Jonas Blizzard 2016

Wow, that was a blizzard!

I have to admit I was somewhat skeptical and made fun of people stripping the grocery stores bare last week. My skepticism vanished completely when I was going through my fridge on Sunday  afternoon thinking if we have enough food in case the stores won’t open next day.  I also have to say, I have never seen that much snow fallen down in one go. I lived in Ukraine with distinct four seasons and I lived in Finland with its three seasons: white winter, grey winter, summer (2 weeks, feel lucky if you are not sick during these 2 weeks). But what we saw this past weekend beat all the records for me. 36 inches of snow (almost 1 m) on our balcony, how about that? And boy I’ve been enjoying  this weather, January finally looking like January, winter finally being white as it should, ’cause I hate grey winters since my first year in Finland. 

All public transportation including both Washington airports and metro was shut, and today it’s slowly recovering, with most of the metro lines still closed and many flights still cancelled. Government, schools, a lot of retail and offices are still shut and the employees are asked to work from home, if possible.

(I just read the other day that if telecommuting is not possible, the employees have to take the snow days as vacation time, which I believe is outrageous.) Continue reading

The Small Talk or Snowbigdeal

When I just came to the U.S. the thing that required quite some adjustment was a small talk.

I for one come from a very open – sometimes too open –  Ukrainian culture, where your neighbors feel it’s their responsibility to give you an advice on how to spend your money or when to have kids, but years of living in Finland took their toll on me. So, for the first couple weeks I totally freaked  when strangers started talking to me outside the limits of the necessary interaction. For instance, the girl in Starbucks, while fixing me a cup of coffee complimented my t-shirt and got me speechless for few seconds. In all honesty, I didn’t know how to react. I thought for a moment she was making fun of me, why otherwise would someone you don’t know say something about your t-shirt? Next day I was walking down the street and a woman passing by mentioned that she liked my purse. My knee-jerk reaction was to hold tight to that purse  because it was absolutely obvious to me back then that she probably wanted to steal my wallet from that purse!

I am now embarrassed to even think what I looked like to all these people with my very awkward  reactions…

After  more than 3 years of living here I am so used to all these “How is it going?”, “Have a great afternoon!”, “Love your shoes!”. Continue reading

Saturday Night Live from Washington D.C.

More than 13 years ago I first stepped my foot on Washington D.C. soil being a scared exchange student from Ukraine. A year later as I was buckling up ready for the flight back home, I was silently promising myself I would never be back,  under no circumstances. Today I raised a glass  of some fancy pineapple infused vodka cocktail to celebrate how happy I am to be living here in Washington D.C. area.

Life has the strangest ways, huh?
In New York I pick up my pace and work elbows. In Paris I want to wear scarf more often than I normally do. In Miami I wish I were few pounds smaller. In Washington D.C. I feel just right. Honestly, anybody would. It’s mix of styles, colors, accents, attitudes, including no style, no attitude and not giving a shit. The city is  not huge, and you can blend in with tourists hanging out at the Reflection Pool or blend in with locals  queueing for Georgetown Cupcake (something I never imagine myself doing because for God’s sake, what’s in those cupcakes that you have to stand in line for an hour?) all within couple miles walk.

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Regardless of how many times I strolled the D.C. streets,  there are still new places to discover. Tonight we spent the evening in a nice little place called City Center D.C.  We had dinner at De Frisco, which was overpriced, if you ask me (and the waiter obviously lost interest in us after he figures we were just in for couple of appetizers and a dessert), but the pineapple infused vodka drink and the  nice view over the city made it kinda worthwhile.

I sometimes fail to realize how lucky I am to have all I have. But when I do, I feel it full speed. Tonight is one of those times.

 

On Fashion Advice From Recruiters

Every morning as I eat my breakfast I have a choice: to browse through my Facebook feed or to read a couple of articles from seemingly more intellectual sources. (To my own embarrassment I often choose Facebook and Instagram, but let’s talk about this another time). Now, I am in HR and naturally a fair share of the articles and blogs that I read are  on HR regulations, performance management and  of course, hiring and recruiting.

