Ch.5. In One Year
Ch.6. School, Entering Tests, Classes
Ch.7. How to find a job in America?
Ch.8. Resume – what is it all about?
Ch.9. We are buying a car
Ch.10. Resume – the next version.
Ch.11. My job search notebook


- Did you hear? Misha is leaving to America!
- Oh, really? He wants easy life?
Moscow dinner talk in 1991



We have been living here for many years already – for happiness or grief.  Yes, years passed since we waved joyfully from Sheremetyevo Airport customs in Moscow, and fled out to Unknown.

When people ask “Why?” or “Why did you leave your country?” – It’s not easy to answer.  I’d rather say it’s even impossible.  We are trying to express our unspoken dreams, we strive hopelessly to squash misty images floating in our minds into Procrustean bed of words – and with no effect.  Our answers are always false; at least they don’t reveal the full truth.

Because emigrants are those who dream, those who always feel lack of something, those who want to change their lives, those who always hope, and who always pursue the ghostly Blue Bird of happiness.  You cannot learn to be an emigrant; you needed to be born the one.

They are special.  I don’t mean that they are better or worse than others, they are just different.  When the gene of settled life is discovered, it will be found out for sure that emigrants don’t have it at all.  Emigration for them is destiny, not a choice.

And after they accomplish their goal, they will quest for another, then another… and thus endlessly.  Yes, they are dreamers, indeed.  But may be life on this Earth wouldn’t be so exciting and versatile without them?

…Thus, a few years ago, I started to write a book.  Or simply – notes – about our life here.

It was a funny beginning.  One of my friends, an artist, always complained what a disarranged person she was.  And because of special artistic state of mind, she can’t do anything – even to write a resume.  “Olga, – she used to tell me – you are so organizes and educated, that office is a perfect place for you!”  And one day, really, I found myself there, in the office – in the room without windows and without… well, I’d like to say “without doors”, but no, I had the door there.  But I didn’t see either blue sky, or green leaves, or sun, and two computers and endless shelves with documents were my only surrounding. 

So, I thought for a while and asked myself:  “Is it – mine?” (By the way, this “mine” was not that bad – it was a job, boring one, but it helped us to survive, my coworkers were nice and educated, I couldn’t complain, but you always want something better…).  Is it destiny of those who are not creative?  Shadowy rooms, gloomy computers with old version of DOS, and gray desk?  No bright sun, no white clouds, no brushes, no paint!  Is it my place in life?  Couldn’t I do something else?  And I started to think vigorously about it.  May be I can create something, too?  And maybe I can write a book?

Since that time I started to think about it and as soon as my latest great achievement was finding a job, I decided to share my experience, and started to write.  Later on, the plan of the book widened, and it turned to be a story about life.



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Chapter 1. The Beginning


So, what can I tell you about “easy life” in America?  Epigraph to the book was not my invention; I heard this conversation at the dinner in the company of friends, from one of them, Volodja Yulikov. No, at that time they didn’t talk about me – it was an occasional remark.  I believe that one day I will send him a copy of this book with a dedication. – Oh, if he knew and if I knew by myself how this “easy life” will be involved in my writings or – at least – in my letters…

Thus, in hot day of 19 July 1992…    

But did it really start at that day?  No, it started much earlier, to be exact - two years earlier, in fall of 1990.

…This line didn’t move.  It simply didn’t want to move. This line – one of the last lines I ever stood in Russia.  It seemed that planes don’t take off to New York, and if so, then carrying not more that 10 passengers – for this number my turn in this line changed every time when I came to check out there.  Actually, it was not the line in its sense of the word – but it was a log, where your name was listed under certain number, a log of people who wanted to buy tickets from Moscow to United States by Aeroflot, Russian airline.  While tickets were sold to those on the top of the line, the whole log changed their numbers, moving slowly forwards to the desired goal.

I had an invitation, and I had visa already.  The ice had broken!  At last we breathed a little of freedom!  It was days of Perestroika, the days of Glasnost!  We were stick to TV screens watching all the sessions of the State Communist Party meeting, we listened carefully to all the speakers, who blamed openly the Communist regime.  Gorbachev was still the chairman.  Everything was revealed, everything was opened, and we could talk about everything!  We were intoxicated with the air of freedom, we were happy, we were full of hope, and we were so politicized that could start a new revolution with the only one match.

We could go out of the country – anywhere, not only to the Socialist Eastern European countries, but to capitalists ones as well, and even to the mere stronghold of imperialism – to the United States of America!

