I got back yesterday from a week in New York with my immediate and extended family for Thanksgiving, and I've almost recovered. All conversation is always being conducted at a yell in my family--think George Costanza's parents:
The main casualty of this was my voice (and a little bit of my sanity). I'm mainly thankful that I'm not still stuck on the Cross Bronx Expressway or the GW Bridge writing this blog post.
It's a 10 full hours of driving from Exit 33 on the Long Island Expressway, where I grew up and my parents still live, to Exit 118 on I-81 South in Virginia, where I moved in 2007 so that I could take a job teaching poetry in the MFA program at Virginia Tech. The car, this trip, was loaded down with flagels (I import them over state lines--the flagel is the flat one on the bottom in the picture), approximately two tons of thanksgiving leftovers, and Hankukkah presents for my three year-old son from every relative we have.
Hanukkah starts super-early this year (thanks lunar Jewish calendar!)--on Wednesday--which means I'm less-than-prepared for eight nights of gifting, and a grueling three-hour knuckle-grating latke-making marathon. I figured I'd take this opportunity to spend some time this week ruminating on poetry and religion (in addition to any tangents on the major beige Jewish food groups).
Things I'm hoping to tackle this week that will somehow tie into this theme include:
- Zeek's Jewish Poetry Manifesto that went up a few weeks ago: "No more kiddush wine poems, no more challah, no more herring! Enough with the Jewish grandmothers blessing shabbes candles, and no more poetic trips to Auschwitz, please..." And Zackary Sholem Berger's response over at The Forward,
- the hard work of dying that my last living grandparent--my Oma--is currently doing in hospice care on Long Island,
- my interfaith family,
- big box shopping for the holidays in Appalachia
- my son's new Noah's Ark menorah,
- and the three Iraq war vets I saw in hunting gear at the Sunoco off of Exit 7, on I-78 in New Jersey.