Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Monday, September 26, 2016

Morn, After, Eve

1. I think I know.

Bought lots of chicken last night. Raw. Sliced and diced and spiced it all. Put it in oven, took it out to cool. Same with tons of broccoli and brussels sprouts. This was at about 8:30 PM. At 6:30 AM discovered it all still on the counter.

I think I know.

The chicken I really almost definitely need to throw out. The veggies probably got lots of bacteria on them, and I could maybe eat them and be okay - but who wants to once the bacteria image is evoked?

Thoughts?

I remember a line that struck me in "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time." The autistic narrator wonders why people don't get his thing about thinking it will be a bad day if he sees a certain number of cars passing by, or if he sees the color brown. These same people will feel in a bad mood, like a pall has been cast on their day if it's raining hard - or if they discover they left their cooked food for the week out all night.

Wishing everyone a day of positive thoughts, interpretations, and attitudes.


2. I recently heard someone speak about Shlomo Hamelech's comment that it's better to go to a house of mourning than to a place of celebration. This person shared that they took it upon themselves to go out of their way to go to all the mourning related events that they could because they need that reality check.

Those words resonated for me. Not driving makes getting around challenging when it comes to being there for mourners, just as not driving makes life more challenging when it comes to moving forward daily in life on social and work fronts. But I need the reminder that however uncomfortable it is to get around in this world, I am blessed to be here. And even if it's awkward how someone offered to take me to a shiva visit today and then went yesterday, and I may have to cab it, I still need to go - for them and for me.


3. I'm in a sharing mood.

I'm very tired. When I'm very tired I find it hard to stay awake. Wherever I am, whatever's going on. It doesn't help that I don't sleep enough at night. It doesn't help that I don't do caffeine.

Several years ago I fell and fractured my foot. I was at the funeral of a friend's father. It was Shiva'Asar BeTamuz, a fast day, it was very hot, I hadn't slept much, and I had worked hard to help with he shoveling. I was leaning against a car, and while I'm not sure what to call it (fainting?) I think I fell asleep for a second and crashed hard onto the floor.

The story I cited above comes to mind because I find myself fighting that kind of sudden sleep. Can I find more sleep time tonight? Should I start caffeine. Are there other things I should do and/or be concerned about in the interest of being less on the verge of sleep at any moment?

One of the ideas of the shofar is to wake us up. Perhaps one month a year is not enough. Maybe we need to be kept awake on a regular basis.

In "A Good man Is Hard To Find" a ruthless robber murders a family who accidentally find him in hiding when they lose their way driving to a picnic. Before the hard to bear grandmother is killed she gives a passionate speech full of words of faith in G-d. And the criminal (known in the news as The Misfit) says something like, "She'd have been a mighty fine woman if she had someone threaten to kill her every day of her life."

We'd all be a lot more a wake if we found a way to hear the sound of G-d's great shofar every day of our lives.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

I post here much less often than I used to and I blog more seldom than that.  For me blogging is a specific thing, more than putting works on one's website.  The personal blog has mostly come and gone, as real bloggers write freely and publish raw-ly.   For a blogger there's little editing of thoughts in the head or of words on the page.  I haven't done that in a long time.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016



Reunion

By Dana Gioia

This is my past where no one knows me.
These are my friends whom I can’t name—
Here in a field where no one chose me,
The faces older, the voices the same.

Why does this stranger rise to greet me?
What is the joke that makes him smile,
As he calls the children together to meet me
Bringing them forward in single file?

I nod pretending to recognize them,
Not knowing exactly what I should say.
Why does my presence seem to surprise them?
Who is the woman who turns away?
Is this my home or an illusion?
The bread on the table smells achingly real.
Must I at last solve my confusion,
Or is confusion all I can feel?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

On Communication

Years ago a mentor/teacher/friend of mine told me something about his view of different modes of communication. Back then (I was college age, possibly still in high school) letters were still a thing in this world. If I remember right he rated letters highest because they involved thought in the preparation and in the taking in, and they could be returned to repeatedly. He felt phone was the lowest because words were spoken in a vacuum in which there was no permanence, no strong connection between the isolated speakers. And face to face was somewhere in the middle.

I think conventional wisdom has it that nothing beats face to face communication.. Writing, in a sense, is very popular today, but it in almost no way resembles the letters of yore (30 years ago) that were written by regular people but if you look at them now seem sophisticated. The phone is not used much by people of today who prefer various forms of texting and messaging. Emails are almost as obsolete as letters and if they are used what's in them is more in the style of an I.M. (a phrase which I think is also gone with the wind) than a true letter.

I'd love to hear some thoughtful thoughts on communication.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Im Eshkacheich

Perhaps the idea of facing Yerushalayim/Jerusalem when we pray is misunderstood. Maybe it's not so much for us to point ourselves physically in the direction of Yerushalayim but to get in sync with the holiness of that place. More than us merely pointing to her we are to strive to get her and her holiness to flow toward us. This is backed up by the halacha that if you don't know the physical direction to face you should have intent toward Jerusalem in your heart, because that's the point. If we are not in Jerusalem, we need to, and we can, bring some of her holiness to us, and into our prayers.

