Saturday, March 30, 2013

Once Upon a Time, I Was a Nursing Mother

It amazes me that, in three-and-a-half long years of nursing my daughter, there were exactly two photos taken. The first, minutes after she was born: I have the most comical pained expression, captured by my mother, as Ella latches on (powerfully, I might add) for the first of uncountable times.

The other photo is this.

She was so tiny and hungry. Sometimes she nursed all day and all night, in the early days.

I always intended to nurse past a year old, but I had no idea that I would still be nursing my baby years later, long past her babyhood, and well into the time of a walking talking school-attending little girl.

I nursed Ella day in and day out, night after night, through illness, bad days, blizzards, hot summers, in subways, on trains, in restaurants, at zoos, concerts, empty grad school classrooms. I nursed her to soothe hurts and hurt feelings, tantrums and nightmares, tummyaches and sore throats. I nursed her when I didn't feel like it, and I nursed her in the quiet early dawn when there was nothing I'd rather be doing.

I nursed her when she could only ask for the breast with little guttural whimpers and ostentatious sucking sounds, and I nursed her when she could walk right up to me in her little mary janes and say, "mama, would you mind please nursing me?"

In three and a half years, though it became less frequent, we never missed one single day of nursing.

I don't really miss it, the tight way I was bound to her. It wasn't easy. Sometimes, in my worst moments, I imagined Ella and I were like Chang and Eng, the famous conjoined twins, claustrophobic and entwined. Then sometimes I was afraid I would lose something irretrievable when I weaned her. And I thought surely I would be like a soldier with phantom limb twinges, that the ghost of my nursing baby would haunt me forever, the pull at my nipples felt at odd moments like a visceral flashback.

And yet, it was okay in the end, the weaning, that separation. I got my breasts back all to myself (with more than a sigh of relief), she learned other ways to soothe herself, and is an independent and self-confident girl.

I think it was the best and rightest thing I have done in my life.


Friday, March 29, 2013

Christ Topped from the Bottom

I'm a good Jewish woman, and, like most of my breed, have long harbored a secret crush on Christ.

He was hot, you know. If iconography through the ages is any indication. Physically hot, all that hiking around the desert: tan, lean. Spiritual yet manly. Well-spoken (though we don't really know that for sure, do we). Eternally 33 years old, like Edward Cullen but with more depth and less biting. Probably smelled of patchouli oil. Or myrrh. He was a god in the lowercase lay sense of the word.

So I finally had a chance to view Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" last night. I'd call the film a depraved perversion, but it would be like pointing out that my caramel gelato was delicious. So obvious that it should not need saying.

And yet...

So many people were thrown into a state of frenzied excitement by that movie. Which is fine, really it is, but if you were excited by it, please own up to your own base nature and recognize that the film was a piece of hardcore s/m b&d porn. Slow-motion homoerotic beatings, moans of agony/ecstasy, extremely good-looking women kneeling in pools of bodily fluid. I swear I saw Jesus giving the Marys (including his own mother) an erotic come-hither look through his mutilated eyelids.

The money shot was surely Mary, kissing Jesus' bloody feet, and coming away with smeared mouth, a weird half-smile on her face. Come ON. That obscene image alone is worth the price of admission. That is, if you are a complete Godless pervert.

So yeah. I could sit here and deconstruct all day, but in the end it boils down to this:

Gibson's Christ was a very hot sexual victim. He wore his gore well. He took it all, deep.

But in the end, he gave the smirk of the vindicated masochist and topped, in the biggest and most epic way possible, from the bottom.

p.s. I know I am YEARS late to this party, but what the hell.

Thursday, March 28, 2013


Intimacy, to me, is all about discovering imperfection and loving not despite, but because of.

The flawed being is the real one. The one I want to know. Real love never comes from bland smooth fearful risk-less sameness, but from the challenge of the individual; it is built on the true revelation of "all things counter, original, spare, strange."

(photo: my pigeon-toed feet; quote: Gerard Manly Hopkins)

post 5/365

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The Bachelorette

A week of alone time. I hardly know where to begin. Nap? Knit? Eat an entire container of caramel gelato? Watch terrible Lifetime movies? Slasher films? Write erotica? Read erotica? Gaze into the fire? Road trip? Write letters? Talk on the phone for hours? Sort buttons?

So far all I have really committed to is napping, and not doing the dishes.


Saturday, March 23, 2013


Facebook is stupid.

But it forces front and center the fascinating sociological phenomenon of the Profile Picture.

I look around the virtual Grand Central Station at all the little square avatars milling there, and I think about the (sometimes conscious, sometimes unconcious) questions people put to themselves as they stare into the virtual mirror every morning:

"How do I see myself today? how do I want to see myself and how do I want to be seen?

Do I want to be a minx, a mother, a grandmother, papa, party girl, dog lover, man of God, poet, cop, soldier, longshoreman?

Do I want to be what I really am now or do I want to be what I wish for or what I am missing?

Do I want to take the form of my own children? My cat? A cartoon? An ancestor?

Am I come-hither, a human invitation? Am I a little wild or am I sensible? Am I hail-fellow-well-met? Am I open? A mystery? Am I innocent, feigning worldliness? Or worldly hiding in innocence? Am I my own youth? Am I psychic pain, personified? Or am I funny and loveable? Do I wear a shroud, or do I wear a smile? And do I show my teeth, smirk, or remain enigmatic? Am I clear, blurry, windswept, in shadow or light-flooded?

Am I technicolor? Moody black & white?

I promise you this, though: I EXIST."


Thursday, March 21, 2013


My latest, arguably finest, trash score. No way to resist a book whose jacket blurb begins: "In a time when steak, vodka, and Benzedrine were the three main staples of a healthy diet..."

I think I might like to try that time on for awhile. Damn the prissy rigors of organic lowfat milk, kindly eggs, firm tofu, brussels sprouts, chickens raised so tenderly that you can almost taste their goodwill in every bite of stew.

Damn my bourgeois aspirations, the tyrannical rules of clean living and morality; a behavioral code that transforms the slightest wisp of transparent tobacco smoke, drifting on the breeze, into a twisted dark corruption.

Instead I will call people "baby" and flick my ash and eat my steak and wash down the Benzedrine with long pulls on the vodka.

(Post 2/365 for my personal bloggy challenge: a photo and a post every day for a year, following the lead, copycat that I am, of several blogger friends.)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


I have been cooking a lot. Poaching and sautéeing and crushing and searing and deglazing, chopping, roasting. Microplaning garlic and lemon zest. Toasting pine nuts. Folding light batter. Shaping little savory spheres.

The dishes pile up. They are washed. Put away. The counters wiped down. I begin again.

Cooking fills me up, I want to take care of people and this is a way to do it. Dinners served, leftovers packed into lunches.

But it makes me very melancholy too, when I think of all the women taking care of their people, before me and after I'm gone.

I try to remember, when I feel this way, what Grandma Eva wrote on the back of her card for Herring Canape. A single instruction stands out, a bold command:


Stop a moment, still the thoughts, the worries, the sense of pressing time, and just take a mouthful, right in the immediacy of Now. Taste.