Posts Tagged ‘literature and parenting’

“Three Sisters,” One Parent

April 27, 2011

Andy and I recently attended a performance of Chekhov’s Three Sisters.  As I mature, I find myself moved and fascinated by many of the things that once bored me to tears as a young, angry and impatient rebel with an allowance—a youth where I had the luxury of cynicism and grandiose artistic ambition, followed by a life of hard work in the wake of my father losing all his money in what turned out to be a blessing, at least for me, of the most liberating magnitude.

As I offer up these blog words in the service of love and encouragement for us all to be our best Selves (as parents and as “parents” of our shared world, as well as nurturers of, and participants in, its unfolding consciousness), I found Chekhov’s words, as well as his temporal and political context, incredibly resonant—prescient, modern and eternal.

The first director of Three Sisters was Stanislavski, the pioneer of naturalistic acting that came to be called “the method.”  Out of this school of radical authenticity, and interiority, on stage, came Marlon Brando, James Dean and later Pacino, Hoffman, Streep.  In a world of overwhelming falseness, sometimes the quest for what’s real must unfold behind the third wall of a stage… art itself being a living remnant of communing with spirit, with the Truth of what just is… of what we cannot, by our brains, hope to know.

As parents, we are often hammered by the mundane and conforming (not to mention race-to-nowhere fear-and-money-driven competition), and thus we must continually unearth and give flight to the transcendent and the luminescent, the compassionate and the connected, to be found and lived in the small moments of our big-enough lives.

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Self Taught

April 20, 2011

A teacher I know recently said to me that they felt that, after three years at it, they were just starting to truly understand how to teach.  That made sense to me—as a past therapist had told me that her supervisor had told her that it takes seven years of practice before you truly know what you are doing as a therapist.  Moving into two decades of clinical work, I keep learning how much I do not know, but ever deepening my appreciation for the process, for the courage of my clients, for the possibility of accurately connecting as a way to facilitate healing and growth.

That teacher went on to say that they were very excited about teaching, and that I should tell all my clients to become teachers, not just because it is a noble thing to do, and deeply rewarding to the soul, if not always the purse, but because he was learning how to be a father to himself through teaching—having conversations with students, and giving compassionate counsel in ways that had been entirely missing from his own upbringing.

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Full Circle Solstice

June 21, 2010

Well, happy summer solstice, again.

Hello, again.  Good-bye, again.

Go. Dog. Go, again.

How can I begin to say what I really mean?

How can I convey the love I feel for you, and for us and for our world?

I may have failed to tame my ego, heal my narcissism and more fully place my self in proper service to the Self and our collective SELF (although I like to think I’ve made a little progress this year), I have certainly failed to become any sort of perfect parent (not that this was ever the goal).

But I have treasured a year; and in working hard, I have made a difference—to myself.  I do know that I have also made a difference to some others, and I choose to not be coy and pretend I am unaware of this and the many kind and encouraging comments I have deeply appreciated along the way.

I have sought to give, but I have received much in the bargain—age-old wisdom proving true personally and viscerally that it is good to give, that it is through what we give that we find connection, relationship and happiness (and that “giving” can be attention, presence, affection, patience, even just thoughts).

I have apportioned time to blogging, time disconnected from Andy and Nate and Will (thanks to you guys for weathering my self-imposed year of blogging mindfully, too often at your expense).  So, now it is time to follow Kristen’s example and “buffer.”

Only connect.  This is what I have learned from Forster via Andy, and what I have striven to write and live (the challenge about connecting proves to be:  how much and with who?).  Moving forward I hope to continue to only connect, but in balance, connecting virtually, actually and internally with the spirits and the muses.

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350 in dog years

June 18, 2010

I entered the world like a trickster

Coaxed by the smell of barbeque

But the Jewess princess was

Drugged and passed out

By the time I arrived

Into Cold male hands and

Even colder light


At five I nearly barfed

At Kiddie Land

The “fun” fire truck

An overwhelming howl


Ten brought Slimy wood

And barred breath

Trapped under a dock

Sunlight like candy behind

Nose-pressed glass

As men neared the moon

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When writing gets leathery

June 15, 2010

Deep in the matrix of my psyche I associate writing with leather.  Not because of leather-bound volumes in oak paneled libraries, but because of coats—leather coats.

When I was a kid my dad had a friend who had a leather factory on the far south side of Chicago, near to where my dad had grown up.  The old Jewish quasi ghetto had morphed into an African American quasi ghetto.

