Apartment Building

I live in an apart­ment build­ing in Sovi­et Rus­sia. The build­ing is drafty and reminds me of my time in a gulag I have nev­er been to. Instead of the smell of steaks in pas­sage­ways, I tend to be assault­ed by the smell of boil­ing cab­bage and raw onions. Lan­guages I hear on a dai­ly basis include, but are not per­haps lim­it­ed to, Lithuan­ian, Pol­ish, Hun­gar­i­an, Russ­ian, and Roman­ian. Of course the Lithuan­ian and Roman­ian might just be Russ­ian with a dif­fer­ent dialect. I would feel like Dos­to­evsky if I were actu­al­ly writ­ing some­thing inter­est­ing. If I had the strange ten­sion between pride and desire — if I asked for an advance on my salary in order to buy a poor­ly made fur-trimmed cloak in order to impress a cer­tain man and there­by raise my sta­tus- if I believed that anoth­er kopeck or two is all that stands between me and a life of love and leisure- if I thought that by killing some­one as an expres­sion of free­dom I could change the world- if I knew that the guilt of any such action would be so crush­ing that it would destroy me- well then I might get some­where. No where hap­py though.

As it is this apartment/compartment build­ing does very lit­tle to keep things apart. The walls are thin and smells of cheap cig­a­rettes and sounds of plumb­ing and words in dif­fer­ent lan­guages crawl under my door and curl up around my pal­let and sing me to sleep. The line on the flag­pole out­side sounds like a cave­man beat­ing two bones togeth­er. It makes me feel uncom­fort­able, prim­i­tive and super­sti­tious. I feel like I am in some sort of exper­i­ment in dif­fu­sion and osmo­sis. That one day, I too, will boil cab­bage and have raw onions. One day I might beat two bones togeth­er mere­ly because I can. With­out thought or goal. Stuck in the gulag.

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