In the eternal struggle, at the age of 27, to know who I am, who I was, how I got here, and -- I hope -- where I'm going, I've been digging through an old LiveJournal, old poems, things that smatter my hard drive from years gone by, things I'd probably attempted to forget for one reason or another.
This is something I wrote on April 25, 2006, as part of a final paper for my Jewish-American Fictions course, which was one of my favorite courses of my undergraduate career. It was, also, the last class I attended as an undergraduate student at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I wanted to create some poetry for the class, even though the course was on fiction, prose, not poetry. I am also trying to track down a sort of heart-wrenching poem I have about the Shoah and being a convert.
So, until then, here you are: A little piece of me, right around the time of my conversion to Judaism under Reform auspices.
In response to my final paper (which is much longer than these two excerpts), my professor gave me one of the greatest compliments I've probably ever received from someone, and this was just as I was converting the first time around! He said, "Jewishness, Jewish culture, is a matter of putting pen to paper – you’ve got that down, too. You have what my mother would have called a Yiddishe kupf – a Jewish head. You see the subtleties, the nuances in things. You see the humor that’s enveloped in tragedy, and the tears hidden inside the laughter." Here's one Jew who knew.
A sampling of some of the amazing things we read that semester, which I definitely need to revisit are:
- "Lady of the Lake" by Bernard Malamud
- Maus I and Maus II by Art Spiegelman
- Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
- Goodbye, Columbus by Philip Roth
- The Outside World by Tova Mirvis
- "Electricity" by ... I can't remember. This bums me out greatly.
- "When You're Excused, You're Excused" by Bruce Jay Friedman
- The Inn at Lake Devine by Elinor Lipman
- The Shawl by Cynthia Ozick