My father’s greatest hits and misses

Dad was alone in Kyiv. Reported a fever. Said he put on a mask and made sure the neighbor has the spare keys, “In case I croak, my love”

Me: “Dad, NO!”

Dad: “You’re right. I don’t like your aunt much. Maybe the joy of discovering my body should be hers”


Me: “Hey dad, what’s up, isn’t it kind of late over there? You OK?”

Dad: “I was just thinking that trying to turn a cow into an intellectual ruins a perfectly good cow”


Me: “In terms of my bisexuality—“

Dad: “Oh please, I always knew you liked girls”

Me: “I’m trying to have a serious discussi—“

Dad: “What Cossack doesn’t like them?!”


Every once in a while, my dad asks me if Henry Fonda is a woman. Seriously, it’s happened more than once. I keep telling him that he is confusing Henry Fonda with Jane Fonda. The last time I reminded him, he paused, and then pointed out that, “Henry is a much more interesting name for a blonde.”


“And this beautiful lady is my daughter. She speaks three languages but no let that scare you! She also know a lot about Putinism, espionage, defenestration… Sorry, disinformation. What catch!”

— My dad, when he was back in the States, and playing matchmaker at my gym. (Remember gyms, guys? Those were the days)


Dad, calling me up at the height of the pandemic in Ukraine: “Woke up today and OH MY GOD”

Me: “Oh my God, dad what?! Headache? Fever? Dad?!”

Dad: “My love, I’m telling you, OH MY GOD.”

Me: “Dad what is happening?? What is —”



Me: *trying to enjoy a wonderful day at the DC zoo*

Dad: “So anyway, one of the most interesting Chinese torture methods I’ve ever heard of involves a large bug and some clay”


Me, telling my father about taking my child outside to see the flyover over DC: “… And it was so exciting! We loved the planes! The Blue Angels! The Thunderbirds! We had to look up the Thunderbirds because—”

Dad: “Don’t tell me you’re going to start dating pilots.”

Me: “Dad what the—”


Me: “What does this have to do with—”


Me: “Actually, the Navy—”



Me: “Dad, I can’t”

Dad: “That’s what everyone says”

Me: “But honestly”

Dad: “But honestly? But honestly, you are my daughter.”

We’ve had our differences, but thank you, dad. Thank you always.


My father, an old officer, among many other things, been out of a job since the pandemic began. My brother and I have been helping him keep the lights on, but my brother’s work hours have just been cut and I am facing a costly move. Dad’s been trudging to job interviews in his little face mask, but most places won’t hire him because he is just too old. His car’s got issues, so he can’t drive, and his old smartphone just bit the dust. If you appreciate his witticisms, please consider donating a few bucks so we can get his car fixed and his phone replaced. PayPal: nvantonova [at] gmail [dot] com, Venmo: @Natalia-Antonova-1, please mark the donation as “for dad”. Thank you — and stay safe out there.

The Longest

Whether it’s a quake in the voice, or a full-bodied, let-the-neighbors-pause-in-their-well-carved-out-daily-routines wail is not the point. The point is that either one works.

The clusterfuck of orphaned cables, the streets stamped with ghosts — everywhere is a hostile environment, crackling, kinetic. Asking a device to forget another device, a brief feeling of jealousy at the ease. Then again, maybe there are crumbs of data left in there, shredded stars, lying like dust that waits to be disturbed by a traveler, who an entire age from now will gaze in and ask questions that unspool into more questions.

I wish you well, treasure hunter. May you crack open the bones of this house and greet the marrow. The nights I was painted white, so beautifully I took my own breath away, and the things that were said by the fire. They are not mine now, I give them to you, treat them well.

The love here is thick around my ankles, therefore I won’t stay. Everyone greets the longest night in their own way.


The work on this website exists because you are good looking & generous. 
No guilt-trip, just good times

I’m a Rape Survivor With #MeToo Fatigue: Here’s Why

I have a confession to make: I’m sick of #MeToo. Whenever I see the hashtag, I feel dread. I lived through rape, abuse, and torture, so this is, in one sense, a personal reaction — reminders of familiar traumas make me hurt. That’s on me. No one else is responsible for my mental health.