Stats From Pilgrimage to Israel

Nights in Kings hotel in Yerushalayim - 3
Nights in friends' homes - 5
Night's in Cousins' homes - 10
Nights in Bet Shemesh - 2
Nights in Efrat - 1
Nights in Kiryat Yovel - 2
Nights in Ramot Gimel - 9
Nights in Shaarei Tikvah - 1
Nights a kid gave up their room for me to sleep in - 2 for sure, maybe 3
Dear friends whose homes I ate in in Beit Shemesh - 2
Get togethers with friends who are beki'im in Shas - 2
Number of friends I met who are a baki in Shas - 1
Times I ate in Ne'eman bakery- 3
Number of Ne'eman's I ate in - 2
Bookstores/dealers I bought books from - 5
Oldest book I bought - over a hundred years
Most expensive book I bought - over 100 dollars
Holy cemeteries/burial places visited - 7
Day trips with a hired driver - 2
Times to Nachal Dovid - 1
Poems written - unknown (estimate 10-20)
Classes taken at Gush/Herzog Yemei Iyun - 15
Meals at Nagila Restaurant in Yerushalayim - 3
Brilliant and Kind Poet/Rabbis I had lunch with - 1
Dear friends from America visiting at same time that I hung with - 1
Times at Kotel - 7 or 8
Profound phone conversations to, from and at Kotel - 3
Times at Kotel on Shabbos for Shacharit - 1

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Spill Simmer Falter Wither, by Sara Baume, page 94

"When I was about as tall as the letter slot and riding in the back of my father's car, we were passing through town one day, driving along the main street, and I remember seeing a woman through the window, standing in her doorway. After a moment she turned and went back inside, closing the door behind her, and thenof course i couldn't see her anymore.

I know it sounds like nothing much, but it was the first time I realized that other people's lives go on. All of the time, out of sight, and without me. It was the first time I realized that everything just goes on and on and on. Regardless, relentless."

Thursday, August 25, 2016

The Slonimer Rebbe said "I copy my father. He copied no one, and I copy no one".

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Written Upon Returning From Pilgrimage to israel

"Bechol derachechah da'ehu - know G-d in all your ways." That's how it's usually translated. But the word derachechah, defined as "ways" also means roads, reminding us that in life we don't always travel to where we dreamed we would go. And yet, this text tells us to see G-d in every journey in our lives. Every place we go has holiness for us to mine.
Yaakov, father of the Jewish People, ended up in many unexpected places in his life. He serves as a role model for us when at a seemingly godless rest stop he has an epiphany and exclaims: "G-d was in this place, and I, I did not know!"
May we be blessed to know G-d in each place, even the seemingly unexceptional ones, where we find ourselves in our life. We can always, without exception, find Him where we are.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Notes Taken In Vivo Week Before Last

I am at the Gush Yemei Iyun.  I am in a class on Avodah Zarah.  The topic is what is so bad about it.

David Netiv

In the story of Shechem is the first time that in a pasuk itself the expression or the idea of elokei neichar is used explicitly. Previously Avimelech is told by Avraham that due to no Yirat Elokim anything can happen, even murder - so avodah zarah is hinted to.  With Eishet Potifar too Yirat Elokim comes up. People can do religious externals but not be connected to other realms in one's behavior.  Menasheh - dam naki shafach...Yosef adds to the brothers that he's yerei Elokim, and thus keeps his word.  He repeats in 44:16 - Yehuda mentions G-d, that this connection means to be ehrlich... 45:2-5 It was from G-d...

Monotheism via Judaism is not a mathematical introduction - it's the idea of G-d seeing everything in a consistent and all encompassing way. More than one boss allows for holes and various behaviors... Separation of church and state... A Jew in the home...All time, all places, this is monotheism vs. A"Z - A"Z means that you can be not yerei Elokim, as there are realms where you can compartmentalize and separate...

Mitzvot are the focus of Devarim - need to be more than believer in word or heart...

Molech has all 3 of the big 3... killing seed, worship, relations... thus symbol of AZ...


Random Thoughts Going Back

People need to hear what they need to hear.

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A wise Romanian/Israeli  woman just told me that the world is getting flatter and so are we.  She expanded, saying that her words were inspired by the book Flatlands, which was made into a movie.

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I need to understand what I don't understand

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Tonight I went to Kever Rochel and it dawned on me that its an appropriate place to pray specifically about love and marriage and related matters.

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Why, if we know that when talk we really want to be listened to, do we find it so hard to do? When someone does it for us we appreciate it. Yet

Monday, August 01, 2016

From A Few Weeks Ago...

What is tiredness? What makes me wonder is days like today.  I was out and about in the hectic-ness, the heat, amoungst the huddled, sad masses of  NYC walkers. I was going on restless little sleep for at least the third night in a row .  And all I wanted as I traveled back on an un-air-conditioned train was to come home and go to sleep. But then I did what I really needed to do.  I unwound.  And now I feel better. It's a human thing, maybe it's specifically an introvert thing.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

On The Road Again

10 PMish - In cab w driver that I'm not jiving with. Feeling some inner Trump/Hulk brewing inside and fighting it. Reactions are a big part of life. And the right reactions have to be cultivated years in advance. And even then it comes down to the skinny millisecond between what has transported and your reacting to it.

12:30 AMish - Right after I wrote the above I decided to break the cold silence, and I started a conversation w the driver. He was pleased.  He's from Bangladesh.  His father is a long time menber of Parliment . He's 40, here since he was 21. Lives in Queens, married with 2 kids.  Likes to take the kids on vacation, wherever they want, but so far not Disney. He's traveled a lot. Likes Democracy. We civilly spoke and disagreed about up to the minute politics.  He admired that I'm a teacher (I left out the rabbi/Jewish part due to tension we had earlier in our ride). We shook hands and ended on a very positive note.

