Finding myself in the Middle East

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Would Smell As Sweet

How does it make any sense?  How does it comfort me, your rubbery smile that you express with your whole little tiny body, your arms, legs, flailing in delight, your eyes like the sunrise?

“It’s like he’s fond of us,” I say. “It’s the weirdest thing. There’s fondness in his smile.”

I feel like you know me, little boy, I feel like those baby-blue eyes of yours are inexplicably old, set in your brand-new face.

And who am I talking to, anyway? To you, Abba, or to the baby bearing your name?

Let me talk to you, then, Abba. If you don’t mind. If you can spare the time to listen.

Or is time meaningless where you are? Is it nothing but a human creation for the very human need for things to happen first, second, and then third, with the third thing being a result of the first and the second things?
I don’t know about any of that stuff. I don’t really know how any of this works. All I know is that when we named him after you the one who had been the baby of the family eight days before needed my attention and when I heard them announce your name the tears that came to my eyes were less about that and more just the vague results of happiness mixed with exhaustion and because I hated to hear my baby cry.

And then there were the dazed weeks, the weeks of transitioning from three kids to four and feeling like I love them all so much but oh G-d help me they’re everywhere and they sense just when I pour myself a mug of hot coffee or finally close my eyes. I wasn’t doing too much thinking then, and anyway he was just “baby,” or “sweetie” you see, too small to carry something as big as a name, but now…

Now Baruch is smiling.

How does it make any sense, the comfort I feel?  

I confess that I needed comfort because my friend’s father came to visit and I was jealous because there he was and there you weren’t, so I gave them a heartfelt bracha in my head like I always do when I am unfairly envious of someone else’s good fortune.

So, anyway, Abba, past my shameful human frailties—if there is such a thing as past human frailties—when I hung up the phone with my friend, I walked over to your picture, ostensibly to dust it because it suddenly needed dusting  and tears sprang to my eyes.

I miss you. I miss you miss you miss you, but the memories of you are interwoven with the words that I’ve written about you and became trite almost, reduced to catchphrases and things to tell the children about their Sabba whom they barely remember.

But thankfully no turn of phrase could ever really describe your smile, Abba, the one you wore through it all. (And you’ve been through it all.) So I think, sometimes, not about who you were or what you’ve done but just about your smile, about the warmth and fondness found in your hard-earned smile.

But back to my linear, limited story where things happen first and second and then third with the first and second causing the third—because that’s the only way I know how to tell a story Abba, so please forgive me— there I was, crying.

And there he was, the baby bearing your name, and he was smiling at me, his first smile, smiling fondly with his eyes and mouth and arms and legs, his whole body one big smile.

And how does it make any sense—it doesn’t make any sense—

The comfort that floods all through me when I bask in the glow of my Baruch’s smile.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Slam Poetry: One Take On Tuesday

She wants cereal in the purple bowl and I can only find the green

And I'm tired, can't they see that? He looks perfect, is perfect,

And screams all night long, putting all thoughts of bowls, purple or otherwise, into

The part of my mind that's in free-fall.

When they leave, bump in her hair, shoes smudged, I say, "I love you! Have a great day!"

But kisses don't replace "Hurry UP!" as the song-worm in their brain, and I think,

I will make it up to them, but

Lunch is late,

The baby and the writing and the laundry, because those are important,

And I'm cutting up vegetables in a frenzy instead of hugging when they come home.

(vegetables are important, you know)

And in the park sure, there I am,

And homework, sure,

But I am pulled into four and say "hang on, just hang on," so many times

I might as well record it and press play.

And dinner, and book, and bath, and bed

And all I want to do is finish the load of laundry that I started in the morning,

Move it from clean to dry

(it's important that the clothes smell fresh, you see)

And so many kisses, kiss them to sleep.

"Okay. We'll talk more in the morning," I say. "I love you."


The laundry,


Spins round and starts again.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Theory of Relativity

The locust storm has passed, leaving blackened stalks in its wake.

Did I say locusts? Silly me! Mommy brain and all that. I meant family! My family has gone. All but one, and the last holdout leaves tomorrow.

And by blackened stalks I meant my refrigerator. And cabinets. And by flying house I meant flying house.

Did I not say flying house? I meant to say it.Repeatedly. And then cry a little and then write a blog post instead of cleaning up and/or making lunch for the kids who will be home in an hour and/or finishing the chapter I started yesterday because how does one write when the house looks like it was hit by something very large and slightly listing to port? Port being the kids' room that housed 6 kids under the age of eight for three weeks, and actually I have no idea if its port, but when things list, they always do so to port, amiright? Also, if you say "port" enough times, it loses all sense of meaning.

