Sunday, December 27, 2009

Have a Happy Holiday!

The days become shorter and the nights are therefore longer. Winter creeps up on us like a raccoon coming out of hiding in the darkness of Central Park. The weather is described as breezy, chilly and containing flurries. What about just telling it like it is: "cold and even colder"! The long weekends arrive as fast as they left us and I begin to reminisce about last year's holiday season. Things were oh so different then. I had a job, though the floor beneath me was starting to shake. I got a bonus though it was far from adding any value. It was cold, way colder than now and I remember cursing myself for ever wanting to come to this great city. Looking back, I confidently conclude that things are far better now. Though I may be unemployed, I'm happy and fulfilled. I am no longer subjected to humiliation and ridicule by my jealous she-boss. I control my time, my destiny and my feelings and there is nothing more satisfying than that. I have managed to shape-up, body and soul and there is nothing that can compare to being healthy. I am stronger, more confident in my abilities, and am ready to embrace any challenge that life throws at me.

The stores look pretty this year, their decorations only slightly less grand than last year's. The shoppers look hungry, not for food but for finding the best deal they can. Sadly, the holiday shopping has caught up with me and I am determined to use up all my coupons, discounts and premier customer benefits. As I scramble to find the best deal, online and in real-life, I end up buying more than expected or needed. Gladly, I learn that returning merchandise can also be fun, sometimes even more enjoyable than shopping, especially when I get back more than I actually paid. Those coupons can bite you in the ass Bloomingdales!

The restaurants are full this year, but their prices slimmer. This poses yet another incentive to spend. You can have the same great food and experience for less. We hit three restaurants this weekend, but we spend the equivalent of what we would've spent at one fancy place last year. We have found other dining options, just as tasty as the previous ones and have also discovered the Lunch Special. "Dinners are so last year", I told my husband as we devour our brown-rice spicy tuna roll.

When everything is considered, this year has been an awesome one. It has forced challenges upon us and we have overcome them with flying colors. We have learned to appreciate everything we have, material and health and we feel grateful to be where we are. Let's hope next year continues to move us forward and make us stronger and more whole human beings!

Happy New Year New York!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Soul Music

The tall, dark man moved across the stage in an agitated like manner, jerking his body in different directions, formulating a pleasant yet violent dance. His voice was majestic, full of soul and emotion as he sang his original songs in his native language, an Arab dialect spoken in Yemen. His voice carried us elsewhere, far away to a nation so different from America. The strength with which he held himself, proudly singing sitting down and then slowly standing up as he struck a higher note was inspiring. Idan Raichel and friends are a sight to be seen, their music is a compilation of the work of 85 talented musicians from all over the world originating in Israel. The small, cozy, state of the art auditorium gave way to exceptional acoustics and soul ("neshama"). As a special guest, the famous India Arie performed a song in Hebrew, just one of the many languages sung that evening. It didn't matter what they sang and what language it was in, the vocalists were so into the words that the audience understood their meaning. After two full hours, we were finally swept away as the ensemble performed three upbeat songs in their encore. Everyone was on their feet, vigorously clapping and absorbing the energy of the music. Praying for it not to end, we clapped and jumped more and more knowing it would be a while until we felt this way again. Israeli music has a way of doing that to me and every concert is a cause for celebration. As I closed my eyes, taking in the rhythm, I imagined the shores, the warmth, the smiles, the sincerity, the bliss, the homeland.

