Репортаж из Санкт-Петербурга, Россия

Jasmine
In our hotel room, Saint Petersburg, Russia, October 2019. Taken on Spectra.

October 21

I love it here. It’s dazzling architecture, colors, everything. I already want to return and I have only been here one day. Birutė arrives on the 23rd and I already think I’m out of money. The journal is beautiful, isn’t it? Was it worth 2,000 rubles? Who cares.

I met the half blood prince while I was in Berlin and while it overwhelmed me then, it’s less severe under the blinding light of being here, right now, alone, facing the winter snow. I haven’t eaten today because I want to go to this bar across the river which means I have to use the metro. Which I have resisted because the bifurcation of the systems worries me and so do all the metal detectors I keep setting off with my cameras. I haven’t made a single picture so far. Because I want to take it all in first. I feel like I understand this city, already. Maybe we understand each other. I had to come back to the room to get money and then it’s on to the train. I can’t get in the habit of just going to the wine bar every night. I have so much time. Because I want ALL NIGHT with Saint Petersburg. Show me all of your secrets.

October 22

A day mostly spent asleep and quiet. Ate mostly Siberian and drank hot liquor and slept. Waiting for Birutė and having strange, feverish dreams about Berlin. I have been over texting everyone there because of how strange it was. I’m sure everyone is fine.

From a bridge near our room, Saint Petersburg, Russia, October 2019.

October 23, my sister’s 28th birthday, King of Coins, The Sun, Ace of Wands

Birutė arrived! Three days into the adventure, she’s here! We had a tiny lunch, got cosmetics, some tiny snacks and wine. We walked around in the wind, and went in Church of the Savior on the Spilled Blood.

October 24 – 9 of Coins, Queen of Swords, Page of Swords

What a lovely day! We went to Na! Vina wine bar for lunch, where we met RAIN GOOD DUDE, cemented some international friendships, walked to the Mariinsky and bough tickets for the ballet (contained in this here journal) and then went to MIR, an all vegan cafe in a complex on top of a death metal shop. I’ve had some 3$ vodka and bitter lemon. I’m still annoyed the half blood forgot my object. An irritation I am trying to swat away. But I’m done with Ada. This irritation appeared in the Page of Swords I pulled today. This friendship based on cannibalism buzzing around my brain.

NOTES ON SAINT PETE

  • A NIGHT city
  • Young
  • Small dogs
  • Many canals and rivers
  • “Venice of the North, bitch”
  • English is more popular than expected
  • So easy to be vegan!
  • Beautiful coats
  • Heels as day wear
  • Hair DOWN
  • Nude stockings, boots, dress, coat
  • vs Berlin, the land of “Ponytails without fantasy”, techno fascist apparel
  • Dogs off leash
  • Not many black women, but many black men
  • Parisian style wayfinding
  • Small trash receptacles – even dumpsters
  • A history of tight belts?
  • Elegant radiators
  • men at restaurants put my jacket on for me
  • Absolutely creative and amusing jacket infastructure
  • Ungodly receipts, what is this information actually used for?
  • No touching of the money
  • I’m out of money
  • Little money dishes like Japan
  • A bathroom set up to fight against
  • Uplighting for dramatic effect on ALL buildings ALL the time
  • Birutė is a “massive vagina” when it comes to cosmetics
  • She sighs in her sleep
  • She cannot drink sparkling wine because it hurts her stomach
  • We are both women held together with creams, tonics, pills, oils, toners, lotions, vitamins, masques, tinctures, potions and acids.
  • She hates all the photos I take of her
  • She is an excellent travel companion. Very laid back, happy to navigate or not, made it to the room without serious issue.
  • This is an extremely European place. Signs, lights, canals, the styled people. Fantastical. I love it here.

In our room, Saint Petersburg, Russia, October 2019.

October 29

My first day without B. She’s getting a tattoo, which I demurred because I’m really out of money. Although the price here can’t be beat. I went to Nabokov house and it was confusing and heartbreaking and…I tried to stand there and imagine being 17 and fleeing in the night to Berlin, where your father is murdered in front of you and then flee again from the Third Reich and then again and again and again and again… There are books I had no idea about and his translations that I also had no idea, or perhaps that I had forgotten. I bought a ridiculous dress for the theater tonight, and I feel as if my whole visual life has been a lie. It might be too late for me for such a pivot, but now that I know I’m not totally fucked I might try and find more dresses. The heels! The coats! The cold, has absolutely ruined my skin. I don’t know what to do to fix it, besides take a salt bath when I return to V’s, and replace some of this vodka with water. The severity of this weather is unreal. And it’s not even winter.

November 5

So much has happened since I left Russia. I got into MacDowell Colony, I discovered in the Pulkovo airport. I don’t know when, but I asked for a month. I’m on a train in who knows where Germany, I missed my original train, because I drank champagne all night with V, trying on dresses, reapplying my lipstick, reading from books, packing and repacking. I woke up six hours after I was supposed to be in Frankfurt. I was supposed to meet someone from the fanfiction discord in Karlsruhe. I’m exhausted. Exhausted with Europe. Doesn’t matter.

November 6, London

I am incredibly sick. It’s actually making me sort of delirious, and this pen is a great sick weight in my hand. There are things I need to take note of, before I lose them in my incredible fever haze, shivering, waiting to get on this plane. I told the half blood prince that I had a visceral reaction about his tooth and I’ve been ruminating on this particularly small episode of psychosis. It’s like a light shimmer, that exists inside and outside of my body. No, that makes no sense. When we were having dinner, he turned and took a sip of his wine, and the second his lips pulled back over his teeth I SAW IT.

I couldn’t stop seeing it. The light, our laughter, it was everywhere. I thought about nothing else for the train ride home, agonizing over how to phrase this bizarre request. While I was in Russia, I would see men with this accent and be arrested in my tracks. What shape? What metal? A constant dull thrum under my eyes.

When I got back to Berlin we had to meet again, because he forgot the object. We closed up our evening, he had to leave. V left, and I said to him, ‘Can you do me a favor?’ And he was standing he said ‘Sure’ and moved to sit down.

I said, I need you to put a cutaway on your tooth. What tooth? They are all fucked he said. I said I know, but you have to do this. He demurred and looked down and smiled and I saw it again! As if he had already done it. And then he told me about a Tongan prince he saw with a sort of gold splinter, to fix a defect in his tooth. And why he saw a Tongan prince I do not remember. But he said he liked it, even when he was young. He then left, to have a boring evening, which he informed me of the next day. I then spent over an hour trying to explain the vision that his future teeth communicated. I apologized profusely, for being insane, for being a drunk schizophrenic asking that he permanently alter his body as a favor.

But, I shouldn’t leave my illness to pop culture and trauma peddlers. I should probably take greater care to notice what triggers these tiny psychotic episodes. There is no reason I should be thinking about spit on the corner of someone’s tooth for two weeks straight. But I do it, and the time before this, it was about Lil Nas X as I rode a Jump Bike! through Atlanta for the month of April. Among other things I categorize. Christ alive. I have to get on this plane and out of this hellscape of an airport. Am I at Heathrow or am I in Venezuela? Terminal 5 is abysmal, to say the least. It’s nearly just as bad as Miami. London broke my valise, last time.

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