Log in

Oh hay.

Sup, LJ?

Feats of strength, or yasher koach

Over the years, I’ve mustered up the courage, patience and strength on Sunday mornings to brave the minds of preteens and teenagers to teach Sunday School. To be fair and honest, I’ve been met with various levels of success, as I suppose any teacher would encounter. Some days, my kids are fantastic. They are insightful, caring and sharp. Other days, well, this isn’t the case.

Over four years ago, I taught high school students Comparative Religion. At the time, there was a fair amount of anti-Muslim sentiment running around, and I wanted to make sure we tackled this concept in class.

Let me just state that, for the record, the results were not at all what I expected.

In February 2006, we discussed these pictures. I was pretty amazed by my class’s responses. While we were discussing the cartoons that ran in the Danish newspapers, some of them said, "The Muslims just need to get over it. It's just a cartoon."

This took me aback, and it bothered me for two weeks. I couldn't figure out why it did, until it dawned on me: They have no clue what it's like to be on the receiving end of discrimination. Did they forget that once, as Jews, they were strangers in a strange land? Or, alternatively, were they fortunate enough to never have seen it, felt it, been hurt by it? Perhaps they had been but were too dense to realize what was going on? Or were they so self-assured and confident that it didn’t impact them?

Soon enough, their actions and answers told me otherwise. I realized quickly that they had no clue what it's like to be passionate about something, to ache with concern or compassion. To be sure, it was "just a cartoon," and there was probably, maybe, hopefully no malice behind it.

And maybe I’m just naïve.

I expressed my concerns to my class on a following Sunday, and I thought we'd analyze and discuss what we as Jews could do to overcome this sort of thing, how we could help out. In Judaism, there’s this concept called tikkun olam, which means “to heal the world.” To me, it is an exceptionally beautiful idea and almost presupposes that we, as humans, not just as Jews, have the responsibility, duty and obligations to make this world just a little better than how it was presented to us.

This seemed to be the perfect tie-in from the perceived callousness of weeks prior. Surely, there had to be some glimmer of redemption.

When the discussion began, I was pleased to hear that some of them participate in community service of some sort, most of which was likely for college applications. While I shouldn’t have been, I was dismayed to hear that most of the kids don't care. In particular, one student remarked about homeless people: "I don't see why they just don't go out there and get a job and be useful."

While I have never really been at a loss for words, they left me speechless.

I didn't have a way to bounce back from this comment short of wanting to smack that student upside his head, call him an "ungrateful, selfish pissant," and walk out of the room. His sharp, selfish, biting words felt like tazers in my chest. On some theoretical level, I know humans are inherently selfish, self-conscious, self-whatever, but I did not expect to see it in my own class.

I suppose I expected it to be "someone else," and not my own.

Later that day, I was commiserating with my fellow teachers, and they provided some reassuring words:

"It happens in every class."

"So long as you touch one, you've done enough."

“You have that block of three students that are impossible to penetrate."

Just one? An impenetrable block? Somehow, that was not enough for me. It couldn't be.

While I never admitted this to them openly, I went home and cried about them. I cried for them. I could not fathom being so thoughtless, callous and self-absorbed. I could not fathom being able to exist as a person who came from a life of privilege who only cared because their parents made them. It might sound trite, but I wept for their well-being and for their souls. I know they were just kids, but if this was the future, then I wanted no part of it.

When I took the job of teaching Sunday School, I thought it might be a bit of a fun challenge. I’d have to push myself beyond my comfort levels. After these sessions, I realized the challenge was more in-depth and complex than I initially believed.

I discovered that I had been weighed.

I had been measured.

And I found myself wanting more.

I went back that next Sunday and met them head-on. Those final classes were absolutely terrible for those kids, but I had absolutely no intentions of backing down.

As they grumbled under their breath at the end of each class, I thought to myself, Never let it be said that I quit on you as you so apparently quit on yourselves.

