Head Shaking Madness

This war    this war    this war    this war

This  world    This world    This world    This world

My kid’s food allergies.

This world.

 

This war    this war    this war    this war

This world    This world    This world     This world

Cancer. The bad kind.

This world.

 

This war    this war    this war    this war

This world    This world    This world     This world

The boogeyman’s make believe.

This world.

 

This war    this war    this war    this war

This world    This world    This world     This world

My husband on a plane somewhere.

This world.

 

This war    this war    this war    this war

This world    This world    This world     This world

I can’t throw up like that again.

This world.

 

This war    this war    this war    this war

This world    This world    This world     This world

Miss you.

This world.

 

This war    this war    this war    this war

This world    This world    This world     This world

Money in the way.

This world.

 

This war    this war    this war    this war

This world    This world    This world     This world

I killed the cat. That was       THE CAT.     FUCK.

This world.

 

This war    this war    this war    this war

This world    This world    This world     This world

Gotta make it before the siren.

This world.

 

This war    this war    this war    this war

This world    This world    This world     This world

How many miles til Hadera?

This world.

 

This war    this war    this war    this war

This world    This world    This world     This world

She’s going to die. She’s dying.

This world.

 

This war    this war    this war    this war

This world    This world    This world     This world

These people      These pronouns

These words            These words

This world.

A list of things I’d rather be doing than frowning

Wiping the dust off an antique mirror inside a shop in Nogales
Kissing my baby on the underside of his left ear
Smelling the crusty old spit-up there
Listening to Van Morrison on the tape deck of the blue BMW

Opening that teeny tiny folded up love note with the lift-the-flaps
Chewing Hubba Bubba with one of the Adams
Asking Suzanne to fix my bra strap in gym class
Fun fun fun til her daddy takes the t-bird away

Sipping cider right through a straw
Licking powdered sugar off my fingers
Baking chocolate chip cookies for a sundae
Memorizing the lyrics to Don’t Stop Believing

Watching the third season of Lost
Braiding hair, anyone’s hair, but mostly my mother’s
Lying on my right side while my back is tickled, by anyone, but mostly by my mother
When they’d play I’d sing along, it made me smile.

Riding my bicycle down Queen Anne
Jumping off the high dive at Woodcrest Swim Club
Reading Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret
That time Scott dedicated Love Bites

Lying on my back on the rooftop at sunrise at Nimrod
Someone’s basement, an old couch, Good Morning Vietnam
Odd’s or GG Flipps, whichever
Something by Blues Traveler

Swimming from the beach to the floating deck
Choosing Biff or Malibu for my birthday kiss
A wella wella wella uh tell me more
I Will.

Stepping off the bus on Old Route 16
We’ll set the air reverberating with a mighty cheer
Pretending I am psychic
Dreaming the good ones, even if I forget them.

The Situation

I don’t write about it because

writing about it

would be like the abortive attempt I made

in my spiral bound notebook –

the one with the mandala –

to describe the scene

with the wedding gown,

in the ground floor shop

of my dream last night.

The one with Winona Ryder who

donned a 1920s inspired

off-white sleeveless gown

(really, they were cap sleeves).

I opened the curtain of

the dressing room to find her

half-naked due to the

deep and dramatic V

reaching down her abdomen

revealing the

underscoop of her breasts

and half of one nipple.

“It’s beautiful,” I told her.

“But you’ll need to have it altered.

I’m worried they won’t be able

to maintain the look

once it’s fitted to your frame.”

She didn’t listen.

She told the seamstress to

press on and then, of course,

the dream shifted to the scene

in the ice cream shop

where the chiropractor I used

to know was offering me pills –

rat poison packaged as RU486 flavored

jelly beans.

They were red, with the taste of cherry,

and they made me gag as I chewed them.

So you see why

I can’t write about it.

There is beauty

and there is darkness

and they blend together at times

in a way that’s describable

but only to the point of

surreal not to the point

of understanding.

Not to the point

at which you know

you have  navigated

directly into my thoughts.

