Ukrainian Brain

When I see moms on local FB start a post with the words “Please help. I’m desperate and just don’t know what to do. I’ve been crying non-stop for 3 days,” my Ukrainian brain immediately thinks that this will be followed with “I can’t make the rent / my kid’s been diagnosed with something / I lost my job / can’t pay the bills / can’t afford surgery, etc.” My heart skips a beat and the floodgates of compassion open.

So when the post continues with “I was planning to pay for horseback riding lessons for my 3-year-old but they say they have no openings for the next two months,” this produces cognitive dissonance for me.

I’m very happy people have no greater cause for desperation than that a toddler will have to wait for her horseback lesson but is there really a burning need to be so dramatic about it? If people think it’s cute to adopt this persona of a spoiled rich brat, it really isn’t.

30 thoughts on “Ukrainian Brain”

      1. Mommy wants to keep up with the horsey set. Failing that, she wants her kid to be friends with the horsey set and mom friends with their parents. That group tends to be insular.

        There’s a class of people who rode horses at my high school. They all had been doing it since they were small and their parents were either independently wealthy or very upper middle class. The ones who had been doing it since their infancy had their rooms plastered with competition ribbons.

        She isn’t part of that class otherwise she’d know the unofficial deadlines or ways to sneak past “the stable has no openings for the next two months.”

        Liked by 1 person

  1. This is beyond the comprehension of my American brain, and I was raised in the Midwest.

    You’re absolutely certain that the mother works? I mean, damn.


  2. I haven’t heard of this although I have heard of desperation about not getting into the right kindergarten. Also about getting thrown out of private school. I think these desperations are about having to send child to a school that won’t be all-white, though.


  3. Meanwhile in Kavanaugh land:

    Cancel ALL hearings until we’ve FBI investigated EVERYTHING Kavanaugh has ever done! Leave no stone unturned! If it takes months, so be it 😉


      1. “This could be a loooooong hearing.”

        Nah. Going to be over in a single day, and then Kavanaugh will be confirmed.

        You could see the panic in lefty eyes today, when Rachel Maddow was frowning and looking scared to death while she waved her hands hysterically on her show, instead of giving her usual maniacal smirk. Fired partisan hack Joan Walsh was on a CNN panel tonight, shaking her head so many times you could hear the rattle through your television speaker.

        Now MSNBC and CNN media darling Michael Avenatti is riding to their rescue, claiming that he has bombshells that will bring down Kavanaugh. Sure he does. The Republicans on the Judiciary Committee send him a letter asking him for facts that they could investigate, and he wrote back telling them to wait and see — exactly the same nonsense that he said repeatedly about a certain whore client whose claims would destroy the Trump presidency.

        I can’t believe how easy the Democrats are making all this! 🙂


  4. From a Conservative German Jew who just killed me with humor:

    “Leftists see conservatives as some quaint backwards people who cannot keep up with the changes of time and who absorb all the wicket people in their ranks. Obviously, there is some truth in it. Not in the backward part, but in the assertion of a big tent. The leftist ideology is such a strong force that people with all kind of opinions revolted against them for the last two centuries. We all know that there is a significant number of nuts in the conservative movement and we cannot throw them out like the left because we are no purists. It comes with the tolerance of the right that it absorbs the crazies quite naturally.”


    1. @ el:

      “Leftists see conservatives as some quaint backwards people who cannot keep up with the changes of time and who absorb all the wicket people in their ranks.”

      Before this debate can go any further, please define who the strange “wicket people”in the conservative ranks might be. Are you referring to the misguided noble people devoted to the ideals of the sport of cricket, where all rules of competition are scrupulously fair, rendering them totally incapable of mounting any effective opposition to the savagely amoral tactics of the bloodthirsty left?

      Or did you mean to type “wick people,” the crazies whose heads of twisted thread and candle wax catch on fire spontaneously, and quickly burn themselves out with little effect on party policy?


