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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Trip to Tropics Brings About Suitcase Mood

O.K., O.K. I know I need a vacation. I am in that dangerous zone between extreme stress and total catatonia where I am incapable of even rudimentary tasks like food shopping.


Thank heavens takeout pizza has made it to Moscow. In the old days, at times like these, I would be reduced to dining on the latest offerings from the metro merchants -- Snickers, bread and pickles being a favorite combination.


In just a few days, I will be packing my bags and heading to the sun. But in the interim, predictably, what Russians call a "suitcase mood" has set in. This is that state of mind in which nothing work-related really matters any more, and I know if I can only close my eyes and curl up into the fetal position for a few days, my plane will eventually take off and I will finally be out of the frying pan for awhile.


But my escapism is not working. Moscow is not ready to let me go just yet. Sensing my lowered resistance, this city is ganging up on me.


Take yesterday. I was returning from an excellent dinner with a very close friend, the weather was balmy, downtown looked like a fairy tale, and I found myself thinking that life, after all, might not be so bad.


I should know better than to let down my guard.


Sure enough, when I got to my apartment, I was greeted by a uniformed police officer.


"We had a call," he said brusquely. "Your apartment alarm went off. There's someone inside, but they won't open up."


Since I don't have an alarm and live alone except for my faithful canine companion, Sasha, I was at a bit of a loss. But the officer was very sure of himself.


"See, it says right here," he said, showing me the call slip.


The apartment was correct, the building number matched -- but this bozo was on the wrong street. I'm sure the apartment thieves, if there were any, had ample time to escape with the goods while I tried to convince the officer the place he wanted was around the corner. Meanwhile, the "someone" in the apartment pitched in with plaintive little yelps from the other side of the door.


As he was leaving, finally, the policeman decided to do a bit of marketing.


"Maybe you should have an alarm service," he said cheerfully, handing me an ad for the local police station. On a slip of paper was written: "Need protection? We have alarm systems for you!"


Great, I thought sourly. They'll be on the spot in minutes -- provided the criminals phone in with directions to the crime scene.


I decided to relax a bit with a bath and a cup of tea. But there was no water. That does not mean "no hot water," that means nothing at all, just a dry whoosh when I opened the tap.


I packed up Sasha and headed for a friend's house. He had water, all right. Boiling. His bathroom faucet was stuck at a temperature approaching a Yellowstone geyser, and a bath left me looking and feeling like a Maine lobster.


I arrived at work the next morning to find my computer's hard disk had been wiped clean. All my phone lists, all my notes, all my old columns, gone. To make matters worse, the weathermen were predicting snow. In April.


The worst part of it all is that, a week from now, when I'm sunning myself on a tropical beach, I'll be missing this place.