So the baby is named for my father, and I think I need the space and time to get very emotional about that, and about him, his silky and small perfection, his little nose and beautiful eyes and his long and slender fingers and toes that are startlingly and starkly like my father's. You have big shoes to fill, tiny little boy who has already stolen my heart. No pressure.  

Anyway, they're all gone! It will be so quiet here with just us! Who said that transitioning to a fourth child had to be hard? If I was a hashtag kind of person--which I am most definitely not--I would write something hashtagy about that. Like #easiesttransitionever or something.

It's a good thing that I would never do that. Being not hashtaggy and all.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Update with a Side of Stretch Marks

I must have started and stopped four different posts this past month. Checking...

Yes, four. One about the first day of school, one about my father's second yartzeit, one about Turtle's birthday, and one about Coco-pop's. (Didn't even start one for Princess...)

They are lingering in draft form, and in draft form they will probably stay unless their molecules drift apart, because I lost steam halfway through and they came out forced--Like all, look at me! I am FUNNY! Oh, and look again! Now I am SAD!--and uninspired.

Why, you ask? Both of you who hung out through my sporadic writings this year?

Oh, and no, this is not going to be one of those horrible--oh, I know that I have not been writing please forgive me, because NOW I FOR SURE AM FOREVER AND EVERY FIVE TIMES A DAY IF NOT MORE posts--this is just me being ridiculously tired and doing this ridiculous thing in which I am having a houseful of guests while having a baby and doing the even more ridiculous thing of stressing about things that I cannot change.

You know when you have so much to do and you're sitting there, writing a blog entry and drinking coffee even though caffeine, sugar and milk are three things that hurt your stomach right now and here you are, putting all three sins in one cup for fifteen minutes of pleasure and five hours of pain (No? Juuuust kidding, I would never do that! That's not worth it at all!) and you're thinking, I-have-so-much-to-do-I-have-so-much-to-do and the muchness that you have to do keeps you glued to your chair thinking that you should definitely instead watch reruns of Dr. Who?

(No? Me neither.)

So here I am. This is me. Tired. Hugely pregnant. sHosting people. Dashing over writing deadlines with the speed of a train that is out of service.

So, shall go and do what I need to do. But first, shall give a one-paragraph shout-out to all four posts which are sitting there and getting covered in mold in draft form.

1. Happy happy first day of school! It is wondrous to hear my own thoughts again and a bit shameful as to how much I enjoy coloring in their homework sheets. And a bit painful to figure out all that Hebrew gibberish stuff. Just so you know? Non-immigrant parents? You are totally cheating.

2. Sad and lacking yartzeit, Abba, being six-thousand miles away from your grave. And six-thousand miles away from anyone who cares about things like that. I thought about you, and Outdoorsman even made a siyum. But it was all so hollow. I haven't even been able to cry. I feel like the tears are all stored up and they'll come out at the least opportune moment ever ever. I'll keep you posted.

3. Turtle is three! He has a haircut and thus we have discovered that he has the roundest head in the known cosmos. It is perfect. It is like a hairy apple. I must confess to biting it. Please don't take him away from me. You would bite it too, I know you would.

4. Coco-pop has been waiting for this day for so so long, and we're pushing it off a bit longer so that her cousins could be here for the celebration. Because yes, this week, I am also making a birthday party. Because timing is one thing that I am impeccable with. (Witness my four summer babies.)

That's all, folks! I am now going to not do the thing in which I am not doing the things I need to do. After all, coffee is finished, post is finished, and I have a while before I am doubled over in pain. Yay!

See y'all on the other side. Thanks for tuning in.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Do as I Say

"Ima, a girl in my gan is the fattest. She walks like this," said Coco-pop, who is fascinated by expressions, body language, and walks.

But I thought that I caught a mocking look on her face. "We don't call people fat," I said.

"But she is,"she insisted. There was doubt now in her eyes. "She is very very fat. She is the fattest."

"Does it make her feel good when someone says that to her?" I tried another tack, keeping my face neutral. As if, maybe she does feel good when people say that. Maybe it's like saying, she has brown eyes. Very very brown eyes. She has the brownest.

Yeah, and maybe I can wrap my kids in bubble wrap and keep them home. Maybe I could stuff their ears with cotton each time someone else says something.

But even if I could do that, how could I prevent them from hearing my own judgments? From seeing what I don't want them to see?

"Ima, you got fat," Coco-pop said.

"Not you, not you," she hurriedly added. "Your belly. Because you have a baby inside." she smiled. She was worried. "Right?"