 

I’ve lost something. I’m not sure what it is.

Conjugate the word “find” any way you want –

To find.       To be found.      Finding.

and you will discover my obsession. Maybe you’ll become enchanted, too.

To know what I am talking about, listen to the long “i” in find and compare it with the “ow” inside found. There is, in those two words, a dance between longing and receiving; between the imagined and the concrete.

*    *    *

I can’t say it any better than this. Not yet.  I apologize if I am being vague. I am not used to being vague. I blame poetry.

*    *    *

A snapshot of a page inside my copy of  Adrienne Rich's Your Native Land, Your Life

A snapshot of a page inside my copy of Adrienne Rich’s Your Native Land, Your Life

Perhaps the anecdote behind this book (the one opened in the picture above)  will help.

I found it in the giveaway pile near the recycling bins a few months ago.  I was in the middle of a semester studying poetry and while I had heard of Adrienne Rich, I didn’t know much of her work. So I brought the book home, read the collection once, and it sat with me so-so, which is to say I didn’t find anything particularly meaningful to me just then.

But the other day I pulled the book out from the shelf and did what I do sometimes — opened up to any page and see what wisdom or guidance I am offered. My finger landed on this poem.

The wisdom  — and perhaps, a more concrete explanation of my obsession with finding — comes in the sixth stanza, beginning with “I’m trying for exactitude.” Because this, in some way, is the essence of my obsession  — a lifelong “trying for exactitude,” a lifelong desire for certainty, accuracy and control; a lifelong attempt to get it right; as if there is truly a way to find my way to found.

 

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

What Was, Is:
What Might Have Been, Might Be

by Adrienne Rich

What’s kept.    What’s lost.   A snap decision.
Burn the archives.   Let them rot.
Begin by going ten years back.

A woman walks downstairs in a brownstone
in Brooklyn.    Late that night, some other night
snow crystals swarm in her hair
at the place we say, So long.

I’ve lost something.   I’m not sure what it is.
I’m going through my files.

Jewel-weed flashing
blue fire against an iron fence
Her head bent to a mailbox
long fingers ringed in gold   in red-eyed
golden serpents

the autumn sun
burns like a beak off the cars
parked along Riverside    we so deep in talk
in burnt September grass

I’m trying for exactitude
in the files I handle worn and faded labels
And how she drove, and danced, and fought, and worked
and loved, and sang, and hated
dashed into the record store    then out
with the Stevie Wonder    back in the car
flew on

Worn and faded labels . . . This was
our glamor for each other
underlined in bravado

Could it have been another way:
could we have been respectful comrades
parallel warriors    none of that
fast-falling

could we have kept a clean
and decent slate

 

 

I wrote a letter to a friend

I wrote a letter to a friend today and inside that letter — which was not a letter but something like a letter sent by electronic mail — I composed my feelings into something like feelings. And it’s a pattern, my tendency to compose somethings like. It’s not a pattern but something like a pattern, something I do again and again, with or without noticing, with or without intention. Mine is not a compulsion, but something like a compulsion, for I am compelled to be something like me so that people like me. Not just people but something like people — specific persons who specifically like me but might not if I was anything else but something like me.

Something about this is unsettling, and settling.

For although there is something like disappointment every single time, something like failure; there is something like relief because something remains; this something is due, in fact, only to the space between the letters.

A woman thinks about photos of dead children

Is it still

emotional eating

if you don’t get fat?

I remembered the

chocolate chip muffins

in the freezer and suddenly

the outlook for today

turned sunny.

Clouds that were

gray with only the

flirtation of rain

parted ways — one headed

East and the other

West.

I could bear the room

(hear the boom)

again.

I wish I hadn’t

yelled at my daughter.

She only wanted

to eat something sweet.

Gem in the Galilee

My dad and my husband have this routine:

My dad, an archaeology enthusiast, always keeps his eyes peeled for the undiscovered artifact when he visits Israel. My husband always ribs him, “They’ve already found everything there is to find, Paul.”

