Today, I got dressed in my most conservative outifit (i.e. The Conservative Outfit) (i.e. the only one I own) since I am teaching my healthy body image course in a seminary (and since it's a three part series, I might have to consider getting another outfit or two before the girls think that I have a closet full of identical outifits like a superhero) (although that might be kind of cool)--
and then draped a scarf across it since I was feeling a little bloated.
Can I teach something that I do not always embody? Short answer; yes, I can. I am an actress and a writer, so that is what I do. (I'm actually in a play right now, playing a charator that is not like me all. She is spacey, overly dramatic, and a little self-conscious. Oh. Wait.)
Long answer; I have come so far in this, and I will one day really personify it all. Every day I work on it; sometimes I fail and sometimes I make myself proud. It's just like any other yetzer hara, isn't it?
And: would you all like to read my first attempt at fiction for adults--and will soon be published? You guys get a sneak preview because you are all awesome.
It had even been funny a couple of hours ago, her husband pretending to be the water carrier in a shtetl while he put a bucket under the leak in the ceiling, but now she was tired, and the rain was coming down so hard that it was bouncing off the bottom of the bucket and hitting the edge of her bed and splattering the pillow. Should she turn, so that her head was at the foot of the bed? But wasn’t there something about not having your head facing the door? She remembered it vaguely, maybe an older brother had told her that when she was little, and it was something scary. She breathed heavily, exasperated, and moved her pillow over a few inches. If this room wasn’t so small, she could move the bed over.
The baby started crying, a wheezing, painful sound. He had a bad cold, and it probably sounded worse than it was. She slid out of her damp bed almost gratefully and went to check on him. He had bright spots of color on his cheeks, and he felt hot to the touch. She ran to get the thermometer. 101.6. Was she supposed to give him Tylenol? The book said that babies this age could get a fever that could shoot up really fast. She looked at the side of the Tylenol bottle. Under 2, consult physician. She glanced at the clock. 2:45 AM. If I was in America…her thoughts trailed off, but she was picturing her old pediatrician, and how her mother used to call him at the slightest hint of an emergency. There was no one like that here. Should she just half the dosage of the 2 year-old? She closed the bottle. She’ll just rock the baby to sleep, and call the doctor in the morning.
A half hour later, the baby’s screams were turning into hiccups and he finally fell asleep. She took his temperature again. 101.8. That’s not so high, she told herself as she shuffled back to bed. She had forgotten about the drip. Half of her pillow was wet, and she felt tears prickling at the corners of her eyes. She was so tired. She curled up on the dry half of the pillow and glanced at her sleeping husband. If I kick the night table really hard, he’ll wake up. The thought shocked her. Why would she want to wake him up? There was nothing they could do about the drip right now.
The baby woke up again just as she was finally drifting off. She stumbled out of bed and stubbed her toe on the night table. Tears rose instantly, and she blinked them back. The baby was burning up. 103.5. Oh, that’s not good, is it? She took the Tylenol. I’ll half it. I’ll half the dosage. Then I’ll stay with the baby a while and make sure it’s okay.
The baby drifted off and after a few minutes of watching him breath, she drifted in a dreamlike haze back to her bed. She lay down, her back to the spreading wetness, trying to ignore the tap, tap, tap of the water hitting the bucket, hitting her bed, hitting her pillow. She drifted off, only to be startled awake from water hitting her face. She must have turned in her sleep. “This bed is too small!” was that out loud? Her husband’s eyes opened for a second.
Why hadn’t he called the landlord? Why did they live in such a small, dinky, drippy horrible apartment in a country that doesn’t have doctors that you can call when your baby is sick in the middle of the night? She started crying again, and this time, she let the tears flow down her cheeks unchecked. Like this is going to help, a small voice inside her noted wryly, but the rest of her didn’t care. It was so cold here, and that was probably because of the hard stone floors. She remembered the blue carpet in her room growing up, and how she used to lie on it, on her belly, to study or read a book.
She closed her eyes and pretended that her bed was her carpet, that the most that she had to worry about was getting a good mark on the history final, and she must have finally fallen asleep because the next thing she knew, the birds in the tree outside her window were chirping and the sky was bright blue, the same color as her husband’s eyes.
He was holding the baby on the couch. “Tough night?”
Her face felt stiff. She probably looked like a mess. “Yeah. The baby, the…” she listened for it. The dripping had stopped.
“Listen, I’m really sorry. I should have called the landlord last night.”
“Yeah, it’s okay. You were busy. Or I could have called him.” She could have. She wasn’t sure why she hadn’t.
“It looks like it’s going to be a nice day,” he offered.
She glanced out the window. “It rained all last night.”
“That’s good, right? I mean, that’s what we’ve been davening for.”
The coffeemaker started dripping coffee out into the mugs. It smelled so wonderful. She smiled. “Yeah, it’s a good thing it rained. It hasn’t rained so much this year yet, and we need it.”