A vanity picture post in which Natalia goes back to her roots

Blond roots, to be precise. I was born a platinum blonde, grew darker over the years, and have recently been dyeing my hair something called “mahogany brown” (with occasional forays into “auburn sunset”). Now I’ve decided that it’s time to reclaim my blonde ambition.

I like this picture because the computer screen is reflected in my glasses, so that instead of being an Ordinary Dork, I am an Ordinary Dork with Geordie La Forge Pretensions.

As you can tell, I streaked my hair instead of going for a uniform colour. It’s less high-maintenance when the roots start to come in. Roots can be as trendy as anything, but I don’t carry them off very well. Streaked hair also shows off texture, especially if you have some layers going. My hair is naturally streaked, with some strands being very dark, most a medium light brown to dark blond, and a few very blond ones, and I really like enhancing that quality of it.

Also, I like this picture because I’m wearing glasses. I am trying to reclaim glasses. This is because I’m always embarrassed by them. They make me feel as though they obscure me, which is one of the reasons why I prefer contacts. Being teased mercilessly in school probably didn’t help that. I once read, in a Konstantin Paustovsky autobiography, no less, that Slavs respond negatively to glasses because we still associate them with privilege and snobbery. He wrote this over half a century ago, but Ukraine of the early 1990’s wasn’t much different in this regard.

Of course, American schoolchildren make fun of kids and glasses all the time as well, except that there is a stronger “nerd” aspect to it. I don’t think it’s really a class thing. Or not…? What do you think?

And do you think that being blond automatically makes a woman seem less intelligent? A lot of my friends have reported that dyeing their hair blond meant that people treated them differently. I’ve personally never noticed anything like that in my daily life as a blonde, but I could merely be oblivious. Sometimes, ignorance really is bliss.

The same Konstantin Paustovsky autobiography features a scene in which a train station attendant bemoans the invention of the telegraph: “Before, people knew nothing, and they were happy. Now you have the telegraph, saying that Bat’ka Makhno [a famous rebel leader during the civil war] is about to ride in and blow us all to hell.”

OK, that isn’t the actual translation, but it’s pretty close. My books are still a continent and an ocean away from me. And yes, I do feel like that train station attendant rather frequently.

Vanity: pictures of Natalia Antonova (me)

This is for everyone who thinks my blog is shallow. Haw haw.

OK, I’m beset by evil saber-toothed cockroaches, I dreamed of going to Kiev this month and reading Akhmatova among the tulips, and now that this didn’t work out, I am sad, and have writer’s block, and feel like being vain. I also wish to correct the fact that Google image search spits out a picture of the pregnant Monica Bellucci before any of my other pictures. It’s a beautiful shot, but I’m not a pregnant Monica Bellucci, and do not wish to confuse the future generations. Also, the banner on this blog presently makes me look way too emo, spreading even more inaccuracy.

So here I am (rock you like a hurricane?):

I look less like me in this picture and more like a friendly reject from the sort of comic book that will never be made into a crappy blockbuster (thank you, PhotoBooth), but this picture perfectly conveys my life in Dubai.

It was a bit like living on Tatooine.

By contrast, this is me in Jordan:

A war-weary commando, posing with her trusty weapon (dear makers of PifPaf, please make all checks payable to Natalia “Widowmaker” Antonova). They don’t make scarves with dead cockroaches on them, but a scarf with skulls will suffice in spreading terror in the hearts of the enemies. Or so I hope.

All of this is not to say that I am unhappy. On the contrary. Life has a good rhythm overall, and work on the magazine is good (if a little bit tiring as of late). I miss North Carolina, but it’s the people and the nature I miss, not the good old days. It was time to do something new.

“And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover.”
-John Masefield

Pictures of Beautiful People, the May Edition

May is my favourite month. May is my favourite month in Kyiv, specifically. It’s a month of rain, birdsong, and violets. I am not there to witness rain, birdsong, and violets. Instead I’m busy smashing cockroach guts all over the bathroom floor in Amman.

I’d like to say that I am handling this humbling experience well, you know, learning important lessons about the way the world works while learning the topography of the insides of a cockroach. Deriving an all-encompassing metaphor about the transience of life: one minute the cockroach is scuttling, the next minute he is a mass of crumpled exoskeleton and pus (cockroaches being, of course, one part exoskeleton, one part pus, and one part pure unholy evil). Who needs violets when you have the eternal wisdom of splattered corpses waiting to be scraped off of the bottom of a shoe?

I’m trying really hard to convince myself here.




I’ve nothing to get by on except for pictures of beautiful people. This is the May edition – dedicated to elemental beauty, timeless as nature.

Helen Mirren (is a goddess with Russian roots – from, appropriately, Sexy Celebrity Photo Galleries):

Whitney Thompson, winner of Cycle 10 of America’s Next Top Model (the show is like crack, and Whitney is easily my favourite addiction – she is old glamour. From CW. ):

Mark Dacascos and Samuel le Bihan, from one of my favourite movies, “The Brotherhood of the Wolf” (from Electric Dragonfly):

Rajaa al-Sanea (author of “The Girls of Riyadh”. From The New York Observer):

Anne Sexton (a stunningly beautiful poet with stunningly hideous problems. From From The Vault Radio):

Zadie Smith (who needs no introduction, really. From The Institute of Contemporary Arts):

Frank Lampard of Chelsea F.C. (from Defected):

Michael Essien, also of Chelsea F.C. (for those of you keeping up with football this week, you may now have a good idea as to what team I am rooting for. From Bloggers Music):

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, another noted author (who, once upon a time was severely overlooked by some folks… folks who ought to be eating crow. From Jamati Online.):

And, last but never least, Mr. Orlando f*ckin’ Bloom (star of the improbable film known as “Kingdom of Hotness” in rarefied circles. From… crap, can’t find the source of picture. Whups.):

And now, back to cockroach pus!

Kyiv At Dusk

Pictures here. Thank you, LJ user ked-pled.

This is Kiev the way I see it: brittle around the edges, burdened by its history, a little sleepy, shadowy around the eyes, and shaped like love is shaped – with blunt lines and soft rays of light.

On evenings like this, you can smell your neighbours’ bad cigarettes and identify within yourself the burning desire to listen to DDT’s “Rojdennii v SSSR” (Born in the USSR) on repeat as the last drops of the day are squeezed patiently from your already rather wrung-out heart.

Questing for Pictures of Gorgeous Men

On most weeks, one of the most popular posts on this blog is the Beautiful Women post. It was by no means meant to be exhaustive, but I had fun putting it together and reading the different responses. I might do Beautiful Women Part Two in the future, but until then, I’d like to focus on the menz.

I am putting up some of my own ideals of male beauty, and would like you to offer your own thoughts and suggestions on the subject (or else just trash my taste). As usual, such photographic quests are often restricted to pictures of celebrities, so if you’ve got a non-celebrity to contribute, it would make the entire experience even better.

Please enjoy the gorgeousness responsibly.



Anton Pavlovich Chekhov:

Anton Pavlovich Chekhov

Taye Diggs:

Taye Diggs

Viktor Tsoi:

Viktor Tsoi

Kal Penn:

Kal Penn

Gerard Butler:

Gerard Butler

Naveen Andrews:

Naveen Andrews

Yurii Gagarin:

Yurii Gagarin

Konstantin Khabenskii:

Konstantin Khabenskii

Patrick Stewart:

Patrick Stewart

Javier Bardem:

Javier Bardem

That’s it for now. I am all gorgeoused-out. How about you?