Bah Humbug

Bah Humbug

The holidays are upon us once again, and I will take this moment to express how I feel about Christmas gift giving. First of all, in my home, I do not celebrate Christmas. I am Jewish, and I did not grow up in the South where it is more common for Jews to celebrate Christmas. We never had a Hanukkah bush. We always lit the menorah every night. I would have Christian friends over, and my mother always had little gifts for each of us, along with the traditional potato latkes.  As an adult, I prefer to buy a gift when I see something that I think a friend would like and give it to them whenever I see them (the element of surprise is always nice), or perhaps on a birthday. The frenzy of Christmas shopping just is not my thing. We do have our traditions, though, and...

The Joy of Reading My Work Aloud

The Joy of Reading My Work Aloud

Why You’ll Be Hearing More from Me The first time I read for an audience, I was shaking like a palm tree in hurricane winds. Writers are by nature more introverted folk. We tend to enjoy being with ourselves and our characters, and only with much hesitation and the painful necessity of book sales, do we step up to the podium to speak. These days, after several years of appearances here and there, I have learned to enjoy reading my work to enthusiastic audiences. And it is true that most audiences at readings are enthusiastic, or they would not attend in the first place. After all, it is not Cirque du Soleil or Hamilton. However, it does take much practice and preparation to do a good reading. The Fabulous World of Audio As I was chatting with a dear friend one...

When There Are No Words

When There Are No Words

In the aftermath of a mass shooting of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life synagogue, my sorrow and outrage lead me to ask: Where is the safe place? When there are no words, I breathe. I take in deep breaths, let them out slowly, until the words come. They come to me reluctantly, and then I have to breathe again until they flow more easily. When they cease to come, I breathe again, and finally, I take a break to make çay (Turkish tea) and drink it while I breathe. People often ask me what I do to keep on writing. Am I ever at a loss for words? Often, I am these days and in these dark times. When the letters scrolled across my television screen, coldly breaking the news that 11 people were shot to death at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, I thought of my father’s...

Holding on to a Loving State of Mind

Holding on to a Loving State of Mind

These are crazy times in a world gone mad, but fear does not have to control our lives, our speech, our manner of being in the world or how we respond to our fellow human beings. Let me use an example. I cannot know about you, but I was quite disappointed in Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s publicizing of her DNA. She let Trump’s insanity occupy her and caused her to behave in ways that echo Trump himself. We have to try our best to continue a spiritual state of mind before and after meditation or prayer, whatever it may be that we do. Praying or meditating and then going off to commit murder will not bring any of us to paradise either in this life or in the next. Frankly, while journalists, writers, teachers and innocent people are being imprisoned without hope, while a...

‘In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight’

‘In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight’

For the sake of our republic, this is no time to sleep Our republic has fallen asleep. Like a person whose partner is cheating, we have closed our eyes until it might be too late. In our innocence, we are slowly (perhaps not so slowly) losing what we once fought so hard to achieve. If we are the guiding light for the world, our world is in trouble. Our president has declared recently sworn in U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh “proven innocent.” Can someone tell me please, in what court of law? In fact, he has not been proven innocent or guilty by any court of law. Have we let go completely of the principles that have guided us in “justice” for so many years? Did we ever even have “justice?” Is true “justice” possible for human beings to achieve? Our...

Watering Holes, or the Magical Qualities of Tea

Watering Holes, or the Magical Qualities of Tea

I do not feel a strong urge to revisit Europe these days, perhaps with the exception of Spain. Africa, though? Yes. I most definitely wish to return. The places where I hear the call to prayer in the mornings (no, I am not Muslim) and the animals still roam free, that is where my heart is. Many years ago, I ran away from home to Europe and North Africa. I turned 21 in Morocco. I did not make it to the Atlas Mountains or the Sahara. I was a poor young traveler/adventurer. We are considering visiting Morocco next year with friends, and then crossing the waters to Spain. I went in the opposite direction the last time. Sharing a cup Why do I always seek these places? They quiet my mind and my heart. If I believed in past lives, and there might be a part of me that...

Seizing Opportunity: A Literary Reading at an Art Show

Seizing Opportunity: A Literary Reading at an Art Show

When Carolyn Flynn invited me to participate in her friend Katyraven Hernandez Dorsey’s art opening at 5G North Gallery at the Factory on Fifth, my initial reaction was, “This could be fun.” I went to meet Katy at her home and studio, so that we could discuss with Carolyn and the other readers (Albuquerque poet laureate emeritus Jessica Helen Lopez, Santa Fe author Rob Wilder) how we would approach the event. It was a brief meeting, one person on the phone and the other not available. Because I was buried in the second volume of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, hoping to finish it in time for my book club, I did little of the vetting of the other readers as I would normally do. So, I went, having not read anyone else’s work or knowing what to expect. Because I...

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