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Dreaming Out Loud: What I’ve Been Up to Since 2016

Hello, friends. WordPress tells me there are more than 3000 of you who subscribe to this blog, which has been running, on full and on empty, for more than a decade. I’m currently working on a bunch of new projects I think many of you might be interested in, and I want to make sure you know about them. This won’t be a complete update on everything I’ve been up to since 2016 (which includes a global move, a career change, and a divorce). That will have to wait for another time, another space.

1. This web site is currently being updated and redesigned as jenmaidenberg.com. I haven’t yet decided on whether or not to keep the andyaddayadda domain name. More to come on that!

2. I launched a Patreon page for my current research and writing about dreams, memory, mental time travel, love, and healing. You can subscribe for as little as $8/month and get access to monthly audio updates (called “Dreaming Out Loud”) about the novel research I’m doing as it relates to the therapeutic use of dreams, storytelling, music, and memory! Or, join at any level because you want to support an independent writer whose writing matters to you! Patreon is about supporting writers, artists and other creators — just because, not in exchange for a good or service–so that they have to hustle less, and get to create more.

The new #creatoreconomy recognizes and acknowledges how art is healing and deserves to be valued more in our economy. Don’t you think? I heard about Patreon via subscribing to musicians, artists, and healers I’ve believed in or followed for a long time on free social media channels, but never bought from. In general, I’m trying to get into the habit of donating to creators or buying from them at whatever level is comfortable for me. To that end, I’ll also be sharing on my own channels the art and writing of creators whose work in the world I want to amplify. Stay tuned for more on that, too!

3. I’ve been publishing for the last seven years on Medium. You may enjoy reading the content there: lyrical essays, poetry, dream exploration. Claps and reads on my medium articles = money for me = less hustling for gigs (see above post) = more contribution and acts of service on the behalf of others. I’m aiming big: For years I’ve been an activist for healing. Now I want to add to that activism for creators. Your support of my creative work and research allows me the time and energy to focus on that and not constantly striving for the next freelance job to pay the bills. Future Me is deeply grateful for your support.

That’s it for now.

Except for one thing: It’s not all about me. In fact, it’s not about me at all. If it wasn’t for you, there’d be no Me. Your listening of me, your reading of me, your showing up as a reflection of me and for me in whatever way you do or once did, is what supports and solidifies Me being Me.

Drop a comment below if you’re up to a new creative pursuit you want me to share, amplify or check out. Or if you’ve been plugging along with a blog I used to support back in the 2010s and think there are some posts there I’d like. Link below.

Sending you love across time and space!

Jen

Books, Middle East Conflict, Philosophy, Politics, Writing

Book Review: The Ambassador

For all my love of time travel and exploration of whether or not we could or should alter the past, I’m surprised I don’t read more fiction in the category of alternative history. Perhaps I will now, after reading The Ambassador (The Toby Press), a novel by the late Ambassador Yehuda Avner and award-winning novelist Matt Rees.

Set mostly in the late 1930s with World War II as its backdrop, The Ambassador imagines the impacts on Europe’s Jews had Israel been established in 1937, as opposed to 1948, when the Peel Commission recommended to the British cabinet to establish a Jewish state. The novel’s main character is Dan Lavi, a young diplomat sent by Ben Gurion to Germany to serve as the fledgling nation’s first ambassador to Berlin. Dan’s there with his wife Anna (an American) and Shmulik, who masquerades as part of the diplomatic team, but is really in Berlin on behalf of the Mossad.

The characters, their dialogue, and even the actions they take that veer from historical events come off realistic and plausible. I was caught up in Dan’s conflict once in Berlin as he struggles between proper diplomacy and his clear distaste for Nazi politics.

“The words of the Old Man, Ben-Gurion’s nasal Polish accent echoed in Dan’s mind, the order delivered in between reports from Shmulik on the first maneuvers of the War of Independence.

You will sup with the Devil, Dan. You will do everything the Devil requires. Whatever it takes, you will maintain the transfer of Jews from Germany to Israel.'”

