понедельник, августа 22, 2005

the first interview transcribed and translated.

another baby step is done. now i have 16 pages of a narrative to digest.
slept only 3 hours. sleepy, tired, but happy.
i have a feeling that i'd be able to collect a rich material. just feel it.

воскресенье, августа 21, 2005

clear contours

flickr for dummies
Originally uploaded by angel A.

devoted this to the friends on flickr who added some love to my addiction.
i floated in the flickr waters for months through the hours of nights and days and mornings and afternoons...well... it was a good remedy for the anxiety/uncertainty i was sinking in since last winter.
now the counturs of the future are becoming more distinct and clear and this feels good!

среда, августа 10, 2005

Trip to Toronto

cn tower
Originally uploaded by angel A.

I traveled to Toronto and took the first interview for my research. I also attended Sakura's memorial service.
My mind is busy & empty all at once.

суббота, июля 16, 2005


Image hosted on my flickr site.

Sakura Handa passed away last night, July 15, 2005. She had suffered severe injuries in a car accident.

I spoke with her by telephone Wednesday night. She told me she loved me. I don't say that for sympathy, but to tell you about her as a person.

Sakura was starting a new job and a new life in Oberlin, Ohio. She was so very happy.

Uploaded by The Triskaidekagrammatron on 15 Jul '05, 11.54am EDT.

воскресенье, июля 03, 2005


Natalie Glebova Posted by Picasa

I used this photo of Miss Universe 2005 as a "cover story" for my public presentation.
Natalie Glebova is a Russian woman from Toronto who represented Canada on this year show.

Feedbacks from the commitee : 1) challenging research ; 2) should talk about my study as an "explanatory, preliminary" research.

вторник, июня 28, 2005

One big step further!

the presentation is over. ..done!

воскресенье, июня 26, 2005

one step further!

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005, at 2pm in A200 in the Arts Building

Mardi le 28 juin , 2005 Ю 14h00 dans la salle A200 dans l'иdifice des Arts

OXANA M.: "Identity and immigration: Reconstruction of the self in personal narratives of women from Russia in Canada"


вторник, июня 07, 2005

hanged by a tale Posted by Hello

Where I stay.

Well, I managed to receive the ethic approval. Then, my supervisor hoped that i would postpone my research until September, she wanted me to work on her project only, but that would be another year of studying... To avoid this i have to make an effort and propose before june 17th!!!
Oh! The last time i had a similar situation was in grade 1o when i fell in love and almost lost my gold medal for high school. I'm trying hard but all I do - listening to Vivaldi and spending hours looking up to the sky from a small window in my basement office!!!

пятница, мая 27, 2005

My preamble to the interviews... my Russian is getting bad!!!

Это исследование об иммиграции и как она влияет на восприятие женщинами, кто они есть. Мне интересна Ваша личная история иммиграции, Ваше путешествие с момента, когда Вы приняли решение иммигрировать в Канаду до настоящего времени. Я готова с большим вниманием услышать Ваш рассказ об иммиграции и что, Вы считаете, важно рассказать о персональном опыте – чувства, мысли, случаи, события и т.д. Я надеюсь, что это обсуждение будет продуктивным для нас обоих в плане переосмысления того, что иммиграция приносит в жизнь женщины и ее понимание самой себя

четверг, мая 26, 2005

Russian as essential

By having walked my destiny until the middle
I dare to say a little in advance:
We will survive… we’ll live and solve the riddle
One shared love will lead the rest of our lives.

Here is the Nature…this royal politician
Considers only the essence above all…
The science knows definite prediction
And only love does not know any more.

By having lived my destiny until the middle
Despite the languish, lurk and pant
I dare to say: only love’s dense chaos
Is life worth while … .Forgive me, God!

I stop the moment to find peace and quiet,
To see my children going far away
And let myself to nestle up my cold cheek
Against her dry and feverish hand again.

Veronika Dolina's song, translation mine.

original is here:

thank you, Malcolm!

суббота, мая 07, 2005

Korean as exotic...

