Thursday, July 24, 2014

Nachamu, nachamu ami.  Be consoled, be consoled My People. An insight I heard about this expalins why it says nachamu twice. Sometimes in life we are broken and we want someone to comfort us but when they do we push them away, because of how broken we are.  And they need to be loving enough and they need to be wise enough to not take our rejection of their reaching out at face value. They need to comfort us again.  This is true of the Jewish People on our national, broken level.  And it is true of individuals.  Like a crying child that you try to hug and they run away, we need to try to be there for on another.  And then to try again.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Movies I've Seem With Family

 I was just sorting through old videos that I plan to bring to Goodwill.  I found Nothing in Common, which got me thinking.  Here's an incomplete and probably not fully accurate list of which family members I saw some movies with that I remember.

With Mom

Nothing In Common
For Pete's Sake
A Harry Potter
A Lord of the Rings
Mad Money
Godfather II

With Mom and Bro

Thoroughly Modern Millie
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Cold Turkey
The Horse in The Gray Flannel Suit
The Sorcerer and the Stone
Some Planet of the Apes
Peter Pan

With Mom and Dad

Frisco Kid
Rocky II
The Chosen
Field of Dreams
ET

With Brother

Rocky
Towering Inferno
Kentucky Fried Movie
Some Planet of the Apes
Murder By Death

With Mom, Dad, and Brother

Fiddler on the Roof
Poseiden Adventure
Annie
The Bible
The Sting
Annie Hall
Stardust Memories
Love and Death
Live and Let Die
Dr. No
Live and Let Die

With Dad

The Deep
Million Dollar Baby
No Way Out
Space Cowboys
Let's Do it Again
Sleeper
Charriots of Fire
Tunnel Vission

With Dad and Bro

The Boatnicks
Diamonds Are Forever

With Brother and Sister In Law

Ghostbusters II
Mr. Saturday Night
Insomnia

Masei

Here's a piece of mine on Masei.  I'll paste it in the comments too.

Hope The Contents of These Haiku Make You Content (They Switch Off!)

It's waiting inside
The details of everything
Including ourselves

Feeling good enough
- state of peaceful happiness -
satisfied and pleased

Sometimes I get caught
in between content and form,
praying for balance

Content is the word
for what I think simcha is,
rather than happy

I have my radar
for quality of content.
It's a strong system

Animals can sense
when you're feeling discontent;
some people can too

The rabbi's challenge
to not look at the cover
but at the content

Why not be content
with our third grade teacher's rule?
five, seven, and five

Tables of contents
don't show what's truly inside;
you have to read on

Content equals rich
And who is that? Nobody.
- Benjamin Franklin

I strive for content
in this smokey, mirrored world:
"Just give me some truth."

A secret to life
is truly seeing what is,
and being content

Prompted by Haiku Horizons

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thought of the Moment

I don't quite know what the point of writing that I don't know what to say or where to say it.  It's kind of  a matir for me.  I write that and then I say whatever I feel like saying.  It reminds me of the nicht Shabbos gereht joke.

I never know who reads what, and as a friend once said- once it's out there, it's out there.  But as Nicole Krause taught me, and yet, is a full sentence. And yet, Sigh (I just sighed.)

I am grateful to G-d for feeling good at this moment.  Yesterday I did some hishtadlus toward moving my self/my life forward. I went against my comfort zone/grain.  And it feels good after.  That's the thing with doing something that's true, it feels good afterwards.  I just heard a line that guilt is GPS of the soul.  so is feeling good. The former line reminds me of Rabbi Abraham Twerski's words about guilt.  It's meant to alert us to take care of an ill, and then move onward. Just as physical pain is meant to alert us to heal something in our body, guilt is spiritual pain telling us to fix something in our soul.

This past year has been rich and also painful and intense for me.  I did not comfortably morph into a much needed summer break (not that the year being pulled out and disappearing is ever easy for me).  Yesterday felt (to use a word that I think about in regard to people but hold back on using to not offend) healthy.  And so does today.  Thank G-d.

I have much to do. I need to grab hold of this summer.  Grab hold of the moments going by.  Grab hold of my life.

