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latest by jen

Tell me a secret I don’t already know

Almost as much as I am fascinated by memory and by man’s search for meaning, I am insanely curious about secrets. I’m fascinated by why we keep secrets, and what happens when they’re exposed. But I am also very, very afraid of them. Not just mine. And what may happen if and when they are revealed. But yours. Your secrets scare me, too. I’m deathly afraid of the unknown. Of the uncertainty of what you might someday …

Return to sender

I let go of Shira yesterday. I called her up on the phone, walked over to her house, met her on the path there, and let her go. She laughed. So did I. It was swell. I had in my hand 18 year old Shira. With love, I gave her back. To 40 year old Shira. Some would call this surreal. Others would call it silly. I call it an extraordinary gift. How did it …

Pretty lies

If I could play piano as deftly as I do in my dreams If I could sing and you could hear the rich tones I do when my voice echoes in my ear If I could put down words, the true ones that bubble up and swell in my heart This is what I would bring forth into the world. Something like this: [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=igj20M84hbo&w=420&h=315] But I only tap, tap, tap a little Heart & …

What’s Off-Limits When I Die

Who gets to decide what of yours gets published after you’re gone? Who says that your journals, your letters, your doodles in the margins get to be publicly shared posthumously? I assume the obvious: Your next of kin. Your estate’s executor. But I wonder — those of us who read the words of the dead without their explicit permission (The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath, The Diary of Anne Frank, Kafka’s The Trial) — do …

The Things We Keep

When my husband and I were first married, we were part of a group of people in Tucson, Arizona designing a new cohousing community— our very own little American kibbutz! This is actually how the community was described to us by a colleague, and why our ears perked up when we heard about it. We had never heard the word cohousing before then, but we knew what a kibbutz was (or we thought we did) …

Since I put your picture in a frame

There’s a photo in one of the albums in one of my cardboard boxes that nobody posing would want me to scan and post anywhere. It’s a #TBT that will never happen, and yet I almost wish I was bold enough to post it anyway because there’s a glorious photobomb inside an awkwardly posed reminder of a difficult time. In the photo, I’m looking particularly young and particularly blonde —  caught in a rare moment of …

The poetry inside other people’s cardboard boxes

A new hobby is birthing itself, pushing its way out.  Like when I took to exploring New York with my neck cranked back gazing up at building sides looking for signs of  shoe polish advertised 100 years ago. A new research topic. A new obsession. The confessional. Sylvia Plath. Anne Sexton. These are writers I never read. Can you believe it? I’m embarrassed to even admit to it. (Though I already did.) I never read those ladies on …

Egyptian Eye

The weekend arrives and most of us crave comfort food. Doesn’t matter if we’re so old we force ourselves to gulp down steel cut oats with flax seed meal and craisins. What we really want is challah french toast. Or bacon. Or grits. We want our mom, our dad, our Bubbi over there in the corner, back of their head to us, shoulders hunched over, feet inside slippers, flipping something hot on the stove with …

An Open Letter to Time: I Know the Truth About You Babe

Dear Time: Your linear passage is ruthless. We notice this early, but don’t grasp it til it’s too late. Your strict adherence to forward motion is maddening, and yet reliable. It is a gift, in fact, For we must flow with you, while we foolishly ache to change you (as if we could). We cling to you, but you move at lightning speed. We can’t hold on. We spend you like there is no end …

The Unlikely Path to Inner Peace

I just finished reading The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, a story of a man who sets out on a journey, both metaphorical and literal, in search of inner peace and acceptance. A friend, after hearing about “the boxed set series” project I’m working on, recommended the novel as a complementary “research tool.” It was a good suggestion. Harold is in his mid-sixties when he receives a letter from a former colleague – a terminally …

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 view of all that ever was and all that ever is and all that ever will be. Which means, I also believe, that God laughs …

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 it — my life on paper — reflects only what was once the drama of my life. For this is what we photograph. Parties, graduations, …

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 cup of frozen hot chocolate. Lucky. Fortuitous. Unexpected. Right place at the right time sorta thing.  Whereas synchronicity … when it happens … almost feels …

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 way. “Together?” Is together really the only antonym for alone? I was going for an emotion, a feeling, a deep sense of being close to …

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 that we both are former Americans living in Israel, and only live an hour’s drive from each other, we’ve never sat to drink coffee together; …

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 the air and landed on the floor. It took me only seconds to realize what it was: a note from my former co-worker, Nelson, a …

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 my brain. Despite this need to hang on, each time I have moved homes (about 6 or 7 times in adulthood), I’ve let go of …

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 surprised me even more when she led our group in a movement exercise designed to be used as a writing prompt. Movement as a writing …

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  • Memory |
  • Philosophy |
  • Spirituality |

The after-taste of a dream

My dreams are poems Righting themselves upside down in Not-for-long Ville.   Still fresh with relief when I wake I take a pen so I may keep them.   But the poems fade faster than the dream even when I whisper, “Don’t.”   What’s left then, but last night’s dream, which…
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  • Books |
  • Writing |

From the eyes of Mrs. Murry

Meg’s mother picked up the pair of brown tortoise shell reading glasses from the top of the bedroom dresser. She gently put them on and leaned in to study her face in the reflection. Cocking her head to the right, she removed the pair, placed the chewed earpiece in her mouth,…
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  • Parenting |
  • Philosophy |

In this world, there is a fragile child

There is a cry lodged There at the farthest most upper reaches There at the roof of my mouth. There, its origin may be found in between There in between an exhale and an inhale There where an ujjiyai breath washes over it. There is not a wet cry There…
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  • Dreams |
  • Family |
  • Mindfulness |
  • Parenting |

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…
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  • Modern Life |
  • Religion |

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,…
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  • Love |
  • Memory |
  • Music |
  • Writing |

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…
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  • Books |
  • Kibbutz |
  • Memory |

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…

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