Emerging from winter...

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I woke up the other day from a dream. It was a version of the classic student dream that many people have, the one where it's the day of your final exam and you haven't been to class all semester and don't know where the exam is being held, and one hurdle after another emerges to stymie all efforts to get to where you need to go.

Only in the version of the dream I'd had, it was the first day of class. I had suddenly realized that I was supposed to teach that day, but had done no preparation, had made no copies of the syllabus, let alone write one, and had not even ordered books for the class yet. And where was I when it occurred to me, in this dream, that I had to go to school and teach? A banya, of course. 

Fortunately, I soon woke up from this nightmare to realize that I was safe and sound in my apartment in Moscow, still six months away from the beginning of my next class. Nevertheless, I found the symbolism apt. A Russian bath probably would be the best place to realize that the school year had started without me. 

In Russia people consider March 1, rather than March 21, to be the beginning of spring. And indeed, it is beginning to feel like winter is behind us. I live close to the Moscow River, and the metro that I take into the center of town every day goes above the river, so I've been watching the progress, and now the recession, of the ice, since last fall. It was enough to remind me of the Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. 

Across the bridge I come and go

Noting the progress of ice and snow

The winter was busy, as was the fall. Other than several days around Thanksgiving, and then a period of about three weeks in late December and the first half of January, I've spent every workday in an archive, and a lot of my Saturdays at the library. The three weeks off over Christmas/New Year's was partly not my choice--all of the places where I research were shut down for two weeks at this time--but the third week off was my own initiative. It was a great time--I sat and wrote, mainly, but took walks around town and in my neighborhood when the feeling hit me. 

But lately I've been more mindful about my time soon coming to an end in Moscow. Currently I'm splitting my time between three archives. It's exciting, though. I like the project I'm working on, and enjoy writing whenever I get the chance. I don't always feel like writing when I get home in the evening after six hours or so taking notes in the archive, but once I do get back into writing mode it's always enjoyable. Writing is tiring, especially at this stage when I'm trying to make something out of nothing, but I feel connected to my work and that makes it a lot easier. As was the case with Turks Across Empires, it helps to have walked some of the same paths as the people I'm working on. And that's just one more reason why Moscow is such a great place to be. 

Anyway, here are some shotz from the past few months. 

Very unoriginal shot--but I love walking through 
Red Square, especially after working in the archive

Christ the Savior Church, Patriarch's Bridge

Kremlin from the Patriarch's bridge

Morning in Moscow

Making bliny for maslenitsa--Russia's spring festival

Another Patriarch's bridge shot, same Kremlin

Near Chistye Prudy

Yet another Kremlin shot

Kazan Cathedral--Red Square
Savior Church from the Strelka Cafe

Bridge over the river--near my house

This was a very cold day--minus 5 Fahrenheit

Kremlin, encore une fois

One of my favorite spots

Savior Church again

Random metro station shot

The Patriarch's Pond

I love the old T.A.S.S. building
A beautiful winter's day

Are you a Turk across empires? Order a copy today, then get another one for your library. 


More commentary, photos, and links can be found at the Borderlands Lounge

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