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So we got today Anya’s new documents which state clearly in Russian and Belarussian that her name is in fact Goodman and that she is very much my daughter. I don’t know that I have ever been really worried about this. It is not one of those things like where I had feelings as though there had been another in my bed. I can see the family nose already and she has my brown eyes- her mother’s are gray, and also everyone seems to think that she is a copy of me. And like, you know, I feel like I KNOW Tatyana, right? So the real world issue about her being mine were never in doubt. But nevertheless it did feel really good top see it in print. I had a thought to make a copy of it and print it here, but you probably couldn’t understand it anyway.
But one piece of that document did sort of rile me a bit. There is a question of the nationality of the parent. In Tatyana’s case, she wrote that she was from Ukraine because both her mom and dad were born there. When we were in the office last week this question was put to me. Tatyana’s first thought was to write that I was Jewish and that this is what should be written there. I probably could have lived with that but my American self did not like to be identified as such in a space reserved for what I supposed was for geographical origin. Now certainly, geography and ethnicity can be one in the same and in most cases probably are, but I bristled. Tanya didn’t understand this and seemed intent on slamming the moniker down on my head, insisting that I own up to the truth or some such thought. I tried several times to tell her that I feel no lowness of place over being Jewish, on the contrary I am proud as hell of my genes in this regard. But what I didn’t like about it was twofold: One, if we are speaking about the geographical background of my family the answer to put in there is Belarussian. And if we don’t like that for some reason, than you at least have to name me as an American. The second problem I have is that we Americans like to push aside questions of ethnicity as being… diminishing, or allowing for arguments about us that would in some way create prejudicial limitations. America is supposed to be about overcoming ethnic barriers from the old country, or at least I like to think that it is.
But then again this is the old country isn’t it? So, when this moment arrived Tanya wouldn’t hear me when I told her that I would like to be named as Belarus and insisted that I understand that I am Jewish. I tried to explain to her the differences between both geography and religion and ethnicity and religion but she just wasn’t biting. I don’t know why her mind would not allow this information to be but she wouldn’t. Maybe there are still some starchy anti-Semitistic enzymes yet percolating in her cranium and the thought of my being Jewish sort of blows away all other thoughts. She’s a shiksa, don’t you know and with a degree from the old school as far as that goes. Or maybe she just wants to feel in some way that she is in charge of things and so dismisses things I might say as being beneath her. She does this too from time to time. The most obvious example being that she still insists that I can’t speak Russian. I think she is the only person around here who can’t understand me anymore and when we are together, she is always stepping on my toes over-explaining things I already understood in conversations.
I don’t know why she wouldn’t listen to me but I ended up repeating the phrase “We don’t ask about this in America, and I am an American”. And so the woman in charge of the document, not wanting to be a part of a family quarrel, took this as being her cue to move on to the next question and so this turned out to be our final answer. So in the space of the document where nationality is called for, instead of saying Belarussian or American, both equally true and acceptable to me, we see in perfectly typed words in both the Russian and Belarrusian languages:
Nationality not given by the father.
But anyway, the kid has got her name and her heritage and a beautiful smile and a cool personality and interested eyes and groping hands and a big heart and so I am thrilled. Yes I am. I am thrilled and I dote and I see a future filled with all of things one dreams in such moments.
Been at the farm finishing up the planting. Everything looks beautiful. I still have a lot of work to do. You always have work to do, but I needed to come back and get some things and so I had this moment. I think I am going to have to move those trees. They took alright where I planted them but I strated thinking that I had a better idea as to where they should go so I might have to uproot them once more. I will probably be there for the weekend and then probably Monday and Tuesday also because Egor will have some vacation from school and so I will bring him up too. And who knows, maybe even Tanya and Anya will make their first plate appearances of the season. That would be nice.
So a few days without, but I will be back. I promise.
Oh, and a happy birthday to Andrew 5/10/92, Laura 5/8/90 and Bill 5/16/63. Bill is one of my oldest and dearest friends and Andrew and Laura are his two talented kids. Happy birthday guys and best wishes for the coming year.