“I Don’t Believe in the Tooth Fairy” Club

I’ve never believed in the tooth fairy – even when I was a newly immigrated 6-year-old losing her first tooth. I saw right through the hokey pokey stuff they tried to sell me on. I didn’t discriminate against the fairies; I was an equal opportunity doubter and didn’t believe in God, Santa or the Easter Bunny. Fast forward 35 years and my daughter lost her … Continue reading “I Don’t Believe in the Tooth Fairy” Club

“I Hate(d) Carnivals” Club

The minute I saw the lights near the library, I knew it was that time of year – the church carnival. Augh. Nothing about the yearly carnival at the church parking lot tempted me. But to my almost six-year-old daughter, this was a palace of rainbows and unicorns; the very incarnation of FUN. My husband promised to take her on Saturday if the weather cooperated. … Continue reading “I Hate(d) Carnivals” Club

“Daddy’s Girl” Club

One night last week at bedtime, my five-year-old daughter wrapped her arms around my husband and me into a tight embrace and said, “Oh I love you BOTH SOOOOO MUCH!” She squeezed us with all her might and looked my husband square in the eyes and said, “But mommy is one number higher than daddy. I love you the same, but she is one higher.” … Continue reading “Daddy’s Girl” Club

“I’m a Co-Parent” Club (100-Word Story)

I’ve been a co-parent (with my ex-husband) to my 14-year-old son for 12 years and I’ve wanted to write an article about it for just as long. Only, every time I sit down to the business of actually writing this piece, it feels like the grand opus I’m not ready to tackle. In the wake of my piece on my ho-hum attitude on Mother’s Day, … Continue reading “I’m a Co-Parent” Club (100-Word Story)

“I Hate Mother’s Day” Club

I hate Mother’s Day and feel so guilty saying it, but it’s the goddamn truth. My mother is still alive and so is my grandmother. With my five-year-old daughter, we can pose for a “four-generation of women” photo and enjoy a picturesque brunch where a vase of tulips holds down the cream-colored linen tablecloths. Only this doesn’t happen, nor would it ever with the parties … Continue reading “I Hate Mother’s Day” Club

“My Renovation Took a Detour” Club

My bathroom renovation evolved into the perfect metaphor for life. The renovation plan seemed simple enough; just a small bathroom, nothing major. No real organs would be touched; this was mostly a cosmetic procedure. We did extensive research, educated ourselves on protocols and materials, and always followed the mantra, “measure twice, cut once.” We gathered our supplies at Lowes and came home gung-ho, excited to … Continue reading “My Renovation Took a Detour” Club

“Cheater” Club

I strongly believe I inherited the cheating gene from my dad. I have used this excuse more than once when I should have just taken accountability for fucking up royally. Cheating, in the cardinal hierarchy of human behavior, is considered a bad thing. I’m talking infidelity cheating, specifically, although tax abatement and stealing the SATs are two other examples. A lot of hype surrounded Beyonce’s … Continue reading “Cheater” Club

“I Met My Favorite Writer” Club

On our drive down for a weekend visit to Philadelphia, I said out loud to my car witnesses, “The only famous person I know in Philadelphia is Jennifer Weiner.” “Who’s that?” My 14-year-old son asked. He hasn’t had the benefit of jumping into her stories, engaging with her thoughtful, well-rounded, intelligent characters. “She’s one of your mom’s favorite writers,” my husband chimes in. “She wants … Continue reading “I Met My Favorite Writer” Club

“I Weep at Track Meets” Club

Emma finished the mile in 5.4 minutes in the 85-degree heat. She did so with the ease I do nothing, not even write these words. No panting or hunching over in exhaustion; if she was sweating, I couldn’t tell. This was a private school track meet in New York City. At the onset of 7th grade, my son had the opportunity to choose a sport … Continue reading “I Weep at Track Meets” Club

“Understanding Intention” Club

When my teenager snaps back at me, I know it wasn’t his intention to slap me with his words, so I forgive him. When my husband is late time and time again or when he walks away without telling me where he’s going even though I’ve asked him to communicate for 11 years, I know it wasn’t his intention to say, “Fuck you” with his … Continue reading “Understanding Intention” Club

“I Hate Playgrounds” Club

I didn’t like playgrounds as a kid and I certainly don’t enjoy them now as a mother. I blame the movie, Kramer vs. Kramer for instigating my lifelong playground paranoia. In an unforgettable scene, the boy playing Dustin Hoffman’s son falls off the monkey bars onto the very unsafe concrete. He runs to his son (too late), scoops his bloody body and runs with him … Continue reading “I Hate Playgrounds” Club

