Lolliblog

Everyday, noted.

There has been an epidemic of burglaries in our area. A woman in my yoga class had her car, with her purse in it, stolen right out of her driveway. 
It started me thinking about what I’d be most upset to lose, materially speaking. There’s my computer, which would suck because my work and in many ways my life is now stored on it. I would hate to lose the smartphone upon which I’ve become stupidly dependent. Losing my wallet would be a hassle. But the things I would hate most to lose have zero value to a thief, though their value to me is incalculable.
Here are the three things I would hate most to lose. I know they look like the remnants of a horribly depressing estate sale, but they are the possessions I hold most dear.
My mom wrote “Sunday, Monday, and Always” when she was thirteen. I read this book obsessively as a child, because in a way it was as if my mom was introducing me to her adolescent self. I learned it’s true: the child is mother to the woman.
There’s Feven, the stuffed dog, cuddled, clutched, and cried into, valiantly shepherding me to safety through numerous childhood traumas, stoically bearing his battle scars. In my teens, I tried to replace his eye in an inept but heartfelt attempt to pay him back for all he endured.
There’s my original fifth grade copy of Jane Eyre. The faded circle on the front is where I would balance my tea cup. Other books come and go, but this one resides next to every bed in every place I’ve ever lived, because when sleep eludes me or I feel sick or scared or sad, I can count on honest, passionate Jane to keep me company.
In these I see my past, my self, in every aspect, including their physical deterioration. 
Somehow, contemplating losing them makes them more precious but also more expendable. I realize that it was never about prizing the symbol over internalizing the symbol’s spirit, and giving thanks for its gifts. I’m grateful to still have them, but even more grateful for their significance, which gives me everything I need to let them go.

There has been an epidemic of burglaries in our area. A woman in my yoga class had her car, with her purse in it, stolen right out of her driveway.

It started me thinking about what I’d be most upset to lose, materially speaking. There’s my computer, which would suck because my work and in many ways my life is now stored on it. I would hate to lose the smartphone upon which I’ve become stupidly dependent. Losing my wallet would be a hassle. But the things I would hate most to lose have zero value to a thief, though their value to me is incalculable.

Here are the three things I would hate most to lose. I know they look like the remnants of a horribly depressing estate sale, but they are the possessions I hold most dear.

My mom wrote “Sunday, Monday, and Always” when she was thirteen. I read this book obsessively as a child, because in a way it was as if my mom was introducing me to her adolescent self. I learned it’s true: the child is mother to the woman.

There’s Feven, the stuffed dog, cuddled, clutched, and cried into, valiantly shepherding me to safety through numerous childhood traumas, stoically bearing his battle scars. In my teens, I tried to replace his eye in an inept but heartfelt attempt to pay him back for all he endured.

There’s my original fifth grade copy of Jane Eyre. The faded circle on the front is where I would balance my tea cup. Other books come and go, but this one resides next to every bed in every place I’ve ever lived, because when sleep eludes me or I feel sick or scared or sad, I can count on honest, passionate Jane to keep me company.

In these I see my past, my self, in every aspect, including their physical deterioration.

Somehow, contemplating losing them makes them more precious but also more expendable. I realize that it was never about prizing the symbol over internalizing the symbol’s spirit, and giving thanks for its gifts. I’m grateful to still have them, but even more grateful for their significance, which gives me everything I need to let them go.

We just got back from North Carolina, where my daughter Rachael performed in her new hometown at the Carrboro Music Festival.

Rachael has been playing music for years, most recently in New York City. She’s a folk singer/songwriter, and we were used to seeing her in noisy bars and clubs in the city. It ain’t easy to engage an audience in a landscape teeming with other young, hungry performers who talk through each other’s sets until their turn comes to take the stage. To paraphrase Fran Lebowitz, who said “the opposite of talking isn’t listening; it’s waiting”, it would seem that the opposite of performing is not listening to other performers, but waiting to perform.

