Sunday, August 30, 2009

Here We Go Again

My son has been invited to spend winter vacation with his friend, in Boca. Yes, my 8 year old will be pool-side, sipping Mai Tais, playing mah jongg, and dancing in a grass skirt, while I shovel snow in New York City, racked with swine flu, with nary an Entenmann's cake to be found for healing purposes.

(Yes, I am aware that I've cast a 60 year old woman in the role of my son. It's called comedic-poetic license. And it's totally legal. )

I mention this unfairness to Husbandrinka and he's like, "whatever. Let him have fun."
And I'm totally not against my children having fun, except when it means that I'm not having fun because (1) I am super worried about their having fun or (2) I am Left Behind, a la End of Times, except in New York City.

Besides, what Husbandrinka seems to have totally forgotten is that for years I lived with my super cute Basset Hound, Mavis, who had standing weekend invitations to the Hamptons and several upstate destinations.

Yes, people would invite my dog over for the weekend. Because apparently she was scintillating company.

"Is Mavis available?" they would ask.
"It just so happens that we're both free!" I'd surprise them with the good news, in case they were too shy to come out and invite me along.
"Great! I'll have Mavis picked up Friday morning. We want to get beat the traffic to Southampton."

So, I would sit at home, rotting in the NYC heat, breathing in life-endangering pollution, while Mavis was probably getting exfoliated on the beach.

It's a good thing that I have such a big heart, because many others would be totally bitter. And no one likes to have a bitter person along for the weekend. Or on vacation. In sunny Florida.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Vacation Recovery

We had to return from vacation one day early because that anti-semite Danny was threatening New England, which didn't seem that bad to me until Husbandrinka pointed out that we were in New England and that our ferry ride could be in danger. Having cheated death on the ferry ride to the island, I was reluctant to try it again.

So we left on Friday, and the ferry ride was pretty uneventful, except I was sitting within throttling distance from a young child who made death by drowning seem totally appealing. Because he would not shut the fuck up. He had a little motor train for which he was providing the acoustics at nerve-damaging decibels. His parents seem to have been brain damaged by his previous antics because they sat completely silent, without any attempts to suffocate their demon child.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, my own children spent the ferry crossing reading the Bible and washing some lepers' wounds.

I have a lot to say about our vacation, and I promise to get to it before the year is over. I promise it will be totally worth the wait. (These promises aren't binding, are they?)

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Thursday, August 27, 2009


My daughter calls her 8 year old brother "brat" and he fumes, saying that it's super unfair and he shouldn't have to live with such indignity and assault on his character. Of course, I agree. I tell my daughter that she shouldn't use hurtful words and knock it the hell off, besides.

"It's not hurtful," she says. "It means 'brother'."

You see, my mama has been giving them Russian lessons. And "braht" in Russian means "brother". Apparently, my daughter thinks that I have suffered a mental impairment because she expects me to believe that when she tells him "you are such a brat!" that she means "You are such a brother!"

Mama couldn't agree with her more. "Don't be snob of accent," she tells me. "Your daughter is learning the Russian. It's beautiful."

Yes, beautiful. Of course I pronounce "beautiful"--"eedeeoteek"

For more Russian hijinx, please check out my guest post at Vicki Boykis' blog. I don't want to ruin it for you, but it involves my explaining a Russian tradition to Husbandrinka.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Update from Vacation

So far, our vacation is awesome, mainly because when we came over on the ferry Saturday afternoon, we did not die. I see that as a big plus. On Friday, the ferry people told us that the service would be canceled on Saturday because of Hurricane Bob but then they decided to reschedule Hurricane Bob and we were able to go after all. Except the waves were super rough and the ride was very WHEEE! for the kids and very Titanic for me. (By the way, I mean Titanic just in the ship sinking and all of us dying way, not the Celine Dion soundtrack way. No need to be melodramatic.)

I was totally panicked. I called Husbandrinka on his cell, because while I was on the bottom deck converting to Islam and Christianity just to have all the major ones covered, he was at the top deck with the kids, taking in the sun.

"I'm super panicked!" I told him when he picked up the phone, sounding a little too cheerful.
"About what?" he asked.
"Oh you know, the polar bears. We are destroying the ice caps--WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU MEAN ABOUT WHAT? About drowning to death!"
"Why don't you come up here?" he suggested, "You'll be higher up and further away from the water. Increased chances of survival."

See? This is why despite his multiple documented personality flaws, I love this man. He's always thinking of ways to prolong my life.
So I gather my things- and as start to head upstairs, I decide to seek solace from a young Adonis who happens to be wearing an official Ferry t-shirt. Surely, he's a seasoned seaman and will be able to reassure me.

"Excuse me," I approached him. "The water seems very rough and I am quite nervous. Are these normal conditions?"

And he says, "no, these are not normal conditions. It's rough because there's a hurricane." Which is not super-reassuring. But I decide to give him another chance to redeem himself and reassure me.
So I say, "haha, perhaps we should put on our lifejackets now!" hoping that he would say, "are you crazy, lass? There's absolutely no need!" Because for some reason he's now Irish, and hopefully carrying a bottle of Glenlivet or at least a few pints of Guiness. But instead he says, "not yet. we'll let you know when it's time to put them on" I don't know why they let these anti-semites on board, when they are obviously not trained to handle people in the early stages of a nervous breakdown.

