Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fire and Rain

After my dental appointment this morning, I will be pulling on my wellies, plunking on a baseball cap and heading down to Zuccotti Park to report on Occupy Wall Street for The Jerusalem Report.

From the comfort of my dining room on Amsterdam Avenue and West 116th Street, the vista is say the least. The trees on the Columbia University campus are being rattled by the winds. Pedestrians hurry past, squaring their shoulders. The sky is gunmetal grey. It is a day to stay indoors.

I am an activist with a conditional sense of commitment....that is, once I have to sit outside in the rain, my commitment begins to waver. I can do heat. I can do cold in limited doses. But rain is the deal-breaker for me.

On the cozy red armchair that Big Babe rescued from the trash about ten years ago, Nala the Pomeranian snoozes. Alfie, her big brother, is asleep on the couch. They are dozing off the trauma of their morning walk in the rain. Curling up and sleeping seems a lovely activity just about now.

If this sounds like a kvetch it is. I kvetch therefore I am. And kvetching, after all, is really just a form of protesting. I am protesting against the elements that change Occupy Wall Street from a hippie street fair to something else, something I haven't yet seen.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cold Comfort

Motivated to start my Wednesday with a workout, I just slipped on my shorts, sports bra, tank top and sneakers, plunked a Zabar's baseball hat atop my messy morning hair, threw some professional attire in my gym bag for later meetings... and then I remembered.

There is no hot water at the JCC fitness center.

There is no hot water but but there is a new complimentary coffee bar, a peace offering to all the disgruntled patrons who have endured freezing cold showers -- or no showers -- for the past week. True, some workout without showering but many of the regulars seem to have taken a mini-vacation during this shower-free period.

As someone who is a proud, profuse sweater, there is not a chance I could leave the gym without showering unless it was summer and I had no more professional commitments and I'd be walking the two miles to my home in order to shower there.

Therefore, I've endured several cold showers over the past week, having figured out a system to make them less painful.

This system involves an overly-long preparatory session in the steam room, racing into a shower stall where I dance beneath wet icicles while gasping audibly....and following up the ordeal with another steam room visit.

When I finally leave the JCC, dressed, warm and fully dry, I must admit that I feel a rare sense of wellbeing, a heroic intimation of achievement, smug satisfaction.

Like those brave souls at Coney Island in the middle of winter, I am tough enough to be called a Polar Bear or at least a true New Yorker.

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Unbearable Mondayness of Monday and Other Musings on Time

About one hour ago, the miserable Mondayness of today began to slowly morph into a more manageable beginning-of-the-work-week optimism and I abandoned the urge to flee my own life, eventually finding that I was actually humming between phone calls instead of grinding my teeth in despair.

As I have proposed in previous posts on this matter, Monday should NEVER begin earlier than noon. It is far too traumatic to jolt people out of their weekends anytime before that and I will bet that one day, some scientist will discover that there is a quantifiable quality to Monday mornings, kind of like the veneer of dusty grease that begins to form on walls near one's stove.

Indeed, as I write these very words, HOBB called to bemoan the Mondayness of today. "I cannot believe it's only Monday!" he wailed.

His words are a cri de coeur, an existential plea, a Ginsbergian howl.

Since I'm meditating upon the matter of TIME, I wanted to share a cataclysmic realization I had this past week on one of the Jewish holidays, either Hoshana Raba, Shmini Atzeret or Simchat Torah (who can remember anymore, they all begin to blend and blur until they are one mass of calories and prayerbooks and festive clothes).

The realization went like this: 365 days -- that is, a year -- is only the briefest building block of time, not the epic monument I had always regarded it to be.

Unbelievably, this realization dawned on me NOW for the very first time in my life. Until last week, I considered a year to be a substantial measure of time.

Now it seems to me as skimpy as a string bikini, covering only the essential parts, leaving too much exposed, virtually weightless, folding up into practically nothing, in perpetual danger of getting lost or misplaced or destroyed in the wash.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Acharei Ha-Chagim

This is decadence: golden forkfuls of custardy bread pudding with chocolate chips and a tart glass of Shiraz. The bread pudding is an artifact of the Jewish holiday season that was, made with Zadie's challah. Zadie's produces the greatest baked kosher food in creation, specifically their pull-apart challah which is eggy and dense and sweet. I just learned that my cousin's son, Eric, moved to an apartment down the block from Zadie's Bakery in Fair Lawn, NJ. I had no idea that there was an actual retail outlet where these amazing baked items could be procured fresh from the oven. I just assumed there was a factory, an assembly line, something tucked away off a highway somewhere. The fact of a neighborhood shop is uplifting news, a hopeful sign in an Occupy Wall Street world.

