It’s Orthodox Christmas

And it’s about as un-Christmas like as I’ve had since moving to the Slavic world. Which isn’t to say that it’s a bad one, quite the opposite.

This old Tori Amos lyric keeps playing in my head: “And if you could see me now…” I’m not sure to whom it’s addressed to, though.

I keep thinking, “Well, anyone can see me, really. I am a very open person. Too open for my own good. But I’m too open – and too old – to regret that last bit.”

So much of growing up involves learning to go on. Not being dragged through life by fate or chance or one’s only halfway articulated longings, but going on. Accepting the paradox of being in charge of your own existence and not being in charge of anything at all. Getting up in the mornings without too much complaining. Calmly stirring your tea in a cafe, knowing full well that in the next minute, a person who will once again change your life, for better or for worse, may walk in – and not waiting for that person. Not waiting for the other shoe to drop. Not waiting for anything at all – except for the tea to get down to drinkable temperature, that is.

It’s likely that you have no idea as to what I’m talking about. Then maybe you are not a neurotic writer type – the one who sees a potential plot development in every snowflake that falls on the hero’s collar. Maybe you’ve always known what it’s like to let go. In that case, I envy and admire you.

You can see the paradox of free will and no will playing out in the expression of Bronzino’s Madonna here:

bronzino madonna with child and saints
The Madonna with Child and Saints


I’m not going to comment on it, because it’s something you either see or don’t see.

I am learning to see.

Merry Christmas.

7 thoughts on “It’s Orthodox Christmas

  1. Wow, you’re like, so deep. Especially for a pseudo-feminist writer who has shamelessly used her looks to further her career (trust me, you’re pretty famous for it). I had no idea why they let you guest post at Feministe so much until something clicked for me: you and Jill Fillipovic are just another pair of feminist Mean Girls. Only she is the failed Sex & the City co-star indulging in the vapid lifestyle of a New York lawyer, and you’re the crazy Russian “author” with no scruples living in soulless Moscow.

    Seriously, you are the worst Feministe guest blogger.

    And that painting sucks. Women become “saints” because they become moms, wouldn’t you just LOOOOOOVE to believe that.

    You’re just another sexist pig.

  2. Ahahaha – for someone who seems to have something against Feministe, you sure have spent a long time looking at their archives! You also seem really cool and well-adjusted. Buh-bye.

  3. The funny thing is, this kind of crazy-making is pretty common for this little blog. And I am fairly certain as to why. But that’s a long story. Also, happy new year! 🙂

  4. @Maria L

    If you knew Natalia’s personal history as she’s reported it on this blog, you would not call her a “pseudo-feminist.” As to Natalia’s “shamelessly” using her looks “to further her career,” you probably know that, in real-life (non-Internet) professions, both men and women use their looks all the time to further their careers. Studies have even shown that conventionally-attractive men and women are likely to enjoy more professional success than non-conventionally-attractive men and women; so Natalia’s use of her appearance as part of her personal brand is nothing out of the ordinary. Her self-portraits are not meant to be manipulative, either. They’re meant to be visually pleasing, so that readers will further enjoy reading her blog. That’s not the same as manipulation. Your objections to Natalia’s use of her appearance are very, very Protestant, and even Augustinian (who thought that any experience of sensual pleasure separated us from God). You need to re-examine your response to Natalia’s self-presentation and find out why you’re so enraged by it.

    Also, Natalia has never, ever implied that motherhood made her a “saint.” If you read her blogpost from a few days earlier, you would find out that she feels just the opposite.

    @Natalia Antonova

    When you talk about “free will” and “no will,” are implying something similar to your earlier writing (a year back) that “you can’t change who you are, you can only change what you do with who you are”? If so, by “no will,” do you mean ‘being in a woman’s body’ or even ‘being a woman’s body’? Your writing is hard to understand.

  5. I know what you are talking about Natalia, and I can see the point you are coming from. Although I haven’t written anything yet, I too see a potential plot in everything. You can sit and stir your tea for as long as you want, but that person that could change your life might be a no show. Live life to the fullest, those people and opportunities find you where ever you are, the key is having the wisdom to choose the right ones.

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