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Thursday, June 23, 2005

Greetings from Russia!

Heyyy Everyone!
I found a computer here in Russia finally (it's my cousin's), so I'm finally getting around to posting something. In St. Petersburg there were a lot of internet cafes but we just never had time to stop at one because there was so much to do and see! I don't have time right now to write about everything that we saw, but it was AMAZING! we went to the Hermitage, the State Museum, the Winter Palace, and that is only to name a few. The whole city is astounding, and when I post pictures later you'll hardly believe that such a beautiful city exists. All of the buildings are in classical European architecture, and the city is full of beautiful bridges, parks, monuments, and statues. We were in St. Petersburg for only 4 days. Now, we're in Sochi, a resort city by the Black Sea. Unfortunately it's been raining here so we haven't had a chance to go swimming yet. The city has really changed since 3 years ago, and they've even opened a really nice, two-story McDonalds. The people here are even different from the people in Moscow and St.Petersburg. It's nice to see family again, but it's also extremely chaotic.
Well I hope everybody's summer is going well and I'm going to try and get on this computer more often. Right now I'm writing in a journal manually so I don't forget all of my experiences and feelings, and later when I finally get back home to CA I'll post everything here. It's funny being in Russia though, especially in St. Petersburg because the contrast from America is so huge. Sometimes one can imagine how China or India, or a foreign country can be, but it's even hard to imagine the contrast just because it is so extreme here in Russia- from the mannerisms to the quotidian things of daily life. I'll give two examples: first everything here is on military time- in cars, on tv, in the stores. I'll be watching a Russian program, and then they'll advertise a certain movie at 22:00, and naturally I have to convert it and think, oh okay, that means 10 o'clock. It was also funny, because I watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith, with Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt, in the theaters in Russian. Although they are showing the movie in the theaters, I was walking by an outside movie selling stand and I saw that they were already selling Mr. and Mrs. Smith on DVD...and they're already selling Star Wars 3 here on DVD. These are just a couple of differences out of hundreds that exist here. As opposed to America, here in Russia, things are not done in a way to make it more comfortable for a person to live. Russian have a LONG way to go before they understand the concept of service in stores, restaurants, and other public places.
I'm going to try and check back here more often...I miss you guys and blogging in general!
8:16 AM

5 Falling Stars
Saturday, June 11, 2005

Dear Blogger Friends :)

I'm leaving for Russia for 3 weeks, so stop by my little blog again July 6 and there will be a plethora of pictures and stories that i will be sharing. I know that i just met some of you, sooo unfortunately i'm leaving...but don't forget me!!
Come back...
I'll miss all of you, and HOPEFULLY i'll be able to get to an internet cafe, so MAYBE i'll get to post something before July 6...
I"ll see you again all to soon :)

Happy posting Everyone!
4:08 AM

8 Falling Stars
*Sigh* i had such a great night tonight, hanging out with my new friends in San Francisco. I mean ALL of them are such great people...and as much as I want to go to Russia, I am JUST beginning to develop new friendships- strong friendships too, but that's okay, I'll still have some time when I get back...and seriously, it makes me even more reluctant to leave for Georgia when I get back. Here, it's so nice, warm, comfortable, great people, awesome atmosphere and there i'm gonna go and be all alone, battling with the same pressuring environment, and trying to do it all on my own..well with God too. Tonight, I felt myself coming more alive, and drawing closer to God...I know that i still have a ways to go on my Spiritual Road of Recovery (I should do a post about that sometime) but it felt like old times tonight...and I miss that so much. The thing I'm scared about most is that I'll go back to GA and i'll slip again...and I SOSOSO don't want to...It's not like i do anything horribly bad; it's just that i allow my environment to subliminally influence me. For example, I become more cynical and critical, more sarcastic, and my language really slips (i just know that these things for me personally have a really negative affect both on me and people around me).
I want to feel God close to me, his presence. And i'm not talking about fake christianity, where one person makes God out to be someone and a mass of people follow it. I'm not talking about people saying one thing and doing another. I mean the reality of God. I know what real christianity is- and i can't have a counterfeit.
All last year I was miserable because I had strayed from God. I mean not necessarily 'strayed', but i was just doing my own thing, living my own life, and in the midst of it wondering why I was SO depressed and why nothing would work right. If you read my blog from a while back, there came a point where i was just typing " I CAN'T WAIT FOR HAPPY POSTS". I mean i was seriously depressed. not in the "i'm-gonna-kill-myself" type of way, but in the "i know there is better out there that I have had" way, and I want that.
I'm not one of those people who follows religion blindly. I have questioned Christianity, I have educated myself in different religions, but i know by experience that only true freedom and happiness comes from God. and the only thing that kept me afloat last year was my knowledge of Christ/God. but knowledge about God isn't enough...i want to experience Him, and know Him personally once again. Anyway that was a tangent (almost like I was actually beginning to write that "Recovery" post...LoL)