It is Saturday night, about 20 minutes shy of midnight. While I finish the bread pudding, I am contemplating crashing my daughter's best friend's 23rd birthday party at a karaoke bar in the East Village. Naturally, it would be awkward to the max if I were to show up (which I probably will not, chiefly because HOBB has a horrible cold and what kind of wife goes out bar-hopping when her husband is ill???) but I am tempted because people my age don't do stuff like this. I actually just pitched an editor a feature based on the concept of a fun-loving 50-year-old. Do not steal this idea. You will be caught because it can be traced to this blog post.

After a seemingly interminable stretch, the Jewish holidays are finally at an end, having departed at 6:51 p.m. We are now in that longed-for period called Acharei Ha-Chagim -- literally "After the Holidays." While the whole megillah began on the eve of September 28th, with Rosh Hashana,  I am already nostalgic for them, especially after this final stretch of Simchat Torah/Shabbat. 

Between the mosh-pit-like madness of BJ (Bnai Jeshurun) on Thursday night, with its hour-long wait to get in and sweaty, joyous dancing/davening/Torah reading/socializing, my subsequent wanderings afterwards (which landed me at a party at a posh highrise on Columbus Avenue where scores of drunken twenty and thirty-somethings lolled around on the furniture)...and the following day's transcendentally  spiritual Occupy Wall Street Simchat Torah celebration, I feel uplifted and armed for whatever life throws my way.

While they were here, there was a sense that the Jewish holidays were an alien spaceship that had invaded Earth, taking observant Jews hostage. "Omigod!" we kvetched loudly to each other. "It's just too much! It's impossible to get work done! It's so fattening! I'm spending so much money on food! I don't know what day of the week it is anymore!"

Within the cocoon of the chagim, we rolled from Rosh Hashana to the surprising ease of Yom Kippur to Sukkot to this last mishmash of Hoshana Raba/Shemini Azeret/Simchat Torah, which was of course accompanied by all the days of observance were this year, creating the Triple Whammy effect (see my previous writings about Triple Whammies).

We said we felt trapped and removed from the outside world...and we were, to a certain degree. We complained we were cut off from real life, shuttling between home and the synagogue. For those of us who eschew computers, televisions or other modes of communication during these days, we found ourselves in a news blackout. For those of us who shun work and the marketplace, we found ourselves in an office and store-free world; there were numerous days we left home without Metrocards, credit cards, cash, iPod, laptop or mobile devices of any kind.

It felt like a prison of sorts or at least a holding cell and we said we longed for the moment we would regain our access to the real world. My Friday afternoon excursion down to the Simchat Torah celebration across from Zuccotti Park bridged the divide between the insular holiday observance and the world-at-large, enabling me to observe the holiday while also being at the epicenter of a huge global news story and social happening.

And now, the holiday-free zone has arrived. HOBB is sleeping. Middle Babe is at her best friend's party and Little Babe has just gone to bed, having shown me some rare Red Hot Chili Pepper concert clips from Off the Map. I sit at my dining room table with an wine-stained goblet. The bowl that recently held my Zadie's challah bread pudding is empty but the taste of custard lingers in my mouth. I long for the precious period that has just ended because I just remembered that real life is vastly overrated.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

What I Saw at Occupy Wall Street

FINALLY, I had a couple of hours to go down to the FiDi yesterday where I joined the hundreds of people who formed the messy, glorious, thoroughly inspiring be-in called Occupy Wall Street. I saw drummers and dancers. I saw Native Americans and Hasidic Jews. I saw an impromptu lending library. I saw crates of freshly-picked apples provided by a local farms. I saw filthy, tattooed young people. I saw elderly folks. I heard poets. I was cursed out for several minutes for refusing to give a guy my email address; his chorus of "F#$% You"s became part of the soundscape of the gathering, illuminated his bitterness.

