Thursday, July 24, 2014

A good cry

Feeling so empty inside
got no where to hide
the lights ablaze
please let me hide my face
from you.

Guy on the train
talking about whats-his-name
tries to hand me a page passing through,
I say no thanks I'm a Jew
he asks 'do you know what that means'.

Stumped for words
my speech slurs
couldn't keep my mouth closed
while he's so composed
talks about the bible and stuff.

My brain on alert
my gaze I avert
look away
wonder what you'd say
if you knew my thoughts.

I want to say, I'm a Jew! I'm a Jew! And settle the matter. But he keeps talking. The ride is almost over, the train is pulling in, he's still talking. I wonder what I started, and where I was when we learned that class called 'know what to say.

They say I'm smart, my mother calls me brilliant, now I know that isn't true. I can't say that I'm dumb, but I feel lacking at times, like some people got an extra gene that I must have missed, called 'the comeback'. I'm not good at rapid fire debates. Give me Google any day and I'm all set. 10 page research papers are easy for me, time to prepare what I have to say. But on the spot I'm no good.

In the classroom I come up with a theory regarding the story we are reading, I have points to back it up. No one concluded the same that I did, my teacher sounds skeptical. I try, I try, but with everyone seemingly against you, it's hard. One student attempts to side with me, but it was weak. My teacher asks me to back up my theory, and I cannot. I grasp for outside references but nothing comes to mind. They seem to know it all. My mind is blank.

Some people call it a bad day, or a bad week. Perhaps a bad state of being. It is laughable, to be in a school filled with and surrounded by people who together make up so much knowledge, and to feel that you know nothing. Grades mean nothing if you leave knowing no more than when you entered.

I was looking for that paper, the one with my goals. A few years ago I wrote down five goals that I wanted to accomplish, and at the time I did not believe I could do them. I thought about it over the years, but forgot about that paper. I went digging for it tonight, and to my delight I can now say I have accomplished all five of those goals. My problem is that sometimes I don't have the confidence to recognize my own accomplishments.

A velvet bag stuck out of an envelope with a card. What is that? I pull it out. And open it up. My face lights up. The card, it reads, "I smile because you're my sister...(open it up) I laugh because there's nothing you can do about it."

I am crying now as I open the velvet bag. Inside are beautiful heart shaped earrings, sparkling blue. He didn't realize that I can't wear earrings, I feel bad that I ever told him. I want so badly to pierce my own ears just to wear the precious gift he gave me.

I call my little brother, hoping he won't realize I'm crying. I get his voicemail, leaving a tearful message telling him how much I love him and miss him. I matter to someone, though at times I forget that.

Sometimes a good cry is all it takes to feel better.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Frailty the name is woman

Pain

Discomfort hinders your abilities
your face in a permanent wince
as you sit, stand, walk, sleep.
You start to anticipate your next dosage of pills
and wonder how bad it would be to overdose.

I've had a pretty rough week. I hurt my back on Sunday, right before I babysat three cute toddlers. I swallowed some pills, swallowed the pain, and took them for ice cream. I couldn't get to the doctor until Thursday. My friend Google informed me that indeed I could take ibuprofen and acetaminophen together. The days were okay, except sitting hurt and standing hurt because of the sitting. The nights were bad, not being able to find a comfortable position, and the excruciating pain of standing up in the morning.

Today I went to the doctor. I am beginning to feel better. He gave me a shot for the pain. It's helping somewhat.

I claim to have a pretty high threshold for pain. I barely flinch at shots, or giving blood. But when your body is in pain, it shuts down. Suddenly every task that used to be so simple, like walking up the stairs, is agony. You just want to wrap yourself in a blanket and drown out the world. You want the pain to go away. You move slower. I'm usually a fast walker, but every step sent a shooting pain down my leg. I was cold. I wore a sweater when it was hot out.

B"H it is getting better. Hopefully by next week I will be back to normal. It is hard having physical limitations.

I know I am probably way late in the game, but thanks to modern technology, I downloaded a siddur app on my phone, as well as a tehillim and the chabad.org chittas app. (I kind of wondered how it works if you bring your phone into the bathroom. I suppose if the app is not open then it's not a problem.)

This might make me sound lazy, but in my life I do things by convenience. If it's not hard, then why not. I recently made a hachlata to begin saying the daily portion of tehillim every day. Then I kind of added on chumash and tanya, making it the complete portion of daily chittas. Since I have the siddur app, I figured why not daven on the train on my way to work, since I have free time. I realized that I have free time in my life when I make the time, and it is so easy to work spirituality into your life if you just try.

My high school alumni made a tehillim group for the safety of Israel. I took some tehillim upon myself, and my tehillim app has a setting where I can save 'my chapters' so it is easier to say. Feel free to join the group, round 2 is already filling up.

The title of this post is in reference to Hamlet. If you have never read Hamlet, (I don't blame you), Hamlet says this line about his mother and he is basically saying that he thinks she is a weak person and she has no backbone. (That's as much context as I can give without summarizing the whole play.) I find is kind of rude that he assigns the word frail to an entire gender. I am here to say that women are not frail. Sometimes we choose to be weak. That doesn't make us weak. You must find it within yourself to be strong. And you will be strong.

I can find the time for prayer even in the midst of pain. And when I say even, I should add that that is the most important time to pray. Do you see the irony of saying, I'm in pain so I don't feel like davening right now? Rather, daven so that the pain will go away.

If this doesn't make sense, I blame the shot my doctor gave me. No idea what was in it.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Steven, Joseph, Michael

With names like
Steven, Joseph, Michael,
the kippah is the first thing I see,
But the names,
the names they get to me.

Teacher says to (other) Michael,
do you wear a yalmuka,
He tilts his head in response,
displays his bare head.

I know he's Jewish too,
but them,
the ones who look like
frum Yidden
with names like
Steven, Joseph, Michael,
what are they trying to hide?

