31 January 2017

Grunge-Goth photoshoot with Sheila

A while ago I modeled for my friend Sheila, who's about to launch her first online store. She picked out some friends to model, and I am happy to be of the lucky few to model the many vintage and second hand jems she has collected over the years. I was so excited with all the clothes!!!!

It has been many a year since I modeled last, and I enjoy it immensely. I had lots of fun picking out the outfits with Sheila that represented my own style (or dream style?) and it made modeling the clothes a lot more sincere to me.

I am also happy the pictures are not heavily edited like with most alternative photography. The aim was to give the clothes an urban vibe, besides - heavily edited pieces of clothing online are not exactly believable. I loved everything I wore!

Photography and styling by Sheila Calavera:

There were some less dramatic gothy moments too. I am happy the outfits and pictures are different. I can never stick to a certain style and I am definitely more goofy than elegant.

That shirt though!

This one has to be my favorite:

That shirt though #2!

It got me thinking: from the entire photoshoot, what makes certain looks my favorite? Of course poses and the way my body/face looked have influenced the way I looked at the pictures, but some shots depict the way I want to be seen and want others to see me. 

And I think - cool, this is me. Modeling has made me so happy; happy to see how much I've grown up.


27 January 2017

The Plastic People of the Universe

Were it not for my Czech colleagues, I would have never discovered this underground progressive rock band! Not to mention gone to their gig!

This week my Czech coworkers invited me to a gig of The Plastic People of the Universe, an underground Czech band from the 70s. They are especially noted for opposing the Czechoslovakian Communist regime, which often led to the band's arrest, and their instruments being taken away. Despite all that the band continued to play (for free) and even had to build their own amps.

The gig I attended was held in the Czech culture center in Berlin. It was free, and even free beer and goulash were served!!! (the latter finished quickly and we didn't make it).
It was a special evening dedicated to protests held in 1976 against the arrest of the Plastics, which became a milestone in the opposition against the country's Communist Regime.

Boy were Boris and I excited to hear something like this live. Not to mention my fellow coworkers were excited too, and we had a fun evening with them talking about music.

Here's a video I filmed. I encourage you to watch the whole thing, as I wish for every guitar player to be able to play solos like this when they're that many moons old!

Generally the band has a lot of avant garde songs, but hearing it all live was as close as we could get to true 70s progressive rock. It was an unforgettable performance!

One of the songs played on the gig

Fun Fact: if the name tells you anything - Boris and I saw Už jsme doma live in Israel. They performed in a bar on our street (!?!!?) and we just spontaneously decided to go, it's not everyday that a Czech band comes to your small town. Little did we know that they are actually another cult underground Czech band. They were kick ass live! Funny how those things come to a closure so many years later ;)


19 January 2017

The Winter Tag

I'm kind of feeling myself with this cold everyday and snow laying around. I have comfortable warm clothes, a huge coat and blanket scarf and heating at home. Better yet - it's slowly starting to get brighter, the sun goes down a tiny bit later each day. Now it won't be dark anymore when I go to/come back from work!

Winter Tag found here, you're all welcome to do it as well!

1. What are your favorite things about Winter?

The holidays! As much as I love being warm when it's cold out, nothing beats holiday season for me. Planing New Year's, thinking of what food to make, which friends to invite, which presents to give... It makes me excited, and has always had. The day before NY is crucial - don't touch anything in the fridge, it's for New Year's!

2. What is your favorite Winter outfit?

Anything that involves my huge scarf blanket and thermo leggings/knitted stockings. I live for thick stockings in winter. I don't wear pants in winter at all, just skirts and dresses. Wrap yourself in a huge scarf and you're good to go!

Not my winter coat, as this picture was taking in Autumn, but you can see the scarf. That was one good hair day!

3. What is your favorite Winter food?

I think a crepe with nutella. Had one at the Christmas Market the other day, it was amazing!

4. Favorite Winter drink?

Defintiely Glühwein! The traditional Christmas drink in Germany (and many other European countries), it's basically warm wine with spices in it. It's a must for every Christmas market visit, warms you in the cold and is easily made at home. Also gets you drunk faster than anticipate!

