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Status Check

3:18 PM

I stated taking comedy improv at the People’s Imvrov Theater about six years ago.  Then Zuki was born, and I stopped.  The fire came back and I took a few more classes.  Now I am at the Magnet Theater, Improv Level two class and I feel hooked again.

Improv has become a form of therapy to me.  I forget to laugh sometimes for days, or maybe months.  I am not counting a giggle-sigh at a joke.  I wanted full body laughter, so I re-inserted three hours of mandatory laughs to my weekly schedule.  I was scared of therapy, when I started thirteen years ago.  Now I run to it.  I was also scared of improv, now I am starting to understand it.

Last week we did an exercise on status.  Two characters silently come on stage.  One has to take low or high status position, and whatever she takes, the other player has to take the opposite.  One has her shoulders back.  So the other one, slouches low to the ground.  It is instantly assumed by this language we speak, which one is which higher status and which one is of lower.  But status is tricky.  The one with shoulders back is reading the paper, NYT, probably.  She has her nose up in the air.  The other one is washing a window at a bus stop.  But she keeps getting too close to the other player, making her move about the stage.   The status has turned.  It is the slouching player who has regained status.  Our status is the ability to stay unaffected.  If I don’t care what you are doing to me, I have higher status.  If you are affecting me and making me crazy, you have higher status.

There is one guy in Park Slope who catches me off guard, each time.  I don’t know him well, but I have to say hello because we have mutual friends.  Our hellos have become a small chit chat about life and kids.  I force a few questions out of myself to make small talk, and he does the same.  After each time, I feel my lower status.  Each time, I have to shake it off to regain my balance.

I saw him walking down the street toward me today.  It was unavoidable, I saw him and he saw me.  He had his usual, self-assured stride.  I was sitting on a bench with my iPhone in hand.  In my Food Cooperitive vest, to add to the situation.  I was the working class of Park Slope in my outfit and he was merely shopping.  How higher class of him.  In fact, I have never caught him doing a shift at the Coop.

I will be unaffected by him, I thought to myself.  He asked questions and I sat calmly in the same position, undisturbed by him.

“Blah Blah Blah.  Ps 321.  Blah Blah Blah.”

“Have a good day.”

“You too.”

I looked at him while he was talking, into his eyes, into his soul and asked, what is your deal?  I saw fear in his eyes at one point, and I was surprised.  At another point, I understood him and he understood me, just a little.  For an instant, we liked each other.

It had nothing to do with status.  I had nothing in common with him and the effort to meet him each other, made me aggravated.

Maybe after learning this lesson, I won’t run into him again.



Car Ride


Few weeks ago, Isaiah and I were driving to my sister’s house in Pennsylvania.  It has become our car tradition to listen to music.


“Make it louder, Mama,” he says from the backseat until the music is blasting in the car.

“Who sings this?  Who else is in the band?”  he asks about each song.

“Isaiah, this is John Lennon, after the Beatles,” I told him on that ride, when we were listening to Look at me, one of my favorite John Lennon songs.  

“Is John Lennon still alive?”  It has become a curiosity to him, since he found out that a lot of music that we listen to are by dead musicians.  It has been one of the first questions Isaiah asks these days when finding a new singer he likes.   

“Well, no.”  I said.  “John Lennon died about thirty years ago, but his son, Shawn Lennon is alive.”  I added, hoping to change the subject.

“How did he die?”  Isaiah kept on.

Shit, I thought.  I can’t lie, but how do I tell a four-year-old the tragedy that was John Lennon’s death.  How do you explain to a child the horrors of our life.  How can it make sense to him that a musician can be shot by a crazy fan or perhaps be set up to be assassinated.

“Well, Zuki.  It’s not a nice story, probably not good for kids to hear.  He was killed by someone.  It was very sad.  After his death, all the people who loved him around the world gathered together to mourn his death.  They were very sad and cried.”  And just telling the story, made tears come to my eyes.  I can’t talk about the death of John Lennon without crying.  How unfortunate for the world that he was not around longer.  

Isaiah pressed on.  Asking me specifics of how he was killed.  It must have disturbed him too.  Jealous Guy came on and I sang it loudly with the recording, as I do every time it comes on.

I was dreaming of the past

And my heart was beating fast

I began to loose control

I began to loose control

I didn’t mean to hurt you

I am sorry that I made you cry

I didn’t mean to hurt you

I am just a jealous guy


Isaiah just stared at me from the back seat with big eyes, listening to the music of my soul. 


Leap and a net will appear.  What a silly saying.  It’s something you tell someone when you are trying to kill them. All good things must come to an end All good things come to he who waits So first … Continue reading

Hello Sorrow

Today I cried a lot.  I didn’t know where it came from, at first.  It was sudden thunderstorms.  The forecast said, not a cloud in the sky but suddenly the rain came down.  It hit the ground loudly at first.  It startled me.  When the ground was wet, it continued to pour and pour making drum beats on the pavement.  It was unpleasant and cold.  I felt alone and ashamed of my loneliness, drowning in the water of my sorrows.  Sorrows, that were nicely buried when the climate was dry.  But the rain moved through the dirt and the sand, and the sorrows shook off their old faces and climbed out to face me.  I had no choice but to say hello.


I dreamed last night that I was on a long journey. The details were blurry but in the morning, when I was waking up, I was only left with one vivid image. I was sitting in a futuristic vehicle that resembled a bus. Inside there were tables and I was sitting at one of them with women who I only knew in the dream. The bus was very spacious inside and it was gliding on water. It was not submersed, only gliding on the surface and as it glides it is creating beautiful swirls of currents on the surface. I was just staring at the water and I felt peaceful, more peaceful then I have felt in a while.
There was a singing fish that my parents have at the house. It sang, “Take me to the river, drop me in the water.” Isaiah pressed the button over and over and cracked up. I didn’t stop him, because I was enjoying it more than he was.
I’ve been feeling like that singing fish. Inside there is a mechanism that keeps pressing a button and my brain is coming up with one thought, over and over: “Take me to the river, drop me in the water.”
The religious Jewish women go to the Mikveh after having their period. For many reasons. One seemed strange to me. When a woman has her menstrual cycle it is considered a that there was a potential for life and then there was death. Within a woman (and probably men), the cycle of life and death is playing itself out each moon. The Mikveh is a ritual cleansing. One of the requirements is that it has to have water flowing in from a natural source.
I have never been to the Mikveh, but after last week I understand what they mean. I may have carried it around inside of me for weeks, without knowing that I was conversing with death.

Take me to the river, drop me in the water and wash me down.