Doing car makeup right: a glamorous tutorial

Look, I know what you’re thinking: who in their right mind would apply makeup in a moving vehicle? It’s dangerous, plus people think car makeup looks like the aftermath of a baby playing with a tube of lipstick.

Car makeup is something I admit to doing only once in a while, and only when vehicle is stationary. Sure, I wish I could be like those 20 year old YouTube superstars, who say “Oh, hey guys,” then baste themselves with 180 eyeshadow colors using 30 eye makeup brushes for an hour, before moving on to contouring.

Continue reading “Doing car makeup right: a glamorous tutorial”

About last night: 10 ways Valentine’s Day derailed

bad_valentines_day_gift
Pic from http://www.scienceofrelationships.com

Let’s face it, most of us have been there one way or another – because not everybody spends a day in February with Godiva chocolates and overpriced balloons.

1. Robert signed a Valentine’s Day card for Clarissa with a tentative “Love, Robert,” which forced them to confront the inauthenticity of their feelings, whereupon they broke up.

2. Jared flew across the county for a romantic weekend rendez vous  with his long distance girlfriend, only to find her sick with the flu, the situation quickly deescalating from raunchy to viral.

Continue reading “About last night: 10 ways Valentine’s Day derailed”

22 funny things my students wrote and the beauty of diversity

tired-student
Image from  https://www.theodysseyonline.com/to-the-tired-college-student

The other day, I came across some pretty amusing things my former college students wrote in essays, informal reading responses and the “Here’s why I’m not bringing myself or my homework to class today” emails.

It was also a reminder that English teachers are often seen as unlicensed therapists of sorts, becoming privy to students’ depression and homesickness, struggles with gender identity, family abuse, unplanned pregnancies, homelessness. Perhaps even more so in the multifaceted San Francisco. In fact, an English college class in the Bay Area is kind of like the microcosm of our country. Everyone varies in career focus, sexual orientation, race and immigration status. Yet everyone wants to do well. That’s why empathy, on case-by-case basis, instead of authoritarian rules and blowing people off with “you’re fired,” might be just the thing to help someone succeed.

ANYWAY, here are those funny bits I promised.

1. She glared at me with her frightful open eyes, popped out.

2. In the midst of California’s prospering “Silicon Valley,” my adolescent purgatory stood like a fading ghost of post-war optimism.

3. In Russia, party without vodka and herring is not a party.

Continue reading “22 funny things my students wrote and the beauty of diversity”

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.

Continue reading “My Russian Doppelganger”