A straightforward eighteen hour trip from San Francisco to St. Petersburg is decidedly too short. Here's my list of things to do on the plane:
-- 1 novel
-- 1 short story collection
-- 1 history book
-- 3 literary magazines
-- 1 Narrative submission
-- a friend's manuscript
-- 5 letters
-- revise first draft of an English language short story
-- revise Nth draft of my Russian language manuscript
I've read the novel (Alejo Carpentier's "The Kingdom of This World"). I've read one story in one of the lit mags (Paris Review). I've read the Narrative submission. I wrote zero letters. I did finish revising the first draft of a long short story I'm currently calling "Criminals." I got maybe three hours of sleep total. I had 3 meals and a Haagen-Dazs during my layover in Frankfurt. And this is 18 hours? I guess I've also read a couple of newspaper articles saved in my browser. And also a part of Frankfurter Allgemeine (imagine a paper with a full-length book review on the back cover! -- Jonathan Safran Foer's new book).
I was also going to shop for a science fiction novel in German at the airport in Frankfurt, but couldn't find a decent store and then decided against buying some other random novel in German. I can do this on the trip back. I am not sure I actually saw any sci fi at that bookstore, at least not anything other than the German translations of Harry Potter and Twilight books, and I don't know if these technically count as sci fi.
St. Petersburg is cold and wet -- just the way I left it back in October. The only difference is the giant piles of blackened, melting snow everywhere along the roads. The dirt in St. Petersburg is never more apparent as in March after a nice snowy winter, when the slush runs soot black and it's impossible to walk outside without getting mud on your clothes. But the smell of spring is in the air -- and while my sense of smell has been spoiled by the perpetual spring of San Francisco, and so far I smell nothing but exhaust fumes here, -- the spring is usually the time of general elation and unrealistic hopes. It's a good time.