May we all be blessed to take care of ourselves and in that merit receive extra care from G-d.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Gratefulness List Just For Today

I thank G-d for-

Dad being miraculously live and well.
Family.
Friends.
Help from a friend today.
Help from strangers today.
My hishtadlus today toward moving forward with life.
G-d's hashgacha in sending me good shluchim.
Shabbos with dad.
The nice fellow that I met who was there to be with his dad.
Mussar/Growth/Torah.
Humor.
Sleep.
Bounsdaries put in place.
Humanity.
Kindness.
Walking. Always and today.
Writing.
Thinking.
Self awareness.
The degree to which we can know anything for sure.
Having it pointed out to me that we can't know certain things for sure.
The ability to take care of oneself, specifically myself.

Why do I share on "social media?" It's kind of a mystery to me.  And yet, I get it.

“It is said that your life flashes before your eyes just before you die. That is true, it's called Life.” ― Terry Pratchett

Friday, July 18, 2014

Matot

Here's the link to my DT in The Jewish Standard this week.  I'm also posting it in comments.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

tanka of the day

far away from home
it's too easy to detach
while our brothers bleed
remember- we're connected
many bodies, one big soul

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Shiva Assar Betamuz Haiku

Seek G-d when He's found
I've heard again and again
on every fast day

I wonder about
the slowness of this fast day
as it ebbs away

Walls were broken down
and we mourn the loss of walls
boundaries, protection

What of the other
when he is other than we
will we look and see?

You shrug your shoulders
playing frustrated victim
next to me in Shul

Hear the still thin voice
That's one of my fast day goals;
to really hear G-d

The start of it all
-of rising above ourselves-
is the fear of G-d

Maybe the point is
To experience hunger
And then reframe it

Monday, July 14, 2014

Haiku With Drive

I don't drive a car
or a van or truck or bus
and yet- I'm human

I dream of driving
I mean that literally
quite regularly

There's an urgency
someone has to drive a car
I do. In my dreams.

Thank you, but sorry
Baby, I can't drive your car
I don't get your key

Natures are unmasked
by behavior in carpool
By driving kindness

What drives a person
is more important than what
kind of car they drive

Operate, control
propel or carry along:
As they say, "Just drive."

Prompted by Haiku Horizons

Brilliant (IMHO)

Sunday, July 13, 2014

On Billy Collins and His haiku

These are from Billy Collins' haiku book.

High cry of a hawk,
cracking ice across the lake—
enough of my talk.

Mid-winter evening,
alone at a sushi bar—
just me and this eel.

Travel tomorrow,
so much I must leave behind—
this lake, this morning.

Moon in the window—
the same as it was before
there was a window.

More can be found here.

I was prompted to google and find these after buying this book tonight.  I don't know if I'm capable of seeing a book with Billy Collins' name on the cover- whether it's edited by or compiled by or introduction by.

Earlier today I discovered that a cousin of mine is into race car driving.  So I mentioned this book.  Then I read that the author said that his inspiration for the book was The Revenant by Billy Collins, which you can see him read here.

I'd really like to meet Billy and chat with him. It's worth a shot.  He's not far away...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

On This Blog This Month

Nine years ago 
Eight years ago 
Seven years ago
Six Years Ago
Five Years Ago
Four Years Ago
Three Years Ago
Two years Ago
Last Year
This Year

Friday, July 11, 2014

"Show me a teacher who thinks she's got everything all under control and doesn't need to fix a thing for next year, and I will show you a lousy teacher. The best teachers I've ever known can give you a list of exactly what they don't do well enough yet." - Peter Greene

Wow.


A Tanka And A Picture

I ask how you are
I know you know I mean it
Because we are friends
And because you told me so
Even before you used words


Being kind and connected is big in life, it may even be life itself. Being with another. Listening. And and and and and.

May we be blessed to truly connect in life.

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Party Haiku

I wonder if I'm
the party of the first part
or another one

Parties are something
that I just don't understand
not even partly

Let's not party like
it's any specific year
Let's not party at all

Introvert parties
are like ghosts and spirits
they exist- somehow

Both the party's star
and the hiding introvert:
should really go home

I don't unserstand
these political parties
Neither one is fun

Some just see parties
while others see tests and grades;
such is college life

My face turns beet red
I'm allergic to parties
and to their red wine

They say be myself
when I go to a party
Well I wouldn't go

Social gatherings
of invited guests, with food
for some this is fun

Political groups
on a national level
are un-fun parties

prompted by Haiku Horizons

John Green On "Remembering" What Happened (From a book that doesn't have a lot of profound quotes, but this one is a whopper.)

