adulthood · aging · family · home · love · selfish


What the hell – might as well admit it…
So, each time I’ve read my Tarot cards lately, (which I heard
once you’re not supposed to do, but the book I have says it’s the best
way to learn. Who knows – so I just don’t do it too often). Nevertheless, I have been doing it mildly
frequently over this past month in an effort to “figure it out,” and darnit, if I don’t keep getting The Devil
card. This card represents a lot about materialism, the bondage of self, and
And nothing leads me more to self-obsession than being
broke, so I’ve been pretty much all I think about lately. Not a very lovely way
to live. This morning, … in meditation (I can’t believe anyone still reads this
stuff!), I realized that I’ve cut myself off from a lot of my connectedness
through my contracted and constricted thinking around money, jobs, my life, my purpose,
I have been reaching out more for help, but feeling actually
calm, centered, connected, all is well? Well, that’s felt a little out of reach
for me. Fair enough, it happens. But, it’s nice to notice that although I’ve
been availing myself of more resources and networks and connections this time
(only when I’ve thoroughly exhausted my self-propelled resources!), it’s still
so Molly-centered, and gimme gimme. It feels icky.
An assignment that I’ve had since Monday is to pray for
others’ happiness once a day for two weeks. Some specific others, but sure, it
could apply to everyone. In doing this, I realized how much I’ve been focused on
myself. And also, how depleted I am internally from working in that closed
circuit. I haven’t “filled the well” in a long time. My well is dry. And others
need me to get some moisture up in here.
Connecting back to sources I know that are nurturing, and
getting back onto a schedule for myself will help (I was up till 1am applying
to a job – not the best time…but I won’t have much time as the family all pours
in from the corners of the eastern seaboard) are some ways to refill the well.
Perhaps this then sounds like another path of self-obsession, thinking about
how I can feel better, and maybe it can
skew that way, but I’d like for it to skew in the way to help others – to
refill so I have something to give. So I can actually have energy to put behind
my prayers for others’ healing.
Specifically, last night, I had dinner with my Dad and his
fiancé. They’ve come in for vacation/my graduation, and came to see me at
school, and we went to dinner. They are planning on moving to, and have a house
all ready to go for them in Florida. It occurred to me last night how much
older they both have gotten.
I see them, and my mom and brother, maybe once a year, but
usually every other year, and it’s been that way since I left for Korea in
2004. So, I don’t get to witness the slow aging process; I see them, and I’m
beginning to notice the slower pace they walk, the much grayer hair of my dad, and
the general aging look of them both. It’s startling a little to see so much
change from visit to visit.
They are moving to Florida to retire, like good Jews, into a
house in a “senior community” (I half envision Jerry Seinfeld’s parents in
Boca… And I don’t think that’s half off!) She is older than my dad, and my Dad
is 65, not “old,” but there’s a lot of aches and pains and aging issues. I can
tell that he’s sad that he’s not as vibrant as he was. They “courted” by going
to lots of dances and on motorcycle rides and kayaking and whatnot. They were
very active, at some type of dance or other nearly every week.
Last night they said they don’t really go anymore.
In order to move to Florida, however, they need for my
childhood home to sell. I’ve done a lot of work on letting go of this house, I
burned sage when I was there emptying it last Fall to help let go of all it housed and witnessed, and in meditation, I’ve
tried to do the same. To differentiate my identification with the house too –
having seen it for a very long time as a neglected beautiful thing that could
be so much if it only had enough love. I’m come a long way with that, and feel
ready for it to go, feel ready for it to be owned and loved by a new family.
But, the house does need a lot of work, and it’s not
selling. We all know what’s happening in the economy, so I decided every little
bit of help counts, and this morning in meditation, I went to the house. I
asked it what it needed to go to another family, and it said it needed Love. (Yes,
really.) So, I tried to sit in a room in the house and radiate love out to it,
so that it could radiate love and attract a new family.
Problem is, I’m running on fumes, and that’s how I
recognized this this morning. I sent someone else in, a teacher/source I know,
to illuminate it, but no dice. I need to work on receiving some light, to get
back to being a channel, rather than a closed circuit running on
self-propulsion for me to have anything to give.
Will it help the house sell? Dunno. Will it help me to feel
more connected to those around me? Likely. Will it do me some good to think
about others’ happiness and how they are? Definitely.
And, if you would be so kind, could you maybe send a little
love to the house too? Envision a “Sold” sign on the lawn? Help my Dad and his
wife move to a better place?
adulthood · change · commitment · community · faith · family · growth · home · life · recovery · relationships · romance · spirituality · tradition

