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Oct 5 2012

Homeless in the Homeland

By at 10:01 am
kibbutz sukkah

Sarah's kids hanging out in the neighbor's sukkah.

“Mama, where are we going?” my daughter asks after I pick her up from gan on the kibbutz.
A sudden gust of wind, and her hair dances. “Wind!” my son shrieks from his perch on my shoulders.

It’s cold for October. And it gets dark early now — a few weeks of passive-aggressive autumn and then winter will be riding us hard in full force, slamming my LA ass against the ground in torrents of wind or rain while I look for a cozy room with a radiator. #FirstWorldProblems.

Except, then she asks again:

“Mama, where are we going to sleep tonight?”

This should be the biggest no-brainer question in the whole entire universe. Because let’s be real: there is only one right answer, and I should be able to look into my daughter’s upturned face and say “we’re going home, sweet girl.”

But… It turns out there is something worse than feeling homesick in the Homeland.
Anyone want to wager any guesses?

Try Homeless in the Homeland. And on the nights when I am with my kids, I do not have anywhere to take them. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 30 2012

Literview: Suzanne Finnamore, Author of The Zygote Chronicles & Split

By at 1:58 pm

suzanne finnamoreSuzanne Finnamore is the author of three books: Otherwise Engaged tells the story of a woman planning her wedding. The Zygote Chronicles is about Finnamore’s pregnancy, from conception through the baby naming. And in Split, she writes about her husband leaving her and her toddler son for another woman, who became pregnant before the divorce was final. Her writing is deadpan, witty, and electric, and she isn’t afraid to get extraordinarily personal.

I always give The Zygote Chronicles to my friends when they tell me they’re pregnant. It’s my favorite book about pregnancy. In it you talk a bit about raising a Jewish son. I know that you’ve since split from your ex-husband, who was Jewish. Is Judaism at all still a part of your life?

Thank you, that’s very kind. It is the book that means the most to me, because it is basically a love letter to my son; the book begins when he is conceived and ends with his birth. But the timeline is rather tragic, because before the first draft was done, my husband has already left us. When he left, my son was barely 1 years old. And I was actually in the midst of going through the classes at the Marin County Jewish Community Center, which I loved. I was going to convert because I felt it was something meaningful I could do for my husband, that the three of us would move forward into the future with that as our faith. Read the rest of this entry →

Jul 24 2012

Trying to “Find Myself” at Age 31

By at 1:52 pm

fragile moving box“You’re on the kibbutz a lot these days,” someone said to me during Shabbat dinner in the dining hall. “It’s nice.”

It is nice. And it’s true: I am here a lot these days, for two reasons:

1. I’m dating someone from the kibbutz. Yup. You read that right. Of all the single men (and women) in this whole freaking country, I happened to fall for someone from the very place I wanted to escape. (Think Shakespeare meets Woody Allen and get serious, people.)  And after a few weeks of creeping through the woods with a skicap on–in the middle of a very hot Israeli summer–I figured it was time to fess up and tell my ex. So now he knows. And now you know. Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 19 2012

Jealousy & The Other Woman

By at 10:07 am
radiohead thom yorke

So my husband sounds like Radiohead. Big deal.

So, it turns out I am a very jealous woman.

Case in point:

Once upon a star-studded night in Berkeley, just a few short months after we first hooked up, B and I sat on the stoop of my boarding house next to some girl from the neighborhood. And while we smoked our American Spirits, the conversation turned to music. OK, full disclosure time: I don’t like Radiohead.  But B did. And so did this girl, apparently, because she went on and on and on about how ah-may-zing Thom Yorke is and how B’s band’s recent single “reached her” (gag) in the same way that the song, Creep, did when she was in high school.

(Vomit.) Read the rest of this entry →

Jun 15 2012

Should I Just Give Up on Step-Parenting Books?

By at 10:13 am
idiot's guide to stepparenting

I have not tried this one yet.

I have been trying to read step-parenting books for about six months, and I think I’ve concluded that reading step-parenting books is significantly harder and less rewarding that step-parenting.

For a while now, Jesse and I have been talking about our plans to start our own family once his divorce goes through. But even before we get to that stage, I’m working on being the best future-stepmother I can be to Jesse’s daughter Ronia. And because I’m a nerd, part of my preparation process has been checking step-parenting books out of the library.

