Tales of a Bohemian Life Posts

Yiddish and The Art of the Schpiel

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After sixty-odd years of an adventurous life those who have spent time with me are quick to liken my communication style to a linguistic minefield: In fact my language has been influenced by the Yiddish language, and its art of the schpiel, which welcomed me into this world.images-2

As a child Yiddish, in all its splendor, was the common language amongst my world of grown-ups. My grandfather came to America to escape the pograms happening all over what we now know as the Ukraine but at that time was part of Russia: Catherine the Great had settled all the Jews of Russia into one vast landscape simply known as the Pale of Settlements, a place where Russian was not spoken: Yiddish was the mother tongue.

The second wave of Jewish immigrants arrriving to my neighborhood were survivors of the Holocaust. Although these people were mainly from Germany and middle Europe, Yiddish was their common language as well, so they fit right in.

Yiddish had no boundaries, rather it was (is) a universal language among the Jewish people. Speech inflections and body language give nuances to simple ideas imbuing a mere word with an entire experience of an idea. Even as Yiddish is less frequently spoken with each succeeding generation so rich are some words and phrases that they are now included in the Webster’s and Oxford Dictionary.

To wit, who has escaped using the word “oy” And what exactly does it mean?  “Oy” is a word that speaks an entire sentence or an encyclopedic reaction to a situation imbued with dismay.  Usually “oy’ is accompanied by the word “vey” as the eyes roll up to the heavens asking for help from the powers that be.

Or schlepp or schmooze? Words that immediately give a visceral sense of what is transpiring!

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And finally, “messuganah’, a word that might be translated as crazy but it can also be endearing. As a youngster I took delight in doing multiple cartwheels in family living rooms and over lawns, anywhere. My grandfather would shake his head even as a smile grew upon his face he would say, “Midgie, you are messugie!”

Whether my conversation revolves around ideas cerebral, political or personal, it is the use of Yiddish that defines my views.  For me Yiddish holds wisdom and truth. It  is warm and loving.  It is my soul music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Praise of Younger Men: Jean Moreau and Me

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In Praise of Younger Men

Jean Moreau and Me: In Praise of Younger Men

During fourteen years of serious serial dating, after my divorce, I rarely, if ever, dated men my age or older, rather I often indulged in relationships with men sometimes twenty years younger. My son survived this phase by telling me when one of my young men lasted a year I was welcome to introduce him to the family. Not one lasted a year. Still I had a penchant for younger men and struggled with, after the obvious, why this was so, until I read this 2003 NYT interview with Jean Moreau.

Although the newsprint is yellow with age the wisdom of Ms. Moreau remains with me, helps define me, and deserves to be shared .

Ms. Moreau begins, “I’ve always liked younger men. Men my age, except for a few, smell of the indoors. They’ve succeeded and made or lost a lot of money and they have relationships to women based on that. Their ideas are ready made, and there’s a relationship with power, Or else they are hypochondriacal and thinking of their own death. And if a woman is a little intelligent they flee from her as if she had the plague. There is nothing to learn, nothing to teach them, whereas I have the feeling of being a perpetual student.

I have more fun with 20 or 25 year old boys. We talk, we argue. They need something I can help with-a choice of school, or what job to get. “

Moreau stops and lights a cigarette, takes a long drag, and goes on, “Except for geniuses, geniuses or young men”.

By the way, I took her wisdom to heart: my life partner of 25 years is both younger than me, by six years, and a genius!

Him and Me

Him and Me

24. What Would Happen If One Woman Told the Truth about her Life

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Welsh-Dickey summit ~ Waterville Valley, NH

“What would happen if one woman told the truth about her life? The world would split open,” wrote Muriel Rukeyser. And I believed this to be true.

Who can say that any single event precipitated my oddesey? Certainly no Bolsheviks came thundering through town threatening to rob me of my life; certainly I was not a victim of the Holocaust, nor was my life anything but one of privilege.

I grew up believing in the virtue of love, and in the responsibility to family and community.

Born in another time my eating issues might well have been diagnosed as a form of hysteria.I would have been sedated, my spirit silenced by a sniff of opium, a spoon of laudunum, or a swallow of a few Milltowns. Born in another time I would have swallowed my rage with my mother. I would have buried my disappointment of being trapped in a dysfunctional marriage.

Luckily, I was born in a time of great social revolution, the Sixties, when the country came together fighting for social change. My husband funded my return to college to get a BS. There I joined the revolution fighting for social justice. I discovered myself among a cadre of women demanding the right to determine their own destiny,

I did not understand it was this seminal event that unleashed my rebel spirit and survival instinct. Little did I know this moment was the beginning of everything I would learn after I thought I knew it all.

I’ve come to the end of this, my second memoir. I am now busy living the third installment!   Look for new blog posts about my wanderlust adventures where I  offer tips on everything to do with traveling.  Also coming are posts of reviews of the arts and literature, and columns about how I see the world: In Praise of Younger Men, to name one!