The Kotzker Rebbi

According to legend, and history, Menachem Mendel
Morgenstern of Kotzk, Poland was an eccentric and influential rabbi, teaching
and forming one of the early branches of Hasidism, creating a more austere sect
of Judaism.
According to legend, and history, The Kotzker Rebbi, as he
was known, locked himself in his room for the last 20 years of his life. He
never left it. He received his food through a hole in the wall, and apparently
opened the door of his home once a year, revealing himself and his new
teachings/learnings to his disciples.
According to genetics, I am his great great great
granddaughter. His grandson is my grandfather’s father… I think. I have a family
tree at home somewhere. Either he’s my grandfather’s grandfather, or my grandfather’s
great grandfather. I haven’t done the math. 
Point being, and why it occurs to me today, I have no idea –
but the point being that I have some whacked out crazy, and powerful, Jews in
my lineage, living in my blood and DNA.
I’ve always found this fascinating. Firstly, it sort of
points to the understandability that mental illness runs in my family(!), and
secondly, it just sort of makes sense that Judaism continues to be this thread
in my life. I can’t sever it, ignore it, dismiss it – it is me.
When I began teaching at the Sunday School last year in
Berkeley, I said that I felt it was both my duty and my privilege to do so.
There is a line from some text that if any of us knows even one word of Hebrew he is
bound to teach it to someone else.
Again, I don’t really know why this occurs to me today. I
suppose as I begin to think about the direction my life is taking, or may take,
or I want it to take, I begin to think about this thread. Part of my
consideration in where I will move next, if I move, and eventually I
will (whenever “eventually” is), is if there are Jews there. For example, I’ve
been enamored of Asheville, North Carolina, ever since I heard of it through a
friend of mine who lives there. Young, hip, mountainous, liberal, artsy,
cultured … with one Jewish temple, of Conservative affiliation – aka, more
religious than I am, or want to be.
I don’t want to be more religious, I simply want to have
more connection to the community. More connection to those who share a history,
random Yiddish words, and a very eye-rolly understanding of the complexities of
a Jewish family.
So, Asheville may not be it. I have this crude crayon
drawing I made after a group meditation about 6 or more months ago. It’s a
couple, a man and a woman, holding hands, walking up a street to a
t-intersection. At the head of this intersection is a house – with a
wrap-around porch, huge trees, and a stream in the back, nested by a forest
behind it. To the right of this couple on the main street is a building with a
symbol for recovery on its façade. To the left of them, is a building with a
Jewish star above the door.
This is my vision. This, I believe, is how I become the
woman I want to be. Buoyed by my communities of faith, I’m able to stand in
partnership with another human being, and take part in what the world has to
I am grateful to have the quirky lineage that I have. It
makes sense to me, and makes me smile. (On my other side, my dad’s side, I’m
descended from Bohemians, literally.) Somehow I feel that I’m preparing to take
up a mantle that belongs to me, which includes all of these histories and as
well as all of the modern and current advantages I’ve inherited as a 20th
century woman with good health and education. And I’ll be curious when I find
that crayon drawing in 20 or 30 years to see how close I’ve come. 