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Glass Castle

A starry night, a swift breeze and rain dripping on an eight year old boy through a tattered roof. Four children growing up in sheer poverty, moving every few months from mining town to desert to trailer park and fending for their own meals all the while. This brave story captured my New York weekend and made me appreciate everything I've ever had in life. Not just material things, but guidance, love, compassion and parents that served as role models. The Walls' children miraculously survive a life filled with instability, fear, role-reversal and lots of hunger. How they did so and all turned out happy, successful and fulfilled adults amazes me. The most amazing thing is that they manage to stay a family even when their parents choose to be homeless on the streets of New York City. Jeannette Walls' moving life story is captured in her first memoir, The Glass Castle. It consists of broken dreams and promises from a drunken father, a mother who lives in her own selfish world and 3 siblings that always look out for each other. In fact, their success and more importantly, their survival was made possible by their love for one another. They stuck together throughout the hunger, extreme cold, rickety homes, parent's violent brawls and being poor outcasts in even the poorest of communities. Not only were they neglected their entire lives by parents who did not plan on having children, but they were also abused and exploited by those same parents. Parenthood is a gift, a miracle which shouldn't be taken lightly and this book emphasizes that point. It is not a gift to be mistreated or unappreciated. In the end, the children left their parent's home and built a new life in the city of opportunity. Only then they started living, learning, eating and socializing. The story ends on this positive note and shows us that life can be a terrible struggle for some but their triumph is that much stronger!


The fire trucks wail at the crack of dawn followed by the noisy garbage trucks. They sound as if they are extracting the enormous garbage bins from within the depths of the earth and then re-planting them. I jump out of bed to shut the open sliver of our bedroom window to keep my husband from waking up. He has to go to work soon and I am envious. I lay there contemplating how to busy myself for the next hour of this Monday. Reluctantly, I fall back asleep for a couple more hours. I remember what it was like walking to the subway on my way to work. School children walking to school with parents, dragging their heavy backpacks behind them. Businessmen storming out of the elevator with their briefcases held high, briefly glancing at the doorman. Construction workers cracking jokes about passersby, as if we didn't notice. But this day is a new day, and a different one. I have many options in store for me- cook/clean our quaint one bedroom apartment, meet with my personal trainer at the gym, have lunch with a close girlfriend, and the list goes on….

It might sound fun and relaxing but the truth is, it repeats itself. How many sales can I go to? How many coffee shops can I revisit in a 20 block radius? How many in-depth life changing discussions can I have if nothing is really "happening" to me? And, most importantly, who am I now that I am no longer defined by my job. That question is what puzzles me and I am determined to answer it. I am a wife, a sister, a daughter a friend. But, aside from how I interact with others, who am I and what do I bring to this world. Just months ago I knew who I was and where I was going. But as the days go by slowly and the nights faster, the seasons have changed and weeks have become months. I'm nearing a time of judgment. I need to conclude this carefree time of vacations and self-indulgence. But it is not entirely up to me.

I dream of going back to work, getting up in the morning with a purpose, dressing well and marching off to work like the rest of the millions walking the sidewalks of Manhattan. Winter is just around the corner and I dread being unemployed in the cold. Every step outside is calculated and if I have no reason to go out, no extremely good reason, well then I won't. These four walls will become my life and they will define who I am. And that is not me. So I write, read, explore and research. I talk, get out and don't give up. I find exciting things to do and embark on new challenges. But I feel like my motivation is waning and I'm not sure what to do next. Soon it will be a year that I've been home and then I will have even more questions to answer, trying to justify why I haven't found a job yet. I don't blame myself though others do. ”There must be something wrong with her if she hasn't been working for so long", they whisper. But there isn't, there really isn't. I assure you I am a pure victim of the economy and it has become increasingly hard to overcome it. Things should have been better by now but they aren't and that is a fact. I hope, truly hope that waiting and being persistent will pay off and that God will answer my prayers for a new opportunity.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Party Girl

She was smiling. She looked cute and content while entertaining her guests. She liked to make sure everyone was ok, pouring them vodka and adding to it according to their preference. I looked around. The place was pretty, fancy and unusual. The people all looked happy and engaged in the rhythm. I would've skipped this. In fact, I tried to skip it but she wouldn't budge. "It's our 30th we must do something to celebrate." Now all eyes were on me as I tried to keep everyone occupied. Talking hid my embarrassment, allowing me to loosen up a bit and forget the attention for just a moment. She tried to get me to dance, practically begging me to get the groove on. Putting her arms around me she looked to make sure the others saw. To get her point across. I was hers and that was final.

