From My Closet to the Goddess Kali With A Book About Brothers & Sisters In There Somewhere

I wake up every morning, shower and dress.  Well, begin to dress.  But when it comes to the day’s choice of a t-shirt, blouse or sweater, I often find myself rummaging through my closet, foolishly hoping that an item of clothing that wasn’t there yesterday, the day before, or the day before that will miraculously have found its way to a hanger.

Of course, nothing new turns up.  Dispirited, I’m forced to recognize that I’m faced with the same old choices.

I find it curious that, while I know the outcome, I continue to hope for some kind of clothing miracle.  Maybe it’s my lame attempt at changing the course of events in my life and/or in the life of many others.

That may be a stretch.  But at this time of year, there is a robust list of upcoming events, personal habits and relationships that I’d like to either change or reverse.

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  • To drop my addiction to politics during this Presidential season.  (When will it end?)  Like all addicts, I do everything in my power to avoid the culprits:  TV news (if you can call it that), newspaper, mostly online, radio shows like National Public Radio, progressive stations, even MSBC.  No matter how hard I try to kick the habit, I need my daily fix.  Monday and Tuesday of this week were exceptions: “The Voice” came back on the air after its summer hiatus, and I was giddy with the distraction.  I didn’t cheat once.  But then there’s the first debate a few days from now.  As much as I know it will send me up the wall, I must watch, even though I know I may have to resort to a couple of shots of tequila.

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  • To stop the steady march toward the dark days, freezing temperatures, and snow of winter.  (If we weren’t spending a chunk of time in Mexico, I’d have already slipped into the beginnings of depression.)  As it is, I watch the sun drop a few minutes earlier each day and, as a midwesterner, know what’s coming.  (No wonder I want to move to warmer, sunnier climes.)

 

 

 

  • To reconnect with my estranged brother who lives in France.  We haven’t spoken in six years and counting.  (I’ll be detailing the split in a personal essay coming soon to a magazine or blog near you.)  In the meantime—particularly as the author of The Sibling Connection—I sometimes feel like a fraud and a failure who had no business writing a book about brothers and sisterThe Sibling Connection
  • To find the transformative power of the goddesses within me and women around the world.  I know . . . It all sounds rather 1960s, doesn’t it?  And maybe it is.  But I’m going to give it a shot.  Maybe I can resolve the push and pull between the mother figure and the fearsome warrior and accept both as normal, highly regarded parts of the goddess Kali and me.
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Ah, the ways of the subconscious.  From non existent clothes in my closet to the goddess Kali.  The mind works in wondrous ways.

OMG! MY SON’S 25th HIGH SCHOOL REUNION COMING UP

The Chicago Bulls were about to win their first of six NBA championships.  George H.W. Bush would be elected President in a matter of months. And my son was going off to Syracuse University.

And now here we are.  His 25th high school reunion a few weeks away.

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He’s almost a middle aged man.  And I’m . . . well, I’m en route to a senior citizens’ home.  Still, my memory is in tact, and the details of my 25th reunion are as “fresh” as I was at the time.

I strutted into the Friday evening party like a diva about to prance on stage.  All gussied up in a white pant suit and a black stretchy halter top.  No bra required.  (My, how things have changed!)

For me, the reunion validated the person I’d become.  A teacher turned writer.  A wife for the second time around.  A mother of a teenager who was . . . okay, so I didn’t have that one down yet but was really, really trying.  (That Parent Effectiveness Training workshop I took didn’t always do the trick.)

And now that teenager is all grown up.  I wonder how he’ll feel when he walks into the Friday night cocktail party.  Pleased with the path his journey has taken?  Unfulfilled? Just damn happy to be alive?  (Did I mention the automobile accident in which he drove his car into a tree, broke his back and just missed severing his spine?)

It’s been a wild ride for him and for me.  (BTW, it was his dad’s new Lexus that he totaled.)