I read placards and bios and signs and slogans. I saw America in tatters, I saw America refusing to be down for the count. I felt the spirit of Emma Lazarus, Ben Franklin, Susan B. Anthony and the agitators across the centuries, toiling for a cause.

At Zuccotti Park, I saw the future of America. Here is some of what I saw:

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Double-Edged Dream

I stayed awake as long as I could, close to 3:30 a.m. listening to the rapid-fire Hebrew patter of the Ynet anchors. Gilad Shalit was passed from Hamas to the Egyptian authorities. The International Red Cross was monitoring the progress of the transaction. Shalit was met by an IDF representative. His family was gathering. Medical personnel were standing by.

Unable to stay awake, I fell asleep before Shalit entered Israel and was reunited with his family though the photographs of the Shalit family waiting for their son made my heart overflow with prayer that he arrive whole in spirit, body and mind.

Declared healthy, this young former captive is thin and pale and surprise for someone held in a Hamas cell for five years. Further medical tests will probe his fitness further. There is a limp, possibly from the confrontation that led to his capture. Something appears to have happened to one of his hands. More insults to his body and mind might be revealed.

Over the past week, since the deal was announced, I've read pundits and predictions on all sides of this terrible negotiation. Stating the obvious, the prospect of terrorists being released is not only galling on a moral level but carries significant risk. I cannot think of anything to add to the debate other than expressions of sympathy for the families of those killed in terrorist attacks. Whatever they say or think is wholly justified. The murderers of their loved ones have gone free together with Shalit.

Listening to the news last night I found myself slipping into a realm of magical thinking, recalling my childhood belief in the possibility of Biblical miracles, the kind wrought for Israel by God. I considered a Jericho-like tumbling of walls, a plague, a brilliant military strategy worthy of King David dealing immediate justice to those released killers. I summoned up Samson in the temple of the Philistines, taking down the entire murderous nation before I realized that Samson's heroic act was one of martyrdom.

When I was a teenager, I found myself obsessed less with Biblical justice than with the ethics of survival during the Shoah. Of particular fascination to me were stories of Jewish women who slept with Nazi officers to save themselves or family members.

I was appalled. I was intrigued. I asked myself whether I could ever become a Nazi's whore to earn my life or the wellbeing of my family. I pondered the suicide pact of the 93 Jewish school girls from the Beth Jacob (Bais Yaacov) school in Warsaw who chose death over defilement with Nazis soldiers. I determined that I would have only pretended to take the poison, knowing myself to be a coward, preferring to gamble with my body for the sake of my life.

Maybe Israel has become a Nazi's whore. Maybe the purist solution was the one chosen by the girls who ingested poison and maybe I have no moral compass. It is true that negotiations with the devil have never gone well.

But it is also true that in the epic battle between Good and Evil, Good ultimately wins. The body count may be high but Evil is eventually vanquished.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Baruch Mateer Assurim; Baruch Dayan Ha-Emet

This is the crazy jumble of life:

While gathering yesterday afternoon at a New Jersey cemetery for the funeral of my friend Judy's father, Michael, a Hungarian Holocaust survivor, two calls came through.

The first, on HOBB's iPhone, informed him that his elderly Aunt Sylvia had just died.

The second, on my BlackBerry, informed me that Gilad Shalit would be coming home.

This is the crazy jumble of life:

Aunt Sylvia is the older sister of Marvin, HOBB's father, whose yahrzeit is today.We are leaving for her funeral in Queens right after my husband returns from minyan at Congregation Ramath Orah, where he will have recited kaddish in memory of his father.

Tonight is the start of the joyous festival of Sukkot, mere days after the solemn introspection of Yom Kippur.

For the next week, we are commanded to celebrate and build beautiful, if temporary huts where we will take our meals. The huts -- called Sukkot, the plural form of Sukkah -- commemorate the temporary dwellings built by the Israelites as they fled the captivity of Egypt on their way to the Promised Land.

Yesterday, a deal was brokered. It might be a terrible deal but the impetus is the release of a young Israeli held captive for five long years. Yom Kippur is over and Sukkot is upon us. Gilad Shalit has been in a terrible Sukkah, He is on his way to the Promised Land. There is joy. There is skepticism. We are on our way to Aunt Sylvia's funeral. It is HOBB's father's yahrzeit. My friend Judy is sitting shiva today for her father, just one day before the holiday begins and mourning must cease. Aunt Sylvia's family will have only two hours of shiva before they must get up.