The later are my favorite ones.

How to find a job. What 5 words you need to include in your resume. What 10 words you need to drop from your resume. What’s the best way to tackle the “What’s your salary requirement” question. X industry foresees growth in hiring this year – ever thought of changing your field? How to make impression during the first 10 seconds of the interview.

When I just met my husband, he used to think that the recruiters are useless and it’s a mickey-mouse job. I used to argue that the recruiters are great because they help you get employed. I myself was doing full cycle recruiting  for few years. I know first hand that this job is not always rewarding, you have to love it to do it well, and I feel sorry for the recruiters because they are basically a fine sieve of the company, and boy are there the funky chunks that get into this sieve.

But sometimes when I read  articles like “6 Worst Things To Wear To The Job Interview” I can’t even. Continue reading

On Traditions

Nothing says tradition more than Christmas and New Year time. Turnip Casserole for Christmas dinner table if you are in Finland. 12 grapes to be eaten when the year turns if you are in Spain.  Throwing furniture out of the window if you are in Italy (note to self – never go to Italy for New Year Night). Crazy Christmas shopping  if you are in the U.S.  Crazy fireworks in China to scare off the evil during Chinese New Year celebrations.

While all these things seem funny, weird or just an entertainment if you are a foreigner, for each and every one of us these things are an important part of our identification, even if we don’t realize it or deny it. It gets even more interesting when you lived through the change of epochs (like my parents’ generation who lived to see the Communist regime collapse) or if  – like myself – you consider more than one country your home.

I noticed that as I grow older, I start paying more attention and giving more meaning to the traditions around holidays. Having lived in 3 countries since I was born, I also noticed this year what a mix of traditions I observe – and enjoy it! Most of them are revolving around the food subject 🙂 To list a few:

  1. I roast a turkey every Thanksgiving just like Americans do. I didn’t go to the cranberry jam and bread crumbs stuffing level yet though.
  2. I bake piparkakut  (cinnamon cookies) and drink Glögg (mulled wine)
    around December 24, just like Finns do.IMG_6564
  3. I put Christmas decoration on my front door in December. My husband does not approve wreaths, so I have to be creative.
  4. I cook for two days non stop before the New Year Night. Just like Ukrainians do. The food is very far from clean eating that I normally practice during the year, but it reminds me of my childhood.
  5. I take a shower at midnight on January 19 – just as they do in Ukraine, to wash off all the bad things from the past year before the Orthodox Epiphany.
  6. My favorite one – as it goes back hundred years in my family: for Orthodox Christmas I am baking a meat pie with a coin in it. Whoever gets the coin, will have the best of luck all year round. We eat the pie slowly, not to worry:)
  7. I don’t do chocolate eggs or bunnies for Catholic Easter, but I bake Easter bread for Orthodox Easter, using the slightly modified recipe from my great-grandmother.

Continue reading

New Year, New Me?

 

IMG_6647It’s amazing what a simple date change can do to people. Not a single time in my life have I met someone who would say “Whoa, August 12th is right around the corner, I will be starting from scratch – quit smoking, start learning Portuguese and will call my grandma every Saturday”. Not a single time – neither for August 12th, nor for April 17th…  At the same time my husband seems to be the only person I know who does not do any resolutions on New Year Night – the rest of the people around me take their notepads out, pull up the Notes on their phones or tablets and start a list of all the good things they want to have and achieve in the year to come. I’m no exception. My iPhone is full of notes on my resolutions and goals from 2012, 2013, 2014…

For some reason this time around I did not feel like making a list of resolutions. Not because I won’t stick to them anyways – as a matter of fact I accomplish at least 70% of them – but just because I felt different this time.

2015 wasn’t a bad year, but I don’t think I will miss it. It was full of events, friends’ visits and exciting travels, my loved ones were overall healthy and relatively happy, but 2015 did not feel like WOW!-year. Continue reading