Archive | Essays

More Advice for the Green-hearted

T. called last Thursday.

She and I don’t talk that regularly but we have each other’s backs no matter how the chips fall. I believe in her work and she believes in mine, and we have known each other since our indignant adolescence, when she was newly arrived from South Africa and I was too mad to rise from any ashes just yet.

That day she’d seen my bellyaching on social media and picked up the phone. She called just as I was sobbing on my bed with the particular hopelessness of someone who doesn’t expect to be comforted.

“What’s going on?” she said with her customary lack of introduction, a trait I find endearing. 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