SWF. Chicago. Virgo. I have a lovely job at a prestigious library. I have a lovely degree from a prestigious university. I was raised by crazy people and have a horrible, tragic past. People say I’m beautiful. People say I’m intelligent. But I’m not beautiful or intelligent enough to get away with anything interesting.
I’m American. A, v dushe moei…
I was raised in small town America when the Cold War was raging. A kid called me a Russian spy in the 4th grade. I don’t know why. I have a Russian-sounding name, mysterious looks and was awkwardly shy and quiet. In the 5th grade, a group of students were talking about a war with Russia, and my teacher stopped everything to show us a little film about how the Russians were not evil, but normal people just like us, but with crappy leaders, is all (I would add, “just like us.”) Gorbachev was my hero when I was 10. I went to a Catholic high school where Russian was offered. I learned the word “расстроено” in one of the first lessons and decided I liked the way this language sees the world. In college, I studied Radio, TV & Film and Slavic Languages & Literature. I went to Moscow in the 90’s and I returned to find a gaping hole in my heart.
I think America and Russia have more in common than they can admit. And I think their faults and accomplishments are two sides of the same coin. When America and Russia fight I feel like the neglected kid in a dysfunctional family.
I’m fascinated with politics. Not what we see on TV but the actual process. The ideas are beautiful and the systems are perverse, but in the end, we’re just trying to figure out a way to share a planet and make it work. In my spare time I’m active in local politics, working on campaigns, etc. in Chicago. It’s exhilarating. I knock on the doors of complete strangers and ask them what they care about. How crazy is that? I’m very passionate about what I believe. The ideals of both Communism and Democracy bring me to tears. Their failures do too. I believe even though we will never get there we must continue to try. A lot of valuable or interesting things have come from the just trying.
I’ve been blogging half-heartedly for a while. My first foray into blogging was the Dean campaign and Democracy for America. I dabbled a bit at several progressive blogs during the Bush years, and found myself at European Tribune.(Originally meant to be a European version of Daily Kos, it evolved into a more intellectual affair with a strong emphasis on economics.) Blogging has earned me the following labels: ”left-wing ideologue,” “neo-Stalinist,” “Putin apologist,” “Manta Ray of political analysis,” “genius of unique wit and erudition,” “flake,” “overly sensitive,” “truly talented writer” and “a hippie.” I am not a hippie.
I began writing about Russia right as the New Cold War began, in an attempt to figure out what the hell was going on and why. I knew nothing about post-1998 Russia, Vladimir Putin, pipelines, “shock therapy” or American foreign policy in that part of the world. I did know that 1) nothing is so absolutely mad that Russia (or America) won’t try it, 2) Moscow was a horror show in the 1990’s, 3) my personal experience has been that Russian reality is generally not reflected in American reporting about that country, 4) the same U.S. administration and media who had tried to sell me the war in Iraq was trying to sell me a new cold war and 5) all democracy is dirty and messy and managed. Since then I’ve learned a lot. A lot. And I still wont claim to know what I’m talking about when I don’t. Unfortunately, the bar for knowing what you’re talking about has been set criminally low.
My other interests come off all French: philosophy, literature, art, film, feminism, fashion, boys, coquetry. I’m a union member. I smoke, drink, and don’t believe in God. And I shamelessly adore Vladimir Vladimirovich, for reasons both noble and ignoble. I suppose I’m some people’s nightmare. It’s probably mutual…