Watch out all you devushka bitches, I’m coming to town!

Yes, it’s true. In a mere 9.5 hours, a flight to Munich carrying the Ukrainian and I will depart SFO (God-willing, as the Arabs say). And from Munich? Da, next stop will be Kiev Borispol airport. I’ll have my 4 inch heels, Marc Jacobs denim mini-skirt, Dior “Little Red Dress” lip gloss, and a fresh red manicure onboard with me.

What?! You say I’m too old to be a true devushka? Not true. Devushka-ness is all a state of mind and a pair of great legs. I thoroughly intend to learn from the masters (er…mistresses) walking the streets of Kiev (not to be confused with the streetwalkers of Kiev whom devushkas must closely resemble).

What’s that again!?!?! You say I can barely pronounce the Russian letters I see on street signs? That my complete and utter failure to find time to learn the Russian language will prevent me from embodying the modern slavic woman’s persona? So not true. If anything, spending 3 years with the Ukrainian has made me more slavic than any Rosetta Stone lesson could.

Case in point:

Last week, I was in the Baltimore suburbs on a business trip and couldn’t access the wireless network in the office. But I knew there’d be no problem because there was a Russian employee sitting a few cubicles over. He’s cracker-jack smart and super-nice too. I knew he could get me on the wireless…

What do you have? he asked upon hearing my flirtatious pleas for help.

Somehow, I didn’t think the words I’ll be your best friend forever that worked so well when I needed help from someone when I was a teenage girl or young devushka post-college in New York would work so well now that I’m old enough to have grandchildren in some parts of the world. I searched my pockets looking for something to give him when I realized I had no pockets because I was wearing a skirt.

Chocolate? I asked desperately, remembering I had some back at my desk I’d brought with me from San Francisco. It’s fine European, dark chocolate. Organic too! selling him on the idea that his time and assistance was totally worthy of some small chocolate that I’d bought at the Walgreens on Sacramento and Front St.

The Russian colleague started laughing, realizing what was going on.

Noooo….what do you have? Like an iPhone or a MacBook or what? I need to know what device you’re using to connect to the network!

Oh. I was shocked. Somebody would do something for me without bribery? All this time I’ve been Russified, this guy’s been Americanized.

Yes, devushkas. I am ready. And I’m bringing my camera.


Happy Defender of the Motherland Day

Where have I been? Working hard, long hours. There has been time for little else, though the Ukrainian and I did have a lot of fun the weekend of Valentine’s Day/President’s Day. It was the weekend of the one year anniverary of our engagement. So fun was mandatory. The best therapy. Maybe, one day, I will post pics.

Where has the Ukrainian been? Also working hard, long hours. We are both tired. Not too grumpy as we have re-discovered our love in this non-fun time when everyone is fearful of losing his/her job. But tired nevertheless.

The Ukrainian’s mother back in Zaporicchia (sp?) keeps asking us “Where is the baby? Where is the baby?” What can we say? We are so tired, so stressed about our jobs. So happy that we have our jobs. We want to keep them. We daydream of having a baby. We even have arguments about what we would call it if ever one was conceived. But, deep down, our superstitious selves know that we have a very smart baby up in the sky of dreams who knows that now, right now, is not really a good time as it seems we can barely take care of ourselves and the dogs. Adding a little one to the mix might make all the stress too much to bear.

But yes, today was Defender of the Motherland Day. Don’t think I didn’t know this. I have a friend in Moscow who’s Facebook status updates keeps me well-informed of the going-ons in the Ukrainian’s Motherland-Region. While the Ukrainian was hoping to get a day full of his every fantasy, I got him the only things a loving, very tired wife could get her most beloved man: a cake.

This cake was not just any cake, but a very special magic cake. See, the Ukrainian and I had shared a very special Princess Cake on Valentine’s Day from the Noe Valley Bakery. Despite the Princess’s cake girly-sounding name, it was quite indeed fit for a grown-up Malchuk (aka man) as the cake itself was soaked in Triple Sec liqueur and each layer was line with Raspberry jam and cream. The Ukrainian loved this cake and wanted nothing more in the world (besides every man’s fantasies of his wife) than another cake just like the Princess cake. But the Noe Valley Bakery insisted that suck a cake could only be made on Valentine’s Day — NOT on Defender of the Motherland Day.

I was disappointed. The Ukrainian is so good at getting me special cakes on all the holidays that are important to me. I wanted to do the same for him. I thought of a 2nd-best cake. A cake of hazelnut, strawberries, and cream. It would have to be special-ordered. The Noe Valley Bakery doesn’t normally carry such cakes on a day-to-day basis. But my lazy, overly busy self didn’t call and order the cake.

*Sigh. I wanted to put a Loser “L” on my forehead for such oversight. But instead, I went over this afternoon to the Noe Valley Bakery to see if perhaps they’d have any fruit tarts left. But they didn’t. The glass counter was all but empty except for…are you ready?….yes!…the Noe Valley Bakery glass counter had only 2 cakes left. And yes, both of them were hazelnut cake with Strawberries and cream. Just as I had imagined! It was like I imagined the cake into existence.

The Ukrainian was quite happy to eat his Defender’s Day cake when he got home. He said it reminded him of the cakes he used to eat back in Ukraine. Could you get any more appropriate cake than that for the Defender of the Motherland Day? There is no way he could’ve eaten a heart-shaped princess cake on Defender of the Motherland Day back in Ukraine.

I really am a good wife.

Even if I haven’t delivered a baby to my mother-in-law.

We are busy working, dreaming of babies, and dreaming cakes into existence.

Maybe, one day, we will dream a baby into existence. But not now.

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.

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:

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?

The Ukrainian finishes his MBA

In all the hoopla of December travels and Christmas holiday-ing, I forgot to mention that the Ukrainian took the last final exam of his last term for his MBA on Tuesday December 16. Assuming he passed each one, his MBA in Finance degree should arrive in February.

Ideally, I’d like to think that this means we will have more time to spend together. But I don’t see my work getting any easier this winter. And the Ukrainian has already been laying out a study program to improve his English even more.

Some day all this will change. We will find a rhythm and a balance to spending our time together and apart.

Or, at least, I hope so.