Thinking about the big stuff I couldn’t see

So I’ve been working hard on my book. There are two basic sections to it: the first part where I am a pathetic teenager trying to be a grown up in my hometown in Alaska.

Yes, Alaska is America. Very much america, even if it is as weird a region as Faulkner’s south.

And the second part is in Russia, post-communist Russia.

The first part took a long time to write, and i learned a lot aboiut how I write things that are longer than 10 pages.

In pieces, more or less.

But I knew all along that I had to finish the part that was in america before I could move onto the part that was in Russia.

It was a whole new world. I couldn’t even think about it until I was done with the part in america.

I realized so many things about my life in my hometown. Because I’m not 18 anymore. I could see things taht were completely invisible to me at the time.

And now that I think about my time in Russia, I am terrified by what we did.

I realized that we walked into a time bomb waiting to happen. The people in the town had literally not been paid for 5 months. NO ONE IN THE TOWN HAD GOTTEN A PAYCHECK FOR FIVE MONTHS AT THE TIME WE ARRIVED.

Imagine a company town, in this case a communist town where the employer is the government, and the company just stops paying everyone? and they don’t say, hey, we’ll pay you soon. THey say, “We’re going to go over to new management. Only, we don’t know who these new managment will be. We only know for sure that they don’t have any ideas for the short term. Longer term, we don’t know either.”

No wonder they were warning all the americans to leave. If that had happened in a small american town there would be violence.

But in RUssia, they just kept going to work. They would talk about the situation over their vodka,cognac if they were educated class, and then laugh and lift their glasses again.

I have so much respect for the Russian people. They amaze me more and more the more I think aout it.