This week's entry is for Not of Your World for therealljidol.


An arms length transaction.

In the brief moments before he killed himself, Rodney Jenkins thought of other people.

On Thursday night, he sat at his corner office desk in the offices of Umbridge, Frankel and Minnchek, LLP. It was well close to midnight and, for once, the associates and paralegals and assistants had all gone home for the evening. He was finally alone with the Baccarat crystal decanter of Macallan single malt scotch and his Smith & Wesson Model 637, Chief’s Special Airweight .38 Special. Fitting, given the people who helped drive him to this point had given him all of these things as gifts.

Rodney poured himself a double and drank it hard and fast. His hand rested on the neck of the decanter, and he remembered his dowdy and patient wife, Marcia, bringing it to his office twelve years ago.

“Rod, you’re a big partner now so you need partner things in this office.”
“Baby, you didn’t have to do this…”
“I know I didn’t have to, but,” she chewed on her lip. “I know you put in a lot of hours to get here, and you’re going to have to put in even more, impressing the other guys and your clients. I want you to have something nice to show them that you belong.”

He sniffed at the memory. That I belong. Sure, he belonged. He belonged chained to this desk, pushing mountains of paperwork. He belonged attached to his senior partner’s hip, making sure that the first chair had everything he could need, want and expect. He belonged glued to his Blackberry so he could answer his neediest of clients’ needs and questions at all hours. He belonged to the bar that he would belly up to at the end of a hard trial, opting to celebrate with the bar backs rather than go home to his wife and kids.

He belonged just like she belonged in that stupid house and car that were costing him a fortune because, as she had so lovingly told him, she was a “partner wife.” She had done her time and deserved her reward for putting up with his absence and the kids.

He chuckled cruelly to himself and laid sight on his gun. The .38 was loaded with one bullet because that was all that Rodney needed. He toyed with the chamber and thought of Priscila. Priscila was his legal assistant’s sister and his mistress for the past several years.

Priscila was also the one who had his nuts in a vice and was threatening him to either divorce his wife or face the hell that would be rained down upon his firm if he didn’t.

Priscila encouraged him to purchase the .38 at Collector’s Firearms in town. She stroked his biceps, shoulders and back as she cooed in his ear, “Papi, you look so hot holding that gun.”
She pressed her breasts into his back. “You have no idea. Oh, I want you so much right now…”

Rodney purchased the gun and kept it with him. While he thought of Priscila, he mindlessly stroked the gun and fingered the hammer, remembering the rough-and-tumble sex they had that night in his office.

He poured himself a single and slowly sipped it down, letting it burn his throat. The bottle of Macallan was close to the bottom, and that’s exactly how he felt. Close to the bottom. The Macallan was given to him by Barty Frankel, his senior partner, after the Eddison case.

“Rod, I don’t do this often, so appreciate it. I know you’ve put in some time with the firm, and I think it’s time we say ‘thanks.’”
“Barty, you really shouldn’t have. I don’t know what to say.”
“Just say thanks. Have a belt then get back to work on your witness prep for the Allistair deposition.”

Rodney had dinner with that bottle of Macallan that night. He was at his desk until 2 am, reviewing and highlighting and taking notes. Sure thing he appreciated that Macallan.

But tonight, after everyone had closed up shop, Rodney assessed the his state and realized that the three things on his desk right now – the scotch, the decanter, and the gun – these three things that owned a part of his soul finally took too much. He closed his eyes and leaned back, remembering his days in college and law school where he didn’t have to think in 6-minute increments.

Where he didn’t have to be superstar husband of the year by provided his patient but nagging wife their 12,000-square foot home. And her Mercedes GLK to drive the kids to and from their, well, whatever the hell it was they did.

Where he didn’t have to sneak around the damning glares from his assistant, Bella, when he traipsed back in from lunch, smelling of her sister’s cheap perfume.

