Finding myself in the Middle East

Thursday, May 12, 2011

New Digs

So, something I could never have predicted--I like living on the fourth floor!

No, really. I'm not just saying that while blinking back tears. And yes, there are many many (many!) annoying aspects to living up so high without an elevator. But I love it. I look out of my window, and I see trees. I see people from way up high, and it makes me feel slightly above it all, not in a snotty way, but in a taking-a-deep-breath kinda way. Also, no one is tramping past my door. Instead, it is I who tramp past their doors. Hehehhehe. Which means that I can yell at the kids sing with the kids and no one will hear.

I heart my new apartment. It is old, it is high up, it is crammed with our stuff, but it is also full of life and love and laughter and singing--and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

70 Faces

Four days before Pesach, we went food shopping. I lost the kids in the candy isle as my husband and I went from item to item, inspecting the kashrus, kitniut content, and the outrageous special-for-Pesach price and comparing each to our standards of kashrus, ashkenazic non-kitniot eating background, and wallet. Promising the kids some candy as soon as we paid for it, we lugged our overloaded carts to the checkout line.

"Look at that," Outdoorsman said quietly.

I looked. Ahead of us in line was a family that apeared to be chiloni, not religious. They, too had a large shopping cart and were waiting paitently for their turn. "What, them? What about them?"

"Look at what they are buying."

Matzah. Cheeses. Candy. Tuna. Nasty looking kosher for Pesach mayonaise. Just like what we had in our cart.

I was tired, and thinking about all the cooking that I had to do. "Same as us. A little lighter on the eggs. What about it?"

"I don't know how religious they are. They seem to be chiloni. Maybe they are traditional or something. But they are buying food kosher for Pesach just like us."

"Because that's what's in the store. I don't think they're thinking about it."

"Exactly. Exactly. They are just buying what's in the store. They are not thinking about it. And it's all kosher for Pesach."

My bleach-stained hands hurt. The kids remembered the candy in the cart and decided to ask for it early. "So?"

"So." my husband's eyes were shining. "This is what they fought for. This is what they are fighting for. Don't you see? It's a parking lot open on shabbas. It's food that they want to keep kosher. We don't get it, and we think that we can do better. But they see a war going on, and this--" my husband swept his arm out to encompass the whole store--"this is a battle they won. And the people don't realize it, don't think about it; but in spite of themselves, they are keeping kosher. Even on Pesach."

Maybe I think that I have a better strategy because I don't even understand the war.Or maybe the path to showing your love for Hashem's torah is as varied as the people, the beautiful people who are keeping Pesach or shabbas on purpose or in spite of themselves because a battle has been fought and won.

Monday, May 2, 2011


It all starts off so well in my head. I am, after all, a giving person, a loving person, and I would do just about anything to make someone smile. So of course I could be patient with Princess today. I am patience. I am the soul of patience.

It all goes down hill from there around thirty nanoseconds after she wakes up. Because thirty nanoseconds after she wakes up is precisely when I am up. Woken up, rather. "Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiima!"

"ghahab," says I pulling hair out of my mouth.

"Iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiima, Princess hit me!"

"I didn't even! Coco-pop hit me first!"

"No, no! I didn't!"

"Cuz she made a funny noise!"

"Cuz she has the baby!"

"I had the baby first!"

I stumble to the bathroom, and she pounds on the door. I stalk out and give her the death glare. This is accomplished by focusing tired, bloodshot eyes on the victim. It helps if the hair is in a frightening tower of tangle and if you really, really have to go to the bathroom. It adds sincerity to the glare.

The morning ends with my nerves frayed, and one or both of them crying.And I? I feel like a failure.

Start the morning right, Outdoorsman tells me. Start by smiling at her and wishing her a good morning. Start by giving her a hug.

It's just so hard, sometimes, I tell him, to hug a porcupine. A porcupine with the energy of one of those tiny little dogs who run around and smash into walls. A porcupine who rolls her eyes at me and looks at me, waiting for me to let her down.

It's me, I know. It's something in me that tenses up when she walks up to me, when I should be projecting a sea of calm. It's something in me, something despicable, that wants not to be bothered, wants everything to fall into place while I while away time at the computer, existing as an observer instead of a participant. There is something in me that clashes with her strong will to control things, her lust for life and living while I, uncomprehending, just want another cup of coffee and a conversation about the state of the world. I watch. She lives. She runs into me, barrels into me, demands hands-on participation and understanding while I am perfectly content to stand in the sidelines with a pad of paper and a pen.

I am a writer, an actress. I mimic, I write what I see. She is not. She is so real, so alive, so glowing with potential, we are like two magnets with oposite forces, falling away from each other at a touch.

My darling, sweet, brilliant, overwhelming child. I know that I am supposed to teach you, but maybe we can figure this out together. Teach me to embrace you without us both bruising each other. Teach me to understand you in your lust, your need to be.

There is enough room for both of us here. There is enough room in our hearts for both of us.


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