"You don't remember what happened.
What you remember becomes what happened."

- An Abundance of Katherines
by John Green
pgs. 207-208

Haiku of the Day

In the end we know
Little about each other
Almost like the start

Sunday, July 06, 2014

A Tanka For Tough Times

I'm searching for words
To express covered feelings
I'm searching for G-d...
...The words and feelings appear
Here all along, like my G-d

My Nap Time Lullaby


Take a nap
you won't be missed
you'll return to 
your to do list
  
Take a break
it's okay
you can go to sleep
in the middle of the day
  
When your stressed
sing this sunny lullaby
just close your eyes and 
float away in the sky

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Reassembing - A Poem

I was sick
Grandma was over
It was just us
and a puzzle
Little Red Riding Hood

We were in 
my parent's room
working on 
the wood pieces
slowly

She was probably
around the age 
I am right now
Like me, younger
than I imagined

The room
the house
she, me, life
was all smaller 
than I knew

Friday, July 04, 2014

Pre Shabbos Poem/Prayer

May G-d bless us all to be unbitter
May G-d bless us to see the good
May G-d bless us with true kindness
To understand and be understood

We see things as we are. - Me

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Haiku of the Night



Beauty can be found
In a rusty ocean chain-
In any domain

Comforting Comment

"They are all amazing, but this one REALLY struck me:

The comforts of home 
apply just to certain homes 
and certain comforts. 

Wow. So powerful. So amazingly powerful."

This comment from "Blog It Or Lose It" (love that name) means a lot to me.

Balak Poem

What am I to do
with the idea that
G-d appeared to a donkey
and not to me?

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

I Think In haiku II

I think in haiku
I've always been counting words
and now syllables

Yishtabach Haiku

Mine, my father's G-d
Your name is praised forever
Our eternal king

Monday, June 30, 2014

There Are no Words. And Yet.

"My dear friends,

I have just learned that the bodies of our three boys – Naftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach – have been found. My heavy heart is with the families.

All this is come upon us; yet have we not forgotten Thee, neither have we been false to Thy covenant.  Our heart is not turned back, neither have our steps declined from Thy path; Though Thou hast crushed us into a place of jackals, and covered us with the shadow of death. (Psalm 44:18-20)

These boys, our boys, have died al Kiddush Hashem, simply because they are Jews.

Nay, but for Thy sake are we killed all the day; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. (Psalm 44:23)

We cannot just light a candle and say a prayer. It is up to us now to live our lives al Kiddush Hashem, to sanctify God through our deeds and our lives.

The word Chaim is in the plural because it contains both the good and the bad. It is up to us to go on.

Arise for our help, and redeem us for Thy mercy's sake. (Psalm 44:27)

Adin Even-Israel Steinsaltz"

Declined Haiku

Prompted By Haiku Horizons

Sometimes I will write
things that I decline to say
feels safer that way

The decline of love
of commitment and of will
peeks through the comfort

Becoming decreased,
downturned, depreciated
diminished in strength

Polite refusal?
Trying to reject gently:
"Aww!.. I must decline."

I think many things
and decline from commenting
For the sake of peace


Poetry's decline
means the world is declining,
resisting, failing

We're on the decline
Yet I hope we beat the odds
If just for G-d's sake

You think I declined
I think you never offered
And you think the same

Your decline has been
exagerated despite
your lucid wisdom

Rise up a level
or you will surely decline;
there's no standing still

A Poem I Hope To Put In Im A Book, And...

