Saturday, April 9, 2011

Dreaming in Russian

Last night I had a dream entirely in Russian.

I am a dreamer. I mean that in the most literal sense. I have dreams every night. Vivid dreams, and more often than not, adventure dreams. I’m usually trying to accomplish some task, find some thing, help some one, achieve some goal. I often remember my dreams in great detail for the first five minutes after I wake, and then, as the sleep rubs away from my eyes, I am left only with the major points of the dream and the overall tone.

This dream involved living in a floating village which was part of a chain of villages within a complex system of fjords. I had to sail a sailboat somewhere and it was a boat that was too big for one person to sail. I remember narrowly dodging submerged boulders which were demarcated by tattered traffic cones.

The dream, like most dreams, was unimportant. The fact that the entire dream took place in Russian is what really amazes me.

I was a Comparative Literature and Russian double major in college. I went to university in Moscow for a semester and spent the following semester traveling solo through urban parts of Siberia with long visits to St. Petersburg and Moscow.

I have not spoken Russian in five years. Beloit College has a great Russian program, and compared to the other students, I was a hack. I lacked confidence and drive. But I still loved the language. I loved the structure of it, I loved the way the language was built of small blocks that allowed you to take words for complex abstract ideas and break them down in to concrete images. I loved the sound of the language, and more than anything, I loved the literature it produced. I think about returning to Russian at least once a week. But where is the time?

Even now, I sometimes flirt with the idea of becoming a Russian translator. One of the professors in my MFA, Zack Rogow, translates French poetry and when I asked him how he got into it, he said that he just started translating poems that he was curious about.

Once again, proof that all it takes to begin doing something that you want to do, is to just do it.

There are so many paths to follow.


  1. What a wonderful dream! I love the surreal traffic cones! And in Russian? Yes, perhaps it's a skill that's itching to get out somehow.

  2. Privet Erin,
    I hope you remember me- the silly roommate studying Russian with you at Beloit! I was looking at your facebook page and learned that you have a blog! молодец! I love the way you love Russian.
    Needless to say, you are one talented writer. So proud of you!