Friday, September 25th, 2009
I awoke this morning to a thick shroud of fog enveloping my house. For nearly a week now I’ve awakened to fog. My house sits high on stilts, overlooking the land, communing with the treetops that neighbor it. We are equals, the trees and I. Like a child who finally reaches eye level to his parents, I feel lucky to look so squarely into the branches of my trees.
But today the branches were mere silhouettes, and the city, the view from my windows, was concealed behind a milky white sky.
Recently a friend asked me if I liked the fog. ”Like it?” I answered. “I love it!” It brings me back to my suburban childhood in Milwaukee, where fog was a rare experience. I remember looking out my window to see our quiet street to see it blanketed in gray. (more…)
Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009
It was quite a day. Not only is it the High Holy Days – my favorite time of year – it also happens to be my birthday. It is absolutely impossible to feel anything but joy and abundance on this day. I have to wonder what I did to deserve such loving people in my life.
I think it is magical how, through life cycle events, the meaning of life becomes so simple. I experience it a births, funerals, b’nei mitzvahs, weddings, our family retreat…. and my birthday gives me the same reminder. The only thing in life that matters is love. It’s just not that complicated.
And today was not about quantity, but quality. (more…)
Friday, September 11th, 2009
I have a birthday coming up in two weeks. This seems significant to me at this moment, as I sit in a dorm room at UCLA for a writer’s conference. Because it strikes me that, the older I get, the more I stay the same.
Take tonight, for instance. I am alone in my room, two twin beds divided by a low bureau, a desk on either side of the beds. I am stretched out in my sweats, my laptop on my legs, books strewn all about me. I am working on a final paper for grad school. When I was an undergrad, I would have been sitting at my desk, clacking away on typewriter keys, but the scene is otherwise identical to my undergrad days.
Shockingly, so are my thought processes. (more…)
Wednesday, September 9th, 2009
The lazy summer days are over. This is evidenced by my family calendar. It is the latest addition to our hallway decor. Some have family photos, others framed artwork or posters. The Friedes family? We have a 24×36 laminated calendar with four colors of penmanship scrawled across sixty squares.
This is a new system for us. It was spawned by a classic Mom Mess Up.
“Mom, it’s minimum day,” Olivia’s sweet voice came through my phone.
I looked at my watch. I needed to pick her up from school in precisely 30 minutes – about 3 hours earlier than I had planned. (more…)
Thursday, September 3rd, 2009
I recently had the privilege to review a soon-to-be-released film. Called Tickling Leo, it was described as a film set around the days of Yom Kippur – a contemporary drama that follows three generations of one Jewish family whose secrets threaten to wipe away its future.
Who could resist a plot like that?
One of the qualities about the Jewish culture that captivated me was the bond to family and the value of heritage – much more than I experienced in my own upbringing. While I loved my grandparents, I never felt terribly close to them, nor did I have a sense of being part of ”a people.” The same cannot be said of Jewish people. I felt it immediately when I met my in-laws, and I experienced it among friends. They all had a sense of belonging well beyond their immediate families.
But what the two cultures share, and dare I say what Western Civilization fosters, is a lack of connection to our personal histories. (more…)
Wednesday, September 2nd, 2009
The opportunity was ripe. I heard Harrison in the kitchen and tiptoed up the stairs to the adjacent dining room. He was humming to himself, and I heard the hiss of an opened Gatorade bottle. A cabinet door creaked and slammed, and the clang of ice cubes rattled in a glass. I could just hear Harrison’s smugness, pleased to be surrounding himself with his favorite delectables. Finally, the crinkling and rip of a bag of chips punctuated the end of his mission.
I pressed my back up against the wall, trying to predict his exit route. I knew he was in the middle of reading a book, which was splayed spine-up on the living room table below. I thought he might walk through the hallway on my left, the most direct path to his destination.He had his treats, and he was in a zone. Sure enough, I heard the pad of his jock-sock footsteps. (more…)