Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Camp Boy



 

It started with one of those stupid Facebook "where did I meet you" posts. I don't know why I copied to my page, but I did. Slowly, comments started filling up the space on my wall.
"Camp" said my very first boyfriend, a curly haired Canadian slightly on the dorky side, but cute, nonetheless. I smiled and clicked like and then went on with evening.




Then, up popped an instant message:


Camp Boy: Such strange circumstances on how we met really


Me: What was so strange?


Camp Boy: If I remember correctly, you were part of a prank that some of the girls wanted to play on me…


Me: What? I have no idea what you are talking about. I would never be that mean.


I stared at the screen, puzzled. I'm a lot of things, but I'm not a mean girl. I've always thought of him as my first boyfriend and I remember really liking him.


Camp Boy: Lol... I never knew that until just now…Then I know exactly how it all went down then. Kinda nice to hear the other side after all these years


I do remember those girls though. They were mean girls.


Me: They probably told you that because they didn't like me either


Camp Boy: I honestly thought for so long that you were in on it


Me: well, I'm sorry because that really sucks that people would even do that. Think of all the therapy bills you could have saved.


Camp Boy: No kidding. Scared me off dating and relationships for years.


What? Did he just say that my 13 year-old self ruined him? Did I just become the villain in someone else's narrative?


Me: I feel so terrible


Camp Boy: But hey... it all strangely works out in the end. Although, I still can remember telling you off and that was pretty harsh.


I have no recollection of him telling me off. I just remember camp ending and that was it.


Camp Boy: But in the end...i guess it all made me who I am. I'm glad you're pleased with your life now...perhaps it's one of those strange things that just work out somehow


Pause.


Camp Boy: You and I should really reconnect some time. Apparently we'd have a lot of catching up to do. I guess now I know that you were my first actual girlfriend. How glad am I that I finally found out the truth. 
Man, I remember really liking you.


Me: I remember liking you too.


Camp Boy: That really puts a smile on my face…Philly isn't too far.


Me: From Canada?


Camp Boy: Toronto to Philly is an easy road trip…
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Baby Blue

My mom, my sister, and baby Shoshi
 My mother never cried or screamed or dramatically threw herself on the floor yelling out, “Why G-d?” when I, her youngest child, was born blue and barely breathing. Heart, oxygen, hole. Ventricular septal defect, Tetralogy of Fallot. These terms thrust themselves into my parents’ vocabulary. However, my mother proudly showed off her highly advanced daughter when I sat up at four months. (truthfully, it helped me breath)   A tiny elf, barely sixteen pounds at one, I scooted on my butt instead of crawling.  

Despite not drinking, smoking or taking anti-depressants (unfortunately for everyone), the second opinion doctor or, as my mother refers to him, That Fucking Asswipe, insisted she was somehow at fault for the genetic fluke. She ignored him. At sixteen months, after the first surgery that connected the artery from my right arm to my heart, left a machete-like scar, she insisted I wear it like a badge of honor. After the surgery, when I scooted across the floor, my ability to breath made it harder to find me. Then, to my mother’s delight, out of my blue lips came, not just a first word, but a sentence: “I want that red balloon.” Slow walking followed suit, with the occasional, “Wait, mommy, I gotta sit down.”  
Baby Shoshi not looking Blue






Three years passed between surgeries.  For the second, my parents flew our family across the country, dropping my older sister at summer camp, while we spent June at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. 

“It was like a roach motel,” My mother laughs at the memory. “We had three choices: sit in the room, walk around the sketchy neighborhood, or sleep at your grandparents in the Bronx. Clearly, I slept with you in your room.” When baseball great, Dave Winfield visited my room, I traded my new Dave Winfield baseball card for my roommate Junior’s sparkly Michael Jackson card.  When it came time for surgery, the nurses put an oxygen mask over my teddy bear’s mouth. A week after surgery, I ran down the hall to my heart surgeon. (My mother notes, “I haven’t seen you run since."). My only real complaint was the terrible taste of pure potassium they forced me to drink for weeks after.

