Why Russia: Speaking Russian

Trying to speak Russian feels like fumbling around a room of people I’m sure I’ve met before but whose names I can’t quite seem to remember. Sometimes, I think I’ve got one. I walk over and cry, “Frank!” The man turns and says, “no, I am Frankы, Frank is over there calling Julии, just behind Frankом, the novelist. Jackass.”

IMG_3071And, this is nothing compared to my perpetual fear that I might be offered a voice-activated Russian time machine. If I were told I had to go back and save the world in 1953, I am sure I’d find myself 21 years, or 223 years, or 347 years in the future, or possibly past, and I’m sure that when I stepped out of it I’d be a man or woman or at least a noun (or worst case, an adjective) and hopefully there would only be one of me, though I’m less sure that I wouldn’t be eating my own nose upon arrival.

Either way, the world would surely burn.

Why Russia: Cancel Monday and Fuck off.

IMG_3101.jpgI live with my friend ‘D’ in Saint Petersburg, Russia. The man, Olek, who works in the shop where we buy our morning coffee sometimes calls D, “Bob–something.”

Once, we asked why and Olek said, “He black–you black. He big–you big.”

Olek is a delicate man.

This morning, his shirt said, “CANCEL MONDAY”

And, in case you didn’t get the point, just below it read, “FUCK OFF.”

It is Thursday.

He smiled when we walked in, “Tyson!” he cried at D. We all shook hands.

“You–” he clapped me on the arm. “Every morning you come in here and you look like–” he finished with a Russian word. He frowned. I frowned. D frowned. The old lady standing at the counter behind him waiting to get served, frowned.

I shrugged. He said, “one moment.”

As he served the old woman, he looked up something on his phone. When the old lady finally left, he came out to stand beside us and together, we read his phone.

“like a junkie going through withdrawal.”

He sounds it out slower. He points at me as he does.

“You…look…like..junkie…going…through…withdrawal–hah! Yes?”

“Yes.”

“Yes?”

“Yes.”

We get our coffee and leave. When we arrive back in the courtyard to our apartment and round the dumpster, we find a crouching skull-capped man with a large zit on his nose taking a shit on a pile of old wall art that had been there since yesterday. There were bunnies on it if I remember correctly.

The man-made eyes at me, then at D. He had a cigarette hanging from the corner of his mouth. He nodded. We nodded.

“Excuse me,” he said.

We waved our hands to him in the same way you might tell someone, “don’t worry, no one was going to eat that last cookie anyways.”

 

*If you guys would like to check out D’s blog, he writes stories about life here in Russia as well as a bunch of other great stuff: https://dantonlamar.wordpress.com/

Being an American Expat in Russia

I have been writing articles about life in Russia for Russia Beyond over the past few months, so I thought I’d leave them here for anyone who is interested:


Why Russians and Americans Are NOT that different

“The U.S. president is a bombastic, overweight businessman. Russia’s president is a lean and tough looking former intelligence officer who allows himself to be photographed shirtless. The preposterous manner how media portray these two leaders have fueled misconceptions that are ubiquitous among the people of both countries.”

* READ MORE *


Three Insane Conversations I’ve had with my Russian Girlfriend

“I don’t need your opinion!”
“Then why ask for it?”
She gave me a look that sends me back to my childhood, when the whole world was a mystery and I was the only one who seemed to know nothing. She looked, and she said, “I don’t need your opinion, I need you to reaffirm my opinion.”

* READ MORE *


Lost in Translation: Why one American Writer Often Feels like a Dog in Russia

“They were yelling all sorts of things in Russian that I couldn’t hear through the blood in my ears. There were any number of wonderful things that I might have said, like “Hey! stop! What are you doing? What is going on! We aren’t criminals! I am a dog! I am a dog!” but I was at a loss for words.”

* READ MORE *


How Russians Changed my Life

” I knew I must know something interesting. I must. I knew philosophy and literature and I genuinely enjoy 80s music. But, I couldn’t find anything to say. As I searched, I realized there was nothing to find; that I’d put it away somewhere. I’d put it away in some dark closet filled with the birthdays of unlikeable cousins and every math class I’d ever taken. Worse still, as I explored, I found that I’d been replacing all of those thoughts with new ones; chic ones, ready-made IKEA-style thoughts about How I Met Your Mother and the names of every Marvel character’s alter ego.”

