Uncategorized

I Love

I love intimacy, and accept 
that concealment springs from it
some partition of the heart 
closing as it opens up. 
Oh we will die soon enough. 
Not enough can be said 
for a redemptive caress. 
How good it’s been to slide back 
the heart’s hood awhile, how fortunate
there’s a heart and a covering for it, 
and that whatever is still warm 
has a chance. 

Stephen Dunn, “Loves”

Poets and songwriters always express that split second emotion or that lifetime sentiment so much better than the rest of us can. We site songs and lyrics to express what we can’t or to remember what the other tried to express and even though we don’t fully get it we are still listening and still processing it years and months later.

Standard
Uncategorized

Hebrew in Fes

Returning home on the train to Casablanca from Fes, I felt victorious that I made it back okay. Walking the streets with my producer I was reminded of people from my past. Similar faces brought back flashes of happiness.

The bearded woman sat at the same corner as 6 years before, the cafe owner near the gate remains the same but one face was absent and that was the wild woman with the stick that threatened to beat up men. I wondered if they finally locked her up for good which made me sad because I always saw myself in her. That city makes women crazy. I almost went insane and that is why I watched that woman and wondered if it would be me one day if I stayed living at the edge of the Medina. I was there fresh out of college on my Fulbright and deeply in love and in denial living my private life without boundaries. I have avoided that city for some 6 years and to be back without any weight was welcome.

If any sad memory started to enter my mind I practiced keeping the past in the past. 

As I left the cafe I sat at each week in Fes with Amanda I noticed a new waiter working there this morning. As I went to pay him he asked me, “What do you do when you don’t get what you want?” I was taken aback by his question to me in polite English. He was alone and sincerely asking that of me probably thinking I get everything I want in life. I said, “Think as positively as possible.” I wished and hoped that I too can be brave enough to reach out to strangers when I need to do so.

Maybe it was the universe trying to re-heal old wounds. Everyone was kind this week in Fes, from the man who accidentally asked if I wanted a “Big Cock” at McDonalds when he wanted to ask if I wanted a “big Coke” or the teenage cybercafe guy who exchanged a smile as my phone made his computer alarm, or the taxi drivers who apologized for yelling at me or who asked for a blessing for their daughters future careers in journalism…the city came together and kissed me collectively although I tried to resist and put up a tough face that it could not get me down, it could not impact me, it would not hurt me again—I protested again and again to myself.

As I made my way through interviews I heard Hebrew all over the festival and smiled brightly or found myself staring in silence trying to hear each word and it made my heart race. One person noticed me staring and said, “I am speaking in Hebrew.” I realized myself and said, “Yes I know. I just wanted to hear you speak a little.” The sound of Hebrew made me transfixed. It sounds like love to me. I want to lay in their words and language in song lyrics and the sound of people’s mouths I love. 

Life is healing, Hebrew is love, and Fes did not bring me down. 

Standard
Uncategorized

Edward Snowden: White Male Shock of Our Lack of Freedom, Something Women Have Known For A Long Time

Reading all the articles about Edward Snowden has made me think that the only one who who was under the impression that America was free was Snowden. It’s not my bubble that is going to burst at the news that America has been regulated by big brother for a long time now. We can’t J-walk let alone let animals walk our streets without seizing them and giving them a week to live. America controls everything from our animals reproductive rights to women’s reproductive rights. Ask any Moroccan what they think of animal neutering and you will get a horrified reaction and told that it’s like taking away the animals’ right to life to bear babies of its own. That idea never dawned on me in America. I was told it was in the best interest of the animal to chop off its balls when in fact it only served our needs to not have it pee on our sofas. Moroccans actually got it right on this one like Judaism got it right for humane and respectful rules in the death of animals unlike the chainsaw-like massacres at slaughter houses all over America that bring animal body parts wrapped to us neatly in plastic away from any contact or gore. Out of sight out of mind like with everything else in America. If we don’t see it, it doesn’t exist. It doesn’t matter if we have more inhumanity than a third world country in fact there is certainly more inhumanity there than in Morocco but because it isn’t seen in front of you it is thus less barbaric and tourists can leave feeling better that they live where they live. That is the American and Western way– denial.

