Getting to Russia: Leaving Home Pt.2

Passport.

Ticket.

Boarding pass.

Checked twice.

And then me.

Antigua –> London (Gatwick – TN)
Oct 11 2015
2140 – 1030 (0750)

London (Heathrow – T5) –> Moscow
Oct 12 2015
2150 – 0340 (0350)

Moscow –> Krasnoyarsk
Oct 13 2015
1010 – 0650 (0440)

I cannot truly explain the luxury of being clumsy on the outside as well as on the inside. But I will try. Going through security…was nothing, but it was also very much like being tortured. First, I had to locate security…which was immediately to the front (my right) and then figure out the maze to getting there…which it turned out was just a few long lines going this way and that until the exit which was the maximum of 10 feet away.

I was confident, or at least I was pretending be, on the inside. After hoisting my carry-on onto the belt surface, detaching my jackets and placing them in a plastic tray, I placed my overly stuffed laptop bag up as well. And then I turned my thoughts to watching Tiffaney go through the process so that I could feel less ignorant. But I couldn’t.

“Please place all devices in the trays.
“Do I have to take my laptop out of the bag.”
“Yes. If you have any devices in your bags or in your pockets, place them in the tray.”
“Okay.”

I had stuffed my bag in a very neat and organized way: wires here; adapters there; books to that side; tablets in one pouch; phones in the outer sides; laptop and all important documents at the center; and chocolate bars and cakes tightly packed into whatever spaces were left. And now I would have to undo all of my hard work…quickly.

As I opened the bag, candy and cakes began to spill. I caught them and pushed them to the sides as I opened the bag fully. And then I was fighting with the laptop. It budged only a little each time. And then finally it gave. The other devices were retrieved with ease.

Next, I was de-clothed. I hadn’t been ready for this. I ask for each instruction, about the removal of my belt, which held my large pants on my waist, and shoes, twice. I removed them and felt more awkward than before. Trying not to feel more self-conscious I pushed through the motions of being patted, walking through the metal detector, and waiting for my belongings to get to me. And again I was fighting with them as I tried to shove everything into the bag all at once. It took awhile. Tiffany finished gathering herself and stood waiting. I tried to arrange the sweaters on my suitcase, but that didn’t quite work either.

I dragged my carry-on towards Tiffaney with my laptop bag still open, and my belt unbuckled, and the sweaters thrown over the carry-on in a haphazard fashion. I pushed the thoughts of my awkardness away, as I looked this way and that for Mr. Cavehill.

“Are you ready?”

He had been standing at the side, waiting. He led us into the departure lounge where he handed over the documents I would need, while informing us of who would meet us in Moscow. He then ensured that we had his number, as well as the number of our contact person in Moscow. He sat ensuring that we each had all the documents we would need. And then, he sat for a bit longer in silence. Tiffany and I found a bathroom and we fixed ourselves, and returned quickly. Soon, it would be time for us to board. Cavehill give us a word of encouragement while also noting that it would not be an easy feat. And then we were alone.

Cavehill had told us where the gate was, and we sat watching the airline workers as they readied themselves for the approaching time. By the time it was announced that passengers could board there was already a line.

We boarded with ease, relative ease. Despite having pulled myself together, repacked my bag, and rearranged the sweaters I was still awkward. As I arrived at the opening of the plane I stopped, and tried to hoist my bag into the plane by its handle. It didn’t work. On my left I carried my laptop bag, and the sweaters which I couldn’t rearrange on the suitcase as they had been. With my free arm, I pushed down the handle and lifted it by its strap. I had forgotten how heavy it was. And finally I was in the plane.

I had never in all of my previous pre-anxiety reruns thought that finding my seat would be an issue. But it was. After being told to go to the second corridor I was on my own with several persons behind me. I felt lost. I pulled over to the side and asked where we were. The passenger in the seat fussed with her things until she found her ticket, and told me. She was ever so kind about the whole ordeal despite being disturbed. Tiffany relayed that she had an idea of where we should be and so I began to walk feeling rather blind. It was an entirely foreign feeling of being misplaced in an enclosed space of no great size. Finally we arrived at our row, and I was confused about seats, then clumsy with the luggage compartment, and interacting with the helpful passenger who opened said compartment. Ugh! It felt like a lesser but still intense form of torture. I stumbled into my seat, strapped myself in, and waited.