The transfer of Jews from Germany is, in fact, Dan’s primary goal in Berlin. He is there, as he argues repeatedly, to “secure as many Jewish lives as we can.” He does so by working with and catering to the ego of Sturmbannfuhrer Adolph Eichmann, who serves (in this alternative reality) as head of the “Central Office for Jewish Emigration” offering Israeli visas to Europe’s Jews under the controversial “Transfer Agreement.” In this 1938 Berlin, Jews are permitted to leave the country, hundreds per day, for Israel. The Israeli Embassy’s main purpose is administrative, filling out and processing applications of families requesting exit. On the side, however, Shmulik and his Mossad team are investigating rumors of a “final solution” for the Jews, and recommending plans of action to Ben Gurion.

Most interesting to me — especially as a fan of time travel — was watching the story unfold and witnessing how some decisions in this alternative reality led the Jews to the exact same fate they met in our current reality, and how other actions managed to transform a people’s destiny. Less interesting to me were a few brief distracting side stories (based on some historical truth) of lost love and family secrets; though not distracting enough to take away from the main plot.

Any fiction pertaining to the Holocaust is potentially contentious. Still today, there are debates about who, if anyone, has the right to construct fictional tales set in or during the Holocaust. In the preface to The Ambassador, Avner writes “I fought in the war that established Israel. I worked decades in the highest circles of the Israeli government with every Prime Minister up to Rabin’s second term and as Ambassador to Britain and Australia.” One wonders if Avner is not attempting to stave off those critics of Holocaust fiction with this list of credentials. Whether or not he was, it certainly lends credibility to the story and his right to tell it.

“I sat among the crowd commemorating Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Day, as then-Prime Minister Shimon Peres addressed us. More precisely, he apologized to them. The ones taken by Hitler. ‘We were 10 years too late,’ he said.

And I thought, ‘What if we hadn’t been.'”

The Ambassador will be available in bookstores September 1, 2015.

==

This review was made possible by The Toby Press with an Advanced Reader’s Copy.

 

 

 

Mindfulness, Parenting

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.

 

Love, Memory, Music, Writing

Nostalgia sounds like …

“There’s an echo in the wind

Makes me wonder where I’ve been”

 

The closest appliance to a time travel machine I’ve ever owned arrived in my mailbox today.

walkman

I sold my yellow Sony edition at a yard sale over a decade ago. This one is a gift from a friend who knows how desperate I’ve been for a portal back.

I popped in some AA batteries I had on hand (thank GOD) and chose a tape from the black vinyl portable cassette holder; a mixed tape whose destruction wouldn’t crush me if the Walkman accidentally ate it. SIDE B was a mix I copied in high school from my friend Rachel, kicked off by I Don’t Like Mondays, a song I used to blast in my car on the way to senior year of high school (not just on Mondays). SIDE A was the soundtrack to St. Elmo’s Fire.

I pulled out the cassette tape from its plastic case and popped it in the Walkman without much care.

I pressed play.

WHOOSH.

I wasn’t planning on going anywhere. I didn’t pack or leave a note. I just wanted to make sure the thing worked.

“All the years I’ve left behind

Faded pictures in my mind …”

WHOOSH.

I didn’t think I was going anywhere just yet, so I was pretty surprised to find myself in Thurston Hall at GWU in 1993; pretty surprised to see myself lying on a twin bed watching St. Elmo’s Fire on my white combination 18 inch TV/VHS player with Dayle and Erin and Stacia and Linnea. I know the power of music, and yet I was surprised that a collection of music I presumed held no emotional attachment over me, could suddenly sweep me back.

“So, we can be young and innocent
When nothing mattered but the moment we were in
Let’s shut our eyes and pretend
And maybe once again we can be young and innocent”

WHOOSH

I really didn’t think I was going anywhere yet.  Truth is, I wasn’t really thinking.

In that moment, I was just crying.

Tears of astonishment. Tears of gratitude.

To be swept away. To be 19 again. For Just A Moment.

Books, Culture

Between us, there are books

It’s not difficult to spot us.

Those of us in love with old books.

We have shelves full of them.