Great, even more attention poured my way causing my face to get redder. I couldn't hide from it so I had another drink. This night would be over soon and then it would just be the two of us in our sanctuary. Peopled started fidgeting and looking at their watches. Could they see I wanted them to leave? Could she see? She didn't mind me; she knew me inside out and knew the exact words that cancelled my discomfort.

Just a bit longer and we could avoid nights like these for a whole year. But then came the pictures. Endless clicks and poses reviewed and perfected for the audience, her audience. She liked to document moments, for me it was all in my head...

Monday, September 21, 2009

Primero Memory

The corridors were long and endless. There were many doors and we kept walking not knowing where to stop. The whiteness filled the space and created a certain glow. I was holding his hand real tight. We were both very excited to meet her. Suddenly we reached a large waiting room filled with sunlight. There were many Dads there, sitting and waiting patiently while watching the never-ending news on TV. We hesitated. Should we sit or keep searching. "Ah" my Dad said to the nurse. "Can you help me please?" We were abruptly guided back to the corridors and kept walking. Finally, my Dad opened one of the doors a sliver and called for my Mom. I ran up to my Mother and her tightly. She was tired but smiling. She led me towards a small glass bed and gently lifted me up to see the contents. I was surprised and awed at the same time. There was my little sister Abby and she looked nothing like me.


The sun is beginning to peek out of the grayish clouds. I should go now before the weather becomes irrational yet again. I put on my cute little outfit to get me in to the sporty mood. IPod- check. Keys- check. As I walked towards the enormous green haven called Central Park, serenity began to settle in. I passed by strong, tall trees, kids playing baseball, squirrels scurrying about and fellow eager joggers. Walking up the slanted passageway the images became apparent. I take a deep breath and take it all in. Exquisite skyscrapers juxtaposed to a large clear reservoir. A few ducks swam in pairs, cruising along and glancing at the joggers. A tourist with a fancy camera takes a snapshot. This is my special place in New York. Where nature and industrialism live alongside one another. I stop to drink some water, breathing heavily. As I turn the corner, the long row of pink blossoms come alive. Each tree is different from the next yet they all come together harmoniously. The sun begins to settle and I see fewer figures circling the perimeter. This is the only sport I enjoy. The only sport I will do willingly. With such inspiring diversion, who can even call it a sport?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A Shot in The Dark

It was pitch black as the bus lazily swerved around the corner. My heart raced and I began to internalize the purpose of our trip. We drove up winding roads what seemed like an eternity until we reached a high point in the mountains. The bus stopped and we stepped out one by one, making sure we each had our weapons on us. The heavy and bulky Uzi hurt my shoulder. I had tried switching sides but that didn’t help ease the pain in my lower back. We had been carrying a weapon for a few days and we were finally going to shoot it for real. We practiced shooting with blanks, disassembling it, cleaning it, oiling it, naming it and putting it back together. Uzi was to be our closest companion for the next three weeks of boot camp.

She called us in to the barracks, yelling for us to stay in form. One by one, we filed in keeping our heads down to keep our eyes from meeting her evil. I had befriended two nice girls similar to me, yet different. “Dona, come this way”, Yael whispered, pointing me towards the end of the barracks. We had decided to be last in order to avoid any mistakes. That Dona is such a dreamer, Yael thought. That’s what it’s like when you’re guided through life. She is so lucky; I wish I grew up in a mansion like her. I wish I didn’t have to work a day in my life. Yael had mimicked me several times for not paying attention in the courses. I had been sent out to wash my face earlier that day on account of falling asleep during weaponry class. Yael's thoughts were interrupted by my squeal. Dana pinched my butt and I jumped up. “Shhhh”, Dana said, “you don’t want to be yelled at again do you?” She loved teasing me since it was so easy to get me going. I will show that spoiled girl what it’s like to be an Israeli. Furthermore, an Israeli soldier, Dana thought. We lived in neighboring towns though mine was more upscale. She was constantly competing with me, trying to prove she was wealthier and cooler than me.

