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Monthly Archives: February 2012

Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Yesterday it was because you had a wedding out of town.
Two days ago we were in a fight.
The day before, I had to be up early the next day, so I turned in early
Before that, the kids wanted me to sleep with them.
And before that, I don’t remember what let me sleep.
I try sometimes to work so hard during the day, that at night, I don’t have energy to think, and my body just goes to sleep.
And maybe tonight, you just went to lock up, but I’m too tired to wait up and see you again
Maybe, it’s possible, right?
And that’s why you’re not sleeping next to me tonight.

Tomorrow night and every night for the rest of my life, I’ll find other reasons not to acknowledge that I’ll never see you again, and maybe my mind will let my body sleep.

 
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Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Writing

 

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Thoughts on Limbo

No one I’ve ever really known or truly loved has died. Lately though, I feel like it’s been circling closer and closer to me, and it’s only time when I will experience it profoundly.  My great aunt and uncle were niftar more recently, I loved them, because of the connection and impact they had on those I loved, my parents and grandparents, but did I know them, or they me?

I knew about them from anecdotes, like Uncle Yitzchak recommending one to cross their legs while trying to relieve oneself – it helped it along. And Bobby Blimchu, classically leaving out crucial ingredients when give over recipes. But my relationship with them started and ended with me going over to them by family wedding, purim with shalach manos, and chanuka parties, wishing them mazal tov, freilechen peedrim or chanuka and them responding,

“Vey minz tuchter bist du.”

“Frdaideez” I’d answer in their accent.

“Ahh, Fdraidee.”

It hurt, because my mother was hurting, and I was sad more for my mother’s pain and loss, than mine.

They called the family to my grandfather’s room in the ICU last night, and I fear I may have finally drawn the short straw. He’s still with us, but I experienced enough in that crowded room last night.

On the way in, my brother and I didn’t know if we’d make it in time. The updates we received while navigating the NJ Turnpike read “Heart-rate changed, there’s a minyan and tefillos are being said.” We asked the Sheila if we’d have to reis kriah if we were present at the time. And I tried to figure out how what would be the easiest angle to tear my new turtleneck.

Part of me wishes I hadn’t gone – that I can still remember my grandfather as I knew him – the quick wit, strong-minded, righteous, and loving man he is, instead of the intebated body lying stiff on  a bed. I was able to handle his face, he was sleeping, mouth open in a snore, his body shuddered every once in a while. Then they tried finding a pulse, taking out, what I associated as being a fetal monitor. What gives me such joy and hope for the future these days, hearing my unborn child’s heartbeat strong, filled me with fear and anxious anticipation.

The technician pulled back the blanket, and exposed his feet; they looked dead. All stiff, and course, nails gnarly and thick, I couldn’t look at them. And all you could hear was the empty “Chwow” as the technician moved the monitor around trying to pick up a sign of life. After a few minutes of futile attempts, he moved to his hands. The fingers that pinched my cheeks in love were blue, and taut, lacking oxygen, but they found a pulse. And we all breathed for a moment, it wasn’t just the machines that he lived by.

I tried to keep together, but the tears leaked without my permission. And when I thought I was done, I’d make the mistake of looking at someone else, and the tears would start again.

“It’s ok,” my sister reassured me. “Took me a while too.” But I didn’t stop crying until I left.

We said a lot of tehilim together, and Shema. We even sang “Mizmor L’Dovid” in our family melody together. That was actually quite beautiful, and comforting – for me. I looked around the room to see how everyone else was doing, coping in their own way. My oldest uncle, a paramedic, was all official business, talking to the technician and dealing with the cold hard medical facts. My father, the next one, stood against the wall, a little isolated from everyone else, stoic. Another uncle cracked jokes, the youngest brother lead tehilim, my two aunts hovered over my grandparents, one stroking my grandfather’s hand, the other clutching my grandmother’s hand, who was sitting quietly in a corner chair. All the other grandchildren (who were able to make it in – there are over 50), stood in clusters, davening, lip biting and averting their eyes.

It hasn’t happened yet, and I’m preparing myself. Things can change I keep thinking, you’re Jewish, this is not the proper attitude. He’s not gone yet, why are you crying – daven. I just think it’ll hurt less if I’m a pessimist.

In some ways I’m lucky, and blessed that I never experienced a loss in my 24 years – none of my friends have all their grandparents. They were young though, adapted and grew up. I never had to grow up, and I now I know what I’m going to be missing, for the rest of my life.

Please say tehilim for Shmuel ben Chaya Malka

Baruch Dayan HaEmes

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Slice of Life

 

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I Will “Love You Forever”

Cover of "Love You Forever"

Cover of Love You Forever

Back when I was young and impressionable, I fell in love – with a book, Robert Munsch’s “Love You Forever”. I didn’t know back then that it was award-winning and famous, it was my book, and I felt special about it. I took it out from the library very often, and hid it; it was for me, alone.

