I was into dystopias before dystopias were de rigueur. Among the things I carried on a spur-of-the-moment exchange trip to Russia in 1998: worn-out copies of A Clockwork Orange and The Gulag Archipelago.
Dumb American style, I unwittingly landed into political and economic turmoil. The ruble was in freefall. Yeltsin’s rule…spiraling too. Putin, then head of the ruthless FSB, would soon take his place. Never to leave.
Masha Gessen best explains the crushing impact of the iron fist of Putin in The Man Without a Face. Here is the little I know: Russians love a strongman. Every town in Russia had multiple busts of Lenin. (By then the lingering Stalin statues had been exhiled.)
I wandered through the streets of Moscow wondering which ordinary buildings hid the secret prisons of the Gulag. I wondered how ordinary people could accept the state-sponsored disappearing and the society-wide gaslighting.
But no matter how bitter and cold it was outside, inside their homes, Russian hearts and minds were brilliantly warm and open. Now I understand, just as Russians were born in a totalitarian oligarchy, I was born into a capitalist oligarchy, and the illusion of choice often eludes us all politically.
How dare one (weak)man override the will of billions of souls? May Ukraine—and all of us—soon be free.
Anne Taylor army green wool dress – $3 (half off coupon), Restyle thrift store Boise | brown leather bullet carrying belt – $2, artist Erin Cunningham’s yard sale | Frye “Paige” brown leather riding boots, $120 – LUX Fashion Lounge (MSRP: $388) | copper, silver & brass braided jewelry – $50, vintage family pass-on from friend
artwork: “Strange Loop Tondo: Nesting Dolls” by Marcus Pierce
Cheep it to the brave hearts of Ukraine.