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Entries in Ezra (64)



There are probably a million ways to be half-assed in life, and parenting seems to be an opportunity for me to explore most of them.

My semi-annual attempt to expose Ezra to his roots - roots I barely access myself - started last night with the first night of Hanukkah. Basically it means we dust off my grandmother's menorah, fumble through a half-understood Hebrew prayer, light a candle and give Ez a small present. This year it will be a series of eight Hot Wheels. I imagine we are all vaguely befuddled at this exercise, divorced as it is from any larger context in our lives. And yet, here I am, compelled to do it anyway.


My brother and I shuttled weekly between our parents' houses when we were growing up. Among other things this meant that the Episcopalians had custody of us every other Sunday morning. Alternate Sundays we ate bacon with our Jewish dad and listened to the Grateful Dead. Small wonder that I turned into a pagan/Buddh-ish/atheist.

Mom's week. Dad's week.

Half. Half.

Fair. Square.

And yet.

Here I am, still wondering what it means to claim identity and why it feels important anyway.


Here is what I know about Judaism: Family. Laws. Other. My paternal line is Jewish in a typical American way that involves bad news in eastern Europe, long journeys, short memories. Also, Brooklyn, boot straps, assimilation, intermarriage. It did not, in my experience, involve much in the way of temple, formal holidays, or practice. No matter. They are Jews because, as my father once told me, it's what they Are.

Judaism is a religion of laws, deeply imprinted with a sense of Other-ness (enforced from both within and without, over and over). The laws on this are clear: there is no half-half. You either Are or you Are Not. You are borne of a Jewish womb or you are not. Never mind Ukraine. Never mind Brooklyn. Never mind the occasional Passover or that one cousin's ostentatious Bar Mitzvah. Never mind the paternal line.

And yet.


We lit the first candle last night. Ezra opened the '86 Monte Carlo, delighted.

I never had a menorah growing up. My entire experience of Hanukkah consisted of an annual check from my great-aunt Hannah. My brother asked me yesterday Why on Earth? and I have no good answer except Ezra is getting pretty far removed from the family's last Jewish womb and even though we Are Not, I want him to somehow know that this is related to him. As is Gin Rummy, and curly hair, and the old sepia portrait of the Russian soldier in the big furry hat.

Is pretending to practice Hanukkah a good way to do that? Hell, I don't know. Last night it brought up the familiar combination of feeling both ridiculous and half-assed that seems to accompany any of my tip-toed excursions toward this identity. But Ezra liked it, and he was golden in the light of my Grandma's menorah.


The book of Jewish children's stories I had as a child included the one where King Solomon was wise enough to know that no real mother would split the baby. No half-half. No half-ass.

I was never that sure of anything, my whole life.  Must have been nice.


And Finally, The Point

I was going somewhere with all this about meditation and cupcakes

Though I got permission from a colleague to blame the holidays for the grinding unease that has settled on me, I think this is more like Day 5 of Vipassana.  The moment where I realized that I had the feeling I was searching for, and then promptly blew it away with the immediate clutching, grasping, craving.

In the midst of the World's Longest Uninterrupted Good Mood (see also, September and October) I got the feeling of riding along on a flow of inspiration.  Not just riding it or letting it flow through me, but actually being made of it.  It sounds kind of silly as I type this, but I actually thought I had crossed over into some new way of being in the world.  I thought I had found my way into some secret space that only people more actualized than me already knew about.

Well I didn't. 

Or that place doesn't exist, and what is true is that sometimes you're in the flow and sometimes you're out of it but either way there's no use flailing about or clutching.  It's liquid, after all, and it slips through your fingers.  Better to just relax and point your feet downstream and float it while you can.  That's my current theory anyway.

So here I am washed up on the banks, a little bit bruised from flailing on the rocks.  But the grinding unease finally reminded me

chew the cupcake chew the cupcake chew the cupcake chew the cupcake chew the cupcake chew the cupcake chew the cupcake

I'm trying. 

This one's three and determined lately to bend me to his will, but he's eminently chewable.

This one's been remarkably patient with me during the end of the Good Mood. 

This is my job, good work that is its own reward. 

