25 for 25.

January 5 marks my 25th year living in America! When I came here I was just a scared 23 year old girl; that means that I have lived here longer than I lived in the USSR.

On this major anniversary for ours, I want to go back and remember 25 major events that happened to us here in my America!

We came here as Jewish refugees from USSR, we got sponsored by my brother ( I’m forever thankful to him) and the Jewish community of Michigan .

So here it goes:

1.Back in the Soviet Union we celebrated the 1991 New Year. It was a great party full of laughs, tears and emotions. We knew that in the few days we would be forever leaving our homeland and our friends. Pan Am tickets were bought for January 5th from Moscow to New York . We were leaving our hometown to get to Moscow on January 2nd. As we were walking out of our empty apartment to catch the train, we received a phone call from HIAS telling us that our tickets were changed from the 5th to the 4th . Can you imagine if we would have missed this phone call…….

2. Arrived at JFK at 2:00 in the morning January 5th 1991. After going through the immigration process, we mistakenly were sent to Syracuse NY instead of Detroit MI. I don’t know how, but we were able to explain to our officer that we were going to Detroit. He genuinely felt sorry for us and asked us a few times if we were sure we wanted to be sent there.

We were greeted by our cousins, who lived in NY for 2 years already and in our minds were experts in American living and were fluent in English. They brought us food and I had never tested anything so delicious, but most importantly they brought us diapers for our 13 month old baby and life already was so much better in America!

3. Move forward few months/years, we are both working and learning English by watching Price is Right and old American movies. The first few years were one of the most carefree years here. They were also years when we made friends for life. All the people we are friends with today were people we met in the beginning of our immigration process. They were just like us- they came here from different parts of the USSR and just like us were trying to make the best of their life. It was our tradition back then to meet every Saturday for pizza (no one cared about gaining the weight) and a movie on VHS ( remember those) . We were still clueless, but so happy to be able to afford little things, like getting tickets to see the last tour concert of Pink Floyd. It was the first time I smelled pot . Life was so much better in America.

4. Few years later – heartbreak! My dad suddenly passes away. My biggest regret is for him not being able to live life here, to travel a little, to see his grand-kids grow up here and be proud of all of us.

5. We bought our first house and I got a washing machine! ( I will not mention how I put the regular dish-washing liquid inside the machine and flooded the whole first floor ).

Funny thing, our little baby is entering elementary school now and we were afraid that he will have problems with English since we all spoke Russian with him. After only 2 weeks in school he started correcting our English . (By the way he still does it) .

6. We are Americans! We finally got our citizenship! It was one of the best moments here! It does not matter if we speak broken English, and don’t understand American football -we are Americans!

One thing I have to mention, when we were passing our citizenship exam I saw a sign on the wall saying something like this . “If you live in the United States for 40 years and don’t speak any English, you are allowed to bring an interpreter to your citizenship exam”. I was appalled then and I’m appalled now.

7. Our first vacation- finally !!!! Nothing can get more American then a cruise and a visit to a Disney World. We took a 3 day cruise to the Bahamas. In my mind I was visiting a location of the Brook Shields movie “Blue Lagoon” .

You know the feeling when you are experiencing something amazing for the first time – this was our very first trip to the happiest place on Earth- Disney World! It was overwhelming and not just for our 6 year old- it was an unforgettable day for us.

8. Visiting Las Vegas for the first time! How American is that!

9. My hubby got a job with GM – truly American Company! We were now a part of something so big.

10. The child kept asking for a baby brother, if not a baby, then at least a dog! We settled on the baby brother, who changed our life forever. ( on one of the sleepless nights for the whole family the older brother said to us that he would have been fine with a dog) .

My experience of giving birth first in Soviet Union and then in America deserves a different post, but I want to mention one thing – drugs!!!! Life is so much better in America!

11. I met President Clinton! WoW! My work allowed me to travel, so on one of the business trips I met him and shook his hand. When I told him it is a pleasure to meet him, he replied – it’s my pleasure to serve you. The first thing I did after meeting him was to call my mom! She said to me that it’s just like meeting Brezhnev ( I disagree- meeting Clinton is so much cooler)

12. September 11. Like every American I would never forget where I was and what I was doing that moment. After losing my father, it was the darkest day of my life. I was lucky to be able to visit the Twin Towers a few years earlier .

