Today is Thursday and the day for a word swap experiment. The word to swap out: annoying (and it’s variants like: frustrating or grueling or poo- having kind of a crap week – no pun intended…oh my gosh).
The word to swap in: Fascinating.
I walk towards my work building this morning with a metaphorical gray cloud over my head. No one sees it. Especially since I aptly distract with my clean curls and the Summer’s Best sun dress I chose to wear. Even I’m hoping to trick myself into believing I’m not on my period, bloated and ballooning out rapidly, ready to laugh, cry or bite at the next person I encounter.
Fortunately I encounter a neutral-territory ‘co-worker’. Someone who works on the same floor as me. But our duties never overlap and we can comfortably talk about exclusively the weather.
She fills me in about a construction process. To be honest I was already waning. Focusing on the sharp pangs of gas and anxiety. She mentioned that this massive microscope they were building into their lab didn’t fit as planned and they had to send this beast back to a specific guy in Germany. Alas! My imagination humored! Any time it revs up a bit at the otherwise mundane hour of 9am on a poopy Thursday…I’m stoked!
I want to know more about this guy in Germany who fixes Massive Microscopes. I bet he sleeps odd hours and eats sausage sandwiches by the water on his days off. Who knows! I’m just grateful I care to imagine!
I exclaim, in full honesty: How fascinating!
My building friend responds quickly, in full honesty: Everything is fascinating!
I decide, screw it! Let’s forget having a trash-day and shine some ju-ju on the instances of annoyance and call them ‘fascinating’. It’s all about mind tricks, people. It sounds like magic. Because it is! Word magic!
It helps when someone calls with a complaint. A totally different feeling situation when I think to myself: Fascinating! This conversation over the phone between two well-meaning people. If we both keep our tones even (which it sounds like we both are hoping to do) then the problem gets resolved and no hard feelings stick around post-call. Civility!
Someday I will write about what it means to ‘hold space’ for someone. Someone you love. Someone you don’t quite understand. Someone you know only as a “stranger”. Someone you do not know but love. Someone you do not know and hate.
Today, however, all I want to do with this space is Remember.
Remember Lori Kaye, z”l. She put herself
Who stepped in front of her Rabbi, Rabbi Goldstein, when a lost gunman took his shot. I don’t know Lori. From the words I’ve gathered, she was the light and energy of her Shul. Known for committing mitzvahs (good deeds) and giving tzedaka (charity). Deeds that came natural to her. She was known as a Eshet Chayil, a Woman of Valor.
I remember Lori Kaye as a Woman of Valor.
Today this space is for 8 year old Noya Dahan and her uncle Along Peretz. A gunman injured them during his attack on the Chabad of Poway.
Today this space is for all of the Chabad of Poway congregents. Those who suffered by being present and those who suffer in the wake of this tragedy.
I grew up in the Temple Adat Shalom Synagogue just down the street. I experienced the invaluable gift that is belonging. Belonging to a community. Belonging to a place of worship. Belonging to yourself.
Today this space is for all of the Jewish communities. Hold each other close.
Tragedy, it’s maddening darkness, breaks open. It takes time. It takes grief. But it does break. And the light of those we lost pours out. Powerful and warm and there for you. For us. To help us find a way to hold space for hate and fear (in a way that won’t define or dissolve you).
Today I light a candle for remembrance and burn incense for breath.
Happy Galentine’s day to all you magical women! Female friendship is certainly something to celebrate! And women in general are pretty freaking awesome (and complex and sometimes frustrating).
You, badass woman with a golden heart and strong mind- keep being your unique self. Embrace the title “woman” however you want. There is no one way or wrong way.
Go forth and love! Show this love to yourself. Kiss a lady-friend right on her face! And because love never truly runs out…share some with a fella. Because there are some bad-ass guys out there standing behind their goddesses.
It’s a pretty average Thursday at work. I respond to common-place emails and try to sit still. And then I’m completely still. A moment between parking reservations and room confirmations…a moment of grief and longing and nostalgia and wonder and love and light found me. Pushed me properly into my swivel chair. My fingers no longer typing. Instead they relax open as I rest the back of each hand on my legs. A tide of the unknown in the category of feelings heading my way. Yet I sit so still.
Oh! Oh…it’s a sensation completely unique in it’s complexity. I’m talking about that sensation of missing someone whose no longer alive. A bruise-to-the-touch feeling. Starts and stays at the heart.
I felt the strongest need to see my Grandma Mac. I miss you. That’s all I wanted to say. I wanted her validation specifically.
“Grandma, it’s weird…it’s beautifully strange. I miss you in a different way in this moment. The intensity a slightly different frequency and I don’t quite know what that means. But I miss you as a woman you’ve never met. And that’s not the weird part…the beautifully strange part is that I know (a knowing from the root of the root) that you already knew me as a woman before I grew into her. And you were never worried. Even when I got lost and lost and lost again in my 20’s.”
And then just at the top, just before the creschendo of it feeling painfully unbearable, like a small cut on the lungs…I felt peace. Light.
