Childhood, children, Courage, Inspiration, Life, reflections, Stories, Uncategorized

My Little Girl’s Ability To Send Me Some Truth

My daughter placed her head on my heart tonight as we lay in our pj’s getting ready to fall sleep.

She looked into my eyes listening intently.

Shiyara interrupted my day dream to say, “Its not tired.”

“What’s not tired honey?”

“Your heart is not tired mommy. It’s making music so fast.”

There are so many things we forget as we grow up. We think we have all the answers because we have seen it all before and sometimes lived too much and are jaded. We feel we can’t learn anything new, but another person’s view on life like that of a child can change the way we think.

I do get tired and sometimes I think I can’t do all the things I should. I both underestimate myself and then judge myself but my daughter’s words tonight made me realize a profound truth that I had forgotten.

Whether sleeping or in stress, despite judging myself or thinking I am incapable, despite all the false narratives I have written about myself….the truth is my heart is never tired. It can take it all. The only thing I need to do is remember.


”Everyone knows

How to raise a child

But no one knows

How to raise a father.” – Stromae

Today after filming my news reports on the rooftops over Casablanca I came home to get ready to go for a birthday party with Shiyara as Wednesday afternoons are school free in the French system here in Morocco.

My camera operator is a long time friend and I felt comfortable filming intimate moments at home with him as he practically lives with us.

As we filmed I finally addressed in our conversation something my daughter asked me about a month ago as we returned from a different birthday party in the taxi. I wasn’t ready to respond at the time. It caught me off guard. All I could do was hug her. This time I wanted to unpack it for my daughter who isn’t yet old enough to express all of her feelings and thoughts in words.

She said, “I want Papa to be your wife. I want you to be the way you were before. Can daddy come here and live with us and my brother too.”

She wanted things the way they were in her imagination and it’s partly due to things I have said as I have tried to keep the past in the most positive light as possible: “Your papa is a good man.” “Your father would do anything to help us live and pay the rent and put food on the table.” “He was a fighter for us. He protected us.” “The best thing I ever did was become your mom and it still remains the happiest time in my life.”

She walked me over to the photo in my hallway of me pregnant smiling at the cameras with henna on my hands next to her father.

“I want things the way they were.” She says, “And I want you to get married for real this time and have someone take your picture at the party.”


She had tears rolling down her cheeks. She didn’t have to tell me how she felt. I could see.

I know my daughter so I took the time to tell her I wasn’t punishing her, nothing that she felt was wrong. I told her something also that I wish someone had told me when I was young: “Honey your father and I are adults. We are fine and we don’t need anyone to worry about us. You are our daughter. You are precious. It’s our duty to care for you, not you for us.”

I walked the line of disclosure like a tightrope.  I can’t tell her about domestic violence that was at home when she was a baby. I can’t tell her about the PTSD her father and I struggle with from traumatic childhoods. I have never told her that he is by definition a deadbeat dad. I take both of our responsibilities.

I didn’t want to burst her fantasy but I had to explain a bit. So slowly I said to her, so carefully, as if any word I said could make us fall in under cracked ice and take us both down: “You know…Shiyara…things back then weren’t always so great like you think. You know my love…sometimes….me and your father fought too. You have to trust me honey it’s better for all of us.”

According to the American Census Bureau, 43 percent of children in the US grow up without their biological father in the home and Morocco, it’s about the same.

I took the opportunity to try to teach my daughter the art of gratitude which will serve her well in life.

“If it wasn’t for this new life your father has we wouldn’t have your brother. You love him, he’s your friend. We have to thank g-d for everything we have in life. Life is full of surprises honey. You don’t know what life will give you. It’s a surprise. Maybe you will have a baby brother or sister in the future! Maybe there is a wedding in the future. We don’t know. Life is a surprise we have to be grateful always and see the good.”

“What will happen?” She asked curiously.

“I don’t even know but if someone were to tell you it wouldn’t be a surprise!” as I said this I reached out to tickle her. She screeched and laughed loudly a happiness from her belly to counter the tears from before. There was a magical explosion of joy that evacuated the pain.


Blog, blogging, Childhood, children, Courage, Essay, grief, Hurt, Life, Memoir, nostalgia, Personal, Philosophy, Photo, rape, reflections, sexuality, slavery

Daily Prompt: Release Me

Freedom is a strange concept.

