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Some Thoughts on (Gentile) Atonement

Bathed in Marlow’s non-Kosher light

“Science? Magic? God? That power flows from within. From inside. What comes out when that pressure is heaviest? That’s the real magic. That’s what defines being a hero.”-Luke Cage

Someone should really make a documentary about me called The Bad Jew. Last year for Yom Kippur I ate lobster rolls. That’s like double traif. This year I’m at Marlow and Sons–perched on the edge of Jewish Williamsburg, no less–and I’m wolfing non-Kosher chicken salad with non-Kosher wine. Blame the shiksa in me. Gypsy blood! my grandmother would shriek when she was feeling especially resentful my father had married a six-foot blonde gentile. Whatever the cause, ever since I formally hung up my anorexic spurs I’ve had a hard time fasting. This year I made it to 1pm.

To some degree, I feel bad about my lapses. And more earnestly, I feel bad about a lot of ways I’ve been hurtful. About biting things I’ve said and promises I’ve not kept and people with whom I’ve not stayed in touch.  For the first two categories of sins, I always apologize. But I’ve yet to atone for my unplugging. I believe the kids call it ghosting. Continue Reading →

It’s Always Something

Sunday, on the precipice of a new moon and the Jewish New Year, I woke at 4 am, early even for me. Cool air drifted through the window and rain pitter-pattered against the glass as I lounged in bed, draped in an autumn mumu and reading my second Gilda Radner book in two days. I’ve been pretty open about how hard I’ve been finding life, so the peace of that moment was sweet.

I’m not entirely sure why Gilda’s been giving me so much comfort right now. I’ve been reading and watching everything about her and I think partly it’s her guilelessness coupled with that intense mischief. Her intelligence and sense of the absurd were palpable, but so were her huge vulnerability and empathy–it was all wrapped in an enormous, childlike glow. Not a childish one, mind you for by all reports she was eminently kind, and children rarely are. (People who think children are born kind are fooling themselves; kindness is always a learned trait.) But Gilda was surely childlike: playful, present, boundlessly, bountifully enthusiastic. So much so that her voice was extra-raspy and her limbs extra rubbery, as if excitement was constantly stretching her limits. Continue Reading →

Buggin’ Out in Boston and the BK

It began with bug bites. Actually, it began with an infestation of flies, a nearly literal pox upon my house. My kitchen was clean–I mean, as clean as an un-rehabbed 1940s kitchen ever gets. (See: rent control.) Which is to say things were scrubbed and put away but a film of age and general erosion prevailed. Yes, there was a tiny hole in the window screen but, again, it’s a hole that’s been there for forever and a day. And, yes, temperatures were soaring that day–the kind of grueling heat in which only pests seem to flourish–but it had been nasty hot, slap-you-with-a-dirty-boiling-towel hot for weeks.

So really there was no reason for my kitchen to suddenly be infested with hundreds of flies on that particular day, but that’s what happened. I swear, as I type this, a fly just landed on my computer. And now another one, as if to remind me this story doesn’t already have a moral wrapped in a pretty little bow. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy