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.


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