Category Archives: Family

Wonderful Wizard of Wordly Wishes

Wonderfulness has taken over. Ladies and gentleman, perhaps if you complain enough good things will happen. Perhaps if you are an impatient, obsessive-compulsive, control freak things will happen the way you want them to. Perhaps, I am right. But I digress…

I have a J-O-B.

It doesn’t begin for another couple of weeks, but I am absolutely ecstatic about it. I don’t want to expand too much on this blog for reasons that are slightly above my maturity level, but mostly because I suppose that is unprofessional. Which means that I will most likely continue to write about things I can’t be held accountable for i.e., my family, friends, total strangers, and random thoughts.

I’ve been mildly entertaining for this long, right?


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Filed under Family, Friends, The Career

And the search, like the beat, goes on.

Today marks day 29 on my quest to find a job. Job hunting is kind of like what I would imagine dating to be for ugly people who have too high of standards. You have that dream occupation in mind and you’re not willing to settle for less. You start off really confident. I will get that job. I am perfect for it. Then you realize that the only people that get jobs like those are the ones who “slept around” with everyone involved with the position, thus getting an in when some people who may really deserve it and are ready for such a responsibility remain as waitresses–I mean, remain unemployed. (This has nothing to do with me, obviously.) I have probably applied to over 30 jobs, had two interviews, and arranged two informational interviews. These informational interviews, while not meant for the purpose of securing employment, actually leave me the most satisfied. I’m at ease because there is no fear of rejection, and the editorial assistants that I meet are genuinely nice. I think they relate to my tales of despair in a world with too many writers and not enough writing positions.

And now, perhaps because my day of interning is over and I actually have the night off from work, optimism has decided to trickle into my prose. –A rarity to those of you familiar with the way my mind works. As cliché and romanticized as this will sound, in the back of my mind I know it’s the truth: Years from now I will be looking back at these moments of humiliation, desperation, and lack of funds as some of the most wonderful and humbling times I will ever face. A friend recently wrote to me in an e-mail, that if it were easy, everyone would move out to New York and be fabulous. How true. Honestly, I had been telling myself for nearly a year now that I would move out to New York, be poor, work really hard for a while in order to secure a position, and make life happen from there. At no point did I naively think: With my credentials, I should have no problem getting a job. So I guess this post is my way of rationally telling my mind to stop being so masochistic and punishing me for not yet having found my very own 401k plan with health benefits.

I am not an ugly person with high standards. I just haven’t slept with the right people yet.

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Filed under Excuses, Family, New York City, The Career

It was kind of like Spring Break ’07 in Cancun minus all the booze, man.

Last week was Spring Break. As mentioned in the previous post, it was spent with my aunt, uncle, and two little cousins outside of San Francisco in a little place called the Central Valley. Aside from there being just about as much to do in their town as there is to do in my hometown: eat, watch TV, bowl, get your nails did, walk the dog, drive nowhere–I had a wonderfully educational experience.  

You may be asking yourself–Educational? Really Jess? Please, do let me expand. First off, my aunt is quite the homemaker. She never seems to be that much older than me, until I visit her. It’s when I step into her house and notice that not a single thing is out of place, not even a crumb to be found on the kitchen counter, that I realize–Man. She IS getting old. Now, now. I jest! It’s just that my tiny one-bedroom apartment is, um, far from this level of immaculate. Most people my age tend to shower regularly, sure…but clean our apartments? Please. I would rather do something more productive with my early twenties like watch Rock of Love or Housewives of New York City while thinking about why Rumer Willis looks like that.

Another thing I learned: kids can wait. Not forever. But for the time being, I do not want ’em. I love the tykes known as my cousins, but they require a certain level of patience I just don’t see in myself yet. Maybe patience comes with time or the desire to want children of your own like, immediately. I’ve just never been a “little kid person.” You can’t be competitive and play games with them, because they’re always supposed to win. ‘Cause if they don’twin–watch out! You’re about to see the biggest, bat shit-crazy, hissy fit of a lifetime. I was there. I know what I saw, and it was frightening. I had no idea what to do in this situation. I’m supposed to be the cool, older cousin. They are not supposed to throw tantrums with me. All I wanted to do was lie and say that he had in fact won the game. This would be followed by me throwing my Monopoly Junior money at the kid. Here. Take it. It’s not even real. What do they know? They’re just kids! I think I tend to connect more with the 9-13 year-old age group. –Not because I think they’re cute or anything, but because I don’t have to speak an octave higher in order to sound nice.

This weekend my little brother comes into town. He’s a pretty laid-back fellow who doesn’t require a squeaky clean abode to sleep comfortably when away from one’s home, nonetheless I will be fixing up the apartment in anticipation of his arrival. And if he happens to start talking to me about girls, I’ll let him in on a little story about what I see parenting really being like. It’s like my friend Michaela always says, “Abstinence is a condom for the heart.” So. True. 


Filed under Family, life lessons, love. sort of.

The District of Columbia: Different than the Midwest

I’ve realized, that when I’m bored, I tend to be very efficient in finding the interesting, the ironic, or maybe even the mildly stimulating in the little things. Now that I’m back in DC however, and busy, I can’t seem to come up with anything in my life that I think is worthy of sharing with the world. Truthfully, I’ve come to the conclusion that being home offers a lot to write about. As much as I may complain, I wouldn’t be the person I am today if weren’t for my life in Ohio. The family, my childhood home, seeing old friends… all great resources. Now though in DC, life takes on a more serious persona. I start work and I go to class. I start thinking about my…responsibilities.