So much not to say, so much to say

So much I want gone, so much I hope will stay
So much for neat Sundaes with a cherry on top
So much for lessons learned about how life can stop
So much to be grateful for
So much I desire - more
So much for bad rhyming
So much is about timing
So much I appreciate


So much I want before it's too late.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Swan and Shadow By John Hollander


                           Dusk
                         Above the
                    water hang the
                              loud
                             flies
                             Here
                            O so
                           gray
                          then
                         What             A pale signal will appear
                        When         Soon before its shadow fades
                       Where       Here in this pool of opened eye
                       In us     No Upon us As at the very edges
                        of where we take shape in the dark air
                         this object bares its image awakening
                           ripples of recognition that will
                              brush darkness up into light
even after this bird this hour both drift by atop the perfect sad instant now
                              already passing out of sight
                           toward yet-untroubled reflection
                         this image bears its object darkening
                        into memorial shades Scattered bits of
                       light     No of water Or something across
                       water       Breaking up No Being regathered
                        soon         Yet by then a swan will have
                         gone             Yes out of mind into what
                          vast
                           pale
                            hush
                             of a
                             place
                              past
                    sudden dark as
                         if a swan
                            sang

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Nachas

The feedback on this post brings me great "comfort and joy."

Morning Cinquain

Waking
like a lion
is the law on the books
yet waking up is hard to do
It's true

A yawn,
Chesterton said,
is a small, silent shout,
what Thoreau called desperation.
Maybe.

G-d please
help me write this.
I don't know what to say.
Hopefully I will get it right.
Today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I am always thinking.  I wonder about writing and hiding.  I am free writing here, but it costs.  Writing takes time. It takes other things too- kishkas, for example. Maybe it's my calling.  Maybe it will be my legacy.

I am about to open the closest book on my desk, My Promised Land and to pick a random sentence.

"We are a ragtag cast in an epic motion picture whose plot we do not understand and cannot grasp." (MPL, page 419)

This man writes well.

I need sleep though I wish I could write all night.

Sleeping
seems like a waste
but it's an elixir
a secret reviving fountain
Why resist?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Haiku of the Day: 10 On Comfort


To give strength and hope,
to ease grief and trouble of,
to comfort a friend

Moments of comfort
can also be challenging,
like moments of pain


You have to find your
comfort zone before you can
move outside of it.

The comforts of home
apply just to certain homes
and certain comforts.

The reverse of pain
is not pleasure but comfort,
pleasure includes pain.

I wish that comfort
would come forth and comfort us
from our age old pain.

Sometimes you need to
comfort someone once and then
comfort them again.

What brings us comfort
in the short run is often
not good in the end.

Sometimes what we need
is the comfort of a friend,
sometimes they need us.

True comfort is found
deep inside our ageless hearts
where all wounds are healed

Head, Heart


By Lydia Davis

wwwHeart weeps.
wwwHead tries to help heart.
wwwHead tells heart how it is, again:
wwwYou will lose the ones you love. They will all go. But
even the earth will go, someday.
wwwHeart feels better, then.
wwwBut the words of head do not remain long in the ears of
heart.
wwwHeart is so new to this.
wwwI want them back, says heart.
wwwHead is all heart has.
wwwHelp, head. Help heart.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Still More Cinquain

Weddings
all look the same
they are like book covers
the story inside is different
each time

Holy
is what we are
and want to be more of
it's the real reason for marriage
We strive

People
are just people
who raise up to their highs
and fall down to their lowest lows
People

The bride
and her parents
holding hands and smiling
walk down the aisle with their G-d
just so

We yearn
for legacies
every single second
we seek to find what we can leave
behind

I cry
during weddings
small sweet and salty tears
I cry thinking of many years
and pray

Rabbis
have shaped my soul
and then gone and grown old
But they never age in my heart
Some stay

More Cinquain (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cinquain)

Feelings
come from inside
come from our souls, from G-d.
So no feeling can be all bad.
Use them.


Alone
is what we are
and is what we are not
the balance that makes us human
Just us

Smile
Something I want
to do much more often.
It bothers me when I look sad.
You too?

Fifteen
words for G-d songs
in the Yishtabach prayer
paralleling the temple steps.
Asend!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Some Cinquain (Pronounced Sincane)


Grading
Gets on my nerves
I need to own my role
Access and trust my own judgement 
It's hard

Aging
cliche's abound
like, "It's just a number."
but it's much more than a number
It's life

Music
moves me along
I am soothed my my songs
It truly "tames the savage beast"
Thank G-d

My dad
made me with mom
been with me all along
fell backwards down a flight of stairs
Survived

Thank G-d
for everything
for life's beautiful songs
for each one of my six senses
Yes, six

Alarms
I'm winding one
Old school, like in cartoons
I learned they're kosher for Shabbos
Really

Bed time
like many things
we give it to children
and take it away from adults
Good night

Poetry Prompt - Taboo© Style

The Prompt:

Write a poem about lemons without using the following words: lemon, yellow, round, fruit, citrus, tart, juicy, peel, and sour.