On another note, for SOME strange reason, I am drawn to one certain individual at this youth group. Ironically, he is my brother's closest friend as well. I never get random crushes, I never just like someone. I am a VERY logical person- I think the relationship through; if I see an end even before it begins I don't entertain the possibility of anything happening. I don't have random flings/ frivolous relationships, and I don't fall for looks either. So I have NO idea where this is coming from. And it's not that he is hot or anything; he is just kind, gentle, caring, sincere, and you can just sense something is different about him. You know what? It's the fact that you can just tell God is with him. You know those people, who have God in their lives for real? Where it's just overflowing out of them? They are just smiling and genuine love is coming out of them. He's one of those; and around him I feel alive, and my broken soul is drawn to that. It wants to live again- to feel alive once more. And after everything ended so horribly a couple of months ago, I didn't even want to have a boyfriend/relationship. Frankly, I wanted to stay far away from that for a while. Just to recooperate after all of the damage that had been done. And honestly, I have a lot of negative stuff lingering from that, that God is working on me...one example, is not to become bitter because in my past I've had serious issues with bitterness, where it has slowly, internally began to eat away at me, and kill me. And i know that my heart became cold and closed towards God through all of that, so that is slowly changing. i feel myself slowly becoming alive again...like i'm crawling out of a deep, dark pit, and I'm seeing the light once more. And I'm coming back to God again, like as if we were friends who let time go by, and we are once again re-establishing our friendship.
ANYWAY, there are two problems with this potential relationship. First, his best-friend is a girl. They grew up together, etc. And when two people are THAT close ( I mean they call each other their bestest friends) you know that something has to be up with that. He used to like her, but she only sees him as a friend. But you know that could all change, and it's usually those SUPER close friendships that usually something ends up happening in the long term.
Second, He's going to Ukraine to work with orphans for 3 months, and by the time he gets back, I'll be gone in GA (great....). So tonight, technically was my last night seeing him. I gave him an amazing book to read on the train from Belarus to Ukraine, and hopefully he'll really enjoy it (which I'm sure he will...bleh, typing about him/this is making me wish circumsatnces were different). He said he might go see his friend in Virginia, so naturally i would drive up there to see him. And i know that he is slightly interested in me, because his dad came up to me, and before i met him he already had known random facts about me. Secondly, when this guy was at my house, he had seen my art work hung about, and later (actually last saturday) he told me," i just wanted to let you know that your art work is amazing. And i was wowed by the fact that you painted that." so i thought that was really touching, considering i don't even really know him. Ahh, i should post later how we met each other specifically...it's kinda cute. And there's been other stuff that he's said that show that he's been observing the little details about my life.

Lastly, for the longest time I've only thought about marrying one person. The person I've been in love with forever. that's a whole other story in itself. So the thought I've had of marrying only him for so long, has really closed doors or even thoughts to starting a loooong relationship with others. I always think, or hope, that something might happen between me and that guy; or for god's sakes that he would already get married and leave me in peace! But here, in this youth group, there are a couple MARRIAGE potentials....and that's REALLY big for me to say that...just because i don't really think about marriage, or look at people in that way. There are marriage potentials just because the guys here are so great, and they are just amazing people themselves. Okay,this post has gotten reallllly long...but i just wanted to say I had an amazing night tonight...
11:37 AM

0 Falling Stars
Thursday, June 09, 2005

Random strung-together thoughts...

Once again, big thank you to Red for writing all of those wonderful things about me on her blog.

