Pre-Departure Thoughts

I'm excited to return home. I haven't blogged extensively like some people I know, but I think I've done enough. Usually, I don't share these thoughts by writing them down, even though I should.

For this reason, a Departure Entry is necessary.

Russia scared me. Getting off the plane I was bombarded with ill-fitting clothing on women, bleached, straightening-iron burnt hair, and patent leather boots, purses, and jackets--all worn simultaneously. There was second hand smoke everywhere, since I think lung cancer will be the next rage, and the streets and sidewalk are blackened with dirt and residents' phlegm (they spit a lot here). Black smoke seeps out of the exhaust pipe of every car and good hygiene is not exactly a top priority. Being in Russia is like being in a bad 80s film, except that people are...well, less than cheery.

But, some good came out of this. I think I've grown somehow...I'm not afraid of asserting my value as a person and as a student. I'm not afraid to work hard anymore and take risks. I've always been afraid. I couldn't accept that I'm pretty, or that I can be talented, or that I met a man who loves me. But now I can, because if Russian women walk through the snow in stilettos, then I can believe in myself. Alright, I do laugh at them, but something inside me respects them.

After some time I had realized that the problem was not Russia. I can't change Russians and, in fact, this is a country that has been through a lot--a decadent empire, Communism, and a blockade in Leningrad that still leaves its mark. I respect their ability to survive all of it, so, I decided that I wouldn't be angry. I realized the problem was with the American students in the group. I also came to the conclusion that pretty girls are not actually mean...it's the fat American girls with muffin-tops that tug on their jeans because their fat ass-cracks are showing. You know, the girls who are loud, gossip, and make out with Russian boys (even though men here are undesirable). I found myself surrounded by those people who, immediately upon the beginning of the program, formed their cliques. I think they call themselves the Cool Kids...we call them the Retards Who Can't Speak Russian.

But it made me realize several things about my life and about myself. I realized that, I'm hot. Not just in the physical sense--I'm hot...like, Diva-hot. I know plenty of girls out there who are, too--they're bright, quirky, honest, and for the most part, confident. The problem is that people who don't have that, sense it and suddenly become afraid. You've threatened them, which in turn makes them want to give you the evil eye when you walk in your stiletto shoes down the hallway every morning. It makes them want to make immature remarks around you and sometimes, even say terrible things about you when you're not around. I think that behavior is normal in people who are weak and prone to envy; and when you touch their sensitive side, they combust and revert back to middle-school behaviors.

I dealt with meeting "friends" who, ultimately, are not my friends at all...just, people I hang out with because one, I was afraid to go anywhere by myself during the first few days of the program, and two, because my real friends aren't here. I don't believe the people I've met here have any idea who Libet is...no clue.

Here comes the realization: this isn't me. I'm actually an adult. My idea of an exciting conversation isn't talking about someone else, it's talking about graduate school admissions or Bakhtin. I'm absolutely fascinated by people who are driven, and people who possess qualities that I myself need to work on. There do exist such people here--within the Russians and within the language program. I've met them. So yes, I can appreciate my qualities--when I see someone who has their life in order or has something really great going for them, instead of falling prey to envy, I admit to myself that I would like to know their secret--what they did to achieve that. That's a big thing to say, and I'm proud of myself for discovering in me a desire, not to hate, but to get closer to people and become inspired by them.

But I also saw unpleasant things--I lack discipline sometimes, I hold on to fear, and I don't give people the benefit of the doubt.

The truth is, that I'm grateful to this country--to the Metro rush-hour and to all the rude people who've growled at me and pushed into me. Thank you, Russia! I'm not being sarcastic--I mean this. Being here has brought me closer to the things I want...and now I know.

I want to be more polite. I want to hold on to my Diva-hotness, even when other people have a difficult time dealing with it.

I want to be a good friend to my best friend, Jaimie...and a best friend to Phil.

I also want to study Dostoevsky and Bakhtin...but this is a small list. That's the point: I need to focus on these things--small acts of love, like Father Zosima said--give a pound of nuts or an onion. When you give an onion, you may just get the world in return.

aeka at 2:46 p.m.