Pictured here is my amazing cousin Martine, as featured in a lengthy New York Magazine profile. Ironically, though she shares my suspicion of DNA bonds, she’s a new millennium incarnation of our outlaw grandmother Masha Rubenfire. A Polish Jewish immigrant who ran a successful Salem, Mass, brothel, Rubenfire made it all happen when her schnorrer husband ditched her with two small kids and no language skills. Martine–who looks more like Rubenfire than anyone else in our family does–has constructed a gender reality, a financial reality, a relationship reality, a technological reality, and a spiritual reality not only for herself but for others, including me. Say what we will but the blood is fierce in our line. Rubenfire helps from beyond the grave.
It’s not a complaint. I come from people who have a hard time finding employment–let alone employment they dig–and it never ceases to amaze me that I get paid for what I’ve dreamed of doing since I was small. Not to mention the tremendous satisfaction I feel as a woman, even in this day and age, that I have earned every cent in my bank account (though I wish it were more). Sometimes I want a time machine just to travel back to the ’70s and assure the worried girl I was that she’s going to pull it all off.
So the look of pity my reply evokes always makes me feel both misunderstood and a strange reciprocal pity. I could never exactly articulate why until I read this passage in a Werner Herzog interview: I’m no workaholic but a holiday is only a necessity for someone whose work is an unchanged daily routine. For me everything is constantly fresh and constantly new. I love what I do, and my life feels like one long vacation.
Maybe next time someone asks about my summer, I should just sing this quote.