Sunday, September 21, 2014

In transit... between two worlds, visiting all my worlds

[I returned home Thursday evening, no problems, BH. We went to a wedding Thursday night-- yes, crazy, perhaps, but this was a special one-- it was the daughter of the woman who's father's funeral I attended in NY.-- father buried one week, daughter married a week later.
I was running on pure adrenaline.
Friday I slept all day, woke for Shabbat dinner. Shabbat, slept all day. Sunday-today- I am up, but not on schedule yet. Lots of pain, but I'll be OK. Getting overwhelmed with Rosh Hashana coming up so soon!]


OK- this entry started on the day I was leaving NY, last Wed, the 17th. I started writing it in my parent's kitchen, continued it on the plane, added the pictures here in Be'er Sheva, sent it out Sunday.


The car service is coming in an hour to take me to JFK airport. It's a spectacularly beautiful day here in the little country town of Glen Head, a hop-skip-and-a-jump from Long Island Sound. It really is so beautiful around here. It rains frequently, and everything is so *lush* and green. Incredibly green- thick trees and bushes of every sort, moss on tree trunks, and all the streets are shadowed with thick, rich, tall trees. The air is sweet... the smells of cut grass, that sweet after-rain smell, and there is a fall nip in the air. Sounds like utopia, right? Sometimes it actually feels like that.

down the street from my parent's house

I didn't leave America because of discontent. Israel is 100% my home, I never have any doubts about it. I am fortunate in that I have a deep, loving appreciation for the wonderful attributes of each land.

my girlfriend and I rendezvoused at a gas station when we discovered that we were
talking on the phone to each other, a mere few meters away from each other!

I'm returning to Israel soon...  my flight leaves at 9pm tonight. It has been a *long* trip. I feel like I've been away for months.

On the plane now.
Take off will be in about 20 minutes.
It is such a long haul to pack up and schlep everything! I was up most of last night, packing and organizing myself. OK, well, I'll be on this plane for the next 12 hours. So far, the middle seat to my right is free. It'd be awesome if it stays that way! I'm planning to sleep lots. It was a FULL, busy, fulfilling trip. The two highlights were the writer's conference, and the time I spent with my parents- quality *and* quantity. It has been a *long* time since we had that sort of uninterrupted time together. I am aware of the reality that we can't know when that may, or if it will, happen again.

I attended a funeral last week. It was the father of a dear friend of mine from Israel. My friend was brought up in NY. Her father passed away, and she flew out to NY the next day. I joined her at the funeral. It was strange to be with her in NY! We had never seen each other out of Israel. But it was good to be able to support her, and to be there.

Funerals in America are so different than they are in Israel. In Israel, people are buried in shroud cloths, no casket. When I was watching the funeral home director trying to direct the casket of my friend's father down into the grave, it was scary. It is so heavy, and the people holding it have to stand on planks which are placed across the grave, lowering it with the help of straps. Once it's in, then the grave diggers have to check if it is in properly, and in this case, the casket had to be repositioned. It seems so much smoother and easier when there is no casket involved. I don't know. I guess it's awful any way you do it.

Onto lighter subjects...
I saw many cousins whom I hadn't seen in ages. In Washington DC I stayed for a few days (including over a Shabbat) with one of my favorite cousins ever! Got to know her husband and daughter a bit better, too. I met with my first cousin on my mother's side, Dina, in Washington DC. I hadn't seen her in probably 27 years or so.

my first cousin Dina, me, and her mother (my aunt who I hardly ever knew!) Shula

 My other first cousins on my father's side, Lois & Ellen, I visited in NY. We had seen each other slightly more frequently, but not much.

My father, Ellen, me, Lois, my brother Peter
first cousins: Ellen, me  & Lois

 I also saw my Aunt Reva, who is in her 90's, may God give her strength and wherewithal for many more years!

My father, me, and his sister- my aunt Reva
OK, know what? I am so flippin exhausted, I need to sleep. The plane is still filling up, and take-off is in 10 minutes.

Oh, and the middle seat, next to me (I'm in the isle) has been taken. Oh well. No biggie.
Oh, I just remembered that I have to go put on my heavy pressure stockings. I should do that before we take off..

Then, I really think I'm just gonna put my computer away and go to sleep. Bye-


OK, I just had a pretty decent sleep, thank Gd. Woke up two and a half hours before landing, which is good timing. I got a good walk around the cabin a few times. According to the amount of pain I had when I got myself up after sleeping, I could have used some more walking around the cabin.  I drank some tea, chatted with a woman in the next isle over to my left, traveling with her three kids. One is about one and a half. I *remember* traveling at different points over the past 15 years with kids that age, almost every trip.

So yeah, now that I'm a little less tired, I can say that this trip was a true blessing. It was just all good. Hard for me physically at many times, a few awful migraines and nights throwing up, but overall, I held up. The lymphoedema needs some serious draining massage, though. It's been in a constant state of discomfort and swelling. To be expected, I think. I am wearing the dreaded tight tight tight orthopedic tights on the flight now. You know, I timed it this time- putting them on in the tiny airplane bathroom- 20 minutes *just* putting them on. Bleh. Oh well, could always be worse!

There is one huge change that happened on this trip which adds an emotional dimension that I will never forget- I sold my old french horn. *NOT* the one I play usually (or played, to be exact), that one is in Israel. The one I sold is one that I played during the last years of University in Boston, and all throughout graduate school. I did play it my first years in the symphony in Israel, but it isn't in the style (sound-wise) of the horns that Israeli orchestras play.