“My Parents Aren’t My Loudest Cheerleaders” Club

My father hasn’t read my blog since I started my “365 Project” on January 1st of this year. This is my 103rd piece and still I haven’t received a “good job” or “fun read” or even “nice to make me look like an asshole in that piece.” Instead, I got nothing. At first, I wondered had he read the piece which had gotten press, the … Continue reading “My Parents Aren’t My Loudest Cheerleaders” Club

“The Dream Gene” Club

Over pancakes this morning, my 5-year-old daughter spent 15 minutes describing last night’s dream to me in detail. “There was a fire in the building and I told everyone we had to evacuate, but before we did, I reminded them to grab their phones and laptops! Don’t worry, the cats were already rescued. We went outside with all our things and by the time we … Continue reading “The Dream Gene” Club

“Living Outside My Native Tongue” Club

I have this fantasy one day I will be in the elevator (or anywhere) and Russian-speaking people will talk about me without knowing I understand them and I will turn around and surprise them with my exquisite command of Russian curses. This has yet to happen. At our last Gogol Bordello concert, I found myself surrounded by fellow Russians in midlife crisis partying with this … Continue reading “Living Outside My Native Tongue” Club

“37 Years an Immigrant” Club

Yesterday was the 37th anniversary of my immigration to America from the former Soviet Union and I forgot all about it. The date isn’t circled or marked on my calendar. Maybe my parents independently raised a shot glass toasting the memory, but I’ve gone years without noting the day. For my parents, it marked the day they started their new life but since 1979, there … Continue reading “37 Years an Immigrant” Club

My Son’s Birth Story – 100 Word Story

I’ve written three essays on my son’s birthday and I could probably write another two with all the “outtakes.” Is there a limit to how much you can tell your kids how awesome they are? Tiger mom would argue yes. Why am I still writing about my firstborn? “Write what you know,” they say. So I do. I enjoy writing about the men in my … Continue reading My Son’s Birth Story – 100 Word Story

“My Boy, He’s Just Like Me” Club

At a certain point when my 14-year-old son was knee-deep in boy years (5-11), I wondered if he and I would ever have anything in common. I would continue to build Legos and watch Superhero movies but I didn’t love them in the way he did. We agreed on a love of science, but when he geeked out on me with equations, I went AWOL. … Continue reading “My Boy, He’s Just Like Me” Club

“My Husband Is Always Late” Club

The first time I brought my husband (then boyfriend) to meet my father in Staten Island I was anxious about being on time. My father appreciated and demanded promptness; it coursed through his Russian blood, and it wasn’t just from his two years in the Soviet army. I was brought up respecting the clock and to value our ever fleeting minutes. To this day, I … Continue reading “My Husband Is Always Late” Club

“14 Years of Motherhood” Club

14  years ago I was awarded the mommy title and never looked back. Who was I before I became a mother? I vaguely remember waking up thinking of myself first. As a child, I didn’t play with baby dolls or babysit. Having a sister seven years my junior was plenty motherhood for me. I didn’t even think I wanted to have kids. Before children, life … Continue reading “14 Years of Motherhood” Club

“At the ER Waiting Room” Club

Another 100-Word Story My 14-year-old son’s face became swollen; cheeks like chipmunks and lips resembled bad botox. His mouth ached, with pustules in his throat. No fever. Probably a virus but fear gripped me by the shoulders when he said his throat felt tight. Sitting in the ER, I feel foolish. My son seemed fine, playing video games. After 4 uneventful hours: “Here’s Prednisone, Benadryl, … Continue reading “At the ER Waiting Room” Club

“I Recognize Myself in My Daughter” Club

Last night my five-year-old daughter came out after we tucked her in for some familiar bedtime shenanigans. My husband and I are natural night owls who can understand her tug towards wanting to stay up. Who wants to go go to bed when mommy and daddy clearly throw a party every night after she goes to bed? Her excuse this night was, “I’m just so … Continue reading “I Recognize Myself in My Daughter” Club

“I Witnessed a Cancer Diagnosis” Club

Five years ago I accompanied my aunt to her visit at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where she received her sentence to battle with ovarian cancer. It was the day which sent the trajectory of her life in an altogether different plight. Forced to stare at mortality by this invisible killer, she embarked on the fight of her life. Our little family could only witness … Continue reading “I Witnessed a Cancer Diagnosis” Club

“I Wrote a 100-Word Story” Club

In starting my 365-day writing project, I vowed to write every day. I imagined I would work on 250-500 word essays, but in reality and practice, I acknowledge I have a difficult time getting anything out in less than 850 words. Reader’s Digest features a 100-word True Story contest. I thought this would be a productive, educational exercise – and it was. 100 words is nothing for me. I … Continue reading “I Wrote a 100-Word Story” Club

“I’m an Instigator” Club

Let me start out by saying I don’t enjoy confrontation, although one may argue, on occasions, my actions may have inadvertently caused it. I have been accused of being an instigator. Translation: I bring things up enough to bother someone else with doing something about it, because like I said, I don’t take pleasure in hostile encounters, but I do appreciate justice and answers. For … Continue reading “I’m an Instigator” Club