Friday, July 4, 2014

I Hair You

D says, "Let's talk about our alliance, or our disagreements." Then he catches himself. "Sorry, I didn't mean to say our, I mean, we not the one's who been fighting. I got no beef with you". I laugh when he says that. We are discussing the Crown Heights riots and the history of Jews and blacks in the united States. Every time my teacher sees us two talking and laughing, he says, "It's great that you two are getting along and bonding, but it's time to be quiet now." Ya, it's funny. But it's also a bit racist.

I wasn't there during the riots of 1991. My family moved to Crown Heights shortly after. Seems like an insane move for that time. The blacks were saying that all the Hasidim were moving out, disappearing. And here my family moves, from a quiet suburb in Massachusetts. I always wondered what would have happened if we would have stayed there. We might be a nice Modern Orthodox family right now.

We read Anna Deaver Smith's play, Fires in the Mirror. She acts it out here. I like how she interviewed people on both sides of the dispute, and then laid their words side by side, so that instead of seeing how very different they are, you get to see how they are somehow the same.

My teacher told us to bring our "work in progress" to class, and we would discuss it and help each other. The paper is due on Tuesday. I submitted a proposal for the final paper, to which my teacher replied, "Regarding your well-written proposal: Instead of thinking about your final paper as a research paper that traces the origins of the Crown Heights Riots in Jewish/Black relations in the U.S., I'd like to encourage you to foreground Anna Deavere Smith's play and write a more argumentative paper that engages deeply with the text. Use context where it matters, but do examine how the text deals with particular aspects of the relationship you are interested in." I thought about it and came up blank.

When he said "the relationship you are interested in" my mind immediately went to the Jews struggle, as the weak and helpless protagonist, and the black rioters as the antagonistic bullies. I told my professor that I feel too close to the dispute, and that I will undoubtedly side with the Jews. He told me to try to look at it objectively, not as a horrible incident that occurred where two people were killed, rather as two cultures colliding. He suggested I write about hair, and I thought he was nuts.

(Anna Smith interviews reverend Al Sharpton. Reverend Sharpton's hair is in the style of James Brown's hair.)

"James Brown raised me.
Uh ...
I never had a father.
My father left when I was ten .
James Brown took me to the beauty parlor one day
and made my hair like his.
And made me promise
to wear it like that
'til I die.
It's a personal family thing
between me and James Brown.

