Saturday, December 29, 2012


I’m amazed by the amount of detail we can create for ourselves as we dream. Last night I was making myself a sandwich at a buffet as the person behind me spoke animatedly. Gesturing, she bumped the handle of the knife in a bowl of mayonnaise and it flipped out of the bowl and smeared mayonnaise all over my pants leg. This was especially troublesome because I was traveling and didn’t have any other pants with me. Somehow I remember the mid-air mayonnaise with special clarity and I ask myself why in the world I was lying there creating visions of such a scene. Was I practicing so I’d remain calm in the event of some real-world affront? That’s hard to imagine, since I’ve already had adequate practice at being spilled on.

I prefer to dream that I’m flying (without an airplane.) I flew all the time when I was a kid, but not so often now. In my dreams it’s not very hard. I just stretch my arms out to the sides, lean forward, and make a little jump from my toes. From then on I simply have to keep my thought relaxed and fluid, and imagine where I want to go. Generally, I skim along the ground at about chest height, but if I need to get over a fence or something I can do so by special effort, arching my back a little bit and willing myself upward.

Later last night I traveled by train with Alla. We didn’t have an ordinary compartment but as I write this the details of our tube-like chamber elude me. I “woke up” as we pulled into a station and I thought, “Did the conductor say we were arriving in Minsk?” I couldn’t see much out the window so I got out of the train and peered down the track. It was definitely Minsk. I didn’t know how much longer the train would remain in the station so I banged on the window to wake Alla. Then I got into the train car and roused her: “Get up, get up! We’re in Minsk!” Not fully awake, Alla managed to get off of the train with me before the train started off.

The train ride seems like a pretty standard dream to me. Alla sleeps soundly, and in any event she isn’t always ready when I think it’s time to go out the door. But an unknown person flipping a glob of mayonnaise onto my only pair of pants? That’s really odd.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Finally, something to write about

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Museum of Modern Renaissance

I’ve been so busy with everyday life that I haven’t written any stories for my blog. After so long, I didn’t want to write about just anything, but we honestly didn’t do anything terribly interesting. Finally, that has changed.

We used to enjoy Russian-American cultural programs at the Museum of Modern Renaissance, but since we spend less time in Boston these days we haven’t managed to get to anything recently. When we got an invitation to their ten-year anniversary party, then, we knew we had to go. Remembering that they don’t have an elevated stage, we paid extra to get seats in the front row. We figured we wanted to support the museum anyway, and we enjoyed our unrestricted view. Occasionally we felt a little bit overwhelmed, however, when a lot of opera singers sang loudly all at once. They can be really loud.

We know the artistic director of last night’s program. In fact, he was the principal musician at our wedding a few years ago. He’s got many talents and a powerful sense of humor. Apparently he’s also got access to a lot of costumes. This all led him to concoct a ridiculous story upon which he stitched together a bunch of operatic arias, sometimes modified to suit his insane script. We’d seen some of these jokes as parts of previous programs, which seemed perfectly reasonable since they came back as part of the anniversary retrospective.

Speaking of insanity, the hall itself is highly idiosyncratic, as you can see in the slideshow above. A couple of artists, Kolya and Katya, bought a former Masonic Hall and converted it into a giant art project. They covered the entire interior with bright new-age imagery loosely after the style of a Russian Orthodox Church. Having decorated nearly every flat surface of the interior, they are now working on the fa├žade. Just entering the space, one is instantly prepared for something special. As I understand it, they wanted to create an environment where the best of Russian and American cultures could combine in search of something altogether new. Just coming inside always fills us with delight. It’s the only place we know of in Boston where we can count on high-quality home-grown entertainment.

After the show, everybody came downstairs for food, drink and conversation. Somebody brought a Kievsky torte from New York, which pleased us both. I had read a story about Kievsky tortes in language class a couple of years ago. The story made me understand that everybody wants to eat these things, and I have not yet been to Kiev. Last night, Kiev came to me, however, and it’s delicious. It fully counter-balanced the mystery-meat bologna which I did not realize was even available in the States.

One of last night’s performers will be a soloist at a major concert in Verdi’s honor in Jordan Hall on January 24. If I still have any readers left, particularly any in Boston, you probably ought to check it out. I hear it’s going to be really good.