The clucking sound your tongue makes

Mindfulness is the clucking sound your tongue makes as you’re almost jogging along the paved road that surrounds your community — the view ahead is of the silken skim of the reservoir and the breeze is balanced with the rays of sun peeking in and out from scattered clouds — and you realize that you are alone and that your body today feels whole and that your mind is working in a way that makes you like yourself and you’re laughing for the fourth time remembering that scene in Nathan Englander’s What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank and this right now is the life you mean when you say, “I want to live.”

The clucking sound, though, is what awareness sounds like; what stumbling over impermanence sounds like — Because suddenly you remember the last time you said you wanted to live was that time last week with the tingles in your left arm and you cringe because your phone is not in your right pocket and you might be missing the call from school, the call that will certainly ripple the silken skim but without you attending it because your mind now is working in the way that makes you hate yourself and you’re not laughing anymore, in fact, you’ve forgotten Nathan Englander and nothing is funny.

The clucking sound, though, is what awareness sounds like; what stumbling over impermanence sounds like — Because suddenly you realize that impermanence is a most glorious word, the one you’ve been seeking your whole life, the one to describe peace on Earth, peace enough for me. Impermanence is the name of that curved line between yin and yang. It has a name!

Impermanence is the clucking sound marking in between; marking eternal ending and eternal beginning. It’s a spot. It’s a poof. It’s a landing pad where I straddle my legs and press my feet down and wait.

Bring on the Parenting New Year

There’s January 1, there’s Rosh Hashana, there’s Chinese New Year, and then there’s the day or two after Labor Day (or if you live in the South, three weeks before) when parents get the opportunity to finally breathe deep enough again to consider what they want to do differently this year when it comes to raising their kids.

And then there’s the day after that when we’re all hungover from smiling and liking friends’ first day Facebook photos and feeling good about our lives for a second, and decide we’re parenting just fine thank you for much.

But then come the backpacks on the floor. And the bickering in the backseat on the way to ballet. And the globs of toothpaste in the sink.

Sigh. Someone pass me a Bloody Mary, please.

But wait … what if there was a book with easy, practical advice offered by an expert in a package that not only set you up for quick success, but made you laugh along the way?

Well, my dear friends with children between the ages of 4 and 12; have I got the book for you.

GetBehaviorYouWant-BookCheck out The Times of Israel today, which is featuring my author interview and book review of Get the Behavior You Want Without Being the Parent You Hate by Dr. Deborah Gilboa. Then go download the book on September 10 when it goes on sale.

The story within the story

Reporters will tell you there are two, maybe three narratives in the Middle East. They’ll split the stories into perspectives and call them Palestinian and Israeli or East and West or Arab and Jew. But that’s like saying Moby Dick is about a whale and a man. I don’t know what Moby Dick is about — I still haven’t read it. But hundreds of thousands of people have and I can’t believe it’s because it’s a story about a whale and a man.

So it is with the Middle East.

There are so many stories. People. Lives.

READ THE FULL POST (in the Times of Israel).

 

Makes me wanna keep going

I’ll be honest: I’m still not done reading Rachel Zucker’s The Pedestrians.

I have about 5 or 6 more poems to go before the end. The book is sitting on my nightstand in my bedroom; next to which is my middle son who just slipped off to sleep.   My other two children are on two different IPADs watching two different age appropriate American television programs. (Go ahead: rate my parenting.)

I could finish The Pedestrians right now. I could snuggle up to the middle son in his sweat lodge and read.

But, I had a thought just now I couldn’t suppress:

Rachel Zucker makes me want to read more poetry.

But more important, she makes me want to write more poetry.

And I couldn’t just keep that to myself.

I had just finished one of the selections in the book titled “paris dream.” It’s one of 13 dream-like poems (others are titled “brooklyn dream,” “egg dream,” “daycare dream.”) Each time I read one of her “dream” poems I notice how I am simultaneously drawn into the poetry and into the dream itself; into the conscious and subconscious levels of the language. I find myself savoring Zucker’s dream in the way I sometimes delight in my own in the minutes just after I wake. I felt the urge to analyze it and was pleased.

I could keep reading Rachel Zucker’s dreams, I thought.

And while I am generally attracted to poems that are “dream-like” (Mark Strand’s work is a good example), Zucker’s dream poems compel me to dig into my own dream journal — the one I started keeping again last week after a two-year hiatus — to fashion gems out of the scribbles there. I’m trying already, but Zucker inspires me to try harder.

I fell for Zucker after reading Museum of Accidents, the themes of which are marriage, parenting children, the writing life, and a brand of existential anxiety found only in the modern first-world. The collection is a brave confessional told through the eyes of a deeply sensitive and somewhat over-thinking (some might say over-brooding) creative woman.  I connected to both the content of her poems and the way in which she expressed herself.

I found myself giggling at her often brutally honest depiction of her husband, her marriage, and their sex life; giggles reminiscent of those that spurted out when my college roommate sat on my bed Freshman year and started talking about masturbation. Translated, both set of giggles meant, “You do that, too? AND we’re allowed to talk about it?”

It was through my reading of Zucker, along with poets Eula Biss and Maggie Nelson, that I really started finding my own brave voice in my poetry; and weaving into my prose darker and more daring language and themes.

Pedestrians is just as honest as Museum of Accidents, but I find it less brutal. I don’t know if it’s me that’s changed or Zucker or both of us. In her poems in this collection, I hear a kind of acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness in her life.  Take, for instance, the way she unearths and confesses “we still love each other” in “real poem (gay men don’t snore)”

Pedestrians by Rachel Zucker

Or the tenderness and compassion she offers herself in the first sentence of “real poem (personal statement)”:

“I skim sadness like fat off the surface
of cooling soup.”

If we’re to assume the narrator is Zucker herself (and it’s difficult not to since she refers to her husband by name in this collection); I sense that it’s not that Zucker’s sorrow and longing have been replaced with gratitude; but it’s that Zucker has stumbled upon the space in which they may exist together.

And that, perhaps, along with the intimacy she invites in the dream poems, appeals to me.  Moreso, as I said above: it makes me want to read and write more poetry. And not for the sake of being heard, or for the sake of future publication or celebrity.

But because poetry is where I go about discovering the goodness in my own life,  in my own loves. It’s where I best display tenderness, compassion, and devotion, even when I am being brutally honest.