Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Fairies Aren't Real

"Daddy, do we believe in magic?"
She asked,
Oh the magic of a kid,
There was this innocence in her eyes,
That made him almost wish he did

But fairies aren’t real,
And unicorns are myths,
So he told her, matter of fact,
“Magic does not exist“

Her face fell, and kept falling,
In her eye was a tear
And it spilled down her cheeks
Like a crystal chandelier

“But why not, Daddy?”
She pled, holding onto her father,
“Can’t there be just a little magic,
So my sister could get better?"

The blood drained from his face,
He could make no move or sound,
It was as if she reached into his chest,
And turned his heart around,

"The truth is,” he said
The brims of his eyes were full,
"I suppose we do believe in magic,
But we call our charms, ‘miracles‘..."

Friday, April 16, 2010

When I was little

I was a quirky kind of kid when I was little. And also, I was, well, I was pathological. In lying, that is. Although I didn’t think of it so much as “lying” as much as I considered it, “making the truth more interesting.”

In my efforts to make the world a more fascinating place, one fib at a time, I told the new kids who had just moved to Buffalo that the Olsen twins lived down the block from me. I don't know why. But I figured it was a good lie to tell.

I also tried to convince my little sister that there was a family living in the waterhole in our backyard. There was. A family of eight. Field mice. But it was a lot more interesting if they were human. So I led her to believe that they were. We’d knock and knock on the waterhole and when no one answered, I’d shrug and say “Oh I guess they’re out of town.” When the underground family never answered their door Ita grew suspicious. I sensed it. And it didn’t sit well with me. “Do you believe me?” I’d demand, hands on my hips. Silence. “Do you?” She shook her head. Now don’t get me wrong, I was a nice girl if you did things my way. But suggesting that I was a liar did not bode well for little Ita. So after a while of subtle manipulation and bullying, I finally got her to say she believed me. Which was all I really needed out of her.

I had an imaginary husband too. His name was Moshe. His last name was Kooboo, on account of I had to think super fast when my big sisters asked me what his last name was. Kooboo was all on could come up with on such short notice. And the sad thing is, I truly thought they believed me. So I continued to tell them about the beautiful wedding ceremony we had on Hunters Lane at 6 am. Hunters Lane was the street right next to ours, on which I had attended a block party just a week prior to my marriage. Yes, we had a block party wedding. It was invisible, chic and fabulous.

Arielle, my classmate brought a brand new Cinderella watch to school one day. A fantastic, blue watch with a picture of Cinderalla on it. I didn’t know why I wanted it so badly or how I would get it but I knew I needed that watch. And I needed it immediately. So I tapped her on the shoulder and asked in my sweetest, most polite voice, if I could perhaps borrow the beautiful thing. Unfortunately for me, she said no. Fortunately for me, I was not about to let a little “no” get in my way of attaining what I wanted. So I tapped her again and said, “Hey, guess what? Did you hear of a little thing called, if you give me the watch now, I’ll give it back to you before dinner?”

“How?” she asked, curious as to how I would get to her house which was across town, before dinner time. So I did what I had to and told her I could drop the watch in a slot in the phone and send it to her via phone technology. Her eyes widened in amazement. Apparently she had never heard of this kind of technology before. She obliged. Happily, I watched her slip off her watch and hand it to me, not before she reminded me to send it back to her through the phone. I promised. Later that night I got a phone call from Arielle, who had looked and looked in that slot for a certain Cinderella watch that had not yet come. Oops! I had not been prepared for her to actually go through with it.

So I went with the mature approach: complete and utter denial.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

a tale of a Dior Leotard

As I pour myself a glass of Pellegrino too many, and stare at the blank Word page in front of me, I wonder, dimly, if tonight I could possibly write a piece that doesn’t reek of self-righteousness like the last twenty I wrote. Truth is, I understand now, a month bitten into America, I probably ought to have left my spiritually trippiness in a place that actually appreciates it- a candlelit hippie fest in Gan Soccer.

New York doesn’t tolerate floaty behavior. Or dreadlocks. Or dancing to Nachman trance mid-road at midnight, for that matter. New York is like a tall glass of jagged edged cynicism; a harsh florescent glare of scrutiny. Like manners and passivity, floaty-ness is unwelcome here and the last of my spiritual residue is beginning to feel like a fuchsia leotard in a room full of black and white Dior.

