Sunday, December 5, 2010

Klecko's Siberian Tour - Epilogue?

If you haven't noticed....Klecko has a few idiosyncrasies, I won't scroll down the list, because if I future political career could be destroyed, but one misconception about me is that I am uber social, this is true, as long as it is at a distance.

People think that Klecko is a 24 hour circus monkey. That's a total lie, I am only comfortable being a symbol crashing primate for...oh I don't know, maybe 12 hours a day. The other 12 I need to crawl into my cave and refuel with my dog pack and cyberspace friends. The nice thing about internet friends is that you have full control over their involvement in your life since they are on computers, it's totally different than working in the Food Show.

Sue McGleno and I bought our Highland Park home around 15 years ago, and other than family members, or our kids childhood sleepovers. We have never had house guests.Not a single one.In the hospitality industry, if you are good, if you want to succeed you have to constantly network. Part of this is accomplished by working events.

Everyday contains a high level of communication. Everyday requires conflict resolution, everyday is stroking ego's - picking up hangers off the floor and flushing toilets.

I am good at that, most people will say I am superb at it, but I'll tell you.......the second I cross my homes threshold, the draw bridge is raised, and the moat is filled. It's hard to get to Klecko at night, typically he is either with Sue McGleno or a's like a Zen Balance thing.

With all that said, I have broke this rule (which I never intentionally designed) as a young woman from Siberia is napping on my couch. Right now...this very second!
Her name is Mosha, and she was born in the Asiatic Arctic city of Aikhal (pronounced EYE-HAUL)and served as my interpreter for a government scope that I participated in during the Spring of 2006.

The whole excursion merits a screenplay, and one day it will happen, but listed below are just a few of the scrapes that fell my way, and it was Mosha who made sense of all of it to me and the people who were connected to me.

#1 - On my first night, I slept in a hut across from a pig sty, a cat got locked into my dwelling and peed on my hand, when I told the office woman the next morning they laughed real hard. My sponsor Sasha broke the cats neck in front of the workers as a sign that nobody should put a finger on the "Americone"

#2 - We were amidst "White Nights" and on one occasion a group of naked dudes (covered with modest towels) dragged me into a banya......i don't want to talk about the squatting or tree branch whippings that went along with that.

#3 - The smoking of Pig Dung Cigarettes and imbibing in Sumagon (A Russian version of Everclear)

#4 - Entering and Orthodox church and having a Nun looking woman yell at me (apparently I was standing on Holy ground) - funny thing.....when Mosha responded "Don't be upset...he doesn't know - he's Americone" the Nun looking woman replied "Oh, Americone huh? Why didn't you say so? Let him be he can stay."

#5 - Being invited by my CO-OP neighbor, a Yakutsian young man, to attend his murder trial

#6 Most importantly she was my voice that helped me communicate with the people who worked at the Versalles Cafe. this was part of the Kaskad Food Cooperative, the northern most in the world.

This month was the greatest period of my life. I believe beyond a shadow of doubt that it was one of the "God-Payback" things. People say God doesn't cut deals. I think those people are idiots. I have tried hard in my life, and I might not always have made the right choices, but I've tried hard none the less. If you do that, everybody gets a Siberia kind of dealio tossed at them. It's just how divinity works.

When I left I told Mosha that she would always be welcomed at my house, but she explained that it cost as much to fly from Aikhal to Moscow, as it does to fly from Moscow to the New York City, getting Visa's approved in Russia can be a little tricky as well.

As I went home, I was so thankful to be able to do my favorite thing, baking bread with the coolest people on the globe. I even built sourdough starters up bad a** is that? When we made banana bread (it took 1/2 a day and 10 000 Jeep miles to obtain 4 banana's) it was like discovering electricity.

Eventually when I had to go home, they place you through an arduous out processing experience. It could be pretty intense. The decisions I made could make or break Siberian careers.I sat at Moscow HQ for a 3 day exit interview,While this took place I could not help but think that the Movie Crocodile Dundee would have sucked if the woman interviewing Mick in Australia just packed up her tape recorder and went home.

The movie had to have him visit the USA. The bond of friendship is always strengthened by understanding. And understanding can never be accomplished unless both sides of the coin have been noticed.

So without getting all religious on you, I will tell you that for several years I'd whine at Jesus and say "Please Jesus, I don't know how all your ecclesiastical stuff works, and I know kids are sick in Guam, but C'mon.....let Mosha come to America. She might not be better than anybody else, but she was simply perfect to me, and gave me such a wonderful gift that I'd like to return this favor, and anyways...I lied, she is the best. She deserved this....Please Jesus - Please-Please-Pleasssse!"

So then I get a Facebook message that my little Mosha met and married a young man from Moscow named Victor, they married in the Motherland. You want to know how you can tell if a man will love his wife, look at their wedding photo's, it was obvious by theirs that Victor was smitten.

It turns out that this young groom is also an economics genius and was pursued to take training at NYU, He did, and he brought his young bride with him. They've been in Brooklyn for 8 weeks. Mosha has been helping him pursue assistant professor positions world wide, but yesterday Victor was summoned to interview at a very prestigious institute in Moscow, and guess what. His clever wife pointed out that tickets to St Paul were 1/2 the price of Moscow......Victor smiled, gave his blessing and entrusted his newlywed to Sue McGleno and me.

My skills in baking have impacted people and had positive impact on many folks from all corners of the world, but it has also paid me back 10 fold.

Today I got to spend countless hours at the Mall of America with my bride, and my Russian daughter. You know I must have been in a good mood, I didn't even complain once that we spent 3 hours in shoe stores.


  1. MOA on a Sunday and before Christmas. You are the man Klecko!