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Author Archives: TooYoungToTeach

The Problem with Nostalgia

It was this book!

It’s really terrible; there’s an Ebola outbreak in Guinea and I’m getting nostalgic. This hemorrhagic fever has held legendary status in my mind since about 4th or 5th grade. I heard about it from my brother who heard about it from his teacher.

“Nine days. Boom. Dead!” he bulged his eyes out and flexed then flicked his fingers at the word boom for effect. He was imitating his teacher. He then described to a rapt audience (me) how when they cut the person open everything would just be mush. All their organs turned to goop.

“It starts with diarrhea…” he said in a low voice and then rose to “And then nine days, Boom. Dead!”

I’ve been paranoid of diarrhea since.

And then Mack Bolan (are those books still in print?), who was my brother’s favorite fictional character at the time, was infected with the virus by a sinister foe, but he had the antidote in the green tipped syringe (or was it red? I don’t remember, one of them was the virus the other the antidote) and he lived.

I didn’t like Mack Bolan,too much action and machismo, but I took that book and read the last chapter or so, just to take in more about Ebola. I’m not sure why it fascinated me. Was is my brother’s animation or the body’s disintegration, or the anticipatory fear, I don’t know.

I don’t know if anything that hooked me in the first place is even true. Diarrhea only comes after joint pain muscle weakness and an assortment of other symptoms. And nothing comes up when I Google Ebola 9 day. Maybe it’s because I left out the word Boom.

But while Liberia is closing its borders, and the WHO is issuing recommendations and people are dying, I have a small smile on my face.

I’m terrible, I know.

 
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Posted by on March 31, 2014 in The Sporadic Side

 

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Purim 2014

You have seen the slow evolution. You probably predicted it. And it happened.

I went all out this year.

It came to me on Succos. My son was playing with cars and trucks outside when he wailed,

“I dropped my mordechaicyle!” turning the soft ‘c’ into a glutteral ‘ch’.

And it hit me, right then – a motorcycle gang – or Mordechai-cycle gang! Kids will be bikers, handing out beer and gum cigarettes. And throw in cupcakes for a carb.

So with a good idea, too many Google searches, and an awesome Graphic Artist sister-in –law, my shalach manos was well….you tell me. (Actually the final pics aren’t so good because the cellophane was too glare-ee, so I broke it down to parts)

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I think I’ve peaked though. It’s all downhill from here.

 
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Posted by on March 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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Just Passing Through

I want window valances. Not pretty, frilly delicate ones. Bold ones, with sharp lines. Possibly emerald, or in that family.

I also want new paint. My walls are white. Not stark. But the dulling gray white, that just makes you think off crumple generic tissues. I’d paint my dining room a neutral sort of yellow. I’d put mauve in my bedroom. And for my kids room I want one wall electric blue, the others a light shade. And really, I want one wall to be a cork board.

I also want a coffee table.

And light fixtures. I have no light fixtures, just bare bulbs. It’s a little to industrial looking to be hip.

It’s not about the money. Or the shallowness. I’d do it all in a heartbeat, if it was my house, but it’s not. It’s a rental; it would be foolish to invest in this space. I’m just passing through until my dream home (with too many windows) becomes my own. And until that happens, I’m happy to wait with bare windows.

There was this story about the Chofetz Chaim that I never fully appreciated. A visitor came and commented on his sparsely furnished home. The Chofetz Chaim inquired of his guest where his furniture was. The guest looked at him quizzically; I’m just a visitor, passing though. The Chofetz Chaim nodded in agreement. He too was just a visitor, passing though, waiting to go home, for Mashiach and Yerushlayim.

As a child, I was never the one shrieking along to the song “We want Mashiach, we want Mashiach now” not because I didn’t want it, but that I didn’t totally get it(also I’m not a shrieker, too self-conscious for that).  I’m not all there yet either.

But I’m not buying valances or painting, because I’m just passing through, waiting for my real home.

 
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Posted by on February 27, 2014 in Jewish, Musings

 

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To Cry

She was ready for a shower. The day  long. The time stressful. The mind muted.

What was that  that Malcolm and Donaldbain said upon their father’s murder in Macbeth

Our tears are not yet brew’d/ Nor our strong sorrow/Upon the foot of motion.

