Tuesday, May 6, 2014


My radio silence as of late has been directly related to my Fulbright productivity. By some miracle, I have finished a second draft of my novel. “Second draft” should by no means lead anyone to believe that I have produced anything of quality, but rather that I am a masochist with a lot of free time and an even greater amount of fictional friends. The last few weeks have been a blur of solitude—I’ve been spending hours staring at my laptop, cringing at my own bad writing, and trying to remember to put on pants before my flatmates get home from work. My conversations with the cat have become exponentially weirder, and I even asked Belka to start ghostwriting for me; she responded by clawing my thigh until it bled. It was a wake-up call that I should probably find a new interlocutor, and a reminder of the perils of writing without pants.

Belka passed out after a tiring morning of attacking me

The game plan now is to do one final draft before I leave Russia and then send it off to my devoted editor, aka my little sister. She has been giving me brutally honest criticism ever since she picked the lock on my first diary and mocked the opening lines of my kindergarten confessions. That’s dedication right there.

Stephie is the best/weirdest/insert superlative

While I’ve been writing, Moscow has been preparing for Victory Day. This is a celebration of the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in WWII. There will be parades held in major cities across the country, including the Crimea, with the biggest one happening here in Moscow. Because the route to Red Square passes right by my apartment, I’ve been privy to two practice runs. Leningrad Avenue is seventeen lanes wide and I have never seen it devoid of traffic, so it was rather eerie to see it closed off and rumbling with tanks as far as the eye could see. It’s good to see that Moscow still has the power to shock, awe, and scare me.

Tanks for days

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