I hate this economy

I am fine. Well-employed. Bought a new 5 year old used car the other day actually. But I hate this economy. I hate the bail-outs for Wall Street. I hate that Wall Streeters can’t seem to live on $150k – $180k per year. I know things are expensive in NY. But San Francisco is right up there. And we live on less. Go ahead and give some super-hotshot ethical Wall Streeter his $250k/$300k. But really, bonuses in the 7 figures or upper 6 figures. No.

We have no children. Together, we pull in a decent salary, though not one large enough that will make it easy to raise a child in this city (no, we’re not expecting one yet). We own no real estate. So we can deduct nothing from our taxes. We pay a very large amount in taxes. We are paying for this bailout.

I don’t hate this economy for the lack of consumerism. I think it’s good actually. And I want to be given our bitter pill so that the economy can sort itself out without ‘the bubble’ being propped up by the government.

But I do hate this economy for its murdering of hope. People can believe in Barack Obama all they want, but everyday the numbers come out. More jobs lost. And when you are new in a country and you are trying to change your life when the language and absolutely everything is different from everything you’ve ever known, it’s too easy to think “Why bother?” Everyone is losing their job.

But this economy will prove what kind of American do you want to be. The kind who loves the easy money of the properous years, who inherits the famed attempts of the California goldminers in seach of luck — whether in gold, an internet start-up, real estate, or whatever the next bubble brings. Or are you going to be the type of American echoing the anonymous legends of the past, who pulled themselves up by bootstraps, worked hard, and gave their attempts at success every ounce of sweat and sacrifice they had.

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25 Things

Sorry I haven’t written lately. We were working on our wedding album and didn’t get much sleep during that time as there was a tight deadline. And now, there’s this little thing called a ‘recession’ going on in the world. 62,000 jobs were announced to be cut yesterday. We are feeling especially dutiful towards our employers right now.

Despite our fears about the economy and our job security in the latter 1/2 of 2009 (we feel safe for the 1st half), we are going to go look at purchasing a used 2004 Volkswagen Golf tonight from a dealer. We have been searching and searching for the perfect car at the perfect price for months and have finally found a contender. I’m wearing purple right now for luck.

And lastly, there’s a game going around right now on Facebook where you write 25 random things about yourself that people may or may not know. Mine are here:

1. I’m always trying to balance roots/wings. Wanderlust with nesting.
2. I don’t eat bread. It’s not an Atkins thing.
3. Fashion is an art, not a status symbol. (Thanks Kara!)
4. I spent a term studying at a Catholic Seminary. I now never go to church/mass.
5. I have 2 60-pound wonders dogs that have their very own European passports. They are my first loves.
6. I’m married to the absolutest nicest guy in the world and love him deeply. He tolerates my profound devotion to my dogs. Luckily, he loves them too.
7. I would rather drive a good, used German car than a new Japanese one. I never even look at American cars.
8. I never meant to be a software engineer. It just turned out to be something I could do when I got sick of being a poor student. Now my brain is too trained to be anything else.
9. I’d rather be working in fashion. But I like the economic security of engineering.
10. I’ve learned that wherever you go, you tend to take your problems with you. So best to solve them before you leave.
11. By the same token, I’ve learned it’s great to take advice and listen to other people’s insights. But at the end of the day, we’re all different people and have to do what’s right for us.
12. I’m usually happiest when I’m listening to my own intuition. Even when I make mistakes, they’re my mistakes.
13. I’m usually late by at least 15 minutes.
14. I once went back to my “hometown” after being away for many years and got weirded out that the people there seemed to remember more about my life there than I do.
15. My brain is pretty good at garbage collection.
16. My dad was a butcher for much of his life. He hunted. I grew up in Iowa and watched him hack of the heads of chickens to cook for dinner and I frequently arrive my parents’ house to a dead deer in the garage. But I’m a vegetarian.
17. I commute by bike to work.
18. Nothing is more beautiful than the Pacific hitting the rocky California shore at sunset (though the Amalfi coast comes close).
19. I really want a baby but have doubts about how well I would balance the demands of motherhood with the demands of a full-time+ job that is filled with 90+% men.
20. Even though the nature of my career was unexpected, I’m a bit proud of myself for making it this far.
21. I dream of a flat/house with such basic modern amenities as insulation, heat, a non-shared hot water heater, dishwasher and washer/dryer. But I would never give up my original hardwood floors or prime hip location.
22. I still get all drooly-eyed whenever I see my husband. He is just too cute for words.
23. I prefer Modern Art and Design to traditional/masters.
24. Van Gogh’s early works of the field workers in Holland are my favorites of his as they remind of the low, dark, dreary Dutch winter sky. Makes me love California all the more.
25. I’d put a Miro on my wall before I’d hang a Van Gogh.