Snowden has just discovered what we as women and minorities have known for a very long time — we aren’t free from the government. It seems to have just dawned on some angry white young males all of a sudden that they aren’t free like they assumed. This is not news to me and I am not suddenly aroused by this little dude.

We as citizens willingly invite the government into our most intimate private matters and then we are shocked that it’s looking at our phone patterns? Partly why I have avoided marriage is that the whole idea of having the government that far up my ass is uncomfortable to me. The whole idea is ridiculous that we would get the government into our private lives and then spend loads of money to ask them permission to separate us. That is already such an absurd invasion of privacy that millions celebrate each year with an expensive party that makes their families happy and puts them in debt. Find me someone who refuses marriage out of a desire to preserve privacy and I will listen to them whine about the government invading their privacy on the phone and the net. 

I am not willing to give this spy now turned outraged white male any credit for pointing out the obvious to me.  The prison we are well entrenched in didn’t start today and won’t end until we willingly get off the net and technology all together and out of legal institutions like marriage. 

I chose a long time ago to leave the “free world” and I get some freedoms back even as I also lost many others. I get spied on by all sides and am distrusted by every government I enter. I don’t live in a fantasy world that I can exist in technology without leaving traces or be free of hacking or monitoring. It’s a give and take of what you are willing or able to accept. We lost freedom a long long time ago I am not going to give another angry white man credit for informing me of that. 

Standard
Uncategorized

Our thoughts form the world

I arrived home even though Shiyara really wanted us to stay in America. She loved New York.

I would love to live in New York again for a few months at a time but as I told Shiyara, we would still need to go home to Casablanca to at least pack our things.

We returned to our friends who just had their first baby and he is as beautiful as his mother. They confessed they would be going back to America within the year. I will be losing my best friend and it hasn’t let me sleep at all but as I watch MasterChef and drink tea I noticed some words of wisdom written on the paper attached to a string, “Our thoughts are forming the world.” This is what I said to myself an hour earlier as I tossed and turned trying to sleep thinking of my friend leaving.

 We can’t control the outcome of most anything in life but we can control how we see the world and it changes everything. This is what I came back to Morocco to do. Finish all that I started and sit with the discomfort of learning what I need to learn, going through the difficulties, be patient so I can move on in due time from this stage of evolution literally and metaphorically. So for tonight I pray that all the things she and I want for our families come true and that no more rest is lost worrying over what may or might arrive because of course no matter how painful or abandoned we will feel, we can handle it.

Standard
Uncategorized

Pessah in Casablanca

The best part of the seder is being surrounded by family, anyone’s family especially dysfunctional ones. I love the noise and the bustle of children playing and adults chattering and everyone having an opinion and where you don’t need to be polite anymore because you are with your crazy noisy big ridiculous family. I am sitting with an exes family and even though we are finished being a couple, his family to me is not finished. If we married people for their families I would have married lots of men. Families here remind me of my own big family with 5 sisters and an older brother and an aura of beautiful chaos.

 

Standard

The Rabbi's children - Casablanca

Blog, Casablanca, children, culture, Judaism, living abroad, love, Morocco, People, Personal, Photo, Photography, Pictures, Random, reflections, relationships, Travel

The Rabbi’s children – Casablanca

The Rabbi's children - Casablanca

Image
Uncategorized

Life

I enter my home and I yell out “Shiyara!!!!” and she yells back “Mama!!” The pitter patter of her running feet match my heart. I wait for her big smile to appear around the corner! I throw my purse down and jump down to kneel on the floor, like I am asking everyday to marry an angel, to open my arms and wait for her to rush in. The seconds don’t race as fast as my heart and it skips…for her. “Come come come!!!!!” She makes it to me and I can only grab on for a split second and then she’s gone.

Without her there would be no home and no where to return to. She is my home.

I went to visit a woman in a beautiful house with a beautiful husband who has done very well in his life. She wants for nothing but I would never switch a day in her shoes for all the wealth in the world. My house has Shiyara and with her all the life and love and fun and warmth that I could have prayed g-d would grant me.

