Family challenges, struggles and coping. The phrase we use around our house these days is a quote from one of our favorite movies the Princess Bride. After Wesley and Buttercup escape the three greatest dangers of the fire swamp: spurts, lighting sand and the R.O.U.S. (Rodents of Unusual Size, you have to see these), they emerge only to be confronted by evil Prince Humperdinck and his henchman Count Rugen. Humperdinck pressures Wesley to surrender and Wesley counters that they will simply return to the fire swamp since after all, “We know the secrets of the fire swamp. We lived there quite happily for some time.” Our family has met some of our greatest challenges together over the past 3 months, isolation and quarantine among them, and we are thankfully doing well. We know we can be tested and emerge stronger, smarter. As our Vice President Kamala Harris has said, “Our unity is our strength and diversity is our power.” I am grateful to different friends and extended family from near and far who continue to support us. And I am grateful that my immediate family remain healthy and united. FYI you really should watch the Princess Bride tonight, great movie !
Like so many other families we have had our world upended in the past 5-6 months. Our home has always been a sanctuary, a haven from the outside world. While we were on stay at home orders, locked down, it surely didn’t feel like that. Forced into that situation our family found opportunities, we adapted. My daughter attended an online dance workshop, and since it had been moved to online there were attendees from places like Mexico and Brazil. An opportunity that she probably would not have had if it had been run in person. My son got a job online over the summer, writing in an area related to what he is studying at college. That lead me to use my degree, experience and skills to get work online, something I wouldn’t have tried otherwise but it works. With my daughter’s new mastery of technology she is doing all online schooling, dual enrolled to complete her Junior year in High School and take 2 college courses. My husband is a college professor and teaches online and we have been able to maintain our income, something I am grateful for every day as I read the headlines. We are left with home being a different place now, there’s a serious challenge to carve out that down time and leave the rest of the world on the doorstep when your work, school, everything is inside your house all the time. Finding respite, the time and place to recharge, requires new solutions as we continue to navigate this upside down world. I believe that home is not just that physical space, but the feelings, and that’s a premise we can build on and work with.
It has been so intense, unreal and yet at the same time painfully and brutally real these past few weeks. The 8 minute and 46 second video of George Floyd, a Black American choked to death by a White Police Officer with his knee in Floyd’s neck and several other Officers just watching as Floyd chokes out “I Can’t Breathe”. The Covid-19 Pandemic Continues to rage and perhaps was part of the dry and brittle kindling upon which Protests and Riots broke out all over the world regarding this death and so many others and the systemic racism that they embody. Yesterday I attended a peaceful protest with, among other people, my husband and my 15 year old daughter. Many have not been peaceful, with reports of children, the elderly, or disabled people being tear gassed, shot with rubber bullets and pushed to the pavement. I am so raw, but I remain open to continue to listen and committed to take actions to begin a process that will systemically address this racism and hatred that has festered for 400 years.
Four months ago I posted about a horrible atrocity that occurred in the Jewish Community, an attack on people worshiping in their homes. Now we are all confined to our homes. In the midst of a Pandemic, Covid-19. My son is home from College, and he and my daughter who is in High School are both completing the school year taking classes online. My husband who is a college professor is teaching his classes online. We are having groceries delivered via online. We even have hosted a Passover Seder online and have done Shabbat dinner online. It’s just so unreal, overwhelming, frustrating and I am filled with rage towards Donald Trump and his administration for absolutely failing to protect Americans and to do the right thing during this time of crisis and put the needs of people above profit and his own self aggrandizement. Still, there are moments of joy and time spent with family that otherwise would not be spent together, learning some important things about each other and ways to communicate and not communicate. I am so grateful to have my family, food, clothing, medical care, shelter, money. All the things that we need. Many people are not as fortunate, and the state of emergency has put those people who live right on the margin completely into chaos and the deepest danger. In order for this to be contained, for people to have a chance at life post this pandemic, it will truly take the power of people coming together and following safe guidelines to social distance, wear masks, and remain indoors unless absolutely necessary. The world will not be the same no matter what, the sadness of that hangs heavy. The light in my heart is my family and those who I see doing the right thing, and doing things to help others, many who have stepped up who would not have otherwise. That keeps my mind and heart and hope alive.
On Saturday night when my children and I lit a candle to worship Hanukah in our home a house full of people in Monsey, NY were brutally attacked for doing exactly that. I imagine being in hospital now, next to the bed of my loved one, praying for their life. You should too, not because you worship like them but because you are human.