“Stand in a line horizontally and make sure not to fall into the fields”, our commander snarled at us. I sifted through the group of girls and found a comfortable place to stand. I looked up to see 30 white targets nailed on wooden poles, one for each soldier. I could barely make out the number of circles on the paper. Yael stuck to my side on the right and Dana on the left. We trembled simultaneously while holding hands. “Lift your weapons, get down on one knee, put your elbows on the floor and lay flat”. The commands kept coming at us like knives thrown by a Japanese Iron Chef. Dana looked at me is if to check I understood the Hebrew. She stroked my back to reassure me it would be over soon. We lay on the floor waiting to fire our guns. I thought of all the bad scenarios that could come true. We had been told horror stories every day leading up to this day. These regulations were written with our comrade’s blood. The anticipation was high and we all prayed it would go smoothly.

“FIRE FIRE FIRE!!!!” My ears were ringing from the thirty loud semi-automatic 9 millimeter machine-guns going off at once. The bullets whistled by me. I fired three bullets in the direction of the target but could care less if they hit it. “Hold your fire!” I was near tears, my ears burning even with the thick earplugs protecting them. I couldn’t see further then the person next to me. “Don’t move”! The commanders came by and verified our weapons were off. They checked that the barrels were clean and the stocks empty.

We were instructed to stand up and file into a line again to exit the barracks. I obeyed the commands like a robot, my body still too sore to control its movement. “I bet you never thought you would be doing this” Dana teased and smirked. She made a point of reminding me where I came from as if to put me in my place. She will never be one of us, she thought. Dana's super-Israeli look and personality were intimidating while Yael was more gentle and soft-spoken. Dana stuck her chest out, stood tall and marched out of the barracks into the field. I tried to recollect what I had just been a part of. I stood and stared at the targets being held up by the commanders, trying to guess which was mine. I knew I didn’t even get close since I fired mostly with my eyes closed, too scared to look at the fiery sparks coming out of my gun. Yael took my elbow and dragged me towards the meeting point. “Come eat” she said, “even though I’m sure you don’t have an appetite”. We walked towards the group of girls opening pre-made cheese sandwiches and cans of coke. I proceeded to pick one up and unwrap it. I guess I might as well eat since this will be the most food I’ll be getting today. Taking a bite of my sandwich I reminisced about my previous life of innocence and ignorance, trying to put the dramatic momentous experience behind me.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Laid-off Thriller

As I walked in to the office everything seemed as normal. The same people drinking the same tasteless coffee chattering away. I sat at my desk and surprise- my username still worked. It all seemed too peaceful and mundane. And then…the phone rang. I snatched it up, the voice on the other side said "Dona"? The voice was all too familiar. "Yes", I said. I hung up the phone. It was really happening, the moment I had been dreading since this mess started. I looked around my cubicle. People looked the other way or kept their heads down. I walked out of the office to the elevator. My heart was racing. How much would they give me? Who would be in that horrid room? Entering the third floor, I was guided to a room. A sad room with sad people in it. This was the end and I was soon to be pleasantly surprised and calm.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Aliyah: The Big Move

The heat was sweltering; warm waves of heat came towards me and hit my face slapping me back into my new reality. I looked around me, swarms of people everywhere shielding themselves from the hot sun. I held my sisters’ hands tightly and made sure my Mom was holding my brothers. Step-by-step we walked down the airplane stairs, slowly taking in the new atmosphere. At the end of the stairs, my Mom took us to the side and started kissing the ground. “Kiss it!” she said, and we were so embarrassed. “Stop Mommy please, people are looking”. “You don’t know how long I’ve waited for this moment”, she said. She knelt down repeatedly and kissed the scorching cement. She got up, composed herself and kept walking towards the passport control area indoors. As we walked through the large glass doors, we were thankful there was strong air-conditioning in the hall. The lines were so long, even for Israeli passport holders. I was anxious, kept checking on my younger siblings making sure they were ok and cheering them up. “Don’t worry guys; I don’t think it’s this hot all the time, maybe just in August.” We stood in line for what seemed like an eternity, waiting to get to the other side and see who was awaiting us. We finally made it after my Mom answered a few questions as to why she was there alone with five children. “We’re coming back home” she said to the soldier at the counter. “Oh”, she said “enjoy”.