Happy Old New Year: Update

We just realized that the Old New Year (Orthodox) isn’t until the 13th:  tuesday. It’s only the 11th. Our only redemption on this error is that it’s already the 12th in Ukraine, so we are off by only 1 day. But still…we really must chalk this entire holiday season up to being the one we got entirely wrong. Some holidays we all but missed altogether, others we tried but failed, and some we didn’t want to celebrate, but went out into the world anyway with a smile on our face. And this one, we celebrated too early and too little.

We tried for the cake. We went to the Noe Valley Bakery where we get almost all our cake. But since we had not specially ordered one, we had to get a pre-made one off the shelf. Unfortunately, when we brought it home and sliced it, it had the distictive texture of a cake that had been sitting out on the shelf a day too long. It’s edible, but not tasty and moist. It’s a bit dry. I think I’ll be consuming more of the buttercream frosting than the cake itself.

We also tried to rent Irony of Fate (Ирония судьбы, или С лёгким паром!) at Lost Weekend Video on Valencia St. But sadness again. The video store does not carry the movie. We considered watching Moscow Does Not Believe in Tears (Москва слезам не верит) again, but opted not to. We chose to return home and procrastinate do our respective work and chores.

Once the 13th comes and goes, I think we can officially count the 2008-2009 holiday season as over. It will haven been our first holiday season together as a married couple. Short of somebody dying (though everybody does die eventually) or the economy faltering so much we find ourselves standing in a soup line for our holiday meals, we can only improve in our celebrations and establishing our own traditions. Next year, I think my inner control freak should be sufficiently rested to get out a calendar and make a battle plan to tackle all the days that fall between Thanksgiving and the Old New Year.

*****

I wish I could capture the day that was San Francisco today. It was so beautiful. So warm. The way the light bounced of the pastel-wooden walls of the houses. The very softness of the air. The pinks and oranges overlaying the blues at sunset. A hot pink jetstream cutting across though very pinks and oranges. The hippies sitting outside their houses on the stoop watching the sky change its colors. The single star glistening surrounded by sea blue sky. The mission hipsters riding their bikes acoss and down Valence. The Cubans outside Radio Habana with the salsa playing. The Ukrainian and I kissing each other at each crosswalk, so rich the air was with love and romance. The sadness I felt, thinking that I must be on holiday and tonight is the end of it all. The world is so beautiful. I keep thinking I will wake up and be surrounded by cold and barrenness and a pale gray sky that gives life to nothing. But tomorrow’s forecast only call for more beauty. 

I once fell in love with a Bulgarian. He introduced me to San Francisco and all the beauty and misery it has to offer. I thought that it was him that had opened my heart after it had been so hardened by New York. But then I went away. I moved to Northern Europe where there was only rain. So little light. (But the grass was greener than any I’d ever seen.) When I returned to San Francisco, I had a moment when I was riding on the back of a motorcycle, returning from a date in Half Moon Bay with an Irishman. We flew over the hills of Dolores St. We were coming back at sunset, heading north, the palm trees dividing the the street in front of us and the city below. It was then that I realized that maybe I did not love the Bulgarian as much as I had thought. But I loved the city. San Francisco. So beautiful that you can not help but love everything contained within her limits.

San Francisco, your beauty hurts me sometimes. You are so beautiful you hurt the eyes in front of my heart. Only such beauty could bring me back for more.

Happy Orthodox (Old) New Year!!!

Happy Old New Year! We are off to get cake. And try to get ahold of the movie “The Irony of Fate”. No presents though. But we have spent the afternoon lounging in the sun and trying to narrow down all our fabulous wedding photos into 100 favorites for an album. It’s 70 degrees (F) and sunny here in San Francisco. We are happy.