So I crawl upstairs and when I see Husbandrinka and the kids, I am instantly cheered. Because right behind them are a whole bunch of lifeboats, so I feel like I am in excellent company.

And the kids are adorable, all "this is so much fun!" way that people who do not understand that we are on the brink of death often are and Husbandrinka says, "the ferry isn't crowded at all, usually it's packed" and I say, "they probably want to keep the death toll down" which seems like a normal conversational comment and he's all "would you stop being so dramatic" and I'm all, "this could be my final act!" and he may have rolled his eyes, but I can't be sure because I only see the good in people.

But a few measly kazillion minutes later, we docked safely and our vacation began in earnest. I don't mean to be all teaser-y and all, but I swear, I have like three years' worth of blog fodder from this trip already. So if you're low on blog posts, why not consider inviting my family along on your next vacation. Email your proposed destinations to me. You should totally hurry, because I'm sure we'll be in high demand.

And the only place that I've been able to get WiFi on the island is at a local bakery so obviously, God wants me to eat danishes.

Oh, and check out who's guest posting for me at The Mouthy Housewives today. It's a can't miss!

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Jennifer Aniston

There are things that I do not understand about Jennifer Aniston and I'm tired of living alone with my pain. If there's one thing that I've learned from my gay friends, other than that I'm failing fag haggery because I don't love show tunes, it's that Silence=Death, so I'm going to be chatty about it.

The main thing that I don't understand about Jennifer Aniston is why the fuck is she in every romantic comedy that has come out in the last decade?! I mean, how does she find the time, in between having failed relationships with men who do not approach her fabulesness, maintaining that fantastic body of hers, cashing all those Friends residuals checks and poking the Angelina voodoo doll?

I bet she has an assistant.

The sub-main thing is the whole romantic comedy genre and Jennifer Aniston. Is this really wise? I mean she was the wronged woman in the middle of one of the most public splits of the last decade. Isn't it like having Lindsay Lohan making successive movies in a "clean living is great" genre?

The sub-main thing once removed is why does Angelina channel Dr. Lillith Sternin? Is it so that we don't all die of instant jealousy? Does the UN require her to de-glam for our benefit?

The not-very-main-thing-at-all is that while I was getting a pedicure last week, I read an article in Elle by Jennifer Aniston's best friend and I could hardly concentrate on it because I thought that we knew that Courtney Cox was Jennifer Aniston's best friend.

The not-very-main-thing-at-all, subsector 1 is that now I'm not sure that the Elle magazine article writer said that she was best friends with Jennifer Aniston or just "friends". Or, OMG, what is she considers Jennifer Anniston her best friend and Jennifer Aniston just considers her a "friend".

The it could be sort of the main thing, but I'm not sure, is how come Jennifer Aniston doesn't get a cool nickname like a normal celebrity. I recommend Janniston. If she went by Janiston, she could totally also be a rap star. No more need for romantic comedies!

So, I'm sure that Janiston will be calling me soon and begging me to be her agent. In which case, she'll also be known as Janistinka. Although I'm worried about the "stinka" at the end of that name. That's gangsta and shit.


Friday, August 21, 2009

Things That I Worry Will Happen While I am on Vacation

(except for death and destruction, because, duh).

We are going away on vacation next week and I have some worries.

1. There will be no internet access at the house that we are renting. And a murderer in the basement.

2. The vacation books that I picked to take with me will suck and I will spend the week kicking sand at myself because I just had to read Stefanie Wilder-Taylor It's Not Me, It's You as soon as I got it and now I've already read it and don't have it to look forward to and Stefanie seems to be one of those self-centered writers and is refusing to produce another book for my vacation.

3. My kids. If you have children, I hope that this category is self-explanatory and encompasses everything from "Are we there yeeeet???" to "she started it" to "I'm bored". I love and adore my kids, but sweet lord, I had to beg them to go to a special breakfast for kids at Times Square this week. At Toys R Us. Because, they told me, they would rather have breakfast at Nintendo World. Yes, Your Majesties. So noted.

4. It will rain the entire time and our beach vacation will be ruined.

5. It will not rain at all and I'll get totally beached-out.

6. It will rain some days and not others and I will become confused.

7. You know how when you're on vacation, you don't really remember what day it is today? I HATE THAT.

8. OMG, is today Saturday? Because I'm late for my vacation!

9. We will miss Nicki/realize how much easier our lives are without her.

9a. Home Alone Nicki will get stolen/Home Alone Nicki will not get stolen.

10. When I come back, my vacation will be over. Yes, I suffer from a very rare condition called Post Vacation Depression Syndrome (PVDS). Although many suffer from PVDS, I suffer from anticipatory PVDS, which is a lot more dangerous. Because as I tell people about it, while packing a bathing suit and a bottle of rum, they become mildly to mediumly homicidal.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Got Skank?

Dear Friends,

Have I told you lately how highly I think of you and of your fine moral character? No? Forgive me, for I have been remiss.

