Friday, October 3, 2014


As days, and weeks, and months, and years go by, we don’t even notice how our lives constantly change. Just eight years ago, I was transplanted from my home in Russia (together with my mom) and relocated to a country that was unfamiliar and foreign to me. While the U.S. greeted us with warm welcomes, it was impossible to call it ‘home’ even though we knew we were staying here for good. Time went by, friendships were created, accomplishments were made, rewards were earned, and more and more I was starting to accept this life. On those initial steps, I was trying to assimilate, to blend in, to be like everyone else just to feel that I belong. However, a few years later I developed my own strengths and values, and I realized that the world around me started changing to accommodate my personality and values.

Today I am flying to Russia for a ten-day vacation to see my family. The last time I went back was in 2010, right after my Grandpa passed away. The trip was coming at the right time (although I wish it was triggered by different circumstances), I needed to be closer to my family. I was still in college, I did not know what I would do with my life; there were so many uncertainties. I needed to see where I fit in.

This time around, things are different. As wrong as it is to say, but today’s trip feels more like a burden, then a vacation. I’m sure I will feel differently as soon as I see my family and step into my grandma’s apartment. It is, however, interesting that now I have a feeling of going to an unfamiliar, distant place – almost the same feeling I had when coming to the U.S. Right now, New York is my home. It is the city I connect with, the city that shapes me into the person I am today. I think the reason I feel so strongly about this trip is my fear of losing what I have built myself up to be. This probably sounds mental, but it makes sense to me. That is why this time, I am more stressed out than excited about the visit to my home country.

Maybe I am making this up, maybe the last time I went I felt similar to what I feel now. Similar, but not the same. I am already homesick for my Brooklyn apartment and for my home at my mom’s and stepdad’s, but I am looking forward to this trip. Four years in between the visits is a good period of time to be able to compare and see things clearly. I can’t wait to feel what I will feel once I land at the airport in my home city; I can’t wait to experience the daily life I was so close to eight years ago; and I can’t wait to examine what I can truly call my ‘home’ at this point of my life. And of course, I will keep you posted.

{Me and my mom in my U.S. hometown}

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Vegas, Baby!

Exactly two weeks ago I was lucky enough to head out to Las Vegas to spend a long weekend with my friend from London and her two friends. The trip was quite short, but it was definitely well-packed with a bunch of fun adventures and activities. Having had heard numerous tales of what Vegas is like, I had my expectation set very high. I must say I was not as impressed as I was expecting to me but overall Vegas definitely did not disappoint. It is definitely a fun destination to visit with a group of friends, a place to let go of all the routine things and just enjoy the atmosphere of fun and total relaxation. I thought I would give you a quick summary of my Friday to Monday stay in “Sin City” and show you what I did and what I saw. Here we go…

The fun begins just as you get off the plane.

We were staying at The Cosmopolitan and on the first night, we went out to a club in our hotel, The Marquee.

I woke up in the morning to this amazing view from our hotel room window.

After breakfast, we decided to take a walk in 104 degree weather to check out other hotels. Not a good idea, but we got some beautiful pictures. 

Caesar Palace lobby

The Venetian 

After our walk in the heat, we came back to the hotel to get some rest before going out in the evening.

That evening, we had the ticket to a club to see David Guetta. We made it to the club, we did not actually get to see David Guetta. It’s a long story…

The next day we decided to take a trip down to Fremont Street, which dates back to 1905 when Las Vegas was just founded. In 1925, it was the first paved street in Las Vegas and in 1931 it received the city’s first traffic light. This street was featured in a lot of movies and it still presents a great deal of entertainment to its visitors.

Having planned the best for the last night, we had ticket to a Cirque du Soleil show ‘Love’ featuring the Beatles’ songs. The show was absolutely amazing!

The night Bellagio fountains performance was a great ending to my Las Vegas stay.  

