And people wonder why I make fun of Boro Park…
Category Archives: Jewish
It was E’s upsherin on Sunday, and I still can’t stop looking at him. My son is transformed into a new person it seems. Until of course he opens his mouth and as my grandmother said you’d realize he’s “still the same brat”. But such a cute brat. Now that his distractive (and so beautiful) hair is gone, I’m drawn to his eyes. They are soulful. Wide, asking, deep, framed by long lashes, they are the entrance to his soul and world. And I think he’s gotten more mature. Even if I know that that’s all in my head – maybe it’ll turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Cutting his hair was very difficult for me. I was surprised, considering that I hadn’t wanted to leave his hair uncut and do the whole upsherin thing in the first place. But it wasn’t about the hair, it was about the person I knew to be my child. This is a transformative haircut. E doesn’t look like anything I know. I couldn’t even imagine what he’d look like afterward. While they cut his hair, yes, we all laughed that it was a shame for such beautiful hair to be wasted on a boy, but I preoccupied myself with taking pictures the whole time, lest the tears on the edge of my eyes break free of the rim. I did feel like I was losing my child as I knew him. And even though I know it’s the same E, with his finitive language, and inquisitive nature, on Sunday, he was a different person.
There we two moments where it crystallized and I had to turn my face away from the crowd. One, after all the men took their turn snipping off locks of hair, I stood in the back and looked at his hacked hair, and a loud flashing sign in my head read “It’s OVER. This stage is over”.
Naturally there’s a gradually passing from one stage of life to another, a shade of gray, or green, where the red and blue are changing, a mixing of the colors, with the shades starting lighter, fading into on another and gradually being completely transformative in hindsight. It happened in a moment here. It was hard.
And then about a minute into the real haircut, my mother in law (also the barber in this case) had trimmed away enough so you could see the curve and actual shape of the back of E’s head. It was so round and perfect. And I thought, I don’t this part of my son. I don’t know this boy.
Now of course logically, I recognize that he is the same exact person he was the day before, sans hair. He still manipulated his toilet training to get more candy, he still jumps off any surface possible, and still speaks in finite terms of, can’t and need. But he looks so different. So beautiful, yes. But so different than the child I know, that I can’t help but feel I need to get to know him all over again.
The phone rings; it’s my mother.
“TYTT, don’t beat yourself up. You’re very busy, and stressed, so what if you didn’t write and made a cookbook for your sister instead.”
I breathed deeply, I love supportive mothers.
“You didn’t read the last paragraph did you, what I did was just a manifestation of an underlying trait which indicated a lack of passion in an area I thought it existed.
“Ye ye,” She brushed me off, “The cookbook was a one time thing, writing is not, apples and oranges.”
I smiled, maybe supportive mothers have a point.
“But there are always one-time things that get in the way.” I said tugging at the loose thread of her theory.
“Fine, don’t write, be a defeatist. What nareshkeit are you so busy with anyway?”
Well, if she put it that way…This is what I’m so busy with, or was so busy with – one of those pressing one-time things that spring me into action…
Driving home from the co-op one day my cochlea’s were stimulated. I was listening to Radio Kol BeRama – The Jewish Music radio station in Lakewood, when a song that I actually liked came on. The station plays way to much gravelly Carlbach for my taste, but I had no patience plugging in my ipod, and even less patience for song selection (I’m so freakin’ lazy, I know!) This song though was different. It had a sax, and no trumpet, a rarity in Jewish pop. The lyrics were a mix of a posuk and English words (buncha singers have been doing that lately, notably Avraham Fried and Benny Friedman). The vocals (a duet) were trained and smooth – another Jewish rarity. And I enjoyed. I even still remember where I was while listening to it – County line and Madison, waiting for the light to change, with Crystal Lake realty to my right, and Exxon on my left – it’s a long light; I didn’t mind.