New Year’s Devushka Style

Hey yeah, all you devushkas chillin’ in Kiev. I’m onto you. I’ve been studying your look. I’ve got your number. And this year, I did New Year’s Devushka Style!!

 

New Years Devushka Style -- with a scarf for a little American prudishness.

New Year's Devushka Style -- with a scarf for a little American prudishness.

This outfit is very Ukrainian approved.

Our Californian Post-Soviet New Year’s

The Ukrainian started the New Years Holiday off by giving me cake in bed.

The Ukrainian started the New Year's Holiday off by giving me cake in bed.

The good thing about the Ukrainian and I melding of our respective traditions is that if we don’t get one right, there is a pretty good chance that there is at least one if not two more upcoming opportunities to try again. (This is also true of our weddings where we’ve had two already and are expecting to have a last final one in a Russian Orthodox church in Kiev).

As I wrote earlier, the western Christmas was a total bust for us. We did get each other gifts, but we were too tired to so much as wrap them, let alone put up a tree, decorate or prepare a dinner. Indeed, we didn’t even make it to our local Chinese restaurant. Instead we contented ourselves with frozen dinners, blinis & caviar, as well as a traditional homemade midwestern cheeseball. 

Our over-crazed autumn where we saw very little of each other and even less of sleep had taken its toll.

Our little New Year Tree with Presents

Our little New Year Tree with Presents

But no worries. Only 1 week after the western Christmas, we had a chance to do it all over again as Russians and Ukrainians, among others, put up a New Year Tree. So, we did the same. It was no longer possible to buy one (though we could have taken a discarded one from the street), so we made use of the small 1/2 meter one that my brother and his wife sent me when I lived in the Netherlands. Since we were doing a simple New Year’s and the tree was small, we decorated it with red stars — which I had also bought in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. While the stars were purchased in Italian shop, I couldn’t help but note how appropriate they were for a New Year Tree since the Soviets also banned a tree for Christmas.

The Ukrainian was soooo excited to get his perfect push-up set.

The Ukrainian was soooo excited to get his perfect push-up set.

We each gave each other one package. Nothing extragavant.  The Ukrainian gave me a beautiful orange leather luggage tag that I had been wanting. I appreciated his gift as we had had problems with our baggage going missing several times while traveling in 2008. I gave the Ukrainian the “Perfect Pushup” set. It’s a new year, so why not new shoulders?!?!? Really, I like the Ukrainian’s body just fine, but he had been asking for these for quite some time so he could do beautiful push-up from the comfort of our home.

In Ukraine, the Ukrainian says, people usually exchange packages at midnight. However, we did ours on the night of New Year’s Day as we were busy attending house parties on New Year’s Eve and then spent New Year’s Day with our dogs along Fort Funston and Ocean Beach enjoying our day off. Only, upon our tired return did we open the presents.

New Years Day in Fort Funston

New Year's Day in Fort Funston. The ocean is just a few meters to our left.

Again, no time for a beautiful dinner on this holiday. But we improved much in the week since Christmas. Also, on New Year’s Eve, we didn’t get home  until 7:30 pm (19:30) and had little time to prepare the food and wine we had to take to the house parties.

But there was an improvement. We vow to have an even better, well-planned holiday season during 2009-2010!

Our Brown dog is ready to monitor the Ukrainians perfect push-ups

Our Brown dog is ready to monitor the Ukrainian's perfect push-ups for the New Year

Happy Orthodox Christmas!

In case you didn’t know, today marks the Russian Orthodox Christmas. See pics here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/in_pictures/7814759.stm

The Ukrainian and I are not celebrating this year. During the 2007-2008 holiday season, we celebrated only the Western Christmas and New Year’s. This year, we added the Russian/Ukrainian style New Year’s to the mix (pics to come later).

Next year, we vow to add the Orthodox Christmas as well. The Ukrainian thinks he should give me his gifts on Western Christmas and I give his on Orthodox Christmas (we both exchange gifts on New Year’s). But I thought Orthodox Christmas only involved religious themes…no gift exchange. Does anyone else know?