Finding myself in the Middle East

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.


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