As I grew, the cardiology visits were a yearly ritual; my parents and I sat in a dark room listening to the unsteady beating of my heart.   The shwoosh, shwoosh, shwoosh, long pause, shwoosh, shwoosh was magic to my mother’s ears.   And now, despite the blue, despite the labored breathing, the surgeries and the scars, I have babies of my own. And my babies...are pink.








The Great Rabbi, The Queen Mum...my pink babies




read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kreativ Blogger Award


Kreativ Blogger Award!



Because I never think to check back at my comments on old posts, I almost missed that I won a Kreativ Blogger Award. Not only am I honored, but this gives me yet another chance  do my two favorite activities: share other bloggers with you and talk about myself. While I’d like to think it was my amazing writing, I’m pretty sure it was the photo of my darling daughter that captivated Carrie, putting her in such a deep trance that she unknowingly picked me.
I started following Carrie (http://carrie-ourjourney.blogspot.com) because like me, her son was born with a congenital heart defect. If you followed my pregnancy, you know that the only people freaked out by my repaired Tetralogy of Fallot are OB-GYNS. My own cardiologist was so unfazed by my beautifully repaired heart that he refused to take my co-pay when my hysterical OB sent me in for an echocardiogram.  Of course, it took having children of my own to fully understand my parents’ (and Carrie’s) struggle.  I hope that knowledge helps her. Because, in truth, it’s much harder on the parents than it is on the kids.  We don’t know any other way of living.  At 32, I’m still surprised that not everyone has a giant scar down their chest and across their back.  My scars are my normal. My heart is my normal.

This award comes with rules. Here are the rules:

1.   Thank and link back to the awarding blog.
2.   Answer seven questions. (Carrie said that her blogger said that I have to make up the questions. I don’t think Carrie made them up, since I make up questions for a living, I’m going to use Carrie’s questions)
3.   Provide 10 random factoids about yourself. - (more Shosh time!)
4.   Hand the award on to 7 deserving others.


1. I already covered this part. However, thanks Carrie! http://carrie-ourjourney.blogspot.com. I love that you are able to use writing to help you through your journey.


Seven Questions...


1. What is your plan if the world ends in 2012?


I’m pretty sure that I heard on NPR that the Mayan calendar does not           actually end in 2012, so because I trust the Mayans to make all my       important decisions, I have no plan.

2. What's your biggest fear?


Water towers and mascots. You think these are simple phobias? Wrong.Every time I see a water tower or a mascot I get an intense feeling that  someone is going to come behind me and murder me. You thought I was scared of water gushing out? Nope, I know water isn’t going to come pouring        out. That’s crazytalk.


WAIT WAIT WAIT…These questions aren’t doing it for me. I’m stealing questions from @DEHausFrau, aka, my best friend, from her Mothers&More Blog.

What would you do if you were invisible? 
When people are in meetings and they shut the door, I’d go through the      door. What exactly do you not want the rest of the office to hear?

What is your favorite word?
Cunt because it scares people. I used to love throwing it out there when I   taught my students the difference between the connotation of a word and the  denotation (look it up or sign up for your own community college English class).

What is your least favorite word/phrase?
Panties. It’s underwear. Undies. Panties is an onomatopoeia that I don't want to think about... 

What is the best song introduction?
"My Baby Just Cares For Me" performed by Nina Simone . The first time I heard it was in the in the movie Stealing Beauty with Liv Tyler. It’s captivated me ever since.

What do you hate the sound of?  
Other people's children whining because I can't yell at them or tell them to suck it up.

What have you always dreamed of being?
A rabbi. However, you can’t be married to the Giant Gentile and be a rabbi. He’d have to become the biggest goyish looking Jew in all of history if I wanted to become a rabbi. Or, they could change their rules…

What wouldn’t you be good at?
Along the same lines, I’d be a terrible Orthodox Jew. First, I’m married to a Giant Gentile. Second, I’m tattooed. Third, I’m too in love with my hair not to share it with the whole world. Forth, I’m too in love with my cleavage not to show it to the whole world. Fifth, I won’t give up chanting from Torah on Rosh Hashanah or leading services. All of these things take nothing away from my friends who are Orthodox. For them, it works. For me, not so much…



Ten Random Facts.
 