5. What is your dream way to spend a Winter’s day?

Staying at home with my parents and watching tv. I missed my family terribly this New Year's and wished they could be there with me. It's weird to celebrate holidays apart.

6. How do you like to do your make-up in the Winter?

I like to do my makeup in general, but it's been a few weeks since I've been going full-face-instagram-goals-too-extra-for-work with it... I wouldn't have been doing this if it was warm outside... Also, lipsticks stays on longer. I dunno, guess I'm creative lately. But dark lipsticks are always a must this season!

From my Instagram

7. What are you hoping Santa brings you?

So festive, should have done this tag a month ago...

8. What are the first three things that remind you of Winter?

New Year's tree, warm socks and moving to Berlin. We moved in January 2013 to one of the more hardcore winters in recent years lol. I always remember the time when I had no proper shoes and thought I will die from cold outside. I was actually scared to go outside XD

9. What is your favorite Winter song?

The one holiday song for me:

10. What is your favorite Winter memory?

Whenever I was a little kid and when my brother was little, our parents used to invitepay a Ded Moroz (Russian Santa) and his granddaughter to visit us on New Year's eve. As kids, we were stoked when Ded Moroz arrived on our doorstep with his blue and white rob and huge cane. We would tell him some rhymes and he would give us candy.
As I grew older I realized that the real fun part of it was to guess how drunk Ded Moroz and his "granddaughter" (both played by a married couple dressed up, obviously) were at their visit.

11. What is your favorite Winter scent?

The scent of Olivier salad in the fridge when you open it. Don't touch anything, it's for New Year's!!!

12. Finish this sentence… If I could have one wish this Christmas it would be…

To see my family! We're going to Israel in May this year, it hasn't been long since last year but both Boris and I miss some quality time with our parents. I want to go shopping with mom and eat sushi after...

On recent news and as mentioned in the beginning of the post - I found a job! And it's kicking ass! I am so happy to be working again, and the people at work are super nice. I am sitting in an office all day and couldn't ask for more!

Hope everyone's having a lovely wintertime!


15 January 2017

Bohemian Home Decor Goals

2 years ago I wrote this post about my dream home looking like a bohemian gypsy palace. I haven't done much for achieving this, partially because living in a dorm lowers your expectations when it comes to interior design: existing furniture cannot be moved, there's little space and any other long term interior changes are too much of a hassle.
Yet we've been living in our dorm for 2,5 years, and with time some bohemian elements did appear - more tapestries, more posters and some indian patterned sheets (thank you Primark!).

Then I had this idea the other day - fake ivy on the wall! It will surely freshen up the space, and add something exotic and bohemian-like atmosphere for sure. I ordered 3 fake ivy strands online and used tape to stick them on.

It looks beautiful in the bedroom, which is already very close to "home goals" status:

I found this dope ass mandala tapestry at Camden. I have been eyeing this one for ages on Ebay, but it was actually 10 euros cheaper in Camden! Of all places! This is my favorite part of the apartment so far. I just love this tapestry, it calms you down and sucks you in. We usually sit on the bed in the evening watching series on a laptop, and with the string lights on, the room turns into magic!
I took the picture during the day though, since I have very poor lighting...

Some details of the ivy. It's amazing quality, very light and is easily arranged. It survived shipping with difficulty though, as the leaves are so fragile some of them came off of the strand. I had to gently tape the ones that fell off with tape, but generally I am very pleased with the quality.

Fake flowers are usually saved for old ladies' apartments, yet this ivy looks great. The picture really doesn't do it justice though...

The 3rd strand went up the bathroom wall:

My biggest bathroom decor vision is to make it graveyard themed, with a bunch of little angel statues and white candles everywhere. However candles are great if you have a bath, and we have a shower. The ivy works great with the wall either way, nothing like a jungle/forest themed bathroom (maybe one day?).

I realize this is not the epitome of home decor and not the best pictures, but this is what I can do with our dorm apartment for now. I dream of second hand furniture, exotic pillows and rugs, candle holders everywhere and a huge book library. And colors - lots of crazy colors.