But the books I’ve looked at so far have been laughably unhelpful. One seemed to have been written by a woman who married a guy with only a loose understanding of what the words “I have kids” mean. The other was so vague and full of platitudes that its chapter summaries read like fortune cookies: “Strive to understand difficult issues and reframe them in a positive way,” and, “Family vacations can be bonding and great fun, but also very stressful without planning.” Read the rest of this entry →

May 8 2012

What Maurice Sendak Taught Me

By at 12:48 pm

maurice sendak where the wild things areThere are so many things to say about Maurice Sendak, the incredible children’s writer and illustrator who died today at 83 years old. In the famous book The Uses of Enchantment: The Meaning and Importance of Fairy Tales, child psychologist Bruno Bettelheim wrote that the most truly magical works of children’s literature were the ones that allowed children to face their terrors and fears through symbolism. Sendak was a master of this–and not only for children.

Facebook feeds will surely be full up today with status message tributes to Sendak’s legacy. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 26 2012

The Divorce Vacation

By at 3:27 pm

empty kitchen table with two chairsIt’s quiet in my house. Way too quiet. It’s the kind of quiet that usually means that something really bad is going down in some remote corner. You know what I’m talking about–the quiet that means that one kid is sitting on another kid’s head, muffling the screams, or one kid is systematically dismantling the other kid’s Lego creation while kid #2 is off happily peeing and not flushing the toilet.

But this time, the quiet just means there are two empty bedrooms in my house for the week. I don’t want to think about this quiet. The lack of pounding elephantine footsteps at an ungodly hour in the morning means that my two boys are off for the week on spring break with their father. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 16 2012

(Too) Frequently-Asked Questions About Separation

By at 4:24 pm

For those of you who haven’t been following along: I married an Israeli, had two amazing kids, and then followed my husband to live next door to his mother on a kibbutz not far from Tel Aviv. It hasn’t exactly gone as planned. We’re no longer living together.

1. How are you doing?

Some days I’m fine. Some days, I wake up, and brush my teeth and wiggle the mascara wand through my lashes and flat iron my hair, and walk to work, and only realize how fucking ridiculous the situation is when I have to check my ex’s Twitter status to find out how my kids are doing. (#UsuallyJustFine.)

And yes, some days, the hours slip by while work engulfs me and I’m buzzing with caffeine and creativity. I ping B. on Google Chat and ask how the night went. He answers. And usually it’s fine.

Some days are like this. I watch time pass through the window. I measure out my life in status updates and the occasional tweet. I watch their day-to-day routine on YouTube. B. uploads cute movies, and I see how they’re really fine. Read the rest of this entry →

Apr 3 2012

Passover…For Everyone Except Me

By at 10:26 am

CucumbersAnother spring blooms in Israel. And everyone is getting ready for Pesach. Everyone except me.

I’m in a holding zone–waiting for my ex to decide what he’s doing with the kids and whether or not I can come. (If I hold my breath, I might pass out.)

Last year, I swore “next year in LA.” But it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen.

This isn’t the first time I broke a promise about coming home for Pesach. And being here–ten time zones away from my family, I remember the first Pesach I stayed away. Only then, it was by choice.

In a painfully obvious way of asserting my independence, I had accidentally-on-purpose missed my flight home eleven years ago, and stayed in the dorms over Spring Break my freshman year of college.

My mom had cried. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 15 2012

A Single Dad Explains Divorce to His Daughter

By at 9:01 am

dinosaur divorce book for kidsI am a (soon-to-be) divorced dad. What this means on a practical level is that I parent day to day without the input of anyone else, for the most part. Of course I have plenty of role models, but on the ground, I am winging it without another adult.

My daughter Ronia is 4, and though she is a curious and highly observant individual, she does not really pepper me with questions in the matter of some kindergartners in literature. Nor does she really respond to my questions/reveals in an outsized manner. When I warned her I was applying for a job with super long hours (I am fortunate enough to have only worked full-time for one month of her life) her reaction was: “Does that mean I can have more sleepovers with [her friend from school]?” Read the rest of this entry →

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