From the monthly archives:

March 2011

In America

by Marinka on March 30, 2011

When my parents and I came to America, our first apartment was a studio.

I don’t know if people outside of New York City know from a studio, but it is a one-room apartment. Not a one bedroom. A one room. We had a bathroom, a kitchen, a dining area that fit a table, snugly, and a room. I slept on one side of the room and my parents’ bed was on the other. No doors separated the dining area from the sleeping area, but we did put up some bookshelves.

If that wasn’t enough, on my 10th birthday, my parents got me a dog. A Basset Hound. His name was Barbos. Because, I’m guessing, they couldn’t get a goat.

During the day, I attended an Yeshiva, where I studied Hebrew and The Old Testament. I had friends who were fascinated with my flight from the Soviet Union, with my immigrant status, and who may have, with some mild encouragement from me, confused me with Anne Frank.

“The Communist Party was very bad to my family,” I told them over lunch. “It is now too painful to say more.”

I was invited into my friends’ homes after school to play in their sunny living rooms, to do my homework in their bedrooms that they did not share with their siblings, to say nothing of their parents, to eat in their dining rooms, with formal settings.

Their homes were giant in comparison to our studio but I didn’t even think to be jealous. Because I loved being home, in the tiny apartment, with my parents and Barbos. I was comfortable.

And then one day in January, Lisa, the bravest of the girls asked if she could come over to my house, to see where I lived.

I panicked.

“It’s not big,” I said, trying to think on my feet, forgetting that I wasn’t good at that kind of thing. It was unthinkable that she and I would do our homework on the dining room table while my mother cooked in the kitchen. Only to have dinner on that very same table.

Would we then move to the other room and do our homework on the floor–between my parents’ bed and my own?

I knew that we lived differently, and although I loved our apartment and my family, I didn’t want anyone else to see it.

“I don’t care,” Lisa said. “I want to see it.”

I invited Lisa over.
She came in and looked around.
“I told you it was small,” I apologized.
“It’s okay,” she said and smiled. I’m pretty sure that this was the tiniest place she had ever visited.

And then she froze.

Because between my parents’ bed and my own, stood the New Year’s Tree. Which in America is known as a Christmas tree.

It’s interesting to think about what Lisa, a devout student at the Yeshiva, with a gold Star of David dangling from her neck, must have thought on seeing what is widely considered a tribute to Jesus Christ in our livingroom. Bedroom. Livingbedroom.

I did some fast broken-English talking, explaining that in Russia the New Year’s tree is put up to celebrate the New Year and not to commemorate any religious occasion, but it was too late.

Because sometimes a cigar is so much more than a cigar.

And this one dwarfed whatever anxiety I may have had about our tiny studio.


I’m very excited to be a guest contributor at Alphamom today. Please visit me there and learn how to handle your child’s first sleepover!


It’s Not Too Late To Get Me a Birthday Gift!

by Marinka on March 28, 2011

I have a weird thing about my birthday.

Because I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t care about her birthday, doesn’t mind when friends don’t call or email to wish me a happy one, doesn’t even notice when there are no gifts of Macbooks and jewels, but I’m not.

I think it’s because I’m not a liar and am in touch with my feelings. And a tiny bit shallow.

I want cake. I want champagne. I want to, as an adult, to feel like it’s okay to celebrate my birthday.

Because I know too many people who don’t have birthdays anymore. You know, because they’re dead.

I’ll never lie about my age and I’ll never feel uncomfortable telling people my age.

This Thursday, I’ll be 44. Which is Methuselah in mommy-blogger years.

But I choose to look on the bright side. Why, 44 is hardly old enough to be Hugh Hefner’s mother-in-law!

And this is the part that you knew was coming.

I want something from you.

I’m trying to get the courage to do something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time. It’s something for me only, to the exclusion of everyone else, including my family. Especially my family. And as a birthday gift, I need you to give me a nudge. Not by a “you can do it!” comment, but by showing me.

Between today and Thursday (reminder: MY BIRTHDAY), please do something that is for you only. Not for your child. Or your spouse, or your partner, or the cat. You and you alone. Completely selfish. Indulgent.

And then leave me a comment telling me about it.

Because maybe that will give me strength to do what I want to do for myself.

You can’t refuse me. It’s my birthweek.


We Weekly Chat

March 25, 2011

Welcome to We Weekly Chat. This week I’m sad. I’m sad because my beloved US Weekly (affiliate link) is acting like an asshole and putting Teen Mom on the cover. Look, I love reality shows, but in what universe is Teen Mom a celebrity? It’s like having Toddlers & Tiaras girls posing for the cover. […]

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Nicki is a True American

March 24, 2011

This is Nicki. Nicki is our beloved cat. Don’t be alarmed, she’s fine. But this week, Husbandrinka and I went out to dinner with some friends and these friends told us that they have pet insurance for their dog. At first I got really excited because I thought they meant life insurance for their dog, […]

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Stomach Ache

March 22, 2011

Marinka: I have a stomach ache. I will probably die. Husbandrinka: What do you think it is? Marinka: It feels like the fat in my stomach is fighting the alcohol in my stomach and it’s a bitter battle. Husbandrinka: You think you have cancer, don’t you. Marinka: Just a touch, yes. ____________________ Also! even though […]

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March 21, 2011

Mama and Papa like to expose my kids to culture, because God knows I’m never going to. Although to be fair, I did manage to turn Young Ladrinka off The Bachelor forever after he watched it with me for a few nanoseconds two weeks ago. On Friday, Mama and Papa decided to take them to […]

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We Weekly Chat

March 19, 2011

Welcome to We Weekly Chat! First of all, there are some changes. Change One: I am calling it We Weekly Chat instead of Us Weekly Chat, so that no one will be confused that this chat is in any way endorsed by Us Weekly. Or the United States of America. Change Two: There’s a We […]

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Nice Insult

March 17, 2011

My 12 year old daughter was modeling a new outfit for me. I thought she was stunning and told her so. “If stunning means ugly,” my 9 year old son said. While I was trying to think of something appropriate to scream at him that would convey the importance of respecting women, getting along with […]

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