Looking back and thinking forward

Month: January, 2007

If I do it for you, I do it for me

Quote of the day:

First of all, everybody has a memory when you were eleven years old and you were walking down a particular street on a certain day, and the trees – there was a certain wind blowing through the trees and the way that the sound of your feet made on the stones as you came up the drive and the way the light hit a particular house. Everyone has memories they carry with them for no particular reason and these things live within you – you had some moment of pure experience that revealed to you what it meant to be alive, what it means to be alive, what the stakes are, the wind on a given day, how important it is, or what you can do with your life. That’s the writer’s job, to present that experience to an audience who then experience their own inner vitality, their own center, their own questions about their own life and their moral life, and there’s a connection made. That’s what keeps you writing, that’s what keeps you wanting to write that next song, because you can do that, and because if I do it for you, I do it for me.

Bruce Springsteen. [Thanks, Ilene]


I am trying out an experiment. Trying to view Itzhak Perlman playing Klezmer … well, did it work?

It never rains but it memes

So it seems. So it seems.

Ronni Bennett, who, usually, really does not go in for memes, tagged me for a quickie!

This one is called, My, me, meme, and I wonder if I can do it fast?

My: What would I give my right arm for?

My son. For his happiness, fulfillment and peace of mind. And, for the rest, validation and forgiveness. I mean, what I wouldn’t give to rid myself of guilt about everything I’ve ever done!

Me: What’s one word that describes how you want people to see you?

Well, compassionate would have to be that word.

Meme: If you could be any blogger which blogger would you be and why?

This is tough, and no doubt about it, I compare myself to all sorts of people all the time. But there are so many to choose from: Those who write well; those who are interesting, informative and gripping, knowledgeable, humorous and sensitive, poetic, creative; those who have tens of hundreds of readers and page hits a day, a week, a month, a year!

To be anyone but me.

I have longed for that all my life whether it was as a child, a daughter, a woman, a teacher, a mother, a tennis player, a lover, a singer, a gardener, a professor, a wife, a reader, a scholar, a cook, a friend, a sister, an author, a child care center director, and, now – a blogger.

So, on any given day I might choose any other blogger out there who I would rather be.

Which brings me right back to the beginning of this meme.

Perhaps I should have said that I would give my right arm just to want to be me.

[Oh dear, and before I forget I need to tag someone. Or do I? Please, dear readers, whoever you are, feel "tagged." But do let me know if you choose to participate so that I can come by to visit]

Did you know?

Well, finally it happened. I was tagged. You know. The five things you may not know about me, meme.

Jean at This Too made the suggestion and I laughed out loud. "What on earth have I left out about me that you do not already know?" I thought to myself. But when my friend Jean calls, I answer. And so, here goes:

Number One:

01262007_12_4 When I was a child I sucked my thumb, and I mean, really sucked my thumb. For years and years. I would drag around an old jersey (I think it was yellow) and hold it to my nose as I sucked. When it fell to rags I adopted another. I think when I was ten (I cannot remember the exact age or date) my mother told me that it was enough. She said I was big and it just was time to let it go. And so. I stopped. But, secretly, for years and years and years after that, just before I fell asleep, I would suck my thumb anyway – without the jersey.

Number Two:

01262007_12_5 One of my favorite teaching tools was a puppet named "Kfir Ha’Barvaz." When I emigrated to America I had to change his Hebrew name to David-the-Duck. He would lie asleep in a basket somewhere in the classroom, and when the need arose I would take him out and wake him up. The children would be invited to call him. "David," They would sing again and again, louder and louder until he would stir, yawn widely and then exclaim joyfully to see them all again. He taught the children about friendship, love, excitement at parties, or current events. In turn, the children could tell him anything they wanted: joys or concerns, or dramatic, fantastical tales. And before they would leave him to go wash their hands for snack-time, breakfast or lunch, they would be allowed to hug or kiss him – ever so gently. When my son was ten years old he bought me that puppet because he knew how I loved to play with dolls. I still have David-the-Duck. Only, now he sits on a shelf in my office at work and visits teachers instead of children. Not nearly as much fun!

Number Three:

When I was sixteen I came first in our town talent contest for singing The Dove, a cappella. The prize was some money, but the best part was having to appear on our local television station. Out of the shadows and into the light. I guess I have always loved performing.

