Brit+Co: Sex and the City and the internet: my strange companions

This essay was originally published by Brit + Co, titled “How an Internet Ad for Rebound Friends Saved Me after a Breakup” on May 3, 2017. It is set in 2005.

Waiting inside Tasti D-Lite that afternoon, Divya looked nothing like a cult follower or an aging Hello Kitty devotee. In fact, her very normalcy was alarming, given that we’d met on Craigslist.

A decidedly trivial thing was to blame for our meeting. Just a few weeks prior, a cab ushered me across the Hudson River a liberated woman who, for the first time in her life, was about to live on her own. That’s when the trivial thing appeared. It nodded a solemn hello on the Manhattan side of the Lincoln Tunnel. It made itself comfortable in my cab loaded with two suitcases, a couple of overstuffed shopping bags, a printer, and a new twin-size sheet set. It squeezed through the closing elevator doors and slipped into my temporary studio apartment. That thing was silence.

“Alright,” I finally said to the silence. “What do you want?”

“Oh, nothing,” the silence indicated. “Nothing at all.”

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Brit+Co: My New York apartment gave me an identity crisis

Red Room photo

This essay was originally published by Brit+Co on April 3, 2017, titled “My First Real Apartment Gave Me an Identity Crisis.” It was republished by Business Insider.

My New York obsession began in childhood, before I could even speak English. All it took was a giant monkey ascending a glowing skyscraper, in a movie theater in Leningrad. I bolted outside and had nightmares for weeks afterwards. But I returned later, to see the movie, King Kong, all the way through: not for the plot, but to be whisked away into the land of glass and steel, so different than the Soviet Union on the verge of collapse.

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ScaryMommy.com: This one is for the mom who is heading back to work

A version of this essay was originally published in ScaryMommy.com on Feb. 25, 2017

I see you, Mama, pacing from room to room, recalling what still needs to be packed for tomorrow. You pause by the sleeping baby’s crib, in awe of his eyelashes and his measured breathing, unsuspecting that tomorrow someone else will be reading him his favorite bunny story and putting him down for nap time.

You try to cook as much as possible to prepare for your upcoming 11-hour, perhaps 12-hour, absences. You bought a crockpot and bookmarked recipes online; you stocked up on groceries as if Armageddon is fast approaching, and now your freezer door won’t close.

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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.

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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. It was republished by the Chicago Tribune on Dec. 15, 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 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.

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Kveller: 6 Parenting Lessons I Learned As a Restaurant Server

This post was originally published by Kveller on Sept. 13, 2016

Waiting tables at a Moroccan restaurant in New York isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when you think about parenting. If you’re a student who lives off a credit card and walks 30 blocks to save on subway fare, yet splurges on cocktails and believes fatherhood potential and artistic talent are the same thing, children are not in the picture. Continue reading