It's strange that I'm actually flying to Russia on Saturday. I guess it's actually starting to hit me, and I'm finally getting excited. Unfortunately, I won't have internet access for 3 weeks (Yikes!) so that will be interesting how i will survive. I mean, I'm sure I won't die, but I have a routine where I wake up in the morning, and before I eat breakfast I like to check my emails, blogs, the news, etc. And i'm one of those people who loves to adhere to their routine. But a little break from routine wouldn't hurt?

About my conundrum in the previous post, I still haven't quite decided what I'm going to do. I mean I kind of have. I have an art corner in my room where I paint, and I propped this painting up and stared at it again. Honestly, I like it even less than when i first painted and dissapproved of it. AND, most of all, i don't want to work on it, spend time on it, which will make me think about the person, and how I'm doing something good for him when he doesn't deserve it. When I get back from Russia I'll make my final decision...
5:59 PM

11 Falling Stars
Tuesday, June 07, 2005

I'm in a slight conundrum. And it's not like this has been bothering me endlessly; yet, when i have a free moment for my mind to wander sometimes this perplexity somehow ends up at the front of the list of things to think about.

Let me start like this. I wouldn't call myself a painter, but i love to paint. Specifically with acrylic paints, using different brushstrokes and mediums, and blending colors until they begin to have a mesmerizing affect on the viewer. I either paint in black and white, or i create paintings where the viewer sees his own picture. Naturally, I have my own interpretation, but my 'abstract' paintings allow each person to have a personal take on the painting, making it almost their own creation.
I never paint a picture with the intent of giving it to someone. Only after it is complete, do I decide either to keep it, or to give it away. Except this one time.

I have never thrown away a painting. I've come to the point of utter refusal to throw even an ugly painting away. Perhaps not ugly, but something that I don't find attractive. Nevertheless, I keep it and continue to look at it; I sit and stare into the painting's soul, looking for what the creation is. If the painting refuses to reveal it's secret to me, then I paint something else over it. Never have I outrightly taken a canvas and tossed it into a trash can.
Art, like music, is ethereal and not of this world. It transcends realms, and in some aspects is sacred. We think about the creation of this world, and we wonder how trees came into being, or how a Creator could be so ingenious and esthetic to bring forth so many varied creations, yet all so different and more importantly beautiful. Likewise, such is art. The Creator allows us to create something that has never been; we bring forth beauty in the form of color and shape. With art, we are allowed to create happiness and pleasure for others. That is why I cannot throw away art, even if I don't necessarily find it pleasing.

This one time, I had preconceived to paint a certain picture; the picture was of this someone's favorite album cover. On the initial day of the creation of this painting, I had gotten into a fight with this person, yet, I still decided to paint for them. Painting alleviated the displeasing mood that I was currently in, but when i was done with the picture itself, it didn't satisfy me. At first i thought, well maybe it's the new canvas that i'm using; the paint doesn't adhere to it as well as the others. But still, I knew that I couldn't give the painting in the state that it was in. Either I could fix some of the colors, or completely re-do it. I put the painting on a high shelf, and decided I would work on it some other time. Occasionally, I would take the painting down, look at it, and see if it could become beautiful to me. It never did. Sometime later, I told my friend that I had begun painting this for him, and that I would finish it and give it to him. Reluctantly, I brought the painting home with me from college, and thought of different creative means to bring this painting to life. Needless to say, not too many weeks later the relationship that had insued with this person was broken, and I no longer felt compelled to give it to him. And it isn't the fact that I told him I would give a painting to him- that doesn't matter to me. What matters to me is that I gave my word. I said I would do something, and I always stand firm to my word. At the time, my friend said that he also had been writing a poem for me and that he would give it to me when finished. I never held him accountable to his word. I never expected him to follow through. As for myself, I hold myself accountable for my own words; therefore it wouldn't matter if he didn't keep his word, I must.

And yet, things have changed. I don't feel compelled to finish my painting, or give it to him. The painting itself holds too many logistics and personal politics. In a sense, i feel released from my word. Maybe I'm not. Who knows? I don't find it in myself to do an altruistic deed, for this is not the time. And frankly it isn't about altruistic deeds.