We walked towards the baggage control; all the while people passing us by, speaking loudly and brushing by us rudely. I felt as if I was in a movie and all these visions were part of a fast-paced scene. Suddenly my Mom yelped! Her two brothers and brother-in-law jumped on her. “Hadassa”, they cried. “You’re here”. They then proceeded to kiss us all on both cheeks and hug us tightly. The whole thing was overwhelming. We were still in shock from leaving our beloved home behind. Packing up all our things, giving some away to our Mexican housekeeper, and saying goodbye to our friends. They were asking us loads of questions- “How was your flight?”, “Are you happy to be in Israel?”, “When is your Daddy coming?”.

I had to sit, my feet were shaking and I couldn’t cope with all the excitement. I would be ok, I said to myself, but what about my four younger siblings? How would my baby brother Akiva who was only 5 at the time cope? He didn’t know any Hebrew and was joined at the hip of my Mom. What about Ofra? She was only 9 and oh so fragile. The thoughts and worries floated around in my head like thin cumulus clouds. “Don’t worry”, my uncle said in Hebrew, “It will be ok”. I was reassured by his remark as he patted my leg. How did he know what I was thinking? I guess this is what family means. He could read my mind and he knew exactly what to say. I was getting excited to meet all of my twenty some cousins and seven aunts and uncles.
We finally gathered all our things. My uncles carried all the suitcases and my Mom held us close to her. We were going outdoors again. Brace yourself, I said, the heat will hit you like a slap in the face. We walked outside into a screaming pack of people. People were calling out names, jumping up and down, holding colorful signs and waving. The welcoming area was a madhouse and we were all frightened. We slowly pushed ourselves through the crowd and made it to my uncle’s van. We loaded our entire luggage, sat in the back seat and looked around us. And that was it; we were home once again, this time for good. I turned around to look at the airport one last time and realized I wouldn’t be seeing it for several years.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

About Me by Jayne Neverow

When Dona speaks, her smile betrays her reserved manner. Her eyes are warm and more than happy to tell you where she has been. She is fortunate enough to have grown up in two lands. Los Angeles, land of glamour and glitz. Israel, a place I am totally unfamiliar with- but am instantly drawn to when she says that is where she would raise her children. Her entire family still lives there. I marvel at how she relays this. Just another factoid. I would cave in without the comfort of my family close at hand. Blocks away. She is New York through and through. Resilient. So interesting to me that she moved from numbers to letters. From Morgan Stanley to here, Gotham Writers Workshop. Amid brokers and financiers one day to poets and novelists the next. Gone are the shocks from a troubled economy. Gone is the tedium of soap operas. She says this as if the slightest part of her misses that guilty pleasure at least once week. She writes. I listen. We learn. “The most difficult part is getting it out…” After that, the writing acts a salve. Healing and illustrating, painting pictures vividly from days in Israel. “It’s so free there. It felt safe.” Her eyes wander for a moment. It looks as though her two brothers and two sisters may be living in a land they are unaware of how to appreciate. No obsessions with perfect plastic surgery and swimming pools where the HOLLYWOOD sign is visible. No subway trenches or occasional sewer rat skittering by the Five Star Restaurant. No rude New Yorkers like yours truly. She appreciates the peacefulness. “They only show you what sells newspapers but the place is beautiful, really.” I can see her now with her husband. Loving this place. Knowing this place.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Life’s Pace…

She is heavy and slow, every movement is an effort and yet nothing much is accomplished. “I’m so beat”, she sighs, while I try and contemplate what is going on in her head. She is sad, almost broken and empty from the separation. It is not sure when they will meet again but she continues talking to him for hours on end. I see no point to this, and I tell her. Try and break free, but she is so fragile. I try to protect her in this weary state not knowing when and what to say to soothe her pain. He has disappointed her and let her go and now she is my responsibility. His motives are unclear to all, even to himself. I assume the worst, his fear of commitment and settling down have gotten the best of him. But I doubt he would commit had she stayed. My husband says it’s over. “Just get it over with” he tells her, almost yelling and she is appalled even at the notion.