We smuggle them into our homes despite the eye rolling of our spouses, our parents, our roommates.

We tolerate repetitive sneezing due to dust and the mildew and the ancient tree pollen lurking beneath pages 204 and 205 of the worn book of poetry; for the last time it was opened was beneath an olive tree in the rain.

We can be spotted inside libraries caressing the faded red jacket cover of a 1930s edition of Alice in Wonderland, both in awe that this edition is in our hands and moved by the many hands it has passed through.

Hands now wrinkled, hands now dead and buried, hands that have held wonders of their own in the years since they last held Alice’s.

old edition of Alice

We weep at inscriptions:

To John, Love Grandma

To my beloved wife on our 5th wedding anniversary

To the 8th grade graduates of Merrick Long Island Hebrew Academy. Mazel Tov!

We rescue old books from the recycling plant or, worse yet, from the dump.

We hold on to them in case of the apocalypse or hand them over to crafty friends to offer them a secondhand chance at life as a kitschy framed work of art for sale on etsy or as an IPAD cover, a final project for graphic design school.

Sometimes you hear us sighing in a used book store.

Sometimes we get lost in a used bookstore.

Sometimes we get caught longing for a used book store. Someone asks us, “What were you thinking about just then?” And we answer, “I was looking at your canvas tote bag from The Strand and wishing I was there right now.”

Truth be told: If I could be anywhere right now, I would be inside a used book store.

I would be sneezing my brains out. I would desperately need to use the bathroom (book stores have done this to me since I was 7.) I would lose track of time and part with lots of money, but this is where I would choose to be on any given day.

Even on a beach day.

I suppose TV had a hand in this, what with Charmed and Buffy and farther back even still, Friday the 13th The Series.

I suppose that movies had a hand in this, what with The Neverending Story and The Ninth Gate.

I suppose books themselves have had a hand in this, too. By becoming old. By becoming rare. By becoming obsolete in a way. By carrying in their spines the secrets of a thousand and one human beings.

I don’t know why, exactly, I have such a strong affection for old books, but I imagine it’s wrapped in my curious regard for the passing of time.

It’s a way to touch the past.

It’s a way to relate to people who I will never have the chance to speak to or behold.

It’s time travel of a sort. It is. Stop saying it isn’t.

Old books make me weep for the people who once read them.

For the person who will read it after me. Whom, I hope, might weep for me, too.

Might remember me, the ghost of me … with fondness.

For, despite the space and time between us, we both once turned this book over; swiped the top corner with a damp pointer finger; placed it spread open wide on a night stand or flat sandwiching a clean white tissue inside.

Times passes. We pass.

But between us, there are books.

 

 

 

 

Kibbutz, Making Friends, Memory, Mindfulness, Relationships, Writing

Return to sender

I let go of Shira yesterday.

I called her up on the phone, walked over to her house, met her on the path there, and let her go.

She laughed.

So did I.

It was swell.

I had in my hand 18 year old Shira.

With love, I gave her back. To 40 year old Shira.

Some would call this surreal. Others would call it silly. I call it an extraordinary gift.

How did it happen?

In my cardboard boxes, I found letters. Shoeboxes filled with letters. Composition notebooks bookmarked for years with unsealed envelopes torn open by younger hands. Manilla folders stuffed with old exams, but peppered here and there by notes unsigned; the author’s identity only revealed by her handwriting.

I found a few from Shira. (Even if she didn’t live across the street from me here on this kibbutz in Israel, I would have recognized her 18 year old handwriting. It’s distinct. And handwriting, like phone numbers from childhood, is something I tend to hold on to strongly in my memory.)

The letters were from 1991 and 1992. The summers she and I respectively traveled to Israel for the first time.  In 1993, we’d arrive here together one winter break during college as participants on a 2-week volunteer program. We’d be stationed on an army base that’s now less than an hour drive away from where we live.

shira and jen 1993

The letters, when I read them yesterday for the first time in more than 20 years, emphasized a certain awareness I’ve already arrived at on my own.

Shira, I’m so grateful to say, has known two different Jens, maybe three, maybe even four or five, depending on where you slice me.

