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LJ Idol Week 7: Where I'm from

We come from the land of the ice and snow
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow
How soft your fields so green
Can whisper tales of gore
Of how we calmed the tides of war
We are your overlords

Most people can deduce with my foreign-sounding name that I’m either a first or second generation immigrant. I’m about as American as they come, but in this day and age, even saying that isn’t declared with as much pride as it used to be. I was only 4 and a half when I left Russia. Too young to remember much of anything. My only memory is when my mom took me to her grandmother’s farm in Eastern Russia. I liked the animals a lot there. I was told that I made friends with a goose and it was kept from me that he became dinner… When I asked what happened to him, my family said : “Oh he just flew away!”

I’ve never been back there, and while I’ve wanted to very much, it seems my travel plans have to be postponed since my dad was going to travel with me and he has to encounter some sort of visa bureaucracy with the Russian government that he doesn’t want to deal with. I still like borscht, and pelmeni (like dumplings), and katleta (like meat balls), and cabbage… foods strange yet tasty to my other American friends who beg for my mom’s borscht, getting more familiar with the cuisine due to our culinary ambassadorship. I’m an elusive hybrid because I don’t know that much about what it means to be Russian. I know about a few riddles, and a few superstitions. I know that I’m too blunt and this is attributed to my Russian-ness. Strangely enough, I can still speak the language, but not read and write. I attribute this to my mom not speaking any language too well.

It’s hard to imagine what life would be like for me if we hadn’t left in 1990. I suppose it wouldn’t be too bad. I’d have spent most of my life so far in my parents very small Moscow apartment rather than a nice house in California. I would have been used to life in a very large metropolis and not peaceful and scenic suburbia. I would have still gotten an education, probably even a Master’s Degree, even though the end of Soviet rule would have eliminated higher education for all. Maybe I’d even be very skilled in one other language, rather than semi-skilled in several. Although I somewhat doubt that one due to the poor language skills I’ve heard from many young Russians. Since I took my mother’s Russian name, and not my father’s Jewish one, I wouldn’t be the butt of Anti-Semitic jokes and drunken slurs.

I think it would have taken me a much shorter time to be ashamed for my country: for its prosecution of LGBT, for its thinly-veiled Antisemitism, for its warmongering dictator. Writing this as a Russian-citizen could very well possibly gotten my journal censored. No such thing as free speech there. Just recently, the Russian Duma has overwhelmingly voted to decriminalize domestic violence- http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2017/01/27/russian-parliament-decrimiinalizes-domestic-violence/97129912/ . So it’s not ok to beat others, but it’s ok to beat your wife or your kids?

All along I thought that America was better than that, sadly things have gone back to how they were before the Civil Rights Movement. Everyone is familiar on the travel-ban inflicted upon people from certain Muslim countries. Notably, there has not been one terrorist attack perpetuated from people of these countries in many decades. As for Saudi Arabia, who provides much of the world’s terrorists? Oh, we need them for oil and those business contacts the orange troll has there. People with green cards, people who have followed every legal process are being deported without regard to the disruption it causes in their lives and their families lives, not to mention it’s illegal to do so.

This is why we can’t have nice things… we have 8 years of a crazy idiot, followed by 8 years of an intelligent classy president who made not only the country, but the world a better place, followed by at least four years of a belligerent Nazi who can’t even run a business, much less a country, that we almost long for the days of the simple-minded Texan. The only hope that remains is just how impassioned the American public has become. I’ve seen marches happening all over the country and the show of support at airports has been overwhelming. As the quintessential blue-collar American Bruce The Boss Springsteen said “You can’t light a fire without a spark”. The spark has been lit and it is up to all of us to feed the embers. Lest my country of origin and my home country will be one in the same place in a few short years.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 30th, 2017 10:03 pm (UTC)
We live in scary times...
Jan. 31st, 2017 08:25 pm (UTC)
I am so terrified for our future. And I am so furious that this is happening. And so, so sad about all of it.
Jan. 31st, 2017 11:56 pm (UTC)
Naw, comments like these wouldn't get you sensored. You'd have to qualify as СМИ for that to happen, and to qualify you have to have more than a certain number of readers, several hundred minimum (or so it was when I last read about the procedure).

It's a bummer you are not coming. :( Did your father's Russian passport expire or something?
Feb. 1st, 2017 09:19 pm (UTC)
Yeah I'm too small time for that rule, but I still think it isn't too farfetched in the future for ANYONE to get censored.

What happened is that Russia still considers him to be a citizen because he used his Russian passport for business travel in the mid 90s. Because of that, they require him to pay massive fees for all the years he didn't pay his Visa fees, or he has to make an appointment with the Russian Embassy in order to renounce his citizenship. He said he refuses to deal with their bureaucracy so he'd rather just not go.
Feb. 1st, 2017 09:28 pm (UTC)
Yes, I guess all of you still hold two citizenships, because the Russian one is unalienable and has to be actively renounced.

I don't understand what visa fees they are talking about though (if he is a citizen). What bullshit, I understand him.
Feb. 1st, 2017 09:40 pm (UTC)
I think if you live in another country, you have to pay a passport (Visa?) yearly fee, which he never paid all these years so they would require him to pay a lot of money. For some reason, my mom and I are excluded and they don't count us as citizens anymore. She's been to Russia with no problems a few years ago. I think this is because my dad must have traveled under a Russian Federation passport back in 1996 so that's why they still count him as a citizen and require active renouncement which he doesn't want to bother with D:.
Feb. 2nd, 2017 02:39 am (UTC)
Nicely done. The world has become something I don't quite recognize anymore.
Feb. 3rd, 2017 03:55 am (UTC)

Thank you for adding your perspective; these are terrifying times. You highlighted something important; people are more passionate than ever.

Feb. 3rd, 2017 11:14 pm (UTC)
A very powerful and strong statement. Also, excellent use of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" which is very appropriate to the topic.
Feb. 3rd, 2017 11:37 pm (UTC)
Oh I'm glad you recognized that song! I really love it.
Feb. 5th, 2017 01:22 am (UTC)
I feel every bit of this. You know my feelings and fears, from my short rant. I can only hope we stay awake, engaged and fighting. Hugs and peace~~~
Feb. 5th, 2017 08:24 am (UTC)
Just two weeks in, and so much in the way of fascistic and corrupt policies have already been set in motion. I'm still furious that half of the country did this to us all, in large part because they bought into all of those many, many blatant lies.
Feb. 5th, 2017 07:52 pm (UTC)
I am so glad you are speaking out! I am, too, and so are many of my friends. Together, we can make a difference!

On the content of your piece, I think it's not unusual for second-generation immigrants (or, in your case, 1st-generation immigrants who arrived in childhood) to feel a lessening of ties to your native land. It's certainly something that's encouraged in the U.S. And what's more, so many immigrants are leaving behind places they are not, as you point out, proud to claim.
Feb. 5th, 2017 10:55 pm (UTC)
I have hear there is an old Chinese curse that goes, "may you live in interesting times."

Seems to be the case today.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )