Goodbye to The Moscow News: on riding off into the sunset yet again

“Again the well-worn saddle creaks,
And the wind chills an old wound;
Monsieur, where in the name of hell have you wound up?
Can it be you can’t afford a bit of calm?”

After nearly four years, I am leaving The Moscow News. Now that our owner, the RIA Novosti agency, has been liquidated, the paper has been put on hiatus, all of our social media channels are frozen, and the audience we have worked very hard to build has been left wondering what’s going to happen next. I will not be with TMN in the next chapter, so I will not be the one answering that question.

I do sincerely hope that the paper will be reopened – and that it will thrive.

I also have words of advice for everyone interested both in the media and in Russia.

To say that the future is uncertain is to say that the celestial void is somewhat daunting to behold. What’s especially hard to accept is that with regard to Ukraine, nothing may ever be the same again. It’s a scary, painful time. And it’s almost bizarre to observe how the stuff of headlines and news reports also has to do with your family and fate.

Personally speaking, I have been asking myself whether or not I would change anything if given the chance to go back. The answer is “no.”

I’ve also been asking myself how I really feel about everything – and in the end, all I can think about is how grateful I am for every single day I spent in the company of amazing people, doing something I loved. 

So here’s to love. And to the past. And to the future.

the musketeers agree

No, idiots, Belle Knox is not an “embarrassment” to Duke

Ever since the so-called “Duke porn star scandal” hit the headlines, random people have repeatedly asked me if I am “embarrassed” by it as a Duke alumna.

Tony-Stark-Eyeroll

The short answer is: “No.”

The somewhat-longer answer is: “No, are you freaking kidding me/what the hell is wrong with you/are you for real?”

Here are some things, meanwhile, that I AM embarrassed by:  Continue reading

In a Kiev that might as well have existed one thousand years ago

I realized that outside of time, the Kiev that exists today and the Kiev that existed a thousand years ago is the same.

I also realized the other day that you need a glimmer of happiness inside you to be able to tell sad stories – so that you have perspective.

The act of telling itself is dependent on timing. It’s the wrong time to tell the story I am about to tell you.

Of course, it helps that it isn’t really a story. It’s just another pattern stitched somewhere on the sleeve of the universe.

In this pattern, I am younger and I am a blonde instead of a redhead. There is a hand holding my blond ponytail. That hand is twisted away by another hand.

It’s summer in Kiev, it’s a national holiday (or there was just a concert downtown, or football – right away, there are parts I am no longer sure of), there is a fair amount of revelers downtown, some of them drunk, and these two security guards are particularly drunk and belligerent, and they’ve just graduated from verbal abuse to touching, and between encountering them and what is happening now no more than a minute has (probably) passed, and I am too stunned to do anything about it in that very moment, so in that very moment, a Berkut officer gets them off of me with such frightening efficiency that I am too scared to thank him at first, lest he is about to go after me next. Continue reading

Darkness on the Edge of Moscow: excerpt 2

Previous excerpt here.

“Do your friends actually call you La?” He tried and failed to stifle a laugh.

“Close friends.” The label on the beer bottle would not come off no matter how hard she scraped at it. “So you, for example, would have to refer to me as Nelly.”

“Where did Nelly come from?”

“Full name’s Leonella.”

“Wow.”

He began to say something else. La’s gaze wandered downward. On the street below, a garbage truck was trying to turn around. Its path was blocked by a flashy sports car with its hazards on. She saw the truck’s driver jump out from the cabin and shake his fist in the direction of the sports car. The driver of the sports car leaned on the horn.

From up high, it was hard to tell whom to side with.

Continue reading