It’s a gift, indeed. A friend who knew you as a girl. Who knew you when you were thinner, blonder, filled with greater energy than you are now.

But an even greater gift is a friend who notices how much you’ve grown since then. Who knew you when you were less worldly, to say the least, less clever, less kind …and has forgiven you your youth.

In reading the letters, I remembered a younger Jen and a younger Shira, and a much younger friendship. I remembered the moments that punctuated that time. In her short letters — one scribbled in cursive on airmail stationery, another stuffed inside letterhead from her father’s business — our world in ’91 and ’92 came  alive for a moment and made me smile. In a different voice than the one I know today, 18 year old Shira reminded me of who we were then.  I was touched by the Shira I had forgotten; touched by the Shira I had never known then. I also fell in love for a moment with the Jen I must have been then. A Jen I never knew I was; not at the time.

It’s complicated — the gift of old letters, of old friends — but it’s also so very simple.

I could have thrown them away, the letters. Like I’ve tossed other papers found inside the cardboard boxes.

Instead, I decided to return them to sender.

It seemed symbolically appropriate. I can’t explain it, though I’ll try.

I returned them not because I was certain Shira would want them or need them (though it was a kick to laugh over them for a minute or two), but because handing over Shira to Shira seemed like the right thing to do.

Giving Shira’s letters back to her — instead of holding on to them — allows Shira to be whoever she wants to be in the world. Now.

And forces me, in a way, to accept her as such.

Not the Shira I used to know. Not the Shira who was what she was then. Not the Shira I thought she was yesterday.

Just Shira. Now.

Giving Shira back her letters gave me the opportunity to explore a concept I have great difficulty with (and the chance to practice on someone I knew would make it easy on me!)

The concept? Giving up my past so I can be present.

I can’t say I know what the outcome of this experiment will be. But something about it just seemed right.

Just like, I suppose, something felt right about saving letters in a shoebox.

* * *

This is one in a series of essays inspired by my cardboard boxes. If you like this post, and want to know how it began, read A Case for Hoarding. One post in the series, Note to Self,” was recently featured on Freshly PressedAdditional posts are tagged “the boxed set series“.

 

Childhood, Dreams, Family, Letting Go, Love, Memory, Mindfulness, Philosophy

A case for hoarding

I’m a hoarder.

I hoard paper, photos, t-shirts, cozy socks, cookies, memories, books.

Especially books. And memories.

I’m not so compulsive to be recruited for a reality TV show, but I’m bad enough that closets are always full and there’s never enough storage space.

Not in my house, not in my brain.

Despite this need to hang on, each time I have moved homes (about 6 or 7 times in adulthood), I’ve let go of things I didn’t think I would need anymore.

I purge — in the rapid, violent way the word evokes.

Goodbye to the japanime LeSportSac bag I coveted. Sayonara to the collector’s set of Leonardo DiCaprio movies on VHS. Farewell to the Fall-inspired finger paintings done by my son when he was 18 months old.

When we moved to Israel, a country that does not believe in closets, nor basements, my husband and I did a major purge — in the form of a yard sale and of giveaways to friends and neighbors. But there were about a dozen boxes we knew not to bother opening — for they would go into storage until we figured out exactly what this aliyah thing would mean for our family.

Boxes sealed in brown packing tape marked in hastily drawn capital letters:

JEN’S MEMORABILIA

AVI’S OLD PAINTINGS

WEDDING PARAPHENALIA

MIXED TAPES, SCHOOL PAPERS OF JEN’S, DO NOT THROW AWAY!!!!!!

CARDS, PERSONAL

Those boxes landed in Israel on a cargo ship a few weeks ago and eventually — after the usual Israeli-style run-around at customs — arrived in our storage room/bomb shelter last week.

Carefully, carefully I am opening those cardboard boxes.

Because they aren’t just cardboard boxes, you know.

They are Pandora’s. Modern day Pandora’s boxes.

Carefully… because danger lurks in the folded over corners of hoarded memories

just as often as joyful surprise.

Carefully… because yellowed papers inside a stale smelling tupperware container may easily transform into messages in a bottle.

