Sunday, May 24, 2015

Sunday Memories: Fifty Days Later

Fifty days after leaving Egypt, Moses went up the mountain to receive a lot of stuff.

Now in the Ten Commandments we all know that Edward G. Robinson started trouble, whipping up all the hundreds of extras into a wild orgy of gold worshiping and pretend sex that took three weeks to shoot (prompting one extra to ask who she had to fuck to get out of the film).

But this woman at the all-night Shavuot celebration told a different story.  Gathering all the dancing, singing, cheesecake-eating community around, she unfolded a tale of Moses' sister, Miriam, who on her way to get water, stepped into the the core of all that Moses was about to receive.  And there an old woman told her that while Moses would be doing some heavy lifting, she, Miriam, would bring back the gift of space.

For it wasn't the water that made a river, but the space, the canal in which it flowed, that made it a river.
It was that space that Moses created when he parted the Red Sea and that space that the Hebrews were too frightened to step into.  But Miriam did, singing and dancing and leading the people to the other side.

And it was that space between words that would guide, not the words themselves.

So Miriam took that gift and brought it back and it became the space that allowed water flowed in the desert.

Once again, women rock.

Related Posts:

Into the Night


The Ten Commandments

Edward G. Robinson

Bad Girls of the Gym

Sometimes You Can Go Home Again

Thursday, May 21, 2015

It Only Takes One Person

Amy In Action

I have never known her to walk in a room and leave it unchanged.  It's just never happened.

I have never known her to talk to someone and not change their lives.

I have only known her to melt people's fury, resentment, fears, crazy-ass beliefs into their hearts and re-introduce them to their own sense of hope.

Like above.  We were at dinner and by the time we paid the check the young waitress (that's her on the right) was clinging to every word Amy said. 

And it was Amy who once told her story to an auditorium of 500 people about becoming a writer even though she was told she should only be a secretary; how she fought through her own doubts, once facing a blank wall in a Paris hotel and determining right then and there she would write the best screenplay ever (which she did); how she sought the words that would propel her always forward.

It was because of her and that Paris wall, that I too faced a blank wall in an Argentinean hostel, determining right then and there....

She was the one after reading something I had stuffed away who said "This must be published." What if I had not heeded her words?   This wouldn't have happened.

And those words she sought that she so generously shared with me?  They are my roots, my touchstone and my daily commitment to keep facing blank walls and always propel forward.

But that's what Amy does.  She moves through the world and leaves it transformed.

So it should be no surprise what she recently did.

Click on that link.  Click.  And it will be like Amy was right in front of you and before you realize it your life will never be the same.

Related Posts:

Shades of Blue: Writers on Depression, Suicide and Feeling Blue

Sunday Memories: Check Mate

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

In His California, Handsome Is
As Handsome Does...

I took one look at that photo and blurted out, "Len, you were trouble!" 

Len just laughed.

But one look at that cocky stance and what else could you think?  All 18 proud years of him barely filling out his sailor uniform but bursting with vim and vigor, standing outside the house he grew up in, vegetable garden in the back, small town, one-room school house, and a ton of brothers who could make their own basketball team.

71 years later he still got that wicked dimple and that smart-alecky swagger. 

Stomping three times around the mall early in the morning, walking up the stairs, not down, down was the easy way, reroofing his house, clearing the gutters, terracing the backyard garden, laying down patio tiles (97 stones to be exact), tending the flowers, the fruit trees, the lawn, the kids, the home, my dad, the world...

I can't keep up.

But when I grow up I wanna be just like Len.

Related Posts:

Memories of Memories: "I'm Your Memory."

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Sunday Memories of a Normal Day: He Could Say It in Four Languages If He Wanted To

While recovering from a red-eye, the fragility of being here gets revisited.

Originally posted April 28, 2008

Across from Greeley Square between the serious men's clothing store and the Dunkin Donut she is lying on the ground and there are a lot of people over her making sure her shopping bags are O.K. and so is her purse. There is a cup of something by her and the security guy or police chief or whatever he is, is talking into a walkie-talkie.

The two guys and me hang out on the curb by the flower pots and watch a skinny homeless guy shout at the crowd. He looks a bit like the guy who kicked me in the ass when I bumped into him once on a rainy day. Wouldn't be surprised if it were. This is his neighborhood.

