Free Leaf

"Don't gain the world and lose your soul, wisdom is better than silver or gold..."

Location: Falls Church, Virginia, United States

I have a lot more questions than answers, but I just keep asking. I constantly want to leave, but somehow manage to stay. I am both perfectly happy and completely miserable because of it. I think I am misunderstood but that could just be a huge misunderstanding, either way I guess the best way to put it is, "I ain't often right, but I've never been wrong."


Why don’t people look each other in the eye anymore?

I doubt that this is very new but it has been bothering me lately. I don’t know what it is exactly; maybe I am the strange one for walking around with my head up, eyes forward, greeting passersby with a smile and an occasionally friendly nod. More and more people react to me by diverting their eyes, preferring to look left, right, up or down than interact with the stranger across from them. When this happens on a street I can let it go but lately it has been happening frequently at my job and at the gym, two places I would expect better decorum.

When I am at the gym I am pretty focused and intense, so conversation is out of the question but I can still offer a friendly smile to the person (especially pretty girls) next to me. The extent of my conversation at the gym usually involves whether or not someone is using something, that’s fine, I have my Ipod on and really don’t need to talk, however, I still like to acknowledge the people that I am sharing the room with. Most of us are there for the same reasons, we have things in common, how hard would it be to just smile or nod at the person next to you to let them know you are ok with their presence in this shared universe. Just last night I am walking over to the dip machine and this girl is looking at me as I walk up, now I do occasionally walk with my head down while I write things down and as soon as I look up I catch eyes for a brief second to have them turn away. I guess I am scary or something.

This phenomenon is even worse at work. I have been working on the same floor of the same building for months now and still people won’t even pretend to be nice to each other. Sure we work in a nameless, faceless, evil corporate structure but ask the guy walking past you how he is doing once in a while. This happens too me hundreds of times at work, since I drink way too much coffee and constantly take breaks I walk down the hall and always people look away. It really has to be me; the shaved head must scare people. I don’t know it just bothers me.

I know a guy who would say that this is all the fault of the baseball cap. At least between men, the women probably just don’t want to look me in the eye because I am grotesque and don’t realize it. But for the guys, it shows a certain lack of dignity, a lack of self pride that might be infecting this culture. More and more men really are not acting like men; they are acting like kids, wearing their backwards baseball caps well into middle age. Now, I won’t go so far as to say how you dress makes you this or that but the thought is there. I kind of miss the days when people used to dress better, even though my favorite outfit is a black fruit of the loom t-shirt and jeans. Maybe people don’t look each other in the eye anymore because there is a lack of confidence in society or maybe its something else entirely. I am not an expert in these things, I just call em like I see em and I don’t like what I see.


I’m overbooked, overly anxious and overwhelmed

In more proof that life is full of ups and downs, feast and famines I submit this week to you. I am not a regular happy hour person, since I live and work in the burbs it’s a pain, yet somehow I have managed to schedule two for the same night. Which leads to me to one conclusion; I can’t go to either one. Instead I think I will go to the gym, pick up my dry cleaning and pack for NYC. Besides, I did happy hour last night and that is more than enough for one week.

In other news, can this week be any slower? Three more days til football and it is driving me insane, I need game day. I need to wake up on Saturday morning to the sounds of Kirk Herbstreit and Lee Corso, I need the pageantry, I need the rivalries, I need Matt Leinart’s baby mama (that doesn’t fit at all, does it?), Thursday night will just be a big tease, give me Saturday. I wonder if it is necessary for me to bring my game day mug to NY with me. I would hate to ruin my rituals and have it hurt the team, OK, I will pack it, the home game mug which is blue as opposed to the away game mug which is orange.

And I am also overwhelmed, mostly with this online world we live in. You know on top of this blog, my 3 email accounts, my google groups, instant messenger, google talk and sametime I also had a friendster account and a myspace page. On those last two I never did anything, I really just never got into it, sure I would sometimes look at my friends pages but I didn’t add any friends or even fill out my profile or anything. Recently, though my friends have all made their pages private so I figured what the hell I will give it a shot. I tried, I really did, but as I was sitting there filling out the stuff I realized I had no interest in this at all, so instead I deleted my accounts on myspace and friendster. If you want to contact me there are still a billion other ways. Sorry.

