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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…

the daughters of time


Truth is the daughter of time, not authority. 
Yes, I thought as I read this. The text is attributed to Francis Bacon, but Mary Tudor before that and truly Cicero before her. It is an old idea, profoundly comforting in this age of un-reason. In time, this will all make sense.

The rooms are dark. I work in silence, bare feet sweeping across the floor to make coffee, to hang the wash to dry. The light is soft and dim in the windows. The snow has come, a sort of relief. A filthy wet blanket, a constant. My hands smell of garlic and ginger. There are great cups of hot black tea, steam climbing to the ceiling.

The little one is triumphant, marching around half-naked with her head flipped all the way back in a great laugh. My wife is half-whirlwind, capable of the impossible before breakfast. My older daughter is a mysterious collection of bones and thoughts, a jumble that aligns itself when I look out of the corner of my eye and then hides again. I have a small pile of new pages, a new book, a plane parked on the runway but at least in the airport. The camera is full of fresh film. There is money in the bank. There is a little ice cream left in the freezer.

Maybe everything will be ok.

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