Kveller: Embracing borscht, pies and mayonnaise for the next generation

This essay was originally published by Kveller.com on Dec. 29, 2016, titled “Embracing the Russian Food of My Youth for the Sake of My Kids”

I never thought I’d miss Russian food, the unassuming cuisine of my birthplace. I was self-conscious about Russian salads, for instance, referring to boiled and chopped root vegetables loaded with mayonnaise, not microgreens. Traditional Russian recipes use just one kind of cheese, called cheese. Growing up as an immigrant kid in the United States, it’s awkward having to always explain that sour cream really does make everything better, that Herring under a Fur Coat isn’t furry, that the jiggly meat jelly is no weirder than the processed American chicken tender.

Continue reading “Kveller: Embracing borscht, pies and mayonnaise for the next generation”

The Washington Post: How new mothers can avoid injury when starting to exercise again

 This story was originally published by The Washington Post on Dec. 13, 2016

One January morning, while attempting my first jog since the birth of my 6-week-old baby, I was taken aback by my low endurance as I plodded along, hyperventilating and draped over the stroller’s handle.

I soon discovered endurance was only the beginning of the physical challenges I’d experience as a new mom. Pregnancy and childbirth can also weaken abdominal muscles, loosen ligaments and cause structural changes in the rib cage and pelvis. All of this makes a woman prone to injury if she pursues a bikini body too quickly. Continue reading “The Washington Post: How new mothers can avoid injury when starting to exercise again”

17 Reasons why you may be the Person of the Year

Time Magazine has recently nominated their person of the year for 2016. (For the record, they’ve also had Stalin and Hitler on that list and their reasons are anything but complimentary.)

Of the seven billion people on the planet, many do pretty fabulous things on a daily basis. I’d like to propose someone that may be a worthier candidate.

So, gentle reader, you deserve the title:

1. If you’ve lost work and sleep to care for an ailing relative.

2. If you saw a nut job draw a weapon in an attempt to kill innocent civilians and you intercepted him.

3. If you grit your teeth and kicked a bad habit.

4. If you noticed a new mom at a restaurant, holding a crying baby and looking hungry, exhausted and unglamorous, and you approached and offered to cut up the cold eggs and sausage on her plate so she, too, can eat. Continue reading “17 Reasons why you may be the Person of the Year”

My Russian Doppelganger

russian-girl-window
Image by Zoya Cherkassky

(Written in 2011)

There’s a Russian woman living in my building.

Technically, she’s moving out, as evidenced by a “Furniture for Sale” sign taped downstairs by the elevator, a sign with her name, Tatyana. And though I’ve never met her, having recently moved here myself, I’m becoming acquainted with her stuff, which she’s been depositing on the “free for all” bench in the lobby.

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No, our nation isn’t one of bigots – but here’s what to do if you meet one. Or two.

On November 8, the glass ceiling didn’t shatter, the balloons didn’t drop, though the champagne was consumed anyway, right out of the bottle, for different reasons. Out of the two imperfect presidential candidates, the one with the most fitting resume, poise, intellect and popular votes lost. The other one, supported by the homophobes, misogynists and racists – as well as by millions of reasonable people – won.

No analyst could have predicted this “stunning” outcome, as the media says, though more than half of this voting nation would call this a “binge eating, ugly crying, social media ranting, Facebook friend-deleting, ‘I’m moving to fucking Canada’” outcome.

Continue reading “No, our nation isn’t one of bigots – but here’s what to do if you meet one. Or two.”

Okay with preschool dress code? Psst, you might be a little bit Russian

Turns out my kid’s preschool has rules. Not just your usual “Refrain from biting others, bringing allergens in your lunchbox and showing up with infectious diseases.”

It’s dress code rules.

Continue reading “Okay with preschool dress code? Psst, you might be a little bit Russian”

The Washington Post: How I lost and rediscovered my self-image after having kids

This essay was originally published by The Washington Post on Sept. 16, 2016

Our culture’s obsession with weight, from diet fads to the thigh gap, takes a particular toll after childbirth.

According to medical books, a 25- to 35-pound gain during pregnancy is considered healthy. A woman becomes roughly 12 pounds lighter immediately after childbirth. The rest is supposed to just melt away.

But instead of fitting a statistical bell curve, many new mothers feel like outliers.

Continue reading “The Washington Post: How I lost and rediscovered my self-image after having kids”