23 June 2005

7 signs of Russianness

This is really retarded of me to write now, because I don't think I can last much longer. It's 1:30 am, I've been losing a lot of sleep for the past week, and I'm seemingly getting sick. <-AVOIDIG RUN-ONS -> The latter is not a surprise, considering that half of the department is in full sneeze mode, and that I have no immune system. Workouts, carrots, no alcohol, and here we are.

One of my favorite newspapers, Izvestia(.ru), published an article in regards to the the traits that make a Russian - well, a Russian (please, no vodka/polar bear/communism jokes). Before I get into the article, I feel the need to explain that I prefer Izvestia over most other publications (excluding Gazeta(.ru), because of its surprisingly patriotic bias. (It is also quite impressive because it covers more general Western issues, which are no longer considered politically correct to discuss in the actual West. ) In constrast, most other Russian papers are highly and overtly politically and socially critical (insert angry rant on the faulty "Western" perception of the alleged censorship in the Russian press here). My own nationalistic leanings (admittedly somewhat mythic) lead to much disappointment due to the lack of patriotism on the part of both Russians at home and abroad, even in contrast to other slavic nations.

This is not the time nor the place to get into types of nationalism of the Old World (based on ethnicity) verus that of the New World realities (based on citizenship), though it should be said that what I call the "chihuahua syndrome" is of obvious importance (the smaller the country, the greater the self-defense mechanism expressed via nationalistic tendencies). (Unfortunately, Russians still do not realize the violent demographic changes comparable to medieval plagues that are currently occurring and the consequent noticeable country size change likely to come.) Of course, the political turbulence of the past 100 years has also made us too cynical and apathetic as a nation, leading to decreased love of the Fatherland. This is the reason why I am pleased with a slight lean towards patriotic youth movements within the country and the potential improvements they may bring about.

Returning to the specifics at hand - I just noticed that Izvestia's website is too slow to cooperate, which means that I won't be able to recall the entire article. It suffices to state that its points were somewhat primitive - grouping through language, blood, religion et alia. Many of these groupings were expectedly limited by the author or dismissed entirely. One of the main issues linked to this obvious list and completely ignored is the fact that Russian seems to be the only language that I am aware of, in which there is a distinction between Russian (Russkij) and a citizen of Russia (Rossijanin). However, the author did make a somewhat related distinction between Russian-speaking (Russkojazychnyj) and Russian - a term used increasingly abroad for obvious reasons. I am unaware of the word's (Rossijanin) etymology and the origins of this distinction, but I strongly suspect that it too is based on the geo-historic limits of our Empire.

Second (I believe this was the author's conclusion), I was a bit puzzled by the author's suggestion that we, as Russians, must adapt and change our souls, which he describes as too open and easily susceptible to being hurt, in order to survive. In addition to the fact that the assumption of our collective possession of a thing called a Russian soul is in direct contradiction to his earlier cosmopolitan points (I guess there is hope for him yet!) , the proposition to artificially self-modify was bothersome, as it suggested the removal of the properties that distinguish us as a nationality. The author ignored the past century and the effects of communism, which has made Russians much less trusting and open than their prior ("original"?) state - therefore, he should've suggested a return to this very state instead.

Third, my quest to self-situate as a Russian is another consequence. There is a tension between my incomplete ethnic Russianness and my patriotism (including my Orthodoxy); the tension is inscreased by my emigre status - its decreased awareness of the factuality of life in Russia-as-it-really-is (in the modernist sense) and its simultaneous heightened purist and fierce preservation of Russian culture-as-it-should-be. (" ")

Dot. Dot. Dot. Time to sleep.

19 June 2005

The indifferent bishop

I lied.

I ended up going to church today after all, despite the inconveniences described below. Of course, I only attended half the service, which today amounted to one and a half hours (plus a half hour walk each way in stilettos (okay, they are only 1.5 inches high and are actually comfortable; must be the fact that I purchased them in a small German-Canadian town))!

I didn't realize that this is Pentecost Sunday, so for a second there the presence of the bishop was a tad unexpected. I am assuming that he is one of Canada's bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia, because I am fairly sure that there is only one archbishop in North America, and he is situated in NY. This bishop had a rather telling expression of total disregard on his face (of course, I could be wrong, and it could've been a face of a righteously fatigued man, tirelessly serving *JEEBUS* during such an important holiday.) Although my insulting presumption is further supported by the fact that he could not be heard without a microphone (!! Do I sense a televangelical future for this servant of god?!).

Our usual priest, despite his somewhat condescending paternalistic front, has an amazing tenor, sings the entire mass, and theatrically addresses the crowd with the strength of his own voice. On that note, given the right mood, I'll take Byzantine signing in old slavonic over genre-comparable metal any day (tee!). Of course, hearing it LIVE makes all the difference.