Each city which has a symphony, in every part of the world, has it's own unique sound. In the wind sections especially, the goal of a homogeneous sound often entails a uniformity of the type of sound that the specific instrument produces. Each "brand" of instrument is known for it's different nuances in sound. There are horns with a small "bore" which means the diameter of the inner tubing is literally smaller than a large bore horn. This, of course, effects the timbre, or color of sound. The horn I sold is my Schmidt, small bore, nearly 100 years old. It's a very, very special horn. In Israel, large bore horns are more commonly played. Many years ago (13 or 14 years ago) I tried out a particular horn someone was selling in Israel, and fell in love with the ease of how it plays. I bought it with an interest-free loan that my orchestra gave me, which was really easy to pay off through my monthly paychecks. I then had two horns on my hands. I tried to sell my Schmidt in Israel, but since it is not a commonly played instrument on Israeli orchestras, it didn't sell. I then brought it to Boston so the dealer who I bought it from could try to sell it for me. It didn't sell in many years in his studio. It was so surprising because that is the horn that the players in Boston desire. After it was in his studio for a long time not selling, on a trip my parents had to Boston (it used to be a regular thing for them every summer to go to Tanglewood to hear the Boston Symphony), they went to his studio and brought it back to their house in NY, and advertised it there. Didn't budge. A few people played it over the years, but no bites. Even a collector of Schmidt's, a horn player in NY, who fell in love with my horn, told me he just can't buy it because he already has 20. But he praised that instrument up and down. He clearly understood it's unique beauty of sound and the special value of that particular instrument. Along came my first horn teacher, Mr. Moller. He also fell in love with the horn, but finances didn't permit him to buy it. Fixing the roof which had fallen in from a storm took precedence. Geez, can you imagine such an excuse? ;)

When I was returning for this present trip, I advertised the horn again, announcing the dates I will be there, and that it is still for sale if someone wants to come try it. Again a few emails with the guy who collects old Schmidt's, but he still couldn't swing adding one more horn to his menagerie. Lucky for me, because the long awaited phone call came from... my old horn teacher (he's not old, perse, but old meaning long ago in the scope of my life)! He was in a position to buy the horn, and was so happy to see the ad I placed, that it is still available. He came over a few days ago. It's always awesome to see him, a real childhood hero for me. Very special man. His encouragement, patience, and belief in me is what set me on course for my successful career. Well, with cash in hand, he checked out the wonderful instrument again, and made an offer... higher than what I was asking. I came back with a lower offer. It was an unusual, odd sort of haggling, but I wanted him to have the horn, and I couldn't see taking so much money from such a special person in my life. We agreed on something in the middle of his offer and my expectation. Unmarked bills exchanged hands (they are unmarked, right Mr. Moller? ;)), and my beautiful, special, antique horn went to the most wonderful person I could imagine playing it. I am deeply moved by this all, and yes, a little wistful. But, it is all the natural process of life.

well, "can't take it with you", as they say!

Here are pictures of the monumental tectonic shift:

Mr. Moller- may you play this horn with your natural vitality and health, and may it serve you as well as it served me all the years!!

Well, we are now about to land! Should be in about 45 minutes or so. I'm almost home.

The trip was certainly memorable. My world shifted in many ways, both small and large. I just realized something- I actually lived all three of my careers on this trip. The writer's conference of course--

All the conference attendees!
I'm standing in the second row from the top, wearing white, about half way in...

then selling my horn and entering that world. I even used my doula skills. That was when I was trying as best as I knew how to encourage my mother in her physical therapy to stand. She did it- with the physical therapist and my father on either side holding her up so most of her weight wasn't on her, she, herself holding onto a walker with much of her weight, and me holding her around her middle in a big bear hug. She did it. She lasted about 20 seconds the first time, then after a rest had the courage to try a second time, for about 10 seconds. It hurt her all over, of course. Her body is quite atrophied from being bedridden for two and a half years already. But, she tried. The future is unknown, and the past is no longer ours, only the present is ours to use. That accomplishment, for my mother, was a very courageous use of her present moment. May you keep strong Mom, and remember- replace the phrase "I'm scared" with determination.

We're in a holding pattern now over Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv. Too many planes there at the moment for us to fly in. I heard there was a strike at the airport today.

I just may finish this blog post yet!

Mission accomplished regarding the tight tight tight lymphoedema stockings. It took about 15 minutes this time to take off. Putting on my "regular" pressure garment feels loose compared to those. Usually that one is tight and uncomfortably hot, but after the "flight tights" (hey, new nick name!) it's obscenely loose. :)  Oh, this is awesome- the captain just announced that we are cleared out of the holding pattern and are going to land soon! And I finished this entry. How inspirational.

Home. Be it ever so humble. I am yearning to feel my children's hugs, look into their eyes, and hear their voices and laughs.

And Robert, my love. You gave me a gift that is more valuable than you can know. You, yourself made my reservation, blessed me to go to the conference, and added much more time to spend with my aging parents. A true, selfless gift, from a true, selfless man. Thank you with all my heart.


  1. Thank you for sharing your experiences with the world. I look forward to meeting you again.
    I too have experienced an accident at the age of 11, which left me struggling for the rest of my life. I have learned to be thankful for all the blessings, as I see you do too. You are loved and thank you for sharing. Karen Bode

    1. Thanks, Karen. How can it be that we had planned to talk with each other, spoke on-line before the conference, then didn't manage to hook up at the conference? Life is strange, indeed. I do look forward to meeting you again, too.
      I am interested to know more about your accident.
      Thanks for the lovely words.

  2. Glad all went well. I am still high from my successful trip. Great that your horn will be played again. Haven't been brave enough yet to put my conn on the market. Shana tova

    1. Funny, Tzippi- it's been on the market for many years, but now that it is sold, i do feel a sadness. Not that I ever played it, but a sadness nontheless. It is a very speciail instrument. I now understand that it was waiting for my first horn teacher to be able to buy it. I feel so good about that, I can't even tell you.