Two Gold Elephant Pins

We were staying next to a square window. All I remember was the right lower corner of the window. It stroke me how perfect the straight lines of the window corner were. Through the window I could see the swimming pool. It was a large rectangle. Blue, white, and very still. The corner of the pool did not fit into the corner of the window and it created an intersection of geometrical figures. And I was staring at these figures trying to see some hidden magic behind them. But there was none.

When I looked over the pool there was a straight line of cypress trees. The cypresses were perfect. Tall, elegant, not like on Van Gogh paintings, but unnaturally perfect, like plastic Christmas trees. They created a straight line on the further end of the pool.

I looked at him and I knew that he saw the same lines that I saw. His son went running down to the pool. And we stayed next to the window looking at the blue water below and waiting for his son to appear next to the pool and jump into the water.

*     *     *

There were a lot of dark corridors in that house. Finally I found the room I was looking for. The room had no shape, or I could not see the shape in the darkness. And there it was, the old piano in the corner. I could barely see it. The top of the piano was covered with small boxes and chests. Those chests that you put jewelry in. I opened one box carefully and there was a necklace enrolled in a thin handkerchief. I closed the box. I opened another one, this one was a large black box tied with a ribbon. I took the ribbon away, a purple velvet ribbon, and opened the box. There were some coins, a small statue out of malachite, an old watch, and a few precious stones. My grandmother loved malachite. There should be a small malachite box as well. I looked for it but could not find it. May be it was lost. Then there was a wooden box, and I opened it and then I clearly remembered what I was looking for. Two thin gold elephant pins. Those were extremely old, from thin gold with ruby eyes and some more jewelry decorations on their backs. One elephant pin was bigger than the other. I could not remember the story of these two elephants, but I knew there was a story behind them. My grandmother told me the story many times. Somebody brought those elephants from India as a gift to somebody in our family for saving somebody’s life. I was four then, I used to take both elephant pins in my hands, admire them, touch their ruby eyes, and then pin them on my lapel and run around the house imagining I was a princess from India. And I felt hidden magic power when I wore them. All the jewelry my grandmother had was magical. I felt the ruby ring on my finger and continued opening boxes looking for the two gold elephant pins. They might have lost their polish but I knew they must be in one of the boxes on the piano. It was just very dark around.

*     *     *

We were staying outside. The breeze smelt of sea water and we felt it on our faces and bodies. We stood next to each other on a wide lawn, our feet on the grass. It was very soft and warm. As it is in spring in this part of Europe. In front of us there was the road, the sandy beach, and the sea. And the sky was blue and open. I kneeled with one knee on the grass to pick up something and as I was lifting my head I saw a line of small uneven bumps on his skin above his waistline. “What is it?” I asked. “A scar from an old cancer,” he answered. “It is all past now. Do not worry.” I looked at him and I did not worry. I knew it was all fine.

*     *     *

I woke up at dawn. Cold morning air was entering the room through the blinds. I felt scared of my night dream. Two gold elephant pins. I needed to find these two gold elephant pins. They had the magic. And I remembered every detail of them, as if I saw them yesterday.

У Океана

Писать ли о любви дойдя до океана,
В такт музыки пройдясь по мокрому песку?
Иль танцевать, кружить, и жданно иль нежданно,

К надежде приучить заветную мечту?

Писать ли о судьбе, простой, понятной, гибкой
Под музыку волны и камнепада сбой?
Иль ветер целовать с безумную улыбкой
Скрестив свою судьбу с совсем другой судьбой?

Иль думать о следах, о том что прежде было
О прошлом, что лежит, как камни на песке?
Иль будущим манить, далеким и незримым,
Сверкающем свечей в кромешной темноте?

Иль не мечтать, а жить.

И тихим мирным шагом идти вперёд по мокрому песку.



Ценить тот пляж, ласкать приливы взглядом.

И нежно целовать, и плакать на ветру.

И все идти.

Спокойно, шаг за шагом;
                          И распознать в пути свою звезду.