Carrboro, on the other hand, is a locus of not only musicians, but musicians who support one another, and are, in turn, supported by a music-loving public. The Festival atmosphere was, well, festive. Eclectic, too. There were spontaneous dancers, toe-tappers, grannies, and toddler-toting parents. There were cowboy boots and Birkenstocks, Topsiders and stilettoes; the freshly mani-pedied and the serially tattooed, the carefully coiffed and the dreadlocked.

In Carrboro, musicians have formed a community both generous and regenerative. It made me happy to know Rachael has landed such fertile soil, in a place that understands that when it comes to creativity, we blossom by nourishing each other.

Roaming Charge

Traveling unsettles the system.

You find yourself fretting,

Will I be constipated?

Or something I eat gives me diarrhea?

There is the probability of disruption.

I need my morning coffee by 7,

and cereal with almond milk

vanilla, unsweetened.

The hotel might skimp on pillows

(I like to sleep with one between my knees).

What if I forget my cell phone charger?

My prescription eye drops?

My reading glasses?

What if I find myself horribly sad

or terribly lost?

What if it turns out to be a terrible waste of money

which, incidentally, I don’t have?

I might lose my room key, dent the rental car, or

make a fool of myself by saying “medium” instead of “grande” to the humorless barista at Starbucks.

It could all happen.

In fact, everything on this list has,

at one time or another. And yet,

I pack all my neuroses along with all my accoutrements

and go.

Unsettled, anxious,

yet

so far

persistently

unstuck.


This is my nephew Indra. He was seven when he came to Manhattan to stay with me and Sam for a few weeks one summer while his mom, Sam’s sister Reva, battled the cancer that would kill her less than a year later.
Over those weeks, Indra and I had our share of adventures. He’d grown up in rural communes, so urban living was a new experience. Together, we roller skated in Central Park and visited the Museum of Natural History. 
One day I took him to the noon matinee of the Star Wars sequel, Return of the Jedi. The theater was almost empty; counting us, there were only a dozen or so people. I bought Indra popcorn and a soda. The lights went down. 
After ten minutes or so someone came in and sat behind me. I glanced over my shoulder at him and he smiled. I thought he might be a businessman on a lunch break because he wore a rather stodgy khaki raincoat. After a while, I felt a rhythmic bumping against the back of my seat. I turned around. He was grinning at me while masturbating furiously.
I grabbed Indra’s hand, pulling him behind me. Understandably, he was bewildered, and I told him I’d explain later but we had to leave. I went to the nearest usher, who took us to the manager’s office. 
After hearing my story, the manager seemed unconcerned. He instructed the usher to follow us back to make sure the guy was gone. After all, he said with a wink, he got what he came for. He went on to tell me perverts are harmless, and by law he couldn’t do anything unless physical contact was involved. Indra wanted to see the rest of the movie, and the usher was with us, so back we went.
We looked around and it seemed the manager was right; the guy was gone. We sat in a different spot, closer to the back, and I had just started to relax when someone plopped down next to me. It was the guy again, his raincoat and his pants wide open. This time he reached over and grabbed my thigh. Again, I yanked Indra out of his seat and ran across the lobby to the manager’s office.
The usher was paying attention. He saw us running, and nabbed the guy in the raincoat, who protested vigorously, insisting I’d made the whole thing up. He was led off into another room and the manager asked me what I wanted to do. “I can’t call the police unless you want to press charges,” he said. I told him I did, and sighing, he placed the call. As soon as he hung up he said, “It’s going to be your word against his. If I were you, I would let it go.”
The policemen who arrived a few minutes later took my statement but also discouraged me from pressing charges. “You’ll have to come down to the station.” “You’ve got a kid with you. He’ll be bored.” “We can’t hold the guy for more than a couple of hours on an indecency charge.” In other words, let it go. So I did. 
As compensation, the manager gave me two free movie passes. The cop who walked us out and told me I shouldn’t wear shorts. You show some leg, what do you expect? He told me to get right on the subway and go home, because they could only hold the guy for 15 more minutes.
I think back on that day as one of those times you are rattled hard enough to feel the sides of the cage. Indra’s disappointment lasted only a few hours, but mine can still be conjured decades later.
I never used those free passes because I couldn’t bear to go back to the place that reminded me just how easily I was convinced to let it go, and how successfully these men in power planted the seed that everything that happened was in some small way my fault. 
I know now that the fault was not mine, but runs through me, born female, into circumstances as they were and still too often are. The rumblings can be felt even at noon matinees of G-rated movies with children by our sides. We don’t ask for the earthquakes, but they come, so we make ourselves strong enough to withstand them.

