Saturday, December 30, 2006

Fear Not, My Child

I’m not gonna be kiddin’ myself. The American Dream whistles my name. It tempts me. Y’know, the big private house on the manicured lawn in a sunny-all-year-round state, the college degree, the double income, double garage. The great escapes ‘round the world, the well-tended women, the rowdy li’l mistah, the half-undressed teenage smartass….

Not the dog. Take that dog away from here.

And the cats too. Or any other haunting specie for that matter.

Come to think of it, it's probably because the Satmericana Drim is lacking in that respect. The over-populated apartment: Check. the B&H job: Check. The Ben Torah: Check. The overpriced, fourth-hand minivan... The road trip to the Arlington in the summer... The woman hidden somewhere under all the tsnuis, the little boysss, the little girlsss, the bochurim that do not teenage….

Check, check, check.

Where’s the cow? You know, a nice soft mooing cow. Or any other Kosher animal that can take the place of a pet.

Hey, maybe we could even get a chicken for every kid in the house.


Why do we really fear animals so much? It’s not animals exclusively, it’s more than that. We’re afraid of looking at people with disabilities, my kids are afraid of goyim, hell, we’re afraid of anything unfamiliar.

I sat in the kitchen last night, drinking something warm at 4 in the morning, wondering why we, The Jews, the people I was taught are above all forms of nature, are awfully afraid of cockroaches.

A couple of hours earlier I was having this wonderful dream when my subconscious mind detected some tugging. I turn the other way, but the tugs continue. I'm tired, leave me alonnne. I finally stirred with a voiceless, lifeless “Voos iz tsadikle?” and continued to dream on my distorted story.

He held his pillow and started to cry, hushed and desperate pleas. “Seiz doo a doggy in mine room”.

Oh no, not again. “Crawl into tatti’s bet, his is way bigger than mine”.

I think I was too tired to turn that thought into words, because I heard little feet shuffling at the foot of my bed. My cover began moving about, and in no time I was left with just a wee little piece of blanket in my fingers.

It was cold. Rubbing my eyes, I tucked him in and stumbled out.

Whereever he took the dog idea, I'm not worried. \ What does bother me is the array of objects that can evoke fear.

When everything unfamiliar is scary, familiar must at least vary. Otherwise we risk scaring our children from growing up. It's such a big world out there and there isn't always a mother's bed to climb into.

Eech hub nisht keyn moira noor fin daym heiliga boyrah.

Yeah, sure.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Blogged Off

I really hope that whatever the problem, solitary confinement won’t last forever.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Freilicha Chanaka!

Don't even think about it ringing my blog for tsedukah. I'll tell ya, this here 9 inch plastic plate holds my entire paycheck in coins. I juggle employment with motherhood; a part time office position that pays me just enough to keep my Chanukah charity fund afloat. Given that I started digging the gold mines at age 17 with a high school diploma (going for a major in Hilchas Shabbos) I can truthfully say my job's job is more to protect my sanity than to dress me in minks.

Eight Days Chanukah is the time I pause the hubbub of daily life to celebrate breadwinning.

It's called Chanukah Gelt.

Coming up, is the only holiday we actually work. 9:30 on a Chanaka AM in my office cubicle, I go about my daily life. I grab a bite of my sandwich, enter figures in QuickBooks but I somehow find myself day-dreaming over the children's faces. I can see my eldest especially; his dark eyes alive when his father hands him the $5 Chanakah earning. Oh, what do the children know about bosses, language barriers and taxes? What do they know about overworked, overtime and underpaid?

They'll know, in due time. For now I want to teach them that although we hustle through a fair amount of our life working, we can still spend the evenings gathered around a warm fire. After lighting the candles, we all sing muez tsuir, in what must be the most horse-crackled choir, but with every note I feel a growing sense of indescribable happiness. My husband tied up with the traditional thin gartle holds the little one on his tapping lap as she eagerly claps her dimpled hands together...The oh-so-grown misters, their tin menorahs burning over the windowsill, they shukel from side to side with the rhythm, a real example of deveykes. .

Deep inside me I feel a candle's flame igniting.

I just love Chanaka.

At night I serve latkas of my own making, customized with jam, custard or confection sugar as per individual order. I hum to them a Yom Tov Erlich song, one my mother would sing to us every Friday Night, while we watch the color candles extinguish one at a time.. For a special treat, there's distribution of chelkas around the dining room table, all bakers donning aprons. We mix flour and sugar, margarine and eggs and knead, roll and shape some delicious menorah themed vanilla cookies. Even Yoelish gets creative with the melted chocolate and sprinkles fiasco.

There's laughter. There's love. There's birth to memorable moments. All after a full day of gelt...

It's the 8 day miracle. A lesson to burn a whole year.


Saturday, December 09, 2006


You know these people that actually go through the hassle of writing a note to a manufacturer with product feedback?

My husband is one of them.

Lo and behold, he penned a letter to no other than Bill Gates. I held my sides, thinking it was ridiculous. For all you know we heard back!

