The Weekend Worries

On Friday, after I called my eye doctor, then next thought which occurred to me was thought about Igor’s moving to the new place. At the end of February, Igor received a note that the lease on his apartment id not going to be renewed. For historical accuracy, I have to mention that the level of hoarding was unacceptable by his landlord standards. We all had a couple of weeks of worries, mostly because we were wondering whether his current landlord will give him a bad reference. I offered to co-sign, and he secured one place in Rogers Park. A couple of days later, it turned out that another place approved him as well, but he already signed with this Rogers Park place.

I gave him a hard time about signing the new lease starting from March 15, because it meant paying for an extra two weeks. He was not ready to move on the 15th anyway, and Vlad told him he would help him to move on the 22nd.

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***

It is tough for me to write about everything which is happening now. As Anna pointed correctly, the fact that Boris and I won’t see each other in person indefinitely is the worst. I didn’t even realize that that’s why all other things hurt me so badly that I am losing control over my life.


People often think that because we do not live together all the time, and only see each other every several weeks, it’s not something which should affect us so severely. However, all of the periods between our visits to each other are planned and pre-calculated. Most of the time, we know our schedule for several months ahead. And we try not to be away from each other for more than six weeks.

This time it was supposed to be longer – eight weeks. But there was not much we could do: I had my surgeries (and three and a half weeks before the first surgery to be contacts – free). And then we were going to go to New York for the conference, and there was supposed to be a week full of talks, presentations, training, meetings with different people. It was supposed to be our professional highlight of the year. Because of all that, I was OK to wait for two more weeks – we did it before.

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Sweet Stopover

Yesterday, I had my second cataract surgery. I think it went somewhat better than the first one, but I will share more details after today’s follow up.

That time, the surgery was earlier in the day, we were supposed to show up at 8-15AM. And when we were going back, it was almost lunch time. I suggested we will go out, just because we haven’t done so for a while. We tried a couple of places on Palatine, but there was nothing we really liked.

So we decided to do what I actually do sometimes, and looks like Vlad does sometimes as well: having ice-cream for lunch and instead of lunch ๐Ÿ™‚

Both of us had affogato, I had int with coffee ice-cream, and Vlad – with vanilla (only mine is shown), and then Vlad had a scoop of strawberry ice-cream, and I had a blueberry pie one. Two-cource lunch, I’d say ๐Ÿ™‚

Dating and Getting Married While Being a Student in the Soviet Union

When thinking about the past, the most challenging thing for me is trying to remember how I felt about certain concepts, what was “a norm,” and why I believed it was, basically, about what was going on in my head. And I am talking not only about politics, or economics, or the Communist Party, or the foreign countries but about personal relationships as well.

Most of us got married early. Both girls and boys. Now I think that it was mostly because of the difficulties of renting your own space. The “expected behavior” would be something like this. You start dating. You are “official,” when you walk around, hugging each other (your right hand on his waist, his left hand hugging you over your shoulders). You go like this most of the time, inside and outside. Sometimes even during classes. You kiss in public. Then you might, or you might not try to find someplace where you could be more intimate. You do not have your apartment; you live with your parents, who themselves are trying to find a place to be intimate:). Some of your friends may have their parents temporarily away or working late; then, you can use their apartment. Many of us didn’t even have their room; I didn’t.

The is no contraception, except for the calendar method or not letting the sperm in. Even condoms are “deficit.” Abortions are legal, but you need to spend at least one night in the hospital, so your parents would know, and there is no anesthesia. For many of us, getting married was the only option to be in relationships. It’s not like there were no civil unions, but mostly among older people, mostly not the first marriage. As always, there were exceptions, but as I said, a surprising number of my friends were getting married being virgins, girls and boys alike.

There were lots of marriages at nineteen and twenty. When we graduated, most of us were twenty-one or twenty-two, and more than half of us were married, and a considerable portion of those who were married, were pregnant.


Once again, there were several reasons for that. Fist, there was a lack of contraception and a religious belief, that if you abort your first pregnancy, you may never have children. So the idea was that you have a child or two children right away, and then hope for the best or have an abortion, which was multiple. Another reason, specific for college grads, was that you had to work at the place which you were assigned to for three years after your graduation, and they could not fire you during your maternity leave. So if you didn’t like the place, you could have two children and not work at all :), and then try to get to the better place.

Originally I had a very different idea about my future life and marriage, but surprisingly I ended up with the crowd, except for I was far from being a virgin.


I married on December 22, 1984, graduated in June 1985, and Igor was born on September 28, 1985.

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

Mom’s Birthday Celebration

On Friday, my Mom turned 85. I started to think about how we will celebrate that day way-way in advance.

Most of the time when somebody is celebrating the 85th birthday, there are lots of friends and family members who can take part in the celebration. But Mom immigrated to the US less than two years ago. Moreover, she is extremely reluctant to develop new connections, and she firmly believes that she does not understand people around her. There are very few of my friends with whom she interacts on a more or less regular basis

I knew that an essential part would be having all grandchildren there, and because of that, everything depended on Vlad’s schedule. First, he said he will be able to do Saturday, but turned out that January 11 was going to be his first day back to work after nine days off. He suggested that we do Friday night, and I said it had to be in Palatine. After all, it turned out great, because it was easier for everybody, including Anna.

It was almost a surprise party for Mom. I told her that we would do “something” for her birthday and that she should be ready by 5-30. She did not know until the very last moment, that all of her grandchildren and her great-granddaughter will be there.