I take my dad’s side on this one and whenever archaeologists make a big discovery in our area in the Lower Galilee, I’ll usually send the article to my husband and my dad with the subject line: “So there’s nothing left to find in Israel…”

I am reminded today, too, how much there is still yet for me to discover here in this region — not ancient artifacts, necessarily, but unexplored paths, little known attractions, charming exhibits and people.

I wasn’t the one to stumble upon Hemdatya, a particularly special bed and breakfast in the Lower Galilee; my husband (the one who says there’s nothing left to find) did. Ilaniya, the historic community on which the b & b is located, is across the street from where he works and the company often recommends the place to out-of-town visitors.

My husband was so charmed by Hemdatya and by the owner, Atalia, when he was there recently with his colleague, he invited me to breakfast  there to see exactly what a gem in the Lower Galilee it is.

I was smitten.

Atalia (l) owner of Hemdatya Bed and Breakfast, and me

Atalia (l) owner of Hemdatya Bed and Breakfast, and me

With Atalia, yes, who was a gracious, sweet and entertaining hostess (not to mention an amazing chef!). But with the grounds themselves, and more so with her vision for Hemdatya, which is a haven for any traveler interested in ecotourism, organic agriculture, or permaculture. It’s also a charming, potentially romantic retreat for both foreigners and locals looking to get away for some low-key relaxation.

Hemdatya is located on a historic Israeli village about 15 minutes from the Sea of Galilee called Ilaniya, originally a farming community and agricultural training center for long-ago pioneers. The stone buildings of the b & b —  renovated with both historic conservation and sustainability in mind —   are constructed much from nearby materials.  Hemdatya installed and employs a system for collecting rain water and recycles gray water throughout the site. The water from the rooms (bathrooms and kitchens) drains into a biological purification system and from there irrigates the orchards that grow vegetables, fruits, and grapes for wine.

We ate in the main kitchen — a traditional Israeli breakfast of breads, salads, cheese, and shakshouka. The cheese was from goat milk; gifts from the local goats. And the eggs in the shakshouka were from the local chickens.

Breakfast at Hemdatya

Breakfast at Hemdatya

Many tzimmerim in Northern Israel can claim goats and chickens, but not many can claim the fruits and veggies grown not just organically, but according to the ethics and principles of permaculture. No pesticides in her gardens, says Atalia. No need.  Using permaculture, the gardens grow in harmony with the “pests.”

After breakfast, Atalia gave us a tour of the five guest rooms (each with a small kitchenette and eco-friendly bathroom) which are so delightful in their decor, you can tell attention was paid not just to construction and conservation, but also to aesthetics. I gushed to Atalia (and I meant it), “I am sure all of your visitors are as struck as I am at how enchanting these rooms are.”

Last, we toured the grounds. Vegetables grow everywhere, from little gardens in front of the farm-house guest rooms

Peppers grow on Hemdatya in Israel

Peppers grow on Hemdatya in Israel

to the grape vines that overhang the entrance to the jacuzzi room.

Grape vines at Hemdatya in Israel

Grape vines at Hemdatya in Israel

The gorgeous stone pool sealed the deal and I am already planning in my mind a getaway in the near future:  a writer’s retreat, let’s say, just me, my laptop and my thoughts. Or a birthday weekend.

Hint, hint. 

 

 

 

 

 

Their stubborness, their bodies

Yesterday wasn’t the first day I was reminded that we accidentally on purpose train our daughters to give up rights to their bodies.

Even though the more mindful of us will have conversations with our young ones about ownership of their “private parts,” about “stranger danger”, about saying “No,” there is one place many of us do not let our daughters (or our male children) say when and how someone gets to touch them:

At the doctor’s office.

Or in our case, as of late, the dentist’s.

My daughter has been wary of the doctor since she was a baby — before she had the means to communicate with any body part other than her eyes. Our pediatrician at the time, a kind and aware woman in New Jersey, often joked about my daughter’s “stubborness.”

We joke about it, too.