And now I'm wondering about the big question, how many stars do I give this Lyft driver.  He wanted to take me to Wash Heights via 59 street Bridge to save toll - that makes no sense.  He asked me to shut my GPS.  He missed the correct exit for me and then said he saw there was traffic and next exit was quicker.  But I had my GPS muted and was watching it and saw that his mistake added 8 minutes to the ride. I'm glad that I navigated us into peaceful and pleasant conversation.  I don't want to rate him low because of lingering upsetness over his early attitude and temperment which seemed to improve. I also don't want to give him a higher rating than he deserves out of guit or misplaced compassion or weakness...


Friday, July 29, 2016

Thoghts...

“Check your watch. It’s now again!” - Jon Kabat-Zinn

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Consciously and subconsciously, to our own benefit and to our own detriment, loudly and brashly, quietly and desperately, we put on personas for the world to see.

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Someone once told me that if you can get through life you can get through anything. 

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"Al tehi baz lechol adam" is generally translated as, don't put down any person. It can be understood differently. Don't allow everyone to make you feel denigrated.

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"Bill Clinton delivered a deeply personal speech" - NY Times
And I'm wondering if this is not an oxymoron.

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When someone says to you, "I'm crazy," in those words, it can give you pause. Should it? I guess, it kind of depends, but basically - yes.

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When someone shows you who they are believe them.

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"Wouldn't it be nice if we weren't at war anywhere in the world anymore?" - Random person at convention.

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I wonder about the ways that "social media has changed our lives.  There are upsides.  But lately, the downsides seem so glaring.

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Some people give off a vibe of, "Do not mess with me. My vibe is more like, "Hey, you can pour soup in my lap and I'll probably apologize to you." - John Mulaney

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And now for some free writing, so inaccurately called - nothing is free. We pay in so many ways for so many things, like "free lunches." There is wisdom in that free lunch saying, like is is in so many a cliched aphorism. I just used a word and then worried that it didn't fit just right.

I like comedy because it is about honesty. I think most comedians have a thing about truth.  And INFPs do too.  Truth and idealism.

I get tired of saying it, and also I don't: I don't know what to write or where to write it.  Should I share about the longing and the loneliness that I feel at this moment.  I think therefore I am, and yet - I think not.

It's Friday while I write this part, though the pieces of this post were written over a long stretch.  I'm going to visit my father for Shabbos.  It's a meaningful and good and right thing to do.  And yet I wonder, in this case and in general, where I should be.

I think a lot about memory or what's called memory. 

I think of inside thoughts, of writing and of poetry.  And when people ask me what I'm doing it is hard to tell them about how I live inside.

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Make sure that the fortune that you seek is the fortune that you need. - Ben Harper

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Too True


Sunday, July 24, 2016

Balak Rap Song By Me

Parsha Poem. Improvised, live (at the time).

Still More Thoughts

When we are really wondering, we don't say "just wondering." Because to wonder is an awesome thing.

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I am pleased with the recent posts I've done in which each paragraph is a new, stand alone unrelated thought from the next. And yet.

I just searched within my blog the words "Nicole Krausse and yet," looking for what I wrote about learning from Nicole Krause that "and yet" can be a full sentence. What came up from the search included her name, but not in relation to "and yet."

What came in the search I just did is this post. I called it "Write of Passage." It includes a rich dialogue of comments from fellow writers about what they blog. Like many things we remember as eras, I'm not sure how long it was that this blog community existed for. i look back at it as a golden age of a blogging world I was blessed to be part of. I look back at it as at a dream.

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When I was kid, in the seventies, shows like Leave it to Beaver and players like Mickey Mantle seemed to have been from a time a million years before mine. I just realized today that my shows, like Happy days, and my players, like Cleon Jones are now from 40 years ago. That's much longer a period than the gap of about twenty years that was between me and the fifties. Mind boggling.

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They say you should only learn Torah from a Rebbe who is like a malach, an angel. It is human to be concerned about one's own learning and spiritual growth. Angels are stagnant, they don't move, are not concerned with their own upward movent, but only with their missions for others. Maybe the idea of having a teacher akin to an angel is that the teacher needs to be focussed on you and your development rather than on himself.

This idea was presented in a talk I heard over Shabbos from the Rabbi Elye Yitzchok Brisk, Rabbi of the Toshnad Heichel Torah U'Tefilla. He cited it in the name of the Chasam Sofer, emphasising the detail that a malach is refered to as an omeid - one who stands in place, while a person is described as a holeich - one who moves forward: At the time that your teacher is teaching you he needs to be standing still himself and helping you move forward.

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I think I'll always remember how Nicole engaged me in conversation before signing The History Of Love, despite the long line behind me, so that she could personalize the signature. Then she inscribed it "For Neil With Luck + Hope."

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This six year old post just found me. It's about summertime, and how it ends. I really enjoy and miss the comments of old, particularly from Lavender Garden.

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"Once upon a time there was a boy who lived in a house across the field from a girl who no longer exists... They collected the world in small handfuls... Once upon a time there was a boy who loved a girl, and her laughter was a question he wanted to spend his whole life answering..." - From The History of Love, by Nicole Krausse

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There's a part of all of us that longs to know that even what's weakest about us is still redeemable and can ultimately count for something good.
- Mister Fred Rogers


Write it on your heart
that every day is the best day in the year.
He is rich who owns the day, and no one owns the day
who allows it to be invaded with fret and anxiety.
Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities, no doubt crept in.
Forget them as soon as you can, tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely, with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with your old nonsense.
This new day is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on the yesterdays.

ralph waldo emerson

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Heard this line many years ago, think it's brilliant.