We were doing our warm up at bjj and I realized that it was hard for me to focus fully on what I was doing. I managed to pay full attention to my body and myself for a very short periods of time, but then always got distracted by something.

And then I figured out that I was afraid. Not afraid of anything in particular at that moment. I was overall afraid all my life. I am living with fear that something will happen to me. It is hard for me to have my back straight because I am afraid. I almost jump every time there is a loud noise next to me, I am easily frightened. All my life I had this fear and all my conscious life I tried to deal with it, I tried to win over it. Combat by always paying attention to what is going on around me, so I am prepared and can strike back; combat by making myself work harder, train harder, lead a tougher life, face uneasy situations. All this to make myself believe that I will never be afraid. And as life shows I am still there… living with fear.

I look back at my childhood and I know I felt undefended. Literally. I had to fight for myself on the streets with other kids, really fight. Before I was twelve at least twice I was attacked by men, and I got to hit back and escape both times. But it does not mean I was not afraid. May be it roots even deeper, to when I was a little baby in Russia and my mom would worry about my survival when I was severely ill at 2 months old. There are lots of episodes through out my life that are linked by fear.

I like living by myself with my kids. I do not need a man next to me. But I desire to meet a man who would be strong, caring and protective. It has been so long since somebody took care of me. I do not mean took care in a big scheme of things, but somebody who would know when I am tired and bring me a tea and a blanket. Just some human touch of caring. Somebody who would be strong and would always stand up for me and also stand up to me.

When new people meet me the usual comment I get after a few minutes is “you are such a strong woman in all ways”. And yes, I made myself be strong to be able to live standing tall, to love myself, to raise my children, to protect others, to have fun in life. I made myself be strong because I had so much fear within me. And I still have it. And it is painful to face it. I have never told myself that I had fear.

Now I know I have a lot of fear in me. And I also know that I am ok to deal with it.

On human bodies & beauty

A real life editorial for a fashion company

A few months ago I got some dresses from the company I work for and gathered a small team to shoot an editorial about how beautiful human bodies are. I am not talking about models. I am taking about real women and men.

I see beauty in people that surround me. There are intense moments that transmit the essence of living. Confidence, purity, strength, ability, observation, silence, worry. Those moments are beautiful. And we are beautiful when we live through those moments. I wanted to be able to show those through one concise and finite episode of a woman observing men training.

A few weeks before I have seen the work of a San Francisco photographer Ted Glenwright. He did amazing editorial shots of Isaac during his boxing fight. I knew right away that he was the photographer I wanted to work with. Luckily Ted liked the idea.

I asked couple of friends from Marin MMA club to shot en editorial while they train and they agreed. I asked another friend to watch the fight. I asked her to wear the dresses as if those were hers. Nothing was staged. The result came out as real life fashion editorial (if such term exists).

Titles - Ted Glenwright

Titles - Ted Glenwright

Titles - Ted Glenwright

Titles - Ted Glenwright

Titles - Ted Glenwright

Titles - Ted Glenwright

Photographer: Ted Glenwright
Art Director: Masha Kubyshina (IGIGI)
Models: Camille Rose Schmidt, Arnaud Dupuis, Isaac Lappert, Marin Cabac
Dresses: IGIGI,
Shot at Marin MMA

Kisses and Baklava


It was dark on the street. We looked for an open coffee place and ended up on a small side street where a cafe was still open. The place was empty inside.

-Let’s sit outside. Are you cold?

-No. I am fine.

We ordered coffee and sat outside. He held my hand and we talked about something. It was Wednesday night in the city. He kissed me at the moment when the waiter brought our coffee. The waiter was a young boy and he looked me directly in the eyes and I knew he recognized me. And I felt uncomfortable. We both remembered that I have been here the week before with somebody else.