However, while I was filling out my profile which included a nice pic of Bob Dylan instead of me I did come across a lot of quotes I liked from him, here are some of them.

A poem is a naked person... Some people say that I am a poet.

All I can do is be me, whoever that is.

All the truth in the world adds up to one big lie.

All this talk about equality. The only thing people really have in common is that they are all going to die.

Being noticed can be a burden. Jesus got himself crucified because he got himself noticed. So I disappear a lot.

Democracy don't rule the world, You'd better get that in your head; This world is ruled by violence, But I guess that's better left unsaid.

I accept chaos, I'm not sure whether it accepts me.

I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours.


I declare September my favorite month of the year

I know it won’t start for a few more days but really, is there a better month than September? I say no. First off, it opens on a holiday, how many months can say that, a three day weekend right off the bat. Furthermore, it marks the return of college football and primetime television. Here is what my month looks like, I really can not think of a more jam packed month for me all year.

Sept. 1 – 4: I will be in NYC to visit friends, eat Chinese food, drink free wine and watch football at the Gin Mill. I will also maybe, possibly, get tickets to the Yankees game on Sunday.

Sept. 11: Monday Night Football – Vikings at Redskins. The Purple people eaters will take down the deadskins on primetime TV while I watch on in glee with a smile that only a man wearing a purple shirt could understand. This day begins with a half day of work, leads to a full on tailgate and ends the next morning in a horrible hangover.

Sept. 15 – 17: Knoxville, TN. What could be a more fitting way to follow up MNF? I can think of only one way to spend that weekend. Sleeping in a Winnebago during a road trip into the heart of the SEC to watch UF beat up on UT.

Sept. 21: Grey’s Anatomy premiere party hosted by Courttew and featuring the Super Burger Dog. This party will also feature both indoor and outdoor viewing for those who are pet handicapped.

Sept. 22 - 24: Greav is visiting because we are going to the Virgin Mobile fest at Pimlico featuring the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

And then the month comes to a close on Sept. 30th when Alabama meets Florida in Gainesville, I had originally planned on being there in person but that has since changed due to many factors. Still, it will be celebrated appropriately with a BBQ and many delightful beverages as well some friendly banter between Bammers and Gators.

Unfortunately, it all leads into October, a month with very little value, its only holiday is pretty much worthless and the weather isn’t all that nice. October is not my friend and it looks so much worse next to the best month of the year, September.


A special post for my Friend

I talk about my friends and family a lot because they mean a lot to me. One of my friends has recently given me an earful about not mentioning her enough. And to be fair she is right, I don’t say enough, but if all my friends read this thing they would probably feel the same way. Still, this blog has featured a pic of the lake outside her house, her dog as well as a pic that she was in with me in NYC last winter. So, in honor of her I dedicate this post. I apologize in advance if my memory is fuzzy, I drink a lot, have been hit in the head many times and I am sure those nights I spent in the ICU involved lack of oxygen to my brain.

I can’t say how many years we have been friends or when we first met, but I do remember you as far as back as 4th or 5th grade. We weren’t friends in elementary school, but I don’t think we were ever in class together (because you were a nerd) so that is to be expected. Then we moved on to middle school and while I remember you being there I also don’t think we were friends, certainly not close if at all. Did we even have the same teachers? I think you were friends with Greav in middle school but not me. So it must have been 9th grade when we became friends but I don’t remember that particularly either, so maybe it was 10th. My memory is really bad, but my first memory of being really good friends was at Stephanie’s sweet sixteen or whatever party in Davie but given the events of that night I am pretty sure there plenty of nights of good friendship before that. Some of those nights probably involved you, me and two Israelis hanging in out in someone’s driveway inhaling things. Others mostly involved beer and me occasionally banging on doors that you slipped into with the wrong people late at night. In 11th grade I only remember a few things, one being that girl who played soccer and the odd scenario that went down with her and going to school in Israel so forgive me if I miss something, the good stuff didn’t really happen until college anyway. Senior year was another story altogether, mostly because all of the memories are the same. Gather everyone you know and get beer, whether it was a night at Feiler’s playing Beirut or sitting on my back porch drinking beers every night was basically the same. Throw in some stitches (mine) and a couple of pool parties and you have senior year. I even have a picture of you swimming with us at the pool that you now happen to live near. But, as close as we were and as many times as I can remember us hanging out in high school it still seems like we really became friends in college.