13. Visiting Paris for the first time! I have to give credit to my hubby, who kept this trip a secret to the very last minute! It was my 35th birthday and so far it was the best one ever!

14. Watching Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane on Broadway . The Producers was one of the funniest movies I have ever watched and now I got to see the show live.

15. Flying over the Grand Canyon – what a breathtaking sight!

16. Going deep, deep down in the Mexican submarine was a pretty scary experience but it was definitely worth seeing untouched marine habitat and sharing this experience with my oldest child.

17. Finally visiting our country’s capital! Touring Washington DC at night was the highlight of the whole trip. The lighting on all the monuments left us overwhelmed ! Seeing thousands of the people being sworn in as Americans by Janet Napolitano was nothing short of amazing. It really made me proud to be an American .

18. Exploring Alaska! I have never seen such majestic and raw beauty ! Flying over and landing on the glaciers – wow! Riding the Gold Rush train over to Klondike, digging for gold, watching whales confronting black bears, flying over fiords and glazers , seeing Russia from our window – just kidding, but this the closest I’ve been to Russia since our move. We even bought few chachkies like Matreshki.

19. Falling in love with San Francisco! There are many beautiful cities in USA, but San Francisco has my heart.

20. Finally realizing there is no place like home. Michigan is Beautiful! I have to confess. Every time I had to travel for work I would come home disappointed that I don’t live somewhere else- it took me years to finally see the beauty of my own state. What makes it beautiful is not just the lakes and the waterfalls and the hiking routes and not just the upper and the lower peninsulas but the people. During my 25 years living here I’ve met the most generous, genuine and kindest people. I still hate the weather though.

21. Having both of my sons becoming Bar Mitzvah was really a tribute to my ancestors . Growing up in the Soviet Union meant that no one believed in God and everyone believed in Communism . Being able to be free and have our sons becoming men according to Jewish tradition was a great celebration.

22. My oldest graduating college and getting his first job ( wait, what? Am I that old?)

23. Visiting Israel and seeing my cousins for the first time in 25 years ( some of them left before us) . One of the greatest experiences in my life is learning about the beautiful country of my people and to be proud to be a member of the tribe.

24. During this time I saw my friends become engineers, doctors, accountants, lawyer, business owners, I saw my kids and their kids grow up to be free, to chose any path they wish. I saw my mom and my parents in law aging with dignity.

25. I LOVE THIS COUNTRY – the good, the bad and the ugly. This was the best move we have ever made in our lives. Let’s see what the next 25 years will bring!

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It’s called FREEDOM!

I’ll be brief, this is not a political post, this is just my personal opinion.
Like many of you, I was watching the Oscars yesterday, but I don’t want talk about who wore which designer.
I want to say that, coming from the country in which nobody is able to speak up, I was proud and humbled and so happy to be an American.
Only in America a movie could be made about an American traitor (wrong or right is a different story) and win the Oscar!
Only in America are we allowed to agree or disagree loudly the way only Americans do with our government and win the Oscar for it – It’s called FREEDOM!
Because where I came from, Edward Snowden would not be alive by now, and none of the filmakers would be able to make a movie about him and win the Oscar.

Don’t take your FREEDOM for Granted, People – be thankful every day!

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My almost breif encounter with Ben Affleck.

I am not sure if you aware, but Detroit is a new black!  Good things are happening here: new constructions, new businesses, new housings, even Hollywood moved in.

This Morning our company received a phone call from one of the produces of “Batman Vs Superman” movie, they were looking for watch boxes and watch pillows.

At the end of our brief conversation we  offered to deliver the package to the specific location with one small request – we must meet Ben Affleck!  They declined our offer😦

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Hot Pastrami.

One of the “bad” parts of immigration is losing your heritage. We try so hard all these years to assimilate, to lose an accent, to find a good job, to fit in and then one day  we realize we achieved that, but in the process of it we lost something so dear to our hearts and to our  souls,  we lost something irreplaceable.

