Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Gobblings: The Movie (sort of)



stole a story from the Baal Shem Tov. Well, I sort of stole it. The part about it being in space, the aliens, the toy robots, the overprotective parents, and the saving the universe without the universe knowing about you saving it -- those parts I may or may not have made up myself.

(Except for the overprotective parents. That part's based on real life.)

Anyway: Here's a movie where I talk about The Gobblings and writing and how the rest of the world tells stories to put kids to bed, and we tell stories to wake ourselves up. Thanks to Daniel and David for filming it, and JAKEtv for making it real, and the wondrous people at Hevria for letting me be egotistical for a change.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

A Girl Can Become the King


I showed my daughters this morning's newspaper, and it was incredible to watch their faces light up. The oldest read the headline out loud -- Clinton Seals Triumph With California Victory -- and then she squealed, like really squealed, not the I-got-a-new-toy squeal but the I-did-my-multiplication-table-perfectly-for-the-first-time squeal, the squeal that says, holy shit, something in the world has fundamentally changed.

When we talked about who to vote for, I was pretty harsh that the girls weren't allowed to choose Hillary because she was a girl, and that we need to find out as much as we can about everyone, and we want to choose the best people, no matter who they are. (We followed through with this down to some last-minute Googling of superdelegates in the voting booth.) Everyone has good points and bad points, and I really don't like how Bernie probably wouldn't be very cooperative with anyone who wasn't on the same page as him, and I don't like that Hillary seems like a big-balls career politician with no guiding conscience.

But on the level of pure, simple, and direct showing my three daughters that girls can do anything, having a woman on the front page of the paper, claiming the nomination, conceivably becoming the leader of our country, it was an awesome fucking moment. I've been telling them since they were born that they can do anything. There's a lot of stuff that's still in the way, but it just came one step closer to true.


Pic: One more text from Hilary

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Why I Write about Peeing

Hey, it's my latest piece at Hevria! I was complaining about our personal posts being too depressing these days, or maybe just mine, and Elad said that I should write something happier. We happened to be drinking at the time. The sun might or might not have been up, I'm not telling. What happened next was this blog post. I guess it really is possible to find inspiration anywhere.

Pee Break


Sometimes you just need to get out.
There’s that moment at the bar where the debate is getting a little too intense and I’m getting a little too evasive, and it hits. The realization that I haven’t peed in two hours. Yes, I am sitting with one of my best friends in the world, and yes, we are yelling at each other at the top of our voices, but the moment I stand up, something changes — I have a bit more of my personal space to myself, I am seeing the room from a different vantage point, and the world seems like a little bit of a different place.
“Excuse me,” I say, in a completely different voice from the one I’ve just been using, and using words, like excuse me, that I never thought I’d speak again. And then: “I’ll be right back.”
And when I slip away, the world slips away from me.
Sometimes it’s just so good to go to the bathroom. Not the act itself, but the act of leaving behind the world and making yourself alone. I’ve been operating on a constant emotional peak over the past few weeks, and I keep telling people, “I feel drained.” Those three words have never seemed so inappropriate: Whenever I feel an emotional overload, what I really should be saying instead is, “I need to drain.” There’s a Hasidic concept called hisbodedus where you leave your surroundings, leave your world and run to the nearest forest and scream as loud as you can, at the top of your lungs. Peeing might be the urban version of that.

(read the rest)

Monday, May 9, 2016

Dancing by Myself

When I wrote my latest Hevria post, I was feeling kind of fatalistic. The kids were not sleeping and I was watching Avengers: Age of Ultron. I'd just talked to a bunch of friends who went to the much-newer, and much-better-reviewed Civil War. That's probably why I was feeling so depressed. Anyway, most people told me it was depressing. Although I think it's kind of funny? Maybe you can figure it out.