After twelve years of therapy my psychiatrist said something that brought tears to my eyes. He said, 'No hablo ingles.' - Ronnie Shakes

Thursday, July 14, 2016

I Think

When I need to make a social phone call, each of those words and concepts pose challenges for me.

I hope that my thoughts about other people will all be interpreted by G-d as prayers.

Sometimes the first time you speak to someone on the phone it goes super well, and sometimes not so much.

A dear friend called me last Friday and I was helping with navigation on the way to my dad. I tried.  I couldn't talk.  I've him back. he's called me back. Who says you outgrow playing games like tag?

As it gets close to 12 years of my blogging I ponder this kind of writing.

Sometimes I wonder if I've spent too much of my life deciding (not deciding?) between six of one and half a dozen of the other.

Something connects everything in my life.  While the realms seem different they are not so different, and my behavior, my reaction, is consistent in each stadium.  It's all practice, either reinforcing the same responses or making headway in meeting them differently.

Some way, somehow, one thing always leads to another.

After seeing a play I ended up at this ten year old post from the halcyon days of the Jewish blogosphere.  

"I say to every comic out there, 'Don’t do anything that doesn’t mean something to you, don’t waste your time; there’s nothing you can get looking outward compared to the stuff that you have inward.'" - Louie Anderson
Like so much about comedy Anderson's comment is about larger truths than just telling jokes. i find comedians are inclined to self reflection and to seeking and telling the truth.

The house always wins.  ...Unless it's a really kind house...

We all want to be seen and heard.  Some of us deal with this by crying in the corner, others by standing in the middle of the room and shouting.

"It's easier just to work through the summer than it is to take care of oneself." - A friend's response to my saying  that I was trying to take care of myself as my summer project.

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Review: ‘The Hatred of Poetry’: Let’s Count the Ways - NY Times

By JEFF GORDINIER JULY 7, 2016


In “Mean Free Path,” a collection of poetry published in 2010, Ben Lerner kicked off a stanza like this: “There must be an easier way to do this/I mean without writing.”

That central anxiety — a sense that great ideas tend to become a little discombobulated during the difficult act of putting them into words — hovers over and haunts “The Hatred of Poetry,” an extended essay that hinges on the impossibility of writing poetry. There is something impossibly knotty about the arguments it makes, too. The book comes across as such a cerebral curio that (like Mr. Lerner’s thinky and digressive novels,“Leaving the Atocha Station” and “10:04”) it’s almost impossible to describe.

Let’s try. (Although if we were to give up trying, Mr. Lerner would probably applaud.) The gist: A lot of people seem to hate poetry, which is arguably neck-and-neck with mime as the most animus-attracting of art forms. Loathing rains down on poetry, from people who have never read a page of it as well as from people who have devoted their lives to reading and writing it. Pivoting off a provocative line by Marianne Moore — “I, too, dislike it.” — Mr. Lerner admits that he can relate to the haters. Hostility, he suggests, qualifies as a crucial mode in which poetry and human beings start a conversation with each other. Antipathy is the entry point.

“Many more people agree they hate poetry than can agree what poetry is,” he writes. “I, too, dislike it, and have largely organized my life around it (albeit with far less discipline and skill than Marianne Moore) and do not experience that as a contradiction because poetry and the hatred of poetry are for me — and maybe for you — inextricable.”

Mr. Lerner’s own poetry, like his fiction, has a habit of floating off in directions that the reader does not anticipate. “The Hatred of Poetry” expands on that signature move. After establishing that poetry is a magnet for scorn, Mr. Lerner does not do what you might expect. He does not go all Garrison Keillor and mount a passionate defense. He does not raise a frothy toast to the glorious music of verse. He does not say, “I realize that you hate poetry, dear reader, but I’m going to make you fall in love with it.”



Instead, he devotes the lion’s share of this pocket volume to exploring some of the ways that poetry has bothered and disappointed various factions, starting with Plato and passing through the countless magazine essayists who have, with tedious regularity over the decades, gnawed on the old thematic bone of “the death of poetry.”

One problem, Mr. Lerner offers, may be that readers expect too much of poetry. They want it to rouse the citizenry to political action, and it doesn’t. They want it to peal with the music of the spheres, and it doesn’t. They want it to be a magical elixir that can remove them from the demands and drudgeries of the world of commerce, and it can’t. It seems to fall short of the ecstatic perfection that the very word “poetry” calls to mind. For a lot of folks, poetry makes nothing happen (to borrow from W. H. Auden) aside from causing verse-dodgers to feel guilty for running far away from it after high school.

Mr. Lerner skates across this frozen lake of pique with delicate skill. His probing mind works in his favor: He’s virtuosic in picking apart a weak lament about poetry from a 2013 issue of Harper’s Magazine. What works against him is the curiously airless, antiseptic nature of the enterprise. Coming upon certain passages in “The Hatred of Poetry,” a reader might be forgiven for thinking that the book amounts to a contemporary version of the monastic debate about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.

When actual lines of poetry do emerge in the book, they pass like trays of delectable hors d’oeuvres at a cocktail party. It’s as though someone very smart is talking to you, or at you, making an argument in an emphatic tone of voice, and . . . ooooo, look, there’s a snack portion of Emily Dickinson, just out of reach! John Keats, Claudia Rankine, Walt Whitman: The paradox of “The Hatred of Poetry” is that it manages to induce a craving for poetry in the midst of analyzing how poetry repels people. Assuming a pose of wallflower-at-the-orgy detachment, Mr. Lerner so abstinently avoids the topic of beauty — and love, for that matter — that you reach a point where you actively hunger for it.

