time gets in the way of everything


I mean,  time. (If I were younger, I’d say, “I mean, like, time.”)

You don’t want to know what’s  been going on in my life. It’s been going on in your life, too, given the season.  It’s not that i haven’t been thinking, it’s that I haven’t had time to write it all down. So I’m going to do something I’ve done before: write a few notes and thoughts and leave you to fill in the blanks.  

Leo Rosten (1908-1997)  

How many times have I asked, does anyone remember so-an-so?  Well, does anyone remember Leo Rosten?  An American Jewish writer - a professional Jew, you might say, writer, screenwriter, best known for his two books about an immigrant learning ESL at a night class: The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N and The Return of H*Y*M*A*N  K*A*P*L*A*N  and later, O K*A*P*L*A*N! MY K*A*P*L*A*N.  I own and love The Joy of Yiddish (1968). 

I thought of Rosten  because I was remembering something my husband said/did. I was in his office listening  while he phoned long distance seeking the number of a man called Kaplan (no relation to the book).  Bill explained what he wanted and when the operator asked how to spell the name, he promptly replied “K-STAR-A-STAR-P-STAR-L-STAR-A-STAR-N-STAR.”  You had to be there. 

That random memory evolved from a list I made as I thought of writing something about mindfulness - very hot right now.  Mindfulness is  recommended for peace of mind.  You are supposed to cherish  the moment and give yourself to it without fussing about what’s going to happen next.  (The moment is usually  a bit fraught.)

So then I thought of mindlessness.  I think mindless is more fun than mindful . People seem to think it’s easier than mindful. Then I wondered if there was a useful in-between state. 

How about remembrances? That’s what led me to Leo Rosten because I remembered Bill coming up with that delightful reference to him during a mundane phone call. I wish I could match it to the -ness ending of the other two words.  Recollective-ness?

I ran out of power before i finished this. I borrowed my computer from its charging state but I have to put it back and me to bed.

anon, anon…



book review

It’s time I caught up  with my reading.

I’ve been wrapping and addressing prezzies all evening and this will be a welcome respite before I go to bed. My presents are cheaper and flatter than they used to be, to allow for the high cost of mailing. I hate to spend more on the postage than on the gift.

Des anyone remember my enthusiasm over The Door?  That was the novel I read last year, by Magda Szabó, translated from the Hungarian, published by The New York Review of Books. I think that’s right and I can’t tell you who translated it because the person I lent it to hasn’t returned it yet. I will nag her because it’s a keeper.  The New York Times named it one of the ten best books of the year. 

Just recently I read a review of another (earlier,I think) book by Szabó, published by Vintage (Penguin).  They had me at Szabó. Iza’s Ballad is very different, different setting, situation, characters, but fascinating.  At first I didn’t like the translation as well (that’s why I think’t get to r it was someone else who did it), but the characters and the story drew me in.  It’s very real and honest - no- frank - no - plain-spoken. If only the characters could have been that open with each other, but it happens. A daughter can be trying to do he best for her mother and spare her effort, all the while seeking refuge in her own  work and attempts to relax, even while the mother is atrophying from boredom and longing for her past comforting belongings (not possessions -  belongings).  The characters  are interesting  for what they notice or overlook or prefer to to ignore.  

I don’t get to read much outside my own language and culture, my fault, really, I don’t make the effort. But here, when I do, it confirms my belief that people are the same, not boring, but real, recognizable, the same. 

It’s pulling on toward midnight and if  I go past, Il will have missed the date on today’s blog. Leave it at that.


It did go past. Not my fault. I can no longer send a blog from my email to my blog.  Oh dear.