The blogosphere is a abuzz with a recent case where, according to published reports, a beautiful model was called a skank, a ho and other unflattering terms in a blog called "Skanks in NYC". Yes, Skanks in NYC. Apparently this is what people resort to when "Motherhood in NYC" is already taken.

So, for some strange reason, the model didn't enjoy being defamed and called a skank so she went and got a court order for Google to turn over the name of the anonymous blogger who wrote that and just a few days ago, the court came out on the side of pretty, so now the model knows who the bitchy blogger is. And whether she had displayed the Blogging with Integrity badge on her blog.

I'm on record as being super-supportive of model rights, but there is something about this that bothers me.

And it's not just that I had to look up "skank" in the dictonary and the first two definitions referred to some kind of a dance.

Nor is it that the New York Daily News apparently outsources its photo caption writing to parts of the world that have only vaguely heard of the English language:

Model Cohen is forgave a blogger who called her a skank. Marinka is read the article with disbelief.

It's not even that the media has taken to referring to this lovely model as a Vogue model, when she only appeared in Australian Vogue and everyone knows that Australian Vogue is just not the same at all. (Ok, I totally made that up. I have no idea if Australian Vogue has the same cachet as American, Italian, French or North Korean Vogue. Please don't sue me. You are of a very high moral character and filled to the brim with virtue. All of you. Yes, you, too.)

What bothers me is this article, quoting the model citizen Cohen, regarding the identity of the soon to be unanonymous blogger:

Cohen said it was a woman she hadn't seen in about a year, but who was a regular fixture at dinners and parties, but she was not, as Cohen had feared, someone who was close to her. "Thank God it was her… she's an irrelevant person in my life," Cohen said. "She's just somebody that, whenever I would go out to a restaurant, to a party in New York City … she was just that girl that was always there."

She feared that the person who set up an anonymous website calling her a skank ho was close to her? I am so grateful that I grew an enormous nose and was forever precluded from this modeling business. Because that's tough to deal with.

Although, in the "good news" department, look what blog name is available now:

It's not too late to sign up for the blog!

Love, Marinka

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I Don't Know How Anyone Can Live Here

Yesterday, I took all the kids bowling at Chelsea Piers, which is like the Buckingham Palace of bowling, assuming that the Buckingham Palace is air conditioned and overpriced.

I totally won, too. I never believed in "losing on purpose" to build up your kids' self-esteem or some such crap. I think that losing on purpose makes your kid think that they don't have to try hard and also that their parents are stupid. I don't need any more evidence in that department, thank you.

So I win, and then while I'm taking my victory lap, this kid runs up to my son and it turns out that they went to camp together and they're happily reuniting and he says to my son, "hey, can I come over to your house to play?"

And my son, who has been pining for a play date, looks unsure and says, "well, yes, but I have to warn you, my apartment is really small." Of course at this time, I am trying to restart my own heart which momentarily stopped beating from shock because although our apartment is certainly smaller than Buckingham Palace, it does have four bedrooms, so it's not quite fitting the tenement description that my son is invoking, but his friend, all full of sympathy, says, "don't worry about it, my place is tiny as well."

Who are these children?

Surely they don't want for me to tell them how I grew up in a communal apartment that had two bedrooms, a kitchen that everyone ate in and one bathroom for two families to share. They don't need to hear that I shared a bedroom with my parents for the first nine years of my life and that I never hesitated to invite anyone over to my house because the square footage wasn't to my liking.

But then fortune smiles on me and the kid's babysitter says that he can't come over because she's never met me before and apparently she doesn't like sending her charge with random strangers. I totally approve of this plan and try to look as menacing as possible to encourage her paranoid safety concerns, because, please, if I go bowling with three kids, coming home with four isn't my idea of a relaxing afternoon.

Besides, I'm not sure that I could stuff an extra kid into our apartment. It's small, you know.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Husbandrinka-Nicki Relationship

It's hard to sum up Husbandrinka's feelings towards our cat Nicki. If this were Facebook, I'd put "It's complicated" under their relationship status. On Twitter, I'd have to say, "Deep regret that she was born". But this is a blog post, so you expect more. Unless you've read this blog before, in which case, hooray that your expectations have been adjusted.

Husbandrinka did not want to get a cat. But we finally prevailed and on most days, he agrees that Nicki is a good fit with us. There are times when he goes positively animal activist on me, like when we are in the car:

One of the joys of travelling in the car with Nicki is not only listening to her scream bloody fucking murder from her mortgage payment carrier, but also having Husbandrinka ask "so, why, exactly, can't we let her out so that she can run around in the car?" I was so taken aback when he asked me this question, that the only thing that I could think to answer is that it violates a social contact between you and me, with the rest of the universe as third party beneficiaries with enforceable rights. Because if you let the cat loose in the car, you are insane and are a menace to society. First step, letting cat out in the car. Second step, cannibalism.

But Husbandrinka isn't persuaded by things like social norms, so I had to come up with some alternatives.

