teisipäev, märts 21, 2017

you used to all come here

You used to all come here for the geopolitical analyses, okay. People are worried, the media shows British troops amassing in the Estonian hinterlands, the American tanks in Narva, specter of Russian aggression, the pro-Kremlin zombie stooges amok on the commenting boards, like the worst case of Montezuma's Revenge. Shit. I just don't feel it though. Maybe I am just too blissed out by the advent of spring, those lovely little birds chirping (and yes, spring did come to Europe, even in 1939) but I just don't sense the danger and here's why: because short of invading Estonia, losing a lot of little green men, getting into a nuclear eye-for-an-eye, city-for-a-city, and imposing Yana Toom on the throne as a yes woman (who will be perpetually pelted with rotten potatoes and turnips until driven into exile in Damascus where she can behold and becoddle her boyfriend Assad's hand lovingly), the Estonian leadership now is, quite honestly, the best the Kremlin could hope for. The President, Kaljulaid, is a born and raised Estonian woman whose outlook east is not the outraged Atlanticism of her predecessor, but the rather common moral superiority of the nordics ("the situation is not ideal, but the ethical state must make do, etc.") making her sound, in a roundabout, removed, unfinlandized yet way, like Tarja Halonen. The prime minister's party had that deal with United Russia in the '00s, which probably doesn't mean much, but it does mean so very much to the Kremlin ("our guys are in power there"), the same way that Lavrov still talks about Swedish "neutrality" as if it really meant something, or that they're flustered about being "engulfed by NATO," when it's obvious the West is in shit shape. That doesn't mean that the gasket protecting us from global meltdown isn't going to blow soon, but if it does, it's probably going to steam in Korea or some such place, where heavy missiles land in the seas. In which case, we all should feel alert and alarmed, no matter where we are. 

esmaspäev, märts 06, 2017

morsa tussu

Back here, contemplating the human condition. Some days are wondrous, bright, sun-backed, a white light on the castle ruins, other days a bit more blue and gray. Ain't so easy to walk into a cafe and spit out a mouthful of Estonian after a few weeks back in the US. All of those vowels. Sometimes I think people only pretend to understand me. ("What is he saying? Something weird again. Who knows!) I think about the male-female back and forth, about things that are inferred, things that are never said, things that are said but that mean something else. The iceberg theory! Above water, only the tip, but below, whoa, down and down it goes. I remember how once in the New York Aquarium in Brooklyn ages and ages ago, I stood watching the walruses dip and twirl in the waters, then was astonished when one pushed its nether regions up against the glass and realized that I was looking at the largest vagina I had ever seen in my life. "Maybe she likes you," someone said to me at the sight of that massive morsa tussu. Maybe so. I appreciate it now, how direct nature can be. What was there to misinterpret? It was just there.

teisipäev, jaanuar 24, 2017

through green house glass

It wasn't too long ago that the president arrived to V-town with her entourage. Some plain clothed security guards, a police escort. From the lip of the sewer across from Rohelise Maja I awaited her entry. This is my favorite sewer in Viljandi because of its most ungodly awful rot smell. "They're supposed to fix it in the next few years, because the sewer and the street stuff run together," says Enn the proprietor. "But whaddya gonna do? That's life." Enn says if it's still ripe by summer they'll put an easy chair out there for me. "Get a good whiff." Ooooooh ... that putrid funky pungent stink stank stunk of Estonia, up in your nostrils. So Kersti arrived, never saw her sneak in. In through the back door, I guess. I only glimpsed her through the dark window glass, leaning over her goat cheese salad or whatever. The telling bangs and mop of hair. She went ice skating the night before, down on the lake, or so they said. The children of Viljandi were whispering. "The president is ice skating, the president is ice skating ..." I was happy with my glimpse and that's all. Not a message to relay. Tell you the truth, I was invited to my share of Independence Day Galas in the Ilves era, but never went, somewhat out of shyness, mostly because my partner refused to go. She dreaded the annual edition of Kroonika, the garish cutthroat tabloid, where they take down the best and worst attired. Hirmus! Who could blame her? If I had gone though, they wouldn't have let me in anyway, because I would have worn traditional Calabrian attire, the daring clothes of briganti, which includes a musket and cutlass ... 