It’s hard to fathom that it’s been twenty-five years since my son managed to get his high school diploma and waltzed off to Syracuse University.  I remember crying every time I passed his empty bedroom or heard a song he loved.

Then about three weeks in, I woke up and realized that I was free—free from pushing him to finish his homework, filling out college applications, making curfew, not driving into another tree.

(In retrospect, the joke was on me.  I wasn’t really free.  “Out of sight, out of mind” didn’t apply.)

Where has the time gone?  Twenty-five years and counting.  Each day here and gone faster than the one before.

Hopefully, I’ll be around for my son’s 50th high school reunion.  If not, I hope he has one hell of a good time!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Bagel Bopper and the Jesuits

After my parents died within less than a month of each other, I decided it would be best to find a full-time job.  That way, I would have somewhere to go each day and the chance to meet and mingle with a group of what I hoped would be new friends.

I’d been a freelance writer and author for many years, and the chance to bring in a regular paycheck and, hopefully, ease my grief seemed the perfect antidote to losing my parents.

Years before, I’d been a high school English teacher, then a writer/producer of educational filmstrips.  Remember them?  (If you’re weren’t in grade school by the early 1980s, you probably never heard of these rudimentary frame-by-frame  visuals with recorded sound.) I’d also written a slew of books and figured I was the perfect candidate for a job at Loyola Press in Chicago.  The head of the editorial staff agreed.

Loyola Press is a Catholic press started by Jesuits back in the day.  As a Jew, I wasn’t sure how that would go down, but my first assignment was to edit a series of books on reading and writing for elementary and middle school students.  Okay, I could do that.  And I did. The only signs of religion were the crosses that dominated the office walls and the prayers that began every faculty meeting or special event.  I put my head down and pretended to go along.

The Jesuits would have been proud because I prayed that my next assignment would augment the English series—maybe a focus on writing or literature or critical thinking. No such luck.  I was asked to edit and update Finding God, one of the faith program books.

I couldn’t do it.  Heck, I wasn’t sure I even believed in God.  And I wasn’t interested in finding Him/Her.

“You know I’m Jewish.”

“Of course, I do.  But this won’t be too much of a stretch.”

Were they kidding?  I couldn’t come in to work every day, sit down at my desk and read the New Testament or revise text about the importance and finding and keeping God in our lives.  I could easily sabotage the whole deal and write about bagels and lox instead of wafers and wine.  I could underscore the pure fantasy in much of the Biblical stories.  I could scream profanities so loud that the Jesuit priest in his second floor office would come running—well, running is a bit of an exaggeration.  He was getting on in age and walked with a cane.  (At least, that’s what I remember.)

So, I started searching for homes in northern California.  I’d wanted to live there since I’d graduated from college and decided this would be the perfect time to get the heck out of Dodge.  A move would be a perfect excuse that even the Father could forgive.

I was uncomfortable about quitting after only a year+ on the job and put off my resignation as long as I could.  But the Finding God project was scheduled to get underway, and I couldn’t hold my cards any longer.

“I can’t do it,” I told my immediate boss.  She was Catholic, too.

“You’ll be great.  You can be more objective.”

Objective?  I doubted she or the higher ups wanted objectivity.  I was, after all, a Bagel Bopper who, while not religious, resented the notion that Jews were Christ killers and that the Catholic church had remained silent during World War II when they knew damn well about the slaughter going on right under their noses.

But I’d heard that Jesuits were tolerant of other religions and believers in free education. I couldn’t argue with that.

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Still, I quit.  Before I packed my bag and walked out the front door, I made my way up to the second floor office of the Father and titular head of Loyola Press.  I don’t remember what I said.  Probably some bogus about being needed to care for an elderly relative or needing time to write a novel.  I couldn’t possibly tell the truth and confess.

Father (I wish I could remember his full name) was generous and kind.  He wished me best of luck and thanked me for my service.

I felt like a—well, like a traitor.  Maybe I was getting religion, after all.