They rushed abroad – parents, brothers, sisters, cousins, and friends – close and distant; and our poor recent immigrants were horrified with this invasion.  And I was among them, having an invitation from my friend, Bella, who has been living in Boston for 10 years at that time. 

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Chapter 2. I am Here!

So, I was brought right to the house of my mom’s acquaintance, Emma, who has been living in New York for a few years.  The guy who gave me a ride, dragged my suitcase to the fourth floor (there was no elevator in that building), to apartment D, where Emma lived.  She lived there with her daughter, Lena, young woman in her early 30th.  Lena had a flu at that time, and – I believe - my arrival was not apropos for them.

I spent there the whole evening and a half of the next day; we were not the close friends, not at all – my mom worked and befriended with Emma’s sister for long years, so she knew a lot about Emma, but they hardly ever met.  That’s why I didn’t feel very comfortable at their place, though they were very friendly and attentive to me.

It was October, it was cold already in Moscow, so I left in my overcoat, and here were hot (though the latest ones) days of summer, windows were wide open, and still there was hot in the apartment.  I couldn’t sleep almost half of the night because of jet leg, and spent this time reading Russian newspaper “Novoe Russkoe Slovo”.


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Chapter 3. The Bus Diaries

Here are some excrepts from my road diary, when I traveled from Boston to Los Angeles


October 23, 1990

Departure: 12 noon.

13:30.  Passing by Worchester.  The same gorgeous and colorful forests around.  Maples, birches, fir trees, pine trees – the amazing variety.  We are driving along the road number 90 (if my understanding is correct).  Traffic jam.  It is because of road works.  (How many traffic jams I will see later!)

14:45.The road is waving between hills covered with forest.  Forests are green, and yellow, and dark orange.  I see a lake to the right.  Rain is heavy,- what a pity!  There are many signs along the road – the road number and exits.  Road works – signs, signs, signs, red cones, arrows, fluorescent as well.  46 miles till Albany.  Top of the hills are closed by clouds.  Not the hills are too high, but clouds are low.

Sides of the road are divided by the green lawn and a fence in the middle of it (about half of yard high), sometimes the roads are apart for 20-30 yards, and sometimes there are bushes and trees between them.


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Chapter 4. The First Time in Los Angeles

Dubinins’ whole family (Kira, Leo and kids) met me at Greyhound Station in Downtown Los Angeles.  Happily, it was not very far from their home.  Slightly dizzy after the trip, I looked around in amazement.  Sun, and palm trees – it was October, remember! – were like a fairy tale for me.  They have been living at that time on Olympic Boulevard (by the way, it was named after Los Angeles Olympic Games of 1984).  Even now, passing by this place I look with tenderness at this small building where I spent my first months in Los Angeles.

The house is two-stored; their apartment was at the second floor.  There was not practically air-conditioner (i.e. like always in rented apartments it hardly worked and didn’t get any cool air).  It was two bedroom apartment with one bathroom.  It was built long time ago, but pretty good, even now I consider it as a good place for living.  Leo was working at that time as a scientist-researcher, and Kira made her first steps as an artist.

The kids were at the Catholic Good Sheppard School of Beverly Hills, and Dubinins were very happy with this.  They themselves stopped at the time of their arrival at the apartment of their sponsor, in Century City, in one of the skyscrapers there.  Once during their walk around they saw Good Sheppard school on Linden Drive.  We had nothing of the kind in Russia at that time, so we can imagine their delight!  They talked to the principal, Sr. Lionella, and the kids were taken into that school.  At the beginning it was very hard for them without language, but very soon the kids were twittering English at the back seat or the car, and the parents were very happy.


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Chapter 5. In One Year

Thus, in hot day of 19 July 1992 we arrived to Los Angeles. “We” – means me, my mother, my sons – Yevgeniy and Artemiy (or, how they will call themselves later, Eugene and Art). My husband, Dmitriy (Dima), stayed in Moscow because of our dog, as I didn’t want to burden my friends with looking for us an apartment with pets. Junia was the wonderful dog, the black big poodle – pure breed, with that smart brown eyes and silky curly hair! She was 13 when she was brought here later on.

The whole journey, meeting with friends here, in Los Angeles, settling in the apartment – all of this was misty and full of euphoria for me. But all the mess after arrival was passed, all our belongings were placed in their places, and immediately I started to think about a job. But these thoughts were with me for a long time already, since I was in Moscow, but now it started to be the main necessity, the survival issue. Nothing pleased my eyes already – either blue sky, or bright sun, or that small palm “cabbage heads” growing straight to skies, nor picturesque city appearance… Leo told once:”Well, you’ll find a job like in a 5 months…” “In 5 months?!” – a lightning glittered in my mind – “No! At least a babysitter or anybody!”