I heard the sound of something hitting plastic, the plastic in my lap. It was wet. There was a small puddle on its surface. And there it was. Water was dripping from the plane. I didn’t know what to do. Calling the stewardess was an option but I would first have to get her attention and I simply didn’t know how to, and of course I was too nervous about it. Suppose this was a signal that something was wrong, and the plane crashed. Then we would die. I prayed for forgiveness, and a safe flight, and moved to the empty seat between us. The water continued to drip for awhile. I am unsure of when it stopped, but by the time we landed it wasn’t dripping anymore.

I peered out of the window awkwardly from the middle seat. The space was vast and covered in unpainted cement with a wash of orange light. The plane began its journey down the runway, and then we were in the sky. It was dark. There was nothing else to see except the light blinking on the plane’s wing. I brought my attention to the interior once again.

For the next seven hours and fifty minutes I would sit in this seat feeling cold and awkward, unable to sleep. I would close my eyes at some points and at others I stared at various sections of the plane. But, oddly, I don’t regret it in the least. Very near to the end of the flight, but far enough away from last so that I could only discern sea and land I got to watch the sun rise. It was spectacular. It was the most wonderful experience I have ever had. It was so beautiful, so perfect. I felt as though I was watching God paint the sky.

I was ecstatic. I could not have been any happier or any more at peace than I was in that moment. I was content, and elated. It was, and will remain (I presume) the purest form of beauty I have seen. Simply thinking about it makes me calm. (Thank You, Jesus!) And my journey continued with a happier me.

Having realize where the bathroom was, and how the door was operated I made use of the facilities still feeling very aware of how clumsy I must look fidgeting with the door. And then I was falling across Tiffaney to get to my seat again. We were served breakfast. It was then then that we realized that the passengers who we had envied for having empty seats next to them in the middle seat column where they could lie across and actually sleep weren’t occupants of the middle row. They had simply seized the opportunity and slept there. They were returning to their original seats. We were besides ourselves with a mixture of amusement, and bewilderment at having missed the opportunity to sleep, and to sleep in relative if not complete comfort.

The sun, had risen fully. The sky, was bright, and beautiful. This time I delve for and into my laptop bag shoving my fingers here and there trying to find my phone. Bent in half between two seats, with my seatbelt on I twisted my head in every possible way to see, then feel for the device. With my face pressed into the back of the seat in front of me, and my sealtbelt keeping my hips connected to the seat, I couldn’t reach deeper. Pulling the bag to my lap had proved to be much too much work. So I wouldn’t be doing that again. I pull my face out of the cushion while righting my position, undid my seatbelt then slammed my face and fingers into the seat and bag again. Bent forward with my face as far into the seats back as was possible without disturbing it’s occupant, I felt my phone. And then I began the jerky movement of pushing it here and there in the tightly packed bag, as I tried to get it to the top. As I had thought, it was a clumsy and tiring effort that left me breathless. I caught my breath for several seconds before preparing to take the image. I took a few snaps, and then continued to enjoy the view.

Soon after we flying over land, and I could discern trees, and streets, green blankets over the land here and there. I loved it. As time progressed we got closer and closer, and closer, until we finally touch the earth’s surface again.

And the anxiety began its slow boil again.

Advertisements

Getting To Russia: Leaving Home Pt.1

After three or four months I can’t say it’s a blur, a clouded moving image maybe, but not a blur. It might have been significantly better if I, as a self-proclaimed writer, had penned my doings sooner. But that is never the case as I either find other things to better the procrastinator in me, or write, re-write, write again and discard thousands of words…to better the writer in me, I guess. Nonetheless, here we are finally at the “unveiling” of all my re-writes, many thoughts about how to correctly, and adequately portray my experiences, and the feelings attached to them then and now. Initially, I wanted to follow the advice of my good friend, advisor, and editor, Chelsea. However, as I stand writing this I feel a desire to simply tell you about the instances which stand out in my mind.

