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.