Need to distract myself a liitle from writing a dry proposal by something exotic...
Korean is exotic for me although i have the purest korean blood...
but i am more accepted by Russians than by Korean Koreans... the language I speak matters more than my blood.

feel for korean Posted by Hello

korean furniture Posted by Hello

i am Korean Posted by Hello

четверг, мая 05, 2005

My quest of identity...

This round of my quest of identity started one year ago when I asked myself this "trivial" question again: “Who am I?” .
Being born in the Soviet Union to Korean parents and being raised in Russian culture; I moved from the settings of socialism through the period of ‘perestroika’ to market reforms of the last decade in Russia. After immigration to Canada I faced a challenge of integrating myself into a new country with different cultural demands and life styles. After four years of my life in Canada, the problem of identity seemed to be pressing, as never before.
What was my problem? Was it a banal mid-life crisis??? Who knows...
But when I read this: ‘One thinks of identity whenever one is not sure of where one belongs; that is, one is not sure how to place oneself among the evident variety of behavioural styles and patterns... ‘Identity’ is a name given to escape sought from that uncertainty' (Bauman) - I knew it was about me and for whatever reasons I am lost!
It was the time when I wrote : "I was surprised how the students who were blamed for their closure toward ethnic diversity were nevertheless opened to one of the most controversial issues of modern life. I saw how serious they were during a presentation of a woman who was a man for almost 40 years of her life ; how thoughtful were their questions to her. Although she appeared as an ordinary woman and talked in a quiet voice, her story shattered the most fundamental, taken-for-granted conceptions of human sexuality. Her manifestation against its traditional norms was so much different and more convincing than the loud pride parades in Toronto. "
The image of this woman haunted me for a long time. As a man, she changed everything: her body, face, name, profession, wife, and her city. As a man, she went through painful operations and spent a fortune for just to become a woman. But does it really change the self of her as a person? Does her new transgendered identity was really new as a newborn? And what about her previous life as a man? Are there two separate lives or one continuous life?
Why her story bothered me so much? Possibly, it was because I wondered about myself in the same way. Not in such an extreme manner as her, my life has changed dramatically since I left Russia and, then, Toronto. I felt different from what I was before. I lost my sense of self, a core of my identity, I was lost....

суббота, апреля 30, 2005

the presentation of the self Posted by Hello

среда, апреля 27, 2005

Northern beauty...

In Sudbury, I look at the sky and wonder how different it is compared to the sky in Toronto. Never before have I seen more subtle nuances of blue, violet and pink. Subtle, but intense they do not contrast, but sophisticatedly flow in each other. They flow in each other in such a delicate way that the whole sky looks like a fine beautiful picture. It appears to me that behind a visual simplicity, there is much of invisible sophistication in this small northern city.

вторник, апреля 26, 2005

our selves ...our identities... Posted by Hello

What i 've learned about identities from blogging

I have so much to think over my blogging experience and how it relates to our identities.
I am overwhelmed. I believe that blogging is the very immediate and the most rich material
about how important identities are. These fragile masks have roots into the very deep structures of our psyche .... identities we choose are not free from our deep sitting traumas, unresolved conflicts, supressed desires.... identities are claimed and shared.... identities have a direct access to our feelings of the self..... identities can be contested or nurtured... identities is about othering - selfing or exclusion - inclusion. note to myself - kitten - saby - angel - joost. hope i will return to this topic eventually.
now back to work.

p.s. synchronically today i has been disclaimed as a friend by one blog circle "she doesn't get it!" and excluded from it :( and has been acknowledged as a friend by another blog (thank u , m-me X) . the first one was a bitter experience , the second so dear. In one case "friendship" was perishable, in another - a real kinship. why?

it's even funny - a 'friend' from the first circle assured me "be yourself and love you for what you are and people would love you as you are... " and when my real self appeared on the surface -
i was told that behind the mask he saw not a very "pretty" picture ... oh, well.... interesting.
it's really interesting.

yep, it is all about respect and diversity. and what is even more interesting - bloggers sanitize their blog spaces and remove all traces of unfitted blogger (myself spent time to remove all saby comments - what a bad boy :) and i saw that all my comments were meticously removed from the blog (including the comments that were welcomed earlier ;(

it means that identites are sacred and fragile (even a tiny inappropriate comment can disrupt
a tone of the blog), but those disruptions are meaningful as well as positive ones, and i would say - especially meaningful ( if one is wise enough to reflect - why it happens this way).

back to work now.

