Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Moscow and the Meaning of Life

On Thursday morning, I’ll be speaking to the new group of Fulbrighters, who are going to be congregating in Moscow for their Fulbright orientation. I’ve been wracking my brain for advice to impart, but to no avail. I don’t know that they really expect useful information from me, but since Thursday also happens to be my 30th birthday, I feel like I should be a font of wisdom by now. In actuality, the only thing I’ve figured out after 30 years on this planet is that the meaning of life is not going to be found in Russia.

My most insightful thought on Russia was actually stolen from a friend a few weeks back. Convinced that he was saying terribly wise things, I scrawled down his quotes on a napkin throughout the evening. Sometime between him telling me “I’m not Carrie f***ing Bradshaw” and “It’s like a butcher shop with no raw meat,” he also said that life in Moscow is “akin to falling down an elevator shaft.” For whatever reason, all three of these things struck a chord with me, though I had a little trouble piecing together the context the next morning (I’m still only 1 for 3). Regardless of what he meant, the elevator shaft line is being appropriated for the first sentence of my third chapter of the fourth draft of my novel (if I ever get there). But somehow, I don’t think that’s the best opening for a talk with a group of government-sponsored grantees.

If I don’t figure out something brilliant by Thursday, I might just recycle the plot of my novel and pretend like it’s my real life. That was basically my Moscow experience, even if it all happened in my head. And maybe that goes for the meaning of life as well.

Autumn in Moscow, just because

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