Introduced to it, not as a little child, but more of an angsty tween, I think it helped abate a little of my anger and frustration. I understood from the book that my mother did love me, despite whatever went down during the day. And at night, while I lay sleeping I could envision my mother singing to me,

“I’ll love you forever.

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be”

I bought myself the book when I found out I was pregnant with my son. I had visions of reading it to him, and possibly singing my own song to him. Of course, if you know anything about children, that dream not materializing is not a shocker, but I relate to the book more and more each day.

“Bun, no cookies”

Cookie!

“Uch, put that in the garbage!”

Garbi!

“Stop pulling my shaitel”

Ha ha ha!

“I just cleaned that up”

Hee Hee Hee

“Please eat something!”

Cookie!

I look forward to naptimes, and bedtime. I look forward to breathing, doing something other than being his mommy, and a clean house.

Something happens though, every time, just moments after putting him down.

I miss him.

I love him.

And I just want to sit there and watch him sleep – forget about whatever I need to do in these few moments spaced too far and wide.

No matter what he does, no matter how much I kvetch, in my heart I’ll always be singing,

“I’ll love you forever.

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

My baby you’ll be”

 
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Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Parenting

 

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For the Ages

She sucked on her teeth for a long moment; the apple she ate before lingered annoyingly.  This time she was going to do it, not only write the e-mail, but send it. Hands poised over keys waiting for neurological impulses: instruction; they hung there for a while. Dear, she tapped out, but she didn’t complete the address.

Fingers waited patiently. What did she want to say anyway? You hurt me, was the immediate thought, but she frowned. Ok, so he hurt me, now what. Nothing, her brain fired. So what’s the point in communicating this idea, she asked the part of her that seemed to be answering today’s questions. So he knows, it told her. Lips puckered, he knows, she said simply. Now what? And there’s nothing he can ever do about it, her emotions finished.

“Augh!!!” she banged the keys in frustration, “Where’s the freakin floss!” and she stomped off to resolve something that had a logical solution.

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Writing

 

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Real Impressed

The Bag

The tassels had green suede lining the underside. Gold hardware and whip stitching featured prominently. It had that smell, you wouldn’t recognize it if you never shopped past Macy’s: leather, real expensive leather, that’s not fading away, but aging gracefully. She laid it on the table casually,

“Oh, he bought it for my birthday,” she told her mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Her sister-in-law fingered it, feeling the imprinted mallard duck, and nodded in approval.

“Nice piece,” she told her. And she smiled back appreciatively. Her mother in law walked closer to it, hands full with a dishrag, dish accompanied by a floral models coat. Leaning forward, eyes squinted, she pushed her wire –frames closer to her face,

“Really nice, it looks like it could be real leather!”

 
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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Writing

 

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Which Came First

I think I may be the Grinch that stole high school. Well, I can’t really be, because I don’t have the authority, but that doesn’t stop me from voicing my opinion, and possibly impeding the world’s grand plans.

I hate extra-curricular. No, wait, I actually think they are brilliant and essential. However the way they are implemented in high schools is retarded and is a detriment to students. First and foremost is the curriculum, then comes the extra-curricular.

I fail to understand why my curriculum is constantly second to G.O, Chessed, Play, Yearbook, Mishmeres, and whatever other program that is supposed to be taken care of after hours. I fail to understand why my period are cut short or taken away, why half my student body is missing, why I can’t assign any homework or tests at certain times and why I have students calling me a night before my midterms requesting to be excuse of so much class time missed it would be impossible to make up all the work.

Look, I get it, extra-curricular are meant to give the girls an outlet, a diversion, a place to shine, be themselves, find deeper meaning, make friends, teach responsibility and all other very important social aspects of life. However, that is not the point and purpose of school. School is for education, and knowledge, development of thought, and character, all these goals can be achieved in the classroom, and lunchtime.

Extra-curricular is called that, because it is in fact –extra, a boost, not essential. It should be available only on extra – time, mainly after school. It should not interfere with the general schooling at all. Yes, I understand it is difficult for students to juggle both; they therefore need to make a choice, do they want to focus on their studies, or is what they’re gaining in extra-curricular worth a lower grade.  And lucky is the girl who can do it all without consequence.

School administration need to realize that they are in fact defeating a lot of their educational goals through the lofty aspirations of what extra-curricular is supposed to achieve.

My students are more whiny and complain when their schedule isn’t perfect,

“but we have to practice for Shabbaton.”

They are more likely to give excuses,

“I’m couldn’t do it, I’m a play head.”

And these things are validated in their minds because the school allows and promotes it.

