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latest by jen

Why yoga is the ultimate “ex”

I’m on again in my on again-off again relationship with yoga. This, perhaps, is why you might find more typos in this post than normal. My right shoulder is a little upset with me. It’s even trembling as I type. I’ve been practicing yoga — and practicing is truly the operative word here since I’ve never quite committed nor become expert — since 1997. It was through an employee-friendly work environment at Scholastic that I found …

In the dark

I was one of those kids who was afraid of the dark. Now, when I say “one of those kids” I do pause for a moment and wonder what kid isn’t afraid of the dark. What adult isn’t still? I think most of us are afraid of the dark. Even grownups.  We just pretend we’re not or drug ourselves or sex ourselves up to believe otherwise. We do something to smother the very innate fear we …

When you don’t have anything to say

This time of year in Israel is often uncomfortable for me. I won’t say difficult, because it seems highly inappropriate to label anything in my life as “difficult” in the same breath as I speak of the Holocaust, of war, of fallen youth. But it’s uncomfortable. In very quick succession, we here in Israel — we being newspaper-reading adults and school-going children — are inundated with Holocaust-related content, followed quickly and intensively by war-related content. …

Nostalgia sounds like …

“There’s an echo in the wind Makes me wonder where I’ve been”   The closest appliance to a time travel machine I’ve ever owned arrived in my mailbox today. I sold my yellow Sony edition at a yard sale over a decade ago. This one is a gift from a friend who knows how desperate I’ve been for a portal back. I popped in some AA batteries I had on hand (thank GOD) and chose a tape …

Give me your tired your poor your books

It’s no secret I love old books. I cry over them like they’re wounded, abandoned puppies crouching behind a garbage bin in the rain. Sometimes I rescue them, but then have no use for them. (Again, like puppies.) Often there’s a story behind the compulsion to save them. I’ll save any Little House on the Prairie book I see, simply because I lost my original set of them in a flood. (For the same reason, …

I Can’t Be Trusted

Don’t believe a word of it. Not a letter. Not even a space or a hard return. None of it is to be trusted nor considered true. At best, one or two or ten of my words will last longer than the quart of 1% cow’s milk shoved into a crusty corner of my ornery fridge. I repeat; my song is sung in tune for the length of a long exhale. After that, it’s expired. …

123 days

There are 123 days left until 40. 1 – 2 – 3 and like that I will be Over the Hill. Which hill? The hill there footsteps away? The Tel? Tell me. It’s a curious time. This tick tocking of clock measured quietly uncertain alone without labels I’ve grown accustomed to a “Jean Val Jean” moment in time, says my husband. “Who am I?” 1-2-3 and I will be 40. Over the Hill. Not Under …

A Jewish Mother’s Passover Lament

At least this Jewish mother … Best wishes to my friends and readers who celebrate freedom this week. Happy Passover.  

A trail of pebbles

I hardly blog about parenting anymore. It’s not because I don’t have opinions to share or thoughts to express. It’s that I finally arrived at a place where I understand that most of what I say or think about parenting is either obvious or worthless. Obvious to the older or more veteran demographic who, at best, might compassionately respond to what I write with a nod, “Oh yes, I remember that time of life.” Worthless to …

How crowdfunding is like high school pre-calc

Did you know that the success of most crowdfunding campaigns rides on the contributions of extended family and friends? And did you know that Hannaton’s winery, Jezreel Valley Winery, launched an indiegogo campaign last week? By the transitive power of equality (or something very similar) YOU are the key to our crowdfunding success. I live on Hannaton. So does the winery. The owners, Jacob and Yehuda, are my good friends. You are my good friends. …

Between us, there are books

It’s not difficult to spot us. Those of us in love with old books. We have shelves full of them. We smuggle them into our homes despite the eye rolling of our spouses, our parents, our roommates. We tolerate repetitive sneezing due to dust and the mildew and the ancient tree pollen lurking beneath pages 204 and 205 of the worn book of poetry; for the last time it was opened was beneath an olive tree …

Cookie cutter approach to food activism

As we enter the period before Passover, I’m thinking about how eat, what we what, with whom we eat and why. I am meditating on freedom and gratitude. No, actually, I am not. I’m thinking about the store-bought chocolate chip cookie I just ate. For breakfast. (Actually, I had a vegetable wrap first. The cookie was for dessert. Breakfast dessert.) As I ate the cookie with deep pleasure, I thought to myself. This is happiness. …

Husband Envy

It’s not the first time I daydreamed I was Nicole Krauss, authoress all-around good woman good Jewish but not so Jewish writer I could aspire towards and as a matter of curiosity exactly one day (perhaps only hours!) older than I. But today most of all when I learned husband Jonathan Safran Foer (even his name sounds groovy out loud with line breaks forcing teeth against my lips) cuts up old books to make new books …

While we’re at it, let’s blame menopause and extramarital affairs on Gwyneth

“Ever since Gwyneth Paltrow became famous in her early 20s, she has made women feel bad about themselves…” begins Jessica Grose’s article in Slate this week. Ouch. This makes me want to write something along the lines of how ever since Jessica Grose starting writing articles in Slate she’s made celebrities feel bad about themselves. Except I don’t know Jessica Grose. I don’t know anything about her. In fact, while I may have read her …

Why does my story matter?