  5. I know this blog is biased, but I got interested in Josef Joffe’s book “The Good German – The Career of a Moral Superpower.”

    // Joffe is senior editor of the newspaper ZEIT which is arguably the most influential news outlet in elite circles. He is what Germans call a “Transatlantiker” and Americans call a “globalist.”

    The man is a fellow of the Hoover Institute and has ties into the RINO wing of the Republican party. He basically has all positions of the political left except for his staunch support for every US American and Israeli foreign policy decision.

    [about the book] And this is what Joffe is very honest about. He explicitly calls the pacifism of Germany immature and advocates for controlled violence.

    In this interview he details how the “culture of restraint” was the right thing to do in the past. Then it was right to refer to the horrid past and not to take up weapons to combine “politics and violence like a normal state.”

    he means to say that the Kosovo intervention, Afghanistan, Mali etc were used to bring down pacifist sentiments. Germany is going to be a major military power, he says.

    A Jew advocating for German militarism is … interesting.


  6. Do you think such use of gender-inclusive nouns may spread into English?

    // Like English German has the “generic masculine form.” This is the grammar rule that when the gender of a person is unknown or unimportant, you proceed referring to him with “he.” It also means that when you refer to individuals pars pro toto for a group or for a group itself, you may use the male name only. It is “actors and managers” and not “actresses, actors, managers, and managresses.” In normal speech you would also proceed with a hypothetical pars pro toto sentence like “If an actor speaks to his manager…” and not “If an actor or actress speaks to his manager or manageress….” To make it worse nearly all professions or nouns that describe people have both a male and female form. A compromise to get the awkwardness going is the interim-I (German: Binnen-I). The equivalent postfix of “(r)ess” in English is the postfix “in” in German (e.g. ManagerIn). So you can write “actRess” and the capitalized “I” means that men are also addressed. When reading it out one is supposed to fill in “actor and actress”. But we are past that stage now and have two equivalent additional options that are prefered to the interim-I: the gender star () and underscore. This is to remember all the other genders. So Lena Dunham is an actress or an act_ress. In case of Ms Dunham I would prefer the (Kleene) star because it makes it look more like an expletive. German knows far more words that can mark the female sex and the more you want to address women (and aaaaall the other genders) separately, the clumsier the sentences become.


  7. Well, I have been in the USA for three years so far and my 100% Ukrainian brain thinks that all this unnecessary drama is as fake as “friendly smiles” Americans tend to give away like free candy. That person was, probably, feeling so lonely she thought FB moms’ community could cheer her up. The cultural gap between rooted Americans and new immigrants is the most challenging thing for me to cope with. I can’t stand fake people who like to over exaggerate their so-called “problems” and I doubt I will make some TRUE friends here…sadly.


    1. The friendly smiles are truly friendly. But they are superficial in the sense that they don’t give you access to anything but the fleeting “hi, how are you?” You can make friends with Americans. But it won’t be fast or easy. If you are not religous, I suggest joining a church.

      Which part of Ukraine are you from?


      1. I am from Ukraine. And regarding friendly smile being truly friendly — I will have to disagree. I speak from my own American experience. There were many times that people would agree to have a playground play date and then totally forgot about your existence. My American husband explained to me that for them it’s better to lie and not to seem “rude” but never show up afterwards coming with ridiculous excuses rather than be honest ( like I would prefer to be treated) and say that it’s impossible from the very beginning. I would be totally fine with a sincere answer but I won’t stand sweetly coated lie. That’s how I have always been. It’s just that I felt less hypocrisy from people when I lived in Ukraine.


        1. God, that’s so true. The worst part are kids birthday parties. People won’t even RSVP to an invitation. It’s so annoying. There was a mom on local FB page who organized a huge birthday party for her kid and then nobody showed up. And the poor kid sat there alone, crying. So yeah, I agree completely.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. My elder daughter’s birthday is coming this weekend and I got only one confirmation from parents that their girl will attend the party…feeling rather nervous and frustrated because I have been preparing the birthday party for over a month.