понедельник, апреля 25, 2005

To lose the earth you know ...

To lose the earth you know for greater knowing
To lose the life you have for greater life
To leave the friends you loved for greater living
To find a land more kind than home
More large than earth…
-Thomas Wolfe

In Toronto, I look at the ground and wonder how similar it is to Siberian. Often I walk and purposefully stare under my feet: it is easy to imagine that I am walking along some street in Akademgorodok. It is an illusion.
I look up and once again there is a feeling that I am instantly dissolved in a diversity of people around me. I look around and my face, height, body, my whole appearance are lost in a variety of Asian, Black, White, Indian faces; short and tall heights; slim and fat bodies in clothes of different ages and fashions. But as soon as I enter a building where my family rents an apartment, I know who I am. I am a Russian immigrant in Canada.

Idealistically I thought about immigration in a poetical way.
A reality is not a poetical one. It takes two hours to get to my work by bus. I work eight hours as an accounting clerk and spend another two hours in the bus on my way back. My husband who designed sophisticated wigglers for researches in physics now designs drills for blinders manufacturing. In Russia he worked in the Institute of Nuclear Physics, a worldwide known research center; in Toronto he works for a small factory owned by an enterprising Chinese businessman who pays him $10 per hour. Nevertheless, we are enthusiastic just to have full-time jobs. A full-time job is what any immigrant in Canada looks for. It is the only way to gain “a Canadian experience”. It is a pass into a full value life.
An anchor in a new life is friendship with people I meet in Toronto. I have a close friend. I have met her in an accounting class for newcomers. She is from Russia and of my age. Together we spend many hours talking about our everyday concerns; sharing our past stories; discussing plans and wondering about vicissitudes of love and fate. Usually we meet and wander in the city. First, we walk fast and take straight directions; then we slow down and move in circles; finally, depending on a year season, we go either for a cup of coffee, hot cider, or cold drink. We phone each other every day to say hello and exchange a few words about our everyday goings. Both we do not have anyone else with whom we communicate so closely outside our families. And there is no need and time for such connections.
Only later, after two years we make friends with families who came to Toronto from different parts of Russia. We see them for family parties, birthdays and barbeques. We also meet a circle of Russian-speaking Korean families – young couples from Kazakhstan. They become an extended family for us. We gather together every weekend. Collectively make meals or go out; travel to remote beaches and cottages; celebrate birthdays and attend the same church. For me it is as coming back to my Korean family with its communal bonds, which I was eager to break when I left Kazakhstan for Russia few decades ago. Once forgotten, these ties create a warm sanctuary where I feel earth-bound and safe.
With new friends the lost sense of myself is gradually returning to me. I travel to New York and Europe and on my way to Toronto I feel as I return to my home.

воскресенье, апреля 24, 2005

Manchester and 'putch'.

A roar of aircraft engines mixes up with muffled voices of passengers. Girls on my left keenly examine content of a vanity case belonging to one of them. Young men on my right are enthusiastically ravaging a wine bar. I look around. We are on a board of the flight “Moscow-London”. There are twenty of us, young Soviet sociologists, who won the national contest to participate in the Summer School at the University of Manchester. The girls’ chatter lulls me to sleep and I wake up when our airplane lands to the airport of Heathrow.

Sometimes my memory stores small and non-significant details about some big event while missing the most important part related to it. This was how I memorized a day when Anthony Giddens presented his lecture as a guest-speaker in the Summer School for Soviet Sociologists. I perfectly remember that we made a spinach soup for an informal gathering at our residence. I can easily recall how the soup smelled and tasted, but I am not able to remember any points of Gidden’s lecture and his speaking later during the informal meeting. At that time my thinking was still rooted in ‘Soviet-socialist’ mentality and the real meaning of his theorizing on modernity was beyond my comprehension. The issues of modernity, self-identity, and democracy have not intersected with my personal history as well as with the history of society where I was from. Not yet.

