October 5, 2006
Yesterday I gave my presentation "Love and War: Jewish Women Struggle to Hold Onto Each Other" as part of the Davies Lecture series at USF, "Camouflage and Representation:Jewish Women in the Arts." (What is it with these colons and semi-colons in every title? It seems academia can't get along without them; personal reflections of a blogger.)
It was great! I asked Storm and Marisa Eggerstrom from New College, and Dietlind Van der Sklaaf, to come play the other roles in the family for the Passover scene from my play Saying Kaddish With My Sister. I played the mother.
We had a blast doing a staged reading of that scene. Surprisingly powerful for me to "act" the part of the mother. In saying her lines I got a visceral hit of what it felt like to have that kind of desperate false chatter come out of one's own mouth. I got it in my gut how scared and cut off she felt, not ever being able to say what was happening inside her.
And Storm and Marisa and Dietlind were all wonderful and jumped right in to their parts--we had a great dysfunctional family dynamic going in no time! Afterwards, the USF students asked all kinds of questions and seemed really engaged. We did a writing exercise about family rituals, what does (did) your family celebrate or worship? (Could be religious holidays such as Christmas, but also football games, or Labor Day beach picnics, or the worship of food, or money, or suffering, or TV, or music...surprisingly, some of the students said their parents worshipped Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles. Made me realize their parents must be my age...)
I asked them to include where and how the rites take place, what kinds of foods, traditional conversations or arguments, clothing, settings, etc. Good things came out in their writing.
In all: exhilarating, exhausting. In the Q & A after the reading, I had never before been asked so many questions about how my ethnicity shapes my work. It was interesting to think about. Certainly not all of my work is identifiably Jewish--in fact, most of it isn't. But for better or for worse, I do seem to be engaged in describing a certain California type of spirituality, a blend of Judaism, pagan rituals, deep intimacy, Buddhism, art and music and Interplay that kind of keeps my world together.
And just as I was decrying the over-busyness of my life in this blog, a friend invited me to a one-day meditation check-in later this month. Ask and you shall receive.
Last evening: rain. It made a clatter on the roof. I woke at four to the sounds of it and couldn't get back to sleep. Mind buzzing with the stimulation of teaching, thoughts and questions and words, word, words from the day, and from this intense month. Definitely keeping this blog is heightening things, or speeding me up or something. First time in a long time I've had insomnia. When I managed to fall back asleep, around 6 or so, I dreamed I got several speeding tickets. In France.
I guess I need to slow the mental traffic down. And NO MORE COFFEE! Switch to green tea. And just because chocolate is 99% cacao doesn't mean you can eat tons of it right before bed. Clearly the French cops are onto something.