“What does that mean?” My daughter (four years old, at the time) asked one day after being told (by me), “”You are so stubborn!”

“Stubborn means beautiful,” I would say, caught in that uncomfortable place I often find myself as a mother.  I hadn’t meant stubborn as a compliment, but I didn’t necessarily want her to know that. At that time, stubborn meant “willful” or “demanding” or “contrary.” It referred to my daughter’s insistence on pouring the milk by herself; carrying in her tiny hands the two-layered birthday cake that took an hour to ice.

But, the truth is, stubborn is beautiful, especially when it comes to our daughters. For it’s our willfulness that allows us to say, “No” when we need to.

Unfortunately, when it comes to our young daughters (let’s say under age 10), it seems that only adults get to determine when there is a true need to tell someone, “Hands off!”

When our young daughters say no — whether it is to the doctor or the dentist or the tailor trying to hem a dress — we are annoyed at them. We scold them, or punish them. What message does that send? Do we really expect them to have the courage, later, at age 12 to be able to say a firm, “Get off!” Do we really expect them to believe at age 16, “my body, my choice?”

My daughter has had a few traumatic experiences at the dentist lately. The last one was the last straw and I took her and her file out from the free dental clinic provided by our national health care system here in Israel.  I couldn’t responsibly watch my daughter in that chair anymore being told what to do and that “big girls don’t cry.”

What to do, though? My daughter needed two fillings. How could I make her get them without “making” her?

After a few days, we decided to bring her to a private dentist recommended by a friend — something not in our budget, but as I saw it, a necessity. His reputation was for being kind and gentle and good with children.

He was amazing. He treated her, even at 5 1/2 years old, like someone who was in control of her body. Someone who got to make decisions about when someone touched her and how. He told her from the moment she entered his office, “You are in control. You get to decide.” He even created this “trick” by which the mechanized toothbrush would stop spinning whenever she raised her hand up in the air. She, indeed, got to decide.

I know it’s not simple. Our kids do need to see the doctor and the dentist. There will be times when we make them do things they don’t want — get flu shots, have their ears checked, try on new shoes.

But let’s not fool ourselves, those of us who claim to be advocates for women. Let’s not pretend that we give our girls full freedom. That they make the rules about their bodies. They don’t. At least, not always. Not even in families or with doctors with the best, most progressive intentions.

We send our children, our daughters, very mixed messages.

The straight message: Force is force. Whether it’s in the dorm room or at the dentist.

Is there a way to be more mindful of this, as parents, so our children learn early on the message we want them to internalize? I think so.

I think it starts with: Stubborn is beautiful.

 

 

Color of

“War is what happens when language fails.” — Margaret Atwood

* * * * *

This is the color of my voice these days … Almost Silent.

Imagine it there

in a box of 64 crayons.

In my mind’s eye, Almost Silent is wrapped in Ecru

Courtesy http://www.art-paints.com/Paints/Body/Ben-Nye/Color-Cake/Ecru/Ecru-xlg.jpg

But its waxy innards are sea green.

Almost Silent, when taken to paper,

magically scribbles in a shade of blue

known only to the indigenous people

of an island yet to be discovered.

But I recognize it instantly when

I see the child’s drawing of a

heart within a heart within a heart within a heart.

Once, I remember, I fingered gel

that shade on my way out of the womb.

 

 

Review: How to Survive a Sharknado

Book Details

Title: How to Survive a Sharknado (and Other Unnatural Disasters)
Author: Andrew Shaffer (with contributions by Fin Shepard & April Wexler)
Publisher: Three Rivers Press, July 2014


Review

In 1999, when Chronicle Books published the first in what would eventually be the popular Worst-Case Scenario book series, I was an early adopter. I can’t say for certain where I purchased my now worn copy (it’s still in my personal library after six moves, including two cross country and one cross planet), but I have a feeling it was at the Urban Outfitters on 6th Avenue in Greenwich Village.  It was my go-to spot for specialty books typically displayed and marketed as kitschy gifts. The display table in the front corner of the store by the window was the table I often hit first, with the intention to buy for keeps. (The Book of Spells: Over 40 Secret Recipes to Get Your Own Way in Love, Work, and Play was another purchase.)

sharknadoI’ve been planning for disaster almost my whole life. Certainly since the first time I watched the tornado sweep Dorothy away from Kansas into Oz. But I took a more serious interest leading up to Y2K and then again in advance of the yet-to-be-realized Mayan Apocalypse.