My itinerary looked a bit like this:

Antigua –> London (Gatwick – TN)
Oct 11 2015
2140 – 1030 (0750)

London (Heathrow – T5) –> Moscow
Oct 12 2015
2150 – 0340 (0350)

Moscow –> Krasnoyarsk
Oct 13 2015
1010 – 0650 (0440)

As I walked along the long corridor with my mother I inhaled the salty air. It was cold, and crude, and I liked it. I felt like my nation was saying goodbye to me. It felt like the 365 beaches we often boast were waving to me with their silent voices, for I couldn’t hear them. I could only feel the strength of their breath as they wrapped themselves around me, clinging to my skin, as if saying “Don’t forget us. We will not forget you.”

And then I was in another cold: a still, unfeeling, “professional” cold of the airport’s interior with it’s bright, harsh lights which held no personality, and it’s large space which held no voice or emotion of its own. I walked to the counter. I was greeted, and returned it. Then I gave what was asked of me. I was nervous, and cold. I felt alone….I had left the sounds of my home at the door. This port, this transition, from island-sounds to no sound was a quick one. I yearned to be outside in the air with the silent, talking waves, but I dared not tempt myself with such luxuries of being too near to who I’d come to be. I was leaving myself…so I tried to embrace it. I pushed thoughts of never smelling the salty air of my shores to the farthest regions of my mind, as I slid my empty navy blue, passport across the chilly, marble counter, and waited, trying to let everything happen with as little feeling as was possible. And then it was over. I could breath again. I was taking the cold into my lungs, as I moved in this silence as though I was apart of its design.

I saw Tiffaney, and her family standing in what looked to me like the centre of emptiness. They spoke silently, huddled together in a small space. Here they stood out, and yet in the vast building around and above, they were insignificant. Under the bright, hollow lights they were less animated, and so were my family and I. We stood there talking together…about nothing. Tiffaney would be my companion for the next few days. She would inevitably leave me, but our journey together would be a long one, and so we began to connect.

“Do you know what I should put here? I don’t know if I should put our first location or our last.”
“I don’t know either. What is that?”
“Oh. You didn’t get one?”
“No.”
“The lady at the counter told me I would need it.”

I watched her as she ran off. I was anxious. It wasn’t just a small simmer like my feeling at the counter. It was bubbling now, softly, but it was bubbling. She returned with the small, thin square form and asked her aunt. She couldn’t remember. And it bubbled further. I looked around in what to me felt frantic, but to others might have looked simply observatory. I located four uniformed individuals on the floor. Of the four, one odd couple wore similar uniforms. I knew one of them was my target. They continuously moved across the floor as I analyzed the mark that would tell me who it would be. And then I found it, a very obvious difference I managed to miss, the words I needed “…Airport Authority”. I continued to bubble. I almost lost the courage but grabbed it at the last second, when she was almost gone.

“Excuse me.”
“Hi?”
“Do you know what I should put here?”

She knew. She asked where I was going, and told me that I should put my first locations: Antigua and London. We completed our forms. And then we waited. And then, it was time. But I wasn’t ready.

“So you are going to board now?”
“No. I have to wait.”
“What are you waiting for?”
“I don’t have all of my documents for the university.”

It began boiling in that way, that makes an unstable pot vibrate on a stove top. I couldn’t leave without my documents. Where was Mr. Cavehill?

“Did you call him?”
“No. He said he would give them to me here.”
“He said he was coming to the airport?”
“Yes.”
“Do you have his number?”
“Only his office number.”
“You should have his cell. Call him.”

I called. It rang. I called. It rang. I called again. And again, and again. Tiffaney’s aunt called a friend who worked with him. And then they left. And we continued to wait. Tiffaney sat calmly, as she waited for me waiting on him. I was anxious.

Suppose he didn’t come? He would come. Suppose he had forgotten? I had bugged him for the last year and he’d seen me just two days ago. He would not forget. Suppose he got there late? Suppose he got there too late?

“If he’s not here in the next few minutes you should board.”
“And what are you going to do?”
“I have to wait. I can’t do anything without my documents.”

But I considered her words. Maybe I could go and then he would send the documents later. But what would I do without the documents. I would basically be stranded, right? What would be the point of arriving without the documents. And so I resolved to wait even if it became too late. And then he was there.

“What are you doing out here? You should have checked-in already?”
“We were waiting on you.”
“Waiting on me?”
“Yes, for the documents.”
“You should have checked-in. I would have brought them to you.”
After we checked-in?”
Yes. I can go anywhere. You didn’t know?”