Even as I break in my low moments, even when I scold myself for not being the best mother… my one honest joy no matter the state of the world outside is seeing her in it sleeping beside me…my daughter is a strong willed beauty.

She is my little sister, my little girl. May I always do right by her.

Standard
Uncategorized

“Don’t deny it. Let it go back to where it came from.”

“One person not in life is going to love it and the others are going to hate it. I will disappoint them and disrupt who I am supposed to be for them.”

Before she left to Kuwait she let me film her and speak to her on camera about her mother, her lover, her feelings of leaving home. In the morning I woke up at 6 and sat down stairs listening to her run around quietly. She slipped a bottle of perfume in my bag and kissed me. The rest of the family came to sit with me. The silence was unbearable that I felt only then like I had to keep myself discreet and far from crying. She instantly stood and left the room. I followed and found her in the bathroom already washing her face. She is like a bigger sister, one of my best friends and I have never seen her crying. She hugged me and told me in English that she loved me. I could only say, “One year. It will only be one year.”

She walked into the bedroom where Iklas slept. She laid her head at her feet and cried. I walked away and waited by the door.

Working, traveling ,leaving home, leaving your heart behind. Her image stays with me.

Standard
Uncategorized

lt’s exhausting to see the same images of Muslim men in Africa or North of it portrayed as “violent Arab men”

How is it that Christian fundamentalists in Britain and America who “fundamentally” hate “the Jews who killed Jesus” also passionately dislike Muslims many also semitic people (but please don’t get me started about the bigots claiming anti-semitism doesn’t exist because there are other semitic languages/cultures).

It’s exhausting to see the same images of Muslim men in Africa or North of it portrayed as “violent Arab men” along with their counterpart images of older women speaking ‘gibberish’ in black who are never given translation unless they are saying “Down with America” right after they lost every member of their family.

On the rare occasion when I watch the news in my friend’s apartment there is always a moment I think I am being paranoid because I don’t recognize anyone. I begin thinking that Moroccan culture and men are so drastically different from all other Muslim men in the world and perhaps yes, but perhaps no.

Just as I had that thought that something doesn’t seem right I saw the cut away shot. They shot the young skinny man beating his fists on the wagon and screaming then raising his hands to his head. Just before they cut away I saw him turning to begin the movement of reaching for his mother obviously to cry in her arms like a little boy but they didn’t show that. All that you will see is him acting ‘violent’ like a ‘savage’ who you partly are glad is on that side of the camera and that side of the world.

Maybe deep inside you don’t really have any sympathy at all. How can you? He’s waving around like a crazy person. The images I see of passion on TV sometimes look strange and are repeated and repeated and I wonder how many times you can repeat the same two or three tricks and tropes until someone catches on? I ask about these edits because the people I know are some or the biggest talkers and expressive people but avoid violence as best as they can. If it comes to blows, well…it just isn’t done that often and certainly a thousand times less then in the states.

What is beginning to surprise me for months now is how much affection, kissing of heads and hands goes on in intimate relationships. Even if I am the one who is yelling, the one I am yelling at will kiss my head and show me they are sorry not with words but by showing me. Gestures.

An angry fighting match that looks like someone is going to die will dissolve into water with a few kisses like once when a man kicked my bags in a heated fight over not moving fast enough. I was about to start a war on him and his family. After I made the whole train station stop as I yelled an English curse and my friend intervened.   Amongst on lookers he admitted he was wrong and asked for forgiveness in as many ways as he could and was ready to kiss my hand twice in two minutes.