Like the author of How to Survive a Sharknado, I tend to approach my prepping with a blend of earnestness and humorous self-deprecation. After all, there’s a fine line between prepared and crazy.  (Prepared, for instance, is a safe room in my house in Israel stocked with two weeks of food and water for me and my family. Crazy, on the other hand, is the underground bunker in West Virginia stocked with MREs for 15 years. I am prepped, but I only dream of being crazy.)

Of course, there’s a reason for Shaffer’s humorous approach to disaster in How to Survive a Sharknado: He’s writing a fictional movie tie-in book, as opposed to a true reference handbook a la The SAS Survival Handbook by Lofty Wiseman (which I also have in my personal library and which Shaffer references in the introduction to Sharknado.)  How to Survive a Sharknado is part of the Syfy Sharknado brand, a made-for-tv film franchise I’ve — regretfully? —  never seen. (Watch this trailer for “Sharknado 2″ starring Tara Reid.)

Like any good B-movie horror flick, How to Survive a Sharknado is rooted in truth.  Bizarre one-off disasters do indeed happen (See 7 Global Apocalypse Scenarios That Might Really Happen and After Hundreds of Bee Stings and Thousands of Volts, Tree Trimmer Eager to Get Back to Work) and people — not just preppers — go bananas on social media when they do.

But, as far as I can tell, Shaffer’s book is as fictional as the Sharknado movie, a humor book mocking real-life disaster coverage and promoting, in a way, a host of B-movie disaster flicks on SyFy, such as “Arachnoquake,” “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid,” and “Sharktopus.”  Shaffer plays it so straight in the book, however, I almost believed some of the stories were real until I got to “Dinonami,”

How does he do it? In addition to leading off each “unnatural disaster” chapter with a table of vital statistics, Shaffer also offers “reports” of incidents and commentary by “real-life” witnesses and experts.  In the section for Extreme-Weather Vortex, for instance, Shaffer references “the morning of May 18, 2008″ when “the air in the lower atmosphere above Manhattan began swirling.

“The first sign of trouble happened in Central Park. Six-foot-tall whirlwinds filled with subzero air whipped through the park. Children chased these ‘mini tornados’ around — until the tornados started chasing the kids back…A twister formed near the Liberty Island, killing dozens and ripping off the Statue of Liberty’s raised arm.”

Shaffer goes on to “quote” meteorologist Cassie Lawrence,

“At the site of one funnel touchdown in Midtown, I found evidence of lightning. It made perfect sense. Planets with high and low atmospheres are lightning machines. If the storm continued to build, I calculated the lightning would increase in frequency exponentially, building to a crescendo the likes of which we’d never seen on Earth before.”

I laughed out loud towards the end in the section called “Unnatural Disaster Kit” as I read the list of “tools and supplies,” which includes:

“Cash, coins, and Chuck E. Cheese tokens

and

“Packaged snacks: Although not very nutritious, most processed foods like crackers and snack cakes have shelf lives longer than basilisks”

(Basilisk is total insider geek speak. It makes me feel loved and a little less lonely.)

The book is cute and clever, but would be funnier, I think, if I was a bigger B-movie fan (like my husband, for instance, who dragged me to Piranha 3D) or if someone bought me this book at Urban Outfitters on Sixth Avenue as a gift for my upcoming birthday; as a way to gently, but lovingly mock my zombie apocalypse obsession.

As I said, there’s a fine line between prepping and crazy: I prefer laughter to lunacy.

Disclaimer: I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review.

