Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Death by giant wave

Last night I dreamt that I died after being hit by a giant wave that rolled over the hills and the houses of San Francisco. I was crushed underneath the bright blue-green water that looked like it should've been soft and warm but wasn't. I woke up immediately, sweating. I've dreamt my own death before, it's always something different but similarly dramatic: an explosion, a stabbing, jumping off a building, an elevator. I can never predict when the dream is going to turn murderous, so I never get a chance to get scared in advance. The fear is always a matter of a single moment, but so intense that it invariably wakes me up. The funny thing is, I don't necessarily think this dream was a particularly bad one. I went on to have a very good day today and only remembered about having died again when I was talking to somebody about deaths by lightnings.

Monday, June 29, 2009


Wet cement stairs in a well with tightly closed doors and permanently shut windows: swimming pool when I am five years old. The memory has a clinical quality about it because I am often sick with bronchitis and the pool is prescribed by a pediatrician.

Green plastic cushions in a humid and poorly ventilated hallway: Yura's or our own veranda in the fall, when everything is packed up for moving back to the city.

There are some people who could probably tell me the specific type of plastic used in these cushions. Something from the 70s.

The clover and plantago growing all around the university grounds at Skidmore should also remind me off stuff but they don't. Maybe I need to take my shoes off and run around barefoot and lie down on the grass and stare at the clouds. This, an awfully dangerous business.

Friday, June 26, 2009


I pride myself about feeling at home in the world. Lugging my 50-pound suitcase up and down the labyrinths of stairs of NYC subway. Walking all around Philadelphia in 89F weather with blisters on the soles of my feet. Staying up all night long to finish a paper and then walking around Philadelphia in 89F weather with blisters on my feet. I was even prepared to lug my 50-pound suitcase all around Philadelphia in 89F weather in case the bus station didn't have the left luggage office. None of this causes frustration -- I take it all with pride at my ability to handle life's minor inconveniences. So please don't ask me why I didn't just rent a car or remind me that I could've left my luggage in NYC since I'm going to go back there tomorrow anyway. It's a matter of pride.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Park Point

There is a great scene in Grosse Point Blank when John Cusack's character returns to his childhood home and finds that it's been converted into a Minimart. John Cusack is distraught but trying not to show it. "You can never go home again," he says, "but I guess you can shop there."
This line comes up frequently, and usually for no good reason. Today though Dave and I visited RIT again. There's now a new mall on campus where a large swamp used to be. The school sold a part of its land to a development company, and then the company is supposed to sell the land back to the school 20 years from now. I guess it's supposed to be an investment. So we browsed through the brand new Barnes&Noble-RIT bookstore and had a cup of Starbucks coffee and some Abbott's Frozen Custard.
My feelings about this development are deeply ambivalent. If I have any feelings at all.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009


My story Dedication is up on Diet Soap's website here: http://www.dietsoap.org/2009/06/18/dedication-by-olga-zilberbourg/ (The theme is: How to Write Stories about Writers). I've edited this story three times after Doug the editor accepted it for publication. I can't even tell if the one up online is the latest version. I think it is.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Blogging in June

I expect to do a lot more blogging when I go away. For a number of reasons, I blog when I travel. This post is about another link and a book, Andrei Platonov's "The Foundation Pit" for the first time in English translation. The review of it is here: http://blog.theartsfuse.com/2009/05/27/world-books-digging-the-foundation-pit/
I have hard time with Platonov. The language and the subject matter are fascinating, but to read is a struggle. This is what makes it particularly worthwhile.