Friday, January 30, 2009

the winner is in

and now i'm going to get personal.

and i don't know
what camp you belong to,
but i personally decided
5 years ago
that i would try my best
not to rub aluminum under my arms.
now i know they can't yet prove
it's carcinogenic properties;
but i also know they used to eat DDT.
and i'm much happier safe than sorry.
and thus launched my 5-year-quest
to find a non-aluminum deodorant
that actually didn't repel friends.
***insert here***
sincere apology for those near me
when i was using the ones
that didn't work

i can hardly count
the number of deodorants i tried.
and i want to thank whole body
for their liberal return policy
that greatly helped me
in my search.
i want to thank a dear friend
with the initials JF
who tipped me off
on what would be 
the long-sought after
result to all my experiments, 
who, when asked if it works, answered:
"do you smell me?"

and now for the final winner,
which will surprise you
just as it did me
(unless you're one of the ones
i couldn't contain my elation
and already shared it with):

the crystal.
yes, that hunk of salt.
it is genius.
and i'm still in shock
that i was such a skeptic for so long,
having never tried it until now.
brilliant as sliced bread,
effective as the lethal stuff.
and i would even eat it.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


and as we drove home
from preschool
we talked about
the kid's club we used to go to,
and how we don't go there anymore
because now we are "big girls"
and we go to preschool.
and with tears and frustration
she asked,
"mom, what time am i going to be little?"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

flowers & ballet

a husband that gives me
flowers for no reason
and takes me to the ballet.

(thou shalt not covet. . .)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

late visit

there comes a time
in every little girl's life
when she needs
her own kitchen.

as i noticed on the america trip
that nearly every house we visited
had a play kitchen for the kids,
i made note
that that kitchen request
we put in to grandfather frost
was perfect timing.

and though he had a little delay,
his deposit was finally made.

and we had a hard time
wiping the smile off the little faces
for quite some time.

and of course our play
is not without fights
over who gets to pull the pizza out
or which eggs are already cooked

but that goes with the territory.

(and our apartment just got 
that much smaller. . .)

Monday, January 26, 2009

field trip

i actually really love mondays.
back to the pace
and rhythm of things.
but mostly,
i love that i never plan anything
for monday.
so it's like a free day.

today's free day was spent
on a field trip.
a field trip to that
children's library
that is just between us and the river.

it was our virgin trip--
though i'd driven past the place
a hundred times--
it was time to take the girls,
as i'm sad to say,
they'd never been to a library.
is it just me,
or do they all feel like 
part of a dying breed?

the scary dolls in the window
may have had something to do
with the emptiness of the place. . .

but to be honest,
i kinda liked them.

i guess there's really something to
these disappearing soviet-era
and their window displays
that already for me
are stirring up
feelings of nostalgia.
when they go,
there's a character lost
that will never be replaced
by any modern attempt.

as we were the only children there,
we were met with open arms,
first by the director,
and then passed from librarian
to librarian--
each anxious to show us 
her own little nook
of the children's library.

we played a fishing game
with cardboard pieces that had been
taped together sixty or so times,
we pulled half the books
off the shelves
(and left them there,
cause you don't dare put it back
in the wrong spot!)

we perused the section entitled
"когда мама была маленькой"
(when mama was little)
which, of course,
was my favorite part,
full of a wonderful collection
of old children's books
from the 50's to the 70's

others of us
loved the disney books
that came with a "cd player"
to change melodies
to go with different parts of the story. . .

and lastly 
we made friends with
the poor fish who was stuck
in the dark, tiny pool of water
underneath that old fountain
fashioned after a mountainous
babbling brook
complete with plastic plants
and fake snails.
certain of us
finally dared to stick her little hands
into the water
and as soon as they were caught
their first reaction
was to lick those hands off.
and that was the point
where we said goodbye
to the soviet children's library
and promised to
come back again soon. . .

Friday, January 23, 2009


guests for dinner!

gingered pumpkin soup
seared teriyaki salmon
cumin rice
steamed broccoli

blueberry scones

wish you were here!