I hugged my grandmother, aunt, mom, brother. Then we were off. And up the stairs. And I forgot to look back. I forgot to tell them a final goodbye, with a wave from the last point at which they would see me.

I forgot to burn their goodbye smiles into my memory. And I forgot to give them one last smile, one last wave.

Odd and Alone

sepia coloured images of a person walking on a deserted and dreary-looking road in a forest

Where I’m from people are generally friendly and I never noticed the significant oddities of my behaviour. In my mind I’ve only ever been a little strange. Now, in a new country with very different rules I am seeing a juxtaposition of self vs the mass, and there is nothing similar between us except that we are all human. I don’t understand the way they do, I don’t relate to others in the same way, I don’t express my emotions or thoughts in the same way. At home these were always different from the general mass but there were always pockets that I could fit into snugly. Here, there is no comforting place for me to hide, and for the moment I have failed to adequately find solutions through research (online).

When I was fifteen I was introduced to the internet on a one-on-one basis. And the internet became the home where I could be myself without apology or dilution. Shortly after finding a home I found a friend there. Almost eleven years later we are still friends (sharing our dilemmas, disasters, and joys). He was a little weird. It made getting acquainted significantly easier than ever before. But he was too similar to me. At times it felt as though he was telling me things I’d say and do.

But he couldn’t because we’d only met a short while before and there was no personal information of mine online. So I began to question him about these oddities of him that reflected me so well. He responded by explaining that these oddities of his had a name and were symptoms. I looked it up immediately after our conversation. I ran through the list and saw a number of symptoms which I had. Thankfully, I didn’t have many of them. Like my friend, my case was mild. It was an explanation about why it was so easy for us to relate, and also why I felt so different from others.

So know I could get help, right? Wrong. I rarely went to the doctor both then and now. But that isn’t the major reason. That resides with how people perceive things.

After building up enough courage and a lot of planning which included time (when), vocal inflection, and word choice. I spoke to my mother suggesting that I have this thing she replied: “Are you trying to say you are mildly retarded?” And there was no point in trying to explain or reword because that’s how persons on the farthest end are referred to “retards”.

I put this thought aside for the most part. But being aware that I was “mildly retarded” and that “retards” were able to adjust, adapt by copying. I began to watch persons a lot more. Now it wasn’t only for the purpose of analyzing how others interact, but to remember and replicate it. I’ve done it quite well I think…not perfectly but well enough to only be classed as a “little weird”.

After becoming an adult some of my oddities have become more pronounced. Thankfully, I thought at the time, there was a campaign for people to take note of children who are different. The campaign pushed for them to be respected and not be called “retarded”. It pushes (because they still run ads irregularly) for parents to be aware of the symptoms and of the fact that there is help and that it can get better.

In my haste I didn’t consider that they only spoke of persons who stood out to the extreme or that they only spoke of children. In the world beyond, people speak about the spectrum. But there are no specialists for adults. So my pleasure, though it wasn’t outed, it was dampened.

I tried locating a psychiatrist but there are so few on the island that it was impossible for me to sit with one as the shortage has created a patient overload as well. I developed a few physical problems unrelated to my symptoms and visited two doctors. The first seemed to think I was making it up. The second took me seriously, did general testing which return results saying that I am perfectly healthy.

The doctor informed me that if results from specific testing returned normal, he would suggest a psychiatrist because such results would mean that the main problem was not a physical one. I was scheduled to do specific testing but was unable to because I had to reroute monies to get ready to leave. (I’ve been coping with the physical symptoms. They are always ready to and do appear if I forget a step. So I try not to.)

Suppose you’re just a hypochondriac…I thought that too. But I’ve settled that I’m not, because you have to know the symptoms you need to replicate in order to do so. Based on the symptom list I perused recently I have forty-three of the fifty-six symptoms.

So I’m not a hypochondriac and the first problem which had become…more or less manageable is once again a problem and a major one. I haven’t simply moved to another country. I’ve switched hemispheres. And on this side of the world I must in addition to recalibrating my forever faulty geographical (not global) positioning system, learn a new language, a new way of existing and communicating in an environment the exact opposite of the one I’ve programmed myself to fit into.

I know. It sounds like what every Joe who moves has to do. But I am not every Joe. I don’t miss home. I don’t miss the heat. I don’t miss the sounds that I call home. I just miss feeling less weird than I do. I miss feeling the comfort of being myself with one or two people who accept me with warmth, sincerity, and a shared oddity or two.