"She'll be able to escape!" I pointed to the opened-a-crack window by Young Ladrinka.
"We can close the windows," Husbandrinka the Sudden Animal Rights Activist suggested.
"Well, but it's also that she may jump on the driver unexpectadly and we'd have an accident."
"What, she's going to jump on the steering wheel?"
"Or on your head. She could startle you."
"You startle me all the time with your bullshit and I'm driving ok."
"She could pee in the car and we'd never get the smell out."

Now I'm worried that he will find some cat urine smell removal system and I'll need other reasons why we should keep the cat safely confined in the carrier. Any ideas?

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Real Estate

Recently, my father and I were discussing real estate. Like if Husbandrinka and I ever moved out of the city, where would we go.

The good thing about discussing things with my father is that he will give you a perspective that you have never before considered. Unless you're on mind altering medication.

"Here is how you judge neighborhood," he says. "Go, look. Nice park? Good schools? See neighbors. Then ask 'do I want my daughter pregnant with their sperm?'"

My daughter is 11 years old.

I am moving to Mars. Because intergalactic babies are the adorablest.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pom Poms

Do you remember these from your youth?

(I wore these all through high school. And every once in a while, one of the pom poms would fall off in the laundry and I'd have a mini nervous breakdown, but still wear one pom pommed sock and one pom pomless one. I was a real wild child).

And what are you doing to try to forget it?

Friday, August 14, 2009

I am Feeling Better

After relaxing on my death bed for a good part of yesterday, I am feeling so much better. Thank you everyone for your "get well wishes" , except no thank you to the terrible people who asked me if I were pregnant. Especially John. Yesterday, after I regained my strength, John and I went to our favorite Polish restaurant, Neptune, in the East Village. They don't even have a website, but that's because they are really busy making delicious fried dumplings. They are delicious and I think cure most ailments.

Except it took like forever to get our order and because I am very impatient when starving, I started to whine and John had to take out his iPhone to entertain me, much like you would a cranky four year old. He showed me the doodle feature and then drew pictures of food, and I had to guess what it was. It was a drumstick. I got it right immediately because he's like the Van Gogh of drumstick art.

The wait was excruciating, and when I got home, I saw that I was in good company in being upset about the wait. In good and perfectly normal company. These are my people:

click on image to enlarge. Trust me, you don't want to miss one word of this.

What the fuck are zig zags and why does he go through them so often? But I love the "fruit-less and meal-less" line.

oh, but it gets better:

but at least there are some pros:

I know that this is what some in the restaurant industry might call a "negative" review, but that description of the cups as "old and mysterious" has me intrigued. And even he admits that the potatoes are really good! Good enough to put up with the busy Gestapo waitresses. Which makes me think that if the Gestapo ever wanted to improve their image, they just need to get a few fantastic potato recipes.

Anyway. And Awkward Transition.

Don't forget to check out The Mouthy Housewives today. I am dispensing advice like it's Xanax, based on my personal bedroom antics with Husbandrinka.


Thursday, August 13, 2009


Yesterday, I was going along my day like a normal person and then suddenly I felt Very Sick so I rushed home at top speed to crawl into bed and watch emergency afternoon TV, as needed. Except I had to stop at the supermarket to get some tea because I don't normally drink tea and I couldn't be sure what we had at home, and a lemon, because the last thing I need is scurvy on top of whatever the hell I have now and also some Entenmann's because, duh, it's delicious.

Except I almost had a cardiac incident because I walked through the whole store and couldn't find any Entenmann's and then I was all "OMG what if they had discontinued Entenmann's because the last time I had some was like 20 years ago." But I asked the supermarket matron and she directed me to the Corner of Shame where the Entenmann's was stacked. I don't understand why it has to be tucked away like that, where people in crisis can't locate it easily.

But fine. I found it. Except I couldn't find the Walnut Ring, which is what I wanted, nor the Pecan Ring, which was totally runner-up. So I had to settle for Cheese Danish Buns, which will do in a pinch but is no one's Last Meal. Anyway.

I slither home, make tea, have a cheese danish or two and fall into bed. Except now I feel feverish, so I call John to say what I'm certain is my last farewell and he says, "What's that chewing sound?" and so I have to go through this whole Entenmann's fiasco with him, utilizing what is no doubt my last bits of oxygen. And then I lay it on him. I think I have the swine flu and he says, "why, because you're eating like a pig?" which is totally hurtful and not just to the pig.

So then we started to do some internet research, and have you seen the Entenmann's website? Don't look if you tend to get seizures, but otherwise,it's a can't miss. So John and I are totally hypnotized by the website over the phone and then he tells me to make sure to delete the history because if we die in the night, and someone finds us, they'll be all "oh, those poor fucks. Died looking at cakes". And I'd rather they say something like "that Marinka, trying to advance humanity," so I'll be leaving Blogging With Integrity on my screen when I go to sleep tonight.

Good bye.
and Achoo.
and, possibly, oink.
Knock wood, of course.

Hey! Have you subscribed to my feed? Because I've taken some posts off and if they're not in your reader, who are you going to blame? Yourself. And don't you blame yourself for enough already? I know I do. Subscribe here!


Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Vacation Math Redux. To the Second Higher Power

So you may remember that earlier this summer I had this great idea that my kids would work on their math every single day and that twenty seconds later I had to give up that dream.