Sexy Quiet

What if I made the choice
and the choice was
Quiet?

It’s true
sometimes Noise
tricks me
into believing
he is life.

What with all the
heart racing
and the jumping out of bed.
Gentle she,
Quiet,
though sometimes
tiresome
allows me the freedom
to kiss my children goodbye
and think like that again
only
when the front door crashes
open.
Unassuming Quiet
permits me to write
and eat ice cream.

I desire Quiet.

Noise, though sexy,
appetizing in an indulgent way
moves me in the way
ice cream does,
when I eat it from
a cone. One scoop
more than I needed.

What the world needs now

I spent the morning with my father-in-law in a cafe in Kfar Tavor.

He was generous enough to be an interview subject for me in regards to a creative writing project I’m preparing for a class called “Art, Atrocity, and Truth.”

My father-in-law is a child of the Holocaust. He is, in a way, art born of atrocity. His story is fascinating, as are the stories of so many whose parents survived the Holocaust, either in camps or in hiding or in brave revolt in the woods of Poland.

But his story is not my story today. My story is brief and bubbled up for me this morning on the drive home from the cafe.

My story is in response to the despair I often feel in this world; and the despair I feel specifically right now in this region.

I woke up this morning with a headache, and with a swelling I get in the hollow of my neck where sadness lurks. The news, the last thing I read before falling asleep last night, still lingered there.

But two hours later, after a spinach quiche and cafe hafooch at Cafederaztia, after taking 8 pages of notes, after probing my father-in-law for details about the small Polish village, about the time in Lublin, and the after time in Germany, and the time after that in Lod and in Petach Tikva, and eventually Newark, NJ …

I felt alive again.

The headache is still there a bit, but the hollow less congested. And if I had to say why, I’d say it was the listening. It was the act of being a vessel — even temporarily — of someone else’s story. Someone else’s past; someone else’s meaning. I bet if you asked my father-in-law immediately after our conversation, he would probably say he felt lifted up too. For having been actively and intentionally listened to.

It’s not the first time I’ve listened. It’s something I enjoy. It’s something of myself I want to give to others, if that makes sense.

I sense they need it. And I sense I do, too.

I know this is a luxury — drinking coffee, listening. I know it’s a luxury of living here in the Lower Galilee where, for the time being, war is more a headline than a reality. I know this is not a luxury for those in shelters in Southern Israel or others whose life stories are characterized more by war than by living.

I am not naive, though this is an accusation sometimes leveled on people who still suggest conflict may be resolved by talking and listening.

But I repeat, I am not naive.

I am just open. A vessel.

And there are more like me. A lot more.

We could band together. Form our own little revolution of listening. Create art not out of, but instead of atrocity.

 

 

 

 

Putting out fires at almost 40

Honesty bursts forth from me in fits, in starts.

This is 40.

This may not be 40 for you.

I realize, for you, this may be 43. Or 38. or 67.

I don’t know if it’s temporal, situational, or hormonal, this shift.

It certainly resembles the week leading up to my period with its moodiness, its gentle swaying between certainty and confusion.

There are moments, for instance, when I can’t speak anything but the absolute truth; even when I know it will hurt, even if I know I will pay.

There are moments, too, when I slip into a dark tunnel, the Hadron collider of womanhood: understanding that I can’t have both what I want and what I imagined I wanted years ago. They can’t live together in my world of almost 40. They will combust there together and set me on fire.

The kind of fire that burns people.

I can’t stretch my arm far enough down to reach the me who slipped behind the back of the sofa. She’s choking on dust bunnies down there, but I can’t reach her.

I almost don’t even want to.

“Sorry!” I yell to her; the one who dreamed of lots of babies. I leave her with the dust bunnies, and run off instead to play Hickory Dickory Dock.

 

 

 

If it was a place

fortitude

If it was a place –
cognitive dissonance, it
would be here, Israel.