I had to share this amazing correspondence:

(published with permission. please excuse the errors, I wanted to upload it as is.)

der mikrosuft word

i am ritink to yu tudai a jowish guy becos i whant to tank yu for all youre helps.. in my callage U.T.A, i only stude the torah so i don't know now aynglish, den one day my vife bore our first babi and i cant be in kollel because i got to go maik the monee because being a jow is vary ecpesif

i try to found a job wery long , bott its not asee for me , i don't speecking aynglish good or no compurers or no odder busnis tings, my vife tell dat i go to a gentyle skool but we dont haf teh resours,,,,

my swooger gives me a job but i have to learned to make the faxs and memos for the wendors , i 22 yar old end i only speeked jowdish and l.k. , in i was vary loost. i said for god to make me a nes.

won day i se a miraikl from god cald mikrosuf word, it fixes all errors, som'tims it gives mi a bettur wort and sometimes not, it is a large help

may god sand yu brachos and yeshuos and kul tuf uman

Joel strimpkond

n.b. pliz make the program mikrosof acsent becuz my acsent makes me tok slolech and sometime peoples dont understood.

And now for the reply:

February 12, 2003

Joel Strimpkond
Brooklyn, NY 11211

Dear Joel,

I am rethinking to you toady Jewish guy bacons I want to tank you for all you’re helps... In my collage U.T.A, I only stud the torah so I don't know now anguish, den one day my vie bore our first babe and I can’t be in killer because I got to go maim the Monee because being a jowl is vary ecclesia .

I try to found a job wary long, butt its not apse for me, I don't specking English good or no comparers or no odder basins tings, my vie tell data I go to a gently spool but we don’t haft the recourse.

My swinger give me a job but I have to learned to make the facs and memos for the wanders, I, 22 yarn old end only sleeked jewish and o.k. , in I was vary loots. I said for god to make me a nest.

Won day I se a mariachi from god clad Microsoft word, it fixes all errors, sometimes it gives mi a bettor word and sometimes not, it is a large help .

May god sand you braches and yahoos and kill tuff unman?


Joel Strimpkond

PS I feel for you, man. -Bill

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Women's Rights 'n Lefts

I don’t usually curse. I’m above that. Today I’m in an especially brazen mood. I feel like kicking a few dirty words around. Like, Gasp, “Slow down!, whatch**t!, care****!" . Or how about “Oh god, oh god, OH GOD!”

Fingers planted in your ears yet?

I learned these and a couple more of the sort during my days in the back part of the car. Yes, I’m a backseat driver. I'm sorry to let you down like this. You'll have to learn to live with who I am. A lowly backseat driver.

From as far back as I can recall, my mother sat in the station wagon patrolling my father’s swivels from lane to lane. (my ol' man isn’t much of a pilot himself). Mammi would bite on her tongue as if her mouth has been stuffed with towels and offer up some urgent prayer in odd yiddish. When Yoelish took to the wheel, I assumed the matriarchal role.

When we're out in the car, my fingers grovel into the armrests if he is in a rush, in hopes that my nails will find brakes to press onto. Sometimes when he’s calmly looking up street signs without a clue as to where he is, I just want to remove the steering wheel and take a long walk home. I swallow a short stop with just a tiny screech escaping my mouth. I sit on his outdated newspapers and ignore the empty Snapple bottles lying around on the floor. During every ride I say tefilos haderech with kevana, praying to hashem that I shouldn’t be tempted to commit the sin of being a backseat driver.

I’d like to think that Satmar women are so esteemed, they are chauffeured around. Such a Yiddish kroyn as her must be pampered. My Service loads me onto a pair of wheels and I’m driven in a royal carriage from door to door.

It’s a wonderful life. Just kick your pumps off and enjoy the ride. I’ll be in the seat behind you, on the Sharmash bus, relishing the odor of your foot-airing. Meanwhile I'll be multitasking; exasperatingly trying to control the volume on the custom stereo system I own called children. I try to straighten the seat up, lie it down, settle myself in a corner, shift to the other side and massage my own back because it hurts like hell. I’ll be more than delighted when another shpitzle woman spreads her belongings out beside me, after asking me to move the baby from the seat to my lap. She has so many things to share with me about the family of the kallah, I can’t help but listen with boundless enthusiasm. As we ride on the FDR, every move is a blessing from god. The bus jumps up, and I am thrust to the ceiling. I land with a few little bounces. It’s the experience of a lifetime…

There’s more where those luxuries came from.

I have a private escort service called Yoelish. It needs to be ordered to a place an hour before the actual time of departure for it is sometimes a little too busy preparing its limos for me, to be punctual. When I decide to go somewhere from one minute to the next, the Yoelish agents advise me to spend a few days walking to the destination, while they get ready to pick me up for return.

It’s not like all these royalties limit my opportunity for real-people activities . Nuh uh. Just for the kick of it I sometimes saddle up a carriage and push it up and down Lee Avenue. It’s thrilling. I huff and puff, begging the walking kids to hold onto the sides. Winter is carriage-racing high season. I have such a merry time walking-walking-walking, through snow or just smoke-breathing frost, I feel sorry for the men strapped up in their 'taxis'.

Take the keys. It's not gonna stop me from having the ride of my life.