Being middle class Jews trapped in some never-pay-retail internalized racism, it happened that my family once rode forever through a Chicago winter, arriving at a freezing warehouse filled with dead cow skin sewn into every variation of a coat that a pimp could want.

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Word One

June 5, 2010

T.E. Lawrence (of Arabia) and Christopher Wren (architect of St. Pauls) went to All Souls College at Oxford, and like their many illustrious classmates who have attended this elite graduate school going back to 1438, they took a really hard test just to get in.  Often it included the famed one word essay:  you were given the word and expect to go from there.

In fact, some say it’s just about the hardest test in the world, spanning two days where one writes on one’s area of expertise, but also on general subjects—and from that single word from which one was expected to craft an essay of such dazzling breadth, depth and import that All Souls would embrace you as one of them.  Other Monty Pythonesque questions such as, “Does the moral character of an orgy change when the participants wear Nazi uniforms?” challenge the writer to kink and unkink the neural networks.  [One word answer:   Mu.]

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Between Pruf and a hard rock

May 23, 2010

Let us blog now you and I

With new world words set out against virtual sky

Like a still-corded baby upon a belly;

Let us surf through certain half-deserted tweets,

The stuttering retweets

Of restless nights in one-post cheap no-tells

And no-comment days and reader swells;

Posts that meander like a convoluted love quarrel

Of theatrical intent

That leads us to an overwhelming question…

Oh do not ask, “What the fuck?”

Let us go and try our luck.

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Happy to say “Hello, Again”

May 13, 2010

I realize that today marks the one year anniversary from when I first set up this blog and clicked “publish.”  Looking back, it was May 13 of 2009 that I became “self-published.”  I am toying with the idea of self-publishing my Privilege of Parenting book, and I now look back to see the organic nature of the journey into standing for what we stand for and coming to value process above outcome or product.

It strikes me as amusing now that I routinely, even blithely, craft a post and send it out there to strike a chord, perplex, fall flat or whatever else might happen that it is as natural as any other part of my life; I have made friends in this world and dropping by your different blogs is like taking a walk down some virtual Main Street somewhere between Atticus Finch’s place and Holden Caulfied’s, sometimes stopping for a dip in Gatsby’s pool, sometimes by Norma Desmond’s… sometimes chatting with new friends across the pond altogether.  I realize that a year ago I came to the party with sweaty palms and now I’m feeling really happy that I didn’t just stay in bed with a book.

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Mergers and Acquisitions

April 21, 2010

Twenty-one years ago, Bret Easton Ellis hit a collective chord (at least for my generation) with his novel, Less Than Zero.  It begins:  “People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles.”  A follow-up check-in on the state of intimacy amongst twenty-somethings twenty years hence might be that people are now simply terrified to merge.

A book about alienation and emptiness in the context of glitzy LA, Less Than Zero was the west coast bookend to Bright Lights Big City—Jay McInerney’s look at the coke-infused emptiness of the New York scene in the 80’s.  I lived in New York, and partied at the same clubs as the scene set in Bright Lights, and when it came out in ’84 all my friends read it, and we all wished we had written it because all we’d have had to do was take notes on our lives.

I moved to LA in ’88 and Less than Zero came out in ’89, but the scene in LA was so bizarre and elusive, almost unreal, that I never felt the insider, although I recall underground clubs and dancing to Art of Noise and Jesus and Mary Chain and never really knowing where I was, or how all these cool kids got to be so cool—it took a while longer to realize just how miserable most of them actually were.

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The Long arm of the law

March 19, 2010

When my older son, Nate, was about three we still lived in a crumbling duplex in which the ’94 earthquake had loosened every last thing in the place.  As a result, the old-school heating vents were no longer firmly attached to the walls and could be slid away like the old incinerator shoots we used back in New York.

We loved all going to the local library, hanging out in the kids’ section and coming back home with armloads of picture and storybooks.  Andy and I always took the responsibility to return library books and avoid fines seriously, bred into us out of respect for the hush of the archetypal library and the fact that although we probably bought (and still buy) more books than anything else, we didn’t always buy books because books can get expensive—and so paying extra money in fines during lean times seemed highly ill-advised.

And so it was that we were getting ready to head out to the library to return one week’s books and get the next batch when Nate informed me, proudly, that he had already returned the books.  When you’re a kid, even “getting” to put the books in the return slot can be fun and exciting, and so why wouldn’t a heating vent that pulls away from the wall be a fun and useful place to return all the library books?

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