Acceptance for the holidays

Acceptance for the holidays

I’ve just intentionally triggered the “not-being-prepared” collective nightmare within a group of adults. I feel their discomfort and defensiveness upon hearing my words: Let’s review our homework from last time. They didn’t have homework. How could they? Many I’ve...

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Voltaire’s band

Voltaire’s band


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Provincial, NYC.

Provincial, NYC.

It’s cold. Erev Thanksgiving. West 77th Street, between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, is closed off the night before tomorrow’s big parade. I’m 14 and running in the street with Robert, Dan, Michael, Richard, and John. We are tossing someone’s balled-up...

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Coming of Age

Coming of Age

  My boy, my first born, turns thirteen on Monday. We will have a coming of age ceremony for him this weekend.   He will have a coming of age ceremony like the I had one when I turned thirteen. And like my father and my grandfather had. But unlike.   My...

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Crying with love:
the third time I finally cried

The first time

I had been having a very rough time and was telling the checkout woman at Trader Joe’s about it. I found myself filled with emotions. She had asked me, as checkers do, how I was doing.

I asked, “Do you want the truth?” 

Meo looked me in the eye as she was scanning the frozen meat balls and said lovingly, “I scan food all day…I’ll take some truth.” I confessed to her, a stranger to me at this point, about Jane’s virus and how the family system had been shattered, how I was a mess, how I didn’t know how much longer I could take it, how it felt like a nightmare, but I was getting through it.

Unbeknownst to me while I was sharing, Meo had caught the eye of a co-worker who brought over a bouquet of flowers. She handed them to me and she said “These are from all of us at Trader Joe’s with hopes that your life gets a little easier.” I almost burst out crying at that moment. Instead I just squeaked out in a small voice, “I have to go right now.” And I left.

While putting the groceries into the trailer behind my bike, I wondered, why didn’t I just cry? It would have been so beautiful. I pondered the societal pressure that people, especially men, shouldn’t cry in public.

The second time

About two weeks later, I was sitting on an airplane in a middle seat, between two women and watching the movie Hidden Figures on a small screen in front of me.  It’s a beautiful movie. I was so touched that I felt myself about to weep, but I couldn’t. I couldn’t let myself do it.

Again, I thought, this is strange. I wanted to cry but didn’t.

The third time

Two weeks after that, a Sunday on which we didn’t have plans, Emmett asked me in the morning to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2, and I agreed to take him. To be honest, I didn’t really want to go see it. But, when I told him I would take him to the 9:35 show, he lit up. He was so excited and asked, “Can I invite Ben?” “Of course you can invite Ben.” “Oh, Sam wants to see it, too.”

The four of us drove to The Clackamas Town Center. They were being boys. I wasn’t involved in their conversation. I was driving and realized that my son is growing up. He is finishing fourth grade, and I am now the driver. He doesn’t really need me to see the movie. He needs me to drive him. I’m the driver.

I asked the kid selling tickets if it was ok for me to not go in and instead sit in the lobby. The three kids ran in.

I sat there in the lobby of the theater. I started not to cry, but to weep.

I am not needed. My son is getting older. Life is happening so fast.

I wept and wept honestly.

I don’t know what it looked like to anyone passing by. Maybe they thought I got really bad news. Maybe they thought something else. I don’t know. I don’t know if anyone even really paid attention to me, 47 years old, weeping in the lobby.

I wondered, as I sat there, if there was a time when my own father sat outside of something weeping for the same reason: realizing that his son was growing up. Of course, if that had happened at the time, I would never have noticed because I was a boy and I had just run ahead.

Being human

We are human beings. We are filled with emotion. It is our birthright; it is part of who we are to have a full experience of this life and to cry in public when we need.

With love,


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40 curiosity-satisfying, soul-nuturing messages (with a little spunk) from Rabbi Brian. Raw, honest, vulnerable reflections on faith/religion/spirituality. Without being dogmatic, pompous, or woo-woo. Or overly Jewy-McJewish.

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