Except a few days ago, when Young Ladrinka was taking off his pants to count to eleven, Husbandrinka said "whatever happened to your math plans with the kids?" I'll be honest. There was a tinge of judgmentalness in his question, with an accent on the "mental".

So I mumbled something along the lines of "oh yeah, I'm on it" or some other huge lie, and then I had a great idea. My kids were going to the dacha this week with mama and papa, so I'd throw in the math books in for educational fun for everyone,and a whole shitload of birds are killed with one mathematical stone and my evenings are freed up to catch up on Real Housewives of Atlanta. By the way, why don't they dub that shit? I'm not fluent in Southernese.

Mama and papa heard my idea and applauded my wisdom and initiative and everything was going honky dory when suddenly mama called me with alarming news.

It turns out that at the morning's math session, Young Ladrinka explained to mama that he is "not interested in math right now"; that for him, school was a "waste of time" and that he and his co-defendants, I mean, friends, consider school "boring" and just want to "hang out together."

So here's my question: How come we all know from previous encounters with mama that this is like waving a huge, red flag in front of her, a flag that reads: LECTURE ME ON THE MERITS OF EDUCATION AND THE DANGERS OF LACK OF EDUCATION and Young Ladrinka has no idea? I mean, should I be concerned?

Of course, I'm sure NOW he knows not to say anything so provocative to my mother, because she told me that after she explained the road that lay ahead of him if he did not practice math and pay attention at school, a road paved with unemployment, poverty and limited Wii access, Young Ladrinka sobered up and said "I'll have to tell my friends about this, so that they pay better attention in school."

Let me know if you'd like to send your kids to spend a week with mama. You'll be amazed at the results. Reasonable rates.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Before we left the Soviet Union on December 31, 1976, my parents had our entire apartment packed up in boxes, which were stacked in the middle of our bedroom. We lived in a communal apartment--the kitchen was shared, and one bedroom was occupied by my parents and myself and the other by my mother's cousin Larissa, a single woman who was always smoking and studying. Before my mother's cousin moved in, my father's parents lived there. Which must have been fun for my mother, living in the same apartment with her inlaws. But we were considered lucky because we were able to share a communal apartment with family members and not with complete strangers, although I'm unsure to this day which version would have provided more comic value.

"I think you're going to be leaving Russia," my friend Natasha told me one day at school. Various classmates have hinted that my family was moving, although personally I was in deep denial with a hint of stupidity.

"Oh no." I protested. Because my parents didn't tell me anything about leaving Russia and surely that's not the kind of thing that you just spring on someone. Unless you're my parents, that is. I was an obedient child, so I can see why my parents thought that I'd roll along with those particular punches as well.

I imagine that the Witness Relocation Program must work a little like this. It was the middle of the night and my mother shook me awake. "we have to go," she told me.
I realize that it would be better for this memoir if I, you know, remembered what my thoughts were at that point, but I was so fucking obedient, that I probably didn't allow myself to have any thoughts that weren't authorized by my parents. Which, incidentally, is why it's so annoying to me that my own children were born with this strong will that won't bend to mine. My parents woke me up and told me to go to the bathroom and to get dressed. Because in their wisdom they decided that going to America will be smoother clothed and on an empty bladder. I got dressed and by the time that I moseyed out of our room, I saw that Lenny and his parents were there.
"Hug him," my mother told me. I'd done more than hug Lenny, but never in front of an audience. I was exhausted and sort of nervous and confused, so I wasn't into doing a kiddie porn act on demand.

Our parents were not going to give up that easily, of course. "Hug each other," they prodded. "This may be the last time that you see each other." Lenny and I hugged each other and although I probably loved him most, I remember it as one of the least intimate event of my life. As if on cue, my father's parents appeared and we had a repeat of the "this may be the last time you see each other" line, since it worked so well the first time around, with Lenny. If I hadn't known any better, I'd think that my parents were moving to America in order to trademark their winning "this may be the last time you see each other" phrase in an effort to get everyone to embrace, as a '70s precursor to the We Are the World act.

We said good bye to everyone, relatives, neighbors and people that I've never seen before who appeared at our door, and I am in semi-hysteria, but also sort of sleepy, Because we are bringing our most valuable possessions with us on the plane, I am handed a stuffed Santa Claus which is approximately half my size and told to carry it. He is mildly terrifying, but I lug him along. He is my companion and potentially my murderer.

We get to the airport and have to go through customs. My mother, who never wears jewelry is outfitted in diamonds. Well, just one diamond ring, but it's more bling than I'd seen on my mother before or since. The customs guys patted down my Santa and looked into my teary face. "Going to Israel?" he asks. Because although our airline tickets are for Austria, everyone knows that it's just a midway point for Russian Jews. Officially, we're all going to Israel, to be reunited in the motherland. Not officially, most of us will change the country that we go to when we arrive in Italy. We will change our minds about Israel and the Judaism that we wish to practice and decide to go to America, instead. Because the jeans there are pure klas.

We got on the plane. It was December 31st, the equivalent of Christmas Eve for the non atheists. There was trouble with the plane, we were told soon after takeoff. We would have to land in Poland and spend a few days there.