Early morning. The university dormitory. A telephone rings in the hall. I wish a caller were not that insistent.The telephone rings. I wish someone else got up and answered the phone.The telephone rings. From a warm bed I drag myself to a cool hall.No signs of life beside closed doors to other bedrooms.The telephone still rings.“Hello!” I hear voice of my friend from Newcastle. She cries out: “Turn on TV! Turn on TV! Gorbachev’s gone! Military overturn!”

I turn on a TV. The BBC News broadcasts a state of emergency in the Soviet Union; Gorbachev is out-of-town; nobody knows is he alive or not; there are barricades and shooting on streets; the country is in shock. So are we, the Soviet students in Manchester. In the cool hall we stare at the TV screen, chilled and paralyzed with fright by the terrifying news from our country. What will happen next?

In June 1991 we came to the United Kingdom from the USSR to study at the Summer School for Young Soviet Sociologists. In our group were students from different republics and regions of the country: Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Uzbekistan, Georgia, Siberia and Buryatia. In September 1991 we were returning to the country that was not the country we left three months before and we were not citizens of one country any longer, because in August 1991 the USSR collapsed.

пятница, апреля 22, 2005

True self and multiple identities

I changed women's identity to "identities"... I surrender myself to the postmodernist notion of multiplicity of identities ... yes, we have multiple identities ... identities that we construct.
This is the second surrender after my "good bye" to a notion of 'true self' ....
Yet, I believe we have a core essence that we call "self". What has been changed - an image of self Revelation is more modern - not digging a treasure-self or discovering new self-land in our life journey, but constructing through performance and interactions with others ...
Here we go?

четверг, апреля 21, 2005

my readings and my friend ;) Posted by Hello

This aura

I love the university aura .... As soon as I step to the library I am in peace and in connection with my self. Why I spent the whole month wandering restlessly around the house, not able to work neither in my room nor in any other corner.... instead of coming here ... oh!

reading room Posted by Hello

stairs Posted by Hello

ceiling Posted by Hello

library Posted by Hello

university Posted by Hello

среда, апреля 20, 2005

The construction of Identity

"Identity is people's source of meaning and experience" - Castells in Power of Identity.

He cites Calhoun: self-knowledge - always a construction no matter how much it feels like a discovery.

Identity must be distinguished from what, traditionally, sociologists have called roles.
Roles (for example, to be a worker, a mother, a neighbor, a socialist militant, a union member, a basketball player, a churchgoer, and a smoker, at the same time) are defined by norms structured by the institutions and organizations of society.

Identities are sources of meaning for the actors themselves, and by themselves, constructed through a process of individuation (reference to Giddens).

Although identities can also be originated from dominant institutions, they become identities only when and if social actors internalize them, and construct their meaning around this internalization.

Identities are stronger sources of meaning than roles, because of the process of self-construction and individuation that they involve.

In simple terms, identities organize the meaning while roles organize the functions.

Manuel Castells defines meaning as the symbolic identification by a social actor of the purpose of her/his action. He also talks about a primary identity - identity that frames the other identities.

The social construction of identity always takes place in a context marked by power relationships.

on Anna's day from Anna Akhmatova

If all who have begged help
From me in this world,
All the holy innocents,
Broken wives, and cripples,
The imprisoned, the suicidal -
If they had sent me one kopeck
I should have become "richer
than Egypt"...
But they did not send me kopecks,
Instead they shared with me their strenght,
And so nothing in the world
Is stronger than I,
And I can bear anything, even this.

I am upsetting

Elaine (my supervisor) wrote "It's upsetting!" when i e-mailed her that can't produce the piece.
"We have to meet as soon as possible". How can i explain her what is a reason for my troubles...
hm-m... i don't need to explain... i am not a school girl... still feel like a geek, stubborn girl who is not able to follow a normal way of doing things.
Well, happilly, Gary e-mailed back and he was supportive saying that he is still willing to be in my Commitee. I want him to be involved in this project as the idea started from his admiration of "Woman on the edge of time", but i'm slow, this utopia seemed to be naive for me.... only now i catch the meaning - family, sexuality, gender, love,child-rearing etc.
Would I be able to trace "identity is where psychoanalysis meets politics" looking from the margins, through a drop of modest lives of Russian women who happened to move to the Western culture and try to live out and change their selves in a new world. The world which on the surface moved further away from patrirachy but only on the surface, not that deep in minds...
Anna is 16 today! Her mother called. I have to be in a good shape, i have to find a place in my heart for a dear girl and make this day special for her. My ramblings should not affect my children.