And herein lies the catalyst which caused my “retardation” to be remembered. “I don’t know how to make friends”. This thought approached me silently as I search for a way to make friends. For some time I’ve been aware that I don’t have any friends here based on my definition of the word. But I was presented with this fact again when a Russian commented on the Western way of calling acquaintances “friends”.

Then it occurred to me that I’m not the only one who doesn’t think of others as friends. No one here is my friend and I am no one’s friend either. I have no one to call, or who will truly care when I am sad, angry, or hurt. I am just me…with no hand to hold, shoulder to cry on, or soul to share my emotions with.

I am alone.

grayscale image with young man standing very close to a brick wall with hands folded across chest, and a bright light being shown on his face be an unseen source

The Next Step?

I’ve decide that I don’t want to date.
I refuse to compromise. So the only solution left is to walk my road, and to walk it alone. But I am lonely. I want someone who won’t just understand me but love me deeply. Of course I haven’t found that but I yearn for it: the look of longing that isn’t physical but emotional. I yearn to be missed for my intellect, for my passion, for my unique, my crass, my crude, my strong-will.

I want a companion whose dream is my own, whose desires are a reflection of my own without being identical. I want an individual who is individual.

I want the impossible it seems…so it’s good that I don’t want a companion, right? It’s good. It makes sense…but it just feels like it doesn’t. I keep feeling a desire to share my life with someone else. But I know my desire is entirely unrealistic. I know. But knowing doesn’t seem to help. Giving myself the facts, the downright truth isn’t being of much use to me. The numbers aren’t getting through. The words are falling on a mind that has long closed because it has realized that it’s desire to be two will never be realized. And though it knows that the greater desire will be realized because the lesser has been forsaken this mind has not rested. He still yearns for that creature that will bring a smile to the surface. He still yearns for a hand to hold, a mind to touch….a mind to share….a mind to push and pull, and be pushed and pulled by in return. He still yearns for a voice that connects. He still yearns. He still yearns for the whole that fits his own perfectly. He still hopes for synergy of mind, and body, of spirit. He still hopes. He still hopes…

I’ve decide that I don’t want to date.

The decision isn’t new but it has finally been settled in my bones that I don’t want a life companion and based on my religious beliefs sexual encounters are out of the picture.

But he(my mind) still hopes. I know finding the other whole is implausible…someone who puts up with my quirks, my anxiety, my highs, my lows, my extremes. Is my reflection really out there? If not then, I know it would be selfish to ask another human being to go on my journey. It would essentially mean leaving theirs, forsaking who they are for who I want to be. But what about that person what about their dreams, and wants, and deepest desires. Am I to steal another’s essence to preserve my own. Am I to inflict the pain I dread most on someone else…on someone I love? And if I compromise….what about me?

Getting to Russia: The Scholarship

How long did it take to get to Russia?

I truly don’t know. What I do know is that I flew on three planes, went through four timezones, and five airport to get here. Now I am in a timezone that is exactly twelve hours ahead of my home country.

The beginning.

But the airport wasn’t the beginning. The beginning sits in a cold office with a Russian Scholarship Application. I could skip this, but I think it’s important for those who exist on a plane of anxiety. I tried high and low to find the procedures from start to finish but I could only find the begin. I hope this helps.

Collect the Russian Scholarship Application from the relevant authority in your country (in Antigua/Barbuda that’s the Prime Minister’s Office in the Scholarship Department)
You may need to copy the three-page form if you did not receive three copies. In all that’s nine piece of paper, just so we are clear.

Fill out the form. Gather your birth certificate, educational certificates, and transcripts, as well as your high school diploma. Make three copies of your educational documents. Notarize ALL of the copies. Submit the addressed folder to the relevant authority in your country by the specified date (In Antigua/Barbuda that’s the PM’s office, and March 20, 2015.)
The transcripts must be the original. So there’s no need to have it notarized especially since it should be sealed in an envelope from your school. You can leave the slot for university choices blank. However, if you do fill it out, you can only list two universities per region, i.e three universities from one area is a no-no.

Go to your physician and request a medical certificate which gives you a clean bill of health when you are informed to do so. Included in your test should be an HIV/AIDS test. Take the doctor’s letter/certificate to the relevant authority. The HIV/AIDS test is mandatory.

