About last night: 10 ways Valentine’s Day derailed

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.

bad_valentines_day_gift

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.

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22 funny things my students wrote and the beauty of diversity

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 is different. Yet everyone wants to do well. That’s why empathy, on case-by-case basis, instead of authoritarianism and blowing people off with “you’re fired/deported/whatever” 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. Hearing [Alice Walker] talk about the small shit she worries about makes me think about the small shit I worry about, which makes me think I really need a cigarette.

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

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

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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

17 Reasons why you may be the Person of the Year

person-of-the-yearTime 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, if:

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.

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My Russian Doppelganger

(Written in 2011. Image by Zoya Cherkassky)

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.

Not that I need anything. Still, every day on my way out, I now anticipate the thrill of noticing something new on the bench, rummaging through the books, exploring the textures of the domestic accessories left behind – and piecing together the personality of their former owner.

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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.

It hasn’t even been a week since the election, and there’s already an uptick in racially-motivated verbal and physical violence, with Trump-lovers tearing off Muslim women’s hijabsscribbling slurs on public and private property and going on anti-Semitic rants. As someone who once moderated a Facebook page for an official U.S. Navy Command, I’ve never seen as much trolling as in the wake of this election and following it. And let me say, that Navy Facebook page saw some brutal content, what with people swearing like sailors and outbursts by enemies of the state.

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