This is the crazy jumble of life.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Name Game

I'm not sure when it happened but sometime between 1960 when I was ONE of maybe THREE Shiras in the entire United States of America and five seconds ago, my foreign, undesirable name became popular, beautiful and even ubiquitous in some places, for instance, Manhattan's Upper West Side.

Next to the invention of the Internet, the transformation of my name from weird to wonderful is one of the marvels of the modern world.

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, no one could relate to the name Shira. It was often misheard as Sheila or Shari or Sherry or Sharon or, heaven forbid, Shirley.

If Shirley Temple was all the rage in the thirties, it was the very last name a child of the sixties wanted to have.

But it wasn't that I had an embarrassingly old world name with Yiddish overtones; after all, I wasn't a Faigy or Raizey or Pesha or Bluma or Berel.

I may not have had a Grandma name but I did have a Hebrew name and during my childhood years, Hebrew names were hardly in vogue. Case in point: I was the only student with a Hebrew name in my grade at the North Shore Hebrew Academy. Note the ironic fact that the word "Hebrew" appears in the school's name. Instead of evoking the strong, suntanned denizens of the modern State of Israel, Hebrew names at that time belonged to the Bible, a faraway place with deserts and camels and Arabs and no television, mythical like Atlantis.

Shira was the sound of social isolation, the name of the rabbi's daughter, forever branded as different from all the other kids. Shira was the name of someone who could never be effortlessly natural or normal or native -- a visitor, an interloper, an outsider, an alien. It didn't help that I looked Israeli to everyone or "Mediterranean" which was likely the pre-PC way of saying Israeli.

That was long ago and far away, in the pre-ethnic, pre-alternative, pre-diversity era. That was before Black is Beautiful caught traction in my little neck of Great Neck (which I doubt it actually ever did) or "Free to Be You and Me" was the score that every liberated child was singing or "Our Bodies Ourselves" taught women to look at their hoo-hahs with a handheld mirror.

As if teleported by De Lorean or hot tub, I have arrived in a future where Shira has been normalized. Suddenly there are scores of little girls who happily answer to Shira. There are little blond Shiras and brunette Shiras and redheaded Shiras. There are journalists and authors with the name Shira. There is a famous judge with the name Shira. There are sexy and serious Shiras. There is a popular prayer group in Israel that begins with Shira. And most thrillingly for me, the Hebrew word "Ashira" was heard loud, proud and set to music during the exodus scene in "Prince of Egypt."

It took half a century but suddenly Shira is part of the American -- or perhaps just the New York City -- soundscape. It is a name whose meaning is known and not just by other Hebrew speakers. Last week, the young black cashier at Fairway looked at my receipt and proudly informed me that she knew that my name meant song...and that her best friend was named Shira. Last year, a friend sent me a link to a porn site from Australia where a young Indian girl named Sheera can be seen doing lesbianish things.

And then, there is She-Ra, Princess of Power, my leggy, blond superhero alter-ego.

Half a century ago, I was an uncomfortable pioneer of the name Shira.

Now, I am a veteran of the name, proud and relieved to be a big old Shira-fish in the not-so-small pond of other smaller and younger Shiras.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Paul Shapiro's Midnight Minyan as Tree of Life

Yom Kippur freaks me out every single year. I start dreading it the second Tisha B'Av ends with my terror escalating by the time Rosh Hashana rolls around. It's not just that I am a terrible faster with unstable blood sugar, constant thirst, a caffeine addiction and a thyroid condition; it's the prospect of being imprisoned within a 25-hour-long cell of prayer, devotion and Jewish community that gets to me.

When I think of my ideal Yom Kippur it involves being in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv or outdoors in a beautiful natural setting. I envision spending the day reading, sitting under a leafy tree and thinking deep or random thoughts, focusing on God, eternity, my soul, my life and how to be a better person.

There was a year, maybe two decades ago, that HOBB and I hosted a home Kol Nidre service in our beloved Westchester home on Aberfoyle Road in New Rochelle. The year in question, Yom Kippur came "early," that is to say it was summery and I wore a white linen dress. Our friends gathered with us on the floor of our living room. To begin, we played Ernst Bloch's "Kol Nidre." We read from our machzorim and spoke about repentance and forgiveness.

