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Roses10

It's a strange world, being an English language writer on LJ. Some of you may wonder how an American made her way to the Russian blogosphere. It all started in April 2012 when my Ukrainian friend sent me a link to one of Ilya Varlamov's (varlamov.ru) African stories. Immediately I was captivated. A sea of intelligent and prolific thinkers/travelers all writing in the same place. I became hooked, reading many of the top bloggers daily for intellectual pursuit but also to study Russian words.

Then I became friends with another popular Russian blogger, made my way to Russia, and wrote a story that received a lot of attention when he translated it into Russian on his blog. Now I have a wonderful audience, consisting entirely of Russian speaking subscribers. I still don't know how some people make their way to my journal but I'm very grateful for your readership, insight and comments. Sometimes I question whether I should continue writing on LJ
, or move to another platform where I'll reach a larger English speaking audience. However, I think there's some value in having an American woman writing here, in a creative space that is dominated mostly by male bloggers.

This post will now remain at the top as an open forum. I try to maintain an active dialogue with readers and you can write what you wish in these comments. Tell me something interesting about yourself, how you discovered my blog, ask questions about America, travel or any other topic. And, most importantly, let me know the types of stories in which you're interested. Thank you for visiting, and cheers from the USA!

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falls

Creeping closer to the Falls, the boat began to rock and sway with the wind and force. And you stand there with your hands and body pressed to the rails, sometimes holding on and other times letting yourself feel unsteady as you oscillate, even growing dizzy...knowing any moment you could get sucked into the huge swirling pools in front or behind you. A reminder of life itself, of all the forces, emotions and waves carrying us through the journey.

This is the mighty Niagra Falls in Ontario, Canada! About this place I will try to write a small report, but just wanted to share this photo I took while viewing the Horseshoe Falls from a distance. I made my way onto this boat thereafter, what an experience! I recommend that all nature lovers and thrill seekers visit this natural wonder if you ever have the chance. This environment really impacted me in a big way, causing me to ponder the purpose of existence and also temporarily transform myself.
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Balcony puzzle solved!

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The answer to yesterday's puzzle - Georgia! Some of you solved the puzzle very fast, but most were thrown off by the English language sign on the building. Your answers and logic were interesting to me, so thanks for participating in the game!

The photo of the balcony I showed yesterday was taken in Batumi, Georgia, one of the most popular tourist spots in the country. I will write a report about this place eventually, but it was my least favorite of all the cities I visited in Georgia. Where there are many foreign guests, Georgia does a decent job of having signs in both English and Russian. Kudos to officials for that, as they seem to understand the value of tourism and foreign dollars thrown into the local economy.

I look at the photo in this post, and am immediately transported back to this magical path. A gentle breeze rustled through the autumn leaves, the shades of red, gold and green dancing to create a sort of kaleidoscope impact. The scent of fresh-turned Earth permeated the air, and pure romance floated about. I wanted to reach and hug someone, grab a hand, but no one was there...:))Read more...Collapse )

Guess the country!

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Without going to Google images, or some other tricky investigative tool. Just based on pure instinct. :) This country has the most romantic balconies that I've seen in all my travels, even if the outside of the building is complete rubbish! Flowers, plants and vines twisting around iron structures or cascading down to greet you in walking paths or courtyards. Where is it? I will update the post with the answer tomorrow at 19:00 Moscow time. :)

In the forest...

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She tiptoed gently into a world of wonder
Light, like a floating feather at first, always weary of false enchantment

The trees loomed above her and around, swallowing on all sides
Their dark barks like charcoal against the hidden sky
Clouds visible only in imagination due to the sheltering canopy of entangled branches, of leaves whispering in the summer breeze, echoing mysterious tales to all creatures in their path

Her blue eyes glittered, reflecting the small traces of light
Shadows twisted on the ground, like fairies dancing in the grass
Insects darted about, the buzzing distorting the atmosphere, reminding of dangers lurking

She still knew the sun hung in the sky, like a bright magic eye
Its rays touching the twisted path upon which she now walked freely, warming her toes, bringing life to the trees serving as her savior in this moment

Suddenly birds began tweeting from the branches, sweet harmonic noises permeated the air, their tiny breaths carrying the perfume of flowers directly to her trail, causing immediate intoxication

She felt herself in a deep romance with all sparks of life, bending to touch the Earth
As she stood, looking upward, a puff suddenly appeared through a crack
It was like a white knight, yearning to rescue and join the intimate affair
She still believes in fairy tales after all, though of a different kind
Always stepping forward into adventure
Preparing for the magic ride...destination unknown

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Death via text message

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In daily life, I'm a lawyer and there is a recent case that really captured my attention. I don't practice criminal law, but the psychological aspects associated with such are of real interest and fascination for me. In Massachusetts, a complex legal/societal dilemma recently played out, likely altering the course of criminal jurisprudence in the U.S. It weaves all elements of the modern social world into one web, with the threshold for personal responsibility as the main trigger point for the Court's decision.

