In Mother Russia, You Don’t Write Blogs, The Blogs Write You

Given that in my previous personal entry [1] I commented that I would be silent because of the business of my lengthy travels, I thought that in the tradition of many previous travelogues [2] I would give an account of my trip from Portland to Tallinn and the randomness of my experiences along the way.  By way of beginning I should note that even though my initial flight did not depart from Portland until 12:30PM that I was already up by 5AM due to a nightmare about a familiar subject, and by 7:30AM my hair was cut and I was off to Beaverton for a Citizen’s Review Board hearing for my adorable CASA kiddo, about which little can be said because I raised my right arm and affirmed that I would maintain confidentiality.  After that meeting ended I raced to the airport, in a metaphorical sense given the fact that traffic was not entirely clear and I arrived at the airport around 10:30AM, in plenty of time to check in and finish reading a book on contemporary New Age mysticism for review and part of a gorgeous book on the photography of remote places that few people visit that gave me a melancholy reminder of the creative outlet of my late father, who was a prolific amateur photographer.

This is important to mention because much to my surprise, on my flight to Los Angeles I found myself siting next to a friendly middle-aged gentleman who happens to be a prolific director of photography for music videos, commercials, and feature films.  He happened to be on his way home from a film shoot that had just wrapped up in Portland to see his wife and family in Los Angeles, and I found him an immensely enjoyable conversation partner about the beauty of photography and the importance of getting the details right in one’s art.  I asked and received his permission to speak about him here in this blog and we became Facebook friends when we landed in LAX and got our phone service again, and he commented to me on many subjects of interest, including his belief in divine providence as a Greek Orthodox believer, his love of Russia, and many fascinating aspects of his work. Before we took off from Portland he had shown me the full commercial he had directed for American Crew on Elvis at 21, which was an immensely beautiful black and white video with a lot of excellent details and elements, and during the flight he commented on a music video he had recently finished working on for a new artist called “Murder She Wrote” that took advantage of Weejee (?)’s noirish 1940’s crime photography.  It was lovely to spend a few hours chatting with someone whose love of layered meaning and obscure but culturally significant references is as intense as mine.  One does not even need to read during one’s flights when one has such pleasant company on the plane.  There will be plenty of time to read later.

After an epic hike across several terminals in LAX where I manged to avoid having to re-enter security and passed by a large number of American Airlines employees who were picking up tables full of corporate swag [3], it was time to find my gate for my Moscow flight, which wound up requiring a hike of about twenty minutes or so at my customary rapid pace, and prepare for another epic journey, this one a flight to Russia departing on Thursday at 4:55PM with a scheduled arrival at 2:35PM.  As the good folk bound for Mother Russia and those like me just passing through were lining up to board the plane, I was called along with some other people.  When I fought my way through the crowd to get to the gate through the crowds, the person in front of me had been billed $150 by the airlines for excess luggage for attempting to bring two check-in bags as well as a stroller for his kiddo in Russia.  I was more fortunate–they merely wanted to give me new boarding passes for the Aeroflot flights to Moscow and then to Tallinn, leaving me free to read books, eat the airplane food, listen to music, and try to sleep along the flight in peace.

After a fairly ordinary flight and a somewhat unpleasant landing in Moscow, of which it should be noted that the area of Moscow near the airport that I could see through the plane window was quite an attractive sight, I went through Passport control and security and then took an epic hike of more than twenty-five minutes to the gate for my transfer to Tallinn, which, as could be expected, was on the most distant gate in the most distant terminal that could be reached from where I was.  There were no people movers along the way, and the gates were absurdly spread apart, making this a very unfriendly airport for pedestrians such as myself.  On the positive side, there was a bookstore right next to the gate, but alas it was closed, either because so few people read at present in airports or because no one could be found to staff a bookstore in the far reaches of an obscure terminal where only odd and eccentric people like myself and my mostly sullen Russian fellow passengers to Estonia could be found, as we had to wait a long time even for the crew of the flight to show up. And so, while I waited I read about the Czar’s madman and illegitimate kinsman, in a novel which sought to expose the problems of Russian rule over Estonia and her neighbors during the Tsarist period and was amused by the friendliness of the pigeons that were walking along looking for food within the terminal.

On my short flight from Moscow to Tallinn it was impossible to see anything through the clouds and I was exhausted, as I frequently am at this stage of a long trip, but I managed to befriend the Estonian gentleman sitting next to me who was returning home from business and after we both quickly got through Passport control and got our luggage he ended up querying me about what places I wanted to see while I was in Tallinn, what I was doing in Estonia, and ended up paying for the cab fare.  I had read that Estonians are not friendly, and truth be told they do not seem particularly affectionate except for romantic couples from what I have seen, but their friendliness consists in asking questions and in generally awkward attempts at making conversation.  Being the sort of person who is friendly in precisely the same ways, I find it difficult to judge them too harshly for being a bit stiff.  The Estonians have known a hard existence for much of their history; some allowances must be made for the consequences of that. Having arrived in Tallinn, having survived blowing out a fuse in the hostel I am staying in when plugging in my plug converter for my laptop, and having found a quiet place to relax, I hope to fall asleep at some point relatively soon.

[1] See, for example:

[2] See, for example:

[3] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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