Did my face fall at her little announcement, made as we snuggled on the couch reading a bedtime book? Is that why she quickly added a disclaimer?

The word 'diet' is outlawed in our house. When a guest innocently told Princess how slim and beautiful she was, he was treated to a twenty minute tirade on my part. Tell her she is beautiful, I said. Tell her she is smart. But don't you dare connect slim--thin--skinny-- to the judge-y word "beautiful."

Because if slim is beautiful, where does that leave fat?

And here I am, 8 and a half months pregnant, and moaning to Outdoorsman--out of earshot of the kids, of course, because we don't mention fat, or diet, or any judge-y words at all, of course of course of course!--how I was never this big before. "I will lose it all," I say. "All of it."

"Okay," he says, raising his hands. "Okay. Relax. You're pregnant."

I do not relax. I envision myself back to myself, my stomach flat, my skin smooth, abs hard.

"This body made all of you," I tell the kids after I say shema and give them goodnight kisses. "Isn't that amazing? And now it's making a little sibling!" And in my head I'm thinking, I can do it. I can get rid of it all; the stretch marks, the saggy skin, the loose abs. I can and I will. 

As if my 23 year-old body is hanging in the closet together with my size fours, waiting to be taken down and zipped back up, as if nothing had happened. As if I could slip off this skin I'm in, this skin that bore four children, this body that created such miraculous masterpieces.

As if I should. 

And as if I could tell the kids one thing and feel another. As if they could live with the contradiction of my face falling at the word fat, and my careful skirting of it, pretending that it doesn't exist.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty, Little Ball of Fleas

It couldn't even meow, even when it tried. It was dying, that tiny little thing that slipped into my house when I opened the front door and looked at me with wide hopeful eyes.

"Aaaahhh!" said the children, sure that the pound and a half sack of skin and bones and fur and huge green eyes with no meow had in mind to do them bodily harm.

"Oh gosh," says I. I rolled my eyes. Pet peeve: the way my kids are so thoroughly terrified of every single life form, in the manner of all of their Israeli friends. (Yes, the fly is going to eat you! It is going to strip your skeleton clean and dance on your bleached and petrified bones! It is a wild and insane creature, so it makes sense to scream so loud at two in the morning that I ran in full Mamma Bear mode into your bedroom with a seven-inch butcher knife! Shall I skewer the fly with it?) "It's not going to hurt you! It won't do anything to you!" 

And with pride goeth the fall. 

I scooped the kitten up. 

Yes, I did that.

Yes, I to answer the question of "what have you done?" I now know What I Have Done.

But then, I didn't. Then I was a kitten-innocent, a kitten-virgin. I cradled the pathetic thing to show my cringing children who were in the process of pulling my skirt off in terror that there was nothing to be afraid of. "Fear not!" quoth I. "For this kitten is naught but a starving creature who craves water and mayhaps some of those hot dogs that I left on the stove from yesterday's dinner by accident."

And I filled a dish with water and a second with hot dogs, took them and the kitten a distance away from the house, and let her at it. 

The next morning, there was a slight scratching at the door. 

It was she.

"Aaaahhhh!" said the children.

But I just so happened to have left some chicken wings out on the counter. (Coincidence? I think not. There is no such thing as coincidence. It was divinely orchestrated that I feed the poor creature! I saw Hashem's hand in this! So clearly! This obviously has nothing to do with me leaving the kitchen a complete and utter disaster two nights in a row. None at all.)

And then...she was waiting for us when we came home. And then she followed us to the park. And then from countless nights of leaving food out that cats just so happen to thrive on, she began frolicking and the light came back into her eyes and in gratitude, she took to jumping in from the window or running under our feet the second the door opens. I am yours, she says with her little twitchy tail. 

"Kitten in the house!" we holler, and someone runs to scoop up the kitten and lightly toss it far enough to give him/her time to run back inside and close the door.


We are prisoners in our own home. We live in abject fear of the kitten.

Until yesterday. When we flattened her with a steamroller.

Yeah, no, similar. But even worse.

We started finding her cute.

We started chasing away neighborhood kids who came to bother her, bigger cats who hissed at her, and then that fateful dark hour when she got into the house in some mysterious way and we woke up at two in the morning to find her lying in a ball of her own adorable-ness at our feet. 

"Aw," says I.

"Aw,"says Outdoorsman.

"She's covered in fleas," says Outdoorsman.

"She can't stay in our house," says Outdoorsman.

"We are not cat people," says Outdoorsman.

"Well, I'm not waking her up," said Outdoorsman.