Where the 13-hour days just to bill out 6 or 7 hours were still enough. Where he didn’t have to bring in a stopwatch and time his phone calls with his clients to he could pretend to remember.

For Rodney Jenkins, he was done pretending. He had spent the past 22 years of his life and career just having, well, not even a life. Just a career. Always juggling, never enjoying. He had watched his buddies go out with heart attacks, panic attacks, nervous breakdowns. He watched the big shots from his law class, who graduated Order of the Coif, silently “go away for a while” because they couldn’t shake the DTs or the detox.

For Rodney Jenkins, he was tired of his best friend being these things.

With a sigh, Rodney pulled the .38 into his mouth. A single tear fell down his cheek and his closed his lips and pulled the trigger.

This week's entry is for Afterthought, the Week 5 topic over at therealljidol.
“And while I was at the Christmas Market this weekend, I found some really cute ornaments and platters! I couldn’t resist!”

“Wait. You bought Christmas ornaments?”

“Yeah. Why not?”

“But you’re Jewish.”

Curses! I have been found out! I know my small nose and fine blonde hair and newly minted Danish-Scottish last name would throw them off the path only momentarily!

Hi. My name is cobycaroline. I am a Jew, and I love Christmas.

I know I’m supposed to be pigeonholed into doing things other than celebrating Christmas: playing dreidel, eating matzah, eating Chinese food, making people feel guilty. I’m supposed to do all these things that are so distinctly different than sitting around a big (fake) tree, enjoying time with my friends and family, and opening presents.

That just isn’t for me.

I will admit that I was raised a little off-kilter. I was raised in a Jewish home. My dad was born and raised a Conservative Jew but attended an all-boys Catholic school. My mother was born and raised as a good Southern Catholic but converted to Judaism in the early 1980s. However, my extended family is Christian, and I was raised with the typical Christian holidays: Easter and Christmas.

We celebrated these holidays not as religiously significant. Rather, we celebrated them as an opportunity for family and friends to come together in love, laughter and joy. We would sit around the table, tell stories and joke around. On Easter, my younger brother and I would hunt for eggs in my godfather’s yard. Permitting the rules of Passover kashrut, we would gleefully bite the ears off of our chocolate bunnies.

For Christmas, I would go over to my godparents’ house and help them decorate the tree. I became a master at stringing garland. My tiny hands were deftly able to maneuver in and about the tree branches and hang each ornament with care. My godfather would lift me up and I would place the angel or star atop the tree.

When I was much younger, I attended a Jewish private school. After the winter vacation, I would tell my classmates what Santa left me or what I got for Christmas.

“But you’re Jewish,” they would scorn.

“Yeah. So?”

“Jews don’t believe in Santa, stupid.”

“Well, what’s wrong with Santa? He brings candy and toys!”

At this point, my classmates would roll their eyes and mock, “Then you’re not really Jewish.”

And they would walk away.

It’s really frustrating to get slammed both ways: I’m either a Jew and therefore not supposed to enjoy Christmas or I’m not a real Jew for enjoying the holiday.

The message, though, is clear: As a Jew, the Christmas season is off-limits and, under no circumstances, am I supposed to enjoy the holiday.

But, oh, how I do!

I love the scent of holly and fir and the rum in any and every drink. I love the jingle of sleigh bells. I love the cookie and ornament exchanges. I love the tacky Christmas sweater parties. Even my Pandora station is set to Christmas music right now, and we haven’t even gotten to Thanksgiving week!

(Un)Fortunately, my husband loves Christmas as much, if not more, than I do. As soon as Halloween was over, he was dragging me all over town to buy all the Christmas essentials. In the weeks since, I have watched my husband light up with joy as he purchased ornaments and garland and icicle lights. I have playfully mocked his look of concentration as he measured the banisters and cursed that he didn’t buy enough holly. I have cocked my eyebrow and put my hands on my hips as I told him no, we cannot put up a Christmas tree until after Thanksgiving.