The two guys said that she began to fall and the homeless guy caught her and was shouting "get help get help!!"  

But once non-homeless guys showed up and shooed him away he got upset. After all, he was there first and just because he was homeless didn't mean he was less of a hero.

The daily convoy of twenty-five blaring police cars roar up 6th Avenue. None stop.

"She fell. Her heart, her blood pressure or diabetic. They give her an orange juice with some sugar. Look, she is fine."

A third man joins us. His patter sounds like poems made of rain on a roof. When I ask if it is Arabic, his friend nods. "I speak Danish too. And Spanish and English and Arabic."

We look across the street at the woman again. Two ambulances come as she sits up and talks on her cell phone.

The guy says to me, "We are nothing. A heart, or something and we fall... we are nothing."

Thursday, May 14, 2015

The Call of Nature

A friend can't even get me to visit some ducks she knows in Brooklyn.   There are too many trees around and honestly, it threatens to become sentimental.

The geese that I waited for every year at least lived in a recognizable landscape, that is until they disappeared.

But when the young woman keeping my dad safe and sound pointed out something I've only seen on TV or in children's books...

... well... how could I not run out, get a feeder and then home-make sugar water for the itty-bitty-smaller-than-a-manderin hummingbird and her little babies?

My father, hearing all the squealing and picture snapping, shrugged.  "If it isn't an eagle or mockingbird, the hell with it."

Related Posts:

In Comes Company

You Got Your Nature, I Got Mine

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

In His California the Time is Now

The day is no longer a single unit.

It's been exploded into a billion slivers of seconds, each exactly the same as the one before and the one after.

The tough conversation that needs to be had about the future is had over and over and over again - a hundred new suns rising on a hundred new day...

 Except when we talk about New York.

Suddenly everything is crystal clear and he remembers how sweet my Now is these days.

Related Post:

Sunday Memories: Lost in the Dangling Conversation

Look Back in Love at Home

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Special Encore for Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day.  

In Her New York, it was not a day celebrated in a conventional manner.  That's because in Florence's mind everyone was a mother...

So.  Happy Mother..... Day.

Originally post Mother's Day 2011


Florence at her mother's apartment in Knickerbocker Village

These days, I am amused at the accolades on Mother's Day that often include the passing down of make-up tips and the special shopping trips for new clothes.

These were not the gifts Florence gave my sister or me. And although I inherited her love of lipstick, it's what is not found in a tube or a store that reminds me of my mother.

It is, instead, a ferocious, unending, tenacious, gut wrenching, miserable exhaustion, banging-head-against-wall, exhilarating 'til-death-do-us-part relationship with the work of an artist.

Personally, there are days I would have been just fine with a new dress or some blue eyeshadow.

An Encore of Sunday Memories -Return To The Promise Land

It was on Clinton Street between Rivington and Stanton. There was a cat clock that wagged its tail and rolled its eyes to each ticking second. The leather seats were burgundy and the lights were of course florescent. Only uptown stores where rich people shopped had real lights.

This was Kaplan's shoes. And we went there for our once-a-year-ugly-pair-of-oxfords that wouldn't become hip for another twenty years. In the interim, the meaner girls in their white go-go boots called me "baby shoes" which is devastating if you're only 8 and suddenly in the 4th grade with older kids.

Still, fashion exile or not, Florence's rule was whatever you picked at Kaplan's you had to wear out of the store. This showed commitment to the shoe you'd be with all year. And since it was the only items we always bought new, you had to really know if the shoe fit.

The pressure was tough. But those ugly oxfords were made so good, and Mr. Kaplan's measurements were so precise, somehow everything worked out, except for the part of looking like a dork from a-turn-of-the-century picture by Jacob Reis.

I spend the next forty years wearing shit that looks hot if only to avoid shoes and shoes stores like that. But there is a God and she does wear lots of shoes because ugly became even hipper than before, especially if the jeans were tight. It was time to wear something other than hot shit. It was time to find a place where the oxfords were made so good and the measuring so precise.

And when I walked in I felt Home.

Related Posts

The Moulded Shoe