Monday, May 17, 2004


Monday morning 5:00am

I guess I just thought it was time for a state of the art address. I am afraid that the tambour of this piece will be along the lines of what is known here as “nostalgia”, a little rumination about what was and what could have been and what would have been better. People here are trying to get over this and go on. I am too, but sometimes I guess you simply can’t help it. The court hearing will be on Thursday of this week. I suppose I would do better preparing for it but to tell the truth I am not all that clear thinking at the moment. Two days ago, Saturday was the second anniversary of Poland’s invading my and ruining my life, and there was nothing particularly brilliant anywhere to show that things are any better than how they left me. Oh, for sure I can see that there are signs in Belarus that thing are getting better, but they don’t seem to have any connection to me directly. That is to say, that though I see that there are signs of life here, I have no place in this community really. And the great irony was that this was all that I wanted when I decided to try and stay here. I will do my best to try and explain this.

I have always believed that a person needs a good face in order to live amongst people well. I know that there are those who believe that they should master those around them or to create an environment of fear in order to do this, but I have always felt that peaceful cohabitation came simply from enabling mutual respect to exist. You gotta have a job, you gotta interact in a meaningful way, and you have to exist in such a way that when people dismiss you from their mind, as of course they will (we are not kings you know) it is best that they dismiss you in a place of respect, that is to say that they are comfortable with the picture that you have made in their mind when any particular interaction is over. That is what your face is.

This was my philosophy when I came here. I wanted something I had not found in New York, and I thought that I had the possibilities for these things here with Tatyana. I saw a need, a gap in the social fabric and thought that I could fill it rather easily, and that in doing so, would set up a social situation that would allow me to have a pretty cool face, and therefore a pretty easy social ride here. Or perhaps it would be said better to say that I would be easy to be remembered as a friend to a large enough amount of people for life to have some measure of sweetness in it.

I am not a lazy man. I am not afraid of work, but simply wanting to work has got nothing to do with whom you work for or how you are paid for that work. You need to have that gap to fill and you need to have the concurrence of the people who would interact with you, and pay you, and be friends with you.

And in fact this was the case two years ago when I came here. Oh, it was a honeymoon. Absolutely. Artist, sportsman, social thinker… I had that face thing going on. “Why are you here?” My grandma was from here- I met the most beautiful girl in the world here once, I thought at one time that this was the most beautiful place I had ever seen because of how people interacted with each other; I want to live here, I wanna make a bike shop here, I wanna make my plays here… I wanna stay and help. Christ what face I had. Support? I had everybody. Oh, yea, they thought I was a little nuts for even wanting to be here. The general idea was that it was much better to run away than it was to do anything about it; this more a part of the decade long depression the place was experiencing over the loss of a beloved culture and how repulsive this new life was. But I was accepted you see. If I wanted to stay and do bicycles here, well, advocating a healthy life was very Russian and advocating inexpensive transportation alternatives was all well and good. And ideas? Well, if we have an artist living here, that would at least be interesting. Why not?

And it was with this face that I went to Poland to get a new visa and to see if I couldn’t borrow some money to pick up some bikes and some parts and to open a small shop see of I couldn’t introduce myself as a playwright- and of course settle I with Tatyana whose acceptance of me into her life was the key to this whole thing. And then I never came back. And in place of my face being here for everybody to see, and my work being here, and some opportunity coming along with me, all people got here was confusion and words. Instead of being someone who said that they respected the place and would treat people in a human manner despite repulsive living conditions and an impossible economic level I became something of a pariah overnight. Was I a criminal? Did I really lose my temper and attack an man and his daughter arbitrarily at an intersection simply because after years and years of biking experience I suddenly was overcome with rage over there not being enough room between the cars? Could this be true?

Well you know, you can kill young plants really easily. Oh, after they grow a little, you can hang swings on them and picnic under them, but when they are small, it really doesn’t take much to wipe them out. And they kept me there for almost a year, making me pay for every day, making me sit there and suffer ever day.

I have had this happen in my life now, don’t you know.

So this is the state of my life right now:

Got another box from Mel Pinto Imports of Virginia- A couple things I had asked for to see of we couldn’t fix the bike problem at the moneyless bike school. Hell of a guy, Mel Pinto is. $27 just for the 3kg postage and he hasn’t charged me a penny yet. I get to put these things on some of our bikes in time for the “Olympics”, a sort end-of-the-year multi-sport festival that will be held in Brest starting Tuesday. Good timing there I would say.

Tatyana is in the hospital. She has a small complication. She went there to find out if she was pregnant or not and found out that she was, but that it was somewhat problematic. They are keeping her for a week or more. She does not seem to be getting better at the moment.

I have about $20 in the bank at the moment and have very little chance for any income over the next few months. There is some possibility of being accepted by both the bike school and the banking university, but this as yet has not happened, and of course, the school year is ending in both places, though the bike school will continue to train.

Economically, I think Tatyana’s family is somewhat better off then they were- this because of a long term addition that was made to the portfolio. I am glad I was able to help with this, though in the end I know I made a much smaller contribution than what should have been. No specifics publicly, though of you have been reading this with any attention, you know what we did and it is pretty normal for the region and the culture.

The theatre here continues to be a dead embarrassment.

They are selling mountain bikes in the state shops, and there is perhaps several hundred on the streets. This of course meaning that both my idea was possible and sound and that my window of even reasonable opportunity has closed.

Anyway, that is the story. I guess I am going to be mailing a lot of letter to the press this week, advertising the contents of my blog and the book and trying to talk a lot about what has been going on. After two years though, I am kind of old news, especially in the face of how the Americans treated their Iraqi “prisoners”…

Its 6:33 AM right now, and I have to get the kid up and off to school. He has got maybe two weeks left until the vacation. This last weekend he rode on the bikes with me over 25km twice- good kid. Its cold in the house, the hot water having been turned off for the radiators over a month ago, but they have even turned of the hot water in general, so there is nothing but a cold shower to look forward too. Breakfast will be soup and bread and then, after the kid goes off, I have a few hours of mechanics to do till about 5pm and then I will go with the kid to visit his mom in the hospital before coming back here for homework for him and anything I feel like contributing to this Polish business. Tomorrow is about the same… And you know…

Ah the hell with it; that was enough.

Oh, and please, if this is the first blog of mine you have read, read one more. I have a pretty good piece of reality the next addition down. With a picture…

More soon.