there's nothing wrong with me doing
that with James.
It's, it's, us.
I mean in the fifties it was a slick.
It was acting like White folks. '.
But today
people don't wear their hair like that.
James and I the only ones out there doing that.
So it's certainlih not
a reaction to Whites.
It's me and James's thing."

~~~~~~

An interview with a Hassidic woman about wigs.

(Early afternoon. Spring. The kitchen of an apartment in
Crown Heights. A very pretty Lubavitcher woman, with clear
eyes and a direct gaze, wearing a wig and a knit sweater,
that looks as though it might be hand knit. A round
wooden table. Coffee mug. Sounds of children playing in
the street are outside. A neighbor, a Lubavitcher woman
with light blond hair who no longer wears the wig, observes
the interview at the table.)

Your hair-
It only has to be
there's different,
uhm,
customs in different
Hasidic groups.
Lubavitch
the system is
it should be two inches
long.
It's-
some groups
have
the custom
to shave their
heads.
There's-
the reason is,
when you go to the mikvah [bath]
you may, maybe,
it's better if it's short
because of what you-
the preparation
that's involved
and that
you have to go under the water.
The hair has a tendency to float
and you have to be completely submerged
including your hair.
So ...
And I got married
when I was a little older,
and I really wanted to be married
and I really wanted to, um . . .
In some ways I was eager to cover my head.
Now if I had grown up in a Lubavitch household
and then had to cut it,
I don't know what that would be like.
I really don't.
But now that I'm wearing the wig,
you see,
with my hair I can keep it very simple
and I can change it all the time.
So with a wig you have to have like five wigs if you want to
      do that.
But I, uh,
I feel somehow like it's fake,
I feel like it's not me.
I try to be as much myself as I can,
and it just
bothers me
that I'm kind of fooling the world.
I used to go to work.
People ...
and I would wear a different wig,
and they'd say I like your new haircut
and I'd say it's not mine!
You know,
and it was very hard for me to say it
and
it became very difficult.
I mean, I've gone through a lot with wearing wigs and not
wearing
wigs.
It's been a big issue for me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~


I stayed after class cuz I didn't want to leave. It's always hard leaving on the last day. We took a group picture. I asked D if I could take a picture with him. We took a pic together, both doing the two fingered 'peace' or 'what up!' symbol. Of course we got photo bombed. I'm gonna miss him. On the first day of class when we all barely knew each other, we were discussing the stereotypes regarding African American's. D said, a co-worker told him that he doesn't look very threatening, but that she is sometimes afraid of other black guys in the street. He replied and said, "If you see me at midnight in a dark ally wearing a hoodie and I come up to you and say, "scuse me, you got the time?" you'd run the other way. We all assured him that we would never do that. He demonstrated with the hoodie and a deep gravelly voice, and we all laughed. He said, now that you know me, don't run screaming.

I stood chatting with two girls in my class about hair, wigs and weaves. I asked about dreadlocks and braids. I mentioned Chris Rock's documentary, "Good Hair" (2009). I remember watching an interview with him on the Tyra Banks show. She says the movie discusses emotional, psychological, political, and chemical issues with their hair. My classmate said, "You get up in the morning and have to style your hair, but me, I get up and I'm good to go. This hairstyle will last me 6 weeks."

To many people, hair is an identity. My hair has it's good days and bad days. I've gone through curly phases, and straightening crazes, and frizziness. I ran out of mousse and decided to go au naturale, and my hair surprised me with it's own natural volume. Whenever I think about wearing a shaitel, I start to feel a little bit claustrophobic. I barely ever wear hats in the winter because I hate things on my head. I feel stifled. I can't imagine shaving my head, I'm happy that Lubavitch doesn't have that custom. I can't even fathom having it "two fingers" short. I spent a long time growing out my hair, and I will miss it when I have to cover it.

I told these girls, for them it's a choice, for us it's a commandment. For them, it's a deep rooted part of their identity. Many black women in professional careers feel the need to relax their hair to appear less African American. I don't think I will understand it. But the one thing we have in common is wigs. While they do it cosmetically, and we do it halachically, we are both covering up a part of ourselves. We are taught that by one covering her hair, she brings down many blessings from heaven.

This class has taught me appreciation for diversity. In the classroom, it doesn't matter that I am Jewish and D is "African American", or J who has Asian features and is from California and speaks with a Spanish accent, or J who is Italian and Jewish, (who has tattoos but claims she was told she could still be buried in a Jewish cemetery). Our features are not what define us. When you look past the labels to the person inside, you find a personality. Humor, and wit, and sensitivity, and timidity, and shyness. You find motherly pride on a 5 year old daughter's graduation from preschool, and a father proud of his little girl who only smiles at his girlfriend (who incidentally is not the kid's mother). You find an older brother who feels the responsibility of having to act a certain way because his siblings look up to him. You find a professor who refuses to tell us where he's from because he doesn't want you to think about him a certain way.

In this classroom, we discard the labels and our differences. We learn to find common ground. We argue respectfully. We expose each other's differences, only to try and look for similarities. To me, the Crown Heights riots will always be a tragedy, an explosion of sorts between two vastly different ethnic groups with so many glaring differences which stood in the way of much needed unity.

D snapped the pic and said, we just ended the riots right there. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Moments

It is dark when I leave campus, like everyone has already gone home for the night. I feel rather than see people moving by. I want to talk to someone, connect with them. But I left all connections back in the classroom. The frustration they call a discussion. We get a grade for participation. My hand hangs limply. It shoots up every time a voice stops talking. But no one sees me. My frustration mounts. Let me talk! By the time it gets to me, all the good stuff has been said already. It's no wonder I don't feel like talking in class.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My hair hangs down around my face, like a curtain. The benefits of having long hair. Duck down behind it and pretend that I am invisible.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I wait after class to have a private word with him. Seems like I'm not the only one. I'm tired. I pretend that I don't understand so he will keep talking. His eyes focus intently on mine. He has an accent, lending an allure to the way he talks.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He says no phones allowed in the classroom. I ask how we will know the time, there's no clock in here. I get a secret thrill when he throws his watch to me. I feel like a groupie.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He sees me in the hall going in the opposite direction of the classroom. He tells me that I better not be leaving. I can't help smiling as I say, don't worry I'll be right back. He says, you better come back. I try not to let the feeling that he wants me there go to my head.