And so, first this tomorrow morning, we have an appointment at the vet to get her de-yuckafied. And then...well, I guess, she won. She is ours.

May G-d have mercy on our souls.

Oh! And just yesterday? She got her meow back.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Yeah, I'm Over It

Since I moved away from the center of the city, even in my little anti-social heart a flower of loneliness bloomed.

Ah, sighed the flower. Remember those days of effortless socializing? When you just went to the park and they were there in droves, the women and the kids, kids to play with my kids and the women to talk about recipes/stinky diapers/shaitel sales? I hated those conversations for their vapidness, but I didn't know what I would be missing. Those were the days...I would do anything to participate in a good old; what are you making for supper? exchange...

And my heart said in reply to the flower's plaintive pleas, so get thee to a park back in the old neighborhood!  Allow thy children to play with the others! Talketh thou amongst the women about things of importance! And most importantly of all, why is there a flower growing inside of me? I mean, listen, I love a metaphor as well as the next inner organ, but this one makes no sense if you think about it. And why am I speaking in Old English?

So I went to a park.

And the flower died.

K, so first of all, I'm sitting there playing with Turtle and he's telling me all about what he's learned, (i.e., coveted) in the world over these past nearly-three years. (the builder-man makes a noise with the drill! I need the drill! The cleaning truck is coming! I need to drive the cleaning truck! The dog says ruff-ruff! I need the dog!) And he's digging in the sand and filling up his little plastic pail.

I watch the park fill up. My eyes grow misty. I nod hi to people. We say our how are yous. The kids eye each other. All is peaceful.

For five minutes.

A little girl comes over. She examines Turtle's work with the critical eye of a hole-digging master and says, "You need water in the hole." and she pours a bucket of water into the sand. Sand+water=mud. My shoes get splattered.

Turtle watches her for a moment.

"I don't want water," he says after a minute.

"Yes you do," she reassures him.

"And you need some more," she adds. She turns to me. "So we need your water bottle."

"The water bottle is for drinking," I say.

"No," she says. "It's for holes."

Apparently, her little sister doesn't agree with her. Because she takes my water bottle and started to drink it. "No," I say firmly."Mine."

I start to look around for a mother. I find her. In a knot of other mothers. Talking about recipes/stinky diapers/shaitel sales? "Excuse me? Um. Your kids..." I gesture broadly.

"Leah,don't bother the mommy," she says over her shoulder, and then continues talking.

I lock Eyes Of Steel with the kid who has my water bottle. That works like a charm with my kids, but this one is made of sterner stuff. And while my eyes are away from the drama-in-the-sand, the other little girl had helped herself to Turtle's pail. "I'll go get more water," she says.

Turtle's eyes turn big. Confusion fills them. "My pail," he says. It sounded like a question. My pail?

"Yes," I confirm. "Your pail. Um..." the little girl is gone, but she reappears moments later, pail full of water. Splash.

"I don't want water," Turtle tries again.

"He doesn't," I raise my voice in the direction of the Gaggle of Mommys, "WANT WATER."

"Shaitel shaitel," says one mother.

"Diapers, diapers," says another.

"Don't be mean," I say to myself. "They are probably talking about important things, and I'm just jealous because I'm not in the circle."

I get the pail back and give the older girl The Look of Steel. Might as well be The Look of Lukewarm Spaghetti for all its effectiveness. At the same time, I feld off the second Attack For the Water Bottle from her younger sister, which, sneakily enough, was about the transpire from behind.

They both interpret my  moves as an invitation to kick sand all over my lap and Turtle's face.

I am a brave woman, but I know when I am outgunned. I put Turtle in his stroller and head for greener pastures. His face is a blur of warring emotions. "You can keep the water bottle," I say to the girls. "To the victor goes the spoils."

Three mother separate themselves from the group and plop down in my spot as I get up, and as I walk towards the grassy area of the park which is blessedly empty, I hear the following;

"What are you making for supper?"

And when the answer is given, she asks for the recipe.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Oh, Brother


Thanks so much everyone for your kind comments. But I had to delete it. I NEVER, no matter the temptation, wrote about other people before, not really, not in a real way, especially not about those near and dear to me, and I should not start now.

Better safe than sorry.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

All The Lonely People

For my birthday, Outdoorsman bought me a beautiful notebook and pen small enough to fit inside my pocketbook but big enough to want to fill up it's pages. I kept it for a while, wondering what to do with it. After a while, I decided to make it into a gratitude notebook, inspired by the events chronicled here. I try to write in it at least once a week. And there is so much to write, sometimes I feel guilty.

Like today.

