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latest by jen

Torn between life and art

I am about to go on a vacation. I need this vacation. No, I mean, I really need this vacation. Now, mind you, this vacation will be in New Jersey, and it will be inhabited by my children, which some people by default would call “travel with children,” not a vacation. But let’s not get too technical or too obnoxious. I am going on vacation. And by choice, I will be disconnecting. Yup — disconnecting. …

The characters must fit the story

I almost forgot to punch out my 15-minute Friday piece until I checked my WordPress Reader and saw that the Daily Prompt today pushes us to “Go Serial.” I started going serial accidentally last week when I found myself compelled to write yet another poem about Kfar Manda, the Arab Village down the street from Hannaton, the kibbutz village in which I live. I was in Kfar Manda because I heard from my friend on …

If your smartphone jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?

We know our smartphones make us stupider. We know they distract us. Confuse us. Make us crash our cars into each other. And keep us from having meaningful conversations with other human beings, in particular our kids, our spouses, and our friends. People, presumably, we like and want to have meaningful conversations with. And yet, we keep using them. We keep buying faster ones, stronger ones, more multi-purpose ones. We download apps faster than you …

Beyond the yellow gate

Beyond the yellow gate there is a woman. Her airy black head scarf almost shields her effervescent eyes. But when she looks up, sky blue bounces off her peasant shirt and into her pupils so they ignite. She touches my wrist gently as she feels for my pulse. Ba-boom. Ba-boom. Ba-boom. . Beyond the yellow gate there is a man. His navy blue striped rugby shirt and acid washed jeans foretell a deep, defiant  voice. …

What’s a little closure between friends?

I sat alone in a movie theater in Haifa last night. There were other people around me — strangers. An American guy and a Russian girl out on a date. Two elderly couples. A grandmother, a mom, and her teenage daughter. There were people in the theater, but I might as well have been alone. It was that kind of movie experience. The expression on my face moved in rhythm with the fictional couple’s tension …

Stuck in Your Throat

Your silence is a cover-up. It’s a conspiracy between you and the way you think people see you. Your silence is a ruse. It’s a simple means of getting from here to there. Avoiding an accident. Your silence is a hushed conversation between you and yourself. It’s a promise. It’s a plan in the making. It’s a vendetta. Your silence is silent until it’s loud. And then BOOM. Destruction. Why are you silent in the face …

We’re all gonna die!

What do you think causes the majority of our existential angst? A. Knowing we’re going to die (and not wanting to) B. Not knowing exactly when we will die C. Not knowing exactly how we will die D. All of the above? I struggle with all of the above. But today I was having a conversation with myself that went like this: Let’s say we are somehow able to accept we will die. Not just …

Joy ride

I almost got stuck in a worry this morning. I was in my car, driving to an appointment for a medical test. I started imagining doom and gloom. But about five seconds into the worry, I shook my head. Literally shook it. And forced myself to get stuck in something else. Something joyful. I quickly looked around for a prompt. Once, not too long ago, the winding hills of the Galilee would have been enough …

I’m happy and I know it … clap your hands

I giggle. I work hard to make others giggle. I dream…and enjoy analyzing my dreams. I engage on social media. I innovate (at work) I create (at home) I write. I share my writing with others. I bake cookies. I surprise the people I love with small treats or notes. I want to be around people. I want to know them. I want to learn more about them. I want to discover what we have …

Fast or Slow, This is Life

I read and sighed and groaned with interest this morning, “The Day I Stopped Saying Hurry Up” by Hands Free Mama. Her words resonated with me and stabbed me like a fork in the heart. I know I hurry my kids too much. I hurry through life too much. And I know I don’t deserve an award for the fact that I hurry them a lot less now than I used to. Or that I …

Chin up, buckaroo

Do you ever notice how when we perseverate on good thoughts, we say we’re meditating on something… but when we harp on bad thoughts it’s called worry? I suggest that meditation doesn’t indicate good or bad. It indicates focus. When we worry, we’re still meditating, just on the bad stuff. The stuff we want less of, not more of. And by meditating on the worry; worry becomes your world. You can pretend you’re fine. You …

Studies show: Sticking a bead up your nose indicates entrepreneurial spirit

Every family has one. The child who sticks beads up her nose. In our family, the child looks like this: Of course, she always has a good reason. In this instance, she wanted a nose ring. You know, like the one Jasmine has in the Disney makeup tutorial I let her watch 50 times a day? Which made a lot of sense until I went back and watched that video (while simultaneously criticizing myself for …