But the dread is mixed with frustration. Me Too is a movement dedicated to eradicating sexual violence, started over a decade ago by Tarana Burke, a black woman from the Bronx — yet in interviewing (white) people about their use of the hashtag, I regularly encounter those who have no idea who Tarana even is, let alone her story, what she says her movement is about,  her work (featuring Terry Crews!), et al.

I also encounter too many well-meaning people in denial about the fact that anything that’s constantly on the news is going to attract grifters and attention-seekers who feel the need to hijack an important cause.

The most obvious example is Jacob Wohl — a conspiracy theorist who attempted to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller by claiming he is a rapist. We were all so focused on the ludicrousness of Wohl’s scheme that we forgot its implications: Any popular movement, let alone popular hashtag, is going to attract its share of people with dubious agendas, and admitting this should not be tantamount to discrediting survivors.

Continue reading “I’m a Rape Survivor With #MeToo Fatigue: Here’s Why”

Matilda’s New Digs: An October Ghost Story

“Don’t be fooled by new houses. They sit on old ground.” Matilda had no idea who had dropped the note in her mailbox, and she didn’t care to find out. There was too much unpacking to be done.

There were boxes for the upstairs, boxes for the downstairs, and boxes that were meant to go straight into the basement. It was her mother’s things, mostly, that went into exile down there — vintage lace dresses, crystal earrings, leather-bound collections of Shakespeare and Ibsen, things Matilda couldn’t bear to interact with, but didn’t have the heart to cast out. Matilda’s mother had been a stage actress with a considerable following and had died young. At the time, it struck Matilda as just the kind of thing her mother would do — slip away early, with no warning, just as she used to do at theater parties, heels pounding sidewalk before anyone had the chance to say a real goodbye. Over the years, the loss had done the opposite of what it was supposed to do; the wound grew deeper, echoing with old stories, jokes, her mother’s garrulous, self-assured laugh. How could someone who had been so alive be so very dead?

Matilda had a practical job and what she liked to think of as an uncomplicated life. Not for her were tumultuous affairs with directors, children by different, loutishly handsome fathers, champagne in the morning, tussles with the press. Matilda didn’t think of herself as boring. She’d had plenty of men, and women, for that matter, she just “wasn’t interested in drama,” as she put it in her online dating profiles. Was she betraying her mother’s legacy? Maybe.

After the moving men had gone, an inky twilight settled over the new house with its granite countertops and gleaming, virginal floors. Matilda opened up a bottle of wine. The pinot grigio tasted tingly, like she felt. A glass and a half in, there was a knock on the door.

Continue reading “Matilda’s New Digs: An October Ghost Story”

In memory of Mikhail Ugarov

In the museum of our bones
The keeper lights his nightly cigarette;
His doctor says he must cut back
And unlike us, he won’t mock fate.

He leads a reverent life by day
His mother’s bills are always paid
His lawn and pubic hair are trim
His children’s college funds undrained.

His ex-wife can’t remember why
She left him, and sometimes she sighs
Into the silent compliance of a whiskey glass
As crickets kick off in the grass.

The girls on Tinder like his jaw
Good breasts spill out for him from bras;
His friends are jealous, he just shrugs —
“Get what you can,” he says to them.

The wind chime on his back porch tolls
For moths who die because the light
Has told a tale of angel skin
So warm — and almost didn’t lie.

His hands are grooved and good and calm
His legs sap soil like Tolstoy’s oaks
His dogs are glassy with content
His dreams are kind to his dawns…

In the museum of our bones
The keeper hugs a tibia
Stares down the skulls up on their shelf
And maybe wishes he was someone else.


For Mikhail Yuryevich Ugarov, 1956-2018
Artistic director of Teatr.doc
My friend

Photograph by filmmaker Denis Klebleev.

This blog exists because you’re good-looking and generous: No guilt-trip, just good times