The experience was memorable, beautiful, perfect.

These days, the daunting institutional structure of Judaism is too much with me. Synagogues seem to separate me from my soul and the outdoors, where I long to be. Sitting in shul I long for escape.

And it's not that prayer doesn't speak to me; it's that long distance davening wears me out -- the thick siddur, the myriad pages to leaf through, the standing and sitting and ark opening and closing and silent and responsive reading, on and on for hours on end.

I have written in the past about having DADD -- Davening Attention Deficit Disorder.

The quantity of the prayer and possibly its structured, codified, canonized nature tends to dismay and alienate me. I know it can be otherwise.

Which brings me to the remarkable surprise of last night at the Sixth Street Shul and Paul Shapiro's Midnight Minyan which performed the most marvelous, maniacal, jazz-infused renditions of original music inspired by Jewish chants, melodies and prayer.

The pic above was taken by my friend Ricky Orbach, the formidable Kohane of Newark.

Riffing on the Jewish liturgical archive -- including "Etz Chaim He," the blessings before the Haftorah, the "Ashamnu" and Fiddler's "To Life - L'Chaim!" -- Paul Shapiro and his guys put on a show that was staggeringly, transcendently fantastic.

It was cool. It had swing. It blew my mind. It sparked my soul. It made me dance in my seat. It made me smile and wish for more.

From now until Yom Kippur, I will be listening to Paul Shapiro's mad music again and again, seeking shelter beneath the leafy canopy of his meshuga melodies, knowing them to be a manifestation of the Etz Chaim, the Tree of Life.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Scenes from 82nd Street and Broadway in the Middle of a Sunny Day in Early October

Leaving my therapist's office on West End Avenue around midday, I headed over to Broadway to grab a salad at Hale and Hearty. As it was spectacularly sunny, I decided to sit outside and eat my lunch on a bench in the middle of Broadway and 82nd Street.

Here are some cool things I saw:

Near the elevator, Barnes and Noble has a great new section called Discover New Writers.

It was the perfect kick in the pants for a writer who has managed to avoid writing the book that her writing professor and literary agent are both waiting for her to write.

I also bought a couple of Nicholson Baker novels and George Eliot's Daniel Deronda, encouraged by the example set by my friend Jane, who read the latter with one of her sons over the summer.

I still cannot get over the sight of that dog sitting in the stroller.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

SlutWalking in Morningside Heights

I'm a mom; that's the first fact I'd like to disclose. My daughter is a recent college grad and I have two sons, one an adult, the other a high school junior. The matter I raise in this post is one we have often talked about amongst ourselves. Amazingly, it is something we all seem to agree on.

I'm also a grown-up who loves parties, is comfortable going to bars, singing karaoke and wearing miniskirts though my fashion sensibility precludes tight clothing or excessive cleavage.

To my taste, such attire is tacky or, in the parlance of my mom's generation, cheap.

When I feel buff enough to carry off the look, I've even been known to wear bikinis, though of the early sixties, wholesome American kids at a beach party variety, with a bottom never ending more than a couple of inches below my navel.

Thong? No thongs.

A product of the freewheeling seventies who hates the fetishism inherent in the concept of female virtue and virginity, who treasures the exclusivity of a committed relationship but also believes that, in the absence of such a bond, sex can be recreational or deep and meaningful, I am continually appalled by the depersonalized sexuality of the hook-up generation, the randomness of romantic alliances, the consumerist activity of accumulating sex partners, the culture of drunken make-out sessions that often culminate in one or both people sleeping with someone they would ordinarily shun if sober, the "evolved" contention that making something that used to be called love is no big deal, an activity on par with, say, toothbrushing or going to the gym.

Hand-in-hand with reports from the friends-with-benefits front come the nightly sightings of young women dressed like what my Grandma Dorothy used to term "floozies." As I live across the street from the Columbia University campus, where I was a graduate student last year, I need only look out my living room window to catch sight of college girls looking tacky, cheap and worse.

By worse I mean embodiments of male pornographic fantasies, strutting capitulations to XXX-video jackets, sex kittens come to life, eager participants in the objectification of themselves, that is to say, all women.