My Result:

Thin skinned and fragrant
oval and quite acidic
semitropical
You are the anti orange
the other half of my lime

Thanks to Rabbi Dan Rosen for introducing me to tanka.

Thought

In public conversations I think of the obvious joke and then I work really hard not to say it.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

From one Breath to the Next

I take pride in knowing
a lyric for any moment
everything about comedians
arcane, obscure, Torah facts:

Strawberries are the only fruit
with their seeds on the outside
Four is the only number that is
spelled by it's own number of letters

Sometimes, like now, I answer yes
to Ian Anderson, who asked teen me
if I "ever get the feeling that the story's
too damn real and in the present tense."

And as I yearn for companionship
I recall what Dick Smothers said
about Steve Martin, that "he's so quiet
that being with him's like being alone"

Noach and Avraham DID overlap, but
sometimes you can be alive and not
and that which saves your life once
can stifle it in another time and space

I wonder if I should shake off
the soundtrack in my head
and all the stand up routines
my too smart for the room 'tude:

But then I start to think and know
that we need accessible seeds
and we need symmetry in life
that's what we'e striving for

And words that replay in me
repay me for my attention
and help me be present
in this dream like life

And studying comedians
helps me understand me
so alive on a stage while
feeling caged by chatter

And in truth, often I use Torah
not as a tool to impress you
but the intricate insights take me
from one breath to the next

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday's Guy

11:04 AM - I just got an email asking me to perform a wedding of a (former) student. Answer to FAQ - Yes. (Twice.) (Q- Have you ever performed a wedding?)  ("Since you have always been my favorite Rabbi at Frisch I decided to contact you to see if you perform wedding ceremonies or even  if you haven't, if you would be willing to perform mine.")

Last night another college recommendation request came in: "I appreciate you taking the time to write my recommendation, it means the world to me that you could represent me." 


Appreciation is helpful to me as a human being.


Spending time with dad.  Got here at about 11:30 (12?) last night post Shabbos in Brooklyn. 9 AM minyan.  Sitting and talking and watching the Sunday morning politico shows, as many times before.


They're talking about Eric Cantor's loss, and how he was out of touch and not trusted by people- so they say.


11:20 - Just got email from my computer guru. It seems my new home comp has a virus and I shouldn't use it till he can come by, which won't be for a while. Can I sigh about that, or in the scheme of life issues should I barely feel affected by it? The latter.


11:34 AM - Just ordered for dad a gift that he said he wanted. That makes me happy.


12:01 PM - My brother just came downstairs and gave us Tehillim as they are now saying Tehillim at the Kotel en masse for the kidnapped boys.


4:08 PM - Took the bus to a cab, got home at 2ish. Got some solid final grading done. 

Listening to The Moth.  Today is the first day I've ever listened to it, though it's been recommended before.  There's something holy about people's true stories in their own raw words. There's something about this that I love.  And there's something about this in all its realness and just being what it is that helps me get what rubs me wrong about Ted Talks, which is so polished and agenda driven.

I'm listening to one now about a stutterer. Heard one before about the meaning of baseball in a family, and another about a boy and the vet father who let him go.  These are amazing in their realness.

5:59 PM - I wrote dad Father's Day wishes earlier today.  What he wrote me back means a lot to me:

"You write the nicest messages, for which I thank you very, very much. I want you to always know that I love you very much,with no limitations -Dad"

7:01 PM - Just finished a 2 hour and 40 minute phone conversation.

10:22 PM - Spoke with a relative making a wedding soon, a person who is real, and kind, and present. 

Working.

11:17 PM - Left dad a phone message and sent him an email a few minutes ago.

Just discovered the song, "Was That The Human Thing to Do?" That's a good question to always ask ourselves.

11:59+ - May G-d bless us all to be present and aware, honest, real, and kind.