1. I'm from Wisconsin

2. I know more about Emma Lazarus than 99.9% of the country and I fully realize no one else cares.

3. I almost never wear pants.

4. I hate reading fashion magazines

5. I don’t understand why people are scared to talk about religion. AND I have a slight obsession with evangelicals.

6. My parents had a much harder time with the fact my husband started dating me when he was 28 and I was 19 than the fact he isn’t Jewish.


7. I’ll probably never be thin or a good housekeeper

8. I’m not good at being friends with men (though there are some exceptions)

9.  Despite the fact I’m outgoing with strangers and individuals, I am painfully shy at cocktail parties.

10. After eight years, I quit teachin college Critical Reading and Thinking after being told teaching Elie Wiesel’s Night was not an example of teaching critical thinking. 

Seven Bloggers I love:

Erin at www.erinmargolin.com. I’m sure she’s won these awards before because she’s one of those girls who gets voted for on twitter and goes to blogger conferences but has no idea how awesome she really is.  Like all of us, she’s a girl on a journey, and I want to help her on her way. She has a deep love for roots, so here are her’s: http://www.erinmargolin.com/where-im-from-new-orleans

Tara at http://www.pohlkottepress.com. I hang on every word, every syllable. She makes me want to write poetry in the rain.  

Pish Posh at http://www.the-pish-posh.com/. She’s brilliant and educated and aware that it simply might not be enough.  She’s trying to follow her heart even if her very diplomaed brain doesn’t know if it’s such a good idea

Rachel at www.getrealmama.blogspot.com because she puts herself out there. I love keeping up with her. Plus, I think she could put herself out there even more. I’d like to help!

Eric at  http://www.saalonmuyo.com because he makes me laugh  and he’s a dude that stood up for vaginas.

Mimi at http://www.mimismartypants.comokay, so she certainly doesn’t need any kudos from me, but she makes me laugh my ass off. I’ve been following her as long as I’ve been following Jen Lancaster.  Her taglines are my dream.

Michael at http://dearharrison.com. He gives me the chills. He makes me cry. He makes me feel hopeful.


Enjoy!






Monday, June 18, 2012

The Invisible (Nursing) Woman


As many of you know, on May 11, I was honored to participate in Listen to Your Mother Philly. It was a life changing experience. I intended to publish my piece, but I didn't feel like waiting: 


Cleavage Corner


Before Baby, if you had one word to describe me, you’d say cleavage. I’ve always believed that cleavage hides any flaw, and if I were a hot mom, you’d hate me. Alas, deep into mommyhood, my cleavage has been hijacked by a hooter-cover: hiding both baby’s head and my ample bosom. I always assumed I’d be one of those women who whipped out their boob with no cares in the world; I was wrong.  Now, I imagine my plentiful boobs spilling everywhere. I am mortified that one small inch might expose itself to the world.

With cleavage I brought attention, with breastfeeding I become invisible. I hear stories of cruel words and unwelcome commentary. However, despite my fears of over-exposure, no one has even looked in my direction. It's as if, the minute the baby is nursing, I cease to exist. Instead of screaming out, “Look at me! I’m breastfeeding!” The hooter cover has become my cloak of invisibility. People, males, in particular, forget that I’m even there. Mysteriously, I find myself in the midst of testosterone fueled conversations I’d like to pretend don’t exist.  






Scene one: a burger joint somewhere off the Garden State Parkway. My husband finds what he claims is a discrete table where I can feed the baby. Discrete my ass, I find myself surrounded by three tables of teenage boys. The second my husband walks away and I place my invisibility cloak over my head, the boys start talking like, well, boys. Their mouths fill with stories of the latest young lady who’s fallen for the sweet nothings only a teenage boy can promise.  Of course, none of these stories involve innocent hand-holding. Instead, it is the R-rated version of “Summer Nights” from Grease. Details of what they (supposedly) like girls to do to them are swapped back and forth across the table. It’s like a bad Penthouse letter. No shame. No body part left to the imagination. No act left unspoken. The boys laugh loudly, filling the air with their smut.  "In their dreams," I think and then, looking down at my nursing daughter, “God, I hope you turn out to be a lesbian.”


