samedi, décembre 01, 2007


One journey, two paths, love, always
By Elizabeth
Intelligencer Journal
Published: Dec 01, 2007 12:26 AM EST
I heard he was quite a classroom showman.
His field of expertise: American intellectual history. He was passionate about making it come to life for his students, whether teaching an introductory class or an advanced round table.
Comfortable in at least four languages — more than willing to fake his way through another two — he would tease waiters and clerks with a series of one-liners and truly awful puns.
Whether they got the joke or got confused, he was very open-handed with the tip.
Even when he became very ill, he would josh with his companions, who teased him, exhorted him, tended to his wounds and grew to love him.
He died last week, and now I'm looking for him in our old e-mails, his office, in my dreams. Wondering where he is, what he's doing, whom he's with.
The son of an immigrant Orthodox rabbi of some note, Dad was the youngest of four children.
Free of the financial pressures his older brothers and sister had to support their family, he attended Brooklyn College.
After serving in World War II, he earned a doctorate at Columbia University. Somewhere in the course of his studies he developed a deep understanding and even empathy with men of spirituality as different as the evangelical 19th-century British Prime Minister William Gladstone and American transcendentalists Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.
When I became a Christian in college, Dad, who was a professional doubter and questioner, put me through my paces. Our conversations were suffused with his knowledge of British and American religious history.
How strange that my father, the son of a reclusive Jewish scholar, should so thoroughly understand the fundamentals of my adopted faith.
Or maybe not so strange.
In the catholicity of his interests, and his astoundingly broad frame of reference, he seemed to span many worlds, not to mention many centuries.
If faith and disbelief occupy separate territories, Dad seemed to have a foot in both camps.
They would not be so unkind as to say it to a grieving daughter, but I'm fairly sure some Christians would assert that because Dad wasn't a Christian, let alone a paid-up theist, his fate was sealed.
To them, or to anyone who thinks they can make such a determination this side of eternal life, I would issue a gentle challenge.
Get to know someone who walks a different spiritual path.
Listen empathetically and talk candidly with them. Then ask yourself if you are still as hard-core about salvation through faith in Christ alone as you once were.
If you have lost a parent, one who walked a different spiritual path from your own, perhaps you will understand viscerally when I say that I leave a lot in the hands of a loving God whose power and purposes are beyond anything I can imagine.
Knowing my own inadequacies and difficulties in being faithful to His call to discipleship, I find it more fruitful to focus on listening for God's still small voice in my own life.
In the meantime, I take comfort in the words of singer-songwriter Roseanne Cash, who lost her mother, dad and stepmother within the course of two years.
Asked by a writer for the Web site Beliefnet what she thought happened after we die, Cash said she tends now to believe that the dead exist in a place where "they don't need the body or the senses anymore, and there's love and there's still learning and growth of some kind."
It may be, said Cash, that it is we who are in the dream world, and they who are awake.
Dreaming or awake, I cling to his last words to me, spoken almost inaudibly in an evening phone call to the Brooklyn brownstone where he spent his last months.
"I love you."
Me too, Dad.

© 2004-2007 Lancaster NewspapersPO Box 1328, Lancaster PA 17608, (717) 291-8811Terms of Service Privacy Policy
_uacct = "UA-323327-1";

jeudi, novembre 29, 2007


At least it's entertaining watching the Republicans go at one another. Each riposte-get rid of progressive income tax, ban abortions completely, accuse each other of having a "sanctuary city" or "sanctuary mansion" seems a bit more inflammatory, and frankly, a bit more frivolous, than the one before.

Truly, in America, anyone can grow up and be deluded enough to think he would make a wonderful President-as opposed to the barker at your town carnival.

Gail Collins does a nice job of satirizing last night's debate in the article linked to this post.

One group of candidates is trying to scare you to death, the other seem like a bunch of school teachers lecturing us on avoiding the evils of excess.

It's occasionally intriguing to watch Hillary play dominatrix or John play (?) mad. But after a while, you begin to wonder what happened to all of the grown ups.

If it's true we get the candidates we deserve, what does this group say about us? Perhaps we should just let Oprah choose the next President.

Come to think of it...

mercredi, novembre 28, 2007

What we need

I wonder why, again and again, we prostitute our integrity to get what we think we want. Fame. More money than we need. Sex.

It's OK to want others to admire our work.

It's sensible to want enough cash to pay our bills-and maybe a trip now and then to France. (ok, so maybe that's not sensible, but it feeds our spirits).

We're sexual human beings and we crave physical release and emotional intimacy.

But why do we so often go after what we want by lying or cheating? Why do we abuse other people to gain what we think we need?

While online communication can facilitate intimacy, it can also abort and murder it.

Perhaps it is as simple as this Roseanne Cash song (quoted from memory)

We are ships in the night,
water deep in between,
air is freezing and we can't find the light,
so we sail off into a dream
when what we really want is love-
what we really need is love.

lundi, novembre 26, 2007

The perfect guy

Want to know the recipe for my perfect guy?