The conversation went as smooth as it could have gone. We talked non-stop about a motivational philosophical book on traits and attitudes. One of those best-sellers you find in each book store now. He was fun to talk to and we talked about sports, food, education and business.  The wine bar was getting busy at 6pm. It was a polished and chic place in the downtown. Beautifully dressed people, oak tables, dark comfortable sofas. And the wine was extremely good too. I made a joke and we laughed. And then he said he loved my sense of humor. And I told him another joke. And we both were well dressed and he looked like he belonged to this chic place. We talked about helicopters and airplanes. And then he kissed me. And I looked at the watch on his hand and it was half past six. And I knew that moment that I’d rather be sparring with the guys at the MMA club than sitting here. And I said to myself that it is sad that I preferred sparring rather than kissing. I yawned and suddenly felt extremely bored.


I was walking in downtown Palo Alto looking for a place to eat. I did not feel like going to any nice place. I longed for something simple and unpretentious. A place where simple people go and where nobody would know me. I ended up at the gyros place and I ordered some food and got out my kindle and started reading. I read while I ate too. When I was finishing my food the owner placed a glass of tea and a plate with baklava next to me. I looked at the man.

-Let me invite you for tea and baklava. I want you to have some tea, it is cold outside.

I thanked him.

-If you finish your tea and baklava I will bring you more. It is all on the house, – and he bowed his head to me.

I thanked him again and smiled softly.

I drunk my tea and ate the baklava. I normally do not like sweets but I did not feel like refusing something that was offered from the heart. I looked around and it was a simple place. There were a few arabic looking men eating at the corner table. There was an asian family with a small child on the table next to mine. People were talking. People were nice.


We were sitting on the beach alongside HWY 1. We found this sunny place where nobody else went, because you had to get barefoot and wet your feet to get there. From where we sat I thought that it looked like Italian seashore. One of those small calas. And the wind was very soft and the ocean sounded mildly so close to us. And I fully believed I was in Italy. I leaned on my elbow and looked at the sun. And then I looked at him as he was standing against the sun. He wore an orange t-shirt and I told him that my son’s favorite color was orange. And he said that so was his.

We opened a bottle of wine and poured it into the glasses. We got some fresh baguette out of the paper bag, had a bite and drunk the wine. Everything was very calm. We drunk and talked and tanned under the afternoon sun. And then I heard some music and it sounded familiar. He was playing it on his phone.

-It is your favorite song, right? – he asked

-Is it?

-Come on, this is from Woody Allen movies.

And then I remembered that the day before when we sat on the steps of a restaurant drinking wine I told him that I loved Woody Allen movies and music. The day before the sun was also very bright in the evening and we both had to wear sun glasses because the sun was blinding us.

I looked at the waves. Beautiful moment. Abstractly beautiful. Like taken from the Hemingway’s novels when his characters lived in the Southern France and drunk sparkling wine by the sea.

The music was still playing and then he said something and then I felt his lips on mine. The sun was bright and then he kissed me again.

Once next to my car we said good-bye and he kissed me one last time. I saw him walking to his car. I pulled from the parking lot in silence. Once on the road I felt tears rolling down my face. I did not try to stop crying. I let it be. Twenty minutes later driving north my whole body was still shaking. I was crying. Profoundly. Desperately. The pain of just being with people. Being kissed and not being in love.

And silence. And beauty without happiness…

My tears dried. I saw the dark blue sky in my rearview mirror. I was leaving Santa Cruz behind. The whisper of the tires set peace inside of my car. The ocean was calm. I still had a beautiful 2-hour drive ahead of me.


Body Touch

Rodin the kiss

The skin is just the skin. It is somebody else’s skin and you are afraid to touch it. You are afraid to throw yourself onto it fully.

When I started my MMA training it took me out of my comfort zone. The difficult part was not pushups, or squats, or armbars. The difficult part was to be close to a man and fight with him. Body to body, chest to chest, your elbow tight under his neck, your chin ducked into his right hip, you face smashed against his stomach. And nobody ever talks about it. It is like a tabu.