The girl pictured here, now aged 20, persuaded her ex-boyfriend in thousands of text messages to commit suicide. Even tormenting him and calling him a pussy for not doing it, when he threatened to on multiple occasions. I guess it could be described, unfortunately, as the ultimate mind fuck game by a female. Eventually, he succumbed at age 18, committing suicide by asphyxiation and lethal fumes in a parked car in his garage. The girl listened over the phone as he took his last breath, and failed to alert authorities at any point for rescue, or even his parents after it was clear he died.verdict followsCollapse )

The grim butcher - Yerevan, Armenia

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We can weave many tales, stories or fantasies in our minds based on a single image. It doesn't matter whether the form is moving or still, as in this photo. I look at this and feel such brute and primal force. I encountered this male specimen in the Armenian market, and immediately chills began to creep through my veins. Internal dissonance was incited by his eyes, which penetrated in a violent and harsh manner. It probably didn't help that he was standing over dead carcasses, with knives and other butcher equipment directly behind.

I don't like this type of alpha male, with some over-bearing presence, hunting me down with predatory eyes, creating a sense that I could be his next victim. Yet for others, these traits are the pure embodiment of "masculinity."

What do you think about this photo? Does it create internal harmony or discord?

About the "wonders" of women

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We have the typical season of summer blockbusters here in the USA, and at the forefront is the film "Wonder Woman." I'm not sure if the movie has made its way to your region of the world yet, but I want to say that it was a huge disappointment for me personally. You can read so many online reviews praising this creation as a cinematic masterpiece. Common critiques will say something like this - "finally, a female superhero!", "she is strong!", "the director is a woman!"....and so what?

The film was complete garbage from my perspective. What a pity that with all those female characters, they couldn't make something more thought provoking, highlighting the many layers and textures of womanhood. The actress playing "Wonder Woman" is beautiful no doubt, but weak. Both physically, and from the way she carries herself throughout the scenes, constantly batting her eyelashes, or giving some lost, doe eyed look. This is fine in the game of flirting and mating, yet absurd in the context of a "superhero" trying to save the world from being wiped out from lethal gas.

I understand the masses do not even think about things like this, and are easily entertained by fight scenes and beautiful faces on the big screen...but I somehow crave more! Constantly sickened by the way women are portrayed in Hollywood, and all avenues of mass media. Yes, including here on LJ. :) I very much prefer the way British film makers depict strong, complex female characters in many films.

Have you seen Wonder Woman? Thoughts? :)

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    Do you remember when?

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    In an old Soviet building in Yerevan, I met the owner of these tapes. Immediately I was transported back to youth, when I owned hundreds and hundreds of these cassettes. And here was a very kind, thoughtful and interesting man on the other side of the world collecting American rock n' roll for many, many decades. He still listens to these cassettes, not up to date with modern technologies or illegal downloads.

    Music - it is always a common connector for those drawn to its rhythms, pulses and ability to transport to other dimensions. About my passion for this form of expression, I once dedicated a post which you can read here. Maybe you recognize some of the bands, or even owned the same cassettes back in the day? :)about the ownerCollapse )

    Armenian delights...

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    Smooth, etched with elaborate curves and a moist center. There are many sweet sensations in life, and in the Armenian market in Yerevan, these fruit delicacies immediately enticed! Scents of sugar, citrus and the unknown lured me in, wishing to peel back the layers, and draw to the lips. New spices ignited, and the tongue rolled and tickled with delight. It was like roaming in the forest, seeing the most shiny red apple of all...yet no serpent was needed to convince me to bite. Easy to devour, tempting, like many things in life. The ecstacy fleeting...with the search remaining. For the seed, the pit, the core...

    More about the market later...:)

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    There are some men on the planet who immediately consider women intellectually inferior, even before one word has been exchanged. I had this experience recently, and it really enraged on multiple levels. It reminded me also that I never wrote about my experience in Armenia, where I traveled for a few days in March.  Armenia is full of Armenians - and really no one else. It is a mono-ethnic culture, and this is apparent when you begin to roam the streets as a foreign woman. My hair at that time was lighter, almost blonde, and to my surprise this rendered me a sort of "exotic" creature in a way I have never experienced in any travels.

    When I first visited the Caucasus' last October, I traveled all over Georgia with a man. Even in Tbilisi, I was almost always walking in the city with a native male. But in March, it was different. I hopped in the car with a Georgian woman, a real explorer by nature, and we took a road trip to Yerevan. Her appearance more closely resembles a European or American female. We are both "older" by regional standards - 44 and 32, and ordinary women, not dressed in any way to lure gazing eyes. I could hardly imagine the attention two foreign women would draw...on the road, at gas stations, through the border crossing, everywhere! The manner in which local men behaved can be described in one word - cavemen. :)
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    Georgian/Russian border adventures!