Scene two: one day later. I'm in a ski lodge bar filled with families. I sit down to feed my baby, place my cloak over my head and BAM, three thirty-something guys plop down next to me. They appear perfectly normal:  brightly colored hats on their heads, Patagona jackets keeping them warm, and glasses of Vermont’s newest microbrew in their hands.  They sit so close to me, I can smell the beer on their breath. Their conversation? All the girls on the slope they want to bang. Each girl that skies past the window or walks through the bar is rated- graphic details of legs and boobs and unmentionables analyzed at length. Then, the conversation turns to marriage. A friend has an apartment in Manhattan and a house and wife in Connecticut. They practically squeal over his luck. Imagine the possibilities—the women, the booze, the sex their friend could have all week and then spend the weekend with the little woman who would provide him with a home-cooked meal and a clean house.   "I'm sitting right here!" I want to scream. “Hello! I'm nursing a baby!!” But, the courage that cleavage always gave me has disappeared under my cloak, so I'm stuck, for twenty minutes listening to their hopes and dreams of the meat that is woman. And then, my daughter falls asleep, so I pull off the cloak. Suddenly, one of the men turns to me, looks me in the eyes, smiles sweetly and says, "what a cute baby."



I'm posting again this week on Yeahwrite
read to be read at yeahwrite.me

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Queen Mum Knows Fashion


I've never written any sort of fashion post. Well, that's not true, last summer, I did write about the ridiculous of over-priced flip flops (however, a year later, I sit here in over-priced Tory Burch flip-flops...). But, I just posted a picture of The Queen Mum in her 20's inspired (or old lady inspired, whatever floats your swim cap) swimsuit and swim cap.
The Queen Mum, hanging by the Pool


It was so stinking adorable that the pool I was at yesterday took a photo of her for their website. Everyone with a baby girl wants her suit. I'm sure they'll run out eventually, so there are other options out there besides Gap. One of my favorite stores for out of the ordinary baby clothing is Janie and Jack. While they are owned by Gymboree, they offer a more upscale version of clothing. All of their bathing suits this season are also vintage inspired.
Janie and Jack: Ruched Floral Swim Cap 
The Queen Mum has the Ruched floral cap, and it's just as adorable as the one from the Gap. Because summer is upon us, prices on swim caps and bathing suits are getting lower by the day. However, if you are looking for cheap cheap swimsuits, I'm not sure Gap and Janie and Jack are the best places to go. I so badly want to point you towards Target, but I'm finding their selection lacking. Plus, I worry their stuff will fall apart. (which is odd, because all my swimsuits are from Target...)


Against my better judgement, I checked Walmart. However, you will never see my daughter in a Hello Kitty Bikini, even if it is $9.97. (yes, you can take a moment to talk behind my back. I can't hear you anyway.)
Baby Mermaid Diaper Cover and Hat 


I also checked etsy, hoping to run across something awesome and handmade. While there were a few swim caps, none were really fun or had the vintage look I was searching for. Although,  I did run across a baby mermaid




I'm sure most of Mommyland has been on a frantic search for bathing suits since February. What do you like to see your little girls wear?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Small Victories

Getting back into the groove of work has been exceptionally hard. Harder than I ever imagined. The first time around, I was just getting back to work when The Great Rabbi turned five-months. However, with the baby, I went back to work at five weeks. I'm working on my third issue since the baby was born. I may be the world's most undomestic goddess, but I'm always good at work. My designer and I are a great team. I thought we can take on the world.

Yes, thought, past tense. Now, I feel her anger bubbling up through cell phone towers and email pings. I'm late with work, and I'm sloppy. She's sent me back articles that needed to be proofed again and again and again.  I'm supposed to be the editor! I kept missing so many details. It didn't help that at first, Psycho Postpartum Shosh lurked around every corner: constantly anxious and debilitatingly jealous (that's like 78 blog posts and a memoir).  I got help for that and Psycho Shosh has very much left the building. However, my work still suffers, and I didn't really know what to say.  What is there to say?