In these moments of joy and togetherness, I don’t care that I celebrate a holiday I’m not supposed to. I’d like to think that, at the end of the day, if there is something on the other side, that something is going to be pleased that I shared my life and love with those who brought me joy. Not that I sat on the sidelines and pouted that all of the good restaurants were closed. Not that others told me how wrong I was for adorning my house in red and green rather than blue and white.

After all, Christmas comes but once a year.

This entry is forIt's a Trap!, the Week 3 Topic over at therealljidol.


Axiomatic Form

"Please, Vera, please. Just tell me."

My dear friend is strapped to a hospital bed. She closes her bloodshot eyes and rolls her wrists against the taped gauze. She takes a deep breath and sighs.


I lick my lips and look at her plaintively. "Look, I know it's hard, but..."

"Bullshit. You don't know," she says coldly. "You only think you know. But you have no freakin' clue."

My shoulders sink, and I bite my lower lip. Not one to give up, I try another tactic. "You're right. I don't. But... but I consider myself your friend, and it's killing me to see you like this."

Vera chuckles under her breath. She rolls her head toward me and opens her eyes. The tears brim at the edges of her lower lids, close to breaching their banks.

"It's funny you say that," she jokes, rolling her wrists against the restraints.

Several hours ago, I walked into Vera's home and saw her lying on the couch. An empty bottle of Advil PM was in her blood-covered hands, and the freshly punctured seal was still attached to the cotton. In my haste, I called 911 and, well, here we were.
Vera drags in a bedraggled breath, her throat clearly still sore from her stomach being pumped.

"It wasn't a cry for attention, you know."

I nod, but inside, I disagree. How could it not be?

"Look, I've just been... I've been so wrong for so long that... it just wasn't worth it anymore. I know you've never..."

She sighs.

"I'm not right in this body. I'm not wired to be a woman. I look at my breasts, and I curse that they're there. I look at my hips, and I hate that they're wide enough to bear children, something that I don't think I'm inclined to do. Ever. Period. No backs.

"You don't know what it's like to feel like your whole body is just one big lie. On Halloween, we all get to pretend to be something we're not: scary, sexy, ridiculous.

"But I can't take this costume off."

The tears fall down her cheeks.

"So I'm stuck like this. I'm stuck in this hellacious existence, something I can't break free of. Hell, I don't even have the gumption to try living like a man. Believe me, I tried, and I... well, I looked worse for wear then than I do now."

She closes her eyes as her chest heaves up and down. In this desperate moment, my friend is laying bare before me. I try to wrap my head around it, and I, well, I can't. I can't fathom the thought that her soul, her essence is not... well, it's certainly not "Vera."

I know the right thing to do is tell her that it’ll get better, but I know it won’t. I want to tell her that people love her regardless, but I know that’s a lie. Fragments of her soul have been passed around in this woman’s body and have been passed off as the real thing.

But the real thing just tried to drown itself with 30 sleeping pills covered in fresh blood. Her certain exterior does not belie her very certain interior.

And in this moment, I have no words. All I have is the hand that I reach out to squeeze her own.

This entry is for the topic Deconstruction over at therealljidol.


Double header.

Craig Slatterly has been on fire so far this season. He’s been an indomitable force from the second he stepped out of the bullpen.

Molly stared at her reflection in the mirror. She brushed her highlighted hair back and focused on the fresh new bloom around her eyes. She sighed and licked her lips, breathing the contempt in deeply.

She had an agreement with him, one that they had never broken in thirteen years. She kept up appearances so long as he made it possible.

He’s looking good on the mound today. Four straight innings of strike-outs. Folks, I think we’re witnessing a little bit of history today.

Over the years, she learned to handle him being on the road. She learned to handle is long, strange hours of training, charity, press releases. She learned what days she needed to sit behind the plate. She learned what she had to say to the ladies at church and how to pray correctly to hope for a big win.

She could write the book on being a professional athlete’s wife.