Last night I felt the loss of my heritage in such a raw way, so much so that I wanted to cry out and tell every single immigrant to stay connected, stay rooted, and that one day you will be the only link between old and new, between your grandmothers and your grandchildren.

It’s in particularly hard for us no, for me ( I don’t want to speak for everyone) an immigrant from the former Soviet Union. The Soviet Union does not exist anymore. Now we have countries, which once upon a time were tied together by the same rules, same ideas (bad or good, it’s not what this post is about), same songs, same books. …and it’s particularly hard for Jews.  See, a Lithuanian can go back and visit Lithuania, it’s their homeland, an Armenian can go to Armenia and an Ukrainian can hopefully go and visit Ukraine one day. But where would Jews from the Soviet Union go? Being Jewish in Soviet Union wasn’t a religion it was your being. We were always on someone else’s territory. We assimilated to that territory, we adopted their language, their songs, their traditions.

I grew up in the Moldavian republic, which at one point was part of Romania, then it was part of Soviet Union, and now it’s a separate country.

Moldavian culture along with Jewish culture had a  very strong presence in our home. My mom and dad both spoke Moldavian language along with Russian and Yiddish.  I am still holding a grudge at my parents by not teaching me Yiddish. My grandma used to sing to me Yiddish songs and if she forgot a word or two she would substitute them with Moldavian words.

The reason I’m writing all of this is because last night I went to see a local band ” HOT PASTRAMI”, who traveled to the Romanian and Moldavian country side looking for their heritage and collected Yiddish, Romanian and Moldavian songs – those songs that my grandma used to sing to me.

hot postrami

How funny it is that everything what I ignored growing up, everything what I wanted so desperately to forget trying to build my perfect life, came rushing back to me with these wonderful folk songs.

All of a sudden I’m 12 again listening to my baba Pearl’s velvety voice and feeling a sense of loss ……

 

 

Posted in Family, immigration, Judaism, My life, Religion, traditions, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 9 Comments

#TBT

I’ll be brief . Today is Thursday, that means internet will be screaming with #TBT’s – Throw Back Thursdays, I am creating my own  #TBT today  and I am calling  it Throw Beef Thursday.

Here is my beef:

Why can’t we be just like the rest of the World and move our clocks forward at the end of March, or maybe not to move our clocks at all, like some  other parts of the World.

And just to keep in the theme of time – here are the pictures I took few years ago, when I first time visited Basel Watch Fair – #TBT

Picture 004 droid pictures 142

 

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Brain + Beauty = Harmony. TBT!

It has  been the longest and the hardest winter that I can ever remember. We have not seen the ground since October, everywhere you look you see piles of snow covered with ice,  but no I am not here to complain, instead I am here to  make everyone feel better by bringing warm and happy memories back.

Last year on our annual trip to the world renown  Michigan winery we found this wonderful sculpture made by a local artist .

It says: “I am the vine – you are the branches”.

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I am the vine you are the branches

I am not sure I feel like a vine,  more like having some wine at this moment to keep my self happy from inside out,  and I wouldn’t mine to try some of the wine from this rack:

Vintage – more wine anyone?

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More wine anyone?

So why this title:  Brain and Beauty.  I am not sure, it’s so cold outside it’s hard for me to use my brain, (see my previous post), but despite the cold if you guys decide to use the  brain anyway please add some beauty to it. You will feel harmonious, just like my older son when he  jumped off the plane last July.

DCIM100GOPRO

Harmony or Stress – what do you see?

 

..or my younger son, who against his will joined high school marching band and went on to winning the 1st place in the state.

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Proud Moment

 

and also preformed on Thanksgiving day half-game show between the Lions and the Packers. What makes it even sweeter is the fact that the Lions (our team) won!

Stay warm people – use you Brain and Beauty to create Harmony no matter how cold it is outside!

Posted in Memories, My life, photography, Ramblings, Uncategorized, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Conversation

Me: Max, please do something other than playing a  video game.

Max: Like what?

Me: Maybe you can do something intellectual, like  read a book, or check if you have some work from school, do something good for your brain.

Max: Why, I am on the break and so is my brain.

Should I be worried?

 

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