“My Modern Family Trumps Yours” Club

My teenage son and I heard a hilarious phone prank on the radio. The victim: a 45-year-old mother. Who set her up? Her 18-year-old son. The premise? The DJ calls pretending to be the son’s 45-year-old girlfriend. Throughout the fake call, the mother’s anger escalates as she keeps repeating, “My son is a teenager!” After our laugh, I push it further because I’m the inappropriate … Continue reading “My Modern Family Trumps Yours” Club

“Engaging With Souvenirs from the Old World” Club

If you had to pack up your life into two suitcases, what would you bring? I ponder this occasionally when I find myself using something my parents brought with them from the Soviet Union in 1979. Today I poured water into a stemmed glass adorned with a train decal. I inherited these six glasses from my mother because I had mentioned to her I liked … Continue reading “Engaging With Souvenirs from the Old World” Club

“I Grapple With Irrational Emotions” Club

When I worked in the family donut shop as a teenager, one of the co-workers told me she was chemically imbalanced, which was the clinical diagnosis of being too sensitive. She suggested I consider getting myself the same diagnosis and the pills which accompanied it. I’ve battled with intense emotional reactions for as long as I can remember, and blame myself for being too sensitive. … Continue reading “I Grapple With Irrational Emotions” Club

“I Took My Last Family Vacation For Granted” Club

The last vacation I took with my parents and sister was to Puerto Rico in July 1996. I just graduated from NYU, newly dating my later-to-be husband. My sister was madly in love with her then boyfriend and played Nothing Else Matters by Metallica on loop the whole time. My parents, still two years shy of their quarter-century divorce, met some fellow Russians vacationers and … Continue reading “I Took My Last Family Vacation For Granted” Club

“I Don’t Like My Birthday Parties” Club

In my 41 years, I’ve only had four birthday parties. My birthday falls in the middle of August when my classmates and friends were either notoriously at camp or on family vacations, so my mother always had an excuse for skipping a kids’ birthday party. What did I know of American birthday parties anyway? We celebrated most of my birthdays with family and my parents’ … Continue reading “I Don’t Like My Birthday Parties” Club

“I Curse – Proudly” Club

In Russian are two words for ass, but they are modifications of one another. One is pronounced “paw-pa” and the other is pronounced “zj-awpa.” That first one is like “tush,” the second one is like “ass.” My house was a pure “zj-awpa” house, but my cousin was purely a “paw-pa” family and whenever we got together, I always used the wrong word for ass. I loved … Continue reading “I Curse – Proudly” Club

“I Came of Age at a Donut Shop” Club

Over a cup of coffee and a donut, a person will spill their secrets. Do not underestimate the magical unravelling power of a cruller and a cup of Joe; it is the elixir of truth. In our society, donut shops connote happy imagery: syrupy goodness oozing between puffs of powdered sugar. Not for me, though. One whiff of honey glaze singes the insides of my nostrils … Continue reading “I Came of Age at a Donut Shop” Club

“I’m Afraid of the Evil Eye” Club

“Sglazeet” is what the Russians call “giving the evil eye.” I totally believe in this, but it’s technically hocus pocus witchery; like ghosts. My husband tells me that it’s up to me whether I give anyone the power to jinx or cast this evil spell. Apparently, I do. If I could, I would spray a magic shield of protection around myself before I ever left … Continue reading “I’m Afraid of the Evil Eye” Club

“I’m More Like My Mother Than I Thought” Club

Every mother has mommyisms. These phrases are typically derived from life experiences and hand-me-downs from their own mothers. Here are some Soviet-inspired nuggets I got from my mom: You can never be too rich or too thin. Only prostitutes wear anklets. If you have a gap between your legs, you’re a whore. If you’re a pretty secretary, then you’re a “secretutka” (a word formed by … Continue reading “I’m More Like My Mother Than I Thought” Club

“I Got Bit by a Dog” Club

There’s a photo of me at 10-months-old, bundled-up, Russian style, propped up in my Seventies plaid pram. I’m being guarded by a large German Shepherd named Alfeek. He was the first dog in my life and I don’t remember him but suspect he scarred me in some traumatic way, because until the age of 12, I had a terrible fear of dogs. My 12th birthday … Continue reading “I Got Bit by a Dog” Club

“My Father had a UFO Sighting” Club

My father has always attested that he doesn’t believe in God, but believes in aliens. He believes it was the aliens who were responsible for the creation of the earth, rather than the commonly-held principles of God in 7 Days, or you know, the Big Bang theory. He also believes that the entire human species, in itself, is an alien experiment gone wrong. Humans are … Continue reading “My Father had a UFO Sighting” Club