Slatterly has looked great since training. His new trainer, Davis Hammond, has clearly shown old Slats some new moves.

She even got on board when her husband came home and told her about Davis’s plan to use “special tactics.” She wasn’t stupid – she had read the Mitchell Report – and knew that they were clearly referring to Slats, her beloved and famous husband, using either anabolic steroids or HGH.

She kept up her role. She bought him ProActiv when the acne kicked in. She helped keep his hair trimmed short so the baldness wasn’t obvious. And, as always, when he got a little out of control, she made sure no one saw it, heard it, or knew about it.

She made sure no one knew his dirty little secrets.

Bottom of the seventh and Slats is still on the mound.

But how she struggled with the lies. As a God-fearing woman, she knew it was wrong to lie, but she couldn’t dishonor her husband. So she learned: how to lie to the children, how to lie to her mother, how to let everyone know she was fine when she gritted her teeth when someone hugged her too tight, pressing against her healing ribs.

The old dog looks like he’s got something to prove today.

She could even put up with the whores. He never brought them home so she never had to smell the stink of his infidelity. But it was when her MiMi saw Slats with that tramp. And her MiMi asked her about it quietly after church.

But now…

And now Enganos steps up to the plate. Another player who’s had a great start this season. His stats are looking pretty impeccable.

Molly broke protocol that evening. She mentioned the latest tramp to Slats, something that they agreed would never be spoken of in their house.

Strike one against Enganos.

Slats broke protocol that evening. They agreed the bruises would never show.

Strike two against Enganos. Slatterly is well on his way to his seventh no-hitter, tying him with Ryan’s record.

But now… Now she was waiting for Davis to come over. They had their weekly meeting to go over Slatterly’s “training schedule.” As Molly was the keeper of the timetables, timelines and schedules, they had all agreed early on that Molly would be in on it.

But today, Molly had a different plan, one she had all mapped out.

Slatterly’s eyeing the plate, making sure Enganos can’t hit the next one.

She would cut Davis a deal. Instead of smearing Davis’s name in the mud and dragging him through the press, she would offer him salvation. All he had to do was hold a press conference. He would look like the hero, who was forced to inject her husband. Davis was under duress and couldn’t say no.

Davis was going to help her ruin her husband.

And here’s the wind up…

The doorbell rang. Molly looked at her watch and knew it was Davis.

“And there’s the pitch,” she murmured.

This entry is for the topic Winding Up over at therealljidol.


Cold calling, or An Introduction

Among the things in this world that I find mildly distasteful – as opposed to wholly distasteful or just in bad taste or poor taste… and to a Southern Woman, there is a subtle difference – “work idioms” and “pop psychology” fall within this category. And yet it is terribly unfortunate that these things pop in and out of my life and fall out of my mouth with such regularity that I often am disappointed with myself.

Would you rather be right or be happy?

As someone who works in the legal profession, I constantly want to be both. I’m sure it was written in the stars that when I married my legal eagle husband a little over a year ago that we would have arguments of this nature constantly.

You know what we argued about last night? Whether to send our kids to the more prestigious school or the school that offered the most money.

We can’t even get our dog into obedience classes and we’re fussing at each other over financial aid and student debt for beings that aren’t even twinkles in our eyes.

For the record, I still think we should send the kid to the school that offers them the most money. And, yes, I still think I’m right.

Get with the program.

I dare to think of the programs I’m not a part of. I work full-time. I teach Sunday School. I’m on an adviser council to a Greek organization at a local university. I’ve been a charity terrorist for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. I’m about to be another for the MS150. I’ve signed up to help out with fundraising for an animal rescue group.

The only program I’m really not a part of is the “No, I can’t do that right now” program.

I hear it’s an exclusive club. If you get an invitation, would you pass it along to me?

You need closure.

This one is closely associated with “build a bridge and get over it.”

My father taught me long ago about the difference between “need” and “want.” He would tell me that I need food. I need air. I need clothes (lest I want to be arrested or the “need” arises).