When I was sixteen, I saw The Wizard of Oz for the first time and I loved the moment that she lands in Oz and the screen is in technicolor. Because that is what landing in Poland was for me. Well, not the airport itself, maybe, but being in the hotel that we were moved to was inspiring. I was enthralled, having completely forgotten about Lenny, my grandparents and whatever loyalty I had towards Mother Russia. It was sort of like what I imagine being being adopted by a movie start must feel like. I mean, sure, you miss your birth mother and the orphanage is not without its Dickensonian charm, but OMG, ANGELINA!

My parents were similarly impressed. It was New Year's Eve and there were pine inspired arrangements on the night tables in our rooms, with a lit candle inside each one.
"This is beautiful," mama said. "I can't imagine that they'd ever allow anything like this in Russia," she said, referring to the notoriously strict safety rules and regulations. Everything was in technicolor, we were drunk on freedom, and in my parents' case, I suspect on vodka. I did feel a little dizzy with emotion. "When will I see Lenny again?" I asked. "Probably never," my parents told me. "But look," they pointed a storefront window, "gum!" It seemed like a fair trade and a smooth transition to capitalism. Sure, I lost a best friend and possibly a soul mate, but who could argue with the multicolored gum balls. I hadn't even known that such a thing existed and here they were, lined up in front of me.

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

I Get It

The other night, I went to have drinks with Kristin, her lovely blogless cousin, and Christy to a bar near my house. It's the type of place that when you come in you immediately realize that you are interrupting the waitress with your unglamouressness and desire to sit with friends and have a drink and relax and enjoy yourself, because obviously, she, the waitress, is super talented and gorgeous and young and "what can I get you?" And then if you ask for a some water along with your drink, she won't bring it, because she has two hands only and the extra trip is exhausting, so when you go up to the bar and ask for the water please, you are really parched, she'll nod dismissively and then bring exactly one glass for you, so that they people sitting with you can get hydrated by association.

But I get it. Waitresses in NYC are different from you and me. They're all talented, struggling artists, gorgeous, whatever. If you don't like attitude, go to the Olive Garden. When you're there, you're family, which as an aside, always seemed more like an ominous warning than a enticing welcome.

I do, however, draw the line at Starbucks. I absolutely fucking refuse to get attitude from a Starbucks person. Which is really bad news for me, because that's exactly what I've been getting.

First, I order my signature coffee, a half-caf (half decaf, half regular) and then I watch them make it. Often they give me all caffeinated, which is not what I want and which can have a very bad effect on everyone who will be IN MY WAY FOR THE NEXT TWO HOPURS. So, I say, "Half DECAF, please" and wordlessly, they fix the order. No "I'm sorry!" no "I apologize" no "I am not worthy to serve you coffee, thank you for gracing our Starbucks with your loveliness". And then, when I thank them, I get either nothing (see rant immediately above) or a "you're welcome".

Second, I'm not a smiley person myself, but I think if you work at Starbucks, you should spend a few seconds every morning adjusting to your facial expression from "smell sour shit on upper lip" to "fit for human interaction."

Third, when I get my coffee, they put it right by the register, so that I have to boardinghouse reach (expression courtesy of John) all the way across to retrieve it. I'm guessing that they do this because they want me to do some calisthenics every morning, but it's fucking annoying.

By the way, there are wonderful Starbucks employees who have been helpful, efficient and polite. I love them. But they make for dull blog posts.


Saturday, August 8, 2009

Guess What I Did Yesterday

Find out here!

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Husbandrinka had a cold.

"Achoo!" said Husbandrinka.

Marinka tried to be sympathetic. "God Bless You!" she said. "And God Bless America."

Husbandrinka didn't stop Achooing.

"Please stop," Marinka suggested.

"Achoo." Said Husbandrinka. And then blew his nose.

"Speaking of an elephant stampede," Marinka said, "It's been a while since we've been to the zoo." (Blogging with integrity disclosure: Marinka didn't really say anything about the zoo. she just wanted to work in that Husbandrinka blowing his nose sounded like an elephant stampede. Also, if Husbandrinka reads this, Marinka may be SuddenlySingle, so please try to think of who you can set her up with. Her requirements are modest: Handsome kazillionaire.)

"I think I don't have a cold," said Husbandrinka. "I think I have allergies."

Marinka recommended Dr. Sneezy to Husbandrinka. Dr. Sneezy was their daughter's allergist.

"Is he a pediatrician?" Husbandrinka asked before going. Marinka reassured Husbandrinka that Dr. Sneezy saw people of all ages, shapes and sizes. Although everyone that Marinka saw in Dr. Sneezy's office looked to be under the age of 12. Or a midget.

"I have news," Husbandrinka said when he came back from his appointment.

"News!" Marinka exclaimed. Marinka believed that no news is good news and NEWS! is disaster.

"I have a dust mite allergy and am allergic to trees," said Husbandrinka. "We will have to make lifestyle adjustments."

Lifestyle adjustments included:

* Buying a $900 vacuum cleaner to suck up the dust mites, because regular vacuum cleaners give dust mites clemency.