Keep busy, and the emotion won’t get to you.

Shiva houses are busy places, especially when you’re not the mourner, but just the child of one. Chairs need to be rearranged, phones answered, messages taken and forwarded.  Food needs to be organized, prepared, cleared. There is no time to mourn for the mourner’s child, there is too much to be done.

But now she was home. And she was tired. And with the slowing motions of the day, the sorrow crept up and tapped on her shoulder. One minute she told it. I’ll recognize and embrace you in a moment; I’m going to shower and there I will cave. I will let you envelop me, crush me, overwhelm me. But I will be alone, and the water will soothe and mingle with my tears, so it will be ok.

She was ready for a shower and stepped into the tub. She was eager to cry. Ready for the catharsis. But the water was cold. She turned the knob; it would turn no more. The water was warm, but too cold. She was back in camp where showers were often cold and pressure low, and movement had to be fast. But she couldn’t move. She was frozen. The tears stopped, and mind blocked. Survival mode was engaged, to just get clean and out of the shower fast.

But she wanted to cry. She needed to cry. Cry away from her kids and her husband looking on sympathetically, but powerless. Urgently  she turning the knob though she knew it was futile. The water was cold. And then she cried. Not for her loss, not for her grandfather, not for the clenched fist around her heart. She cried that she couldn’t cry.

Bent over, dank clumps of hair matted her shoulders and she held herself and shivered. Tears fell, and her body shook. And she was cold. The water was cold. So cold. And she cried for her sorrow’s loss.

 
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Posted by on February 25, 2014 in Family, Memoir, Writing

 

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Spine Tingling Post Following, no ironic twist included

image

Or maybe I’ll be dan l’caf zechus that they put the blurb in front instead of the back…

 
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Posted by on February 1, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

Why I Am Writing About Peyton Manning

My 21 year old self can not believe what am I writing. My 21 year old self is slightly horrified, maybe laughing a little incredulously, but now, 26 year old me, is slightly amused and is really looking forward to the SuperBowl on Sunday. And really truly, I’d like to be there.

No, I’m not a major football fan, I understand the basic premise and know that “special teams” aren’t the nebach players that my friends thought they were when she first heard the term. I don’t have a favorite team, I root for the Chigaco Bears, well, root is the wrong word. I pray for them, because if they win, I have a happy a husband, and if they lose….a not so happy husband.

But beyond my husband, I’ve become a really big Peyton Manning fan. And I will be devastated if he doesn’t win on Sunday.

I feel for him really, not in a sympathetic way, but I find him inspirational. So often, if there is a role model athlete it is for their actions off the field, their charitable work and the like, not for how they conduct themselves professionally, and how they face adversity. It’s very easy to donate money, and give a few hours for underprivileged children, but to live a life, every moment, with a code of honor and core of steel is where it is really reflective of the essence of a man. And that man, is Peyton Manning.

Peyton, or Reb Pinchas as we affectionately refer to him, he has transcended all his challenges, and winning the SuperBowl would be the passionate kiss to a happily ever after.

He’s the guy in fabled sotry that made it big, and then lost it all. By his strength, determination, and perseverance, he is back, and better, really better, just look at his stats than ever.

Not just losing his skill, but he lost his team. The owner abandoned him. Did you see his press conference when he announced that he was parting way with the Colts? The man was crying; hear his voice. Not only did he lose what made him a success, he lost his family, his support, the only professional team he ever knew. Once he wasn’t a guaranteed success and they had the first draft pick, they unceremoniously dumped him. No loyalty, just money. I was indignant for him then.

But he had no bitterness, just a point to make, and he has made it over and over again this season- THE RECORD for touchdown passes. He will overcome. He has overcome.

I read an article that storied Peyton’s recovery. As a kid and young man he had his father, Archie, receive his passes, and now in recovery he asked his father, now in his 70’s to be there for him again, to train with him. His father didn’t think he was up to it, his son was Peyton Manning after all. But at that first practice Peyton threw and father Archie received – Peyton’s arm was that weak. It wasn’t just “oh he recovered” or “the nerve healed”. He practically had to start from scratch, and he did it, and went further than he did before.