I’ve moved into a new apartment. It’s fantastic! (Still decorating, however.) My roommate and good friend, Montana (yes, like the state) and I, will don our abode officially decorated once we have furnished the windows with a nice hanging plant.

Classes resume tomorrow, and I’m actually looking forward to it. I’ve just about run out of things to do in the new place. We finally got the internet hooked up, but recognized that since we have a 13” television set, cable seemed like a silly idea. We’ll see how long this lasts, because I love television. Bad television specifically. I don’t exactly sit around and watch the History Channel. No, no. My viewing pleasure tends to consist of E! True Hollywood Stories and bad, addicting MTV reality shows. And now I feel really brave and bold for sharing this bit of personal information with the general public. I hope you all appreciate my honesty.

My first class tomorrow is Moral Philosophy or “the philosophy of being good.” If you’re anything like me, you also have no idea what this class is actually going to be about. I’m going to cross my fingers and hope it’s actually a course that concerns itself with teaching good manners. I think this world needs a lesson or two on proper etiquette. Nothing huge, but what happened to letting old people sit down on the metro, opening doors for ladies, a simple please or thank you? Or with all of these new forms of communication? I believe a whole new set of manners need to be considered. Let’s look at text messaging for example: If you’re talking with someone for a while, but then choose not to text anything back for say, an hour, it’s as if you’ve completely abandoned the conversation, only to resume it later on your time when you say so. It’s a fairly unimportant observation, but nonetheless, something to consider. Thoughts or concerns? You let me know.

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Filed under DC, Family, Friends

A whole can of worms.

I want to start off by saying that in no way is this a retracting statement for my blog post entitled Culture Shock, posted on August 13th. However, it has been brought to my attention that a few people from within my close-knit Russian community here in Cleveland had issues with the reflections concerning my family life.

With anything that is posted for the public eyes to read, I understand that criticisms will arise. I just would have wished that the people that have known me my entire life and know what kind of person I am, would have had the sense to realize that I have nothing but good thoughts and pride towards my family and background.

The type of writing that I do is what I like to consider sarcastic, at times witty, but all-in-all endearing. I wanted to show to my readers, particularly my non-Russian/Jewish readers, what a wonderfully quirky family I have and all the traditions that come along with being an Alter. Additionally, in case anyone out there in cyberspace is wondering, I read my post out loud to my parents who laughed at themselves and encouraged me to write similar pieces in the future. (And I will.) …I guess their senses of humor are fully intact.

I also hope that in the times to come, those few who felt offended by my light-hearted jesting will understand that my banter does not come with ill-intentions, but rather deep affection.

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Filed under Cleveland, Family, Friends

Culture shock.

In the famous debate over nature vs. nurture, we’re asked to question whether our genes or our life experiences determine our unique individual behavioral and physical traits. Growing up, surrounded by a family and extended network of Russian-Jewish immigrants, here’s what I have avoided nurturing:

1) a desire for vodka or cognac before the sun sets.
2) urges to highlight my hair, tan my skin, or wear lipstick with a metallic luster.
3) getting married at 19, despite several of my grandmother’s failed matchmaking attempts.
4) a knack for sporting see-through clothing
5) incorporating Yiddish into everyday jargon

Here are some unavoidable characteristics my Russian-Jewish nature so lovingly imposed upon me:

1) boobs
2) curly hair
3) a desire for bagels and lox
4) self-deprecating sarcasm
5) boobs

…to name a few.

Last night in Cleveland my grandparents and great aunt and uncle came over for a typical dinner filled with caviar, liquor, and pumpernickel bread. However, throughout the entire meal all I could think in my head was: they are giving me such great material for my next post. But where would I even begin?

Here is a quick run-through of events that tend to happen each time my family gets together.

After setting the table, as I always set the table; my brother, Jordan and I make sure we’re sitting next to each other. (It should be noted that he and I sit next to each other at each Russian event so we can discuss in full-confidence what is going on around us, because none of our friends care or would ever understand.) So we’re sitting next to each other, people start grabbing at food, pouring themselves shots of wine, cognac, vodka…pick your poison!

Then my grandmother’s boyfriend starts speaking to Jordan and I…some joke he thinks we care to listen to. After he’s done telling us the joke or “wise” anecdote, a disappointed look spreads across his face, as he clearly has not gotten the reaction out of us that he would have liked. In Russian he then goes, “Ah, they don’t understand Russian. Why don’t they understand the Russian language? They should know it!” Meanwhile, the man who lives in America, cannot utter a single word in English. At this point, since Jordan and myself can both speak and understand Russian, we just shoot sarcastic remarks about the man in front of his face. I guess the old school discipline failed on us.

My aunt, who was six when her family came to the U.S., lives in California now. It’s true she survived the drama that comes along with having a family that lived through Communism, but the fact of the matter is that she escaped. All I have to say in regards to her and last night’s dinner is this: my grandparents are very worried about her food preparation methods. “Grilling?!” (As if it were synonymous to pulling out scraps from the garbage.) “And no soup? How are the children supposed to grow without some ‘soup-cheek?'” I suppose only time will tell.

Finally, after about ten toasts in a thirty-minute span and my mother asking everyone whether they have tried and/or enjoyed each individual food item on the table, it’s time for my grandpa and my grandmother’s boyfriend to go play dominoes. The game of dominoes, I’ve come to realize, is the old man’s X-Box. To me it looks like just about the most boring thing anyone would dare to inflict upon themselves, but who am I to judge?

This has been just a small sampling of what a night at the Alter residence might be like. Far from the usual, I must say, it has always kept me entertained.


(Yes, styrofoam is the norm for such an occasion.)


Filed under Cleveland, Family