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The movie is violent and I wish he would skip over the bad parts. Instead, we watch a second time as the black guy is killed by the cops. It's not a good night for me to see this. I never like violent films, but this is truly depressing. He tells me to cover my eyes, but nothing will make me unsee that image.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I look down and fiddle with my pen during the love-scene. Call me a prude. When I was little we always covered our eyes during the kissing parts. And this, in a college classroom. Ugh.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He's not from here. He tells us he thinks everyone in NY has guns. He looks at me and says he'd be particularly worried if I had a gun. I'm not sure to be insulted or take that as a damn fine compliment. How big is the line between tough and gangsta?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I didn't wear my Magen Dovid that day. She comes in, that girl who said she's Italian and Jewish. I see a small Jewish star hanging around her neck. I can't help feeling proud, and like it was because of me.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Her, with the mickey mouse pen, who looks like she's 12, with a wedding ring on her finger. She keeps repeating her name back to him, because he keeps saying it wrong. But really, who cares?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

He, who talks about the disadvantage of blacks in NYC, how the lucky ones go to college, and the rest go to prison. He says it's important to him to make it in life. He shows me a pic of his daughter. Huh. He looks too young to have a kid.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The accent, I wonder where it's from. I ask him, since he seems to want to know all about us. He says it's a long story, and that's all he will say. I do a little stalking online. Germany. I hear it now. I wonder why he refrained from sharing that information.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The song is stuck in my head. It's the music that gets to me. The lyrics play on repeat:

I know you're tired of loving,
With nobody to love.
Just grab somebody, no leaving this party
With nobody to love.

I try to interpret that. I hear desperation in the song. Yet here I am not sleeping, listening to it over and over. I wonder where the line is between desire and desperation. I'm the last single one, after all, in my high school class. I don't think about it, until I see that last girl who got married. I can't help noticing her baby bump.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The letter 'Aleph' is painted on a beautiful background of brilliant vivid color. The artist is quite talented. But I won't see that painting, or the artist again. We could say, hey this didn't work out, but let's be friends. But that's just not how it works.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I wish I knew how to translate music into words. I wonder what my song would be.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Those lonely nights when you feel like going back to your 'safe haven', only to discover that your haven has moved on.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My hands tense around the pen, breaking it in half. The ink pours into my hands. I watch it stain, and wonder if it will be with me forever.


Monday, June 30, 2014

Build-A-Boy

I haven't had to drown anything out lately. I guess that means life has been good to me. But then again, I haven't been out much lately. When I say out- yes I leave my house. I go to work, and then I go to school, and then I come home. And then I go to work, and then I go to school- you get the drift. I'm at the point where I look around and I'm like- oh, people. Where did you come from?

I occasionally see my friend's on Shabbos, I seldom see my family, I mostly wrap myself up in school work, TV shows to destress, exercise when I have time, laundry when I get desperate, and food, well, when the fridge is running on empty.

I recently went through my posts in my draft folder, and there was one moaning about how when I was a kid I couldn't wait to be grow up so I could do whatever I wanted without anyone telling me what to do, and now that I am grown up I just want someone to tell me what to do, like go to bed, wake up, do your homework, go to class. But then I realized, that post will never see the light of day because what's the point of complaining about reality? Ya, this is life, I got used to it. You know, it does seem funny because there are so many coming-of-age novels and movies, and it's like, what's the big deal, so you grew up, yay you! Hey man, we all gotta grow up someday. But truly, some people make the transition easily, and there are others who cannot fathom growing up and would like to be 'forever young'. Personally, I was never the most responsible person. I used to say I hate responsibility and I hate commitments. So I should get an award for all of my accomplishments.

Every time I post online how well I'm doing in school (Straight A's, Spring semester) people get so excited for me. Good job! they tell me. That? I want to say. That was nothing. I was taking 4 classes. Just wait until next semester when I get 5 straight A's. Then you can congratulate me. And I'm not trying to be boastful. I know I'm smart, and still I surprise myself every time when I do well. I say I'm lazy. My father says that can't possibly be true, what with all that I do in my life.

I had an idea for a poem, but I realized it is a bit painful to write. Because it deals with memories, and sometimes I'd rather not remember things. I have met many guys who were wrong for me. And it was okay, and I made peace with it and I moved on. Over time I realized, if only I could take the best part from each one of them, I could build myself the perfect man. One was intelligent, one had a great smile, one was funny, one was kind, one taught me things about myself. Did you know you could miss parts of someone without missing the whole person? I discovered that. When you go through a painful relationship, once the pain clears and you don't miss them anymore, sometimes you find yourself thinking about them at the most random times. It is hard to put it into words. But if you meet someone that makes you want to be a better person, even if they are no longer in your life, they have influenced you forever. And I wish they knew how thankful I am for that.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Shomer High Five

Haven't seen him
in a few days.
He says he died
and came back to life.

It's good to see
his smiling face.
His hand approaches mine
in the universal 'High Five' gesture.

In that second
I want to be cool.
I want to be his friend.
I want to be 'just a guy'.

I want to hear the sound
of his hand
reverberating
against mine.

I shrug awkwardly
and smile.
Would explaining make it worse?
I simply back away; he takes the hint.

Later I apologize.
Tell him 'It's not you, it's me'.
I can't have physical contact
with guys.

He says "I know.
I'm not offended...
I just keep forgetting that.
I'll try to remember."

I tell him
that it's okay.
That sometimes...
I forget too.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Yes I Can

Sweat dripping down,
jaw clenched in concentration
determination
1, 2, 3, yes, you, can.

Aiming higher
reaching within for all you have
arms straining
training you mind: yes, you, can.

It doesn't seem worth it today
Tired and weak and hungry
The scale staring back mockingly
Haha. No you couldn't.

BUT

Today is a new day
a new week.
I will keep trying
keep eying the prize.

Yes. I.Can.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Xenophobia

I hate Russians.
And French.
And Canadians.
And Israelies.

I used to have a list, of nationalities I would never consider marrying.

I, like every other pompous American, hear a foreign accent and assume that they are stupid.

