Posted by: colloquiallyspeaking | February 12, 2015

If I Could

If I could…I would tell you.

I would tell you how hard it is for me to watch you drown.

I would tell you how hard it is for me to keep my distance.

I would tell you how hard it is for me to know this might not be it.

If I could…I would show you.

I would show you how to break those bonds.

I would show you how to commit for real.

I would show you how to give in.

If I could…I would yell at you.

I would yell “DANGER!” as you open that bottle.

I would yell “LIAR!” as you spin another web.

I would yell “PLEASE!” as you turn away.

If I could…I would hold you.

I would hold you as the nightmares rage.

I would hold you as your body fights.

I would hold you as your soul caves.

If I could…I would whisper in your ear.

I would whisper words of love.

I would whisper words of encouragement.

I would whisper words of hope.

And if you could…I know…you would listen.

Posted by: colloquiallyspeaking | January 19, 2015

On Equality in a Kindergarten

She wants to make the gan Reform,” she says to her assistant.

I feel my cheeks burn and I almost turn away.

But…I can’t leave my son this way…in a room where he is taught subtle discrimination and stereotypes.

So I speak up because this is where it starts…in this room with 3 and 4 year olds running around an incompetent teacher who doesn’t understand me.

That was not my intention,” I say loud enough to assert myself and so that my son can hear.

I just don’t think the boys should always be the chazan [prayer leader].  There is nothing wrong with a chazanit.”

The assistant smiles.

You know my sister-in-law was a gannenet in a Reform gan.  I know what you’re talking about.”

I breathe deep and try to control the feelings rising up within me.

No.  You don’t understand.  My son told me that only boys can be the chazan.  And when I said a girl can be a chazanit, he laughed.  This is not about religion.  This is not even about prayer.  This is about my son believing that girls can’t be a chazanit.  This is about my son believing there are things girls cannot do just because they are girls.

Oh…I see.  You know you really are a unique mother that you think about this.

I almost lose it.

“I want you to know that if he were a girl…this conversation would have happened the first week of gan.  I want you to know that I am angry at myself it took so long for me to speak to you about this.  I want you to know that I believe in equality.  I want you to know that as much as I aim to empower my daughter, I aim to teach my son what it means to be equal in a world that sees him as something more because of his gender.  And it starts here.

She smiles.

“You know, I heard a segment on the radio about discrimination in the workplace.  They said that people are discriminated against for a sorts of things.  The color of their skin…where they come from…their religion.  If I hadn’t heard that I wouldn’t understand you!

“Yes, but here is where you start!  Here is where you educate the children about equality!  In this room!”

She has this blank look on her face and I know that she thinks I’m some sort of crazy feminist burning bras and damning the man.

I look around the room.

The boys and girls are all mixed up together…and they come from different parts of the world…and in so many shades of skin-color…and they speak different languages at home…and they pray differently…and they love like equals…and they fight like equals…and they feel like equals.

I tell my son there will be a chazanit because everyone can lead a prayer to a God Who sees them as equal.  I say it loud enough to ensure that the gannenet and her assistant can hear me…and I walk out of the room, wondering who I was begging to be educated.

Posted by: colloquiallyspeaking | December 10, 2014

Grown-up

I guess I’m a grown-up now, I think, as I sit here translating her words in my head, then translating my words before I stumble them out of my mouth and into the air where they embarrass me by screaming out “FOREIGNER” in this big room that can’t possibly hold the emotions she so casually throws at me with each word I am poorly translating in my overwhelmed brain.

I guess I’m a grown-up now.

Grown-ups sit in chairs built for little girls and stare across a giant desk and listen politely as big things are said.

Grown-ups can handle acronyms with A’s and D’s and H’s Boggled together with the shake of a wrist.

Grown-ups don’t think anything is wrong or that it’s anyone’s fault.

Grown-ups can be parents first and people wracked by guilt second.

Grown-ups can accept.

Grown-ups can get up and walk home briskly, make pizza for their children, reach out to another grown-up for help, and use the entire World Wide Web to understand exactly what it all means.

So here I am.

A Grown-up.

A gut-wrenching, soul-ripping, broken-hearted Grown-up.

Here lies a Grown-up…curled up on the couch…surrounded by crumpled tissues and words like psycho-didactic and evaluation and letters like MOXO and ADHD…

Here lies a Grown-up…feeling defeated by a system…mocked by fate…winded by the constant curveballs she always seems to miss…

Here lies a Grown-up…wishing with all her might that her not-yet-grown little vulnerable girl…could have been handed the card that this grown-up never knew…the one that didn’t make things difficult…the one that paves the path with rainbows and unicorns and never gets so dark and so scary that she hesitates…

Here lies a Grown-up…trying to breathe…to get the air she needs…so that she can open the door with a smile…and greet her wonderful, beautiful baby girl…with all the grown-up things…that will turn her into…the best kind of grown-up…any grown-up can be.