We walked away from high school and ran to college as quick as possible. I went early because I had to; you went because you wanted to. Even if you chose the wrong school we still stayed friend, actually became better friends. I will never forget when you came down for the Florida State game freshman year and you and Scott went robbing people’s tailgates while everyone else was at the game or the time when you almost fought that dumb bitch at the Rudolph’s house. Then there was the time that Mike and I stayed with you the next year and we watched the game at that bar in Tally, I am not sure what the name of it was but I remember not being very happy. That was of course followed by your presence at many of my fraternity parties; including the time my drunken little brother thought I was somehow hiding in a full bed with you. And the time we got so drunk the night before your homecoming game that we ended up sleeping through it. You also happened to not go out that night when I did, I think you just dropped me off somewhere. There were plenty more including that spring break we took together during our final spring, the one that you remember just a little more than I do because tequila is not my friend and a girl I met the first night made me want to forget I was ever there. And that pretty much sums it up.

Since college it has been easy to say that you have been my closest friend. Your house has become my second home, and sometimes my second office. You are one of the few people I call regularly, I put up with your horrible forwards and I have told you about this blog. Putting you in a very small category, since none of my brothers even know about it, actually one of them does but I didn’t tell him. So, from now on if I forget to mention you in a post that I should have remembered you please forgive me, my memory is bad and it is partly your fault, after all you were the one who thought that the two of us could finish a keg by ourselves. That turned out well, I think we should get together again for an all night drinking binge that ends in a parent cutting us off on their way to work. So until the next time we are together in Brooklyn or Tally, the Caribbean or just back in Plantation just know I might not remember everything but I haven’t exactly forgotten you.


My Grandparents

This week has been a comedy of errors that hasn’t really allowed me to get to writing something about my Grandparents. And now that it is a really slow day at work I still am not sure what to write. Something that the Rabbi said at the funeral has stuck with me though as I look through photos and that is how important the future was to my Grandparents. There past was ripped from them, so rebuilding and creating a family became very important and remained that way for their whole lives. Even on some of my latest visits when my Grandmas health was clearly fading she would ask if I had enough money to take girls on dates. She was hilarious like that. They were both hilarious in there own ways, although it was hard to see there humor from outside. After all they didn’t tell jokes; it was more just how they were. I doubt many people would describe them as funny but I remember countless times laughing in their presence.

One thing everyone will say is that they were both beautiful. They met in a DP camp in Germany and as the story goes my Grandpa was the stud of the camp, a sometime professional soccer player who never much cared for shirts, and he took a liking to my blonde haired green eyed Grandma. When my Grandma introduced my Grandpa to her sister she supposedly broke the pencil that was in her hand. I just heard that story for the first time last week; I wish I had heard more. I know they both have interviews on tape for a Stephen Spielberg project that I don’t think ever happened; I will have to get a hand on those. And while I don’t know as much as I like about my grandparents I do know they have left quite a legacy, something that I think they are proud of.

My family is extremely large, my Grandma had 3 sisters and a brother, and they have spawned a family that is in the 100s now. Of that family we are considered the good looking ones. Not that the others aren’t but we are a very good looking family. But more than that we are close and we are growing once again. We are friends, we occasionally take vacations together, we do things together, and we take part in each others lives. And now that our cousins are having kids and we have more cousins we get to watch them grow up and continue on a great legacy. A legacy that I think my Grandparents can look down on in pride.


“It’s not the technology that’s scary. It’s what it does to the relationships between people.”

