My name is Janey, I am a Russophile: meaning I am obsessed with all things Russian and Slavic. My heart and life has forever been changed by the rich culture, the sincere and loving people and the omnipotent enigma that is Russia.
Right now I am currently an instructor of Russian in two universities, where I teach beginning through advanced Russian. I have also taught Russian Phonetics and Phonology class, conversation classes and will soon be teaching a class called “Russia in the Headlines.” My specialty is in Second Language Acquisition and Russian teaching but I have a deep love of the literature, culture, cuisine and other Slavic languages as well. I have started and plan to flesh out a Youtube channel where I teach Russian like I do in my classroom. Below you will find the story of how my love for Russia started and how my love and this blog has evolved over the years.
My About Me as written in 2006
I went over to teach English, not knowing any Russian, thinking it would just be a nice break from school, only to have my entire world shift as Russia became my mortal center of gravity. On the first day there I fell madly in love and my life has since been made up of my struggles in Russia, or my struggles to survive while out of Russia.
I taught myself Russian, saved money and went back to study at MGU in the Philology faculty. I studied there for a year, left my stuff and heart in Moscow while I went home for a summer break in 2005. Some things fell out of place and wasn’t able to go back, and have been wandering around heart and joy-less since.
It has been 2 years since my return to America. I’m married now and settled and happy, but still a little empty. I am lost without Russia, this blog has been an attempt to grapple with the distance, a way of cradling what I do have of Russia, and a way of frantically scrambling for anything more to cradle. Russia has been the one pursuit in my life that has not fizzled, in fact it has only flared and flourished. It continues to give me a deep joy and purpose. In order to wake up in the morning, I bribe myself with promises of blog-writing, Russian-mongering.
To think of the impassioned arguments I’ve had with my husband about why he feels I will never love him the way I love Russia. And it’s true. I probably won’t. The relationship I have with Russia is almost an abusive one, I can’t live with or without her. She beats me up, tears me to shreds, rips me off, and wrings my soul dry of all its love, she doesn’t even notice when I’m gone and just seems to go on living without me.
And yet the happiest moments of my life have been there, with her. I felt a depth of love that I never knew possible, living in Russia. And when I had to leave I honestly felt empty and lost and utterly disparaged. In fact, I cried so hard I popped a blood vessel in my right eye and half of my eye was all freaky red for like a month. And it still flares up when I cry a lot, which is usually because I’m missing Russia or don’t get enough sleep, which usually happens because I’m up thinking about Russia. At least once a week, I drift off in to a kind of daze, wherein I pine for Russia. I pine for the times I had there, even the rough ones. I pine for all of the things I hated about the place, I pine for the cruelty and manipulation. I pine for that vulnerability that comes when you completely give your heart to something. Russia has power to bring me the highest levels of joy, and the darkest levels of despair. Just like your loved ones do.
Love gets deeper and stronger when you grow and suffer together. I grew and suffered with Russia. I know I’m suffering now, but I don’t know if I’m growing any, I think Russia is growing up without me.
I know I’ll never go back to live like the way I did before. But I refuse to let this deep love and passion that I have for the place, the capacity that I have for the language and the insatiable hunger for more, go to waste. If you feel such strong love for something or someone you can’t just walk away from it simple because it forces your heart to stretch.
About Me as of 2013
I love my life. I’m now 29 and I have two kids. I am almost finished with my Master’s Degree in Teaching Russian. To add insult to injury I’ve now also fallen deeply in love with Ukraine and Ukrainian. You can find many of my posts on that here.But don’t get me wrong, I love my family. I love my babies and although I do pine for the adventures of language learning and travelling I am so grateful to be right where I am. When things settle down with my new baby and writing my thesis I plan to do a lot more blogging so that I can share my love with other Russophiles. I still dream of someday taking my family to live in Ukraine (I find it slightly more inhabitable and foreigner-friendly than Russia). In the meantime I remind myself of this quote by Dr Seuss, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”
About Me as of 2016
Not much has changed. I now have three kids and am in my 6th year of teaching Russian.Teaching has been the perfect outlet for feeding and sharing my Russia obsession. I can’t describe how happy it makes me to see my students start to fall in love with Russia the way I did so many years ago.
I have also recently taken an interest in Polish, but Russian is still my first love. I still dream of doing a Ph.D in Slavic Languages and Literature and hope that that dream will become a reality sometime in the next 5 years. In my spare time I like to read Russian literature and perfect my Russian recipes. I’ve also developed a bit of a weakness for Ukrainian reality tv shows (it’s a bit of a guilty pleasure).