Eighteen Months

Jordan straightened his back, trying to work out the kinks that had developed after years of sitting hunched over his phone. The subway seat helped somewhat, if only because it spared him from having to stand, but the curve of the hard plastic was hardly conducive to better posture. He knew he needed to stop spending so much time zeroed in on the screen that might as well have been attached to his fingers – Jordan’s mother had sent him that message many times, sometimes through that very screen – but he never found it as easy to do as she made it seem.

The subway doors opened and Jordan looked up to watch the new passengers board the car. A teenage girl listening to eggplant-colored Beats stepped inside and sat opposite him. She glanced around the car and paused, ever so briefly, as she noticed Jordan’s neatly manicured, maroon-polished nails before closing her eyes and returning her focus to her music. Jordan rolled his eyes; he usually enjoyed seeing people’s reactions to a well-dressed, dark-skinned man with a full beard and painted nails but he wasn’t in the mood today. Continue reading “Eighteen Months”

Be The Match, Part 1: Answering the Call

It was a Tuesday afternoon when I made the phone call, the kind of lazy summer day when everything seems slower. Even when work is busy during the summer, I feel like I’m walking through the shallow end of a swimming pool, dragging my feet and struggling to build momentum, while the world seems to continue rushing by. I’d been at my desk, slogging through a service plan or progress notes or some other task that isn’t the main reason why one chooses to go to social work school, when the small number “1” suddenly appeared in parentheses in one of my email tabs. I clicked on the email and immediately sat up straighter in my desk chair.

“You’ve been identified as a possible marrow match,” the email read. “Please call me immediately.” Continue reading “Be The Match, Part 1: Answering the Call”

A Little Night Music

Trudy had been asleep on the couch for about a half hour when I woke her. It had been a long week for her, from shuttling Shayna to errands and the beach to dealing with various bouts of sibling drama each evening. I had tried suggesting that she go to bed when I first saw her eyes starting to close but she protested that she was awake. I let the episode finish, knowing full well that I would have to fill her in on the details of the end of the show when she was ready to hear them later on. She began stirring when I rubbed her shoulder, lifted her head up and looked at the clock.

“I fell asleep,” she said, squinting up at me. “Sorry. Did you finish the episode?”

“It’s fine,” I answered. “You didn’t miss much.” Continue reading “A Little Night Music”

What Would I Have Done?

The song stuck with me from the first time I heard it.

I felt taken by the rhythm, the gradual increase in intensity of the electric guitar and the way the singer’s attitude came through in his lyrics. He was brash and self-assured; he knew that he was talented and he challenged the universe to try to stop him. He oozed confidence in a “Come at me, bro” type of way that I almost admired. In most situations, I would still prefer to remain quiet and listen to others rather than broadcast my own accomplishments. But the high-volume chords and the pounding of the bass drum were perfect for boosting my motivation whenever I needed it. Continue reading “What Would I Have Done?”

Eavesdropping on a Young Singer (or, What Makes “The Greatest Showman” Great)

I’d just come in from the kitchen to put my lunch in my bag when I heard it. It was soft, so much so that I almost couldn’t make out the words. I placed the tune immediately, though, and the words became clearer soon afterward.

“When the sharpest words wanna cut me down… I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out…”

Eitan was sitting at his table, building a Lego set or drawing a picture or working in his summer math book. He was completely engrossed in the task at hand and didn’t even notice that I had come into the room, let alone that I was listening to him singing to himself. He worked quickly, his eyes darting back and forth from the instructions to his manipulating fingers, his voice lilting ever so slightly as he sang each line.

“I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be. This is me.”

I smiled broadly and returned to the kitchen so I wouldn’t interrupt him. Continue reading “Eavesdropping on a Young Singer (or, What Makes “The Greatest Showman” Great)”

At Least For a Little Longer

“Did you hear that, Shayna?” I asked.

I was in the process of preparing breakfast when I heard the click of the door handle opening. The dishwasher had been emptied, the French toast was heating up in the microwave and the eggs were scrambling in the frying pan. I heard a couple of soft steps on the hardwood floor, followed by a pause and the toilet flushing. I heard the rush of water from the bathroom faucet and then he appeared in the kitchen.

“Oh, Eitan awake!” Shayna exclaimed happily from the counter behind me. “Hi Eitan!”

I looked up from the eggs at the boy standing in front of me. He looked… older, somehow. He still looked the part of a six-year-old but there seemed to be a change in the way he was carrying himself. He looked taller than he had the day before and his face seemed to have aged overnight. His tousled hair still hinted slightly at kindergarten but his posture and his suddenly broad shoulders spoke clearly of first grade. Continue reading “At Least For a Little Longer”

Being Jewish in a German Airport

I don’t usually like to put disclaimers at the start of blog posts. I actually don’t really like putting disclaimers before any sort of comment because it seems like no matter how clearly I’m able to explain the reasoning or intent behind what I’m about to say, someone will end up interpreting it in the opposite way. Whether that happens because they think my disclaimer is insincere or because the disclaimer includes the opposite idea and I’ve just put it into their head is sort of irrelevant. The point is that I think disclaimers usually create a bias or a tension before the actual discussion can even start. And yet, even with all of that said, I still feel like I need a preface of some sort here because the subject matter feels a bit uncomfortable.

Ugh, never mind. I’ll just come out and say it and I’ll explain afterwards:

I felt really weird at the airport in Germany because I’m Jewish. Continue reading “Being Jewish in a German Airport”

Unconventional Lullabyes

I made my way into the dark-ish room and closed the door softly so as not to wake Eitan. It was still easy to see; the late sunsets of summer evenings meant that the light was still poking through the blinds, even though it was close to 8:00 PM. Eitan had fallen asleep almost immediately after Trudy and I had put the kids to bed a half hour earlier. Shayna, though, had begun crying and was standing in her crib when I walked in.

“Mommy?” she asked expectantly, holding out her arms to be picked up.

“No, you’re not getting Mommy,” I answered. Continue reading “Unconventional Lullabyes”

The Golden Buddha In Each of Us

“Do you know the story of the Golden Buddha?” he asked.

I shook my head slightly. I was panting too hard to verbalize the word “No,” but he wouldn’t have heard me anyway.

“Many, many years ago, in a small village in Asia, there was a large statue of the Buddha, made completely out of gold. There was very little else in the village; it was a poor group of people, farmers mostly. But they had this statue.”

Continue reading “The Golden Buddha In Each of Us”

Paid Paternity Leave and #DearFutureDads

A coworker and I were speaking recently about children. He doesn’t have any kids himself but he would like to one day. He mentioned that he struggles with anxiety, though, and that he worries about how that would manifest in his parenting. He asked me how Trudy and I deal with the anxiety that comes with raising our kids.

“That’s why God made bourbon,” I answered with a grin.

Continue reading “Paid Paternity Leave and #DearFutureDads”