Deeper than the logistics or my word itself, lies the painting, and what to do with it. I don't want it, and I never have. It never has pleased me, nor have I ever found it beautiful. But can I bring myself to throw it away? For it is a creation. As I wrote, art is something from another world. I don't know, perhaps i'll look at it again; maybe i'll throw it away, maybe i'll stick it in the back of my closet, in an attempt to forget it, and thereby almost throwing it away. I don't know, maybe it isn't even the painting- but what it represents. The painting never chose to be created; it didn't exist, and then it was materialized. Yet, its creation was futile. No longer wanted, it lies in wait for its creator to make a choice.

Therein lies my conundrum.
10:00 PM

14 Falling Stars
Monday, June 06, 2005

I saw The Interpreter today with Nichole Kidman and Sean Penn. I'm not a fan of either, but both did an amazing job in the movie. Great acting is rare these days, especially with Hollywood overflowing with pretty faces and mediocrity. The plot was intricate and intense- at no point in the movie was I bored, and my eyes were literally glued to the screen. You know when you realize that you are nervously bitting your nails and you haven't blinked for about 2 min.? that's how i was for most of the movie.
And the plot heavily revolved around Africa. I was gripped. I don't even know why, but there is something that just draws me to Africa, its people, its problems, its culture, etc. Africa has such a rawness and genuineness; it offers what it has simply and it avoids the fake and processed culture that America has grown to be. I think of countries like Japan where loyalty and honor is held in high regard even unto death, and in Africa where brotherhood and community take precedence over anything else. What is valued in America? What do we esteem highest above all?
11:49 PM

1 Falling Stars

I want to go to Yale Law School.
11:40 PM

3 Falling Stars
Saturday, June 04, 2005

WOW...I didn't expect this

Since I've alluded to Russia a couple of times now, I might as well explain myself, and it will connect to the rest of my post.
I was born in Sochi, Russia- a small resort city on the Black Sea. It's actually President Putin's favorite place to vacation. During the communist regime, my dad was a Human Rights Activist against the KGB, because of this he was sought out with the intent of imprisoning him. With the help of Amnesty International we left the country as political refugees, and lived in Austria and Italy for about 4 months. We finally traveled to America and settled in California. I was about 2 when we moved to CA, but even as a young child I couldn't fully identify with the American culture; I felt that something was missing. The first time we were able to go back to Russia- I believe I was 8- I remember having this "oh this is what I was missing" feeling come over me and a missing piece of the puzzle to my life was added. I fell head over heels in love with Russia and each time we went back I would feel so fulfilled and right in the place where I felt I was supposed to be.
And I'm going back to Russia THIS SATURDAY.
Naturally, i am ECSTATIC, but it will be different since my aunt died and the loss will be felt, but in a sense it will provide closure for her death.
Anyway, above all else, Russians treasure family. Grandmas, grandpas, uncles, aunts, cousins all live together, and children grow up with a strong sense of unity and community. My brother and I didn't grow up with that because our extended family was still in Russia, so we always had a longing for family and a closeness with friends.
About 3 months ago, my brother was looking for a Russian church to start attending because he is even more in love with Russian culture than I am. He wanted to have roots and be surrounded by Russians. He decided to visit a Russian church that we used to go to when we first came to America. The people in that church were so kind, and helped our family establish ourselves in this new country.
He slowly started telling me great things about the young people, and I began to see how he himself was changing for the better. He became alive, vibrant, energetic, and excited to participate in the church. I had never really seen him like this before. Naturally, that made me even more eager to visit this new found place.