Most of the time if asked: “What is freedom?”

It would be answered as if an obvious notion: the ability to do and say and act as one wants and pleases exactly how and when one likes.

If this were entirely true then the freest people on earth would be Lindsay Lohan and the entire celebrity culture of the West.

I question freedom because for the poor, or for the working mother or for the young person who can’t afford to travel freely because of debt or job obligations or lack of money this definition of freedom as physical mobility leaves a lot of disenfranchised from the concept of freedom.

For those who live with the threat of violence or retribution for speaking out openly about their opinions or about their sexual orientation or political beliefs, then living in the frame of “public” would leave most of us outside of the West also outside this concept of freedom.

What is freedom then for those of us who can’t define ourselves as free by these standards?

This is a question I ask myself often as I asked myself often as a child because I was raised in an environment where physical mobility was limited, expression of opinion was impossible, and we lived for others and not for ourselves.

If I, like many others, am not able to travel, or unable to express myself on the street or on TV or in any public way, then what is freedom to me? If I as a woman can be violated as I have been violated, if I can be repressed as I have been repressed, if I, like millions of others today have lived or are living as slaves as I have lived as a slave without choice, without option, without worth except for what I can do or give…then what is freedom? If everything outside of me can be attacked or taken away…what is freedom?

My freedom was and is still silent resistance of thought in the face of violence where ever it finds me. However even more than my resistance to anyone or existence counter to anything is the definition of my freedom as my interior life beyond who I am physically and what I have. My interior is mine and in its quiet is also my freedom. My feelings in my sexuality are also my freedom despite a history of violence. My choice to love inside my soul has been my freedom. My prayers with closed eyes and clenched fists or open hands are also a part of my freedom. My mind reaching beyond itself is freedom. Keeping secrets have also been freedom for me. My eternally loud smile is my freedom as my tears falling unexpectedly while hearing others tell their secret stories is also my freedom. Emotion is freedom for me. Feeling is freedom. Living is freedom.

I am one of the lucky ones that can move where I wish these days but this does not define my freedom. Public display of life does not make me free even if I  express myself in many public ways, I know that I live in a country where many things are limited, journalist are jailed and teenagers go to prison for kissing in a photo posted on Facebook. I live in a world that is deeply limited and repressive to women (because of danger lurking behind every corner and lack of faith in us as a people) and by that default also limiting to the possibilities of man as well, but I still feel free because I redefined what freedom is to me even if tomorrow my hands can be tied and my body dominated or my movements blocked but as I learned early in childhood, no matter what is placed in front of me, I am free with my quiet infinite spirit.

Medina walking away


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

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

I want to put my roots down somewhere that matters to me

When I have met people, I have fallen in love with all of them in some way.

A ritual, a glance, a blessing, an error.

Some years ago when I thought I met the “one”, whose errors and beauty I loved, had me paid well with plenty of life experience. These days he doesn’t let me forget how important he is as Shiyara’s father and that I once “belonged” to him. We call him for her and he asks why I don’t want to talk to him. I talk and somehow he finds a way to yell at me that I am not his wife. I hang up. I can’t say it doesn’t bother me to try at civility and fail almost at every encounter but there is no point fighting so I send him a text: Respect me because as far as you are concerned, I am just a mother.

I have been feeling a pebble in the shoe of my heart for the last few months for a man. All my entries, all my thoughts go to him. He comes when he needs me and I happily oblige but I am on my own when I need someone. With my heart open I am vulnerable and it’s very inconvinent.

My daughter runs around the house. Hysterically laughing when I grab her, making faces, telling stories, listening to me, showering me with kisses and affection. We are on our own and there isn’t an umbrella, a marriage or a male guardian.

Marriage brings safety and comforts us, but we are really truly on our own.

I am not unique. I want the illusion of safety and the man I love to love me back with actions, phone calls, comfort, attention.

My friend Simo, now long since married let me know once that I was crying over having lost a million when I still had 4.

To his credit I was crying about losing my harem of boyfriends. Him included. I didn’t have much to complain about and he pointed me in the right direction.