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Someone I Once Knew, Someone I Have Become

This morning, I was overcome by the thought of how much I have changed since I moved to New York. The person I was, when I just entered the adult life of living on my own in the big city, and the person I have become almost two and a half years later are two completely different people. They would still probably be friends, sharing their similar positive outlooks on life, but they would definitely argue a lot about their tastes, preferences, hobbies, life choices. As I thought about it, I began to get more and more scared. “What if with all these changes I end up ‘losing myself’” But that fear was immediately followed by another thought of “you cannot lose something you never had, or someone you never found’. That is true. The person who came to New York was a young girl trying to find her way in life, trying to realize what was important for her, trying to develop her own style and taste, trying to be more confident about her own choices, but almost always being pushed over by the opinions and views of the others. That person was weak, but at the same time she was strong because she knew that she had to find her own way in life and she kept trying. Two and a half years later, little by little this girl has become a more self-fulfilled individual with her own opinions, with a higher level of confidence and with a better understanding of what she likes and what she wants to be.

I cannot say that I completely got over all of my fears and that I am absolutely certain about my path in life. No, not at all – I am still quite indecisive, I still get scared and I still am shy when I shouldn’t be. However, all in all, I have learned to be more accepting of my fears and flaws. I have also learned to embrace the fact of not knowing what life has in store for me, as I believe that the most interesting thing in life is just living it and taking in all of the lessons, surprises and rewards it brings.


Friday, August 22, 2014


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My train ride to work usually takes around 40-45 minutes. Some people may say it's way too long but I actually don’t mind the commute – I enjoy this time, as I can catch up on my reading or just listen to the music and brainstorm. As I pretty much never slow down, this time of sitting still and not doing anything is perfect for me to take a break and reflect on various things and events in my life. So I was on the train this morning, thinking, and I could think of nothing but pure gratitude. As I started running through the list of events that have been happening to me recently, I realized that there are so many things I am grateful for. I am grateful that I finally got back on my diet (it's only day 2 but I'm very hopeful and determined this time. Who wouldn't be - only one day of the diet and I woke up with close to no pain); I am grateful for my new apartment which I love and feel very comfortable in; I am grateful for my friends with whom I can have good times, talk, go out, having fun. Of course most of all I am grateful to my family. My mom, this tiny 5'4" woman, who is not afraid of any challenge. I know deep inside she is going through her struggles and obstacles, but on the outside she is strong and determined. Through the bad time and the good times she has been my greatest supporter, my best friend and ally. My stepdad, who gives his all just to make us happy, who keeps showing us what a family is, and who constantly teaches us not to take things too seriously. And the list goes on and on.

Just about a week after I moved into my new apartment, they opened a new café a block from it. The café is called ‘Gratitude Café’ and it serves as a constant reminder for me to stay grateful. When my parents were visiting me a few weeks ago, I took them straight to Gratitude Café, which was a great start of the weekend. Everything about this place revolves around putting people in a good mood – the bright colors of the interior décor, the mix of relaxing and upbeat music, the warm and welcoming personnel. As we were sitting there having our lunch, nothing but the positive energy and appreciation was running through me. We all have a lot to deal with, but all the trouble aside, there is always something to be grateful for. 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Secret Admirer

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There is a market here in Brooklyn right near my apartment where I oftentimes shop for my groceries. I really like this market as they have pretty much everything – from fresh fruit and vegetables to almond and other nut milks and a bunch of other healthy products. Its location it also very convenient – it’s right on my way back from the subway station home.

So a couple of weeks ago I stopped by the market after work to buy some groceries. This Caribbean guy who works there comes up to me and all of a sudden says: “You’re the most beautiful.” As nice as it was, I was a little taken aback. To me, moments like this usually make the situation a little awkward as I never know how to behave the next time I see the person. A few days later I had to buy some more things and when I walked into the market I subconsciously started looking around, trying to see if the guy was there and preparing my escape plan. Since he was nowhere in sight, I proceeded with my grocery shopping. However, as soon as I approached the cashier, there he was. I didn’t lose my cool, I stepped forward to the cashier and as I started unloading my groceries I heard the guy say familiar words “You’re the most beautiful” and this time hand me a chocolate bar. So now every time I have to buy something at the market, I leave it with compliments and gifts. Today, for example, I got a beautiful rose and an invitation to go out for tacos. I don’t think the taco outing will happen, but it is nice that my grocery shopping now provides me with a good boost of self-esteem.