Yet the ivy has made me so happy. It makes the bed and bathroom look instantly more interesting. Have you ever seen ivy on someone's walls? I don' think so.

I have started a Pinterest Board for some inspiration. My next goal will be to bring lots of pillows to the bed, and to make a proper sitting space in the living room (see previous home decor post), which will probably still be on the floor.
Slowly but surely I will achieve the perfect bohemian goth space!

What kind of decoration do you like? Got some bohemian decor ideas or advices?


6 January 2017

Third Culture Kids -or- Memories of a Russian-Israeli Kid

I've recently encountered an article on the BBC website (which I never visit, I have no idea how I got there) about "Third Culture Kids" - a term coined by a US sociologist Ruth Hill Useem in the 50s (never heard about her either, not even at uni) to describe children who "spend their formative years in places that are not their parents' home land". The term also applies for children who lived in different countries during their childhood.
I study Social Sciences and we discussed about child education and development in the first semesters. In Germany you would be a "second generation child" if you're born in Germany but your parents weren't.

TCK does describe my socialization pretty well, as I grew up in Israel from the age of 6 after my parents immigrated there from Russia*. Their Soviet Union socialization and background has been ever so present at home and like many millennials with a Russian background living in western countries - I carry an unexplainable baggage of post-Soviet Union Russian upbringing that translates into my values, traditions and language (among many other things). After the age of 6 things turned around though, as the Israeli culture and mentality was drastically different.

*(yes I am originally from Uzbekistan but my parents lived in Moscow for a year before moving to Israel)

The mentioned article described the advantages and disadvantages of children growing up in different countries. As an advantage you get the "multiple language & culture" package installed in your brain whether you like it or not, and that is for some a huge privilege, and one that I'm aware of. On the other hand, TCK children might feel detached from friends and family members, making them unable to contain prolonged friendships in the age where contact to peers starts to be very relevant, thus being burdened with loneliness.

This all might sound like a fair arrangement, and while reading the article I found myself remembering many cross cultural moments that weren't mentioned that I would like to share.

A postcard of probably the most iconic Russian children's show. I used to have this postcard as a kid!

1. Culture A vs. Culture B
There were special schools for TCK mentioned in the article, where all traveling parents' children can come together and experience the cultures of their home. Well, this isn't really the case for immigrant children in Israel (aside from receiving help for learning the language of course), and after I came to Israel and devoured the new language and culture whole - somewhere in the middle of elementary school I realized there's a disparity between how things look like at home and outside.
As I grew a bit older and could judge social situations better I noticed that the words and termini we used in school were not familiar to my parents. My mother, while trying her best to help my poor brain with math homework, had difficulty calling all the math functions with their Hebrew names, and called them in Russian the way she learned them. This confused me, especially when my mom praised Russian schools and their better way of teaching mathematics. How could you teach otherwise? The way we were having it couldn't be more complicated! (when it came to math - I was a lost cause).
Soon snippets of "the culture back there" (Russian - for my parents) tied in with "the culture here" (Israel - the here and now for me) and with it began the never ending journey of comparisons - Russian vs Israeli culture, home vs school/outside, old vs new...
We also watched only Russian television during our first years in Israel, which created an exciting double reality for life at home and life outside. The nr. 1 rule at home was - we speak RUSSIAN here. You might think that keeping the "new" Israeli culture out the door was confusing and unfair for a child, but let me tell you - my mom went through hell and back to keep my mother language alive and kicking, since she believed the most unfair thing would be depriving me of it. Well, she was right.

Just to quickly disclaim here - my parents have integrated in Israel very well and accepted this new life with open arms (it was their choice to come there after all!). They in fact see themselves as Israelis and enjoy life in Israel immensely. The acclimatization didn't come immediately though, and that's made all the difference!

Typical Soviet Union apartment. Our apartments in Israel luckily never looked like this, but the atmosphere lingered.