I thought I recognized Ari Goldwag’s voice; actually, I was pretty sure it was him; his voice is pretty distinct; somehow he makes a bubble stuck in your throat sound good. Figuring a quick Google search would garner me the song, I got right to it – a good song it worth any time in the world, everyone knows that. But I didn’t find it.
I searched by the lyrics I remembered. Nothing. I combed MostlyMusic’s website for the song title (which I totally made up, but just assumed based on the song content). I went through Ari Goldwag’s discography, his website, nothing. I searched the lyrics again. Nada. And I gave up. For the time being, that is.
A few days later, I was bored, and writing takes too much thinking, so I took another stab at it. Nothing. Searched YouTube, all English Collections: fruitless.
A Motziah Shabbos later, I somehow ended up on Radio Kol Berama’s website. Once there, I figured might as well take another stab. I submitted a song request just a description of the song, and assumed artist. Of course I was in Brooklyn at the time, so I couldn’t tune in, and of course I was called away from the computer, so I couldn’t even stick around for a possible streaming. Strike three. Or so I thought.
I was frustrated, and disappointed. Seriously, how elusive can a Jewish song be?! It’s such a small world.
Fast forward a few weeks and a random perusal of my Facebook news feed, a friend posted an audio clip, with this message:
I have this one recording of this song, does anyone know who sings it and what album its from?
IT WAS MY SONG!!! And someone else was looking for it too! Misery loves company. Now that it wasn’t just me, I was spurned on to resume my search (I’m so altruistic, no?). I qualified for Albert Einstein’s definition of insanity. I went through the same motions as before, no change in results , none.
This time though, I ended up at the Jewish Music Review blog. In a moment of inspiration, I e-mailed them, maybe they would know. On this blog, there was an article about Yitzy Spinner’s new website. Could Yitzy Spinner be the second half of the duet? Ari Goldwag and he were in Miami Boy’s Choir together, did they keep up? I re-searched MostlyMusic this time under Yitzy Spinner’s work, again, nothing. I went back to Jewish Music Review, and clicked the link to Yitzy Spinner’s website, maybe it would provide me with more insight. It didn’t.
In the corner of the website was a “Contact Yitzy” link. Intended for potential gigs, I made other use of it.
Hi, I heard a song, Eilecha (I made up that title). A mix of Hebrew and English lyrics. I recognized Ari Goldwag’s and I think your voice singing it. For the life of me, I can’t find a record of the song anywhere. I loved it, and am desperate for a copy of it. Do you know what I’m talking about? Can you steer me in the right direction? Thank you.
Impressively, he responded within the hour,
Nothing that I can think of. Did you try going through Ari’s music?
Dead end. Again. But a stroke of genius prodded me, or maybe it was stupidity, because why didn’t I think of it before – E-mail Ari Goldwag. Easily, I found his e-mail address on his website. And he too responded quickly.
My heart quickened, and a smile burst forth when I read his succinct response,
it’s from Sheves Achim 2. I sang it with the Bell brothers.
or if you want just that track, you can get it on itunes
I found it!!! I spread the joy to my Facebook friend, who of course realized that she had the cd uploaded on her computer all along.
The resolution to this quest of course completed my life goals, and I lived happily ever after. Not really, but at least I got a song that I really love to listen to.
My friend’s thought I was insane for going as far as to e-mail the (assumed) artist to find a song that I heard once and enjoyed. I think it’s just indicative of my nature, and writing problem. Do I want in bad enough – it would seem not – again.
Sorry, supportive Ma, it’s not a defeatist writing, but a realist.
(I tried posting the song, but wordpress is not so generous with embedding mp3′s, so those of you who are friends with me on FB, can check it out, I posted it, or try the links above)
She looked at me, her face a mixture of awe and disgust.
“I know you want your kid to all cultured and educated, but don’t you think you’re starting a bit young?”
I gave her a blank look, having no idea what she was referring to.
“Your kid just said he’s going to the Mona Lisa.”