    2. “as fake as “friendly smiles” Americans tend to give away like free candy”

      As I constantly point out, they’re not friendly smiles, they’re polite smiles. Politeness in Europe revolves around the idea of keeping your distance, politeness in America revolves around the idea of being friendly and approachable.
      Complaining that American smiles aren’t sincere is like complaining that using respectful second person pronouns (like vous vs tu in French) doesn’t indicate real respect.
      “Oh my god! He used the respectful pronoun Sie but then he said I was completely wrong! How respectful is that?”


      1. Answering the comment of a true American as yourself, I will agree that smiles indicate rather so called politeness than friendliness. But they do puzzle me because I was raised with the idea that “you don’t smile to strangers —it could be dangerous and inappropriate”. What I tried to convey via my message is that I feel challenged by this American politeness encoded in meaningless smiles. Many times I thought I am being treated like a friend when, in fact, I was just another object of displaying American politeness gene.

        Now, let’s get to your second remark about “vous” and “tu” forms of French. I happen to be an interpreter/translator, the French language is my second foreign language of expertise after English. And yes, you should never address someone old or, for instance, your boss using “tu”. It’s only acceptable between close friends, family members, etc. I have no idea why you are so sure both these pronouns are used in the same social encounters…The same happens in Spanish—they have “usted/ustedes” to show your favorite politeness to people.


        1. ” I feel challenged by this American politeness encoded in meaningless smiles”

          I’m American but I live in Poland so a lot of my experiences are the mirror opposite of yours. I found the idea of never smiling or nodding to people I don’t know to be cold, unfeeling and a little rude (not acknowledging their humanity!).
          Similarly I found (still find to some extent) the need to use formal address specifically to indicate that I don’t care about a person to be very alien.
          In Polish of course formal address is more awkward than French, Russian or Ukrainian since it involves an old formal title (roughly: Lord or Lady) that changes by number and gender of the person you’re talking to.
          I got over it, of course, and now take it for what it is – an arbitrary system of politeness. Rules of politeness don’t need to make logical sense (and of course it’s impossible to harmonize politeness across cultures).
          Take American smiles for what they are, the equivalent of formal address. Similarly, real friends in America don’t feel any special need to smile at each other (or say nice things about each other) which has gotten me in trouble a time or two in Poland…


          1. Being an immigrant is never an easy way to live but it has its benefits. I have met people from all around the world—in would never happen if I stayed in Ukraine.

            By the way, I know what you mean by saying you need to address Polish people Pan or Pani but there is not much of a difference between Polish formal addressing forms and English Mr. and Ms./Mrs. It must be quite challenging to be an American living in Europe.

            For example, to me it was a real surprise that almost nobody here likes walking! People basically live in the cars and often get very obese. My American husband was simply shocked when he used to visit me back in Ukraine by how our people are slender and women wear uncomfortable heels all the time. I didn’t understand why it was so weird to him at that time but after living in the USA for 3 years I realized that Americans put comfort in the first place of everything in their lives. Again, this is my personal impression. Ukrainians, on the other way, would go 10 extra miles to get what they want. We are less “spoiled”, I guess.

            Anyway, good luck to you adjusting to the Polish way of living!



            1. This is an issue of social class. People of the lower social classes are fat. But the higher you go up on the social ladder, the more slender everybody becomes. And more likely to walk everywhere. The wealthiest people I’ve known in the US don’t know how to drive.


  8. Kharkiv is a nice city! It is famous for the Freedom Maidan (or Square) and Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University—probably, the best law school in Ukraine. I have never been to Kharkiv but it was our first capital so it’s an important Ukrainian city.

    I have just started my blog called “Ukrainian in Philly” a couple days ago so if you know some immigrants or some locals who would be interested to read it, it would make my day!


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