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    Imagine driving through rugged mountain terrain, no other cars or humans around, and suddenly a big, macho Caucasian man greets you with guns hanging from his shoulders, and knives sticking out of most pockets. How would you react?

    This scene from a Hollywood movie happened to me in Georgia, near the Russian border. I will try to tell you about this adventure next week, but I want to encourage people to look beyond the surface of humans. This brute of a man seemed so intimidating and scary at first, yet turned out to be a very huggable teddy bear. :) I think there is always something to first impressions, but everyone deserves at least a few minutes of your time to scratch the surface a bit, to see what is hidden beneath the exterior. I would not even think to ask a Russian official or officer for a photo, but in Georgia it is just a different environment, so snapping this photo with my protector was no problem. :)

    Suddenly I have inspiration to write in the blog again. So, some new stories soon. Have a wonderful weekend!

    Back to the Caucasus!

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    Last week, I turned 44 and it's time for my annual birthday trip. The decision on where to travel came quite easily - back to the Caucasus!

    This region is like a wonderful partner - there was an immediate connection when we met, and it goes beyond the mere physical elements. Of course, the stunning contours of the landscapes, and excitement of something "new" to explore are what initially led me here. But it's more than that. I love the Caucasus because they are both calm and wild at the same time. Perhaps it's difficult to comprehend, but there is a sense of belonging here. The countries are small, completely different from the massive geographic swells of my home country, or even Russia. This is part of the appeal - that you can conquer an entire nation in a very short period of time, and simultaneously ignite a spark in the soul and mind with all of the stunning mountain landscapes, ancient sites and warm, friendly people. It's an intoxicating blend of Earth, mountain, sky and human curiosities...with the negative aspect of increased heartbeats due to the wild driving culture you must endure to reach these remote places. In such environments, boredom never arises. There is a real sense of feeling alive beyond the mere habit of breathing each day, or going through the routine motions of adulthood that trap us. Boredom - it is the most brutal enemy for me personally. I'm always fighting it off, and can't stand to be captured or held hostage to it for even short periods of time. Yes, I need adventure, stimulation - maybe similar to a young child. :))

    I will depart for Tbilisi next week, spend a few days there, and then drive to Armenia. If you know interesting places in Armenia, colorful people, or any other facts you wish to share, please write in comments. If you missed my prior stories about Georgia, you can read them here, and there are still many which remain unwritten.

    Sorry for the very long absence from the blog. I am alive and well...and hope the same is true for my dear readers!

    Testing...who is here?

    Sometimes you write a post, and the words are like a huge echo. You have no idea where the words travel, who hears their tone, or in what country the human reading them is located. So, this post is just a short test to check blog traffic, and see who is still visiting LJ during the long holiday in Russia.

    I can't imagine having so many days off in a row, as it is unheard of in the USA unless you are taking personal vacation. The country simply would not shut down for two weeks. I was off for too many days the past month because my office was empty, with no work to do. I almost went insane from idleness, but got to see some films in the cinema - the children's movie "Sing," "Passengers", and a very good and touching movie called "Manchester by the Sea." Plus, tons of old films on Netflix. :)

    Who is here? :) Also, how many of you have heard of Dreamwidth.org? This is another blogging platform, with an interface similar to LJ. I am thinking about cross-posting there, as there is a mix of both Russian and English language blogs, in an effort to draw new readers and commentators to the blog. I want to continue to publish posts about my journey to the tiny gem called Georgia, but only if there are people to view the words and photos, to absorb the stories, and somehow find meaning, pleasure, or even aggravation in them.

    Happy New Year dear readers! I hope 2017 is a good one...

    Fate vs. destiny

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    At the beginning of December, I had a discussion with a friend about "fate" and "destiny". Many times these words are used interchangeably. However, they are not the same, and in fact you can believe in one and not the other. Fate - it is like a set order of events, something unavoidable or inevitable, and often with pessimistic overtones. All humans share the same fate - death, and possibly rebirth, depending on your beliefs.

    Yet our destinies are different. Destiny - not preset, and arguably within your control on some level. We can change it, or others can come along and be the catalyst for our destiny to be altered.

    The topic arose when I began to think about people in my life, those with whom I've allowed myself to get close outside of my family. Ex-boyfriends, friends, even some minor acquaintances, or brief exchanges with people on the street or during travels. Each teaching some lesson, a few of them quite painful, yet opening the pathway forward to another person or cornerstone in life...So, I would say you can choose your own destiny, but not your own fate. This is the main difference, at least to me.

    Yesterday, I saw the film "Passengers", and there was an interesting line spoken by Jennifer Lawrence's charcter Aurora - "we are all passengers...we go where fate carries us." Something to think about as we head into 2017...Happy New Year! :)

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