Where in one swift shift
I move from embarrassment
(I forgot about swimming

lessons) to fear of
war. Shame I forgot about
it; murder and them

(those who can’t forget
except in dreams which aren’t real)
and yelled at my son

for telling me he
was bored on the second day
after school ended.

If it was a place –
cognitive dissonance, it
would be here, Israel.

Where over coffee
I compose long to-do lists
grateful in a way

to be a mother
with room in my heart for lists.
For tomorrow’s plans.

If it was a place –
cognitive dissonance, it
would be here, Israel.

Where over bacon
(made from turkey) I slowly
savor the almost flavor

of America,
and imagine I lived there
again. Would the world

be less dissonant?
More in tune with my inner
rhythms? harmony?

If it was a place –
cognitive dissonance, it
would be now, this, we.

It would be — it is –
the surreal surrender in
waking, in spite of.

 

How to be a happy fool

The Buddha never said this, but it’s the noise of parenthood that propels me to appreciate the quiet. This is probably the greatest lesson I’ve learned so far in the 11 and a half years I’ve been mothering.  This is also why I wouldn’t use time travel to go back and change being a parent because these little butterflies that look almost nothing like me have had an active and passive role in shaping me; both the parts I like and the parts I don’t. (For the record, I’d use time travel to visit late 19th century Vienna like in The Little Book or watch my husband play in a park in Herzliya when he was a child.)

They don’t tell you before conception that noise is an occupational hazard of parenting, especially when you are me or you are my husband, both of us easily startled. It should be obvious, I know, but nothing is obvious until it sleeps with its stinky feet flush up against your nose. (The Buddha didn’t say this either.)

To appreciate the quiet, I arranged for an overnight away last week during one of Tel Aviv’s loudest nights to celebrate my husband’s milestone 40th birthday. Dan Panorama Tel Aviv made it easy to find quiet by upgrading our room in the hotel to a VIP suite on the 17th floor far away from the characteristic Thursday night noise and with an incredible view of the sea.

view from dan panorama tel aviv

Knowing in advance it was my husband’s birthday, they also sent us up a complimentary bottle of wine and other goodies (travel tip: always tell the hotel when you are celebrating a special occasion. They want you to feel special.)

Taking advantage of Tel Aviv’s annual White Night, we headed over to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art to explore. Nothing like a few hours of mindless meandering and contemplative staring to help you completely forget you have children (also helps that I completely trust my kids in the care of their grandparents.) We spent a lot of time in David Nipo’s “I Returned and Saw Under the Sun” exhibit of figurative-realist paintings; astounded by how real his figurative-realistic paintings come across. It was difficult not to touch the canvas to confirm the images were created from paint and not photography.

The next morning after a fantastically enormous Israeli breakfast buffet, my husband wanted to ride bikes. I wasn’t so eager because we were in the middle of a heat wave — even at 9 am near the beach the air felt oppressive. But I humored him and was glad in the end.

Husband on Bike. Photo by Jen Maidenberg

Husband on Bike. Photo by Jen Maidenberg

We rode up the beach and then through city streets, stopping at a vintage shop where I bought a record (which I can’t play) and a set of books on tape (which I can) and then headed back through the city to the Dan Panorama to clean up before checking out.

I noticed as I was dressing that I was dressing for life with children. The previous afternoon I wore my strapless dress with nothing underneath (nothing but underwear, dirty mind!) I wasn’t worried about having to bend down to pick up a crying child, nor was I concerned said child would want to grab me, as my children often do, without thinking what gravity will do to a strapless dress when it meets with a tiny clutched  fist.

I can’t say I didn’t want more — more time dressed like the woman who didn’t need to worry about the elements. More time meandering off schedule. More time listening without paying attention. I wanted more.

But as the Buddha did say: “A fool is happy until his mischief turns against him.”

There is a time for mischief (for desire, the Buddha might or might not say) and there is a time for responsibility.

I hope that in my next parenting chapter, I learn better how to blend the two … and more often.

jen and avi reflection june 2014

Because I believe it’s at the intersection of noise and quiet that we are most joyful.

Even those of us easily startled.