International Women's Day

Since I woke up this morning I keep seeing posts like "Happy International Women's Day, Dear Women!". They seem well meaning but just don't make me feel the overwhelming happiness for the day that was supposed to celebrate my gender. And what does it even mean to celebrate women?

It reminds me of March 8 in Soviet Union, where those celebrations served as a mix of a Valentine's Day and a ritual of penance and absolution of one's (mostly male) sins. All a man had to do on March 8 was to show up with a bunch of red tulips on the doorsteps of all the females he had wronged and say: " Happy Women's Day, dear women! I love you so much!" and all the abuse he caused for a year was forgiven and forgotten. 

I don't want women to be celebrated in exchange for absolution. We need no celebration, no flowers, no sweet greetings. We need true equality. The original March 8 in 1917 showed the power of women. Then the meaning of the day was hijacked and corrupted to keep women placated and away from the real power of governing and wealth. 

This March 8 put your marching boots on and join the March forward!

Research on Sakhalin I

When I started to work on visual aspects of my new project I had to make sure I get visual details right. For example, what was the standard school uniform in the USSR on September 1st when I went to school for the first time? Of course, I could fake it, after all, my story is of the fantastical sort, and who cares about old school uniforms anyway, but I wanted to see if the old times could inspire me. The matter of school uniforms is not that simple in my case. 

I was born in Latvia (it was part of Soviet Union at that time) and when I was 5 my family went for work to Sakhalin, the Russian island next to Japan. Age 5 is the time when a person finally emerges from the mysterious glob of subconscious flesh that is a baby. My first solid memories are from Sakhalin. Like the first love, this island is unforgettable.

Read about Sakhalin on Wikipedia

Read about Sakhalin on Wikipedia

If you have been to Far East you'd know how amazing the Nature is there: overwhelming with its beauty and overpowering with its forces. The amount of snow alone could kill you.

Check out Sakhalin photos on Flickr

Check out Sakhalin photos on Flickr

But back to school uniforms. Despite the dangers of unsupervised childhood (my parents had to leave me and my sister alone when they went to work, because kindergartens were full and no one's ever heard of babysitters in the good old USSR) I survived and reached the mature age of 7 when by the law of the land I was required to go to school. I put on the uniform and went with my older sister.

Upon my arrival the school immediately pointed out at everything that was odd and irregular about me: I didn't know which hand was right or left, my cotton tights weren't so tight and kept sliding down in folds of an accordion and I didn't have any books nor bag with me. After all, I have spent 2 previous years in wild, like this:

But I believed in education, so I persisted. Every morning I would put the uniform on and would go to the school on a makeshift sidewalk that was supposed to keep the Forces of Nature at bay. The school eventually grew to like me. A couple of fellow classmates thought there was something special about me being a Latvian in their Russian speaking class, although by then I barely spoke any Latvian.

Then the Disaster struck: one day when I was 8 my parents packed to go back to Latvia. 
(to be continued)