Posted in Writing

Jewish Wedding In Rozmberk – Poem

Is there a better time than now
To sing of my identity?
To wave my flag of Jewish pride
And dance beneath the golden glow
Of castle walls in Rozmberk

And in this town will sleep tonight
A dozen Jews with bellies full,
Content and warm, where once before
The Jews had but a footprint left.

Is this what Hitler thought could be?
If I could force that man to watch
As families unite with joy,
Unafraid and unashamed
Of who we are and how we live,
Drinking wine from silver cups
And passing on a diamond ring,
Free of fear and free of him,
That would be enough for me.

My people lives! My people lives!
And from the ashes, like a phoenix
We are born to live again.
And what a life it is. Amen.

Posted in Writing

New Short Story!

The Spaniard on the Amazon

*Based on a true story*

The two travelers were soaked from head to toe by the time they reached the Spaniard’s home. The canoe pulled up into the mud and they toppled out of it, grateful for the chance to stretch their legs. They thanked the local and handed him a sack of coins, which he stared at confusedly for a moment before pocketing it. As the canoe pulled back into the river, they heard the local man laughing to himself. Grinning at each other, they looked up at the small hut which camouflaged into the forest.

The Amazon. They had finally done it.

This is a story I’ve wanted to write for a long time. I heard it first hand at a party about three years ago and was fascinated. So bear with me, keep reading and I promise you an adventure.

Read Story –>

Posted in Mirror, Mirror

Hephaestus and Aphrodite

Aphrodite running from Hephaestus
Does this look like fun?

Everyone knows what it feels like to be rejected by someone you have feelings for. (If you don’t, this post may not be of interest to you.) Let’s agree it’s comparable to being run over by a garbage truck. It is not at all a desirable situation to be in.

You know how Romeo and Juliet ended because their parents couldn’t get along. We’ve heard stories about people who were not allowed to be together because of social conventions. But how often do you hear stories of people who were forced into a relationship with someone who didn’t want them? Actually I think there’s a Greek myth about that one; Hephaestus was betrothed to Aphrodite, but he was not attractive to her, and she ran off with his hot brother Ares the god of war. It’s a sad story, but people tend to sympathize with Aphrodite, because she is the goddess of love, so surely she deserves better than the hideous Hephaestus? My question is, why didn’t they just let her marry Ares? It comes down to how little sense there is in the Greek myths.

In the book I’m writing, two of the characters find themselves in a relationship. Ledo is desperately in love with Amalia, but he senses her hesitation and does not understand why. While Amalia enjoys his company, something is not right. For Ledo, his time with Amalia is both relief and torture, because he wants to make her happy but he feels he will never be enough for her.

Their relationship reminds me of some stories I’ve heard from people who were in a heterosexual relationship, and discovered after it ended that their partner was homosexual. It’s not uncommon. It doesn’t sound like too much fun either. Both parties may develop deep emotional connections, even though the physical attraction is unilateral. How terrible must it be to know you can’t satisfy someone you love so much? As I type these words my heart is breaking for people who have experienced that feeling. Even if sometimes these relationships were initiated by the partners, it’s still a painful situation to be in.

Dare I ask why some think that forcing gay people to marry straight is a good thing?

Posted in Remember Being a Child?

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, but Words Will Scar Me Forever

Do you have moments when you just want to bury your face in your hands and shout, “Those @#$%*@# bullies!” Know what I mean?

A few days ago I was babysitting an adorable two-year-old. We were at the playground, and I was waiting for him at the bottom of the hill while he skated down on his little toy car. When it took longer than usual for him to arrive, I got a little concerned but told myself it was nothing. Finally he came flying toward me, hysterical with tears, his face red with anger. A short distance away two boys were in his wake, cheering and laughing and pointing at him. I wondered how they could live with themselves, proud for making a two-year-old cry. I wanted to do terrible, awful things to them right there in front of their parents, who were ignoring the entire scene. But instead, I scooped up my kid, and looked those evil creatures straight in the eye with so much anger, and said, “Don’t. You. Dare.”

I was horrified by the whole incident. I was upset with myself, that I had not been there to protect him. But mostly I was shocked at the cruelty of these two children. Had I somehow forgotten how mean kids can be? Or had I simply blocked it out, because it seemed so impossible? How can anyone triumph in the tears of a toddler?

