About Me In Pictures That Are Neither Mine Nor Of Me

Pic. by Lohmuller Gyuri

Pic. by Lohmuller Gyuri

“You don’t know who I am, do you?” is the question people usually ask before they launch into stories far more interesting than this one.

I lived a long and eventful life. Should I mention how long? Ah, probably not. In this long and eventful life of mine I met many people, some of them truly remarkable. This is their composite portrait:

Pic by Alexander Lumin

Pic by Alexander Lyamkin (Александр Лямкин)

My own visage is a composite of the 7 images below. 6 of them are the portraits of the most beautiful women of Germany painted by Joseph Karl Stieler.

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Well, all right, I’m not an oil painting, and it shows.

I was born in Sumy, Ukraine, then a part of the Soviet Union, the country that is no more. sumy

To my regret, I haven’t been back to my hometown since I left Ukraine many yeas ago. This picture is quite recent, but I still recognize it’s main street with the Cathedral.

When I was ten, my grandmother took me there for the Easter service. In those days, bringing a child to church was a rather courageous thing to do, ill advised at best, in a country where religious practices were strongly discouraged.

Overwhelmed, as if overtaken by the holy spirit, I fell to my knees and started crossing myself with such zeal and fervor that people stopped mid-prayer and stared. It took a strong hand of a priest to peel me off the floor. “This child is either anointed or possessed,” he said and begged my grandmother to remove me from the presence of the holy ghost. This wasn’t the beginning but the end of my personal relationship with Jesus.

I studied Russian Language and Literature at the University of Kharkov, but — so happened — I “practiced” my profession not much longer than I “practiced” Russian Orthodoxy.

Three Russians

Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Pushkin and vodka

Dostoevsky is not my favorite Russian writer. Just as vodka isn’t my favorite drink. Oh, where did I find the courage to admit it!

Too much stupid in too short time makes me a sad girl. I’ve been known to speak truth to power on occasion, often with disastrous results. Most of the time, power wasn’t amused. I had very few regrets, however, either before or after. Honestly, though, I’m telling you this only because I love the picture below.

1180813577_37720

To make spectacular mistakes in English is my least favorite way to dazzle. And that’s the truth. I’m woefully incapable of mustering  American accent. Sounding “charming” instead of “Russian” is the best I could achieve, but even this is questionable.

Pic. by Dina Bova

Pic. by Dina Bova

The header image of this blog is a fragment of a painting by William Harnett Memento Mori, “To This Favour”, 1879, exhibited at the Cleveland Museum of Art.  My favorite Memento Mori, however, is this one:

memento mori1

I had to rule it out as inappropriate, though, for the obvious reason – the skeleton is naked.

Lastly, I allow myself to impart some hard-earned wisdom.  I have it on excellent authority of my own life.

  • Do not let other people’s opinion of you bother you too much – take heart in knowing that most of them rarely ever have any.
  • We don’t have an eternity to regret our choices. If those choices didn’t led us to betrayals, unspeakable crimes or loss of humanity then limit your regrets to manageable dimensions.
  • Life is a theater, except life-dramas are staged without rehearsals. 

Часы
Vita nostra brevis est. Memento mori…Thus hope against hope, grab Heaven by the crumpets and die — after a long, healthy and happy life — with a smile on your dial.

Valentina.

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7 comments on “About Me In Pictures That Are Neither Mine Nor Of Me

  1. Happened on your site today……..am vastly entertained and impressed. thank-you for creating Contra Spem Spero… Et Rideo!

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