Archive for the ‘Nous, les enfants du xxème siècle’ Category

A Pole once told me that I was lucky to be a szkop in Russia. Castrated? Yes. He said try being a Pollack or a black arse.

Stick with Nemsty.

Indeed, Nemtsy means mute and refers to the lack of communication and comprehension, the language barrier between early Hanseatic Germans and Russians. The name stuck. Yes, some twist this to mean Russians think Germans are dumb. But, really, the days of potato and sausage references are long gone irrelevant (Russians love their Kartoshka and Kolbassa!), and allegations of neat gardens amongst shit-heaps, well… And unlike the Western Allies, Russians and Soviets generally didn’t seek to degrade their German Nazi enemy with collective slurs. Perhaps excepting Damn Germans, and individual (understandable) expletives and profanities which didn’t linger. … Unlike “us”. … We lingered long, woven into the fabric, sometimes freely, sometimes forced by circumstance, surprising to outsiders, quite the extent: Germans in Russia.


The Kids Of Degrassi Street? In time, play button permitting, maybe tomorrow.

Today, more likely The Littlest Hobo, or any number of TVOntario (Educational) programs.

The boy walked over to the 12 inch TV and twisted the knob. The world awaited.


Papka didn’t mind me staying up and watching the news. 21:00. Time, Forward!

Cue the music, emotion and memories: today, tomorrow and yesterday’s. Yes, it’s still stirring night after night, into perpetuity.


They say a lot of things, they don’t understand.

They react to pain, current and inherited.

They hate you, real and imagined.

They sit in the waiting room, agitated,

not knowing from second to second whether and/or if their time is coming, now.

Like evil little lambs to the slaughter…

Stomachs churn.


Forward? Hah! Trying to wipe out the past. Fixated on what was, losing sight of what is. Sigh. Progression feels like regression.



A boy in the West, a child of the ’70s/’80s, whatever that means.

Fatherless, his mother worked hard to provide the best for him.

From Catholic school to sundries, it generally meant education, knowledge, information, progress.

One year: a computer, Commodore Vic 20.

Another year: a set of encyclopedias.

Indeed, he loved learning, the world and its people, he loved these books.

In one volume there was a picture of some Pioneers. Children, not much older than him, from a far-off land, stern faces, serious intent. The boy had heard tell of this country and these people, referred to in terms of enemy and “other”. Dangerous and alien, beware. … The encyclopedia article concurred with these vibes.

He sighed.

Misha cried. We all cried. It was beautiful. It was bitter-sweet. We knew it was a kind of end, but in a good way.

Question was: was it the beginning of the end, or merely the end of the beginning?

A new chapter awaited.

It’s not linear, or always easy to comprehend. It’s not necessarily smooth-flowing or logical in its steps. Jilting and jarring, at odds with itself and your senses, it’s not like a movie or TV show, where the outcome is decided before the journey.

It’s love, in a Cold War. Yesterday and today.

Imagination and masturbation goes a long way.


My mother worked on a floating fish-processing behemoth.

Baltic and North Sea, sometimes Atlantic, she was gone for weeks at a time.

I didn’t see much more of her than a photograph.

My father was a quiet drunk, he did the best he could.

It was the Soviet times, I had a good childhood. Misha was my friend. I ran and played, explored and collected, I had a nature table. The bear was in the forest, and beyond; we were on top of the world, a moral and physical pinnacle. In time, I was a Pioneer girl.


Crumbling society, kept intact by cells of people communicating, bonding banally, base-level, primal, guttural grunts.

Crumbling society, personal and collective decay, where every effort to fix and repair, to improve, is met with complication and failure, the inevitability of futility.

Crumbling society, your actions and inactions are vanity and conceit, your despair is self-righteousness and any remaining hope is foolishness, punishable by imprisonment, life sentence. Living death penalty.

Crumbling society. Here and now. Escape, somehow. You and me. The seven seas.


Everything was over. Or, at least, everything had changed. I was “lucky” enough to find myself momentarily stationed in a gateway of sorts. Many of my comrades sold whatever they could and moved on as soon as possible. I felt a prompting within and kept what little I had, paramount of which was my utilitarian gray coat. Oh, that beautiful wool. Cold, damp desperation seeping into almost everything, my coat was my last remaining barrier. It contained my everything within. It contained me. … I kept my hands in the pockets and stretched my legs out as the train carried (time) forward (!) and, instead of thinking about the future, I remembered that girl on the beach from yesterday, yes, eating melon. … Russians and Ukrainians, I smiled to myself, eyes shut, we both love the luxury of eating fruit.

Panicking, tight chest and pains, she didn’t know what to do with herself. She lay in bed but found no rest.

I could offer no solace. I’d already extended love, affection and (as best I could muster) encouragement. I’d also massaged her back until my hands ached.

But there was no changing the facts of the matter and the matter of the facts. She wanted to join Anja for the road trip to Perth.

Perth? Hah! It’s somewhere in line with Irkutsk, but on another planet, in an American solar system. Australia is something like Brazil, I imagine, just fewer people, and somewhat more peaceful, with big distances and wide spaces. Perhaps, then it isn’t so different from Russia. … I look up at the stars and wonder.

How it began:

Hot day, she was eating melon.

They said she was Russian. But then I saw her toenails and I knew she was Ukrainian. I smiled.