Mr. Lerner is all too aware of what his argument lacks. “I hope it goes without saying that my summary here doesn’t pretend to be comprehensive — poems can fulfill any number of ambitions other than the ones I’m describing,” he concedes on Page 76, when he’s already in the homestretch. “They can actually be funny, or lovely, or offer solace, or courage, or inspiration to certain audiences at certain times; they can play a role in constituting a community; and so on.”

Well, when you put it that way, what’s there to hate? In a sense, “The Hatred of Poetry” winds up being a meticulous tangent about how the people who have contempt for poetry are (mostly) missing the point. (Possibly what has them worked up is hatred’s flip side: They love poetry too much, and their love has soured.)

The book achieves its goal in the most circuitous of ways: by its (lovely) last sentence, Mr. Lerner might get you longing for the satisfactions of the thing you’re conditioned to loathe. Or, as Mr. Lerner describes a moment of reverie in that 2010 collection of his, “Put the book away/Look out the window: we are descending/Like Chopin through the dusk.”


The Hatred of Poetry - By Ben Lerner - 86 pages. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. $12.

Monday, July 04, 2016

More Free Form, Disconnected/Connected, Random/Real Thoughts and Feelings

Splendid isolation; the song that just played.  Also a way of describing isolation, and not necessarily of a living thing, (it was a foreign policy). It's resonating, evoking the idea that we're always winning and losing.  Isolated sounds negative, but one can find it pleasant.  This is supported by the Gemorah's story in which a healer asks a sick friend, "Is your illness dear to you?"

In order to become less isolated we have to be ready to let go of the splendid part of isolation.

I like the idea of not writing (living?) in a linear way. (Aviva Zornberg is fond of the possibility that when you do something like read a new book it doesn't only change your life moving forward, but it changes your life as a whole, even the time before you read the book.  Your life is now the life of a person who read that book. See her book,Bewilderments, page 302.)

Rabbi Abraham Twerski suggests something that he doesn't empirically prove: that the more talented people are the worse their low self esteem issue will be, if they have that issue...

Talent seen by the world, and even seen sometimes by the talented person themselves does not guarantee confidence or happiness.

Beauty gets old fast.  What doesn't?

Existential angst is no-one's fault.

Marriages of all kinds exist, and one marriage you're in can block you from another one...

Onward, onward, for G-d is good, and there is only G-d.

Are all healers wounded?

Who is the me you see?

Now it's later, and also now, again:

I am single. (In a way we are all single people. The words of Irving Bunim come to mind: "I am myself. I alone can experience myself, truly know myself. Hence, if I am not for myself, who will be for me? The most loving wife cannot share my pain, experience my anxieties, or suffer my death.")

That moment when you realize that a Facebook commenter not only didn't read a previous comment, but that the idea of another commenter saying something meaningful never entered their mind.

Why do I get irked by the question - What are you doing over the summer? Perhaps it's because doing this - living a rich inner life of thoughts and feelings is my answer.

I'm glad I know Zelda.  The poet. Through her poetry.  i wonder, would it have been different or better to know her personally? I believe this is the way it was meant to be.  Our connections are through words and feelings, not through body language not through physical energy.  But through her lippers that utter from the grave and find the words for major pieces of my life.  And she sends me messages, cryptic ones but they include me, and my name.

Waiting without trying is like selling without buying.  Petty was right that the waiting is the hardest part.  And it's harder when you wait without making efforts toward what your waiting for.

When the media report about the media how come they never pause and say, "That's us!"? Question just came to me with the answer: They don't want you to realize it's them.

In relationships and roles, as in all of life, contradictions abound.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Breathing At The End of a Day

Andy Statman and David Grisman are playing what they call "New Shabbos Waltz" and I call a beautiful tune for Lechah Dodi. So, all's good in the world. As they play my day steps away.

Andy Statman is an inspiration; so talented, so committed to his truth.

I once saw him open a gala Chanuka extravaganza and no-one was really interested in him. They were all waiting for the Miami boys. Somehow his being ignored by the crowd confirmed for me how good he is.

Now Pandora is playing Sir Charles Coote-Captain Higgins, so soothing.

It's by Robin Bullock. Now "A Time For Us," is being played by Estoban,

...And now "Free" is being played by C Lanzbom. ...And now Stefan Grossman

is finger picking his way through "Working on the New railroad."

It's time for Mincha/Maariv.

Shlach

Kalev was rewarded (Bamidbar 14:24) with a special inheritance in Israel. He not only voted in favor of the land of Israel but he interupted and opposed the negtive report of most of the other meraglim. Rav Moshe Feinstein addresses the fact that Kalev's efforts were quickly stifled and were unsuccessful. So why was he worthy of reward?
Rav Moshe says that this is a validation of the value of positive efforts in life, and moments of life lived with positive intent. Though it was but for a brief moment, the people were inspired by Kalev's words and this was of great value and thus worthy of reward. Rav Moshe relates this to the fact that we go to great lengths, and even break Torah laws, to extend life even briefly. Every moment of life has great potential and is priceless. How much more-so is there value to momets that clearly are filled with spiritual inspiration, even though they soon pass.
May we be blessed with momets of inspiration in life and then blessed further for those moments to last.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

From Thought to Thought

When you don't just live through what your eyes see outside of your body life is different in texture and taste.  When you have a world inside of you that's always moving and shaking you you need more time to rest.

Every moment is particular, including this one now.

I feel strongly that inside us is where the ups and downs actually happen.

This post has been written in stints. It may or may not be posted in the middle of a night/in the early morning hours. I like it to say the night of the day before; even when it's early in the morning the next day, feels more right.