They don’t learn the value and respect of education, rather just the importance of their own vanity – after all extra-curricular is supposed to make them feel good about themselves.

The school administration hands them their cake on a silver platter, lets them eat it in my class, and leaves me to sweep up the crumbs.

 
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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Teaching

 

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The Culture of Growing Up

Close up of The Thinker

Close up of The Thinker (Photo credit: marttj)

You could run your fingers through it, old carpet. Shaggy, is the word for it. Mottled gray, soft with age and love. I didn’t know to be embarrassed of it at that age, or of kitchen’s linoleum patched with duct-tape. Or the hole behind the door of the foyer formed by the wondrous combination of metal and child’s play. The unhinged sliding door of the closet, the chipped paint from the doorframe, and sharing a bunk bed and trundle with three other sister didn’t bother me. Neither did ripped window screen in my room. It was happy home, and I was wanting from nothing

I’ve since grown up, and become self-conscious and ashamed. I supposedly know better, am cultured and beyond my humble beginnings. There are many moments though, I wish I wasn’t.

 
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Posted by on February 16, 2012 in Memoir, Writing

 

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A Dutchess

double espresso chocolate caramel cupcake

double espresso chocolate caramel cupcake

She was Eliza Doolittle, of the start of the play, though she believed herself to be the transformed version from the ending. Tactless, course, and unabashed, though quite endearing in the faults she remained oblivious to. I met her while grocery shopping, looking for Dutch cocoa on a low shelf.

“Yu, know,” she started loudly that I was sure she wasn’t talking to me (I was a foot away). “yu should just buy chawlet puddin’, put it ina pie crust, and WaLa, yu got a yummy dessert, eh looks pretty, evryone is happy. Why ya looking so hard at the different cocoas – puddin’ has the best chawclet flava.”

There was no one else in the aisle, so I had to assume she was talking to me, and, well, I was looking for cocoa. I looked up, and smiled weakly at her.

“Thank you,” I mustered. She had a dip in her hair and dark lip-liner surrounded lightly shaded lips holding them at bay; a thank you was the best route. Her days of glory were over and she’d never know it, or of sumptuous double espresso chocolate caramel cupcakes.

 
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Posted by on February 15, 2012 in Writing

 

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This is Only a Test

I got a great compliment today. It was one of those rare compliments that you take to heart, and wear on your sleeve for a while. No one told me I’m beautiful, wonderful and special, that I made their day, that my mother would be proud, or that Hashem is smiling at me.

Today, as I passed by the principal’s office she beckoned to me. I poked my head in, and she said,

“TYTT, you made a beautiful midterm.”

I blushed liked a school girl.

Now, for non-teachers to be complimented on a test may sound odd, but for those teachers out there, you know how difficult it is to create a good test.

A test with enough questions. A test that it neither easy nor hard, but thorough. A test that requires students to think and not just spit back their notes, it’s hard. And quite frankly, a lot of teachers don’t succeed (that you non-teachers would know).

Ok, so yay for me, toot my horn, and give me a Good Job sticker, I made a good test. You want me to shut up now, I get it, but you don’t. See, I used to suck at making up tests, they were awful! Total spit back, too long, too confusing, too too too, oh G-d you don’t want to see my early creations. Necessity is the mother of invention, I planned to continue teaching, and be a darn good teacher too, so my test creation skills needed help, now! And I worked on it.

So it’s not that I was complimented on something that takes skill and effort, but I was complimented on something that I used to be awful at, that I then worked on, and reached a level of being recognized for quality in that area. Now that’s pretty awesome, no?

 
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Posted by on February 14, 2012 in Teaching

 

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I’m a Woman (hear me roar)

English: A Lenovo X61 tablet laptop shown in t...

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“Hi, Lenovo customer service Tina speaking, how can I help you?”

“I bought a computer from you less than three months ago, it’s non-functioning now. I don’t want it fixed, I want a new one! It shouldn’t start falling apart so soon.” (Harumph!)

“Oookaay, well I need a tag number first to process a replacement. You can get one from tech support, would you like me to transfer you?

“K.” (Grumble)

Fifteen minutes of elevator music on repeat – it was the same 30- second preview over and over again I swear.

“Hi this is Dan with Lenovo tech support, how can I help you.”

“I need help, I just bought my computer less than 3 months ago, and I’m having such issues.” (Pitiful)

“Ok, here’s what we’re gonna do…

20 minutes later hang up with no new computer, and a need to back up my files for further repair.

What the heck? I wanted a new computer! I told that to the woman. All of a sudden a guy tech comes on, I lose my resolve and turn into a damsel in distress?! I’m an embarrassment to my sex.

Please tell me I’m not the only one.

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2012 in Humor, Slice of Life

 

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