After what was a very long week in Minnesota I returned to VA feeling just a bit tired. When Monday morning rolled around and I wasn’t feeling 100% I didn’t think too much of it, but by the end of the day I knew I was getting sick. I am still fighting whatever it is I caught today and I may just make it a long weekend in bed with Nyquil until this clears up. I skipped the last two days of work and even managed to lose my computer for the last day and a half. And here is where I get to the weird title of my little story. I have been sick and therefore in bed, usually with my laptop since I am attached to the thing. But sometime Tuesday afternoon an entire cup of water decided the solo cup it was in was not good enough and proceeded to fill up my little laptop with about 12 oz. of water. The computer immediately shut off and I was without a computer until around 10 am this morning. Thankfully, it was a work computer and replaced for free.

And now the quote, it’s from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, and I read it this morning while getting ready for work. It got me thinking about how different things must be now than they were just ten years ago. And not just the way I reacted to losing my computer for two days but also the way people knew something was wrong when I didn’t sign onto instant messenger for a week. Despite the fact that I rant about my life on a blog I don’t like to talk about my personal life one on one a lot and so I just kind of left last week without informing a lot of people of why I was going or how long I would be gone. When people realized they had not chatted with me in a few days they didn’t call, they texted. I find this all very funny, because while I enjoy the amount of connections technology has given us; I miss my friends’ voices at times, even if I simulate them when reading what they write. I have friends now that I almost exclusively talk to online and others that almost exclusively text, but very few that I call on a regular basis. I call my mom and my sister, one of my best friends and one buddy to talk about Gator football. Other than that I rarely have phone conversations, but worse than that without a computer I now feel so disconnected from the world, I was lying in bed too sick to do much else and was worried that something might be happening that I was missing. I was watching a movie and obviously couldn’t change the channel to cable news to realize I wasn’t missing anything. It was an odd feeling that went away after a little while and then yesterday I kind of settled into it. I realized that it’s not the technology; it is what it has done to us that I don’t like. I love the technology, but I miss my friends’ voices and I miss the feeling that it’s ok to disconnect. Writing this I remember a time in high school when a couple of friends and I got a hotel on the beach and left everything behind, no phones, no watches, nothing. We had no agenda, no schedules and no need for anything other than what we brought with us. I wonder if I could do that now without having an anxiety attack about not checking my email.


Is personality genetic?

One of the things I was confronted with during my time in Minnesota is this very question. Not the question as much as the comparison I have been given many times. Two things are constantly repeated when in the presence of my family, the first is that I look like my Grandpa, a comparison I like, and the second one I am not so sure about. To people who knew my dad, I not being one of them, they seem to think I am a lot like him, personality wise anyway. I didn’t really know how to take it, I mean it was said as a compliment I think and my mom did confirm it. So, how should I take it? Is it possible that even though I really don’t know my dad I am like him? And is it not so bad? Or should I be worried that I might end up like him?

The word out of the Twin Cities is that my dad was a good guy in the beginning but that he changed after his father died and since that happened shortly after I was born I never knew that man. That version of my dad was loved by my Grandpa, was a friend of my uncles and was ultimately accepted by everyone as a good man. He was described as classy, calm, level headed, intelligent and numerous other likable things. He was the yin to my mother’s yang, her being an impulsive fireball of a person, who needs someone to settle her. It was a little disturbing being told that I am the one that fills that role now, that it is my level-headedness that replaced his. And while it is a bit odd, I think I could be that guy described above, I do have those traits but it is the ones of my lifetime that concern me.

The man that is my father in my mind is none of those positive attributes, he is all negative. Cold, distant, cruel, absent, these are the words I would use to describe him. And I don’t want to be any of those; I don’t see how someone can do what he did, no matter the circumstances. People will find it easy to say it’s not possible for me to become that way, but they also said that about him. He lost his father and became something else; he gave up his family after that. Would I react the same way? It’s a scary thought that I will someday have to answer. Because we all suffer loss, we all have to deal with life’s turns and tribulations, and we all have to respond and no one knows how they will handle something until it happens.

I'm back

Back to work
Back to DC
Back to 300+ emails
Back to my cube
Back to annoying phone calls
Back to the gym
Back to life
Back to it all

I am back and it all seems different because maybe I didn't make it back at all.


