Wednesday, May 27, 2009

I DO have a guilty pleasure.

OK, OK, OK...I do have a guilty pleasure. In fact, I have a lot of them. It has taken me all month to decide which I dared divulge, and finally I've made up my mind. And it is couch-related. Maybe admitting I have this problem will help me conquer it, or at least help me WANT to conquer it.

Months ago, thanks to Paul the Pool Guy, I discovered the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Nothing housewifey about them, and I think their homes are outside of Atlanta, but for me it become like the soaps I used to watch while folding diapers. My "baby" just turned forty-one, so it's been a while. These women appalled me, but they also fascinated me in a weird way. And so I graduated to the Real Housewives of Orange County, and watched several seasons of them on a BRAVO marathon. I am so glad not to know these women or any that even come close to their superficiality. That's really saying something when you consider that some people consider Hilton Head Island a plastic fantasy island. On to the Real Housewives of New York. (By the way, I never saw any of these women use a Swiffer or buy a cleanser of any type. Nor was there any cooking or laundering or clipping of coupons.)

The New York women interested me the most, and there were a couple of them that I might enjoy but they probably wouldn't enjoy me. Plus, I would end up hating them as I stressed over what to wear when I met them. At least two of them are former models, and one of them is a Countess (and will remain a Countess now that she is about to become a single housewife). But I like Jill and Bethenny, and can take Alex. The others, not really.

So when the New York reunion show was over, I thought, well that's the end of it. I wasn't attracted by the promos for the Real Housewives of New Jersey. It seemed as though it would be some kind of a Sopranos knockoff, and truthfully, I didn't like the Sopranos, even though I grew up in that part of NJ. Anyway, and I can't explain why, I watched the first show of the RH of NJ and my eyes bugged out as I realized that two of the women are sisters and are married to brothers (not their own brothers) who own The Brownstone in Paterson, NJ. I immediately related. I guess it doesn't take much.

What probably got to me was a memory of family drama that took place at The Brownstone when I was maybe seven or eight. My mother was from a huge family and one of the cousins was holding a wedding reception there, and my maternal grandmother showed up, unexpected, and my brother and I were ushered into the bar area to say hello to her since my mother and she weren't speaking. Welcome to my childhood, which had more than its share of real housewives of New Jersey since my grandmother was one of six sisters, who cooked and cleaned and catered to the menfolk.

I will keep watching, guiltily. This week's episode is coming on in eleven minutes. And I hear they are casting the Real Housewives of Chicago.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Jhenya морская звезда

We're expecting! Yes, we're expecting another grandchild in our family. He's 2-1/2 and he lives in Siberia. He has a beautiful round face and blue eyes and blond hair and a sturdy little body.

Well, we WERE expecting. And he DID live in Chita, Siberia. This was the start of a blog I tried to write a while ago. And now, after weeks turning into months of waiting, and after two stays in Atlanta to care for the grandson I already have while my daughter and her husband went to Russia, Jhenya is at home with his American parents and his big brother Nicholas and Daisy the dog, ("sobaka" in Russian; "wocka" in Jhenya baby-talk). We have all learned to say "nyet, nyet, nyet" as little Jhenya explores his new surroundings. That's a word he knows and says frequently. He is, after all, two.

My daughter said she thought he hadn't been out of his orphanage to play since last fall and that it's unlikely he has ever felt grass under his feet. Now he has front and back yards and a playset and a driveway and an electric play car ("machina" in Russian) and a tricycle and rubber balls and tons of books and toys. But his favorite new belongings are his shoes. We think that shoes must have been prized at the "baby house" ("orphanage" in Euphemism).
May God smile on this child and both his families, old and new. I am so proud of my daughter (and my son-in-law) for having done so much to save this little starfish* (морская звезда in Russian) . May Jhenya one day come to know his Russian heritage as well as his American one, and may he always, always, from now on feel cherished and protected and loved for the very one he is.

*There is a story about a boy walking along the beach and, seeing hundreds of starfish stranded far up on the beach after the high tide, takes a few, one by one, and throws them into the sea. A man approaches and says, “What difference can you make when there are hundreds and hundreds stuck so far from the water?” The boy gives the stranger a quick glance, throws another starfish into the sea and says, ‘It made a difference to that one.”