I love writing.  Writing teacher Jennifer Natalia Fink changed my life.  I was in my upper 30s, not a kid, but I was a happy student in her workshop, actually learning.  She would speak of vomiting words out onto the page. She did not believe in taking substances to affect your consciousness.  But she did like the idea of (still does, I imagine) in taking advantage of naturally altered states.  Like when she wrote while experiencing an ear infection.  This comes to mind when I write, feeling tired, and in a strange way, find my style differently inspired.

I am grateful for the wide array of moments in life, like this one shooting by, during which I feel content.

Who is happy? He who feels rich with what he has.

There are things beyond words, and everything goes back to G-d.  I find , lately, that I think more and more about the inefficient language we use for G-d. They say that a good metaphor takes you away from the thing you're looking at for a second so that when you go back you see it more clearly.  But when it comes to G-d, do we go back?  And when we return from images of G-d as husband, father, or king, do we see G-d more clearly?  No, no; there is something off about how we talk about G-d.  Silence, perhaps is the greatest praise.

You have to choose your silence carefully.

Hunger is an altered state which for me is pretty mainstream - then I eat.  It's like tiredness, no stranger to me.  And then, eventually, I sleep.

When I wait a little longer to eat and sleep then my writing and my self are a little more raw, a little more real.

I am hungry now.  I was tempted to say starving, but that's crazy talk.  People who are truly starving people and I have little in common.

Another moment, this one after having eaten and slept.  After an afternoon nap I always feel better.  And guilty.  Same with eating, afterwards I feel good, but often know I didn't eat as well as I could have and thus there's guilt.

About 30 years (summer of '88) ago right before I left Israel I asked a Rebbe of mine to tell me a DT.  On the spot he addressed why weights and measures are discussed right before Amalek.  Perhaps, he suggested, our Amaleks get to us when we are off balance.  I yearn for balance, even when I have it.

Have you ever recommended someone? As part of my work/life I've written recommendations hundreds of times.  The point is to say what you believe while doing a good job at sales, i.e. not underselling. I once wrote a recommendation for a friend.  This (like so many things I think about) was years ago.  I included one bit of mild, constructive (I thought) criticism, amidst abundant praise.  I showed it to my friend.  My friend was furious. I took it out. This question nags at me. It's about more than recommendations.  When we look at someone and then review what we see, how much negative should we keep in the picture?

Day and night , like everything else, are both real and metaphorical.

"Charlene," by Vance Gilbert just started playing on Pandora. Here's the song being sung. And here are the lyrics. The lai lai lais sound Jewish.  The emotion runs deep in this song as he sings it and in my heart as I hear it. On so many levels.

Don't let the blessing of a simple person be light in your eyes.

Two Passovers ago I met Vance after having been a fan for many years.  I had a private dinner and conversation with him over which we connected in a deep way.  He performed in a synagogue and he felt strongly that he wanted to wear a yarmulke out of respect.  I was taken by that, as I was by so much about him.  


The picture above is a candle in the dark, on my nightstand.  
I took another shot of it with the flash on 
and in that one you see all the clutter around this. 
Without external flash the fire inside shines.

I wonder if it's worth it to get a full body medical scan.  Isn't it worth it if there's a way to find out whatever issues might be going on with your body? 

I wish I could get a full scan that reveals my mental health issues.  And one that reveals spiritual concerns.

Monday, June 20, 2016

This is a beautiful, sad, and troubling quote.




Rav Hirsch talks of the fact that the two mountains, Grizim and Eival - one where blessing were read, one where curses were read - at the start looked the same. One flourished and one didn't. That's the way it is with blessings and curses. They can germinate from the same equal playing field, but the final results reveal the great difference between actions that in the end lead to holiness and blessing, or G-d Forbid, the opposite.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Quotes About Storytelling


"Neither novels nor their readers benefit from attempts to divine whether any facts hide inside a story. Such efforts attack the very idea that made-up stories can matter, which is sort of the foundational assumption of our species." - John Green, From the Author's Note to The Fault In Our Stars

"You don't remember what happened.  What you remember becomes what happened." - An Abundance of Katherines by John Green  pgs. 207-208

"Reality is not just the story we are locked into" - David Grossman.

And these two from Rav Nachman of Breslov:

"People criticize stories as being somehow unsophisticated, etc, but if stories are lacking depth why does G-d start his book with them?"

"People think that stories are to put people to sleep but in truth stories serve to wake people up."

"Maybe stories are just data with a soul." - Brene' Brown

The following is quote from Rabbi Jonathan Sachs:


The Rambam says that on Pesach night we need to discuss, regarding the Exodus, what happened ("mah she'irah") and what was ("mah shehayah"). Many years ago I heard Rav Noach Weinberg explain this.  His take was that "what happened," is just the facts, as best as you can report them.  And "what was" is more about empathy, what was it like? How did it feel? I think these the two important layers of storytelling.

"It's true, even if it didn't happen." - What I say when listeners ask if a story is true.

"It's true for now." - What Rock Davis says in answer to the same question.

No-one likes the naked truth, but everyone loves a good story." - The moral of a story of the Maggid of Dubno, the way I tell it.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

An Other Day

12:46 PM -  I am starting to write now.  Ben Kweller is singing "Fight" via Spotify.  I am appreciating this; "You've got to fight all the way/You've got to fight till your dying day."

Yesterday was Shavuot, as was the day before.The day before Shavuot was Shabbos, and the day before that was Friday, when I was at work.  Today is Tuesday, and I am at work again, though the building is mostly empty of people.

For Yom Tov I was in the Catskills at a retreat with about 100 others. I am thinking a lot about what it means to be other than someone else.

