Sep 11 2014
On October 31st, 2012, I awoke to a phone call from my sister. “I think I’m going to have a baby today. Maybe baby!” I pretended to be calm and collected and told her I would be right over. She only lives five minutes down the road.
When I got to my sister’s house, her curly-headed 2-year-old Rachie greeted me at the door with a big grin. My sister was trying to stifle her own excitement, knowing that while she had been having steady contractions since 3 a.m., birthing is unpredictable–it could be an hour or a day. As we watched television, she wiggled around on the birthing ball, shifting positions, walking around, breathing deeply as her contractions rose and fell. I was mesmerized. This woman before me, sister of my blood, seemed elevated with grace and knowing even in the throes of her primal ache. What a great laborer, I thought to myself enviously. I wish I could do that.
When it was almost noon, we noticed that the contractions were coming a bit less frequently than the morning. “When they get back from the store, Rachie will nurse,” my sister said confidently. “That will get the contractions going again.” Sure enough, the arrival of her big girl sent strong clenches through her uterus as we awaited the midwife. Not just any midwife, but the woman who had gently steered and caught my son and both my sister’s older children. Read the rest of this entry →
My son Dalen is a worrier. He worries about big things like mass extinction and little things like being late for school and not wearing the right color clothes for Spirit Day. When his mind begins to spin and his fingers begin to twist, I think of myself at that age.
I was an anxious kid. I worried about thunderstorms and math tests and lingering coughs. But more than anything, I worried about death. I was obsessed with it, in fact. Every time my parents were 10 minutes late to pick me up (always) I imagined them buried under a monstrous tractor trailer. When my little brother started going out with his friends, I stayed up and waited for him long after my parents had gone to bed. And when my dad complained of chest discomfort, I didn’t sleep for a month.
Death lurked behind every doorway, sneaked in through every crack in the ceiling, crawled under the floor, slithered into my daydreams, and lingered long into the night. Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 9 2014
Oh, Joan. The reason we love her so much is because she was never afraid to blurt out what we all were thinking–especially when it came to motherhood, childbirth, and all things vaginal.
So it was only appropriate that Howard Stern deliver a quintessentially Joan-esque eulogy at her star-studded funeral at Temple Emanu-el on the Upper East Side of Manhattan this past Sunday.
On her website, comedian Margaret Cho, who was at the funeral, described what happened after Howard’s opening line, “Joan had a dry pussy.” Read the rest of this entry →
Sep 4 2014
We are so sad to learn that Joan Rivers has died at 81 today, from complications related to throat surgery.
RIP, Joan Rivers, and thank you for making us laugh for all these years. You will be missed.
Read more about Rivers’ impressive career here, and share your favorite Joan moments in the comments below.
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Aug 19 2014
I have worked with retired “senior” adults for many years. The other day a woman I had never met came in sobbing about the loss of her mother over a year ago. This was not the first time I have been surprised by the intensity of grief experienced by an older woman over the death of a very, very old mother.
But it did pose the question: Can you be too close to your mother?
A few weeks ago, the same thing happened with another woman in my office. Years earlier, someone else told me she had never married or fulfilled her potential because her mother insisted that she take care of her until she died. I recall a man who slept on the floor next to his old mother’s bed in case she needed immediate attention during the night. She lived a long life and by the time he got up off that floor, he didn’t have much else. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 14 2014
Larry David is coming to Broadway!
David plans to star in a comedic play he wrote about death and mourning–something only Larry David could pull off. Initially titled “Shiva” but renamed “Fish in the Dark,” Larry says the show was inspired by the death of his friend’s father.
David told The New York Times that he will be playing “somebody very similar to Larry David–it might even be Larry David with a different name.” Read the rest of this entry →
Lauren Bacall, who died this past Tuesday at the age of 89, was a model, an actress, a movie star… and a Jewish mother.
Born Betty Joan Perske in the Bronx to a Romanian mother and a father whose parents emigrated from Poland, she had three children herself, Stephen and Leslie with Humphrey Bogart, and Sam with Jason Robards. Her stage name, Bacall, was actually her mother’s maiden name. (She is also a cousin of Shimon Peres on the Perske side.)
In her autobiography, Bacall recalled being fired from an early modeling job because she was Jewish. It was the reason she didn’t tell the reportedly anti-Semitic director Howard Hawks about it, and why she allowed the studio’s PR department to claim that their new star was a descendant of some of America’s oldest families. Read the rest of this entry →
Aug 13 2014
I love television. I always have. I love to talk about TV with friends, I love to rewatch shows I haven’t seen in years, and now with services like Hulu and Netflix, I love catching up on shows I missed the first time around. I don’t usually have much time for TV, but while recovering from a C-section this past February, I watched almost the whole 10-year run of “How I Met Your Mother” while caring for my newborn. Hundreds of episodes, probably.
I can’t believe I just told you all that. Because I love TV, but boy, do I feel guilty about it. Whenever I am watching, I always feel that I should be working, or cleaning the house, or exercising, or pre-cooking healthy meals for my family to be pulled out of the freezer at a moment’s notice, or, or, or… you get the idea.
For better and for worse, I have used TV as a method of self-care, distraction, and procrastination for decades. It’s not as destructive as drugs or gambling, I know, but it isn’t exactly virtuous either. Read the rest of this entry →
Here at Kveller, we love to talk about baby names, especially Jewish ones. And if there’s one thing for certain, any name that begins with a Z is automatically awesome. Take Zelda. It means “happiness” in Yiddish, it’s the name of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famously difficult wife, and the name of the princess in the “The Legend of Zelda” video game series.
It’s also the name of Robin Williams’ daughter, who was named for the video game Zelda. The actor, who passed away Monday, was a well-known gamer and active in online gaming forums. Robin explained to Game News that the name occurred to him while his first wife was pregnant and they were playing the classic game together.
Watch Robin and Zelda tell the story of her name in the sweetest video ever: Read the rest of this entry →
Many of us who grew up watching Robin Williams in so many dazzling roles are left reeling at his death at age 63 and the tragic circumstances surrounding it. It’s odd to think that a man who brought so much joy to so many people was quietly struggling with such severe depression, and a sobering reminder that mental illness can touch anyone, no matter how seemingly blessed and glittering the externals might appear.
Like other children, I watched “Aladdin” with rapt attention when it came out in 1992, and became an instant Robin Williams fan at age 6–though I only put a face to the Genie the following year when Williams starred in “Mrs. Doubtfire.” Since then, I’ve followed his career, along with a few million other people, and the canon of work Williams left behind is vast and the stuff of cultural legends. A few of the movies in which he starred have taken on an added meaning for me since I became a parent, and in re-watching some clips in the wake of Williams’ death, I found two parenting tidbits from his movies to be particularly powerful.
First up, in what is generally considered a lighthearted comedy, “Mrs. Doubtfire” actually contains one of the most moving monologues I’ve ever seen Robin Williams deliver in character and certainly one of the most touching discourses about parenting from any movie I can easily recall (and I watch a lot of movies). Towards the end of the film, the judge presiding over the custody case between Williams’ character, Daniel Hillard, and his ex-wife Miranda (played by Sally Field), asks whether Daniel has any closing remarks to make to stake a claim for partial custody of his children. In response, and with reference to his cross-dressing antics, Daniel says this: Read the rest of this entry →