Oh, your from Russia? Do they like, have toilets there? I heard they only have outhouses and use leaves as toilet paper.

I know Russian:
"я хочу домой, пожалуйста." 

Ya, that's like the only sentence I can say.

Oh, you're from Ukraine. Isn't that like, part of Russia?

Why would you live there if you could just live in America? Oh, we don't want you... Too bad you weren't born here.

Let me impress you with the--limited-- amount of knowledge I have of your culture. It's not much. We're in America now.

Madrid airport. No English. "I have no idea what you're saying. I don't speak Spanish". Why don't they speak English? Just why. Everyone speaks a little English. In Israel they try to impress you with it. In Spain they get impatient with you. Um, hello, isn't English like a universal language? 

no necesito español.
"Life can be bright in America...
If you're all white in America."

There's a big world out there. America is not the only way.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Unsaid

Mind abuzz with thoughts, waiting to spill out
he says
who wants to share
your hand shoots up
he says
please relate it to the text
your hand slinks down
lower
timidly
till it rests on the desk
he says
who wants to share
your hands lies flat now, palm down
mind abuzz with thoughts, waiting to spill out
he says
anybody?
as a question
but your voice is silent now
all those words left unsaid. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Six-Pointed-Star



Fingers closing around the hard points,
her eyes shift to stare at me.
Look! I silently shout. Look at me.

She wears a cross around her neck,
and I a Jewish star.
We discuss antisemitism and she glances at me furtively.

What is she expecting?
Should I raise my voice forcefully
and proclaim my undying faith?

In my heart I know it,
on my neck I show it,
must I say it?


We discuss the passages in the book.
The "white Jew" is a paradox, it says.
The kids were wrong to pick on the Jew, I state.

The one with the cross, she smiles
in that way that says she thinks your wrong.
"What about the Jew who yelled at the little girl, she just wanted to buy a pickle".

I stand firm.
Antisemitism was rampant,
the Jews merely reacted to the abuse they received.

She shakes her head,
tries to find the words to say
the Jews were doing the "opposite of antisemitism".

I wonder if that's true.
But they are my people
and I will always side with them.

The word Jew comes up many times,
I feel eyes on me
as I finger my star.

I don't know quite what I am expected to say,
I don't feel like saying much at all
in response to their stares.

I'm not insulted,
this is merely a conversation
in a classroom.

I was brought up as a "white Jew" as they say,
and I was lucky not to feel the cruel arm
of antisemitism.

I am proud to be a Jew
to be the example that they can stare at
as we discuss literature culture and diversity.

I sit silently,
nodding my head as the discussion goes on,
and let the star do the talking.

Monday, June 2, 2014

I'm glad you came

He never called me by my nickname.
I thought that was weird.
But now it feels special.

We never talk.
I hate the silence.
I can't carry a conversation alone.

I tried, oh I tried.
I thought he didn't care.
So I stopped trying.

There was that summer, long ago.
Bike riding, colliding,
crashing through the undergrowth in the woods.

Skinned knees, and bee stings,
root beer popsicles,
and pacts not to tell.

He taught me to read.
Morris the Moose goes to school.
My first book.

He knew I was smart before I did.
We were pals.
For a time.

Suddenly I'm that little girl again,
yearning for his affection.
Why don't you like me, I silently scream.

I try to make conversation.
He barely responds,
staring at me like I'm insane.

Why won't you talk to me.
Tell me about yourself.
What's going on in your life.

They are buddies now.
They snicker at me when I talk.
Whatever I said must be mighty funny.

I tag along to the pool,
the third wheel.
Oh, to think I once filled that coveted spot.

Anger seethes inside of me,
the unfairness of life.
My only fault was growing up.

They sing me happy birthday,
and he says my name.
My real name.

We may not talk
but here he is
on my birthday.

We may not talk
but there he was
in the ambulance after my car accident.

We may not talk
and I hate that
and I wish it weren't so.

But isn't that what family does?
They show up.
And that's as good as saying I love you.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Daily Thought- Chabad.org

There is no truth about G‑d.
Truth is G‑d.
There is no one who learns Truth.
You become Truth.
There is no need to search for Truth.
You have inherited it and it is within you.
You need only learn quietness
to listen to that inheritance.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Happy Birthday to me

It was a great birthday. There was cake. I'm in Florida. I'm 'tuckered out' as they say. If someone put me to bed I would go willingly.

I'm happy for the people in my life, and the memories I will cherish. Family is important, even if they annoy you. Sometimes just showing up says a lot.

I'm growing up. Last time I was here visiting my grandparents I was 16. Now I am old enough to actually appreciate them and their wisdom. They may be old and slow but they are sharp and wise. And healthy. If I could be as healthy as them when I am in my 80's... well there's the tiny portions of food I couldn't get used to. And the 'early to bed early to rise'. My grandmother wakes me at 8, and they have already finished breakfast.

Yes life will be waiting for me when I get back, but this has been a much needed respite. Relaxed, renewed, rejuvenated. A year older. A year smarter. A year more mature. Ready to take on life's challenges.

This will be the year of good things.

Wishing all of you lots of blessings in your life, only revealed good, and Moshiach Now!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Reject

Back in the day, we were on a first-name basis with our mail man. Back in the day it was also acceptable to say mail 'man'. Now the correct term is mail carrier, or mail person. But if the problem is the gender prejudice, then why say 'mail' at all. Why not say, "Person who delivers my bills and credit card offers", or in short- DOBN- Deliverer Of Bad News. Ya, my DOBiN just dropped something off today. That is so gonna catch on.

Oh great, more bills. Um, no thanks. Reject. Reject. Like a dating website where a guy who you are totally not into tries to chat you up. Reject. Um, sorry but no. I would not like this please of mail. Please return it to the post office.

An essay you have to submit by midnight and no interest in doing it? No thank you, I reject it. Bad grade on your test? Reject. Delivery refused, return to sender.

Yes, all bad puns connected with shipping. I have experience at a shipping company.

Another birthday, another year older? Na, send it back. Not interested in 2-4. Anything else, please?

Well, I actually do have an essay due tonight. Procrastination.... oooooh procrastination. But then I'm home free! Going to Florida for a few days vacation.

Vacation? I'll sign for that. 


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Cold World

I'm waiting, but I'm not sure who I'm waiting for.

He says goodnight and starts to walk away.

I want to call after him, tell him I need his advice.

But what's the point? What could he tell me that would make me feel better?

I turn away, the chill hitting my body.

My jacket hangs useless over my arm.

I call my mother and hear the silence and wonder why she isn't saying something to comfort me.

I see a billboard for some chocolatey goodness, but I swore off food long ago.

I wonder why no one is looking at me, talking to me.

The cop stands idly, and I want to be stopped, if only for conversation.

I try to calm down, forcing the tears away.

I tried to make it in the world, but who am I kidding.