She is sluggish and weighed down with thoughts. She moves like a snail and I remember that her usual pace is slower than mine. She is not focused, reading and not comprehending. She is careless and lazy, doing only as she is told and leaving loose ends open. She is neither me, nor I her but we are oh too similar. She is me 6 years ago, before my husband and I became serious. I am her in the future, or at least I hope. Baby sisters always stay babies, but I wish she would grow and see the world for what it really is. Her movements are limp, her muscles soar, and her joints ache almost as much as her heart.

I try to have fun, passing the time and discussing other people’s problems, always the best remedy. I treat her and pamper her all the while touring one of the most beautiful cities in the world. She is shocked and amazed and is beginning to fall in love, this time with the city. “I can see myself here” she mumbles. “I hope he can too”, she murmurs under her breath just loud enough for herself to hear. “What do people do here that they can live so well?” she asks with the curiosity and innocence of a young girl. “Oh”, I answer, “lots!”, and begin to describe the various high-paying jobs this metropolis caters to. She listens attentively waiting for me to touch on the trade her lover holds. Carefully, I move on to something else, pointing out the old-fashioned horse carriages along the park. It is beginning to settle in, I can see, slowly but surely. Her mind is slower than her body, taking in ideas and concepts one by one and then rehashing their significance at a dawdling pace.

She is young but her spirit old and weak. She is not who I remember but she will soon be. I intend on brining her back to life and this monstrosity of a city will help me do so. We look up and suddenly feel a whir of dizziness when staring at the skyscrapers. Indeed, the landmark has been ruined yet the modern piece is far from frightening. I pray the city’s pace becomes hers and she can walk alongside me instead of lag behind me. I pray we will walk these streets proudly and our feet will lead the way to a brighter and quicker pace. A pace of accomplishment, renewal and LIFE!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Blissing in Negril, Jamaica

The wind made its way through my hair, gently stroking strand by strand. The sun hit my face with the strength of a tamed ox. Small drops of water splashed on my arms, creating a refreshing sensation. The scenery was mind-blowing yet extremely calming. The slow Reggae beats entered my body and I began shifting from side to side. I reached over to my husband, gently bringing him closer to me. I wasn't imagining, but we were in paradise.

The Catamaran moved at a perfect pace, slow enough for us to focus on the fabulous seaside hotels and villas, but fast enough to initiate some waves. We were on a two hour cruise to the Pirate Bay Caves. The boat held about 30 people, all couples, inferred from the name of our resort. The barman was also a DJ and an entertainer really. He danced around the boat with the vacationers, passing out rum and coke, and posing for pictures. We accepted an island drink, more alcohol to fuel our bliss…

Arriving at the caves we rush to jump in to the deep turquoise-blue water. My husband and I swim to the caves, awed by the scenery. They are cool but not eerie, embracing our presence as we enter in a group. I'm a bit scared about swimming in such deep waters but I look around me and cannot think of one reason to complain. The water is crystal clear and the sand white, creating a synchronous turquoise-blue with several depths. We almost missed this cruise, doubting the worthiness of a cruise included in the hotel rates. The warm, sweet attendant at the water sports counter convinced us to board, saying it was an experience. Seeing as he was the same guy who took us on the amazing glass-bottomed boat a day earlier, we trusted him. These were the best two hours of our already amazing vacation.

On the way back to the shore, I reminisced on our time here. Fresh baked pastries and ripe tropical fruits were served to us every morning in our terrace, overlooking a lush, tropical garden. Most of our days were spent at the huge beachfront pool, soft reggae emerging from the fully stocked bar smack in the middle of the pool. On the beach, we picked out mattresses and lounge chairs and dragged them to the water placing them halfway within. The waiter immediately came by offering us frozen island drinks; we gave in and ordered a batch. A wavelet breaks and a warm stream of water immerses our bare feet, gently massaging the city scabs. We waded in the warm yet invigorating water, losing track of time and reality while discussing nothing of importance for hours. I began feeling hungry even after a big breakfast and three cocktails. We contemplate our lunch options, the healthier buffet with a salad bar or the beachside grill for fresh off the grill delicacies. We decide on the salad bar figuring we will have a big dinner anyway. Colorful and rich vegetables in the salad bar, several make your own sandwich stations, fresh grilled meats, a selection of warm and healthy sides and finally the desert bar including fresh tropical fruits, make your own ice-cream sundaes and the famous Jamaican rum pudding.

