A Great Excuse

“Time to wash your hands,” I told Klara.

She got on the ground and started wriggling and hissing.

“I can’t wash my hands, mommy,” she explained. “I’m a snake. Snakes don’t have hands or arms.”

Angry Messages

I never answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number. For years, I didn’t have voicemail but then I finally relented and switched it on. And so recently I started getting messages on the voicemail in angry Chinese voices from NYC numbers. It’s getting annoying because I receive them a couple of times each week.

Does anybody know what it is? A new form of phone harassment? What’s the point of it?

High Ground

The people I don’t get are the ones who are arguing over which side started the family separations (or laid the groundwork, or made the first tentative move in that direction, etc.) At this point, nobody yet knows how to put an end to this horror. Nobody knows how to reunite kids with their parents.

It’s not about anybody’s moral high ground. The bickering over who’s a better person isn’t helping these kids and isn’t solving the issue.

And I really hope nobody asks me what I think will help because I already answered this a million times. A clear-cut, unambiguous immigration bill that will stop giving people false hope and luring them in with false information. Let’s make up our minds already and let the world know. Whatever it is, let’s just decide already and stop torturing people with false hopes while we use them to pat ourselves on the back for being better than whomever.


Actually, I’m glad that the surgery had to be rescheduled for much earlier. Yes, my vacation had to be cut short but it’s good not to have anything looming ahead of me any longer. I’m not a patient person, and it’s much easier for me just to get it over with.

I was worried Klara wouldn’t understand why I suddenly can’t pick her up or come get her from school. I play-acted the situation with dolls, showing her how a doll gets surgery and then can’t pick up the baby dolly for a while. And she understood it extremely well. She’s a very bright child.

My sister and niece are arriving on Monday to help me with Klara. I can’t be left alone with her at all because I can’t lift her.

I can’t wait to get back to work.

Etymology of Black in Russian

The term “black people” [черные люди] had widespread recorded usage in Russian between 12th and 17th centuries.

Initially, it meant “people of the lowest classes who weren’t exempt from any taxes.” There are different explanations for why they were called “black.” One explanation was that they cultivated land and the most fertile lands in Russian are referred to as “black earth” [чернозем]. Other version is that their faces were black with soot.

By the 18th century, the term was shortened to “blacks” [чернь] and was used to refer to the lowest social classes. Catherine the Great, for instance, kept ranting against the folks who thought it made sense to teach “blacks” to read and write.

Traces of this usage remain in Russian today. The term for somebody who does unqualified manual labor is “a black worker” [чернорабочий].

The distinction between “black bone” (people who do manual labor) and “white bone” (those who don’t) also still exists.

By the 1960s, a racialized usage of “blacks” was in use to refer to the slightly more swarthy inhabitants of the Transcaucasus region. All of the racial stereotypes about the “oversexed, lazy, dishonest, thuggish blacks” were attributed to them. Unlike the original usage that had no racial content, this is already a recognizably racialized one.