Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The anti-Israel saga continues

I'm writing from a place of vulnerability, and hope that because I forewarned you, you find compassion and hold your scalpel steady during this open-heart surgery.

For over a month now, I've been cheap with my blogs. Not the "I just saved three bucks by using coupons on body wash, score! , kind of cheap," but the "sorry, I've only got one piece of gum left" type. And its not that I haven't had anything to write during these past 5 weeks, or because of all the recent Jewish holidays, it's because I simply didn't budget my time. 

In a cursory overview, here are my potential past blogs:

Week 1: Skipping Davening and bloody knees from running up a down escalator
Week 2: Why are Jewish Girls not enough for Jewish Boys anymore: a look at intermarriage.
Week 3: The Shabbos App: the generation of easy-does-it
Week 4: New Friend: Mom Muslim, Dad Jewish, wants to go on Birthright, Question: Can I celebrate Sukkot with you?

(I pride myself on being frugal- but this here's just plain stingy. Sorry. Back to the operating room.)


I cried again today, and by now my crying has probably lost its luster; yet I assure you, it was justified. 

"We are midday through the semester and I assume that you are just trying to get through this class. You see me as your hurdle...." Pause.

"Block," she says, burning holes into my eye sockets and making my ancestors blush,
"You are my hurdle."

My Fiction Writing teacher-Again.

From my after-class impromptu meeting, I'm now going to boil-down a list of things I can not do right:

1. I cannot take criticism well.
2. I always have to be right.
3. People are intimidated in the classroom by my presence and don't speak up for fear I will judge them.
4. I look like I'm in pain. I am hostile.
5. I think I am superior to everyone else and therefore believe I cannot learn from them
6. I am too advanced for the class
7. My discussion board posts try to prove to everyone else that I am smarter than they are by incorporating larger concepts, big words, and because I despise vague phrases like "The author's imagery is good."
8. I am an intellectual snob
9. I stress her out because I remind her of herself
10. Because of this conversation, I make her late to her next class

So I cried. Again. And right before my short story is going to be workshopped in my next class. I wipe my face all over with a Neutragena towelette. I breathe in the scent and it reminds me of cushy baby wipes, of snuggles and "keppee kisses." Gosh, aren't we all just inner babies? Would you tell a baby they are a "hurdle?"

In workshop, no one really knows what to say about my piece. I wrote about a group of 4 boys living in 1960's Lower East Side. They are a gang of friends. The narrator has an unconventional relationship with his parents made of gestures not words. His parents are holocaust survivors. He learns this in context of his American History class. His parents never told him. They are ashamed and refuse to speak.

The class refuses to speak, or rather, they have nothing to say. Thank God for the one page response rubic everyone is meant to write-up, or else I may never know what they didn't like. 

The entire time I kept hearing her words in my head. "People are intimidated in the classroom by your presence: they don't speak up because they think you'll judge them."


As I sit in bed now, pushing off studying the Immigration Policy midterm I have tomorrow, and drinking soy milk chunks because I forgot to "Shake Well," I am trying to use this powerfully vulnerable episode as a type of inertia for strength. 

I take a literature of the holocaust class. In Auschwitz, the chemist Primo Levi had never used a shovel, and while digging, accidentally shoveled piles of dirt onto his head. Once liberated, he became a successful novelist, orator, and his book The Periodic Table was named the best science book ever in 2006 by The Royal Institution of Great Britain.


I have a friend who fears he is "not Jewish enough." His mother is Muslim, and his Father is Jewish. They are not religious people. He hears I am Jewish and opens himself up to rejection. "Here's my number, please let me know if any more Jewish holidays are coming up. By the way, what is Hillel?"


A boy from Kemp Mill dies without warning, way before his time. His friends, are shocked, in a frenzy, make themselves ill and bitter. Some in their deepest realm of rawness, point an accusatory finger towards God.


I believe that the beauty of first drafts- the rough vulnerability we writers, teenagers, Jews, Muslims, students, agnostics, believers, humans encounter- is actually,  the revision.