Time for our afternoon nap. Our room is spotless and our sheets drawn. Our mini bar has been refilled with water, soda, tropical juices and a wide selection of alcohol including a bottle of champagne. We chill in our spacious and comfortable room watching American cable on our flat screen. My husband checks his email on his laptop, our only link to reality, and I briefly snap at him.

We awaken from our nap after sunset and start preparing for dinner. Tonight we have reservations at the “Otaheite” restaurant. We were advised in advance that attire is formal and men must wear slacks. My husband, protesting, puts on his big city slacks in this small and beautiful oasis. I’m excited to taste French-Caribbean fusion cuisine. The round windowed room holds only several diners. We are seated at a table with a velvet plush loveseat lit by an exquisite hanging lamp. The ambiance is extremely romantic and we feel as if we have landed somewhere else. The five course meal was delectable and a feast for our eyes. Every course was served in a covered silver tray and revealed to use by the waiter to the sound of “voila”. Perfection at its best!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Central Park Transformed

I live only a block away from paradise. Only a block away from my sanctuary.
I try and come here every day to admire God’s creations. The different kinds of trees, tall and short, the trimmed yet wild grass, the massive bodies of water, and most of all, the people. People of all walks of life come here. They, like me, are looking for salvation, some sanity in this mad city of New York. A man tries to fish unsuccessfully, a tourist stops to strike a pose, a native peacefully reads a book on a bench and an adventurous dog skips on, treating a squirrel like dinner. People are at their best, enjoying the sun, and the green leaves melted together with wildlife. I look around me, taking it all in and notice the trees trying to hide the tall buildings on the outskirts, but nothing gets in the way of overpriced real estate.

We arrive late afternoon in a group. I try to shake off an eerie feeling; I sense the madness resides here in my sanctuary. Teens jump up and down to the electronic beats, adults sway to the strobe lights and the stage is filled with life. If God was a DJ, this would be his favorite place to perform. Out in the open air people are determined to keep jumping. They drink beers in plastic cups and puff on cigarettes, nodding their heads in agreement with the beat. They solicit others for magic medicine, trying to seek comfort in an understanding face. They unfold the white paper and press it to their tongues, all the while trying to be unseen though they can’t even concentrate long enough to contemplate getting caught. The drugs are what fuel them on, causing their hearts to race and pupils to dilate into a stork-like stare.
The crowd jumps, all at once, lifted by the constant ups and downs of the machine generated umps. Bzzz,bzzz,ump,ump,ump, the DJ continues…The music takes the path of a volatile stock, taking the people with it. Up and down, down and back up. This is where nature and technology meet. Though this place is a product of man, it has long been controlled by God. The music, on the other hand, is all human synthesized. The craziness is present and is thick as the hot August air. I try and focus on people but they won’t stand still long enough for my eyes. The adrenaline from the audience starts rubbing off and I reluctantly give in to it, jumping up and down. I embrace the tunes trying to make them familiar until I am brought down by an ending song.

The sun begins to set and darkness becomes the park. The crowd is ecstatic as the massive LCD screens on stage come to life. They try and match colors to music, shapes to sounds. “Woohooo, wooohoooo”, they chant, louder and louder. I am swept up in the excitement, happily chanting along. I feel euphoric, almost high and jump higher. Though I have never seen Central Park in the dark, I feel secure. A sense of togetherness wraps around me, sealing in the atmosphere. This is truly a unique experience, one I will cherish forever. It’s not every day you get to see the acclaimed DJ Paul Van Dyk perform in Central Park, New York City.