When he first called me over, I thought about that story from the other week, about the girl who had stopped to help a guy at the bus stop and gotten raped for her trouble. But this guy was small, and old, and the way that he held his face told me that his eyes were like my father's eyes at the end, perceiving me rather than seeing me.

So I stopped, and sat down. "Can I help you?" I asked.

"Can you dial the telephone number on this paper? I can't see. Something happened to my eyes, and I need to get tested. But I need to call this phone number. Can you dial it for me?"

He handed me a paper.

It was blank.

"Um." I swallowed. "There's no number here."

"Can you dial the number?"

I said it louder. "There is no number. I'm sorry."

He handed me his cell phone. "Because I need to go get tested. I need to see what happened to my eyes. I didn't daven today because I have an early appointment. I have not missed a minyan in 40 years. But I need to go."

"There is no number."

"No number? Ah."

I started scrolling through his phone numbers, but there were only three or four of them. "Is there anyone I can call, from your family, you know, who can help?"

He smiled. His teeth were stained and that made me unbearably sad for some reason. "I am like Dovid Hamelech," he said. "His son wanted to kill him. So does mine. He will not come."

"Oh." I said.

We sat.

"I'm sorry," I said.

He nodded.

We sat.

"I've used up a lot of your time," he said. "And for that I am sorry. And you should be blessed and have male children and nachas and Hashem should give you all that you ask for."

I didn't say, what if I ask for female children? I took the bracha in the spirit in which it was meant.

"Thank you," I said.

He fumbled for his cane.

"Can I help you get somewhere?" I asked.

He shook his head. "I live right here. There is a woman who comes to clean my house. Maybe she can help me. Maybe I dropped the paper with the number on it."

"Okay." I said. "Good luck."

I waited for him to walk away, and then I continued walking home.

I have a story halfway finished and two chapters to write. I came home and stared blankly at my computer screen for a while before going to get a cup of coffee. My notebook, still in my pocketbook, was filled with unwritten words.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Make a Great Day

So stop me if I'm getting holier-than-thou, okay?


Hahahaha, just joking, you can't really stop me, because by the time you are reading this, I have already finished. It's like a star that you are still making wishes on because you don't know that millions of miles away, it is already dead. 


Sorry about that. Excuse me. Moving on.

So I spent time the other day with a friend of mine, and she was talking about all the stuff that's hard and difficult for her. Halfway through the conversation, she said--referred to something that had happened to her--something like, "yeah, well, that's a reason to be miserable."

When I gave her a kind of quizzical look, she said, "Yeah, I'm compiling a list of reasons to be miserable."

She was kinda yes joking, kinda not joking, and I said that what she was doing was a bit counter-intuitive and shouldn't she instead think of reasons to be glad? And she and a few others around the table dismissed me as an insufferable and incurable optimist.

Disclaimer: I am an optimist.

Disclaimer: I made a choice to be.

I have been through a fair amount of doo-doo in my life and I expressed it at the time in pretty heavy ways. (hint: I once write a diary entry in my own blood. Yeah, I was fairly psycho.) Most of the really weighty stuff I choose not to write about or talk about not because I am a private person--I am not. I dunno if you noticed, but I write a blog. On the internet. So, no. And not because of fear of being judged, either. I choose not to delve into details of poopy-ness mostly because A. They do not reflect on who I am now and B. They can bring me back to a place in which I do not want to be, i.e., compiling lists of reasons to be miserable.

See what I did there?

So why didn't I share my journey with her because you know how people say (somewhat cloyingly?)  "if sharing my story could help even one person..." blah blah blah? Well,I don't know if my story could help anyone. Because everyone is so different. Everyone has such different tests. Maybe I had stronger drive than she does, better role models,went through it at a younger, more bounce-back-y kind of age...a million reasons for why I ended up so differently than she did.

And also, I don't need accolades. Because all I need is to know at the end of the day that I was there for my kids, my husband, my family, my job, and me. That I lived the day as if it was all sunshine and rainbows. Because you know what?

It is. 

If you want to look for it,

it's right there.

And if you want to look for reasons to be miserable,

that's right there, too.

And that's why being an optimist is a daily

(rinse and repeat)

(rinse and repeat)


As to why I chose to write those last few sentences in a pretty melodramatic fashion, yeah, well, that was my choice as well.

It was all my choice!

Except for the fact that Coco-pop is wearing a winter dress today. That was totally her.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Dearest Chava,

As the mother of all the people on the whole entire planet Earth, I guess I owe you reverence, respect, awe,etc. And I do have total respect, awe, etc etc etc, and the whole apple thing I know from various mefarshim was A. done with pure intentions B. not even an apple C. beyond my feeble comprehension as someone who has never spoken with snakes (well, I have,but they never answered back, so it was less like Chava and more like "oh, a weird creepy girl who talks to animals.")

