Writing after one of the most delightful dinners I have had this year-- funghi porcini cooked in olive oil (no salt was to be had in the household), and then a lovely combination of fresh tomatoes, figs, prosciutto crudo and mozzarella di bufala, all eaten on a lovely chinese table in my mother's Milan apartment. We have escaped to the city, and lo, there is internet of the wireless variety!
Anya's visit is coming at a perfect time-- enough alone time before and after that my mother doesn't feel neglected, post her tumultous year working on her latest book (I will link to it at some point in the future, when it is ready for publication. And her old books. She is a good writer, if I do say so myself.) Having her here, however, is an absolute delight. She is a lovely girl, who I hero-worship on the sly, and I am very glad that I live in a country that can entice her to come visit.
Anyway, there is delicious cake and tea to be had, so I will stop hogging the computer in its lone outpost in the kitchen. We ane in the centre of town and can see the whole city from the window, and there is beautiful classical music on the stereo. What am I still doing on the computer?
My mother and I just had a conversation about the pros and cons of outdoor sex. Slightly bizarre, no?
I'm laying over in Helsinki for four hours-- not enough time to go into town, but just enough time to become very uncomfortably aware of the fact that I have not brought enough books for the flight, really. So overpriced internet cafe it is. This proposition becomes slightly more exciting when you factor in the fact that my stepfather arbitrarily went mad and had our poor, pathetic dial-up disconnected at home, so I'll be stuck trawling Turin for places to check my email. Home without seven hour stretches on the net, drool slowly puddling on the desk in front of me as my spine curves ever further forward and my eyes cross? An obscene proposition!
I shall find a way, however. My mom has stolen wireless in her apartment in Milan, and since I´ll hopefully be going there with Anya once she comes down from Germany to visit me, I shall be able to be in touch with the world. Crazy thought.
So yes, regardless of all this, There is also the fact that... I'm now out of Russia. I don't know what to think yet. Too much processing to do before definitive opinions can be announced. I had a marvellous, almost surreal time. I met some amazing people. I figured out a lot of stuff. I just need to stop and think about it for a second.
On that note, my flight is boarding. More in a while.
PS: the Finnish word for elevator is Hissi. I love this language. I also just saw an eighty year old woman in pointy red shoes. I want to be like that when I´m that age.
My mother came to visit, adding a surreal touch to a trip already firmly rooted in the bizarre. Impressions, in very brief, as I battle against the constraints imposed on me by Lack of Time (TM):
-Firstly, the woman, at mumblety-mumble, has lost about 10 or 20 pounds, is doing Pilates, is all glowing because she just got back from Africa, and looks 30 and phenomenal. Either I have good genetic hopes, or... it's just depressing.
-Secondly, she hasn't heard a WORD of Russian in about 15 years, and on day two of her very truncated (yup, two days) stay here, she was back to nattering away like she'd never left. A few stumblings and misrecalled words, but nonetheless, perfection.
-Thirdly, seeing Petersburg (or Leningrad, as she persisted in calling it) through her eyes was a fantastical experience. She couldn't get over the advertisements and stores everywhere-- apparently back in her day, it was all propaganda slogans and scrambling around looking for food. My dad came over to Russia stocked with black market-ready blue jeans and American cigarettes, so they were rich by Russian standards of the time, but the question was still of what actually could be obtained with said rubles.
Anyway, she's gone, about which fact I am minorly sad, but right now the nice lady has told me that I have a minute left, and I have a hot date to watch the last twenty minutes of Kill Bill 2 and then pretentious French movies with a big group of boys, so I shall have to steel myself and carry on. Ahhhh... hard life.
And yes-- she has now gone on to Marienbad, nominally to look over her book and have alone time, but I know it's really just so she can start stories, "Well, last year at Marienbad..."
Dear Babushkas of Russia,
If you are over 60, if your stomach protrudes far past your enormously sagging breasts, and if you have a proclivity for letting your armpit hair grow long enough to shear, then please do not wear transparent shirts. Especially not with transparent bras. There are enough random nipples bobbing around here in full evidence without adding your granny nipples to the mix.
Thank you kindly.
All the best,
As an addendum to the previous post, I must add that there was a weird sequence of events regarding the Writer over the past 24 hours. Yesterday, I stayed up until 7 am talking to him, went to sleep, then had to go meet him to pick up theatre tickets (we went to the Jazz Philharmonic... 'twas amazing, and proved conclusively that there can never be a big band show without them playing "Georgia on my mind") Being tired, I begged off staying up and went and cuddled up in my hard, narrow bed. Five minutes in to reading trashy fantasy, my sketchy neighbour calls me up and says he needs to talk to me RIGHT NOW. I go over, he warns me to stay away from the Writer because he's the last thing I need in my life right now, and I need to stay on task and study and such. I point out that I study every day, but then he starts going on about how the Writer is insidious and unwillingly malevolent. He then starts telling me I'm being irresponsible about my studies (somehow managing to overlook my three hours of studies outside of class I do a day) and how I need to hang out with the nice American girls my age (by which he means the ditzy bigtitted Republican-'cuz-daddy-is blondes who he slavers over) and so we get into a big fight about that and I take it as my excuse to return to bed.
Lying there, though, I start thinking, and realise that ties do need to be cut a little.
This morning, I walk to the bus stop, and who should be there, drunk from going out the night before, but the Writer. Bear in mind that he doesn't go to class anymore, so this is a rather odd appearance that he has made. He comes upon me sitting on the curb, and talks until I go onto the bus. He says something about the fact that he's honoured that I have chosen to bestow my friendship upon him and that he's glad that he will have my company every evening until I leave.
When was that agreed upon?
I somehow seem to emit secret crazy-people attracting rays from somewhere in my forehead. Or perhaps there's a large tattoo on my back that I was never aware of, located right on that little patch of flesh in the gap between my pants and my shirt.
So this realisation was come to when I was on the metro yesterday and I looked over to where my companion was hanging on to a strap, and oh yes, underneath his arm hair he had slash marks all over his wrist. I began to muse to myself that this was the first time I had seen a male wrist with those kinds of scars-- a guy I knew back in high school had a few, but he had chosen to go for the vein at the elbow. But here they were, vertically down the wrist, almost impressively long. But then I realised that it was kind of weird that I had that kind of familiarity with scarring of that sort at all, and even how to ease in to the conversation about it (and enough familiarity with the idea to realise that this wasn't a conversation I wanted to get into with this particular individual.)
He's... an interesting guy, this one. Former biologist / theoretical psychologist, turned drug dealer, now in Russia to escape his problems and to Write. And write he will, I have no doubt about it... he has a very attractive personality and knows a lot and has a lot of ideas. Unfortunately, though, that in no way precludes him being a fuckup.
We're sitting and talking, and he starts telling me how his psychiatrist friend is building him a sensory deprivation tank, so he can "truly push the boundaries of perceived reality". I was sitting there, thinking that this is a concept with which I have always had a morbid fascination, but at the same time... to actually go through with it? Laudations for the courage, but something needs to be slightly off to want to subject yourself to something like that. Wait... no. That's wrong. There's nothing wrong with trying something like that out of pure scientific curiousity, but the way he talks about it, it seems like he's searching either for some bizarre pure sort of revelation, or to have something twist and snap, so he can justify all his overthinking. He hates any sign of practicality in himself. He told me quite seriously over dinner that he's the reincarnation of Dostoevsky, and that he was thrown into turmoil when he realised that this might not be the case.
I don't know... fascinating guy, but whatever happened to sane people? And how does one keep an escape hatch open, just in case?