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.