“What?” I said. “He didn’t say that.
“I swear he did.”
I can’t remember the last time I even thought about the Mona Lisa.” I protested.
Just then my kid scooted up in his Cozy Coupe,
“Mommy, I go Momo Leesa.” And then pitter-pattered away as fast his feet could pedal.
“See,” she pointed after my son.
I just laughed at my sister,
“That’s Morah Aliza, his babysitter, he’s going to. The other place he goes to is ‘sheeva’ to ‘lorn’. How’s that for cultured and educated.”
Are they serious? Is that the best tagline they could come up with? It makes me question of they can accurately define ironic. And please, let me use some, just some of my neurons to develop the opinion they so subtlety suggested to me. No, I did not go to see it, apparently I’m not one of the ‘neshei chinuch’ who reccomended it (can you see that little note in the corner?) Embarrassing.
I’m typing this post from my phone. It’s a pain to capitalize, use apostrophes, and frankly say anything more than I need to. Basically, an atmosphere not really conducive to writing, unless you’re Hemingway succinct – I haven’t reached that level of mastery yet (or probably ever).
So why am I subjecting myself to such obvious torture is a good question you ask. I cancelled the internet service in my house, is the simple answer, or really that is the answer, it just leads to the next question that has a more complex or elusive answer, why did I cancel my Internet service?
I’m not sure. I know it’s good for me. Good for me, on a few important levels: socially, mentally, and spiritually.
But I feel a little torn, because I always held myself as the voice of reason, crying the internet is a tool, and that it’s the people that use it that are good or bad. And now I seem like the extremist, which I never want to be; the Rambam says to take the middle road with everything (but anger) and this is not it. And now I have to get off my soap box, because I can’t preach moderation if I’m not living it myself (I hate those people who say it’s ok to do something, but they don’t do it themselves).
Suddenly though, I find so many more hours in my day. Hours to to do the things I never get around to: organizing my pictures into albums, patchening a little on supper, playing with my children uninterrupted, with full focus not waiting for something to download, process, or what-not. I have time to breathe and live. And it’s amazing to discoverI can be a fully functional member of society without reading Yahoo’s article “10 Things Your Waiter Won’t Tell You”. I’m enjoying the freedom I never knew I had given up, and with access on my phone, I’m still connected when I need to be, but I’m not going to be idling hours away browsing.
We’ll see how it all works out long term. The people at Verizon say I can keep my service on “vacation” for nine months before it’s made permanent. Nine months…nine months to create a new being of myself-if I choose.
But will I? I just don’t know.
I’m am amateur baker, if you can even award me with that title. When my niece was born and my sister in law and brother in law made a Kiddush for her, I was a good aunt (and sister in law) and sent something over for the occasion. I usually send biscotti, in a cookie jar. It looks cute, doesn’t require much patchkening, and best of all, it tastes good. I’m not sure what possessed me, maybe because it was after Purim, and I had just made all those black and white cookies, and I didn’t want my newly acquired skill to go to waste, I made pink and white cookies.
I worked hard on them, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to results. I didn’t have the right shade of pink, it was a bit bright, due to my food coloring packaging description of “NEON” (I thought it was fun colors to get at the time, I didn’t actually think about how I might use it, and that whatever I would be coloring, I’d like it to resemble edible food, not radioactive waste).
Also, it’s a pain doing each cookie, one side at a time, holding it between your thumb and index finger; I developed temporary carpal tunnel syndrome. But for a first attempt, they were ok. The place where the pink and white met up wasn’t always totally straight. The pink sometimes overlapped the white a little bit, leading to lighter shades of pink in some places. They were really pretty from a short distance though.
I made tons, so I froze most of them, and worked on the final presentation.
Exhibited on a trendy rectangular plate, wrapped in cellophane and tied with a ribbon, it was perfect – for Queens. And it was easily one of the fanciest things at the Kiddush. I beamed and blushed with all the compliments.