12:51 PM - Just looked for a haiku I wrote this morning about how we are each others to one another.  I can't find the written copy, only the fragments in my head. Been working all morning to finish writing and submitting my fourth final. Just filled out next year's parsonage form and submitted it. Work is a major part of my life.

12:53 PM - I recently started reading Saul Bellow's The Victim. I found it in school, and gave it a look, knowing nothing about this work. I've tried Bellow before, and I'm 13 pages in - the furthest I've gotten in any of his  books. His work sometimes feels dank to me, this time I'm a bit more pulled in than in the past.

12:55 PM - Spent a few minutes checking off Spotify songs, fast forwarding on to the next, adding to my catalogue of 1600 plus songs that I've "liked."  Spotify brings me comfort.

This morning I got permission to take home abandoned copies of To the Lighthouse, andThe Great Gatsby from school. I have trouble with classics, but I try.  I have trouble with reading, but  I try.  I have no trouble collecting books. In fact, a good summer project may be to purge some of my library.

12:58 PM - I need to eat some lunch and then get back to work. Hope to break from work during lunch, may multitask while eating.

1:10 PM - "Full Circle," by Ben Kweller has proven to be a good heading song for a Spotify station; it's pulling in good tunes. Now playing: "Fort Hood," by Mike Doughty.

Eating part of lunch is done: Can of tuna, rice cakes, almonds, zahtar, water.  I often eat good food, but too much of anything is still too much.

While eating glanced at The Times.  Did not hear about the Florida massacre that happened early Sunday morning until this morning.  The Times has a lot about it, including the obvious denunciation of Trump's comments.

I was surprised to just read that Norman Lear was a featured speaker at a recent media event.  He's 93, haven't heard much of him lately.  This news leads me to believe he's alive and living.

1:51 PM - Been trying to buy a concert ticket on line or by phone for half an hour.  Still trying. Something about doing this technologically drains me. Answering to a robot is frustrating.

1:59 PM - Finally, beli ayin hara, it seems I have procured the ticket I wanted.

4:31 PM - Home.  Early. It's an in between finals day... The elevator is broken. It's very hot. I'm schvitzing and tired.  And I'm thinking, "Why can't I find me someone kind?" And I'm thinking - "Am I looking?"

7:22 PM - I needed and got some chill time at home.  Thank G-d.

8:22 PM - I blinked.

11:27 PM - Honesty. Billy Joel had it right.  It's lonely. So hard to be truly honest.

Need to head to bed.  Glad I got some test grading and other things done tonight.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

"O Chavrusa..."

The words "O chavrusa o misusa," are often regarding the importance of having a study partner.  The phrase comes from a story in the Gemorah and in context it clearly means a community/chevra. This is something I think and feel a lot about, particularly at this moment.

----------------------------------------

I discovered Guster when one of their members was involved in a Chanukah album that I heard about.  I find them to be one of a kind and uniquely to my taste. Hard to explain why we like what we do, it is so personal... The things that touch me touch me so deeply.  And Guster is one of those cases where I have to remind myself that they are not necessarily to everyone's taste, though it's hard for me to get how that can be.

This is one of my favorites (it inspired a poem six years ago):





Thursday, June 02, 2016

Wow, did I used to write a lot here.  Now I write in various places. Like here, on a blog where I share poems of others that touch me. And on the site that shall not be mentioned by name (though I have on occasion, over the years, mentioned it by name) (also here). I don't feel like writing more now, here.  But also, I do...

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Alice Munro stories are the literary equivalent of model airplanes. So many pieces, so complex, yet simply beautiful in the end.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

"I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies." - The Little Prince


T.I.M.E: Thing I Must Endure

Thursday, May 19, 2016

"The world is for the instant of the Sabbath reconnected with a primal wholeness." Aviva Zornberg, Bewilderments, page 190

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I'm Changing

I get why I used to want to write here so much.  I am changing, it seems.  I am living life.  I am writing differently, and less publicly.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Today

Eleven years ago I posted these haiku (I thought then that the plural was haikus) (no, it's not).

PS - Also wrote this 11 years ago today:

"During a break in the afternoon I finished The History of Love. I really liked this book. It's the kind of book that the less you know about it going in, the better. I wish I knew someone else who read it that I could discuss it with. I'm a hard sell when it comes to books. I need to be pulled in or you lose me. And this was quite compelling."

PPS - I have noticed how I have pulled back in my style of sharing here.  
Eleven years later the world has changed.  
I hope reading this gives you something, as writing it - still - matters to me.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Aviva Zornberg: What Changes For Moshe

I was blessed to hear a transformative, truly profound talk by Aviva Zorberg today.  I'd like to share it all.  here are some of the points buzzing in my head. Twice G-d told Moshe to take himself and go down from the mountain.  But Moshe wanted to go up. He wants to live in the heavenly realm, and asks repeatedly to "cross over." In the end he doesn't gt the crossover he asks for. He gets a different crossover, one that connects not to his relationship with G-d, but one that relates to his people.  He makes himself vulnerable to them, tells them how G-d shut him sown when he asked to enter the land.  This human sharing gave them a beer chance of hearing his very raw and real tochachah...

This somewhere between an abstract and a teaser. It does not do her talk justice.  Hopefully one day in writing and/or in living I will do justice to her thesis.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Writing Ideas


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Idea For Skit

Buber's significant other cries out to G-d:
"He doesn't call me by my name. He won't say 'I love you.' G-d please help me. How do you think it makes me feel when he tells me, 'I love thou'?"
G-d replies:
"How do you think I feel when he calls me nothing other than The Eternal Thou."

