Hold It All

Month: June, 2016


“I am totally immersed in my work
and cannot, cannot be disturbed.”

Anton von Webern
[Two days before Nazi troops stormed into Vienna]


An Incomplete Gathering of Maxims from M. Y. Golden

Dear Bella Levenshteyn

On Monday, I was talking on the phone with Natasha, and we reminisced about her teacher, M. Y. Golden, a therapist she had respectfully nicknamed the “Wizard,” because he was so skilled at accompanying people through their thousand and one maladies, stuck points, and self-sabotages.

I asked her to remind me of some of his maxims, and the following are the ones I scribbled down. They probably represent 1% of the ones Natasha has heard over the last thirty years, but I couldn’t probe her for more, because I had to end the phone call to make an emergency meeting with the increasingly distressed Flannery McNeal.


Perry Schimmel

“We’re not gonna make it.”

“It’s not what you do but what you do with what you do.” Read the rest of this entry »

The Daily Miracle of Memory

If any one faculty of our nature may be called more wonderful than the rest, I do think  it is memory.  There seems something more speakingly incomprehensible in the powers, the failures,  the inequalities of memory, than in any other of our intelligences.  The memory is sometimes so retentive, so serviceable, so obedient — at others, so bewildered and so weak — and at others again, so  tyrannic, so beyond control! — We are to be sure a miracle every way — but our powers of recollecting and of forgetting, do seem peculiarly past finding out.

–Fanny Price, in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park 

An American Satyagrahi

Brooke Adams sent me this message: Thought of you when I saw this cause you taught me what it meant.

MLK Satya


Mohandas Gandhi: “A satyagrahi bids good-bye to fear. She is therefore never afraid of trusting the opponent. Even if the opponent plays her false twenty times, the satyagrahi is ready to trust him the twenty-first time, for an implicit trust in human nature is the very essence of her creed.”


Henry invited Tanya and me to join him
And his new friend Laura Bronstein

For a mid-May commemorative event
At the very liberal Reform synagogue

Henry and Laura had met
At an anti-neo-liberalism conference in Boston

They had several mutual friends it turns out
Including in Guatemala

Henry said to me on the phone in his wry way
“Laura’s the opposite of me

Hold on to your seat
It’s going to be a bumpy ride” Read the rest of this entry »

A Jewish Vocation

This week I finished Marcel Reich-Ranicki‘s autobiography,  The Author of Himself.  He was a survivor of the Warsaw Ghetto and the foremost literary critic in post-war Germany.  As I read him, I thought of my friend Hedy Epstein, whose family, like Reich-Ranicki’s, was killed in the Holocaust.  She admitted that from 1945 to 1970, she hated all things German until she had a surprising insight. Read the rest of this entry »

Life under Occupation/95

With the passing of every day I feel angrier because I am restricted from walking, from going places in my car, from taking breaks away from the house, from going on with my life, going to my office, seeing my nephew and niece, going out for dinner or to see a film. My car battery has died from non-use.

–Palestinian phenomenologist of Israeli-enforced curfew, Raja Shehadeh, in his book, When the Birds Stopped Singing: Life in Ramallah under Siege

You Don’t Believe Me

You don’t believe me
And why should you anyway
I’m twice your age—
Don’t trust anyone over 55

You don’t believe me
When I tell you
What you penned outta your core
Ended smack in my core

I believe you totally
About the Chihuahua people
How much you love them
How they resurrect you Read the rest of this entry »