January 26, 2010

Шереметьево - JFK: 17 years ago, today.

As hard as it was, life was simpler then - for me anyway, I was 9. I was a kid full of hopes, dreams and a promise of a bright future. I remember a lot of things about our voyage because I've always been very impressionable and even more sentimental. I remember waking up on a cot completely surrounded by suitcases and huge bags (баулы). There was a lot of scurrying since everyone was already up. It was about 4 am. All of a sudden there were a lot of people taking bags and bringing them out of our 3rd floor apartment - the only home I've known until that point and the only place I've really ever felt at home (now that I think about it). There were even more people in our yard all waiting their turn to say their goodbyes. I remember leaving and a strange guy ripping out our beautiful hardwood floor which my mom managed to sell for a few dollars.

We got to the train terminal (what's it called in English? station?) (The same one that they shot in Everything is Illuminated, yes that's L'vov) and we boarded the train. I remember being in the suite (is that how you say it?) with mama and grandma and the three of us hysterically crying and my dad running in with a grin and yelling at us for crying. As the train moved, the crowd of familiar and strange faces just burst into "proschay lubimiy gorod," a song which has made me cry since the day I realized we'd be leaving my beloved L'vov.

We got to Moscow and there things got blurry. I remember being afraid of wearing my gold earrings since they may rip them off with my ear and later (after passing security) telling my mom I could've put "all the gold" in my pockets since they didn't check me. The "gold" is probably worth $500, if that. I remember them searching us like we were trying to smuggle worldly possessions out of what was no longer the USSR. A bag with coins (specifically collected for calls) somehow fell into one of our huge bags and they had to completely unpack it (read: dishevel it). A suitcase which was specifically sent by my sister from the US to meet the size requirements, didn't and we were fined $100. That $100 is probably the equivalent of $10,000 or maybe even $100,000 for us today. Unlike many people, we didn't sell our apartment, because there was yet no privatization in L'vov. On the contrary, we had to pay them to leave two beautiful apartments, one at the city center and ours with complete capital improvements (and now, without parquet floors). We didn't have gold or money - we came with sheets and towels and pots and pans that can probably last us another 17 years.

Somehow, we finally passed security and boarded the chartered plane heading to NY. Because of my grandmother's heart condition, the plane was full of old and sick people. During the flight, when my dad (who hasn't been on a plane since that journey) took me to walk around a bit, I saw things that have stayed so imprinted on my young mind that to this day they give me chills. There were beds suspended from the ceiling. And religious men in black hats (not a common sight in Ukraine) were praying. There were all kinds of crippled people. It was scary.

We landed. It was a sunny and beautiful New York morning. It was about 50-60 degrees (yesterday's weather but with sun instead of rain) and I remember thinking to myself, it must always be warm here. It seemed wondrous and wonderful. I was ecstatic to see my sister and couldn't stop hugging her! She looked great in her purplish/pink shirt with a black zipper and curly (then still dark) hair. I think she had flowers, or maybe balloons and my dad yelled at her for spending money. As Dyadya Monya drove us to Bensonhurst (we stayed with my uncle and grandma for 3 weeks) the ride on the Belt with the sun beaming and the water glistening seemed surreal, warm and wonderful. I've never since enjoyed that road like that again, having made the trip probably 1,000+ times. I had on rose-colored glasses of both childhood and innocence as well as the expectation of a better life for my family.

I'm glad we're here, but I don't know that it's a better life. I think I've blogged about it before, immigration was extremely difficult on our family. Hardship after hardship followed. Yes, good things happened too, but it's hard to concentrate on that, especially now. Шереметьево - JFK: 17 years ago today, the day my childhood ended. Now, starting the 18th without mama, 7 without grandma Mira and the 2nd without Zilpa. How I wish I could be on the Belt in my rose-colored glasses.

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January 22, 2010

Blueberries, Raspberries and Blackberries...

So you get it, I like berries. I especially love my BlackBerry. It's a phone, a camera and a browser. It allows me to always stay connected (which is not always a good thing). For more specs on the BB, go to their website. Blackberries tend to malfunction - sometimes the trackball doesn't scroll, sometimes they delete your data, sometimes they freeze. In a conversation with E today, my BB froze. Having been a BB user for some time, I know that the best way is to take out the battery, blow and reboot. It worked like a charm. Sometimes it doesn't. In those cases, you call your service provider and have them send you a replacement. Within 2-3 business days you have a shiny new (or refurbished) model to sms, bbm, fb, email and talk on.

Well, all of this got me thinking of how nice it would be if people were like berries, provided that you're a loyal customer. If a person is misbehaving or freezing up on you, just take the battery out and restart. The valuable data that you share with that person is backed up on your pc and in the case of a crash, easily recoverable. In the chance that you didn't have it backed up, well that you'll just have to live with. In the instance of broken trackballs, they can easily be replaced in your local store. In the event that you and this person are constantly fighting, they are shutting you out and forgetting important events in your life, first upgrade the software, then reinstall the OS and if all else fails, call your service provider for a replacement. Every 2 years (or sooner if you're willing to spend the cash) you're eligible for an upgrade for a better
looking, faster and smarter phone errr person.

Sent from my mobile device

January 20, 2010

Looking for inspiration . . .

People have been complaining and I've been uninspired. Today is my grandpa's 89th birthday. During the last year he lost a child, had a heart attack and ended up in the hospital for the first time. Prior to the events of the last few months, I always wished that all of grandpa's offspring (3 children and 6 grandchildren) have my grandfather's genes and my mother's will to live. I still wish that for all of us. I'm the only one here. My aunt and uncle and their children are all in Israel with my grandfather and I'm here, now, alone. I'm not really alone. I have my daddy and hubby and sis and nephews and uncle and wonderful friends, but the emptiness is unavoidable and there are not enough words to fill this blog with.

My aunt just got back to Israel after spending the last week in Vegas for most of which I joined. Vegas was fun, expensive, filled with more than one adventure like getting conned out of $300 and proved yet again that I have no luck when it comes to cards.

Vegas, much like everything else, keeps changing (pix to follow). The things that don't change is your family, for better or worse, they are there to stay. I just wish some of them were at least a little bit closer to help me feel a little less alone. . .

ALL you need is LOVE . . . not the BB commercial, but the Beatles song . . .

In the meantime (while I'm looking for inspiration), help a great cause or two by simply clicking to help raise $1M for research from Chase . . . I love their new slogan, "Chase what matters":

January 8, 2010

A New Year, A New Decade, Same Ol' Me . . .

I started this blog post weeks ago, but just haven't had the energy, strength, time or inspiration to finish it . . .

So, I've gotten more than one complaint for not updating my blog the past few weeks. Despite the constant thoughts and ideas whirling around in my head, there just hasn't been anything exciting worth sharing . . .

In Russian there's a saying, "Как отметиш новый год так его и проведёш" (how you celebrate New Years, is how you'll spend the entire year) and this year was fairly quiet and surrounded by kids. I can finally deal with quiet. For many of my friends, I've been known as "having a propeller," "cup of coffee" and "always out and about." Well the propeller isn't working with quiet the same speed and while I still enjoy good coffee and more importantly, good company, I'm also content watching a good movie under the covers with a glass of wine. Yes, wine, "Wine a little, you'll feel better," and usually I do.

My Mom, The Style Icon: Cruise control

My Mom, The Style Icon: Cruise control

As promised, my mom was featured on the website and the pictures that Piper chose were some of my favorites from the cruise. . .

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