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to be an expat

How can I even begin to explain the experiences of an expat?  The great assumption is that East and West are terribly different. One is vilified, the other painted as a land of patriots and heroes. One is crude and filthy the other has streets paved with gold. Look up and you will see miracles of architecture. Beyond the windows there are supposed to be good people, open smiles and warm hearts. How can I tell you that none of this is true? How can I untie my shoes, and somehow put them on your feet three thousand miles away? You would never believe what secrets they have to tell.

Every time I go back to the states I become more embarrassed to be an American. I overhear conversations in the street, the whines of privileged and moneyed voices. Coddled, dumbed-down and mislead they are drunk on a calculated fairly tale. And then back in Moscow, the same ignorance - the same questions from curious taxi drivers about how good it must be in America, where everything is possible and life mu…

on refrigerators


V's feet are slapping against the floor. I hear her before she bursts into the kitchen, a leaf of paper hanging from her hand.
"Papa. Papa. Look. Look." She howls.
The paint is still wet. It is a flurry of brown and blue, some red. My eyes jump wide. I clap my hands.
"Put it on the fridge!" I announce, and she does.
A smile, an expression of complete satisfaction presents itself. She runs out of the room, to do it all again.

This is what all of us want, I tell myself. To be appreciated. To have our work grace a wall. It seems so simple, but in an adult life - how often does this happen? How rare is this?

Then, I remember Jan Groover telling us to tape our latest photographs to the door of the refrigerator. "If you still like it after a week, then you have something." She added, a long thin cigarette dangling from her lip.



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