The last of the binkie wars

I found this month-old gif (originally a cine via Cinemagram) of mine on my phone today:


That was the day before we moved, leaving Novogireyevo for the older and stranger neighborhood of Kuzminki, also in eastern Moscow.

Grandma had introduced Lev to the binkie when he was a few weeks old (without asking my permission, of course. Why should grandma *ever* do something like that?), and moving day was as good as any day to bid it goodbye. We figured that the thrill of a new apartment, new playgrounds, and so on, would distract Lev enough from his old habits – and we were ultimately not mistaken.

In the gif, he has just reclaimed the binkie after I had unsuccessfuly tried to hide it in the kitchen.

A reminder to me that even necessary change is often painful.

It’s been a long January


And it shows no signs of abating. The pacifier has really got to go, but Lev has yet to accept that. A lot of things have got to go, actually. I’ve been waiting for spring cleaning season, but in my head, time has stopped. Spring cleaning season will come and go for other people. Maybe the human race was so enamored of the idea that the world is flat, because falling off the edge had some appeal. The fact that it’s round implies that it’s fairly inescapable. Also, my husband says this picture is from 1987. Proving, once again, that time has stopped, and we never noticed.

2012 was a dreamless kind of year

Because I virtually never slept long enough to see a proper dream.

Our film, “Katya, Vitya, Dima,” premiered in Istanbul and was shown at the Listapad Festival in Minsk. It’s now going to be included in an online festival organized by Novaya Gazeta, one of Russia’s most prominent independent newspapers.

Alexey also worked as one of the directors behind “Winter, Go Away!” a hilarious and sad documentary about modern politics in Russia – it premiered at Locarno and is still on the festival circuit. We showed it together with one of his co-directors, Anton Seregin, in Turin – and that was how I saw Italy for the first time.

I traveled way too much for an alleged mother of a toddler – to Turkey, to Greece, to the Black Sea, to Dubai. Italy was supposed to be the final trip this year, but then we bought plane tickets to Kiev at the last minute, and I am now writing this with a view of our old street, snowed under and encrusted with black ice, as shiny and treacherous as a mirror. The stray dogs were supposed to have been “taken care of” ahead of Euro 2012 this summer, but they are all back, and are as mournful late at night as they ever were.

My boss left The Moscow News, and I became the paper’s acting editor-in-chief. That hasn’t stopped me from staying true to myself, I don’t think. I still have my skull-patterned scarf. Our new chief editor of the website wears jeans with skulls on his bum, so you can say that we have genuine harmony in the office.

I started writing columns in Russian, and began publishing them in Moskovskiye Novosti, our sister paper. This is kind of a big deal for a person who never went to school in Russia. My latest column is about the cruel and self-defeating Dima Yakovlev Bill, which treats orphans not as human beings, but as the country’s strategic resources. In some ways, Russia has moved on from the anti-individualism of the USSR. In other ways, not so much. Or not yet, anyway.

We drove through hills with clouds snagged on top of them, blurring the sun and leaving trails like teardrops on the arms.

And Lev learned many important words. Such as “tea,” for example. On top of the whole walking thing, he’s been a real champ.

Happy New Year, yo. Say no to hard drugs and doomsday cults. Say yes to family bonds and dragons.


Don’t be afraid to get burned.