Standard

title or description

Uncategorized

i need your hands

Image
Uncategorized

love means never having to say i’m sorry

i had an argument yesterday about family and the idea of blame. i once lived with someone who thought her life was the result and fault of her mother/father/relatives/birth country/brothers/kins folk/mass american populace/ just as her life now was in large part the fault of me.

everyone else was a fault in the composition of her own life. i agree that we are composed of others. that those we are affected by (and they are many) live around us and make-up who we are daily. sometimes we are reminded that they are there but most times they are like spirits we can’t see.

to this extent i agree but where we disagreed tacitly was on the part of blame, fault, and pain. the pain she felt always seemed to be resting with someone’s fault and i saw it as belonging to her like it belongs to the choices we make as to how we take or mis/take the world. it’s related to the ways we choose to be happy even as we are heart broken or the ways we choose to love someone, daily. the aspects of pain that live with us like the spirits of our history i thought belonged to her like mine i thought belonged to me.

i once told someone, i fell in love with, that she couldn’t harm me. she couldn’t hurt me, i said this even though i had been hurt by her and knew i would again. my point was not that i was divorced from being wounded but no matter what happened between us, no matter how wrapped up we both were in the hurt/ing, and no matter how her body will live in constant dialogue next to mine, even long after she leaves…i felt as i still feel that she is not to blame. and it’s related to my saying “you can’t hurt me.” i guess i was saying that the hurt that i might carry with me maybe the cause of us but not the blame of you.

it’s not to rob her of her presence because i acknowledge her body is constantly in negotiation/movement with me as it is also fixed to mine. it’s a statement made with the acknowledgement that i am fragile and she has the power to harm me. but it isn’t her fault. she isn’t to blame and neither am i. our union is felt in me, the happiness and the hurt is hard to judge. but all of it…i see it as belonging to me. a part of me now. i can’t blame it.

even with those who have done irreparable harm, family members and strangers, i find it hard to blame for the pain of my living experience. they make-me-up, they are a part of me and the pain is possible like happiness and forgiveness.

taking me back to the argument yesterday that centered on questions of whether people should be let off so easily to be blameless or that anyone should be expected not to blame someone else. i get it. i get the impulse to blame and hate because i’ve done it and i do enough pouting to know that i enjoy enacting the performance of blame. that’s what happens when i hang my hurt on the clothes line between myself and another. it releases my weight to that lighter space momentarily but check me on it. i’ll take it back.

i’ll admit to the bodies responsible and honor their presence daily as they live with me and compose the skin that covers me, but the feeling…my life is mine, it’s mine.

 

Standard
Uncategorized

unconditional surrender

“Exile is the only country without a geography. It has, however, a climate, a culture, an ecology, an archeology and virtually a national smell.”

“The map of the unreal, the imaginary. And it is only then that they express precisely the immeasurable experience of exile.”-Ugresic

Remembrance is possession. Memory is object(s).

Writing on an author for class, I find that against my will i love these writings in The Croatian that are both scholarship and memoir, impersonal facts and personal stories in between record and invention on this feeling of being displaced.

Searching for home, being in love, loss, exile, feeling displaced…has been the subject of my poems since coming to America at ten. It’s the spirit that makes me hunt genealogy records and save all pictures and all my father’s jewelry. When asked why i am this way, why i do these things, i could never explain it well enough.

All the objects, idols, images, tangibles we’re taught to disrespect but whose importance to me all the same is wrapped up in a story i read.

A Bosnian friend remarks that there are two kinds of refugees, “those who have photographs and those who have none.”

On this particular day the Bosnian-Serb general/war criminal by the name of Ratko Mladic noticed that the Sarajevo home of an acquaintance was on his bombardment list. Mladic phoned him to tell him that he had less then five minutes to collect his photographs and leave.

“The general, who had been destroying the city for months, knew precisely how to annihilate memory. That is why he ‘generously’ bestowed on his acquaintance life, with the right to remembrance.”

All photographs are mementos mori. “To take a photograph is to participate in another person’s mortality, vulnerability, mutability. Precisely by slicing out this moment and freezing it, all photographs testify to…relentless melt.” – Susan Sontag

remembrance is possession, and i am relentlessly possessed.

