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no gold (things will have to wait)

There is an old Russian expression for the inevitable moment when your neighbors begin renovating. "Searching for gold in the walls." They say, to describe the epic sounds of drills in ancient concrete. You might appreciate this odd humor, this dark joke, this survival tactic. I am not so graceful a man to wrap my thoughts around it. Those drills and grinders, they shake the very walls of our apartment. Early on Sunday mornings and often long into the evenings they go.

This has been going on for the last four months, maybe more. I stopped counting.

I cannot imagine there are any walls left, that there is an entire open floor below us, the wind whipping through the naked beams and nothing else. That is the only explanation. Or that they break down walls, build new ones, find a flaw, some grand mistake and then break all of the walls down again. Not swiftly with sledgehammers, but with one crappy old drill with a dull bit, mashing away, so that children hundreds of miles away…

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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