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Year in Review: 2013

At the end of the year, people throughout the world focus on introspection. Some years are better than others, but the most important thing to me is to always grow as a human being. Sometimes growth comes from joyful experiences and relationships. Other times heartbreak or sorrow. Bad experiences and personal mistakes often create the greatest lessons, and the bravest of souls are those who can look in the mirror or inward, recognize personal faults and try to fix them. Every year, waves of emotion build and crash and life remains fluid, constantly moving and shifting in both good and bad ways. In 2013, life was mostly good and on the travel front exceptional! I never imagined at the end of 2012 that I would visit Russia twice in 2013. Many other new countries were added to the list, including Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Belarus. I discovered several new States in my own country, including wondrous Wyoming. My solo journey through the Jackson Hole area of this State was one of the best and most memorable of the year, rescuing me from a very dark emotional place mid-summer.

When I wrote my summary of 2012, I had only 12 subscribers on LiveJournal. Now I have 1,300. I'm still amazed that Russians care about the musings of an average American woman, but I'm happy to have so many new readers in 2013. Special thanks to my original supporter Alexander Belenkiy and new advocates inoblogs and ru_learnenglish, all of which continue to promote my blog and make people aware of my content. Let's take a look at my most popular stories of the year. I bet you can guess which post came in first place!

1. American In Russia: General Observations

The story that "blew up the Russian Internet," as one reader told me. It also brought over 600 subscribers to my blog and remains the most commented on post in my blog's short history.


2. Aeroflot and the Missing Vibrator

This post taught me an interesting blogging lesson - that reader interest and response almost never correlate with the time and effort invested by the author in creating a post. I wrote this post in less than one hour and it generated over 200 comments. Why? The mere mention of a vibrator! I never expected such a reaction from readers, nor did I realize that Russians still consider public discussion of such topics taboo - especially from a woman.


3, Bizarre Russian Foods

Again, this post took little effort but received a lot of attention on my own blog and others who republished it, including the new project inoblogs where it received over 650 comments and made it to Top LJ. Very amusing comments on the translated version. Take a look at this new community focused on translating interesting content from non-Cyrillic bloggers.


4. Russian Men vs. American Men

This post was fun to write and discuss with readers. Perhaps you notice a common theme in my top posts of the year? Readers like when I write about Russia and sex. Russia I'll continue to write about, but sex, men and relationships will never be the primary focus of my blog. Sorry to disappoint, but LiveJournal is already full of female bloggers writing on these issues. Take a look at Top LJ and almost every day you will see posts from lena-miro.ru and morena_morana there. These women are completely consumed with superficial discussions about women's bodies, the dreaded fate of older women, pleasing men, etc. Yes, I think about these issues the same as all women but not obsessively and I don't wish to focus my energy on such discussions with readers. However, I did visit and photograph an American sex shop due to reader curiosity and will write about it early in the new year.


Which of my stories did you like best during the year?

Here are a few of my favorite photos from 2013. The first was taken in my hometown area of Washington, DC. The second in an abandoned field in Wyoming.


I know that in Russia the main holiday celebration comes this week, and I wish all readers a festive celebration! I'll leave you with the following inspirational quote from American author Mark Twain:

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade wind in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover."

We sometimes become so consumed with the mundane tasks of adult life that we forget to truly live. Explore...dream...discover...I hope each of you makes time to do so in 2014.

I have no doubt that many new adventures await me in the new year. I already know of one, and will announce the details soon. Stay tuned...

Happy New Year to all!



Dec. 30th, 2013 03:39 pm (UTC)
Here is the Communist swastika!

Once, on entering Italy I almost crashed my car. I saw the communist swastika on the wall and the inscription: Vote iniziativa sinistra!

On some travels you may leave behind the pocket rocket ;)
Dec. 30th, 2013 03:44 pm (UTC)
Oh, I see! It doesn't look like a swastika to me. Sad end to the year for Russians with these bombings.
Dec. 30th, 2013 04:07 pm (UTC)
Year's End
I will say somewhat cynically: a stick has two ends. One end is the terror the Russians have been doing in the Caucasus for almost 20 years. Occasionally the stick shows its other end.

It is very sad nobody understands this.
Dec. 30th, 2013 04:10 pm (UTC)
Re: Year's End
Almost all of my readers will certainly disagree with your statement! The majority of readers view people from the Caucasus as wild animals.
Dec. 30th, 2013 04:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Year's End
Many people in America in the past viewed the blacks as wild animals, too. But this time is gone.
I do not think there are people more saturated with racism than the Russians. Alas, this is the present situation.

The ways of civilization are not simple.

I, too, consider them savages. You should know the specifics of highlanders. They are wild, generally. But still they are humans.

To fight barbarism with the methods of barbarians is to become a barbarian yourself. It is a surrender to barbarism.

The culture of these highlanders is quite different from that of the rest of Russians. It is incompatible with the culture of the rest of the country. People with cultures so deeply different cannot belong to the same country, the same nation. The North Caucasus cannot be a part of a federation in Russia.

It is in a way the same as the Mexicans cannot be united in federation with the United States.

Something similar happened in France with Algiers. Algiers was a departement in the French Republic the same as Brittany, Burgundy, Provence, etc. The Algerians were the same kind of citizens as the Parisians. An awfully bloody colonial war followed and the General de Gaulle finally separated Algiers from France.

There is no de Gaulle in Russia. They still are imperialists holding their colonies. They recently have carried out two colonial wars in Chechnya copycatting all the monstrosities Hitler had done in his time. And they do not even conceive these as military crimes, the crimes against humanity. Although such behavior was clearly defined and condemned in the Nuremberg Trials in 1946.

This is to explain the one end of the stick.
Dec. 30th, 2013 06:38 pm (UTC)
Re: Year's End
I understand the tensions, but thanks for the thorough history lesson and thoughts!
Dec. 30th, 2013 08:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Year's End
Many people in America in the past viewed the blacks as wild animals, too.
They still do.

At least it applies to black teenagers.

fritzmorgen. livejournal. com/650456.html

Surprisingly I agree with the rest of your speech.
Russia _could_ separate North Caucasus but the are some problems.

1. North Caucasus is the gateway to South Caucasus where more civilized people live, like Georgians and Armenians.
2. We are not alone on Earth. If we leave Saudi or Americans would come.
3. There are other muslims further North like Tatars, and with uncontrolled Caucasus down there they could be more easily radicalized too. And _that_ place is much more valuable because it's the core of the country with resources and industry.

Dec. 31st, 2013 12:14 am (UTC)
Re: Year's End
Fritzmorgen is a patented motherfucker. Don't let him get close to _your_ mother!

2. Oh yes, the Martians are coming!
Jan. 3rd, 2014 05:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Year's End
He is one of the most delusional bloggers on LiveJournal! Btw, are you buried in snow today? :)) Here in DC we have nothing. Sadness!
Jan. 3rd, 2014 06:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Year's End
We had below zero in the night. And close to 12 inches of snow and windy. The governor said, No driving in the streets!
Jan. 3rd, 2014 06:04 pm (UTC)
Re: Year's End
Great! I envy. :))
Jan. 3rd, 2014 08:34 pm (UTC)
Re: Year's End
I hate when it's windy! On Christmas I had a visitor, a high school freshman from the central VA. He suffered immensely because of the wind.
Dec. 30th, 2013 04:13 pm (UTC)
Communism is a fascism for the poor - defined Heinrich Boell.

The hammer-and-suckle is a Communist swastika and is banned to display in many countries as such.


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