Thursday, January 22, 2009


it was at this point
that i thought i just might

stepping into that room
i knew it was bad news
from the start.
it was like a boxing ring,
with way too many anxious boxers,
the spectators staring at us
through windows
that lined the room's perimeter.
i pushed my way through
to window #2,
behind which a clump of boxers 
had gathered in what the russians
like to call a "line."
i uttered the classic
"кто последный?"
("who's last?")
the answer i got,
"i'm last, but then there's another guy,
and another lady right here,
and hold my spot,
i'll be right back. . ."
was what i heard a hundred and forty times
in the next hour and a half
as i stood in that same spot,
inching forward every half hour.
every 5 minutes somebody new would come,
"who's last?"
"i'm here, but behind me is one guy,
then another lady, and then another guy."
"okay, well, i'm behind you.
i'll be right back."
and then the other half of the boxers
that showed up
would weasel their way
in front of me with their,
"i was here behind this lady,
i just stepped away. . ."
my heart rate was rising
by the second.
i was watching my clock religiously
like watching the sand slip through
the hourglass,
with each grain of sand falling
my stomach was dropping
a little bit further.
i knew they were going to close 
the window at 12:30:00,
when it was time for their 
hour-and-a-half lunch,
at which point the line
would be dissolved.
i was ready to climb over heads
to get to the front,
full of good excuses
why i should be allowed
in front of everyone
"mine won't take very long. . ."
"i've got to pick up my child
from preschool. . ."
"i've been standing here this whole time. . ."
and if one more person
showed up out of nowhere
stating who they were behind
three people in front of me. . .

12:15 and my heart rate was so high
i was beginning to understand
why the life expectancy in russia
during the soviet period was so low--
it was a world full of these lines--
and i could feel minutes 
dropping off my life expectancy
with each stressful
tick of the clock.
the sound of her stamp
each time it resounded
behind the window
reinstilled a drop of hope in me--
she was done with one more person,
i still might have a chance
to get up there
before that shutter came down
and the "lunch" sign went up. . .
12:25 and i was so close i could
smell the stamp.
her movements were resembling
slow motion.
i was flat out praying.
please let me make it. . .
please let me make it. . .
please let me make it. . .

and my shaky hands placed 
my visa documents
under the window.
i almost started to breathe again.
but it wasn't until
i heard that stamp
that my blood rushed back to my head
and she handed me back my passport
as the clock struck 12:30
and i walked out of that boxing ring
champion. . .

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

here, in this room

and honestly,
i'd sorta forgotten
that everything with the violin
started right here
about a year and a half ago.

here in that room
we would pass by every week
where that classical group
was practicing
and we would stop and listen 
at the door,
and had to be torn away every time.

that interest
turned into begging,
begging for our own precious
instrument, which,
as you know,
then materialized.

and now it's the both of them,
the both of them
that hear that music
from far away
and are drawn to it like magnets.
and today when the door opened,
they were drawn inside,
step by step
and stood staring
through their entire
20-minute break
as they played here
and played there
and it was all i could do
to drag them out.
will i be buying another
violin a year from now?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

q du jour

oh, and by the way,
was anyone
doing this
this holiday season???

Monday, January 19, 2009


and now if you'll allow me
to be way too general
for a moment,
i'll tell you that
russians are wonderful hosts
and americans
at an american's house
you're lucky to get offered
a glass of water.
(now don't go getting offended)
at a russian's?
you're lucky to get out
the same weight you walked in.

today olya invited us
to her humble place.
she's been to ours a million times,
and thus it came our turn
to be the guests.
after a rousing time
on the sleds and playgrounds outside
in the freshly fallen snow
we came inside
to warm soup
and delicacies

we went through all of her stuff

checked under the tree
for any forgotten presents

turned non-children's books
into children's books
with sheer talent

played with puppets
that squealed and had tongues
that shot out like
chameleons catching flies

and tried on her glasses
as we were leaving
to keep the mischief up
all the way out the door.

and thus left
with waning energy,
a few pounds heavier,
fond memories,
and more resolution
to host like a russian.