Friday, I woke up, and a stray thought passed through my head: " I'm kind of ready to go back to college and regain my independence."
The day passed, and my brother and I decided to drive down to their church.
As I was going to sleep at 2am later that night, i thought: "wow, how unfortunate that i live in Georgia now. but wait...wasn't i just thinking the opposite 6 hours ago?!"
I was in shock. I still can't believe it. I clicked amazingly with those people. I had SO much fun, like I haven't had in a long time. It was as if I returned to old friends, catching up with them, laughing my face off, and just enjoying myself. Honestly, I forgot about EVERYTHING- that i live in GA, what i'm majoring in, etc. All I could think about was, where have I been all of these years?! So i went to sleep, and thought WOW, that was amazing. Today, I went to a birthday party where these same people and more were present as well. Let me tell ya, I had EVEN MORE FUN.
Most of you don't know me personally, but I am pretty introverted, not overwhelmingly shy but to an extent, and large social situations make me anxious and tense. I felt none of that these past two days. I just clicked with these people- and that does NOT happen often with me. It takes me forever to open up, be free with people I don't know.
And now, I seriously am regretting that I have to go back to Georgia. Not that Georgia and school are bad, but I just know what I will be missing out here. It makes me want to transfer to UC Berkeley, and move to Pacifica,CA. Then again there must be a reason for why things happened the way they did.
I don't know, I just think about school and how last year i felt so lonely and i was spiritually practically dead and nothing could revive me. Here, just being around these people is making me alive. And i know I have the whole summer yet, but still I want to develop deep friendships and the closeness and family i've been looking for my whole life has been freely dropped at my feet! In two days, i feel closer to these people than in a whole year at school with others.
I left CA because I thought I needed to start a new life and that CA had nothing left to offer me. Funny, one of the things I've been looking for my whole life has been right under my nose. Even when people ask me where I go to school/what I do, I find it silly hearing myself say that I live in GA. Almost as if, "who me? naww, i don't live there silly. Wait, you're right...I do!?! but...but...noooo" And then I ask myself, "Masha, WHY did you drop yourself at the other end of the country again?!" I guess i'm just gonna have to pray and ask God what his plan is for my future year, and realize that I am not alone over there, because He will be watching for me and He will establish me. But, still, I want to stayyyyy.....
9:28 PM

2 Falling Stars
Thursday, June 02, 2005

Future Destination Update

1. Greece- it has stolen the # 1 spot due to an inspirational movie with amazing scenic cinematography
2. Kenya- I must see the African plains and wildlife
3. Italy
4. Russia- this one will always be on the list, regardless of the numerical positioning
5.Ireland
6. England- from London to Cornwall
7. Singapore
8. Sri Lanka
9. Japan
10. Rwanda- read previous posts for references
11. Egypt
12. France
that's all I can think of right now...
2:11 AM

6 Falling Stars
I guess you really know it's over when you start deleting saved files, pictures, and music this someone sent you. Okay, okay I wasn't gonna write about this, but it's bothering me and I have nothing else consequential worth writing.
First, I'm not sure what bothers me more the fact that this person has decided to sever even the friendship we had, or that as quickly that he tells me his 'heart is breaking' at the same rate he is able to go to another girl who has piqued his interest. So now, that he can't have what he wanted, i'm useless apparently...oh wait, that is until fall semester starts and he might need help with his Russian homework. I don't need him to talk to me, I don't need his thoughtless "how was your day?" question, for all purposes i don't even need his friendship. I don't need anything from him more so now if ever. I just don't understand what the problem is with having a friendship. I mean, I actually cared for his well being regardless if I benefited from it. i cared about him raising his gpa (what would i be getting out of that? exactly, nothing), and frankly I think I am the only one who actually thought (notice past tense) he could be some one amazing in this world. Whatever, I'm still here to help because I don't do that to my close friends. I don't kick them to the road, or erase them from my friends list, or treat them like a piece of dirt when i can't have something i want. But i don't know, maybe it'll be a good thing for our paths to diverge forcefully.
Second, the fact that he so easily jumped into another's arms really makes me question anything he felt or thought. I mean, either he's weak and she's a rebound and he needed comfort, or I don't know, maybe i have no clue about what's actually going on. The last conversation that we ever had freaked me out- i didn't even know who that person was that was talking. such anger, such rage (maybe the anger management classes aren't a bad idea) it was creepy. I felt that if i had been there in person he would've possibly strangled me.
Okay, so maybe a friendship won't work, but I at least need to know that everything is okay between us. That he is okay, that he will be okay, that his life will develop into something wonderful regardless if I'm not it.That the strand will be cut, but the pearls won't be harmed. I don't want to think back, and realize that 6 months amounted to this last disturbing conversation we had.
I guess I could always make my own closing conversation- more of a monologue.
"hey,
I hope you are doing okay, and i'm sorry how things turned out, i really am...and i hope you are well and enjoying your summer. I guess i just wanted to leave you with that; i just wanted to have a good last conversation to remember.
Bye"
1:10 AM

5 Falling Stars

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