* Buying new pillow/duvet/mattress covers so that the bedding industry in the United States does not have to ask for a bail out.

* Chopping down every tree in Manhattan, and depending on the wind patterns, in New Jersey and/or Brooklyn.

* Buying a lot of other things which translate into Marinka not having a new fall purse come September and possibly dying her own hair, instead of having a homosexual doing it for her.

Marinka looked through catalogs that Husbandrinka brought home. Catalogs like Allergy Control Products and Mission: Allergy.

Marinka grew sad. "It's almost easier to get rid of my dust mite collection," she thought.

Marinka called Gay Friend John to share the news.

"Husbandrinka is allergic to dust mites," Marinka told him.

"Everyone is allergic to dust mites," John counseled.

"He is also allergic to seasonal trees," Marinka confided.

"I am not allergic to seasonal trees," Eavesdropping Husbandrinka rolled his eyes. "I am allergic to trees and have seasonal allergies."

"Yes, seasonal allergies," Marinka repeated. "Like Christmas and Thanksgiving."

John was worried: "Are you ok, Marinka? Is there anything that I can do to help?"

"Thank you for asking, John," Marinka said. "I appreciate your kindness."

And then they wished each other good night and hung up.

Because if there's one thing that Marinka is allergic to, it's bad manners.

If you are in the NYC area and would like to join me (with kids!) at the Bronx Zoo tomorrow, Friday, August 7th from 11 am to 1 pm for fun-filled, kid-centered activities, including taking in some exhibits, a Q&A with a representative of the National Association of School Nurses about flu (including the swine flu!) and more excitement, please email me at MarinkaNYC (at) Gmail (dot) com.


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

You're Welcome!

Last weekend, Husbandrinka and I visited friends in Pennsylvania, en famile. They (our friends, not our en famile) made a delicious barbecue, wined and dined us. I'm furious and don't see how I will ever forgive them.

Because when I was leaving, I thanked them for their hospitality, and the guy friend said "you're welcome".

You're Welcome?! What the fuck is that?

Doesn't everyone know that when you are thanked, the only acceptable response, with the exception of the preferred "no, thank YOU", is "it was entirely my pleasure"?

It's like some people have absolutely no manners and don't belong in society.

Husbandrinka doesn't seem to be as offended by this as I am, arguing that if they thank us for coming and we thank them for hosting, we'll be stuck in an endless loop of gratitude and life as we know it will cease to exist. And they say that women are hysterical.

So, I don't know. On the one hand, they're good friends and with my personality, I need all the friends I can get. But on the other hand, there is only so much abuse that I can put up with. And "you're welcome" is just hostile. One step short of dismemberment. And that's the last thing I need right now.


Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Remedial Blog School: Got a Comment?

Welcome back to Remedial Blog School. I hope that you all enjoyed your break.

Today's topic is comments: the good and the sucky.

But first things first. If you don't have a gravatar, go get a free one here. A gravatar is a little photo that is associated with your email address and will show up next to you comment. There's just no good reason not to have one.

Another tip/plea, for the love of everything that is American and anti-terrorist, please enable your email address in the comments. If you don't, I have no way to respond to you. Which may be just how you like it, but let me tell you, you're really missing out. I like to email responses to people who leave me comments and sometimes I even give them opportunities to send me cash. So do it. Unless you like living in the 20th century, in which case, tell my grandmother I said "hi".

Oh, and if you'd like to know how to enable your email address and join civilization, Mommy's Martini was kind enough to explain:

Go to and log in if necessary (your computer might have you already logged in). On the upper left side of the screen, next to the little picture that's associated with your profile, click the link for "edit profile," then fill in an email address on the line cleverly marked "email address." If you don't want your email address to show on your profile, but you do want people to be able to reply to your comments, then just leave the box next to "show my email address" (a few lines above where you actually type in your address) unchecked. Anyone who has created a Blogger profile, even if their blog is on another platform, should do this. Those of us on Blogger don't have comment forms available like all you Wordpress and Typepad and Square Space and basically everyone else in the world do, and it's no end of frustrating that we can't reply to our commenters easily.

With that technical mumbo jumbo out of the way--what makes a good comment?

To me, it's a few things: It shows an appreciation for the post and builds on it. I won't lie, the "you are pure comedic genius and extremely attractive!" comments do really well, too, but really, how many times can I read that one before it gets old?

Mostly, good comments are known for that they're not. Here is a collection of what some of my blogging friends call their pet peeves. In no particular order:

Christy, "I absolutely HATE it when people left comments that said "dropping by from SITS to say hi" -- wtf? Why leave a comment when you obviously didn't even read my post?!"

I totally agree with this. Unless you're here as Mary Magdalene's personal representative, who cares where you are from. Now, I don't mind if people mention where they're from, as long as that's not their entire comment. I mean, how would you like it if I appeared on your blog and left "I am from Russia" as the comment?

Jessica, "I get very turned off when it is clear someone has only written me to promo themselves and clearly couldn't give a shit what I wrote".

Which reminds me, don't forget to visit Secret Spineless Whine for hours of whining fun!