My safe secure insular frum bubble has not prepared me for this.

I sit at a bus stop, pretending I have somewhere to be.

It's a cold cold world out there.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

In the light of day

It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Witty conversation flowing,
eyes glowing in the mirror,
They like me,
they like me not.

In the light of day
the magic disappears.
The excitement dies,
the idea seems dumb.
Reality crashes back.

All the colors that were once
vibrant vivid pulsating
creating a pounding in my chest
that made me wonder, what if.
They are gone now.

Replaced by the truth.
Truth that it was nothing,
that the wine and company
clouded my judgement,
made me see what was not there.

In the light of day
I realize how silly it must seem
to like a boy
who is promised
to another girl.

I see his name in print
and smile in relief
following the belief
that he may be
the one for me.

But alas,
it was not meant to be,
you see
G-d had other plans for me
and I can feel them coming.

Friday, May 9, 2014

Freedom

And then some decisions are simply made for you.

G-d handed me the Universe on a platter.

Took the decision out of my hands.

It's reassuring, knowing with certainty that it's time to move on.

Cuz that's what He decided.

Don't question the Universe.

Just say thank you.

And then figure it out.

Nothing can stop me now.

I'm free.

Minefield

Like a minefield,
I walk gingerly
wondering
when this will all fall apart.

Every step I take
brings fear
this may be the end
wrong move, game over.

I trust,
yes I trust in You, G-d
but I never got a map
You sent me in blind.

Guessing,
feeling,
hoping,
wondering.

Is this the way to go
or will the next step
explode
wishing for a do-over.

Yes, You have a plan,
One I know nothing about.
Stumbling, trying
not to make the wrong move.

Every step uncovers
another piece of road
the journey unfolds
before me.

Second-guessing myself
comes naturally,
always wondering
what if.

Show me the way.
Tell me that I'm doing fine.
Let me know
that the end is near.

Instead I wander
uncertain
leaping without knowing
where or if I will land.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Healthy living

The day just keeps on going and going
and I look for the strength to get through it.
Shopping, funny how I need strength to go shopping.
Something that brings great pleasure
can be so... tedious.

My mind, my body aches
I haven't sat down in hours,
the subways are screwed up today
genius MTA.
And it's not over yet.

Buy food for the week
and make dinner for the week
and prepare a lunch for tomorrow.
All so I can be healthy
and lose weight.

It's like my body forgot what food tastes like,
it's been so long.
An invite to a Rosh Chodesh gathering,
I agree to go if I can find a ride,
please G-d let me not find a ride.

But haha, the one person I call is happy to take us,
my friend really wants to go,
I need more spirituality in my life,
all of that wins out over my tiredness.
And so I go.

The topic is health.
The month is Iyar.
It stands for 'Ani Hashem Rofecha'
I am your G-d who heals you.
So we learn about physical, mental, spiritual health.

I'm smug.
I know all this.
I didn't get to lose all this weight doing nothing.
She talks about healthy eating,
about homeopathic remedies.

Thank you lady, I want to say.
But 'I got this'.
Maybe I'm arrogent
Or I hate advice.
You have to find what works for you.

I listen politely,
ask some questions,
store it in the back of my brain.
Go on with my life,
because I'm already doing the best I can.

My snacks lined up on the table
my lunch is detailed
I'm spoiled, need everything to be prepared.
Cut and peel the orange,
citrus wafting up to me.

My mom calls.
Two nights in a row.
What's up.
She tells me how much she admires the changes I made.
She wants to do the same.

She called me for advice.
For tips.
I used to blame my mother for my problems
Until I took responsibility
and made the changes on my own.

And now
She wants to know how I do it.
I tell her, find what works for you.
Start small.
Make the changes.

She's proud of me.
She's turning to me for advice.
And it was all worth it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Hello, Goodbye

Does this parting require a handshake,
or a hug?
Or a pat on the back,
or a polite smile
or none of the above.

I think of appropriate music to play at a time like this.
The Beatles have said it all
and they don't disappoint.
"You say goodbye and I say hello
I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello
."

I've said many goodbyes over the years,
hated most of them
tolerated some of them
rejoiced at a few
and beared the rest.

This is no different.
One day you're here
the next you will not be here
but somewhere else
and now who can I joke with every day?

The difference is
you are leaving and I am not.
Moving on, as they say
to greener pastures
and good luck to you sir.

But what of me?
All of them gone, gone, gone
and only I remain.
The last of the lot.
Well.

I'd love to move on as well.
Bigger, better,
the NEXT in my life.
Instead of stuck
in limbo.

But should I jump
before I have a place to land?
Hope you enjoyed your pink girly cake,
yes it was quite good.
Bittersweet, as they say.

For tomorrow you won't be there,
and though we've had our differences
I was kinda starting to like you
when you upped and left.
Oh well.

The thought of you leaving
makes me sad,
but the thought of me staying
makes me wonder
what's next for me?

You say goodbye and I say hello
I don't know why you say goodbye, I say hello.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

My first time

How was it, your first time?
When you slipped into something a little more snug,
a little more comfortable.
Did you pose in front of the mirror, turning this way and that,
thinking, would he like me in this?

Did it feel weird, that first time?
Like a betrayal,
like you were in someone else's skin,
Or did it feel natural,
as if your whole life led up to this moment.

Did your heart beat fast
when you stepped outside,
did you wonder if the whole world was staring at you?
Did you feel the empty space between your legs,
and try to cover up?

With your converse sneakers
and ripped skinny jeans
you kept walking
and never looked back.
Tell me that I'm wrong.

"You didn't tell me that you went tznius," she said to her friend.
I wonder if she realizes how fat her thighs look in those leggings.
And not just her, but all legging clad women.
Her friend said, "yes I did! They wouldn't accept me otherwise.
So I put on a skirt."

So it's all about acceptance, then.
Otherwise you'd be showing off your be-
hind like every other All-American girl.
Was that your dream, when you were little?
To grow up and show it all off?

There was a store in LA
with half-naked models outside,
and so we went in,
even as we scoffed at how crude it is
to lure people in with naked men.

It was dark inside.
I could barely see in that dressing room,
but somehow I managed to take a picture of my reflection,
in form-fitting jeans
that looked great on me.

We giggled,
oh wow look at us wearing pants,
so scandalous,
what if we could actually go outside like this,
and hey, we look good.

But then it was back to our skirts
that just covered our knees,
and who would know
that for just a moment
we wanted to be somebody else.

I think how fitting it is that today
as I walk behind these girls
I'm wearing my skirt that actually covers my knees,
instead of just brushing them,
as 'bad' as that sounds.

I don't look down on them.
I feel bad for them.
That they had to look outside
instead of inward
to find what they were looking for.

I can still see the inside of that dressing room
and the way those jeans looked on me.
Even stepping outside for a second felt weird,
like the whole world would know
my dirty little secret.

Fortunate am I
that something inside me
kept me straight all these years.