This is me, chewing, somewhere in the struggle to just pause, in the moment, instead of rushing forward or leaning backward.  Considering what it would take to see patience as a belief that all things happen in their right time.


Dirty Laundry

This is my bed, made.

This was my win yesterday morning, my one nod to order in my universe.  They say it helps, at least making your bed.  So this would be my attempt at well-being and it might fool you, unless, like me, you could see beyond the edges of the frame to the pile of laundry.  Piles, actually.  To the left is the spot where I "cleaned up" after the dog got sick two weeks ago.  And then the one from when he puked again the next day.  But I guess it's not really clean if the spots are still there.

Beyond the frame is a catalogue of my failures. There's the fact that every incandescent light bulb in the house is burned out and I thought we had replacements but we don't; so I sit in the dark.  The printer is out of ink. The refrigerator is empty except for cheese and hot dogs and half and half.  Stacks of unmanaged paperwork cover every horizontal surface.  Regular adults do not live this way, Corinna.

Will is accusatorially folding clothes in the TV room, which we only enter these days to pick through the mound of clean laundry in hopes of finding something to send Ezra to school in. (Will may not actually be sending daggers of resentment my way.  I might be doing that to myself, since watching him fold clothes alone feels worse than seeing a pile of clothes stagnate there.)

Oh and look, there's a letter from the endocrinologist. You've gone and allowed your adrenals get fatigued. How careless.

And the car smells like burning elk jerky from that encounter with the elk on the way to Thanksgiving because where the hell is a car wash in this place anyway?

I wonder if the elk's soul also got stuck to the Subaru's radiator in the encounter and if he's noticed that he's burning in the hell-fires of I-25 traffic or if he's pissed and bewildered that he's getting dragged into the Denver suburbs everyday in his afterlife.  This was not how it was supposed to be.

And why are your shoulders around your ears, Corinna?  Relax.

Ezra came out of his room saying "my throat hurts. I want to take my brain out so my throat won't hurt no more."

And I thought Kid, you might be onto something. I could take my brain out and put it on the bedside table next to the well-made bed.  It could be one more piece of clutter I crop out of the frame.



An incomplete list, in no particular order, of some things that happened (so far):

A love affair with the camera.  A bout of culture shock at college in upstate New York.  Writing.  A trip to India.  A mercifully short-lived stint as a weather girl in a small town.  Boyfriends.  A mercifully longer career in television production.  Writing.  A rural childhood.  Some other trips to anywhere that would have me.  Girl friends.  Some skis.    A boy-child.  Some backpacks.  A husband.   Writing.

To be clear, I am so grateful for this life of mine, remarkable perhaps mostly for its arc of good fortune.  I know I am a Lucky One.  But I have looked back on that list and the other pieces that fill in my history and wondered if they could possibly have anything to do with one another.  They don't feel like points on a line.  I guess it's a trick of the memory, but they feel like fragments housed in this Corinna-vessel:  I know they all fit together somehow, but I have not been totally sure if they have any relationship to my future. 

Perhaps it's a function of becoming a parent, that all-consuming endeavor which makes our previous lives seem hazy and dreamlike.  Ezra is three now, and I feel like I can breathe again.  Or maybe this past year of shooting and writing has just made me hungry to integrate.  But suddenly I see clearly that my wish is to take all these strands of me, the fits and starts of learning and knowing, the luck and grace and love, and weave them together into something whole and vital and greater than its parts.  Today it feels like that could happen.


Faith is the bird that feels the light, and sings when the dawn is still dark.

- Rabindranath Tagore


The Magic Number

Gratitude project: Day 6Everyone tells me three is worse than two, if you're using terribles as the unit of measurement.  It's true, sometimes.  But oh my, when it's good, this three-year-old thing is really good.

So grateful this weekend for

giant cardboard boxes that turn into weekend-long mural projects

the miracle of crossing the potty training threshold

balance bikes

the fact that he finally, finally speaks the English language

the discovery that, like his mama, Ez is a lyrics person.  (thump, thump)

Also, while I'm on the magic of three, let me say just how comfortable it feels to be a family of three.  And how grateful I am to finally feel that clarity.  Here we are, a small, sturdy love triangle, ready to take on the world.