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latest by jen

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 …

First love

Among my cardboard boxes, there is another. It’s plastic. A clear Tupperware container with a blue cover marked “Jen’s papers.” I laugh a little at this because the markings on the masking tape are in my mother’s handwriting and I would have expected it to read “Jennifer’s papers.” But Jen is shorter than Jennifer, shorter than Jenny, shorter than any of the names I answered to during the time of the papers. And easier to write on a …

Name this photo

The lump in my throat called life

The first sensation is a swell in the space behind the back of my tongue but before my esophagus. What is that space called? High up on the other side of gagging? I call it my crying space. The space tears come from. Ha! You thought crying started scientifically in some space known as ducts, No way, Jose. Crying starts as a lump — there in that undefined on the anatomical map because it’s function …

I don’t know why I’ve been dreaming ’bout the Echelon Mall

Tacos for 79 cents, mild sauce ask for extra and squeeze Children’s Place, a tunnel with carpet inside crawl through the storefront window My first Walkman wasn’t Sony downstairs at a stereo store in the corner next to Strawbridge’s across from Heroes World before Heroes World moved upstairs One time downstairs I saw a man there the inside of his ear on the outside But that was when it was still cool because it wasn’t cool …

My heart hurts with how much I love libraries right now

I’ve been suffering the symptoms of drought since I moved to Israel three years ago, but I didn’t know it until I swam again in a sea of books; otherwise known as the English Department Library at Bar Ilan University where I am currently studying Creative Writing. Where my heart is opening faster than my throat can bear. Wider than I thought it could possibly stretch without ripping apart, my heart, my throat. But I …

Music is a Gift with Legs

I’m a big believer in the magic of books, music, and people falling into your lap when you least expect them to and when you are most ready to appreciate their messages. (For this reason, I’m about to download The Happiness Project since three people in as many days have referenced it to me.) But just because the wisdom fortuitously appears at just the right time doesn’t mean its vessel hasn’t fallen into your lap …

Blogger challenge: My ideal hours would be …

Sitting on the carpet combing tracks down your long brown hair with a blue-handled brush — Sitting on the carpet across from your wrinkled hands shuffling cards for a game of Gin — Sitting on the carpet with my knees tucked inside my nightgown, mouth cartoon-like forming the words, “Tell ’em Large Marge sent ya.” Little you giggling — Sitting on the carpet by the sliding glass door where the morning sun warms me like …

Lay flat to dry

I’ve started to play with my label. It’s itching me a little. I tried moving my neck side to side to see if it would readjust comfortably on its own. Didn’t work. So I reached my right hand back over my shoulder. Stretched my collar all the way ’round front to see Mother. Wife. 39. Chief Marketing Officer. Size small. Made in America. 35 % Israeli. 100 % Woman. 21 % Buddhist-to-be. Hand wash warm. Prone to …

Art of attraction

Art begets art, don’t you think? Of course, we may disagree on the definition of art. But I find the more I notice, the more I notice. The more I write, the more I photograph, the more I dream. The more I read, the more I feel, the more I write. When you open up — even just a little — to noticing and noting, you are actually working your art muscle. What I say …

This poem comes in pencil only

This guy popped out of nowhere after 30 or so years just when I needed him most. He looks like a dapper old cat, but what you can’t see … what he’s hiding behind his back … is his secret weapon. And exactly what I need right now. A pencil sharpener. It’s hard to explain exactly why I found him where I did (inside a personalized pink plastic container holding personalized pink hair ribbons), but …

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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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  • Love |
  • Relationships |

A date with Haifa

Yesterday I took my husband to the ER for symptoms he has been suffering for over a week. Fortunately he was released at the end of a very long day and evening with a diagnosis of pneumonia. Serious, but not as serious as we thought, and treatable with antibiotics. And…

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