home · laughter · letting go · love

February 29th

My parents married on February 29th of 1976. This
day of the year comes only once every 4 years, and true to their oddball senses
of humor, they thought it would be funny to marry on the leap year day.
It’s been on my mind, as I know that Feb 29th
is coming around again this year in a few days, and … sort of cosmically, my
childhood home, their home while they were married, goes on the market this weekend.
You know, I’m sure my Dad didn’t plan it this way – he’s not
much of a cosmic guy – but, I see it as pretty “full circle” in some ways. A
sad one, but I’m happy for the people who will get to enjoy that home next. It,
for all that it harbored, is a great home.
Most suburban sprawl children grow up feeling like there’s got to be something better than this po-dunk town. Or,
at least, the teenagers think that – we did, I did. But as a kid, actually, it
was pretty great. A number of parks in walking or biking distance. Everyone
rode a bike, and it was around the time they began to institute the “must wear
a helmet” law, and so everyone had some graphic neon print on theirs – or at
least I did. Hey, it
was the 80s.
There were supersoakers in the summer, and a fire in our
fireplace in the winter. For all its hardship, this was a wonderful place to
grow up.
Sure, we got antsy, and angsty the older we got. And we
spent many many an afternoon as
mallrats, being dropped off and picked up by our parents via a call from the
nearest payphone. We would posture and stand outside the mall. We would walk it’s
many corridors – we knew it back and forward, and could tell you the fastest
way to get to the food court. We rarely bought anything. If anything, we would
shoplift a bit. Or at least I did. I still owe some financial amends to a Junior’s department!
And then we’d be at someone’s home, their sunken living room with the
enormous box t.v. At a friend’s who had cable and this marvelous thing called
Nickelodeon and MTV.
Back at my home, there was the “secret passage way” to my best
friend’s house next door that my brother never figured out was just a path
through the pachysandra, and would beg to know the secret.
We’d, my best friend and I, block out the sunlight in my
parents room and play “blind man’s bluff” with my brother, which was an awful
game in which we covered him with a blanket, spun him around, and then he had
to find us in the semi-dark. The bed was out-of-bounds, and you couldn’t go on
it to escape him, but we did. And more than once, we spun him around so far
that his first step forward was into the nearest wall. …!
I spent hours in my
room, later as a stoned or drunk person, doing little projects around my room.
Creating a collage around the doorframe. Whittling down this enormous candle
with designs and indentations. There was the time when the sort of cream, sort
of yellow carpet began to swirl into different faces and shapes on one
particular evening.
When my friend and I would spill glue or paint onto the
carpet as little girls, we would use scissors to cut it out, so no one would
The attic was always a scary place filled with junk and
treasures. Cascades of ribbons and wrapping paper – the only reason I ever went
up there — and would see in the periphery furniture, a bird cage, and that pink
insulation stuffing that I once got all over me and the little glass pieces
made me itch, and I had to sit in a bath of calamine lotion.
There were the number of times I puked in that house as a
sick young girl. The times I listened to my brother playing our grandfather’s
piano, and when I was doing homework and asked him to stop, he always had to play those last few notes.
There was my dad trying so hard to help me with my math
homework, but him always being a frustrated teacher, and me becoming a
frustrated student, and fireworks and yelling would ensue.
There was my mom and I using my spelling list in second
grade to create magical stories that used all the words, and I’d get little red ink
stars on all my spelling homework.
There was my first kiss. 🙂 When I was 11, and my mom’s best
friend came over from Switzerland with her family (though she too was from
Brooklyn), and she had a daughter who was 16 (tres glamourous to me at 11),
and a son who was 14. Erik. Tall, Blue Eyes, Blond Hair. Accent. And he told me
I was beautiful. When with my bottle glasses and frizzy hair, I’d
decided already I wasn’t. In the dim evening in my mom’s office, on the worn blue carpet,
after chatting giddily and eagerly, he kissed me.
177 Woodland Ave., River Edge, New Jersey, was my address from 3 – 24 years of age, with it being
my fallback location until this past fall. It was a dream house when they
bought it, and it will be a dreamhouse for its next
inhabitants, and their mall-lurking, supersoaker toting children.

abundance · action · home · self-care · synchronicity

Lighten up!

Yesterday, I bought a new comforter. The one that I had was given to me by a kind friend, but was
stained and dark, and it went down on my list of Serenity Moths on Tuesday.
(Something subtle that eats away at my serenity, yet doesn’t have to.) Also on
my list was my apartment being dark. Part of that is due to the fact that the
lamp I have on my desk does not have a lampshade, and so I taped a piece of
construction paper around it like a shade, but am usually too nervous of fire to keep
it on!
So, after work, I went to Ross, the discount store (i.e. Marshalls,
etc — east coasters shout out!), and found a new, white, soft, warm comforter.
And now it’s on my bed. As I live in a studio, whatever color is on my bed
really changes and is obvious in the whole apartment. So, I got to cross
“stained comforter” off my list, and am heading in the direction of crossing
off “dark apartment.”
I realize that almost all of the furniture in my apartment
came to me absolutely free. I reflect on this, as I begin to think
again/re-address/new-perspectivize myself toward abundance in my life. Every
major piece was free. A gift of the universe. The bed came first. When I moved to California,
my one friend was like, uh, is that all you brought? I had a few suitcases and a
pillow. 😉 She said she would have brought a u-haul with all her stuff. But,
truth be told, I didn’t have that much, having just recently moved back from
South Korea – all I had was in my childhood room in NJ, and no, I was not going
to bring a twin sized bed to my “new life” in San Francisco.
When I got my first craigslist apartment, yay! here’s a
room. … with nothing in it. Nothing at all. Not even a bed. Miraculously enough
– very incredibly miraculously enough – my new roommate said his girlfriend just
bought a new mattress set, and was getting
rid of her old one. As I didn’t have any money, I offered that I could give her
the $75 gift certificate to Victoria’s Secret that my dad’s fiancé gave to me
as a parting gift in NJ. Sold.
That very day, we went and picked up a Queen-sized, good
condition mattress and box spring. I have it to this day. For free. Or, as
close to free/not out of my pocket as you can get.
When I moved to my own one-bedroom in SF, the next big piece
was my couch. I wanted a pull-out for visitors, and lo and behold, on
craigslist was a free two seater pull out couch. I don’t even know how I was
able to transport it – my good friend and her boyfriend helped me, as he had a
truck, and it is so damned heavy with
all its metal internallings. Why was it absolutely free? Because the awful blue
sofa also was entirely scratched apart on the arms of it and the back of it by
a very active cat. Some of the stuffing was even coming out of the arms. No
problem. I went to Bed Bath and Beyond, and found a perfect chocolate colored faux-suede sofa
cover, and I have it to this day 😉
The rest of the pieces have come off the street, or several once from
one of the buildings managed by the property management company I worked for.
The building manager had a whole host of excess furniture in the basement. For
the price of looking, asking, being organized to get transportation, and most
importantly asking for help around it, I’ve acquired an entire mod-podge
apartment of furniture that looks pretty cohesive.
The shade-less lamp, I paid $6 for, and it may have to go, or a
lampshade will become available (believe me, I’ve been looking!), and I also
paid for the omigod this couldn’t be any
more perfect 2nd bedside table which perfectly matches the off-the-street
 one on my side. The new one was bought at a garage sale around the time I was doing the Calling in
The One
exercises on creating space for a
partner. It isn’t a replica of the first, it’s a partner. It matches,
complements, enhances t
he first. Sort of what a partner should – or can – do, eh?
To abundance. And my lightening up apartment, heart, and
outlook. 😉
adulthood · healing · holidays · home · letting go · self-care