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What is Art in the Perspective of a Two-year Old

Anna and Nadia were visiting me last weekend. We asked Nadia whether she wants to see art, the dinosaurs in the Field Museum, or the whales in the Aquarium, and she said – art! So we went to the Art Institute.
Anna wanted to see Andy Warhol e

xhibit, but Nadia refused to acknowledge it as an art :). After being there for ten minutes, she started to ask, “can we see the art now?”

We went to the Ryan Educational Center to do the family project – a shadow box. Then we went to see Chagall’s “American Windows.” To our surprise, Nadia liked them a lot! She was sitting on her knees by the first window, then running to the second one and sitting there, and then moving to the third one. She spent at least ten minutes there, and would probably spend more if we would let her. So you can’t even say that an abstract art in not for toddlers. Go figure!

Family Gift – Giving

This year, we were unable to get the whole family together for Christmas gift exchange, which is not the first time in our history. And even for “all of us minus Anna” part, we had to find a day when Vlad was able to take at least a couple of hour off.

To be clear, he didn’t. I do not think he had any time off except of time to sleep for the past two months. Even that time, we met at his work. He reserved a private room in zBar, and then he ended up being on the floor for most of that time. He said – Mom, did you see how many people are there in the bar?! And I saw!

The Peninsula lobby, all decorated
The zBar private room
My Mom is tasting hot chocolate
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The Art of Gift Giving

On Sunday, our family will get together for Christmas presents exchanging. It’s not the first time we are exchanging presents on a day other than Christmas Eve (we are “the Eve family”). Due to both our family being distributed and members having demanding jobs, it happens quite often. Sometimes we get together before Christmas, sometimes – after. Sometimes on the right date :). In the course of many years, we learned that dates are not that important. What is important, though – that over the years, my children not only mastered the art of giving presents but are doing it better than I.

SInce 2011, we always recorded our Christmas gift-giving, in full or partially, and I spent the last hour going through these recordings. I will post a small fraction of them here, to give an idea, how did it look like in the past. It is looking more or less the same every year. Every year I am delighted to hear multiple “how did you know?!”

I firmly believe that Christmas presents should be special. They might be practical (like on several of these videos my children receive computers for Christmas). Still, they should be at least partially surprises, something a gift recipient does not expect to receive.

You will hear some Russian in the videos, but I hope that everything will be understandable regardless :).

Christmas 2012
Christmas 2012
Christmas 2013
Christmas 2014 we had guests from Moscow,
and also Vlad lost his voice and could not perform his Elf duties

For the record, Vlad still wear that coat from the last video!

I stopped myself from watching these old videos, because I could easily do it till tomorrow:). Now I am going to schedule this post so that it would appear tomorrow morning, and then we shall see, how our gift-giving will go in the evening.

What I Did and What I Didn’t Do This Season

Many people told me that they are impressed with how much I managed to do this holiday season. Most of the time it is expressed in a rhetorical question – how I manage to find time to do “all that.” The truth is, this season I did less than I normally do. The reason why it does not seem so is that I knew ahead that won’t have time for all my usual activities, and I planned which of them I am going to reschedule or cut entirely.ย 

The moment Anna asked me: Mom, are you still enjoying your Christmas, or are you stressed out, I realized I need to watch for the latter. I can’t rush when choosing presents. I can’t rush when I wrap presents, because this is an enjoyable activity. I need to wrap carefully each and single cookie I am sending out because that’s the way I add my love to the recipe :).

And you know what? I am really happy with my season. I didn’t do any of the shows: either Welcome Yule, nor the Christmas Carol, nor the Nutcracker. And I am OK with that. I didn’t get a chance to listen to the Caroling at the Cloud Gate, not even once, and this is a little bit upsetting. But I am delighted that I had time to meet with many people who are near and dear to me. People are the most important, and for all the rest, there will be next year – this is not the last Christmas season! 

Mom and I had a subscription concert on Dec 20, it was a matinee, and it was one of the days when Iย ย could not leave work earlier. I’ve exchanged out tickets for Sunday matinee, the same show. It was great since it was Dec22, and all shopping and packing was done. I could spend time with Mom, not thinking about other things in the background. I also delivered two more boxes of cookies:), and we had lunch with my friend Lena -2 (not to be taken for Lena -1 from Michigan).

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Christmas Away From Home

Since my friend, N. told me that she chooses to spend the holidays not with her family but with people who would be alone otherwise, I was thinking about it. And the more I think, the more I realize, how right is it.
A couple of days before my departure to Helsinki I stopped by my neighbor Renate to drop off a box of my cookies and to wish her a Merry Christmas. It turned out that our other neighbor was visiting at the same time, so instead of leaving immediately, I sat down and chatted for a little bit. I told them about our family travel plans and how we all are in different places. And then I mentioned this idea about spending the holidays with somebody how can’t spend them with the family or does not have one.

And then, all of a sudden, both my neighbors started to recall similar stories. Renate mentioned her son in law spending Christmas by covering the night shift in the PAWS homeless shelter. Then my other neighbor recalled her time being a nurse and covering the Christmas shift as well, and then Renate told us that she did the same while working on reception in the senior home.

Both of them were saying how good it feels and how happy and grateful the people were. It looks like it is not so uncommon not to be with your family for Christmas, and it’s surprising people do not talk about it that much.

Next time, when I will have the circumstances similar to what I had this year, I think I know what I am going to do :).