Cornered is a story I wrote which was featured on the Figment.com homepage a few weeks ago. From reading the comments and reviews, you might conclude that it is a story about bullying, written from the point of view of the bully. As the author I would like to say that this is not just a story about bullying – it’s about the failure of the adults to prevent or in any way deal with bullying. Yes, the story is told from the point of view of a bully, who just so happens to have an abusive father. However, the circumstances in which she is being raised are no excuse for her behavior, and they certainly do not protect other children from being scarred for life by her words. (By the way, according to Figment it only takes 5 minutes to read, so go for it!)

The way the saying really should have ended is, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will scar me forever.”

I was picked on from 3rd to 8th grade. That’s what happens when you get good grades in pretty much everything when you’re 10 years old. I was in an all-girls school, and the sort of attacks which happened were mainly constant commentary on my looks, my actions, or even things my teachers or friends did that somehow involved me. When I was in fourth grade a girl threatened to punch me in the face and break my glasses. What had I done to deserve that? God knows, probably ace a multiplication test. The worst incident was when my English teacher published six of my original works in the year journal. Since most students only had two pieces published, this was an obvious act of favoritism. There was a clique of about six girls who were straight up plotting to kill me for it.

Where am I going with this? To one very simple conclusion. As adults, it is our responsibility to never underestimate children in any area of life. Just because they’re small does not mean they’re less capable, less powerful, or less intelligent in any way than a grown person. On the contrary, they are more powerful than us in many ways we refuse to see. We must be willing to know their true abilities if we have any hope of protecting and teaching our own.

Posted in Book Reviews, Mirror, Mirror

Book Review: The Time traveler’s Wife

The Time Traveller's Wife  The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have to admit: I didn’t cry when Dumbledore died. But I was moved to tears by The Time Traveler’s Wife.

This is not the kind of book which is impossible to put down. Instead, you get to read it at your leisure, enjoy it, and actually remember it when you’re done. The author succeeds in giving the reader the same experience as the characters. Clare moves through time linearly, to keep the reader grounded, while Henry jumps from time to time and allows the reader to experience the suddenness and confusion he does. The love story pulls the reader into the book so that even when you aren’t reading, Henry and Clare are present at the back of your mind, as a real life lover would be.

Audrey Niffenegger writes with a lot of words, but she uses them masterfully. Her metaphors and descriptions only contribute to bringing the book to life.

“I eat ten Oreos, slowly, gently prying each one apart, scraping the filling out with my front teeth, nibbling the chocolate halves to make them last.” (page 31)

And yet, it’s not just long breathtaking cookie eating scenes like this. In some places the writing is so concise you do a double take and ask, did that really just happen? For instance, I think this is the shortest sex scene I’ve ever encountered:

“[Henry] says, ‘Does that door lock?’ and I flip the lock and we’re late for lunch.” (page 165)

From the first page, the book is ringing with moral dilemmas and existential questions. The author asks her own questions through the characters, but also uses the questions to tell the story. The fact that her characters ask makes them even more human, especially because it makes the reader wonder if they will change their answers as the story progresses.

“But don’t you think it’s better to be extremely happy for a short while, even if you lose it, than to just be okay for your whole life?” (page 231)

Any book in which one of the characters is a cellist becomes an automatic favorite of mine. In this case, the cellist is Alicia, Clare’s younger sister. There aren’t many references to it, but the few were done well. “Alicia is seventeen and a senior in high school. She’s a cellist.” (page 16) It is as if being a cellist explains everything about her character, which is quite accurately how we cellists feel about ourselves. 🙂

It is rare to find a love story which begins in childhood and continues through entire lives, especially in books which are meant to make money. This love story is so detailed and so real, and still it is so gripping as Henry and Clare grow up and get married. Their relationship changes, and their lives change, but the love story is intriguing to the last moment. There is one moment where Clare describes them sitting on swings on a playground which made me think of how a love story can be thought of as a sequence of memories – the moments we choose to string together into a chain we call “romantic.”

“I try to put my heart into hers, for safekeeping, in case I lose it again.” (page 370)

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