Sergei Kourdakov, a former KGB agent and Soviet naval intelligence officer, defected from the USSR at the age of twenty. A year later we met at my Federal Government office in Washington DC. We were watched and followed. “Even you could be spy,” Sergei whispered. My book, A Rose for Sergei, is the true story of our time together.

Monday, January 27, 2014

This Point in Time

I recently had a sisters’ get-away weekend in North Carolina.  The three of us live far apart and always make it a point to get together a couple of times a year.  My friends always tell me how lucky I am to have that special time with my sisters.  They have sisters too, but apparently everyone doesn’t get along that well.  When I do hear their stories I consider myself lucky.

Our getaways consist of shopping, lunching, window shopping, wishing-we-could-buy-that shopping and non-stop talking.  We talk about our hopes, dreams, the past and the future.  We laugh . . . and we sometimes cry.  We talk about anything and everything.

Karen, my older sister, talked about destiny one afternoon.  She told us the story about when her husband was in the fifth grade.  He was sitting on a swing during recess at school and wondering about who he would meet and marry someday.  He thought . . . my future wife could be anywhere . . . she could even be on the other side of the world right now.  My sister Karen, his future wife, was on the other side of the world at that very point in time.  Our family was stationed in Okinawa.

Kelly, my younger sister, talked about the difficult decision she made many years ago when she packed up and moved to a new city.  That tough choice to leave her hometown led to finding her husband.  She said every choice she made took her to that very point in time when they met.

The whole idea of destiny makes me stop and think about everything in a different way.  I realized that I crossed paths with my future husband many times before we actually met.  It was almost as if our lives were inching us closer and closer until the time was right.

Is our life already predetermined or do we create our own destiny?  I know there is a reason that I met Sergei Kourkakov, even for the short time that he was in my life.  I also know that at this point in time it was important for me to write about Sergei.  If I didn’t, then who would?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Fair Weather Writing

I have discovered that I never feel like writing on a rainy day.  It must have something to do with the dull gray skies.  On a rainy day the gloomy haze surrounds everything and clouds my writing, even though I actually like the sound of the raindrops splattering on the roof and the ground.  My favorite days to write are when the sun is shining brightly and the clear blue skies cover the earth.  I find that inspiring.

Today there is neither sunshine nor blue skies outside.  It isn’t raining either.  It is snowing like crazy!  It reminds me of my childhood days when I lived in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and went sledding and ice skating during the cold winter months.  I loved to ice skate so much my father even iced-over our backyard so I could skate after dark.

Right now the snowfall prediction is eight inches or more on the East Coast, depending how far north you are.  All the schools are closed in the area.  Even the Federal Government is closed today!  Some people say it’s another “Snowmageddon Blizzard.”  I say it’s a good day to write!

A short excerpt from A Rose for Sergei:

Fall 1972
(My boss was aware that Sergei needed a warmer coat during his stay in Washington DC.  I was asked to assist with the coat selection.  Mr. Logie, Sergei, and I ventured out on a quick shopping trip.)

I didn’t realize what a strange group we were until we reached the store and made our way towards the men’s overcoat section.  There was the red headed, professional-looking older man with his quirky fast New Zealand accent.  Then there was the young, tall, ruggedly handsome young man with huge broad shoulders who spoke broken English in a thick Russian accent.  And finally there was me, the petite, slight of build, young blonde female, who spoke perfect English and seemed to be somewhat bossy.  We were an odd trio indeed, and we made quite a comedic scene at the store.  I don’t think Sergei was used to having someone like me help him select his clothes.  And I wasn’t at all used to running an errand like this with my boss.  Sergei looked like he was the kind of guy that was used to calling all of the shots . . . .

Monday, January 13, 2014

You Can't Avoid It

A few days ago I stood in the frigid January cold at a graveside funeral service for my friend’s husband.  Funerals are always difficult, but it was important to be there.  I was numb, but it wasn’t from the 22 degree temperature.  I was numb from thinking about previous funerals.  I offered up silent prayers for my mother and father.

When the solemn proceedings were over, my mind drifted to another funeral I attended on a chilly January day forty-one years ago.  I remember standing beside Sergei Kourdakov’s casket in Rock Creek Cemetery in Washington DC.

A sudden intake of icy air caught in my chest and I shivered involuntarily.  When there is a death, it triggers all of your emotions . . . happy and sad.  You can’t avoid it.  A sound caught my attention and I looked up at the deep blue skies and bright sunshine streaming down on us.  I choose to celebrate the lives of those that have passed.  I remember the love and the laughter.  My heart smiled as I felt a sudden rush of warmth creeping over my frozen body.

A short excerpt from A Rose for Sergei:

Spring 1973

. . . I was the one that was still living.  Sergei left this world tragically at twenty-one and his life was cut short way too soon.  He was so close to finding the happiness that he was searching for.  I know his life was important and that he tried to make a difference in this world.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A Changed Person

One of the reasons I decided to write a book about Sergei Kourdakov was to show that Sergei was a different person from the one he was in the Soviet Union.  He made a complete turn-around in his life.

A few weeks ago I met with my former boss, Mr. Kirk Logie, Sr., and we talked about Sergei.  I commented that “the Sergei” I knew was nothing like the hardened individual portrayed in his book, The Persecutor Without any hesitation whatsoever, Mr. Logie blurted out . . . “Well, that’s because he was a completely changed person.”  He did not know my reasons for writing A Rose for Sergei, and I was quite surprised by his comment.  Mr. Logie had a knack for saying the right thing at the right time.  At ninety-three years old, Mr. Logie still knew me—even though we had not seen or talked to each other for thirty-six years.

In Sergei’s book, The Persecutor, you sometimes get a glimpse of the person he would later become.  Sergei’s real character was there all along, waiting just beneath the surface of the hard shell he had created in order to survive.  Below is an excerpt from Sergei’s book.  Sergei was on a train headed to Moscow when he heard a commotion in another train car.

There I saw three big, tough, young guys shaking the life out of a small, studious-looking boy with big glasses and pale, white skin.  “Give us your money,” they told him, “or we’ll break your arm!”  The kid was trembling like a leaf in a windstorm.  One big guy stood facing the other passengers to make sure no one interfered while they worked over the boy.  I’ve never liked bullies and what I saw instantly made me mad.  I whipped off my military belt and wrapped it around my fist, so that the big heavy buckle would be like brass knuckles, and moved toward the boy.  When the guard made a move to stop me, I rushed him and grabbed him around the neck with a judo hold, then threw him against the wall and smashed him in the face with my improvised brass knuckles.  He went out cold.

The two others were pulling the money out of the boy’s wallet.  “Drop that money,” I said, “or you’ll get the same treatment!”  They saw their comrade sprawled unconscious on the floor.  I moved to take them both, and they backed off, saying, “Okay, okay.  We’re going, we’re going.”  They got off at the next station, taking their friend with them.

The young boy, of course, was completely shaken.  I helped him gather up his money, then took him by the arm, comforted him, and suggested we sit down.

-Sergei Kourdakov, The Persecutor (Chapter 9, pg. 95)