(actually, okay, so the snake story: it belonged to Outdoorsman who raised it since it was a tiny worm-sized baby and it absolutely hated me. For reals. I held it once--only once--and it twirled around my body with lightening speed and Outdoorsman's eyes widened in the kind of alarm that also doesn't want to make me freak out over the snake's weird behavior but totally freaks me out on account of how carefully he didn't want me to freak out--and what I said to the snake was along the lines of, "Please don't kill me, please don't kill me.")

(It didn't.)

(But it totally wanted to.)

(now, I am continuing the sentence from before the first parenthesis. Following? Excellent! Because one of us should be, and I am definitely not.)

so I am totally not speaking from a place of judging when I say: did you think it through? The whole consequence-to-eating-the-fruit-and-blaming-your-husband thing? Because with respect, they say a woman's body is meant to do this. And hey, I've done this three times before. But every single time, I'm like, what is that what is happening is the baby okay OMG am I dying?

And then it ends up being on this week's pregnancy update because I am so textbook, I am boring.

But seriously, Chava, you had one-day pregnancies after which your children sprung out as fully functional adults. So that's not just the nine months of vomity-goodness that you got yourself and ALL OF US WOMEN FOR THE REST OF HISTORY into--it's child-rearing itself that you signed us up for. We could have had grown children, but Noooooo. My almost eight year-old still spills her cereal every morning, my five year-old woke up literally five times last night with requests in varying degrees of urgency (ranging from Iiima to IIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIiiiiimaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!) and my two year-old pooped through his diaper and all over any expanse of skin that I was currently sporting. Right after I changed him. He likes a clean canvass.

So my question to you is, Mother of us All:

Did you think this through?

Really really really?


Alright, if you twist my arm, I'm actually okay with it. I would maybe be sad to miss out on the growing-upness and their delicious moments, like when Princess said she wouldn't choose a different Ima, and Coco-pop asked with wonder if the ice grows wings and flies out of the pitcher of water, because where else did they go? And Turtle, I kid you not, has learned how to skip over the weekend, and he would be skipping a lot more if I didn't end each attempt by flying across the house and smooooshing him to the ground.

And the pregnancy thing; I guess I do need nine months to get used to the fact that a human being is going to emerge from my body and join my confederacy of weirdos. So that's okay, too. I guess.

Okay, but with all of my okay with it, I lost the point of this letter? Oh, whatever. Pregnant-Mommy brain. I am excused.

With deepest respects,

PS--who am I writing to again? I forget.

Monday, April 8, 2013

But You have Already Forogtten

Can we be serious for a second?


So here's the thing. I am not a Yom-Hashoa kind of person because I don't think that things should be--or could be--relegated to a one-day-of-the-year. Kind of like every day is Mother's Day? Every day is Yom Hashoa. Because it happened, and my grandparents bore the scars and the numbers until the day they died. And so do we, whatever those scars and numbers mean to you as an individual and also as part of a nation that has suffered so much and yet remains cherished, chosen.

So with that in mind, on Yom Hashoa, I do reread my own account of my grandfather's story that I published on years ago at the request of my father, and I do look through Yad Vashem archives, and scroll through everyone's personal memories and pictures that they want to share with the world via social network. Because just because every day is Yom Hashoa does not make Yom Hashoa any less than the every day.

And I need to say that I am disturbed by a new trend that I see creeping through Facebook and from the mouths of people and popular bloggers whom I respect, such as popchassid. Actually, it is his photo essay that I take the most objection to.

He wants us to see the Holocaust differently, through a set of pictures that we rarely see. Color me intrigued. I clicked on his link.

Click on his link first, then continue reading my rant.

Or click on it and then go for a long walk.

Or don't click on it--oh, just do whatever you want, I can't sit here and list all the options before you.

If you chose to click on it and read it and now want to continue reading my rant, here it begins:

Rant  (clearly labeled to avoid confusion with say, a long walk)

He posted beautiful pictures, so many filled with power and light and beauty. He says that through his handpicked  photos, we should come to view those who suffered through the Holocaust in a different light, not as helpless, downtrodden victims.

But here's the thing.

We were helpless. We were downtrodden. We were victims. Millions of us died in fear and misery and without a spark of hope, help, or love.

Why are we so set on denying that? Why are we so afraid of that truth?

Yes, there were moments in which light lit up the darkness. But those moments were few and far between the utter misery and degradation that we suffered. 