Posted by: colloquiallyspeaking | November 20, 2014

Intifada: Take Three

Today, I was on a bus.  And I had my headphones on because I like to listen to music on the bus.

But the driver…

He was in a bad mood…and I couldn’t tell why.

I didn’t know if it was because he had a fight with his wife…forgot his lunch at home…had to go through a checkpoint to get to work…was pissed off because I am a Jew…was frustrated that no matter what he does he is judged terribly…or because he is a radical Islamist who wants to kill Jews so he can be a martyr.

I couldn’t tell.

So I kept taking my headphones off and checking his face and his body language…and he was driving fast and I was waiting for him to crash into a bus or a truck or a tree and there were only old women and young girls on the bus and we didn’t have a gun and then I thought maybe I’d be the one to knock him out and grab the wheel but I wasn’t sure I could even turn the thing or reach the brake…and then Goodbye Yellow Brick Road came on so I put the headphones back on and cranked up the volume and thought it was a good song to die to.

On the way home the driver was a nice Ethiopian man and I smiled widely and thanked him profusely and wasn’t in the mood to listen to music anymore.

Because when there is an intifada…you do as you feel.  And you try to stay alive.

Posted by: colloquiallyspeaking | July 29, 2014

Brave

They are so frigging brave.

She never wants to go to school when she knows there will be a siren.  Yom HaShoa…Yom Hazikaron…and the days when it’s a drill.

Why do we have to practice?

So we’ll know what to do…in case it’s real one day.

She cries and we tell her to be brave and she comes home and says she clung to her teacher and covered her ears and that next time she’s not going to school.

The first time…we grab her and her brother out of bed.  We are on autopilot.  We don’t even remember how we know what to do.  We put them on the bed in the secure room and we shut the door and the window and we see that she’s sitting up and she’s sort of confused.

Did you know?

We look at each other…we choose truth because there is no lie to explain this…

No…we didn’t know.

So it’s real?

Yes…it’s real sweetie.

Oh.

She lays down and pulls the cover up under her chin.  We make the beds in the room and they sleep there.  They sleep there every night now.

We go to a carnival.  We have fun…we try to be normal…we smile and laugh and play…

We are on the way out when the sirens wail.  We turn around and run into the building…down the stairs…on the floor…it’s ok..it’s ok…it’s ok…

Hey guys…you ok?

My voice is not mine…it is calm and cool but it is not mine.

She whimpers for a minute…then she smiles.

I’m ok.

He grins.

I’m ok.

I am not.

It is night…they have already been tucked in.  We run in and close the door…and the window.

He jumps up and starts dancing on the bed.

Get down…get down…we have to stay down.

He laughs.

Everyone is in our room.

It’s so normal.

It is so damn normal.

She asks what we should do if there’s a siren on our way back from our long walk…we walked for half an hour…played at a park for a bit…walked back…and only when she sees our building from the path does she voice her concern…

We’re outside…where should we hide if there’s a siren?

We tell her.  The bushes…next to the wall…we have to lie down and cover our heads.

She nods and clutches my hand a little bit tighter.  And we keep walking.

He is in the kiddie pool on the porch.  I grab him and a towel at the same time and try to pretend it is ok.  We close the door and the window and we sit with the man who was working on our air conditioner and had been about to leave.  He babbles about the siren and the war and the soldiers.  I smile and hold him close…my clothes absorbing the water I pulled him from…and when it is over and we call his father…he tells him it was scary and then builds an Iron Dome out of clics.

She wonders if a siren sounds in middle of dinner…whether we should take our food.

He says he’ll be in the army when he’s a big boy and he’ll go in a tank.  He makes tanks out of chairs and boxes and brooms…and he shoots the bad guys and tells his sister he’ll make sure not to die.

They hide their disappointment when I say we can’t go to the beach.

It’s ok…it’s because there are no bomb shelters near the water…right?

No…but there are missiles floating in the water.

And I don’t want to be on a bus…or a train…or out in the open…because I am afraid.

But they were born in this land…and so they have breathed in her air…they have dug her earth up with their hands…they have covered their toes with her white sand…they have splashed in the waves of her blue sea…they have felt her sun warm their bodies…the clouds cover her sky and bring them bountiful rain…they have eaten her fruits…and have grown roots firmly in her soil.

So of course they are brave.

They are so frigging brave.

Posted by: colloquiallyspeaking | July 22, 2014

Don’t.

Don’t…
Don’t tell me to stay safe…
not to read the news…not to check each siren…not to think about it…not to worry…
Don’t tell me not to be afraid.
Don’t.

Because it is my prerogative to be afraid.
Because it is my country under attack.
Because it is my children I am scooping up into my arms as I run…run…run.