Dancing in Traffic

BY   MAY 10, 2016  ESSAY
dancing-traffic
This morning I caused a traffic jam. Walked in front of a car on my lazy Brooklyn street, didn’t realize there was a car behind that, and another one. Six or seven total. Our street is narrow, with traffic further hidden by an islet of trees in the middle. I was taking my time walking. I hate crossing at the light. I’m very resentful that way. Most times I try not to take up space but when I do, I really do. I was walking, trying not to use any gas, any money, anything. Blocking all those cars, even for thirty seconds, just think how much fossil fuel I burned.
I’ve been taking up too much space. Money, air, people’s energy. I don’t actually make money at work. My job is all about potential, finding things that might still be worth money in ten years. They still pay me for it, for now, trusting that I’m doing something of value, even though none of us will probably ever find out. Will I still be around in ten years? At the job? On this Earth?

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Teen Self-Referential Drama, Plus Or Minus a Few Years

I wrote another installment of my San Francisco-to-New York travelogue. I keep thinking, like, maybe my entire career is simply rewriting every Judy Blume book in chronological order, as memoir. Except that, in my version, the 13-year-old girl is played by an overgrown boy with an overgrown beard.

In This Huge Universe, The Only Things That Matter Are G-d And Girls

joshua-tree-nightfall
That first day on the road we drove to Los Angeles, then past it. There were no monuments to communicate to us that we’d entered or left L.A., no skyscrapers or theaters, no ocean in sight. I’d spent the better part of a year traveling down there, writing my novel about a teenage Orthodox girl who got her own television show. It was half wish fulfillment, half daring myself to try to achieve that nightmare. Every few weeks for a year I left San Francisco and bounced back and forth along the California coast on a Greyhound bus, staying for a few days or a week, soaking up enough inspiration to get me through the next 50 pages.
On this trip — the same unending fields out the window of Elyse’s SUV, the same pasture halfway with hundreds and hundreds of cows stuffed against each other, mooing sadly and uselessly — it was an entirely different feeling, the last time I’d make this bizarre pilgrimage.
We passed the cows, and Elyse’s dog Joey howled at them in primal confusion, startled by the moving background, disturbed that these nearby animals were rushing by fast while standing completely still and that they were simultaneously unafraid of his braying. It was only natural for him to chase cows, and for cows to tremble at his presence. The very fact of the road trip was lost on him. Or maybe it wasn’t. Maybe this was the way he’d always lived, his mind only in the moment, never regretting the past or dwelling in left-behind places, always dealing with what was in front of him. Maybe we were the beginners, and he was to be our rebbe.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Kosher on the Road-ster

We're four episodes in, and my Lesbian Hasidic Cross Country Road Trip story -- a little serial thing that I'm writing for Hevria -- finally gets on the road. Basically, we make it to the first bathroom break.

I'm still trying to decide whether I should keep writing. I'll let you know what happens.

Kosher on the Road

BY   DECEMBER 8, 2015  ESSAY
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One thing I hadn’t counted on when I hit the road: How would I eat? I don’t know if you know, but the kosher diet is one of exquisite restriction, that whole no milk and meat together thing, but also a host of other things we can’t have — namely, anything cooked in a kitchen that’s ever had anything non-kosher inside it. In today’s modern world of packaged food and artificial everything, it’s gotten a little easier — Oreos, for instance, might look like cream-filled wafers, but there’s no dairy, no meat, the whole thing’s basically a lump of sugar cooked by a robot.
But I’ve heard tell of supermarkets on the road where not even the orange juice and bottled water is kosher, where the tiny Ks and Us and Hebrew letters we search for in our secret codes are absent, where even the potato chips and white-bread loaves are baked with lard. When Elyse and I planned our cross-country expedition, I just figured I’d stack up before we left. Or on the way. Or before we got too far.

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Way Smoke Smells


So I really love going into the conference room at this day job, and I just realized why. Everyone who smokes goes through the conference room and into the fire escape, and so there's a residue, not of smoke, but of sort of pre-smoke and post-smoke, maybe the smell ignited by freshly burning paper, or a special smell that only happens at the moment when a match strikes?

It reminds me of my aunt's house growing up, and of inch-high shag carpeting, and of the '70s. No word on whether there's a bunch of furtive, antisocial Siamese cats patrolling around the office, but I'll keep you updated.

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