“I Stopped Cleaning Toilets” Club

AKA Pubescent Problems on the Potty I spent 15 years in the corporate world in various forms of advertising playing with fancy office stuff. But none of that matters; that’s as ancient history as the 6th grade dance as far as my kids are concerned. I’ve been working from home since my daughter was born five years ago. Last year in preschool, she was asked … Continue reading “I Stopped Cleaning Toilets” Club

“I Called Russia in 1985” Club

I was 11 years old and I was the one in my family responsible for calling Russia. In 1985 we had just moved to Staten Island; we were in our ivory-wallpapered living room, on the taupe leather couches. The house was immaculate with its modern window treatments and cream-colored carpet. It hadn’t yet been soiled by the mastiff’s muddy footprints or by the stench of … Continue reading “I Called Russia in 1985” Club

“My Sister was a Gift to Me” Club

My sister was always presented as a gift that was created just for me – and not because I needed a bone marrow transplant or anything. I was just a typical six-year-old, newly immigrated to Queens from Russia, and I was lonely. I was also supposedly incredibly cerebral and persuasive (go figure), because while other girls convinced their parents to buy them a Barbie Dream … Continue reading “My Sister was a Gift to Me” Club

“My Sister Got a Hole in Her Head on My Watch” Club

I was a mature 10-year-old and my younger sister, Reena was only three when we were  enjoying all the glories of new immigrant life in the Housing Projects of Queens. Aside from the male jogger who hung upside down, dangling his junk in front of us, everything from this period blends together like a hazy blur. There are few memories that stand out, but the … Continue reading “My Sister Got a Hole in Her Head on My Watch” Club

“I Lived in the Projects and Didn’t Know it” Club

“Oh I didn’t realize you grew up in the projects!” my husband says the first time I bring him to visit my grandmother, who has lived in this same housing complex for her 40 years in this country. Apparently “Cooperative Housing” is fancy for projects, but I have always thought it was a perfectly normal place to have my rudimentary years in this country. The … Continue reading “I Lived in the Projects and Didn’t Know it” Club

“Apparently I Almost Died as an Infant” Club

I don’t remember almost dying as an infant, but apparently, I did. My mother recounts the story of my Soviet birth ripe with exaggerated old-world details. She describes laboring in a room with nine other women, all of whom took turns pushing their babies out, while an orderly with a thick mustache mopped the floor with dirty water. She witnessed one woman give birth to … Continue reading “Apparently I Almost Died as an Infant” Club

“I Have a Weird Name” Club

Nowadays unusual names are all the rage, but in 1986 Staten Island, when your parents make you transfer mid-year to your new junior high school, having missed out on vital teenage lessons (namely how to put on eyeliner and lipstick), it was way cooler to be Lisa or Maria or Jill. As lovely girls named Michelle and Vicky, took me around from class to class, … Continue reading “I Have a Weird Name” Club

“Growing Up, I Never Had Play Dates” Club

The only play dates I’ve ever been on are the ones with my own children. In 2016 America (and the Internet), parental and educator rhetoric professes the vast academic and developmental benefits of play dates for our children. They all agree good social skills are essential to helping your child lead a happier, healthier life – but these skills need lots of practice and coaching. … Continue reading “Growing Up, I Never Had Play Dates” Club

A Decade of Motherhood

My son turns 10 years old today, and while he celebrates turning double digits, the celebration is essentially all mine. Growing up, on my birthday, all my parents’ friends used to call and “Congratulate” them on my birthday. I thought it was a stupid Russian thing; “It’s MY birthday – they get their own day.” But after I made it through the first year of … Continue reading A Decade of Motherhood

A One Year Hiatus … But Who Even Missed Me? Maybe Just Me …

I haven’t blogged in over a year. I just got annoyed at the whole internet, at social networking, at sharing my life with anyone. I just got disinterested. I wanted my life to myself; a private celebrity if only in my own mind, wearing a baseball hat and sunglasses and avoiding the media. I hated my blog; every single thing about it. I was in … Continue reading A One Year Hiatus … But Who Even Missed Me? Maybe Just Me …

I’m in a [I don’t work a corporate job] Style Slump

Will someone please nominate me for What Not to Wear? I have been in a major style rut for the last 18 months. When I first lost my job, with it also went the obligation to “dress up.” (But truthfully I wasn’t so upset about that.) Then I got pregnant – and for the nine months I spent hovering over or around a toilet, I … Continue reading I’m in a [I don’t work a corporate job] Style Slump

Do You Baby Book?

After my cousin had twins 4 months to the day after I had my baby girl, we were comparing gifts. Kind of like, “How many baby blankets? What’s the most hideous outfit?” Finally I ask, “How many baby books did you get?” She says, “What do you mean “baby books?” You mean How to Expect: The First Years?” No, I clarify, “Like a book for … Continue reading Do You Baby Book?