He's smart, with one graduate degree at least. Preferably from a prestigious school.
He's fit-there's something very hot about toned biceps and a flat stomach on a guy who is a bit more than twenty.
His hair droops fashionably over his forehead. Brown is nice but silver will do in a pinch.
He's got an amicable relationship with his ex wife-but they aren't confidantes. And he adores his kids, spending lots of time with them because he can, not because the court told him to.
He radiates sex appeal, and can whisper Baudelaire and John Donne and Cole Porter into my ear at a restaurant in such a seductive voice that it makes me drop my menu.
He will not mind knocking down a few idols, but is faithful where it counts.
He's vulnerable without being needy, successful without being cocky, and he finds a good debate almost as hot as a trip to Victoria's Secret.
And he'll be working in Sweden or the Seychelles half the time-reunions will be much more fun that way, and I'll still have time to myself.

Am I going to find this paragon anywhere? Not too damned likely.

What I fear is that, if I pay too much attention to the template that resides somewhere in my unconscious, I will miss the real item when he comes along.

Perhaps he won't have those great degrees-or much hair. Possibly his six-pack might be closer to an eight-pack. Maybe he won't even have heard of Baudelaire. And his sex appeal might be something that grows on me rather than blowing me away at the first meeting. Maybe he'll (scary thought) want to spend a lot of time getting to know me.

Another possibility-if I'm not careful, I might be taken in by a pale facsimile-and not take the risk of hanging in there with the real one when he makes an ass of himself. After all, it will be my turn next.

Internet dating makes this kind of error oh so easy. Guessing at people's motives. Misreading their words. Hanging on when it's hopeless. Pushing guys away when there might be a chance.

The only thing I'm sure of (well, almost) is that I can't see a long term relationship with a guy who has "golf" in his moniker. Is this just a failure of imagination on my part? Why do they keep contacting me?

This apple can stray a little-but she's not going to fall very close to a tee.

Not exactly 42nd street

Doctor's appointments, haircuts, broken plumbing-I've neglected a whole lot over the course of this fall.

It is misty outside, the only noise that of the trucks working on the new school down Fairview. I've finally had a little time to reflect on a few other things today.

I think of myself as someone who is pretty open to accepting people the way they are. I'd rather deal with eccentricity than hypocrisy anyday.

But I wonder if occasionally my vaunted tolerance is actually sloppiness-and a lack of bravery.

Is it kind not to confront people when they provoke you? Is it helpful for them?

What's the payoff for me?

I like people who are willing to live boldly-if they do it in the sunlight. I have to keep reminding myself that part of my professional identity is, put bluntly, that of a demure burlesque artist. Peel off a layer here and there-your public sees what you chose to reveal. In my case, I hope they eventually see something that evokes their own scrapes, scars and beauty.

However, even in high class joints like newspapers of note, there's a definite limit in how far I am willing to go. We showgirls have our standards.

I know that some would think my fetish for putting myself on public view more than a bit odd. They lead more discreet lives.

It may be both unfair of me, and slightly puritannical, to expect everyone else to flaunt their secrets in public. After all, they don't get paid to do it-and they don't get the byline.

And it's questionable that every time I indulge in self-revelation others will find something evocative.

But I have to admit that I gravitate to people who have the chutzpah or courage to be open about their woundedness-and hopeful about the possibility of healing. That combination is my drug of choice.

My challenge for the day is to learn to tolerate discretion-and perhaps even to be a bit more discreet myself. Wish me luck, gentle reader!

dimanche, novembre 25, 2007


Marguerite called last night to tell me how sad she was about my dad's death. She is from "the islands," a strong Christian woman who was a companion for my dad. She knew him before the tracheotomy, and their bond became very strong. He would joke with her, greet her with happiness, and would do pretty much anything she asked. He had a special relationship with all three of them-Marguerite, Gerta and Tshera. They were lions for him when he was helpless and needed protection. Sadly, it was often from the hospital staff.

From what Marguerite said, she grew to love him.

On the phone last night, she praised our family, saying how nice and unprejudiced we were-welcoming people as they are. I told her about my grandma and how she took us young 'uns on civil rights marches. But my first reaction was: what the heck do we have to be prejudiced about? It makes me sad that she and the other women who were so remarkably faithful have had to deal with racial bias from people who employ them.

And you think we are evolving, Professor Dawkins and Mr. Hitchens? I think we are often the same bigoted tribesmen and women we were when we were arguing over who got the steer carcass 10,000 years ago.

Thank you, dear Lord Jesus, for bringing these wonderful women into my dad's life-to surround him with wonderful care and with their prayers. Thank you for sending them to my sister when she needed lions. Thank you for letting me know them-and learn from them.

Marguerite said she's not ready to go back to work yet.