It was so uncomfortable that I continued doing it. It went being uncomfortable for months. Till this morning I realized I like fighting with my skin. You can not fight if you do not put your full body into it. You can not fight if you are squeamish about touching the other body. You have to welcome the body touch.

There is nothing sensual to it. There is nothing sexual. There is no withdrawing. There is no blocking your emotions. There is no frontier. There is simply living. By touching other body we accept ours. Martial arts is an art of touching other body with ours. And applying pressure to it.

Later today I was walking inside of a museum. There were Rodin statues. Whether there two bodies were embracing in a kiss or fighting against the winds of hell the essence was in the body touch. Skin touched skin, muscles touched muscles. Pressure momentum between two bodies. How else would he be able to show life otherwise? Faces are poor outlets of our truest and strongest emotions.



It is almost midnight. It is August, but it is cold and cloudy. This is the coldest summer in Barcelona as far as my memory goes.

My daughter drew a picture of a dog. And the drawing is lying on my bed. She did not know how to draw the dog’s tail, thus it looks like a little Christmas tree. The dog is brown and the tail is green.

I got my son a pair of new shoes today. The light brown shoes are on the top of the big red suitcase. He needs to leave a pair of spare shoes at school. Size 31, one size bigger than he is wearing right now. Looking at these shoes that are one size bigger than needed makes me feel lonely.

The violin music is playing in the other room. The windows are open and the fresh night air is coming from the balcony. I think about the kids and their friends. And then I think that it is ok to feel lonely sometimes. There is a beautiful sad song that I like, but I do not want to remember it now. I tell myself not to sing its words.

There are two sleeveless jackets. New. I just cut off their labels. Those are for the kids, they will use them in California… California sounds like home, but also feels very far away.

I broke my nails packing the suitcases.

I am moving away from my family again. Moving apart from my ex-husband. It was a good relationship that lasted thirteen years. However it feels like no relationship exists, nor existed for a long while. It is good to leave something that was just an object.

This is a weird month. A weird year. I have been going to sleep really late. Working at nights with the windows open. Sometimes I think I am trying to remember a poem or a song I have forgotten.

There must be poems…

DSC_9915 - Version 2

There must be poems that make sense in words. And not only in words, but also in rhythm, in harmony between lines, in sudden falls and rises of the heartbeat. If the verse talks about flower or flame I want to know it with my skin at the same time as I read it with my eyes. It is this fine line of talking in words and talking in senses. Not falling into a simple word sequence, not boarding on a bank of absurdity. Moving with the flow where the rhythm is the air.

I open my eyes and all I can see is a wing of a bird. The wing is huge, the bird must be even bigger. The wing takes all the sky. And then it breaks and millions of small birds fly over my head. I can’t hear the noise of their wings, but I can see them flying frenetically. The birds in the wind. Wings covering all the sky. All I can do is keep laying on my back and look up at the skies. I smile. Then I laugh. Seeing so many birds at once makes me laugh. I laugh hard. I can’t stop. The rest of my life I will be seeing only skies with millions of birds flying over my head. All the birds look the same, little brown dots moving with the wind and covering all the skies. I do not like brown.

I realize that I will never see a human person again. The air on the top of my face and hands is hard. It weights like the earth and the rye that are under my back. I can move my hands and feel resistance in any direction. The substance is weird, invisible and dense. I am glad it is resistant. It is not like water. You do not swim. You move from inside. The air passes through your body and moves you up, or right, or left. Anywhere. My back still guards the heat of the rye field. I am over it now.

The birds are circling in the skies. I do not feel closer to this brownish flock. The sky is everywhere. The sun. I put my right hand over my eyes and before it gets dark I notice that my hand looks like a giant wing against the light. The air flows inside of my body. I do not need to breath. I become part of the air. I smile…

And you smile too because you know there must be poems…

Где нет зимы

I found this book on my mom’s table. I started to read it this evening and did not stop till I finished the book. I navigated through two work calls and some emails, but my eyes were seeing only the book cover. Где Нет Зимы. Дина Сабитова.

