Saturday, January 26, 2013

"The Path"

This past summer after a particularly wonderful visit with my grandson, I was prompted to write "The Path." I submitted to TOSKA. The editors wrote back. Read "The Path" in the current issue, Winter, 2013.

And just what does Toska mean?

Taken from their website.

toska - noun /ˈtō-skə/ – Russian
No single word in English renders all the shades of toska. At its deepest and most painful, it is a sensation of great spiritual anguish, often without any specific cause. At less morbid levels it is a dull ache of the soul, a longing with nothing to long for, a sick pining, a vague restlessness, mental throes, yearning. In particular cases it may be the desire for somebody or something specific, nostalgia, love-sickness. At the lowest level it grades into ennui, boredom.
-Vladimir Nabokov

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Redux: A Literary Journal: #65: "Midrash" by Sandell Morse

Redux: A Literary Journal: #65: "Midrash" by Sandell Morse

This story was previously published in the New England Review( 1997).              

Bessie Feldman parks her car in front of Hebrew ...

Friday, January 11, 2013


“Every encounter with forgiveness requires defeating the ego over and over again.”

Two nights ago at dinner, my granddaughter bore down on me in anger. I don’t remember her words, but I see her face, eyes cold, lips pursed and spitting words. Shouting as if I were her thirteen year old adversary instead of her seventy-three year old grandmother, she was relentless. Mean. Melting inside, I sat tall, found what I hoped was a soft but firm voice and said, “N., go to your room.” She pushed back her chair, rose silently, and walked from the dining room. A day passed without our speaking or  seeing one another, although we lived in the same house. This morning before leaving for an early morning yoga class, I offered a ride to the bus stop. She accepted. 
           Driving, I asked about yesterday’s cross-country ski meet, her dance lesson, each question a slick of ice covering the deep pool of our discontent. This was not the time to address her disrespect, her tone of voice. This was a time for both of us to take a breath and to reflect, consciously or not. My grand daughter talked openly and energetically about the meet—she fell down three times, but that didn’t matter. She had fun. In her dance class, she was learning a routine. “You start down on the floor,” she said, then reciting each move, she explained how each dancer rose to her feet.
            At the bus stop, I shifted the car into park. We sat in silence, but not uncomfortably.  “I’m sorry, Grammy,” my grand daughter  said, her voice soft and contrite.
            I don’t remember what else she said. Perhaps, I didn’t need to hear more. Turning to face her, my voice grew thick. “We love each other very much, don’t we?” 
            She nodded.
            Because I’m preparing for my Bat Mitzvah, I’m thinking deeply about moments like this one. What are the values I want to pass on? Atonement? Yes. Forgiveness? Yes. But how do you forgive when your ego won’t let go, insisting instead of holding onto hurt? Anger’s doppelganger is fear. Afraid to reveal vulnerability, we hide inside of anger’s hard shell. We need to stick out necks, but hiding feels safer. It’s not. Anger leaves a path strewn with destruction. Stepping out of anger and ego, we step into a place of humility and of harmony. Love springs forth as it did for Nina and me. So what do I want our family to value now and after I’m gone? That extra breath where the ego gives way and we draw forgiveness into our lungs. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

I Did It List

I’m a writer who beats herself up. Most of us do. So I want to thank Erika Dreifus ( for her adaptation of Lisa Romeo’s post, Looking Back, Looking Ahead, No Regrets please ( These past few months, the rejections have come in, plunging me down into that place where writers go when they're despondent. It's rather dark in there. So I'm climbing out to write my "I DId It List" for 2012 as Lisa suggests. 
After a trip to France in 2011, I completed four essays on material I gathered there, researching and interviewing, beginning a series of essays related to Jews in France during the Second World War, one about Germaine Poliakov is published in ASCENT  (
Returning to France this past fall, I interviewed Germaine Poliakov for a second time. Germaine is ninety-four, vibrant and sharp. I drafted an essay about her life in Paris after the Second World War. Then, traveling and conducting three more interviews, I drafted three more essays.
An essay, “The Groves,” won second prize in the Press 53 Open Awards Contest, and is published in the Press 53 Anthology, 2012. That same essay is upcoming in CALYX.
An essay was named a finalist in the Maine Literary Awards, short nonfiction category for 2012.
I was awarded a fellowship at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (
I met two wonderful writers, West Moss ( and David Ebenbach ( .
I strengthened my friendship with writer, Kristen Cosby (

I have taken Steve Almond’s ( seminar “How to Create an Irresistible Narrator” at Grub Street in Boston.
With the help of one of my sons and daughters in law, I have updated my blog to include links and I have committed to publishing more often.
I continue to work with my wonderful writing group, driving to Brookline ten times each semester to sit at the table with nine wonderful women.
Probably, after I publish this blog, I will think of more that I could have added to this list, but this is enough to keep me looking ahead without regrets, as Lisa Romeo suggests. I'm so happy to have discovered her website. 
Not a bad idea to make a similar list for other aspects of my life.
A happy and healthy New Year to all.