OK now we are talking! Please look at the last post that I made and the comment my good friend left. The words I share, when I write, I’m sharing my emotions. That sounds obvious and simplistic. Still, I was recently reminded of how vulnerable we are when we share words as my son began a serious pursuit of writing for college/future career. He took a great writing class over the summer and the professor asked everyone what they wanted most out of the course and what they were most afraid of. Some of them gave lame answers like I want an A and I’m afraid I won’t get an A. My son’s response was that he feared he just “wasn’t any good at it”. Now that is scary ! What if you decide to put it all out there and then you aren’t that good at putting words together or worse your words are ignored? I think that’s where the emotions come and attempting to share all those emotions, that and persistence.
“You don’t start out writing good stuff. You start out writing crap and thinking it’s good stuff, and then gradually you get better at it. That’s why I say one of the most valuable traits is persistence.”
—Octavia E. Butler
“Writing is really a way of thinking — not just feeling but thinking about things that are disparate, unresolved, mysterious, problematic or just sweet.”
So it’s almost the New Year and I have been working, I have been reflecting, I have been planning, I have been doing. I have not been blogging, it’s been nearly three weeks since my last post and I do want this blog to take off and succeed as it were. The goal for me has not been to get followers of the blog because I am promoting a particular item, person, idea or agenda. I don’t have anything to sell or grand insight to share. I crave dialogue, back and forth, words and ideas. So more posts, more comments, reposts of comments with added feedback. That will be my metric perhaps, and that the dialogue is meaningful for others. That’s what it’s about. Proud of my family and proud of myself as we did unplug for 5 days to do Christmas and Chanukah at the Cabin. Loads of dialogue there, games, food, walks, reading. A lot more dialogue going when without cell phones, computers, tv’s and such. Great way to reset and recharge for the upcoming year. But enough about me, what do you think of me ? 🙂 Comments and Feedback SERIOUSLY WELCOME !
Do you miss your child who has gone away to College or grown up and moved out? I still miss mine terribly, even after more than a year. The message I get from people implies I shouldn’t though, they say “Aren’t you happy for him?” and “You must be so proud that he’s making it on his own.” I am happy for him, I am incredibly proud of him. He has navigated the beginning of his adult life beautifully with the best parts of his innate nature and ability fully intact. The need to completely acknowledge and experience the loss of his physical presence in our daily lives is a process, and one that is critical for forming the basis of a lasting relationship with him for the future. His sister felt his absence most profoundly at times, and has learned through the use of phone, text and email that she can continue to rely on him for his love and support. It took time though, and they are still figuring out how to make that work. So we continue in this process together, without the sharp pain I felt when he first went away, but always a tender spot for the young boy I miss and love. I think that’s ok though, and so does he according to our conversations which continue weekly and have a very different tone than before, but are still filled with love.
I have not posted in quite some time. Busy on Borough Council, busy supervising a Social Work Intern at a local non-profit community service organization. Helping out with the local production of the Nutcracker. My mother had AMAZING sewing skills, my mine totally pale in comparison, however I seem to fit some of the requirements to manage costume alteration. So excited Sophie did an amazing job this Fall placing 13th in the District and getting a new PR overall this season of 20:54 in the 5K. Sam did well also on the Hampshire Cross Country Team and ran his first ever 10 mile race in 1:25 minutes. Sophia made the Honor Roll and Sam has successfully formed an amazing Div II committee with Ira Fey (the professor Sam went to Hampshire to study with) and Will Ryan (an amazing writing professor that Andy worked with). Sophia will start her second University course in the Spring, she will be taking a US History course with Lou Rodriguez, it should be great. And I have applied for a job, it’s been a while and I have my interview on Monday. I have applied to be a library aide at Kutztown High School and I think this could be my second career. I’ll see how it goes and get a sense of whether it’s something I could do and love. Andrew has been doing his thing at the University, he will teach a class in London this winter, and most importantly over the summer he and Sam cleared out the cabin and we had a wood stove installed up there so we are loving the winter cabin life. Christmas at the Cabin will be epic !!!!!!
This summer I have been living with my children: walking, cooking with food from our garden, eating, laughing, swimming, and just laying around reading together or watching movies. We have been doing a lot of things like painting the porch at the cabin, redecorating and reorganizing the rooms in our house, going on day trips to fun places like Museums or Broadway Shows, and some more mundane places like Home Improvement Stores and food shopping. The one thing I haven’t really been doing much of is “capturing” it in pictures. At first I was sad, then I realized that’s a good thing. I’m busy living my life with my family, not documenting it. It’s liberating and I believe we are all richer for it. I won’t get any of those days back, they were glorious and I wouldn’t change anything. In my mind the images are crystal clear, not so much in the way they look but in the way they feel, the feeling gives me pictures the way a smell reminds you of a place or person that you love. That feeling of simply being together, in that private space that love creates, counteracts the chaos and everything else that exists outside that space. It’s an incredible gift and I recommend everyone get some of that feeling and share it.