I think about her often; however, it had been a while since I missed her so intensily. Unquenchably. Opening. I let myself miss her and I didn’t break onto the floor. I let myself really miss her knowing the absolute impermanence of this silly thing called life. I let myself miss her without knowing what to do with it. I carried my grief with compassion. Maybe for the first time.
This otherwise average Thursday continues. The end of the day finds me at home and a bit cranky and still in the ‘on’ mode that work demands. I attempt an impromptu exercise known as mindful vacuuming. Which abruptly ends when I jam the vacuum into the corner of a box peeking out from under the bed. That’s it. I turn off the vacuum a bit dramatically. I use my heel and yank this troublesome box completely out.
It’s one of the many boxes filled with a mish-mash of memories from unmarked decades. Which is why I paused when I saw the open Strathmore sketchbook on top. I collected them and filled their pages specifically in my college years. The time of life when feelings needed space outside of the lines..
The book is open to a page covered by very deliberate handwriting. Extra small and extra neat. A sign that I was pulling these words from a delicate place.
The first line read: “SometimesI have to remind myself that it’s ok to miss someone.”
The vibrant red of my crankiness diffuses. Despite the bed and the chair I sit on the floor. This entry is from May 2011 and a year after the aforementioned Grandma passed away.
Again I feel the energy of unique to nostalgia and longing and grief. I let myself miss her again.
I read over each word knowing they were once coaxed out by a 21 year old version of me. She’s still a girl who doesn’t know exactly how to carry loss. She’s asking for validation in a journal hoping some other part of her will know the right words.
Grief, for me at 21 and still at 29 is a very private act. Not out of shame or denial. It’s because I want to be alone with the one I miss. I want to know where I feel their absence. I need to touch that place. So that I can remember them wholly. With tears and laughter. With anger and fear. With grappling acceptance.
Even still, at the center of grief waits a loneliness so pure it can feel frightening. Like your bones may break the same minute you forget how to breath.
But in this moment, on the floor I feel something weird…something beautifully strange. The girl at the door of her 20’s and the woman curiously toying with her 30’s…reach for each other.
Eight years ago I held grief in two hands and tried to accept it. Wanting, ultimately, the same thing I wanted this morning. Validation. For someone to touch that still-raw place and say, “Miss her, baby. Miss her until you know how to get off this floor.”
And I felt more than heard those words. From the place just beside my heart. Where I carry my Grandma and the light she gave me.
Below is the excerpt (no edits made). Sharing her memory with the world through my writing…that’s how I get to meet her as a woman.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that it’s ok to miss someone. Even when the act of ‘feeling’ can’t change anything. Can’t bring them back.
My grandma’s house smelled like freshly brewed coffee in the mornings and spaghetti at night.
Only on Friday’s were we allowed a diet soda and popcorn.
She had a candy tray of Hershey kisses. A chocolate in exchange for a real kiss.
Her refridgerator was covered in magnets. Family and friends never returned from their travels without a new one for her.
On Thursday nights, Sarah and I would watch survivor on her couch. She’d call each family member during the commercials to ask who they believed would be voted off. After the show, she’d watch us walk three houses down.
My grandmas was my neighbor.
She pronounced wash ‘warsh’ and always used those corn on the cob holders.
Her house was covered in butterflies.
She sent us to the ‘time-out’ chair, made us take naps, assigned us chores…she taught us to be respectable adults.
Sarah and I used to sneak her hair spray. I’ve never come across another bottle of that brand.
Her vices were hostess cupcakes and Pay Day candy bars. Both kept in the freezer.
She never seemed tired. Even after raising ten grandchildren.
She never seemed scared. Even after fighting seven years of cancer.
She always took home napkins and condiment packets from restaurants. She always held onto food a bit past its expiration date. Ok…years past its expiration date.
She’d send Papa after us when we called from the nurses office at school.
She loved Hamburger Factory and the slots and her Chargers.
She taught me how to tie my shoes, how to roller blade and even how to walk on stilts.
She never missed a place, a dance recital, a baseball game, a soccer game, a basketball game, a band concert or a birthday.
Sometimes I have to remind myself that being afraid that I’ll forget is valid but impossible when you love someone that much.
Thank you for reading and listening as I unpacked this ‘average’ Thursday.
a braless goddess under the moon! I am
a tornado-inspired dancer,
greeting the ocean, nude I am
a solo train-traveller,
collecting dusk in summer I am
an alleyway in Dubrovnik.
a synagogue in Tzfat. I am
-in my favorite front pocket
Mihaela Lina, December 2018
Inspiration Backstory & One Sweet FYI
A new poem inspired by a freewrite I did earlier this year. The mission of the writing assignment was to repeat ‘I am’ and fill the page with all that I embody. All that I love. All that I seek. And I double-downed on the assignment by challenging myself to write from the yellow-y core (solar plexus). Believing that what comes from there is real and honest.
FYI: I’ll be using my hebrew name (Mihaela Lina) moving forward as my pen name for my misc. writing!