Standard
Uncategorized

transverse unshamed, take it as a souvenir

your toothbrush is resting down the hall
I shut my eyes
entwined in your legs
aware you will be traveling soon.
I find us,
waking up in the dark with
five interwoven parts, persuaded, won over,
seduced, converted, seduced the other way.
in the night praying hands come out of
a wetness on these finger tips,
un-self consciously wandering across your back.
in the night I lay quiet
listening to you speaking in tongues
watching you sleep with me, traveler.
traveling into your dreams
tugging on to kites and hemlines
running through space
where we’re nearing the lighthouse,
I close my eyes
tighter,
you’re almost at the gate,
I smile, I want to thank you
for this…

Standard
Uncategorized

when i will reach home

life holds your hand and breaks your heart.

it tells you that a broken heart isn’t bad. each break is an opening.

so i put trust in love just as the dream ends, lying in bed touching the one i love. the dream ends and like magic it expands out anew like a sand timer opening up on the other side.

michelle

Standard
Uncategorized

Lupita says

Her assignment in the film-making class we share between Smith College and Hampshire College, is to write a personal letter and add images. Simple. But she tells me that she can’t write anything. That everything seems so trite and done and everything she writes she reads and throws out because it isn’t what she meant to say at all. She isn’t this gaping void that needs to be filled, thank you very much. But it feels like that doesn’t it? We share an acting class at Smith and sometimes it feels like in the process of creating, we are  not only challenged but empty as well, with nothing, no words, like the ones others apparently have.

I wanted to write you Lupita, the letter I promised about words because for as much as I love them and the spirit of what they try to do, they seem to always fail me too. It feels as if I’m always in the process of learning how to read. Learning to read music, to read French, to read people, to read my body, to read yours, to read words I can’t (re)member how to spell. Always these languages within languages and so it feels like I’ll be illiterate forever. And as for the words in my head, Lupita, you sound like me and so many like us I’ve known who struggle with words.

For the women living so much of their lives in their heads, it’s hard to spell out this interior conversation that does not belabor words. Like Lindsay said at lunch today, “There are so many symbols, so many pictures that are in my head, all shorthand for all my words.” How do you speak for an experience located in your mind and in its own language? Tell me how I can translate these images that look you in the face with a smile and say, “Hello. I think you’re gorgeous and may many love you”…but instead is translated into an overly nervous voice projected in hyper confidence that in one second (oh my god she’s walking closer) goes to silence as I hide my face in my skirt.

When will I stop being an asshole? When? When I learn to read? When I learn to speak?

I hate words, maybe, maybe, because I love them. I love how they try to do for me what I ask them to do. They try to make me manifest and they try, they do. See I’m almost coming, almost there, but there is no promise. No promise that you will render me how I intended. Or that you will read me in the same language I speak. My words may not mean the same as yours just as when I say love or faith I don’t think it quite expresses the journey, the hardship that brought these words to me, and all that they carry on their little backs. These words took a long time coming and they may not mean the same things to us. They aren’t dictionary proof or even sometimes grammatically correct. They don’t appear as they should which is perhaps worse then if they thought we didn’t have them in us at all.

If we’re not artistically void then we are at least intellectually challenged. So why are we doing this, day after day, writing and trying for what!  The image will always be misread. I will always be misread. Language tries to say it all and is unable to do so…these words, these images, what are they to me?

When words fail us, Lupita, when we struggle for a language, I remember Anissa Bouziane and a fragment from her letter that reads, “So she placed her pen to paper in an act of faith.

Faith. Love. God.  What does this mean to you?

Narjiss Nejjar spoke through a translator in the lobby, in simple white cotton overalls and pulled back hair, and I understood the one line of English that she said with a smile, “A god of Love!”  A response that came fast and she continued in French:

“[I want] to be god for five minutes. Not a god who says what not to do or to do…a god that likes individuals and difference that understands and accepts…

{In English} “ A god of Love!

“…I don’t like the taboos about love. All the taboos that surround love…I don’t like conservatism and dogmatism. I like the idea that any man has the right to love a woman or a man…No body has the right to prohibit or to intervene in {pause}…do you understand? Because no one has the right to say you can love {pause}…you understand? {laughing} So I’m crazy?”

 

It’s a resistant act that makes her search for the words that are not available and the stories not yet here. Searching for a language that takes on the task of god, giving speech and giving life, she appears blasphemous by her audacity but this is in fact quiet. A quiet blind act of love that engages with a higher power beyond oneself.