The felicity of freedom

I do not feel connected to Israel’s independence, nor America’s. My heart does not swell enough on Yom HaAtzmaut, nor does it burst with pride on July 4th. I am neither a loyal patriot nor a faithful expat. I am clearly a spoiled brat. Or a heartless wench. One or the other. If I were put on the spot and asked why I am so numb when it comes to celebrating freedom, I’d choose spoiled …

Kindness is less expensive than you think

I was sitting at a sidewalk cafe table when I noticed a praying mantis slowly crawling on the arm of the plastic chair next to me. I was sitting there because I had nothing to do but kill time  — 15 minutes to kill — until my scheduled driving test in downtown Haifa. It would be, in fact, my second driving test in as many weeks. I failed the first one. Since waking up with …

How peeling eggs turned me into Ralph Macchio

I think the majority of the world falls into two camps. People who don’t mind peeling eggs. And people who hate it with all their might. Peeling eggs, for me, is torture. It’s a slow torture, too. It’s painful to my senses. The uneven, unexpected cracks that may or may not lace the eggs once they come out of the pot. The stretch of the skin as you pull off the hard, cracked outer shell. …

An Israel Story Only I Can Tell

The title of my blog references my aliyah. Aliyah is the Hebrew word used when a Jew moves from somewhere outside Israel to Israel.  If you have been to a synagogue on Saturday, you might have heard the word also used to reference someone being called up to the Torah for a blessing. The word aliyah literally translates as elevation or ‘going up.’ My going up was from New Jersey. Depending on how much of …

Midterm exam in letting go

I imagine the ultimate test in letting go is when you die. If you progress into the afterlife or Heaven or stay put, cold in the grave (depending on your beliefs and spiritual affiliation), you get an A+ in letting go. If you turn into a nice ghost, just hanging around moving chairs and creaking doors ’cause you have  a few things left on Earth to clean up, you can probably bank on a C …

How I accidentally on purpose became that mystery girl

I have a tendency to say things I don’t mean. Or, rather, say things I mean, but wish I hadn’t said or wish I had thought through before saying out loud. This is not a new tendency. It’s a delightful and attractive trait I’ve possessed since the 2nd grade when my teacher Ms. Levin aptly, but inappropriately, nicknamed me Motor Mouth. Since moving to Israel, however, I’ve developed — like a nervous tick — a …

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  • Relationships |
  • Religion |
  • Writing |

View from above

No matter how blurred or undefined my picture of God is, no matter how my connection to religion swells or retreats; the one God-related belief I hold fairly dear is omniscience. If God were a storyteller, let’s say, he’d be third person with both a bird’s eye and a worm’s eye…
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  • Letting Go |
  • Memory |

Note to Self

So much of my life lives on paper. In letters, in cards, on glossy, on matte. Inside once locked hardcover journals, there are words scratched in anger, in pain, and occasionally, in radical amazement. Inside carefully categorized photo albums, there are faces I used to recognize, love, envy. Most of…
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  • Community |
  • Love |
  • Mindfulness |
  • Relationships |
  • Religion |

Synchronistically delicious

I am often troubled when I hear people use the word “serendipity” when I think they mean “synchronicity.” But I never really investigated the difference between the two words. In my unresearched opinion, I always imagined synchronicity as attached to “meaningful” or extraordinary. Whereas serendipity is more playful, like a…
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  • Relationships |
  • Writing |

Finish this haiku … if you can

I was attempting a haiku this morning when I realized there is no good antonym for alone. Walking alone is often the first step towards These were the first two lines of an idea I was trying to work through by haiku. Except, I couldn’t finish it in a satisfying…
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  • Nonfiction |

Exchange of letters

I was thinking of Sarah this morning when I realized how many similarities there are between the online friendships I’ve cultivated and the pen pals I used to collect as a young girl. Sarah and I are planning to meet in real life for the first time. Despite the fact…
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  • Love |
  • Memory |

It is a dream and a song

In one of my cardboard boxes, I found a folder with some work samples from my time as a book club manager at Scholastic. While rifling through the R.L. Stine Goosebumps newsletters and colorful seasonal book catalogs I used to edit, a typed out note on white paper fluttered through…
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  • Dreams |
  • Family |
  • Letting Go |
  • Love |
  • Memory |

A case for hoarding

I’m a hoarder. I hoard paper, photos, t-shirts, cozy socks, cookies, memories, books. Especially books. And memories. I’m not so compulsive to be recruited for a reality TV show, but I’m bad enough that closets are always full and there’s never enough storage space. Not in my house, not in…
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  • Nonfiction |

Dance as a writing prompt?

My new friend Miriam is a long-time professional dancer and choreographer. I met her in a writing workshop at Bar Ilan University and have enjoyed hearing her tales of dance, particularly those she found herself in while living in far-flung areas of the world foreign to me. But yesterday, Miriam…

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