If you included your email address, you may receive an email requesting confirmation of your email address. Upon confirmation of your email address you should receive another email with a code that allows you to see the status of your scholarship application.
This email may inform you of your acceptance sometime before the authority in your country receives the necessary documentation to begin the process of applying for your visa.

Take your passport and go to the office when you are informed to do so. You will be filling out the online Russian visa application, printing, signing, and handing it over to the authority along with your passport. There you should be given a copy of the invitation which will state which university you will be attending for your degree, and also where you’ll be studying the language. You should also receive another three-page document which includes the approximate period in which you should arrive in Russia, and what you’ll need to bring to Russia in terms of documentation (which is all of the documentation you gave to the authority, and also the certified translation of those documents which will be given to you by the same authority). In all that’s four pieces of paper, unless they are printed back and front. Keep the mentioned pages above. If a university official says they didn’t know that you were coming or that you don’t belong there, that is your proof and your pass.

You will now wait for your visa to be processed and for your passport to be returned to you. The time attached to this process varies.

After your passport returns adorned with its new Russian visa you’ll book a flight to Russia. Remember to collect all of your documentation from the authority you gave it to. These education related documents are for your second university i.e. where you’ll obtain your degree. (Yes, you’ll be attending two universities. The first will be referred to as a preparatory school, where you will study the language for one year. The second university is where you will earn your degree.)

In some countries students are given monthly/yearly stipends by their government in addition to having their tuition and accommodation paid by the Russian government. In other countries the student is left to pay for the ticket, food, and everything else. For this information you will have to communicate with someone within your territory.

The above is my experience. It may vary for others, but based on information gained through Russian-scholarship students from other territories the information above is the general procedure. You also may or may not receive a call/email from the Russian Embassy inquiring about your medical certificate if it is late.

Feel free to peruse these links for further information about universities to which the Russian scholarships are linked, and other general information.

Racism in Russia?

Initially my intent was to procure a Korean scholarship. I love Korea you see. I love the culture, the language, the quirks, the peculiarities. I love it all. However, I didn’t get one. Instead I am now the recipient of a Russian scholarship. When this shift from Korean to Russian first came into view I did some research on the country itself because almost everything I had heard about Russia was negative, and the bits that weren’t negative weren’t really positive either. But that’s just in the mainstream media. So I went looking where people like you and me would speak about our own perspectives. Here, I most now note that I am of African descent, and that it is obvious once you see me. (Let’s be clear, I am not African. I am an Antiguan. My ancestors left Africa 300 years ago.) For this reason I was a little more concerned than some might be because I’d also been fed that Russians are racist. Thankfully, the good people of Netville dispelled this myth (for me). I went looking for first-hand accounts of what blacks had undergone on trips to Russia. I was amazed.

The accounts of people who had actually been to Russia were not negative they were closer to being neutral. They mentioned strange stares on the street, and persons feeling threatened but not being harmed. That is perfectly okay for me. I am strange enough so I get stared at and I’ve grown quite accustomed to it. So the real issue here is feeling threatened. The story that goes along with this was a second-hand account of a black Russian (they exist) who in a bar one day saw a man standing outside of the bar with a club. Apparently it was communicated that he was waiting for her. After a few hours he left. The storyteller was keen to mention that the reaction to blacks in Russia varies depending on whether you’re closer to the capital or farther away. To be honest, that bar story frazzled me a bit. What balanced it for me was the introduction of a black man married to a Russian woman. Let me also inform you that I take more away from the exception than from the norm. If one black man has been living in a rural area in Russia with a Russian woman for several years and he is still alive and unharmed how much do I need to fear? So, yes, there are many videos with persons saying it’s bad in Russia. But it’s the other side that drew me.

I mean really? Of course, one will still have doubts but I thought that was a rather important issue. And I stopped my research after finding the account of a black female who had been to Russia. I wasn’t afraid anymore. This might not seem like the smartest move, but it’s exactly what I did. For me the major aspects that seemed to bother people is explained by the fact that blacks aren’t a commonality in Russia and similar areas of the world. Their ‘racism’ isn’t “I hate you because you aren’t worthy”. If we can truly call it racism then it should be classed under “I am threatened by this change.” Aren’t we all threatened by change? Is it not our habit, our tradition, our way of life to revolt against change.

