A Modest Fundraising Proposal
Sanctions are leaving the Russian economy in tatters, and poor Mr. Putin might find it difficult to fund his indiscriminate slaughter of civilians. Granted, it's quite clear that his only desire in life is to treat sovereign nations like spaces on a Milton Bradley board game [everyone: do not explain to Putin that holding Siam locks in the two bonus armies from Australia]. It's also very clear he does not care whether his people can enjoy international sporting events, or fly beyond their borders, or participate in the global economy in any way, or buy luxury goods like, you know, food. All the same, I suspect Mr. Putin might welcome the opportunity to bring some dollars and euros into his treasury; the ruble, after all, might be a couple weeks away from hey-children-make-some-paper-dolls territory. He also really, really, really wants to stick a Russian flag (and perhaps a giant banner of his face) into Kyiv. Unfortunately for Putin, having currency more valuable than used Kleenex and occupying Kyiv would seem to be diametrically opposed goals.
I have a modest proposal.
Putin needs to put himself in the octagonal cage for a pay-per-view MMA bout. Sure, he's 70, but he's a fearsome judo master, and we all know how impressive he looks while riding a horse shirtless (ladies, amiright?). He's just 5'6, and we'll have to cavity search him to ensure he's not trying to sneak in a deadly nerve agent, but Putin's got that crazy dictator willpower, and I'd even suggest a bureaucrat for his opponent: who better to fight than the Mayor of Kyiv? The winner gets all proceeds from PPV sales and control of Kyiv. How about it, Mr. Putin? Call off the cluster and vaccuum bombs; let all those unwillingly conscripted 19-year-olds go home to their mothers. Just fight the Mayor of Kyiv, and if you win, you win the money and the city. I would happily pay $1,000 U.S. dollars to watch the fight, and I'm sure others would, too.
Speaking of which, who is the Mayor of Kyiv, exactly? Let's see... Google... Wikipedia...
Oh. Oh yeah, that'll be fine.
Let's make that PPV buy-in $2,000.
The military wife left behind
You sit there with your bags packed.
I want to be selfish and tell you not to go but
there's a lump in my throat.
You've only said one sentence to me since you've packed.
Russia has invaded Ukraine.
I don't understand why you have to go, it's not our fight.
Instead of talking I just smile and see you to the door.
I ask you how long you will be gone?
You shrug your shoulders.
I hug you tight and breathe in your sent. I'm afraid
to let you go.
I wave as you drive off. Then slump
to the floor and cry.
You've got this I tell myself over and over.
I clean the house from top to bottom, go for a run, walk the dog and cook dinner.
I can't distract myself at night time when I sleep alone.
The silence is unnerving, a reminder that you haven't called.
I watch the news daily for updates, praying that everything will be ok.
The calls I do get from you are brief. I don't want to
fill our conversations with my worries.
Weeks turn into months as seasons change.
I check my phone every 5 minutes waiting for a message.
Like someone flat-lining, I don't hear from you in days.
Silence fills the house as the light creates shadows across the room.
I go about my day, numb and empty.
My heart aches every day I don't hear from you. It's tearing me apart.
Like a needy child I want to be by your side.
My distractions are no longer working.
Every night tears help me sleep.
Exhaustion has become my best friend.
I've stopped looking at my phone, expecting the worse.
I surrender myself to suffocating sadness.
Then you call.
I'm coming home.
The Kiev Connection
My family in part comes from Odessa. There was and still is a large jewish community there. They've suffered through wars and pogroms, nazis and communists, and i have no contact with any that are living there now. That's because my family moved to the US in the late 19th century, like many jews did. Czarist Russia was far from a friendly place. They had cuktural wonders like Dostoyevsy, and Tchaikovsky, but also a heavy antisematisn which still exist today. In a way It's part of the defining aspect of European culture, both eastern and western, Russian and Ukranian. Which is why i see Zelensky with such admiration. The man had to rise above the hate, above the prejudice of being jewish in a country that has almost institutional despise for my people. He could have left as a youth, finding a home for himself in Israel. But he stayed and resolutely rose , first as an entertainer and then as a liberal contender for the presidancy. He could have sought refuge, he could have looked for an easy solution for himself, as many haters would have expected, but he stayed and STAYS still in Kiev! Imagine one of our leaders staying in a real danger zone! When asked by the state department if he needs to be evacuated , and obviously promised political assylum, he burst out "i don't need a ride, I need ammunition!".
I wish that leaders in other countries would face off current issues with such determination, and care for his fellow-citizens, instead of playing golf and tweeting.
Here in China, no one cares really where you're from. You are an outsider, and outsiders stick together (mostly).
A few years ago, i worked in a school here, with a nice couple. D. Was a sports teacher from the Ukraine, P. Was an English teacher from Russia. D could not speak English all that well, but he made for it with endless enthusiasm. If only i had sports teachers like him in my youth!
We often had lunch together, sitting in the school canteen. I tried to learn some Russian. I asked D once, if they eat chicken Kiev in Kiev. He did not understand what i was talking about. I described in great detail and salivated, longing for this very un-kosher dish. Finally it was P. that got my point. Idiot that i am, i couldnt see that it was the naming that i was wrong about. I guess Ukrainians are more humble, they just call it chicken cutlets, which is a gross understatment of this heavenly morsel.
They both married, and i lost contact with them. I hope they are safe.
In safer times, before covid, before the recent unpleasentness, i travelled a bit. Being extremely cheap, and having a depraved love of airline food, i did quite a lot of connection flights. I have somewhat of a collection of post-soviet airports i've enjoyed. The dreariness of the Tashkent intl', the uglyness of Baku. The martial presence of Vilnius, and Warsaw, the confusion and insanity of Moscow. I wish i could say i have fond memories of Kiev international. I savor no experience from there, I saw no domes and plazas from the glass windows. I tasted no fare, but a hurried fried egg sandwitch that offered nothing even of the traditional sourdough. People were not helpful, they knew nothing of the changes in gates and departures.
Perhaps unity in all things is to be wished for. Ugly , sad and depressing airports are truly humanity's common ground.
Not My Own.
I thought I was a soldier going for training in invasions,
Now I've been ordered to kill my brother.
I don't want to kill my brother,
But if I don't,
They'll kill my family.
It's just orders,
Or so they say.
Can I be held accountable if my actions don't stem from a conscious decision?
Or am I just as bad as my enemy,
Because I don't want to risk a threat that could cost me everything.
Maybe I am less of a man,
Or maybe I'm a man with a bleeding heart.
I have a wife, a daughter, a son, another daughter,
Is it so horrible that I wish to see them again?
That I'll do whatever I can to make sure they live,
So I can come home to them.
But now I am killing my brother.
What would my mother say?
They aren't my orders,
So are they really my actions?
Truth is harsh.
Maybe it would be easier if it were dipped in vanilla ice cream and wrapped in cotton candy. So sweet.
The ones who have never hidden their ruthlessness being chastised by the ones who hide under a cloak of civility and courtesy.
Remember this: things aren't always as they appear.