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Friday, April 9, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 127

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We will have good time in Russia, yes?

Margaret Mitchell

I am beginning to think I've been in America for too long. Or I am getting old. Or I am turning into my mother. I'm not exactly sure which.

I've written before about my whirlwind trips, just grabbing a few necessities (not luggage) and boarding a plane for some destination with the only plan being not to have a plan. What an experience of freedom. But in the last few years, my trips have become more scripted, more planned. Not to say that these trips haven't been fun, but they just haven't been the same.

Five weeks from today, I will be heading to the airport and on my way to Moscow (Russia, not Texas). I've been worrying about this trip for reasons I have not quite been able to figure out.

Maybe it's because it's so far away. Maybe it's because they use a language completely different from our own. Maybe it's because it used to be a police state, and now no one is really sure what state it is in. There's a lot of uncertainty, that much is certain.

People have asked me why I am going to Russia. I tell them the truth: Because I can. I have a friend currently living there who extended me an invitation to visit any time. Five weeks from today will be that time.

This friend is an expatriate and damned glad to be that way. He tells me that living in Moscow is more exciting than living in London or New York. He's one who ought to know.

I've e-mailed him with several questions about this trip. I have been nervous as hell, which is totally unlike me because I am never nervous about trips. I've asked him questions about how to fill out the visa application and about potential political problems in the area. I've asked him about things I should bring with me into the country and things I should leave at home.

After all, as I have been continually reminded, this used to be a police state.

He responded by telling me "You Americans are such weenies, and Moscow is no more dangerous than New York." This is a very comforting thought.

As far as suggestions on what to bring, he said to bring myself and not my liver to Russia. I've had the "regular" Russian vodka (not Stoli), and it reminds me a lot of diesel fuel. I don't see how, though, it can affect your liver since it evaporates in your mouth the second you drink it.

He tells me that currently there are no open container laws in Russia; people walk down the street drinking beer. There is more freedom there than even here in Houston.

Recently, though, people have been asking me if I still plan to go since so much violence is occurring in the region. Of course I do. I wouldn't miss out on this opportunity for anything in the world.

As for my plans during my stay in Russia, I have decided not to have any plans and just go wherever the spirit takes me and police officials allow me to go. I am ready to experience a new kind of freedom, the kind that could only exist outside of America. I look forward to getting a new perspective of the world through my own eyes, not CNN.

Life is an adventure, and I am packed and ready to go.


 
Mitchell, a junior political science major,
can be reached at smeggie37@csi.com.
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