What I really need is a good, strong margarita.

The bottom line.

LJ Idol is a competition that, in its own strange way, frightens me. By nature, I am a fairly private person. I don’t divulge too many stories about myself in my real life. I observe and tell stories that make people laugh. I gossip and chat away. I curl up on the couch and read. I watch trashy reality television and talk about the personalities like I was actually friends with them. But in this microcosm of the internet, I have to dig within myself and face these fears. I believe that to write is to bleed on the page. As one of my favorite authors wrote, "No matter how much you think you love somebody, you'll step back when the pool of their blood edges up too close."

Here’s hoping you stay close to the edge with me this season.


Ah, LJ Idol.

How I missed thee.

Ah, my Livejournal!

How I've... well... neglected thee.

Dear friends, Romans and countrymen, please consider this my official foray into the latest season of LJ Idol.


Good news, everyone!

And now, an email from my mother:

Gary just returned from his three month check-up with his oncologist, following his last chemo treatment.

And...Great News! Nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. Everything checked out...there is no sign of any recurrence or anything mildly worrisome. In fact, [his doctor] does not want to see him again til after Thanksgiving.

To be sure, Gary was thoroughly poked and prodded, with this wonderful news the only outcome.

We realize that our journey is just that...still a journey, but the signposts are painted in positive colors and the sunshine is a bit brighter today.

We didn't get here alone...your love, support and prayers are as strong a medicine as the chemotherapy and it sustained us through the past months and nourishes us for the days ahead.

LJ Idol - Week 28 - Home Game

She stood at the edge of the cliff, squinting her eyes into the orange of the sunset. When orange faded to purple, She sat down, crossing her legs underneath her. She closed her eyes and inhaled.

The sweet staleness of the sand, dirt and grime filled her nostrils and lungs. She let the fragrance of the sturdy brush roll past the back of her tongue, down her throat, into her lungs, coating, caressing, filling.

She heard the crunch of tiny sand particles underneath a pair of boots.

“It’s a gorgeous sunset, darlin’.”

She opened her eyes and looked straight ahead.

I know.

“Just like every night, eh?”

Isn’t that the way it works?

A chuckle. “Heh. Yup, I ‘speck you’re right.

“Listen, why are you out here?”

You know why.

“Oh, I know why you think you come out here. But why are you out here?”

Don’t make me say it.

“I’m not here to make you do one thing or another. I’m just here to enjoy –“

The sunset.

“The view.”

For a while, the only sound was the wind as it whipped about. It whined down the gorge, plumbing the depths. Finally, she inhaled.

I come out here for you.

“For me? Why me?”

So you’ll talk to me. So you’ll remember me. So… so I’ll remember you.

“Shucks, sweetheart. You ain’t got to worry about that.”

But I do! Sometimes, I can’t remember your face, your smell, your old beat up Chevy… it hurts so much, y’know?

A tear stains her cheek.

“Sweetheart, I have forever to remember you. I have forever to watch you, to look out for you. That’s what I’m supposed to do.”

But –

“No buts, darlin’. Look here. It’s the nature of us folks. We come, we go. We live, we move on. It’s about as certain as the grains of sand in an hourglass, the salt in the earth. Tiny and insignificant, but greatly important to the whole.”

But, Daddy…

The wind violently whipped up suddenly. Her hair flew back, and she opened her eyes. The sky was a dark, royal purple and the distant stars began to twinkle. She wiped the tear from her face and stood up. She brushed the dirt from her khakis and walked back to the road. She stopped at the small white cross before getting into her Jeep and touched it.

As she climbed in, she looked back over her shoulder. A small mound of white, salty sand slowly disintegrated in the wind, grain by grain floating in the distance.

Took me awhile to come back around, but I did!

Fellow Home Gamers: http://community.livejournal.com/therealljidol/347782.html
Current Contestants: http://community.livejournal.com/therealljidol/346095.html