Monday, July 04, 2011


I have been holed up in the house for the last 10 or 12 days. The reason for this is that I have a wound on my foot that I am trying to let heal. The healing process is taking place but it is going really slowly. I have been doing this in opposition to the idea that I should be laying in the hospital, which is something that I didn’t want to do. This is not because I am completely opposed to Russian hospitals though, if you were a westerner and had to take a look inside one of these places you would think that they were not the most sterile places you had ever seen and very un-hospital-like. I do think that there is some possibility of receiving reasonable care there and at least among the higher ranking doctors there is a most reasonable competence in the practice of medicine. Probably a lot of the positives stem from their not being beholden to as many laws or malpractice liabilities; hence they are a bit freer to act and as they are bound by tighter finances, they tend to aim for quicker and more direct results. I am not going to be an apologist and say that money is at the root of all medical evils but if you were to ask a Russian doctor about it, this would be the sole topic of conversation. There isn’t of course enough money to pay for anything and this is especially true right now here, in the midst of the third economic crisis.

But I elected to do my healing at home simply because I am more comfortable here than there. The food at the hospital does suck. I don’t like having my fingers pricked every three hours. I don’t like being poked and prodded. And so I decided to try and do this myself. I read some medical articles on the internet, listened to what the doctors here had to say, bought the meds I needed and have simply been sitting here trying to rest the foot. I have not been the most perfect patient, but it is obviously, if slowly, getting better and so I feel ok about my decision.

So all is ok except for the fact that during the time that I have been sitting here, I have noticed I am going crazy. Why? Well, I am officially on vacation and not working this month and so the actual amount of traffic coming through is quite dissipated. The weather has not been inviting or anything even close to beach or bicycling weather, so you would think this would be a positive for me. But having every day be cold and rainy is depressing as hell even if you can’t go out and being stuck hobbling between my chair, the kitchen and the toilet is driving me batty.

But what I think is the worst part of this is the actual sitting. It is the lack of movement that really kills. After a while, you start feeling kind of dirty and this starts to affect how you see things. It creates a feeling of rot and stagnation and depression. Everything because antagonistic and negative. And eventually, it stops you from being able to work.

When I started these writings it was for the purpose of getting into shape for doing two larger writing projects. But now, being stuck here in this room with nothing to do but think about stuff, I find myself barraged by ideas about what is possible and what is not possible and what I need to do and what I don’t. And suddenly, there are simply too many choices rattling around between my ears. Maybe, if there is something good coming from all of this it is that I am starting to have a greater appreciation for what it must be like for my less than successful students to come here. Although as a teacher I do try to recommend the fastest course possible toward achieving some competence in the English language not everyone can adapt to the work. If a student has to do some reading or some writing but doesn’t aggressively attack that task, they can get into a real rut. I see that now. And that rut and all of the subsequent internal turmoil can really de-motivate them from the project, no matter how important it was to them at the start. You stop, even for a moment, you decide not to push, better to relax. But then time passes and you find you have forgotten some percent of your study. You want to start again but you don’t remember how and suddenly you begin spiraling left and right. You start experimenting with alternative ideas , most probably with ideas which have more Russian in them, yea, that’s the ticket! But then comes lesson day and of course now you find yourself in the difficult social situation of having to explain yourself to a teacher. You are like a child again and humiliated by your own stupid actions. You have to be polite but obviously, you are now a fool as nothing has happened and nothing has been learned. And worse, you have now made yourself allergic to what you have invested in.

But here I am these last two weeks facing the same situation. I wanted to write some blogs for a very specific reason but I didn’t do them. Why? We’ll, it was because actually sitting down and doing the work became offensive to me. Why? I don’t know. Maybe it hurts to sit here. Maybe I just I didn’t want to sit here. Or maybe I started thinking that I didn’t know what I wanted to say or even why I am saying what I am saying. But also: To whom am I saying these things and for what reason? What again was the reason for this blog? And, then, even if I can actually remember why, and at least I think it was a good reason, there is now the new question as to whether that original thought was the only real course of logic.

I just couldn’t make myself write. In fact, I can’t seem to finish anything right now.

Yesterday I tried to read some Russian horror stories for a while. One was a modern gothic tale of some gangsters haunted by the ghosts of the men they had killed and buried. Digging up graves in the rain at night and the smell of rotting putrefaction is something I can understand right now. And it wasn’t wasting time: I have a court date in two weeks and I want to get my Russian in shape for that. I want to present myself fairly. But right in the midst of that reading, I started rethinking whether I should be doing something else altogether and suddenly, I couldn’t even read any more. I just stopped and wallowed in my haze. I finally finished the story this morning, only 14 hours late. What exactly happened in those 14 hours?

There is simply too much on the mind. There is simply too much on the mind.

I think that in the end, what I would like to say is that life is about progress. A long time ago I tried to show a rather depressed young boy something about what life was about. I took a piece of paper and drew a dot towards the left side of the page and put a circle around it.

“This is you right now.”

Then I sprinkled several other dots around his point.

“And these are your friends who like hanging out and getting into trouble. These are drinking, doing drugs, spreading social diseases, trying to catch aids, etc… you know, all the things that probably make life worth living.”

He looked intently at the dots.

“The problem is gravity.” I said. “As long as this one dot never moves, the gravitation will force the other dots towards it and it towards the other dots. And, like protons and neutrons they begin to make a closed orbital structure around a static center. And then what do we have? Well like stagnant water: Rotting dots.”

He nodded sternly. Then I added a second dot towards the right side of the page.

“Now, this is a goal. I don’t know what it is but it is something important, something that must be done and that something, because it is important to you, will make you do some good work, in order to get there.”

I drew a line between his dot and the goal.

“You see, you now, because you are actually going somewhere, you will have to make value judgments based up what is really important. There will be a choice of direction. You can hang out, but if your goal is important to you, to your life, to your future- because you actually have something to do, hanging out or getting wrecked will have to be done with moderation because it will negatively influence the quality and speed of your more important journey.”


I know I am not the first person to have thought of that because when I myself was “hanging out” in Oregon, the hippies told me that the most important thing to them was to actually be addicted to something. It wasn’t important to what; they just needed to be addicted because without their goal, the need for immediate gratification, life was simply not worth living.

And actually, there were no particular results from my speech. I think that kid went to jail.

Christ, I am in a foul mood.

But all of that aside, I do believe forward progress is salvation from the evils of this world. I actually hate using that term but I guess that is the point. But yet here I am just sitting and stewing. I didn’t come here to wallow in self pity, I am not drinking my time away and I do not have a slew of narcotics around me unless you consider antibiotics to be narcotics. But the forward progress has simply ceased. And I am not working towards the goals and have been letting self pity and doubt cloud my road. There are a plethora of ghosts talking in my ears right now. And I hate it. This is no way to live a life; unable to move, unable to walk and no place to go.

Jesus, I wish the skin would grow back on my fucking foot already.

More soon…