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the long way around

The living room is a forest of mic stands and cables. A cup of coffee, a large glass of water and a shallow shot of whiskey sit on the tiny white table. I alternate between them, making sure the guitar is in tune, trying to understand if the chair will creak when I lean my head back on the second chorus.  There is a hush in the room. I can hear my own heartbeat. The lyrics are printed out on a fresh piece of paper, large and thick so I can read them easily even though I sing with my eyes closed and will surely forget a handful of words no matter what I do.

The guitar sounds dry, perfect - even honest. I can play a simple D chord with a long strum, or the side of my thumb and it sounds so different. I record a few takes, barefoot in the bright room. I am going too fast in some parts, and my fingers are already sore from the chord changes.

And then all at once, I am thinking of a show I played in an old factory in Brooklyn, way back when I had just started writing songs almost twenty y…

Queen Lubov


It is almost three in the morning. The computer hums, chugging away. I am refining a greenscreen matte, coaxing the edge until it disappears, until the character meshes with the scene as if they are just one story.  In this episode, animated snow is falling in great drifting loops. A giant woman stands above the buildings, looking down on the city with a mysterious expression on her face. It is not the first time I have cast Sasha as an enigmatic femme fatale. She makes playing Lubov look all too easy, strutting in heels, tilting her chin up, flipping her hair.

I reach the end of the sequence, and a satisfied hush takes over the room. I sip some cold amaro, bitter and cold and syrupy. Sleep comes quickly.

The next day, there are planes flying low above the clouds. They are seeding, dumping chemicals to keep it from raining on the parades tomorrow - the 9th of May, when the Russians defeated the Nazis in the "great patriotic war". Victory day, complete with tanks and uniforms, jets shrieking overhead, music pounding, crowds waving flags, children hoisted on shoulders.

But now snow begins to fall outside the windows, and I think of the snow I watched all night in the computer, making the flakes bigger or smaller, disappearing when they got too close, slowing them down, wafting them from side to side. Here, they are real, outside the balcony and soon they are falling in great uncontrollable splotches, dark clumps flying past the kitchen as I warm up leftovers and make couscous. E is laughing, playing Christmas music and cracking jokes to her friends.

I watch the snow falling, somehow the best tv show ever. Trees green and wet are bending in the wind. The windows fog up. Drops slide past me, slow wet trickles that fall nine stories onto parked cars and those fresh stripes of paint on the road. This is Spring in Moscow, more surreal than any imagination.




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