Tuesday, April 1, 2008

~It starts with a narrative...~

On this day, seventeen years ago my mom, sister, brother and I traveled from Moscow, Russia to join my father, already living in the US.  I was almost ten.  I remember being excited to see a new foreign land, especially one which received so much negative propaganda in Russia, and to see my father again, after a two year separation.  I was also apprehensive about both because I wasn't sure what to expect.
When I tell people that I've lived in the US for seventeen years, they usually say "Oh, you grew up here, you probably don't remember much of Russia"  That's not true.  As far as I'm concerned a lot of my "growing up" happened in Russia, and I remember many things.  Our trip over, although patchy and somewhat faded is still firmly imprinted in my mind.

I remember getting up at two in the morning to get to the airport, sleepily waiting for hours in a crowded waiting area, waiting in the long customs line with anxious anticipation, watching as the customs officer told my mom to unpack our suitcase for inspection, finally getting on the plane (my first time).  The plane seemed so huge with two isles and many, many seats, the fight was long and my mother got upset when my brother (three and a half at the time) threw up on his new clothes.  I remember finally getting to NY, not understanding what people were saying to us, having the oranges we got on the plane get taken away in customs.  Worrying that I wouldn't recognize my father, and the relief when I did; surprise at how different yet familiar he looked. Traveling through NYC by subway, by taxi, looking out the taxi window and being in awe of the fact that stores were filled with goods; a sharp contrast to the barren wasteland found at that time in russian stores.  We met up with my dad's friend who took us to his house for the night.  Both he and his wive were very kind, but I remember my dad having to translate what they said to us.  They gave my brother a plastic dinosaur, which I immediately wanted.  I tried for years afterward to get it from him, he finally gave it to me a few years back, I still have it somewhere at my parents house.  In the morning they fed us breakfast.  I don't remember everything, but I remember that there was bacon.  It was the first time I ate such food, I remember liking the salty crunchy taste.  I remember the long drive to South Carolina.

I love to write. There are thoughts twirling around my head always and setting them down on paper lessens the chaos inside my head.  Sometimes it is even interesting to read these thoughts afterwards, as words flow out in surprising combinations.  It is particularly satisfying when subsequent re-reading makes me think "Wow, I wrote that?"  Today I can't seem to get started with work.  My mind drifts to the past, recounting the journey I made to get to where I am today and wondering how things will progress in the future.  Recent events in my life made me remember my love for writing.  Increasingly, I feel dissatisfied with the ambiguity that is inherent in scientific research.  I can't even get excited about the results of my own experiments.  I keep thinking that the life of a bench scientist is not for me.  My ideal career would be in scientific editing, but what is comes down to is that I've spent many years doing research and not much time writing in any kind of organized way.  I need to do something now.  Write more, maybe get published.  I need to know that I can write something that other people want to read and that they can trust me to edit their work.  Now is the time to stop thinking (something I do way too much of) and start doing.  This blog is the first step in an attempt to turn my passion into something tangible and present it to the world.  Today, 17 years later, another journey begins.

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