This bishop did have two things going for him - he wore an impressive bejeweled crown, not unlike those of Byzantine emperors, but without the "dangly thingies"; he also possessed a long well-groomed signature beard. Mind you, most Russian priests prefer to sport long hair and beards (a la crustified deathmetallers, plus the showers) , which by that alone places them above clean-shaven nerdy Catholics. Our priests also exceed the latter due to their ability to marry, up to a certain rank; I wouldn't be around, if this were not the case for my ancestors. As another aside - I recently discovered that my great-great priestly grandfather had a PhD in theology, at the time when most clergy did not, and consequently when this degree had more value than, perhaps, it does now. (I hope he isn't offended by my incessant usage of "JEEBUS" or any number of metal-related complications!)

This clerical celebrity attracted quite the crowd, which made moving and breathing more difficult than usual under these circumstances (I particularly enjoyed being hit in the face with giant hats, adorning the fashionable not-always-pink-"flamingos", with peroxide blonde coiffure reaching the ceiling) , not to mention imaginative parking techniques rivaling those of Moscow. Here I should note, that even though I hardly know anyone in this church, despite near-regular attendance for almost a year, I've begun classifying its members via mimetic appearance. Most notably, today's list included many of the usual suspects - the 6-foot tall red-haired Russian Britney Spears with cute "cankles", the Cancerman from the X-Files, and a now-shaggy-haired (a real shame!) Robert Downey Jr.; as always, the attendance was sprinkled with a few Putins of all ages.

On the way back from the packed, elbow-pushing mass, some men in a truck attempted to pick me up. Ahh, that pseudo-conservative church-going attire and its appeal! As far as pickups this week are concerned, we also have the Stalone-speaking black man who approached me in the park to inform me that I had a "nice dog", followed by "you are nice too!", or the two individuals who proceeded to lecture me on my worthlessness as an object of female worship, because I did not return their "well, HELLO THERE!!". None of them compare to the recent prize recepient, however, "Tell me where you work, and I'll stalk you". Where art thou, O Knight, I finally bought some dog repellent!

Finally, I've managed to overcome the temptation of going to Timmy's. I NEVER EVER drank coffee before moving to Toronto; this "never" turned into "a couple of times a week" upon relocation, then into "I'm trying to stay awake"....Funny, as it used to put me to sleep back in the day. At least I'm not doing so badly as far as bad habits are concerned otherwise.

Alright, time to indulge comrade Sharikoff in squirrel-chasing and find some pigeons to pose as dragons (yeah, I won't explain that one).

18 June 2005

Now that my dog and I are done chasing squirrels, and it's too cold for him to harass white swans in the waters of the ultra-polluted lake Ontario (which requires a mandatory shampoo bath, as he absorbs the delightful smells of rotten algae, sewage, and god-knows-what-else), I'm trying to decide whether to attend church tonight.

Evening services are more serene, because, as opposed to Sundays, hordes of new Russians wearing cheap Turkish leather jackets and massive bling-bling slavic-style (they must find think their gold matches the icons) are out socializing; they are also shorter, as standing around for two hours in a non-airconditioned-heated-by-hundreds-of-candles sacred space doesn't feel all that spiritual.

I also skipped last week's service due to attending a rather laughable Russian "festival", where teenage female attendees deemed it necessary to be clad like hookers, with approving parents gazing tenderly at their liberated offspring nearby. (Russian goths looked classic as well - black lipstick is NOT supposed to stain your teeth, boys, unless you are going for an authentic medieval look. Your hygene certainly pointed in that direction.... ;)) At least I bought some decently priced DVD's.

I apologize for cutting this short, dear diary, but I just realized that I'm almost out of my beloved sour green apples. The situation must be resolved at once!

16 June 2005

Be alert and be vigilant

It's almost 2 am, and I've just come home from work. (Thank you, "dog repellent" for making me feel a tad safer, and even a greater thank you to the assorted prostitutes of both genders (and genders in disguise!) on my walk from the subway for being somewhat more obvious targets for harassment.)
So, as I registered for this "dear-eDiary-for-the-world-to-see" yesterday, I couldn't help but think of the futility of this endeavor, considering that this will be linked to my site. As a result, I won't be able to criticize misbehaved friends (tee hee), condescending coworkers, the academia (damn you, U of T!); more importantly, the limits of my political and cultural views shall be kept at bay (through no wish of my own, mind you).
Paranoia-cha-cha-CHA!!! aside, I [rhetorically] wonder whether a non-censored (i.e. sans big brother consequences) form of communication is at all possible? Compromise and speaking in puzzles gets tiring. You're still an inspiration, Iron Felix. :(

14 June 2005

Three months or less?

Taking bets as to how long this would last, as a replacement to message boards, perhaps?....

But for now, pop cultural temptation - here I come! :)