Finally, my designer had enough. She made a two-hour trip to kick my butt. We made a list of deadlines. I had to stick with them. I certainly didn't want to loose our team.

Today was deadline day. All of my final edited copy had to be sent. All photos emailed. I shouldn't have gotten through this day. It was the Giant Gentiles birthday, but he was leaving on a business trip. The Great Rabbi needed me to drop his many snacks off at Jewish Day School. (I could write a whole essay on the amount of food I'm supposed to pack for that kid's lunch). I promised I'd go to a staff meeting at 9 am. My babysitter is in Atlantic City.

Now, I'm lucky in many ways. I can usually work from home or a coffee shop. If I do go to work in the morning, I can put my baby in babysitting in the building until 11:30. The babysitting room is ten feet from my office. I can even breastfeed her in the babysitting room. However, if I don't get everything done by 11:30, I have to take her with me into my office or go home.
The Queen Mum working her magic
So, today, I got out the door on time, made it to the babysitting room, went to the meeting, brought The Great Rabbi his lunch (um, yeah, his school is also in the same building...), and started working. All of the sudden, it was 11:27. I had to run down the hall, grab the baby, feed the baby, and...go back to work.

I brought her into my office. Everyone acts like they don't care, but how can they not care? Even when she's not crying, she's loud. Is it really professional to walk passed my office with a baby on my desk? I put her on the floor, and she spit up on the new carpet. Then she screamed. Then, I had to close my door and feed her. Then, she screamed some more. The CFO came in and decided to walk her around the building. I fed her again. I moved her. I rocked her. I ran to my car to get my sling. She didn't want to be in the sling. She sat in my arms: both arms. All of the sudden it was pickup time for my son. I got another mom to get him. Then time passed and I had to run home. And then, and then, and then.....
Oh my g-d, I'm out of breath.

And yet, somehow, in the middle of all this chaos; in the middle of this baby day that should have been completely unproductive that, in most working environments, would have gotten me fired, I managed to do it. I got everything into my designer by the evening. I made my Monday deadline.
What does this mean? Do I celebrate or do I just breath and hope everything doesn't fall apart in the morning?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Falling in Love with the Show: Listen To Your Mother, Philly




In the car before the show
It's been a week since I tried to convince my fellow cast mates that standing on a stool behind a very wobbly podium would make them feel powerful. Mostly, I wanted to show off my cleavage, which also turned out to be a silly idea 1) because it's pretty hard to hide my cleavage and b) my shirt was far too big and I ended up looking rather yuck in pictures. Of course, when my moment came, I decided that taking off my four-inch heals to step up on said podium would probably end is disaster. So I placed my papers in front of me, opened my mouth and started reading…


I discovered Listen To Your Mother while playing my favorite game: Jewish Geography. In short, my friend Amy asked me if I knew her friend Ann. I looked Ann up on twitter, and BAM, of course I knew Ann. I'd known her my whole life! As many of you know, when you're reintroduced to someone from your former life on facebook or twitter, you can't help but do a bit of cyber stalking: you follow their tweets, you read every blog post, you page through family pictures. During my…research…I discovered that not only was Ann the National Director for Listen To Your Mother, which she started in Madison, but they were having a LTYM Philly around Mother's Day. She told me to follow the directors: Cecily and Dresden on Twitter. And, follow, I did. 


After weeks of following, they posted the audition dates. First, I would have to send in a piece and if they liked the piece, I'd get a live audition. Finally, the moment I was waiting for! Now, I just had to figure out what to write about… I wrote the piece on my Iphone at Barnes and Nobles (do you know how many graduate school papers I wrote on my blackberry?). I sent it to my best friend. Then I sent it out. I waited, and waited and waited. I stalked and waited, and  stalked some more…

Iwon't bore you with the details, but from the moment I started bothering people on twitter (yes that's you punkymama) until the moment I stepped up to the podium I was taken on the kind of journey most people only dream about. I realize this sounds cheesy, but from the initial emails, to my live audition, to rehearsal, to the show, I felt like I belonged.