This is my question today. And usually every Wednesday. Or Tuesday. Depends. Why does my story matter? Okay, so I can weave words in a way sometimes that makes you almost cry that makes you remember the time you had blintzes in that cafe on 2nd Avenue that makes you look frantically in the closet for the sundress you know you didn’t sell at Buffalo Exchange — you know it, you just know it, but …

My kid plays in abandoned buses and I photograph him

Does this photo of my 7 year old “driving” an abandoned bus deserted in the industrial park on the kibbutz we live on instill feelings of longing in you? Envy? Or pure, unadulterated fear? It’s rusty, that bus. And filled with trash. And likely painted with lead paint. Maybe you just think I’m crazy. I know a lot of my friends and family back in the U.S. do. In fact, 35 year old me is …

I remember you on white bread

Meatball Surprise Mom is away. Not like that one time fancy schmancy mozzarella with tomatoes from BJs unusual but usually some concoction something on the stove from scratch from what was in the fridge No I remember Meatball Surprise little Jason little Jen Pancakes log cabin syrup big glasses tinted lens steaming up with fog laughing rather snorting rather smiling rather some blend a beer on the back porch only when Uncle Steve’s in town only …

They grow slowly

Spotted My left eye spotted you thanks to the light that shines only in the first half of the morning. Over the neighbor’s roof and down through the dust onto the purple chair painted last summer by your father in the light of that same ray. This is how they grow. First one at a time, with pomp — Then stealthily like suburban mushrooms, only noticed after the fact by one who travels close to …

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  • Environment |
  • Kibbutz |

Gem in the Galilee

My dad and my husband have this routine: My dad, an archaeology enthusiast, always keeps his eyes peeled for the undiscovered artifact when he visits Israel. My husband always ribs him, “They’ve already found everything there is to find, Paul.” I take my dad’s side on this one and whenever archaeologists make a big…
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  • Mindfulness |
  • Parenting |

Their stubborness, their bodies

Yesterday wasn’t the first day I was reminded that we accidentally on purpose train our daughters to give up rights to their bodies. Even though the more mindful of us will have conversations with our young ones about ownership of their “private parts,” about “stranger danger”, about saying “No,” there…
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  • Love |
  • Philosophy |
  • War |

Color of

“War is what happens when language fails.” — Margaret Atwood * * * * * This is the color of my voice these days … Almost Silent. Imagine it there in a box of 64 crayons. In my mind’s eye, Almost Silent is wrapped in Ecru But its waxy innards…
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  • Books |
  • Survivalism |
  • War |

Review: How to Survive a Sharknado

Book Details Title: How to Survive a Sharknado (and Other Unnatural Disasters) Author: Andrew Shaffer (with contributions by Fin Shepard & April Wexler) Publisher: Three Rivers Press, July 2014 Review In 1999, when Chronicle Books published the first in what would eventually be the popular Worst-Case Scenario book series, I was…
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  • Poetry |
  • Politics |
  • War |
  • Writing |

Sexy Quiet

What if I made the choice and the choice was Quiet? It’s true sometimes Noise tricks me into believing he is life. What with all the heart racing and the jumping out of bed. Gentle she, Quiet, though sometimes tiresome allows me the freedom to kiss my children goodbye and think…
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  • Community |
  • Philosophy |
  • Politics |
  • War |

What the world needs now

I spent the morning with my father-in-law in a cafe in Kfar Tavor. He was generous enough to be an interview subject for me in regards to a creative writing project I’m preparing for a class called “Art, Atrocity, and Truth.” My father-in-law is a child of the Holocaust. He is, in…
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  • Family |
  • Parenting |
  • Politics |
  • War |

If it was a place

If it was a place — cognitive dissonance, it would be here, Israel. Where in one swift shift I move from embarrassment (I forgot about swimming lessons) to fear of war. Shame I forgot about it; murder and them (those who can’t forget except in dreams which aren’t real) and yelled at my…
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  • Mindfulness |
  • Parenting |

How to be a happy fool

The Buddha never said this, but it’s the noise of parenthood that propels me to appreciate the quiet. This is probably the greatest lesson I’ve learned so far in the 11 and a half years I’ve been mothering.  This is also why I wouldn’t use time travel to go back…

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