Paradise Found—A Blog

Andrei Gelasimov

Translated from Russian by Sylvia Maizell

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June 17th, 20:55

Went for a haircut in the morning. Got there at night. Man, just didn’t feel like going. But Red said the medboard digs a haircut. The military loves you bald. Maybe I should buy a uniform while I’m at it? So they’d shed a tear of joy. What a fuckin’ cool soldier marched in! Let’s make him a general. Or else fast forward him to the reserves. Anyway, I sat down for a haircut. But there’s no air conditioner in this barber shop, no nada. Stuffy, stinks of cologne, and puffs of poplar fluff lying all over. So, I’m sitting, sneezing, waiting till our Moscow mayor blanks out his traffic jams and takes on the poplars. Had it with them. And this barber goes—you’d better stop sneezing or I could cut off your ear. I say—go ahead, cut it off, then they won’t take me into the army. She goes—is that why you’re so down? I go—well, what can I say. Anyway, she gave me a cut. She’s so tiny, dark haired, and skinny. I say—what’s your name? She says—Amira. That’s princess in Arabic. I go—cool. No princess ever cut my hair before. Do you want to come with me? She says—where? I say—to buy sneakers. I’ve always wanted to get some decent ones but I was worried about the army. I thought, so who the hell needs them if they draft me right after graduation. But today I decided screw it, I’ll get them anyway. They’ll just be there. Sneakers, y’know, aren’t a girl. They’ll hang around for me, fo’shizzle. So, this Amira looks at me and says—fo’shizzle? I say—I mean, for sure. Help me pick them out? She takes off her smock and says—I’m in.

(3 comments – Leave a comment)

2011-06-18 01:44 am (UTC)
Hey Sasha, couldn’t you tell me before you’d be out all night. I would’ve brought over Tanka. You monster. Only think about yourself.

2011-06-18 08:57 am (UTC)
So, Sasha, then you crashed in that store overnight, huh? And what about those sneakers?

2011-06-18 11:44 am (UTC)
Hey Mashka! I thought you stopped going to Sasha’s blog. How are things in Petertown? Not bad? Your rocker guy still hasn’t fucked you blind? :) If there’s trouble come back. Sasha’s really acting weird without you. And I’ll clear out if I have to. Hey listen, are you the one who broke the shelf in the fridge? The landlady came in to check on us. Started giving us a really hard time. Anyway you owe us a shelf when you’re back in Moscow.


June 18th, 15:21

And we didn’t buy the damned sneakers. This Amira made such a scene that security just kicked us out of there. Already in the metro the Arabian princess started kidding around, but when we go into the European Mall, I kind of started having my doubts. It’s not that the girl’s a little off, but she’s really, like, unique. Anyway, we stop by one big store, there’s music, crowds, the usual, and Amira says to some salesgirl standing there—if you have any questions, she goes, don’t hesitate to ask. Then she moves up to the next salesgirl—can I help you? And gives both of them this, like, friendly look. Then I go—excuse us, I need to buy sneakers, but the salespeople are already eyeing security at the entrance. I whisper to this Amira—what are you up to? She says to me—well, these experts always come on so strong. You just can’t simply walk into a store. They’re all over you with their questions. Let them know what it’s like now. I go—shit, I just needed sneakers. To think about them in the army. And she goes—what, there’s nothing else for you to think about? I go—yes, there is, but I don’t like any of it. It’s not the kind of stuff I want to remember in the army. But sneakers—they do it for me. Sneakers don’t stress you out. Just the opposite. She goes—anyway, screw the sneakers. We’ll grow your memories. Like they grow hair in the Real Transhair Clinic, remember that ad? Well, I thought it over and I say to her—OK, you’re on.

(7 comments – Leave a comment)

2011-06-18 04:04 pm (UTC)
Hey, Sasha, are you comatose, or what? Have you totally lost your mind out there? Don’t you get it, she’s only a border-jumper. What’s got into you?