Monday, April 25, 2016

The world is filled with remembering and forgetting
like sea and dry land. Sometimes memory
is the solid ground we stand on,
sometimes memory is the sea that covers all things
like the Flood. And forgetting is the dry land that saves, like Ararat.
- Yehuda Amichai, Open Closed Open Pg. 103

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

MY PRAYER THIS PESACH

May Pesach come to us as a redemption. May it be more than a burdensome time of plans, preparations, expectations, more than glorified busyness. May we feel Divine release from what we are enslaved to. May we see the answers that we've cried for come to us. May we be blessed to cooperate and let our redemption unfold.

The first and main thing the Jews had to do before being redeemed was to want it. They cried and their redemption arrived. Then they had to do little but cooperate, as their new lives unfolded. May we merit seeing the experience of our ancestors clear the path for us, their children.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Haiku Of The Day

The first poet? G-d
The first poem? Creation
The translator? man

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

A Pause, A Few Words

I hesitate.  That's a lot of what I do.  Sometimes it serves me well, sometimes not so much.  And there are odd times when in retrospect I needed to be more hesitant.  This applies to my writing here, and to everything.

I take a minute now, mid-day, to pray though blogging.  I yearn for the right balance between caution and action.  May G-d bless me and you and everyone with wisdom and health and safety and all the ands we want and need.

Tuesday, April 05, 2016

13 Questions to Ask Before Getting Married

Article Pasted in Comments.

I Find This Fascinating.

I think one of the greatest writers who ever lived is Dante. I have read “The Divine Comedy” many times. The main thing he is saying is that you are not punished for your sins. You are punished by them. When you have done something that is not the best you could have done, you’ve changed yourself. What you have become, that is your punishment. - Anne Perry

One Haiku

One of the zero
He sits, his head in his hands
Sighing out the day

One of the zero
the zero who read the rules
wasting time in school

He doesn't stand out
from the zero who stand out.
One of the zero

He checks the option;
yes, he agrees to the rules
which he didn't read

"One of the zero,"
he ponders the sound of it
wanting to be more


----------------------------------------------------


Just one thing to find
Whatever that one thing is
One can't be enough


There is not one song
that I know all the words to
I realized today


Just when it seems that
you can't possibly succeed
try just one more time


Some days are jazzy,
other ones are rock and roll-
sometimes they're the blues

In some languages
poems and songs share one name
But not in English


"Fly like an eagle,"
Steve Miller's band sings-
And I will- one day



How does one hand sound?
A commonly asked question:
Two hands sounds better

Reb Shlomo Carlebach
was the only one ever
to say I looked "sharp" 

One G-d, One G-d, One
And many, many of me;
We believe in him



A pen is a brush with 
with just one point, just one ink
we paint with our words

A light that serves one
- Ner le'echad... le'meah -
Can serve one hundred


I wish I focussed
with both eyes on the same thing
But one looks away

In class- just one pen;
for me it's like forgetting
layers of clothing

One then another 
I write haiku; rinse, repeat
Until one strikes you

Take away one thing?
Okay, just please not the glue.
I said not the glue

Just one more haiku
I've never had a coffee-
unlike Bob Dylan

Nixon waited to
"make one thing perfectly clear"
I yearn to do that

I wonder if I'm
the party of the first part
or another one


The light will be green
in one way or the other:
depends how you turn

That someone gets you
is rarer than one might think
cherish such a thing

Vacation crisis
That's the one I see right now
Not of tuition

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Wow

This could make a strong impression on someone who was at this table, 


particularly a child who got to really take it in and touch the people...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Materialists
are those (in philosophy)
who say, "Never mind."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

May We All Blessed With This Strength


Wednesday, March 09, 2016

This Fits My Feeling At This Moment


Tuesday, March 08, 2016

It's not true for me that nothing annoys me more, but there is something very wrong about an adult behaving this way.


Sunday, March 06, 2016

Leap Haiku

Writing is always
a try at a magic trick
an enormous leap

Forceful jumps that leap
freely springing off the ground
maybe I need these

Rarely do I stand
between Egypt and the sea
where I need to leap

Perhaps it is time
for a precipitous passage
via leaps and bounds

Once we have landed
it's time to look and prepare
for the next leap up

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Everyone Has A Name By Zelda

As Translated Here
לכל איש יש שם
שנתן לו אלהים
ונתנו לו אביו ואמו
Everyone has a name
that God gives
and one’s father and mother give.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו קומתו ואופן חיוכו
ונתן לו האריג
Everyone has a name
that stature and the curve of one’s smile give
and the weave of one’s clothing gives.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו ההרים
ונתנו לו כתליו
Everyone has a name
that the mountains give
and the walls of one’s city give.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו המזלות
ונתנו לו שכניו
Everyone has a name
that the stars give
and one’s neighbors give.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו חטאיו
ונתנה לו כמיהתו
Everyone has a name
that one’s offenses give
and one’s longing gives.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו שונאיו
ונתנה לו אהבתו
Everyone has a name
that enemies give
and love for others gives.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו חגיו
ונתנה לו מלאכתו
Everyone has a name
birthday celebrations give
and one’s work gives.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתנו לו תקופות השנה
ונתן לו עיורונו
Everyone has a name
that the seasons of the year give
and our blindness gives.
לכל איש יש שם
שנתן לו הים
ונתן לו
מותו.
Everyone has a name
that the sea gives
and
one’s death gives.
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I thought of this poem this Shabbos, as we read that Betzalel was called by G-d by name.