Hearth and Home

Winter cleaning has begun. The clean laundry that was
occupying the “other person’s” part of the bed is now put away. And the
cleaning will continue. I’ve decided and recognized that this “free” time off
work will be an excellent time to dig out those boxes from NJ and begin to
empty them.
First, sure, there’s all the surface cleaning I need to do,
and I have a girl coming over at 1 for coffee and chat, so the surface will
need to look decent before then. But after that? Today feels like a good day to
begin, gently, with the NJ boxes.
When I began CITO, it
asked us to make space, literally, for a partner to come into our lives, and so
I emptied a drawer in my closet and a shelf in my bathroom, and I bought
silvery grey sheets, which felt gender neutral, but also pretty sexy.
My place began to feel lighter, like I was creating space,
and allowing for “Nature abhors a vacuum” to occur. Then, I sent back 6 or so
boxes from NJ. They have pictures, and old school notebooks, and old poetry,
and old journals. A girl friend of mine called me up earlier this month to say
that she was taking a page from my book when she goes home for Christmas and
wanted to know what I did with my old journals.
I said, nothing. That’s not entirely accurate. I packed them
up in NJ and shipped them here to SF, uh, Oakland, I mean. I knew that there
was enough emotional upheaval to not want to or be able to process what to do
with them when I was in NJ, and so I just packed them up and shipped them here,
and they’ve been in my closet since October.
Which is fine. And I don’t yet know what I’ll do with them.
There’s the part that wants to honor what they hold, there’s the part that
knows that the childish records of who was in a fight with who and who was
wearing what in 9th grade are not things I feel tempted to keep, but
they are funny too, now, and so, what to do with them?
There is a lot of sadness in them too. When I was home, I
was doing some sifting and sorting and discarding, and there’s poetry from
grade 2 and 3 that is already about loneliness and isolation. So, I think there’ll be
some spiritual work or process or ritual I want to do around them. Maybe my
friend and I can do something around them together.
When I got into grad school last year, another friend of mine encouraged me
to do a ritual of thanks for the gift of this opportunity. We wrote down old ideas that no longer
served us, and burned them. Then we wrote down one idea that would carry us
forward. I still have it, in my closet. It says, “We can.” Sure, a little
reminiscent of the whole Obama campaign, but it still speaks to
the same sentiment I’m continuing to address: I don’t have to do
things on my own. I don’t have to deplete my own limited resources; there is a
world of abundance around me of people, resources, help, and love, if I avail
myself of them.
So, I’m not sure what I’ll yet do with the old journals. I
know there’s a reading series in Oakland where people submit from their jr high
era journals, and then if chosen, get to read them – pretty hilarious stuff, I
hear. One that comes to mind reported to me – I haven’t been yet – is a girl
who wrote, “Maybe if I got a pig they’d like me.” 😉 She apparently grew up in
an agricultural setting…!
It also feels like an appropriate “end of year” activity, to
clean the closets, to put my apartment back into “other person” readiness.
Nature isn’t the only thing that fills in a vacuum, and I’ve begun to encroach
on the newly emptied space I cleared, filling it back up with my crap.
There’s plenty of other stuff in the boxes to go through and
set aside, organize, or discard, and it takes me a long time to decide whether
some things are worth keeping, as you sift through old high school photos,
which do you need? What is “for posterity” in my drawings, poems, items? What
is now simply junk?
But, I will recall the belief I want to carry with me – I don’t
have to do this alone – and I can call on some guidance, clarity, and a heavy
dose of lightness(!) while I sift through the remnants of my childhood.