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
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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

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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.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Praying, and Cookies


There's this little afternoon prayer service inside an office building. Today, because it was the anniversary of his aunt's death, one of the elderly gentlemen brought in boxes of cookies and brownies for everyone. Before anybody ate, this one guy held up his phone and said, "This is the kosher certification for the cookies. I'm not saying anything about it, good or bad. I'm just saying I don't recognize it, and you should all know that before you eat it." He didn't take any. I left right away, disgusted with that guy. Now I wish I'd taken a cookie right away and sank my teeth into it. Or maybe I just wish I would've sank my teeth straight into that guy's face.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Scott Pilgrim, You're Old.


So I've been having a bad week and basically a bad year, and just not happy with anything, and my publisher just gave me a list of corrections that's literally half as long as my book and my Sesame scripts are falling apart and there's this guy who really wants to get me fired, and I couldn't even write on the train this morning. And I dug in my backpack and came out with Scott Pilgrim #5, the one where he fights the twin ex-boyfriends and Ramona tells him that she hates his band, and I started thinking about the movie, and how it was the first movie we brought the baby to. And now that baby is five years old, and how can it be true that the Scott Pilgrim movie is that old, that it's been a part of my life that long? And I thought that, if it's been five years since I sat in that theater and watched Scott Pilgrim, I can totally make it through the next five years at least. I think. I hope.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Amplify Is For Sale

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The latest: I just got quoted at length in a news story about the company, Amplify, where until a month ago I wrote video games, and how it's ostensibly failing, and that the company is up for sale. I kind of don't believe it's failing -- not entirely -- except that our games have barely gone on sale (they're still not yet available to the public) and there hasn't really been time for anything to happen.

I'm kind of depressed and kind of surprised (almost everything I said about Amplify could basically be boiled down to: "They let us make amazing stuff and it sounds like they're going to pull the plug before anybody gets to see it"). And, unlike my quote, a lot of what we made wasn't even for the Amplify Tablet. I mean, the only game you can actually officially get of ours, Twelve a Dozen, is for your friendly neighborhood iPad.

The entire piece is here, if you want to read it. But hopefully I'll have something better for you to read very very soon.

And one thing that has nothing to do with Amplify: A website I co-founded and sort of semi-secretly co-run, Hevria, dedicated to finding creative folks within religious communities, is trying to raise money for new films and sites and programs. It's an unbelievably worthy cause, and if you've got a few extra bucks, it'd be awesome if you kicked some of it their way.

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