I cannot stay safe.
I cannot make sure a missile doesn’t rain down on my head.
I cannot rely on the incredible Iron Dome to keep me alive.

I will not rely on miracles…I do not know if I believe in them.
I will not stop my life and hide…but I will be paranoid and afraid.
I will not lie to my children…I will answer their questions openly.

I do not stand with Israel…I crouch with her…
In shelters…in stairways…on the side of the road…in trenches…in ditches…
In war.

So I say…
Stay strong…stay low…and push forward.
Be afraid…be brave…and protect this land.
And don’t…
Don’t’ ever give in.

Posted by: colloquiallyspeaking | July 3, 2014

Tears

 

The words are piling up behind my eyes…

pushing past resistant eyelids…

spilling…

letter by letter…

down my cheeks…

where I angrily brush them aside.

I don’t want to write…

I don’t want to feel in text…

I don’t want to say the things my heart is dictating.

So I rub…

I destroy the words that must never be spoken…

the dreams…

the hopes…

the why….

the how…

the deafening shriek filling my mind…

the absolutely gut-wrenching pain I have no right to believe is mine.

I want to say…

that I cannot say…

anything at all.

 

Posted by: colloquiallyspeaking | June 26, 2014

Arise

I wanted to write about it…

My problems.

My silly issue with our apartment and our need to move…

and the stress and the anxiety and the fear we’d never find another place and the panic that we can’t cover the costs and the frustration that this is just going to be the story of our lives year after year after year

But then there were the boys.

And their mothers.

Three strong women.

Broken men standing beside them.

Lives forever changed.

And my silly little issue seems like a blessing.

Because I’m in this together with my husband…and my two healthy children.

So, dear beautiful women with your heads held high,

I rise up and I stand.

In solidarity I stand – my broken pieces connecting to your broken pieces…

A mosaic of pain and suffering…

Heartache and heartbreak…

Colorful stories merging with the black and grey…

And we are lost…

and we must be found…

so our collage can fill the world with light…

and right the wrongs…

and fight the dark…

and illuminate the way…

for our boys to come home.

Posted by: colloquiallyspeaking | May 27, 2014

Dear Spouses,

 

Dear, dear spouses…

of victims…

of survivors…

of the broken people…

Thank you.

Thank you for not letting us push you away.

Thank you for seeing past the desperate facade we thought was infallible.

Thank you for understanding that not everyone wants to be touched…or can be touched…and adjusting your needs accordingly.

Thank you for remembering not to ask about it.

Thank you for listening to all of it and accepting it…

even though you wanted to kill someone…

even though you wanted to let anger take over and justice prevail.

Thank you for knowing that you just had to embrace it.

Thank you for sleeping on the floor when the bed became a trap.

Thank you for letting irrational behaviors slide…

because they made sense…because you got it.

Thank you for never attempting to relate to it.

Thank you for teaching us that we can be loved despite…

in spite…

because.

Thank you for always, always standing by…

through panic…

anxiety…

fear…

shame…

confusion…

delusion…

and hope.

Thank you for waiting for us to come to you.

Thank you for knowing when we were ready.

Thank you for knowing when we just weren’t there.

Thank you for agreeing to take part in a holy matrimony we believed we could never deserve.

Thank you so very much…dear, dear spouses…

for loving people…who sometimes doubt the love they are in.

We are grateful for your patience.

We are overwhelmed by your strength.

And we believe in the salvation you offered when you looked into our eyes…

and showed us who we were.

 

Posted by: colloquiallyspeaking | May 5, 2014

SILENCE!!!!

 

HEY!  Tzfira!

He yells it across the crowded store and everything goes quiet.

Almost.

Beep…beep…beep.

One cashier is still working.

The quiet gets to her and she looks up in surprise.

Slowly, she stands and lowers her head.

Two women continue their conversation.

Hearing English during these moments of silence is making me cringe and I try to focus.

The bread machine goes on as a man in a long black jacket slices his loaf of bread, oblivious…or maybe not.

I try to remember.  I try to stand at attention and feel.  I try to imagine the pain and sorrow this country manages to live through every second of every day…but all I can think of is that they have no damn respect!

I just want to shake them and scream and flail my arms out as I let that burning desire to wish all that excruciating pain on each and every one of those people, who can’t even stand still for two minutes and show a little respect, pour out of the carefully scripted mantra I hold…

The idea of love and mutual understanding…of debating softly and disagreeing amiably….of living with people who think and feel differently…of never, ever, wishing anyone harm no matter how they act.

But I can’t.

I can’t respect them.

I can say it’s because they don’t respect me.

I can say it’s because they don’t let me live my life peacefully.

I can say many things.

But really…it’s because they can’t give two fucking minutes of their time to shutting up and letting me mourn.

So damn you stupid people in the grocery store…damn you.

 

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