Fast-forward a month, and brother and sister in law were making a Kiddush for their newest addition. Pregnancy wasn’t being nice to me, and I didn’t have the energy to make something. I kept thinking I did, I even put up a cookie dough on Monday. Made the actual cookies three days later, but the decorating never happened (Pregnancy won that battle).
It was Friday, and I was getting a bit frantic, yes, my brother and sister in law would more than understand and forgive me for not sending something in celebration, but I wouldn’t be able to live it down for myself (besides I wanted my sister in law to send something when I would eventually be making either a Kiddush or shalom zachor – selfish motives, I know).
I remembered my pink and whites, pretty in the freezer, waiting to grace another Kiddush. I took them out, and looked at them scornfully. They weren’t good enough – not for a Lakewood crowd. I could never show my face and be proud of my confections here. Besides, these cookies in Lakewood would almost be insulting to Baal Hasimcha. She’d have to put them out, due to social dictums, but they’d most probably mar the balance and beauty of everything else presented.
Last minute I wrangled something together with my sister’s help (who I was hosting for that Shabbos for the Kiddush). Using the cookies I had yet to decorate, we finagled something that could pass muster in Lakewood and did not require great technical prowess. Shalom al yisroel, I can still show my face in proper society.
I ate those pink and white cookies with my coffee. They tasted great. My other sister in law in Queens is due soon. I might be making another test drive on the pink (or maybe blue) and whites, and see if I’m ready for primetime in Lakewood.
And for those who think I’m crazy, check out the cookies my sister in law sent over for my baby’s Shalom Zachor. This is what I’m up against, and she didn’t take this picture, I did. She thought they weren’t good enough to merit a memory.
It’s not totally about competition, and being good enough, but really doing what’s acceptable and expected in your community. For my ego though, I should maybe consider Queens.
On second thought, Queens is only 20 minutes from Far Rockaway – and my sister – who made these
We weren’t friends yet, but planned on being. It would just be convenient, our husbands were close friends, our kids, of the same age and gender, it seemed meant to be, we just had to get to know each other. One such opportunity rose by the out-of-town wedding of our husband’s close friend. Neither of us knew anyone else, so our conversing would save face for both us, and didn’t seem so contrived.
Neither of us were really comfortable dancing, we didn’t know anyone but the other, not even the bride. So we sat and watched, our babies on our laps gave us more validity to sit this one out.
I saw her eyes narrow, but not knowing her well enough, I felt it wasn’t my place to ask what was irking her, but she let me know though, taking me into her confidence,
“These girls are dancing so unrefined.” Lips pursed together, arms crossed. I hadn’t noticed, to be honest, it looked like a regular wedding to me. That didn’t seem the right thing to say, I wanted her to like me, for us to get along and understand each other, so I just sat there, and gave a slight nod – not of approval, but for her to continue.
“Girls would never dance like this in Lakewood, shrieking their heads off, waving their hands so high, and, I dunno, shaking their hips.”
Girls don’t know they have hips in Lakewood, I thought.
But now looking at the wedding from her Lakewood girl perspective, I guess she had a point. The girls were dancing very aggressively, lively, and I thought quite beautifully, the bride was happy, wasn’t that the point? But for Lakewood, yes, I suppose it was a bit unrefined. This wasn’t Lakewood though, and who said Lakewood is right in the first place.
I gave a slight nod again, and said,
We moved on to more pressing topics like which socks actually stay on babies feet and are Target’s up & up diapers really that good. I thought we could still be friends; friends are entitled to their own opinion, right?
She called me up three days later. The Chosson and Kallah had eaten breakfast by me, and she was curious.
“How were they?” she asked.
“Really cute, y’know.”
There was pause on her end.
“Were they passing things?”
This was 5 exits past different opinions, and I knew then, she wouldn’t ever be more than a husband’s friend’s wife.