Good night and G-d bless
the selfish and the unkind
to tweak their beliefs

Friday, June 13, 2014

Without Elbows

Life can feel heavy and hard as an extra marble staircase made just for going upstairs
And yet in presence and connection, in seeing and being seen there is lightness
While there is pain in one place, joy in another realm cannot be stopped
While there is stress from one source, there is validation from another
While the cliche'd inhumanity of man against man can hurt like hell
The cliche' that heaven is where we feed each other is stronger

In This Moment

"Thank you for being a constant support system through out my three years of high school. I truly feel as if you have been able to see me grow as a student and as a person, which is why I wanted you to write my recommendation."

This just in. From a student I didn't know I made a difference for big time. I thank G-d for my calling. I try to be there for people. It can sometimes feel like a lot- the teaching, the recommending, the Torah guidance, the academic guidance, the emotional and social counseling, the wide variety of classes and the preps which includes new preps like this past year, the special accommodations like oral testing, added review, make ups, public speal=king, poetry, improv.

I believe I wrote about 50 recommendations this year. Now they're coming in for the summer, due at the start of the year. I've said it before- the hard time of teaching is the begining, and also the middle, and also the end of the year. and, oh yes, in the summer it doesn't fully stop.

And yet. There is so much nachas. Last night I spoke for some time with a brother and sister whose brother graduated. They were effusive in how much they learned from me, how much I meant to them. i write this mainly to remind myself. This young woman told me that she is teaching overt the summer and models her style after mine, particularly in regard to the way she uses the board in an interactive way. She told me that I was the best thing in her high school education. Thank you G-d. Please help me remember the good realities and please give me strength to keep on connecting.

Last night a my poetry club/team made a point to find me. There were hints before.They had asked to be sure I'd be at graduation. Immediately after the ceremony they managed to pry me from other people I was talking with. They got me a tailor made mug/memento which I will cherish forever. I was deeply touched. It's a mug covered with inside references that only we could get. It is a symbol and a sign of how connected I am with this group. I'm trying here, but there aren't words. Poetry is big for me. And to connect with these students over several years with poetry as a pivot (it all started with my putting a haiku on the board before class started back in tenth grade honors Chumash) is really big. I'm struggling for words but there are none.

I end this post, silently, sitting at my keyboard with tears in my eyes, grateful to G-d that he's blessed me to earn people's trust, to hold their stories, to matter in their lives and have them so greatly matter in mine.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

"We Didn't have Cake Yet."

The formal part of graduation, the speeches, etc. just ended.  The food part just started, so this post is standing between a Jew and his food.  And yet, I just want to say, while it's fresh, in real time, that I am grateful to G-d to be here.  Again.  And I look forward to more times of hearing reminders of staying strong as a Jew in this world.  I look forward to being impressed by the kids who speak and give me chizuk. Tonight Meira Koslowe said a great chidush about how Chol haMoed isn't just a day of not doing certain melachot, but it is a bridge between Yom Tov and Chol.  And she expressed gratefulness for an education that built a strong bridge for her in this life.  So much more to say.  I'm saying it inside of me.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Great Quote (Click Link For Background)


Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Bananagrams Reposted

Recently I played a bunch of games of Bananagrams and also of Zip-It. I love these games and was reminded of all I wrote in this post.

 I like a soft listener.

An Old Time (Sic) Blog Post

I wrote here about an insightful video on stress. I never know what to write or where to write it.  I'm not sure how or why this blog started and/or why I keep it up.  It's interesting to me how quickly the personal blog, along with the simple cell phone, became old.

A few years ago my dad (HSLABW) shared a stack of letters with me from his army era years. It was a different time. People wrote letters.  These backs and forths between friends were filled with thoughts and words that were simmered on the stovetop, not nuked in the microwave.  There were jokes, and updates, questions and answers.  There were words that were carefully strung together by real people in real time.

Which brings to mind a poem that I shared with consolers, during Shiva, sitting in the basement of the house i grew up in. A former student from my school, a brilliant young man, who was never in my class but was my student, went home and looked for this poem online.  He found it, on my blog, several times.  That's it.

This is from a time when science teachers wrote poems about circumventing luxury, being respectable. listening openly, being true and brave to G-d, man, and country, and of jewels in the crowns of one's life's work. Sigh.

h
........