Kirsten is very Zen, "Nothing really bothers me all that much about blog comments. The FIRST!! can be annoying, but since I have only the most un-annoying readers no one ever does that on my blog. "

I'm assuming that Zen means "giving responses that are annoying to the rest of us who do have comment pet peeves."

Denise doesn't like fancy spam, "Biggest pet peeve with commenting, when people include links to their website that is totally unrelated to my post or comment. I call it fancy spam because the person leaving the comment took time to read my post, leave a relative comment, just to get me to their random site, like how to win the lottery. "

And then, most of the time, the lottery winning tips are totally bogus.

Kate, "I've already written about my distaste for acronyms - which is primarily based on the fact that I'm really a 74 year old woman and have no idea what most of them mean. So I don't like comments that are in code. Speak plainly. But give me a minute while I put in my hearing aid.
Another peeve of mine has nothing to do with my own comments section (sadly enough). I know that some blogs are very good - but at the end of the day they are BLOGS, not the great American novel. So the truly obsequious use of hyperbole praising the writer's amazing talent makes me cringe. It's not like this is news to them - if they're that good, they probably know it (or have gotten enough gushing comments to have a clue). So I try to stick with more substantive compliments about the points they made, their good grammar and their flattering profile pictures. Seriously though - I cringe when I read things like, "your writing is so beautiful - it's like you're writing what's in my soul..." I mean really - get a room already."


Stefanie, obviously not on intimate terms with the porn industry, ""Keep it up!" What does that even mean? Obviously they have nothing to add except to let me know that they think I should continue along my blogging journey with their blessing. Thanks, I think."

Issa doesn't like "FIRST!" "The first thing has always bugged me. What's the point of it? Sometimes I want to comment twenty-fifth. Just because. But the one that gets me the most, is the people who say, oh I wrote about this, please come look at my link right here." You know, this hasn't bothered me because I am so open minded, but now that it's been pointed out to me that it's annoying, it totally will.

Vicki ranks her pet peeves:
The Paris Hilton: FIRST!!!11!!
The Rush Limbaugh: I agree with your point, but you have a typo in one of the most insignificant words you wrote. Just pointing it out. Sorry to be the grammar police! LOL!!!
The door-to-door missionary: LOL!! THAT'S A GREAT POST!! hahahehehe. (not adding any value to the conversation that should take place in the comments of blogs)
The Osama Bin Laden: Oh, that sounds so much like what happened on my blog. You know, this happened on my blog, too. Here's the link to my blog. Here's another comment with the link, just in case you HAVEN'T VISITED MY BLOG YET!! BLOG, BLOG, BLOG!

Maura doesn't like name calling in comments: "The worst thing that has ever happened in my comments is that someone called me a "hoe." Being called a garden implement really got under my skin."


Anna needs to be appreciated: "The I don't understand your joke comment bugs me. Isn't it obvious that they need to go off on their own for a while, let the joke marinate, perhaps do a few deep-knee bends and then try again? I mean, come on, people, DIG DEEP."

I don't get it. Why do I have to do yoga and excavate?

OHMommy, "I hate it when people write wish me Happy Anniversary when it's really just me talking about my sister's upcoming wedding. Obviously they didn't take the time to read the post. Also. Hate it when people say something like, "OMG! You are so funny. You should come and check out my blog at"

Thanks for the shout out, OHMommy!

Kelcey's pet peeves are "Thanks for stopping by my blog which is the equivalent of leaving a phone message that says, just wanted to call you back. I hate comments that say, you misspelled tulle or some other word.. Just email me. No need to point out my stupidity in public."

What are "typos"?


Sunday, August 2, 2009


One of the recurrent discussions of my marriage is whether it's fucking rude for people to speak in a foreign language in front of people who don't speak that language or whether the non-foreign language speakers should just suck it up. It's a big issue because Husbandrinka speaks English, French, German and Italian fluently, while I slog along in Russian, English and Latin. In addition, I have no Russian friends who come to New York and Caesar hasn't been visiting me from Ancient Rome lately, so I haven't been in the position to lord my fluency over him, whereas he has a constant stream of foreign friends that visit us and they have a tendency to speak all foreign even though I've pointed out several times that this is America and not fucking Frogland.

So here's my prologue. Don't worry, there's more to come!

One summer nine years ago when my daughter was two and my son was just an glint in my fertility doctor's bank account, Husbandrinka and I rented a house in Biarritz for a few weeks in August. Husbandrinka's friend from London, with his wife and two kids, rented a house with us and yet another couple and their three children stayed in the main house in town, which belonged to the wife's mother.

Everyone, except for me, spoke French and most of the people, again, except for me, spoke German. One of the maids spoke Russian, so I could have bossed her around I suppose, but I was too busy swearing everyone to secrecy about the fact that I spoke Russian, because if there is anything that I know about Russians it's that if they think that you think that you're somehow "above" them, even if it's because you're friends with someone whose parents employ them, they will make your life unbearable. Seriously, it's easier to deny your heritage or move or commit suicide and hope for reincarnation.

Anyway, although everyone tried to include me, inevitably they would slip into drunken French. And the good news was that once I drank enough wine, I was pretty sure that I could understand what they were saying. The bad news was that they were plotting my murder. Although I may have been paranoid.