I never feel like I belong. Ninty-nine percent of the time, I'm okay with that. In fact, I'm more than okay with that, I've always liked it that way. I like being the odd-mom in my very real American Shtetl. I like that my cleavage looks out of place and no one's ever seen me in a pair of jeans. But it felt so good to walk in a room filled with boobs and bellies and crazy hair-- a room filled with other moms who sit at a computer all day trying to produce some semblance of something worth reading. At the lunch after rehearsal, the table was so filled with voices that it was hard to get a word in edgewise. It was glorious. I felt like I'd found my people.


The night of the show was no different. This may shock you, but I'm actually shy in certain social situations. If I've met people once or twice before, I don't know how to act around them and I start hyperventilating. I usually hide in the corner. However, I didn't feel shy. Instead, I felt welcomed. I walked in to smiles and hugs. We weren't there to compete for the bigger, better, sadder, funnier, more emotional story; we were there to tell a story together. Most of the stories were  the poignant retelling of Motherhood's underbelly that is kept hidden in family secrets and therapist's couches. But, these women (and Charlie) were brave. They didn't hold back: they told stories of abuse, alcoholism, adoption and Alzheimer's. They told of their childhoods and their children. Of their punk rock power and parenting prowess. The heartbreak of old age and healing of power of birth. The wonder of being a foreigner in a foreign land and a foreigner to the women that should know us better than anyone. Some were mothers, some spoke of their mothers. We were white, latino and black. We were lesbians and Jews. In our early thirties and heading close to sixty. 


 A small group of us were funny—comic relief in a sea of tears. (the kind of tears that make you want to hug your neighbor and sit down for tea).I was part of that comic relief. I didn't write about my grandmother, unknowingly lost in the darkness of Alzheimers or my struggle with infertility. I didn't write about growing up with a sick mother or the indignities of birth. Instead, I wrote about breastfeeding. It wasn't a TIME magazine, mother-baiting, attention-grabbing, attachment parenting manifesto—it was what happens when my baby is hungry and I have to feed her. (Okay, it's really about my cleavage. What else did you expect?)


Where is my piece? I haven't decided what to do with it yet. Do I want to put it on my blog? Maybe. Do I want to try to publish it somewhere else? Probably. I'm not even sure if it's funny on paper. It's really a monologue. So, for the moment, I'm sitting on it.


But, I'm not sitting on the relationships I've created. One of the best parts of the show was that when it was over, the audience interacted with us. They stayed around a bit and talked and then, they came to the after party. The fourth wall did not stay up. I was honored (and shocked) to connect with Holly, Varda and Deb, the producers of the New York Listen To Your Mother. I was honored to laugh with people in line at the bar. I always enjoy talking about my cleavage with strangers.


And when the night was over, when Jo-Ann and I left the bar after everyone else, the experience was far from over. I'm still connected. I've even connected to more women writers. Because that's what we do, we keep each other connected and we help each other.

I'm not finished writing. I'm not finished thinking about this. I'm not finished cultivating these relationships. We all need Listen To Your Mother in our lives. Whatever that may be. While I was trying to get the words out this week, someone else's words kept running through my head: an old Nike Ad from the early 90's that I was so in love with in high school that I memorized:


Falling in love in six acts: A Passion Play. Or what happens when you fall down that long well of passion, of a person, a place, a sport, a game, a belief, and your heart goes boom and your mind leaves town.



Thank you Ann Imig for giving me the chance to fall in love again. Thank you Cecily, Dresden and Jo-Ann for having the vision to make the Philly version their own.  And, of course, my castmates for having the bravery not only to write down their words, but get in front of a microphone and open their mouths.

 

One more note, none of my own bravery would have ever been possible if it wasn't for another piece of Jewish Geography. Our Listen To Your Mother stage manager, Jessica Kupferman, was the person who had the confidence in me to introduce me to my current boss and say, "You need an editor? Shosh is your gal."Sharing the experience with her made it truly, as we say in Judaism, bashert, destiny.