We can and should choose to remember the moments of human triumph of spirit, of mind, of body. But it is of equal--and perhaps, dare I say of greater--importance to remember the truth. We were spat upon. We were raped, girls and boys alike. We were tortured by horrific medical experiments. We were lined up naked and trembling  before pits that we were forced to dig with our bare hands and then shot in the back of the heads.

Yeah, I know. Ugly. Horrifying. The stuff of nightmares.

But it happened. It happened to so many of us. It happened to millions of us.

We should remember our moments of personal triumph, our own family miracles that shone for one brief moment. But they shone so brightly because of the darkness all around us.

My Bubby died and her secrets are buried with her, horrible secrets, secrets that made her scream in the night until she died, decades and decades later. My Zeidy lived miracles and shared them with us; and shared as well was the endless days spent in the sewers, the forced labor, the liquidation of the camp, the killing of his only friend.

So much darkness. I can see why we are afraid of it.

But remember; in order to see the sparks of beauty and light, we need to first acknowledge the ugly and the dark.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Ding Ding Ding!

I've been chosen for the Liebster Blog Awards! Selected, you might say! Or you might not. You might say something else, like, Oh nos, we are all out of vanilla ice cream and plastic spoons. You might. I don't really know you, you see. You could say anything at all, and far be it from me to assume.
You know what happens when we assume, don't you?
That's right, you might run out of vanilla ice cream. And spoons.
Oh, you thought I was going to say something else?
See, it's because you don't really know me. But now you will! Thanks to these probing questions thought up by TooYoungToTeach at you will find out more about me than you ever dreamed of! Or alternatively, more about me than you actually wanted to know. In which case, you can go browse or something while I bare my soul.
The Liebster Blog Award is given to new bloggers with less than 200 followers.  The rules are:
1. Tell 11 things about yourself.
2. Answer 11 questions from the blogger who nominated you.
3. Nominate 11 bloggers, and post 11 questions for them to answer.
4. Contact those bloggers whom you nominated, to inform them of their nomination.
Am I the only one who is extremely confused about the difference between numbers 1 and 2? 
Anyway, here we go:

1)      Chocolate or Vanilla?
As a kid, when we used to get that family-sized tri-colored ice-cream that came in a cardboard box that instantly got soggy but was okay because there were so many of us that it was all used up the first time we opened it, I would resolutely choose strawberry. Because no one else did as their first choice, and I needed to be the sole Strawberry in a sea of people who looked just like me but favored chocolate or vanilla. I needed to Stand Out Somehow. I still think that strawberry is my favorite flavor. To find out whether this is true or not would require more therapy than I have time or money for. It's cheaper just to buy ice-cream. 
2)      Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?
Excellent question. It depends. I am a bit of a literature snob and therefore usually anything that is older=better. Obviously, Lord of the Rings is the Original, and also, he didn't need to use cutesy, relate-able characters to get you interested in his world. So my official answer is LOTR. But if you were to get me drunk (please?) I might be forced to admit to rereading Harry Potter, and only reading LOTR that one time. 
3)      Who was your favorite/influential teacher, and why?
I  have a terrible memory for teachers. They tend to blur together and in my natural pessimism, I remember the ones who hurt me more clearly than the ones who helped. But, I do remember that in fifth grade, my English teacher used to read the handful of compositions that she deemed "best" in front of the class, and she read my composition every single time we handed one in. I know that a lot of teachers would say that it's not fair, and to give other girls a chance, but she would say that mine was always of the best, and that's why she read it. Not PC, I know, but from then on, I started thinking of myself as a Writer. 
4)      What did you wanna be when you grew up. What are you today (or are you still growing up)
Still growing up, definitely. And I want to be the kind of person who can look at myself in the mirror every night and say, "Good job. You gave it your all today." 
Also, no wrinkles and zero percent body fat. Hey, don't make that face at me, Internet. I'm looking in the mirror ANYWAY, and while I'm wishing, I'll wish all the way. 
Also, a princess. And a fireman. A Princess-Fireman.
5)      What’s your favorite (or one of your favorite books) and why?
Oooh, too many fish in the sea. I'll pick one. I have not read anything new in ages that moved me, but an oldie-but-a-goody is Connie Willis's To Say Nothing of the Dog. It is brilliant, sharp, hysterical, great characterization, Sci-fi but not too Sci-fi if you know what I mean, satirizes an old favorite of mine (Three Men in a Boat) and is really all about The Grand Design without being too in your face. Read it! You won't regret it. Then read Three Men in a Boat. Then reread To say Nothing of the Dog. Then go to the store and pick up some vanilla ice cream and plastic spoons. 
6)      What is(are) your pet peeve(s)
Guests who don't eat dessert. I just can't trust someone who doesn't need to end his/her meal with something sweet. The reason that this is completely unreasonable and unfair is because I don't eat dessert either. Hey, you said Pet Peeve. You didn't say it had to make SENSE. 
7)      What is the biggest problem in the Jewish Community today?
There are many Jewish communities, and I think that the biggest problem we all face is that we are all extremely well-versed in and outraged about other communities' problems. If we would spend as much energy fixing our own issues as we do being breathlessly outraged by those who have nothing to do with us whatsoever, our world would be a better place. 
8)      Do you have any proposed solution to the previous question?
Yes. Legalize marijuana. Or go to the store and get that ice-cream already (don't forget the spoons. We can't eat with our hands.)--or whatever it is that will help everyone chill the heck out. It is so easy to be morally reprehenced (WHY is that not a word?) at others. Chill about others and look inside yourself instead. We are none of us perfect. 
9)      Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
Are you kidding? I don't even have supper planned for tonight. And I have the first two chapters of a serial due on Monday and I don't even have a handle on the plot. Twenty years? I haven't the foggiest. I will tell you this, though; I better have my own personal helicopter or transporter or something by then. The 2000's have been very disappointing so far. 
10)   People who __________ are idiots. Fill in the blank.
call other people idiots
11)   What can always make you smile?
Turtle, in general. In specific, his tiny little almost-not-there nose combined with his generous layers of chins. Excuse me. I have to go squish him now. 
Okay, I'm supposed to nominate other people and ask them questions, too, but I am not sure if I need to contact the award people or whatever, and am therefore awaiting TooYoungToTeach's reply to my probing questions which reveal my thoroughness as well as my technological non-prowess. When all is understood, I shall post the nominees and my own 11 questions for them to answer. 
Until then--I don't remember the question, but ice cream--with a spoon--is definitely the answer. 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Val Jean, At Last, We See each Other Plain

