“Believing in Lenin” (from Generations Literary Journal)

Recently, my coming-of-age creative nonfiction piece, “Believing in Lenin,” appeared in an Oakland-based literary journal Generations.” Generations, a Journal of Ideas and Images, publishes original work by emerging and established authors to encourage conversations across the generational gaps. Each issue is dedicated to a theme, Rites of Passage being the current theme – and this issue is jam packed with 150 pages of creativity. Since they are currently in print only, I decided to post the text here. Check them out! 

Believing in LeninImage

By Masha Rumer

In Soviet Union, children were more than just children. They were October’s Kids, in honor of the revolution that stamped out Russian monarchy in 1917, and it was a pretty big deal. Decorated with star-shaped pins with Lenin’s picture as a boy, they sang spirituals like “Lenin is within you and within me” in music class, alongside the tunes about the female deer and the rays of golden sun. And if they were good, they’d be taken on a pilgrimage trip to Moscow, to see Lenin’s body in a glass case. Continue reading

Brains on Fire: shushing the creative inner critic

What comes to mind when you think of the word …marketing?

Perhaps a dude in a suit hovers before your mind’s eye, or the mob of flashing web banners and Twitter headlines?

Whatever you thought of, probably you didn’t think of art.

Yet the 2010 book Brains on Fire: Igniting Powerful, Sustainable, Word of Mouth Movements by the self-titled marketing company, challenges the idea that marketing lacks artistry. I’m not talking about PowerPoints by art majors or ad taglines penned by disillusioned writers. I mean art for art’s sake.

To be fair, Brains on Fire is a marketing book – and an innovative one, at that. The authors recommend that we kill slogans and campaigns. Instead, they teach how to grow organizations in a meaningful, organic way by engaging the communities around. And they use the word “passion” a lot. Continue reading

The unsavory taste of vodka ads

Vodka ads have turned sour lately. So maybe this starch-based beverage lacks the class of, say, vintage port wine. But a few weeks ago, Belvedere gave a new definition to bad taste when it tried to promote the hilarity of sexual assault via Twitter and Facebook:

This being 2012, most people were not amused at the sight of a horrified woman with a frat boy grabbing her from behind and the suggestive headline. Belvedere deleted the posts and apologized. Sort of. (“Okay, okay, sorry. Sorry you’re so sensitive!”)

Eventually, senior staff came forward with a more convincing apology and promised to donate to RAINN, the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network.

Belvedere isn’t the only one who gives a bad rep to vodkas.

This past Christmas, the self-proclaimed “quirky” Wodka put up a billboard  in Manhattan’s Upper West Side, home to a large Jewish population, promising straight up “Christmas quality, Hanukkah pricing.”

The Anti-Defamation League and others were offended by the ad’s anti-Semitic sentiment. Wodka removed the billboard and apologized. Continue reading

An open separation letter to Craigslist

That’s right, Craig Newmark. Consider this an open intent of disavowal. I’m done with you and your nineties-style landing page. Your stolen bike salespeople. Your slacktivist rants about the Occupy movement. Your ads offering free housing and fresh-baked cookies (only female college students from Japan, six feet and taller, minimum D cup, like to clean, need apply). And that “missed connections” gentleman who always shares an elevator with a tattooed hottie and hopes she reads this? Well, she won’t. Why not grow a pair and say hello, instead of spilling your guts to Mr. Newmark and his 50 million American customers?

Sure, we all use Craigslist. We rent apartments. Sell guitars. Browse other sections when sleep and common sense are nowhere to be found.

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Flying Yenta back from flying, a nifty award, and going forward

2012 has been happening for some time now, but Flying Yenta is a straggler, having been found flying somewhere nondescript and dragged back by her kerchief. She has now returned to her bloggerly duties. Thank you, readers, for making 2011 great and for checking in again. Here’s to you:

(No, wait, wrong one). Here’s to you:

To doing great deeds!

And now, the award…

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Think before you step in it

You know that uncomfortable and guilty feeling when you return home after a long absence? The dust, the musty smell of the shelves, the eerie darkness in the hallway. This is what being back to blogging feels like for a girl overtasked with school, work and trying to live by the rules of a new city.

And speaking of new rules, a while ago, a classmate shared this on a social networking site:

Huh? Who does this? If most of us tried to be helpful, honest, inspiring, necessary – and kind, let’s not forget kind – when we talk, we’d be dead or at least deathly quiet (with the exception of the enlightened people who don’t talk much anyway. Coincidence?).

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A tale of two apartments, and tips on smart subletting

The guy in Jack Kerouac’s novel, On the Road, traipsed between the East Coast and the West coast, with a lover on each one. I don’t have his luck or attention span. But I lead a double life when it comes to apartments. Up until now, I had two homes: one in San Francisco, where I’d lived until recently, and a temporary one on the East Coast. But it’s the one in the Golden State I was really saving myself for.

Once upon a time, I went through a rough end of a long lease and started looking for a new one. I checked out countless apartments, pretending to be interested in properties that looked nothing like their pictures on the internet. Plus, there was that lingo in Craigslist ads. “Cozy” means tiny. “Up and coming area” is code for muggings. “Very quiet neighbors” is often people who’ve been put there by the homeless association, or renting since the 19th century for $50 a month, hating on you for being a yuppy if your income is higher.

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