Let’s not pretend any of this has been easy.
I am not going to write the “This is not normal” blog or the “What the hell is happening to our country?” blog or the “Let’s band together against tyranny” blog. I am only going to say this: Other than escaping from burning buildings, nothing good ever happens when we act out of fear.
I have told my children that many times. And I am afraid. Very afraid. Am I as afraid as those workers who don’t have the luxury of worrying about my reproductive rights because they’re too busy figuring out how to feed their children? Am I as afraid as the people who thought they lived in a Christian country? I can’t be sure. I only know I have never felt this scared to be an American. Continue reading
Now that Pesach is nearly behind us (one more two-day chag ahead…), here’s a poem about getting ready. It’s been that kind of holiday.
The repairman has been here
before. This is not the first time
I self-cleaned the oven
into oblivion. And despite how deeply
I’ve polished a single silver tray,
crumbs still lurk
beneath the fridge, between cushions,
in the depths of my purse. Some years
I clean for Pesach with abandon
but this time I am worn down
by funerals, music lessons, the dog
vomiting on the dining room rug.
We’re T minus 3 hours pre-seder, and the repair guy
has replaced the oven fuse; the table is set
with my mother’s wedding flatware, one
china, jewel-tone plastic water cups,
a tablecloth covered in seven years of scribbles. I
am remarkably calm, stunned into stillness,
waiting for guests to arrive.
Do you think Jim Morrison imagined his music would become the soundtrack for 11 year-old bakers in the suburbs? Me neither.
Light My Fire
The boy is rocking out in the kitchen
browning butter to The Doors
wearing a cap
reminiscent of his great-grandfather
while the dog snores and snoozes
beneath the bulletin board
You know the one – my super mama
drill sergeant schedule – all black tape
and dry erase – fencing practice,
piano lessons, dinner ideas – maybe Tuesday
we’ll have farro, and doesn’t that sound
so self-congratulatory and wholesome, when really
it’s more like butter and sugar, a box of spaghetti,
some broccoli, steamed again, and I pray
we don’t run out of milk
before breakfast. This whole damn business
is mostly seat of the pants, and it does not
get easier, except sometimes
the house smells like caramel, and piano music
drifts from the living room –
a sonatina starting
then stopping, then starting again
Mine may be the only dinner table in America where family members engage in heated discussions about both Monty Python and the five paragraph essay on a regular basis. Monty Python? Lots of people have something to say about that. But the essay? Yeah, that’s my family.
Even my sixth grade son, who has only written a single five paragraph essay, back in fifth grade, has an opinion on the matter, having heard his high school siblings (and me) rail against it for years.
What’s my problem? Let me lay it out for you.
Most celebrity deaths don’t affect me. Somehow this one punched me in the gut. My husband came downstairs for breakfast and asked if I’d heard: David Bowie died of cancer. He’d been sick for 18 months, and managed to keep it out of the news.
For a kid leading a pretty average life, I loved Bowie. I’ve had Ziggy Stardust running through my head all day. Really? Of all the lyrics, these are the ones I’m stuck with? Ah, well, we can’t always choose our memories.
Here’s a better one: I’ve been out running errands. Who knows what or where. Groceries? Target? As I enter the door from the driveway, a wall of sound greets me: Bowie blasting in the living room, and my children going about their business, at least one singing along.
So glad we introduced them way back when.
It’s the soundtrack of my youth: odd, confusing and a little bit crazy (the soundtrack, that is; not the youth. I was nothing if not well-behaved.)
Thanks, David Bowie. Much appreciated.
I would post this
with a photo of a kitten
in a party hat: Happy New Year
to my friends who celebrate
My version of Happy
to my friends who celebrate, and to those
who don’t, ignore this post, ignore
this message, this meme. My children
are schooling me in memes
over dinner, and I’m sort of getting it –
like existentialism or containment –
high school terms I grasped well enough
to pass the tests, but which I couldn’t define
Here are things I know –
Your hand on my back at 2 am
when I cannot sleep…
The Purple Fiddle coffee mug
drying on the sill…
Half a pot of steel cut oats…
Snow, light as feathers
beyond the bow window
Yesterday Josh asked for a mini fridge of his own so he can age meats in the basement. This is what you get when you give your sixth grader Kenji Lopez-Alt’s The Food Lab for Chanukah.
So far my boy has made mac and cheese (gluey), a French omelet (delicious, but requires some work on technique) and buttermilk pancakes (heavenly.) He flips through the giant book over breakfast, recites tidbits while I make dinner, and has explained in great detail the best way to boil an egg. He is also intent on scoring some copper pots as soon as he can afford them (bar mitzvah money, perhaps?)
I love to cook, and thanks to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything, have learned to make most of my favorites without a recipe. I remember reading from my mom’s vast cookbook collection over bowls of cereal and grilled cheese sandwiches at the kitchen table all through middle school and high school – The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, Maida Heater’s Chocolate Desserts, and Still Fiddling in the Kitchen, a fundraiser for the National Council of Jewish Women. I once spent months copying every recipe from her collection of recipe cards and mimeograph sheets onto pastel 3 x 5’s, then filing them by category. It made a great, labor-intensive birthday gift.
My mom handed me a paper bag of mini jello molds yesterday – a little something for Josh to play around with. She found them in the basement with some old suitcases and other useless things. We are going to fill them with water and make fancy ice shapes for a punch bowl tomorrow night.
Right now, Josh is in the kitchen with my sister making banana pancakes. The house smells like butter.