A short reflection on showering

keep telling myself to take a shower. “In 20 minutes, take a shower.” 20 minutes pass and I do not take a shower I do this thing where I look up people I admire on Twitter and see who they admire and then follow them  — half because I want to learn from them and half because I want them to pay attention to me. Not showering yet is evidence that the half that wants them to pay attention to me is diminishing because not taking a shower shows I want education more than I want to be pretty or smell good and so these days not showering is a good sign that the ego (or is it the superego) is deflating.

That

or the fact that my long hair no longer looks better after I shower so why bother. My hair which used to be the best of me after my breasts but now lies as flat as they do, shower or no shower, is no longer a win-win is betraying me is possibly falling out no not now but possibly soon. I think of my Nini that time I walked in on her adjusting her wig in the mirror at the dresser in her bedroom. This was before the cancer and I confirm it with my father who says “her forties, I guess.”

So I better

The beet goes on

I thought the most interesting thing about today would be the beet.

I pulled four beets from the vegetable drawer because I knew if I didn’t do something with them today they’d go bad tomorrow.

I have a strange relationship with beets.

I want to love them.

I want to savor them like my friend Allison, who once said to me,

“Mmmm…I love beets.”

But I can’t. I just can’t. At best, I can tolerate beets when they’re roasted just so and soaked in a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

But beets are so incredibly beautiful that I will wash them and peel them and slice them and stand over them in wonderous amazement even if I won’t eat them.

dancing beet

The red pink of beets should not exist in nature.

It should be synthetic, it is so beautiful.

The spiral designs inside a beet, however, should exist in nature.

Beet innards are exactly the kinds of puzzles that nature produces and we call God.

I love beets, but I can’t eat them.

After the beets, I tried to take a nap.

Two of my kids were sleeping: one sprawled on the couch in a beet-colored dress with wrinkled flowers on the strap and the other with his head hanging off the bottom bunk.

He fell asleep in the middle of a tantrum while I tried to soothe him with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Chapter 1, page 1.

There was a knock at the door.

It was Nachum.

Looking for my son.

I knew it was Nachum because I heard his fingers drumming on the metal railing outside.

I liked that I knew it was Nachum and didn’t mind so much that he was rousing me from my almost nap.

My son was not at home. He was at a basketball game with his dad.

I told this to Nachum. He turned around and left as quickly as he came.

I tried to take a nap.

There was a knock at the door.

It was not Nachum, but a man whose name should have been Nachum.

He was in a rumpled white button down shirt and black pants.

He had a long black beard, too.

He might have had a black yarmulke but I didn’t notice when he turned to walk away.

I was too busy remembering his smile.

I gave him 20 shekels and he was happy.

I was happy, too.

So happy, I stopped trying to take a nap.

= = =

(This post was written in less than 15 minutes. Wanna take on the Friday 15-minute challenge? Write today for 15 minutes and leave a link to your post in the comments below and tag your post 15-minute Friday.)

Easily attached

The best thing I never bought was this orange comb-brush.

my orange brush

How do I know?

Because I’ve had it now for more than 30 years.

I got it as a party favor at a girl’s sleepover party when I was six.

It’s traveled with me through 4 schools, 10 or so homes, and at least 100 handbags and backpacks.

It survived our Wheaton terrier — the one we had for less than a year — whose teeth marks are forever indented on its frame.

It survived at least two perms.

And it survived Israeli lice.

If this orange comb-brush could talk, it would say:

“You should have waited til after the bubble burst to buy a house.”

It’s a wise comb-brush.

About 15 years or so ago, I lost the orange comb-brush for a while.

I looked everywhere for it. Under the driver’s seat of my Nissan NX, inside eight or so Le Sport Sacs, behind the toilets and underneath the sinks of everyone I knew. I couldn’t find it.

Finally, I understood. It was really gone.

And so I bought the purple comb-brush. I carried it around with me for over a year until one day I found the orange comb-brush in a drawer inside my parent’s house.

I was elated. But also eerily aware that as happy as I was, I would have been perfectly okay had I never found the orange-comb brush.

I was okay.

Without the orange comb-brush.

Today, I still have both brushes. The orange returned to its rightful place in my handbag, while the purple spends most of its time lying next to my kids’ bathroom sink narrowly escaping Israeli lice.

I will never give up that orange comb-brush willingly. But I will be okay if it’s once again lost.

And while I thought for a long time, I would never feel as attached to the purple comb-brush as I did to the orange one, I notice my attachment shifting, my affinity for it growing. I see it in my memories and look for it when it’s missing.

It’s the purple comb-brush that I use to braid my daughter’s hair.

It’s the purple comb-brush that greets me in the evening as I turn off the lights to the bathroom and wipe down their crusty toothpaste from the sink.

And when three teeth from the purple comb-brush melted after someone accidentally left it on top of the toaster oven, I was really bummed.

But I kept the brush. Even though it’s deformed and not quite as useful, we still use it.

Osho writes that “attachment brings misery, unattachment brings blissfulness,” which sounds harsh except he softens his admonition with a dose of compassionate, measured reality:

“So use things, but don’t be used by them. Live life but don’t be lived by it. Possess things, but don’t be possessed by them. Have things — that’s not a problem. I am not for renunciation. Enjoy everything that life gives, but always remain free.”

And it’s this balance — between the bliss of having and the misery of not; between the misery of having and the bliss of not — that I seek.

I found it in that moment when I realized I didn’t miss the orange comb-brush so bad after all … but I was still happy to have her around again.

And the moment that I realized the purple comb-brush wasn’t just a meaningless replacement; that things change and people grow and new memories form …and new loves appear where there was once only plastic.

A woman on the brink of death

(This was originally posted on the Times of Israel)

Sometimes I imagine I am a woman on her death bed.

How else to explain the sense of wonder I have the minute I pull out of my driveway each morning to head to work?

Before I even leave the boundaries of my small community in Northern Israel, my head turns from side to side looking out the car window for a sign of nature’s wonder.

Morning light breaking through a stunning cloud formation overhead.

cloud formation

The sun rising over the Eshkol Reservoir.

sun over eshkol

The first kalanit popping up in the fields lining the road into our neighborhood.

kalanit

Who else does this but a woman about to die?

Sometimes I catch myself imagining I am her — a woman on her death bed.

I am paralyzed. Frightened.

Could it be true?

What if it was?

And then I laugh with the realization that it is true.

We all are.

We are born to die.

And as much as we fear it, we spend our lives rushing towards it…towards death.

Rushing through breakfast; pushing the kids out the door; grabbing three different bags – a laptop bag, a lunch bag, a pocketbook – and throwing them into the back seat. We drink a to-go cup of coffee on the way. We turn on the radio and scan the words for news. News that will help us make decisions; make us feel right; make us feel wrong.

Get us there quicker.

We breeze by our coworkers; we tweet through our days. Our fingers sore from scrolling, from typing, from pointing.

Who else but a woman about to die notices the teeny tiny wren perched on the tallest branch of a pine tree across the street from the entrance to Rafael?

Who else catches through her passenger side window the hearty laugh of a teenage girl in a bronze glittery head scarf waiting for the bus to Karmiel?

Who else but a woman on the brink of demise notices the blend of hope and fear on the faces of the black men – the ones standing on the side of the kikar at the entrance to Kfar Manda — as she passes them during rush hour?

Who else but a woman about to die?

We characterize our behavior as “living,” but really we are rushing towards death. Getting there quicker, richer, righter.

Until we stop.

And in the moment we stop – in the slow minutes spent behind a tractor trailer chugging up a hill, for instance – we slow down death.

We drink in life.

Drink it in.

annabel bowling