For the last year I have felt a revolution boiling. A revolution against me and my hair. A revolution led by own people. Oddly this revolution isn’t just against me. It is against every kinky-haired individual who decides to embrace the naturalness of their hair. Does that sound odd to you? If a black person’s hair is straightened to resemble that of other races they have a better chance of being taken seriously, of being hired. This is comment includes but isn’t focused on managers of other races. It is about black managers who consider natural hair to be a sign that the person beneath the hair is unkempt, uncouth, unbusiness-like, and unfit for any position be it an auxiliary worker or anything else.

The first image below is a photo of me one of approximately twelve occasion on which attention was actually paid to my hair. The rest of the eight years I did as little as is humanly possible to my hair. Very few people complained. The next image, is more recent. Approximately one year after cutting my hair people doubt my ability, and when it is found that I am efficient at what I do…they suggest I change my hair.

Straightened hair
Straightened hair
1525260_10152097566488891_1442131226_n
Natural kinky hair

Oddly, I take more care of my natural hair in one month than I ever did  in the eight years I was straightening my hair. Every time I do my natural hair I ensure it is done exactly how I want it to look: polished. I never cared with my straightened hair. But that isn’t anyone’s concern. Their concern is that this hair is different, a change and hence it should be shunned by all means humanly possible. This not only includes looking at kinky-haired persons with eyes that suggest ill intent, but also withholding jobs, at times, segregation. I remember an incident where a group of students belittled a woman because of her hair. After being told she was a talented and accomplished writer, they were appalled. They were not sorry. They were appalled and they promptly dismissed her.

Shortly after I cut my hair, and before it began trending people would stare at me in that strange way that people do as if to make one feel less human. I have yet to see Russian eyes give me that look. I have only seen curiosity, and for me curiosity is exactly the brand of racism I like…the kind that observes, and questions, and accepts. Come along with me. Experience Russia and its people through my eyes, black eyes, the eyes of a kinky-haired girl.

Links I viewed while adjusting to the idea of going to Russia as it pertains to being Black:
  1. I watched less than a minute, then read the comments (from about a year ago) which I completely agreed with.
  2. This is from the same person in #1 with a guy married to a Russian
  3. Again same person from 1 and 2, in which advice and explanation is given about Russian culture on the street
  4. A black woman who visited Russia, and her experience

And a link I’ve just found that gives a more open-minded feel to it all. Two American basketballers in Krasnodar, Russia

After doing the same search I am amazed at how much more negative things I’m seeing that were online long before my initial search. Nonetheless, I am pleased with my finds, and decision.

Do share your thoughts, views, and questions.

My Ideal Writing Space

Writing is fun and frustrating and exhilarating and excruciating. A lot of things go into making the writing experience. The biggest one for my is the space I’m writing in. I’ve been writing at home lately and in order to ensure that I keep motivated I’ve been moving around the house writing in the kitchen, bedrooms, living room, and outside and in different areas of each of these spaces. You can find me moving between a few or all of these on some days. Though they work sometimes none of them are my ideal.

Curtains blowing in the wind with backdrop of trees
Credit: http://manolohome.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/sheer-curtains-breeze.jpg

Quaint and Quiet.

My ideal space would be in a forest near a stream, and on a slope. I wouldn’t have any neighbours. But there would be a village within walking distance. This space would be a wooden structure that would be varnished instead of being painted. I love the smell of wood. The windows would be big to allow a lot of light. The interior would only posses that which was necessary and nothing more.

Quaint, quiet, and closer to reality.

If I had to come closer to home I would say my yard. It has several tree in and around it which create a feeling of being surrounded and in the open. The atmosphere is usually just right. The noise factor is only bothersome during the summer vacation. I think my biggest issue with the yard is my having to transfer and set up my “office” space out there. Outside of that fact, I think it is perfect.

Comfort spaces?

Since I spoke of comfort books last week I think it’s quite okay for me to mention comfort spaces. Libraries, are perfect. It’s like having a crowd with you but they wont say anything to you unless you approach them. And all the while, even when they are speaking, they are silent. It’s perfect. Being around books gives me a calm like nothing else. And that is fantastic for writing..

What’s your comfort/ideal space writing or otherwise?