Thank you all so much for your concerned e-mails! I am here, I am fine, I am drowning in moving-related housework and other stuff. Which is good! First World problems, as they say. No one is hungry, we have access to clean water, and we have a roof over our heads.  Actually, this roof has heat, which is awesome, and no mold, which is unreal. And running water that becomes hot! And multiple bathrooms!

So I shan't complain about lack of stove. Or upper cabinets. Or that we just took the walls down last week after the iriyah inspection and are finally unpacking after living out of boxes for three weeks.

The iriyah inspection was a lot less dramatic than I anticipated. Upon further reflection, it was probably inappropriate to refer to the inspector as "Javert," and bursting into full song when he walked through the door might have been another strike against me:

Before you say another word, Javert!
Before you chain me up like a slave again!
Listen to me!
There's something I must doooo!

We knocked down the walls that Outdoorsman had just put up as we waggled our fingers to say goodbye to Dear Inspector. (Goodbye! Vrrrrrrrrmmmm!) Now we are working on getting a permit before the next inspection. But if we have to put the walls back up, Outodoorsman, who is not fond of Les Mis (Is it rap? No. Is it Bob Marley? No. Bluegrass, even? I'll take Bluegrass. Um, no. Is it a bunch of French people inexplicably singing as they die? Well, yes, but...) had a better idea of how to deal with Dear Inspector; he wants to hide a bunch of people behind the walls, and when the inspector pokes a hole (to make sure that we didn't slap the wall up over a finished room right before he came, and honestly, whowoulddoathinglikethat?) they will all cower and hide and scream. And wear yellow star armbands.


Someone informed me with thinly veiled horror that having grandparents who survived the camps does not give me license to make holocaust jokes. But it is NOT a holocaust joke! It's an iriya joke. And we should be able to make as many of those as we can. It's either laugh or cry when the city informs you that even though it harms absolutely no one and cannot even be seen on the outside, some of the rooms in your own private apartment have to be closed up, some forever.


It is nice to be back and stretch my blog-legs a little! Wishing everyone a Purim sameach and less last-minute costume changes (read: morning of the purim mesiba--when did I say I wanted to be Hello Kitty? I want to be a Priiiiiiiiinceeeeeesss!) than my girlies.

In the meantime; stay strong against all of the Inspector Javerts in your life!

And little people know
When little people fight
We may look easy pickings
But we've got some bite!
So never kick a dog
Because he's just a pup
We'll fight like twenty armies and we won't give up
So you'd better run for cover when the pup grow up!

Or....okay. Or maybe we'll just do Outdoorsman's idea.


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