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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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The Lady

Her palms dug deep into her eye sockets and rubbed vigorously. The ache rose in intensity then subsided slowly, cathartically. She hadn’t yelled. Or cried today.

She had cleaned up two accidents, one number one, the other number two; bounty and bleach were getting  too well acquainted.

She had swept up one shattered bowl and the Chex and milk that it contained; little elbows aren’t the most stable.

She had mopped the floor of greek yogurt stolen from the fridge, while she was vacuuming the dry oatmeal they poured in the room. Her older one thought the texture was that of shampoo, so he graciously washed his sister’s hair.

She had separated them three times as they yanked each other’s hair for some offense or another, and gotten her snood snatched and her own hair tugged on in the process.

She had held the little one as he shrieked desperately for his own entertainment.

And now they were in bed. Not sleeping yet, but in bed. They were usually ok at this point.

Her chest expanded and then fell dramatically with each soothing breath. She had a sewing class in an hour. Up and down her chest rose and fell. Sweater smeared with yogurt and peppered with dusty oatmeal particles, she went to change. By her mirror she swiped on mascara. And then dabbed on concealer and a little foundation. Then some blush. A pause, and then she went for it, layering her eye shadow, 6 different shades. Liquid eyeliner is always tricky, but with a steady hand, and a q-tip, she achieved. Lipstick was always tricky, to go neutral, soft, bold, day look versus night look, she hesitated, then went for the red.

“Going somewhere?” one of them asked.

“You look amazing,” said another. She waved her hand easily and dusted of their comments,

“I was going to go a vort, but, whatever, I decided not to.” They nodded and found their seats. And she sat too, a lady.

 
4 Comments

Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Writing

 

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Birthday Are Not About Numbers

Beware the Fish

Dear SRF

You didn’t respond to my Happy Birthday text, which is not your type, so I assume you boycotted your birthday. I hear that. But birthdays are not just for marking another year of age, but it’s a day that people get to focus on you, and realize how much they appreciate knowing you, and having you in their lives. So I’ll skip the “how old are you” part of the song, but I’d still like to celebrate you as a person SRF.

You are one of the most kindest, most sincere, and most generous person I know. You always have a smile, a laugh, a story to reach out with. You remember all the small details, like others birthdays, and their other friend’s name who you never even met and how they’re feeling, because they had a bad cough two weeks ago. People feel wanted, and loved because of you, by you.

SRF, you have such passion for things in this world, your genuine interest in ideas, knowledge and people, draw all of us in, and spreads the passion and fire along.

And your kindness, love, and genuine concern for others are reflected in your broad smile, and open hand.

You make a difference for so many people every day, just by you being you.

I know we don’t keep up as much as you and I’d like, but that’s my fault because you’re always there with a friendly note.

So, I won’t sing the song, send a card, or anything, but I’ll thank Hashem for giving me a beautiful friend like you.

 

Thank you.

 

Love,

TYTT

 
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Posted by on December 11, 2013 in The Sporadic Side

 

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Just In Time For The Halloween

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And people wonder why I make fun of Boro Park…

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2013 in Humor, Jewish, Writing

 

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It’s Just A Haircut

The PeklachIt 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.

 
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Posted by on August 28, 2013 in Jewish, Musings

 

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