Carefully… because when you save, when you keep, when you store away, you might just get what you wish for one day–

a portal into the past.

a light unto what was once dark.

* * *

Watch this space to see what I discover inside a set of boxes.

Technology, Writing

I’m a little obsessed with time travel, are you?

I love playing with the idea of time travel.

I’m not a quantum physicist. In fact, attempting to wrap my brain around the quantum physics aspects of time travel gives me such a headache I have to read a Danielle Steel novel to make it go away.

So instead of trying to understand the science behind time travel, I watch movies, read books, and write about time travel from an artist’s perspective. How writing letters to your younger self is almost a multi-dimensional portal waiting to be entered, and how reading poems you wrote as a child is like opening a window to the past.

From the view of an almost 40 year old woman who can still smell spaghetti sauce boiling in a pot in her childhood home when she closes her eyes and really tries, time travel is this easy. It’s the second step in a yet-unproven three-step process.

1. Dress up in period clothes.

2. Imagine yourself there.

3. Lock yourself in a dark room with a cassette tape playing over and over again, “This is 1987. You are now in 1987. When you leave this room you will see 21 Jump Street on the tv and the latest issue of Teen magazine on the kitchen counter. You will be madly in love with Matt Heitzer. Suzanne is leaving a message on your answering machine. It is 1987. You are now in 1987.”

This is, at least, how the Christopher Reeve character in Somewhere in Time goes back in time to meet a long-dead woman he’s obsessed with (played by Jane Seymour). And frankly, it always seemed the most likely way for time travel to work.

somewhere in time

(Up until today, I always thought the movie was loosely based on the story Time and Again by Jack Finney. But it’s not. The main characters use a similar process to get back in time in both stories, but the guy in Finney’s book puts a lot more effort into his preparation. He’s trained by the U.S. military for the project, in fact, and therefore, his time travel success is a lot more believable.)

The common overlap between my time travel theory and practice, and those of the quantum physicists’, I firmly believe, is that both are indeed possible, but have not yet been pulled off successfully.

I think the reason why so many of us are obsessed with time travel is not because of it’s magical-like inaccessibility; not because we are imaginative children longing to explore cities and places far off and forgotten; not because we are approaching middle age and overwrought by nostalgia and an urge to fix our past mistakes.

But because we understand somewhere deep down that time travel is possible and we are only one tiny step away from realizing it.

Like a fog-covered windshield, we need just to wipe away the moisture to see clearly where we are going and how to get there.

 

 

 

 

Community, Family, Food, Kibbutz, Living in Community, Mindfulness, Parenting, Relationships

Smells of Shabbat

One day in the future
My son will need some air.
He’ll leave home
Seeking solace
If only for a minute or two.

On his journey toward temporary peace
He will come upon
The smell of roasted potatoes with rosemary
Two minutes to go til burning
The scent will float beneath his nostrils
And he will remember tonight…

Walking with me
Up and down emptying streets
Through quieting paths
Around quickly passing cars
Parking on the other side of the gate.

A walk
A gasp for air
A last chance to let go of all that was
And open to
what will be
This week

Letting Go, Love, Mindfulness

Giving it up to Cory Booker

It’s widely agreed among women that following Cory Booker on Twitter is more groin stimulating than the hottest 1980s era episode of All My Children.

But Cory is also a deep thinker, and a spiritual guy –at least his social media strategy team would have us believe.

It’s working. He’s totally got me wrapped around his finger.

Cory shared this on Facebook yesterday:

Courtesy: http://waywire.com/
Courtesy: http://waywire.com/

It was timely for me. (aka “Wow, that Cory Booker is so in my head!)

I’ve been thinking and writing about what I gave up to become who I am now.

Truth is, I think about it a lot. Almost all the time. Definitely, way too much.

Sometimes I wonder if I breathe in nostalgia instead of air.

What could I have been had I made a left instead of a right?

Stayed in Washington instead of moving to New York?

Continued in children’s book publishing instead of leaving to freelance?

Stayed single longer?

Stayed married without kids longer?