Going away

I was geared up to give a money weekend recap but that is going to have to wait. Maybe I will still feel like doing it when I get back. But for now, my mind and my heart are elsewhere. Tonight at around 8 pm my Grandma passed away. Its all too real right now to give a fitting tribute but I will try sometime soon. I will be out of town and away from my computer for a while so until I get back just remember you can never love enough and in the end no matter how much you gave or received you will want more. Take as much as you can get but give more.


Leaf vs. The Spider Cricket and other nonsense

See that bug, the one to the left. Take a good look, he is the member of a small army who is mounting their first offensive in my basement. Mr. Spider cricket is a well oiled machine who likes to hop around the bathroom, my closet, and around my bed. He or his soldiers are usually found somewhere trying to sneak up on me. But they do not, I am like Batman on these little fuckers. I drop sandals on these little guys like you have no idea, and if I catch one in the bathroom he gets the whole Orange circle bath mat on his head, thats like getting crushed by the moon to one of these little guys. But most of my attacks have come via Nike slides and they are very effective, I prefer a left handed slap approach, usually multiple times. I have to get revenge for having the shit scared out of me. Killing them is easy but clean up sucks. Why in the world do I live in a house in the woods?

Other nonsense:

Big weekend coming up, can't wait to post something about it (and thats when you realize you have a blogging problem)

Speaking of a blogging problem I have become slightly obsessed with my stats lately, not that I have a lot of readers and I do prefer it that way but I find it interesting where some come from and how they get here. Some notables:

I have recently had visitors from Malaysia, India, Turkey and Canada, as well as Chicago, Cambridge, Florida, NC, MD, VA, DC.

And some of them have come by searching for the following:
singer, everyone but pete
pirated movies
third edition
jacks mannequin

I found that stuff interesting at least. I am outta here in a few, gotta get to services which start at 6:30 here in the summer. I think thats a little bit early but I guess I can fight the traffic. Have a good weekend everyone and if you see a Spider Cricket, kill it.


Love would never leave us alone

A-yin the darkness there must come out to light.

My posts have all been pretty depressing lately which kind of sucks but it is a depressing time. I don’t sleep anymore, I don’t even try really but I think I know why at least. Three summers ago I was standing in the middle of an open air gym singing songs at the end of sleep away camp when someone told me I had a phone call. It was the first phone call I received all summer. My mom was on the other line crying and apologizing because her dad had passed away that night. The next couple of days were a blur, but eventually I found myself on the highway heading for Philadelphia where I would hop a plane to Minnesota. I didn’t cry at the funeral, I didn’t cry at the service, I didn’t cry at all. Among my family whispers were heard, “Is Leaf OK?” You are damn right I am ok. I am always OK. But if everyone else is crying who the fuck is supposed to be strong and console them? That’s right me, I played my part and played it well, I never saw my Grandpa cry, not once, and no one ever questioned him. So, what is so wrong about emulating him? I say nothing, not a thing in the world, there isn’t a single human being on Earth I would rather be compared to. He wasn’t perfect but he was amazing. I don’t mourn his death I celebrate his life. He wore so many hats, did so many things listing them here would seem to lessen what he was. Its not about a list, it’s about a soul, and his was magical. And yet I still feel like I hardly knew him, but what I did know will influence my life for years to come. I am not sure if he ever knew how much he taught me or how I still think of him often but I know he still thinks of us.

When I light the candle tonight commemorating the anniversary of his passing I will look back on all the ways he has helped make me who I am today and how he still manages to save my butt when I need his help. He taught me so many lessons I don’t know where to begin, he taught me that your health was important but not the most important. He taught me to be strong when your family needs you to and show them love in anyway you can. He taught me to never be a bad drunk and to never turn down free money. He showed me that it was ok to be a little stubborn and that letting your temper get the best of you wasn’t a good thing. He also showed me that when someone in your family needs you don’t ask questions just help. That actually caused a great fight with my Mom one time when he picked up my sister who had pseudo ran away and called him to pick her up, my mom was pissed but grandpas reasoning was sound, he was needed and able to help. I would do the same thing. There aren’t many situations where I would stray from the response he would give. What is important to him is important to me. And I couldn’t be prouder to use him as the model to live my life.