What is love?

Love is a willful act, a move upon the world, defiant and brave. Love goes beyond you as a self. Love transgresses beyond nation. Love struggles over words. Love struggles to announce you. Love struggles to make beauty.

Playing in words and creating images, it is an act of faith, like love unseen and unscripted wherein you are asked to go with it from a “self” to beyond yourself.  “So she place[s] her pen to paper in an act of faith” in a decision to love in the invisible, wherein she seeks a language to evidence:   

             

“I have a passion. I have a dream. I live for that passion. I’m just trying to give something…You try to do something, not a miracle, probably never a miracle, but, that makes me believe.”

           

As with the women who make pictures, who write words, they take courage to wake in the morning, to put faith in the belief that the love they make can transgress all boundaries. Love that dares to keep faith that seeks beauty in words and places love in the unseen. A love that keeps you up all night and gets you up in the morning. “What gets me up in the morning…love. Yes. Love. Human love. Love.”

Standard
Uncategorized

To the girls who cannot sleep

You say you can’t sleep.  you say that you lay on your bed with your eyes open in the dark.  you replay the conversations, you think of the world, big and small, yours and mine…lonely and brillant and sweet. This is you tonight.  i don’t know how to change the night.  but i know that i care about you.  that you are too good to feel crazy like us.   I wish that I could sit up in your bed and keep my fingertips on your hair. tell you that i have your dreams and your fears in my chest. so shhhh… close your eyes. I’m here. go to bed. I’ve got you.

Standard

meat vs beans

Uncategorized

Steak vs. Beans

Image
Uncategorized

After the Flood All the Colors Came Out

Last night a few friends sat with me on the balcony listening to music and arguing about genres. We really didn’t really know what we were talking about.

At some point my friend J and I started arguing about U2. J thinks they are commercial garbage. I passionately disagreed and love them as they got me through college. My favorite album for sentimental reasons remains All That You Can’t Leave Behind. With a playlist of:  Beautiful Day. When I Looked At the World. The Ground Beneath Her Feet. Stuck In A Moment. In A Little While. Walk On.  Elevation.

 

 

 

 

Standard
Uncategorized

Bite Your Tongue

Usually when you meet someone you like, you get timid. Honesty is parsed out in tiny portions. It’s rare to share your guts, desire them and not find the desire to possess them but whose energy you want to orbit around like the sun peering behind clouds and rain and blue nakedness.

A man I like speaks about his life, the women he has fallen in love with and his complicated relationships with his family. He speaks like he doesn’t need to hide from me. I do the same. I smile so wide because I dig him and this honesty where nothing seems off limits.  I know we might be free because the divide between our real lives is great. But I don’t care.

Yesterday before he left he sat on the couch struggling to place his watch on. It’s a funny looking watch. So I asked him where he got his watch from. It looked like a watch I wore at age 8 but the black gave it a serious look. The broken band told me it had been worn a lot and needed and worn by someone of humble means. It belonged to his love in Eastern Europe. Because of that watch, I think of her as a human being, not just a girl someone slept with or fell in love with. I felt love. Even if it doesn’t belong to me. I help him put it on and seal the band strap. I smile. Happy to witness love. He wears her life, that time, those truths on him as a mark to remember her and himself. I sealed the strap and traced my finger over it’s broken split. I close my eyes, there is a ping in my chest, I remember saving my father’s watches after his death. I send a prayer out to the universe. Bless love in every form. Bless him.

We could all mourn if we counted the exponential loses. The better question is rather is, is that okay?

I look up at his eyes and realize somewhere in the middle of his story that he’s more beautiful. His eyes make their own eyeshadow that highlights his face. He’s unearthly and full of feeling all at once.

He delivers the truth in the roughest form but it doesn’t hurt. He brutally lays it down at your feet, off his shoulders and once it’s down you realize just how much he has carried. Compassion…

He’s free.  Like an extinct animal. We love and protect because they belong to their life.

It’s a bizarre feeling this is. Biting my tongue laying next to him. In silence. Feeling it. I Bite my tongue more..

Standard