Inspired by this Twitter conversation, I thought I'd start being less afraid of who I am and how I think and what I think. I need to come to terms with the fact that not everyone will like me, and there is nothing I can do about it. The typical need of a survivor is always to please others; I'm learning to shed it. The violence in my childhood taught me to keep my head down and to be quiet, but I'm not a child anymore, and unless I stop being afraid and be me, I won't be happy.
However, before you read any further, let me preface by stating that this post is not meant to offend or hurt anyone and is solely an expression of my feelings, which is what keeps me sane and stops me from sliding into depression. Writing out my feelings keeps me happy. And if I'm not happy, I can't make those around me happy, and then it no longer matters what happens in the world because I no longer want to be in it, and I'm not going that route. Been there, done that, thanks no.
This post might look pathetically laughable against the background of impending fascism in America under Trump's heavy hand, when writers are trying to do all they can to stop it, by signing petitions and speaking and asking for donations and more. I may not sound as outraged about what's facing us in the next four years simply because I'm desensitized to it. I grew up with it in Soviet Union and learned to keep living in spite of it. It doesn't mean I'm not outraged and upset and anxious and afraid like everyone else, especially minorities, women, people of color, LGBT people, and immigrants. I am. I'm a woman and a minority and an immigrant. But I also found that spending time online on social media (mostly Twitter) and reading news gives me such anxiety that I can't function. I have shrunk back from it for that reason. I was very upset about this for a long time, until I realized that I'm doing my part too. My contribution to world peace and democracy and love is the celebration of humanity against all odds, loving instead of hating, creating instead of destroying, understanding instead of judging—by writing these posts here and by writing my books—though I still slip and err, so I pick myself up and try to do better.
Well then, here goes. The reasons I'm very excited to write ZHANNA (finally being able to tell you after being afraid for so long made me jump up and down and grin from ear to ear):
I love black skin. It fascinates me. Until I came to US I've hardly ever seen black people in Russia. And in the airport in New York I was staring at a black woman. She was so black, I was amazed. I thought she was beautiful. I thought myself pale and pathetic in comparison. She had so much color! I wanted to touch her. I wanted to feel the feel of her skin. I wanted to put it on and walk around and know what it felt like—at that point I had no idea about racism in US, or white privilege, none of it. I was just an astounded immigrant gazing at all the food in the stores and at the multitudes of people and the clean streets (I saw people walk in socks outside, which shocked me), and at the abundance of EVERYTHING.
I'm enthralled by African hair. It's so fucking amazing. Curly and kinky and lovely to touch. My own hair started falling out after the second pregnancy, so I always tell compliments to black girls with amazing hairdos, and I love it how their faces light up when I tell them I adore their hair. Once it was a guy and he grinned these perfect teeth, and I thought I'd totally fall in love with him on the spot, not romantic or sexual love, but a crush that's all about adoration. I don't know why I have this in me, and I stopped wondering about it. I just love it.
On the topic of sex, when I divorced, I was dying to find a black guy to date to stare at his black cock. Porn is boring. I wanted to see the real thing. I'll write about this in CUPID (temporary title) about a librarian who discovers sex for the first time after thirty years of nearly sexless marriage. But then, damn it, I met Royce and he screwed up my plans. He's so white, he's pink. There go my sex fantasies. Don't tell him, but I do still fantasize about it, and it makes me just think of cocks and vaginas in general, of all the different shapes and sizes and colors we have of these wonderful instruments of glorious pleasure.
Do not misunderstand this as some frivolity. This is me marveling at things I don't know and have never experienced because Russia is very white and one-sided. The ideal was a blonde blue-eyed child who grew up into this muscular, androgynous-looking young man or woman with a determined look in the eyes, staring at some bright communist future that condemned any feelings or sexual desire or personal freedom. Love was frowned upon. You had to sacrifice yourself to the state.
Another thing I fell in love with is black speech. If you glance at the first draft of JANNA, you'll see I tried very hard to emulate it. I love the cadence, the playfulness, the distinctive vocabulary, the use of double negative. It's so colorful, it makes me want to grin like an imbecile. I will abandon it in ZHANNA because it's not me, so it sounds like I'm trying too hard, it doesn't ring true because it isn't true. And yet I write in English now when Russian is my first language. So maybe one day I'll return to it. At the moment I can't because the English I have learned is white, and that's all I know. If I spent my 18 years in America with black folks, then I'd speak differently and could totally write like that too.
Humor and optimism against all odds. This is another thing I relate to. Black people in America are always upbeat, no matter what shit they're going through, they've learned to survive by laughing at the horrors instead of succumbing to them. And Russians are very similar in that way. We laugh at shit and try to stay happy instead of crying, because we know if we start, we won't be able to stop. Maybe that's why I'm so drawn to African Americans. I feel kinship that's making me feel like family. We always laugh when we talk. There is strength in it.
Another thing I love. Asses. My ass is European and it hangs flat. I've got a mix of bloods in me, Persian and Mongolian and Jewish and Russian and maybe even French and German, if family legends are true. But black asses! Man! They're so round! They curve! Maybe I'm a hidden bi or lesbian (I did at one point in my life consider doing away with men for good, I was so pissed at them), but when I see a black girl with a beautiful ass, I want to tell her how beautiful it is, but I've learned to hold my tongue. It's one thing to compliment one about their hair, it's another about their ass, especially in puritan America where the boundaries of personal space are so different from Europe. So, my darling black girls who're reading this, YOUR ASSES ARE GLORIOUS. Okay, I feel happy I'm finally able to tell you this. I'll certainly relish this when describing Zhanna (who is Afro-Russian) in the book. There I'll get my feel of caressing a black body without being yelled at that I can't. Fuck yeah I can.
Will some people try to crucify me for this post? Let them. I'd rather be crucified than lie and hide. If they can't see the love in here, then I'm sorry for them. Their days must be filled with self-deprecation (and I know all about that, been there myself), but I'm not the source of their misery, so by trying to destroy me they won't make themselves feel any better. Which sucks, because I'd love to help. But I have also learned that until one is ready for help, any kind of unasked-for help will be perceived as an attack (again, I've been on the other side).
As to you, my darlings, I know you will get me, so when we meet at one of my book readings or wherever, whisper to me that you've read this post so I'll know it's okay to compliment the hell out of your hair and boobs and ass and everything in between, and then we'll all get married and have a big borscht and vodka party and live happily ever after. (Royce, darling, I'll still love your flat white ass, so don't worry, I'll never stop fondling it—it's too soft not to.)
Happy 2017! Let's fill it with love and sex and adoration for one another.
LOVE AGAINST HATE. LOVE AGAINST TRUMP. LOVE AGAINST FASCISM.
I love you forever.
P.S.: I also adore: British accent (my knees go soft), Asian hair (it's so black it's almost blue, and so silky!), Indian eyelashes (curly and thick, to die for), freckles of all kinds (when I was little I wondered if I could lick them off), Arabian eyes (like almonds, like ponds of still water, stunning), Irish heads (mine is so flat in the back, but theirs are so round!), fast Portuguese speak (I'd love to learn it one day), and of course, Russian square jaws (I got one too). There are many more loves I discover every day.