* READ MORE *


Three Reasons You’re Not Funny in Russia

“Russians smile. Russians smile quite often, some smile big, some are all lips about it, some have an adorable gap between their front two teeth that they are sometimes embarrassed about, and sometimes see as a point of pride. Russians also laugh. They laugh quite loud and sometimes it is a bit annoying, sometimes it is infectious, and sometimes it fills a room.”

* READ MORE *


Three Things you Should Worry About in Russia

“If you’re coming to Russia, bring small bills and hold onto your change. For two years I’ve been in a passive aggressive war with the woman who runs the shop down the road because once I paid for beer with a 5,000 RUB note.
She remembers, always.”

* READ MORE *

 

Let’s Freelance this Bitch [Part 3]

Let’s Freelance This Bitch (week 3)

The Good, the Bad, and the fuck it.

Hello! It’s Elliot, Ben’s brother who decided to also say fuck it and quit his job to try living off of freelance work.

For this update, I wanted to highlight some of the habits you pick up when you start trying to work as a freelancer. Some are good. Others not so much.

The Good:

  • Reading: I am actually reading books again. Yeah bookS, with an S. Oh. Have I finished them? No. Baby steps.
  • Sleeping: Getting a solid 8 hours of sleep every night is nearly impossible but freelancing has allowed us to both (usually) do this. The sleep isn’t always quality but we’ll get to that.
  • Cleaning: When you spend most of each day in your kitchen, you are confronted by the evidence of your dirty lifestyle. Our sink has never been more free of dishes (and cockroaches).
  • Cats: We get to hang out with our cats all day—Wait. Are we just old people? Has freelancing turned us into babushkas? Shit.

The Bad:

  • Eating: We don’t always eat breakfast. Coffee is a much bigger priority. Wait, this was a problem before. We should really eat breakfast.
  • Drinking: Every night is the weekend! Right? Guys, right?
  • Work/Life Balance: 1pm in the kitchen, 8pm at a bar, 2am in the kitchen. These are normal times and places for work.

The Ugly:

  • Showering: I don’t think I need to elaborate.
  • Shaving: See “Showering.”
  • Clothing: 3 day jeans become 1 week jeans. We’re both essentially recurring cartoon characters at this point

SUCCESS!

Two articles in Russia Beyond.

Accepted as “blaster” (yeah that’s the position title) on Blasting News.

Part-Time remote work with NDA.

Video explainer script finished.

Accepted job writing text for online comics.

Total Made: $480 (More to come)


FAILURE:

3 Different pitches for a film news site have been rejected (ignored)

Still no word from Cards Against Humanity.

Fun Stuff:

We went on vacation! Romania is one of the best places either of us have ever been. For perspective, Ben hasn’t lived in America in almost 10 years. If you are looking for a cheaper, significantly less-crowded, and equally (more) beautiful European destination, check Romania. Don’t believe me? Look at this:

Picture1

Elliot Davis, 2018

Ben’s Book, The King of Fu is officially out on Paperback! He and Nikita had a reading at Mayakovskogo Library. Enjoy Ben’s nervous face below:

Picture1

Previous work:

3 Reasons you’re not funny in Russia (Published in Russia Beyond)

How Russians Changed my Life [Published in Russia Beyond]

3 Insane Conversations with my Russian Girlfriend [Published in Russia Beyond]

Why Russians and Americans are not that Different [Published in Russia Beyond]

Why does Bitcoin Have Value? [Published in Hackernoon]

The Longest New York Minute [Published in Dataspaceone]

Who Owns Your Body? [Published in Dataspaceone]

RATE CARD:

Article Writing (Technology & Business) 400-600 words: $100

800-1000 words: $150

1200+ words: per project

Article Writing (Lifestyle) $50-100 based on
Editorial Services (Creative works) $.05 / word
Editorial Services (Technical) $20 / hour
Copywriting for Social Media Per Project
Resume Writing $200
Web Content Creation Per Project
Social Media Creation / Management Per Project
Video Production Services Per Project
Voice Recording $15 per minute

[min charge for any project – Equivalent of 1 Hour]

 

Let’s Freelance This Bitch [Week 2]

My brother and I decided to quit our jobs and try to whole digital nomad thing. We both have school loans totaling about $800 a month. But, before you feel bad for us, here are the facts:

We are men. We are white. We are in our twenties, college educated and if we broke down on a street corner and cried “MOOOOMMMYY.” Our small-town Massachusetts mother would morph into a mythical beast, fly to Russia to burn our enemies and carry us home in the crux of her wing.