Stopped having kids at just one?

At every given moment, indeed, we give up who we are in order to become who we might be.

Right, Cory Booker?

This is automatic. It’s quantum physics (I think). After all, it’s impossible to be who you were and who you are at the very same time. At least, not without a migraine.

If we could do this, we’d be time travelling already. Or having coffee with multi-dimensional beings.

True: We’re often not ready to give up who we are, but just as often we do so in spite of ourselves. Every single day, every single action, may require this on a small level.

And big choices certainly do.

So why not, give it up willingly,  for ourselves?

Life is, indeed, a marathon. Through which we shed many layers of skin.

And each time, we birth ourselves anew.

It’s a much better way to approach life — to approach our Self — than constantly imagining “what might have been.”

The intentional act of giving up who we are propels us forward — from past, to present, to unimaginably awesome future.

Love, Spirituality

Proof of Time Travel, and Other Conclusions Based on Raw Emotion

I am 38 years old.

Now you know.

But I don’t know.

I don’t know how I can possibly be 38 years old.

First, because in my mind, my mother is 38 years old. And physics teaches us that my mom and I can’t be the same age.

In my mind, my mother has brown hair with a few blonde highlights. She wears jeans and a polo shirt. She makes me peanut butter and jelly. Impossible, since my son is allergic to peanut butter and we don’t keep it in the house.

My mothers yells at me for waking up my baby brother from his nap. Who? Who is napping?

My brother? My son?

My mom is planning my bat mitzvah. My Sweet Sixteen. She’s dropping me off at my boyfriend’s house. At college. At my new apartment.

She’s 38.

And me?

I’m 20-something. Or something followed by the word “teen.”  Impossible, I know, but so is 38 years old.

In the day-to-day in which I wake up, shower, get myself and my three children ready for work and school, I can submit to the possibility of being 38 years old. A 38 year old, after all, is a grown up who does grown up things, such as taking care of herself, her children, her bills, her errands and her home.

And I do these things. I’m not crazy, after all.

But when I finally have a moment to myself, and I sit in the reality in which I am 38 years old, I am confused.

Almost as confused as if I woke up one morning and I was 63.

Or on Mars.

Or being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

I don’t know how I can possibly be 38 years old.

True, it was a long time ago I played kickball in the front yard with my brother and the neighborhood kids. I know it was a long time ago because the details of these games are blurry, faded.

And, yes, it was a long time ago that I walked down the football field in a graduation gown. I can’t remember the color of the dress I wore underneath. So it must have been long ago, as my memory is excellent. And if it happened recently, I would certainly remember the color of my dress. I would remember the restaurant we ate lunch at. I would remember why I told my parents I didn’t want a party.

This certainly all happened long ago. It’s the past. It’s before. It’s inaccessible. Or is it?

Because sometimes, when I press play on a particular song and I close my eyes, I can touch the wet sand on the beach in Margate. I can smell the Fruit Loops soaking in a bowl of milk in the basement of Thurston Hall. I can hear high-pitched giggles around a long table at a restaurant in the East Village. I am present. In the middle of a very important conversation. That’s taking place miles and miles away from where I am sitting with my headphones loosely dangling from my ears. And the girls are wearing Baby Doll dresses with leggings. And the guys have Caesar haircuts like David Schwimmer.

Sometimes, when I am in the space between waking and dreaming, I hear Stephanie’s voice.  If I was 38, Stephanie would already be long gone from this world.

Sometimes, I smell the burnt electric remnants of a blender mixing a chocolate Alba drink; I hear the organ playing; and I catch the vague outline of my Bubbi’s hydrangea-patterned nightgown. Impossible. It’s been 20 years since she would have been able to manage the steps to that apartment. And she’s gone, too.

You call it memory. But I call it time travel.

What’s the difference, really, between recall and time travel? If I can smell, hear, taste, and even touch 1992; how can you tell me I’m 38 years old?

I applaud their efforts, but physicists are looking in the wrong places for proof that time travel is possible.

They should be spending less time with quantum mechanics and  more time with the human heart and brain.

Relativity baby. It’s special.