Number Four:

Tamardancer_4   I learned about performing very early in life. For from when I was eighteen months old, I learned ballet dancing with Elaine Archibald. Every day until I was ten or so I would attend ballet classes and appeared in concerts. I dreamed of becoming famous and dancing one day in Covent Garden. My mother would tell me about how I would become famous and she would sit in the special audience box and watch me dance. When I was ten, ballet dancing was taken away. Along with my "sucking jersey." Something about my being anaemic or not having time to play. As I write this I have just realized why I was so emphatic with one of my students recently. She had described in class that until she had been involved in a car accident she had studied ballet and jazz dance. Now she was going into the teaching profession. I asked her if she was well enough to dance and she nodded her head vigorously, but said that she did not have the confidence any longer. I became quite excited and exclaimed vehemently that she must return to dancing and follow her heart. I went so far as to say that I hoped I could talk her out of teaching during the semester and get her back into dancing. Hm … I wonder … was I really talking about myself?

Number Five:

01262007_12_6 When I was nineteen I fell madly in love with a French-Canadian-Roman-Catholic Priest. He was twenty seven. We were both studying Hebrew in an Ulpan near Netanya. Louis was studying Hebrew so that he could translate sections of the bible from Aramaic into Hebrew. I was learning the language because I had emigrated to Israel. It was a stormy love, full of passion and beauty. I wrote songs and poetry because of it. Louis was on his way to Rome. On the last day of Succoth, he traveled there, and for three weeks wrote me love letters that described his inner conflict and pain: whether to marry me, or continue his calling as a Priest. At the end of the three weeks he wrote the letter telling me of his final decision, one that would break my heart, dash my hopes, leave me gasping for breath and yearning for a love like that for years and years to come. Here are some of the poems I wrote after he had left: Download poems_of_1968.doc Two of them I turned into songs.

[Click on pictures to enlarge]

busy, busy, busy buzzz …

Quote of the day:

I write and perform and I love my friends all over the world. I work to stop violence against women. I work to prevent and stop war. I sometimes have anxiety. I have bouts of terrible low self-esteem. I feel lonely on occasion, but mainly I feel alive, free. I feel myself. Eve Ensler

(I just can’t wait to read Insecure at Last: Losing it in our Security-Obsessed World after hearing Eve this morning on Good Morning America – have you ordered your copy yet?)

I am just too busy altogether. No time to breathe. Although I did quite a bit of that in my yoga routine today.

Yes indeed I always have time for my yoga routine. Keeping the body flexible helps my mind open and pliable I was looking out my window today and realized that since Buffalo, for me a real winter means feet of snow. This kind of piddling dusting we’re having around here is a joke. And yet the birds are eating with a frenzy at the feeder. Philadelphia city birds think this is winter? Pah! Poor deluded souls.

Yes indeed we talk about the weather when there is either nothing, or way too much to talk about.

A blog a day keeps the doctor at bay

Quote of the day:

Don’t get too teary eyed about the past or you’ll get lost in it. That’s advice from an historian, by the way. From my good friend David.

I dreamed that Ada died, and, in the dream I cried and cried, yelled and wailed.

I dreamed that I said to a Tarot card reader:

Trying to please my mother was like having a stone around my heart.

I awoke to Ada’s little paw on my face, gently reminding me it was time for her treats.

I lay silently for awhile thinking about my dreams.

I wanted to tell Tom about them. I wanted to tell him how I think the stone has been lifted from my heart, but he was working out how to use the new remote for our TV.

So, I came into my office and wrote about it in my blog.

I needed to record it, speak it or see it.


With a witness.

And then I hung up a picture of Molly on my wall. Ada sat up and stared and stared.

I’ve been listening to this a lot lately on my commuting travels:

Eric Clapton
Back Home

I’ve been on the road too long
Moving in the wrong direction
I don’t know where I belong
I don’t know what I will do
If I can’t get back home

Troubles I’ve got on my rope
They don’t fit no other person
Memories keep rollin’ on
I don’t know what I will do
If I can’t get back home

I don’t fit but I don’t give a damn
I won’t quit ’cause I know who I am
And I admit and I’ve been on the left

Bit by bit, I’ll review my plan
This is it, do the best I can
Trust and understand

‘Cause I know that I am loved
‘Cause I’ll be on my way
Got no need to stay ’round here

‘Cause I been on this road too long
Going in the wrong direction
And I don’t know where I come from
All I know is I will die
If I don’t get back home

Back to work

Yes indeed, it is back to work time. I have had so much fun this week. Winning Neil while contributing to a good cause. Wow! I just could not lose out on that one. I laughed long and hard most of the time and it was amazing to see how my stats soared for a few days after his generous post. What a popular guy! I realize that my introspective way of writing is so much more depressing [for one thing, I do not have a talking penis, for goodness sake], that I will never have the number of readers he has. But it is so much more than that. Neil gives me the gift of intelligent, warm, wonderful humor as he explores "personal relationships and pop culture." He deserves the popularity, believe me. I am not complaining one iota. Nor am I envious. I am just so grateful that he is out there for my personal pleasure! Am only curious if he will live up to his end of the bargain and take on my challenge of a Scrabble game some time soon.