2011-06-18 05:12 pm (UTC)
See, like I told you, Mashka—he’s been really acting weird. Sasha, bro, get back home. They delivered one more draft notice. And, like, they made me sign for you. And what if they get on my back now? Where are you? And what the hell did you turn off the phone for?

2011-06-18 08:01 pm (UTC)
Look how our Masha got all worked up. As if she wasn’t the one who took off a month ago like she couldn’t care less. Remember how we were after her to stay? And then Sasha would have applied to graduate school. And then there’d be no army.

2011-06-18 08:04 pm (UTC)
Andrei Rudolfovich, you should mind your own business. Or maybe at your age there’s not enough of your own business.

2011-05-18 08:07 pm (UTC)
I hope you’re not trying to be witty.

2011-06-18 10:15 pm (UTC)
Red, my phone’s gone dead. No charger. If you want, bring over Tanka. And probably tomorrow too. Give her some cherries, or they’ll go to waste.

2011-06-18 11:24 pm (UTC)
No worries. I already ate ’em.


June 19th, 03:15

She canned all my proposals. She was all around me on this skateboard she rented from some kid. She laughed and kept saying I don’t get it. Forget the Kazantip raves—she goes. Forget the ‘Invasion’ rock fest. You’ll smoke some weed and hop around bare-assed in the sea like a monkey. I say—hold it, Invasion’ is in Zavidovo. There’s, like, no sea there. She says—whatever. Still, you can’t really call those memories. What, you’re gonna think about pot in the army? I say—well, so what if I do, mary jane’s a friend. Worth remembering. So she says—get real, there’s probably a ton of that crap there too. As my daddy used to say—a pig will always find some mud. He really promoted this idea. And if he’s right, then you’re on the verge of a logical error. Why remember something that’s there anyway?

Anyhow, I’m twirling in place like a ballerina to look at her, and right there there’s that kid bugging us. I say to her—you’re so smart, did you always work in a barber shop? She says—I was born there. Give the kid some more cash. I’ve had it with him. I hand the kid fifty roubles. He goes—no way, you better make it a hundred. Or else let gypsy there give back the skateboard. Amira says to him—you’ll get it now for that “gypsy” and the kid goes—I’ll whistle and some guys’ll come running from all over Poklonnaya Hills, and you’ll get it. Then I go—you got your hundred, right? Beat it, say, for a half hour. Your board’s going nowhere. Amira says to me—what a diplomat. Check out this trick. And she jumps on the skateboard. And she rotates on it. I go—learned that in the barber shop? She laughs.

OK, anyway, then she pushes this, like, topic: memories—that’s not so important, they won’t keep you afloat. What really counts is what you’re after in life, what you’re looking for. Like manna from heaven. I go—more like buckwheat. She goes—in the army you’ll get barley. And I go—just how do you know this? She says—my dad was an officer in Azerbaijan.When your army was still there. I go—cool.Who is he now? Again she gives a jump on the skateboard and says—nobody. He’s not around now. He’s into something else. And I go—well, you don’t want to tell me, then don’t. Anyway, I don’t know what I’m looking for. It sure isn’t barley.

Finally, she jumps off this skateboard and says—we’re all looking for what we didn’t complete. I say—meaning? Still out of breath, she looks at me so intently, and says—in my childhood, when I was at my grandma’s in the country, I found an old book, The Children of Captain Grant, in the attic. I read it all summer before going to sleep, but just couldn’t finish it. I go—why? She goes—it wasn’t the whole book. Someone tore off part of it. I even don’t know how many pages were missing. The cover was gone too. So that I still have no clue if they found their father. I say—so what’s your point? She answers—it’s what keeps me going. See, in the story, they’re on the way to some Patagonia. I don’t even know where it is. Because they’re still sailing. I say to her—so finish reading. She laughs—no, I like to leave them sailing. You should also come up with your own thing like that. So you’d want to come back from the army. I go—I’d want to no matter what. She shakes her head—that’s different. You must definitely leave something unfinished. That’s when you’ll have a real motivation—you start something, but you don’t finish it: first, you’ll have a memory, and second—there’s those confuslings. It’s much more fun with confuslings in your life, trust me. I go—OK, I trust you. So, how do we proceed?