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Chapter 6. School, Entering Tests, Classes

In a few days (I remember – it was in the beginning of September) I went for those tests, the first in my American life.  I tell you in advance that since that time I had a lot of tests – at job interviews, in colleges and universities, but this one – this was the first!  All the participants were gathered in one of the classrooms. 

The meeting was held in great solemnity.  A few employees of the public educational system spoke to us, the prospective students.  One of the counselors, while showing certain sayings on the board (the sayings reminded me of one of the Soviet books, - “In the World of Wise Thoughts”-, where – among others – the Nikita Khruschov sayings were presented) explained to us why exactly this saying was the closest to today’s event (the test).  Thus, we read: “You become successful the moment you start moving toward a worthwhile goal,” and she explained to all of us, that we are on the way to success (I dare say “SUCCESS”, in capitals); we achieved it by the mere fact that we were gathered there, in that room, regardless of the result. 


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Chapter 7. How to find a job in America?

But we need to return to the question “How to find a job in America?” and with this rhetoric question Chapter 5 was ended.  Well – how?  Yes, of course, through relatives and friends.  This is the best way – if somebody will take you by the hand and walk you to the right place into the office.

Not so long ago one of my acquaintances, the father of a young daughter, was looking for a job for her, recently arrived to the United States.  In fact, he was looking for a person, who could give her a job position – say, in bank, and we were talking about bank on that strange evening gathering where I was together with my friend, bank employee.  At that time we didn’t talk about her education and degree (neither father, nor daughter could describe her education and specialization, thought she had it, and it sounded – economist), we didn’t talk about any skills (at least – English, or computer).  Our timid attempts to tell anything about work in the bank, about necessary skills, about possibility to take some classes, were not heard. 


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Chapter 8. Resume – what is it all about?

I’ve never heard about resume before. I didn’t know what to do with it. There, in Russia, we didn’t have something of the kind. Of course, your background and experience was important while getting a job, still it was more in oral form, than in written – if written, it was only in the form of job application itself.

So, I realized, that resume – is my condensed job experience and education review, which can include some personal information. May be, the higher the job position, the more detailing resume should be – I came to this conclusion while looking through my friends’ resumes. But it was for the medical doctor position, and it named even more important: “Curriculum vitae”. (By the way, some of my first resumes had this beautiful and significant heading: “Curriculum vitae”. No more, no less!) Of course, you need to study the market and to understand what qualities are needed, what you can offer for this job market, what you know, what your skills are.

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Chapter 9. We are Buying a Car

After I got my license, it was time to buy a car, as we decided.  Out of Moscow, of course, it seemed so easy, but in reality it turned out to be very difficult.  What car?  American or Japanese?  Or may be European?  What year?  And how to find all the discrepancies?  Leo advised me to go to the library, and look through magazine ‘Consumer reports’ – there was an article about buying a car, all the advises for the prospective buyers. – Inside Checklist, Outside Checklist, Under the Hood, Test Drive, Questions for the Owner, etc., etc., etc.


We checked the car carefully – in accordance with learned instructions.  We looked its bottom.  We asked if the car had an accident.  We turned on air conditioner.  “Working, working!” - . . . . .  talked Andreas.  We went to the body shop and asked the mechanics to look the car from the bottom.  We bargained hard.  3,200 – was Andreas price.  2,800 – told we firmly.  ‘You’re tough buyers!” – “Cash on the nail!”  We agreed on $ 3,000, being happy with each other.

Much later we found out, that conditioner didn’t work (we turned on the fan only), that the car had an accident, that Andreas didn’t register the car in time, and I needed to pay fine for this, that he didn’t pass smog-check, that…  But it was found out later, and at that time we bought the car

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Chapter 10. Resume - the Next Version


Looking thoroughly through “Classified”, I found out, that there were many ads for office workers – clerks, administrative assistants, secretaries. Besides, it happened that there were classes of Word Processors in our school, and then I started to study typing and Word Processing there.  Students studies independently there, again, and the teacher, Lidya, walked around and answered the questions.  She also explained DOS for all of us sometimes.  So, I divided my time between CAD and Word Processing classes.

Very soon I realized that I did a right step.  I needed to print somewhere my resume (yes, yes, the very first one, on 2 pages!), and I couldn’t do it without computer.  Of course, I could use Pam’s one, but it was really very inconvenient.  Thus, my Word Processing classes I started in a practical way – typing, editing and printing my own resume. 

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To be continued





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