Well, anyway, it has all been swell. But now it is time to re-harness this old mare and send her back to work where she belongs. Teaching, writing, researching, presenting, reflecting … blah, blah, blah … starting with a staff development visit at a large Preschool in Trenton today. Oh no, I guess I already started back on Tuesday. Have I forgotten?

Ho hum. I guess my stats will really be dropping now because who knows when I will have time to write here. Sigh. I shall miss you all.

A bientot, my dear readers. A bientot …

The D word

Nora Ephron dances around the D word at the conclusion of her book: I Feel Bad About my Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.

She says:

Meanwhile, your friends die, and you’re left not just bereft, not just grieving, not just guilty, but utterly helpless. There is nothing you can do. Everybody dies.

She asks:

Do you splurge or do you hoard? Do you live every day as if it’s your last, or do you save your money on the chance you’ll live twenty more years? Is life too short, or is it going to be too long? Do you work as hard as you can, or do you slow down to smell the roses? And where do the carbohydrates fit into all this? Are we really going to have to spend our last years avoiding bread. especially now that bread in America is so unbelievably delicious? And what about chocolate?

I went to see Notes on a Scandal yesterday afternoon. I had completed some work, puffed and panted on the treadmill and as I was coming out of a gloriously hot shower I noticed it was just enough time to make the 1:30 showing of Notes. As I drove off I felt prickling of guilt stirring in my brain. I started laughing and turned up Eric Clapton as loud as can be, driving the guilt away, and rushed into the movie theater just as the film was beginning.

When it was over, I stumbled out. Overwhelmed by the extraordinary acting of everyone in it, naturally, but the tale had struck a nerve, touched me deeply at some part of me I could not put my finger on. It was disturbing. It was a kind of identification with Judi Dench’s character. She did not shock or repel me. Instead, I felt her loneliness deep inside me, especially about attraction, desire, sexuality. I wondered if that was the story of both of them actually.

Or, perhaps, of so many of us.

Loneliness about sexuality, desire, attraction.

But let’s not be morbid, as Ephron says, dancing around the D word.

Good luck!


For someone who is a declared atheist as I am, recently I realized that I have an amazing number of nick knacks and ornaments of spiritual, sentimental or good luck value. For example, I collect Buddhas and have done so for more years than I can remember. This past year I decided I am not collecting them any longer and warned Tom about that just before Christmas lists were being drawn up. "No more Buddhas," I said. During the past couple of years I noticed that I have sort of started collecting Willow Tree angels. I am not ready to give that up yet. Am enamored by the roundness-like feel and simplicity of these figurines.

4724658I was thrilled to receive Mother and Son for Christmas. I had requested this one, specifically, because it brings me back to the days when I was a young mother, and my son was six or seven.

I do not remember why I started collecting Buddhas. I have been intrigued by them for such a long time. It might come out of my old yoga days, or times when I have contemplated Eastern religions. I simply do not remember.

For the last thirty years or so I have made sure to have not one, but a couple of Hamsas hanging at the front door just to ward off the evil eye. Oh yes, and I possess a couple of fico‘s too, given to me by a Brazilian student back in Buffalo a few years ago.

57_215_xsm When I was in Rhodes last May I searched for and purchased an evil eye bracelet which I wear constantly on my left hand along with a delicate bracelet of crystal beads. The latter I received last summer from a new friend to support me through my health scare.

One of my all-time favorite keep sakes is a small rubber mouse. It sits close to my computer. I have kept it for twenty four years. Gilad gave it to me when he was ten years old. The night before there had been a live mouse running around our small apartment. He and I lived alone since his father and I had divorced. The neighbor came to help me chase the mouse away and I stood on the couch and screamed and screamed until it was driven out. The next day, Gilad was out with his father and while they were up in the town together he bought me the little rubber mouse. When they arrived home he presented the mouse to me and said he had bought it for me to learn not to be afraid of mice any longer.

Out on our patio, waving in the breeze fly a long line of Tibetan Prayer Flags that Leanne brought me from Taiwan at my request. She was curious as to what an atheist like me would be doing with such flags. I just love the way they flap and wave in the wind allegedly bringing happiness, long life and prosperity to the flag planter and those in the vicinity. "Besides," I said, "I’ll use whatever it takes!" I attached to my cell phone a good luck butterfly that Leanne and her mother gave me when I first met them. How did they guess I was starting to collect butterflies? And how did I know butterflies were good luck? All I knew was that my friend Susan had given a speech at my book party where she compared me to a butterfly, coming out of its cocoon and spreading its wings. Naturally, I started collecting butterflies after that!