Call it my 'pintele yid'
or just dumb luck.

But hey,
Skirts look great on me.
And besides, 
I can walk much faster
than waddling in stiff skinny jeans.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Perfection

There will be moments in your life that you will regret forever. Times when you say the wrong thing and wish that you could take your words back.

They handed me my graduation gift, beaming that they got me what I wanted. They asked me if I liked it. Stupidly, I said that it wasn't the exact model I wanted. So they took it back and said they would try to get the one I wanted. I should have just said thank you. I am embarrassed every time I think back on that moment.

Midnight, the night before Pesach. I sit back and listen to the sounds of home. Each person yelling louder than the next, trying to get each other to do various jobs that need getting done. I try to yell above them to tell them to STOP SCREAMING but I give up and just watch.

My father is putting up curtains for my makeshift room in the living room. We are all grown up and you'd think everyone would have moved out by now, but somehow the house is tiny and everyone is home and as usual, I have no room. No one wants to share with me. I'm used to having my own room anyway.

This curtain hanging business is serious. My father bought string, and screwed nails into the wall to hang a curtain across. He spent time on it. I got bored and wandered upstairs to find entertainment. He called me downstairs to take a look when it was done.

He asked me if I liked it. I smiled and said it was perfect, and thanked him for doing it for me. I hi-fived him. My own room with a curtain in the living room.

Sometimes we'll regret what we say and sometimes we'll say the right thing at the right time.

And sometimes we'll scream at each other just for the heck of it.

Erev Pesach. The beauty of being home with family.

A kosher and freilechin pesach to everyone.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

From the safety of my umbrella

The rain pitter patters on top of me, streaking down from heaven in a continuous flow. I forget that it is raining, in the shelter of my umbrella. People duck for cover under awnings and in banks, but I keep going. It can't touch me.

I like to stay informed so I read, I traverse the news sites, stay 'in the know' and current, so if anyone says 'hey what's up with the missing flight MH370? Did they find it yet?' I can tell them that the search team is still looking, and they think they found the black box.

Or what about baby Prince George in Australia? Fort Hood shooter, Kardashian wedding, Pistorius trial, Obama Selfie ban, just a few among the current headlines. And what does it matter? What if you could stay under a rock and not know anything? Who would care? But hey, that would make for a boring conversation. So I make fun of the fact that my coworker gets her daily news on www.dailymail.co.uk while I read the drudge, and ya that makes me cool. Or whatever.

I'm not very much into selfies, or at least not posting them to Facebook. Narcissist, anyone? That's what we encourage. Hey, let's make a whole gallery of selfies and call it art! Or what about a song called '#selfie'? Really? Today music has died.

Do you care how the world sees you? Is it possible you are really a psychopath masquerading as normal? Or maybe it is the normal who are crazy.

I wonder what you see when you look at me. Your eyes follow my umbrella as I walk away, and what is going on inside your head? Do you simply wish that you too had an umbrella as big as mine? Or is it the person underneath it that you are interested in?

Ever seen this quote:

Mine would go more like: "There's a writer inside of me, but I'm too scared to let her out". I wouldn't call myself a 'writer' because I hate the connotations that come along with that. I'm not weird or artsy or insane. Gross generalizations, maybe. But what is it that sets you free and allows you to speak your mind without fear of what people will say?

I was once young and didn't care. Or maybe I did care. I don't remember. I'm old now. Older, and slightly more wiser, and a lot more reserved. Every time I think of sitting down to write, something better comes along. Something like TV shows. But my TV shows are on Spring break, so it's just you and me....

You know those people that say, "there's so much that I want to tell you but I can't"? Well, ya. Imagine all the things I could tell you if I didn't have so many barriers. But we'll try anyway.

.....Well it was worth a shot.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Being a grown up

She asks me how I manage school and work together. she's thinking of going to school. When do you do homework, she asks. I tell her, I go to work and go to school and come home, eat dinner watch tv and go to sleep. When do you have time for a social life, she wants to know. I don't, I tell her. I haven't seen my friends in awhile. And what does that say about me?

2:30 am. Just finished a paper for school. It was due by midnight. I gave myself an extension. My contacts are glued to my eyes. I'm tired. Today was a good day. Someone commented on my change of hairstyle. It was simply up in a ponytail instead of down as usual. I'm surprised guys notice that kind of thing. I was wearing my bright blue skirt today, the one I like. It looks good on me. When I wear that skirt, I walk with confidence, like hey world, it's me you've been looking for.

I didn't like class tonight. My teacher used the time to say a lot of inappropriate things and curse words. He blamed it on the subject. He laughed and said "I love how I can say @$$ cuz I'm an adult. We're all adults." That was definitely not the worst thing he said tonight. I cringed. I thought about leaving the room. Does that make me a prude, I wondered. Does it matter? What's wrong with being a prude, compared to these secular people with potty mouths who definitely need to was their mouths out with soap? Is that what being a grown up is all about? That now you get to say bad words and talk about explicit topics? Wahoo. You've made it.

We in the office were reminiscing about seminary/yeshiva, the 'good old days' in Israel. Who got into what, and I am referring to the 'naughty' behavior. Well, I was a prude. I didn't do anything bad in Israel. Not for lack of trying. But it didn't seem worth it, to screw up a year like that. One guy in my office said, oh so you were chassidish. Again with the labels. We leave high school but the labels follow us wherever we go. I want to be labeled as None. As in, what does it matter? I am not just a label. I am many different things.

The world is changing every day, and it's a beautiful thing. Some are sad changes, like the Fort Hood shooting. I say, if you want to kill yourself, go for it. Why take many other people down with you. Missing flight MH 370- still not found, and in my opinion probably never will be. Miley Cyrus is crying about her dead dog. James Franco is accused of flirting with an underage 17 year old. Chris Brown was arrested. Oh yes, all this is quality news stories. What I mean to say is, April Fool's day came and went, I read an article about a new reality TV show that would throw people into the wild with only the clothes on their backs, and they would have to learn to survive, all televised of course, for the viewers at home. As believable as it sounds knowing the junk reality shows these days, I did acknowledge the date on the calender, and since then have not been able to read a news story without trying to figure out if it was a prank or not.

Such is the world we live in.