Still, lately, I find myself rummaging in my things for that uplifted person I once knew, that girl who sat at late night farbrangens and sang her heart out and made long chasidically laced l’chaims and knew what she was here for.

Now, when I am some thousand miles and a barrage of materialism away, I have to wonder, where did she even come from?

Jerusalem, no doubt.

I had been warned, for years before I went, Israel was the kind of place that made people so crazy, they wanted to change- to be better- and I ate it up. The moment I kissed the ground I knew I had found the mother lode. And throughout the five months I spent there, I drove myself so far over my head in infatuation, up to the point where I’d stop in random places, pinch myself and whisper, “I’m standing in the same spot as Avraham did.”

See, I had waited for so long to be hit by inspiration I let it hit me like a ton of cobblestones. I knew I had to feel different. I knew I had to alter at least some element of my life. Otherwise, what the hell was I doing here, pinching myself numb at the idea that I was standing in a field in Nowhereville, Israel?

So somewhere in between Yaffo and Rachov Chabad, I traded my heels in for flats and altered my LBD- ‘’ ‘little black dress’ into a LBD- ‘longer black dress’ and I slept soundly knowing I was changed.

Thing is, when you’re in a city so unashamedly, unequivocally holy, a land so rich with spirituality; it’s almost palpable, something like covering my knees- no matter how unflattering I believed it was- felt, I don’t know, right. But a country where G-d isn’t apparent or celebrated, is a cruel anticlimax after spending half a year in a place that has streets named for characters from the Bible. Finding that balance between normalcy and what I can only call a spiritual coma, is more challenging than I ever imagined.

I fumble in my knapsack for a while. Desperate for something reminiscent of the feeling I had grown accustomed to. Something that had once felt so natural to me.

I remember this one time I had to give an impromptu introduction at a Shabbat dinner in Nachlaot. I began it with a gush about how blatantly there G-d was in Israel and ended my little speech with “I love…” and I just left that sentence hanging stupidly, like what I loved was self-understood. I miss that kind of thinking so much, it hurts. That kind of thinking led me to believe that because we were all in this incredible place they must know what I was thinking before I said it.

I continue to grope, for something, anything. I want to conclude with a message from the Tanya. But I haven’t learned Tanya since I’ve been back. Perhaps an anecdote from the Parsha. But I haven’t learned that either. So at my last attempt at tying in the mundane things, like doubts and insecurities, with holier things, I try to come up with a nice, homemade metaphorical lesson for life. But no matter how I deep I rummage in my bag, I can’t seem to find one.

Maybe this time doubts will just be doubts and nothing else. There’s something kind of liberating about the time before it all, when you just have questions and the innocent childlike belief that there are a thousand answers.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Jetlag Gnomes

I miss my jetlag. There I said it. I loved it and I want it back. Waking up at the crack of dawn with the energy of a two year old is one of the most incredible unparalleled feelings I have ever experienced. The fact that this awesome schedule also meant social hibernation/suicide- since I passed out on the couch at 10 every night and breakfast at Bunchos is a lame excuse for a social life- was just a casualty I had to endure for something so awesome. And nightlife for jetlag was something I was very willing to sacrifice. Only too bad for me, because no one asked me and now my jetlag is gone and I am no longer friends with the friendly crack of dawn jetlag gnomes. :(

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Kids Say the Darndest Things

“When are the ten plagues going to happen, Mommy?” asked my hilarious four year old nephew after learning the story of Passover in school. But he wasn’t kidding; he genuinely wanted to know. Initially my sister felt terrible that her little son carried the burden of such a thought on his tiny shoulders. But then he said he would love to be there because he loves frogs.

Kids say the awesomest things. Mostly because they have wild, unhindered imagination and no filter. Their thoughts come from place of unadulterated purity and magical quirkiness. Before they are sullied by age.

As adults we are grappling, almost desperately, for a taste of Passover. For that candid, childlike image of what it was like. We eat boxes upon boxes of matzah, dip all sorts of things in saltwater and eat bitter herbs all to commemorate the events that transpired a few thousand years ago. We down four cups of wine, hoping to intoxicate ourselves into the hallucination of experiencing what our ancestors did in Egypt.

But little N. he was already there and he wanted to know when it would be over.

How awesome.