суббота, апреля 09, 2005

"Baby steps".

I am happy my son can give me a good advise, yesterday on some occasion
he suggested: "Mom, let us move in baby steps". "Baby steps" are how
I have to move with this proposal.
And I saw babies in my dream. One was quiet, another - restless.

What I need to write is only about 15 pages of introduction of 5 sections:
1) topic statement;
2) theoretical framework;
3) purpose of the study;
4) hypotheses --- ? can skip for qualitative study;
5) methodology.

that's it.
and I already have the ethic approval!!!

пятница, апреля 08, 2005

Volunteers' lunch and the ethic approval.

Yesterday spent in the university volunteering and then attending
the appreciation lunch. Wrote three paragraphs for the newsletter about my experience of volunteering, the last paragraph says: I think that the appreciation was the most important reward for me as a first time volunteer. The lunch and gift certificates were unexpected and it was really pleasant to have them. But the most unexpected and especially rewarding for me was to receive the appreciation in a form of … appreciation. I wonder why the National Survey misses it as a reason to volunteer. I found that it was really touching to receive a genuine thank you for doing simple things; to see that by doing small job you can help; and that your help is not taken for granted but is sincerely appreciated. This is what I learned from my volunteering experience with the LI.

The rest of yesterday and the whole today spent trying to write but couldn't. Finally, e-mailed to G., the secretary of the Ethic Commitee to ask what's going on with my submission. Received a reply that my project is approved conditional on the minor changes (11 ! of them). I thought that the meeting was today, but it was on April 1! The day when I started this blog. Good news for me! At least some tangible result... people read my submission and didn't conclude that it is a complete BS.

вторник, апреля 05, 2005

The Novosibirsk State University Posted by Hello

понедельник, апреля 04, 2005

Morskoy prospekt Posted by Hello


One can find many descriptions of Akademgorodok or Academic City in Novosibirsk. Some of such are “a utopian Soviet-era community in Siberia built to gather the nation’s top scientists”(Montaigne, 2001, p.13); “ a Russian approach to Knowledge Management” (Medevedeva, 2001), or “ a unique corner of our planet” (www.gold-valley.academ.org). Despite different descriptions, all visitors and residents of Akademgorodok would agree that it is an extraordinary place.
Its uniqueness was originated from an idea that lied in its foundation. In 1958 the Soviet government planned to build an Academic city in the heart of Siberian forests. Hundreds researchers moved to Novosibirsk. Thirty kilometers from it, a new scientific town had to be build. This was an enthusiastic movement of a young generation of scientists who left a comfort of capital research institutions to develop the science in Siberian region and build a Siberian Branch of the Academy of Sciences.
The uniqueness of Academic City was also reflected in its ecology. Research institutes, residential and infrastructural buildings were raised while preserving the most of age-old pine trees. As a result, nature is enjoyable in Akademgorodok – whether it is its air full of pine aroma, natural trails or a beautiful view from a window.
But the most distinct characteristic of Akademgorodok is its organization. With a high concentration of academic research institutions at one place, and with the University, where all teaching faculty members are also leading researches in their scientific areas, Akademgorodok is a unique way of reproduction of the academic elite. From the third year at the University, students immerse into an atmosphere of real-life researches: almost all lectures and seminars are provided in research institutions, where they also work in close collaboration with supervisors participating in their research projects.
A remote location of Akademgorodok from Moscow, the totalitarian country capital; the virgin Siberian forests with harsh climate, and solidarity and communal values of young intellectuals created an atmosphere where the spirit of Akademgorodok was crystallized. The spirit stimulated thought of many well-known scientists. A Nobel Prize winner, a mathematician Lev Kantorovich is one of them.
I came to Akademgorodok in 1980s, at the time when young pioneers-researchers have already become respectable academicians. By that time, the spirit and enthusiasm of the Academic City’s early years had been transformed into established academic traditions and the unique life style of the community. Coming from a small city surrounded by barren deserted landscapes; where life went thick and slow, and it seemed that the country got stuck in a stage of ‘developed socialism’ forever; I was stunned by an intellectual aura and a high level of life in Akademgorodok.
It was a privileged place to live compared, for example, to Novosibirsk. Situated only 30 kilometers from it, Akademgorodok had well-stocked stores, lower rates of crimes, and not polluted air. It was a place of many international conferences and this, along with Akademgorodok’s researchers traveling abroad, made Akademgorodok opened to the world.
The student years had crucial impact on my way of thinking and understanding the society where I lived. Although all students were still obliged to read the materials of the Communist Party congresses, and ‘History of the CPSU’ and ‘Scientific Communism’ were in the curriculum; along with economic theories starting from Adam Smith and Marx’s “Capital”, we also learned theories of market capitalism, modeling of monetary and inflation processes, and other things about capitalist economics. On the flaws of socialist planned economy we were taught by academicians: an economist, Abel Aganbegian and a sociologist, Tatyana Zaslavskaya. They soon moved to Moscow and worked for the Kremlin as primary advisers of Mikhail Gorbachev.
It was a period of growth in my personal life and Gorbachev’s glasnost’ and perestroika in our country.