His determination to succeed, his attitude, and class in face of adversity and public betrayal is admirable.

And even though I still have trouble sometimes following the ball, and wonder if there ever was a successful on-side kick, I really really really want Peyton to win.

Everyone loves a comeback story, and this one could be for the books.

(And I can’t stand that cocky Sherman guy on the Seahawks)

 
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Posted by on January 31, 2014 in The Sporadic Side

 

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Nostalgia

Any freezepop that isn’t Leibers, is a tasteless knock off.

As a kid, blue was my favorite flavor, it had that extra sweet tartness that I’d suck out as I bit off a piece and press it against my palate.

I’d push the squeezed ice further back and crush it with my molars, the crystals of ice cooling my inner cheeks.

There would be nothing left to swallow.

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2014 in Food

 

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Better Than

20140112_155544“Come sit with me Mommy,” he said. I didn’t want to; I wanted to read on the couch. But I felt guilty, as usual, so I sat down at the kitchen table to color with my son.

“Pick a color,” he told me. I chose a deep fading blue.

“Dark Blue!” he exclaimed; blue is his favorite color. I sat next to him; my arm jostled his; I’m a lefty, he a righty.

“Mommy!” he giggled. “Look what you did!” and showed me the errant mark on his paper. We sat side by side, elbow to elbow, he coloring, me writing with a deep fading blue and Benny Friedman playing in the not so distant background.

“The Mommy and Totty are going round the block,” he said as he drew wide circles and winding lines. He proffered his hands in my direction,

“Oiy, Mommy, look, look,” there were blue streaks on his palm and wrist. “Want my blue? He perked up suddenly. I declined and he frowned a moment.

“I’m gonna write on you paper,” he informed me. I raised my hand to block his marker descending dead-center on my page. He only nicked it.

“Ma! He exclaimed. “Ma!” I blocked him again. He retreated.

“Ma, Ma, look at my picture.” He pushed it towards me, covering my paper.

“Beautiful,” I said with dutiful enthusiasm, but there was no light behind my eyes.

Terrible, I know. But I was coloring side by side with him. Better than reading on the couch I told myself, better than reading on the couch.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2014 in Parenting, Writing

 

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You Can’t Revert

She rubs her eyes too much. She’s going to get wrinkles soon. And then she’ll look older than her older sisters because they always looked young even in their 30′s. She was an adult when she was just a child. She didn’t think she looked that mature but everyone else said so, and so she became it.

It’s really boring to be mature as a child. She looked at her peers and thought they were idiots. And she looked to adults and realized that most were idiots too. And they didn’t want to talk to her. The only people who cared to engage were librarian types, that smell of dust and too much Elizabeth Taylor’s White Diamonds. They thought she was cute, and smart, but laughed at her comments and patted her on the head like a lovable puppy.

She really hated being mature. Hated that her pre-frontal cortex developed before the age of 20. She wished she didn’t grasp the concept of long-term consequences. Maybe she would have laughed more, stayed up later, do some stupid things and grow up when she had to.

She wish she wasn’t so aware of her decision making process, that if she chose x, y would follow. And if she said, a, b would be inferred, and she didn’t want b, so she’d say c instead.  But she really meant a, but she was too aware of society, impressions, ramifications, and too mature to say that they really didn’t matter.

Mature is responsibility. Responsibility is obligation. Obligation is forced. Force is resented.

She resented being mature and the crow’s feet that were soon to reveal themselves.

So she stop rubbing my eyes, and ate a bowl of rocky road ice-cream at midnight. With sprinkles and chocolate syrup, and bananas sliced too.

She woke the next morning with a bloated and achy stomach.

Idiot.

She knew better.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2014 in The Sporadic Side, Writing

 

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Why Third Time is the Charm

NaNoWriMo Winn

I’ve tried it twice, and they say third times the charm, so maybe this year is my year. I’m going to do it. I’ve signed up for NaNoWriMo. I confirmed my account. I am going to write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. People have done. I can do it too. At least I thought I could, hence the third try.