Each ring, bracelet, necklace or pair of earrings have significance and meaning for me and I seem to hold onto even the tiniest keepsakes given to me over the years. As I look around my study I see all kinds of odds and ends, cluttering, or is it propping me up? Supporting and enveloping me with good luck, warm wishes, and symbols of hope. All of them representing different peoples and belief systems, fellow and sister life travelers sharing themselves with me, all wanting the same things: joy, hope, grace, love, forgiveness, light.

Banned by webmaster

Quote of the day:

it is a precious thing to be allowed to talk about yourself in public, not for reasons of simple exhibitionism but because the attempt to describe your experience to an audience pushes you forward into an understanding of it. Nuala O’Faolain (page 61)

Yesterday I had one of those rude awakening experiences where I slipped into feeling younger than I am and forgot that I am older than I felt. I have been having a lot of fun lately down over at Citizen of the Month with Neilochka as he puts himself out there for the bidding. It has been humorous and playful. And I, for one, have been playing along too. Joking and jibing, daring and propositioning along with all his other one hundred or so fans. There were times yesterday when I found myself alone in my room laughing out loud so hard that Ada looked up at me from her cat-nap. At one point during the back and forth of comments, there was one horrifying moment when we all thought that Neil would be outbid by a fellow competitor from Washington DC. I even wrote a comment saying, "Neil, don’t panic." To which he replied in his usual screamingly funny way:

"Tamarika –You’re right. It’s all for a good cause. It isn’t a popularity contest. It’s not my “worth.” I know my real “worth” every time I look at the beautiful little kittens I rescued from that fire in Brentwood and I’m now trying to find a good home. That’s all the “worth” I need. And if that’s not worth another 10 bucks to you to add to your bid, so be it."

It’s all happening for V-DAY and all proceeds go to their soundly good cause:

V-Day generates broader attention for the fight to stop violence against women and girls, including rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM) and sexual slavery.

And let me tell you, I would bid on just about anyone to raise money for this!

But, back to my experience yesterday. Right in the heat of the moment, while I was laughing and bidding and going back and forth between reading Citizen of the Month and doing my other chores (like laundry for goodness sake), I decided to stroll over to visit SomeGuyInDC, who seemed to be the cause for Neilochka’s consternation. Neil had written (and again, I must stress that this was all in good humor!):

Oh no, I just looked at the site of the guy in D.C. getting more money than me. Have you seen how white his teeth are? And listen to this –

“Having spent years working in homeless shelters and progressive politics –”

He’s like a cross between Al Gore and Mother Theresa!

What am I supposed to do?

It’s time to take out the big guns.

For $156 dollars, I will put out. AND I will include a free, brand-new copy of Thomas Friedman’s best-selling “The World is Flat.”

Full of laughter, I went over to SomeGuyInDC and wrote a comment, something (I thought) humorous about approving of his social justice activity and wishing him luck but that I was holding out for someone who could take on an older woman "if you know what I mean," and then something about may the best man win, except that I wrote "may the best …" and left the rest to the imagination.

Well, a little while later when I had completed my chores and was preparing to go downtown on the train to meet Tom for dinner, I returned to SomeGuyInDC‘s site hoping to read a reply or a different comment from another of his readers. I opened the comment section and wham bang not only had my comment been deleted, it read:

Banned by webmaster. Your comments will not be added

I fell back in my chair, face red hot and blushing with shame. For a few moments even tears pricked at my eyes. No one had ever banned me from their site in all my two years of blogging. I could not imagine how I might have offended in such a way as to ban me. I had unwittingly continued my playfulness thinking here is yet another caring young man – a good person – putting himself out there to raise money for such a worthwhile cause.

And then, all of a sudden it hit me. He must have gone over to my site and seen an older woman. He must have been disgusted by the notion of what I had said. Why on earth was I playing a young people’s game when I am 57 going on 58! Was it that? Or is it that he just does not have a sense of humor? And yet, in one of his own comments he had talked about "pity bids" being welcomed. So he did seem to have a sense of humor. In any event it was a sobering experience indeed. Naturally, I only have my assumptions because there has been, and (I assume) there will be no dialog about that.

Riding the train downtown to Tom I stared out of the window. I realized that I have had my chance. What was I thinking? I should not be participating in a young people’s game. Time to sit quietly by and watch from the sidelines. I had wanted to go over to Citizen of the Month and continue the fun by telling Neil not to worry, the DC guy doesn’t have a sense of humor. But then I decided to stay put.

I had better just learn my place as an older woman – no more sexy talk or even thoughts about sexy talk for me! Although, in the end, I have to laugh. What on earth could SomeGuyInDC have been imagining I meant?

Oh, and Neil, just in case you misunderstand my motives, I know that if I win you in the highest bid, I am not really expecting you to come to Philadelphia and go on a date with me. Although I would dearly love to meet you and Sophia one day.