(3 comments – Leave a comment)

2011-06-19 08:40 am (UTC)
She’s fucking you over. I’m really pissed off :( Hey, Coma, you’re really dumb.

2011-06-09 10:16 am (UTC)
Hey, what’s with this dumb? That’s Mashka for you—she takes off and now everybody’s dumb for her. Me, I happen to agree with this girl. For sure you’ll remember that party better where you don’t get totally wasted. ‘Cause if you do, then there’s nothing to remember, just the same old stuff. And in the morning your skull’s splitting. So Amira’s onto something. Sasha, bro, tell me—what’s this thinker like? Is she a looker? You gonna hang out with her for long?

2011-06-19 10:34am (UTC)
Yes, indeed, by the way, it’s an interesting question. About the thinker.


June 19th, 14:27

Sorree, didn’t finish the post before. Wanted to sleep real bad. Besides, we decided not to finish things right away :). As for the thinker—yes, a looker. Or, maybe not. I don’t know. That’s not the point.

Anyway, I go into the metro—there she is in the middle of the concourse holding this skateboard and gives me a thumb’s up. I go—how come you didn’t leave? I thought you dumped me? She laughs and goes—sexy nerds turn me on. Rare combo. I go—well, thanks, only, y’know, I got a tooth knocked out because of you. Warn me next time when you cook up something like this. I can’t believe you took off on that skateboard. There’s no way I can run so fast. Couple of seconds and those kids caught up with me.

She puts down the skateboard, stands on it, and pulls me by my T-shirt. I bend toward her and we’re that way a whole minute. Plus the train came. We’re shoved around. And my mouth’s all smashed. It hurts a little to kiss. She moves away, looks at me and says—what’s wrong? I go—you have blood on your lips. You’re a vampire. Again she laughs and pulls me into the car. I go—what about the skateboard? She just, like—screw it, I’m over it.

At the next station some smiley fatso gets on, about 240 pounds. He’s holding a Sony PlayStation RSR group. Seems like he wanted to play, but then he noticed us. He checks out the blood on my T-shirt, my bloody face, then Amira, then again me. Now he’s not smiling. Wants to know what the hell went on. And this Arabian nights’ princess points to his belly and goes—what’re you expecting, a boy or a girl?

(5 comments – Leave a comment)

2011-06-19 18:36pm (UTC)
Sexy nerd—you’re a winner. Sasha let’s see this Amira of yours. She’s, like, weird. Anyway get your ass over here. We’ll have a ball. And grab some grub. Tanka’s split and I’ve no money for food. It sucks.

2011-06-19 21:48 pm (UTC)
Yes, the girl’s unequivocally unconventional. I once had a student like that. Total wild card. Charming, no argument, but I tell you I had to call the ambulance from the nut house. One day she dropped into the dean’s office and lay down right in the middle of the floor.

2011-06-19 22:15 pm (UTC)
So what was she after?

2011-06-19 22:33 (UTC)
Happiness, I guess. What else are girls after J?

mashka 212
You really are assholes.


June 20th, 11:48

Red, I just couldn’t find a cell charger, so I have to write you. Need your help. Pick us up in your wreck at the River Station tomorrow morning at ten. We’ll wait by the entrance to the metro. With some food for you. I still have money left on my card. Just don’t be late. We’ll have to get moving right on time. Amira came up with some major idea. She says—this one you’ll never forget. But we’ll need a car. We’ll have to take something out of town. For now she’s not saying what. She goes—better a surprise. Again she canned my suggestions. She goes—all those shooter games of yours are retro. Retro and lame. Anyway, she thinks Counter Strike sucks. Even though I really tried to explain to her that, basically, it’s impossible to finish playing Counter Strike. A project with no end. Now that gives you a strong motivation. She just laughs. She says—childhood’s over. Soon you’ll be running with a real gun.