“To write a memoir is, I think, to be seduced by the idea of persistence, of a single identity. What in me persists?Who am I always? What was my force?”……..Christopher Noel

23. Goodbye Italy~ Rough Landing Ahead

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coming home

coming home

Pompei, Naples, Capri, Rome and Florence completed our stay in Italy. Our romance almost reignited in Rome but it was only a one -night stand to say goodbye. We both knew it was over. London, our final destination was shared on a formal basis and when our plane touched down in Boston K fled on the first bus to NH while I retrieved my car at my Mother’s.

The first few weeks at home were filled with catching up with the kids and sharing my adventures with friends. After a few days reality struck: I had no job, no prospects, and without the distractions of travel the syndrome of bingeing and purging returned with a vengeance. No matter all the promises to myself, saying I will not binge today, as soon as the door closed behind the kids I was eating everything I could find, as if in a dream, that only became real when I ran to the supermarket to replace the food so the kids wouldn’t get suspicious.

I decided I needed an “eating anonymous” group and penned a short ad, then brought it to the New Hampshire Times classified desk in Concord. When I handed it to the woman in charge she read it asking if I had ever heard of Womankind.

No, who are they, I asked.

Womankind Counseling Center, Concord NH

Womankind Counseling Center, Concord NH

She replied they were a group of women therapists who worked with women exclusively and believed they might be what I was looking for. With directions in hand I walked to their office a few blocks away, found the sign for Womankind, and walked up to their second floor office. I opened the door to an empty reception room but seeing coats on hooks guessed the closed doors off the reception area signaled therapy in session. I took a seat and waited. I was not going back home without some kind of resolution, even if it meant only learning where to look next. Soon two women emerged from one of the rooms. One put on her coat and left. The other, a handsome petit blond woman I came to know as Carol greeted me and asked if she could help me?

I took a deep breath and blurted out, as if I were exhaling fire, the secret and fears locked inside me. I ended by asking, do you work with women with these issues? Will you work with me?”

Carol later told me she had been stunned by my intensity, my fear and my need. To her credit she never let on but simply suggested I attend a group that met in two days and see how it worked out for me.

By week four of group I was learning not even this woman’s group knew how to deal with an angry woman. And I was angry. I suspected binging was eating my anger and purging rid me of it, albeit group therapymomentarily. I knew I had to get a grip on my anger, psychologically and intellectually. I might not be able to control my food abuse but I was in control of pursuing every avenue towards overcoming my addiction. I asked Carol to take me on for one to one therapy promising I would maintain my relationship with the group. She agreed.

Six months later I was accepted into a Master’s program majoring in the psychology of women, immersing myself in the politics and psychology of being a woman, an essential component, along with therapy, to freeing myself from food abuse. No one, and not all the money in the world, could heal me. Only I had that power. And, I was going to reclaim it!

 

22. My Amalfi Interlude

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road amaAmalfi! Who knew the drive up the coast was an adventure in itself. Up, up , up on roads so narrow and curvy that any oncoming vehicle, often a truck or bus, required negotiations between drivers as to whom moved first, and where, and with only a barely tire height barrier barrier keeping us from a precipitous drop. I breathed a sigh of relief when our car turned into the gates of our hotel!

 

blue seaThe view from the hotel terrace, looking out over a sparkling azure blue sea, was spectacular. I gazed down at the hotels, villas and gardens sitting on staggered terraces spilling down the cliff where, across a thin strip of road, sat a dark sandy beach with images-1striped umbrellas, chaise lounges and people, most of whom were swimming in the sea.

Once settled in our room I opened my luggage, pulled out a bathing suit, and asked K if he wanted to join me for a swim. He answered he’d rather relax in the room and read and would catch me up later. I grabbed a towel and a book and followed the signs to the pool.

poolA short time after settling into a lounge I set my book aside and walked to the pool’s edge. I dove in and swam a far as I could underwater. When I broke the surface the first thing I saw was a pair of feet, khaki pants with a towel tied around the waistband., I barely had time to see these belonged to a tall curly haired bearded man when in a blink of an eye the khaki pants crumpled around his ankles, and he deftly stepped out of them and into a bathing suit, dropped his towel and dove into the water, all done as gracefully as a choreographed dance.

Well, that was quite a performance, I thought, as the gentleman surfaced not far from me. He caught me looking at him and swimming towards me said “Hello, gorgeous day isn’t it, and this water is great”, all in a brogue that together with his ice blue sparkly eyes gave away his Irish heritage.

After a few pleasantries he asked my name and the reason for my being here. I shared I was traveling, and had recently toured Southeast Asia. And you, I asked. His response was, “you guess!”

The first thing out of my mouth, because he was so charming and seemed intent in charming me, was, you’re a gigolo!

“No, No” he said, with a lovely laugh and mischievous grin.

Can you imagine my chagrin when he said, I am Father Sean O’Reagan on leave from my post in Nigeria, meeting up with my sister Marie and brother-in-law Padrig to relax a few days and then travel to Rome. Come, they are sitting just there, at the edge of the pool. Let me introduce you!images

And so I was invited to dinner. While I did ask K to join us, he declined thus
leaving me free to enjoy a delightful evening of wonderful stories, laughter, and wondering why, in one way or another, the best men are already spoken for!

 

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