I have read her books before. However this one was different. It made me feel very human and inhuman at the same time. This happens when I read something that touches me. You go through so many emotions and at the same time you withdraw yourself so much from those. Makes you feel in the middle of two powerful magnets. Two intense opposite currents. Just standing there alone.

Then I sat at the kitchen table while we were having dinner and thought how powerful our thoughts were. We can always rationalize and think about what we feel and why we feel it. Then emotions stop being a turmoil because by thinking we control them. Crying is a way of accepting our emotions. Thinking is another way to accept them. So I thought that it was good to feel what I felt. And it was good reading this book, even if things hurt me at times.

Last week my soon-to-be-ex-husband said that we both come from unhappy families and this is why our marriage was doomed from the beginning. And he added that both of our children will probably have unhappy relationships in the future. He said that my parents are unhappy because in my house we never show emotions openly. And I understand his point of view, it must look unhappy to him. I just see it differently.

So I thought that it was good to be reading this book, and feel sort of pain, and feel that I am human. Way too often I have to be tough, strong, silent, authoritative, take care of everything. When I am in this mode I forget about all the small details, I just have no time for that. I forget to look at the kids one extra time, to smile once more, to do something at random for myself, to listen to a song. Today I reminded myself to be softer. I closed the book halfway and took the kids outside and got them ice-cream. We sat on a bench in front of the ice-cream parlor and they ate their ice-cream, and I kept asking them questions about what they like, what they do, what they plan to do. And then I felt how precious having them was. I knew right there that I will make our home a happy one. There will be laughs, games, friends, books. Life gets very busy, but it is good even with all its businesses.

Past does not mean future. What really matters are the changes we go through.

When I finished the book it was 1am. And it started to rain. And I love when it rains in summer at nights. Thus I sat at my desk and wrote all this, because I did not feel sleepy at all.

On places I miss … & random thoughts

DSC_9387I have realized lately that the places I miss are the ones I have not been to. There is a fancy restaurant with blue lamps on a side street in Barcelona. I have never been there, I always thought I would go there with somebody special and laugh a lot.

Then there is a fishermen village not far away from Tarragona. I wanted to go there to see the fishermen boats and to eat some fresh fish. There is the village of Cadaquez (where Dali lived), last time I have been there I was 12. I remember there was a serpentine road to the village, it rained heavily, and the fog was dense. This is the only time I saw my dad scared. He slowed the car down and said “Mamma mia!” in Russian. Then he stopped the car right on the road and we all waited for the rain to stop. Those were the only emotional words I’ve ever heard from my dad. The rest of my life I know him as a very rational man, solid as a rock; He speaks with an even voice, he never gets angry, he works a lot, and he likes to play cars and planes with my son.

I miss the two towns in Norway that I never got to visit: Bodø and Tromsø. Both are around the arctic circle. I thought I would live there for some months, work remotely, and see the snow fall behind the windows. The way you feel the relationship between the nature and yourself in those places must be entirely different; An intense mix of beauty and respect.

I miss people I did not get to know quite well. It is a queer sensation of missing somebody you do not know.

I can’t say I miss Barcelona. I try to imagine that I will miss these cafes, these streets, this full moon that I am seeing right now sitting on the atico of my parents. The moon is big and yellow. Strangely enough I have no feelings towards all this. I do not miss the town of Besalu that we visited yesterday.   I do not miss the roads that we walked in the past years. The roads were beautiful, the walk was worth it, but the places remain just sceneries.

I miss the poems that I did not find. When I am tired I like to read poetry, sometimes looking for a particular author, sometimes choosing the verses randomly. Lately I have not found anything that would make me stop and want to read it over and over again. Something that I could read like I breath.

My son still likes to put his fingers in my hair and mess with it. He still does it, so I do not miss that. What I really miss is laughing a lot, lightheartedly. This desire to laugh is the little motor that makes me go forward (may be even fly forward), the true motivation behind everything I do.