I eventually did cry, and have since found a tear in my eye every time I hear Elias by Dispatch. I cried when my Grandfather came to my aid as a voice inside my mothers head. Because of him I believe in miracles, I believe in the power of Survivors, I believe in myself and I believe in G-d.


In all of the excitement

Or lack thereof this week I never gave props to the bands I saw on Friday. I also, haven’t mentioned that I have resorted to going to concerts with completely strangers. Although it’s much better than going alone, it was still kind of weird. Where to begin? I guess I will start with the complete strangers and how this came to be. Long story short, my friends like music, they really do, but they don’t like just any music and they certainly won’t pay to go see a bunch of locals that they have never heard of. And that’s fine, they don’t have to go see things with me all the time but when you start missing out on things you really want to see just because you cant get any one of your many friends to go you need to do something about it. Now, for two years I put up with this crap until I missed the Chris McCarty Band, a band my friends actually know and like, on a Saturday night no less because no one wanted to go to Maryland. Maryland is not that far people. Anyway, one day while searching through Craig’s List looking for the link to the pick up Flag football league that I occasionally play in I came across an ad for a music group of sorts. Turns out everyone’s friends suck and other people need concert going friends. Joining the group was fine, seeing a concert with a few that my friends were going too, also fine. Making the jump to seeing a show with two girls I’d never spoken to nor met in my life after exchanging three, maybe four, emails was brave if you ask me. Probably braver for them since I don’t think I am the friendliest looking guy in the world. Anyway both girls were cool, one was a total punk eyebrow ring and all, and the other was kind of hard to peg down but seemed nice. I am sure I will see them again at some show down the road.

The show itself was pretty good. The show was a mix of rock and reggae, some really talented musicians and easily one of the ugliest bands in America. The first band to come on were the Echoes and they definitely need a lot of work, it was just 3 guys with a lead singer who looked like a rocker but was out of breath for half the songs and didn’t know he had to keep talking into the mic. The second band, Everyone but Pete, was very impressive, again more rock, this time 4 guys with an awesome sound. The lead singer and the lead guitar were both pretty amazing. The headliner was Lionize, a bunch of white boys, playing some mean reggae. I definitely recommend them, they were awesome. For the encore they brought out the lead singer and guitarist from EBP to help them out on a cover of Could You Be loved and Exodus. It went on for what seemed like 20 minutes and was a great way to end the show. After all that I hopped the metro and headed home got some Taco Bell and called it a night.

Check out the bands at:

The Echoes




Sleep Disorders

I have discussed this on here numerous times but I just wanted to throw out a little update. I have been battling sleep disorders for about 5 years now. And it may have been longer than that, when I was in college I used all sorts of things to sleep including Nyquil which worked wonders. Around the time I was studying for my LSAT, waste of time and money that it was, I had to take OTC sleep aids to get some rest the week before the test. In the years since then I have had trouble sleeping on and off but rarely did anything about it. I have taken xanax, drank, taken pain killers, Nyquil, herbal supplements and well you name it I have tried it. A lot of the things I try, including yoga and meditation, do help me fall asleep but I can’t sleep through the night once I am out. The usual night for me goes like this:

11:30 fall asleep

2:00 wake up, roll around a little, fall asleep

4:00 wake up, turn on tv, watch a little, fall asleep

6:30 wake up, look at alarm clock, and realize I still have an hour til I need to get up

7:30 alarm goes off, snooze for 45 minutes

8:15 finally get out of bed, drink obscene amounts of coffee

So, obviously, this is not healthy and last week I spoke to my doctor about it. It was determined that I do not have sleep apnea, which was good to hear since I already have breathing issues. My doctor said I should try out Lunesta and I figured why not, filled the prescription and read the instructions and details. Then last night I gave this hypnotic a try, it was supposed to help you get a full nights sleep. But, that didn’t happen, actually what did happen looks a lot like the above. I am gonna give it another shot but as of today RX sleep aids suck. I think I need to be prescribed xanax to sleep, not to pass out at bars.


