distracted from my exit from Moscow by my time in Prague, but it's beginning to dawn on me that I am no longer staying at 59 Kutuzovskii Prospect, and I will no longer see statues of Lenin everywhere. I won't have to be crushed as I file, head down, into the Metro, and I won't have to wonder every time I pass a police officer if he is going to ask me for my documents. It is quite an adventure, Moscow. I'm still processing; will be for a while yet. Retrospect is much more orderly than the thick of it.
So, I am signing off, exhausted but jubilant. I will come up with some sort of buzzers-and-lights system to alert you all when I post more pictures from the former USSR. Thank you for your time.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

3 Things That Say Moscow
the metro
This is the metro sign. It's everywhere. It means "You're About to be Packed in Like Clowns in a Volkswagen But You'll Get Where You Need to Go".

st. basil's doesn't really look this cool
This is St. Basil's Cathedral in Red Square. It's not quite as impressive in person but the inside is delicate and beautiful and somewhat eerie.

trash! score!
This is Cara and Steve. The woman behind them is hunting for treasure. I appreciate a country where even adults still believe in treasure.

All in all, all is well. Right now I'm in Tallinn, Estonia. It's quite beautiful and right on the Baltic Sea, in which I skipped stones.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Hello all.
So it's currently ten minutes to three in the middle of the night where I am. Wanna know why I'm still awake? I'm sure you do. It's because at five fifty five in the morning I'm flying to Milan for my second (much-needed) vacation. I know, I know, I was just on vacation, but I'll tell you, freezing weather and a bunch of grumpy Russians really put you in the mood to head for greener, more pasta-laden pastures. Don't get me wrong, Moscow is a wonder and as extreme as I was hoping for, but it is so extremely exhausting that I can't even explain it in words. The people are constantly scowling, and it's fairly impossible to get anything done in a timely fashion. Additionally, I'm pretty sure that as winter gets more biting, we're all going to be seeing some people frozen to death in the streets. Already the old babushkas that stand asking for money everywhere are getting more and more frail, lost in their folds of scarves and fifty-year old housecoats. The young women here are extraordinarily tall, so I wonder how they get so short later in life. It's a nastoyashii mystery.
I'm sort of just killing time right now and I don't have so much to report, except that it'll probably be snowing when I return from Italy on the 28th of this month. Oh, to go from 70 degrees and sunny to zero degrees and sleet is going to be quite a shock to my little system. All will be fine, though. Now's the time that we start going directly home from school and talking with our babushkas and looking at their ancient household appliances, for the first time actually taking the time to wonder how they work. I've not yet wondered how the people themselves work, though. It's too complicated a question to grapple with. If I think of anything amazing, I'll be sure to let you know. Vnimatel'no.

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Moscow: Metro.

Not a real gun

Moscow: at Bilingua.

Schloss Schonbrunn in Vienna

Vienna: Schloss Schönbrunn.

Spot the difference.
Strange that My Moscow Diary is actually beginning with My Vienna Diary, isn't it?

Hey folks. I'll tell you's hard to stay on a computer in Moscow for long enough to download pictures and even "blog", as they say, so instead, I came to Vienna. I came to Vienna for a variety of reasons. 1) It's beautiful. 2) Moscow is exhausting. 3) I've never seen figure skating up close and personal. And of course, 4) I can now write something for you, dear readers, to peruse at your leisure. So where exactly does that leave us? Okay.
I've been in Moscow almost exactly two months. I've surely learned a lot of Russian but it doesn't feel like it because I still constantly struggle to have interactions more complicated than ordering coffee and food and fetching things for my three year old host sister. She's adorable. Her name is Masha. There's also an eleven year old boy called Zhenya, and their parents, Irina and Viktor. And Irina's parents, but I can't totally remember their names and they're still at the dacha anyways. Soon they'll be back with cats two and three and a dachsund. It's a four room apartment, people. Welcome to Moscow! Here are other fun facts about my life:
I am consistently jostled on the metro. No, I am consistently sweating and squished on the metro. The people running to get on the train sort of just run at the crowd as hard as they can and hope the doors don't close on them. That's fun.
A cup of non-instant coffee costs about four dollars. However, a delicious baked potato or khatchapuri costs about ninety cents. Getting into Dostoevsky's boyhood home costs approximately forty cents. Go figure.
I live in a really ritzy neighborhood. All my neighbors have German automobiles.
No one stops for pedestrians.
There are more monasteries here than you can shake a sin at. It's strange because it's one of the more sinful cities in the world, I think. Plus orthodox Russians cross themselves backwards. Like up, down, right shoulder, left shoulder, rather than left then right. It's bizarre. It looks scary, for some reason.
If I never see dill again, it'll be too soon. They are crazy for dill.
On Saturdays, people get married and then drive through the city partying in different places. All the brides get their dresses muddy and sometimes brass bands follow them. It's completely amazing.
The phone system is willfully inefficient. It's controlled by the mobile phone company Megafon. Megafon is apparently owned by Putin. Go figure. He's a smooth talker, that one.
That's about all I got for now. Really there's so much more but I'm not sure how much I can fit into digital expression. You're all just going to have to see my metro face to understand what's going on. It looks like this:

See, that doesn't tell you much, does it?
So tomorrow I return to Moscow from this ideal place, Vienna, where the streets are clean, the people smile, and around every corner is the most beautiful building you've ever seen until you turn the next corner. At the end of the month I'm going to Italy. I vow to be a more faithful blogger from here on out. Keep me to my word, dear readers, by acknowledging this Very First Entry with thoughts, comments, questions, non-sequiters, what have you. Thank you and good night.

Monday, July 31, 2006

Hello everyone.
This post is experimental. It is not experimental poetry nor is it poetry nor is it entirely experimental. It is a picture of my very cute grandmother.

happy birthday mom and jesus

You see, soon I will be going to Moscow. From there I plan on maintaining a blog, and this is step one toward that end. And beside that, I really love my grandma.