In other news, I made cupcakes for a coworkers birthday. I hate surprise parties. After setting up the cupcakes and trying to find the best possible time to yell surprise, he walked in and said 'ooh cupcakes! Who's that for?". We all responded a weak, surprise... and everyone enjoyed the cupcakes. Would there be a way for me to send a cupcake in cyberspace, I would. Until then, feast your eyes on the pictures, and imagine the sweet vanilla cream cheese frosting, the soft and fluffy vanilla cupcake with a crispy top, and wish that you were eating one right about now.







And with that I say, goodnight.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Oh baby

He comes in smelling like smoke
that acrid stench that I hate
the one I'm coming to like
cuz it hangs around a lot.

Hey, I say, what's up,
it's been awhile since
I've seen your pretty face around here
what's new.

I'm good, he says,
I'm getting married.
Just like that.
Like a punch.

Ouch.
Isn't he like, 18, I whisper.
Office gossip.
That little kid that used to work here?

Oh ya, he's getting married.
I jokingly ask him if he's marrying a real girl.
What else can I say.
Hey baby, good for you.

It feels bitter every time,
like, hey kid give me a chance.
Oh ya and
you stink like smoke.

And we don't miss you around here. 



Sunday, March 23, 2014

Entitlement

Do you own your life? Or do you walk around feeling like everything you have is borrowed, that it doesn't really fit you?

I recently applied for a new credit card. I've had a credit card for a few years but the limit was pretty low and they didn't want to raise it. In the interest of building up my credit, I opened a second credit card and was approved.

I waited for my card to come in the mail. It didn't arrive in the promised time. I thought, maybe it wasn't meant to be. But I called the credit card company to see why it didn't come. I expected them to tell me that I was never approved, that it was a scam and I wasn't getting a credit card. They merely told me that they saw the card was mailed out and I should have received it.

I waited a couple more days and it finally showed up. I excitedly followed the steps to activate it online, and looked forward to making my first transaction with my spanking new shiny credit card.

I tried it twice today in two different stores, and was declined. Again I thought, there must be something wrong, it wasn't meant to be, it's not my card, their gonna take it away.

I called the 1-800 service, and they were very nice and helpful on the phone. They explained to me that the card was declined because it wasn't activated. I tried to tell them that I thought I had activated it online. They said no problem, we can do it for you right now, and you are good to go.

I keep looking in my wallet at my new card thinking, is that really mine? What if it gets declined again? It is so easy to write it off and say, it was never mine, I don't own it, it doesn't belong to me.

I do that with knowledge too. When I explain something to someone, if I don't feel that I own it then I will always feel unsure in what I am saying.

The best way to go through life is to own what you have, what you know, what you are. Be proud and be confident in it, and everyone else will know that it is you, instead of something you are just trying on for size.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Comfort

This sweater
will never
be the same as the feel of your arms
around me.

It's cold
in that place
I no longer call home
but that's the way you like it.

You remind me
that I don't live there anymore
and I can go "home"
and make it as hot as I want.

But where is "home"?
My mind is tired
I'm cold
The hour is late.

I want to go to sleep
but need to drive there first
and it's so far away
and this place is tempting.

But I have to go back
to my life
and my little room
cuz this is not my "home".

I hug my Abba
I'll never be too old to hug him.
I drive back
trying to keep my eyes open.

I hug my mama
she's not that far away
but I miss her
and the comfort of her arms.

I buy myself a warm sweater
and stay in it all day.
It warms me
but it will never be the same as "home". 

Friday, March 14, 2014

Bye bye birdie

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's... Gone.

One second you are cruising up in the air and the next second you are gone.

It's been days and no one knows where you went.

It's a mystery. It's baffling, they say.

Scratching their heads. Hmm, where should we search next.

There are pictures of relatives with signs that say 'Have hope'.

The cynic in me wants to say, give up. They are gone.

But my family was not on that plane.

Days will pass and the search will dwindle.

Months will pass, and there will be few people left still looking.

Years will pass and some investigators in a dusty office in the basement will pore over all the information, and replay it over and over in the hopes of finding something that may have been missed.

One day in the far off future people will ask each other, remember that story, will the plane, the one that went missing?

Their companion will say, ya that was a real head scratcher. I wonder what really happened to it.

And then they will resume drinking their coffee.

And those 239 people will remain missing.

While I call it a mystery and go on with my day, families of those 239 people remain in mourning, never knowing what happened to their loves ones.

And one day even those last few will stop looking. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

One person can change the world

A shlucha passed away last night. She was 37 years old, and left behind 8 children. She comes from a family of 17 kids. I can't imagine what her family is going through right now. While I didn't know her personally, from the outpouring of comments and tears I know she was an amazing person who touched so many lives. 

BD"E... Her friends and family should find comfort. 

Today's Hayom Yom is eerily fitting: "Before embarking on a journey from your place of residence, arrange a Chassidic farbrengen and receive a parting blessing from your good friends, and as the familiar expression goes: Chassidim never say farewell, for they never depart from each other. Wherever they are, they are one family."

May this Purim be so joyous as to break through all the boundaries and be the last one we ever have to spend in Golus.  

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Afterthought

I'd pick up a pen to write, but who writes with a pen anymore? Does anyone write at all? Once upon a time I thought I'd be a writer. Haha. I am majoring in English and I haven't written anything significant in a long time. I don't want to think about it.

The weather has turned nice and suddenly people are outside, sitting, talking, walking, playing ball. It's light out and I'm happy. Winter depresses me. I can't wait to shed my winter coat.

A group of kids were huddled in the park, playing some sort of game. It's fun to watch kids play. I don't want to be a kid. I want to watch them in their natural habitat. Maybe learn from them how to be carefree.

I'm tired. I've been baking. Cupcakes, cake, brownies, cookies. Some for Purim, some for birthdays, parties. I'm not much of a baker but I can figure it out. I don't take pride in what I make. I get nervous until people put it in their mouths and say how good it is. And even them I know I could have made it better.

I got a costume for Purim. It's a secret. We'll see if it works out. I decided it would be fun to dress up. Get in the spirit of things.

I have a confession to make. My life is very routine lately. Boring, even. I can't think of anything to write about because nothing inspiring ever happens to me. My thoughts run a mile a minute and the conversations in my head are funny. But nothing seems worthy to share with the world.

Oh hey, I forgot about you. Are you still out there? Ya you. In that creepy only-happens-in-movies kinda way, imagine me pointing at you through your computer screen. Why do I have to do all the talking? Why don't you share something for a change?

I'm tired. Going to sleep now. I'll be back. (Just as soon as I can think of what to say.)