This is my nephew Indra. He was seven when he came to Manhattan to stay with me and Sam for a few weeks one summer while his mom, Sam’s sister Reva, battled the cancer that would kill her less than a year later.

Over those weeks, Indra and I had our share of adventures. He’d grown up in rural communes, so urban living was a new experience. Together, we roller skated in Central Park and visited the Museum of Natural History.

One day I took him to the noon matinee of the Star Wars sequel, Return of the Jedi. The theater was almost empty; counting us, there were only a dozen or so people. I bought Indra popcorn and a soda. The lights went down.

After ten minutes or so someone came in and sat behind me. I glanced over my shoulder at him and he smiled. I thought he might be a businessman on a lunch break because he wore a rather stodgy khaki raincoat. After a while, I felt a rhythmic bumping against the back of my seat. I turned around. He was grinning at me while masturbating furiously.

I grabbed Indra’s hand, pulling him behind me. Understandably, he was bewildered, and I told him I’d explain later but we had to leave. I went to the nearest usher, who took us to the manager’s office.

After hearing my story, the manager seemed unconcerned. He instructed the usher to follow us back to make sure the guy was gone. After all, he said with a wink, he got what he came for. He went on to tell me perverts are harmless, and by law he couldn’t do anything unless physical contact was involved. Indra wanted to see the rest of the movie, and the usher was with us, so back we went.

We looked around and it seemed the manager was right; the guy was gone. We sat in a different spot, closer to the back, and I had just started to relax when someone plopped down next to me. It was the guy again, his raincoat and his pants wide open. This time he reached over and grabbed my thigh. Again, I yanked Indra out of his seat and ran across the lobby to the manager’s office.

The usher was paying attention. He saw us running, and nabbed the guy in the raincoat, who protested vigorously, insisting I’d made the whole thing up. He was led off into another room and the manager asked me what I wanted to do. “I can’t call the police unless you want to press charges,” he said. I told him I did, and sighing, he placed the call. As soon as he hung up he said, “It’s going to be your word against his. If I were you, I would let it go.”

The policemen who arrived a few minutes later took my statement but also discouraged me from pressing charges. “You’ll have to come down to the station.” “You’ve got a kid with you. He’ll be bored.” “We can’t hold the guy for more than a couple of hours on an indecency charge.” In other words, let it go. So I did.

As compensation, the manager gave me two free movie passes. The cop who walked us out and told me I shouldn’t wear shorts. You show some leg, what do you expect? He told me to get right on the subway and go home, because they could only hold the guy for 15 more minutes.

I think back on that day as one of those times you are rattled hard enough to feel the sides of the cage. Indra’s disappointment lasted only a few hours, but mine can still be conjured decades later.

I never used those free passes because I couldn’t bear to go back to the place that reminded me just how easily I was convinced to let it go, and how successfully these men in power planted the seed that everything that happened was in some small way my fault.

I know now that the fault was not mine, but runs through me, born female, into circumstances as they were and still too often are. The rumblings can be felt even at noon matinees of G-rated movies with children by our sides. We don’t ask for the earthquakes, but they come, so we make ourselves strong enough to withstand them.