Sarah Scissorhands

“Ok honey, all set, now my hairs are just waiting to be chopped off”, he called out from the kitchen. His voice was as annoying as a baby squealing two minutes after you’ve put him down. Be calm, she thought to herself. I can give the jerk a haircut without poking his eye out or accidentally scarring his eyebrow forever. She took a moment to collect herself, looking in the mirror as if to verify her anger and hurt weren’t plastered on her forehead. “In a minute dear, I’m just looking for the sharper pair”. Rummaging through the bathroom drawers and pushing things around she noticed the shiny pair of scissors she had been scared to use on David until now. She yanked them out and marched down the hallway towards the kitchen.
“Oh wow, you sure those are safe?” Of course they are you moron. “Yes honey I’ve used them on you before you just don’t remember”. “I’m sure you’re right I never remember anything”, he said.
Sarah started snipping away at his head, starting from the back and working her way up to the front. Her hands stroked his hair with care and affection that had developed over the past three years. She reminisced over their first meeting at a friend’s home, sitting across each other at a Shabbat dinner. He seemed nice, but definitely too nerdy to be her type. Now she was about to lose him to someone else. Someone she knew nothing about. If I do this, I will just be proving him right, proving there is a reason for him to look elsewhere than his stay-at-home wacko wife. She continued contemplating whether to injure him, even just a bit in order to make him pay. Snip, snippety, snip. “Honey those scissors seem awfully sharp”, he said as she abruptly jerked his head to the other direction. “Don’t worry David I know what I’m doing”. Well, she thought, he is being super annoying; maybe he deserves a little scratch inflicted by yours truly.
“Ouch!” he cried. “Sarah! I’m bleeding; you cut me with those damned scissors.” Oh my god, what have I done! She took two steps back and stared at the wound on the left side of his neck. Blood started gushing out of it like a chocolate fountain at a wedding. There was so much blood everywhere she looked. She yanked up a glob of paper towels from the kitchen counter and tried to make it stop. Stop! Please stop! Oh no, what have I done! “Sarah, take me to the hospital now, we have no time for you to try playing doctor”. She froze, her feet digging in to the marble floors beneath her. The world swirled around her like a hurricane. Her legs felt faint, her arms heavy and her head thick. Down she went.
David picked up the banana shaped telephone Sarah had so carefully picked out on their wedding registry. “This will be perfect for our new kitchen David”. He agreed to the stupid looking bright yellow phone only to appease her, as he had agreed to several things since then. “911? There’s been an accident, my wife and I are both hurt, please send an ambulance stat”. He dropped the phone as his knees began to shake. I must be losing lots of blood, I better sit, he thought. He fell smack on the cold marble floors of their new and remodeled contemporary California kitchen.
The cops kicked the beautifully carved wooden door down after no one answered their rigorous knocks. They stormed into the house and heard a baby’s cry from the nursery. Ethan had been rudely awakened by their forceful entry. They would deal with him later. They scrambled towards the center of the house where the kitchen was situated. Sarah always wanted it to be the center of their home, where everyone would be gathered for most of the day.
Sarah lay sprawled on the floor like a dead scarecrow, her legs spread and eyes closed. Her preppy navy cardigan and top set was wrinkled and full of sticky blond David hairs. Her pearl necklace lay out of form and her shoes seemed less trendy in this position. David, on the other hand, looked peaceful though surrounded by stains of blood on both sides of him. His button down shirt frazzled and out of his slacks and his moccasins slipping off. His belt was open though not yet removed from his pants and it suited his usual sloppy demeanor. He did have a great haircut though; she had managed to give him a really nice haircut before jabbing the scissors into his neck. Sarah fainted when she realized what she’d done. She was in a deep sleep now, far away from suffering the repercussions of her actions. Those shiny stainless steel scissors stuck out from her waistline where she had neatly tucked them before. “Wa, Waaaaaaa”, Ethan cried out from the baby-blue nursery decorated with airplanes and butterflies. One of the lady cops ran towards his cry, trying to think of how she would comfort him when he was old enough to realize what had happened to his folks.