2. Far Away Relatives
While my father's entire family lived in our city, all my mother's side was left in Uzbekistan. As a very young and already quite angsty teenager, I didn't see my father's relatives as my own, since he technically is my "step" father. So for many years, the "true" family in my head were the ones far away, somewhere in the east between the dusty mountains of a land no one of my friends could ever relate to and locate on the map. My grandparents were "somewhere out there"...*
I looked at old pictures of my early childhood in Tashkent and thought about how my "real" family was doing. I heard about weekly visits to grandparents about my classmates - a reality that was not mine. It is still a sad thought for me, not being able to grow up near my mother's side of the family - a life my mother chose herself, which not being near her own mother was hard for her, especially in recent years as my grandparents get older.

*After a few years post-immigration my parents could afford flying to Uzbekistan, and even then my father couldn't join us. In later years visits became more frequent.

It hurts me to realize that this destiny is likely to befall my child(ren) as well, as I have no intentions of coming back to Israel but rather wish to always go forward. In the worst case - on we go to the next country. But on that later on!
Not having my entire family tree in one country depressed me as a kid. In middle school we had to do a huge assignment on our family and roots, which I did involuntarily. I didn't want to talk about my family, because I couldn't really place their existence in my own head. I felt disconnected from other classmates and their stories - kids who's great grandparents have built Israel from scratch after WW2 and other heroic tales of past generations being directly involved in the country I felt little to no relation to. My great grandfather has fought in WW2 alright, but for the Soviet Union; he went back to Ukrane from Germany by foot. I felt like the biography of my family wasn't really taken into account, and many regarded my culture with stereotypes they saw on TV about the "crazy Russian people" and how they differ from the Israeli mentality. I felt people noticed the differences more than what brought all of us in this salad of a country together.
One classmate (who was from Kazakhstan btw!) didn't do the family tree assignment at all, and I could understand him.

A shot from Hadar, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Haifa, Israel. Boris and mine's first apartment was in that neighborhood.

3. Israeli-Russian Kids Unite!
Luckily, I wasn't the only kid in school experiencing all the above, and even my elementary school class consisted 90% of Russian immigrant kids. We had it all  the same - families struggling financially and /or with the language, scattered relatives, Russian accent while speaking Hebrew and my personal favorite - Hebrew replacing Russian as a second mother language. We would talk in Hebrew at school all day, so of course we spoke it between each other!
Russian was the "leave it at home" language now, as all the real fun was being had outside! Hebrew slang ran in our veins and the first question you would ask a new Russian-Israeli friend would be "where are you from?". The neighborhood where I grew up was heavily populated with Soviet Union immigrants, and all of our parents have stuck together too.
It was only when I began middle school and later in high school that I got to experience other (perhaps more representative) Israeli kids, and realized that I was not only culturally different, but also financially. Since going to an arts inclined middle and high school, almost the entire school consisted of kids of well settled, long-timed Israelis who had money to put their children in front of a piano (with a Russian piano teacher, no less!!) to make them proud. My mom put me behind the recorder after she found me a teacher, as she wanted me more than ever to study music like she did. And after it turned out that my ability in music ate my ability in math (and many other subjects) for breakfast, I was encouraged to never get that heavily underestimated and underappreciated baroque wind instrument out of my mouth! When it came to me and my recorder, money was never the question.


4. A Child of the World?
I often heard the expression "a person of the world" and aside from cheesy hippie connotations I have to admit it makes a lot of sense. Yet I think I have elaborated enough on my own experiences, so to give this post a proper closure I will ponder a little on the consequences of all the above on my future child.
I do intend having a child one day. Regardless of it not happening anytime soon, I like to think of the idea that all those multi cultural experiences and adventures will inevitably manifest in my own upbringing as a parent. I will ruthlessly continue my mother's policy and teach my child some Russian, because how the hell will he/she communicate with their grandparents anyway? Yet I acknowledge that the atmosphere at home will never be strictly Russian, or strictly Israeli for that matter. My greatest wish is for my child to know where their ancestors come from, and why he/she are experiencing the specific culture at home. It excites me to think of this and with so many relatives all across the world I have no doubt my child will have their fair share of traveling, languages and exploration.

Have you been affected by different cultures? What kind of environment would you wish for your children, if you'd have any? Could you imagine growing up differently?
Hope you liked this post!