A Friday quiz

With the heat in DC hitting some near record highs lately I have been wondering what it is most people rather. Obviously, if given the choice we would all live in moderate climates where its like Spring and Fall all year. But if that is not the option, would you rather Palm Trees and perpetual summer or............................

Some beautiful snow covered trees and a long winter?

The truth is that both extremes actually suck big time. And the snow turns real ugly real quick. So, I dont even have an answer for my own hypothetical. If I had to choose between the desert and the Arctic I think I would choose the desert. But if I simply had to choose between DC in the winter or the summer I will take the winter everytime. At least so far winter has been mild and bearable while summer is leaving me gasping for air and sweating in the AC.


Waiting for the time when I can finally say that this has all been wonderful but now I'm on my way

I apologize for having such a one track mind lately, it seems like every other post I make is about Israel. But, I can not escape thinking about it, thinking about the conflict, the good and the bad. Even before serious fighting broke out I always followed Israeli news more closely than my local stuff but lately I find myself checking the blogs and newspapers on the hour. What I want to discuss doesn’t really have to do with what is going on there today, but somehow it is all connected.

Today my mother either bravely or foolishly mentioned the fighting to me for the first time since it broke out. She avoids conversation about Israel with me the way I avoid going clothes shopping with my sisters. Still, every once in a while she gets up the courage to mention it and the conversation is usually really short. Today’s convo went like this:

Mom: “this Hezbollah thing is ridiculous”

Leaf: “I know, it’s horrible and stupid”

Mom: “They blame the Jews for everything, everyone blames the Jews”

Leaf: “Yup, they blame us for what happens to us, what we do to others and what we had nothing to do with at all”

Mom: “And I will never see a Mel Gibson movie again, he is on my shit list”

- That was off topic, but I don’t think she had her coffee yet

Leaf: “Yeah, he messed up big time, hopefully his career is done”

Leaf: “But, don’t worry Mom, this time won’t be any different than all the others. We will win and we will survive. We are the only constant throughout history.”

Mom: “I know, it’s just so sad, if you were in Israel you would be in the army right now.”

- Technically I wouldn’t be in the army, but would be a reserve so it’s possible like other people my age I would be involved, so she is almost right.

Leaf: “I know Mom and I feel guilty that I am not there everyday.”

- Uncomfortable silence

Leaf: “Mom, I better get going, I will call you later, I love you, bye.”

It is hard for me to tell her how I really feel, there is so much going on here that I don’t want to burden her with more sorrow or fear. But when I wake up in the morning and get ready for work I often think about what is keeping me here. I knew I wanted to go to college in the states but had hoped to get back to Israel at least for a little while. That never happened for various reasons, but since college all the reasons I haven’t gone are just excuses. Sure they are valid excuses but they are running out. One of my main reasons for staying is that since my grandfather died a few years ago I did not want to miss anytime with my grandma. Being in DC with her in Florida is hard enough now that there is very little time left. My mom is currently taking care of her basically round the clock and recently asked me to find out how my job handles bereavement time. Knowing I had such little time with her left I could not have made aliyah in the past couple of years to only come home for her funeral, it would have felt wrong. But now that her life is ending and I wont feel the finality of saying goodbye to anyone for the last time I feel freer to leave. Certainly if I leave there will be goodbyes that will be forever but none of them would have to be like grandmas would have.

So, the only thing left to get over is my feeling of obligation to my mom and my sisters. Part of me worries that without me so close they will fall apart, no this is not my ego talking, I have always been the glue that holds things together. At least I have been for longer than I care to anyway and though it’s the main reason I feel I should stay its also one of the main reasons I think I should go. I want to worry about myself exclusively for a change, selfish aren’t I. There are of course other fears about leaving the only country I have ever been a resident of, the standard things like finding a job, learning a quasi-new language, making entirely new friends. All of those things are concerns but the biggest one is my family and I am just not sure how long I can go without them. It seems I need them as much as they need me.