..........My Coronet
l
If I in my daily contact
....... Of school days spent with you
Have taught you
.......To live content with small means,
To seek elegance rather than luxury,
.......Refinement rather than fashion,
To be most worthy and respectable,
.......To study hard, talk gently and act
......................frankly,
To listen with open mind and heart
.......And grow up to be all that you should:
Cheerful, brave, and true
.......To G-d, home, and country;
Then I shall have completed
.......The setting of another tiny jewel, with
..................care
Into the crown of my life work.
O
FRANCES G.V. KENNY

I write this at the start of a day and the end, not the very end, the hard part of the end, of a school year. The thing with the school year is that at the start it's hard, then the middle part is hard, and then at the end of the year- yeah, it's a hard part of it. (Not to mention in too much detail  that this has been a particularly stressful and also meaningful year for me an the personal/familial front.) Teaching and counseling are challenging, and fulfilling, meaningful, spiritual, rich, and great.  I thank G-d for well over 20 years in a wonderful field and I look forward to more. I am grateful for the improv and poetry clubs I run, for the Torah and regular guidance I do, for the teaching of a variety of Limudei Kodesh classes and of a class in the English department, for the Mishmar class, the vaad class, for everything. 

Please G-d, bless me and everyone with rich lives of continued health and continued  growth in this world (it's been said that not only do we each have a share in the world to come, but also in this world), stress and all.

Have a good day, and may G-d bless.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Tanka of the Day - 1984

"He is not afraid,"
the graphologist told me,
"but you are afraid."
I'd brought my father to him
in the form of his letters

Meta Haiku

"Thanks for letting me
inspire you with my words,"
friend X writes to me."

Haiku of the Early Evening

My heart is in the
pre-verbal state of broken
my sad friend writes me

Haiku Written While Waiting for Ride at 7ish

If it has to rain
let it drizzle like write now
while I stand and wait

Andy Statman plays
Mandolin not clarinet
while I stand and wait

Waiting for my ride
to a place where I belong
Thank G-d, Thank G-d, Thank-

Mini van pulls up
She's waiting, but not for me
House keeper enters

Thank G-d for thank you
the way I stand here and feel
and say thank you G-d

Happiness is not
something that is happening-
 except for inside

It is important
to catch yourself when you are
playing the victim

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Retreating Haiku

Retreating my wounds
I wonder if it's too soon
to get hurt again

My soldiers begin
moving from the enemy
as he wins again

Retreating as one
we are together, alone:
large groups of singles

A hasty retreat
often causes confusion
as we flee from love

I need a retreat
from all of my retreating.
I want to connect

I took little risks
way back when I was little.
Then I retreated

Not hasty retreats
nor retreats planned in advance,
neither are simple

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Tonight Too

Eight years ago I posted about walking on a Motzei Shabbos and having a pleasant surprise meeting. it happened again tonight in a different way.

I was walking home from Mount Sinai and a Dominican looking girl of a bout 13 asked me and my friends if any of us had a watch. I did (always do, pretty much). I told her the time and then in unison we each said, "I remember you!" Then she said that she still had the Kitzur Shulchan Aruch that I gave her and her mom and that she learned from it regularly.

This goes back 2 or 3 years to when someone connected me with this woman and her daughter.  They were on the road to conversion, would I learn with them.  We met just a couple of times and it was genuine and pleasant.  And then we all lost touch with each other.

I asked her name and she told that it's Racheil, adding that she went to mikvah in December. She was converted by Rabbi Eliyahu ben Hayim, who Racheil told me is not only a Rebbe at Y.U, but is in charge of all Sefardic conversions in America.  (We also spoke about how he gives his hashgachah to the new sushi place on 181st street.  Racheil tells me that their prices are much cheaper than both Chop Chop and Shoprite.

I have a lot on my mind and soul.  I thank G-d for giving me life, again, again.  Every second is a gift, a surprise, a treasure.

Thank G-d.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Erev Shabbos

3:10 PM - Shabbos plans were not without their stress (what is?) but now what I'm doing is set.  Not going away.  Staying in.  having company.  Need to prepare.

Did a lot of work today.  it feels endless from an emotional and physical perspective, both.

I'm going on a few hours of sleep and it's starting to catch up with me.  Miles to go...

Work to do.  Shooting to get the bus to the bus at 3:40 (but sometimes it comes early...).  Shopping on the way home.

Hope to continue to post at home.

