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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

The Russians are Coming… No, They’re Here

crDon’t let the Bartologimignano family name fool you, I’m the Russian side of the family. Besides that, we have four adopted kids from Russia, adopted at older ages (pre-teens), so yes, most of them still have accents as puberty, or impending puberty, or an unwillingness to mix-and-mingle with wider society-at-large until a later age seems to influence that.

The notion that Russian influence has infiltrated Washington, and America as a whole, starting with President Donald Trump is laughable. But then there are flat-earth societies, and conspiracy-theory advocates and all sorts of folks who believe all sorts of things.

Those of us who grew up in America during the Cold War recall school air raid drills in case of atomiccr war. Apparently, our metal-and-wood standard-issue desks would keep us safe from Russian atomic bombs.

We remember the SALT treaties of Henry Kissinger and how we could all breathe a little easier now that Russia had given its word….


There was a reason for the phrase, “Trust, but verify.”

After the Cold War, there were more Russian spies in Washington (and elsewhere) than before the Cold War. These next-door neighbors had American names, and no accents (they could afford speech coaches) and did not place their Russian vodka bottles outside in recycle bins for all to see like our neighbors who singlehandedly keep the high-end California wineries in business.

crRussia spread their operatives to businesses and universities, science labs and other strategic positions. To imagine that politics was their primary goal or target is naivete at its finest. It is a means to an end.

Anyways, all of that is the backstory to our kids’ story. How to guide them now that being Russian in America is quickly approaching the stereotypical Russian versus American prizefighters in the ring? When I was growing up, we learned to fly under the radar, keep any mention of Russianness to ourselves. Should I suggest the same to our kids, now turning into adults, themselves?

Which leads to a funny story. Our eldest son works part-time and attends college part-time. In light of Smiling delivery man giving cardboxthe work culture at his office and employees who never met a holiday they didn’t celebrate, the office tends to be empty this time of year. As well as his own workload, Petya often functions as the main receptionist on the phones and at the front door which has a security system all its own.

He buzzes in delivery guys on a regular basis since most of the workers have their Christmas and Hanukkah gifts delivered there. He marveled at the case of Italian wine arriving to the front desk the other day… along with someone else who slipped in the door.

After Mr. Fed Ex took his leave, an African-American gentleman asked if he could speak with someone.

“That would be me,” our son offered, knowing that the others who were on site didn’t have time for an unannounced guest.

crSo with our son as his captive audience, off the visitor went on his stream-of-consciousness rant, about how he saw the president of North Korea recently in Chinatown and how he felt that the leader had snuck in for the purpose of blowing up our government.

“Little short fat guy?” I asked, glancing up from my computer.

“Kim Jong-un.  Spotted in Chinatown, here in DC,” my son nodded, recounting the interaction.

“Ah, the Supreme Leader who keeps bumping off friends, relatives and aides…. Kind of hard to blend in with a military uniform and that hairdo…” I mused, and the two of us chuckle.

“That’s not all, Mama,” our son enthused. “The Russians are taking over the world!”

“Of course they are. You and me: we’re in charge now.”

“No, really, this gentleman told me that I needed to get into politics and help our country, that white crpeople were our only hope and that Obama had done nothing about the Russian threat….”

“This African-American guy might not be as crazy as you imagined,” I nodded. “Did you say, ‘Thank you, comrade,’ and tell him you had dual citizenship?”

“No, I thanked him for stopping by and walked him to the door. What if he had a weapon?”

“Good move,” I congratulated. “Keep calm, diffuse and distract. Did he think you might be foreign at all?”

“He thinks I’m Spanish.”

“That’ll work,” I laugh, realizing our kids will be able to navigate their Russian identity just fine without my help.


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