Sasha Vasilyuk

Cultural journalist 

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Column in Huffington Post

Posted on April 10, 2016 at 10:00 PM Comments comments (0)

I published my first personal essay in Huffington Post "Don't Say 'Divorce' in the Wedding Industry". Personal essays has been something I've been exploring recently as I work on my memoir. This one takes parts from one of the chapters in my book to talk about what it feels like to get divorced when you work in the wedding industry. 

Here's a little preview (ads and all) of my article:


As you can see, there is a prominent Huffington Divorce marker on top. The way Huffington Post works is once you submit one article, you are basically granted a column. But even though I've had a lot of thoughts about divorce over the years, it's not a subject I'm eager to continue writing about on a frequent basis. So now, I have to figure out something else to do with this column. But for now, feel free to check out this piece and let me know your thoughts.

- Sasha

San Francisco, a medieval city

Posted on October 12, 2015 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

After a night at the theater, I head toward downtown San Francisco to meet a friend for dinner. 


I drive past a row of cardboard homes, where humans who were once exactly like me - fat, laughing babies - now rot away, wrapped in the stench of their last possessions. On the corner, a lonely, long-legged hooker in a red mini-skirt looks at the approaching cars, wondering if she’ll get her “Pretty Woman” moment. I turn the corner, drive past a brightly lit strip club, turn again and find a parking spot next to a cement wall where three shady characters are lingering. One of them, a thin, balding guy, jumps at the opportunity to help me park. Manically, he turns the imaginary wheel as I turn the real one. “I got it!” I yell and gesture for him to move out of the way. I get out of the car, in my dress and heels, and walk past him and his buddies with my eyes averted toward a Turkish restaurant where my friend is waiting.


I pass a large black man sitting on a bucket in the middle of the sidewalk, his teeth not all there. He says, “Hey beautithul! Wow! Hey, nice walk you got there. Damn!” I scurry past, not sure how to hide the sway of my hips.


When I return to the car after dinner, a crack head is leaning against the shiny blue panel. I flicker the headlights as a warning and he steps away. But not too far away. His eyes are bulging as if an atomic bomb just went off in his head. I get in and he says, “Some crack head was tryin’ to break in!”


“Oh,” I tell him. “Thanks?”


“So you got some change?”


I roll the car out of the parking spot and on my right notice a dark alley, where two bare-chested street men are dancing like boxers in a ring.


“C’mon, c’mon,” the white man eggs on the retreating black man in a nasal voice. “C’mon, show me whatcha got!”


The black man keeps retreating, but then suddenly takes a swing that sends the white man straight down to the ground. The black one saddles him and continues to hit him as he moans. I drive slowly past, wondering whether I should call the police or if this isn’t worth the tax payers’ money. Some onlookers gather and I decide to leave it to the law of the street.


Suddenly, I hear a roar of a car on my left. And then, a brand new Mazerati zooms by.


This is San Francisco. It is not the Painted Ladies and the Golden Gate Bridge. It is this: a city that despite and because of the millions of investor money that's getting thrown around almost senselessly, is becoming more and more medieval.

 

Balinese Selfies

Posted on August 14, 2015 at 3:25 PM Comments comments (0)

On full moon day in Bali, we visited Tira Empul Temple, where hundreds of people came to purify themselves. While the adults were busy purifying, however, the teenagers stopped to take a group selfie:


During lunch at a remote restaurant in the middle of peaceful rice fields, we spotted this Indonesian family (perhaps visiting from another island), also enjoying the view. Wait, no, they weren't enjoying the view - they were enjoying their cell phones, bowing their heads as if in prayer to the mobile gods. All six of them, simultaneously. In the hour we were both there, they barely said a word. 

I don't mean to judge (ok, fine, I'm definitely judging here), but I think it's a reflection of a problem all of us are facing around the world. It took me about a week in Bali to stop checking email and social media on my phone. I felt a drug-like pull to lock myself into the digital world and hide from the one I was walking in. 

When I finally managed to leave my phone behind and just Live, it felt as if my mind was able to breathe for the first time in a long time. Almost immediately after, I was able to connect with my partner on a deeper level than we have ever had before. We were able to think and talk freely, which led us to get inspired to make a drastic change in our lives. I know this wouldn't have happened unless we completely disconnected from the clutter of our digital consumer lives.

Caveman To Do List vs Modern To Do List

Posted on August 1, 2015 at 3:10 PM Comments comments (0)

Caveman To Do List:

- Get food

- Clean house

- Make baby

 

Modern To Do List:

- Get food

- Clean house

- Take the laptop that was fixed back to the place that fixed it to tell them that it wasn't actually fixed at all

- Drive to bank to get a replacement card for the one that you lost while trying to fit the receipt for the computer that wasn't fixed into your wallet and into your purse, while holding your take-out lunch with the other hand and talking on the phone with your friend about plans for that evening.

- Replace car window that was broken while you were at your friend's house that evening

- Find the tent that you borrowed from your parents, but that was now stolen from the car by what must have been the luckiest homeless person in the world. Use the computer that wasn't fixed and the card that you lost while fixing it to purchase said tent.

- Make baby?....

 

 

Memoir excerpt published by El Balazo Media

Posted on July 6, 2015 at 2:10 PM Comments comments (0)

I'm very excited to share that independent publisher El Balazo Media featured an excerpt from the memoir I'm working on. "Two Riders" tells the story of how I came to ride a motorcycle with a stranger through the planet's driest desert, the Atacama.

Here's a sneak preview:


I met Amit in the dusty courtyard of a hostel on the outskirts of San Pedro de Atacama, a small town in the driest desert on earth, Chile’s Atacama. Stocky, bald with a wide grin and cunning eyes, he was hunched above a computer that glowed against the starkness of the hostel’s mud-brick barracks and thatched terrace roof. He brimmed with confidence and energy, pointing eagerly to the screen and explaining to his three Chilean friends something about “usability.” His English was fast, reflecting his Indian childhood and Canadian passport.


We introduced ourselves and he explained that he and his friends came here for the weekend from Santiago, Chile’s capital way down south, where they were working on launching a web startup. My own post-divorce solo sojourn was a bit harder to summarize, so I left it at “I’m traveling through South America.”

 

Night descended quickly onto the desert town, bringing with it the lonesome yelping of the neighborhood dogs under the Southern Hemisphere constellations that I hadn’t yet learned to recognize. One of the oldest settlements in Chile, San Pedro de Atacama has become a small backpacker haven with a few unpaved blocks of lively restaurants serving hippy South American fare; shops sporting garlands of colorful ponchos; and tour agencies offering trips to climb nearby volcanos, swim in salt lakes, and photograph pink flamingos that call this barren region home. I joined Amit’s group as we took the wide dirt road from our outlying hostel along crooked fences and one-story huts toward the noise, the lights and the smell of grilled meat that wafted from the town’s center.

 

We settled in at a cozy restaurant on the corner, ordered our hippy-cum-Chilean dinner of llama stew with spinach and quinoa, and before the two bottles of the spicy Chilean Merlot had a chance to turn into a headache, Amit had somehow managed to convince me to join him the next morning on a motorcycle ride through the desert.


Read the rest of Two Riders.



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