Tonight she woke me up and says—how far would you go to stay out of the army altogether? I say—I’d go for sleeping a little more. I’d go for that. She says—I’ve had it with you. I say—you’ve had it with me? She goes—come on, for real. Would you agree to break your arm? I go—I don’t know. She goes—how about your leg? I go—no way. It’s thick and breaking it will hurt. And besides, I walk on it. This princess lit up and goes—how about getting married? I go—getting married’s cool. If the bride’s beautiful—that’s pretty awesome. Only I still won’t get a deferment. You need kids. And kids can’t show up so fast. They need a lot of time to get over from there to here. She looks at me and goes—from where? I shrug—well, from there. Where they hang out before they, well, you know what I’m talking about. She goes—I don’t know. And in the darkness on and off her face lights up so sweet from the cigarette. You’re right out of Diablo 2. One of the bosses there looks like you at the end of the first act. Andariel, The Maiden of Anguish. Only her hair is red. The whole program she’s zapping whoever’s out there with poison. When I first played the game she must have got me around ten times. Her poison cloud is very strong. Before a fight you must open up the town portal. Then, if you have to, you can beat it any time. But without the portal—you’re stuck. She put out the cigarette and I hear her laughing quietly in the dark—red hair? I go—yes. And claws instead of wings. Like she’s a fallen angel. My Amira goes—so I should dye my hair. I go—what for? She goes—I’ll be The Maiden of Anguish. And then she asks—maybe then you should marry a girl with a kid? Or better with two? I go—with two it’ll probably be a bit tough. She goes—but with one there’s only a short deferment. It’s safer with two. But if it’s with one, then you need some sick kid. I go—what kind of sick kid? She turns away and pulls the blanket over her head. Some retard—she says. I say—why the hell would I need a retard?

(5 comments – Leave a comment)

2011-06-20 16:28 pm (UTC)
This Andariel bitch is sitting on the fourth level of the Catacombs. I ran from her around the lake almost two hours. She really drives me nuts with her poison. And about Contra I agree with your Amira. It’s for hardcore gamers. I’ll get to River Station at 9:30. So you won’t carry on as if I’m always late. Bring a Big Tasty, fries and a large cola. Make sure you don’t oversleep. I’m starving.

2011-06-20 19:59 pm (UTC)
I bet this border-jumper’s out to make Sasha marry her. She’s got to need a residence permit. And he doesn’t have a clue, as always.

2011-06-20 20:08 pm (UTC)
Mashka—I don’t get it, so what if it’s true? What’s it to you now? How come this Amira gets to you like that?

2011-06-20 20:12pm (UTC)
Fuck off.

2011-06-20 20:24 pm (UTC)
So it’s me who should fuck off. Fine. Sasha don’t listen to her. No one’s out to get you married. We have your back :).


June 21st, 23:11

Anyway, Amira, Red and I drove to this place. I’m bummed out. Can’t write anything

about it for now. Maybe tomorrow. We’re sleeping over at our place. Amira’s place wasn’t an option and today she doesn’t want to be alone. For now we moved Red into the kitchen. He was all right with that.

