The Year of Living Russianly

You might know that I studied Russian for five years (because that’s how long it took me to graduate college), and that I taught Russian grammar for a semester (because that’s how long it took me to hate teaching first year Russian students). You might also know that I have lost 99% of my fluency since 1995. I mean, I can still scowl at James Bond movies, and feel cranky when people interchange “R” with “Я” or “N” with “И” (because they are entirely different sounds, you donkeys!), but beyond being able to embarrass myself by mixing up “you give me great pleasure” with “it is a pleasure to meet you,” my русский язык is нехорошо. 

I enjoyed Russian, though, and I miss it.

In the past year, I’ve become acquainted with three Russian speakers, and it’s made me even more wistful for the days when I could easily write myself notes in Cyrillic as a means of appearing to pay attention in boring meetings. Cyrillic is like a secret code!

Worse, I’ve found myself missing Russian literature, which just isn’t the same in translation. I am a little worried what it says about me that I’m missing Sholokhov, but there it is. My heart is a vast, winter wasteland, full of Cossacks and ice. Invade if you dare!


After literal months of trying to decide whether I should work on regaining my fluency in Spanish, French, or Russian, I decided to go back to the language of the Greats and the Terribles, and will spend the next year working to achieve a conversation fluency and regain my literacy.

Because I work best with an audience, I’ll keep you posted as I relearn the alphabet, and retune my ears to the language. I will share book reports, and current events, and let you know how it goes when I attempt to cook from a Russian recipe book.

We can laugh together.

And what do we all need more than laughter? Ничего.



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