Why a Cold War Kid From the US Living in the EU Is Woefully Unprepared for War

To panic, or not to panic, that is the question.

Jill Francis
7 min readFeb 15, 2022


1980s stamp from Soviet Russia with a cartoon bear holding the Olympic Torch.
Not really warm, not really fuzzy. By Ю.Левиновский — http://www.olympic-stamps.ru/stamps/s_page.shtml?i=rus035, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49857902

If you’ve been even moderately conscious in the last week, and I know that could be a stretch for those of you who were Super Bowling on Sunday, you know that we are likely going to end up in a war. Make no mistake, this is WAR war. It’s not the kind that happens when a bunch of dweebs crack open a case of Red Bull in an unmarked office building somewhere in Turkey, tie their hoodie strings extra tight, and lean into their laptops to take out the Alliance Pipeline.

Although terrifying, that would be cute compared to what might happen when 100,000 Russian troops hopped up on Russian Standard Vodka and fumes from Putin’s shirtless, horseback pit sweat start revving their engines on the Ukrainian border.

It feels like we’re back in 1984 and I wasn’t prepared then, so I sure as hell don’t feel prepared now.

This all started because I read Adeline Dimond’s excellent piece about the war in her series on The Year of Giving Up. She is, in a word, concerned. I have to agree from over here in Italy and can not figure out why we are not throwing communal hissy fits about the fact that we are going to end up with our asses in a sling over in Eastern Europe this week.

However, I will admit that my sense of urgency is probably ignorant, hysterical, and largely related to my geographic discomfort. This means that I am really nervous in a way that likely doesn’t make sense and it’s only because I realized that I live only 1,300 miles away from Kyiv. That’s about the distance from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale–or 22,800 football fields for the folks tuning in from the New World.

Is this too close? Yes, if you’re in the witness protection program. No, if we’re talking about where to book a Spring Break trip with good weather in March. Either way, I am unprepared.

When you live in the United States, events that are critical to international peace rarely happen locally. We can point to Pearl Harbor in 1941 and the 9/11 attack in 2001, certainly traumatic and life-changing moments, but have to go all the way back to Pancho Villa in 1916 to find the next time there was a foreign attack on…



Jill Francis

American immigrant in Italy with too many degrees in Psychology. I write about everything I’m afraid of. jillfranciswrites@gmail.com