6:32 PM - Home. I hope the heavy bags of livestock didn't spoil during the walk from 179 and Ft. Wash to 187 and laurel Hill. I can't believe it but cabs do turn you down. Many of them. In the whole neighborhood.  There was some bad jam up. Thank G-d, somehow, I made it.

DETAILS (INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL) MISSING

6:52 PM - Settling in, cooling dowm, breathing (before Yom Tov we were asked to write our name on a tag and to aklso write things we like doing.  i wrote a lot opgf things, icluding breathing.  someone read it, thought about it and then announced, "You must mean deep breathing." (I like regular breathing. it makes me feel alive.)

7:26 PM - Just spoke with dad. He was listening to NPR about Normandy, remembering. We spoke for a while.  I love my dad. One of the nice things about the blog is that dad came to see me through it.  Another thing about the blog (along with other places where I journal) is that somewhere I have accounts of things that have happened, as they happened.

 PM - Praying for peace, Shabbat and beyond.

Thank G-d

Thank you G-d for everything. You are above and beyond me.  And yet.  I get that I don't get you. And I am grateful.  In this world in which we start and end as dust You blessed us with a time in between our entrance and exit  as dust, when we get to connect to other human beings in this world.  And somehow-

Although this world is in You and You are not in this world, although no words can't truly be used about You, although you are not a person. somehow-

Understanding that we can't understand You, while striving to continuously create ourselves along with You, somehow, somehow we connect to ourselves, to each other, and to You. Thank You.

Just Now

"You have no idea how much you helped me this year, I can't even find words for it." "I have never seen someone care so much for so many people."

Yeah, I'm glad I was here for this student. We just met and those quotes up there are part of what he told me.

I used to write more here about what my work days are like. I have pulled back.  And yet, it's important sometimes, for me, to put these priceless moments in print and read them back to myself.

This is real and true. My work is my calling.  I matter in people's lives in a big. positive way.  Sometimes they tell me so in words.

Post Shavuot Post - Pat II

10:29 AM - Two students just walked in and we need to talk.  I'm just taking the second I meant to take before they entered my office.

"Very powerful post Shavuot post. Thank you for sharing. " Got this comment in an email and it's encouraged me (at least in theory, as I juggle work and life) to share more.  Soon. Maybe. Hopefully. 

11:10 AM - My people are talking about the movie version of The Fault in Our Stars, which opened today.  The times hit it hard, but most critics liked it.  I know of one person who say it at the first showing last night, and others (one mother daughter team) who are seeing it this afternoon. My two cents are that I'm glad it sounds like a good movie, but it does not sound like it is as subtle, humorous and amazingly human as the book.  I like what this one critic wrote, but I think that for it to be as good as the book is too much to ask for and what this critic (Travis Hopson) writes is kind, but hard to believe. Hazel Grace never would have bought it: "Everything that made John Green's book so great is here, so maybe just this once the world really is 'a wish-granting factory.'"EW gives it a B.  They, like others seems to think that the actress playing hazel is in a league above that of the actor playing gus.

11:40 AM - Recently an elementary school has started practicing their graduation in the Shul next to my office.  i made it through their Star Spangled banner and Hatikvah, but their lechah Dodi to the tune of Leonard Cohen's Haleluya is feeling laborious.  

I am feeling very, understandably tired.  I still say to say no to caffeine and that's what I do. I've been off caffeine for over 20 years.  I like feeling tired when i'm tired and not being kept awake by a drug.  And yet I don't like it.

There is so much work today, today and beyond- till promotion day, weeks away.  

I need to jump into today.  And yet, i'm still holding Shavuot inside me.  

Yesterday was the first time in the four and a half years since mom died that I cried during Yizkor. Yizkor is not a particularly emotional recital.  You each say the paragraph and done.  it's on time I could use a good rabbi's speech. Somehow, yrsterday the simple truth got to me.

Like last year and pretty much every year before that i stayed up all night Shavuot night.  I'm still tired form that and from other factors. 

My life is intense and busy.  packed. I am haunted by a year ago at this time. Dad fell on Friday night (a bad fall, thoug as one quirky doctor put it, relatively speaking, he fell well...

A student just came in with stuff.  Got to let go of the rest of my life and be present for him.  And then I have to be present for paperwork.