We are privileged as fuck.

I say this now because I’ve been traveling almost ten years and I’ve seen many travel bloggers say shit like “you can do it! It’s easy!”

Bullshit. These people are often white, middle class, from America, England or Australia, and for the most part, attractive. Not all—mind you, but sift about on these travel forums and you’ll see what I mean.

These posts are for entertainment and hopefully to provide some insight and resources for anyone else looking to do some freelance. And bored people.


SUCCESS!
Writing a script for an online shopping platform explainer video
One ghost written article for a tech-company specializing in trading platforms
Total made: $300

FAILURE:
We both had articles rejected from The Only Social. I guess we were not for them, you might say they were anti-only social. -_-
Lifestyle article on writing magical realism in Russia rejected.

Fun Stuff:
Cards Against Humanity call for card-makers (Submit before August 31, 2018):
Cards Against Humanity is putting out an open call for card makers. You submit 5 black card ideas and 15 white card ideas. We have both submitted to them. If we fail, we will post those ideas here. If we succeed, well—they pay $40 an hour so, not a bad gig. Here is the link:
https://submissions.cardsagainsthumanity.com/

Previous work:
How Russians Changed my Life [Published in Russia Beyond]
3 Insane Conversations with my Russian Girlfriend [Published in Russia Beyond]
Why Russians and Americans are not that Different [Published in Russia Beyond]
Why does Bitcoin Have Value? [Published in Hackernoon]
The Longest New York Minute [Published in Dataspaceone]
Who Owns Your Body? [Published in Dataspaceone]

RATE CARD:
Article Writing (Technology & Business)
400-600 words: $100
800-1000 words: $150
1200+ words: per project
Article Writing (Lifestyle)
$50-100 based on
Editorial Services (Creative works)
$.05 / word
Editorial Services (Technical)
$20 / hour
Copywriting for Social Media
Per Project
Resume Writing
$200
Web Content Creation
Per Project
Social Media Creation / Management
Per Project
Video Production Services
Per Project
Voice Recording
$15 per minute
[min charge for any project – Equivalent of 1 Hour]

Let’s Freelance this Bitch

[WEEK 1]

My brother and I live in Saint Petersburg, Russia. We recently decided to quit our jobs and try to become freelance writers, because—fuck it. There are so many blog “abouts” that say “I made a living from my laptop traveling the world. I am a digital nomad woo-hoo!” But, how easy is it, really? We don’t know yet, but we’ll find out.

Here is our Journey.


SUCCESS!

One recurring editorial client.
One script editing and voice recording with promise for future work.
One ghost written article about property management.
One Lifestyle article for Russia Beyond
One recurring job writing local guides for hotels
Total money made: $270

FAILURE!

Rejected article on “Drinking in Russia”

JUST FOR LAUGHS!

We’ve responded to ads for:
Captioning 32 pictures of cats for a series of Veterinarian holiday cards (sadly no response)
Writing a full fantasy novel for 500 bucks (also sadly no response… yet)

Previous work:
How Russians Changed my Life [Published in Russia Beyond]
3 Insane Conversations with my Russian Girlfriend [Published in Russia Beyond]
Why Russians and Americans are not that Different [Published in Russia Beyond]
Why does Bitcoin Have Value? [Published in Hackernoon]
The Longest New York Minute [Published in Dataspaceone]
Who Owns Your Body? [Published in Dataspaceone]

RATE CARD:

Article Writing (Technology & Business) 400-600 words: $100

800-1000 words: $150

1200+ words: per project

Article Writing (Lifestyle) $50-100 based on
Editorial Services (Creative works) $.05 / word
Editorial Services (Technical) $20 / hour
Copywriting for Social Media Per Project
Resume Writing $200
Web Content Creation Per Project
Social Media Creation / Management Per Project
Video Production Services Per Project
Voice Recording $15 per minute

[min charge for any project – Equivalent of 1 Hour]