The first time I tried I prepared a bit. I had heard about it, just as it completed the year before, so I had a whole year to consider work of literary genius I’d produce the coming November. As it turned out, not much. I got 2302 words in. My first sentence wasn’t that bad either:

“According to the law of averages Shoshana should have been married with 3.5 kids, living in Lakewood, her husband starting to burn out in Yeshiva and considering work – or chinuch, which isn’t as dirty a word as work. “

But then unlike the character I was working on one of my 3.5 kids, number 2 actually, and the unique fatigue that cannot be fought of the first trimester won. And there went my masterpiece.

Does a second attempt count if I just thought about it? Colicky babies won that round. And this year…what will stop me this year? I’m sure it’ll be valid, super important, and meaningful, but stopping me nonetheless.

There are always things stopping me from achieving. Valid, super important, and meaningful, check, check, and check, husband, kids, home, family, they come before a lot of things. As they should, and I love them, and chose them. But I do want to learn to play guitar, and I took out 3 books from the library. I watched endless tutorial on YouTube, and went to specialty store to learn to make Jewelry, but little fingers with big mouths stopped me from pursuing either.

And then came Coursera, the free online college course site. I signed up for a class on Modern Poetry last year. I barely made though the first poem, “The Poison Tree” by William Blake, when my sister got engaged, and what with the l’chaim and vort, I missed the first assignment deadline, and didn’t bother signing in again. A year later they sent me a website that said basically, “Hey, you didn’t complete the course last year, do you want to try again?” I wasn’t sure if I wanted to, the course syllabus has seemed a bit dull last year, but in the e-mail were links to recommended courses, Intro to Songwriting, and Intro to Social Psychology. Both of them were 6 weeks long, one started beginning August, the other 3 weeks later. I signed up for both.

Second time around bore no fruit. I did one week’s coursework and then came bein hazmanim and vacation, and kids and husband around all day. No time, and no work done. I was disappointed, again, but my excuses were so valid, family comes first, right? And I was able to enjoy my road trip to Florida and make endless barbeques without worrying about deadlines.

Two weeks later another e-mail arrived in my inbox, reminding me of the upcoming social psychology course. I always loved psychology, was fascinated by it. I really really really wanted to complete this course, not just for the star on my chart that I completed something, but I wanted the knowledge.

Third times the charm worked, well, like a charm this time. The course was intriguing, stimulating, enthralling, and I didn’t miss a minute. I completed all the assignments, participated on the discussion boards, and bored everyone with everything I learned. And it was then that I discovered that I had plenty of time to pursue my interest, and my family and responsibilities were not in my way of me fulfilling my potential – I was. I wasn’t so busy and burdened with life, I was just straight up lazy.

My kids are in bed by 7, husband home by 7:30, supper cleaned up, by 8:30. Ok, there are some papers to mark, some prepping to be done, some laundry to fold, quality time to be spent, but really, I averaged going to sleep around 12 o’clock, what was I doing in that time? Playing a lot of Candy Crush, that’s what.  And flipping through Drudge Report, with news that has me wondering how this world still stands, I breathe. That’s what I always called it, breathing.

“I need time to breathe.” I always say. Time to do nothing, unwind, chill, if you will. I never really breathed; it would just put me to sleep. Write something! I’d yell at myself sometimes. Wash and set your shaitel, the voice would yell other times! Call someone! Stop being so antisocial, is another cry. And I’d always counter with my need to breathe, my need to do nothing. Everyone needs downtime I’d tell it patiently.

But then there are those times that I listened to that big voice in my head, where I exert the effort. And it’s always exhilarating. I feel so great, and accomplished, and happy. Come the next night though and I’m back to Candy Crush. After completing my social psychology course, I know now that it’s not my need of air that keeps me from doing, rather my lazy tendencies and rationalization.

So it’s NaNoWriMo again. And I want to do it. Just it being the third time isn’t going to make it happen this time. But my self-awareness which comes from trying three times.

 

(I wrote this post November 3rd, not sure why I didn’t post it then, maybe I was too nervous if I didn’t complete it, how mortified as well as disappointed I’d be. Anyway, I finished it. All 50, 000 words. No excuses, even if my grandfather passed away in November and there was the levaya and shiva and the emotional drain which would have been a very acceptable excuse. I just proved it to myself even more, the only thing in the way of my achieving is myself.)

 

 
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Posted by on December 28, 2013 in Slice of Life, Writing

 

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