latest by jen

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 ...

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 ...
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  • Writing |

New Lyric Essay on Love and Time (2021)

In a year in which creating felt hard, I feel proud and a little bit still-in-love with this flash essay I wrote in May 2021. In the old days (circa last year), I may have submitted it to literary journals in the hopes of being “selected for publication” (aka validation…
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  • Announcements |

Into the Dream Is Now on Patreon (2021)

I’ve been researching precognitive (aka “psychic”) dreams for more than a decade, after my dreams starting showing up as real-life waking events and images.  In the spring of 2021, following a big professional life shift (euphemism for job loss), I launched a Patreon so individuals could support my writing and…
Books on tape found at Tel Aviv antiques shop, June 2014
  • Interviews |

Interview with Author Rivka Galchen (2016)

I so enjoyed Little Labors, the latest book out from award-winning novelist Rivka Galchen. A stunning, intimate, but thoughtful hybrid work, Little Labors is definitely a recommended read for this summer. Check out my review and interview with Galchen, up on The Times of Israel today.
Books on tape found at Tel Aviv antiques shop, June 2014
  • Interviews |

Interview with Author Curtis Sittenfeld (2016)

Up in The Times of Israel today is an interview I conducted with Curtis Sittenfeld, the New York Times bestselling author of “Prep” and “American Wife.” Sittenfeld has a new book hitting shelves this week: “Eligible,” a modern retelling of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.” I’ve been a big fan of Sittenfeld’s since…
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  • Announcements |

New on District Lit (2015)

My latest column is up on District Lit today. It’s not about real estate, nor about ghosts, but about the lies I tell myself about the idea of home.  Check it out.  
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  • Books |

Book Review: The Ambassador

For all my love of time travel and exploration of whether or not we could or should alter the past, I’m surprised I don’t read more fiction in the category of alternative history. Perhaps I will now, after reading The Ambassador (The Toby Press), a novel by the late Ambassador Yehuda Avner and…
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  • Books |

Almost Book Review: Mary Ruefle’s Madness, Rack, and Honey

It’s an almost book review for two reasons: 1. I haven’t finished the book. Of course, I am certain many reviewers — ones who get paid for their reviews, even — don’t always finish the book they are slated to review. In my case, the early review is reasonable since Madness, Rack, and…
  • Books |

Book Review: Dear Luke, We Need to Talk

Book Details Title: Dear Luke, We Need to Talk, Darth: And Other Pop Culture Correspondences Author: John Moe Publisher: Three Rivers Press   Review It was in one of my favorite online magazines, Fast CoCreate (a Fast Company publication) that I first heard about John Moe’s anthology of satiric correspondences which fictionally …
  • Family |
  • Friendship |

I wrote a letter to a friend

I wrote a letter to a friend today and inside that letter — which was not a letter but something like a letter sent by electronic mail — I composed my feelings into something like feelings. And it’s a pattern, my tendency to compose somethings like. It’s not a pattern…