I hear he has a kid now. I tell myself that he’s not perfect and it would have never worked even though he would have had my back and he always taught me something and admired me at the same time. I think that I would quite like that.

I am not sweating it. I can be the bag lady or the whore…not a problem for me how you want to write it, but I want to be left alone or taken in but this in the middle is uncomfortable.

I wish I had wisdom but I don’t. Wisdom comes when you have arrived to a realization and I haven’t yet.

Blog, Casablanca, children, Life, living abroad, Miscellaneous, Morocco, Musings, People, Personal, Random, reflections, relationships, Stories, Thoughts

Casablanca and Young Girls Selling Themselves to Men We Know

a true story.

a man.
finds a girl.
working. walking on the street.
the exchange is this.

(in parts.)


100 pour sucer
300 pour baiser

she asks him if he knows a place to go



combien pour ton cul

she doesn’t do it that way
she doesnt like it

she touches him
he touches her

he thinks shes young

he asks her why she is doing this

she says she needs to pay for rent

he is surprised

thinking she’s probably still living at home doing this to buy a bag or bulgari sunglasses

she tells him the story about how her mother asked her to sleep with a Saudi Arabian man. her mother brought girls home to sleep with this Saudi man who liked virgins and children. her mother for years served this client who would wait at her home as she would bring girls to him. one day he asked that he sleep with her daughter and in exchange he would buy her a house. her mother asked her daughter to sleep with him. she refused. her mother didn’t accept that for an answer. and her mother got her daughter to agree and bought her house that her daughter doesn’t stay in. her daughter ran away and doesn’t visit her mother except for once a month. she said, “I don’t think a mother should ever ask her daughter to do that. that isn’t what a mother does.” She confessed to the man trying to buy sex in the car.

she rents a room with her friend whose mother accepted rent for giving her a room. she asks for 1000 a month and she knows where she gets the money as a student can’t work full time. her friend, the landlords daughter, also works as a prostitute. she wants to believe that she is still a virgin.

there is a whole ideology and new world view you must design to tell yourself that you are “good”.  “i can beat my wife, fuck my children, but as long as i go to pray 5 times a day somehow i am still a good person.” ??

isn’t it absurd of him picking up a poor girl selling her self because that is all she owns and injustice was done to her? and she is doing this not because she wants to buy a bag and not because she finds you exceptionally handsome.

he couldn’t touch her anymore after hearing her story.

and now after her story, she became a human instead of a piece of underage ass.

it was upsetting to hear this story. but this happens everyday here. real people suffering from real life.

i have always been unable to dance and laugh at a place where women were working and the work was selling their bodies. dancing for me is happiness. it is a communication with g-d and myself. my connection with my body and sex.

when i see prostitution i cannot laugh or dance. it makes me incredibly sad. it reminds me of my mother.

when i was a child i thought if i could take away my mothers pain i would do anything to achieve this. if i could take away all the pain and suffering from the girls i grew up with including my sisters, i would do anything. i would take on their lives and its pain if it meant that they wouldn’t have to. and still to this day i feel that i would give them my life and take their burdens and their pain and their work.

i have always felt like a prostitute even if i have never done this. these wome could be me and i could be them. our humanity, man or woman, is so tightly connected.

i think all of us lose a bit of ourselves and our goodness when we comodify a sacred part of ourselves and especially when we try to buy people with our unexceptional money. its like selling a torah scroll that was once used in a synagogue.

they sell Torah scrolls in marrakech. probably stolen or forgotten after the community left. a friend wanted to save it and was horrified that they opened a sacred scroll incorrectly. i said save it. buy it. he asked a rabbi who said it is forbidden to buy the scroll. you can’t buy it. it will lose all its value by being paid for and their is no price to it. it is above selling. it cannot be sold.

this girl.
this “prostitute”. this sex worker.
why is she not considered scared like the torah?
her body cannot be sold.
she is even more sacred as she is living.

we have all lost our collective value when we let what cannot be sold to be sold. we all lose our value collectively when we try to buy or sell a little girl’s body.
the buyer
the reader reading this

i am broken a little every time i hear about our sexual abuse because our sexuality (not just our sex), our sexuality can only be given in choice or in love and this sex is pure enough to be heard by g-d.

or power
or humiliation
or buying people

destroy us.