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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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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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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.

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2013 in Writing

 

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My Need To Write

I want to write something and people will cry.

They will cry at my sorrow.

Marvel at my strength and depth.

I want to write something and people will laugh.

They will laugh from my wit, wish they could be me, or at the very least, hang out,

So they can hear some more.

I want to write something and people will change.

They’ll be inspired by my insight and perspective.

 The world will be a better place, and when pressed why,

 people will point at me as the source.

I want to write something smart, and people will nod.

They will quote me.

 People will refer to my knowledge and authority.

I want to write something and people will smile.

They will pass it along to their friend,

 because the sun will be shining brighter, the moon deeper, and laugh lighter.

I want to write something and people will point.

They’ll say they knew me when.

Want to know me now.

 And maybe then,

 I’ll feel accepted.

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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The Real Winners

“Who should I make it out to?” I asked.

“Zichron Yaakov Tzedaka,” she answered, her hands fumbling around one her many manila envelopes finding change for another teacher; she was always doing some chessed thing or another. I crouched over the desk and wrote out a ten dollar check. She handed me three red tickets.

“Write your name on it; the display’s past the double doors; put the tickets in there.

I nodded smiling; I had seen the display for the last week. Every day when I walked to class, the opportunity to win a set of linen or aMarc Jacob watch mocked me.

“You know this money is going straight for tzedaka,”

She nodded, “Ye, I know, that’s what I put this auction together for.”

I shook my head and laughed,

“No, I meant this money is lishma, yeah, I’m putting a ticket in, but I never win anything ever, Publisher’s Clearing House doesn’t even send me letters”

She chuckled,

“Really, nothing? Ever? Most people have won something or another, even if it not a Chinese auction, but a scratch off lotto or the like.”

“Nope,” I said almost proudly, “Nothing. If it’s based on luck, I’m sure to lose. I’ll win you any game of spit. War, I lose every time.”

She shrugged lightly. “Drawing’s this Thursday.”

She left the teacher’s room. I left too, I was running late already, I had to pick up the kids, but make a stop first. My sister organized abone marrow/stem cell blood drive, and was harassing me to be swabbed.

“You have to show support for my effort” she said.

“I don’t have time.”

“You could save someone’s life,” she changed tactics.’

“The likelihood is small, and really, I just don’t have time.”

“I’ll pay the extra $10 dollars at the babysitter that you keep your kids there a bit longer and just do it.”

“Fine,” I conceded. “I’m doing this for you. Because, really, you know the odds, you’re the coordinator, and keep your 10 bucks, I’ll do it lishma.” I winked.

The whole thing took five minutes. Swab here, here, here, and here. Lost all my lipstick to the q-tip, but I got a nice membership card telling me I’m a donor, and did my second good deed for the day. Then I walked back to my car all the way across the parking lot, because there are never spots up front when I arrive – plenty now, but none then.

It doesn’t even bother me anymore, it’s my mazal, I’ve come to accept it. Am almost proud of it at times. and it keeps me from doing stupid things, like trying incessantly to call into the radio station, praying to be the 107th caller and win a new cd, a free pizza or something of the sort. I don’t hope for rain, or to make the bus, I plan ahead instead. It’s ok, don’t pity me, I’m happy, I just have nosort of luck when it comes to any sorts of odds.

My chicken soup was up, and the fish already made, when her name showed up on the caller id Thursday night.

“I won I won I won!!” I shouted by way of answering the call.

“Ummm, actually,” she started.

“You can’t tease me, calling Thursday when you’re supposed to be drawing the Chinese Auction.”

She laughed, “We drew the winners for the auction, have no fear, your streak is still alive.”

“Phew!” I joked, “Close call. So what can I do for you?”

There was a moment’s pause, and when she spoke again her voice was more serious, earnest, concerned,

“I volunteer for Gift of Life, you’re a match to someone, would you be willing to go for further testing?”

It took a moment to register.

“You won.” She said softly.

I guess I did.

“I won, I won, I won!” I repeated  my opening line.

I broke my streak on the mother load.

(Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, though inspired by real events)

 

 
1 Comment

Posted by on January 16, 2013 in Writing

 

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if i could

a discussion in class about choices,

mistakes,

decisions,

second chances,

 

and if you could do it over

would you?

should you?

could you?

 

said many students

they’d love

they’d want

they’d die

 

me?

not sure

don’t think

no.

 

wishing when it happened,

that it had gone differently.

that I said something else.

that some things didn’t happen at all.

 

those moments with the pause

of shame

of frustration

of desperation

 

smiles not meaning happiness

but, sarcasm,

but, grief

but isolation

 

people ask,

“Why do bad things happen to good people?”

“Only the good die young”

“She’s so sweet, but suffers so”

 

the unsatisfactory answer:

they can handle it

G-d loves them

it’s a test

 

i don’t know

if i’m a “good” person

if i “handled” it

if i’ve passed

 

i do know i’m here

to-day

just now

this moment

 

because of what

i’ve done,

didn’t do,

gone though,

 

all is

for better or worse,

the good with the bad

the joy in the sorrow

 

i am me,

because

despite

contrary

 

of

it

them

all

 

and i kinda like me.

so no,

so sorry

so, whatever.

 

i choose

no reset

do over

groundhog day.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Musings, Poems

 

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