Worse things happen at sea (and in the Russian Gulag)

Things have been a tad stressful of late, and I find it always helps to pull my mood back by remembering the sentiment in the title of this post. Whereas a lot of people seem to both comfort themselves and possibly satisfy morbid curiosity by reading those true-life books written by the survivors of abuse, I find the removal of free-will is my biggest fear, and the gratitude of it my biggest therapy.

I cannot stand the thought of slavery, of conscription and incarceration. Being separated from family, and finding yourself in a French trench during WWI and not just being able to say ‘You know what chaps? My toes appear to be rotting away from spending all day in mud and misery, so I’ll just be heading off home now. Toodles.‘ Or in a submarines, taking torpedoes and water on board. Both my grandfathers and my grand uncles joined up before being drafted during WWII, which I think was partly, as it was what a lot of young men, for reasons of patriotism as well as wanting to join their friends, but one grandfather did once comment he could see it was coming and decided he’d rather jump than be pushed.

Illness and responsibility can present their own kind of of prisons, but they can have more of an air of fate about them, and there is not always someone to blame, nor someone who could fix the situation with a wave of a wand, if only they would. As a child I had actual nightmares about Russian gulags, and also prisoner of war camps, due largely to the films I watched. The idea of a knock at the door in the middle of the night, and being taken away somewhere awful, to a place where no one in charge would listen, and any protestations of innocence would fall on uninterested ears still terrifies me. I watched ’12 Years A Slave’ recently and sobbed bitterly for about 95% of the film.

So, to remind myself just how lucky I am, I am reading these –

russian prison novels

With regards to the crimes committed by these authors, Solzhenitsyn was arrested for writing derogatory comments about Stalin, in private letters to a friend. Dostoyevsky was essentially sentenced to death for belonging to a book club, although it was one that liked to discuss socialist utopias, it was essentially a discussion group. Their execution was commuted to ten years hard labour in Siberia at the last minute, which might well have been a planned mock execution, a ploy used to make a person truly believe they were about to die, and scar them psychologically for life. I too have bitched about the government, and I belong to a reading/writing group. And last weekend I went to a gay bar where I saw a bunch of drag queens perform, including Rupaul Drag Races’ season 7 star Katya Zamolodchikova, because I can. Yeah. Come get me.

katya crop

I am currently rocking some facial paralysis and have a dodgy smile, and what better to hide behind than a book?