You end where you start... paradigm, method and results...

I was thinking about how my autobiographical paper turned out to be too self-centered, narcissistic, on the one hand, and, too general, on the other hand, in describing my self in universalistic categories such as "true self", "communion", "intimacy", etc. The paper concluded that " the identity constructed here fits more a modernist model of centered self and unified identity and, thus, it does not agree with post-modernist approach that sees identity as fragmented, multiple, conflicting and de-centered". Of course, it won't! Just because in the beginning I departured from the modernist conception of identity based on McAdams' identity as an integrative level of personality and Giddens's identity as a reflexive project of the self.
Identity without notions of gender, class, power, ethnicity and other socially constructed markers. I got what I had looked for.... Method defines the result.

суббота, апреля 02, 2005


A year passed since I wrote my autobiography and decided to do my thesis on self-identity of immigrant women. Since then I tried to come to a research proposal but failed two times. I read articles, books on women's identity, attended a conference, but what I produced was a full nonsense. BS. However, some points became clear: 1) i want to do a qualitative research;
2) identity, self and narrative are key concepts; 3) feminism and constructivism are theoretical frameworks that would underlie my method; 4) methodology i use - grounded theory;
5) standpoint - Russian women in Canada; 6) contextuality - immigration, women's identities in two countries. Now i need to sit and write a thesis proposal!!!

cheer up! Posted by Hello

пятница, апреля 01, 2005

A year ago...

A year ago I wrote a paper "Identity as a life story: an autobiographical research". The writing took weeks of memory work which was painful... full of tears and heartache.
The paper consisted of the flashes of memories starting from my childhood until the most recent time and the attempts of making sense of them. The major effect of this work was therapeutic.
I felt as some stones in my heart had been melted along the process of recollection and putting images into the words. I felt being healed.

The positive effect of narratives is well documented. By telling life stories a person performs a work of reconciling and making sense of the past, the present and the future, and, thus, brings integrity, continuity and perspective into the perception of personal life interrupted by some traumatic event (critical illness, abuse, etc.). In my case two events - my mother's death and immigration- remained unreconciled until I put them into the story.

Being personally fulfilling, the paper in the end seemed to be too self-centered, narcissistic and lacking a 'social' component. It was very special and meaningful for me, but it didn't produce a value as a study.

Her gentle gaze ... a touch of eternity

Venerable Lama Tenzin Kalsang Posted by Hello

I visited the temple in September, 2002. I still remember a moment when my eyes crossed with the gaze of Gen-la. I wish to have a teacher like Her.