I came across this book on a shelf in our Nantucket house, which proves the ever-shifting nature of phraseology, which can, over time, turn a title that once epitomized childhood innocence into something that sounds like anything but.

I came across this book on a shelf in our Nantucket house, which proves the ever-shifting nature of phraseology, which can, over time, turn a title that once epitomized childhood innocence into something that sounds like anything but.

Being Aunt Laura

My little niece Chloe likes to fool around with my hair. This past weekend she tried to put it in something called a fishtail before getting disgusted and jamming it into a haphazard bun. This was right after Rosh Hashanah dinner so her fingers smelled like brisket and kasha with onions. But I put up with the odor and tugging and resultant hair loss because I’m her aunt, and that’s what aunts do.

My little niece Rebecca likes to inspect every drawer and closet in our house until she finds something she likes, which she then asks if she can have. Most of the time, these items are prosaic things we not only use but actually depend upon, like the oven timer or the key to the front door. But I say sure, keep it, because I’m her aunt, and that’s what aunts do.

My not-so-little niece Sophia used to idolize me, but now she idolizes her older cousins because she’s closing in on teenagerhood and they’re all cool and why would she want to hang around with a middle-aged lady, even a nice one who would let her pull out her hair or happily hand over anything she asks for? I get it. I really do. So I stand back, let it go, and love her like crazy, because I’m her aunt, and that’s what aunts do.


“If you become a bird and fly away from me,”said his mother, “I will be a tree that you come home to.”
I’m sorry, but no child ages out of relevance when it comes to Margaret Wise Brown’s The Runaway Bunny. Jake and Micah, my flyaway boys, this goes out to you. As always, you know where to find me.

“If you become a bird and fly away from me,”
said his mother, “I will be a tree that you come home to.”

I’m sorry, but no child ages out of relevance when it comes to Margaret Wise Brown’s The Runaway Bunny. Jake and Micah, my flyaway boys, this goes out to you. As always, you know where to find me.

Kind

The greatest lesson my mother taught me- by example- was to be kind. I realize kindness is something that many kids don’t have the great good fortune to learn. I also think that without a doubt the most difficult thing I do on a daily basis is face the world, which is often an unkind place, as a kind person.

People tend to think of kindness like oatmeal- fortifying but bland and easy to pass up. But I believe kindness, even though cloaked in humility, is the mightiest and most enduring of attributes.

It’s like Kurt Vonnegut once said:

“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. At the outside, babies, you’ve got about a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies- God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.”


I have always been a hippie at heart, and my allegiance to the hippie code extended to my wedding attire. My dress was homemade (not by me, at my home, because I couldn’t sew to save my life, but by a friend of my aunt’s, who whipped it up according to my Renaissance specifications- note the lace-up sleeves). The fabric was plain white linen. And yes, those were real wildflowers in my hair. I imagined us all drinking apple wine and dancing in a moonlit meadow, but my parents footed the bill, so concessions were made. A chapel at Yale for the ceremony followed by a reception at my dad’s stuffy social club kind of derailed the flower child vibe, but only temporarily. When we drove off for a weekend honeymoon in a borrowed car, my bare feet were on the dashboard. Cat Stevens was on the radio and all was right with the world.

I have always been a hippie at heart, and my allegiance to the hippie code extended to my wedding attire. My dress was homemade (not by me, at my home, because I couldn’t sew to save my life, but by a friend of my aunt’s, who whipped it up according to my Renaissance specifications- note the lace-up sleeves). The fabric was plain white linen. And yes, those were real wildflowers in my hair. I imagined us all drinking apple wine and dancing in a moonlit meadow, but my parents footed the bill, so concessions were made. A chapel at Yale for the ceremony followed by a reception at my dad’s stuffy social club kind of derailed the flower child vibe, but only temporarily. When we drove off for a weekend honeymoon in a borrowed car, my bare feet were on the dashboard. Cat Stevens was on the radio and all was right with the world.