Which brings me to the word "slut" and to this past weekend's SlutWalk, which was an anti-rape demonstration where women were encouraged to wear skimpy clothes and march to promote the idea that no matter how slutty she dresses, a woman does not deserve to be raped.

Naturally this is true.

Naturally it is also true that men as well as women are raped. Grandmothers and nuns are raped. Little girls and boys are raped. People are raped regardless of their sexual aura or age or attire.

Rape is an act of violence where sex is the weapon.

Naturally, none of the young women parading through Morningside Heights or anywhere deserve to be raped or so much as touched without their consent.

As the protestors said, slutty attire is not an invitation.

Except when it sometimes is an invitation, that is, at the behest of the young woman.

The problem, for me at least, is that the new slutty sartorial sensibility coexists with slutty sexual mores...on the part of men as well as women, then again, men have always been sluttier than women.

Let's just put that on the table.

And while its unconscionable to blame the victim of a crime I would like to ask the uncomfortable, possibly unPC question: why do young women increasingly feel compelled to dress like sluts?

Of course, I am going out on a shaky limb by posing this question, aware of the subjectivity of the concept of skimpy attire, fully cognizant of the fact that in some part of the world, the sight of a woman's face is considered a provocation. I've gotten into arguments with HOBB over my own attire; accused of dressing immodestly. He's usually right. I am dressing inappropriately, my secret rebellion for being forced to attend a religious event outside of my belief system and comfort zone.

Yes, what one terms scandalous attire may in fact be relative but within a given culture, there are agreed-upon norms or at least parameters. I would venture to say that everyone reading this post has a concept of what constitutes slutty attire.

Sometimes even by the woman so dressed. In the coverage I read of the SlutWalk, young women spoke of the empowerment of dressing sluttishly.

So here's where I'm lost. I fail to see the empowerment inherent in looking like a pole dancer in public unless empowerment is code for extended adolescent rebelliousness against some amorphous parental figure. Or the government. Or God. Or the patriarchy. Or capitalism. Or Wall Street...though I believe that demonstration is still ongoing.

This fun-loving, sometimes hard-drinking, karaoke-singing, mini-skirted feminist mom would like to sit down with some of the young women -- younger than my daughter -- who parade past my apartment on their own SlutWalks in an effort to understand why we see things so differently, why the clothing they see as their ticket to liberation is, for me, the 21st century's version of the apron, the corset, the child-sized shoe that binds, constricts, hobbles and disfigures.

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Approach/Avoid: High Holiday Edition

It is the night after the Shabbat following Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year.

In our family, we call it a Triple Whammy, this glut of days of observance. Family togetherness is mandated, a wonderful and terrifying thing. If one adheres to Jewish tradition -- eschewing phones, computers, and other electronic intrusions, not to mention shopping, work and travel -- there can be a cloistered, claustrophobic quality to the days. Yet the three-day chag also creates an island of time, set apart from the secular mainland, a magical realm where a special set of rules apply.

Our Rosh Hashana Triple Whammy included sumptuous meals with friends and family, long walks in Central Park and Riverside Park, museum visits and our trademark killer competition Scrabble games. (I won. Twice. The second time by a huge margin of over 100 points. I am an insufferable winner and a sore loser.)

My typical ambivalence about merging with community for prayer was greater than usual this year; indeed I only made it to shul two out of the three days and for a respectable amount of time only on the first day.

I felt sad and sorry not to be part of the kehillah when I was playing hooky from shul yet unhappy to be part of it while I was there.

Everything bothered me. It wasn't the particular shul; it was Shul itself -- the edifice, the chairs, the walls, the people. My overwhelming desire was to run away and be alone with my thoughts in an evocative setting.

As I shifted in my folding chair in Ansche Chesed's Hirsch Hall, crossing and recrossing my legs, images of seashores, mountain tops, rivers, lakefronts and my beloved summer bungalow swam before my mind's eye.

I longed for the company of my parents; I wished to be in Israel, preferably in the Negev or perhaps up north, in the verdant Galilee.

Situated on the super-Jewish Upper West Side, I somehow felt exiled, far away from the place where I wished to speak with God.

But of course, God is everywhere and I was nowhere, lost.