My childhood in Kazakhstan

A quiet, monotonous rumble of wheels lulls me to sleep. A dark compartment, a silhouette of my father, and a mumble of my baby-sister are slowly blending with glimpses of lights that are fleeting outside… washing away… finally, they disappear and I fall into a deep dream.
I wake up to a hubbub of a railway station. I am on a platform. The night sky is dark and blue. With bright-yellow tiny stars it looks endlessly high. My mother is carried out on a stretcher into a station ambulance. There I meet her mother, my grandmother and other relatives. They are talking about my mother. She is seriously ill. They look anxious. They stare vacantly at me. Under their void gazes I flatten myself against a gray wall and its dullness dissolves me. I am invisible.

My mother died when I was six. My father’s mother took care of my ten-months-old sister and me. After being a first-born lavishly cared by young parents, I found myself to be the sixth child in a family of my grandparents. From cultural setting of a central Russian city, I was carried away to a small rural Korean settlement in Kazakhstan, where daily and yearly routine flew in rhythm with the seasons of field-crop works. Everything was different here – people, food and language. I did not have my own space and slept together with my grandparents and other children on a kudur, a raised heated up floor.
At age 6, I was quick in reading and writing in Russian. Although, elderly always nodded respectfully to my proud performance of these skills, the children were skeptical about it. Over performing them in reading and writing, I was not able to lift a yoke properly and I was helpless in household chores.
My father left Tula, the city where our family lived the happy time, for Kyzylorda, a small city center in Kazakhstan, close to the place where his parents lived. Leaving Tula, a large industrial and cultural center in the European part of the Soviet Union, my father left behind many accomplishments and perspectives of his professional career. Leonid Brezhnev came to rule the Communist party and years of stagnation began in the country.

My grandparents’ house is on the edge of the village. Across a small stream (‘aryk’) behind the backyard is a steppe. It stretches far away to a horizon where the sky and steppe meet each other; the dry soil does not see rain for months; and hot wind moves scanty plants with prickles instead of leaves. Only silhouettes of huge ‘retired’ harvesters break this simple landscape.
Here I spend many hours playing a “house”. Although, inside my “house” feels like a stomach of a giant iron dinosaur, the imagination transfers it to a real house with everything that a lovely home has. I decorate it with “flowers”; dry thorns are now beautiful petals. I clamber up to a deck. There is a helmsman’s sit; for me it is a comfortable leather armchair. Standing high up on the deck, I can gaze very far away and nothing stops my sight. Nothing bothers my mind; I do not remember my happy life before.

My first memory

A quiet tap of sewing - machine lulls me to sleep… A sunny room, toys and books start moving slowly … washing away, and vanish when I fall asleep to my sweet daydreams.
I wake up to a silent twilight room, look around and smile – there is a dress! It is waiting for me, a super-perfectly beautiful, cornflower blue with real flowers embroidered on a skirt.
I am happy.

I was born to my parents when they were 24. My father had just graduated with a degree in radio-physics from one of the leading universities in the country and started his professional career as an engineer. He was the oldest son among six children of my grandparents. My grandparents ran away from Korea to the Far East of Russia to escape the Japan war. But there were they entrapped by another war and deported by Stalin to deserted land in a middle of Kasakh steppes with German, Greek, Tatars, Chechen and other nations from different regions of the Soviet Union.
Cold and lean years of deportation, the World War II and Stalin’s totalitarian regime had marked my father’s childhood and his school years. His student time was happier, as it came about to an “ottepel” (“thaw”), the time of Nikita Khrushchev. It was the time of the Soviet Union’s triumph in space and growth in economy. It was the time of enthusiasm and hope for the Soviet people. It was also the time of enthusiasm and hopes for my parents. They were young, well educated, and happily married.

The start of the project!

Today is the 1st of April. Friday.I'll start to count days from here to the end of my M.A. thesis research.I was supposed to be in the middle, closer to the end of this project, but because of my 'heart' conditions, it was postponed, delayed. I have a kind of writer's block that I can't fight.Now I'm sitting before my laptop with blinking stars before my eyes, I don't know what is it.Some people say it is the blood pressure. I don't know...Today is April, 1, 2005.The day which is the birthday for my friend Svetlana.My university friend - Elena.Our family buddy - Alexander. Here I start.