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June 22nd, 12:05

Well, here’s how yesterday went. We got in Red’s car and almost on time drove to Khimki. Amira sat in the front seat. Red didn’t let her sit in the back because of the mess there and he, like, was ashamed. As if she wasn’t looking back the whole trip. Not at me, but at the one we picked up in Khimki. Although, honestly, there was no point in turning around. The kid didn’t even look at her once. I thought—he’s upset we took him away from his grandmother. Me, personally, I would be upset. Although I was feeling so shitty anyway. Well, maybe not shitty, but something like it. Anyway, kind of gross. I really didn’t know she had such a kid in Khimki. And then there’s Red to deal with. So we kept on going like that out of town—no one looks at anyone and everyone’s quiet. Only Amira turns around non-stop. The upshot was it really sucked sitting this way and I go—how old is the young man? She answers—five. Then she goes—five and a half. Again nobody talks and I ask him—what’s your name? Amira turns around again—Mitya. I go—why doesn’t he answer himself? And he doesn’t even look at me. She goes—probably he doesn’t even hear you. Red says—how’s that? What’s he, deaf? I say to him—keep your eye on the road. Amira goes—no, not deaf. He’s autistic. Red goes—au-what? She repeats—autistic. I don’t really get what’s wrong with him either. Sometimes it just seems that not all of him crossed over here. Red goes—meaning? I repeat—keep your eye on the road. Amira goes—some part of him stayed there. They didn’t send all of him here. The little boat turned out half empty. Red goes—I’m lost. Amira shrugs—it’s just that he’s still hanging out with other kids there. Where they’re waiting to be sent here. Only there’s nothing more for him to wait for there. His little boat already sailed away. It’s here. Right over here. Red goes—what boat? What part? Hey guys, what kind of crap is this? No clue what you’re talking about. I say to him for the third time—keep your eye on the road, OK. Or else we’ll all show up where part of Mitya’s hanging out. Only not just part of us. Red turns his head—hey, I really don’t get all this bullshit. I say to him—chill, bro. It’s just that I’ve no idea where we’re going.

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2011-06-22-01:12 pm (UTC)
Well, then how did it all end? Or am I the only one who thinks the story’s not completely told? To be continued?


June 22nd, 16:21

Sorree, Andrei Rudolfovich. They cut me short. Descended on me from the draft board. Turns out I missed my draft appointment. Totally forgot. At least I got myself a haircut. They looked at my bald skull and believed I simply forgot. Of course Amira managed to do a number here too. She came out in the hall in just my shirt and said that Red and I are a couple. And so they shouldn’t draft us separately. Either no one or both. The soldiers were, like, what? But I got in an apology. I told them her son’s autistic, and that she’s very emotional about it. Anyway, this time they let it pass. Re-scheduled my visit for next week. If I don’t show up again—they’re coming with the police. Anyhow, everything’s clear with the army. Not so clear with Amira.

Last night we kept driving around some fields, until we found this place where she decided to stick away her Mitya. I say to her—you sure you want to live without him. For instance, if I had such a kid, I’d probably not give him away. Such a kid would suit me just fine. So what if he doesn’t want to speak. But he sure can keep quiet. Amazing. She laughed and says—you’re silly. He’ll be better off here. And she tries to pull him out of the car. But I feel him clinging to me and I go—maybe you’ll keep him. When I’ll come back from the army, I’ll also learn how to keep quiet. He and I will team up and lie low. Even now I can keep quiet for a long time. She repeats—you’re really silly. Anyhow, she led this kid Mitya away somewhere past the iron gates. He looked around once from behind the grating.

And then Red and I sat in his wreck like two autistic dudes. And I kept thinking about what’s going on. That there’s got to be a reason she kept hammering away at this whole unfinishedness thing. That she must be thinking—God overlooked something, and so Mitya came out only half full. And now she’s flipping out, figures, if it’s OK for God, then it’s also OK for her not to finish something, meaning she gave birth to him, but she really doesn’t want to bring him up. And so I sat there and stared at these iron gates, and then all of a sudden I thought—fuck it all. I don’t want anything left unsaid, don’t need any motivations, no confuslings. I want everything clear, complete, and just plain simple. Because who needs all that bullshit.

(1 comment – Leave a comment)


2011-10-07 12:21 pm (UTC)
Hello, Sasha, it’s me, Amira. I don’t know if you can get on the internet over there. I’m writing just in case. I took Mitya back. Thank you.

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