kolmapäev, jaanuar 18, 2017

the ireland of russia

I confess my ignorance of 20th century British political history. I knew the name Anthony Eden, I knew he had been prime minister, I knew he was a SIR Anthony Eden (naturally), but I did not recall that he was Churchill's foreign secretary during the majority of the Second World War, and I did not realize he urged Churchill to recognize Soviet control over the Baltic countries, which Churchill opposed. The unfortunately named Lord Beaverbrook was even more adamant about recognizing the Soviet takeover, referring to the Baltics as the "Ireland of Russia" -- an apt comparison, but one that most would see as strengthening their bid to retain full independence, rather than accommodating their subservience to an ancient imperial master. Those were the days of map rooms and sitting rooms and sitting in the map rooms looking at maps. The Aegean Islands! The Ljubljana Gap! The Ireland of Russia! It was supposed to be history. Now it's back.

pühapäev, jaanuar 15, 2017

from here on out, etc.

Some ocean of big vulnerability these days. The whole Atlantic in my chest. New beginnings, new something. People's dissatisfaction rising. Rising within themselves, with their world. It's always been that way. Nothing's ever been satisfying. Tinkering with Eastern Philosophies. But can we Westerners ever truly understand? For so long we have lived within the Christian prism. Even the Godless ones. The way we intuit, the things that motivate us. There are regional idiosyncrasies. The distance, the space between. Does every Estonian come wrapped up in plastic or ice. Something does not happen here that happens elsewhere. I'm used to a loud kitchen, a lot of big voices and big forces. A force of nature. "You're a force of nature," a woman tells me. Sounds nice. Stacking the firewood. Lighting it up. R. is afraid to sauna. He's too English, too cultured for local tastes. He thinks that a bunch of naked men sweating in a hot room is "gay." "What do you think I am going to do with you in there?" I ask him. "Look at you, you're all hairy and ... male. I don't want to have anything to do with you." "You are going to sweat in there," says R., pacing the floor like a distressed cavalier. "I'm not because I won't be joining you."

laupäev, detsember 31, 2016

the one, the one

As the year closes, I think of its unseemly demises. With simple time, it carried away so much. Memories, people. I'll never forget that peculiar feeling I had walking along the train tracks in Tartu on the day it was over. Abielu katki. It was high May, California weather, sun that lingered, warmth sumptuous and succulent and erotic, the trees like Dr. Seuss would have sketched and colored them, except greener and more pungent, luscious and octopus, enveloping you up in like her red-gold locks. As I eased into single-hood, the temptation to be a bastard ever strong, I clung to ideas of her natural boughs because of what they represented to me -- the last vestiges of the soul, the last morsels of the self. Now the year ends and I am not even halfway toward her, not even a quarter of the way there, or a sixteenth. "You need more time, you need more time." Watch me scratch the rocky bottom of the tunnel, trying to move toward something that I'm convinced must be light. Sometimes. More time, it all takes time ...  The ghost of one love gone, and another arrives to take her place. Vulnerability. Deep as death.  Not nearly enough time, she tells me. This is how it goes and goes. It's not exactly easy, all this. But what other choice do I really have? If you see light, you must move toward it, correct? Candle light flickers over dinners and there it is again, a well-contained thrill. Someday, someday. The one, the one. Estonia changed too this year. Old things ended, new things abloom. I think the Kersti Kaljulaid presidency secured its place in the ethical north. Our Vigdis. Our one. The era of manhood waving over historical grievances has given way to the country's now simple moral superiority. No, Estonia will not bury you, dear Eastern Neighbor. It will watch you bury yourself.

kolmapäev, detsember 21, 2016

the darkest days

It didn't occur to me that light deprivation might be the cause of the immense maelstrom of sadness that has left me sprawled across a couch poking at various old wounds for days on end until I overdid it on the kodujuust and noticed an immediate light and easy boost in the serotonin levels. The mechanics of light, Vitamin D, cottage cheese, dark chocolate, mandariinid, and the like, are still not clear to me, but I understand that these are cornerstones of warding away suicidal thoughts at this time of the year. It's not just me. Most people who do not live in the north swear they would never survive without their Californian sunshine. "I could never do that." And yet we sadists contend with submarine pressure. It's sinister and dreamy all at once. Look up at those gray milk soup skies. They will turn your eyes blue, your skin white. Anyway, I am off to get some more kodujuust. A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. Iceland is the land of fire and ice. Eistland is the land of cottage cheese, dark chocolate, and mandariinid. And the sauna.

Ei saa me läbi ilma saunata.